An Interesting Thing Happened This Summer
An interesting thing happened in this mind this summer. But first, some background:
As many of you know, I have published five books and written many articles, all non-fiction, all with spiritual themes. But my writing began with fiction at the age of ten. All my life I have devised plots in my mind, inspired by any number of things. It’s just the way this mind often occupied itself.
I finished two novels, one in my early twenties and one in my early thirties. Both were love stories. The first was heterosexual. The second, more authentically for me, was between two women. Though both were submitted to publishers, neither was published. I did not consider myself very good at writing fiction, though I loved the process. Eventually, fiction writing fell away naturally, though my mind continued to produce plots and characters.
My non-fiction, spiritual writing began in my early forties, as my blog. I have not stopped writing spiritual themed books and articles since (I am fifty-four). The only thing that is similar about writing novels and writing non-fiction books for me is that I am not able to complete a book if I cannot clearly see the beginning, the middle, and the end. I don’t have to know the details, just the general outline.
Last fall a love story, between two women, came to me. When I wrote fiction before, my characters were not much more than cardboard standees. And the stories were plot driven, despite the fact that I prefer to read character driven stories myself. This writing was a new experience. The characters seemed almost real to me. There was much more depth and texture to them and their story. I felt compelled to begin writing it, but it fell away. For one thing, I could not see it all. The central conflict did not work. I took this episode to be just some sort of random creative burst. Nothing followed.
Now I come to my very interesting late summer this year:
For three years, after the self-concept fell away, my mind was very noisy. The Quiet was here, but the noise was also persistent. I accepted it as part of the process. But sometime this August my mind quieted and a Space opened in it. It was lovely. When I had free time I would spend it playing a word game on my computer to occupy the surface of my mind while I basked in this Spaciousness beneath. In fact, I came to associate the game with the Spaciousness! I couldn’t get enough of either.
In time I began to sense in the Spaciousness that a big shift was coming. That felt great, too. But I didn’t know what it would be and could only let it unfold.
Then one night in August I had a dream. There was nothing remarkable about the dream in content or context or in how I experienced it. It had a slight erotic tinge to it, though nothing erotic happened in it. And, as I do, for the next day or two I casually played with the characters from the dream and devised a lose plot. The characters and setting changed significantly in this process. Blah, blah, blah—all this was very usual for me.
But then it wasn’t. I cannot say when the Light of Love came into my mind. I cannot find mention of It in my journal. But coinciding with the Light, this story that I was casually playing with in my usual way became compelling. There are things I’d heard writers of fiction say that I had never experienced myself: The characters were real for them, they lived with the characters, they go to the place of which they write, etc. I was, for the first time, having these experiences. It was as though another reality was in my mind all the time. I felt as a god in the traditional sense: I was creator and the characters were my creation, made in my image, a part of me. And this other reality, this fictional story, was bathed in a Golden Light. It was the same Light as the Light of the Holy Relationship, which I experienced over thirty years ago.
The story pushed at me. I thought the reason I could not let it go was that I had not devised an ending. So I decided to do so to get this distraction out of my mind. One Saturday I spent the whole day, as I went about my usual Saturday errands and chores, crafting in the back of my mind an ending to the story. I succeeded. Phew! Now the damn thing would be off my mind. I could go back to the delicious Spaciousness…
But the next day, as I mowed my lawn, I continued to think about the story and I knew it had to be written. I began writing that day.
The following day I began my journal with: “Totally scrambled. There’s been some shift. Things are not the same within.”
Later that day: “Yesterday was like a non sequitur from what went before. All that happened last week, all that I ended thinking about Saturday about the personal thought system falling away… Went in a totally different direction on Sunday…I feel like something is being done to me, through me, and without me and all I can do is watch.”
I described it as doing a 90-degree turn. I was headed north and suddenly, unexpectedly, I was headed east.
The sensation of something being done to, through, and without me held for the duration of the experience. It was as though my mind had been hijacked. The book, the characters, this other reality was with me all the time. So was the Light of Love, which was what made it tolerable. But I wanted to be there, with the Light, in the book, all the time. It was so distracting!
