Reflecting

Sorry for my relative absence, I haven’t been terribly well lately but I feel like I’m improving somewhat as I’m no longer in searing abdominal pain and my appetite is returning slowly but surely.  I was literally one day from going to the doctor when I started showing signs of improvement; I might still go to the doctor if I have any significant downward turn or return of symptoms.

Assuming I’m right about having been Philip K. Dick in my previous life (there is forever a shadow of doubt which I have elaborated on to great length elsewhere), I would have been 87 years old today.  For some reason my birthday this year has had more resonance with fans than last year, or so it seems.

It doesn’t help though.  I meet 87-year-olds occasionally, and if I could have stayed active the rest of my life, like Bradbury (who finally broke into mainstream fiction and script writing), I could have left a bigger, better legacy.  I could have lived to go from Cassandra to living prophet, and I could have possibly had some pull, as a public figure, in the outcome of things like the 2000 elections or the run-up to the Iraq war, or the rise of the technological dystopia I predicted back in the 1960s.

Instead, I’ve been bumped back to Cassandra status and I’ve been feeling so helpless lately.

Perhaps in desperation then, I took part in a ritual on Monday to summon an angel said to bring to light solutions to questions of a civic nature.  My query, of course, was what my best contribution to helping the world could be.

The angel in the vision was a beautiful one.  She had two forms; one was that of an eye in the center of a majestic whorl of wings.  The other was that of a beautiful black woman, full-figured with a round face, who was dressed and groomed like a Nubian queen in a flowing robe of purple, like a Madonna icon, but who carried herself with the enlightened humbleness and sure-footedness of a Boddhisattva.  She was the very image of wisdom, beauty, nobility, and benevolence.

Most of the vision felt like I was trying too hard; the images were beautiful but meaningless as far as I’m concerned.  I think my concentration was broken by my general illness and hunger. But the initial vision was one that seemed genuine since my query hadn’t been about past lives.

I was back at the house in Point Reyes Station, stepping out the door.  This was after Anne and I had separated, around 1964-66.  I know this because had my little VW there in the driveway, waiting for me.  I was wearing a button-up shirt.  I had a letter in my hand and put it in my shirt pocket.

I was frustrated at first to get a scene from any past life, because I hadn’t asked for that; much less for a past life where I was an addict, perpetually broke until my last few years, a terrible husband, and a terrible father (at least in my estimation).  I took the letter to be more symbolic than literal, a reference to the later verses of the Hymn of the Pearl which seem to be an ongoing theme in my reflections on that life.

I initially rejected the apparent message of “keep doing what you’re doing” because I still feel like I’m in a rut repeating a slightly less tragic version of the same life.  I don’t want to be that any more.  I want to be a living saint because the world needs living saints.  I feel like that ship sailed in 1982 and I came home from the ritual in low spirits.  My physical illness got worse and at one point I was in the right mind to die, which is to say thinking of how to make it easier for my fiance and thinking of returning to the true light instead of returning to this world of pain.

Today, the illness finally seemed to break somewhat, and without searing abdominal pain to keep me from sleeping on it, the thought occurred to me that I need to keep prognosticating in my writing, even if it seems like I’m beating my head against the wall.  I need to take care of myself, so I don’t die at 53 with so much work left to do.

A friend who has read my book about queer academics caught up in the machinations of a ruthless dictator from the world of corporate raiders put it best: “It seems your days as Cassandra weren’t altogether misguided after all.”

Perhaps this life is my chance to actually make a difference with my predictions instead of being recognized too late.   At least, I have nothing to lose by trying.

Hymn of the Pearl

Today, I discovered the Gnostic Hymn of the Pearl.

It’s an allegory for the Gnostic journey and although I am not myself a Gnostic, I have profound respect for the ideas of Gnosticism.

I’m still kind of digesting it and there is a lot of symbolism (mostly of a ritual nature) that I’m a bit unsure of, but here’s the gist of it:

A young man of royal blood goes out into the world to seek a magnificent pearl; this is the worldly birth and the quest for wisdom that comes with it.

He begins to dress and act like the foreigners he travels among, and by their infectious (though not malevolent) hospitality he forgets what he came for; this corresponds to the Gnostic view of the world as a corrupt illusion that is so real and perfect to our perception that we mistake it for our purpose and meaning and forget that we have sought wisdom.

A letter arrives, reminding him of his true nature and of the pearl he seeks.  This, to a Gnostic, would be Logos, the Word of God; but as part of the divine nature it is as much the prince’s own word to himself as the word of a benevolent father (as above, so below).

The Letter arouses anamnesis of his true nature and in triumph, he remembers, seizes the pearl, and returns to glory.

I can’t describe the feeling I get from reading that text.  It really makes me think about what I’ve experienced over the last 14 months.

The truth is that we are eternal; we cannot conceive of that because we are bound up in the illusion of decay, but decay and time are nothing more than state changes of matter perceived negatively, because our eternal nature resists change.  We fear death because it is not natural to us; we cannot conceive of the end of our awareness because our awareness is ancient and our beginning is of no consequence.

It is important to understand the difference between the beginning of ourselves and the beginning of our awareness.  I can only say that my awareness goes back (at least) to the later half of the 12th century, but I cannot say that was my beginning; my beginning is something ineffable, as is yours.

Perhaps once matter becomes aware of itself, its awareness is no longer bound to matter, or perhaps consciousness has substance.  What the relation between these two things actually is, I have yet to really work out.  In Gnosticism substance is largely an illusion; in Hermeticism, as in Buddhism, substance is a projection of the true reality into the material world.  Science in the 21st century seems to bear this out to a point; the universe is a hologram.