Tuesday, 13 January 2009

The world a stage?

In his comments to yesterday's post, Reg asks me a question:

Concerning the individual's "experience", a friend describes Goddess Energy as "general female energy". Whereas you refer specifically to the "will of the Goddess", as of an individual divine entity, with a "voice", telling you to do certain things.
What are your thoughts on the divine as an individual, and the divine as general spiritual force?
If the individual divinity has real existence for you, is she one among many, or does each person who is aware of her or him have their own version of what is essentially the same thing?


I would here like to attempt an answer- and hope that in so doing i might invite further questions.

I do indeed speak of Her "voice" because that is what I heard. As clearly and distinctly as I hear any sound. With a very specific message - "I want you to be a priest". It was while I was at University - and working as a cook in order to keep semi-solvent. I was chopping onions and the voice came from behind me. Clear and strong. I looked around. Nobody to be seen. That was it. No choirs. No angels. A voice like any other - but genderless. I do not remember any indication whether the voice was male or female. In fact, having left the Goddess path for a while, I even wondered whether I was being called to be a Christian priest and went to see the local vicar, who suggested that I attended church. Well, two Sundays were enough- they quickly reminded me of why I had left!

I could not forget the voice, however. And, eventually, I found myself strongly drawn to the Priest/ess of Avalon training in Glastonbury, taught by Kathy Jones. And knew that I had come home. I then knew that the voice I had heard had been that of Goddess. For a while, I thought that perhaps She was the Lady of Avalon - and maybe she was for that while - but soon it became clear that She was, and is, Inanna.

There were other times when I heard Her. And there were occasions of dream and vision which seemed highly significant. Of Inanna identifying Herself to me in a very visual dream - and then seeing the dream replicated in detail in the initiation ceremony as Priest of Inanna last November. There were others, but these will do for now.

So what does this tell me about Her nature? Not, in fact, very much. For they are deeply personal and are mediated through a consciousness that I know to be fallible. My first acid trip was enough to show me how malleable reality is. And subsequent events left me for a long time with little concept of any possibility of stable identity and an even greater difficulty than before in living in the world.

As a human being, I edit and editorialise my perception. Every second, I am bombarded with a universe of sensory information and my response is to select a small proportion and reject the bulk of this. Thus, any conclusion I may reach is based on partial (in both senses of the word) information because I may well have ignored any that did not accord with my own preconceptions.

So the only answer that I can truly give is that I do not know. To me, She is personal and individual with a quirky sense of humour. She is part trickster, part lover, part mother, part daughter, part this part that. She cannot be labelled or pinned like a butterfly in any display cabinet. I cannot say She is this or She is that for she is both, and neither. I can only speak of my experience of Her.

So I cannot speak of another's experience of the divine because I simply cannot know what that is. All I do know is that whatever form She - for to me that is the correct pronoun - takes, it can neither confine nor define Her. She is far larger than any box we can put Her in. I name her Inanna - others see Her in different forms. I also see Her in other human beings - they fully embody Her and yet remain uniquely themselves. In fact, the more they are fully and uniquely themselves, the more they embody Her.

I am reluctant to use the word "energy" because that seems to deny agency and also to disembody. "Energy" is nice and clean - does not have the inconveniences of physical form such as blood, sweat and shit. Energy does not feel pain and grief and neither does it feel love nor joy. Energy does not feel anything - that takes matter. Energy is what is experienced by matter and without matter there would no experience. Energy would be formless. It is matter that gives it form. There is no gender to energy - it is undifferentiated. For gender demands form and form demands matter. You, I and the universe are, ultimately, undifferentiated energy swirling in a void. We are imagination. Maya. This was Buddha's great insight. But he made a judgement and privileged the void. Or, to be fair, his followers did. This perhaps is an error.

"All this world is but a play,
Be thou the joyful player"
Incredible String Band


Perhaps the trick is to recognise the part we have to play and then play it. Some might call it fate. But perhaps it is some sort of cosmic script - a working out of some great huge drama whose final scene we cannot foresee - only take "our exits and our entrances" and "strut and fret our hours upon the stage". But finding the joy of so doing.

