Monday, August 31, 2009

What to do when you're eaten by T-Rex

"I was eaten by T-Rex." Brian, aged seven, was rocking in his seat with excitement, but his voice was very soft. The fifteen kids in the circle, plus parents and grandparents, leaned forward to hear him.
"Did T-Rex swallow you in one gulp?" Brian's grandmother asked, making her Adam's apple bobble as she mimicked something very big taking a big gulp. "Or did he kind of munch on you?"

"It was a big gulp." Brian's eyes shone. "Then I was falling down, down into T-Rex's belly. I found two eggs. I cut them open and there were two baby T-Rexes inside. They came out and they killed the big T-Rex and I was fine."
"How did you feel?" I asked.
You don't analyze a dream like this, whatever the age of the dreamer - at least not until you do something to grab the vital energy of the dream and embody it and bring it through. This wasn't a hard study with Brian's dream. We had a room full of excited kids and kids are naturals for dream theatre.
"Hey Brian, would you like to play-act your dream?"
He couldn't wait. He chose the two youngest children in the group, an angelic four-year old named Abby who had just created a picture with crayons and sketch paper from one of her own dreams - a picture of a wild thing she had given her own name - and a toddler who had proved a virtuouso with maracas and other noisemakers from our communal music box.
"Aunt" Carol, our host at the retreat center and a gifted counselor and dream teacher, was picked to play the snapping head of T-Rex, a tricky role since she couldn't stop beaming and laughing. There were plenty of dreamers, kids of all ages, to make up the body and tail of the beast. Soon we had the monster roaring and thumping around the room. Brian, playing himself, darted around the room, trying to hide behind the furniture, bis fate was preordained. He was swallowed by T-Rex, rolling over and over until, way down in the belly of the beast, he found the eggs and freed the baby monsters that saved him.
This was wild and happy and just-so, and everybody wanted more.
We play-acted other kids' dreams that reflected other strategies for dealing with deam monsters. A ten-year old girl dreamed that she was at school, on the way to lunch, when a "short monster" appeared that was "slimy and hairy" and started eating all of her classmates. "He couldn't eat me because I kicked him in the face." Play-acting that one produced a miniature stampede, as a very small boy, delighted to play the monster, rushed after the girl's classmates until he was hurled to the ground by a mimed kick in the face. Everyone laughed as the girl dabbed at the slime that was left on her foot.

A thirteen-year old girl in the group was pursued in her dream by people behaving like monsters. She put on bat wings and flew off to a special place. Here the adults weren't menacing but they were strangely frozen, as if they had been encased in blocks of ice. Thee was wild ocean in the scene, and when she slipped into it she became a killer whale and swam, with delight, with another orca that came to join her. When she returned to human form, the grown-ups were no longer threatening, as if she had brought power back from that special place of the killer whales.

These are scenes from my Sunday afternoon, from a playshop titled "Dreaming with Kids and Families". We had started out right, by drumming and making cheerful music to call up the dreams that wanted to play with us. Then everyone grabbed art supplies from the center of a the circle to make a drawing of a dream.
Also at the center of the room, we had placed a huge toy box, full of stuffed animals and puppets and plastic lizards. I invited the kids to grab any animal they liked. Then, since we were on traditional Mohawk Indian land, I had them join hands and voices in singing a simple Mohawk song that calls in the Bear - and with it, all of the animals - as helpers and protectors.

We discussed how, if you have a scary dream, it's good to know you have a friend who can help you out and take care of you. Little Abby came over to me and whispered confidentially, "I have a Bear. And I have lots of dream friends."

We broke every half hour for snacks of orange slices and chocolate chip cookies.
Towards the end, I opened my dream journal to a page where I had drawn a picture of Champie - the cousin of the Loch Ness monster who reputedly lives in Lake Champlain - swimming in the East River in front of the island of Manhattan, with delighted kids riding on his back. This was an image that had come to me, spontaneously, in a recent drumming circle.
"A journal like this where you draw your dreams and wite down your stories is a treasure book. I hope everyone here will now start keeping a treasure book. Ask the grown-ups who brought you to help you find the right ones. They can help you write down the words if you like. But there's one thng about a dream journal everyone should know. It's your special book, and if you don't want Mommy or Daddy to read it, you should tell them, 'This is my secret book' and they must respect that."
I asked it there were any questions.

Hands went up all around the room.

"Can we do this again?"

"Can we do it every month?"

"Can we do it every WEEK?"

"Hey," I responded, "You can do it every DAY now you and your families know how much fun it is."

