Thoughtline March 1989
WALKING ON WATER OR SKILL IN ACTION
Once more upon the waters, yet once more. And the waves bound beneath me like a steed that knows its rider.
"Childe Harold's Pilgrimage" by George Gordon Lord Byron
We are meeting this evening in a room that is a few hundred yards from the breaking waves of the Pacific Ocean. I have been in this room when there was a good on-shore breeze and have been able to hear the surf. We know about oceans here, and we know about the fishes too. We have often heard, for example, that the fish do not know they are swimming in water.
As esotericists, we also know that, like the fishes, we too are swimming in an ocean, an ocean of energies. One of these energies is called emotion. And, as it did the romantic poets Byron, Shelly, Wordsworth and Keats, this great sea of emotion surrounds us, engulfs us, and at times drowns us.
Many, many of our brothers do not know they are swimming in the great astral ocean. They have yet to learn this fact. But we, who are in training for discipleship, are supposed to realize that we are literally immersed in the waters of the great emotion ocean.
One of the natural results of the ocean's motions are tide pools, little windows into the ocean's secrets. I have lots of experience with tide pools, and although you may not, at this point, realize it, so do you.
The tide pools which abound below the Palos Verdes cliffs are one of my favorite things. and over the past twenty five years, I have spent many, many hours hunkered down by the side of or as likely as not, standing quietly thigh or waist deep in the middle of one of the pools watching the creatures, the inhabitants slide and dart and scrabble through their life routines.
How quickly they seem to establish a relationship pattern. The little hermit crabs all run around in their brownish green snail shells thinking, I suppose, that they are invisible. Ever present are the emerald green crabs, "ragged claws scuttling across the floors of silent seas" as Eliot observed. There are little fishes, darter fishes I call them. A kind of sandy gray brown and totally invisible to the unpracticed eye, they appear as sudden wrinkles on the bottoms of the pools.
One of the more exotic inhabitants are the sea cucumbers. These are among the strangest creatures I have ever encountered; they seem not quite members of either the animal or vegetable kingdom. They too are invisible to the unpracticed eye, not so much because of their coloring which is usually a rather muddy green, but because they look like uninteresting lumps of sea weed. I never touch them because when touched they make huge clouds of purpose ink, so that one cannot see anything at all.
Probably because I have spent many hours in this pursuit, I have even encountered small octopuses in the tide pools. they are wonderful little creatures, quite beautiful when they are swimming.
The pools used to teem with abalone. One could not turn over a rock without finding a cluster of them. And of course there are the wonderfully brilliant purple and red sea urchins and the starfish, orange, many shades of burgundy and purple, some in marvelous paisley like patterns. I remember when I learned that the easiest way to get an abalone off a rock was to touch it with a certain kind of starfish.
Anyway, the pools are wonderful things, and I have learned a great deal about life from them. One of the things I learned early on was that if I wanted to see what was going on in them, I would have to be absolutely still. Movement in the observer effects the movements of all the environment's inhabitants and also can obscure the environmental medium.
There came a day many years ago, the tide was very low, so it was probably in January or February. It was one of those glorious, clear Southern California winter days. Around three o'clock. The sun is low in the northwest and the light comes in at that certain slant so that the colors are deep and rich. I was standing waste deep in the large pool, being very quiet and simply absorbing the color of the sea urchins and star fish when the floor of the pool shifted and a large crab which had been buried in the sand came sidling out. Something about the furtive way he was moving reminded me of a person at the office where I worked.
One of those moments happened then, a shifting, if you know what I mean. there was a kind of click and everything shifted. A window opened, and in one of those moments that go on forever, I saw that my entire life was made up of a series of tide pools generated by the waxing and waning of the great ocean of energies in which we live and move and have our being.
In a matter of seconds, I suppose, I had transferred the concept of tide pool from the base of the Palos Verdes cliffs to my office. The office was a tide pool. The people became creatures living life routines. Then I was looking into my home. My house became a tide pool and my wife and children and the dog and cats and the neighbors and their children and animals, we all became creatures living our life routines. In the next instant I was seeing the city, Los Angeles, then the country, the planet, the solar system.
Abruptly, there was another shift. I was seeing my group of co-workers, our workshop and offices each of us working in his way for the plan, and then in more to the inner-group of which this group is a reflection, to the Ashram, and then to the Hierarchy.
All of these vortexes of energy, inner and outer, were a series of tide pools created by the eternal motion of the Ocean of Life, and they were all in some unexplainable but indescribably beautiful and totally reasonable way, related.
A quite large wave came into the pool in which I was standing and knocked me down. sort of brought my trip to a rapid close, so I did not remember this experience until later, but later when I did recall it in a moment of tranquility, it was right there, totally as vivid. It makes me understand what Wordsworth meant about poetry being experience recollected in tranquility.
When I thought about this stuff on a little lower level, and the practical value of the experience started to percolate through, I began to realize that I could look at my own life, at the environments in which I moved and had my being from what I have come to call the tide pool perspective. These environments were little windows in to the secrets of the Ocean of Life, and I could be an observer in these life situations. I could, as I was in the tide pools, be literally in them but not of them.
I understood that if I wanted to do this, if I really wanted to see what was going on, I would have to do two things. The first was to do what I had practiced doing in the physical pools, and that was to become very still, very, very still, it turned out, because people are much, much more sensitive than fish.
However, it can be done. Have you realized that it is quite possible to become invisible by becoming still? The creatures in the tide pools never saw me. Neither do the people in my life environments, when I am still enough.
