Our inquiry through the preceding chapters has brought us to the conclusion that our lives in this world seem to be a direct, accurate, and immediate reflection of our beliefs about life. That is, our beliefs determine for us what we will see, hear, and experience at every level or point of our existence. Whatever we may think about the affect of external events in influencing the course of our lives, the fact seems to be that the determining action is all internal. Despite the appearances, we do not react to external events in the shaping of our lives so much as we use, shape, and initiate external events, however unconsciously, and choose from among them, and from various possible interpretations of them, to confirm and reinforce what we believe to be true and therefore expect to occur. We see, hear, and experience what we expect to see, hear, and experience; and what we expect to see, hear, and experience is determined by our beliefs. Indeed, what seems to occur externally and independently of us, at least as we perceive those occurrences, may actually be no more than, but all of, an outer manifestation of what we are within.
In the first sentence above, we might have used both the lower case and the upper case for the word life, so that it would have read, Our lives in this world are a reflection of our beliefs about life and about Life. The former indicating our activities in the day-to-day, so-called real world, or ordinary life as we perceive it, and the latter indicating Creation or the Universe as it is seen by God or the Creator, as it really is. The first we might think of earth, the second as heaven; but the problem with those words used that way, or rather with the way we generally interpret them, is that we tend to think of them as referring to two different places. Earth is here, heaven is out there somewhere. But as we have suggested, the difference between them is much more one of understanding or awareness than it is of location.
To use the terms we have developed in this book, the former (life) might represent the confused and erroneous framework we have developed from the image in the prism, and the latter (Life) the One or Truth beyond the glass. Ordinarily, as I have said, we tend to think of these two as being virtually unrelated, certainly at least very different in nature and quality - the one is here, the other somewhere else - but as our prism effect model indicates, and is intended to indicate, they really are one and the same, except looked at differently. Thus, although what we see in the prism is a refraction of the light beyond it, it is nonetheless the light itself. And so, what we - at the Fall - originally saw in the prism may not have been so erroneous as it was potentially highly misleading, a potentiality which we actualized by proceeding from that point to the unfortunate next in which we ”forgot” the source of the prism’s image, and built an understanding of the universe on that mistake. Remember that we said earlier in our scenario for The Fall that what may have happened “in the beginning” after one aspect or element of the One somehow for some unknowable reason saw itself and the Whole of which it was, and always is, a part, as not One, but many, is that this miscreant forgot, perhaps in fascination at its dubious achievement, what it had done and came to accept the refracted image as all there was and as fully complete. And, worse yet, from there we said it may have developed an ever complicating set of erroneous interpretations of what it thought it was seeing, and then taught its offspring to see the image in the same wrong way. Thus, what we experience in, around, and as ourselves is the One, but seen all wrong. Now, if that is what happened, or nearly what happened, then to erase the error, or to cancel The Fall by “rising again”, we must seek to reverse the process, and we may be able to do that by undertaking to rid ourselves of the delusionary and confusing interpretations and explanations of reality which we have inherited over the ages since that first rascal did his dirty deed.
Unfortunately, when we come to realize that all these years we have, in effect, been had, that the old values, standards, and perspectives lead nowhere and produce nothing but more of themselves, we are initially moved, both from enthusiasm and resentment, to reject and abandon not only the inaccurate yardsticks but the world itself. At our first exposure to, or re-encounter with, Truth, we want to turn to it totally, as indeed we must, and often we understand that to mean turning our back on or shutting our eyes to everything else. This sentiment is normal but mistaken, and, if not encouraged, it will dissipate of its own accord. Let it do so. For the fact is that we cannot hide from the world outside us and neither should we want to, any more than we can hide from ourselves, for the two are, as we have seen, one and the same.
