New lands and old home
There is tension in spiritual life. If I am to progress from being semi-aware to fully aware, I must face conflict, internal and external. My goal may be a state of peace, but the journey will hold challenges. One such challenge is the conflict between progress and familiarity.
I’m amazed by the endless vista before me, a limitless realm of possible conscious states, progressing up to the source of all things. And yet, like a sailor clinging to the rocks of his own shore, I am reluctant to disembark.
New lands and my old home. The wide sky and comforting ground.
States of consciousness
My home, in this context, is the consciousness that I’m accustomed to. It is now filled with family and friends, with ideas that I’ve been cultivating for years. I have a particular understanding of reality and illusion. But these things are in flux, with new elements coming and old ones going. My understanding changes. My company changes. Is there anything that is intrinsic to my very being, which will remain? if I am to progress, everything must be laid on the table and questioned.
Yet I am afraid to do it.
I recently finished my first book , Fire from the Overworld. It is a Visionary Fantasy novel, set in an alternate world. I don’t wish to toot my own horn here, but because these themes run throughout the book, I’d like to speak of it here.
Two kinds of journeys
A sketch of the story for you: two apprentice mystics live in a desert village. The girl is Yuvali and the boy is Héyowan. Both face the conflict between progress and safety in different ways.
Yuvali travels from her body, and gradually enters higher dimensions. This thrills her and she thinks she can go on forever, but to do so she must leave her old conceptions of self. She must leave attachment to her father, her mother, her village, and her body.
The other main character, Héyowan, can enter a the mind of a person or animal as though stepping into a cave. He experiences their thoughts and feelings as though they were his own. He can move into their deepest centers, to see their glowing hearts. It is a great intimacy that is possible even with enemies. He finds himself mixing with them, forgetting himself. He strives to protect the sanctity of his own identity, even while trying to help others, but often he fails.
Kinds of enlightenment
Years ago, I enjoyed reading Siddhartha (by Hermann Hesse) and The Red Lion (by Maria Szepes). I consider them to be part of the Visionary Fantasy genre. They inspired me to write more, and yet in both cases I was dissatisfied with the climax, with the point of ‘enlightenment’ of the main characters. In both books, the characters realized that everything in the universe is undifferentiated, and that they are part of that whole. When I read the books, I thought, ‘Well that’s all right. But there must be an actual center to things, not just a diffuse oneness.’ (I’m paraphrasing. I think I was not so eloquent.) This is my conviction, and along with the Vedic teachings, it has inspired the cosmology of my story.
Now, I won’t tell you whether Yuvali and Héyowan are able to reconcile all these things, so that they can make spiritual progress and also help their people, but I invite you to find out for yourself!
They say art is never finished, and I agree. Nonetheless, I’m satisfied with how the story has turned out. It’s definitely been a journey for me. As I grew near to the themes and characters, I learned about myself. I hope you do too; in your reading, writing and spiritual life.
Next week, I’ll be starting a new series called, ‘Scene a week.’ Every week, I’ll give you a scene from a story, maybe from the beginning and maybe from somewhere in the middle. These stories will not be fully written, just the scenes. You can vote for which ones you want to have made into a full story in the comments section. Sound like fun?