Skip to content

Posts from the ‘new age’ Category

Remembering Bob (not his real name) and his thousand keys

Years ago during one of the new age tidal waves of enthusiasm for all things psychic, spiritual and otherworldly, I took a course in one of the disciplines of the day that promised to show me how to improve my psychic powers. The course did what it said it would do.

oldkeyWhile the course followed a set lesson plan everywhere in the country where it was taught, those of us in Bob’s course probably saw many phenomena and discussed many ideas that weren’t on the agenda elsewhere. Quite simply, the reason was Bob and his enthusiasm for everything that might tangentially be related to the course’s core ideas.

Bob had the kind of vision that would have made a university’s doctoral dissertation committee proud, for he was forever “surveying” the literature and finding new associations to ideas most people would have lost track of in the more obscure footnotes. The downside, however, was that if he were writing a new age doctoral dissertation, he would never finish it because the data about practices, techniques, theories and methods was, of course, open ended and could never be compiled into a definitive research paper.

Keys to Everything

chakraDuring late-night, after class discussions, Bob was forever saying “if we can just find the key, we will finally know how everything in the psychic world works.” This was, of course, what we wanted to hear. But, once again, there was a downside to this approach because it meant that every time Bob came across an ancient (yet newly discover) system/book/method, THAT was suddenly the key to the world–in his view. We went through phases on new keys and newer keys. Certain principles of Yoga became a key, followed by an in-depth study of Huna mysticism, and then some of the deep secrets being channeled by discarnate entities.

Bob’s enthusiasm led us to discover many new ideas (new to us, though often very ancient) and to consider that there are many approaches to new age techniques that, in fact, are more related to each other in substance than might initially be obvious. People talk about the same things with different words and/or enhance what they’re doing with rituals that make the object of their work appear alien when, in fact, it’s similar to something one already knows.

I don’t know if Bob ever found his master key because those of us who were the mainstay members in his courses moved away over time and lost track of each other. In some ways, Bob couldn’t stick with each new thing long enough to totally understand it or to see if it could be totally integrated into the techniques we were already practicing. Sadly, many of us started to become a little jaded about some of the new ideas Bob brought into the classroom because we knew it was a matter of time before they were proclaimed as the new key.

But what about last week’s key and the key from the week before that?

My thoughts in those days–and since–have probably traveled down many roads I never would have seen had it not been for Bob and his preoccupation with keys and the idea that something miraculous was always just around the corner. Then, as now, I believed that we create our own reality and that whatever we perceive as keys and miracles are our own creation. Bob didn’t believe that and we had many debates about whether or not he was creating clues (without consciously knowing it) and throwing them out onto the road ahead for him to find later.

While we never came to a common ground on this subject,  I’ve carried his scatter-shot enthusiasm with me for forty years because it keeps me young, open minded, and willing to look at alternative ideas. Perhaps we all need a Bob in our lives who can’t stick with anything long enough to fully know it but who serves as a catalysts for the rest of us.

Thanks for the ideas, Bob, and for showing me so many real or imagined doorways.

–Malcolm

Malcolm R. Campbell is the author of magical realism, fantasy, and paranormal short stories and novels that probably came to mind one way or another because years ago, Bob said, “I’ve found the key that unlocks the world.”

Advertisements

Review: ‘What Casts a Shadow?’ by Seth Mullins

“Events are not things that happen to you. They are materialized experiences formed by you, according to your expectations and beliefs.” – Seth via Jane Roberts

whatcastsNOTE:  Over the years, Seth Mullins and I have discussed in various blogs and e-mails our affinity for the metaphysical information from the entity known as Seth who was channeled by Jane Roberts between 1963 and 1984 and subsequently chronicled in a series of books beginning with The Seth Material in 1970 (republished in 2011). Seth Mullins has previously explored spirituality, dreams and reality in Song of an Untamed Land and Song of the Twice Born while I have explored similar themes in my novels.

