Total Immersion (02/24/08)

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anna
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Total Immersion (02/24/08)

Postby anna » February 24th, 2008, 4:36 pm

I would say that for the first six or more years in the back woods of Maine we spent immersed, without cessation, in a kind of solitude and contemplative splendor. This is not to say that we did not socialize. We had a handful of good friends composed of transplants who had preceded us by a couple of years into the back woods themselves, and most of whom had pretty much left the world of academia, business, and the like behind them in search of a simpler, less hectic, and more subsistence kind of living. We also became friends with a few of the local townsfolk, who already lived a simpler, less hectic and more subsistence kind of life, maybe not by choice, but by circumstance or inheritance. The juxtaposition of the transplants with the old-timers was for us no problem, but the social gatherings were rarely mixed between the two groups. Somehow, we managed to span that divide and found ourselves to be comfortable and happy with either kind of group. Both were important to us, for they provided a kind of easeful integration into this new life, not to mention advice on how to succeed in that transition. Besides them, there was, and still is, a large contingent of back-to-the-land people, generated in the early 70’s by a huge influx of optimistic out of state young people who had migrated to cheap land, clean air, and non-intrusive politics in Maine to eke out a gentler and fuller life of working the land, and living the “good life”.

The authors of The Good Life, the Nearings, had become popular among this generation of gentler souls, and there evolved a kind of loose community of co-ops and groups that encouraged, assisted, and joined together to start a new and better life in the rural heaths and forests of Hancock County, Maine. In that respect, it was an exciting time to be young, strong and able, because if you had a plot of land, you could survive and do whatever you wanted to, and nobody told you how to do it, unless you asked. There were not a great number of seekers like us however, although there was what was affectionately called “the commard”, led by Walter Nowick, a Zen Roshi of some repute, in Surry, to which some seekers would migrate, often to be turned away. They held formal seshins, in the beautifully created Zendo in their community, while they devoted themselves to koans that Walter would give them to solve. We got to know a few of them well, but were never inspired to join the discipline, probably because we disciplined ourselves well enough on our own. Being each other’s taskmaster, it was hard to fool each other.

The transplants in our neck of the woods, and those we got to know well, were what we would have called in those days Hippies. The younger ones grew pot in the woods, and one in particular, grew it in his out-house, and while neither S nor I imbibed, we noticed that these people were much more laid back and easier to get along with, not realizing until later that most of them were pretty stoned most of the time, and that might have had some bearing on their attitude. S and I managed to get through our lives without ever partaking of drugs -- though alcohol flowed in plenty during our years in college and in the Foreign Service – and thus we were pretty naïve about pot and failed to recognize its effects on others more often than not. Indeed, we were both pretty naïve about many things, throughout our lives, which may have been a protective device as we encountered so many different kinds of people and situations through our journey through life. In retrospect, I believe we were fortunate to have escaped the drug scene, because almost without fail, most of those who we became friends with that had a history of consistent drug use, all seemed to have a kind of skewed consciousness which I attribute to drug use. Maybe it was lack of focus, or intensity. Both S and I found that in the process of inner growth a firm, clear mind is essential. In other words, you cannot give up what you do not first have, and that applies to the mind in particular. To understand the mind, you need a clear one to understand it with. Drugs leave residue, or at least that is what we found with most of our pothead friends. Still, they were very likeable people and easy to be with.

Those formative years flowed by in what seems to me to be a kind of heavenly pink cloud. Everything seemed new, everything seemed to work toward our intense investigation of the soul and its workings. We were fortunate that we entered this study at the time that we did. Books of all kinds, from all disciplines, throughout the world were just becoming available in popular print. Ten years earlier, it would have been more difficult to find these kinds of books, but the “New Age Movement” was just beginning to flourish, and thus it was easy to obtain information related to that area of thought.

There was a lot of junk written as well, and there were many opportunists in the movement, but it was easy to see through the garbage and find the pearls. In particular, the ancient books, such as the Gita, Upanishads, Lao Tzu, etc., which had always been available, fell into our hands naturally, and in the beginning, we found they were often “too heavy” or complex for us to truly resonate with. Indeed, I recall reading J. Krishnamurti’s books early on and only grasping a small portion of what he was teaching. Reading them several years later, I was astonished to find that the book seemed to me to be entirely new. This just goes to show how consciousness changes consciousness, and is expressed outwardly and reflected back, as it progressively refines itself, or expands itself, as the case may be.
The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers........Wordsworth

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anna
Posts: 210
Joined: December 29th, 2004, 9:28 pm
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Re: Total Immersion (02/24/08)

Postby anna » February 24th, 2008, 5:06 pm

I realize that in making this blog a blog, I have started a kind of story that evolves over time, which I kind of regret, because I am now in some ways obligated to finish it. :o But for the moment, I'm going to take a break. Doing this thing in such a manner is a kind of emptying of the brain, which is great, but spring is poking its head around our corner, so I'm going outside to welcome it for the near term. :D
The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers........Wordsworth


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