Wherever we go, we take our outside world with us, like a shadow - actually, very much like a shadow. However romantic the promise of physical isolation may sometimes seem, there exists no mountain cave where if we are there, our world is not there too. To be sure, there is merit in seeking solitude from time to time, there to conduct the inner search without distraction or interruption. As with the total immersion method of teaching foreign languages, this approach can facilitate rapid and effective change; but if inner change has been wrought, then it must be witnessed outside too, even in and about the cave, if that is the world we have chosen. As we come to understand this principle, we can begin to make good use of the world apparently outside us as an indicator of what is being accomplished within us. We can learn to recognize in the shadow the shape and nature of the thing which casts it, we ourselves. Thus, again, in a plutonic universe, what is outside comes from within, and just as the images on a movie screen are determined by the film in the projector, and there is no point to rejecting or destroying the screen to protest displeasing footage, so it is with our lives. It is to the film within the projector that change is necessary, and what we see on the screen can and should alert us to that need. Whatever we witness that seems to us ugly, distasteful, or in any sense disturbing, should flag to our attention those traits within us, for we cannot see what we do not project.
Similarly, when we react with anger toward others, regardless of the provocation and our claims of innocence in the exchange, we must recognize that there remains anger within us, however much at inner peace we may feel. Fear and insecurity prompted by apparently entirely outside influences should speak to us of our unresolved inner fears and insecurity. And hunger and cravings of every kind can alert us to a lingering hunger within, however fully nourished spiritually we believe ourselves to be. So long, in a word, as we see the lion and the lamb of the world’s jungle locked in bitter enmity, then so are they in our own, for it is the persistence of the latter which we see and abhor and have projected onto the former. Or, again, when we have beaten our inner swords into plowshares, then will we see the makings of plowshares in all swords; but until then, we will not, nay we cannot, for as we are within, so we see, and so it is.
Remember that in the New Testament we are taught to love our neighbors as ourselves, and this not because to do so is nice, sociable behavior, although surely it is that, but precisely and literally because our neighbors as we see them are ourselves. Likewise, we are urged to love our enemies, or those we dislike, and this again because they are our mirrors. What we see in them that alienates us are the same ugly traits which still reside within ourselves. Others can awaken within us only what is there, and where there is still anger, it must surface and be seen. Our enemies, by seeming to cause that anger to rise up - seeming, because it is we who are projecting it, not they who are eliciting it - do us a dear service, and one worthy of our love, for without them we might not be aware of that lingering trace.
Notice here that what seems to be significant is how we react to or interpret the events and experiences around us, the value we place on them. Clearly, this raises the question, if it has not already come to mind, of whether or not there is an absolute reality ”out there” which is neutral and which each of us interprets and labels in our own way according to who and where we are at the moment of observation. Certainly, an elephant seen in a circus act for the first time by a city-bred child seems a very different phenomenon to him than the same species would appear to a professional zoologist at work in the African bush, and yet the beast before each may very well be the same animal. We may want to ask ourselves, is there actually an elephant out there, a thing which, while it may seem different to different viewers, has a reality of its own irrespective of what those looking at it may think about it? As it happens, physicists today are asking themselves the very same question, and coming up with some potentially unsettling answers.
While we cannot avoid dealing with this question ourselves sooner or later, and indeed it is inevitable that we shall do so, I am not sure there is any merit in our doing so now, because whatever may indeed be “out there” (something or no-thing), we now all of us act and react according to our perceived reality - that is, according to what we think we see out there, and that is determined by what we think about it. My own guess is that once we finally see ourselves and our world as the One they truly are - that is, again, see through the confused and confusing interpretations of the image in the prism and beyond that to the Light Source itself - this question will have resolved itself for we will no longer be the we that we think we are now and presumably neither will the elephant!
