Inevitably this is difficult to write, unless I am a complete egotist or perhaps a completely enlightened being, whatever that might be.
At this moment a voice in my head wants to write a blog, be a journalist and make lists of egotists who know who they are, but I know that will lead me on a journey through comparison to another kind of conformity, a closed dead-end identity. I am also rejecting the conventions of a full autobiographical account of how I came to be who I am from my parents, their culture, my childhood, growing up and education to deal with the former.
I think, therefore, that I will start elsewhere with some experiences that have reached into me most. In a way I am obeying the French polishers’ saying – look after the edges and the middle will look after itself.
On 21st December 2004 at 04:02 by my watch I stepped back inside from smoking a roll-up outside the flat of friends who were holding an all-night Winter Solstice party. Quite suddenly the cold night air had started to feel like it was burning my lungs. It didn’t get better indoors as I sat trying to breathe calmly, but felt like a large claw was scraping down inside my chest. It wasn’t until I had a lift home from the friend who had brought me and was still struggling to understand the pain while he was in the kitchen making a cup of tea that I understood what it was. My cat was walking up and down the sofa across me meowing and I noticed I was sweating literally all over from head to foot which triggered memory of some buried information and I realised I was having a heart attack. I shouted to my friend “Forget the tea, dial 999”. At 05.02 he was on the phone speaking to the ambulance centre and I lost consciousness.
It is accurate to say ‘I’ lost consciousness because what was now occurring was not based in a recognisable self. However it is also true to say that there was consciousness. No passage of time, no sense of space or physical existence, location, identity, just a kind of dark unknowing being. Elaborating on this will not help. It will just add images to something that was void. I emphasise time had stopped. I could say there is no time without an identity to experience it.
Then (I say then because I now know it was later in the sequence of events) there was a kind of face, recognisable as my friend, but more like a light, an oval of light containing a person’s face hovering above in an otherwise total blackness. Then his voice saying in a gentle reassuring voice “It’s all-right, Louis, it’s all-right” repeatedly. At this point I believe I opened my eyes, but I understand now that my brain was in the process of re-booting, and so the senses of self, light, sound, feeling were coming back in stages, and cognisance of any of them was and remains fuzzy. Then I was back in the room lying on the floor on my back with my friend leaning over me.
I have no accurate knowledge of how long my heart had stopped for, time in such a case is drawn out for someone experiencing the death of a close friend alone, like being in a car accident, it all slows down, but it was a matter of some minutes, and to all intents and purposes with no heart activity and I assume no brain activity, death, though temporary, was what it was. I had apparently fallen off the sofa onto my side and stopped breathing, and the ambulance centre adviser told him to put me on my back which is when the heart started to work and breathing was restored, at which point am told my arms and legs doubled into a defensive posture and my considerable voice was shouting like a man in total fear and agony. I have no recollection of this part, just my friend saying “It’s all-right, Louis”.
It would not be a true account if I did not say at this point that this quiet, sometimes quite bumbling and absent-minded acting Piscean was outwardly cool, calm and very much in control, though I later realised how distressing these events had been for him. It was only after this and his frequent attendance at the hospital over the next five days that I began to appreciate the deep humanity and inner beauty of this man.
What further coloured my perception of him was an intuitive story that began to unwind out of this ego-less being state. I have no investment in its truth or whether it was just a creation of some part of my imagination, but it is part of the story of who I am so needs to be included. I began to have knowings, not exactly visual flashes, but what I can only call distant knowing memories. There were people attacking me, I was down and they had staves and knives of some kind. When I told him about it the flashes became clearer. They had come running around the corner of a narrow mud-hutted and unpaved dirt-street. I was half-way down it on my back. Then he, my friend as I experienced him during the heart attack, was bending over me. Sometimes with the flashes he was crying. Once or twice he was desperately trying to put me back together.
After I came out of hospital I was with a friend who has been a professional medium/psychic talking about these experiences. We discussed it. Somehow the name Antioch came up. We looked it up and it’s ruins are today near Antakya in Turkey close to the Syrian border. The eastern finger of Cyprus (from where my parent originated) points directly to it [ancient map http://bit.ly/1iGiO3e] [modern map http://goo.gl/maps/4rsqr].
I vaguely remembered the ancient city of Antioch, and my friend, who had been a kind of charismatic Christian in his youth, reminded me it was where St Paul (The Saul of Tarsus who was converted by a blinding vision of Christ on the road to Damascus) began teaching.
The rest I do not know, but I have added up the implications of this story and I believe that we were friends in ancient Antioch at the time of Paul’s ministry and at least I was a traveller on the path which in my esoteric knowledge and current belief would have been called ‘The Way’, now called ‘early Christianity’. In my knowing life I perceived that there were characteristics of my psyche (my definition the nature of the soul) common to this life that is telling this story and that life in ancient Antioch. One of them is a kind of enthusiasm for the truth that cannot keep its mouth shut. At this time, somewhere between 40 and 50 AD it was dangerous to be ‘out’ as a follower of the disputed Messiah who had died approximately 7-15 years before. So my big enthusiasm and mouth had got me killed, and my friend had tried to save me as I bled to death in the dust before him.
I have used the terms ‘we’, ‘I’, ‘me’ and ‘my’ purely as shorthand. Elsewhere I will be explaining more of what I have come to believe and know about the human soul, but the people I am referring to were not Louis and his friend reincarnated, they were the souls occupying Louis and his friend in a previous incarnation.