The author is out of sync. Mary and Charlie. Out into the country as a reaction to the garden – the crop circle – other mysteries to do with place and energy. The unity of all mystery. Crop circles and formations; energy sources; crop circles are intentional; their meaning. Dialogue with Mary about meditation and complacency.
How could a person tell if they had real cause to be miserable or if the fault was inside them, in the way they saw things? My friend, Charlie, might still have been alive today if he had set out to change his thoughts rather than alter his perceptions of the world with alcohol: with no sense of self-worth left what he perceived was not inviting, so he withdrew more and more, finding it safer to be alone. Like Charlie (who was a good man), in times of great distress, I also felt like a worthless person.
My son, Bert had at this time spun out of my orbit rendering me powerless as a parent to rectify any former omissions; the neighbourhood where I lived was full of pleasant people with whom I seemed to have nothing in common; my friends stayed away because they did not understand the nature of my relationship with Mary; and Mary was oblivious to it all. So I became full of resentment – if the world did not like me then I would not like it – and a person filled with such resentment was bound to be alone. And a person who is alone does not have the opportunity to share anything with anyone else and thereby benefit from feeling like a good person, or even just an acceptable person.
I continued to worry about Mary’s death – not that she had any intention of dying yet, she said. When Charlie died his personality had already been gone for two years so I’d had time to get used to the idea of losing him while he was still around. But the disturbing possibility of Mary’s death in the nearer future than my own, came at me like a nightmare. Such insecurities needed spiritual conviction for their resolution.
As Paul Simon said: “The open palm of desire wants everything, wants soil as soft as summer and the strength to grow like spring….” I could not say what act on Charlie’s part might have saved him for he could not manage to be both sensitive and thick-skinned at the same time. Had he sacrificed his highs in exchange for fewer lows, perhaps he would have lived. He spoke a lot about sacrifice towards the end. “Finally, does any of it matter?” – were his last words to me. Did any of it finally matter? For Mary, everything was the same and life was a game; for Charlie and me there were too many differences making too many complexities – if life was a game, we found it unfair.
At the same time as investigating miracles and avatars I was beginning to loathe our beautiful garden because it seemed to represent something that was wrong in my life. It was too neat and clipped and poised and elegant without giving satisfaction or fulfilment. The village as a whole had a character with which I did not feel at ease. I thought we should let the garden grow wild and plant more trees but Mary said we should keep it looking good in case we sold up and moved back to California – she taunted me with this idea of escape from time to time.
One day, in order to be somewhere else for a while, we drove out into the unbearably hot, yellow, bleached countryside, totally without purpose, for life had become sultry and slow this August. As we rounded the brow of a hill onto a lane in the village of East Dean we came face to face with a large, immaculate crop circle which sat implacably on the hillside opposite like the eye of God. I had not seen one before. It was beautiful, symmetrical – four smaller circles lay in a curve at its base. Mary liked it too. She seemed to enjoy a good miracle.
There were some small miracles of which I had had personal experience: the energy in the soil for example, I could feel it when I was gardening or when I walked the ancient tracks over the South Downs – if I paid attention I felt it every time my foot made contact with the earth; I had seen fairy rings made of toadstools; scientists had already measured the energy which emanated from stone monoliths such as those at Avebury and Stonehenge – ancient man and his animals knew about it and made their trails along energy routes we now call ley lines; I felt a negative or positive charge in certain places to varying degrees. For example, at an old pub in Warwickshire Mary and I had both felt a heaviness of spirit as we sat in its garden, and sometime later we discovered we had been sitting on the site of a civil war battle where hundreds of soldiers had died. There was a place in Glastonbury, the garden of the Holy Well, where I always felt a strong positive charge; I felt it too on most of the ancient hill forts. I also felt positive or negative in response to people: someone who was depressed would seem to sap my energy, but if I was with someone filled with life and vigour I felt invigorated. Mary had a natural and endless supply of joie de vivre – if I didn’t sap it from her too much. I could think of strong charismatic personalities in history like Ghandi and Jesus, both of whom attracted huge followings and were, perhaps, in turn strengthened by their disciples. A powerful energy arose if a person believed in something completely, and the more one believed, the more powerful and invincible one became – especially when joined together with others holding the same strong beliefs. There seemed to be force-fields of different strengths around both people and places. I could see these effects but not their cause.
