3/23/78 - All dimensions of reality assessment are dimensions of ourselves. All criteria we may apply to external reality apply as well to us. By analyzing the means an intelligence uses to comprehend its environment one may learn much of the limits and characteristics of that intelligence. How many other dimensions, beyond our current grasp, might there be for studying the outer world?
3/24/78 - Last night I began typing "Steps." The project is frustratingly slow, yet it puts me into a kind of high, with many ideas and vivid memories surfacing.
There is a pair of cute cardinals nesting and acting like lovebirds just outside my window at work.
Classical music on the radio. Sipping coffee. Nervously chewing and biting the insides of my lips. Half-dressed. Door open, to cool things off and let in fresh air. Bowling was fun tonight. And, between frames, so was talking with a couple daughters of one of the women on the team. They were asking me about the single life. How come I hadn't gotten married yet? Did I want a wife who was real, real pretty? Did I let my place get all messy because nobody was there to see it but me? How old was I? Was I twenty-one? Twenty? Nineteen? Lord! I told them I was an old man, older even than their mother (twenty-eight). What a world!
Things are going pretty well. The only thing is, it's been a long, long time since I've had any lovemaking. I think I might say I've been a priest. In one sense I have. Which came first, LW or the need for celibacy for awhile? Who knows!? Where do I get stupid questions like that? Got a letter from Rosemary today, the girl I knew eight years ago. She says I'm "a mess," but at least "a charming mess." God!
Life goes on. I feel horny as hell!
3/25/78 - The woman who is my group's assistant therapist told me after our last T.A. session that I'll "be an excellent counselor," that I am "sensitive, responsive, insightful, right on target, and very clear." I'm usually full of self-doubt. These words were thrilling to hear.
Got a call from my dear LW friend from Petersburg, VA, Esther Dupchek. Good to hear her voice! My other LW friends, Pat and Robert, who've been in Botswana in the Peace Corps for two years, will be staying with her for awhile.
Read today in Lyall Watson's The Romeo Error that, after age thirty, each year we lose an average of one percent of our neural network, the loss progressive and continuing, with increasing age, until a point when disorder and disorganization become pronounced. Yet there is evidence mental clarity increases with age and that regular meditation can increase it still further until, for some, it may even replace sleep, permitting consciousness at normal waking (or even higher) levels, sometimes for twenty-four hours a day! Obviously, this does not come overnight. It depends as well on relative freedom from infirmity, good diet over the years, adequate regular exercise, a meaningful social context, and security about basic essentials like shelter, freedom from violent change, lack of significant excess stress, and so forth.
3/26/78 - I especially appreciate Lyall Watson's point (again in The Romeo Error) that civilization is now so close to annihilation that the only way we can deal with death is in terms of its transcendence. I would add that the quest for transcendence serves as a defense, against awareness of death's total personal impact, equally well whether the possibility of such transcendence is remote or within our grasp, imaginary or real. This search is as well a way to deal with ultimate meaninglessness.
We know that experiences of detachment and transcendence are associated most always with alpha brain waves. Still unknown is whether the quality and content of such experiences are caused by electrochemical changes in our nervous systems or if, instead, certain brain states make us more receptive to conditions or realities outside ourselves, beyond the finite self, which we perceive in terms of such detachment or transcendence.
I find it natural, though unwarranted, to assume that such states are based primarily on realms beyond the individual self (bound as it is in a physical, living body in this world, here and now). The alternatives, that we die absolutely, that even our most transcendent experiences reflect merely the current state of our programming and metaprogramming as admittedly quite complex thinking machines, that the quality and content of such "higher realms" die with us, can seem just too bleak for honest confrontation. Yet we now know that these very states of detachment and transcendence need not reflect any higher plan or meaning than that an organism engrossed in such meditative states in times of profound physical stress has a greater chance for survival than one keyed up and excited by the horror of its seemingly imminent demise.
It is logical to assume, then, that our capacity for such states evolved due to such survival value (the meditatively entranced organism being able to sustain its functioning nervous system longer, despite severe physical shock, than one fully involved in what is happening to it) and not because they are a foretaste of the next world, certainly not because it is God's Grace to encourage us through a world, life, and death that are all too often otherwise full of misery.
