A guest article by: Thomas Stemmer
Lying on the bed late at night
I watch the patterns of shadows weaving about the room.
Paul Twitchell — The Flute of God
Living means experimenting. There is no way around it. No way to avoid it.
So it came to my mind that it might be possible to do some experimenting around the notions of happiness and unhappiness. Most certainly, the two options are always available. However, as some kind of a third and largely unconscious option, you can be unhappy without noticing it, mainly because all the other people around you are in an even worse condition and that still puts you in a rather comfortable position.
The moment I became aware of the fact that—at least—during the last decade I had not had a single moment of overwhelming happiness, come to me during a week’s stay in Dublin, Ireland.
From the very first moment of disembarking at the airport, I was almost shocked by a sensation of brightness, rough wonder and adventure. All was light and full of tension. Did that have anything to do with Dublin? Or just with myself? Or somewhat fifty-fifty? Could this have occurred anywhere else, too? Maybe. Maybe not. Who knows? Who cares to know? I certainly don’t. It was just there and it was overwhelming and it was good. After all, your state of consciousness is your state of acceptance, they say. So I stretched my inner hands out and grabbed it. It was mine. I vaguely remembered that I had undergone those ecstatic states of consciousness during my childhood when I grew up in a 16th century house, a labyrinth in style, dusty & full of stories and hidden corners. So now, it was Dublin. My Dublin now.
Had it not been Oscar Wilde, who was born in Dublin, who stated that in the end everything always comes out fine, and if it doesn’t, well, it is not yet the end? It is generally good to have some literary backup (quotes and the likes) in life. Maybe I should have another try to read Ulysses by James Joyce? Or Finnegan’s Wake? I jumped at this inner, spiritual food realizing how hungry I had been unconsciously. I think I acted wisely, since, after all, Paul Twitchell said in one of his taped lectures (I forgot which one), that if Spirit puts out something for us, we should take it and keep it to ourselves because it is ours.
Full of high-tense expectancy, I firmly grabbed the experience and held it close to myself. What would happen next?
I was soon to find out.
As the bus from the airport approached the city center, the excitement grew stronger. I could now see that Dublin was a town very much to my liking. There was a wild melancholy to it, clothed in an atmosphere that reminded me mainly of a more silent version of London, but also of the Netherlands.
During the next days I discovered the center, an incredibly huge and exciting book shop as well as a handful of antiquarian book shops, the Liberties quarter, Trinity College with its famous Book of Kells, old and somewhat dusty corners everywhere, the Irish Museum of Modern Art, the Spire, the strange and hidden back streets, the meal deals offered by supermarkets, the weaving shadows of this mysterious city.
I spent the nights in the maze of a Victorian Age house that had been altered again and again in more that a century leaving behind a labyrinth. It was not easy to find my room. There, I read a book of Irish ghost stories every night before going to sleep filling my dreams with banshees and lepracauns: Quite amusing, yes.
Then it happened. Three or four times during my stay, at least once on Thomas Street (strangely funny, since my name in this incarnation is Thomas), I was overridden by some seconds of a sensation of pure joy. Joy I hadn’t experienced for such a long time.
When I came back from my stay in Dublin, it took me some time to develop an idea that should have been obvious, but, after all, I have always been a slow learner. Why, I asked myself, don’t I try to go to Dublin using the out-of-the body-techniques of Soul Travel taught by Paul Twitchell?
I decided this idea was just great and so I sat down to start with this journey immediately.
My plan was to imagine myself lying on my bed in the Victorian Age house, getting up and going down toward the entrance in order to step outside. Then I would follow Lord Edward Street (changing its name to Dame Street) in order to arrive at Trinity College. Turning left I would be led to O’Connell Bridge crossing the river Liffey. Then, it would only be necessary to go along O’Connell Street passing by the famous General Post Office (GPO) that – way back in 1916 – had been such a vital place for Ireland in finally becoming an independent nation in 1922, and then turning left into Parnell Street, to finally arrive at the huge bookshop.
That was my Soul Travel Map.
I thought, since I had very vivid images of Dublin in my mind, it should be easy to get into the mood fueling the experience-to-come.
It worked quite well. I felt the same excitement as in the physical Dublin where I had been a few months before. But still, I had this nagging feeling: Is it real? Or is it “just” my own imagination? On the other hand I did not consider it wise to think too much about it because it might distract the focus of my attention thus breaking the discipline involved in the act. But it came back again and again. It was nice and fulfilling but was it true?
So I just went on. Carefully I stopped to have a look at everything. The City Hall. The small street to the right leading to a place with the Molly Malone monument, always careful not to be run over by a car, a bus or by who-knows-what: The Irish drive on the left side! For a Continental European this can be pretty dangerous.
When I turned left in front of Trinity College approaching O’Connell Bridge, something started to go wrong. I could not put my finger on it, what it was, but as this bridge drew closer my vision started to get blurred. Everything went blank and I had to struggle to remain within the experience trying to regain clarity.
Then I was back again. Without taking too much notice of my surroundings I stepped on the bridge – – – and ran into a huge pot with a tree in it. I was utterly surprised, to say the least. Not only because such a stupid thing, such a freak incidence could happen to me, but also by the instant knowingness: There are no pots with trees on O’Connell Bridge! So how could I possibly stumble over one?
I looked around.
Then it dawned on me. I had not gone to O’Connell Bridge but had quickly—quickly as the wind—gone to Grattan Bridge!
I understood at once. The way over Grattan Bridge leading to Capel Street was a much better and shorter way to the bookshop in Parnell Street! I—Soul—the real ME, had quickly decided to change plans and had acted out this new option within the flick of a second. This is possible since Soul Travel is not dependent on time and space. It is just for the pure experience itself.
I had indeed soul traveled to Dublin.
Needless to say: I will try again.
The best is yet to come…