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We are not human beings having a spiritual experience.
We are spiritual beings having a human experience.
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin
I sat there for some time, silently pondering what Eli said as I continued to relive the horror of what I had experienced in my dream. So, what if it wasn’t just a dream? It certainly felt like more, much more.
Finally, I got up and paced across the floor, deep in thought. For the moment, I remained calm, composed, and detached, more stunned than detached as I attempted to reconcile what they said with what my mind had enacted.
Nothing in my higher learning could have prepared me for this. I felt like I was witnessing some macabre accident where ambulances show up, sirens blaring, as I watched from the sidelines, grateful it wasn’t me stooped over in the car. Except, this time, my mind said it was me lying there in my blood. Nevertheless, I remained calm and controlled as best I could. So far, no emotional breakers had blown; no surges in my switching station to melt my nervous circuits.
Stay steady, James; you can work through this, I thought. There’s always a reasonable explanation for everything. Likely, this was only a flashback from some bad drug trip I was on a long time ago. Unlike my past trips, this felt too real not to be real. I was familiar with that fleeting, ephemeral feeling of altered consciousness; however, this wasn’t anything like that.
Then, the images started to surge back into my mind as I slumped down in my chair; my eyes flickered as when drawn into a trance. I no longer heard the crackling of the logs Eli had thrown on the fire. I remained entranced by the disturbing scenes that flashed before my mind’s eye. Every fibre of my body felt it was being twisted and turned as it gyrated down the canyon crags. I attempted to recompose the fragments into a linear sequence, yet everything seemed to be happening at once.
I don’t know how long I remained in this altered state. Finally, I opened my eyes and spoke in a near whisper. ‘Yes, of course, I remember now… the last step, mid-way across the chasm. It didn’t hold. I forgot…’
‘That’s right, James, it didn’t hold,’ Eli said, ‘but the shock sure did. So now you need to come to terms with this, along with all that has happened since. You see, there is more to the story; much more.’
I didn’t want to hear more, wishing everything would go away. In Shakespeare’s words, I wanted to believe; all’s well that ends well, although, in this case, I wasn’t sure what that might mean. I couldn’t put the images out of my mind as they continued to haunt me.
The more I tried to dismiss them, the more these impressions impinged upon me, over and over. And it was true; I recalled how my life flashed before me as I fell. There was no longer any doubt about it; something serious had happened, even if I didn’t wish to believe it.
Still, I wondered what happened before I made that last step. Had I not arrived on the Summit by climbing up an escarpment somewhere to the left of the chasm? I thought I had; if not, how did I get here without a single bruise or scratch after surviving the fall? Everything was a horrible muddle as I grappled to reconcile everything that might or might not have happened.
‘Okay,’ I said at last, ‘tell me what you think this is supposed to mean. You said you saw what happened.’
‘Indeed, we did,’ Mo said, ‘we saw it all!’
‘Then tell me, what did you see?’
‘We can tell you,’ Eli said, ‘that you, the soul essence in your immortal spirit body, parted your mortal body. Don’t worry; it’s not dead, at least not yet.’
I laughed derisively as I picked my mug up from the floor and poured another coffee from the pot on the stove.
‘So, Eli, you seem to be saying I actually left my body, not just in my dream? Well, doesn’t that beat all,’ I laughed nervously. ‘I don’t have a mirror with me, but I remain confident that if I looked, I would be looking back at me.
‘Sorry, I thought you would know better. Science knows this can’t happen, even though it might seem that way when the human brain, under certain conditions, secretes endogenous opioid neuropeptides.
‘In case you don’t realise it, these chemicals can induce so-called out-of-body experiences that momentarily appear real. I’m sure you must have done something like this at one time or another.’
‘That’s right, James, I know something of such experiences, only not in quite the same way.’
‘Good, then you can relate to what I’m saying. As I indicated, I have had several illusory drug trips in the past, so I know what I’m talking about. I can tell you firsthand that it’s not logical or scientific for you to tell me my body isn’t here.
‘If it’s not here, neither am I. How could I be? At best, this experience would only be a dream or an altered state of consciousness from whatever location my body would happen to be. If my body had died from the fall, I wouldn’t be here with you now, would I? I would be dead and gone. However, since I am not….’
Mo and Eli said nothing as I sputtered along, repeating myself as I attempted to latch onto a reasonable explanation for the strange and terrifying regression I had experienced. Admittedly, my attempts at rationalising what happened weren’t the best, yet their account was even less convincing, if not absurd. If they couldn’t come up with something better, I preferred not to listen. When I couldn’t think of anything else to say, I stood and raised my hands.
‘See these hands before me; how can I take anyone seriously who says these aren’t real?’
‘Oh, they’re real alright,’ Mo said, ‘just not in the way you think.’
A most annoying, evasive answer. But what more could I say? They were the only ones who saw what happened.
