Vis Viva – Chapter 2 No Man

“No man is an iland intire of it’ selfe:
Every man is a peece of the continent;”


John Donne, Meditation XVII from Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions.

So then what happened to this organism called Eric and why is he writing this, his own personal Chautauqua? His motives for this are not clear. Nor yet are his natures for there are many of these. All that he has told me is that there is in him a pressing need to express, to find a way to describe what was and is a most interesting path through life and onwards.

“It all started with Jason Bourne.” He tells me this is as good a point as any, from which to start. When Jason, after he realises the nature of what he has gotten himself into, refuses to submit to the programme he is forced, trained as an assassin and begins his missions. When asked to kill a man in front of his children something of the David Webb in him resurfaces, he botches the mission and is nearly killed as a result. He is then quite literally adrift on the sea of life not knowing who or what he is, with but a few clues to his past and a fog of amnesia surrounding him. He goes back to look at all the places and the people he once knew, trying to piece together what has happened.

Metaphor then is what it says on the tin, it is a transfer by linguistic connivance; a transfer from another reality or world into this one. It presupposes that this one is common. Of course it isn’t, yet it might be. In the use of metaphor Eric reckons that one can get a flavour or a taste of what he is trying to say and hint at the depths of the other worlds’ journey to Annwn in search of Awen, the inspiration of the vis viva. The breath which breathes life into all things, the breath that comes on the four winds and the moods they bear with them upon their shoulders, sometimes lightly and sometimes not. The Chautauqua then, is the search for a personal sense of Jesus, that sense of the divine potential incarnate in us all; where we are our own personal saviour, a sangraal quest for our inner being; the sense of at-one-ment with the world around us and perhaps the non mundane.

Eric came upon something quite by accident when he was a young man, caught up in all the hedonism of student life. It was a series of books starting for him with “The Journey to Ixtlan” written by Carlos Castaneda and so he heard of this thing called “the Warrior’s path”. He was rather taken by this series of books and read them all with a zeal, he was later to become famous for. When he talked about them with his flat mates it was rather clear that he had taken them seriously and they hadn’t. Something funny was going on and that year he was rather ill with many fevers. But he could not pretend he hadn’t heard, because he had. He did not know what he had heard but it was, something.

He got his degree and went on to study for a Ph.D. in chemical physics or “pissing about with lasers” as he liked to call it. The solitude of dark laboratories, expensive toys and the beauty of pure, coherent light, brought him much joy. After a while he twigged that he was pretty good at all this, he understood the theories and could make a laser sing. When he stood up to talk about his work, people listened, they even published his papers in scientific journals, what a hoot!

Later, when Eric went back to his school in Gloucestershire and walked around the sports fields, where he had snuck out during “lock up” to watch the fireworks of Guy Fawke’s night, made dangerous, secret, trips “out of bounds” for walnuts and ran and ran and ran. How many times had he done rounds as punishment? How great was that slip-slap-slip of his feet in rhythm with his breath. This was where it all began; one of his Jason Bourne moments, and it was at the hand of a well meaning man who in one sentence and in one act changed a life.

Eric had not settled in boarding school, his school work was messy and erratic reflecting his inner turmoil and his struggles to survive. Finally now at the age of 12 he sat his common entrance examination, though for him it was really another mock as he was due to be in the scholarship class next year. And there it was, on the English paper; write an essay inspired by any of the following. He chose:

“No man is an iland intire of it’ selfe:
Every man is a peece of the continent;”


John Donne, Meditation XVII from Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions.


There it was his first quay off, off from the day to day and into the palace of dreams, it was the febrile stuff of a doorway into his inner world, shimmering, veil like, in the wind of his existence. There is someone else, after all, who had something of him.

Eric for once let it all go; he expressed all his inner loneliness drifting in a coracle from that Cape Town harbour, abandoned under the stars of the Southern Cross and without hope, until there, on the horizon was the first light of day. The master marked his essay and wrote of the poetry in Eric’s soul on his report card and then he did it. He read it out in assembly.

No man would write like that would they? After all the bullying on his sexuality, that was it, proof and in front of the whole school. There it was, never, never, never let it go again. How very attractive the science classes were after that. How easily he gained marks and passed the exams.

Eric says that it was a life that had two potentialities severed by a choice that was not really his, circumstance made it and his parents were now happy. His Nan though, was so proud of that comment, a poet in the family! When Eric saw the report card quite recently he could still smell the ink, a dark vivid blue, Parker’s Quink, written with a sloping italic nib. He experienced the same fear as he had done thirty years before. Eric had been here, here with the musty thin report book, charting his progress. He had held that book many, many times. Now though he could read between the lines, written by the teachers, having written many such things himself.

