Some Thoughts On Spiritual Writing

by stewart

The following is a discussion generated by a letter from a reader of my new book: The World of Pond Stories; this recent inquiry offers an opportunity to have a discussion about the dynamics of spiritual writing and my experience while writing. Hope you enjoy this interchange.  

Inquiry Letter About Spiritual Writing

Hi Stewart:

As I was reading your latest book, I was wondering what your experience was like as you write them. The influence of the Idries Shah books is obvious in many places. I was particularly affected by the story of the Three Sisters which seemed to have a very similar impact to The Tale of the Sands.

As an amateur composer of music, every so often I get into a mode where new music seems to be coming into my head from somewhere and all I need to do is to capture it. Other times, it feels like a more labored experience requiring a lot of trial and effort.

So when you write your books, particularly the last one, is your everyday consciousness pretty much just acting as a receiver? A lot of the material feels like it was generated this way.

Also, how aware are you of the multiple levels present of which every now and then I get a small glimpse? I suspect that some of your writing and things like the overall plot of the Turtle prophesy cannot be contrived by ordinary consciousness and refer to deep transformational processes.

Is it worth asking you about what you think the meaning is of some of the material? For example, it occurred to me that silver minnow catching was a metaphor describing how our everyday consciousness works and how it might be mined to catch glimpses of something higher, possibly through Gurdjieff-like practices of self-observation or maybe in meditation. Or perhaps you are simply saying that if you get sufficiently skilled at something and pay sufficient attention to what is going on than this can be a conduit to the higher self.

Thanks again for The World of Pond Stories and all of your other books. I truly hope they help as many people as possible to bring more light into these troubled times.

May we all rise higher!


Some Thoughts On Spiritual Writing

Hi Mark:

Here is an initial response into your inquiry about my spiritual writing.

I’ve been at this spiritual writing for 50 years or so; during that time there have been many different ways this writing has manifested itself.

I first started writing poetry in my late teens; it was just something that happened. Until then, I never thought about writing: used the poetry to share some of my darker moods and ideas. This was when I was in college and I was fortunate to have an English Literature/Composition teacher who worked with me to improve my writing skills. She worked with me for a year and I learned basic skills.

Later, when I was working in psychiatric hospitals, after meeting my spiritual teacher, who suggested that someone write down what we talked about; this writing skill expanded and changed.

Sometimes a very strong energy would come over me and I could not resist writing down ideas/thoughts that were coming through me. Many times this went on for days and I could not resist/fight this energy; when I did it made me feel worse. I was unaware of the source of this energy and for many years it remained a mystery. Often, I was living in 2 worlds at the same time- going to work and writing down all the ideas and thoughts that would be coming through me. Nowadays the energy flow is more mature and causes less of a daily disruption but I must continually honor the call.

At first I thought it might be automatic writing, or someone/something infusing their ideas through me. Also at night I would have dreams/visions where someone in white robes was dictating books to me. At first, I really wasn’t sure where these ideas and the persistent, demanding energy came from. Over the years, I realized it was part of me and part of something else.

In the beginning this energy was persistent and demanding- I couldn’t run from it and it would manifest in short doses over a period of time (days, hours, and weeks). Many of my writing and early  books were done this way; the energy would signal time to write, and idea would enter, and then I would begin seeing many dimensions to what ordinarily was in front of me or part of daily life. In some ways it was like putting on another kind of glasses that helped me see/understand things and interpret them for others.

They say writers write because they have to write- there is no other choice. In many ways, that summarizes the motivation. Also I always wanted to share something of wisdom with others; this also seemed like it was part of me; an inborn need/desire.

Now the Turtle stories and the silver minnow catching material were conceived, probably first written about 20+ years ago and I have recently updated some of this material. There are many short books in this series and I wanted to get something out there in this format.  Silver minnows represent flashes of intuitive spiritual knowledge that come and go; sort of like spiritual states. By focusing on the movement of the minnow’s tale, the young turtle enters in a meditation of sorts watching the movement and then as he/she focuses another window in the soul opens. I experienced this one sunny lunch time, at work, watching blades of grass move on the wind . . . For some that is the potential of transcendental meditation- focus visually on an object and gradually something else emerges within our consciousness.

In the World of Pond, silver minnow catching is in addition to awareness of the Great Turtle- here you have the Path and the Godhead. Similarly, each Pond creature has their own view of the God head (i.e., for grasshoppers it is the Great Hoppah and grass science). Silver minnow catching is the inner teaching because young turtles can experience spiritual learning through these classes/exercises; and it is helpful to have a teacher to help you along the Path.

Over the years, I have had at least 2 seers indicate the relative importance of my writing. At times, this direction/input has helped me fight through the ups and downs of trying to share this material. Over time, I have come to see some of this writing’s strengths and limitations. I realize it is not for everyone but needed to express myself in this way. Generally my writing skills are adequate and hopefully get the job done.



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