But, for the moment, what we think we are seeing is all we can really be interested in (on the understanding that our reach, if not our grasp, exceeds that). In any event, it is certainly all that we now seem to react to and live by. Consider, for example, a volcanic eruption: as an act of nature, it has no relative value. The wildlife overtaken by the lava flow and the landscape altered by it presumably make no judgment about it, and neither does a rainstorm consider itself the less by comparison. And yet we measure, label, categorize, and price it the instant we become aware of it, and each of us does so according to our own perceived stake or interest in it. Neighboring ranchers may be distressed by their losses, a geologist excited by the prospect of new insights, and a sightseer enthralled by the awesome beauty. Each is witnessing the same event but would describe it in very different terms, and so, for each, it would be an event almost entirely different from that observed by the others. In this connection, consider the fact that we always refer to such events as natural “disasters”, measuring them as we do solely by their effect on the things we value! Similarly, almost any police officer will report that often there are as many differing versions of a civil disturbance as there were witnesses to it. The point seems to be that we do not experience reality in an impartial or neutral manner so much as we observe it through senses which are shaded, blinded, and tuned by our value systems, by our beliefs about who and what we are.
Thus, a partial answer to the question we just agreed not to tangle with may lie in our tendency to equate awareness with perception, not recognizing that the first might be better understood as the process by which information comes to us and the latter as the way in which we interpret it. Because they now seem the same to us, we think of the two as occurring simultaneously, but if we can learn to separate them we may be able to acquire the ability of true awareness by which we simply experience reality without judging it or in any way measuring its impact on us. This effort may or may not help answer that thorny question, but I think it will facilitate our seeing our lives differently.
Recall the squirrel we spoke of in a previous chapter, where we said that we tend to think of him as building a cache of seeds and nuts as security against the winter ahead. Because we are frightened by the prospect of starvation, we assume the squirrel is too, and we transfer our fear to him, and then interpret his actions accordingly. By our perception of life, as constantly threatened by insecurity, we interpret the squirrel’s activities. But what we are seeing and describing in that instance is our own fear, not the squirrel’s, and the animal’s activities seem frantic to us precisely because we are frantic about the future. The problem may very well be that we are inclined to think of events as happening to us, as something against which we must have constantly prepared defenses, plans of action ready for instant implementation by which to deflect or neutralize what lies around the corner, and which we presume to be more than likely harmful to our interests. Perhaps if we can substitute this antagonistic view of reality with what we might call a participatory one, we may come closer to seeing things as they actually are. We might even perceive that not only are our lives not happening to us, but what they are in truth is us happening.
One of the techniques we can usefully employ in an effort to shift our view of reality from an antagonistic to a participatory one may be found in learning to see the events in our lives less as isolated and unrelated incidents involving us as performers (or victims) and other persons or things as products, and more as whole processes in which we are but a partial or contributing element. Consider, for instance, the process mapling, a term used in some parts of this country to describe the collection and preparation of maple tree sap for sweet syrup. Required in this annual undertaking are the sugar maple trees themselves, of course, but also the right combination of warm days and cold nights at the proper time of year, a drill with the proper bit, buckets, a fire, the appropriate pot for boiling, and a person, to name just as few of the ingredients. All of these are distinct and identifiable elements as we perceive them now, but for mapling to occur, each of them must be present, and if any one is absent, there is no mapling. Each then has a role to play, none of which is, in a true analysis, more or less important than another.
Now, we tend to think of ourselves as the catalysts in the equation, the element which makes it all happen, but might we not also be able to suggest that perhaps it is that, at just the correct moment, when each of the necessary elements has reached what we might call the state of mapling-ness, they gather together to become the process mapling. Or again, consider dining: instead of seeing this common daily practice as consisting of a person (subject) eating (verb) food (object), we might look at it as a process in which several elements are involved and by which each is changed. The process itself then becomes both the subject and the verb, and there is no object. Simply, dining occurs. It is something which happens, a happening.
As we get to feel more comfortable viewing simple activities this way, we can extend the horizons into space and time to encompass related activities. For example, the process mapling might be expanded to include the initial tree planting, acquisition and use of the materials to cut a path through the woods, the manufacture and sale of the drill and bit, and, when we are ready to go this far, even our own birth. What happens as we take on this altered way of seeing is that concepts of space and time as we had known them begin to get a little fuzzy around the edges while a sense of the inter-connectedness (dare we say unity?) of things starts to develop within us, tentatively and intermittently at first, but with increasing certainty, regularity, and even, finally, certainty.
