Saturday, June 21, 2008

Mixing it up

In the comments to Testimony, the following was feedback from Karen.

And for me, someone who was raised Catholic, I find it amazing that you would find Jesus as a source of comfort or relief from what my religion considers a "pagan" sort of spirituality...

...Basically, Catholics are taught that psychic spirituality is bad and exploration in to that world is a form of false worship. You have found a way to mesh Jesus with the psychic portion of yourself - or Jesus has found a way to do that through you.

Food for thought, that. Because after I gave up on Buddhism, the next stop on my seeker's journey was the wild and whacky world of New Age spiritualism. The practices and theories I explored included everything from traditional paganism to idea that aliens have been pivotal in human evolution and are watching us even now.

(For the record, I was never a convert to the alien theory. However, it did make for some very interesting reading.)

I gravitated towards New Age people and books because they were the only resource I had to help me define and describe the psychic experiences that sometimes took over my life. Before New Age gave me a language to describe these occurrences, I felt like I imagine Helen Keller might have felt before her teacher taught her to communicate. I kept bumping up against these inscrutable experiences and emotions, which sometimes felt good, but more often bruised me, and I had no idea what they were, or how to cope with them. New Age at least got me started along the path to understanding.

I enrolled in a school for "psychospiritual development". I started out with just a couple of evening courses: meditation 101, and energy healing. I soon signed on for a whole raft of courses, including a 2-year part-time psychotherapy course.

Freaky things happened at that school. One thing I learned is that if you focus on psychic experiences, if you go looking for them and invite them, they will happen more often. I could give a dozen examples, but this one stands out:

We did an exercise in which the class was split into two halves. Half the students put on blindfolds. The blindfolded students each sat down in a chair facing another, empty chair. The other half of the class was asked to wander the room until a signal from the teacher, and then they each sat in the closest empty chair, in an approximation of random partner selection.

Only the blindfolded people were to speak in this exercise. The sighted partner was to give their hand to the blindfolded partner, and then the blind partner was to attempt a verbal description of the sighted person's life, based only on the psychic impressions they got from that person's hand. This was on the 6th evening of the course, so none of us knew each other very well, and even if we had, it's surprising how hard it is to identify someone from just their hand if you haven't been studying everyone's hands ahead of time.

I was blindfolded first. I got a random hand to hold, and literally had no idea who was sitting across from me. I couldn't even determine the gender. I felt like an idiot. I was supposed to say something. So I just let my mind wander and started talking. I described a house that I saw in my mind's eye. It was pretty specific. A living room with big windows and a skylight, with a pass-through opening onto a kitchen. There was no ceiling per se - both rooms opened up to a peaked roof made of wooden beams. The kitchen had sliding glass doors opening onto a wooden deck and then a forest behind that. (Keep in mind that most people in the class were from Toronto. No forests here! I figured I must just be daydreaming.)

I kept on going, blah blah, describing a dog, a spouse, hobbies. At one point I felt the hand start to shake slightly. The minutes ticked by. I was like, damn, this is foolish! I'm making an ass of myself. Finally the teacher said we could stop and take the blindfolds off.

I finally laid eyes on my grinning partner, a 30-something woman. I asked her how I did, and asked her why I had felt her hand shaking. Her reply:

"I was laughing because you were so bang-on that it was ridiculous. It's like you've been to my house. You also described my marriage and my dog. The only thing that you didn't get exactly right was that I don't knit - I do embroidery." She lived outside the city, which I hadn't known, and drove over an hour to get to the school each week. We re-hashed the reading, and she confirmed almost every detail that had come out of my mouth. I was completely unnerved by this result, but there it was.

I learned a lot about myself at that school. The interpersonal skills I got from the psychotherapy course come in handy just about every day of my life. And it was good to be able to discuss my psychic happenings with people who could relate. But I never felt that it was enough, in and of itself, to make that all-important connection to a truly loving and supportive higher power.

There were times when we created rituals, bringing symbolic objects from our lives and acting out the gestures of letting go, or accepting, or opening to new possibilities. We also invited in the spirit of this or the goddess of that, asking for help or guidance. I gave these things an honest effort, as much as I've ever given to anything. And while I did feel that I received some otherworldly guidance now and then, I never attained that feeling of being contained and filled by love that I so longed for.

What I've come to believe is that while clairvoyance and God are both roughly categorized as "spiritual" in the sense that both are intangibles, obviously there are many magnitudes of difference between the two. If God is a diamond, psychic experiences are clay. In my experience, Jesus and ESP are not mutually exclusive, nor necessarily working at cross purposes.

Phenomena of the human energy field and beyond are just one little step up from the material world. I'm betting that someday we'll be able to measure these fields, and they will become as un-mysterious as magnetic forces and gravity. In themselves, these phenomena do not constitute a complete spiritual picture. Every seeker must go further, to find whatever key fits the lock on their soul. Some people may be able to make a connection with the Powers That Be through Wicca or Druid practices, but not I.

For whatever odd reasons which may or may not ever be revealed to me, Jesus is my key.

