In the introduction to The Active Side of Infinity Carlos Castaneda writes that don Juan Matus encouraged him to prepare a special album, a collection of the memorable events in his life, an album that “reveals the warrior’s personality, an album that attests to the circumstances of his life.” (p. 6) Eventually, The Active Side of Infinity became that album. In the recounting of his conversation with don Juan, Carlos has a hard time understanding just what this might mean. At first he protests that every event in his life was profoundly significant. Don Juan retaliates by suggesting that, in reality, there may only be a few events in a person’s life that actually change things for them, that illuminate the path before them. “Ordinarily,” he says, “events that change our path are impersonal affairs, and yet are extremely personal.”
In last week’s blog, I wrote about an out-of-body experience (OBE) that changed my life. It was a memorable and momentous event. This week I pose the questions: Why do we have these moments and what do they mean to us personally?
In Black Elk Speaks, Black Elk recounts a vision he had as a nine year old boy. The vision begins when he hears a voice calling to him: “It is time; now they are calling you.” (p. 21) He elects to follow the voice. Over the next few days he becomes very ill. For twelve days he lies sick, as if dead, but meanwhile he is in another world, receiving a vision. In this vision he is shown that he must lead his people through four ascents, or times of great difficulty. When he returns from this vision he is afraid to speak of it for fear that he will be considered crazy.
Over the next eight years, he receives many messages and he increasingly realizes that he must pay attention to them. He follows the guidance offered; training himself to trust the messages he receives, saving his people and others from death, devastation, and starvation many times. Although he does not speak of his vision, others notice that he seems to have a certain power and it is only when this power can no longer be held back that he dares to speak of his long-ago vision.
This time comes when he is bombarded with calls from the Universe itself, calls that he cannot ignore. The thunder beings from his vision call to him from the clouds. The stars call to him. The crows call during the day and the coyotes call at night. And what do they say? They all say the same thing: “It is time! It is time! It is time!” (p. 164) This goes on for quite a while, until he thinks he must be going crazy. He begins to fear everything. He becomes withdrawn and isolates himself. His parents, noticing his distress, call an old medicine man to their tepee and ask him to see what he can do for their son. By now, Black Elk is so afraid of everything that he cannot hold back any longer; he fears he will die if he does not speak. He tells the medicine man about his vision and everything else that has been haunting him.
The medicine man says: “Nephew, I know now what the trouble is! You must do what the bay horse in your vision wanted you to do. You must do your duty and perform this vision for your people upon earth. You must have the horse dance first for the people to see. Then the fear will leave you, but if you do not do this, something very bad will happen to you.” (p. 165)
Now that his secret is out, the vision can be shared. While the vision is being acted out by members of his tribe, Black Elk looks up into the clouds and sees his vision once again, as he had seen it the first time. He says: I looked about me and could see that what we then were doing was like a shadow cast upon the earth from yonder vision in the heavens, so bright it was and clear. I knew the real was yonder and the darkened dream of it was here.” (p. 173)
What Black Elk discovered was that our fears are leading us. Carlos also discovered this, for when he related a fearful experience, don Juan pointed out that it was indeed a memorable event in his life and worthy of being included in his album.
Jeanne wrote on Monday that this is the time for us to change, that it is here. Later that evening, as I read this account of Black Elk’s confrontation with the Universe telling him it was time to reveal his vision to his people, I could not help but feel that it was a synchronistic, momentous moment, worthy of passing along.
So why do we have these momentous moments in our lives, whether they be synchronicities, experiences, visions, OBEs, voices, animal messengers, or simply our own fears calling to us? I believe, and this has been my personal experience as I have heeded the calls from Jeanne to pass along her messages, that we, as we listen and follow the guidance given, are offered the opportunity to experience that other world, the “real” world, as Black Elk refers to it. By facing our fears we offer ourselves greater access to our own energy too and this, in turn, allows us the confidence and trust to keep opening ourselves to more experiences.
And how do we face our fears? Sometimes all it takes is finding someone to talk to. We work so hard to fight our fears, as Black Elk did, but one day we just know that it is time, and instead of turning away from them again we make the momentous decision to find out where they have been trying to lead us all these years. I know many brave people make that decision every day. And I also know other people, equally brave, who elect to keep the fear in their lives; for whatever reason, it has its purpose for as long as we need it. Either way we are challenging ourselves to have energetic experiences, one of which can be energy-giving, allowing us access to the unimaginable; the other can be energy-robbing, and often we do feel that we might die if we do not find some form of relief from our issues. Black Elk went on to see his vision unfold in reality. Carlos went on to write about his experiences. Both of them changed their personal worlds.
What does life have in store for us and how can we make this lifetime meaningful? Personally, I elected to face my fears, to recapitulate and relieve myself of sometimes crippling habits and behaviors that kept me from listening to the truths of my inner world, rejecting my own visions for many years. Now, I’m allowing myself to take a different journey. I still must face what arises to lead me, but the more experiences I have with Jeanne and my other forms of guidance, the more easily I flow.
I most humbly offer this essay and my own experiences as examples, but also as incentives to keep going. There really is so much else to experience. That other world truly is real, and it is attainable now, which is really what Jeanne, Black Elk, don Juan and Carlos are suggesting. We have access to it; we just have to get beyond our fears. Is it time? If you wish, feel free to respond in the comment section below.
Until next week, wishing you all love, dreams, and visions,
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