"So, tell me about the Holy Mama." Walter settles down at the dinette aboard Moira. We are anchored 30 meters from El Torito in Malaupaina's lagoon. Frederique is busy fixing a Chinese style dinner. Walter's daughter, Mellisa, is playing with the kitten.
"It's quite a story," I start out, wondering if I can manage to tell it coherently. "First of all, Mama in his language really means Father, or Priest. To his opponents, he's a fruitcake. To his people, he's the Holy Father. At least when he's in full dress savior mode. Their movement is not the cargo cult his detractors would have us believe. In fact, he was so uh well charismatic I wondered if it was natural or if he was actually trained as a savior."
"How so?" Walter munches on some olives Freddy found somewhere aboard.
"Hard to explain," I mumble around some of the olives, "He normally walks around with just a sulu and maybe a few flowers in his hair. There is always a swarm of children around him. When he takes on the role of Holy Mama normally on Sunday he undergoes a ritual metamorphosis. Dressed in white robes with colorful trimmings, the people fill him with dignity and power. Everything becomes very formal and ritualized. Holy Mama is actually an alter-ego from the everyday Silas Eto."
"Well, why do you think that's why Jim and the others were so negative?" Walter prompts after we jointly consider the delights of olives and other eatables appearing on the table.
"Don't have a clue. He's the most inoffensive character imaginable. Yet everyone goes out of their way to put him down. They accuse him of everything from Satanism and cargocultism to being a communist and engaging in outright treason. He even got sent to jail on a treason charge."
"Writing President Roosevelt a letter asking the U.S. government to return to the Solomons after the war and become the new central government. They gave him six months in the lock-up. He had a fascinating vision in jail. His visions are Christian. Angels and Jesus appear from time to time to give him messages from God."
The wind comes up and moans softly through the rigging. Walter and I talk on, and I tell him of Holy Mama's visions. "....and after the visit from the angel, he went to a village on the northwest coast of New Georgia and told the people to leave their homes and follow him to build a new village called Paradise.
"And oddly enough Paradise is a Paradise. They built it on the edge of a beautiful little lagoon. All the buildings are entirely made of local materials. The people are happy and energetic and there's almost nothing of European manufacture there."
"Amazing," Walter shakes his head. "I would not have thought a bushman from another village could get everyone to leave their homes and start a new life and a new village on a new spot. Melanesians are very conservative when it comes to land. It's also important the people were able to move away from the rubbish men complex so common in Solomon Island Bushmen villages and become industrious and even self-sufficient. No wonder the churches don't like him. Their own track record is pretty bad."
"There was a really interesting story about the Holy Mama and an electric wire." I tell Walt about the well witnessed miracle.
"Interesting," says Walter. "What other rents in the fabric of randomness went on?"
"After they built Paradise, a strange psychic phenomenon the islanders call Tataru appeared in one village after another in New Georgia. The people experienced the same sort of ecstatic trance state described by the early Christians, the Holy Rollers and other similar religions. People literally climbed the walls of the church, spoke in tongues, shook and cried and rolled on the floor."
"Not the usual sort of Methodist Church meeting?" laughs Walter.
"Hardly. The Methodist Church sent a trouble shooter named George Carter up from New Zealand to quiet things down. He went to a village near the Mission one day only to find no one on the dock to greet him. Everyone was in the church. Here, listen to this," I get out my notebook and read, "This is Carter's own report, quoted in Harwood's thesis."
"About half the people in the church, mostly the older folk, were seated on the floor. But my eye was immediately taken by perhaps a dozen or 15 young women who were dancing around in the most extraordinary manner. They were all making noises of various kinds....tears streamed from the eyes of some and all had the glassy look that you get with people suffering from concussion and certain forms of insanity.
I said, "What is this Sakiri, have these people got evil spirits?"
With tears pouring down his face he cried at me (I was almost going to say screamed) something to the effect that this was the special gift of the Holy Spirit. At this point one of the younger men came up and asked me to leave the building."
"You can imagine old George wasn't too pleased being asked to leave the church. Afterwards he held a village meeting and stoutly told the people their behavior was evil, inspired by the devil.