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Timeless Meetings of Minds

If you subscribe to the tired old misconception that dreaming is "unscientific", listen to Judy B. Gardiner: "My dreams led to accurate explanations of geology, astronomy, chemistry, physics, paleoanthropology, neurophysiology and other areas of study in which I was not schooled." I had the great pleasure today of interviewing Judy for my radio show. When I asked her for an example of how dreams had put her on the track of specific scientific knowledge, she recounted a dream in which an astronomer friend who had passed over mentored her in exact detail on the workings of the optic nerve, leading her to much information that was previously unknown to her.

Judy Gardiner is a writer and dream explorer who left a successful corporate life to pursue the practice and understanding of what she has come to call "cosmic dreaming", an approach that values the transpersonal and spiritual aspects of dreams and their ability to introduce us to a state of "timelessness" in which knowledge of past and future and of many dimensions are instantly accessible. Judy says, "I have found that cosmic dreaming transmits a direct experience of self and world as participants in a totality and that all dreamers possess the potential for this type of dreaming."

Judy worked for many years with Dr Montague Ullman, the renowned psychiatrist, neurologist, parapsychologist and pioneer of modern dream research. Monte took dreamwork out of the consulting room and into the community in ways that laid the foundations of the contemporary dreamwork movement and I consider him one of the liberators of the modern imagination. Monte's life odyssey was greatly influenced by an adolescent experiment in communicating with the spirits in which he and his teen friends succeeded in producing seance phenomena featuring a discarnate entity who called himself "Dr Bindelof". While maintaining some skepticism about whether Bindelof was an individual spirit or some other energy, Ullman noted some sixty years later that this early encounter with the paranormal was "profoundly transformative" and "the beginning of a journey of exploration into the many, lumped together as paranormal, impinge upon our lives." [1]

Monte Ullman passed in June 2008. Given their shared interest in the transpersonal and the depth of their experience together, I was not surprised to sense, during my conversation with Judy, that Monte was not far away. She spoke of the many ways in which she has felt his presence and his effort to communicate his continued work in his present reality, at home in the "implicate order", a term he borrowed from physicist David Bohm and used in a brave effort to sketch a new "abode" for the dream late in his life [2]
"Monte sends me songs and poems," Judy said. "When I pull out the words, after waking, they are exactly right for me." In her dreams of Monte, he is often bent on sharing his growing understanding of reality and bringing forward the work they engaged in together, which took shape as the marriage of science and spirituality. "I dreamed I had to meet Monte on the Moon in two minutes, " Judy told me. "He used to talk about squaring somethings - one of his favorite expressions - and other images of twos appeared in this dream. Notably, there were two physicists with him, which he loved, because he was always seeking the right physicist to dialogue with." Waking, and wondering how to pursue the dream, her eye fell on a book from Monte's library titled Einstein's Moon. Opening it at random, she was immediately able to identify the two scientists from Monte's Moon (Niels Bohr and Einstein).
Sometimes, Judy went on, she feels Monte's hand in computer anomalies. Struggling to understand and confirm the message of one dream involving Monte, she turned on her computer and gaped at the missing icons on the screen when it lit up. "I have about sixty icons on my desktop. They had all vanished, except for a single icon, a link to a video clip of Monte, the only video in which he was speaking" There seemed to be no doubt that Monte was at play here, in the interspace and the internet. "I always told him he would have made a terrific stand-up comic," Judy reminisced.
Our discussion flowed into some of my favorite tidepools. We talked about that phenomenon Yeats described as the "mingling of minds", in which we find - when we give our best to a project or course of study - that we attract the active interest and contributions of other intelligences, including those of past masters in our field. We talked about the blessing of knowing that our loved ones, and other minds, are still accessible after the death of the body, and may be progressing to higher and deeper levels of exploration and accomplishment. We discussed how, as we awaken to the many levels of dreaming and our ability to pierce the veils of consensual reality while wide awake, we can find ourselves at home in a spacious NOW that Judy likes to call the "timelessness".
1. Montague Ullman, "The Bindelof Story, Part IV: Personal Life Impact" in Exceptional Human Experience vol. 13, no. 1 (june, 1995). available online at
2. Montague Ullman, "The Dream: In Search of a New Abode", presentation to the 23rd conference of the International Association for the Study of Dreams", July 22, 2006.

"Clues to Immortality", Robert's interview with Judy B. Gardiner, airs on on Tuesday, September 8 from 12 noon-1:00 pm Eastern, 9:00-10:00 am Pacific.

