“Reality lies at the frontier between what you think is you and what you think is not you.”
….. David Whyte
A friend recently gifted me with a 2023 book written by psychotherapist and meditation teacher Gary Sherman: Tales From A Committed Visitor: Living and Learning As Spirit In Form. Inner Harmonics Press, Sebastopol, CA. (Available on Amazon).
The book stirred strong waves of interest and excitement within me and generated an unusually strong impulse to write about my experience of reading the book. Adding to the impact, my writing creatively unfolded in a way which itself surprised me. It took shape as a kind of open-letter to the book’s author (whom I have never met). The letter follows below.
Dear Gary Sherman,
Your recent book Tales From A Committed Visitor struck a deep chord in me. The resonance I felt was so strong that I read through the book a second time to take notes.
Apart from being amused at seeing myself in student mode, what felt very important in my reading of your book was the felt sense that your words evoked in me. As I searched for language which might convey this felt sense, punctuation seemed the best way to express what I was feeling: “ !! ” . There was a sense of great interest and excitement. In moments my skin tingled with goosebumps.
Maybe I could say it this way: “ !! ” expresses the felt sense of new meaning emerging from someplace deep within me.
Perhaps I should acknowledge here that “ !! ” is a familiar subjective experience for me. I think generally it reflects a feeling that I am in proximity to something which feels both True and important (somewhere in the neighborhood of epiphany). In “ !! ” I sometimes feel that I now Know something more deeply than ever before; or, I have the sense of discovering something previously unknown.
As you describe in your book, there can be transformative power in the recognition of new meanings. The one idea in Tales From A Committed Visitor that had the most important meaning for me – the strongest experience of “ !! ” – was the following:
“The inside of you waits to be explored. It is open and accessible to direct perception. This is where you will find what you were looking for, the completion of the self you know.“
This, I now recognize, has always been the core quest at the heart of my spiritual practice.
In your book, you describe how the lived world of experience is created from constituent elements: bodily sensation, words, pictures, and attention. You also describe at length a process which you call the “everyday magic of speaking.” “Speaking into being” is a wonderfully descriptive phrase: in short, the idea that language is integrally involved in manifestation.
The language we use gives meaning and coherence to our experiences, thereby influencing our perception of reality and the possibilities within it.
For me, there is everyday magic in your book. Most salient is the impact I feel in naming the longing to connect with deeper layers of myself and the longing for completion. In addition, Tales From A Committed Visitor reminds me of my lifelong quest to discover the “multidimensional nature of reality” which you so vividly described in your book. “ !! ” expresses the power of these longings.
Writing these words, it now dawns on me that the deeply embodied felt sense of “ !! ” is itself a connection to those deeper layers of myself that I long for– A small instance, perhaps, of everyday magic in action!
For whatever reason, the way you articulate your own authentically felt Truth resonates deeply within me. “ !! ” is, perhaps, my felt sense of an emergent integration among many layers of myself; the coming into being of a new and deepening level self-knowledge.
As I have contemplated my experience of reading Tales From A Committed Visitor and its impact on me, I am also struck by your description of the process you call “inspiration”, which for you manifests as the presence of an unfamiliar voice within yourself.
Quoting here from your book:
“I became aware of receiving knowledge and wisdom within my self. I received inspirational thought directly into my mind without any prior cognition and into my body without any physical sensory stimulus …These were the portals through which I first became aware of the presence of the unfamiliar voice.”
“I started naming for myself where in my self-experience the inspiration would appear”…. The unfamiliar inner voice announced itself with “a feeling that appeared out of nowhere. I would have a thought that inspired a new feeling, or a feeling that generated a new thought.”
The process you call inspiration is one that I too experience – indeed, am experiencing now—but rather than appearing as an unfamiliar voice in my mind, it tends to come to me in conversation with others or in writing, when many times I find myself articulating ideas which previously I had not known that I thought.
You designate such experiences as “self-expressed inspiration”. I think of them as channeling wisdom. Not infrequently, the emergence of channeled wisdom announces itself with a felt sense of “ !! ”. Having read Tales From A Committed Visitor, I now recognize that in such moments I may actually be opening to the deeper portal that you call “multidimensional inspiration.”
As you suggest in your book, we prime the conscious mind to receive inspiration by recognizing it, welcoming it, desiring it, and granting it validity through the meaning we assign to it. As I am thinking of it now, “ !! ” is an embodied experience of my intention to open myself to deeper levels of multidimensional inspiration.
Pausing in the process of writing this piece, I take what in Zen might be called a “backward step” in order to see more clearly what else wants to be said.
What strikes me is that, in my experience, channeling wisdom is often paired with experiences of synchronicity, another portal into multidimensional inspiration. From this angle of view, it feels significant to me that your book arrived into my reality at the moment that it did, as it seems woven seamlessly together with other current events in my inner life. From a multidimensional view, messages arrive when we most need to hear them, and in hindsight, it does appear to me that Tales From A Committed Visitor has provided exactly the frame I need for an emergent new view of reality and my place within it.
PS: Apart from reading Tales From A Committed Visitor, readers of this Newsletter whose may be interested in checking out a forthcoming workshop which will explore the themes in the book and how to work with them. For further information, contact Dr. Bruce Gibbs, [email protected]