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The mark of the beast (reply to Bill)

Sep 20, 2004 08:17 AM
by kpauljohnson

--- In, "Bill Meredith"
<meredith_bill@e...> wrote:

> >
Once the link with the Higher Self is established, does one strengthen
that link by reading books?
> >

Dear Bill,

That depends. Your question reminds me of a notion I learned from two
Sufi friends, disciples of Idries Shah, who said that rereading the
same book produces less and less potential for awakening because this
places the "mark of the beast" on it. That is, our lower, mechanical
self becomes habituated to it and it loses the charge it once had to
point us toward enlightenment. They went to the extreme of buying
different editions of the same book which supposedly helped avert this

That might be silly, but my own experience is that I haven't had any
interest in reading books about Theosophy in many years, or about the
Cayce readings, because those subjects are so associated with my
personal past that they just don't work anymore. While shrinking from
any claim to have established any link with the Higher Self, I will
admit to feeling attuned at times with something like an Oversoul, and
for several years now it has been the study of American religious
history that has done it. Sitting on my desk is an unopened copy of
First Among Friends, the only scholarly biography of George Fox (whom,
it turns out, was met my several of my direct ancestors on his journey
to NC.) Feeling the spirit touch Methodist revivalists (via reading
Ann Taves's Fits Trances and Visions) has given me a bit of attunement
to Something Higher than Ourselves. Soon I'll read Philip Jenkins's
new book about Native American spirituality becoming popularized in
recent years, and expect that vicariously I'll feel some of the
attunement felt by those who practice it. BUT reading the same kinds
of books or the same exact books over and over accomplishes nothing
for me and I don't get positive vibes from those who do so.

I've been a news junkie for several years, constantly listening to NPR
etc. and have recently decided that this is spiritually distracting
and harmful. My new car has a CD player, so I've been buying music
CDs which makes for a much more harmonious atmosphere for commuting. 
But I found that the music I used to like-- folk and rock in the late
60s and early 70s, classical since then-- just doesn't do it for me
any more. Instead it has been jazz vocalists I've felt inspired by,
and for a while I was listening constantly to Ella Fitzgerald and
feeling very much that some kind of Oversoul is present in her
performances. Just this weekend I've discovered Sarah Vaughan and am
now convinced that Soul has never spoken so clearly and beautifully as
through her music. But if I listen to much to her, those CDs will get
the mark of the beast on them too and be of no use whatsoever.

This weekend I went kayaking in a new stretch of a blackwater river
and had the usual Oversoul awe kinds of feelings with the thrill of
discovering natural beauty in a new place. But next time I better go
to a different river, different kind of scenery, or that old mark of
the beast will cast a pall over the experience.

This may sound dilettantish and so be it. People who can do the same
thing over and over and never lose interest or attraction are
interesting to me and I can't judge them because it's so remote from
my experience. So after all that, my point is YES, BUT... with books
as with any other means of strengthening the link with the Higher
Self, you have to keep moving forward, not going around in circles.

For what it's worth,


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