When cops are seeking a man with a black dog

I'm in favor of personal omens, not hand-me-down superstitions, but signs that you come to recognize as fairly reliable markers. I am fond of black dogs, and lived with big black labrador mutts for many years. I notice that when I come across a friendly black dog, especially in an improbable situation, this often signals that whatever is going on at that time is likely to come out well.
An incident this morning puts a spin on this theme.
I'm walking my little dog when a car slows to a stop beside me. "Hello, sir?" The driver waits for me to register the fact that he is a State Trooper. I respond that I'm fine. The officer is friendly, and seems like a pleasant fellow. He asks, "Did you happen to see a man with a black labrador walking along here?" He indicates the block from which I've just come - my block.
"Not right now."
I didn't ask why the cop was looking for a man with a black dog. My feelings about this odd little encounter are neutral. I don't know what it means.
If it were a dream, I might ask whether the trooper in me is in quest of the part of me that knows THE black dog, one of whose names is Anubis. That rings a bell, since I am about to record a radio show with a guest who will talk about personal evidence of life after death and communication with people on the Other Side, all of which falls in the province of Anubis. I have a little statuette of Anubis as black dog/jackal, acquired at an Egyptian exhibition last week, at my right hand as I type.
My mind is cast back to a dream from over six years ago in which the cops actually detained a man with a black dog - me. Here's that report, from my 2003 journal:
June 14-15, 2003

My black dog leads me to a police badge

I am with a large black dog whose ears are up.
At a traffic circle in a pleasant green landscape, my dog takes the wheel of a white sedan, and drives it carefully around the circle while I watch. As he nears the place where I stand, a police officer appears on the far side of the rotary. The cop seems unable to believe his eyes, but is quite agitated.
I call to my dog to leave the car and come to me. I have him on his leash when the cop reaches us. The cop wants to ticket us for something, but can’t bring himself to record what he has witnessed, so he starts to write me a ticket for a misdemeanor – violating the leash law, or the seat belt ordinance.
Then the policeman decides to take us downtown, to the station.
Here he or one of his colleagues proceeds to give me two police badges. The first is a gold shield, which he clips to the tie I am now wearing. The second is a smaller silver badge that he attaches to my shoulder. It seems that instead of being charged, I am being given honorary police rank.
One of the cop’s superiors comes over. He seems grouchy and suspicious, but I know that everything is okay.
Feelings: happy, exuberant, well.
As for the meaning of today's incident in the unfolding of physical events, I'll have to see what comes. That's the way you test what personal omens mean for you, and whether they are working the way you think they should.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

May the Forest Be With You

I surfaced rather late today, and my little dog was dancing in his eagerness to be walked to the park. As we set off, I was thinking about the community dreaming assignment I announced in "Cry of the Trees". There has been a terrific response to that invitation. Some regional circles of active dreamers are gathering to build the Dream Tree with physical ceremonies and journey on our mutual attention with drumming. Many individual dreamers have made time to walk in nature and commune with the trees. Many more have simply made it their intention to seek to be in the forest world - and to learn from it - in their dreams and relaxed moments.
-    So, with this on my mind, I walk to the corner of my city block. There at the corner, literally three doors from my house, I see a pickup truck with the bumper sticker: MAY THE FOREST BE WITH YOU.
-    Coincidence is when the universe gets personal. Before I got to the trees, with my dog, I feel they came to me, in unlikely urban mode. I savored this example of how life rhymes - and how the world speaks to us when we pay attention - as I sat on a great limb of a weeping beech, inside its dense leaf curtains. I call that weeping beech the Whispering Tree, because often young people come here to gossip or to snog. Today, I had the beech to myself. I did not hear its voice, but in the dappled light the vision came to me of a great grove of trees - each with its own identity, medicine and magic, and each with a human Speaker to bring through its wisdom and the needs of its kind. Plenty to dream on...And may the forest be with you!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Cry of the Trees

