The Well of Wisdom and the Well of Art spring from the same Source
I did not know that when I was being trained as a diviner, I was being trained as a writer.
My teacher at the time was not only an accomplished I Ching diviner with 35 years of practice—he was also an accomplished actor, author, and inventor. From him I learned the single most valuable lesson of approaching the Oracle: the One Mind is Itself the Storehouse of the Unknown. The whole of the Great Mystery, everything that is Not-Yet, already exists fully-developed within the timeless and eternal Act of Creation that is the living engine of Universal Communion.
From this perspective, there is no difference between seeking foreknowledge from the Oracle and seeking inspiration for a creative endeavor: it is all an act of channeling the One Mind. After 40 years of practice all I can say is this: I do not speak, I echo—I do not write, I transcribe.
Creativity is in truth Receptivity
If you are anything like me, then you can sincerely say that, on the most fundamental and personal level, you do not know anything at all. This is not a matter of modesty—or even false modesty—but, rather, an essential honesty that recognizes the limitations of subjective experience in the face of the unfathomable mystery of objective reality. Ultimately, of course, I do not even know for sure what I am, let alone where I am, what the full range of my choices are, or what I ought to be trying to accomplish. It is this issue of certainty, I think you might agree, that defines our not-knowing: because I cannot be absolutely certain of the most basic questions about either the nature of reality or my own nature, any other form of knowledge would be like placing frozen water atop ice—it would just be more personal opinions built on subjective experience.
My ordinary consciousness, in other words, is at the mercy of senses adapted to the human form within the cultural and natural environment as they exist in the historical era in which I am born. Unless I am fortunate enough to be born into a family and culture that encourage me from the very beginning to allow the One Mind to express Itself through me without any of the social conditioning that covers over my true nature, I develop a social identity that comes to replace the unconditioned awareness making up the true self of all. It is this day-to-day conscious personality that must face its lack of certainty about its own existence and the nature of existence in general—or else I run the real risk of mistaking the conditioned self for my true nature and my subjective experience for real knowledge.
On a practical level, then, the personality alone is adequate neither to the task of interpreting the perennial truth for the historical epoch nor to the task of expressing the eternal Act of Creation in a new artistic form. If we wish to speak for the Oracle, then we must set aside our own ideas and attune ourselves to the Oracle’s all-at-once view. If we wish to create art, then we must set aside our own intentions and attune ourselves to the seasons of the Mind Flower.
This is called Clearing a lodging place for the One. It means that we empty our attention of all the habit thoughts, feelings, and memories that make up the conditioned mind so that the original mind has a place to stay.
Make of Yourself a Nest for the Phoenix
There are, of course, many different techniques—most of them involving some form of meditation—for emptying our attention of the habit mind, so I will avoid describing any specific technique. My concern here is not so much the how of emptying but, rather, the underlying process of experiencing that state—
It is said by the ancients: Everything we know about spirit we learn by analog from nature. This is because it is held axiomatic that nature is the visible half of spirit, signifying that we can discern the ways of spirit by observing the symbolic behavior of nature. This practice produces analogs such as the following—
- Nature abhors a vacuum: clear out an empty place in nature and life will rush in to fill it.
- Spirit abhors a vacuum: clear out an empty place in awareness and spirit will rush in to fill it.
This means that our personal consciousness must voluntarily step aside and allow a state of absolute openness to replace it. While some might describe this as an altered state of consciousness, it can only be thought of like that from the point of view of ordinary consciousness. It is, in reality, a return to our original nature, as pointed at in the ancient question: What is your original nature before your mother and father met?
This original mind is not of the linear word-by-word thinking that fills our ordinary consciousness. Nor is it a somnambulistic state devoid of all awareness. Rather, it is a wide-awake state of spatial awareness in which we are thinking without words. It is wide-awake in the sense that it is fully aware. It is spatial in the sense that it abides-in-place. It thinks without words in the sense that original thought comes as images whose meaning arrives full-blown, spontaneously revealing their emotional and symbolic content all-at-once instead of in linear language. This what is meant by the ancient saying, Enliven the mind without producing a single thought.
- Stop thinking in words—Make a place for the One Mind to rush in!
- Stop imagining what original nature is—What is it that wants to be spoken?
- Stop identifying with the familiar—Is this the limit of awareness?
- Stop dreaming in dualities—Individuals differ only in their sensitivity to the One Mind!
We Are I Am
What I have been taught is that hearing the One Mind speaking is a matter of regenerating a sense organ that has atrophied from disuse. This can also be thought of in esoteric terms as the lizard regrowing its tail. Our ability to hear the One Mind, in other words, is one we are born with—and one that becomes covered over by the conscious mind that makes up the sum of the body’s experiences. Regenerating our innate sensitivity to the One depends, then, simply on breaking the personality’s habit thoughts, emotions and memories. Even the briefest interruption in the habit-mind reopens the channel of communion. This can be most effectively achieved by concentrating on silently repeating the word Enough! all the time that our attention is not actively engaged in external activities. Keeping to this exercise for a month or two—instead of reinforcing the same old internal monologue—extinguishes the habit-mind and allows the original mind to commune with the One Mind. This can also be thought of in esoteric terms as mental fasting.
Wonder and Listen
Once the habit-mind is quieted, The Art Of Channeling consists of maintaining a particular kind of curiosity. This feels like a very gentle, unfocused wondering, a gentle receptivity to a barely-perceived line of thought, a wide-open interest, that evokes a response from the One. This subtle communion grows stronger and easier to sustain with practice but in the beginning can be difficult to perceive and fraught with paradox. Foremost among its contradictions is this: we need to step back into an awareness-without-words in order to translate the One Mind’s thoughts into words.
I believe it is advantageous to think of the One Mind as the source of all Ideas. And to think of each creation as the manifestation of one of its Ideas. And, to be more explicit, to think of ourselves as Ideas of the One Mind. In this sense, channeling the thoughts of the One Mind depends on experiencing our self as one such Idea and then following our own nature back to its source. Returning to the One in our quintessential aspect of Idea establishes an umbilical relationship through which thought flows. This can also be thought of in esoteric terms as a lightning bolt, which is formed when two potential poles—one on land and one in the sky—connect.
The One Mind is Itself the Storehouse of the Unknown: Whether we approach it as the well of wisdom or the well of art, we approach with the kind of reverence due the source of inspiration. Whether we are interpreting the Oracle’s landmarks mapping the inner landscape or giving new forms of expression to the creative thought of the One, we engage the Source of all Ideas as a timeless manifestation of one of those Ideas returning home. From this perspective, The Art Of Channeling consists of keeping watch at the Gate of Coming and Going Ideas.
I am deeply gratified that “The Toltec I Ching” has been selected a Silver Winner of the 2010 Nautilus Book Awards. My deepest gratitude extends to my co-author, Martha Ramirez-Oropeza and our enlightened publishers, Larson Publications.
“The Toltec I Ching,” by Martha Ramirez-Oropeza and William Douglas Horden has been released by Larson Publications. It recasts the I Ching in the symbology of the Native Americans of ancient Mexico and includes original illustrations interpreting each of the hexagrams. Its subtitle, “64 Keys to Inspired Action in the New World,” hints at its focus on the ethics of the emerging world culture.
I also have two new books published that present the short course in self-realization, expanding on many of the themes above: The Five Emanations and The Spiritual Basis of Good Fortune. Please take a look at them if you think they might be of interest.