A very close friend of mine, let’s call him Mike, died of complications of his hospital treatment for a Covid-19 infection, which, after a week of difficult, but bearable, symptoms, had suddenly morphed into a severe lung issue that made it difficult to breath and required a trip to the hospital, as the standard medical protocol here requires.

He was unvaccinated, and had been exposed to a fully vaccinated and boosted medical doctor who had failed to do a self-test the morning of the first day of a weekend healing retreat that Mike was running. She did test herself on Monday morning before going to work, however, and she was positive. Everyone else had tested themselves that weekend and they were all negative. This was exactly what I had been worried about, given the drive that Mike had to hold these weekend gatherings which were very popular.

That he hadn’t demanded to see everyone’s test was a matter of his respecting his clients. These were adults after all. That it was the one medical doctor in the group that infected everyone… well, you won’t be reading that story in your daily media tsunami of ‘news’ stories about how the unvaccinated suffer because of their failure to heed what scientists tell them to do. But this isn’t about the media’s efforts to manufacture consent among the populace to follow the pronouncements of scientists and government officials. This is about Mike’s failure to understand how reality works.

It’s not that he was ignorant, he wasn’t. He was an extremely intuitive individual, compassionate and concerned about others, and very knowledgeable, but like many of us, he had a certain way of understanding how the world works. I was struck one day, after bringing up these group meetings of two days of intensive work together and the danger he faced, by his remark that “he was protected” because of the special work he did healing others of their family traumas, which struck me as tempting fate. I didn’t even respond, because, although I do accept that there are many events in our lives that are nonrational in nature and which I have come to see as being guided in my own life, as I have explained in the previous articles, I saw Mike’s behavior as almost a challenge to the gods.

I have come to see the activity in my life, my actions and those of others as well, as the result of a creative responsiveness to both current conditions and latent possibilities — not the result of a cause-and-effect, mechanical and fixed Determinism, which is the paradigmatic understanding of reality given to us by modern Science. And in my understanding, it is not just what we do to develop the conditions in our lives for what we want to happen to be possible, it is also what we focus our attention on in our lives that helps create the conditions for a desired result.

It’s one thing to want something. It’s another thing entirely to actually make an effort to ‘make it happen’. And it is quite another, to be so focused upon it, that it becomes almost impossible for it not to happen. Mike’s behavior seemed to violate the effort part. In his mind, it seemed to me, being good had to result in having good done to him, so he didn’t have to be careful. He didn’t have to focus his attention on making sure that bad things didn’t happen. Much like the infected medical doctor who didn’t see the need to test herself because she had been vaccinated and boosted and so she couldn’t be the source of an infection.

In this final illustration of nonrational experiences, I want to recount one particularly incredible intervention in my activities one day, that seemed — in hindsight — to have been a contest of wills between myself and my guide. Unfortunately, I won.

At the end of October 2019 my five-year-old granddaughter, with the help of her mom, sent me a video asking me to please come visit them. She was so cute in the video that I tried to buy tickets that very day.

I had been planning on visiting them, as is my habit in December; but the logistics were difficult that Fall because my partner was going to Austria for a training course, and I was finding it difficult to make arrangements for our dog. But most of all, I wanted… needed… to work on this project. It was a physical need, as if I would die if I didn’t work on it with my full concentration. But my granddaughter’s birthday is in December and I usually visit the States then and stay for the holidays, so it was something I felt I had to do — that I really wanted to do — yet, I was holding myself back from organizing.

My first attempt to buy tickets ran into some difficulties with the airline website, so I wasn’t able to buy the tickets until the next day — for a departure two weeks later. For some reason, on the first attempt, I couldn’t get the website to allow me to purchase the flights that I wanted, but that happens from time to time for all of us.

When it came time two weeks later to check in for the flight 24 hours in advance, it was very full, especially in economy, so I couldn’t get a window seat, which I prefer; instead I had to take an aisle seat.

The next morning, my partner and I jumped into the car at 6:45 am with my gift-filled suitcase, and our dog, to head to the train, which I would take to Paris, and then make my way to Charles de Gaulle Airport by an RER (regional) train.

I’ve made this trip so many times myself and with my partner, as well as frequently driving older neighbors to the same train station whenever they travel. I knew the way, and what to expect. It was off-season, so I wasn’t expecting much traffic, and it takes about 50 minutes to get to the station, so we left with an hour and twenty-five minutes to get there, which was plenty of time.