The cry of the trees, at the very end of a recent training I led at lovely Mosswood Hollow, was the only disturbing episode during that whole wonderful week, which confirmed the depth and urgency of what was coming through. All that week, we had delighted in a world of green – frilly greens of the cedars, mossy greens hanging from high trunks and draping stumps and nurse logs, bottle-green shadows of the deep woods, juicy greens of berry bushes and young vines, splashy brown-greens of the beaver swamp.
On our last morning, preparing for an exercise in community visioning, I asked the members of our circle to join hands and imagine that we were creating a Dream Tree with our joined energies.
“Let your awareness go down to the souls of your feet. You feel yourself standing with the Earth. You are reaching down now, through the souls of your feet. You are reaching deep into the Earth, going deep and spreading wide, as the roots of a tree go deep and spread wide. You feel your energy filaments touching and clasping the energy roots of all of us in this circle. We are coming together, forming a root ball deep within the Earth. As you breath in, feel the Earth energy rising up to form the trunk of our Dream Tree – our One Tree, soaring towards the sky, spreading its canopy to catch the light. Now we are feeding on sunfire…”
In this way, we wove our energies together in a Dream Tree that we intended to use as a base for visioning, from which we could scout in different directions to fulfill a common agenda: to find new ways to bring dreaming into our environments and communities all over the map. I suggested that during the drumming, we would all find our way to an observation deck or tree house high in the upper branches of the Dream Tree. We could look out from there to see what we needed to see, and zoom in on things we needed to study closely, or take flight like birds to visit places many looks away.
When I started the drumming, the energy form of the One Tree emerged vividly. I could feel it, see it, smell it. It was unlike any previous tree of vision I have used. It was an immense elder of the rainforest, as wide and tall as a skyscraper. Its lower trunk was alive with creeping and slithering things, including thousands of snakes, hard to tell apart from the creepers and strangler vines until they darted out.
I moved gingerly to a shelf high above where a giant white heron was perched, looking out over vast distances. I was shot out from there, to meet one elder tree after another - a great Douglas fir, an ancient oak, a mighty poplar, a wide banyan rooting itself again and again from its branches. They showed me scenes of pain and destruction in the landscapes they inhabit. I was made to watch clear-cutting in the evergreen forests of the Pacific Northwest, and to be present during brutal deforestation in Brazil, with great machines rending the Earth, and the stink of smoke and the cries of dying trees everywhere. The grief of the trees entered my being. It was like being made to witness the rape and butchery of innocents. Choking and sobbing, I had difficulty sustaining the beat of the drum.
I heard the voices of the tree elders. Their message, in different accents, was the same.
You use trees for your dreaming.
The trees need humans to dream with them.
The trees are dying through the ignorance and greed of men,
and with them your world.
We need Tree Speakers to speak for the green world.
It is your duty to find them and give them voice and vision.
Over at my online forum at I have issued an invitation for members of our dreaming community all over the world to dream with the trees and discover what it would mean and require to become a Tree Speaker. We will embark on this – as my group did at Mosswood Hollow – by imagining ourselves coming together to create a Dream Tree, with a shared root ball deep in the Earth, and a place of vision high in the upper branches. I want to extend the invitation to readers of this blog to join in dreaming with the trees.