Learning to see our individual activities and then even our entire lives as complete processes rather than as distinct events comprised of separate subject-verb-object combinations requires something like the visual shift in perspective experienced in an optical illusion in which, for example, a set of straight lines on a flat page can be perceived as a box coming toward or receding from the observer. To effect the shift, we have to blink inwardly, as it were, and look again. Sometimes it will work, usually initially when we least expect it, and at others it will not; but if we persevere in our determination, the shift will happen.
Remember, our beliefs about the universe determine its reality for us, so as we begin to entertain new beliefs about it, however weakly and experimentally at first, we must come to see it accordingly. The old saying - if wishes were horses, beggars would ride - has application here in what we might call the beggar’s horse effect: by wanting to change our lives, to abandon the old paradigms and adopt new perspectives leading to direct vision of the truth, we will find that we will begin to do so, to see differently. Again, just for an isolated instant or two at first, but as we continue to affirm the desire and strengthen the will, ever reinforcing our aspiration and determination to succeed, the instants will become moments, and then series of moments, all as the foundations of our old structure crumbles from lack of attention and the new framework takes shape. Fortunately, inertia words both ways: it may be hard to get the old underway, but once we do, it tends to want to continue moving. To be sure, wanting to effect this change is not by itself enough, and nothing here is intended to suggest that; but the desire to do it is an essential and promiseful first step. Once the beggar has the horse, of course, then he must learn to ride, and determine the direction he wants to take.
At an event we have come to call the Last Supper, the New Testament teacher spoke to his disciples in terms similar to our own here by urging those at the table to think of the bread as his body and the wine as his blood. In these few words, whose interpretation has been legion and each of which has its own merit, he seems to me to have captured the essence of his teaching: what is outside is inside. The two are inseparable, for each is the other, one and the same. The universe is plutonic. Once again using an experience familiar to all men - and it could not have been an accident that he chose items so ordinary, common, and routine as bread and wine, the very staples of life here selected to serve as an illustration of the nature of Life itself - the teacher reminds us that when we eat and drink we should not think of the food as things separate from us, or as separate from him, things grown, harvested, and produced by other separate persons in places distant and apart from us, for thinking in that way is to continue to live by the illusions of our fathers. Instead, we should see in the bread and in the wine, and in the process that put them on our table, a manifestation of ourselves, of our own bodies and blood, of what we believe ourselves and our reality to be.
Only if we try to see the bread and the wine and everything else in this expanded and enlightened way will we begin to understand what he meant, and come to see as he saw. And we must seek to do so not just once a week or in special ceremonies, but always - or at least as often, say, as we eat, which activity we never seem too busy to fit into our schedules! If we are to see the One and to know that we are a part of and in the One, then we must realize that we can see no-thing else, for there is nothing else: what is One is one. This is not just a cerebral exercise or a game for theorists; it is practical stuff to be dealt with right now, right here, at the dinner table. We, and the bread, and the wine, and the process by which all three came together, are one, One, and the Truth - being at one with the Universe, or at-one-ment.
In the New Testament, the teacher is reported to have asked his disciples a question which we can interpret here to have been another application of this same, now familiar principle that in order to change our sense of the universe (and therefore of ourselves) we must alter our way of seeing it. The question was, quite simply, Who do you say I am?
