“And then there are the moments when the white hot blade of separation comes into your life, and everything changes. In the presence of such instantaneous power, you realise that the human view of transformation is impoverished by a lack of true experience at the edge, while your former life is separated from the now with a cut of such precision that it is as though the past was a dream… In such moments it is so very important to be fully conscious of what happens next; of what the universe fills that void with. If the deep and gentle breathing of true consciousness can overcome the panic and fear of sudden change, there are keys dropped into a life, then, that are of incalculable value…”
I wrote that, many years ago, lying on a floor, curled up on a Persian rug pulled by friction around my knees and thighs within the near foetal position I had taken in the middle of a moment of black and total grief. The old writing pad on which it was transcribed in tearful letters was, fortuitously, lying nearby, along with a pencil. For months it was pinned over my desk in the room that serves as my home office and place of writing. I looked at it so often it became burned into my memory. It has no claim to good writing – it is just what I found at the bottom of the old well that was me…
And now, reproduced in pencil on the pad given me by the departed Yellow Eyes, it stares me in the face each morning, as I make myself repeat it, like a mantra, while shaving over the old enamelled sink.
I cannot change my external circumstances–I am a prisoner, a fact brutally reinforced by the clinical and degrading encounter with the Governor in the shower block. I can only examine, as honestly as possible, how I am reacting to this fact.
I have a tendency to intellectualise things–we all have a makeup that is driven by such facets of our deeper selves. For some of us, it’s the emotions that power us, for others, the instinctive hungers are dominant. For me, it’s thinking; and that, while it has its upside, can be a dreadful curse when you’re locked in a gloomy remand cell for most of the day and night…
The only cure for the encroaching madness that the newly unveiled Governor and his well-qualified team would love me to embrace is to reject thinking, feeling and lusting; and harmonise a distillation of them all into something the ancients called Being…
Being is easy to say and rather more difficult for the personality to approach. Those who have touched it long for its return. Those whose understanding has matured are swallowed into its glory, swapping the realities of becoming for those of an ever changing face of an intelligent and loving eternity. I know the words…now would be great time to translate knowing into understanding… and beyond.
What stops us stepping naturally into Being is a dirty set of glasses…very powerful glasses, with lenses forged in the process of egoic learning that is our lives.
But Being is our home…and deep within us we feel that loss, bitterly, and search for the marks of others who understood that. The ancients who carved the now reinstated Saxon cross knew that…and, reading the landscape as carefully as they had carved the stone, they knew where the stone should stand in order to fulfil its purpose.
To see this world we need to take off those glasses of the personality – or, at least give them a substantial wash… This washing is not a trivial affair, but it is all that is required.
After that there is only seeing, for which we simply need our Selves.
Don and Wen: among the most significant names in my life… Two of my best friends, taken from me by an act of ‘armed vandalism’ on my part–if the words of Dr Grey in my latest interview, combined as a double blow after the Governor’s ‘visit’ – are to be taken seriously. The Governor carefully gave me the barest facts at my recent meeting with his committee. He’s an astute one. He knows his psychology – there’s nothing as acidic to the mind as part-knowing something.
But the good Doctor Grey has reassured me that I will be having a daily ‘interview’ to talk about my mental state. He thinks this may help my conditions here in Bakewell Gaol. It’s a clever use of language–he knows I will read it as ‘condition’ rather than ‘conditions’, and it will reassure me that, under the fist of the no-nonsense Governor, my interference with their own agenda will soon be at an end…
When your mind has eighteen hours a day to do nothing but think, it imagines… The blade of imagination has two edges… One of them is a very good friend to the human consciousness; the other…
Are my friends, Don and Wen locked up somewhere, too? Can the reach of the Knights of Severity be that strong? See, I’m imagining, again. The Governor didn’t say they’d been caught, not exactly. He took great delight in naming them and telling me that they were being pursued, and by two of his golfing buddy’s best police officers… And I know Don and Wen well; they’re not best equipped to escape the police for long… unless some unseen agency is flying low over their heads and leading their way through the dimensions of the possible. Equally, they might simply and sensibly be enjoying that trip to Scotland they were planning before the white hot blade struck me, again. The Governor and his police friends might simply have their first names and nothing more?