Without responding, I sauntered outside, looking blankly into space. I wished I could find some compelling evidence to solve this mystery. There was nothing in the sky to inspire me: no epiphanies or writings, not even inspiring cloud formations. Still restless, I went back inside and poured a drink from a bottle of Russian vodka, ostensibly distilled in St. Petersburg. Who knows if it actually was? Nothing here was certain.
I had to get a grip before things got further out of control. Yet, it seemed there wasn’t a damned thing I could do about any of this. What they were saying was an insult to my intelligence, which greatly agitated me.
Partly, I blamed myself; why was I allowing myself to get drawn into their sham world of illusions? I also felt they should accept some of the blame for my falling and getting knocked out. If they were standing above me on top, couldn’t they have at least warned me before I attempted to cross the chasm?
I continued to pace about, glass in hand, venting my frustrations. They had called my body’s existence into question, which was hardly rational or comforting. Although I wasn’t entirely reasonable either, reacting as I did, belligerently insisting they were mistaken, though offering little evidence as to why. That’s the way anger is: irrational and often incoherent.
‘Not only do you keep evading my questions about everything,’ I said, ‘you won’t even give me a straight answer about this alleged mishap I had off a ledge. Even if you witnessed something, why did you need to tell me? I was fine until then, ready to begin my descent. And now, you’ve managed to disrupt everything, even causing me to question the very state of my existence. Why are you holding out on me; there’s got to be a rational explanation for what happened.’
‘There is,’ Eli said, ‘and we already told you. However, it seems you don’t care to accept what we have to say. Whether you think it’s rational or not, could you tell us how you managed to get up here in one piece after such a gruesome fall?’
‘I don’t have a bloody clue,’ I said, ‘except I must have bumped my head against something and ended up with a serious concussion! Who knows, I may have been catatonic or in delirium, so I have no memory of how I ended up down there. I only remember, after a long rest, I made my way up to the summit through a fissure where I met you on the Summit.’
‘Do you, James, by any chance, remember how long you rested?’ asked Mo.
‘As I said, I was probably out for some time; possibly the best sleep I ever had, or can remember having. It felt like I had been asleep for days. God, I must have been knocked out cold. Likely, I’m still a bit stunned.
That might explain why so many bizarre things have happened: voices in the air, orbs of light flittering about and two strange mind readers on top. Not to mention how you seem to make things appear out of nowhere. That’s extraordinary, though not entirely unexpected if my brain remains a bit scrambled.
‘Obviously, I’m nuts! I need to see a doctor as soon as I get home. Hopefully, this deranged condition is only temporary. Although, I’m not sure how this would explain all the nonsensical things you both keep saying unless I’m just imagining it. But I’m not going to make excuses for you, so you’ll have to take responsibility for what you do and say.’
‘I’m curious, James. Do you have any lumps on your head?’ Mo asked.
I stroked my scalp to find a lump. ‘Most peculiar… must have been quite the blow to my head, yet I don’t feel anything. Guess it went away. Wonder how long I was out before I regained consciousness – any idea?’
‘Yes, we have a clear idea,’ Eli said. ‘Are you sure you want to know?’
‘Of course, I want to know,’ I said. ‘I suspect it may have been well over an hour, but I’m not sure. I remember the sun didn’t seem to be in the right place when I woke up.’
‘You’re right; it was longer, in fact, much longer,’ Mo said. ‘Sit down, James; you’re making us dizzy, pacing back and forth and get ready to hear the rest of what happened.’
I took my seat to hear what else he had to add to their fantasy. Even if I wasn’t entirely in my right mind, it might be worth listening to before heading down the mountain.
‘There’s a logical reason why you remain confused about what happened after your fall,’ Mo said. ‘However, it’s not because there’s anything wrong with your mind; just your beliefs. So, here’s what happened: As your body tumbled down the last twenty yards, a Chilean forestry helicopter fortuitously flew over the ravine en route to a small forest fire they were investigating near the Argentine border.
‘As if by Providence, the pilot noticed your body strewn on the snow. The odds of it being spotted at that critical moment before it convulsed to death with hypothermia was likely less than one in ten million.’
‘So, your saying I was lucky?’
‘I suppose so… if luck had anything to do with it.’
‘Then what happened?’
‘Your body was lifted out.’
‘Lifted out? That’s interesting; no one told me. So where did they take me?’
‘They took your body to a hospital in Santiago.’
‘Really? Why would they return me to the ravine while I remained unconscious? That doesn’t make sense.’
‘You’re right; that doesn’t make sense,’ Eli said. ‘Indeed, why would they bring your body back?’
‘You tell me,’ I said. ‘You said you saw it all happen.’
‘We most assuredly did,’ he said.
‘Look at me, James, listen carefully to what I have to say,’ he said as he paused to make sure he had my attention. ‘No one brought your body back here. They took your body away. Far away. Not you… your body! Do you understand the difference?’
I had enough and didn’t wish to hear more.
‘Okay, that’s jolly,’ I said. ‘Have things your way if you must. I think I’m now getting the picture. You had me going there a while! Most impressive! So, when you aren’t guessing people’s dreams, you do a little comedy routine on the side. Am I right?