On the other hand, we have no proof that there are not in fact higher realms which transcend our existences here and may be accessible to us before and/or after our deaths. There is much still unexplained if we assume that we simply die absolutely upon the irreversible destruction of our nervous systems. It seems best, then, not to beg the question but to admit that we just do not know, to try to keep our minds open about such things.
Regardless of the biological bases of our capacity for meditative states and the ultimate significance of their content, the fact remains that they can have great value for the individual in this life and are well worth our efforts to cultivate them, even if nature's "intent" may have been that they would have a rather limited, specialized utility. We now find ourselves, willy-nilly, in possession of this exquisite faculty that can be utilized to enrich our lives.
If it is right to assume these states derive from their survival value when the organism is under great duress, in danger of the deterioration and disorganization normally associated with dying, we might expect that they will occur with greater frequency and depth to the extent our experience more closely approximates the approach of death. If one is not suicidal, it seems preferable to restrict such researches to situations that, while not actually hazardous, nonetheless fool the organism into responding as it would to imminent demise.
All the various methods of which I've heard for achieving the most profound meditative states do seem in fact to be just such simulations: prolonged fasting; drugs or gases; repeated, extended physical exertion to exhaustion; profound isolation; sensory deprivation; systematic destruction of the arbitrary reality construct, as in the apprenticeship of a Carlos Castañeda ("stopping the world"), and various of the serious meditation systems.
The best means to "higher consciousness" combine several techniques that, together or separately, "con" the nervous system into responding as if the adherent has gone to the brink and beyond. Indeed, in LW the disciple is taught to cultivate a condition known as "dying while living," a state in which the body is experienced as if dead, and awareness, freed of this physical encumbrance, can rise to profound and beautiful realms "within."
Perhaps our bodies and the rest of the physical universe are the hardware for which all that is truly, lastingly alive is the software.
4/5/78 - Tonight in my T.A. meeting, the group's founder, Dr. Carl Paulus, said I'm ahead of most of my fellow classmates in learning to be a professional counselor, since they've hardly even begun to realize they have chronic fears or to integrate the various aspects of themselves. He added that he has no qualms about my ability to be a counselor, as I'm clear and perceptive, that his main concern would be that I may not allow myself to play, and so would be more prone to burnout. I am, however, also beginning to have more fun.
4/7/78 - Had a really heavy session last night in my counseling communication class. While role-playing being a client, I got into some really personal stuff in front of the whole class. I felt OK about it at that time but later began to feel really exposed and vulnerable. Others have not been showing so much self-disclosure. Today I'm experiencing a sore throat, sinus infection and flow, earache, etc., for about the fourth time in the last six weeks.
Today and tomorrow I'm in a two-day workshop on marriage and family counseling. The guest family therapist leading it is quite good. But this whole extroverted situation, from yesterday plus this weekend, as well as my illness, has left me feeling pretty badly. I'm rather conscious of difficulties in relating to others (or myself) in a relaxed way and of feeling hopeless and lonely much of the time. The idea of training to be a therapist, when my own house is not in order, tonight seems quite absurd!
4/8/78 - Got a nice note from Barbara, Rosemary's sister, with whom I had a really great time, perhaps the best in four or five years, last weekend, at Rosemary and her husband Jack's place, in Raleigh, NC. Barbara makes it clear she has no plans to come out this way again in the near future, that she simply wants to let me know it was for her also a wonderful time. We really turn each other on!
An important thing learned from the workshop, these past couple days with Dr. James Gynan, is that a significant part of family therapy is being playful, energetically leading the family members into more playfulness together. He believes that for everyone there can be more, that family life, like life in general, is sometimes very hard, but that change is possible, and it is important as a therapist to be able to risk, to allow oneself to feel vulnerable, to laugh at oneself and with others about one's own foibles, to have a certain humility and perspective about one's limitations, without being crushed by them, to make it clear early, from the outset, who's in charge, and that one realize and accept the possibility of "going crazy" or of "failure," yet proceed anyway.
It occurs to me that if this ordinary consensus reality is not all there is and if instead there are yet higher realms of what is real, just as this one is qualitatively superior to most dreaming, then there may be built-in limits to what we may know here of a certainly, to what we can verify and validate as a part of reality, for the very reason that if some things were fully realized, that very insight would subject ordinary reality to profound question and then, finally, would explode it or cancel it, not merely for the individual seeking higher consciousness but for everyone and everything caught up in this present "reality," in the same way that the realization that we can wake from it destroys the seeming absoluteness of a dream's reality and usually leads directly into the waking state.