This seems an innocent enough question on its face, but look again, for it’s loaded. As the teacher certainly recognized, however we answer that will instantly and unmistakably reveal where we are along the way toward fully integrating into our consciousness his teachings about the true nature of the universe, of reality, and of ourselves. If our answer centers around the teacher’s apparent personality and performance, his this-worldliness in any of its religious, political, or social manifestations and ramifications, we show ourselves to be still thinking in terms of this world, still bound by the limitations of our father’s paradigms. We will have seen the teacher as a separate individual come amongst us to alter, if improve upon, reality within our accepted existing framework - new wine in old skins. On the other hand, if our reply is focused beyond this world, on the truth of the teachings and not the mortal-ness of the teacher, on what lies beyond the prism and not on what we think we see in it, then we will have demonstrated that we have begun to shed the inherited and chosen perceptions which heretofore we have confused with, and acknowledged as, vision. To be sure, this latter answer cannot really be put into words, being beyond the capacity of language to communicate, and reflecting more a state of being than an idea or concept to be expounded. But the teacher and others with true vision - with ears to hear, as he puts it - will understand, will see, what the inadequate words are meant to convey.
Many spiritual traditions employ these kinds of questions between a teacher and students, and there is no right answer to them in the sense that there is to an academic or professional examination, for these are intended more as probes into a seeker’s consciousness, rattles to awaken the sleeping awareness of Truth within. Likewise, because the question is more an experience than a test, it is not enough for us simply to repeat another’s answer which was seen to elicit a favorable reaction from the teacher. Unless we see as the other did, we cannot answer as he did, even though we think we are doing so by voicing his words. Not knowing as he knows or seeing as he sees, we can only interpret his answer within the limits of our own understanding and fall short, as it falls short.
A corollary to the principle resident in the question Who do you say I am? might be stated, I am who you say I am. That is, what we see in, and think of, another is determined by what we believe about the nature of individual personality, of life, of reality itself, and thus any person we address will appear to us as he does because of who and what we believe ourselves to be, through and by which belief, we perceive, measure, and categorize others. This is most emphatically not to say that we are for ourselves what others think of us, but we are so for them. Thus, the teacher is reported to have responded in effect to his accusers that he was who they said he was if they said so. Having chosen to see him through their existing belief structure which labeled the likes of him traitor, blasphemer, a threat to order, or whatever, they could not see him otherwise, and so, from their point of view, so he was. No amount of verbal argument or emotional persuasion on his part could change their belief structure. Like them, we too are deaf and blind to all except that which confirms or reinforces our existing beliefs because it is those through and by which we accept, screen, and interpret everything we experience. We cannot conceive of what we do not believe is possible. To see differently, and thus to know and become the right answer to the teacher’s question - which incidentlally we can direct to anyone or anything, including ourselves, as in: Who or what do I say that thing is, or I am? - we must change ourselves, and we do that by altering our belief or value structure.
We have seen that common, ordinary occurrences, phenomena, and relationships can be effectively employed to teach us something about the spiritual journey and our progress along it. Indeed, in the final analysis, this may be their only real purpose. Because what is outer is inner, we can and should use the world around us and our feelings about it as a curriculum for the study of ourselves and of our true nature. The New Testament teacher, as should be clear by now, was a master at this technique, and perhaps nowhere is his skill better evidenced than in his lesson on marriage and divorce.
Here is an issue which confronts many of us, either directly or indirectly, and when it does, it tends to be in a highly personal, emotion-charged context. The teacher asks us to step back, however, and look at this aspect of human life as an illustration of Universal Truth, and from it to draw application for our own lives.
In the incident, the teacher was asked if there were any just cause for a man to leave his wife (and presumably vice-versa). The teacher responded that from the beginning God had made them male and female, and that it was for this reason that a man leaves his parents to be joined to a wife, the two becoming one flesh. He concluded that what God had joined, man should not put asunder. In our predictable hassling over a liberal or conservative literal interpretation of this story, endlessly looking for loopholes to accommodate our immediate, this-world desires, we may have missed the essential underlying point altogether, which is: by perceiving the One as many, through the prism, and by creating our own separative sense of reality from that refraction, we have put asunder what is joined, seen as separate and separated what is neither. The sanctity of marriage as such, then, is not the central issue here, and the lesson is therefore intended to be as relevant to those among us who are not married as to those who are.