This was a node in his life, one of many. That world so precious and private to him had been taken out and with the best intentions, thrashed in public. Eric began to blend and here the chameleon was truly born. The twin Gods of should and ought began to take their hold on his psyche and he became the best sportsman he could be and the best scientist. He still did languages but kept them tight on a rein. He needed the marks for his exams.

Still and even on days like today when the rain caresses the ground he can remember the other country where people can be who they are; and all those water bottle windows gazed through; day dreaming in the foothills of that other country; the one that seems so far yet so close. And, again the window ledge is just wide enough to sit on, waiting for his parents who never came to rescue him. They weren’t of that other country so how could they possibly know what it was like. Nor was anyone it would appear.


I vow to thee, my country, all earthly things above,
Entire and whole and perfect, the service of my love:
The love that asks no question, the love that stands the test,
That lays upon the altar the dearest and the best;
The love that never falters, the love that pays the price,
The love that makes undaunted the final sacrifice.

And there’s another country, I’ve heard of long ago,
Most dear to them that love her, most great to them that know;
We may not count her armies, we may not see her King;
Her fortress is a faithful heart, her pride is suffering;
And soul by soul and silently her shining bounds increase,
And her ways are ways of gentleness and all her paths are peace.


I Vow to Thee My Country, Sir Cecil A. Spring-Rice, 1918.


And that search for the other country was to continue for many years to come, always resident and poignant in his heart. Ready and fresh in his dreams yet as secret and as encrypted as it was possible to be. Buried deep within the layers of ice, the ice of a thousand tears cried in a silence of a song unsung and unspoken. No one knew what he thought and that gave him a sense of power. There, no one could harm him. There he was safe and he didn’t have to trust anyone.

When they let him read the lessons and the prayers he was very happy. Deep within him then the sense of the sacred was sanctuary and he did not mind that the others had their parents with them and that his were five thousand miles away. He and all the other expat boys got to ring the bells too!


Seigneur, faites de moi un instrument de Votre paix.
Là où il y a de la haine, que je mette l’amour.
Là où il y a l’offense, que je mette le pardon.
Là où il y a la discorde, que je mette l’union.
Là où il y a l’erreur, que je mette la vérité.
Là où il y a le doute, que je mette la foi.
Là où il y a le désespoir, que je mette l’espérance.
Là où il y a les ténèbres, que je mette Votre lumière.
Là où il y a la tristesse, que je mette la joie.

Ô Maître, que je ne cherche pas tant à être consolé qu’à consoler, à être compris qu’à comprendre, à être aimé qu’à aimer, car c’est en donnant qu’on reçoit, c’est en s’oubliant qu’on trouve, c’est en pardonnant qu’on est pardonné, c’est en mourant qu’on ressuscite à l’éternelle vie.

Par Saint François d’Assise


Later in life it was another rose that sneaked into his life and turned partially in the mortice to release the first seeds of an efflorescence that was to take him deep into Annwn and Awen; there again to offer him the proof that he was different and yet ultimately, the same.

Eric tells me that until you have been touched by the fingers of death there is no real concept of life. That you cannot begin to conceive life itself and that living is more of a going through the motions of existence. There is no fecundity in living and the organism which is the vehicle remains only partially awake, until the organising indwelling thing catches the breath of the vis viva and is inspired. Before this can happen the form side of life needs tended. The weeds and brambles that adorn the island of existence are pruned and hacked back; all that is unwanted is bagged up and taken to the re-cycling centre. Only then can the form side of life settle in the sea of floating things and allow creativity to stream forth un-abated. And it is the fingers of death that encourage the danse macabre of transformation, for it is only in the theatre of death that man can see his true script for this, his sojourn on the stage, where he is player for us all.

Eric says that he is lucky in that death has touched him three times now, and that the archetype of le mort should be welcome as it brings with it true change, for only then can man touch the very outer limits of his potential and truly, dance the edge. It is the universe’s way of showing the glory of incarnation and if we chose to see it, the pettiness of our doings and the darkness, which is so very often of our own making.

That island is crammed full with stuff, thoughts, should and ought. Filled with words that are not ours, choc-a-bloc with ideas put there by others, aspirations and ideals that have precious little to do with you; a veritable Shinjuku station at rush hour in time lapse photography where wave after wave of gripes and moans chant the koans of consumerism; the must have and the “if only” of the realms of the hungry ghosts.

“You know that people are rarely truly silent.” He says.

“True silence is what people fear the most. There and then, is the no-thing-ness of existence and it is primordial. It is before and will be after us and that is where the creative power of the void can be found, echoing out the very first sound into the darkness of manifestation; a single word which breaks the silence. It is this connectivity with the in-finite that man fears, insisting that it is only he and his island. He is lost in the sea of life, that he is one and has already separated from the zero.”

