If all of humanity were one single person, perhaps the image we would get is that of someone reeling down the street with one hand over their eyes and the other hand extended out, feeling for obstacles. More likely it would be a constantly morphing figure; old-young, man-woman, hips thrusting, club-wielding, alternatively weeping and laughing... a constantly shifting CGI effect, moving in two directions at once while always remaining in the same place while cities rise and fall.
George Orwell once said “If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face – forever”. He also said, “Maybe this world is another world’s Hell.” There’s some truth to that. He might have better said, “Somewhere in this world at all times someone is stamping on someone’s face with a boot.” Or, “You can find Hell on Earth and Heaven too.” He wasn’t wrong, just extreme and not precise.
If it is happening to you, you could well believe that is all there is to this world. What strikes me is the irony of the landscape and the soundtrack; something like the rampage scene in Clockwork Orange with Beethoven. Bad things happen with flowers reaching toward the sun and Karen Carpenter singing “Close to you”. Shadows reach from beneath the trees at the playgrounds edge. They reach through childhood and beyond.
A clear mind, an undeceived mind knows that sorrow follows life. It’s a temporary world. Everything is on its way out from the moment it arrives. You are guaranteed to lose everything. Everything you love, no matter how tightly you hold on to it, will slip away. All of the evidence tells us so. Regardless of the irrefutable evidence, we don’t want to know. How can we harvest anything but pain? That which brings us the greatest happiness will hurt the most when it goes.
From a certain perspective life is grim. We have the long and short run of temporary fortune. We have the capacity to hope and dream. We can make the best of things but it ends and we are gone. We are on occasion ennobled by great sacrifice. Sometimes we are held up ignominiously before the entire world. Entire religions are formed around ennobling sacrifices. Somehow, in some lives, the act of giving up everything and being humiliated and killed inspires more hearts than any other accomplishments in the world. Now why would that be?
Why do we grant such honor to such seemingly sad tales? It is because these tales hold forth a conviction of some shining land beyond. There is something in the human psyche that is convinced that this world is not all that there is. History teaches us that this is a hard place. It shows us injustice on all sides. It gives laurel wreaths to undeserving frauds and ignores the best of us. It punishes virtue and rewards those who profit from human weakness and need. It honors murderers and thieves and explains their sins as being necessary for the times and the common good.
On the television and the radio, in the shop windows, on the billboards and the sides of buses are the lies of the moment repeated until the new lies replace them. False promises for a hundred thousand products that will change our life, reshape our form, end our loneliness and make us special are everywhere you look. This is the world that promises that something outside of you will transform what is within. Something outside of you will heal what it cannot touch and you will be all that you ever wanted to be. That’s not ever going to happen.
There is a reason that life tears you apart. It isn’t a pointless exercise of some biological imperative. It isn’t because an unfeeling, indifferent universe or a psychopathic God naturally causes or wants you to suffer. Life torments, tears and presses down upon you in order to liberate you into an eternal state of unending bliss. That is its precise and never changing intention and purpose. This is why life sends these examples of ennobling sacrifice.
If an angel of light enters into your dark prison and attempts to lead you out of your confinement and misery and you have confused your higher destiny with the rot and corruption of your mortal state and you wrap your arms in the prison bars and cry out to be left alone, then what?
Every temporary and mortal condition in this life, all of your losses, failures and humiliations; the bad health, the tortured circumstances, the intricate and unique composition of all your distress, is to direct your attention away from the prison house of your flesh. Every spiritual master; Buddha and Jesus Christ, Krishna and Lao Tzu... all of them that were and are and all of them since say the same thing. They give out the same game plan for behavior on the way and they promise the same result, NO MATTER how it might seem to conflict within the theater of your dual purpose mind... no matter how it may conflict with what you think you want.
27/7 across eternity there is a broadcast going on within. Outside is another broadcast which drowns out the broadcast within. The pain of existence is what eventually turns your attention from one broadcast to the other.
So, what do you do? If you know all of this, how do you work in your own best interests to cooperate with your liberation when, time after time, you continue to be your own worst enemy? It begins and ends in the mind. The first thing to grasp is that there isn’t anything you can do. Everything you are doing is the problem. There’s a trick of the mind that has to do with a re-positioning; it adjusts your awareness of personal effort to the understanding that everything proceeds from one will.
The practice of a disciplined life is nice work if you can get it. Yoga is a marvelous and complete system, if you could only understand it. The realm of the Hermetic Sciences and the occult are a wonder for the one in one hundred million who have come to the point where they can comprehend it. Solitude is rapture for the unique soul so disposed to its beauty. There are few enjoyments that can equal being a lonely star shining in the firmament. Such stars are not lonely. Movie stars are lonely.
We, the many, are seldom possessed of such discipline or capacity for higher knowledge. For some of us it is as Blake said, “The temple of excess leads to the palace of wisdom.” For the majority it is more like Woodsworth and the “lives of quiet desperation.”
No matter who you are, or how dense you may have been, everything changes when you recognize the Sisyphean nature of how your life has been. That isn’t your life. That is just a station of the cross, a temporary wayside. You cannot untangle yourself. The moment you recognize that everything is working toward your greatest good is the moment you can participate in the event by letting go of everything ‘before’ it gets snatched from you. It’s the leap of faith. It’s the raindrops merge into the ocean. It’s the actual moment when conception begins.
You can fight this and you do. It is what we all do all of the time. Eventually you will admit defeat and claim the victory and hear that timeless guitar lick that is the essential sensation of everything that ordinary rock and roll ever promised you. You will own the universe and be wonderfully at home within it the moment you recognize the mind behind it all.
You can’t get there by attempting to practice disciplines you don’t understand under the tutelage of people who don’t understand them either. You can’t get there analyzing texts and practicing magical rites. Strange uniforms and cycling rituals won’t take you there. The secret is in ‘what’ you love and losing everything else will ultimately leave you face to face with it. If what you love is eternal then it cannot be taken from you.
That piercing sensation of overwhelming love is the presence itself reminding you it is there and leaving no doubt that you are too. Only you know how long you will go on tormenting yourself. If you can’t feel anything then maybe you should prime the pump. Just remember who put your hand there and from what source the force to prime originates. Then... why... then it is mere child’s play.
'Rocket Ship' is track no. 7 of 10 on Visible's 2006 album 'Songwriter'
Lyrics (pops up)