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The Way Out, and The Way In

May 31, 2011

Sunday my brother calls me up. It’s the middle of the Memorial Day weekend, and he wants to share something with me.

“You’re probably gonna call me a liar,” he said.

Now in reality, a liar is probably the last adjective I’d ever use to describe Richard. Stubborn and bull headed maybe.  And one who, as they say, does not suffer fools gladly. But completely reliable and with more integrity and grit than any other man I know. And over the years he’s become more three dimensional, learning much about compassion and taking himself less seriously. He’s also the one person on the planet I’d entrust my life to above anyone else. What you call a stand up guy.

So a liar is something he ain’t.

Also, he’s a critical thinker. He and I both have a well-developed bullshitometer built into our brains. We can smell nonsense a mile away. 

So what he told me is not easy to dismiss or deal with.

“I was on a date with this new woman I’ve been seeing. We went back to her place and sat on her backyard porch, and the stars were out.” Richard lives upstate, near Woodstock.

“Yeah…? So you get laid?”

“Listen to me. We were looking at the stars, and she asks me if one of them, a bright one, is a star or a planet.”

“Oh. Did it flicker? I believe if it flickers, it’s a star.”

“Ok. Well I told her I don’t really know. So she said, ‘Let’s ask it!’ So she did. She said, sort of half-jokingly, ‘Give me a sign to reveal whether you’re a star or a planet!’”

“How long have you been dating this woman?”

“So….right after she said this, like right after, it moved, very slowly…”

Ah, I thought, a satellite.

“…First to the right,  and then to the left. And then, it moved in a tight circle. We watched it do this for about 40 minutes!”

I told him I simply didn’t know what to make of this. If I had heard it from anyone else, I would have dismissed it out of hand.

Now for the record I don’t take seriously anything “way out” or paranormal, including UFO sightings or anything of the sort. And from what I’ve seen over the years, this kind of stuff tends to attract people with all sorts of  personality disorders. Astrology, ghosts and hauntings, the occult, I’m pretty leery about it all. Generally, I wouldn’t give any of it a second thought.  Except, however, for what I’ve experienced myself.

Like there was that time in ’97 when I was sitting at the 12th Street Bar in Park Slope on a Friday night nursing a Stoly on the rocks, when this lovely girl and her friend sat down on the two stools to my right. I struck up a conversation with her – the usual stuff, only this time, the answers came to me twice, and into two different ears.

“Where do you live?” I asked her.

“She lives on Berkeley Place,” was what I heard, softly and clearly, in my left ear. But there was no one to my left.

“On Berkeley Place,” she said.

“Where on Berkeley?” I asked.

“Between 6th and 7th,” the voice on my left said.

“Between —

“Wait.! Don’t tell me! You live between 6th and 7th Avenues.”

She was taken aback.

“Do I know you?” she asked.

“I don’t think so!” I thought of the next question before asking it aloud: Does she live alone? And again the answer came to me.

“Um…you live with a roommate, right?” I said.

She looked at her friend, then at me.

“What’s going on?” she demanded.

“Um…Just asking. In a studio, right?”

I then thought of a few more questions, received the answers, and told her more about herself: The school she goes to; what she’s studying.

She looked me right in the eye, and then politely excused herself. “Excuse me, you’re freaking me out.” And then she took herself and her friend to another part of the bar.

I’ve never been able to duplicate this experience. And certainly it may have a rational explanation.

But what follows doesn’t…

When I was younger, my dad, who never minded being the center of attention, claimed for a while he could read minds. When company would come over, he’d announce that he had discovered this ability. He’d then ask someone to remove a dollar bill from their pocket and to concentrate on the serial number, one letter and digit at a time.

Obviously, everyone was sure it was a trick.

Except that it wasn’t.

They’d all suspect that he’d arranged this with someone there beforehand. So someone else, usually the most skeptical person in the room, would take out their own dollar bill, and say, “Ok. Read my mind!”

Which he would then do.

And everyone enjoyed it. Until they didn’t.

After a few such encounters, dad decided to stop this.

“People started to became very uncomfortable around me,” he explained.

So I’ve learned from an early age that Shakespeare was probably right when he said, “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,  than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”

Whenever I see a deck of cards, I turn it upside down, pick out a card, and try to guess it. Usually I’m wrong, of course. But I’m right more than once every 52 times. And every now and then the phone rings and I just know who’s on the other end. (Has this happened to you? I’ve heard others say it has).  But I also notice that when I get attached to knowing something like this (that is, when my ego wants to be right about it) I’m almost always wrong. What is working here seems to be not my conscious mind but some deeper intuition, which is something I’d like to control, but cannot.

This corresponds to my attempts at success in life. When I’ve tried real hard, the universe resists real hard. But when I just lightly envision something, it tends to happen. Intention glides with a light touch. It’s as if the universe feels insulted when I seem to think it needs a push. But if I cajole it a bit, it gives.

So I know this other-worldly, outside-of-my-philosophy stuff exists, but it spooks me, and I don’t know what to make of it.

Do you?

