The Cosmic 2 x 4 part 2 – The Answer Lay in the Garden


“OMG what have I signed up for?” I have just arrived in Bali and am looking at the outline of the twelve day retreat I have joined. I am horrified to realize that I had registered for five hours teaching a day – every morning would be in class followed by sessions each evening. I struggle to believe my eyes. Somewhat typically I had never read the program; I had made the decision when chatting with the organizer after fifteen of the sixteen applicants had dropped out; March in Bali just seemed like a wonderful idea and I had assumed it would follow the familiar pattern of an hour or so in a session then activities in and around Bali.
During the first evening my resistance, like the Mississippi in Spring, was in full flood. I did my best to engage but felt my barriers stiffen at the first Ah Zeem – this teacher likes Sufi Zikrs and I don’t. I did my best to embrace the dance of universal peace but could not shake the energy of misgiving I was feeling. The program was called The Garden of Wellbeing and I sure wasn’t there. I wondered if the solution was to just cut the classes, our teacher Atum O’Kane encouraged us to make our own way. Yet my experience with the literal cosmic 2 x 4 made me just a little cautious.
So the next morning at nine I found myself sitting slightly outside the inner circle ready for a quick get away. Fortunately I am very familiar with resistance, some of you may have come across the many blogs I have written on the subject, and I was prepared to spend some time assessing what it could mean. Had I just made an enormous mistake or was there some other meaning?
We began by drawing a card from a set of teachings by Thic Nhat Hanh – mine interested me because it was about reconciliation and that we had to understand both sides. In a strange way it seemed relevant to my confusion.
Then Atum announced we were going to do a drawing. My reaction was immediate and negative yet even as I assessed my feeling, I realized I had a love/hate relationship with this activity. My card seemed even more synchronicitous.
Drawing is a way we engage our active imagination by allowing the unconscious to guide the process. It begins with a meditative state then some simple instructions. I hate it because of my lack of ability to draw, I love it because of so many positive experiences. The key Is not to think but rather to allow an image to appear. I decided to at least try.
The suggestion was to draw an image of a garden. Unfortunately the image that persisted in my mind was one I did not want to draw. My garden was behind a tall fence with gates and I was standing outside. However it was aptly descriptive of my state relative to the group as a whole so I drew it anyway.
I felt kind of sad, a little resigned and helpless at the image before me. I wondered if I was going to spend the next ten days feeling excluded from the garden everyone else was enjoying. The second step in the process is to place your image in front of you, close your eyes and still the thoughts and feelings then engage with the image again but with a soft gaze allowing insight to emerge.
Suddenly I smiled. The gates were not locked. I could enter the garden whenever I liked. Then I realized that I was exactly where I needed to be. I do not live in the garden, my place is in the manifest world but I will go when I need refreshment and revitalization. It was an amazing moment. The opposites were reconciled. It reminded me of a Jean Houston lecture on the Hero’s journey, we are to become the masters of two worlds – the world of the sacred and the one we inhabit each day.
In that moment something occurred that I can’t explain. There was a palpable energy shift, suddenly I felt at home. This was my place, I no longer had to fake my participation, I could embrace the whole process and enjoy my ten days in the garden of wellbeing. The name of the picture emerged, “The Garden of the Lover and the Beloved”.
At this stage I did not consider this the answer to my question of the cosmic two by four. That came in the last day. After a truly blissful and joyful week in the company of a beautiful community my eyes were opened.
About a year and a half earlier I completed a workshop series with Atum O’Kane and this community and had decided it was time to move on. My new teacher has become the eminent Jungian analyst James Hollis. He has become a superb catalyst to help me unravel my psychology. However that decision was an error. It only fulfills part of my Soul’s desire. My second declared intention is to explore my relationship with the Mystery. This was not being fulfilled, it requires another teacher and also a community to open my heart.
It seemed so clear and so obvious yet it took a bang on the head by an errant tree branch on a beach in Thailand to get my attention. It’s an amazing journey.


One Response to The Cosmic 2 x 4 part 2 – The Answer Lay in the Garden

  1. Maryann De Simone says:

    This brought tears to my eyes, dear Trevor. I look forward to hearing more. Much love to you.

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