‘How much longer are you planning to carry on with your shtick, appearing to violate natural law with rabbit hat illusions while claiming to read my thoughts with your mind games? A little intrusive, wouldn’t you say? Nice work anyway, even if it means manipulating my battered and disoriented brain.
‘But you know something? If I wanted someone to mess with my mind, I would have hired Madame Peyroux, the whacky psychic broad with a studio over the pawnshop down the street from where I live. She’s probably not as whacky as me, considering that I pay her to amuse me with her exotic predictions for my love life – or lack thereof.’
‘Lack thereof?’ asked Eli, with a sly smirk. ‘Would you care to... ah, elaborate on that? I’d be interested in hearing more about her erotic predictions.’
‘I’m sure you would,’ I said. ‘For the record, I said exotic, not erotic.’
‘Yes, James, do tell,’ Mo said, ‘what do you mean by lack thereof?’
‘Never mind, smart-arses; it’s not so much a lack; more a matter of what’s adequate. I’m in no mood for jesting or having my intelligence insulted. Why can’t you give me some straight answers about what happened.’
I supposed if I carried on long enough, I might somehow come up with a plausible explanation. After exhausting every argument I could think of, I realised nothing I said was more convincing than Mo’s account.
To their credit, they sat quietly, patiently listening to my rant without once reacting. Even with my biting sarcasm and ridicule, they didn’t get annoyed. Their insouciance upset me even more, causing me to become increasingly unhinged. When I couldn’t think of anything else since I had already said it all before, I thought I’d try another tactic; I’d put them on the defence.
‘You know,’ I said, ‘if you truly saw me fall, why didn’t you come down to help me? If you wanted to, I’m sure you could have. Isn’t that what friends do?’
‘Why would we?’ Mo asked. ‘Take a moment to examine your body. Have you noticed? It’s flawless. If it still seems biological to you, it’s because that’s the only way you can perceive it.
‘In reality, your body is more of a holographic projection of your soul’s expression since that’s the only way to experience yourself, even as a materialised form. In which case, why would you, a light being, require our help?’
‘Light being, eh? I’ve been called many things, but never a light being.’
‘Believe it or not,’ Eli said, ‘light is what gives form and substance to this subtle body of yours, an energetically configured pattern of your true essence- being.’
‘I’m not sure what that’s supposed to mean,’ I said; ‘it sounds absurd. Perhaps you’ve been watching too many sci-fi fantasies.’
‘What if fantasy was nothing more than how reality appears on the other side of your boundaries?’ he asked.
‘Yes, what if?’ I replied. ‘In any case, I’m almost certain I wasn’t whisked off anywhere.’
‘That’s true,’ Mo said, ‘you weren’t. Although, as I keep trying to tell you, your body was. Not long after your fall, it was lifted out by the helicopter. Even though the pilot couldn’t land on the slope, he was able to drop one of the crew to where he bundled your body in a sling. After lifting it into the fuselage, they rushed it to a hospital in Santiago. A few days later, it was dispatched to London by a Medivac Learjet.’
‘You keep referring to me as it,’ I said. ‘That’s not very dignified.’
‘Nor did it appear so.’ Mo said. Don’t worry about the cost; your university’s insurance plan covered the flight. You may also rest assured that your body is now being attended to by a competent medical team in London. However, it will still require plenty of intensive care since your neck was fractured. Your brain is barely functioning while your body remains in a deep coma.
‘By the way, they were able to identify your body with the ID information on your chain. Now that you know where your ID chain is, all you need to do now is find your real identity.’
I stared at them in disbelief, thinking how the story kept getting better... should I say worse?
‘You know James,’ Eli said, ‘it’s not only your body in London that’s having a rest. You were in a deep state of soul sleep for some time. That often happens after a trauma such as this.
‘Where you awoke in the ravine was close to where you parted company with your biological body. Your clothes, backpack, and contents manifested according to the expectations of your beliefs. That’s how things work on this side. And oh, in case you were wondering, your fall happened over two weeks ago.’
‘Oh really – you don’t say? Amazing how fast time flies, and my body too. That’s superb; I’ve always wanted to do that. Next time I’ll try to stay awake.
‘Really, gents, do you expect me to believe your stories? It keeps getting richer all the time. So, can we finally get serious about this, unless, of course, you’re doing a secret video recording for some comedy channel? You know, it’s not all that funny to joke about something that could have resulted in death. In this case, mine!’
‘You’re right, James,’ Eli said, ‘it’s not, and we’re not. We agree this was serious, and believe us; we’re not joking about what could have resulted from your body’s death. Realise, we view life from a very different perspective, so let us assure you there is nothing remotely dead about you or your body. It remains very much alive in its earthly plane of existence, albeit in a diminished condition, while currently lying in Room 3017 of your hospital’s Critical Care Unit.’