Friday, August 21, 2009

House tigers

Last night, in the drifty state before sleep, I became aware that there was a tiger in my bedroom. He was longer than the bed, magnificent in his beautiful striped suit, staring at me with golden eyes, whiskers a-quiver. I felt a shiver of wild excitement edged with a little fear. This tiger was real, and he was dangerous. Yes, he is "my" tiger - it's no secret that I have a long connection with Tiger, who has been a marvelous ally, not least in soul recovery work - yet he is also his own being. HE is hunting me, and who knows where that will lead tonight? I accepted the invitation to travel with him, into the night. With the morning light, most of our adventures slipped back into the night forest, except for the delicious sensations of stretching and swimming in warm waters in the long, well-muscled body of the big cat that most loves to swim.
-No doubt I set myself up for this by writing and posting my poem "Hunting Power". The little tingle of fear in the hypnagogic zone leads me to add something in prose about what is required to entertain a genuine relationship with a BIG spiritual ally. "Every angel is terrifying," said Rilke. Whether the ally shows itself as the angel or the tiger, we are required to brave up to claim and work our connection. When I first started living in the United States, it was the Bear - the great medicine animal of North America - who required me to brave up: to step into the embrace of something much bigger than me, to recognize that we have a heart connection, and to call in its power for healing for myself and others.
-Animal guardians are not cute symbols to be looked up in books or flaunted as New Age decals. They are living energies, both personal and transpersonal, that need to be celebrated and fed in our bodies and our lives. We know they are true allies when they turn up when we need them and lend us their instincts and sensorium, which operates beyond the merely human range. Shamanic types may have connections with many animal guardians and may work temporary connections with the guardians - active or potential - of those they help. Like shamans, we can encourage animal spirits to take up residence in certain centers of our energy bodies, but they have their own characters and agendas. You can gentle the ferocity of the tiger, but you cannot ignore that it can rip out your throat.
If we cease to nourish and entertain our animal spirits, they go away, and we may experience their loss as fatigue or depression or blurred vision, drugged senses or a failing immune system. I once experimented with going vegetarian for six weeks. In that period, I visited a zoo with my family. I am usually very restive around the big cat enclosures even when - as in this case - the space is fairly generous, because big cats don't belong in captivity. We came to an enclosure where a family of tigers were lazing in the sun. My daughter clutched my arm. "Daddy, he's looking at you." The male tiger was now sitting up, staring at me in intently. He loped to the bars and examined me at close range. I had the keen sensation that he was trying to figure out whether I was family. He sniffed me then gave the tiger version of a shrug, and padded back to his pride, rolled over and went back to sleep. I was obviously not a member of the tribe of tiger that day. Tigers are not vegetarians. If you think you have a tiger connection and dine on tofu, forget it.
-When I reverted to meat-eating, Tiger returned. His reappearance then was as startling and just-so as his manifestation in my bedroom last night. But that time he required me to brave up all the way to resume our relationship. I had to fight him, hand to paw, for what seemed like hours. I had to let him tear me limb from limb. When I was magically reassembled, I had to follow his instructions to tear out and consume his bleeding heart. This did not feel like a symbolic event. In the morning, I had to wash crusted blood from around my mouth.
I will say for the tiger what the children say of Aslan: "He is terrible and he is good." Children love the tiger, who may jump from their stories as Tigger or Shia Khan, the maneater. They know that Tiger can protect them when adults do not. Our own lost children - the child selves lost to pain and abuse and grief and shame - sometimes return to us when Tiger appears to let them know it's safe.
Hmmm. Now I am remembering a night of dream adventures in exotic landscapes many years ago. In the last scene, I was lazing on a chaise-longue in an upstairs room, enjoying a gentle breeze wafting through the slats of wooden shutters. I jumped down and prowled the spacious room, among rattan furniture and Eastern bronzes. I heard the clatter of hurrying footsteps on the stairs, and saw men in strange wooden armor, with spiky protrusions. They entered the room with caution, fanning out, long poles in their hands. After waking, I recalled that I had seen a photo of park rangers in Bengal wearing wooden armor of this kind when endeavoring to drive tigers back within prescribed boundaries. And I wondered what form my dream self had taken that night....

Monday, August 10, 2009

Friendly Gatekeepers

I arrived at my local airport at 5:30 am on Sunday, checked my bag, and got in the line for the security check. Before I handed ner my drivers license and boarding pass, the female TSA agent who was doing the documents scan greeted me by name, like an old friend, "Well, hello, Robert!" Her Southern accent was familar and so was her warm smiling face. I recognized a woman who had been a member of one of my monthly evening circles more than a decade before. She had entertained us with wonderful stories of growing up in the rural South and of dream travels to ghost villages and other locations that are not on airline itineraries. "How come you're working here?" I asked her. "I was dreaming about airports so much I decided I might as well work at one."

It felt like a very good start to the day, to meet a gatekeeper who is also a dreamer. The Gatekeeper is a very important figure in my imaginal life. In dreams, the Gatekeeper may appear as a generic figure familiar on the roads of regular life - the customs officer, the ticket collector, the security guard. Over at my online forum at, one of our dreamers reports an encounter with a ticket collector who demanded an unusual price of admission to somewhere he wanted to go - that he should write and publish a poem (which he proceeded to do). Sometimes the Gatekeeper appears in more enigmatic or mythic guise. I have met the Gatekeeper, in my dreams, as a slick fellow beckoning me towards an open archway, leading to delightful vistas of life possibilities, while holding a door I was trying to force open shut. I have met the Gatekeeper in dreams - and on the dashboard of an Indian taxi driver, after riding on Air India - as elephant-headed Ganesh, and as a black dog who sometimes walks on two legs, as Anubis does.

But here I want to go on talking about the play of the Gatekeeper (who can be a trickster, especially if we are too set in our ways) in the ordinary reality of airports, on the way to diferent planes. At the Seattle airport, a cute dark-skinned TSA agent laughed in my face when she inspected my drivers license. "Why are you laughing?" I asked her. "It's because of your name. In my language, 'Moss' means 'Banana'." "What language would that be?" "Somali". The humorous side of the Gatekeeper was definitely in play that day. Just think about it. Being teased at an American airport because your name means something funny in Somali.