This has rambled a lot from your question, Reg. I will get back to the substance and say that I simply have no idea and am trying to stop asking. As an actor, I love the script and find joy when I follow it with heart and soul. My terror is of drying - losing, literally, the plot. To me, Inanna is becoming ever more as real and as individual as any human being. And She is present in them all - she is what makes them all unique and beautiful. She is both immanent and transcendent and she is what eliminates any such distinction. When others invoke Isis, or Artemis or any of the other thousands of names, I cannot know what they mean nor what they perceive. But the universal is infinite and cannot be bounded by any human perception. Thus each and every manifestation and sincerely expressed perception can merely be a thread in the tapestry - a small, but essential and beautiful, part of the whole.

What aspiration could be more beautiful,

4 comments:

Reg said...

Since I'm here #Brian, let me ask what was probably the first question you anticipated.

You said:
"I could not forget the voice, however. And, eventually, I found myself strongly drawn
to the Priest/ess of Avalon training in Glastonbury, taught by Kathy Jones. And knew
that I had come home. I then knew that the voice I had heard had been that of Goddess."
Since the voice was "genderless", can you be any clearer on how you "Knew" that?
I understand about the significance to you of subsequent manifestations, but I wonder if there's any more you can add about what it was at Glastonbury that created such an obviously positive link for you between that voice in the kitchen and Goddess, as opposed to any other spiritual entity.

"So what does this tell me about Her nature? Not, in fact, very much. For they are
deeply personal and are mediated through a consciousness that I know to be fallible.
My first acid trip was enough to show me how malleable reality is. And subsequent
ones left me for a long time with little concept of any possibility of stable identity
and an even greater difficulty than before in living in the world."

Now here we get into difficult philosophical waters, probably beyond my competence; but I think that there is ultimate reality, and that it is our perception of it which is so malleable. Just because we are essentially subjective beings who have no chance of knowing true reality from a hole in the head, doesn't mean that reality is itself an illusion.

I understand what you were saying about energy as formless, neutral and without purpose.
I think my friend was rather referring to spiritual force, expressing itself as female because she herself is female, and, as I understand spiritual force, capable of being positive or negative. If I'm misinterpreting her, I'm sure she will correct me!

I'm somewhat confused about existence as "imagination". Would this be our imagination or something else's? If something else's, I don't know how you could have a sense of being a "player"; you would be a puppet rather wouldn't you, whose free will was also an illusion.

I hope these comments don't come off as picky and negative. I'm very much the newcomer to this area, so I may be disagreeing with you on things about which we in fact agree, and vice versa.

I at least know that this is not an area in which I should look for blistering logical clarity, but I'm after as much clarity as there may be, which starts from not misconstruing what you're saying..

Thank you for saying it.


Reg

Haley @ Iridescent Dark said...

Hiya Brian,

The actual nature of the God/dess has been something I've churned in my mind for a long time I(and still haven't come to a conclusion about!). But I found this excerpt and made me think of this post . . .

"Four blind men went to the zoo and visited the elephant. One blind man touched its side and said, 'The elephant is like a wall.' The next blind man touched its trunk and said, 'The elephant is like a snake.' The next blind man touched its leg and said, 'The elephant is like a column.' The last blind man touched its tail and said, 'The elephant is like a broom.' Then the four blind men started to fight, each one believing that his opinion was the right one. Each only understood the part he had touched; none of them understood the whole."

Whatever we touch is personal to us, even unique to us. No two people are the same, so even if they are touching the same thing, their experience of it would be different. And we all could be touching different things, and be unable to comprehend the whole. But most importantly, whatever we touch IS real, because reality can only be understood through our personal experiences. So yes, you did hear Her, and you can just 'know', because that is the nature of YOUR experience.

I just wanted to share that quote with you, I found it particularly lucid and interesting!

Brian Charles said...

Thanks again, Reg for your questions. Don't worry about being "picky". I never find requests for clarification unwelcome because the attempt to clarify assists me to examine and develop what I believe and this, turn, opens up new avenues for exploration. At other times, such requests reveal to me places where I am unclear and muddy myself - or where I am asserting things through habit that are no longer, in fact, what I believe.

Again, I will be responding to your comments in a main posting.

Brian Charles said...

Thanks, Haley

An excellent example of what I mean.