Driving back from Hayward, Wisconsin, where I was fishing for Muskie last July, I had an interesting experience.  I took back roads for the first two hours, watching the transition from northland to farmland, paying close attention to roadside retail, building construction, trees, foliage, birds and cloud formations.  I was by myself.  The window was down.  No radio or tape was playing.

At Osseo, I got back on the highway and started paying closer attention to the sky.  About two months earlier, my attention had turned to trees and clouds.  I have been examining these two things in more detail than has been my custom in the past.  The clouds above Highway 94 north of Madison were extraordinary.  My attention became riveted starting about 3:00 in the afternoon.

The clouds were mostly very high, and the horizon was relatively free from nearby tall trees or buildings.  Several kinds of clouds were on display, appearing in several shades of gray and white.  A rain front was to my right and rear as the front moved from Minnesota toward Illinois.  Patches of blue sky mingled with dark clouds, wispy clouds, puffy clouds and distant, flat fields of clouds.

In front of me, above me and to my left were the kind of puffy clouds that were easy to imagine as various beings.  Dogs, bears, pigs, dragons, fish and salamander creatures were quite common.  As the minutes rolled on, I let my imagination play.  Beings proliferated.  Maybe 80 cloud formations suggesting personalities lingered in the sky, all at one time.  I was stunned by the sheer number of unique arrangements.

As I transitioned into a relaxed state capable of allowing my unconscious to run amok, clouds across the sky acquired personalities, sometimes creating local tableaus of several relating characters.  In the meantime, the wind and highway artifacts suggested voices.  There was the sound of the wheels on pavement, the sound of passing road barriers, the sound of passing under bridges, the sound of passing cars and trucks, the occasional sound of a machine in the environment.  Sounds began to feel like voices whose words were just about to begin articulating sense.

The sky was filled with faces with expression, beings with bodies, cloud personalities relating to one another; the air was chock-full of voice tones and intonations.  Suddenly, the ground, my horizontal plane, burst with personality as trees, plants and buildings reached upward to engage in relationship with the sky.  I was embedded in the center of a world that was alive, an environment communicating by using the conventions of a human.  Everything was reaching, expressing, communicating, being.

I did not feel like I was in an exaggerated altered state.  It felt natural.  I was having fun.

Driving down the highway, still above Madison, it felt clear to me that spiritual experience is deeply informed by our origin as primate social beings and our way of often regressing to early childhood states when embracing understandings characterized by connection.  When we feel loved in the world, that world often looks and feels like the world when we last felt deeply loved, when we were toddlers and infants.  The environment acquires personality as we shift to interpersonal frames and focus on loving eyes and gentle smiles.  When we were infants, our parents’ expressions told us we were loved.  We emerge into the world with personality, and those close to us mirror our experience.  The world becomes interpreted as filled with personality.  What we are becomes also what we perceive.

On many occasions in my life, I have been presented with revelation.  I define revelation as a time when barriers between my conscious and unconscious come down and my conscious is offered new and useful information.  In perhaps the two most intense or condensed experiences characterized by revelation, there was a second message embedded within the first.

In the first experience, I was also on an expressway, driving in the afternoon.  I was passing from Champaign Urbana to Normal, moving across central Illinois on a partly cloudy day in August.  Hay bales were bundled along the roadsides.  Listening to NPR, I realized that Gorbachev was sincere.  World peace in my lifetime was emerging as a possibility.  The sky became filled with rainbow rivers cascading down the sides of clouds.  I felt loved.

The second message embedded within the overt communication was that truth is relative.  Although I was experiencing a revelation accompanied by hallucinations, the truth that underlay the revelation was that all truth is relative.  I was experiencing a second insight that however anything feels or seems, there is an astonishing amount that can be lost in translation, particularly when it comes to revelation.

Five years later, a second revelatory experience was accompanied by the same tandem communication.  Whatever “truth” seems to be relevant in a communication, deeper yet is how vastly unimportant is the meaning.  Transcending the importance of the content and the meaning of a communication is the connection between the imparter of the message and the receiver of the message.

I believe this is what a former guide meant when he instructed me to maintain “Don’t know mind.”

The deepest communications are those where the instructions can be ignored.

Driving down Wisconsin 94 last July, I realized that there is a level of understanding characterized by not knowing.  It felt to me like experience before birth, before the dynamics of personality are engaged.  While I reveled in being surrounded by an environment infused with animated characters, I also felt that there was a part of me prepared to experience my surroundings as an embryo experiences its surroundings, epigenetically, with divisions between the environment and the personal being far less clear.

We each carry with us many ways of knowing.  Knowledge characterized by womb experience offers a not knowing kind of knowing.  Interestingly, this mode of knowledge offers a deeply adult world view, characterized by a profoundly relativistic perspective.  With all truth as relative, we are free to observe behavior as behavior, not that which behavior purports to represent.  Things stop representing other things.  Story and metaphor lose their impact.  Instead, everything is actually what everything is, connected to everything else, not just associated by shared word meanings.

“Don’t know mind” is not ignorance.  It’s the experience that not knowing can be profound.


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