At Boise airport, an older, balding TSA guy asked me if my rather abundant white hair was my own. "Absolutely." "Sonufabitch. I really want that hair." "Sorry, it's not available."

Many years ago, after I sent my carry-ons through the X-ray machine at my home aiport, I was stopped by the security guards. "You got a lampshade in here?" The guard indicated my drum-bag. "Actually, it's a drum." I willingly extracted the simple frame drum that has powered many, many group journeys in my workshops so they could see. "Will you play it for us?" the guard requested. "Excuse me?" "Go on, we'd like you to play." So there, just inside the security barrier, I was tapping out the heartbeat of the drum, surrounded by smiling faces. That felt like another good start to the day.

I've saved the best story of brushes with the airport Gatekeeper for last. I had been leading a shamanic gathering up on a very special mountain and had rushed to the airport without considering what tools and toys I had stuffed in my drum-bag. On the other side of the X-ray machine, a security guard asked me, "Is this yours?" To my horror, I saw he was holding up a ceremonial Lakota knife with an elk-bone handle that he had just removed from my drum-bag. He extracted the nine-inch blade from the sheath and held it up. "Wait here. I have to get my supervisor."

Wild thoughts are thrashing in my brain. They'll arrest me. They'll grill me. At least they'll give me a tongue-lashing for being such a fool as to leave that knife in my carry-ons.

The supervisor appears. His first words are, "What time is your flight?"


"Good. We've got time to get this in your checked luggage so it can meet you at th other end. I'll walk you back to the ticket desk." With this, he hands me the knife, still out of its sheath.

I wonder if I am dreaming as I accompany him, knife in hand, back through security.

"Go on, do it," he says.

"Do what?"

"You're Australian, aren't you? Do the Crocodile Dundee thing."

So I put on my best strine accent and snarl, brandishing the knife, "Call that a knife? This is a bloody knife, mate!"

Gales of laughter. The ticket agent was delighted to put his long line of passengers on hold while he dashed to get my knife into my checked suitcase, saying "I know you Aussies can't go anywhere without a bloody knife." I guess the Gatekeeper was truly in laughing mood that day. And that he sometimes makes special rules for people from Down Under.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Table talk with the princes from the East

It is eleven years, to the day, since I had a deeper encounter with Shams. I described his first appearance in my recent blog essay "Your beloved is calling."

In the early hours of August 1, 1998, I woke in a cabin on Lake Champlain from a dream in which I was having lunch with an elegant couple in an upscale but rather anonymous restaurant. The food and conversation were excellent, but it was time to leave. After I said my goodbyes and headed for the door, an old friend - a man I trust completely - came running after me. "Did you forget you were supposed to record the conversation?" What could this mean? "Read what is in the envelope!"

I woke with a sense of urgency. In the cool moonlight, lying on the bed with a pad and pen, I made it my intention to go back inside the dream and look for the mystery envelope. I found it right away, a plain brown manila envelope. Inside were three documents: a handwritten note explaining my assignment, a list of 20 questions I was supposed to put to the people at the table, and a clipping from the Tehran Times headed "The Prince and Princess of Fars are Traveling Abroad."

In my conscious dreamstate, I felt a thrill of recognition. I knew that Fars is the name of the old Persian heartland, and I realized that what was unfolding must be a continuation of my dreams and investigations of the Persian Sufis earlier that week. Dreaming and hyper-awake, I returned to the restaurant table. I saw that Shams was dressed, as before, in a beautifully tailored light gray suit, and a blue-gray shirt with a banded collar. His female companion wore a lovely gauzy summery dress, and a gauzy veil.

I sat at the table and read from the list of questions, which were clearly visible to my inner sight.

What is the nature of Exile?

Shams replied:

"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."

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."

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.

When the dawn broke, I had managed to record 13 of the questions for the princes from the East, and nine of Shams' responses. The connection now began to falter. I set down my pad, pulled on some shorts and walked down to the pier. A couple of sailboats bobbed in the mist on the lake. As I walked to the end of the pier I saw a kingfisher flying low along the shoreline, an early hunter. I lay flat on my back on the wooden slats of the pier, rocked by the swell of the waves. I looked up at a blue lake in the sky. Turning my head, I saw sky around me and beneath me, infused with pink and gold by the rising sun.

This weekend I am returning to the cabin where I dreamed of the princes of the East. I hope to complete the dialogue, left unfinished for so long. Perhaps, if I am very fortunate, the veiled lady will choose to speak and to show her face.