‘The last we heard,’ Mo said, ‘it remains in stable condition, albeit a bit marred and twisted. Note that we’re saying it, not you. Even if its lights were knocked out; still, it’s most fortunate to be alive since you will likely need to access it once again. Believe me, as things stand now, you’re much better off being here with us. A lot more fun and much less constricting, wouldn’t you say?
‘Your brain’s hardware was severely shaken, so it will require time to heal before firing up its synapses to activate the neural axons and dendrites. The neurologists say until your neck’s cranial and vagus nervous systems mend, there’s not much they can do for you except to keep your body alive on their life-support system.
‘Provided it survives; it could be a while before you awaken in it. Should the doctors determine that your body won’t likely recover, they can disconnect you anytime. Nevertheless, our informed sources have told your body will likely recover, although it could take much longer to regain consciousness. In other words, for you re-enter the body you think is you.’
‘You two won’t let up, will you? Did you say re-enter the body I think I am? Do you know how weird that sounds? Furthermore, what do you mean by our informed sources? We’re way off-grid and a long, long way from any transmitter service, so you can’t possibly be receiving information from anyone unless you have a satellite phone you’re not telling me about.’
‘When you are the grid, you don’t need a phone,’ Eli said, chuckling.
‘When you are the grid – what in bloody hell is that supposed to mean?’
‘What I mean is that there is nowhere that Source is not. And since we’re all part of Source….’
‘Save the metaphysics for later, Eli,’ I said, ‘I only want to know what’s real and certain.’
‘There’s nothing certain about your fragile mortal body,’ Mo said, ‘so it remains possible it may not make it. How real will it be then? Nothing temporal is real; rest assured; however, you’re not temporal, only your mortal body is. If you haven’t learned that yet, you soon will.’
‘It’s obvious there is only one side. Either you’re dead or alive, not both. For now, I prefer to be alive, and if you please, in this body.’
‘And so you are.’ he said. ‘It’s true; your mortal body must either be dead or alive. For now, it’s alive. But when it’s not, you’ll remain alive wherever you are in whatever form you manifest.’
‘To the contrary, I think the evidence is apparent that once your body is dead, so is your brain, and with it, your conscious awareness since it obviously comes from the brain.’
‘It’s obvious to whom?’ asked Mo.
‘Neurologists and anyone else with a brain,’ I said wittingly. ‘I think I might need to give you a lesson in philosophy. Ever heard of Descartes’ famous pronouncement, Cogito Ergo Sum: I think therefore I am? Yes, I’m sure you have. So, my friends, ask yourselves, what is it that’s thinking? There must be something that causes it to think since the effect can’t be the effect; it has to have a cause. Hmm, now what could it be? Let me think. Ah, yes, of course; it’s the brain; what else? Something had to do it.
‘Even as I now speak, it's obvious my brain has formulated the very words I’m articulating. Otherwise, I couldn’t be speaking its thoughts! If you take away my brain, how could the mind think, proving there’s no difference between the thinking brain and the thinking mind. They are the same; the brain and mind are one. Let’s not make this difficult since it’s all straightforward: the brain thinks, ipso facto, therefore, I am.’
‘And so you are,’ Mo said. ‘At least your I am is, albeit a tad confused, thinking it’s only a few pounds of an organ’s flesh. To help you recognise the fundamental nature of your identity, it might be helpful if you subordinate the separate ego-mind that mistakenly believes it’s just a brain of mortal flesh. Your divine I Am mind knows its identity is not of the flesh, but one with its immortal Source.
‘Once you understand this, you will recognise your true identity is infinitely more than a biological modulating device that remains subject to the laws of entropy and death. You have a mind because you are of Mind, although it didn’t originate in the muddy primordial slime as they would have you believe in your anthropology classes. Mind is divine awareness from which all thought-forms emerge and evolve into variations and variegations of consciousness, including that of your earth body.’
‘You look perplexed, James,’ Eli said. ‘To understand what Mo is saying, you must realise your consciousness is not limited to the receiver-transmitter device resting on your earthly shoulders. You know, the one that transduces consciousness to the material plane of human existence. For now, it’s not of much use to you since its systems are down on standby.
‘That’s not a problem, however. For as long as you’re here, your mind, even in its bewilderment, has never been less encumbered. It needs you to take the fetters off your beliefs by accepting that your consciousness is not made of material stuff. If I may say, it has a mind of its own.’
Once again, Eli was trying to be clever. I wasn’t amused since what they were trying to convince me was bizarre, if not delusional!
‘Sorry, Eli, I’m not buying any of your twaddle. Perhaps it’s because my befuddled brain is still recovering from my concussion, yet whatever you’re saying is not making any sense to me. Anyway, the sun’s shining again, so I’m going to take my body, and if you will, my brain too, for a short stroll along the summit ridge.’
I won’t go into everything that was racing through my mind, but at that moment, I considered grabbing my backpack, then and there, to begin my long descent. It was becoming increasingly difficult to keep my composure, and I didn’t need to waste any more time talking nonsense. I needed to decide if I should begin my descent today as planned.
