Flying in your dreams? You should read this!

April 29, 2022 Off By Mark Paul

I am not particularly clever.  I have almost no qualifications.  I have never studied anything in depth. My only consolation is that Winston Churchill also claimed he was a complete duffer at school!  I once said, in the presence of my father, “I don’t like working”!  Although he smiled forcefully at that moment, he was outraged, and let me know the extent of his wrath later when the company had left.

I did end up working hard most of my life.  I never learnt much about anything.  I always had a tendency, if I didn’t know something, just to make up an answer!  It never really mattered much to me.   Knowledge to me seemed pointless, a rose by any other name…, it still does.  As life does.  I don’t mean that in some despondent depressive way either.  It’s just that I never really saw the point of it.  There are people in this world who have done amazing things, truly fulfilling a purpose, my father was one of them!  I sometimes wish that I had been smarter, applied myself more to one thing or another.  But somewhere along the line I lost sight of something that I’d never even seen and so became truly lost, directionless, adrift.  But strangely, it felt good!

I remember one time, I was about seven or eight.  I was on the bus with my mother on our way to Edgware from Hendon where we lived.  I don’t recall the circumstances exactly but I must have been messing about, swinging on those poles that connected the seats from floor to ceiling.  My Mum said to stop doing that and settle down, “… or you might hurt yourself”!  I remember very clearly my response.  I said, “I’m not afraid to die”!  Needless to say my Mum was enraged!  “Don’t you dare say that”!  and “What are you talking about”! and “Don’t be so stupid”!  Or words to that effect.  But, you know, I meant it.  Don’t ask me why an eight year old who is full of life in a happy home should come out with something like that, but I did, not in some depressive, oh, I hate life kind of way but more, I know where I came from is a beautiful place and I don’t mind going back there!

That was the beginning for me.  And the rest of my life hinged on the notion that I would try and make the best of it, let it be as long as possible, because it’s all just the blink of an eye, but I’ll be glad when it’s over and I can “go home!”

I don’t pretend that I’m some super hero that’s unafraid of death.  Most likely I’ll be as scared as the next person when it comes to it, but I don’t think anyone really knows how they feel about it until that day arrives that you know it will shortly be over.

Because of my lack of knowledge, know-how or ability to judge things correctly I’ve always had a tendency towards reckless abandonment.  Saying or doing outrageous things just to get a shock reaction.

I have always had a deep love for animals.  A passion that possesses me to this day.  I cannot bear to see an animal suffer.  I feel the pain like a knife in my heart and want to kill the person responsible. I lose sleep over this.  Although I always try to find the best in people, always try to leave a person feeling better about themselves, even to the point of self-sacrifice, I despair for humanity.  We are weak, lazy and greedy.  Men more than women.  Some try harder than others.  But, as Arnie said in Judgement Day, “…it is in our nature to destroy ourselves”!  I hope that this is true because at least this will give the animals and the planet a fighting chance against our relentless disruption, interference and destruction and callous disregard for any life, even our own.

I have always been what the Americans call, “a sucker for the underdog”!  By this I mean I have always empathized with the poor, the weak and the down-trodden.  This was always a frustration because my upbringing gave me the potential to do something about it through education, professionalism and high earnings.  But because I myself was always insolvent there was little I felt I could do about the plight of others.  A friend asked me once, “…do you know what the real difference is between rich and poor?”  I mused but could not really think of an answer.  She said “Ok, I’ll tell you, if your poor people don’t listen to you.”  I felt the sting of truth in what she said and resonated with it.  Money talks!  We are judged by it. Such is the world that without it we are worthless.

Even from a very young age I never placed much value on things.  Material things I mean.  I had toys of course, and later a bike and a car but I think the thing I wanted most was independence and freedom.  Had I been more sensible and used the intelligence I inherited I might have qualified, made some real money and then gone off-grid, and learned to live with nature.  But I didn’t and I think because I didn’t, my focus switched to a desire for spiritual freedom.