We took the dog with us because my partner was going to stop on the way back at a favorite place where she and the dog like to take long walks at a cold stream that comes up from underground there.

There was nothing special happening, but we ran into a lot of obstacles on the way — slow moving trucks, distracted drivers, and little “voiture sans permis” cars that don’t require a license to drive, but can only go 45 kilometers-an-hour, which is half-speed on the route we were taking. Then there was congestion as we approached the small city of Brive — for no apparent reason — and once we were in the city itself just before 8:00am, there was the expected rush of people driving to work. It wasn’t a normal trip and it didn’t go as planned.

We arrived at the station one minute before the train was scheduled to leave.

I jumped out of the car, grabbed my suitcase, and flew into the lobby of the train station. As I ran through the waiting room, I saw that my train was not on the main track just outside the waiting room, but was half way across the dozen-or-so tracks. This meant that I had to run down stairs, through a tunnel, and then back up stairs to the correct track, and I had about thirty seconds.

But it didn’t matter, the doors on the train — which was clearly visible because there were no other trains in the station — were already closing, and as I got to the head of the stairs to descend, I could see the train was already moving. I quickly called my partner and told her to not leave yet. But I think she already knew that I hadn’t made the train.

Unfortunately, there wasn’t another train that would leave for Paris early enough for me to catch an RER train once there, to get to the airport in time for my flight.

When I got back to the car, we quickly discussed what to do, and decided to take the autoroute to the next stop of the train at Limoges. It was only an hour’s drive and the train took an hour and a quarter to get there, so off we went, passing through the same commuter traffic to get back to the autoroute to Limoges.

After exiting at Limoges, we started for the train station and at the very first red light, I looked at my phone’s map display which showed it would take us five minutes to get to the station. The train would leave in four.

We missed it again!

Rather than make the effort, we decided to make our way back to the autoroute and proceed once more to the next stop of my train at La Souterraine, which was only about thirty-five minutes away.

We arrived in the small rural station with one minute to spare. I jumped out of the car, grabbed my suitcase, turned around to see the train closing its doors, too far away to make it in time.

Third miss!

We quickly talked about what to do, and decided to continue on to the train’s next stop, Argenton-sur-Creuse. The train would make it in 29 minutes according to the schedule, and our maps app said we would make it in 30. I drove faster.

We arrived in Argenton-sur-Creuse and were less than half a kilometer from the station, with four minutes before the train left. We were going to make it!

Suddenly, there was a very loud metallic “bang!” under the car in the rear. For a very brief moment I hesitated to stop. But the thought of something major being wrong with the car and my partner getting stuck taking care of it flashed quickly through my brain, so I reluctantly braked, slowed, and pulled into a parking lot.

I got out to inspect the damage, and found nothing. I went around the whole car on my hands and knees and could see nothing wrong. I thought that it must have been something on the road, so I walked back to where it happened, but there was nothing visible anywhere on the road, or alongside it on a sidewalk. I even looked around for a plate or manhole cover that might have been the cause, but there were none in the area.

I ran back to the car, raced to the train station, and watched the train pull away as I pulled up to the terminal.

Fourth miss.

We discussed just driving the rest of the way to Paris, rather than try again to race the train to the next stop. The problem was that I had to drive to Charles de Gaulle airport, and considering the traffic around Paris, we wouldn’t make it on time. She found an RER train — one only — that I could catch at the Massy–Palaiseau RER station, south of Paris, that would take me to the airport in time to catch my flight. Massy–Palaiseau was two-and-a-half hours away by car. All I could think about was my disappointed granddaughter’s face. We went for it, but it was going to be close.

At Massy–Palaiseau, we arrived with only a few minutes before the train would leave, so I did my “jump out of the car, grab my suitcase, and run” act one more time, zig-zagging through the heavy, but slow moving traffic to get to the station on the other side of the road. As I cleared the road, just in front of the station, a very large man literally jumped in front of me, blocking my way, excitedly calling to me “Monsieur! Monsieur!” with some brochures about something or other in his hand. I just ran around him, as if I was playing American football, dodging someone trying to tackle me, leaving him insulted in my wake. I raced up the stairs, quickly found a ticket machine, bought a ticket and raced down to the platform and jumped through the closing doors.

I made it to my plane.

My partner spent the rest of the day, late into the evening, completing the one thousand kilometer round-trip, with the dog still in the back of the car, looking worried because he hadn’t had a walk yet.

