January 17, 2021

I’m no expert at divine realms but I would say that I am traveling both in the 5th Bardo and the Imaginal/Symbolic. They may be the same realm for all I know or they may be tangential in some way. In any case, sometimes I find myself helping lost souls in the Bardo and sometimes I am the one being helped by various entities. This morning’s journey is an example.

I began meditating and almost immediately found myself sitting on a wooden stand in a tree in a rainy forest. I was high up in the canopy and the lush, wet and dripping leaves were waving gently around me. Such a beautiful sight! I just wanted to stay there and enjoy the experience. Soon, though, I realized there was a creature waiting for me at the base of the tree. I climbed down and encountered a cloaked figure wearing a goat skull mask. I bowed to it and it bowed to me. Somehow, I knew this wasn’t a lost soul; he had been sent to retrieve me.


Here’s where it gets interesting. The creature got closer and closer to me until it had taken over my body. Soon, I was the one standing there in the rain wearing a sodden cloak with a goat skull mask over my face. My nostrils twitched and I smelled damp fur. I stamped my foot and realized it was a cloven hoof. Throwing aside the cape and the mask, I looked down in amazement at my satyr body...complete with a huge, furry appendage dangling luridly between my thighs. Needless to say, I was excited!


I capered in my new body down to a stream where there were other satyrs and a few nymphs. I can’t deny that there were a lot of fun sexual escapades going on and I, ahem, might have participated. I’ve always had a soft (ok, it’s actually hard) spot for satyrs and I was overjoyed to experience life as one, however briefly.


Sex wasn’t the reason I had been called to this place, though. The wild party grew abruptly silent and everyone bowed low as the lord of the forest approached. He was an immense centaur with spreading horns on his head. His horse body and human torso were gray and his countenance was stern. He was immense, towering over me. I sat up on my funny, furry haunches and bowed to him and he inclined his head to me, indicating I should climb up.


I did so and hugged my arms around his great, muscular belly, pressing my face against his back. I asked him if I could touch his horns and he didn’t say no...so I did. And then we were off and he was trotting downstream through the forest until we reached a small glade. There was a small but ornate and well-kempt cottage in the center of the clearing. It shone with an inviting, golden light. I dismounted from the forest lord and approached the cottage, realizing as I did so that the windows were inky black. This told me that the cottage was a self-imposed prison for the lost soul within.


I knocked and entered the cottage, tracking mud onto its pristine floors. My hairy, satyr body was drenched and redolent with all sorts of wild odors and my huge penis dangled uncovered between my legs.


There was a ‘girl’ inside or at least a being who was pretending to be a girl. She was quite taken aback by my appearance and seemed both intrigued and revolted by me. I could tell that this wasn’t a soul who had committed suicide or died in a traumatic fashion. No, this soul had lived a comfortable and privileged life, protected from any hint of discomfort or the intrusion of the harsh realities of life. Suddenly, it made sense why I had been transformed into a satyr. A satyr is the epitome of wild masculinity, debauchery and carnal knowledge. Satyrs revel in filth and drunkenness, are the opposite of civilized and refined. I was the ‘real’ world intruding upon her perfectly ordered and clean one.


The two of us proceeded to have an intense conversation. I motioned to open door where the forest lord and his retinue of satyrs could be seen waiting at the edge of the glade. I told her, “Look, he’s here to take you away. It’s time for you to leave this place.”


She was unconvinced. She didn’t want to leave the comfort and safety of her cottage where all of her needs were taken care of. I told her it was her choice but she might have to wait a very long time for another opportunity to escape her gilded cage. We argued for a while after this until I grew exasperated and, throwing up my hands in resignation, dropped my satyr disguise and showed her who I was. I opened myself to her so she could see my many very human flaws. “If I can do it,” I told her, “so can you, but it’s your choice; I won’t force you to leave.”


I turned and walked out onto the porch.


The girl (she flickered back and forth between many different ages - I’m pretty sure she lived to be an old woman and died of natural causes) hesitated for a long time, warring with herself. Finally, though, she joined me on the porch and gazed upon the Lord of the Forest. He made no notice of her and continued to look straight ahead.