I quickly learned, of course, that this stillness is a bit more subtle than that which works in the physical pools. This stillness requires not the quieting of the physical body. In fact, an undo quieting of the physical presence is usually very noisy in these pools. What is called for is the quieting of the emotional body, and still more subtle, the quieting of the personality. "When the loud assertions of the personality are dimmed", it becomes possible to see. There is a very large difference, between quieting the physical body and even the emotional body or the personality. The latter is very difficult. So difficult in fact, that it requires the second thing, love.
How often I have heard that if I could love enough I could do anything? Love is the only power that will enable us to quiet the loud assertions of the personality. Love for our families; love for our friends, our brothers and sisters love for Humanity. "As love for Humanity increases and self interest decreases", D.K. has pointed out, "movement will be from the astral toward the mental planes, and from the personal toward the soul, from the separative toward the group."
As one makes this move, one becomes an observer rather than an experiencer. One begins to see in two or three dimensions as it were.
In the years since that afternoon's insight I have been attempting to become a proficient tide pool watcher. These opening occur on mental or even intuitional levels in an instance, but the kinds of shifts in consciousness that the practical application requires take time, friends. They definitely do not, in the majority of cases, happen over night. Again, the primary essential, perseverance, is called for.
One of the things this effort to be a tide pool watcher has done is to graphically demonstrate the difference between the astral and mental plane. In it but not of it is a mental position, and an indication of mental polarization. Once achieved, even for small moments, the actual nature of the astral and I believe the etheric planes, begins to emerge.
When one begins to be an observer of the tide pools of his life, he discovers that they are in their way, much more colorful than the tide pools of the physical plane. They do require a different kind of looking and listening and this requires practice. But, to see people s they ethericaly and emotionally are, is very interesting and helpful.
When I say seeing people ethericaly and emotionally, I do not mean what is popularly called clairvoyancy. Frankly, I don't know what that is. What I mean is that if one is being an observer, if one's own personality is off as it were, if one is in the environment but not of it, the point of view shifts, and a new kind of light comes in, the light of the soul. In this light, it is possible to see people's etheric and emotional clothes.
These are not clouds of colors or shapes or light bodies or any of that. I have never seen anything like that. In the light of the impersonal observer, people seem clearer, on both of those planes. One has a keener insight into a person's emotional state and into his health state. An individual's appearance is literally an index to his inner states.
Besides being more colorful and interesting than the ocean's tide pools, the tide pools of life are also much more dangerous, particularly the astral pools.
Like the furtive crab, I saw in the physical tide pool, the astral pools harbor a whole host of dread creatures which go by the generic name of Glamour. Glamours of course, are ancient beasts and over the millennia they have developed protective colorings and disguises that can (and have) fooled saints.
Glamour's favorite disguise is truth. It loves to dress up in the garb of truth and waylay the unsuspecting disciple. the glamour beast is powerful too, because as D.K. points out, "it finds its point of entry into a disciple's consciousness through those states of mind and those habits of thought which are so familiar that their appearance is automatic and constitutes an almost unconscious manifestation."
There are a large number of these states of mind: D.K. mentions three that are especially dangerous for the "average disciple". The first is self pity, "a powerful and deluding force, it exaggerates every condition and isolates a person in the center of his own life and the dramatic situations evoked in his own thoughts. "
Through this glitch, slither the worms of overweening self-importance and unfair persecution.
The second is a spirit of criticism. This is the force that blinds. It shuts out any chance to see, to be an observer in the sense that I have been using the word this evening. It allows entry to the beasts of fear and cruelty. "that which is voiced in words becomes a thought form, attached to its invoking agent, and then the person is never seen except through the veil of this glamour."
The third is suspicion. D.K. calls this the most poisonous of the glamours. "...it is usually the most false and - even when well founded - is still capable of poisoning the very roots of being, of distorting all attitudes to life and of bringing into activity the creative imagination as its potent servant."
The non-soul infused personality is hopelessly out matched by these beasts. The only safety in this arena will come from the position of the observer, or as D.K. calls him, "...the Onlooker who sees all people and happenings through the light of love and from the angle of the eternal values."
We must keep the windows through which we are looking clear. Self concern, self-consciousness, self anything only serves to color the windows. Eventually the coloring becomes so dark that the windows become mirrors, so distorting the pools of life that we end up seeing only our own paltry reflections, all the while mistaking them for the truth.
As D.K. tirelessly points out, "World needs must be approached mentally and spiritually and not emotionally." this being the case, it would appear that our immediate job, the one we need to do before any other, is to learn to walk on the waters of the emotion ocean, to move serenely over the rolling, at times even boiling surf of the astral plane. We must learn what it means to be in the world but not of the world.
There is only one way to become such an observer, to become an Aquarium person, and that is to develop what D.K. refers to as Divine indifference, or impersonality. "This is the indifference which accepts all that is offered, uses what is serviceable, learns what can be learnt, but is not held back by personality reactions. It is the normal attitude of the soul or self to the not-self. It is the negation of prejudice, of all narrow preconceived ideas, of all personality tradition, influence or background. It is the process of detachment of detachment from "the world, the flesh and the devil".
Quieting the bodies, even the mental body, the most fluid of all, is not the major challenge, which confronts us. Our biggest job is removing the personality from the center of the tide pool, so that the soul can see.
We must learn simply "to be at all times what we are at our highest." If we love enough, we can do anything.