I hadn’t heard from him in some time when I received an e-mail asking my current address so he could send me a copy of his new novel What Casts a Shadow? (January, 2014).  He said that, among other things, the novel was an exploration of Seth’s view of reality in a contemporary story. Yes, there are multiple Seths here, but the one in Italics refers to the Seth as channeled by Jane Roberts and the Seth without the Italics refers to the author of this inventive novel.

What Casts a Shadow?

While the Seth material channeled by Jane Roberts was immensely popular during the 1970s and 1980s and continues to have a wide following today, my experience is that rather than feeling empowered by the phrase “you create your own reality,” a fair number of people fear and/or angrily reject the idea. For one thing, the idea doesn’t appear to make logical sense. Otherwise, people say either “if I create my own reality, why is my life filled with so many disappointments?” or “my thoughts must be totally screwed up to have created what I’m experiencing.” People had a similar reaction to ideas about “the law of attraction” as presented in The Secret and other books.

Seth Mullins’ protagonist Brandon Chane in What Casts a Shadow? has similar reactions when a psychologist suggests that the “world out there” isn’t out there. After Brandon’s mother died, he was stuck living with a drunken and abusive father who believes neither Brandon nor his new heavy metal rock band will ever amount to anything.

After his father lashes out at him prior to a performance, Brandon thinks: “My world is painted black; my entire inner landscape is barren. All the roads in my head lead to horrific ends. At the bleakest margins of this particular attack, I didn’t even care about the gig. I wanted nothing but oblivion.”

Mullins’ three-dimensional character is in many ways symbolic of creative people who want to express their unique visions of life through art, music, writing and other avenues but simultaneously believe that the world (or fate) is against them. Brandon and his best friend Tommy want to translate their feelings into their music; their music, they hope, will be their salvation.

Brandon reacts to the slings and arrows in his life with violence. Physical fights seem justified and bring release. Writing songs and performing them in front of an audience also bring release, but at the beginning of What Casts a Shadow? the songs aren’t as potent as knocking somebody down.

After a confrontation that involves the police and an interview with a consulting psychologist at the police station, Brandon ends up on Saul’s doorstep. Saul is a licensed therapist who believes individuals create their own reality.

Saul is a “new age” guru with a more or less conventional counseling approach. That is, he doesn’t sell guided-meditation CDs, lead drumming groups in the woods or ask his patients to recite affirmations. Instead, he asks Brandon to see his beliefs as beliefs rather than as facts and to compare his experiences with the states of mind leading up to them.

Mullins has created a protagonist that readers can easily identify with who has dreams that are running afoul of a seemingly apathetic world with bad people in it. Other than Saul’s active listening, Brandon will find clues that he might not be not doomed and worthless: Tommy understands him, his younger sister trusts him, the girl he meets doesn’t run away from him, and the music is evolving. Yet, his violence and anger feel so natural and justified!

Transformation and “success” in Brandon’s world will not come from a magic spell, a miracle drug or the intervention of a benevolent spirit guide. He will have to slog it out like we all do, day by day, doubt doubt, and reaction by reaction. What Casts a Shadow? will pull both open minded and skeptical readers into its story because that story mirrors so much of today’s world.

Malcolm

On the road to Christmas

Actions that are from our desire to receive for the self-alone connect us to the path of Darkness. Actions that are for our desire to share connect us to the path of Light.Michael Berg

Children traditionally experience the magic of Christmas in part by speculating about the gifts beneath the tree. They wonder what will Santa bring them and can hardly sleep the night before as they toss and turn thinking about opening their presents and shaking out their stockings.

As children grow older, they slowly begin to learn that a great part of the joy of Christmas comes from giving, from finding something special that another person will like. My parents and grandparents were far more excited about my reactions to the gifts I received than their own gifts.

There are some balancing acts here. One is keeping gifts and expectations within reason so that Christmas isn’t viewed as a time to get absurd amounts of loot. Another is keeping one’s ego out of the picture so that one is giving in order to share and to make the recipient happy, not to be praised and loved for the size of the gift.

At Christmas time, people frequently say they wish the magic of the Christmas tree were a part of their lives year-around. I don’t expect they’re talking about handing out gifts 24/7 every day of the year. The magic, I think, comes from being willing to share what we know and what we have and who we are. It comes from having a “you first” philosophy.