I left the porch and the girl behind, standing on the edge of the glade and watching. I was expecting the girl to turn and go back into the cottage because outside it was wet, dark and threatening. But she surprised me by launching herself off the porch and leaping astride the centaur. With that, the strange party turned and left. As I watched them depart, I saw the girl had turned into a fleet and mighty huntress, the epitome of Artemis.


***


I sat down cross legged in the glade, meditating, but only did so for a moment before I noticed a squirrel sitting beside me. Of course, I knew it wasn’t just a squirrel but a guide to take me to the next place. The weird thing is that it didn’t lead me anywhere. I looked into its eyes and saw they were pitch black. Suddenly, I was falling head first into darkness, tumbling for a long time until I saw a fissure open up beneath me. The fissure opened like the maw of hell and I fell inside a boiling hot chamber filled with molten lava.


It was very much like hell, indeed, and I spotted a dragon chained and writhing in the magma. It was in horrendous pain and I quickly discerned that this was no fire dragon meant to live in such places. Instead, it was a sea serpent and this place was precisely the worst place for it. I felt pity and released it from its black chains. It immediately emerged from the lava and flew away on long, shimmering fins, its body undulating through the air.


I followed it, eventually ending up at the bottom of a vast, purple sea. After the cauldron of fire, this place was soothing and calm. The serpent allowed me to stroke its head as I asked for its story. I wasn’t sure yet if it was a lost soul wearing a ‘monstrous’ form or something else. I soon learned that it was the latter because it promptly coughed up a sleeping prince.


Intrigued, I approached the prince, seeing that he was clad in shining armor of the most brilliant and sparkling blue. He wasn’t human (possibly elven?) and didn’t appear to be a lost soul, yet he was clearly under some sort of geas or spell that kept him asleep. 


What does one do with a sleeping prince? Why, kiss him, of course! I needed no encouragement and bent down to plant a light kiss on his lips. His eyes fluttered open and he stared at me with confusion for a moment before he looked past me and saw the waiting serpent. 


“I’ve been asleep for a long time,” he murmured, sitting up on his elbows. “I barely remember who I am.”


It was then I noticed the blue sapphire on the center of his forehead and I reached out to touch it. Instantly, it began to glow brightly, shining with radiant light. The prince immediately stood and jumped upon his serpent. We bowed to each other, glorying in the radiant light. It seemed to make everything sharper, clearer and more precise. I took this light to be the light of awakened consciousness, free of distortion and able to apply logic and rationality that included and yet was beyond the intellectual mind.


Soon, the prince was gone, his serpent carrying him off into the unknown and leaving me in awe behind them.


***


I thought that this was the end of my journey because blackness soon descended and for a time I was simply meditating. Soon, however, a yellow light caught my attention and I followed it. As I neared the source of the light, I saw it was an opening in the blackness. The opening led to a city in the desert. I could see buildings through the opening and knew they were made of adobe. There was only one place this could; the Desert Southwest of the current United States...or, more precisely, a spirit city belonging to one of the tribes in that part of the world.


I felt out of place. I take a dim view of cultural appropriation and didn’t want to be one of those gringos who fancied himself an honorary member of an indigenous tribe. Still, I couldn’t turn back and knew I’d been called here for a reason. So, I entered the shining city and soon found myself inside a kiva.


The kiva was full of wise women and men of the tribe and I apologized profusely for interrupting their rites. They were not angry, though, and welcomed me, leading me over to a wall where I saw an intricate mandala. It was quite ornate and geometric, painted in black, yellow and gold-tinted hues. I couldn’t make any sense of it, other than knowing that my gaze was drawn to the center.


“Follow the thread of the Truth,” they said, repeating it over and over. “Follow the thread of the Truth.”


