I live in a valley at the end of which my ancestors live in Tír na nÓg, the mythical Irish Land of the Young. They have been calling to me since I moved here and a couple of months ago I went on a quest to meet them.
I first heard the call in my meditations and when I would go walking on the land. These internal callings led me to look for historical reference and the druids seemed to be the most in line with what I was feeling.
Then the work of Graham Hancock and other pre-history researchers encouraged me to go back even further.
This research combined with my own knowledge of the multiverse lead me to a sense that the ancestors that were calling me were the mythical Tuatha Dé Danann, and they were calling from Tír na nÓg, but unlike the myth, Tír na nÓg was actually another dimension.
Unlike the big catastrophe theory purported by Graham Hancock, it felt like my ancestors, instead of being wiped out by a big catastrophe, had figured out how to transition into other dimensions. The mythical land of Tír na nÓg was actually another dimension, parallel to this in which time behaved differently and from our perspective seemed like a place of eternal youth.
Now before you write me off as a complete loon, let me reassure you that I know how whacky all this sounds. I am putting words on a vague sense I had about my fascination with the end of my valley. I am telling you about it to give you an idea of the level of anticipation that had built up in me, in the run up to my jaunt up the valley.
I literally had no idea what I was walking into and what I would find up there and I was open to anything.
On top of all that, there were the logistics to consider, the specifics of which were exact, and without meaning to, had the hallmarks of a pilgrimage.
I was to come barefoot with no food or water. The area I was being called to was extremely remote with no road access in any direction. I knew I would have to hike there along the high ridge of the valley.
Then there was the weather. The high end of the valley was regularly covered in low cloud, or mist. I am an experienced hillwalker, particularly in Ireland. I did a lot of hiking in my teenage years and was part of the first team to climb the four highest mountains in Ireland in less than 36 hours, so I knew that hiking along the high ridge of the valley in mist is not a good idea. I could only go when the weather conditions were right.
So after months of anticipation and observation and calculation, the day finally arrived when the conditions were right and everything was in place.
I set off at 8 am on a bright sunny morning and hiked up the side of the valley. Three hours later my hiking app told me I had at least another hour to go before I got to the edge of the area I wanted to reach. It was taking a lot longer than I had expected.
Another hour and a half later I finally reached my destination. There was nothing to see initially, nothing jumped out at me but then I didn’t expect to. I began to walk around the perimeter of the area I had felt drawn to which covered roughly a square mile.
I spent an hour wandering around. I registered what was there and was very conscious of my peripheral vision and what I might see out of the corner of my eye.
When nothing outward presented itself, I sat and meditated for a while with a similar result – nothing.
Well actually, to say there was nothing up there would be an understatement. There were no trees, no caves, no strange rock formations, no strange energy feelings, no significant markings on the ground, no . . . . nothing.
I kept my disappointment at bay and after an hour I began to make the return journey. Rather than walk back along the high ridge line, I opted for descending to the valley floor and walking back along the road.
The descent required a lot of concentration and I didn’t really get to reflect on what had happened until I was back on the gentle road at the bottom of the valley making my way home.
“What was that all about?” I wondered aloud. Immediately there was a deep inner response of, “I am changed.”
I found this a bit shocking because I knew it was true but I didn’t know in what way.
I also, “knew,” I had met my ancestors.
I didn’t dwell on this knowledge too much because it was too whacky and there was nothing to back it up.
I sat with the events of my quest for the next couple of days in meditation and in the daily activities of my life. The feeling of, “What was that all about?” kept returning and every time it did, it was met with, “I am changed.”
Also, an odd feeling started to enter my awareness. Initially, I thought it was a kind of depression brought on by the anti-climax of it all.
This feeling grew to an almost unbearable disturbance the origins of which were not completely new to me. I had often felt at dusk or at the fading of the light, an odd sense of homesickness. A homesickness I could feel, even when I was at home.
There was something about the draining of color from the day at dusk that deeply disturbed me. Now I was experiencing that feeling all the time and with a lot of intensity.
From years of meditation, I am familiar with the process of uncomfortable pieces of unconsciousness percolating to the surface as they transition into consciousness, so I sat with it.
It reached its zenith in what I came to describe as the white room.
The white room reminded me of that scene in the last Harry Potter movie, where Harry dies and finds himself in a predominantly white space. Professor Dumbledore appears out of the white to have a friendly chat with Harry and help him decide whether to return to his body or not.
The white room is like that space but without Harry or Dumbledore, or anything else. It is the conscious knowledge of what remains when existence fades out – no body, no personality, no memories, no nothing. It was the most profoundly boring, bleached white, and desolate place I have ever experienced.
I had known that existence was an illusion for many years. I had written all about it in my book The Gentle Snap, which is a guide to seeing through existence.
So knowing that existence is an allusion, was nothing new to me.
What was new was experiencing consciousness without existence. Like sitting in a room with a blank TV, a dead phone, or a blank tablet, touching into the profound absence of anything – the white room.
To say I was pissed off at my ancestors was putting it mildly. This was what they were calling me to? I had to admit to myself I had been expecting something mystical, something extraordinary, just something, anything.
In its place, I got nothing, not just nothing, the biggest nothing in existence.
There was a point when I started meditating over 30 years ago when my mind realized that meditation was incredibly boring. In meditation, I turn off my mind and I consciously enter the mystery, the place beyond thought, the place we go to in deep dreamless sleep. For me this is a refreshing experience, for my mind it is boring.
Luckily, by the time my mind realized this I had meditated enough that it also begin to register the benefits. I was calmer. I was having more insights. I was getting a bit more clarity on the inner turmoil and the different parts of me who went to war with each other.
So while my mind still didn’t understand what was happening in meditation, and still found it incredibly boring, it grudgingly admitted that the benefits outweighed the boredom.
Those benefits have grown in power and strength over the years so now my mind can talk about meditation at length even though it still has no direct experience of what actually happens in meditation. I even run trainings in meditation.
My old spiritual master Barry Long used to say that there was nothing in the mystery, and then he would add with a slight glint in his eye, “…nothing to speak of.”
Nowadays I spend hours in the mystery in meditation and in my one to one work. I am very familiar with it, a place where there is nothing to speak of yet remarkable things happen.
A similar thing is happening with the white room.
It has been months now since my quest and my discovery of the white room, and since then it has settled into the familiarity of my inner landscape. My sense of it now is that the white room is something my mind cannot understand, and from my mind’s perspective, it is nothing, …nothing to speak of.
The more I have sat with the white room and the existential despair that comes with it, the more familiar it is got.
I sense I am at the beginning of a similar relationship I have with the mystery, but now with the white room. As I have settled into it I have begun to get a sense of what lies beyond it.
Epilogue or cosmic joke, I’m not sure.
About a month after my quest I was walking down the main street in town and came to a dead stop at one of the shops.
I had walked past this shop many times in the ten years I have lived here. Like most of the shops in Kenmare, it is predominantly geared towards tourists and sells a wide variety of high-quality items that will fit in a suitcase.
This particular shop sells a lot of linen tablecloths, lace, napkins, tea towels and that sort of thing and the theme of this shop is that everything in it is white.
And the name of this shop is, The White Room.