Perhaps we start first with our family and friends simply by being more available in the multiple senses of the word, and then we take another step and expand on that. And then another step after that. We all know how we’ve felt on Christmas mornings watching children open gifts from us they hardly dared hope for. Their surprise, their smiles, their delight–we can have that feeling again of witnessing that by giving of ourselves, our experience, our knowledge, our time, and our compassion.

NOTE: On December 11th, Shelagh Watkins, creator and editor of the recently published Forever Friends anthology will visit with us to talk about the book. I hope you’ll join us with comments and questions.

On the road to Thanksgiving

The excesively polarized political debate in recent years focused the consciousness of the nation on negatives, on what we purportedly lacked, on what we didn’t have, on what somebody somewhere was doing wrong. During this time, the country and our lives were not without value, yet the daily whining tended more than anything else to obscure what we could have been and should have been thankful for.

My belief system is quite unwielding on one point: What you resist, persists.

To our detriment, lack–even before the nasty political bickering of the last eight years–has long been a favorite topic of conversation, in barber shops, over the backyard fence, on street corners with strangers, beneath satin sheets with lovers, and one could almost laugh at it as the tragicomedy of the human experience if it weren’t making such a mess of our lives.

If one’s lumbago wasn’t acting up, if it weren’t too cold or too dry or too wet or too windy, if the President hadn’t just said something idiotic, if the promotion hadn’t gone to company clown, if the neighbor hadn’t just painted his house pink with green stripes, if if if if, then for goodness sakes, there was veritably nothing to talk about. Lack, for many, makes the world go around.

Like attracts like, the gurus tell us, and so it is that those who focus a fair amount of their waking thoughts–not to mention their dreams–on lack seem forever surprised on the constant deluge of additional lack into their lives. Many, as we have seen, have been quite willing to mortgage their souls as well as all of their temporal assets in a blind attempt to escape from lack.

When we focus on lack, what we already have is slid onto the back burner. We don’t think about it. We’re not grateful for it. We take it for granted. We even hide it on purpose because–should it be seen–it might diminish our argument that fate and other people have cast an unfair amount of lack into our lives.

As Thanksgiving approachs, a large part of our daily conversation remains focused on lack, on just how bad the Black Friday sales figures are likely to be or on how early we need to get up on that day after Thanksgiving to get to the store before anyone else does so we can beat them to the sales tables and get rid as much of our lack as possible at the lowest possible cost.

The cost, I think, is far too high regardless of the amount we spend, and the consequences of worshipping the daemons of lack are far too dear to leave the house with credit cards in hand.

I have an alternative proposal. It’s not my invention. Thousands have already said it and said it better. Stay home with what you have rather than going out in search of what you think you’re missing. It’s a difficult habit to break, I know, but it’s the only way to your heart’s desires.

Each day on the road to Thanksgiving, we have an opportunity to ponder that which we are likely to be grateful for if and when we give it a clear focus within the mind’s eye. What we have requires more of our attention than what we don’t have. Perhaps it’s a warm coat or a lover or a house filled with friends or a job or a perfect weekend or a full pantry or a pleasant disposition.

Gratefulness leads to more gratefulness and thanks leads to more thanks, do you think?

Seriously, I’m Not Really James Bond

When my friends answer their phones, I’m likely to say, “My name is Bond, James Bond.” Then, after they say, “Malcolm, I know that’s you,” we get on to the real reason I called.

In my heart of hearts, I realize I’m not James Bond. For one thing, my psychologist Dr. No Way has informed me that it’s “wrong” to pretend to be who you’re not. Years ago, Kurt Vonnegut warned that such pretense is dangerous.

What is less clear is who I really am.

Yes, I do know my name and I’m happy to tell you I remember it most of the time. But that name is merely a convenient label, perhaps like a brand such as Coke or Pepsi and General Motors or Ford. You know what’s what with such brand names, but with Malcolm Campbell you may be less sure, and I would agree.

Masha Malka begins her beautiful little book The One Minute Coach with this question: “Whose life are you living?” I’m not sure I can answer this question correctly. What about you?