And as I boarded the plane and found my seat, I discovered I was in the middle of a group of about 15 to 20 Chinese tourists, sitting all around me. The seat next to me was now empty, so whoever had originally reserved it had obviously moved, but there was an older woman slouched in the window seat, doing an amazing imitation of a dead body, with half open eyes and her head leaning against the window.

She coughed. A deep, hacking cough.

“Wonderful!” I thought, chiding myself, and feeling rather stupid, because I had a box of anti-viral face-masks at home, which I had bought after the last time I got sick on a flight — but I hadn’t brought one with me.

I got sick two days after arriving in New York.

My symptoms were flu-like, a bad cough, some nasal congestion, exhaustion (but that might have been travel-related as well), neck pain, a fever of some sort, alternating with chills, and the one really weird thing: I woke up the morning after getting sick with an eye filled with blood, looking very much like I had been stabbed in the white of my eye with a pencil. I spent the next week confining myself to my room, so I wouldn’t get anyone else sick. Usually, when I have the flu, it’s over very quickly. This stuck around.

I still had a small cough and a bloodshot eye when I went to my granddaughter’s class the following week to show them pictures of castles and painted prehistoric caves from where I live in France. My granddaughter tells everyone I live on another planet…

The thing is, before my sudden decision to go to the States, my partner and I had been talking about my going to Austria with her, possibly taking the same course as she, and perhaps visiting some of her friends and family there. Instead, we settled on this other schedule, and she booked her flights so that she would return directly after her course ended.

We would have been visiting her friends and relatives, but instead, I was home when a neighbor of ours arrived from London for a four day weekend. He called me that evening and asked me to help him at the local tax office the next morning by translating for him. I agreed, even though he had a nasty cough.

The next morning, I went with him to the local tax office, fifteen minutes away, to correct a property tax issue. He coughed the whole time. He said it was “just a little cold.”

But it was a dry, hacking cough, and he reminded me of the Chinese woman on the plane.

The following morning, I drove another friend to a government office in the nearby city of Perigueux in the morning. She also needed me to help translate for her. I was fine. But as we were driving home after lunch in Perigueux, I could feel a little “tickle” in my throat that wouldn’t go away. She gave me a cough drop.

In the early morning hours, the next day, I woke with shivers and a very high fever. Over the course of the next three days, my fever went over 41 degrees Centigrade (106+ degrees Fahrenheit).

I went to the weekend emergency doctor on Sunday afternoon as a compromise with my partner who wanted me to go to the hospital. I don’t like hospitals, especially small rural hospitals, and have only been in one twice in my 60+ years: when I was born, and once when I fractured my ankle. And that was enough.

The doctor felt it was just a flu, and sent me home with the admonition to drink lots of fluids. My symptoms had started on Friday the 13th December, 2019, two days after the first official Covid-19 infection in Wuhan, China.

My partner worked tirelessly to try to keep my fever down, getting up every two hours or so and wrapping towels moistened with a vinegar-water solution around my ankles and wrists, and she mixed up a number of essential oils with anti-viral effects and put them in a pot of water that she boiled, and then had me place my face over the steaming pot, with a towel over my head, breathing deeply. That really helped my lungs open up, and I credit the hot steam and anti-viral essential oils for keeping my air passages clear. I kept doing that for days because I really found it helpful.

I couldn’t eat anything for five days because everything had a strong metallic taste, like rust. While this wasn’t a complete loss of taste, it has been confirmed as a variation on that symptom in Covid-19.

And my right eye ‘exploded’ again with what looked like blood clots.

Throughout the first week, my head felt like it was underwater, “fuzzy,” and squeezed.

I met with my own doctor on Friday the 20th. She sent me for blood work and a chest X-ray. While my lungs were clear, my ferritin level was three times the normal upper limit, indicating that I was fighting a massive infection. She made jokes about having to bleed me with leaches if it didn’t come down soon.

I wasn’t able to leave the house until Christmas Eve because I didn’t have the strength.

And I wasn’t the only one that got sick. My neighbor from London infected me, but my partner never showed symptoms, he also infected another friend of his, but seemingly not the wife of that friend, and the wife of a neighbor, but not her husband. And a local electrician.

I had infected my other friend, who I had driven to Perigueux the prior Friday. She called from the local hospital on Tuesday evening. She had collapsed on the floor of a supermarket that morning, or Monday — she wasn’t sure — and couldn’t get up. She just wanted to sleep. She was rushed to the hospital by the Gendarmes who arrived and who called an ambulance. Her lungs were congested, and she had a racking cough. The hospital, she said, performed every test in their arsenal, but couldn’t identify what she was suffering from.

