Friday, July 08, 2005

You Must Walk Through the Fire or Burn.

A person’s intensity toward a goal is one of the primary indicators of success. Sometimes you are born with this intensity and sometimes it comes about through revelation, trauma or loss. It can make ordinary living difficult. It can make it seem pointless. You can wind up in a no-man’s land between the place you left and the place you are trying to go. It’s not a pleasant place. I know this because I have spent a lot of time in these intermediary bus stations. No destinations are listed and there is no posted schedule.

Once I inquired of one of my teachers about something along the lines of; how to get most expeditiously to an enlightened state of mind. He said, “You must not polish the pot so hard that it breaks.” Perhaps my efforts to become a spotless vessel were counter productive. My nature was not the sort to carry me into the contemplative life at that juncture. Something similar happened when the dentist told me I was wearing the enamel off of my teeth by using too hard a brush. And here I thought I was doing the right thing.

You see even less attractive forms of over compensation among the Luddite moralists and dogmatic crusaders of morality in our midst. Surely The Pope’s stand on birth control would rank him among the greatest mass murderers of the age. Then you have the argument about interfering with God’s will. Didn’t God want every one of these children to be born? Did he not, in fact, want each of them born Catholic as well? Does God intend for everything you think and feel to come to fruition too? That’s a good question. Does every tree that sprouts; every weed, every strip mall every everything come with God’s good intention to survive forever? Is it possible to go counter to God’s will even if you think you are doing so? Isn’t everything a part of God’s will acting out to an unknown conclusion; unknown to you?

What is the value of preaching abstinence to a 16 year old boy? What I mean is- does it work? Does it work usually? When we are constrained by the commands of others concerning our basic nature, one thing is certain. That force will find another way out. When you damn up a river you had better be prepared to keep adding to the damn, maintaining the damn and happy with the growing lake you have created, or... willing to let a portion of the river through somehow.

When you preach that something is evil you define it as such. Can one resist an evil, so named, which is part of their very nature? When you see drunks staggering down the street, assaulting passersby and each other; hear of them beating their wife, killing pedestrians and the occupants of other cars in this state of intoxication, does it make sense to put someone with flowers in their hair in jail for dancing in the park from some combination of natural flora? Alcohol is legal. And alcohol and tobacco kill more people every year than drugs have killed in the last century.

If you take a close and careful look at the world around you, you will see some outrageous evidence of unfairness, hypocrisy, unnecessary torment and assorted ills and imbalances. Society will make a liar and a criminal out of you for being yourself. You can work to follow all of society’s rules and then you will be a victim and a fool. Society’s rules like societies fashions are often based on whimsy and change according to whoever is sitting in the cockpit. We find also that rules apply selectively as a result of the innate casuistry of the control centers. Yes, maybe it is better to get along as long as you can get along with yourself. Quiet desperation may be preferable to direct punitive results. Maybe...

Throughout history we have ample evidence of draconian social and religious intent to legislate morality. If you looked closely at why all the drugs that make you feel good are illegal you will find it has nothing to do with anyone’s best intentions for you. It’s about money and control. But this isn’t what I want to go on about. This should all be obvious to rational mind capable of objective reasoning and inquiry.

What I am addressing it that peculiarity in our nature that wants to impel us to heights where we may not be able to remain. Can we run past everything and not regret the things we wish we had done; even if those things weren’t all good for us? Then again, could we attain the goal if we stopped at every rest area on the way? It reminds me of St. Augustine’s complaint, “Oh Lord, grant me chastity just not right now.”

Once a man who had been searching for Babaji for some good long time in the Himalayas finally found him sitting around a fire with some others; this story is reported in Yogananada’s “Autobiography of a Yogi” the seeker threw himself at Babaji’s feet and implored him to take him as a disciple. Babaji said he could not do this in the man’s present condition. The seeker replied that he would throw himself off of the high cliff upon with they sat. Babaji said, “Go ahead then.” The seeker did so and crashed dead upon the rocks below. Then Babaji went down and brought him back up and then back to life. He said, “Now you can be my disciple.”