The psychologist Eric Berne, widely known for his work with games and scripts, suggested that when we were young, we accepted so many of the “you should” and “you ought” admonitions from parents and other adults without question and that we still accept them today as gospel. Consciously, we might exclaim: HOW CRAZY IS THAT while subconsciously we still believe “you’ll never make anything of yourself” and “dreams like that are only for rich people.”

In a similar vein, author Nancy Whitney-Reiter says in her recent book (Unplugged: How to Disconnect from the Rat Race, Have an Existential Crisis, and Find Meaning and Fulfillment) that there are reasons most people aren’t happy even though they’ve achieved many of the goals we set out to achieve. Among them is the fact that we’re shoved into the school system and then into the world of work with goals that are programmed into us by parents, friends and society. We don’t have time to ask, “Do I really want to be a highly paid CEO of a giant company who lives in a million-dollar house and drives a $100,000 car?”

How many of us are trudging ahead from school to marriage to kids to jobs following either the expectations of others or the expectations we accepted without question?

Reiter urges us to “unplug” from the hustle and bustle of every day life, take some time for ourselves, and learn who we really are and what makes us happy. Malka urges us to spend time each day taking action steps that will lead us toward an authentic life. Why don’t we do such things?

We just don’t get to them, right? Remember all the things you told your friends you were going to do some day: learn another language, go back to school, maintain a savings account, lose weight, stop smoking? Like New Year’s resolutions, they sounded good, but they took a effort and seemed to be such endless processes that we didn’t get anywhere. So, whose life am I living? Whose life are you living?

In his e-book The Principles of Successful Manifesting, Thomas Herold observes that we’re going to make progress in those areas where we place our attention. This echoes a question that has been asked by Silva Method instructors: “If you spend 15 minutes three times a day thinking positive thoughts about yourself and your goals, but then spend the rest of the day thinking negative thoughts about your life and your job and your relationships, what kind of result will you end up with?”

Indeed. If we’re not attending to ourselves and our dreams, I don’t think we’ll find either of them.

If we had started that savings account 25 years ago, it might be worth something now even though we could only deposit a little bit of money each week. If we had started learning another language ten years ago, we might have some fluency in it by now even though we only had time for one lesson a week. Had we placed more of our attention on learning who we really are and what we truly desire, we might now be free from parental admonitions, the un-verified assumptions, and the expecations of those who embrace the consumer matrix version of “life.”

Malka asks where we’ll be next year at this time. “Will you be doing the same things, going to the same places, spending time with the same people, wishing the same things, and realizing that with each year that passes, those wishes will probably never materialize?”

Those of us who have noticed that we might not really be who we want to be are told by friends and co-workers, “that’s the breaks” and “that’s just the way it is” and “you’re stuck now, so let’s just go grab a couple of beers and watch the ball game.”

We’re hearing more and more these days from more and more people that we’re not stuck, that we do have choices, and it’s not too late. In 1902, James Allen wrote his ground-breaking and inspiring book “As a Man Thinketh.” My father had an original-edition copy on his bookshelf and I read it as a young man thinking what a wonderful dream. Problem was, I saw it as a dream rather than a reality. One of the more positive developments I see in a time many are describing as chaotic, is that thousands of people are finally catching up with the beliefs Allen stated over a century ago.

Our choices are real and viable. Unlike tasks requiring bricks and mortar, Allen’s beliefs–and those of his modern-day counterparts–do not take years and years of painful 24/7 effort that are beyond are schedules and our capabilities. Seriously, they’re relative quick and painless if there’s a lot of passion behind them and oh, so little time.

Mind is the Master power that moulds and makes,
And Man is Mind, and evermore he takes
The tool of Thought, and, shaping what he wills,
Brings forth a thousand joys, a thousand ills:—
He thinks in secret, and it comes to pass:
Environment is but his looking-glass.

                                         –James Allen

Copyright (c) 2008 by Malcolm R. Campbell who takes this philosophy neither shaken nor stirred.

Join me on December 11th for a discussion with author and publisher Shelagh Watkins. She’ll be here to talk about Forever Friends, a new poetry and short story anthology released by Mandinam Press in October.

