These are the stories of Peter K. Wensleydale,
an aging American male person coming to the
realization that there is no such thing.
… and finally, this fragment, still unfolding …
Having been urged by the lumber mill owner not to remain in Maine over the winter, Peter and Anna Wensleydale retreated to Hawaii, where Anna had spent her childhood years. There, they were fortunate to find a house-sitting arrangement in Honolulu, in the shadow of Diamond Head, which provided them a comfortable place to stay until their return to Maine in the spring.
On their way driving west across the country, the Wensleydales visited a relative in Ojai, California, who, as it happened, had been a long time student of Jiddu Krishnamurti’s. At that time, of course, Peter did not know who Krishnamurti was, although Anna had undoubtedly encountered his name in her reading in and about theosophy. Certainly, as they remember it, the name did not come up much during their brief stay in Ojai, but evidently something rubbed off, because that Christmas, Anna’s gift to Peter was Krishnamurti’s book The Awakening of Intelligence.
Peter loved the book, even though it completely baffled him. “I have to tell you,” he told Anna, as he began reading from it, “I don’t understand a word this man is saying. But something inside of me won’t let me put the book down.”
It took Peter almost a full year to get all the way through The Awakening of Intelligence. But early on, about two months into the book, the ice jam broke. Peter had just returned to the house from an early morning swim off the Kahala beach, and was sitting by the pool reading again, when suddenly a light illuminated.
“It was as if there occurred an explosion in my head,” Peter told Anna later. “For just a second, just a fraction of a microsecond, everything cleared, and I saw it. All the stuff that I had been unable to understand, unwilling to understand, suddenly was as clear as crystal. Not only could I see it, but I knew it, even more, I was it, and … it was so … obvious. Then,” here his voice dropped, betraying his disappointment, “just as suddenly and unexpectedly as the light came on, it went out, and I was back where I had been, groping in the dark. Except,” his eyes lit up again, “I remembered what I had seen. I couldn’t recreate the exhilaration, and god knows I tried, but the memory of it stayed. I had that in my grasp. Now, I knew that, even if I didn’t know, I could know, and I would know. That changed everything.”
Indeed, it did change everything. With that event, Peter’s commitment to the spiritual process, to the reach for Self-Realization (although he would not have used that term then, for he had yet to learn of it), moved into the top spot in his list of priorities. Whatever exactly it was that had happened to him that morning, and he was at a complete loss to define it, Peter knew this much: he wanted more of it. Although Anna had almost certainly already done so for herself, it was at that moment that Peter consciously became a seeker. Thenceforth, everything else he — everything they — considered doing, whatever it might be, had first to answer to the inquiry, “How does this contribute to our quest for the Truth?”
Of course, even as this transformation was in train, Peter and Anna were also designing and preparing to build their new home in Cranberry County. Remember, in those days, neither of them knew anything about architecture, carpentry, masonry, plumbing, wiring, and so forth. Peter used to joke, not inaccurately, that the full extent of his woodworking experience was sharpening pencils. Clearly, they had a lot to learn, and they knew it. Fortunately, Honolulu’s public library system is excellent, and Peter and Anna devoured it. Happily, they are good students, and they learned well. In fact, just a few weeks after Peter and Anna moved into their finished structure (they returned to Maine the first of April, and built the house over the summer), the state was hit by a mean hurricane packing wind gusts up to a hundred miles an hour. It happened that the storm passed over Cranberry County during the nighttime hours, and Peter and Anna did not sleep a wink. Wide awake throughout, they listened tremulously as the wind crashed, and the rain pelted, against their brand new windows, walls, and roof. All night long, the two of them visualized every nail they had driven, every brick they had mortared, every board they had cut. Silently — and sometimes not so silently — they encouraged each piece to hang on through the ordeal. Finally, the storm spent, the sky cleared, and the sun rose. The Wensleydales ventured out to find trees down, and leaves and broken branches and assorted debris all over the place. But the house was sitting right where they had put it, in one piece, fully intact.
“Well, I guess we passed that test,” Peter and Anna said, each breathing a huge sigh of relief.
Over the succeeding decades, there have been and will continue to be many more tests, for their homestead in Cranberry County and, more significantly, for themselves as seekers. But, just as they passed that first one, they have passed, they will pass, the others, too.
We come back to that original thing, which is: why there is not this flame in our heart. Because if you have examined very closely what has been said (not verbally, intellectually, but examined it in your own mind, in your own heart), then you will know why you haven’t got it. If you know why you haven’t got it, if you feel it and live with it, if you are passionate in your search for why you haven’t got it, then you will find that you have it. Through complete negation, that thing which alone is positive, which is love, comes into being. Like humility, you cannot cultivate love. Humility comes into being when there is total ending of conceit, vanity, but then you will never know what it is to be humble. For a man who knows what it is to have humility is a vain man. In the same way, when you give your mind and your heart, your nerves, your eyes, your whole being to find out the way of life, to see what actually “is” and go beyond it, and deny completely, totally, the life that is lived now, in that very denial of the ugly, brutal, in its complete denial, the other comes into being. But you will never know it either. A man who knows that he is silent, or knows that he loves, doesn’t know what love is, nor what silence is.
Jiddu Krishnamurti Q
“A Continuing Fiction” is fiction.
Any resemblance to anyone or anything anywhere is coincidental.
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