An old friend has asked me to lunch with a pair of foreigners, a man and a woman who are Persian or Near Eastern. We go to a restaurant where he disappears to converse with staff in the background. I join the foreign couple at a table. We seem to be the only patrons in the restaurant, which is either windowless or has the windows heavily draped. the decor is expensive but anonymous, generic hotel or airport lounge style.
The first phase of the conversation is guarded and superficial. I decide I'm ready to go, having discharged my personal obligation.
My friend approaches me, highly agitated, as I prepare to leave. He gestures at a set of handwritten notes and a typed memo that he slipped to me earlier but I haven't bothered to read. These papers, especially the handwritten notes, make it plain that the people I am lunching with are top priority. It is vitally important for me to pursue the conversation and draw them out, so that their words can be captured on tape. I have been picked to pursue this opportunity because the couple trust me.
I yield, lingering at the table to drain glass after glass of cheap armagnac. The man matches me, glass for glass, with cognac. The mood is increasingly jolly and intimate. I can only guess at the size of the bill for all these drinks, but I plan to present the bill to my friend. The waiter, an oily Levantine type, seems to be in on the plot. He refers to us as "Excellencies" and "Your Highnesses." It seems the "assignment" will be completed by the end of our session, which looks likely to continue for the rest of the afternoon.
I woke from this dream in a pool of moonlight, lying on a bed in a cabin in the Hero Islands on Lake Champlain. I was excited and intensely curious, wanting to know much more about the message I was supposed to record. I needed to go back into the dream, and made it my intention tod do this, lying on my back on the bed. I kept a pad and paper close to my hand. ff I succeeded in resuming my conversation with the mysterious strangers, I was determined not to forget my assignment to record the proceedings.
The Prince and Princess of Fars
I try to examine the papers my friend gave me. I find there are three documents, in a large manila envelope: handwritten notes, on several smallish pieces of high-quality bond; a typed memo; and a clipping from a newspaper. The newspaper is the Tehran Times. The headline describes a visit by "The Prince and Princess of Fars."
I need to talk to them.
The man shows himself. He is pleasant-looking, clean-shaven, with an oval face, black hair combed straight with the slightest suggestion of sideburns, large dark brown eyes, immaculately dressed. The woman's features, by contrast, are indistinct. She is veiled, not in Islamic style but in "High Priestess" mode of the Tarot trump.
The man is the Shams of my previous encounter. He is wearing a beautiful grey-blue shirt with a narrow white banded collar under his tailored suit. He says I may know the veiled princess as Fatima. He urges me to study the typed sheet my friend gave me. I review the paper, and find it contains a list of 20 questions. The first questions give me shivers:
1. What is the nature of exile?
2. What are the conditions for the return?
As I record the questions on my pad, Shams, gives me his responses, for the record:
1. What is the nature of Exile?
To be an exile is to be separated unwillingly from your homeland. This is the condition of the soul when it comes into the body. It is the condition of the higher man when he is separated from his Higher Self.
2. What are the conditions for Return?
The return requires courage, the willingness to deny the ways of the world. It is always a journey to the Mountain. It requires cutting the cord of attachment to worldly things.
There are many tests and obstacles along the way, also distractions and temptations. But Home reaches out to guide the returning exile. There is always a guide. The appearances of the guide are almost always unexpected. The face may be that of a familiar friend, or a stranger.
3. What is the Source?
The Source is the bottomless well of remembering. You may see it as a passage or a bore-hole, leading to inexhaustible reserves. Do not confuse the bore-hole with what lies beyond it. From a certain viewpoint, the bore-hole is also the birth canal. You may learn to swim back, into the Water of life, into the womb of the Ancient Mother.
4. Who is the Guide?
The guide is the emissary of the level of Intelligence - the level of the Real - that you are able to work with at this time. The guide takes the form you are ready to recognize.
5. What is the Kingdom?
The kingdom is this world. But a true crown is earned only through the blessing of the Other World. the true crown is Xvarnah.
6. Is there eternal conflict between good and evil?
There are competing forces in the cosmos. Humans interact with the battles and struggles of races beyond the human. The conflicts of this world are related to those of subtler kingdoms.
In dealing with problems of good and evil, humans must know that
- In the universe, humans interact and have intercourse with beings other-than-human that are friendly, neutral, hostile or inimical to men.
- Demons are real, often generated by human thought and emotion. The Sphere of the Moon is the principal center of demonic interaction and interference with humans.
- There are "criminal souls".
- The principle of "active evil" is also a real phenomenon.
- In the world of duality, it is necessary to take sides (witness 1939). Embodied beings, in a world of duality, cannot evade this choice.
7. What is the work of the Invisible Schools?
You are born (which is to say, re-born) within a spiritual tradition or lineage. You are called in dreams and visionary states to resume contact with teachers of your Order. You may be invited to attend other schools but you are born with one primary connection.
8. What are the conditions for soul travel?
The keys to the practice are in meditation, concentration, the presence of the guide, courage for the journey. Also a trustworthy map and a password. Above all, the traveler's robe.
It is not only a matter of leaving the physical body, but of putting on the heavenly body.
This has to be earned, to be grown (or rather, re-grown).
The celestial body, the true Body of Light, is required for the high experience of soul travel.
I broke contact for a moment to tiptoe into the bathroom. When I returned, I was given some personal information, and was then able to return to the questions. The ninth question involved the nature of the soul. We got through 13 of the 20 questions, but the quality of my reception began to waver, and we agreed to reserve the completion of the dialogue for another time. I dated my journal report as I always do. August 1, 1998.
I pulled on shirt and shorts and walked down to the lake. In the twilight before dawn, I lay out on the floating dock and watched the changing light on the lake. A silver streak near the horizon gradually increased in size. A rosy blush spread over it, cloudlike against the silver, until the water looked more like the sky than the sky itself. A field of bright, clear blue, shaped like an elongated triangle, emerged within the rosy "clouds". I seemed to be looking into a lake in the sky, into an Otherworld landscape. Fish broke the surface. The black silhouettes of nightbirds and early fishers glided above the lake, to plunge after fish. I saw a kingfisher, mighty in head and chest, take possession of the far shore.
The river in the Imaginal Realm is from a manuscript in the Turkish Museum in Istanbul, an anthology of Persian poets published in Shiraz in 1398. It is reproduced in Henry Corbin's Spiritual Body & Celestial Earth