Do you agree that perception is reality?

“Most all of the current brain research is leading to one conclusion. Most of what we consider to be happening ‘out there’ is really occurring ‘in here’ within the confines of our own head. Perhaps this is why mystics refer to the external world as maya, or an illusion. It’s interesting to note the word ‘illusion’ is derived from the Latin root ‘illusere,’ which means ‘innerplay.'” –MaAnna Stephenson in The Sage Age, Blending Science with Intuitive Wisdom

What do you make of this quotation from MaAnna Stephenson’s new book?

Do you view perception is reality as figurative? That is, psychological in tone, warped or clarified by our attitudes, preconceptions, philosophies, likes and dislikes.

Or, do you view perception is reality as actual? That is, literally concrete, dynamic, and totally synchonistic with your intentions (conscious or otherwise) and mission here on the planet.

Or, do you view the notion as merely interesting and/or absurd?

We can step into a labyrinth here, suggesting that if you believe perception is reality, then it is, but that if you believe perception is not reality, then it isn’t.

Perhaps your perception of perception has a great impact on your view of how things work in the world, whether it’s a jungle or an oasis, whether it’s filled with hate or love, whether goals and intentions create the “future” or whether fate and the purported stronger wills of others bring tomorrow into actuality, whether there’s more room in our lives for fear or for hope.

As the Christmas song asks: Do you see what I see? I’m suggesting that you may or may not see what I see and vice versa, and that problems between people often occur because they presume their perceptions of reality, while necessarily synchronous in many basic respects, are hand-in-glove matches. To know, better yet to understand, another person or another group requires, I think, really seeing what they’re seeing, that is to say, knowing quite literally where they’re coming from and where the “live.”

Does this make sense? How do you perceive such ideas? Are they foreign or are they an integral part of your reality? Either way, I’m suggesting that the universe is responding to your opinions and your imagination. Or, it may be better to say, I perceive that it is within my reality.

Copyright (c) 2008 by Malcolm R. Campbell

 

Embark on the Journey, Follow the Fantasy, Create the Reality

The Sun Singer, new age literary fiction by Malcolm R. Campbell

Buy the e-book for only $5.33 at Powell’s Books

Sun Singer Interview

Yesterday, I enjoyed stopping by Yvonne Perry’s Writers in the Sky weblog to talk about my fantasy novel The Sun Singer. The interview was fun and it was nice to see a couple of folks from the long-gone WritingUp blog community stop by an say “hello.”

A New Age Fantasy

A New Age Fantasy

The day before, writer/reviewer Geri Ahearn posted a very positive review on her site, Amazon and B&N. Here’s my favorite part:

Malcolm R. Campbell takes the reader on a magnificent, magic carpet ride to the past, the present, and the future. The story is enlightening, and tugs at the reader’s heart as the adventure becomes a journey that strikes a chord in every reader, while looking back into the years of growing up. This novel is packed with riveting intensity, and is hauntingly powerful. As each page in “The Sun Singer” fits another piece to the mysterious puzzle that Robert is determined to put together, the story becomes more entertaining, and touching. The author created a brilliant, must-read fantasy that makes you crave for a sequel. –Geraldine Ahearn

Last month, I took part in a 24-hour read-a-thon to help celebrate the 25th anniversary of a book store in nearby Gainesville, Georgia. Our profits were donated to the county’s literary alliance. It was fun talking about the novel again in a reading/signing environment. We had a good group of people even though it was a rainy night.

As an author, I see such things as gifts, for when a book has been out for a while (four years) one isn’t involved in the heady hoopla of promotion attendant to launch dates. It means a lot when, for example, a person comments on a weblog and says they lent the book to a friend who liked it and lent it to another friend or family member.

Writing is a rather solitary profession, and those of us who don’t get out much and who don’t know how to act when we do get out, relish the moments when somebody rings the door bell or shows up at a book signing or leaves a review on B&N or Amazon or stops by a Facebook or a Myspace profile and says, “hey clown, I hope you’re having a good weekend.” 🙂