I have a friend who lives in Bulgaria and I went to visit him a while back. He lives in the Stara Planina. My friend is an alchemist of sorts. I might also call him a curious collector and a person around which ordinary things can take on entirely new dimensions of appearance sometimes. Anyone who has read Pantanjali’s Yoga Aphorisms would understand how this could be possible although they might not be able to do it themselves.
Certain mountainous areas in the Balkan Mountains are famous for mysterious characters and tales about brotherhoods and such. Peter Dunov lived there as did his disciple Mikhael Aivanhov before he went to France.
My friend, let’s call him Gregor, took me for a walk one afternoon. First we went through dense scrub which gave way to a kind of dwarf pine and then into massive arrangements of rock with scattered foliage that was made possible by collections of dirt that has traveled on the air and over time collected in depressions and after that, seeds followed in the same way.
At one point we came upon something lying on the ground which looked like it could be phlegm from a traveling rock troll who had been through there the night before. It could have been something that leaked from an industrial container or it might have been any number of things; something that had been eaten and which proved to be unsuitable to the digestion. There were a couple of suitable rocks very near this item and Gregor said we should sit there a moment and study this phenomena.
There we sat, neither of us saying anything. That strange thing that sometimes happens around Gregor started to happen and this congealed substance began to move like some small creature shifting in its sleep. It was a subtle thing. Maybe it was moving and maybe it wasn’t. It was changing too. The color deepened and the color changed as well. To begin with it had appeared to be a combination of muddy browns and degrees of red with some yellow and patches of white. Then the red became black and the yellow turned brown. Then the brown became yellow again.
It was just a patch of something unattractive. Some of it was wet and some of it looked crusty. As I studied it I kept getting the sensation that I had seen that shape before. It was hauntingly familiar. I was thinking that it was so familiar that I was going to be mentally kicking myself when I finally discovered what it was reminding me of. This is the sort of thing that happens around Gregor. Sometimes, something gets revealed that you probably would not have seen and other times, something you would have caught right off gets veiled.
I should mention here that although I’ve had these experiences with Gregor before and there would have been no chemical reason for it, there were also times when he fixed me something from his collection of teas and I would find myself crossing from this terra ordinaire into some dreamscape. Such was not the case on this afternoon.
“Give it time.” Gregor said. “It will come to you.” This is another thing he did with some frequency; show up in my thoughts. When I am on psychedelics I can do this. I can read minds because, at those times, I am well aware that there is only one mind so that mental conversations pass through my head in a way that is similar to how physical conversation passes into my ears. Gregor seems to be able to do this all the time although he never comments on it much. He doesn’t say much at the best of times and you can’t get a straight answer out of him about anything. It’s maddening on occasion because you know that he could give a simple and illuminating answer to some mysterious complexity but he never does. He almost always answers a question with another question.
Now this makes me think about the technology of the one mind and how, since Gregor is in my mind when he asks me a question, the answer is there too and... as it’s one mind it’s there for any of us to discover.
“It’s a little frustrating.” I said. “It’s one of those things that should be obvious and I can’t make the connection. I’ve gone from wondering what it is to wondering about the shape. It’s the shape that’s puzzling me.”
“Look deeper.” he said. “Look into it.”
I did this and ...this splatter, whatever it was, began to increase in size until I could see tiny forms moving in the mix. Some of them were absorbing others. A time would come when one of the objects would expand to absorb everything and there would be only a single color and then it would break up again into some large number of pulsating items. When it was like this there was a great deal of movement as if someone had flattened an anthill. When some large form was absorbing the other larger forms, that had also been absorbing others, the movement became much slower. When the largest item became the only item there was a period of no movement at all.
It was during a moment when the most recent, single object had broken up again that it came to me. I was looking at a near perfect representation of the United States. What I said was, “Where’s Canada?” We both laughed. I was laughing quite hard. It seemed really funny to me.
Gregor asked, “Do you think it would have looked or acted different if it had been Australia or somewhere else?” “Probably not.” I replied. “It’s feeding on itself isn’t it? It’s feeding on itself but it’s still there and there’s still the same amount of it as always.”
“Would you have expected it to be different?”
“I guess not but... that’s the thing, isn’t it? It doesn’t really go anywhere and it doesn’t disappear just because it consumed itself. It’s that serpent with the tail thing. Life, the culture especially, is sort of like a ravenous, chemical sludge. Out here in the raw materials section there’s a pristine and endless waiting to occur. This is like a pottery shop waiting to happen and then someone makes a pot and they mix some ingredients in the pot and then it gets poured out on the ground and the components of the mix start to devour each other. We’re just bacteria aren’t we?”
“Wouldn’t it depend on whether you were down there or sitting here?” Gregor got up after he said this and we walked on until we came to the place where the mountain had fallen away and tumbled for many hundreds of feet to the valley below. There was a large village there which had been built only a few hundred yards from where this portion of the mountain had completed its fall. I looked at the village and thought about the pulsating stain we had left behind us. The village looked quiet and welcoming from this distance. I said, “I guess it depends on how big it gets... how viral it becomes.”
Gregor didn’t say anything for awhile. Then he said, “Wouldn’t that be a parallel to just about anything? ...your own life... the amount of things in it and how they react with each other... the contents of your house... your mind or your heart. They might be very crowded and busy and then again the front door could be hanging from one hinge and there could be only a single chair by a window that looks out on something like this.” He gestured at the scene below. I could hear a dog barking, very faint and far away. Was the dog barking at us?
Neither of us said anything further and after awhile we turned around and went back the way we had come. When we got to the place where that mysterious substance had been it wasn’t there any more.
'I'm Coming Back' is track no. 4 of 12 on Visible's 2007 album 'Color Ball'
Lyrics (pops up)