Sunday, September 20, 2009

Meeting a Self that took the Path Not Taken

"Crossroads" (c) by Martin Liebermann    

I am savoring the epigraph to a novel (Pascal Mercier’s Night Train to Lisbon) I picked up at Heathrow airport at the end of a recent visit to the UK. The quote is from the essays of Montaigne:
We are all patchwork, and so shapeless and diverse in composition that each piece, each moment, plays its own game. And so there is as much difference between us and ourselves as between us and others.
One of the gifts of dreaming is that we are introduced to those other pieces of ourselves. Some of them, in our dreams, seem to be living lives quite different from ours, as if they have taken off along roads not taken by our ruling personality in the world of our physical experience.

One of the fine arts of personal evolution is to rise to a clearer understanding of our many selves, and make helpful bridges between them, so we can draw on the skills and energy and experience of all of them.

This may require us to track the life passages of our parallel selves, those who followed roads not taken in our physical lives - the self who stayed with that former partner, or in that former job, or at that former home, and has been traveling ever since on what (to our waking mind) appears to be a ghost trail. What if it were possible to reach to some of these alternate selves, and share gifts and life experiences with them in mutually supportive ways?

At a recent retreat, a group of our frequent fliers agreed to journey back -with the aid of shamanic drumming - to an important crossroads in each of our earlier lives, and to seek to follow the parallel self that made a different choice from what put us where we are now. The assignment was to track this alternate self from that moment of choice all the way up to the present time, make an inventory of what went wrong or right on that other path and then - most importantly - to harvest lessons and gifts from the alternate life trajectory. The results of this journey were amazing, and suggest promising new paths to personal evolution and healing in the multiverse.


Nancy said...

You chose an excellent picture for this post -- the poet Robert Frost could be one of your alternate Selves! Two roads diverged in a yellow wood...
It was an honor to be part of this journey & to meet my other Self, who has a daughter I do not have in my here & now life. We have strengths together I am awed at & humbled by. Having each other as a resource will enrich both of our lives. Thank you.

Worldbridger said...

The journey back to the cross road is a very cool idea. Was there anyone in the group who really felt that they had taken the wrong road and wished they were on the other track?

If so, what would be their option now?

Patricia said...

Hello Robert
This post has reminded me of an experience I had during a workshop a long time ago. I was taken back to a time when I had to make a decision. If I left my marriage I knew that I had to go all the way from my husband as well as my children. If I decided to commit to the marriage I had to return fully to it. The road I went down in my meditation, without my children was such a desolate and horrible place. It was like a Drysdale painting, red and dusty and dry. After knowing what it would have been like without the children I left the workshop, found each one and told them how much I loved them. You have inspired me to look at another decision I made and feel the consequences of that. Thank you

Robert Moss said...

Nancy - I was moved by your experience in this group journey. As for Robert Frost as an alternate self, I'm chuckling because years ago a man at the checkout counter of a diner - guessing I was a writer from the fact I was signing a credit card slip with a fountain pen - asked my name and misheard my response. "Robert Frost!" he gasped. "Oh my Gawd. Can I have your autograph?" Certainly, I responded. But which name would you like me to sign?

Robert Moss said...

Worldbridger - That's a very good question. Some of our travelers on the alternate time tracks found that the outcomes were "train wrecks" of one sort or another, and confirmed past choices they had made. For others, the experience of a path not taken was bittersweet, since they found themslves on a path where they may have had or achieved things they values - from children to worldly success - but did not enjoy in their current lives. However, nobody wanted to swap the curent life for the alternate one, and many of us were mobilized to draw strength and skill from the experience of the parallel self for our present situations.

Robert Moss said...

Patricia - Always grand to hear your voice. It sounds as if it would have been both confirming and consoling to know what would have been lost on that alternate road, leading into arid "Drysdale country" that I remember well from my early years Down Under. Wishing you helpful new discoveries in your fresh look at another life choice.

Alice Finnamore said...

For this journey, I traveled back just over a year to a moment where I chose to move into a closer friendship. A minor crossroad on the surface of things, but life changing, it turns out. My alternate self, who stepped away instead of moving closer, had sent me a message a few months ago when I again questioned the direction I'd chosen.