When I was happy I had lots of energy; when I was depressed I had little or none. It seemed to come naturally with the first good days of spring; or at the start of a holiday; or in anticipation of something or someone we loved or believed in. Physical exercise often produced more energy; to have a goal created it. If we had energy we found meaning in life. If we found meaning we had energy. Lack of energy produced an absence of meaning which triggered depression.
Faith Healers acted as channels for strong healing energy to flow through them. They said that their ability to heal came from a universal energy source, and that their role was like that of car jump leads which helped get the patient going again so that he could then recharge himself.
Enough energy, possibly the right sort of energy, seemed to be needed before a person could re-charge. I needed a belief, a certainty, some new conviction. Energy and conviction were connected. The unity of all mystery (and miracles) was veiled by the illusion that all our day to day routine activity meant something important. We had become like robots, giving no thought to why we lived our lives, and seldom responding to intuition. We were the end product of The Age of Reason.
I had been surprised to find a whole shelf of books about crop-circles at the local library. There had been circles in the crops since recordings of them began over a hundred years ago, all over the world. In 1980 alone there had been hundreds of circles sighted, by 1989 there were thousands of them. The simple circle developed into a formation with several parts and by 1990 the formations were grouped into families linked by details in the lay of the corn. It was interesting that the ears of corn although ripe enough to be ready for harvesting were never damaged inside the circles and formations – unless it was man-made. Recent tests undertaken in British and American laboratories had shown that the DNA structure of plants within crop formations had been altered.
Some of the formations included ancient mystical symbols, which related to the cosmos and the spiritual quality of our being. There were three special formations in 1991 that were clearly recognisable: one a symbol of sacred geometry (in the ancient world both science and maths held the key to the secrets of nature as the language of all the natural world); one from the language of modern maths and a model for the natural world; and the other a section of the human chromosome, which is the genetic code for our existence.
The mathematical crop formation, called the Mandelbrot Set, stood for the balance between order and chaos. Order, life itself, arose out of chaos as a result of the force of life. The ancient mystics thought that the end of the world would be a reversal of the creation process that the four elements which constitute the material universe (earth, fire, wind, water) would return to a state of chaos and then transform back into pure spirit. The four elements were found depicted in four distinct parts of some formations with a central motif seen as the “seed” out of which the outer circles grew.
There had been crop-formations which resembled mandalas, a classical Tibetan art form, an intricate circular painting, representing a 3-dimensional labyrinth. As you moved towards the centre of a mandala, you rose as well. We usually think 2-dimensionally so we tend not to see the third dimensional spaciousness providing gradual rising and ripening which happens everywhere at once. This seemed to represent our slow awakening.
In Froxfield, North Wiltshire in 1991, there appeared a series of crop circles connected by a wiggly line which looked very much like a chromosome. It was confirmed that a chromosome looked like this formation when it was in the cell of a living organism at the time when it was about to divide to renew itself. A chromosome contained past information from an infinitely branching line of ancestors. DNA survived for thousands of years – possibly millions. But matter in itself was not the power, it was in energy that all potentialities resided, energy which was invisibly associated with the material system, energies which were in the surrounding universe. Chromosomes would also break if they were exposed to ultra-violet radiation – which was controlled by the ozone layer.
Native Americans had found consistencies between the crop formations and their own ancient prophecies. Their comment was that our DNA had long ago reproduced in such a way as to allow us to develop individual egos which had made us out of sync with the natural world, but that we could repair this ego-state by altering the frequency of our minds – since all matter was vibration. To do this we should visit old sacred sites like stone circles, tumuli and pyramids which produced empathetic vibrations. According to the esoteric tradition they had been built over sources of energy which were once part of an energy grid around the whole planet. Crop circles in fact, tended to cluster around our sacred sites. The opening of the ancient Mayan sacred sites in 1990 coincided with the change in the crop circle phenomenon with the first pictogram-formations.