"Sakiri got angry at this and informed Dr. Carter he was a liar and a blasphemer because he dared to use the Bible to defame the Holy Spirit. Sakiri was in Sasaveli, Roviana Lagoon, home of the most accomplished headhunters of the Solomons not long ago. Sakiri's father probably considered Bushmen as fair game for food or slavery. Sakiri, keeping family tradition, had long been an enemy of Silas Eto and a devout Methodist. So it was something of a shock when Sakiri told off Carter and asked Silas to come to their village and help them.
"Unlike Carter, Silas said, 'This thing will not stop soon. It will someday cover the Solomon Islands. It is not an evil but is the Holy Spirit promised by Jesus. It is the completion of our Christianity to Receive the Holy Spirit and be Born Again."'
"You said something, earlier, about Silas's technique being sophisticated," Walter prompts. "Is this the sort of thing you meant, he knew how to step in and calm things down?"
"No. Not really. In fact he doesn't really step in anywhere, he only responds when asked to help. He can't refuse to help. No, what I meant was something different the use of hypnotic associations to modify behavior."
"His sermons Freddy and I attended one are powerful events."
"You got Freddy into church?" Walter looking over at Freddy.
"Believe me, it's the last time," she says from the galley, "but it was interesting. I liked the chickens running around cackling under the floor."
"There is an aura about Holy Mama when he enters the church," I plunge ahead doggedly, unfazed by their lack of religious fervor. "It was something the people were collectively doing some subtle behavioral process which literally charged the air in the church and focused it onto the presence of Holy Mama."
"This is what charisma is all about." Walter points out.
"Holy Mama has developed a very effective style of preaching. He never criticizes or intellectualizes. He says things like, 'I live in the Holy Spirit and walk with him. In my heart are the fruits of the Holy Spirit now and forever more. Holy Spirit come and stay with me.'
"He has one primary message delivered with dance, song, and much hand clapping. The message is 'Love one another, work together, be of one mind.' And this is where the method of delivery is sophisticated and hypnotic.
"During the sermon, Holy Mama will sometimes say 1, 2 or 3, depending on what mood he wants everyone to be in. The community already knows what each number represents. When he says 'One' everyone must feel, deeply, 'Love One Another.' But One also refers to the first stage of religion on Earth.
"Earth, according to Holy Mama, has gone through three epochs. God himself ruled the first epoch, from the time of Adam and Eve to the birth of Christ. When Holy Mama says, 'One' everybody tunes up their feelings of love one another PLUS the sensation of direct rule by God, the Father.
"Two means everyone must think of working together and here he means working in the real sense, gardening, building houses, the feeling of working together with your friends. But it also means the second epoch of Earth, the period when Christ ruled as the personification of God, the Father. So the people mix the feeling of working together with the feeling of working with Christ beside you. Christ's way is working together in the real world.
"On the count of three, everyone drops into a deep feeling of being one mind. This is heavy stuff. The people enter a state where they recognize the communal mind of the congregation. It's described as being like the feeling one experiences in ritual chants or dances. Three also means the coming of the age of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the comforter promised by Jesus. When the people hear Holy Mama say '3' they become one with each other and with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
"When The Holy Spirit enters someone for the first time, it is like a shot of 10,000 volts of electricity or so they say. Afterwards, it is easy for the person to enter the mindset of 3. Exactly like a post-hypnotic suggestion. Very effective. He goes back and forth between one and two during the sermon and hymns until just the right moment for three."
Freddy shuffles us around the dinette and sets out dinner. The kitten leaps onto my lap. I tell Walter, "When he hits 3 you can damn near see the communal aura. It's like a feeling of static electricity in the church, like the ozone smell before a thunderstorm. My hair was standing on end during the service when the congregation went into phase 3.
"But anyway, the idea of setting the congregation's emotional state by association with a number allows instant shifts in feeling with just the statement of the number. This form of hypnosis is so sophisticated and used so well I wondered if someone taught Silas Eto methods of hypnotic induction."
For the next fifteen minutes we gobble up Freddy's stir-fried chicken, fried rice and Chinese vegetables. The conversation turns to esoteric mmmms, and "Pass the Soy Sauce, Please." and "Some more?"
There are a five cruising boats in the Lagoon. I ask Walter what we owe all this undue attention to. He says, "The customs official in Kira Kira has taken to telling cruising yachts, 'Why not go over and visit the people at Malaupaina? They're nice people and it's a good harbor.' Just what we need, more distractions. But that's only half of it.