I closed my eyes and was back in complete darkness, save for the twinkling of a distant, bright, yellow star. I followed the star, remembering the exhortation to follow the thread of the Truth, and soon realized the ‘star’ was a jewel in the crown of an immense deity whose huge body was limned in yellow/black light. This deity reminded me of one of the fierce gods that souls are said to encounter on their journey through the Bardo. It was female with sharp teeth and double chins. Her body was...well, there is no other way to put it, fat. Very fat. And she was naked, her legs crossed in such a way that her vulva was on open display. While she wore no clothing and was adorned only with jewelry and precious gems. The predominating colors were gold, yellow and black.


While there was nothing one could call classically beautiful about this deity, I nonetheless found her to be incredibly alluring. I loved her forthrightness, forcefully being who she was without apology. She knew she was fat and her form was monstrous but she embraced it and reveled in it. I got the sense that most souls were cower before her but I was unafraid. There was something welcoming about her and her voluptuousness was like an invitation to be fully present.


I bowed to her and she inclined her head to me. She opened her arms and invited me in and soon we were embracing each other.


“Never apologize for who you are,” she said. “Never apologize to anyone. You are divine. You are holy. You are love and you are loved.”


I hung my head. “But I’m flawed. I’ve done bad things. I’ve hated people and hurt them. I’m selfish and short-sighted, vain and stupid. I don’t deserve to be called divine.”


Her answer stunned me with its simple logic. “You are a being of Truth,” she said. “And all you’ve just said is the Truth, or at least part of it. The Truth never asks us to be perfect, only to recognize ourselves for what we are at any given moment. Sometimes you are evil and that is the truth, especially when you see and acknowledge this about yourself. The Truth doesn’t want perfection. It only wants the Truth. Never apologize for who you are.”


I was humbled by these words and told her so. I also thanked her and told her how much I appreciated her meeting me and telling me this. I said I would try not apologize for being flawed. I know it’s a limitation of mine; I’m afraid of being haughty or taking myself too seriously but sometimes this means that I’m expressing false piety by not acknowledging who I am.


We embraced for a long time and I savored her warmth, power, softness and incredible strength. Eventually, we parted and I bowed to her a final time before she left me alone in the blackness. I stayed in that blackness until the end of my meditation several minutes later.


***


I’m at a loss to interpret all of this. I’m hoping that, by writing it down, it will make more sense later on. The first part of my meditation hewed pretty closely to my previous experiences of the 5th Bardo, being sent to meet and recover a lost soul. The last two were...I don’t know. What is the meaning of the sleeping prince with the blue sapphire? And why a kiva, a mandala and a meeting with what sure seemed like a classic Tibetan god?


Am I just delusional or is something else going on? Will I ever know? So many mysterious questions!


***


Addendum


I was so tired after my meditation that I took a nap. As I was drifting off to sleep, the strangest thing happened: I heard a voice saying that I had passed the test and was invited to become an avatar of True Nature. The voice asked me if I was willing to become such an avatar and I replied that I would honored to do so. At that point, there was an eruption of what could only be called cheering and Griffin reappeared along with a host of others I didn’t immediately recognize. He picked me up and hugged and kissed me, welcoming me to the group. (The only other being I recognized in the group was the giant Tibetan god with the sharp teeth and corpulent body that I had met at the end of my recent meditation.)


I knew then that Griffin had been sent as my guide through the 5th Bardo but was only there with me as long as I needed him. When it became clear that I was doing just fine on my own, he left to wait for me on the other side, whatever the other side is. 


I am very touched and, quite honestly, confused by my experiences in the Bardo. I’ve never heard of a person going through the Bardo while still alive but I’m sure it must happen because otherwise how would we know about it? I’ve heard snippets about the Bardo over the 25 or so years but no very little about it. Pretty much everything I’ve learned was learned after I had been journeying in the Bardo. I honestly never thought that this journey through the Bardo was my own, personal journey because, well, that just never occurred to me.


Looking back at the two weeks, I can see how I’ve struggled to understand what I was experiencing. And--I need to underscore this--I still don’t know! I’m entertaining the *possibility* that I have traveled through the Bardo for the following reason: Over the past 25 years as I have worked through my ego structure and all of its issues, discovering and reclaiming Essence in the process, I have often thought that the Work is like going through the process of physical death. We encounter and work with the same issues that a dying person does--if, of course, that dying process is natural and expected, not brutal and immediate.