All of this happened before the name “COVID-19” or even “novel coronavirus” were known. My neighbor who arrived with it had been working for the two weeks before he flew to France on a project in Scotland at an international exposition that took place there.

In my own case, this was the most severely sick I had ever been. I felt, for the very first time in my life, vulnerable and possibly dying; but no, it never crossed my mind to go to a hospital. I am happy they are there for broken bones, severed limbs, and surgery; but the modern approach to treating disease symptoms, rather than healing whole people, is bizarre. Even using over-the-counter remedies to reduce symptoms seems counter-productive. At best, it’s covering up symptoms that inform us of what is happening to our body; but all too often it undermines our immune system’s response to an illness. Yet, mine is a minority opinion, and having one so at odds with the majority is labeled as a mental illness by modern psychiatry. Of course it is.

In March, another friend called me to wish me happy birthday from Burma. She had also traveled that same week in December 2019 when I became infected, and within a couple of days of having arrived in Burma for a three month meditation retreat, she had fallen ill with similar symptoms as I had in December.

She swore the only reason that she survived was because “a little old Vietnamese nun” noticed her passed out on her bed and started giving her medicinal herbs. My friend had passed through Frankfurt airport, on to Dubai, and then to Burma, and was exposed somewhere along the way.

And then I heard from another friend living in London, and he too had been ill in early December with similar symptoms.

So, it appears that this virus was widely distributed in some parts of the world even before the first official case was recorded.

None of us who were infected here, except for my friend who had collapsed in the supermarket, went to the hospital, and we weren’t tested either — because there were no tests for a virus that hadn’t been identified or even noticed yet. Even my friend who had been rushed to the hospital hasn’t been counted as a victim of COVID-19.

I did some research after my second illness in December, to see if there was a really “bad” flu around. I found articles in the States saying that the flu season there had started particularly early that fall, which “may be attributed to the early rise of influenza B — a strain of the virus that typically emerges toward the end of flu season.”¹⁵⁠ It was a bad flu, with many more cases than normal — almost 50% more. But no one was being tested for a novel coronavirus, so there is no data to show that it may have been this new virus.

I personally believe that this outbreak here in December died off because we all stayed home, away from everyone else, and we live in a very rural area of France, which we all now know as “social distancing.” But honestly, there is no way to know the truth, or even how many people actually became sick because of my traveling neighbor.

I also feel, that even though the series of hurdles that I went through to get to the States, as insane as they seem — or as insane as my efforts to overcome them seem — could be explained in a rational way, or excuses could be made for almost all of the events that day, except the loud metallic bang under my car, that I felt under my feet and heard very distinctly — it was very loud. Yet, it left no trace, neither damage to the car, nor debris on the road or sidewalks, and can’t be as easily dismissed out of hand. A recent major servicing of the car by the dealer found no damage anywhere.

But if you put them all together in a single day, you really have to work hard to rationalize the whole of it away.

For me, this event was just one more nonrational experience in my life, which I accept as just that, by which I mean, I accept that it happened without any possibility of rational explanation, and without any attempt to explain it away.

I am as dismissive of the position that there must be a rational explanation for everything, even if we cannot find it, as a holder of that position would be dismissive of any possibility of nonrational, unexplainable events occurring in our lives. But theirs is too neat a totalizing position, that can never be proven scientifically.

As I pointed out in the introduction to this sequence, Entertaining The Nonrational When Your Received Worldview Sucks At Life, Kurt Gödel showed that this assumption: that to be true, something must be proved through verification, simply conflates truth and proof, because science has never proven that nothing can be true unless it is verified — it has merely adopted the assertion that to be true is to be verified. That is, Science has never verified the most central tenet of the Scientific Method.

But more to the point: for something to be verified to be true, the fact must already be true. Not necessarily true, like 1 + 1 = 2, but in fact true. Verification adds nothing to the fact, just to its recognition. Yet the verification becomes another true fact when performed, so there are necessarily more true things in reality than have been proven to be true. However, the validity of the belief that something must be verified to be true is not itself a verified truth, nor is it even potentially true since there are more true things — necessarily — than verified true things. Thus, Verificationism is just a convention of Science, and nothing more.

