Norman Allan
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Norman Allan : the story

Chapter 2: Spirit: an atheist's guide to the divine.

                                                                    click here: for contents and chapter one


So I was jumping up and down because I thought I had an agent… Uh uh! False start. The agent talked to her "media-guru" and he said, "No one is interested in the nineteen thirties…"
       Yeah, smartie-pants! "Ted Allan in Spain: the movie" stars Hemingway, Bethune, Robert Capa and Gerda Taro. It's introducing Ted Allan. And all of their Spanish stories are intimately tangled through with Ted's. Ted was the pivot in their Spanish stories.Celeb's history, man! And, and I've got an illustrator, and that's a start…
       It is going to be fantastic!

One of the things I discuss in "Ted Allan in Spain: the movie" is: that there should be a reason to tell a story. Oh, it can just be "interesting" I guess. But I quite like a moral to a tale(1). Where are we going?

I have several stories to tell: first (to catch your attention: to make a splash) there were tales of the "supernatural", the paranormal - Hamach's clairvoyance ("clear vision") and that something-like-telepathy with Marsha's dream… we live in a mysterious world. That's a moral.
      The second story I want to tell is about "spirit", though that again is just a road to where I want to take you, to homeopathy.. That is a story about the physical world, how it works. Science. Yes. You'll see
      Here: suspend judgement for a moment. I'm going to show you some amazing, but true, stuff about homeopathy. Just pretend, for a moment, that homeopathy is for real, that there is an explanation, and that it has actually been demonstrated - more than once - but ignored and derided, or ridiculed (like Semmelweis washing his hands before examining new mothers, you know that story).
      Here, though, look at this…
      This little whatever, it's called a Dot-Blot. It was the state of the art DNA technology back in the 1980s: back then it was The AIDS Test(2) . Here in this image we see homeopathic DNA diluted to 10-16 and 10-26… you see the story is technical. It's may take a while to tell. At a dilution of 10-26 we are at the threshold of where there is no substance left, yet the "homeopathic (ultradilute) DNA" is binding it's molecular/substantive (labelled) complementary strand. I will explain this, fully, as we go on(3) . This dot-blot, Mohammed Ewaida gave this to me. It is your actual coach-from-a-pumpkin, coach-horse-mice.This is their actual picture! And they're still here long after midnight. (They've not turned back into mice and pumpkin.)
      It's a whole new field of science. A question, a study, of pattern and resonance (and it's not pertaining to the supernatural or spiritual (though it's probably in "resonance" (and other such places) where we'd want to look for those things)). No, this is a science rooted in the quotidian world, right here. You'll see… but first, secondly …

Chapter two: Spirit: an atheist's guide to the divine…

My brother Nando talks to spirits. And to the Creator. He gives thanks a lot, and humbly asks for blessing, healing. Asks the Eagle, Wolf, and Buffalo for vision, kindness, patience, and of Makwa, the Bear, asks for healing and clarity.
      What is "spirit"? Sister Catherine says that spirit is essentially, is intrinsically mysterious. Let me tell you the story of when spirit waved in my face, so to speak, waved and said "I'm here!" signed to me, "You can't deny this!" .

I mentioned, above, that I was brought up a "materialist". and "atheist". Then one day in my mid-twenties, in the mid-sixties, my friend, Paul Horridge, said to me, "all data is experiential." My world shifted.
      Actually, the truth of that statement depends on how one defines "data", but at the time it just rang as self evidently true. And, indeed, it shifts the world. Experience is primary. The material world is a concept, an experience, an abstraction. And, if one is no longer an a priori materialist, then why not "spirit", why not "God". Because, a priori, there is no reason to believe in the divine over the material. "Oh," you may say, "because its all so complex and balanced and…" Thank Darwin. "Yeah, but what about "first cause"?" How old is electricity (our knowledge of it)? How old is genetics? Our lack of understanding is not evidence of Shiva, Jehovah or Witchi Manitou. For spirit to be more than a wish, we need empirical evidence.
      So back in the sixties, as I fell into hippie, into the "counter culture", I played with Tarot and the I Ching. And the I Ching seemed to answer my questions very explicitly. And with the Tarot, many cards seemed to glom to my readings. "Maybe I'm not shuffling efficiently," I thought. "Ah," I said, "It's a "normal distribution" thing: a bell curve. There are some people who never experience coincidences, and some who experience a lot. I'm out on the upper toe," I thought. And then, though decades later, spirit waved in my face.

