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Sunday, July 02, 2006

My Teacher: On the Battlefield

I was barely four years old when my teacher first took me to visit a battlefield.
As always, my teacher appeared within a burning ring of fire which would usually blossom upon my bedroom wall.
The fiery ring was like one of the burning hoops that tigers in a circus might jump through.

My teacher beckoned to me to step through the burning ring to join him.

I felt terror as my teacher and I arrived upon a battlefield.
A town could be seen just beyond the battlefield. It was a small town with a single church spire rising near the center. The church and all the buildings of the town were composed of the half-timbered stucco style common to the area.
Smoke and flames arose from ruined buildings in several places about the town.
A tank came rattling out of the town from behind some buildings on my left; it turned to enter the battlefield. The tank approached a trench and descended into it, its nose dipping down sharply before climbing up the nearer side. The nose of the tank rose high into the air as the tank climbed out of the trench, then it thundered down to the ground when the tank cleared the trench.
As the tank continued in my general direction the tank crushed coils of barbed wire beneath it. The wire coils sprang back up in the wake of the tank, more or less unscathed. I could just make out the features of the tank’s grimacing pilot whose head protruded from the pilot’s hatch of the tank.
It wondered whether the pilot was really smiling.
There were dead bodies everywhere.
The tank was passing by a particularly gruesome pile of fly-swarmed bodies when a soldier lying upon one side of the pile rose up slightly, his arm swinging in an arc.
A tumbling grenade clipped the pilots’ helmet before falling into the pilot hatch of the tank.
A muffled explosion followed and the pilot was ejected from the tank; he fell to the earth directly in the path of the tank which rumbled to a halt over his body.
Smoke billowed from the pilot’s hatch.
A squad of soldiers appeared from the trench the tank had just crossed. They strafed the pile of bodies with their rifles where the soldier with the hand grenade concealed himself. The soldier shifted to keep the heap of dead bodies between himself and the squad of soldiers who were trying to kill him. He tossed another grenade in their direction; the squad scattered, diving for cover.
The grenade rattled past the squad and fell into the trench behind them where it exploded, launching a hail of shrapnel into the air.
As the grenade was rattling into the trench several soldiers of the squad were suddenly up and running toward the pile of bodies where the soldier with the hand grenades was hidden. The soldiers from the squad dived to the ground before the barbed wire and raised the coiled wire up with their rifles in order to pass under it.
They quickly flanked the soldier who hid among the bodies and dispatched him.
The squad retreated to the tank where they removed the barely breathing body of a gunner from the turret. The gunner was carried back behind the town’s defensive line. The remaining members of the squad left a team to try to salvage the tank, then spread out to reconnoiter before returning to their trench.
The salvage team pulled another dead soldier from the tank. Another dog tag was taken and stuffed in a pocket.
Two of the members of the salvage team guarded the tank, squatting in the shelter of its flanks, while the third member climbed into the tank and set to work.
The tank soon rumbled to life and one of the guards climbed into the pilots hatch and drove the tank ahead about 20 yards.
The last member of the salvage team grabbed a dog tag from the dead pilot and clambered into the turret.
The tank continued on its mission passing me on my right, heading toward a fortified position where assailants of the town had been hammering the town’s defenses with mortars.
The battlefield was a frightening place. My teacher had brought me here for a purpose more frightening than the battlefield. We were here to raise the dead.
Spirits could be seen wandering the battlefield or hunkering down in distress. Some of the spirits moved with apparent purpose while others were withdrawn into themselves; they lay on the ground with their legs drawn up and their arms wrapped about themselves.
One spirit spied me and my teacher where we stood examining the battlefield.
This observant spirit quickly approached us.
There was a conversation of sorts between the visiting spirit and my teacher. I saw a glowing blue eagle that appeared to be tattooed on the spirit’s chest. The eagle was shining with an eerie light that could be seen clearly through the fabric of the spirit’s uniform.
No words were spoken in the conversation that took place as the spirit and my teacher locked eyes with one another, yet I could sense the dialogue that might have been spoken had my teacher and this spirit shared a common language.
Their conversation felt something like this: “It’s that time again” emanated from the visiting spirit.
Agreement came forth from my teacher; they almost seemed to know one another. “We will help” my teacher assured the spirit, pointing toward several of the spirits wandering the battlefield. “Gather your friends and we will begin.”
The spirit with the glowing eagle flicked away, appearing a moment later by one of the wandering spirits nearer to the town. Those two spirits then flicked off to reappear by yet another of the wandering spirits; they formed a team of four this way and set about the work of guiding those spirits of the dead who were too ignorant or traumatized to help themselves.
Each spirit of their team of four had a glowing blue eagle on its chest.
My teacher explained without any words that these spirits were men familiar with their immortality. They were able to return to their lives on their own, and would do so when they had finished succoring those spirits among the dead who did not know or could not remember that they could return to their lives again.
They began with the spirits who seemed most in need of help. While they assisted the most gravely distressed spirits many of the spirits who could stand or wander about might eventually recall enough of themselves or their after-life options as recently deceased spirits that they might return to their departed lives on their own.
The returning spirits would vanish one by one as they found their way back to new worlds where they had not yet felt the tormenting sting of death. Their new worlds were different in degree from their old worlds only to the extent that in their old worlds they remained dead, while in their new worlds they still lived.
Some of the returning spirits might later remember this strange after-life experience and describe it to family or friends as their ‘near death’ experience.
My teacher and I wandered over to a nearby spirit in distress. My teacher placed my hand upon the forehead of the cowering spirit.
Images flooded my mind.
I found myself walking down a country lane blooming with springtime flowers. A house could be seen in the distance. But the house receded the farther I walked, so that I could never get any closer.
I could feel the spirit beneath my hand longing to enter the house.