Meanwhile, to maintain the myth of this realm's reality (contingent as "the real" may be), from which we are not all collectively ready to "awaken," we tell ourselves stories and pretend they are the truth, just as, in dreaming, so long as our attention is kept undistracted from the "stories" created by our fruitful imaginations, we remain asleep. When unusual stimuli impinge on the sleeper's consciousness, they are apt to be included in the dream stories, until they have passed a variable threshold beyond which their impingement is too conflicting with the myth of the dream's reality for it to remain tenable. In this way too, when unusual phenomena are occurring that begin to impinge on consensus reality, we try, as long as we can, to incorporate them, explain them, and label them in our consensus reality stories, stories of science, spirituality, scholarship, psychology, education, languages and linguistics, the nuclear family, politics, medicine, philosophy, literature and art, technology, mass media, music, dance, war, sports, time and space, ethics, law, culture, myths, and so forth.
And if there is power in a stable worldview or in a cohesive, consistent level of reality, just as there is a kind of power (inertia) in a mass moving or a mass at rest, so too perhaps there is a natural, inherent resistance to the occurrence of phenomena under conditions that, by their complete lack of harmony with it and by public attention to the inconsistency, would seriously call into question the very fabric of this presumed reality. So-called "miracles," then, while quite possible, may tend not to occur in ways that will lead to their general acceptance, for if we once all realized that miracles are just natural occurrences, that it was simply our view of reality that was too small for them, then by that awareness we would in fact "awaken," which (Catch-22) can not occur, because a precondition of this reality's persistence is that miracles must continue to appear rare and extraordinary.
4/9/78 - 1 AM. I'm just back from a party at Roland's place, for participants in the family therapy workshop and their guests. I was scared to go but am glad I did. It felt lonely at times, but I did talk with several people, practiced some clogging, and met many nice folks. It was interesting and sometimes fun, but I was disappointed not to interest any of the attractive young, or even not so young, women in more than light conversation!
After my delight in simple sexual touching, kissing, embracing, and relating with Barbara last weekend and in our otherwise teasingly, flirtatiously getting better acquainted, though we had but two days together, I am now definitely decided that the pursuit of intimate friendships is of more value for me than strictly adhering to all of the LW vows. It may yet be awhile, but the sooner I can enjoy plentiful and healthy sex the better!
2 AM. Going to bed. I'll try to program my dreaming. Tonight I want to have a dream that solves the problem of how to meet new girlfriends and "break the ice" with them.
After my "request" for a dream last night, the only one I recall is of an atomic bomb about to go off and of being underground in a shelter. I have the impression I'm with one other man and that we are trying to outwit a similar team, close by, also underground, who represent an enemy. We must evacuate some building. I am concerned about saving valuables and mementos from it. I think my colleague is still in the kill zone when the bomb goes off. (I can't make heads or tails of this dream fragment. If it relates to the dream I intended to have, it certainly is subtle and symbolic! I suppose a Freudian psychoanalyst would enjoy it.)
Read Structures of Matching.
My parents disagree with my philosophy. My friends believe I should think differently. My teachers feel I ought to come to other conclusions. My country claims an allegiance I do not feel. My therapists lament my deficiencies. My brothers and sister suggest that each of their varied views is best. The followers of LW call on me to remember their ascetic instructions and have no further doubts where their doctrines are concerned. My employers feel I am unstable. My colleagues wish I were more conservative. My classmates would have me be less driven. I must be on the right track!
Tonight, am again retiring with the idea of having a dream about where/how to find new girlfriends.
4/10/78 - Don't remember any of my dreams from last night. I'll try again tonight.
Read Ursulla K. LeGuin's Lathe of Heaven!
4/11/78 - Out for an evening walk. It began raining, a light, steady shower. Pleasant.
For the last three nights I've tried programming my dreams. So far I've had no results, but I'm not discouraged and will continue. Once more, tonight, the requested topic is how to meet new women friends.