Whatever else, these circles were intentional and they were symbols of meaning both of the past and for the present. Some felt they were a warning while others had experienced their healing properties. The obvious meaning of crop circles was seen in the way people responded to them and were affected by them. Carl Jung had discerned the meaning of UFOs as agents and portents of change in human thought patterns: that function seemed to have been inherited by crop circles. Jung believed that “meaningful coincidences”, which he called “synchronicities”, were somehow created by the unconscious mind, probably with the intention of jarring the conscious mind into a keener state of perception. Almost impossible synchronicities made us feel that there was more to life than we knew. Intelligence evolved through a sense of curiosity, of mystery, which was what we were being confronted with in this instance.
It was a long hot summer that year. We made our lives stone by stone, plank by plank, creating first problems then solutions. I planted a tree by the pond – a flowering plum. I would try to make this a special place to be – with thoughts and without thoughts – in between sorties out into the world.
To “get away” was to find my true medium, to become detached from those hooks of responsibility which kept me at home. One morning we drove east along the coast 20 miles for coffee and a walk. There was a good cafe on the beach in this place and then a 4 mile walk by the sea into town. Usually we sat outside on the benches but today there were too many wasps and tourists, so we found a cool corner inside and tried to relax over 2 pots of coffee, and shared Danish. Such relief was probably generated by the relative amount of preceding stress. Mary was pretty spaced-out and having one of her vacant episodes – she loses it more than most when she’s tired.
Late August is the climax of summer, when people go out in a frenzied last bid to “enjoy” before school, work and autumn; even the insects become frenzied before sleep or death. The softer parts of nature had already begun to decay. We would have to pace ourselves well if we were to survive the rest of summer and the gloom of winter. Outside the cafe a brisk wind blew the wind-surfers on a tide which was half-way in. The air was clear after the previous night’s rain and giant white clouds bumped about in a bright sky. Well- fortified with caffeine we set off for the walk.
Had I been alone I would not have felt the need to talk, but since Mary was there I could not retreat into myself, nor did I feel relaxed enough to talk about nothing or remain silent, so I suppose the conversation which followed was all my fault.
In my world there were many degrees of beauty, but in Mary’s something was either beautiful or not. She saw differences in quality with great difficulty, if at all. Compared to her I seemed especially difficult. She would always match my mood if she could figure out what it was, join in with my enthusiasm. She had a clear spirit which was unsullied by the tricks of the world; she was guileless and ingenuous like a good child, she counted her blessings rather than her miseries and easily saw the good around her rather than the bad. Mother Meera would have called her “open”. If she were at all aware of these virtues I’d think, because of the sparkle in her eyes, that she must be a real angel, but her acceptance of whatever came along stemmed, she said, from an early belief that she was one of God’s cracked pots which apparently excused her from ever taking the lead or needing to think. I wondered if God was capable of creating imperfection.
On this morning the talk started well enough, we reflected on how much better we were feeling after coffee, then she mentioned that she had tried to read Mother Meera’s book, but because nothing was sinking in, she had put it down again. I said that I had found it reassuring and reaffirming except that one piece of information was missing: I could see that it was good to help others, but I did not gather how much, to what extent? Was it all the time, or just when the opportunity presented itself? I agreed that it was good to surrender oneself to God, for it provided comfort in times of great need, but how much, totally? Forever?
She didn’t know. So then I supposed that to find out one would have to first get oneself into a better state of mind – more composed, more still – so that when the channels were open there would be a better chance of knowing or intuiting the answer. Which was when the issue of complacency entered in.
“How do you know,” I asked her, “that you are not merely being complacent when you say that everything is as it should be? You acknowledge that there are wrongs in the world which we should try and put right?”
“Yes,” she said, “but a long time ago I decided that the whole world was beyond my scope and that I would just have to try and do what I could in my own small way, in my own small world.”
“So what are you doing? And how do you know it’s enough?”
“I don’t know that it is enough. In fact I do less now than I used to”.
“So are you being complacent? Resigned? Deliberately lazy?”
I was thinking about how we were supposed to surrender our egos and our thoughts, become aware, “let go”, and “go with the flow”. This idea of surrendering oneself showed up in all the religions. Faith was to believe without knowing, said the vicar. But what was the difference between weak complacency and noble surrender?
“How can I be sure of anything I do,” she said, “whether it is right or enough? It’s easier to just keep busy and not think about it.”
“Shall I tell you what you can do in order to try and become more sure?”
“I’ve made suggestions before and you immediately reject them.”
“Tell me again.”
