In my 20s I lived up in Scotland. My degree in microbiology allowed me to do incredibly boring laboratory work so I chose instead to go and work in the forest felling plantation trees for paper and wood. Brilliant work but hard. They called me the mad Englishman due to my habit of climbing up a half-felled tree that wouldn’t fall to the forest floor as it was ‘hanging’ against other trees, then jumping on it to bounce it down to the ground, singing loudly all the while. Ha…health & safety eat yer hearts out! Anyway, a very rural community, but by chance I met an aussie lass up there, working with horses, and we had a nice few months together. We parted as friends and she went off to Edinburgh and got a temporary job as a dental nurse.
Ok good… you’re up to speed…didn’t need all that information but this is a story, so bear with me. So she knew I needed some fillings doing, called me up one day, ‘Tony, you’ve got to come and see this dentist, he uses laughing gas, it’s very cool’.
People use nitrous oxide now as a party gas… you can buy balloons of it I’m told (I don’t take any drugs or alcohol for many years), at that time it was only happy dentists that had the stuff. So off I went. Fiona was there operating the gas flow…first she let me choose an album to put on, headphones and Beethoven’s Pastoral symphony as a calming accompaniment to drilling and filling.
Interesting that you still experience pain, but just as an intense sensation that I didn’t understand so moved on into some nice fantasy dreams, lying there in my music world with dental work going on somewhere else, like it was building work going on in someone’s house down the street, that you could just hear.
Now things got interesting. Somehow, the dream had settled into a slow drifting through space, then … the void. A deep comfortable enfolding spacious blackness. Slowly, in my drifting, I become aware of laughter away in the distance. The laughter was mirth, the joke was a hilarious one; I had to find this other being, out here in the void, find out what they laugh at with such glorious abandon. I propel myself towards the sound, thought alone being the means of movement in this amniotic void-space. I arrive to my destination. In a huge revelatory flash, I realise that the laughter is not from another, for there are no others here. This void, this huge existence, is mine alone, I am the only being and I am all beings. I am a god, I am the only thing that exists, I am existence. The realisation is so astonishing, so glorious that the laughter bursts out of me in a wave of…. a wave of… dental instruments lying around my knees where they’ve fallen out as I sit bolt upright howling with laughter so loud everyone in the waiting room (I hear later) stops whatever they’re doing and startled looks up.
Instantly sober, the dentist’s urgent speech, ‘for god’s sake Fiona, turn it down, turn it down…’. She’d decided to give me a nice little party time bless ‘er. Afterwards the dentist said to me, after hearing the story of my dream, ‘do you meditate?’. Intrigued I told him that indeed I had spent a good few years doing very intensive yoga and meditation, though now I was a wild man of the forest! He looked wistful a moment, than told me he was going to take up meditation…. ‘You guys have all the really cosmic dreams’.
And wow, was it cosmic.
I posted recently, talking of ‘the goddess’, ……. ‘let me see your face’. I can’t imagine being one of those devotees like Mirabai, or Yogananda in ‘Autobiography…’, hearts fixed on the beloved so much that a manifestation of divinity comes before them. Wow, wouldn’t that be something! I’ve always been an atheistic practitioner of yoga, opting for some concept of an impersonal, beyond comprehension, consciousness that is behind everything. How can I personalise or deify such a concept, even when the immensity, the magnificence of that consciousness, that awareness, touches my meditation.
I’m not someone who regards prayer as useful, simply because …how do I know what is good or bad in this strange universe I inhabit, therefore how can I ask some abstract deity to do me a favour. But since that ‘prayer’ to the goddess, I’ve been noticing that many people I meet, when I’m being conscious, have a familiarity…. ‘I know you’!! then I realise I’m noticing something there, that is maybe the same as something in me. That was my day the first time I saw a picture of Anandamayi Ma; overwhelmed by the realisation that everyone I saw was the same life-stuff as me. If I can be more constant in my practice of consciousness, perhaps I’ll learn respect for all people, stop falling out with people. It’s a bad move to pick a fight with divinity. Fortunately (unless you’re lumbered with a religion that gives you a judgemental GOD, some beetle-browed dictator of the cosmos that’s gonna punish you for breaking rules you didn’t even know existed), it just means I don’t have the beautiful life that’s available to me, until I reconnect.
Can I handle that awareness? That consciousness is one?