Topic 20 – Those Who Came Before-Words of Wisdom
This is the last topic in THE VIEW FROM HERE blog series. I wrote this series to create questions in peoples’ minds, for everything that changes in our human sphere starts from a question. In fact, answers are always present. We access them according to the quality and precision of our questions. Thus, to live in an age where curiosity has taken such a back seat is to live in an age where people increasing fear there are no answers. Nothing could be further from the truth, but it is possible to wander so far afield that the truth becomes unrecognizable. There is a beautiful line from the Tao Te Ching, Episode 16 that is translated as:
Attain the highest openness;
Maintain the deepest harmony.
In those two lines, Lao Tzu tells you all you need focus on to know life in accordance with how it truly exists. I have avoided, in this series, any in-depth conversations about a truer sense of what we are because there is always a danger in that. Our mind is like a breadmaker, whatever gets thrown into the container gets incorporated into the dough of thought, and what comes out is just another loaf. Truly, nothing new under the sun comes from our intellect. To tap into our reservoir of insights, we must disable the mind with silence, and then use metaphor to help us sense and feel what is true.
The other night, while I was running, such a metaphor came to me which captured a sense of all that we are – seen and unseen. I was reflecting on quantum science’s new view of an electron, that of something whose true character is a simultaneous mime of particle and cloud-like wave. I don’t mean two distinct pieces or parts, but an entity that is equally one and the other, and seemingly has its own whims as to what it emphasizes. That is why we are so confusing to ourselves, so difficult to recognize, because we mimic this building block of matter, an electron, by also being, at one and the same time, something solid and something cloud-like. We are thoroughly aware of our solid phase; we are completely unaware of all the rest. And that is what all those who have gone before have been harping on for centuries, for us to get more curious about the entirety of us, not just our body and our mechanical thought machine, our brain. The real “learning” in this human experience occurs, not through our intellect, but from experiencing insight, and it is that which holds the promise of a life that we sense somewhere deep in our hearts. The key to life lived rightly is this:
To know ourselves powerful,
To know ourselves healthy,
To know ourselves abundant,
To know ourselves unafraid,
To know ourselves loving,
is a product of recognition, not acquisition.
We are not here to work at making ourselves invulnerable, to shrink our lives to a size that appears like we can maintain control. We are here to come to realize that within us is all we’ve ever needed to withstand, address, or resolve whatever life brings to us.
The people listed below are some of those who knew this truth. Do watch out for the charlatans. As Alan Watts suggested they are the ones who pick your pocket and sell your watch back to you. Make friends with your gut until you trust it implicitly. That may take years, but those will be the best years you’ve ever had. There are many names I could list, but this is a start. If you start, you will find that soon you can make your own way, find those voices you especially relate to. True seekers always find.
1. Vernon Howard: Select anything he’s written, but start with the little pamphlet, The Esoteric Path to a New Life. He is the best there is for helping you understand what ego truly is and how to pull it down.
2. Alan Watts: Whatever he wrote is worth reading.
3. Lao Tzu: Tao Te Ching: This will tangle up your thought process until you finally quit thinking, and just “let it in.”
4. Daniel Ladinsky: Let this bold and insightful translator introduce you to many sacred voices (Love Poems from God) and Hafiz, a Sufi mystic (The Gift). Ladinsky opened to the feel of a mystic view and the irreverence of those who truly knew.
5. Coleman Barks: Know Rumi through Coleman’s translations. I think he’s walked with Rumi a time or two.
6. Ramana Maharshi: See for yourself what it looks like to know deeply one’s true nature. His books are transcribed responses to those seeking truth. Any one of them will open you to a new vision.
7. Jesus the Christ: He never wrote anything down, and so we are left with others attempting to capture what he meant. But perhaps more than most, he knew the Oneness of all Things. The Gospel of Thomas is an interesting read, but wherever you turn for his wisdom, remind yourself that his understanding was formed from unerring knowing that there is Only One, not one God, not one son of God, but Only One. See what meaning his teachings take on then.
“…We will all find out, each of us.
and what would we be, beyond the yardstick,
beyond supper and dollars,
if we were not filled with such wondering.”
from “Imagine” in Evidence by Mary Oliver
Thanks for sharing this journey with me.