Monday, February 6, 2017

A Big Pile of Rocks

Lobby, ITC Maurya Hotel, New Delhi

Letter to a friend, Nov. 30, 2016.

I think it is dangerous to assume that some of us know what we are doing, and others don't. In reality, nobody knows what they are doing. The only difference is that some of us know we don't know what we are doing, whereas the rest of us don't. 

The moment we think we do, well, that's where the gates of hell open. They are beautifully designed and everyone around them has warm open arms and big smiles. We walk in because we think everyone in there is going to be like us – which is pretty much true. 

I think Heaven is full of people nothing like me at all. At least I hope it is, because if it is full of people like me, I probably don't want to be there.

I've grown quite cautious over the years of dismissing anyone else's religious practices, no matter how incomprehensible or silly they may appear on the surface. If one cultivates a deep compassion and respect for life, one suffers for the other and respects them rather than prattling on about how misguided they are. We are all deeply misguided, in my experience, and the more we suffer that human condition both individually — and, if we are very fortunate, together—the more substantial physical material we can absorb in the form of impressions to help our inner  life.

In my own experience, a half an hour sitting together in your kitchen seems to have as great a value as going to Luxor or the pyramids. I have been to the pyramids and although they are impressive, the impression of another human being struggling together with me always touches me far more deeply than a big pile of rocks.

And that's saying a lot, because I love rocks.

It is this deep human contact we need to seek, not dreams of pyramids and astrologers. If we make contact with God in our souls, all that material is already in there inside us anyway. Then we don't need the pyramids.

Love to you, miss you. India is fine although the business is challenging. Thinking of you helps give me courage, which I need when meeting the anxieties and unexpected conditions of my life, which constantly teach me much more humility than I actually want to acquire.


Lee van Laer is a Senior Editor at Parabola Magazine.

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