ཨེ་མ་ཧོ། ཕན་ནོ་ཕན་ནོ་སྭཱཧཱ།

I see now that my desire to please my granddaughter, by going to visit her, and my singular focus on doing so, caused me to ignore the obstacles manifested that day to keep me home. And the thing is, when I texted my travel dates to my family, I gave only the day of my arrival — “the 13th” — and not the month, so they had assumed I was coming December 13th because I usually visit them in December, and they were surprised when I arrived, and wouldn’t have noticed if I had not arrived that day.

In hindsight, it is not hard to see that day’s events as an effort to protect me, from what seems very likely to have been, not one, but two cases of COVID-19 (variants A and B), because neither infection would have happened if I hadn’t made that trip to the States. I would not have been exposed to the woman on the plane, and I would have been in Austria when my neighbor arrived from London. Instead, I lost almost two months due to the travel and illnesses and put my friends and family in danger as well.

But there is another way to understand the events of that trip — one that sees it in terms of Responsive Naturing versus the Causal Determinism of modern Science. This means that everything that happened that day was a creative and spontaneous response to the conditions and latent possibilities in each moment — including my frame of mind.

This responsiveness is creative in the sense that, while what is manifested must be coherent with the conditions in each moment, which of the latent possibilities is manifested is not predetermined, and at times can be surprising to us. And of course, the conditions and possibilities in each moment, while not solely of our making, are created by our actions, our deeply felt needs, and what we pay attention to in each moment of our life.

Buddha Shakyamuni shared an insight that he had about how desire causes us to suffer — but not all desires. He explained that rather than desire being the problem, it is what we desire that causes us to suffer. He said:

Desire for what will not be attained ends in frustration (suffering); therefore to avoid frustration, avoid desiring what will not be attained.¹⁶

This is not a simple rule to follow, as he well knew, because one of the things that he knew would make us suffer was our failure to follow that rule! That means that we, in desiring to follow this rule perfectly, might fail from time to time, and thus even our desire not to suffer, will cause us to suffer at times.

This is where compassion comes in, because he felt that the most important quality to have was compassion — and this includes compassion for ourselves. So his advice was not to take his insight as an injunction against desiring all things, and not as something that we had to adhere to in all cases, because we mess up, forget the rule, believe that something we desire is attainable when it really isn’t, including a desire to be perfect adherents to this rule.

At it’s heart, this insight is that when our desires are not in harmony with what is possible, we suffer. The flip-side of this is that when our desires are in harmony, we are not suffering — we are happy, content, satisfied, comfortable.

Mahatma Gandhi said something similar. He said:

Happiness is when what you think, what you say and what you do are in harmony.

But you have to decide for yourself whether you have the courage to follow the obvious nonrational signs in your own life, rather than ignoring them, as I did that day.

Perhaps, after having read these twelve accounts of visceral dreams, unexplainable events, and physical interventions in my life, that I have recounted for you in this section of Tranquillity’s Secret, you too might open up your horizons just a little bit and accept that whatever else might be at play, there is a spontaneous creative responsiveness present within our lives — if only we pay attention to it, and not ignore what is happening, as I did this time, much to my detriment. I was a stream trying to flow upriver. If I had seen the day’s events, as they were unfolding, for what they were, I would have saved myself from having to suffer through the worst illness in my life, and more importantly, loosing those two months during which I was not able to work on this book.

And it is that, which I feel is the reason for the apparent guidance and interventions in my life, and not that I am special in some way, or like my friend Mike, feel that because I try to do good, I somehow deserve to have good things happen in my own life. It is my effort to write this book to share the practices using inner spontaneous sound, and the novel paradigm of responsive naturing for how reality works, and upon which these practices are founded, that is what is important.

The reason why good things happen in our lives is not a result of what we do — there is no cause-and-effect relationship, as most of us realize when matters don’t go our way. Instead, good things happen to us when what we are doing is in harmony with what we deeply feel we need to do — in our actions, our thoughts, and what we pay attention to in our lives.

When we are in harmony within ourselves, all of reality comes to our aid — with no regard for our limited understanding of how reality works, as my experience with the GRE exam, which I recounted earlier in this series on nonrational experiences, showed me.

When our actions diverge from what we authentically need to be doing — when we are like water trying to flow uphill — the disharmony leads to events that undermine our hopes and dreams in ways that can be self-destructive, and which brings us nothing but stress and frustration.

This is the lesson that I learned.

ཨེ་མ་ཧོ། ཕན་ནོ་ཕན་ནོ་སྭཱཧཱ།
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