And that is my clumsy attempt at articulating how this confusing mess of concepts all fits together in my head. It's not an airtight construction, and is ever flexible to accommodate new information and experiences as they arrive. If I get any more epiphanies, I promise I'll let you know.


Warped Mind of Ron said...

Cool story... I really want to come to Toronto and see what you pick up from me... Oh... you've read my blog so I guess you know everything already, bummer :)

Keera Ann Fox said...

If God is a diamond, psychic experiences are clay. How wonderfully put!

In my experience, Jesus and ESP are not mutually exclusive, nor necessarily working at cross purposes. I agree. But… :-)

Here's my experience as someone who once gave psychic readings (I read auras then): People often confuse matters of ESP/healing/clairvoyance, etc. with spirituality. They think that a person who is able to see into another person or another time is somehow closer to God. Not so. It's just a talent, like being able to the play the piano. And it can be abused; I knew one guy who used his talent to get laid (and hurt some trusting clients in the process). It can also be a distraction away from spiritual pursuits/understanding (which may explain the Catholic stance).

I truly appreciate my well-functioning psychically connected instincts and they get better and more useful the more I focus on the divine/spiritual. It doesn't happen the other way round.

mex (aka Syb) said...

That's neat, Spark. You may have written this in a blog entry before but I am (relatively) a new reader here.. so the Q is.. do you (or did you) feel you were somewhat psychic.. before (or after) that experience.

I have always felt psychic. One thing is I can always (or perhaps 90%) of the time tell my better half who is calling on the phone. And some of those are "unusual" "guesses"

He is oft amazed

There are other examples but I will save those to take up space on my own (alleged) blawg


Karen said...

Very cool story. You have really been on a long journey with yourself. I envy that. I basically accepted what I was taught and never questioned. I kind of wish I did questions things.

In the end I do believe your "key" theory. Whatever unlocks your personal happiness and peace.

Claire said...

Fascinating :)


Anonymous said...

New age is better than old age...

Ian Stone said...

You have explained this very gently and descriptively thank you.

Being a Catholic I can easily understand how people feel that Psychic abilities are against what the Church teaches, however it is really their misunderstanding of what psychic means in the universal world.

My primary Spirit Guide is Jesus and he has guided me to many amazing revelations and abilities.

His healing was done using what we now describe as "Psychic Power" this is from our Spiritual Side or our Soul, and we all have these same powers as our Souls are all created in the image of God, The Source.

The difficulty we have is sorting out the genuine positive loving people who are helping and informing the world of the amazingly simple methods of Energy Healing, from the wild and whacky world of New Age spiritualism.

Keep searching and simply Ask, in the correct way, for the truth and understanding because this is all it takes.

With Love
Ian Stone – Founder of HEART Energy Healing System,
Human Energy Assessment Release Treatments
Metaphysical Institute
Metaphysical Institute Blog

jameil1922 said...

wow! jesus is my key? HOT! love it!

Scarlet said...

Amazing story. I love how you question everything and in the end go w/ what speaks to your heart. Jesus works for me, too. ;)

Sparkling Red said...

Ron: I have seen what is to come, and sadly you will be eaten by a ravenous, wild gopher in the near future. ;-)
Actually, for what it's worth, I've been praying for you to find a lovely woman who will be your soulmate and companion for the rest of your years, and appreciate all your myriad wonderful qualities. :-)

Keera: I truly agree with what you've written. I have heard warnings from the learned ones on various paths: when psychic phenomena occur, and they will, don't be seduced or distracted by them. It's difficult advice to follow, because sometimes stuff happens that's pretty spectacular, but in the end it's the best advice one could follow.

Mex (aka Syb): I was aware that I had some ESP abilities, but not to what extent. I mean, it's not a common occurrence to sit blindfolded and hold the hand of a total stranger while you attempt to describe their life! :-) I've not been tempted to push the limits of my abilities, for reasons that I mentioned above in my reply to Keera.

Karen: If your heart moves you to do so, it's never too late to go exploring. But perhaps your spirituality suits you just fine as it stands, in which case you're fortunate, and blessed. :-)

Sparkling Red said...

Ian: I am so glad that you commented here; I sense a kindred spirit in what you have written. :-) That is one way in which I experience the presence of Jesus, as a spirit guide, although I hadn't used that term in my public writing up until now. As a newcomer to Christianity I am ever-concerned about using language that might be perceived as offensive.
As I write this it's late in the evening, however I'm looking forward to finding time to visit your site and blog.

Jameil: What do you say - should I take up preaching as my next vocation? ;-)

Scarlet: Only now am I understanding why Jesus is a source and focus of love and guidance for so so many people all over the world. I'm lucky that I got tuned in.

allaboutattitude said...

There is so much to learn and so much to think.
No wonder we are confused people

Jenski said...

I wish I took the time to explore these things. When I read about your journey, I wonder what I would find if I tried.

Sparkling Red said...

Jenski: It's funny - I think the same thing when I read about your travels. I've always been more attracted to inner journeys than geographical ones, yet I wonder what I've missed out on. That "road not taken" is always mysterious!