At 18 years of age I read a book gifted to me called “You – Forever” by T Lobsang Rampa.  It talked about the Astral Body, Dreams, Spiritual Projection.  I was enthralled and couldn’t put the book down. It was a spiritual awakening!  I started to focus on dreaming.  Following the instructions from the book and positioning myself in bed at night, breathing, imagining, then falling asleep.  Soon the experiences began.  I was leaving my body, and saw myself lying in bed.  I was floating up by the ceiling moving across the room and it wasn’t long before I ventured outdoors.  It was the most remarkable and exciting thing that ever happened to me, and remains so to this day.  Sometimes I would float just above the ground, lightly brushing myself along the pavement with my hands, or rising high among the treetops, and, looking down could often see people, walking about.  I wondered, why can’t they see me,  I am here and quite clear.  Some people looked up, right at me but did not show any sign of seeing me.  But it didn’t matter, I was experiencing something that I never knew was possible and I knew there was much more to it.  Sometimes I would fly pretty high and worried myself thinking, “if I wake up suddenly I am going to fall.”  But that never happened.

My flying experiences were fairly frequent but there were times when I couldn’t get up there, I couldn’t escape my body and I missed not having complete control. I was afraid my ethereal sorjourns would stop altogether.  I wanted to know how to just switch them on and off. Unfortunately, I never really learned to do that.  I ventured far in some of my astral travels.  Into space or close to it.  One time I remember soaring high above a road viaduct that seemed to project high into the sky.  Was this real?  It certainly felt like it.  But no one would believe me.  I knew that.  They’d probably say, “Oh, you were just dreaming.”  And oddly, I didn’t want to tell anyone because I wanted these experiences to be real.  I didn’t want to be persuaded that I was just dreaming.  This is the first time I have openly mentioned it.  These amazing experiences triggered my curiosity for the real meaning of life.

I felt deep inside that my life extended way before my birth and would continue way beyond my death.  For a while I basked in a sense of spiritual superiority.  But actually what I had discovered was something that every human being has the opportunity to discover for themselves.

How have we become so narrow visioned?  We are all victims of marketing that has played upon our weaknesses, our complacent and slothful desire for convenience.  We are brainwashed!  To me, one of the greatest tragedies of this new millenium is our loss of individuality.

In my failing to embrace any worthwhile line of work or study, I had to bolster up my worldly credibility, hide the reality of what might be seen as a wasted life, so I became a sort of “pretender”.  Supported by a modicum of good-looks which I exploited to the extreme, I shored up a shaky self-esteem and bluffed my way through life.  I knew that people mostly liked to talk about themselves or the things that they are interested in so I remained quiet and patiently listened, but often, not hearing or remembering much that I had just been told.  It wasn’t lack of interest.  Often it was my hearing that let me down and I simply didn’t own up to it.  This would sometimes catch me out, hit with a surprise question requiring more than just a yes or no I didn’t know what to say!  I felt foolish.  I would often shrink myself, erroneously thinking that others would be more comfortable with me!  So whilst trying to project an image of confidence and being on-track, I was actually the complete opposite and I would often expose this with a glaring faux pas.

My search for truth and the awakening of my astral body was profound and at the forefront of my mind for years.  I looked for that depth in everyone I would meet and found myself drawn more to female company, and though I would always make friends with everyone I met, I felt lost and weak among men because for some reason I could not share with them that which was most important to me.  Broaching an esoteric subject with most males was nearly always met with rebuttal and derision.  Women were more receptive.

Over the passage of years that followed I drifted.  Worked hard, played hard.  I remained deeply interested in the pursuit of spiritual growth, Ramtha, Alan Watts, Chuan Tzu, I Ching, Bhagwaan Shree Rashneesh, Sai Baba, and many more, illuminated my path and nurtured my soul.   I came to Buddhism because it’s doctrine sounded more like a way of life than a religion; the “four noble truths” existence is suffering; suffering has a cause, namely craving and attachment; the cessation of suffering, which is nirvana or heaven; and the path to the cessation of suffering which lay in love and forgiveness and overcoming ego.

It sounded easy!  I can forgive and I can certainly love, I’m a “sucker for the underdog”, remember?  What I failed to realize was that my ego was in full control.   It fought my better judgement, it questioned my decisions, it second guessed my choices.  It fills my mind with distractions and worst of all it could possess my persona and instill pride and self-adulation.  It is very hard to control and I wonder what life would be like without it.  That perhaps by purging the ego all else would follow, understanding and spiritual liberation.