I reach for the pad, which has only a few pages left, and rip out one of the remaining, precious sheets.
I like triangles.
In our world – the world of physical consciousness, things happen in triangles. Old adages like ‘things come in threes’ have much wisdom behind them; but they’re partial. I know a deeper version, and its use begins with writing down what you know in a certain way.
I sit on my bed and think… this is good thinking – aimed at a specific problem whose elements are clearly identified. After several minutes, I close my eyes and imagine a clock face on which I project my triangle. Then, emptying my mind, I wait and breathe, shutting down the intellect as best I can.
It works. Five minutes later I’m standing at my sink with a new drawing pinned to the ancient cork-board that sits above the sink and mirror. To anyone else, the drawing would be a simple arrangement of names. To me, and to Don and Wen had they been here, the arrangement is of great significance in describing the driving forces of the now.
We are all of us arrows, and just at this moment, I wish I hadn’t been the arrow that Wen and Don fired… But the white hot blade of separation doesn’t have to be received passively. It can be wielded in defence, too… It can be used to carve the now…
<See index below for other parts of this story>
———————————————————–< to be continued-
Ben’s Bit is a continuing first-person narrative of the character created by Stuart France and Sue Vincent, which may bear some relation to the author of this story, Steve Tanham, their fellow director of the Silent Eye School of Consciousness. In the latest of their books, Scions of Albion, Ben is arrested for his overly enthusiastic part in a mad escapade, and the other two are nowhere to be seen . . . For more, enjoy their Doomsday series of books, and the new series (Lands of Exile) beginning soon. Click here for details.
Index to Ben’s Bits:
Part One, Part Two, Part Three, Part Four, Part Five, Part Six, Part Seven, Part Eight, Part Nine, Part Ten, Part Eleven, Part Twelve,
Sue Vincent describes her and Stuart’s perspective on Ben’s imprisonment: Part One, Part Two
The Doomsday Series of books and the new book, But n’ Ben by Stuart France and Sue Vincent
The Silent Eye School of Consciousness – a modern mystery school.
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Wonderfully written. It’s super creepy though. Some people think the most important thing for a human being is to be alive. I say the most important thing for a human being is to be a free person. People used to wage battles over the sovereignty of communities. Would that our personal sovereignty be as equally protected. Death need never factor into the preservation of the right to be who we are, unless of course freedom refuses to take any other shape. In Ben’s situation, the possibility of freedom is high enough yet that choosing life will not kill his soul. Yet. But there may quickly come a time, and sometimes it unfortunately does, when the life you gain is nothing to the life you forfeit, physical existence in the face of a shattered spirit or a soul forced into exiled silence against itself is not particularly existence, is it? And the questions arise, what action is truly self-respectful, honorable to the core being in me, consistent with the integrity of identity, the best expression of the formost duty declared by each of us, to never abandon the one in our charge, that formost person being our own self. Not easy or one-dimensional, the many answers to such questions, but the individual’s quest continues, no matter the course of action as long as some sense of being stays intact. Death itself is more like a doorway into a different expression of life. The bars of separateness that form around a spirit divorced from knowing and feeling and expressing and being itself are an eternity far worse than any death could offer, far more permanent than a physical jail cell. The danger is to internalize an external imprisonment, so easy to do when one is psychologically and spiritually confined as well as physically caged. To cage a wild creature, as we human beings have always been, is a tragedy beyond comprehention. Brutality, unforgiveness, apathy, hatred, such form bars around a person stronger than any human being could construct, locking a one into a vicious circle, and at the worst of it love could scream for ages over the hills and never be heard. If such a fate is endangering a person, it then becomes freedom, not life, not survival, which is the utmost priority, for then a hollow short term victory is forfeit to a genuine, holistic, enduring triumph. That is literally worth the world.
