In my desire to refine and see through my conditioning, I have found pretty scenes in the English countryside rather congested and constricting; I prefer big open spaces - the wideness of the sea and the depth of a starlit sky. Strangely though, on land, no matter how far I can see into the distance, I'm strongly aware that it is only finite. Further, what may be 20 miles away feels very close, yet what is on the other side of the room I perceive to be lying across a vast chasm!
To cultivate more than a poor awareness of colour, I spent one afternoon viewing an exhibition of Impressionist and Post-Impressionist paintings at the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum in Glasgow. I was ignoring virtually all aspects apart from colour. Coming out of the exhibition I was subsequently dazzled by the strident hues of various banners hanging in the main hall.
However, on occasions, consciousness and subconsciousness are, at least for a while, allowed to overlap. This is good because it is likely to be the kind of process occurring at death. They are not hallucinations even though they may arise most prominently during a fast or illness (as I have found). It seems that in such circumstances, one is more disposed to stop clinging to physical matter.
One night I was aware of looking at one of the walls in my bedroom, carefully examining some school certificates in the light(!). It wasn't a dream as I usually experience. It was only a clear image which I could view at leisure whilst my awareness held. Then it faded and I found myself staring into the darkness of my room.
I forgot about this until, in another house, the same kind of image appeared again - this time of a tartan-covered cushion (with plenty of colour!). The image was again so still and my mind was peaceful. I wondered now how the two images had been generated and realised that certainly in the former instance I had spent some time just looking indiscriminately. I decided to try an experiment.
I deposited myself one afternoon in front of a sideboard and started looking, not with the eyes in my head, but as much as I could with my mind's eye. I looked around as carefully as I could and then got up and carried on as normal. Perhaps I was onto a red herring, but I thought it worth investigating.
Some time later, during the night of a 24 hour fast, lo and behold there appeared on 3 separate occasions the image of a sideboard - still, clear and peaceful.
I should have stuck a big once-only 'Hello' on top of the sideboard when I did the special viewing to confirm what I believed was the development of some kind of photographic memory. More recently, whilst I had difficulty sleeping due to a heavy cold, I saw in succession images showing aspects of three rooms at home. What distinguishes these images from a usual dream is the fact that I can pan freely, whereas in a dream, it is as though one is watching a film (or picture reel). On all occasions I have had full awareness. This is all very well but it shouldn't be dwelt on.
Finally, if you find the going gets tough...
The spiritual life is not easy, can be exhausting and not likely to gain much favour in society. Even so its worth it, so don't give in! If you need some consolation, then
there are many sources that can offer encouragement, especiaaly the Beatitudes [Matthew 5:3-12].
- © Paul Trafford 1996,97