I hated to leave before finding my pendant; it had to be here somewhere; I just knew it couldn’t have found its way back to London as they suggested. More nonsense! Nevertheless, they were both intelligent men, if not brilliant, which made this situation even more confusing.
As I trekked along the ridge, I had to ask myself if there was more to the story than what I was prepared to listen to. It still amazed me that my body had no trace of injury after sustaining a life-threatening fall. Even my most recent cuts and bruises from a few days ago had healed as if they were never there. Whatever the case, I couldn’t deny that I was now in perfect condition; in fact, never better.
I didn’t understand how this could be; all I knew was that I had a body, with or without scratches. Then what was this tripe about it being in London? Sure, I may have had a severe fall; but that didn’t render me crazy, at least not entirely. However, with everything that happened here, perhaps I was, though not as crazy as these two, at least not yet… which is why I had to get out of here before it was too late!
I turned around at the high end of the eastern ridge where we first met. As I reflected on this morning, it occurred to me that I might have been a bit rude. I needed to try harder to have a rational conversation to see if we could work through our misunderstanding. A bit of compromise and goodwill might go a long way. Besides, who else did I have to talk to here? They were the ones who witnessed my fall.
My choleric temperament might have its strengths, although it wasn’t serving me that well at the moment. I was outnumbered, so I had to stay dispassionate and calm, remaining vigorous as I challenged them.
It was probably an hour or more before I returned. A steaming hot meal awaited as though they knew when I’d be back. We sat down for a pleasant time, with no one bringing up anything from our earlier discussions. After our meal, we retired to the fireplace area as Eli filled our glasses with what tasted like Castello Mio Sambuca. How did he know? – My favourite Italian liqueur.
As it turned out, the truce didn’t last after we picked up where we left off earlier. It seemed the fate of the universe, or at least my universe hung in the balance!
After I attempted to prove them wrong again, Mo finally said, ‘James, we understand why you continue to resist what we have to say about your current state of bodily existence. We don’t wish to disagree that you have a body; that’s evident, just as we have bodies. If we didn’t, how could we communicate with each other?
It should be apparent by now that we’re not an amorphous fog hovering in the air. You need to realise your body and ours are not as you think; they are forms that express the spiritual essence of what we are within.
‘In fact, we can communicate in more ways than you can imagine since we don’t have the same limitations as your earth’s physical body. So, what we might be quibbling about here is not the existence of a body; rather, the ways it might manifest. As suggested, the body is an energetic pattern projected onto whatever plane you find yourself in.’
‘An energetic pattern, you say? You know, you’re making this a lot more complicated than necessary. Where would I be without a physical body? I’m not here as a pattern; I’m here as a body.’
‘As we can see,’ Mo said. ‘Most certainly you are here with us… only not in your earthly state of physical existence. Sorry, it’s gone! Not to dust, not to Jesus, but to London. If you find that hard to believe, you could see for yourself by visiting the hospital where it’s currently residing. In fact, we should make a field trip there someday.’
‘That’s a splendid idea!’ Eli said. ‘We can go there to check out your shadow. I don’t mean check it out like a library book since it’s not even in circulation at this time. Considering all it’s been through, it only seems right we pay it a visit to make sure it’s okay.’
‘However, before we visit who you think you are,’ Mo said, ‘we need to prepare you so you’re not overwhelmed, though there remains plenty of time before your reunion since your body won’t be ready to readmit you for some time.’
‘Thank you for your consideration,’ I said, ‘but if I want to see my body, I’ll look in a mirror. If there were such a thing as an amorphous spirit body, I would want nothing to do with it. Besides, I’m sure the women like my body just the way it is, hard and firm. And why wouldn’t they? The more they can get, the better they seem to like it. So, don’t try to take that away from them… or me.’
‘I’m sure if you choose, there will still be plenty of women to go around when you slip back into your fallen body. Meanwhile, we’re here to help you adjust to living in your spirit body.’
‘Are you now?’ I asked. ‘You say I no longer have any biological limitations, yet what good is that if I don’t have a biological body to bonk a woman or a brain to secret testosterone!’
‘Although, when you think about it,’ Eli said, ‘sex is a no-brainer.’
‘You’re hilarious, Eli. Okay, fine, if you’re not able to answer my question, then at least tell me how I’m able to have memories if I don’t have a brain to store them? You can’t!
‘And please don’t speak to me about inhabiting some etheric light body. That’s rubbish! I think one body is enough. Ask any neurosurgeon about this; they are the bright people who poke around in the brain’s labyrinth of memories to get all kinds of impulses! They should know.’
‘Is the shadow more real than the reality that casts it?’ asked Mo. ‘What comes first, the brain or the mind?’
‘Obviously, the brain comes first,’ I said, ‘or there could be no mind. Had you been listening, I already made that point. If I may use your analogy, the brain is the reality that casts the shadow of the mind.’