You cannot argue with someone who starts a sentence with “I believe…!” Actually I don’t like the word because it imposes limits.  I feel more comfortable just believing in myself and my own limitless potential than some external deity that has control over my destiny. For example, were I to hold with Jehovah’s Witness  would I really pass the fate of my child over to a god for the sake of a blood transfusion?  By the same token, would I refuse to give blood to save a life?

What to me is more important than blind belief is what I know to be real. Love, compassion, forgiveness and integrity are values that are very real.  They are acts of giving.  They are a shield  against the vicissitudes of life. There is nothing more rewarding than the feeling that you have made even a small difference in someone’s life, contributed something, even minor that they instantly value and take stock of.  We and our planet would be saved if we all lived these four qualities.

Here we are, close to the end of the first quarter of the 21st century and humans are more disconnected than ever.   Blaming this on technology is easy, but it is not technology itself that has come to rule our lives but our allowing it to!  We have placed our trust and our fate into the hands of those who would sell it back to us a little bit at a time. That over time institutionalizes our loss of independence, making it acceptable, in turn creating a world where the very idea of independence and indeed our own uniqueness, no longer has a place. The spiritual bond of community now replaced by imitation of each other, having what our neighbour has to make ourselves feel sociable, normal, safe!

We are a species burdened with language.  A million words and a zillion combinations, will we ever find the right ones that resonate in perfect harmony, or explain with absolute clarity the reason for our existence, our true purpose. We are beset with a thousand external influences from the moment we awake, and every day we miss our chance just to be, to rest our mind, to let go of everything, to awaken to our own greatness and understand the essence of our existence.  To reach that moment of freedom, that infinite moment when the mind is still and we are unencumbered. How that fleeting moment of reverie yields so quickly and easily to a life of diversion.

When I was young, things were made to last.  Craftsmen took pride in their work.  There was no plastic, it had not yet been developed. If something broke we would have it repaired and it probably would last another 20 years or more.  The world seemed so much more cohesive then.  Life was harder I think in many ways but as a child I took it for granted that people cared.  We had to entertain ourselves with make-believe,  and imagination,  We looked each other in the eyes when we talked. We relied on each other.  We knew the neighborhood.  The community looked out for the children, and when someone died, everyone felt it.

Perhaps I am different, I hope so.  But being different can be a difficult thing to live with today.  People are not always comfortable with you, some are even afraid.  Some are fascinated but keep their distance and I have often been misunderstood.

Beliefs are arbitrary, the thin and delicate fabric upon which we depend, and so we build and grow our life according to them.  It is speculative, unstable and dangerous.  The world is deeply and irreversibly troubled by false and misguided beliefs that are cultured and hewn into society to accommodate lifestyle and convenience, and to bolster credibility, and redemption for acts that hurt humans and other living things.  Such as the soldier who heralds God on his side as he kills his fellow man!  Humanity teeters on the edge on a vast chasm that is bottomless and dark.  And into this we will most certainly fall if we continue to ignore the fundamental rules by which we choose to live based on our beliefs. The apocalyptic demise of the human spirit.  The numbness that today permeates society in which we have no real control over ourselves anymore.  George Gurdjieff taught that most humans do not possess a unified consciousness and thus live their lives in a state of hypnotic “waking sleep”, and that although it is possible to awaken to a higher state of consciousness and achieve full human potential, warned that if this fails or isn’t even attempted, then the spirit dissipates into the anonymity of the ether.

Religion, finance, health, children, marriage, there isn’t any aspect of life that doesn’t draw from us some belief that positions us where we want to stand in relation to it.  Often that position is chosen not based on any real, altruistic view but on a reactive or self-serving one, and often rooted in fear and playing safe through imitation.  It takes courage to speak the truth, to be original and risk being laughed at.  To break away from what society regards as normal and say, out loud, this is not for me anymore. To sacrifice openly that which makes us comfortable.  Not just the fear of being laughed at, losing friends, angering others, being outcast, but the fear within of breaking out of a long-established safe haven, exposing our vulnerability, facing uncharted territory, denying the mythical truths learned from those we once loved, those who cared for us, looked out for and protected us and shaped our worlds.  Perhaps we are at that crossroads where that long-established life we have always taken for granted has to be broken down piece by piece until there is nothing left except a great big empty space for a new beginning.