There are more tales of this sort of thing than I could tell even if I devoted my life to it. And there are tales of libertines and scoundrels transformed into saints. If you do not know the story about the man who wrote, “Amazing Grace” I suggest you google and read it. No doubt you are familiar with the thief Dismas who was crucified at Christ’s right hand.

Quite often the most painstakingly moral among us are responsible for suffering far and wide. Quite often the dissolute harm only themselves except for the hearts of those who love them. Very often our most prominent moral arbiters are revealed as hypocrites in the fashion of Bill Bennett. Maybe you can’t get to God by the commonly known road. Would the road to God be anything but uncommon? It may be that being true to yourself has far more weight than strict adherence to society’s rules and regulations.

It may be that you have to walk through the fire or burn. In the Bible there is a curious comment attributed to God; “Be ye either hot or cold, if you are lukewarm I will spew you out of my mouth.” Certainly St. Paul was turned around in the midst of his little crusade; though I’m not fond of a lot of what he came up with after. Who knows?

I don’t know if it works to try and walk away from the things you want if you still passionately want them. Sometimes you may have to roll in the murk for a good long time before you are done with it. The Prodigal Son is a very real and daily awakening somewhere. For me it is most important to love God and to seek God and not go so hard on yourself for your short comings. I heard it said somewhere, “For those who Love much, much is forgiven.” For centuries beyond count saint and sinner have passed one another on the road. For centuries beyond count the wicked have been led to redemption through mysterious agency. Our own judgments on this plane are responsible for our lack of movement more than most anything else. But we could go nowhere without sound judgment either.

What I have come to know is that I know nothing and I am getting nowhere on my own. I do not know which behavior will prove more efficacious than another. I am familiar with routes that lead nowhere and behavior which automatically produces pain. I realize that this pain may be the best thing that can happen to spur one along the better road. This road, of course, has no exact location and can only begin where you are standing at whatever point that may occur. One cannot avoid making mistakes. God help those who are afraid to make them.

Visible sings: Walk Thru the Fire or Burn by Les Visible♫ Walk Thru the Fire or Burn ♫

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

A little later than usual. I'm glad I checked in. Thanks for reading my mind again.

CC

Anonymous said...

There's another part in the book where Babaji materializes a palace for one of the disciples, Laharisi Mahasaya (sp?) I think, explaining to him that before one can achieve final illumination ALL of ones earthly desires must be satisfied somewhere along their progression. If there is anything at all of an earthly nature we still desire anywhere in our consciousness, it will undoubtedly slow our advancement. And trying to deny to ourselves that we want whatever it is probably doesn't do any good either because we can't fool our subconscious mind. To me, this is one of the reasons why pure asceticism or other methods of 'storming the gates of heaven by violence' would seem like a relatively pointless exercise. Anyway...this somehow made me think of that among other things. I"m always reading you from work and you always shift my whole mode of thinking back to my real Work. I really can't thank you enough for that.

ben

Anonymous said...

Great! Thanks!

vyoma said...

everything is good for you. if you resist, then mostly what happens is that one day you give in to the temptation. its because you never really believed that this is good for you. its like a tiny fault line along the bridge. the bridge won't fall right now or for a long time. but one day the bridge will fall.

if you don't resist then this is what happens. excess of anything becomes poison. and that poison kills you. if you manage to remember how that poison killed you, you won't opt for it again.

fulfilling your desires is like feeding oil to the fire, its a never ending story. you realise at one point when you've got enough memory, that you're not satisfied and you will never be satisfied. it doesn't matter how long you indulge in it. you just won't tire of it.

vyoma said...

so what i'm saying is, abstaining is good for you. not abstaining is also good for you. because in any case you'll learn.

Anonymous said...

I've thought about what the last writer said. If no matter how much you get you never stop wanting it but and then it gets confusing. I think the main feature of the veil is confusion. Clear on one side, cloudy on the other. Thank you for another brilliant essay my friend.

a 'friend'

Anonymous said...

It has all gotten so far past my capacity to comment that I find myself just nodding my head and moving on with my day. I don't want to start rubber stamping, "Fantastic!" "out of sight!" "Brilliant!" day after day and that is what I would have to do.

You know I'm by here all the time and you know that's how I feel even if I'm not saying anything.

z a

Anonymous said...

Ditto to z a.


long john