"The immigrations character in Kira Kira, who doesn't seem to know about the custom's officer's suggestions, has taken to telling his superiors in Honiara, 'Something very strange is going on at Malaupaina. All these cruising boats keep going over there. Surely they are up to something. Maybe they are selling dope."
Walter accepts it all in stride. He can't do anything about it anyway. "There is another new rumor in Honiara about us. We are growing valuable butterflies and secretly - using the yachts - smuggling them out of the country and making millions of dollars." "Oh really? That's a good one. What kind of butterflies are we growing?" The major problem, of course, is the inability of the islanders to imagine what could possibly interest a small group of marine biologists, an anthropologist and assorted friends on an isolated, beautiful little island in the tropical Pacific. They would be miserable here and the only people who would seem to have a reasonable reason for being here are those who are after some economic resource - like copra or timber or fish. To STUDY fish or coral reefs just for fun makes absolutely no sense at all to them.
After dinner, Walter and I get stuck into the law of randomness and the law of coincidence. The wind is now shrieking in the night and Moira's cabin is warm and comfortable. Mellisa is sound asleep on the settee with Walter the Cat. Freddy is in the galley, putting dishes in the sink.
Walter divides reality into two lumps one half working as the law of randomness and the other operating as the law of coincidence.
"The law of randomness in one way guarantees the improbable will happen" are the words which form between Walter and I, but simultaneously, another conversation takes place on a different level of awareness. The thought behind the second conversation, expressed with no words, is "I am your friend. I want to be here with you. My heart and mind is open to you and bid you welcome."
In many ways, this second conversation is, to me, the most important. It is a supraconscious landscape of personal interactions between the two of us.
Freddy hears Walter and I babbling ad nauseam about synchronicity and chance. But to me, Walter and I are standing together overlooking a scenic panorama of understanding. I see - as easily and clearly as I might see a mountain with a river in a physical landscape - the watershed of events which caused us to be here, tonight, in this small lagoon in the center of this minuscule island, in the watery wilderness of the Western South Pacific.
In our watershed of events Walter is the mountain and I am the flowing water, responding to his mental contours. Yet the synchronicities are not his or mine, they are ours, exactly the way a river is neither the flowing water nor the mountain but both, together.
We have stopped speaking verbally and with a slight shock I realize Walter is actually surveying this panorama of awareness with me. And he knows it!
"You never feel lonely after you have reached this state of mind." His words confirm my shock, unite the two layers of being into one. When this happens, when words and feelings become the same, a whole new aspect of psychic terrain opens out for us; an iridescent and fragile bubble of understanding, luminescent with beauty and symmetry.
This is the level where we all interact - all of us everywhere. It is a psychic star dawning over our psychic landscape, illuminating concepts I know exist but never visualized before. The Moirae are there, spread out before me. They are so beautiful I can hardly breathe.
"You can't explain it to someone who hasn't been here because they misinterpret your words or dismiss them in one way or another." It seems to me both of us say that. We are one mind dwelling in an intangible world of peripheral vision. Ephemeral senses saying we are here talking to each other, communicating thoughts beyond the horizons of our words. Our shared awareness is an alternate entity - a supraconscious mind - coming alive in a new landscape of concepts. It shapes, speaks, hears our softly spoken words.
We speak on all these levels at once about collective communications. It is an exquisite feeling.
A phantom appears, hovering near. Waiting. Listening. It is not Walter. It is not me. Another mystic figure approaches from beyond our mindscape.
"You guys want some desert?" Freddy asks. We laugh and agree desert would be fine. "I've got some canned lychees but they are not too cold."
As we eat the lychees with fresh-whipped cream Walter and I continue on about what is still happening on the other levels of awareness. The words become a shorthand confirmation of giant tracts of information exchanged on a nonverbal level.
"On this level one can see improbability and the way to adjust the law of randomness to make improbabilities become certainty." These are the words. On the other level of awareness I(we) envision the planet enveloped by a misty web. Layers upon layers of communications create these webs, some interwoven into massive tracks, sweeping in globally graceful curves. I(we) feel currents in these pathways and touch them; they tug and pull and sweep us along. We are everywhere in these global layers of communications and - of course - also here aboard the Moira.