There was, of course, a huge ego attack over this. Huge judgements against everything I was experiencing, over the story, the characters, my psychology, etc. Par for the course with the ego.
For a short time I wondered about my sanity. Perhaps I was having a psychotic break! But I realized that, though distracted, I was fully functional in the rest of my life. That settled the question of my sanity and I was able to continue on without that fear.
But there was more. In addition to this Light and this story pushing through me, dark corners of my personal psychology were being revealed. The Light was slowly diminished for me by this nibbling darkness, though It was never completely undone.
I was aware from the start that the story was an allegory of my spiritual journey from unworthiness to accepting Love. The characters were simply metaphors. Their details and the details of the story didn’t matter. Then one night early on I got up in the middle of the night to use the toilet, my mind consumed by all that was going on, when I got this thunderous message, “Pay attention! You are telling yourself something!” Suddenly I could see not just this allegory and these metaphors, but tons of symbols in the story. They would not mean much to others. They were from me to me. (Example: The protagonist’s name is Aly—as in Aly-gory, get it? Duh. I didn’t see that for a few more days).
Tons of personal processing then followed. There was grief. There was depression. And the whole time I was able to write the novel without any of that making its way into the novel.
There was the Light, there was the novel, there was the psycho-spiritual processing. It was a massive, confusing tangle that took over my mind. I was hard to live with, as my wife reported, because when I wasn’t consumed with the novel I was consumed with processing. I simply wasn’t “here”. I could give my attention to my clients, but that was it. Everything else was a struggle against the tide of wanting to be writing either the novel or in my journal.
Each glob of darkness surfaced, was seen, and was gone. However, there was nothing I had to do with any of it. Nothing had to be “fixed”, just processed. And the tangle slowly unraveled. My mind began to settle. I was left with just the novel.
This went on for a few weeks. There were tons of insights. I felt I wrote as many words in my journal as in the novel. I finished the first draft of the novel in six and a half weeks. By the end my mind had been settled for a while.
The insights continued. But the one that turned the corner for me was when I heard in my mind that I had been making the product (the novel) and the processing too significant. It was the Light, the Love, that mattered. The product and the processing were simply inevitable effects in a split-mind when the Light breaks through. But they didn’t mean anything. They were incidental.
The novel poured into my mind and poured out of me. Scenes came to me and I described them on paper. The characters took over and the story went in directions I didn’t plan. But to be clear, the novel is nothing remarkable. It has no spiritual themes whatsoever. It is just an ordinary love story. It has more depth and breadth than the fiction I wrote earlier in life. But that distinction only has meaning for me. I did not “channel” it from a Higher Source. It is the product of this split-mind in many ways and on many levels. Only this mind can really understand these ways and levels. What I went through psycho-spiritually did not make it onto those pages. And even re-reading my journal I find I was not able to capture there the profundity of the experience.
The novel is being read by others now so I can determine if it is worth sending to a publisher. But I want to make clear that as remarkable as this experience was, it was about me, not about bringing some product into the world for others’ enlightenment. I knew this as I wrote it and it has been reinforced for me by those reading it. ACIM students who have read it find lessons for themselves in the book because they are looking for them. They are used to using everything as a classroom with the Holy Spirit. Those readers who are not on a path have not reported anything remarkable except that they enjoy the book. No one reading the book experiences the Light and Love I did writing it (and still do). It is like any other form, neutral. What is done with it is determined by the reader.
This mind went through, and is still going through much more quietly, something amazing. It is not the same as before this experience. I see a direct line between the Light of the Holy Relationship and this experience. They are the same, really. The lesson is the same, but I am better equipped and able to accept it now. It is the Light that matters, not Its effect on the personal psyche. That is incidental.
This is not the first time I’ve experienced such an abrupt shift in direction on this path. And I know from experience that I will not fully understand it until time passes and I can look back at it in the context of the greater unfolding. Will there be another book? Will I be writing novels now? I don’t know. I don’t know anything! I had no clue this would happen. For now, I just have to be confused. I get up each day and remember the Light of Love that has come into my awareness. And then I do what it is given to me to do that day. My biggest lesson? To not judge what I am given to do, no matter how unexpected or confusing.
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