Thursday, September 17, 2009


I used to pursue life with a great deal of intellectual vigor. I am known for this. In fact, my friends still constantly put me in the embarrassing position of bragging to others about how smart I am, etc.

I must confess it doesn't sit with me well. The smarter you are, the more you see how ignorant you are. If you are truly, truly smart, you begin to realize you are stupid.

It's the people who don't realize they are stupid that are dangerous. And we all find ourselves in that category a lot of the time. Our ego encourages us to believe that we are smart, that we know what we are doing, that things are more or less under control, and that we are going to get the jump on what is happening. It is like one vast buffer that stands between us and the stark reality--that we are in the middle of a situation we don't understand and can never fully know.

What we are is a mystery. This thing we call "life" is a mystery. Every explanation of it falls down and grovels if anything real becomes active in us. We are capable of becoming lightning rods that receive something and transmit it, a force that has no name and knows no boundaries. All of this is so far apart from what we usually call "life" that we are incapable of grasping its implications, its intentions, or even its meaning. For the most part, in fact, we are even supremely ignorant of the possibility itself. We can think about it, and discuss it, and read about it for a lifetime and rarely, if ever, actually have any of it touch us.

I am repeatedly stunned by how distinctly separate the two natures we stand between are, and how utterly differently they manifest themselves. All that is "of this earth" within us stands, so to speak, in direct opposition to what comes from above--and is in fact just as illusory as Plato intimated, just as deceptive as the Hindus claim it is, just as unreal as the Buddhists insist.

I heard it said recently that Lord Pentland once said the aim of the work is to produce "quality" human beings.

That may be true, but what does that mean? Of what quality do we speak? Here is a mystery for us, too. Surely, any idea of it that I produce from myself and interpret as the correct meaning of "quality" is tainted--contaminated by my assumptions, colored by my ego. When I confront how I actually am, the way I actually behave, how I am even in this moment, I am staggered.

And I am especially staggered when a new kind of inner relationship appears, because it sets aside everything I think I am, and brings a quality to life that suggests I perpetually get the whole thing from the wrong perspective.

If there is decency in me, it is only born from a relationship to the higher. If there is hope to be found in my condition, it is only to be found in relationship to what comes from above. Without that relationship, there is no hope, and there is no decency. The possibility of relationship, when it is sent, opens the door to what we would truly call humility -- not an intellectual posture, not being smart about being nice and decent to people, but something material, something organic- something that is emitted from the heart of every cell itself, that permeates the entire body and the entire being with the understanding of how small, and how unfortunately cruel, I actually am.

It is at moments like this that the physical and emotional understanding of "remorse of conscience" begins. And let us not underestimate this force by belittling it with too many words. Remorse of conscience is a slayer of men, such as they are.

If I wish to come to this, there is a need for a new kind of listening. This is not a listening of the ears. It is not a listing of facts, a collection of concepts, the construction of a form. This is a listening that begins deep within the organism, with parts that hear in ways the ears cannot hear--eyes that see in ways the eyes cannot see--sensation that touches in a way our senses cannot touch. It is born within stillness, not an invoked and created stillness, not a stillness that belongs to me, but a stillness that is sent.

I wish to discover myself within this new kind of listening, and to let go of all of the facts and ideas, so that there is room for something else to take place.

So I come once again to this mystery--which is where I began this post--and I leave you with it.

Let us hope we can all dig deeper into the soil of our being during the coming week, to discover the secrets that lie buried there.

May our hearts be opened, and our prayers be heard.

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