I've gotten quite a pot belly over the last couple of years. I hope increased exercise, starting as soon as I quit at Fort Jackson and continuing regularly thereafter, will take care of this problem. Also, at that point I intend eating a good percentage of my meals at vegetarian/health food stores and in moderation.
I completed the first typing of Chapter I (starting in 1971) in this journal, "My Steps," tonight. Feels great!
4/16/78 - Today, after an Association meeting with Mr. Sondhi, we went over to McDonald's for a pie and French fries, and he related stories from Indian mythology about Rama, Krishna, and others. I explained that, while such stories are interesting the first time you hear them (he had related these to me at least twice before), I figured they were just stories, that I really knew nothing about such things from the distant past, but that for me the only things of importance in the realm of the spiritual are that our Maharaji is no ordinary man, he tells us to meditate, and that he says once we go inside in our meditation we shall find the answers to all our questions. Until then I feel no need to have everything worked out about how or why we came into being, the purpose of creation, the nature of suffering, or what it may be like after we die, or even if, indeed, we persist beyond death.
It is sufficient to believe that, by following the method he advises, we may one day fully concentrate the attention and transcend the ordinary world. For me, everything else, all the speculations and hypotheses, are just distractions. These stories from India's past perhaps have valuable spiritual or philosophical truths but certainly don't seem to me to be literal histories, as I think Mr. Sondhi believes.
There is evil in the world. Whether it is also personified in some supernatural power is unimportant. I suspect we are the sole source of the evil we discover. But it does exist. We are not merely fools. We will the atrocities of which we are capable. The blood on our hands is hardly innocent. Yet there is also love, goodness, playfulness, genuineness, spontaneity, compassion, and faith. And we can choose.
4/19/78 - Today is my sister Alice's birthday.
A lot's been going on lately. Tomorrow I have the final exam in my counseling communication course. After that I can relax for the next six weeks, and make some final decisions about various things.
Reading Go Out in Joy, by Nina Herrmann, about a student chaplain in a children's hospital. Really moving for a softy like me!
4/21/78 - I think the yogi's development of a trungpa, a phantom companion of his mind's creation, by deliberate concentration techniques, is akin to the schizophrenic's genesis of dissociated personalities, only in the schizophrenic the concentration that results in the "alter egos," whether full-blown identities or only in the form of voices or distortions, is inadvertent. In the same way, the forces that result in poltergeists are, I think, inadvertent manifestations of capacities we all have to some degree, though in most they are undeveloped and so not under conscious control.
4/23/78 - Much as it may give greater security, there is no necessity, nor is it even better, to have all the questions of faith resolved and all the answers settled and sure. We might go on seeking and searching for the rest of our lives and still have been truly spiritual people. Indeed, in a sense, to assume for once and all that you have hold of the truth, and that it is this, this, and this (but not that, that, and that), without having had even a tiny experience of such truth, may hold us back spiritually, for perhaps it is only we, and not God, who impose a fixed vision of reality upon that which is. And if we freeze it according to our mold, how can we also be open to it as dynamic, flowing, and open-ended?
I had a dream last night in which, again, I did a lot of flying and moved things about a great deal, by telekinesis. I can not recall a prior dream, however, in which I found such things so natural and felt so free about them, despite that in the dream there were two injunctions I failed to follow: first, that I should not display such abilities before others; and, second, that I ought not frivolously use the powers but save them for my meditation. The joy of flying and of moving things about by simple concentration was too great. I also wanted to show off a little! (Too bad it was only a dream.)
Got a call tonight from Pat and Robert. They were still at Esther's house, waiting for a nibble from Robert's job seeking, but will probably be moving to Washington, D.C., soon.
At the beginning of "Steps" I refer to a vast sea which inundates everything in the known reality. It seems to me now that this is symbolic of the great lifelong sleep in which the mind is accustomed to remain. Looking back since beginning the journal, I'm convinced that only very seldom, perhaps less than a half dozen times, have I been on the verge of truly awakening from this deep slumber. Yet never have I done so. I remain here on my "little mat," snoring away.
4/24/78 - My pot-belly is uncomfortable and unsightly. Not since the height of my drinking days has it been so bad. Soon, soon, soon, I tell myself, I shall go on a very nutritious reducing diet and significantly increase the exercise I'm getting.
