We have all seen the painting done by Michelangelo on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Some of us have seen it in its original location and some of us have seen the painting but all of us have seen it a time or two here and there. God is extending his hand to the ‘generic’ Adam and Adam is extending his hand as well. Their fingers are nearly touching. Art is not truth but great art is suggestive, indicative and pointing toward the truth, much as the hands are reaching in the painting.
God is not an old man with a white beard. However, if he wanted to be, that would be immediately so. God is a serpent. I took this painting and had my head super-imposed over Adam’s head for my album, God in Country. In my version, God is extending a guitar. I’m rather fond of this variation. After all, I am Adam, as are you, and the condition indicated in the original is an ongoing and enduring state. God is reaching for us. All of us are reaching for God but have encountered confusion as to what it is we are reaching for. We find that out when we gain possession of whatever we were reaching for and very quickly learn it’s not what we were after. This is why all of the possibilities and acquisitions of the rich are reduced to ashes in their mouths. They know they didn’t get the item and one of their chief satisfactions is your belief that they really did get what they were after and what you were after too.
Because we are already rich we seek to manifest the material expression of it. Because we are already powerful we wish to be in a position to demonstrate it. Because we are already famous we seek celebrity among our fellows. These are just some more confusions in the myriad confusions that toy with us on the road to nowhere. We have it partly right in the same way that desire is the agent of God’s will.
Just as we mistake what God is and who we are, we mistake everything else by defining it according to what we want. Adam translated means, ‘namer of things’. It stands to reason then that the first step on the path is the deep seated conviction of, “I don’t know.” The next step is the deep seated conviction that ‘everything is under control’.
Attempting to employ these profound truths leads to more confusion because there is a definite difference between intellectual and visceral understanding. You can say, “I don’t know” all you want but you still think you know. You can tell yourself everything is under control all day long but you still think it isn’t. Some of this is tied in to free will and some of it is tied into the root apprehension of our atavistic or primordial fear. Our deathless being is in a temporarily mortal state. Our job is to become consciously immortal while still in the body but... there are all those other things.
Whenever we think of God, or whatever you want to call it, we think of something apart from ourselves. Whatever efforts we might make following this initial error will come to no positive end. God apart is useless. God apart is actually what we understand as the Devil.
We’re told we have to strive hard. We are told to pray without ceasing. We are told to practice the presence of God; to live a moral life, to be generous toward and forgiving of our fellows. Some of us try in many different ways to apply these and other modalities to the purpose of union but we don’t get anywhere. The fact is that it is impossible for us to accomplish it. We cannot do it. It has to ‘be accomplished’ within us. This is the meaning hidden in The Emerald Tablet of Hermes Trismegistus and in all scriptural works. Like the bat shit annoyances of Zen and the ‘not this’, ‘not that’ monkey mind dance, the answer is as confusing as the koans. You have to try with all your might and then you have to give up. The purpose of all the effort is to prepare the ground for deeper surrender. This is the purpose of our failures.
Everybody is worried about what’s coming soon, except for those who are dreaming in Disneyland or collecting trivia in the hope that knowing a whole lot of useless things will cause someone to fall in love with them. We are all operating under false pretenses.
You purchase an outfit you think someone will like. You add on the accessories. Maybe you are after someone who is aware of designer labels or maybe you are zone specific and you want a sports model; a metrosexual model, a country model, a Christian or Muslim model, an attractive model or just your regular runway model. You tailor yourself to appear to be what you think they would like. It’s a little like baiting a hook. You want to capture and have someone that fits a profile. You get your hair done. You get false eyelashes and you paint yourself to look like an urban evening clown. All of this is a form of pretense, which is intended to conceal what you normally are. Both of you run into each other dressed as someone else and that’s just what you get. Happy now? Now you have two people with someone other than the commercial indicated.
It’s impossible to conceal ourselves forever. The initial face we proffer is gradually replaced by the face of our habitual nature and sooner or later the face that appears under stress or while in danger will reveal itself as well. Passionate relationships are generally doomed unless you are courting the divine. They certainly fade. Only friendships endure.
We worry about the future without tumbling to the fact that what we are is our future. Whatever catastrophe the world has in mind, it always considers this first in respect of individual cases. People will take Tarot cards and try to use them to predict the future. The purpose of the cards is meditation to adjust the future. Why would you want to predict something that you can be altering with every breath? All of these things tie into our ‘wrong approach syndrome’. Just as you can’t take anything material with you when you go, you can’t enter the presence of the divine with any extraneous personality models, tics and eccentricities or add-ons, cosmetics or camouflage. These things need to be stripped away and suffering will do that. The whole game is engineered to show us that we are helpless, whether you are Alexander the Great or just you.
If you are sincere and determined you cannot fail. When you do fail you will be in that state of surrender. Original life generally ends with the death of childhood and all the time following is either repetition or a struggle for regenerated innocence. Most achieve senility; some achieve the illumined child like state. Every condition in life imperfectly mirrors what should be with a bad copy. Senility as opposed to regenerated innocence and... you can find many parallels. Consider that the Dark Lord made orcs as a perversion on elves.
I’m not a very good guitar or piano player. My grasp of foreign languages is terrible. When I think of all the things that I can’t do well, I always have to stop long before I’ve completed the list. I’m not very good at a great many things but I do seem to be persistent about connecting with the divine. Truth be told, none of these other things have ever been that important to me and that’s why I’m not very good at them.
The divine knows more things about us, that we are unaware of, than the things we are aware of. We put more time into impressing our fellows, who are busy doing the same thing to us (all while each of us keep glancing at ourselves in the mirror), than we do at our real work. Nature is watching us. The hidden kingdoms are watching us. Aliens in space watch us like we were reality TV, which we are. The animal kingdom watches us and there’s quite a list actually. For those who are engaged in the only real occupation, every one of these kingdoms is engaged in assisting us. Otherwise they are opposing us.
It is never a good idea to pursue the things of the world instead of the enduring truths that hide in the foliage. It is especially not a good idea now and that is why it’s so hard and why there is so much magnetic attraction of images and objects resounding upon our appetites and desire body. A portal is opening. It has been a long time coming and it will be a long time gone. Whatever may or may not be coming is unimportant. That’s just scenery through the train window.
The key thing to remember is that the character in the painting who symbolizes the ineffable is reaching and wiser minds had better be reaching too. When the visible realm is engaged in major readjustments it is a good idea to have an invisible friend.
'I Need More Light' is track no. 4 of 11 on Visible's 2001 album 'God in Country'
Lyrics (pops up)
The New Shangri-La.