The teacher’s observation that from the beginning God made the couple male and female will call to mind, for those who have studied it, the Eastern tradition that all life, and Life, has two aspects: yin and yang, passive and active, negative and positive, female and male, to mention only some of the labels employed. Never are these two seen as separate and distinct entities, but rather as alternating or complementary characteristics of one whole, like two sides of a coin. Neither is complete or even possible without the other, just as the tails side of a coin cannot exist without the heads. The two, then, are not connected or attached, but simply different aspects of the same thing. And when they are not in balance, when one is emphasized at the expense of the other, when, in ignorance of their nature, separation of the two is attempted, it is the whole which suffers.
It is to precisely this concept that the teacher is pointing in this lesson. In the institution of marriage in our outer lives he would have us see a manifestation of the inner process he urges upon us. We have, he said, been created with, or as, two aspects, male and female, and it is the natural order of things for these two to seek balance and union. Thus, on the outer level, we leave our parents to seek a mate with whom to be joined as one flesh. On the immediate inner level, we abandon any allegiance to the notion that our sex determines our personality, potential, or performance, and seek instead easy communion within, among all our parts and aspects, certain that while physically male or female, we are also inwardly as much the other, and that in the confident and open recognition of that lies balanced harmony of the whole. And, following a still deeper sense of this teaching, we leave behind or release the values and paradigms of our fathers which have convinced us of, and bogged us down in, a separative understanding of reality, and turn instead toward an understanding and realization of union and the unity of life or Life. Each of these levels or senses speaks of and to the others, and as we turn our attention to one, so will the rest reflect that. The universe is plutonic, remember, and we cannot make alterations at one level without witnessing change at all others.
What all this has to do with divorce in a literal sense is that if we accept the validity of divorce in our outer lives, we will have accepted it inwardly as well, and it is that which the teacher would have us not do. Is he then forbidding divorce? While no one can speak for him, I would suggest it was not his style to forbid anything. Rather, he would urge upon any of us contemplating divorce, or any other decision, to seek to understand the ramifications, in a plutonic universe, of our intentions, motivations, and alternative courses of action. The inner search for truth is a universal one, but too it is intensely personal, and as we have suggested earlier, no one can prescribe or proscribe any of the steps for us. We have to do what seems most right to us after careful reflection at the moment of decision, confident that we can honestly and earnestly do no other, and that the Light ahead, if we are genuinely seeking to see it, will eventually come into view.
As we begin to look upon our relationships with others, upon everyone and everything in our lives, as the manifestation of what we are within, nothing will continue to seem as once it did. Our old beliefs, as we come to recognize their inadequacy and erroneousness, will cease to serve to explain to us satisfactorily what we are experiencing, and there will be a period in our early development when nothing seems to make any sense at all. In the process of shedding our old skin, as it were like a snake, but not yet fully comfortable in or conversant with our new, and true, attire, we will feel ourselves out of place and out of touch, drifting between a sense of reality which we now know to have been inaccurate, and a vision which we have not yet truly grasped.
Consider a seventeenth century European on first being told that the earth is round and not flat as he had been taught. Inevitably, the new knowledge must change everything he used to believe, for none of the old explanations about the universe can stand before it. But before he has fully absorbed the meaning of this discovery, he will be beset by a variety of seemingly ridiculous questions - Do people on the other side walk upside-down? What direction do trees grow down there? and, Why don’t things fall off the bottom? Still trying to apply the former framework to the revised picture, even though he may be aware he is doing so, our friend seeks to make sense of a round world in flat-world terms. And he will continue to do so until he has come to realize, to make real within him the knowledge, that the new information really does affect and alter everything. But he cannot change as quickly as the need to change can be brought to his attention, and his old belief structure will hang on.
