Lessons in a Life: The Great Unknown Known

Before sleep I call upon Robert Monroe, great out-of-body explorer and author of several books as well as guided meditations on the subject. “Will you take me on as your apprentice?” I ask. Before long I am asleep and dreaming.

Girl on beach, drawn as we all are... - Photo by Jan Ketchel
Girl on beach, drawn as we all are…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

I stroll along a boardwalk. On my left side is an endless row of doorways to video arcades, to adventures and games, places to learn and test skills. On my right is the ocean, dark and brooding.

I pop into one arcade after another, through wide doorways into big rooms, through narrow doorways, no wider than a sheet of paper, into rooms equally narrow. All doorways are accessible; no matter how thin, I simply slip in. I have many adventures in these various rooms, partaking in games of skill, learning how to manipulate and master everything that comes at me.

Every now and then I step back out onto the boardwalk and walk out onto the beach and step into the waves of the ocean. As opposed to the busyness of the arcade scene, all is calm and quiet here. I am calm and at ease here too.

All night long, while I dream, I partake in life along the boardwalk and in the arcade rooms. I play all the games. I am enticed, challenged, gain insights, skills, and a sense of power and prowess, and yet it all soon becomes repetitive and boring. At the end of the night, just before I wake up, I walk one more time out to the ocean’s edge and realize that this is what matters, this is what’s meaningful, this is the whole point of everything. I wake up in utter calmness.

The boardwalk is the path through life. We make many trips along that boardwalk, through many lifetimes, selecting how we want to live, being drawn here and there, walking the narrow planks over and over again.

The arcade rooms represent the many adventures we have, the choices we make to play one game or another, the things we are challenged with and the things we learn. Here all the desires, the wantings, the needs, the things of this world that we find so enticing are supplied, encountered, and experienced.

The ocean is the Great Unknown Known. I call it this because although it is dark and brooding and hard to see what lies in its depths, we sense such affinity with it. There is familiarity in its mystery and we are constantly drawn to it. We are drawn there by the High Self, our spirit urging us to discover what it offers, just as I was drawn in my dream. We go to it throughout our lifetimes, perhaps not as often as we go to the arcade rooms, but often enough that we all have a sense of its presence and significance in our lives.

Life's repetitions keep us going in circles... - Photo by Jan Ketchel
Life’s repetitions keep us going in circles…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

Our sense of familiarity with it, hard to pinpoint at first, becomes more realized as we get to know it better. For some, the unconscious, that Great Unknown Known, is frightening. To others it is calming though still mysterious. It will remain a mystery until we dive deeper into its depths and discover what it holds for us. Once we have gone into its depths enough times we gain a certain prowess and ease, equal to that which we gain in the reality of this world, as we engage in it, walking the boardwalks of our many lifetimes.

The more we explore the ocean, the more we feel its resonance, its energy so like the energy of our spirit. The more we enter it the more we gain a certain prowess in its waters. We might even experience the great depths of calm that came over me at the end of my dream as we dive deeper into the mysteries of the inner self. Even as we become calm in its waters, we are also aware that we have still much to learn, as its mysteries are endless. It is the vastness of infinity, and just that, infinite.

Each time I took a break from the arcade rooms and stepped into the ocean in my dream calmness came over me, and yet I always went back to the boardwalk and the arcades. By the end of the night, however, I got the message. It’s not the boardwalk and the endless supply of games, one more bedazzling, enticing and challenging than the next, but the deep and broody ocean that is important. It is where our spirit takes us over and over again. Our spirit knows it’s what we are really seeking, and that it offers all the adventure we really need.

The ocean, the Great Unknown Known, is the big draw. It offers the wonder and mystery of what lies beyond the boardwalk, beyond this world, enticing us to discover it for ourselves, asking us to test its waters as eagerly as we jump into another arcade game.

In the end it’s the balance between the two that we seek. We must let ourselves fully experience what the boardwalk offers, on both sides. We must fully live in this world, the arcade rooms, but also fully avail ourselves of the world of the Great Unknown Known. And that really means that we soon discover that it is not so unknown at all, but just another part of who we really are.

Where our heart knows we must go... - Photo by Jan Ketchel
Where our heart knows we must go…
– Photo by Jan Ketchel

There are many ways to go to the ocean every day, in sitting calmly, in simply breathing, in meditation, in just being, in refusing to do what we might normally feel we must do, in what the shamans call “not doing.” In “not doing” we refuse to go into the arcade rooms. Instead, we go to the other side of the boardwalk, slip into the ocean for a moment or two and wait for it to show us something. You too might ask for Robert Monroe’s help. I think he’s out there waiting.

For now, we must return to the boardwalk because that’s where we live, but the ocean is always right there.

Not doing,

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