As I looked ahead I could see into the house through its walls to where a young couple was making love. This spirit was seeking a reincarnation. But something held the spirit back from this potential avenue for rebirth.
I listened. Far off in the distance voices were calling a name. The spirit heard its name being called, but shied away from the sound. There was terrible pain in the voices that cried out to the spirit, the pain of the loss felt by the spirit’s family and friends when they received the news of his passing.
The spirit was tormented by the pain his death was causing to all of his loved ones and friends. Rather than follow the siren sound of friends and relatives calling out his name, he shied away from them. He would not be able to return to them if he chose to reincarnate. To avoid the pain that stood between himself and all of the loved ones of his recent life he was unconsciously choosing a path that might lead him to reincarnate.
As I watched another spirit flew by and entered the house. The couple there conceived their new child and this particular opportunity to be reborn was lost to the tormented spirit my teacher and I were trying to aid.
The country lane slowly faded away.
My teacher was rubbing the spirit’s limbs and shoulders attempting to awaken the spirit from its haunted dreams. The spirit relaxed somewhat, its limbs falling open away from its body. I struggled to help the spirit sit up while my teacher cupped his hands to the spirit’s lips.
The water that appeared in my teacher’s cupped hands seemed to flow of its own accord from the hands of my teacher to the lips of the spirit. The lips moved; a tongue came out to taste the water and take it in. The spirit sighed, all memories of its recent death and trauma disappeared.
At this stage of this spirit’s development it had no conscious knowledge of its after-life options. It did not know that it could return to its last life and pick up where it had left off as if nothing had happened. If it chose this option it would leave behind a world where it remained forever dead, but it would return to a clone of that world in which it had never died. While at some unconscious level this spirit had sensed it could reincarnate it clearly was not ready to move on to a different life. This spirit yearned to return to the life it had just departed, but it was avoiding returning to its familiar life because it must face too much to return.
The pain of loss was not the only pain that lay between this spirit and its return to its recent life. While the pain of the loss felt by loved ones was a difficult obstacle for many spirits to overcome, there was a more personal and primary pain that must be confronted, regardless of whether the spirit chose to reincarnate or return to the life they had so recently departed. Newly deceased spirits must face themselves and everything within them which caused them pain before they can return to life.
Any misdeeds that burdened their conscience must be acknowledged, any harm they had done another soul must be addressed. Until a dead spirit could resolve these issues within itself its return to life would be hampered.
The spirit must only acknowledge its mistakes, it owed no debt for its mistakes and nothing more than this acknowledgement was required. But for many spirits acknowledging their errors was too difficult to do; these spirits often ended up in a sort of limbo or purgatory until they could face the painful things within themselves and release them.
Some spirits were too stubborn or too ignorant to be able to face themselves in this manner. But Spirits who were trapped by their own ignorance or obstinacy might yet be rescued from their purgatory by one such as my teacher.
Compassion is one of the primary properties of a deeply spiritual existence. My teacher had endless compassion for all the spirits he met. He would accept the dark parts they harbored in their hearts and show them only love. He would accept the limitations in their characters and assist them to return to their lives where they might one day learn to with virtue and compassion so that they might heal the parts of themselves they had damaged in various ways through their unkind words or actions.
My teacher was an intercessor. He did not intervene between a spirit and God as Earthly priests say they do, my teacher intervened between a spirit and itself.
My teacher could enable a spirit to pass through the portal between death and life when that spirit was unable to meet the requirement that would allow it to pass through on its own merit.
This spirit that my teacher and I succored held pains within itself that barred its way back to life. Neither my teacher nor I could see what these pains were; they were a private matter belonging only to that spirit. But my teacher could show the spirit a time in its own future existence in which it was evolved enough to face whatever faults it now harbored within itself. This future aspect of the spirit could face these faults on behalf of itself in its past existence, allowing itself in its present form to return to the life it had recently left, allowing it to carry on.
The spirit we succored opened its eyes, the haunted look drained away from its face. It stood and smiled, embracing my teacher, showering my teacher with its gratitude.
A moment later it was gone, returning to a new world where it had not yet died again. A new world cloned from the world where it had last died and would remain forever dead.
In that old world the spirit’s family and friends mourned their loss; in the new world they may never learn of their loved one’s recent brush with death.
My teacher and I moved on, there was much work remaining among the spirits occupying the battlefield.
My terror grew stronger.
I was safe from all the mortal dangers of the battlefield; my teacher and I visited the battlefield in astral forms immune to worldly dangers. My terror was a primal thing within myself.
With each new spirit we encountered I felt the pain that each of these spirits harbored in its heart and this pain tormented me as if it were my own pain. Or, perhaps it was really the pain I harbored within my own heart which tormented me, resonating in response to the pains of these dead spirits. (I was only four, but I had been living a life of pain for as long as I could remember.)
I wept as we crossed the battlefield; my weeping grew worse with each new encounter. After a long journey among the spirits of the battlefield I was exhausted, I had no more energy for weeping.
Although I still felt pain with every encounter I found the pain no longer tormented me so badly. I was learning to accept the pain I felt within me without responding to it by clenching up. The pain was no longer a source of great anxiety or dread.
My teacher acknowledged this change in me and explained that I would always feel this pain but that I must learn to control it as I was doing now.
If I let myself be carried away by the pain I could be of no help to anyone, least of all myself.
I’m not sure, even to this day, how I can be of much help to anyone. From time to time to time I find myself drawn to terrible scenes of mass destruction and death where I must succor the spirits of the dead and assist them to return to life.

My own life seems utterly consumed by pain as I write this blog for you to read. Perhaps you understand my pain if a shadow of it lies in your own heart as well.

Take care