Tonight I called my dad and wished him "Happy Birthday." I also asked him to pass on the message to my next to youngest brother, Ernie, that he is very welcome to stay with me for a few weeks this summer. He had written asking about this.
Am thinking I'll be giving up my square-dancing. It is quite difficult in that I do not have a partner, there are few, if any, single women with whom I might dance who are not either much older or younger, and I still am pretty clumsy and unsure of myself on the dance floor. So, I'm leaning toward setting this aside for now and perhaps picking it up again once I have someone closer to my age with whom to dance. We'll see. Meanwhile, I'm keeping my eyes open for other activities that may help me get out more and have a good time with people.
My correspondence with Barbara, Rosemary's sister, has continued. Indeed, I have written to her five or six times now.
A number of years ago, before I had heard of LW, I was in a rather special group, in CA, based on the teachings of the Russian mystic, G. I. Gurdjieff. At the outset I agreed not to divulge any of the activities there until I really understood them. As I can not as yet say that I have this understanding, I shall not relate what occurred there and its relevance for me. However, that experience definitely had an impact, one which significantly altered my plans and way of thinking at very deep levels, about myself, life in general, and what we are about here. The effect of this change, though often forgotten, is still felt today. Chief among the objects of the leaders and participants of this group, as I remember, was a resolution at all times and in all activities to maintain the highest degree of consciousness of which one were capable. One was to gradually, with the aid of certain exercises, remove from one's life all those things which hindered the fulfillment of this resolution. I failed to live up to the high standards and left, long before I had learned all that I might have. For years afterward I felt regret at this, which, no doubt, has had an effect on my manner of following LW, motivating me to continue a relationship with this path though I have many doubts and reservations about it.
When you come upon a real storyteller, listen to him well! There you shall find much wisdom, but, try as you may, you'll not know where reality ends and story begins.
Implicit in most unhealthy relationship behavior is a double-lie that we both tell ourselves and others about ourselves. The more unhealthy the behavior, the bigger the lie. Often there may be one real whopper at the root of the most neurotic behavior. Sometimes we'd rather die than confess and drop the double-lie! If you find yourself feeling blue, frustrated, lonely, angry, or hurt, ask yourself what is your double-lie. Surrounding and buttressing the whopper, there may be many little lies. If, after finding and dropping one, you still feel badly, chances are you're on the right track, but there's still another, really big one, lurking nearby.
4/26/78 - Was surprised tonight by a call from Barbara, my so far away girlfriend. It now appears more likely she'll be moving from Minneapolis in the next couple of months, perhaps to Raleigh. If so, we'll undoubtedly be seeing each other again and exploring the possibility of getting really close.
If you would live long and richly, choose activities that do not bore you! I've just had four of the dullest years in my employment life, and I think they must have taken at least an equal number off my potential longevity.
5/8/78 - Got a complete physical examination last week and a dental checkup today. On both occasions, received a "clean bill of health." Good!
5/11/78 - Meditated for fifty-four minutes in one sitting this evening and kept free of drowsiness or scattered mental rambling throughout, much of the time with attention at the eye center and with mantra repetition there as well. It was very helpful that I had a short nap, then jogged a little, and then also took a shower before sitting, so that I felt rested, alert, and relaxed. I was not trying for anything special but rather was just sitting.
5/14/78 - Talked by phone with Barbara yesterday while I was up in Raleigh, with Rosemary and her family, for an Association visit. I realize now it's unlikely we'll ever become intimates. Barbara is too busy running, and I'm so intense it drives people away.
Well, I have decided to get all the dates I can without jeopardizing my studies. I'm going to have good sex and genuine companionship again! If the LW values are too restrictive, I'll just follow my own.
5/15/78 - Although there may be ongoing changes in perspective or improvements in awareness, personality integration, self-realization, or growth over the next few years, it now seems unlikely they'll involve dramatic transformations soon. I apparently shall have to resign myself to the simple, everyday, subtle alterations that only give evidence of themselves once they have, little by little, led one's life into new pathways.
Similarly, my career progress, while taking a significant turn from Army safety specialist to rehabilitation counseling graduate student, is likely to be gradual, and slow to yield tangible fruits.
If there is to be any important positive shift in my life in the near future, it is likely to occur in my search for genuine intimacy. Let's hear it for close friends and abundant erotic contact!