‘Then tell me, James, can any surgeon, scientist or philosopher explain how an intricately configured organ of about three pounds of body mass is able to evoke exquisite thoughts of love, beauty and truth?’
I wasn’t sure how to respond to his trick question since I couldn’t follow the logic of this red herring. It was evident this conversation wasn’t about to resolve anything. I had taught enough Philosophy of Mind classes to know there are always more questions than answers since it’s a complicated topic.
By then, I wanted to call their bluff instead of getting into philosophical abstracts about shadows, minds, love, beauty, truth and ultimate reality. My problem was I didn’t know what more to say, not being entirely lucid. So, rather than argue, I threw out my challenge to them.
‘Okay, enough of this,’ I said, ‘I don’t wish to argue more about what should be blatantly obvious. These aren’t epistemic nuances. You’re calling into question the very existence of my physical body. So, chaps, if I’m not physical, then jolly well prove it!’
‘There’s no need for us to prove anything to you, James,’ Eli said. ‘You can prove it for yourself.’
‘Sure, Eli. So how am I to prove what I’m not? That’s stupid.’
‘We told you; we’ll visit your physical body in London to prove what you are, not what you’re not. Then you’ll be able to see for yourself that no one is home, at least until you return from vacation.’
‘Oh, that’s brilliant, Eli; you certainly are a genius, aren’t you? So, what am I supposed to do after I fly back to London in about ten days? Oh, I know. First, I’ll catch a cab from Heathrow, then go directly to whatever hospital I’m supposed to be staying in. When I get there, I’ll ask the nurse what room I’m in. She’ll say you’re not really in a room; you’re standing in the reception area.
‘Then I’ll say, no, I mean my body; you know, the comatose one lying in one of your rooms? What number is it? My friends say I need to see how it’s doing. She will then whisper something to the other nurses; they will look at me and smile politely. They will then ask me to follow them to the elevator as someone makes a phone call.
‘Obviously, they won’t take me to see me since I’m most certainly not there. Instead, they will introduce me to some nice young men dressed in white who will outfit me in a tightly fitting garment before escorting me to a room with rubber walls where I’ll be safe.’
‘Actually, that was rather funny; wouldn’t you say, Mo?’
‘Indeed, James can be humorous if he wants,’ Mo replied.
‘You need not be concerned, James,’ Eli said. ‘When we go to the hospital, no one will see you since they think you’re lying on the bed where they laid your body in Room 3017. At least we’ll be with you, so you’ll have someone with you besides your body. I’m sure that could get boring after a while since your body isn’t the most congenial company to be with these days.’
‘And how are we supposed to get there, in your alien ship?’
‘Think of Dorothy,’ he said. ‘You’re a fan of the Wizard of Oz, are you not? Before we go anywhere, you need to realise you’re no longer in Kansas. Neither are you in Oz, although it may seem you’re in a place much like that. Trust us; if you realised which dimension you’re in, you wouldn’t even think about places like Kansas or London.
‘If you knew all the exotic adventures you could have in this new realm of infinite possibilities,’ Eli said, ‘you would get so excited that we might have to restrain you - not that we could! Then you would finally realise your struggle to extricate yourself from the Lowlands swamps was more than worth your time, effort, and money. Ascending this Mountain is where your real journey begins.’
‘What could I possibly get so excited about that you would have to restrain me?’
‘Have you ever watched a Miss Universe contest on the tele?’ he asked.
‘Sure, the swimsuit part; lots of times when they still had them. So, what’s that got to do with anything?’
‘Just wondering,’ he said.
‘Come on, Eli, what are you getting at… trying to bait me again? It won’t work.’
‘No, not bait you; prepare you. Nevertheless, we understand your confusion! It’s perfectly normal! However, this isn’t normal, nor are you,’ he said with a grin, ‘at least not anymore.’
‘Eli’s correct,’ Mo said, ‘you aren’t ordinary… consider that a compliment. You’re extraordinary! That’s why you climbed this Mountain to be here with us. How many would be willing to do that based on a call you thought you heard in a dream?’
‘Oh please, not that again.’
‘Be honest,’ Mo said, ‘you do remember the call, don’t you?’
‘Of course,’ I said. ‘It was so damned weird, even for a dream. Some exquisite voice, calling from afar, reverberating so plainly that it didn’t seem distant.’
‘What if that voice in your dream was from us?’ Eli asked. ‘But not only us, others too, all calling out to you as one collective voice.’
‘And why not,’ I asked, ‘especially after having a few too many refreshments at the pub that night? Often that’s when voices come to me. Do me a favour, gents; try not to get too caught up with my fantasy. I’m flattered you’re such big fans, yet now it seems you’re even beginning to take credit for some of the sound bites at the beginning. That’s hilarious!’
‘What if this call was a response to your haunting vision? Somehow you knew this Mountain was where you could become something more than what you felt in the stifling Lowlands.
‘We answered you by inviting you to join us on a Mountain, the one you occasionally glimpsed through the mists of your mind. Now that you’ve ascended here, I’m sure it all seems unreal. When you discover where you are, you will be able to go further up, far beyond the earth plane. You’re up here now, not down there.’