Eric likes to call the organising thing that animates the form the power within, as all the other words are now second hand. He distinguishes between the power within and the power without for clarity only. They are all part of the same awareness. He says that this distinction is a hangover from his sense of individuating identity and helps keep him sane, allowing him to tell all the stories that other people like so that they don’t panic or think him odd.

He says we all have a power within and it is the vis viva that animates this potential within us so that it incarnates. The one life chooses an aspect of awareness to materialise into form. This manifestation has an impact, it slows things down so that awareness becomes dream-like and foggy. It is just that so many people like the dream so much they aren’t willing to stop the world and wake up in the dream. The matrix of existence is so full of clamour and glamour that it straps people into a sense of reality that isn’t really there in the sea of the floating things. The folly of permanence and the arrow of time exclude the magic of being; after all we are all counter entropic beings are we not?

The incarnate matrix of existence has its stories and rules, by focusing intent upon their maintenance the world conspires to limit the potentialities to physical plane function whilst the organism and its thoughts keep the power within at bay with the brouhaha of social interaction and the relentless mind numbing noise of mass media and marketing. The voice of the power within remains unheard and talked over by the internal dialogue, often externalised, that convinces itself, at least partially, that the world of illusion is all that there is. This then is the sleight of hand that tells us we should be interested in what Manchester United are doing and whether of not Jennifer Anniston has found Mr Right; a sleight of hand that distracts us from perhaps our true purpose which is maybe, just maybe understanding the meaning behind why the vis viva animated the power within to incarnate so as to gain knowledge through physical plane existence and the challenges inherent in that.

Eric says that the irony is we dreamed this world into being yet most of us don’t even remember doing it and insist that this dream is real. Eric says that people have told him that he is a pretty powerful dreamer and he has no evidence to prove otherwise. He knows that for ten years of his life he did his very best to kill all of his dreams, he numbed them with chemicals and beer so that they would not speak to him at night. He says that coma is a good way to do this. The power within was wise to this and set him up with that visit to Negril, it had been silenced for too long and the sleeper must awaken. Eric didn’t realise it but he was in for a pretty rough ride after that.

Chapter 4 – A Path with Heart

No diagnosis then from Friday’s visit to the hospital, there are a lot of things that have been ruled out and I am feeling a little reassured. This gives me some quiet time to start to elaborate on what I mean by a path with heart. In a sense any path, although we might see it as achieving a goal or ambition, ultimately leads no where, for we all must die and that part of incarnate awareness which is the totality of us, in the words of the Bard, shuffles off the mortal coil. Our form disintegrates or is burned and the atoms of our vehicle are re-cycled and used by the universe for another purpose, our bits might one day end up being a plastic Tesco’s bag; who knows. In any case once the power within has left, it is not that important. The form then becomes the formless. The formless is then reorganised into something else. It is the vis viva that takes the clay of a human being and through the magic of life re-organises it into something else. If the atoms are incorporated in an organic sense then some other consciousness uses them, eventually.

What then is a path with heart? Eric says that this differs for each of us, yet deep down we all know when we are treading a path with heart and when we are not. That is the simplicity of it all. The trouble is that most people lack the honesty and live lives of denial, because they are fearful of change. It takes a great deal of courage and some considerable measure of practice to learn to listen to the heart. The heart is not all fluffy and warm, roses and sentiment. When operating fully it is powerful beyond imagination and can be quite a demanding master. For in one sense the heart, that is an expression of true feeling, is that part of the total being which is most in sync with what the power within has set us up for. In this context the heart is not the muscle which pumps our blood. It is pure feeling.

Eric says that most people get hooked on romance and idealism and use the mind to try to force this romance on the being, to an extent where after compromising the emanations of the heart for so long, it controls. The mind is the master of what he calls the first ring of power whereas the heart transcends this; it operates on the level where true inner tuition takes place. That tuition of the inner being, whether a work in progress or truly listened to, leads one on the path with heart.

Many paths first appear to be a path with heart, the mind hoping above all hope that a given direction in life will be a path with heart. The being then invests a great deal of effort in following these paths, to the point where it will vigorously defend the “fact” that this is a path with heart. Deep down though, everyone knows when they are bullshitting themselves and even those around them. When such a point is finally admitted the reluctance to change can cause all sorts of problems. The heart never lies. It is a shame that human beings do. In a sense many of us get caught up in a trap of our own making.

Consider each path very carefully and ask yourself only this. Is this for me a path with heart? This is really the only question and it is the 64 million dollar one. Everything else is just so much intellectual masturbation. For opening your heart and listening to it renders all else mundane. Eric says that this then is the bottom line. For as we traverse this, the sea of life, whenever we are faced with what appears to be a dilemma, asking this and answering honestly will enable one to gain sufficient clarity to work out what are the next steps that need to be taken.