In the mid-nineties I did a Vision Quest. That was a four day dry fast. (Most or many First Nation's rituals are ordeals. Even the sacred pipe, though an honour and a blessing, is a bit of an ordeal.)
      Out on the edge of Guelph Ontario on Vern's patch, a little tuck of country-side, pastures, corn fields, trees and scrub, little river, creek running through. Half a dozen fasters, each of us isolated in our own little bent-willow and tarpaulin shelter in the bush. The task is to mind your fire all night. By day you can catch nap in your "tent". Or bath the riverlet - crayfish and minnows nibble (dead skin from) your toes. That's idyllic. And wading in the stream I had one of your little epiphanies: walking in the water, sun breaking through clouds, rays and me like, "This is what it was like (numinous) when John baptised Jesus." That's as close to a vision as I got in my quest. Quest for? Maybe I was asking for a sign. But that was it.
      Back in the city, though, everyday for a month there was a synchronicity, a small or great coincidence, everyday. I can't remember the little ones. A big one: we were out on the deck watching the sky. John and Mary, just back from a little north of TO, were saying how vivid the skies were in the country, meteorites mid the million stars, but no northern lights, they observed. Only time they'd seen the lights, they reflected, was here in TO five years before. I turned to Teresa with like that would have been about when we stopped on the drive back from Montreal and saw that white flickering. And now, then but ten minutes later Teresa points at the sky and says, "Look, what's that;" a flickering, and then ten minutes beyond that the whole skies was awash in a rolling display (black and white, down here in the south). We don't look at the night sky much here in Toronto, so I've seen this southern edge of the northern lights perhaps once in a decade.
      Every day a coincidence. A synchronicity.
      So one day, I'm sitting riding home on the bus. It's evening. And I'm thinking, "There hasn't been a coincidence today." And with that thought I raise my head and open my eyes to, right in front of me, a gentleman in a tee-shirt with an image of a teenaged girl with a baseball cap with a "Covenant House" logo, and in front of her the legend, "She won't have to sleep on the street tonight": and over his shoulder, the gent in the tee, a poster with the same image and legend!
      Some years later, when I was discussing this with my son, Seth, he was saying that's not so astronomical, the tee-shirt and the poster. Right, though I've not had another experience quite like that one, but that's not the synchronicity, that's not the sign. It's opening my eyes on that coincidence with the thought "There hasn't been a coincidence today," that's the synchronicity. And that in that month of synchronicities. I can't gain say that. That does not happen by chance.
      So this, for me, is evidence of a creative intelligence: of spirit announcing Itself: "I'm am that I am": I exist.

In the opening scene in Tom Stoppard's play/movie Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead,(4) Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are riding to Ellsinore - they've been summonsed - and one or other is tossing a coin and it keeps coming down heads. "One hundred and forty." Toss and catch. "One hundred and forty one heads."
      Here the playwright is giving them a sign that they are not in the natural world. (That they are characters in a play.)
      Now that's not really a parallel. Spirit wasn't claiming to write the whole book. Just to weave in where she will.