‘Yes, this is a mountain like I’ve never climbed before,’ I said. ‘And you’re right; it does seem to be a new world; just look at the view, far beyond any plain I’ve seen on earth. Indeed, way up and out of sight.’
‘I’m not sure you understood me,’ Mo said. ‘Likely, it’s not easy for a modern thinker such as yourself to concede to transcendence after being conditioned and steeped in the narrow presuppositions of mechanistic theorems and linguistic paralysis.’
‘Did you say linguistic paralysis?’ I asked.
‘Ah, sorry, I meant analysis. My apologies to Ludwig Wittgenstein, yet even he understood the limitations of what he had posited after grasping the higher spiritual realms in which you now exist.
‘After such an illustrious career, many of his colleagues thought he had gone off the deep end. One day they might say the same about you… and in a sense, they would be right; you certainly did go off the deep end, far beyond what you realise. Maybe that’s what life’s chasms are all about, to go down far enough to be catapulted to the stars.’
God, I thought, what a curious load of claptrap, and besides, what the bloody hell did Wittgenstein have to do with me and this mountain? Still, I had to admit Mo had a surprising handle on philosophy, more than should be expected of anyone.
Although I was vaguely aware of Wittgenstein’s esoteric speculations, I wasn’t sure what Mo’s point was. In the future, I would be more careful not to dismiss what he had to say. If I tried to bluff him with specious arguments, he might challenge them, which might, in the end, prove to be embarrassing.
‘I think you must realise,’ Mo said, continuing; ‘much of last century’s unfortunate philosophical trends have been getting a bit stale even though their reductionist effects. It’s apparent how these ideas continue to spread like a nasty virus into many of the natural and social sciences of the Flatlands.
‘Possibly, wiser minds will emerge one day, but unless someone leads them to the Mountain, it may take generations to correct the errors of the world’s prevailing falsehoods. One day, if you are willing, you might help save the world from itself.’
‘Of course, right after I save myself from myself,’ I laughed.
‘Really, Mo,’ I said with a smug smile. ‘Not only are you telling me what to believe, now you want me to convince the world of what I don’t even believe myself! I’m not even sure the world needs saving. If you knew me, you would know that I don’t aspire to be anyone’s hero. Besides, I’m an independent thinker, so I don’t wish to carry anybody’s torch, not even yours.’
‘We suspect you are very independent,’ Eli said. ‘That’s why you’re here. We realise there’s considerably more to you than you see or know. That’s why it’s more important that you come to know who you are before we do. To help you find out, we will be your mirror to reflect you to who you are.’
‘That’s a lot of you in a few sentences.’
‘That may be, however, there will always be just one individuated you, even if you doubt who that is. Outwardly, you weren’t expecting to lose yourself in this side adventure, so now you’re feeling a bit unhinged, confused, and at times, angry. But after what you’ve been through, who wouldn’t be?’
‘After you spend more time here,’ Mo said, ‘you’ll find yourself to be more of who you are than you might have realised before you left London. This will become now increasingly evident. But as long as you’re uncertain about who you are, you will remain fearful since all fear is about uncertainty.’
‘What do you expect? After experiencing the trauma of my fall, I have every right to feel shaken. Still, you’re not exactly helping me when you insist I’m out of my body. Now everything about my life is beginning to feel more uncertain than ever. It’s like being told you’ve been evicted from your flat while on vacation.’
‘We sympathise with your concern,’ he said, ‘but rest assured, you haven’t been evicted from your home. Once you find who you are, you will know you’ve resided in your true home beyond space and time. While here, your shackles will be removed, even though you may not yet know it.
‘When you do, you’ll find there’s much more to you than you realised, or could realise. Instead of thinking you’re only a body in physical form, you’ll understand you’re a soul that can never die, no matter how many mountains you fall off. If you resist this understanding, you will only prolong your confusion and uncertainty.’
‘I’m not sure if it’s just me who’s confused,’ I said cavalierly.
‘But did your world not completely change after the fall?’ Eli asked. ‘Not surprisingly, this has left you baffled and bewildered, and we recognise it may take a while for you to accept that you aren’t what you assumed yourself to be. As Mo suggested, you’re much more!
‘Don’t be concerned; we’re here to help you through this transition. Life may seem different, even though your divine essence hasn’t changed. When you understand who you are as an immortal being, you will no longer be uncertain or afraid. Instead, you will be joyful and confident in your new identity. You need to realise, James, you won’t find your identity hanging on a chain.’
‘That’s mildly humorous,’ I said. ‘Out of curiosity, tell me who you think I am, other than what is obvious.’
‘As we keep saying, that’s for you to discover,’ Mo said. ‘No one can know but you. We can tell you this much, however, you are a spirit like us, regardless of how physical you think you are on the outside. Depending on which realm you exist in, your body will manifest within the resonance of your vibratory essence. For now, we only wish you to accept that you’re more than your body as surely as you are more than the clothes on your back.’