In a very real sense, we here are in a like position. While we have concluded that nothing is as it seems, we still will continue to try to apply the old explanations. We are unfortunately susceptible to what we might call the “yes, but” syndrome, under whose influence we find ourselves thinking: Yes, I agree that the concept of an insecure, threatening future is a product of my mistaken beliefs about time, society, and life generally, and, yes, I recognize that if I can fully rid myself of the latter the former too will dissolve, but still I must work today to provide for tomorrow’s needs. Or again, yes, I know that threatening anger against me perceived in others is a manifestation of my own inner anxieties, and indeed my concern about my physical safety is predicated upon a misunderstanding of what I truly am, but still I must maintain my defenses against my enemies. Just in case. And, of course, so long as we leave the door open to that just in case eventuality, it will - in a plutonic universe - seem and therefore be real to us.
Here we might be able to make use, for illustration purposes, of another device, called a hologram. As I understand it, not even the physicists who work with these things can fully explain how or why they perform as they do, but for our needs in this discussion it is enough to know that a hologram is a specially devised picture, somewhat like a photograph, which is unique in that any part of it contains the whole, and in the fact that, if any part is changed, the whole is changed accordingly.
Thus, if a hologram is cut in half, for example, a projection of the remaining half nonetheless produces a complete image of the whole, as would clearly not be the case if one were to cut in half an ordinary photographic slide. And, if even one small part of the hologram is changed - not altered in size but in composition, then the whole image is changed too, the whole reflecting the change to the part.
In somewhat the same way can the change in vision which we are talking about be said to work on our perception of reality. If we try in this search for truth simply to apply the lessons to our existing belief structure, perhaps in an effort to live a more pious life, our reality will still seem and be much the same as before, for while we may have abandoned some of our old practices, we will not have altered the basic framework of our lives. In holographic terms, we will have cut in half the hologram, but the projected image remains unchanged. On the other hand, if we can succeed in seeing even one small part of our lives with the eyes of clear vision if only for just a moment, we will find that everything else looks different to us as well, for having altered one part of the hologram, the whole is changed. Unfortunately, as we have already observed, we are not entirely like the hologram, which once altered remains altered. Unless fully alert, we tend to slip back to the old ways. But fortunately it is also true that once we see even one small element of life as it truly is, we seem generally to be sufficiently moved by the event as never again to be long satisfied with or fully fooled by the illusion. Perhaps it can be said that while it is true that we are prone to back-sliding, we do not ever lose quite as much ground as we gained, and thus even in our seemingly inadequate struggling there is always progress.
But still, the commitment must be to total change. As we have said, it is not enough, nor is it possible, to try to live in both worlds. Armed, however tentatively at first, with the discovery that the world is not flat but round, we must be ready to get underway with a corresponding whole new set of charts, and leave at the pier all the old preparations and safeguards developed earlier against falling off the edge.
As the New Testament teacher put it, we cannot serve two masters. Once we have begun this spiritual unfolding, this quest for Truth, nothing less will suffice nor really feel right than a determination to see it through to the end, whatever the cost - and in a this-world sense, the cost is high, including in the price as it does everything we now believe about everything. Whatever may have been the primary, driving purpose of our lives heretofore, our new focus must be to seek the Truth, and all our activities must be seen as ways or means to accomplish or facilitate that effort. Thus, for example, we may continue our former professions, but not as doctors, farmers, or bus drivers who seek, but as seekers who doctor, farm, or drive buses. Not as spouses or parents who seek, but as seekers who are spouses or parents. The seeking, then, is first, and becomes the motivating force behind, the purpose for, and the environment of everything else. And, to the extent that we are thorough in this endeavor, we will discover that we enjoy more and are better at some of what we used to do. Only some, I say, because much we will discard as no longer relevant or contributory. With fear, anxiety, and the threat of insecurity less the underlying foundations of our lives, we will find it easier to walk when we used to run, to embrace whom we used to grab, and to flow with what we used to struggle against. And while there is more to this pilgrimage home than that, more that cannot be spoken because what it is, language isn’t, this is a way to it. Our first step must be to come to terms with the knowledge that we are not what we think ourselves to be and neither is reality, that our neighbors, relationships, and experiences speak to us of much more than we now hear, for in a plutonic universe, our beliefs, our lives, and we, and everything else, are not many but one, and the sooner we see that, the sooner we see.
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