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Thank you, Éilis. Such a detailed and thought-provoking observation. I agree, entirely. Ben is faced with the horror of a seemingly trivial situation turning, day by day, into an imprisonment of far more than just his flesh. He is slowly becoming aware that he is caught, unwittingly and disproportionately, between two poles of great power. The nature of one is visible and present; the other has, so far, only been hinted at… He has enemies-again out of proportion to his ‘crime’; but he also has a growing set of friends, many of whom will have to face their own dilemmas in order to align with his spirit of freedom.
It matters a lot that people are following the story at such depth. It is dark- with flashes of black humour, but that reflects life. Ben is a son of life, and must learn from each part of his incarceration in the confines of Bakewell Gaol.
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Some of it is a little too dark for me, Steve, perhaps I am too sensitive, or have simply seen life do such things without any additional fiction. The question of freedom means a great deal to me though, and I love reading things that you and the others have written, so I try to read every chapter which won’t haunt me with persistent pictures. My hope is always that life has a possibility to it to not be as brutal as the allegory. It has the potential for that brutality, yes, but what will it take to live a different way? If we expect a hostile and dangerous physical existence at every turn, will our expectation leave change at bay? Why hope then, why come? The pain must be only half the story, the growing possible. Otherwise no one would undertake a useless journey. As we are here, it seems we are charged to create the way we wish to see born, to live, live alive. Violence has so often been an unquestioned norm, a necessity, an evolutionary given. It’s our responsibility to model, be, become, a sustainable alternative.
Randomly, I’ve always wondered, why is Gaol spelled that way? It looks Scottish. 🙂
Hello Éilis. I certainly don’t want this to be remembered as a dark story, though any tale of imprisonment must reflect a degree of that – if only as a prelude.
In any plot, particularly one with such narrow physical constraints, there has to be a certain amount of scene-setting. I can assure you that the eventual outcome is far from dark and is very redemptive. Remember that this has to fit within a greater story created by Sue and Stuart; and I am not in control of their ending of Lands of Exile – just the story of Ben to that point… and I have no control of the fact that that has to be one of incarceration…but only of the body.
Having a gripping story is important, otherwise why would anyone be interested in reading it at all? I would also say that any ‘violence’ is either symbolic or psychological – as imprisonment is, in itself.
I won’t urge you to stay with it if it’s upsetting you… I think I’ve said that, before. But you would want to stay with it if you could see where it’s going.
I’m not, in any way, a negative person, nor do I believe in the power of darkness over light. Darkness is ignorance, light is understanding and transformative. Ben’s complete journey reflect this in an eventually profound way. In can’t say any more or there would be no surprises!
Thank you for your comments. Steve
Hi Steve, gosh, no no I don’t think you’re a negative person! Also seriously yes, it’s the fact that there’s a lot of tention between dark and light and unfortunate stuff happens which makes this a suspenseful and great story. My comment was not meant as a judgment, I was simply reflecting on the concept of the story being alegorical to incarnate life. For instance, the idea that life is a kind of imprisonment for a soul. It’s a wonderful and gripping story – my thoughts were philosophical and spiritual in nature, not a criticism of you or what you are writing. And don’t worry, I take care of myself as far as knowing my limits as to when mildly disturbing turns into a catalyst for flashing back through a nonfictional memory–whether it be my own, or someone else’s which I’ve been given to help transmute with them. Keep shining, my friend. 🙂
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I forgot to answer you question about the spelling of Gaol. This is the older English spelling that would have applied when Bakewell Gaol was built. The whole thing began when Sue and Stuart asked me to write a three-section poem based on Oscar Wilde’s Ballad of Reading Gaol, which has now been published on Amazon Kindle and a paperback graphic novel:
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