Like all paths, it leads exactly no where, what it does though is to provide a journey of quite stupendous novelty, variety and excitement. Esoterically the path with heart is linked to the cabalistic glyph of Tiphareth and is associated with choosing between the old and the new. Every day is nascent at dawn, lived to the maximum, dies at the sunset, rests overnight and life starts the next day, fresh. Knowing full well that each day brings change and the being walking the path with heart will not be the same being on the following day. It takes guts to walk such a path.

Eric says that it might be wise to put in another quotation here.

This one is from M.F. Powers

Footprints

One night I dreamed a dream. I was walking along the beach with my Lord.
Across the dark sky flashed scenes from my life. For each scene, I noticed two sets of footprints in the sand, one belonging to me and one to my Lord.

When the last scene of my life shot before me I looked back at the footprints in the sand. I noticed that at times along the path there was only one set of footprints. I also noticed that it happened at the very lowest and saddest times of my life. This always bothered me and I questioned the Lord about my dilemma.

“Lord, you told me that once I decided to follow You, you would walk with me all the way but I noticed that during the most troublesome times of my life there is only one set of footprints. I don’t understand why, when I needed You most, You would leave me.”

He whispered,

“ My precious child, I love you and would never, never leave you during your times of trial and suffering. When you see only one set of footprints it was then that I carried you. “

This then re-presents a journey through life and in choosing a path with heart, there will be times when the challenges such a choice calls forth can make one feel completely lost and abandoned. If one sticks with it, the power within guides and in a sense carries us, even when the rational mind has packed up, run away and felt very sorry for itself. The power within, leads us to do things which we might not always have the emotional wherewithal to do and makes sure that we make it through to the other side. In doing this it causes us to grow and change. At times we all feel sorry for ourselves and play the martyr.

If we choose to look at our lives for what they really are, hopefully before the last days of our sojourn here, we can always find a purpose for what has happened and if we are lucky the meaning inherent in that purpose. For it is really us, our own power within, which sets up the circumstance for us to learn, blaming others is just stupid and disempowering for everyone concerned.

If we do not take responsibility for ourselves who is going to? Is change then a path with heart?

“Be the change you wish to see in the World.”

Mohandas Gandhi

As far as I can tell most people want some form of change in their lives, yet direct the intention and responsibility for that change towards external sources, hoping that if he (or she) changes, then it would make my life better.

It is a wistful hope that is often forgotten as quickly as it arises, and then so, back to the day to day business of living. Very few people are willing to take responsibility for changing themselves, hoping that someone else will do “it” for them. The changes which they think they seek are perhaps just a tinkering around the edges of life, maybe a better holiday would do the trick…? So here is a question for you are you going to walk this most difficult of paths and see if you can find the extent and wonder of your being-ness by listening to the power within?

True change is not for the fainthearted. It is a matter of bringing the inside out, letting the spirit surface and breathe. The outer form can only present an image of the state of the inner being and true change begins inside. Once a process of change has been initiated it can come at one like a relentless tide, where the sea of change washes before it all that one once held as true.

True change is seldom welcomed with open arms, rather it often comes about because of a moment of clarity when one knows without any doubt that a way of thinking and of being is no longer tenable; that living as one has been, has in some strange way ceased to be an affair of the heart. Such moments can be initiatory of change or alternatively spark a journey of denial in an over expressed need to be right. That over expression of just how great the form side of life is must constantly be verbalised and re-enforced by others to mask the flight which the inner person much deeper down, knows that they are doing. This has consequences.

True change starts slowly as a way of being and behaving is gradually and sometimes painfully eroded. Then the shape and the constituents of a life, are stripped away, allowing a space for a new person to emerge from the chrysalis. What that being is, may bear little or no resemblance to the caterpillar it once thought it was, avariciously feeding on the substance of life and taking from all around.

True change can be said to be transmutative, transformative and perhaps transfigurational. The expense of change is a former life, the gift, a new one, heralding untold wonders of what it is to be alive; bringing with it a new found sense of purpose and meaning. Somehow, setting one apart from the crowd, who may look at you blankly because such a change is beyond the scope of their experience and as such, so very much a part of the unknown and perhaps, because of an unwillingness to change, the unknowable.

In this respect if one really does change, no one may ever notice. Because of the 99% rule which says that 99% of people think only of themselves 99% of the time, many will miss what has been an act of magic, worked at over a great many years.

Eric says that there is only one way to go and that is to walk as gently on the earth as possible, trying to not impose petty wants and desires upon others and taking from the world only what it is that is truly needed. And that life is a journey of learning and of approaching, leaving as few footprints as possible on the rice-paper world whilst having the best impact one can.

This then is a path with a heart, we do not own the world; we can celebrate our incarnation by making our lives an expression of the emanations of our hearts as we dance the pattern of our existence, hand in hand with the power within.