7 Comments leave one →
  1. Roy Alexander permalink
    May 31, 2011 3:21 pm

    Yeah, send me whatever you are smok’n, smok’d and what Richard smok’d although I’ll probably just throw it out. And, by the way, I know a guy that does mind reading tricks that would blow your mind, even for a guy like me who does occasional magic tricks.

  2. Dave Abramowitz permalink
    May 31, 2011 6:41 pm

    Poor Roy,

    So many there are whose God is a closed science where winds that refresh and the fragrance of a higher truth can not blow. So many, because of the way they’ve been brought up and conditioned, can not conceive of anything beyond an almost worshipped Darwin or their closed and ever so careful “scientific method.” When nothing is sacred beyond the human and the human mind, then one can not see and feel and experience God in one’s great dog or commit the necessary expense to try and save it. We can even come to regard amazing life as something like an object “worthy of dissection.”

    Charley, when you dare to share your miracles, know half or more than half the folks listening will cast aspersions or even doubt your sanity or honesty. For such as these, no amount of existentially evidential proof or number of eyewitnesses will sway them.

    What is that pure intelligence that breathes us and that has given us our breath, and that we are all a part of, and in our small measure, no matter what creature or creation, so magnificently reflect?

    Psychic phenomena, occult phenomena, are always interesting and challenging, in that they may jar someone’s closed belief system, or they may make us feel special, and that, as we have seen in many “New Agers,” can be a trap when we become too attached.

    Charley et al, never let anyone discount or discredit your miracles. Miracles, so-called miracles, are but proofs of a larger reality where we meet and are met. More than One has been crucified in various ways for daring to speak one’s larger truth and, who may, out of great feeling of love and compassion, manifested miracles. Charley et al, don’t let your miracles surprise you. Celebrate them! They are the beginnings of proof of your God-realized self!

  3. Dave Abramowitz permalink
    May 31, 2011 9:14 pm

    very thought-provoking, wonderful piece, Charley, as was your heartfelt memorializing of your chinchilla, Dusty. I commented again only to say I should have said “God-realizing self,” rather “God-realized.” We are “of God,” but though some may parade about proclaiming themselves with a sign saying “God,” that looks to me, regardless the best of intentions, as the ultimate sacrilege. It is enough just to be little humans wondering at a sea of stars as we find the silence with our flute …

  4. Lili and Michael permalink
    June 2, 2011 1:06 am

    Thanks, Charley for so honestly sharing your doubt…..
    As for my own response to your question, I fully concur with Dave Abramowitz…, if you’d like to experiment with shaking your doubt out: : Read his response, Watch your resistance (logical, left-brained mind at work) and read his piece again. Then just stay open to the possibility that there is WAY more than the world we behold with our five senses.

    By the way, that was beautifully said, Dave…..I will be saving this…..I am an Interfaith Minister who doesn’t often come across what I consider wonderfully articulated musings on the “Does God exist?” question. Yours is a keeper.

    Thanks again, too, Charley…..Lili

    Many Blessings all around….Lili

    Many blessings….

  5. Beow permalink
    June 2, 2011 1:56 am

    Charley, your unintentional card trick sounds impressive. I too believe that there’s something precognitive about in the act of letting your mind take a lazy, less-than-conscious guess about something. For the last 15 years, I’ve listened to my music in a jukebox-esque 50 CD changer, giving me around 700-800 possible song selections every time a new song begins. In the 20-second gap that it takes the machine to change the CD, my mind tends to wander. Often, it finds itself tangled up in a snippet of a song that I haven’t heard in weeks. And – much more often than 1 in 800 times – that song is the next song to come on. It happens at least two or three times a week and sends chills up my spine every time it does. Of course, whenever I get too active in the guessing process, I fall back down to a 1-in-800 shot.

    Terence McKenna spoke about this phenomenon in “The Evolutionary Mind” as though it were a loosening of the brain-imposed sense of linear time that usually shackles our greater-than-brain consciousness. When we try to guess something about the future, we implicitly posit that there is a distinction between the present and the future, thereby destroying our ability to travel as freely as our minds otherwise could. He and Rupert Sheldrake apply this line of thinking to the phenomenon of pigeons finding their way back to their roost from hundreds of miles away. They hypothesize that the pigeons, as “dumb” as they are, are not very anchored in linear time and are thus able to treat the full trajectory of their flight as something that is both happening and already known. Wild and wacky, but that’s what those guys do best. And it gels with our experiences!

  6. Beow permalink
    June 2, 2011 2:03 am

    * Also, McKenna and Sheldrake use this idea to explain why dogs will often run to the door and wait for their master’s arrival several minutes before he/she gets home. The less intentional/smart the consciousness, the more precognitive it seems to be.

    And…to wade a little further out into the waters…I’ve heard about (without actually reading them myself) studies in which plants can accurately sense the intentions of experimenters who are in the room with them. The scientists have previously decided to either harm the plant or not harm the plant, and they stay in the room thinking about their intentions before carrying them out. The plants in the room with the stem crackers show a galvanic skin response (i.e., an abnormal electrical current across their leaves) to the scientists’ malicious thoughts.


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