I was driving home one night when the thought flashed across my mind to wonder whether I had gone in the right direction with the friendship. At that very moment, a raccoon started to cross the road in front of me. I was grateful that I was far enough away to slow down, and breathed a sigh of relief when it seemed the raccoon was safe. Then just as I was next to it, the raccoon made an abrupt turn and died under my wheels.

I knew immediately that this was a message, such an important message that it was worth the life of this animal. (This has happened before, but never with a message attached. I was startled by the dreamlike quality of the event.)

If you are going to cross the road, don't turn back.

My alternate self in the journey Robert initiated for us last week assured me she had sent me that message. I returned from the journey with the lessons: Honor myself, listen to signs, and honor intuitive hits.

Honoring intuitive instruction expands the soul in places otherwise prone to collapse," my alternate self told me, as she had collapse into herself, without this important friendship.

Thank you, Robert, for taking us to such unusual places.

Robert Moss said...

Thanks for sharing your journey and your sharp-edged experience of how the world speaks to us through synchcronicity and natural phenomena, and how unseen processes of causation may been involved in the play of coincidence.

Anonymous said...

I like the idea of sharing gifts and life experiences with our alternate selves in mutually supportive ways. It seems that this would essentially "double" our inner strength and spirit in this waking life.

Robert Moss said...

That is certainly the hope, Margie. I'll be most interested to monitor how that plays in the lives of those (including myself) who made this journey, and those who will make similar journeys in the future. For my part, I decided to follow a parallel self who mad different choices in his literary career over 20 years ago. I like the fine, fast professional rhythm he developed in turning out HIS books. I would certainly like to be able to borrow some elements of his practice. I may even consider writing one or two of "his" books.

Diana said...

The journey you refer to and the journey we took to the Gallery of Time were fascinating and very informing for me to this life.

Also make me wonder about the origin of some of the intuitive nudgings and leanings that we may feel. Among other things, the parallel selves offer yet another explanation for deja vu experiences.

Thank you

Robert Moss said...

Hi Diane - Thanks for being part of our explorations in the multiverse. I do think there are moments in life when we sense the proximity of a parallel self, when our paths have crossed or converged. Yes, deja vu may sometimes be the effect of catching up with something an alternate self has already seen. As you know, I am strongly convinced that deja vu generally involves catching up with a dream self who forever goes before the waking self.

Coming closer to a parallel self can have a shadow side - taking on something of the life karma the other self has incurred. It's also a tremendous opportunity for healing and heightened awareness.

Leanne said...

Dear Robert,
If we switch the thought to the the paths all taken, it becomes such an invitation for exploration, for reflection, for forgiveness, for healing, for understanding and ultimately, I believe, for a true expansion and rethinking of identity and of the egoic self.
If the greater self has taken all the paths offered, then there is to all intents and purposes so many aspects that are experiencing all that this little (but not diminished)self cannot.
You invite us to open our minds to a larger self, outside of our name and current identity and to embrace all choices as being experienced. When I see, sense or even begin to question the self that chose another path, then I reconnect on some level with the larger aspect of psyche and I believe I open doorways to more experience and understanding.
I have been reflecting on these other adventures now for many years and I can think of no other more glorious way to view my life or any life than through the lense of curiousity.
I can't begin to tell you how grand it is after all this time to find others so willing so expand the thinking and explore the roads taken (but not always seen).

Robert Moss said...

Leanne - I love your phrase "the paths all taken" and your lucid and inspiring description of what that could mean for someone awakening to this aspect of the personal multiverse. We staged a new experiment in the ART of Alternate Reality Therapy in one of my circles of frequent fliers last evening that produced rich new experiential confirmation of the reality of those alternate life experiences, and of what we can gain when we expand and integrate our awareness of them.

Unknown said...

Years ago I remember learning something about a karmic energy spiral. Specifics are vague now. My Qigong instructor Anne Chandler mentioned it. May also have something to do with that as you age you
experience similar situations and learn what worked and what didn't.
Thanks for reminding me about Rbt Frost and poem. How timely for Autumn. from cloud 9

Unknown said...

Roads not taken have haunted me all of my life.

I've had many dreams of those people, I have not met and yet have met and children I did not have.

I don't know. I find it very painful those dreams. And a feeling of persistant unhappiness is an undercurrent in my life.

I really would love to come to a state of peace with all of this.

Any suggestions anybody?