“Well you know how you feel when you spend time on the sofa reading and relaxing and getting restored?”
“Well, that is where you start. You start with that degree of balance, poise, composure. Okay? You start by lying on the sofa. Then, when it is time to get up and do something, you try and keep that feeling of tranquility with you as you go about your chores.”
I knew perfectly well that I was talking about something I could not do myself, but I wanted to make it seem easy. I was trying to convince myself. The truth was that I saw little wrong with Mary.
“Then, gradually, you begin to see things with greater clarity.”
She looked unconvinced.
“You don’t buy it?”
“I don’t see how I, or you, or anyone, can be sure about the rightness of what they do.”
“You can’t expect to know immediately, instantly, but it is a way to begin. To put yourself in the right receptive frame of mind and try and stay there. Try to get centred once or twice a day. After a time you might find you have fewer doubts.”
“But how is this supposed to help the rest of the world?”
“Because if everybody felt calm and generously disposed and trusting towards one another there might be fewer battles and a more even distribution of food and housing and medicine. Look around you at the tourists here today. Most of them are feeling much better now that they are on holiday, eased of their daily burdens. They are relaxed and more willing to be nice and do good things. Don’t you think? Surely you can go along with what’s called meditation if it starts with you lying on the sofa more often?”
“It doesn’t seem reasonable. I feel more deserving if I’ve done some work during the day.”
“I know you do, I’m not saying you shouldn’t keep active, only that you should learn to stay in that peaceful, quiet mental state throughout your active day. And once or twice a day get back in touch with yourself, empty your mind. It is very good for the blood pressure.”
“Yes, I expect it is.”
“I don’t expect you to change. I am just offering an answer. You will only change if you want to, if you see that there is a need for you to change.” I sighed. “Most people are like you – happy with the way they are. Complacent.”
Her stubbornness was beginning to irritate me. I thought I had stated the case quite well.
“The trouble is,” I went on, “that you want to know about the rewards before you start. You want to know the outcome before the beginning else you won’t do anything, you won’t act. It’s the same when we go on holiday – you want to know how it is going to turn out before we leave. Sometimes a person has to make a leap in the dark – let go, take a risk!”
“I know, I know, but there’s such a thing as blind faith, imprudent faith, misplaced faith.”
“That’s where the risk part comes in, if there were no possibility for wrong action, mistakes, there wouldn’t be a risk involved, it would be plain sailing. But by doing nothing you are just complacent. If you think there is something you should be doing for the world which you are not doing, what have you got to lose by trying a new method to see if it alters your focus slightly?”
“Nothing to lose. I just don’t believe it would work for me. I don’t know how to empty my mind, it needs to have something to do. I can’t just stare into space like you.”
“That’s okay, you don’t have to, everyone who meditates does it in their own way – you’re not listening. In music you have experienced those beautiful moments of pure harmony when everything comes together – well, other people have that experience too in other situations. I am suggesting that this should be the general aim. You have more clarity when you are in this state, don’t you?”
“Well, if you have doubts, try to put yourself into a state whereby you have more clarity. Lie on the sofa, relax, or enjoy more music, but after the event hang on to the way it makes you feel. That’s all. And maybe one day enlightenment will descend – if you want it to. It’s hard work talking to you – you can be so rigid. I don’t want you to change. If you don’t need answers then presumably you’re happy with the way you are and the way the world is. If you’re not, but you do nothing about it, then you’re complacent.”
“I do what I can.”
I gave up at that point. I began to feel like a bully. Somewhere inside I probably resented her capacity to put these questions out of her mind. I was pouring out my frustrations onto her, frustrations over not meditating properly; not staying composed enough, always allowing “life to take over” and stress to intervene. The truth was that she was much better at composure than I was. What right had I to shake her foundations, plant doubts where there were none. She should probably be allowed complacency at her age anyway.
We walked further than we usually did, carried along by the talk. When we turned back the tide was almost in and a strong wind was now blowing from the west. It blew so hard in our ears that talking had to stop anyway. How could anyone confess to having doubts and misgivings and yet do nothing about them? She habitually and successfully put worries out of her mind by using distractions, like her crossword puzzles. Perhaps I should practise this skill and enter more wholeheartedly the world of distraction and entertainment? “Don’t forget the crop circles, Mary…..”