"This is the layer which governs and controls the laws of coincidence. Awareness, on this level is control. Ultimate control, over the other realities."
"It is also what Jesus wanted to tell everyone but you must spontaneously perceive it to understand it. Herman Hesse, Kahlil Gibran, Rudolph Steiner, So many have been here and tried to pass on their vision only to have it misinterpreted or dismissed by a variety of filtering mechanisms inherent in our linguistic framework."
"There is real, practical value in this level of thinking for coincidences which you require for your success can be manufactured by the smallest of efforts."
"It is here we find the operand of magic, hypnosis, charisma. The causes which are not readily defined or visualized in the law of randomness universe."
"It is sideways thinking versus linear thinking."
"It is the far end of the gaussian curve guaranteed to exist by the law of randomness. Not philosophy, or a method of conscious thinking, but another level of awareness. Another way of existing."
"What in the world are you nuts talking about?" Freddy asks, sounding irritated. Some of our conversation has been verbal, most non-verbal. Walter shifts the conversation, continuing on with the same subject, but treating it .... well, almost normally.
"While you were off on your magical tour of the Solomons, we took the El Torito to Ulawa Island. The people there conduct a hunt for dolphins once a year and we wanted to film it. They catch the dolphins using a sonic net. First they position their canoes on the seaward side of the dolphins when they are near the entrance to the small anchorage. They bang river rocks together and the shock waves drive the dolphins towards shore. The canoes move closer and closer together forming a kind of underwater parabolic lens shape. In the end they force the dolphins into shallow water and spear them..
"When we got ready to film the hunt, the chief said if anyone in any of the canoes felt sorry for the dolphins and wanted to let them escape, they would be able to free themselves by swimming under their canoe. So it was very important to concentrate on the desire to kill the dolphins."
Walter smiles, "Naturally it was too good a chance to pass up. Although we wanted the film of the hunt and the kill, we really didn't want to see the dolphins harmed and actually DID want to find out if the dolphins could somehow sense we were sympathetic to them. So as the hunters closed in on them Terry and I turned on the "Sympathy" feelings and urged the dolphins to escape under our boat. Just as we thought this, the dolphins turned and swam right toward us. They went out of the hunting circle single file, directly under our longboat.
"Coincidence? The chief didn't think so. I doubt they will let any outsiders see their hunt again for a long time. Anyway, the event made me think about our cancelled research project on wild dolphins. You read the Arthur Grimble account on the dolphins in the Gilberts, didn't you?"
I had. As a young colonial administrator, Arthur Grimble wrote an account of a remarkable interaction of man and dolphin. He had heard tales of certain islanders who could call dolphins from a dream state. The dolphins would come swimming into the village bay where the islanders simply walked them up onto the beach and killed them. Grimble asked to be able to witness this on a certain day during an inspection trip to the various islands. The local dolphin priest obliged and went into a dream state, and called the dolphins. They also obliged, slowly swimming two by two, through the reef pass into shallow water. The villagers waded out and gently guided the dolphins to the beach where they killed them. That evening, the people, including Grimble, ate the dolphins.
"There is also a man in New Zealand who claims to be able to get dolphins to respond to mental commands in a dolphinarium. Well," Walter continues, "Suppose any of this is true. Suppose there is some kind of link between the species on the improbability level. We might as well try to experiment with it before we leave here."
"I'm game. How do you propose we do it?"
"Well, clearly the link is on a different level of awareness than we normally operate on. First we should prepare ourselves by working as a group to move together into other states of awareness. When we're ready we'll try to contact the dolphins and see if we can get them to come into the lagoon here. They've never done it before. If they do, we will have reality tested the concept. If they don't, we will have had an interesting time experimenting with levels of awareness."
"And how do you propose we experiment with alternate levels of awareness?" Freddy asks, suspiciously.
Walter smiles back at her, "I have a book called 'Mind Games' written by two psychiatrists. Its just the thing. Richard, with your knowledge of hypnosis, you can set up the program. We'll meet twice a week in one of the houses ashore and go on mind trips. We have a month or so before it will be time to go. It should be enough."
Preparations for the mind games were a real revelation.