The Arabs say "Maktub", "It is written". And that reminds me of "The Laws of Drama."
      My father, Ted Allan, was a playwright and he said there are laws, laws of drama. He said the first law of theatre is there must be conflict.
      The second law, said Ted, is there has to be "character development."
      The third law is, you have to care. If you don't care, you may just switch the channels. (Ted said that if the audience could identify with the protagonist, they would care.)
      These were his musings on theatre, and when he told them to me I thought, "Wow! That is, actually, cosmic! What if it is all written - "Maktub" the Arabs say - it's all written, and this is God's theatre."
      On the personal level, in our own stories, we identify because we are the protagonist.
      On the grand scale of things, universally, conflict is an essential of any good story, and perhaps that is why there is "evil" in the world. My friend, Rick, says if the dragon isn't awesome you'll not spawn much of a hero.
      So God got bored in His heavenly bliss, His renaissance paradise with all the angels singing glory glory and hallelujah. "Enough!" He said. "Let there be dark and light." And there was. There was a big a big a bang with quantum and relativity and natural select, chance and error and the devils snaking through.
      Further to the laws of drama: I overheard an actor, in Starbucks, explain to a student director, "The climax must be, at one and the same time, a surprise and inevitable. So that's the fourth and fifth laws, which might explain the need for the rational, the predictable. Without expectations, where's the surprise?
      The sixth law of drama: If spirit wanted to be manifest it would do so in neon with whistles and bells. But it chooses, it seems, to be subtle. Why? Why would the playwright sit on the stage?
      The seventh law is love.

But it's not clear to me that the future is determined. Actually, just talking to Terry today, I was realizing that this is a bit like your quantum probability waves functions collapsing. We'll come back to the future in a later chapter. And evil and mind and reincarnation. Meanwhile, on a lighter note, here let me tell you about Nando and the Mayan Myth of creation.

The Mayan Creation Myth and Why Things Are As They Are

Nando sat on his futon in front of his laptop. "I'm writing about the Mayan story of creation." Nando is a Mayan medicine man. He's been my house guest these many months.
      It seems there was a counsel of Creators.
      "Like a committee?" I asked.
      "Like a circle," said Nando.

      In the beginning this committee, this circle of Creators made creatures out of wood, but the wooden men neglected to give due respect to the Creators, so they burned them. Then the Creators made men out of mud, out of clay, but again, they clay creatures failed in this respect, so the Creators washed them away.
      "Ah ha!" I said. "That explains why the world is such a mess. The Creators were a bunch of bumblers."
      "No," said Nando (with a heavy accent). "It all works out fine. Next the Creators created the animals, and that was good, and though the animals didn't give much attention to the creators, there was no blame in that. So next the Creators made men, and women. But then they thought, the people are a little too clever. 'Ah ha. They are clever like us,' so the Creators took away men's vision, their inner vision - they closed the third eye - and they took away their patience."
      "Just the men?" I said.
      "Just the men," said Nando.
      "Well, indeed, that does explain a lot. They are not very kind, the Creators."
      "Oh no," said Nando. "They gave us dreams."

CODA: Not to worry too much. When the Mayan calendar renewed in 2012, I am told that many of us got back our vision and our patience, so we can begin to live in reality rather then the dream world.

Now, why do I have a picture of Nando's back? At my first gallery art show I sold a picture I'd done of a man's back, and another visitor to the show was disappointed; they'd wanted to buy it, so Nando said he'd sit for me. And, and, and, it was years later Ezra bought that painting/drawing of Nando's back.


Okay: so let's finish with a poem:


untitled: I don't see...

I don't see that the Creator is evident in His creation. I think, for the most part, this "miraculous" world once uttered in the Big Bang unfolds through quantum and Darwin. For the most part
the Creator hides
as men spin lies
and the devil rides
in our hearts
along with the worriers and the warriors
and the glad-eyed boys
dancing dancing
with the kiss-me girls
so wanting to trust love

the Creator hides
in the dolmen arch
hides in the graves
and the grass
blades of Blake and Solomon
and in the tears of so many virgins

the Creator hides from our reproach
hides from our blush
hides in the open
a burning bush
in the mind



chapter three: mind
and  click here: for contents and chapter one