I have often thought to myself, “Wow, that was just like it would be if my body were dying. Or at least it sure seems like it.” And, taken in this context, my recent voyage through the Bardo would seem to correlate to this. Honestly, though, I’ve been skeptical about the Bardo and the Tibetan Book of the Dead because it’s not my tradition. I am about as far away from a Tibetan Buddhist as one can get so I had no expectation that the death experience would be at all similar.


If I’m right here and I did just traverse the Bardo, then perhaps those silly lamas are onto something and they have done all of us a great service in outlining the steps a soul goes through after leaving the body. Certainly, the journey they describe is very similar to the one I *may* have completed. I don’t know if other souls typically encounter and help out other lost souls during their journey, though. Maybe the experience is easier when you’re still occupying your physical body? Certainly, I never felt afraid while I was there and actually quite enjoyed the beauty and poignancy of the journey. Maybe if my body were dead and I was making the journey as a soul, it would be a lot scarier? I don’t know and probably won’t know until my body actually dies and I see what happens then.


It sort of goes without saying that I’m very curious to see what happens when I sit down to meditate next. Will I go back to experiencing those delightful, deep, silent, black meditations where my consciousness dissolves into nothingness? Will I go back to the Bardo? Will I be called somewhere else? I have no idea but I’m, ahem, dying to find out!


What does being an avatar of True Nature mean? Was I just imagining this? It feels like its agreeing to go wherever TN calls me. I have the sense that there are an infinite number of realms, beings, wisdom, experiences waiting for me. I feel both excited and ready for the challenge, even if it means being reincarnated into a physical body again.


The experience of physical death and going through the birthing process to enter the physical realm again as a baby was traumatic, scary, disappointing, bracing and difficult. I can’t say I would relish going through it again but would do so if that was what I was called to do. I hold onto the perhaps vain hope that the next time it will be less traumatic but it may be that being born is always a difficult experience. And then there are the years of bumbling around, bumping into people and getting hurt over and over and over until one gradually and with utmost slowness wakes up. Ugh. Ok, maybe I’m not so excited about being reincarnated. ;-)


I am tired but also invigorated. I feel like my soul has gone through a massive workout and I feel different inside. My head center feels more open and I’ve lost interest in several things that had been important to me before January 3 when this all started: I’ve stopped writing my fantasy stories, for one. Also, I’ve lost interest in consuming pornography.


The writing served an important function; it prepared my imagination for the entry into the Imaginal/Bardo. If you combine the development of my imagination with the development of the subtle senses of my soul (these senses correlate to the physical senses but are attuned to the realm of Being rather than the physical world), you have the recipe for making a voyage through the Bardo rich, vivid and rewarding. I don’t think it would have quite as much fun without a well-developed imagination. 


The imagination helps to flesh out the bones of the journey. True Nature throws stuff at you as you journey that could be perceived dully if one’s imagination weren’t developed but which come alive when one’s imagination is sharp and vivid. For so long in my life, I’ve felt like I have to apologize for my vivid imagination; it’s great to finally realize that not only is it important but it is also essential.


My rational mind struggled to accept what I was experiencing and wanted to discredit it. Doubt was a huge barrier, too. I’m glad that my teacher, Bob, finally got fed up with me and told me to stop letting my rational mind put barriers around my experience and instead allow Diamond Guidance to be my guide. 


Each time I journeyed to the Bardo, I encountered things that were unexpected, that I couldn’t possibly have known would happen and could not have predicted. Often, my biases and beliefs were turned on their heads, exposing them for what they were and showing me awesome and inspiring and touching things outside of the box of my experience. These unexpected and revelatory events helped me to trust what I was experiencing and not disregard it as fallacy or fiction. Sure, my imagination fleshed out the experiences by drawing from the vast playground of my unconscious mind but the experiences and encounters themselves were not made up.


As I mentioned above, I’m so curious to see what happens tomorrow when I sit. Mysteries abound at every turn!


***


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