‘So, in other words, you’re saying that you’re all right, and I’m all wrong about everything. Did I tell you I have a doctorate in philosophy?’
‘With all due respect, James,’ Eli said, ‘most of the things you believe about yourself and the universe are wrong. And if you don’t like the word “wrong,” let’s say an inaccurate representation of the truth to which you have assigned meaning.
‘That’s why, if you are to gain an authentic understanding of reality, you will need to unlearn and re-examine much of what was taught in the Lowlands. You say you’re an independent thinker; well, the truth is, you can’t be independent and remain in the Lowlands for long. Again, that’s why you’re here and not there.’
‘I’d hate for this to turn into a rugby pile-on match, James,’ Mo said, ‘the fact is you are wrong about most everything. It’s not only the old thought patterns you acquired throughout life but what you were taught in your classes.
‘These remain with you, yet that’s about to change. Without realising it, you came here to enrol in our post-doctorate studies at Summit U. If you do your coursework, this could include a practicum that will carry on until you return.’
‘I’m not so sure about that,’ I said, smiling. ‘I booked my flight to Chili during my winter break to get away as far as possible from academia.’
‘And so you have... more than you realise,’ he said. ‘What you experience here will be unlike anything you’ve ever learned before. There’s nothing anywhere in this world like the education you’ll receive at Summit U. It will begin with learning who and what you are.
‘If you prefer to return home rather than remain under our tutelage,’ Eli said, ‘you are free to go at any time. I suspect; however, you would find it somewhat lonely back there. It might be difficult to get a date when all the women treat you as though you didn’t exist. Which for them, you won’t.’
‘Think about it,’ Mo said. ‘Should you accept our invitation to enrol, your mind must remain tabula rasa. Your lessons will begin tomorrow morning immediately after breakfast. Initially, Eli and I shall serve as your instructors. The first unit of our programme will focus on deconstructing all that you’ve believed to be real, that you might discover the true nature of the universe and your purpose in it.
‘We welcome and encourage you to challenge what we say with whatever rebuttals, protests or outrage you care to offer. That might be good therapy for you. As Gurdjieff, the Russian philosopher, once said: To know: one must learn from him who knows.
‘To that end, James, we advise that you spend the rest of the evening coming to terms with all we’ve told you today, including your fall and the new realm in which you unwittingly exist.’
Without giving me a chance to reply, they stepped outside and disappeared into the dark as they had the night before.
‘Buenas noches, hasta mañana mis amigos,’ I called out at the doorstep. There was no reply; they had already disappeared to who knows where. I returned to the fire and remained there for a long time as images of my fall flashed through my mind.
While staring into the glow of the waning embers before retiring, Mo’s comments about my disincarnated state of existence began to haunt me. That was most unsettling and a bit frightening to think. Even with years of academic learning, I hadn’t given much thought to the spiritual realm, perhaps because I didn’t believe in it. Now, it was no longer academic but overwhelmingly personal.
I smiled and chuckled as I thought of how certain girlfriends in the past told me I was out of my mind… though never out of my body. However, after witnessing all the strange shenanigans here, possibly I was out of my mind. And if I was, maybe my body too.
I also wondered what Eli was getting at when he asked me if I ever watched any beauty contests. What kind of whacky question was that? It had no context and made no sense: much like the Zen nonsense beatniks used to banter about in a by-gone era. Yet, I suspected there was a reason he asked.
 The name of a play by William Shakespeare.
 Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889-1951). Considered to be among the most influential philosophers of the twentieth century. He came to regret much of what he wrote in his Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus (1922), and yet its influence carries on to this day. One of its famous phrases is: Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent. During WW1, he was greatly influenced by the writings of Dostoyevsky and Tolstoy, later becoming a fierce opponent of what he considered Scientism and the reductionism he once championed.
Tabula rasa is Latin, for erased tablet, meaning to keep the mind a blank slate so that it may receive new impressions.
 G.I. For the full quote, refer to Appendix ‘C.’
 As sometimes found in the dialogues of Jack Kerouac’s novels.
Links to other Chapters in the Ascent
Prologue to the Series
Elysium's Passage: The Ascent. Chapter One
Elysium's Passage: The Ascent. Chapter Two
Elysium's Passage: The Ascent. Chapter Three
Elysium's Passage: The Ascent. Chapter Four
Elysium's Passage: The Ascent. Chapter Five
Elysium’s Passage: The Ascent. Chapter Six
Elysium’s Passage: The Ascent. Chapter Seven
Elysium’s Passage: The Ascent. Chapter Eight
Elysium’s Passage: The Ascent. Chapter Nine
Elysium’s Passage: The Ascent. Chapter Ten
Elysium's Passage: The Ascent, Chapter Eleven
Elysium's Passage The Ascent, Chapter Twelve
Elysium's Passage: The Ascent, Chapter Thirteen
Elysium’s Passage: The Ascent, Chapter Fourteen
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