Chapter Three…Part 2
Boot Camp …. Rules are rules
The beginning of this series starts here….
Since I was engaged in the dialogues for over a decade, they became less like a spiritual event and simply became an ongoing relationship in my life. In their beginning I was immersed in family life. We are a fairly close knit family and this unusual relationship was accommodated within my day to day routines. “Where’s Mom”? “She’s talking with those guys”. And so it was that those guys became more or less part of the immediate family.
During these first few years I would sense an intuitive prompting or a desire to engage. Later when our work in the dialogues had been established (although not exactly defined) and I was living on my own, the dialogues became almost daily work and I initiated contact commensurate with my ability and schedule. However, each time I opened in dialogue I was directed whether it was appropriate in that moment to engage.
These two inquiries… Do I have permission? and Is it appropriate?… were actually the two questions I had asked that immediately preceded the beginning of the dialogues. In their simplicity and respectful acknowledgement, they became the foundation of our relationship and prefaced each prayer required during any given part of a dialogue, formalizing the relationship and keeping me ever mindful of every shift in conversation.
I was expected to have thoughts related only to the subject at hand and that I used language entirely descriptive of the present moment, since references to a possible future were inappropriate and cause for stopping and acknowledging that I had done so. Specific references to the past were allowed, but only within context and they had to be relevant to personal experience. I was to be careful to respond with balanced emotion no matter what occurred. I was never to make a verbal reference, or even have a mental thought of another living person, their ideas, or their work. This was by far the most difficult rule to maintain.
There were formal prayers required when ever a rule was broken. When I had a question of my own I was instructed to verbally formulate it before engaging which I found difficult to remember in my early enthusiasm or long disregard of formality and of strictly following rules. Then beginning a session I was to ask if it was appropriate and if I had permission to ask my question.
Aside from the continual practice of deep and responsive listening, I began to see that the discipline requirements, the rules of Contemplative Resonance itself, required me to be consistently mindful of the language I was using, since it was required that I speak primarily in the present tense and never relative to anything in the future. This inevitably led to a deeper consideration of my regard of both the past and the future. The past just is. The future, though not certain, is a distinct possibility. So it wasn’t the existence of either but how I regarded them. Was I reading circumstances solely through the filter of the past? Or was I only seeing what would provide me with what I desired, or keep me from what I feared, in a projected future?
The inability to reference other living human beings or their ideas showed how fluidly other people’s concerns and ideas passed through my thoughts almost unbidden, of how much I relied on all human relationship for validation of simply being and belonging. I came to see that every relationship, even the most simple, acts as a cord anchoring or grounding me in the world I live in.
I also could clearly see how alive ideas are in the mind and how I automatically build my own concepts by referencing the thoughts of others. It was not easy to understand why referencing others was inappropriate. When the material in the dialogues was the most difficult, the most challenging to witness and integrate, having to hold to this rule often made me feel very alone. I was told it was a matter of respect but it wasn’t until well into the dialogues that I was to understand that all relationship is profoundly creative and immediate. We may inevitably build on the ideas of others but our own response in relationship must come from the solid ground of our own being. We may also care deeply for the welfare of those we love and care about, but without their explicit permission and the express permission to do so, it was a disrespectful interference to make reference to anyone besides myself in Contemplative Resonance. Since thoughts are usually able to roam freely and even my thoughts were known, this rule was extraordinarily difficult to hold to.
But there was something else, something that was being slowly uncovered. As I held to the rules in this relationship I was to personally witness another deeper, more hidden side of human perception. Perhaps it was possible for me to witness only within the dialogues…and of necessity entirely alone. Despite my trusting, the rules of relationship felt like a tenuous cord holding me in place and enabling me to withstand the riggers of witnessing and recording the human archetypal perception of trauma, denial and indifference.
However the “boot camp” I am describing here was early in the dialogues and I was learning that it also became essential to closely investigate how I regard new or challenging information, how to venture into unfamiliar territory that may not be expressed in references I was more familiar with. The rules pointedly showed that I habitually connected new ideas with a full personal mental reference library collected over a lifetime. I used these stored references automatically for connecting bits of information and for confirmation or judgement of the value of new information. It was also challenging to remain open when concepts that I was familiar with, consider possible but had already more or less dismissed as irrelevant, were being introduced into context.
It became apparent to what extent I relied on the world of thought… a vast landscape of memory, acquired knowledge, collective agreement and relationship. This thought patterning of continual referencing was so natural, so pervasive, that in order to hold to the strict discipline, I eventually found it necessary to refrain from any research or reading other than factually relative to the content of the dialogues.
I was aware that there was also the distinct possibility that in following my own “referenced” trails I would fail to see the complexity of the perceptual paradigm being introduced, especially when confronted with a small part that I didn’t understand or had already previously dismissed. It also became a hindrance to seek comparison with any structured belief or philosophical system to validate my experience. I came to appreciate this offered poem…
Imponderables measured falsely are delusions
Each moment has no measure
So as simple as the rules were, like keys in a locked box they have become essential tools for perceptual comparisons and deeper, and then deeper again, considering…..
To be continued…..on Sunday, October 2nd after a short hiatus. Off to the Coast on the 24th!!!!
© Jana H. White
Artist: Max Ernst