“…I begin to feel that starting from the center of my chest, a transparent sphere is growing and expanding outward, that it continues until it contains both of us.
I ask my guide for a profound feeling of love for everything that exists to arise within me, and to accompany me in life, giving me joy and peace.
I ask for the meaning of life, and wait for the answer.
I ask what death really is, and wait for the answer.
I ask for the value of my life, and wait for the answer.
In a meditative way, I ask about some special situation in my life, and wait for the answer.
I ask my guide always to be with me in moments of doubt and worry, and also in moments of joy.
Now my Guide moves away from me, and becomes a large flower whose petals are open, and whose colors contrast with the luminous background of the sun. Then the flower changes shape and color, as though it were a harmonious kaleidoscope. And I realize that my Guide will answer all my requests.
Now, I begin to move away from the brilliant sun, full of life and strength.
I go back down the beautiful landscape, following the two rays of light, recognizing that within me there is a great kindness that seeks to express itself in the world of my people.”
– from the XXI Century Archives – Guided Experiences – The Configuration of the Internal Guide
Growing up Catholic had both advantages and great disadvantages. On one hand I was able to develop a sense of spirituality and a liking for themes that are not exactly the mundane ones we are forced to face in daily life. On the other hand, the indoctrination was very heavy, and since the Church had so many weapons – so many images, smells, sounds, colors and tastes – in its arsenal, it could not fail.
Catholicism permeated every aspect of our lives, and it was as attractive as any circus. Every Sunday we gathered under the big top to listen to the priest talk about some relevant passage of the Bible.
We did not just sit there passively listening, we also stood and sang, knelt and prayed, stood up again. There were a lot of movements in the mass. And there were colors, brilliant colors that changed with the season, every one of them reflecting some aspect of the liturgy, some meaning of the faith. The colors and the images kept your attention when the long explanations could not.
For a kid, the images were terrifying, but it was as hypnotic as watching the boa constrictor at the circus. I stood there paralyzed with fear and awe. There was this immense Christ carved in ivory, showing every muscle and detail of the body. He was nailed to a cross with one big nail through each hand, and the nail was almost the size of the entire hand. The blood was pouring down his arms all the way to the elbows and it was of a ruby color I would never forget for the rest of my life.
The most impressive part was the crown made of enormous thorns penetrating his head and drawing ruby blood that cascaded down to his neck and shoulders.
His eyes were looking up toward the heavens even though his head was angled down. It was very sad indeed to see such a barbaric sight. Without a doubt this man was in need of help, a lot more than we were in need of whatever he could provide in such a pitiful state.
They explained to me that he never really died and I thought that was hard to believe. Then they explained that he died and came back to life. I felt better about that, since they also said that it was because of our sins that the poor man ended up on the cross. I felt very guilty, but I still did not know what a “sin” was. That didn’t matter; it was enough to feel guilt and sadness, after all that was the main reason you went to church every Sunday. I much preferred the “Human Eagles” circus, but that was only once a year and Church was forever.
On special occasions there was incense. I could not understand a word of what was being said since the mass was in Latin, but I loved the smell of the incense. It penetrated your senses, your clothes and your skin like no other smell, and its odor was always linked to the Church. The grown ups were able to eat a piece of Christ and the women were covered with veils that could only be lifted when they ate the little white pieces of Christ.
I have to admit that nothing really made much sense, but without a doubt it was fascinating and irresistible. As a kid you wonder about everything and for me it was a big mystery, this business of drinking blood and eating corpses. When your early memories are saturated with the sounds of the organ, the smell of incense, the color of blood, the taste of the mysterious and looks of guilt, shame and devotion, it is something that becomes part of you, whether you like it or not.
I liked it because of my naïve nature, and it did me no harm except in terms of my sexuality, or how I was taught to look at my sexuality. Other than that, it gave me an insight into the spiritual world, and as I was growing up I discarded practically all the nonsensical aspects and kept some of the more interesting ones.
When the time came in the Community to work with the Internal Guide I had problems that I attributed to my upbringing. When I tried to configure images, that saturation from the Church would come through when I least expected it. This surprised me and gave me a new understanding of the depths to which religious indoctrination existed in me and others.
Every time I worked with the exercise, it felt like I couldn’t really move away from those images of tortured people on crosses, or winged ethereal characters, or benevolent and wise old women and men. None of those images could or did guide me at all. I was at a loss and it was quite frustrating.
And that was only the beginning. The configuration of the Internal Guide was just the beginning of working with the Guide, and my images were not helping. I talked to several people and many of them felt that if all I got was these Catholic religious images, I should definitely work with them. I didn’t like the idea, not so much because they were Christian but because I felt they couldn’t guide me.
I moved away from Sergio’s apartment and got a very nice flat in an old Victorian building. It was all white inside and I did not have or want any furniture. Summer had arrived and in the evenings I used to sit on the balcony and have a coffee and a cigarette while I watched the people pass by.
We had been holding our meetings in a rented office; now we started holding them at my house, and we used the office to publish a neighborhood newspaper. It was a nice change of atmosphere to have the meetings at my house.
It was on one of those summer evenings when I was alone there that I heard the voice. It was not exactly a voice coming from somebody; it was the acknowledgment of a small dialog within me. Everybody talks to themselves, and sometimes people go to an extreme and do it aloud. This was similar but not quite the same, since this voice responding to me was not exactly mine. It was a different voice, a voice I knew well, but it didn’t have a face attached to it.
The voice said: “Listen well, Faith is important, faith is powerful, faith in others is the only faith…”
Nothing else was said. From a skeptical point of view I simply imagined the whole thing and that was that.
For me, who had totally flunked skepticism at an early age, that was the beginning of the configuration of my Guide using an auditory image instead of a visual one, and it worked very well. As I practiced and practiced I learned to distinguish that voice from all the rest of the noise, and in time I was able to listen to the wisdom and kindness and strength it conveyed.
The most curious element for me was realizing that the entire concept of Faith, as the origin of discovery, was not at all related to the Christian faith. It was the same word with an entirely new and beautiful meaning. It was almost like the feeling I had had so long ago at the retreat when I understood the Force because of the tremendous experience I had.
It is very hard to explain these things because they are not transmittable. They do not come across to others the same way I perceive them, but I have to keep trying. The most frustrating aspect is when people feel they already know what I am talking about, and I know they don’t, because I also thought I knew and I didn’t.
To simply believe in others is the beginning of one of the most powerful internal experiences a human being can have. To just trust another human being is also another beginning, totally independent of whether or not that trust is reciprocated.
When I finally opened up to Gaby I felt a love for her that amazed me. Every time I have opened up to someone I have experienced the same phenomenon. Every time I have done the opposite I have felt the closing down, the suspicion, the descending. That voice I heard within me simply told me to have faith in others, and for me that was the beginning of many comprehensions about myself and other people in relationship to the phenomenon of trust and lack of trust.
– from The Master Game – Part I of In Everything That Exists There Is a Plan, by Fernando Aranguiz