WEEK 26 :THE END OF THE BEGINNING

With words of hermits and royals ringing in my ears, ideas of self reliance and the journey being the destination, I sat at the place where several roads diverged. Did I truly know whence I came or whither I’m bound? I laughed, maybe a bit nervously.

One of those wise men used to start by saying : “Grasshopper…” usually in answer to a question his Kung Fu student asked.

Now there’s a model. Caine of Kung Fu fame, if you asked him where he was going might easily say “I don’t know.” That is, not in a geographical sense. The conditions of his journey seemed to be, never settle anywhere, commit to everyone through committing to no one, only travel by walking (best way not to overlook something), travel light and count on providence for food with enough nutrition to maintain the best martial skillset in the world. Perhaps he was also wondering if he’d ever meet an enemy who could win against him.

On one side of the crossroads was the large warehouse-like building I’d struggled to enter and could now enter anytime through a certain hole I’d carefully made in the wall, just in case a custodian changed the doorlock or I forgot the combination while I was away. I planned to pay a lifetime rent for the place so I could return knowing my junk hadn’t been disturbed but was still there faithfully waiting for me to come and tidy it up.

If the journey is the destination, we never arrive and we’re all travellers. Or we arrive at our best way to travel.

What stops us from laughing and smiling whenever? Laughter is silver, and to smile is golden.

I smiled and happened to it rather than it happening to me.

WEEK 25 : THE HOLY GRAIL

‘Grail’ means gradual, one or a few steps at a time.

To graduate means to reach a certain level, and also to measure.

A measured pace is an even pace – not slow, not fast, but persistent.

Go on forever. The way is in.

‘What you are asking is your treasure house.’

That means, the fact that you are framing the questions is going to make you rich. Because you’re looking for something.

Long ago we kids would sometimes get told: ‘There’s going to be a treasure hunt. Go outside and see what you can find !!!’ Excitedly, we ran outside and found what the adults had put there for us to find.

I have to confess that for a long time I stopped assuming great things in life would be left out there for me to find. I need to relearn that excitement. And go out finding things.

Why a ‘holy’ grail?

Holy carries the idea of religious, clean, purified, sinless, somehow specially chosen and exclusive. The gradual journey within is so exclusive that only one person can make it.

You. And you do it by cleaning and polishing your act.

Like Aladdin, if you get into the treasure cave through a magician’s spell, great treasure is there but you might not know how to get out with it and return as the treasure-laden hero. Yet.

Once Aladdin was desperate enough to decide to pray, he remembered he had the ring all along – he wasn’t as stuck as he thought. Nor am I.

He could have gone back for more treasure any time but didn’t, because he found an easier way. Just call up the genie and place an order.

That suited him as if you go by what his mother said he was pretty lazy. Never did anything.

What kind of holy grail search is that? First he got really rich, then his work started…

I’VE GOT IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

(The following is a non-copyright interpretation provided free to all my readers.)

Like Aladdin, we are born rich without having to earn it.

Then along comes a magician to tell us aren’t rich, we need to earn it and to try to steal it from us when we do. The golden Buddha devalued.

Aladdin’s hard work all came after he got rich. When the magician came back to steal his bride and move his lego castle, that was when the bride’s royal dad sent Aladdin on what turned out to be his real hero’s journey. The final test of that was arranging for the magician to die of poison. But for ages he searched everywhere, inconveniently forgetting that he still had the slave of the ring at his command until he got desperate enough to pray (again). He did it by slipping on a rock and rubbing the ring (accidentally praying through adversity).

Isn’t that a bit like forgetting to ask for help from our massively powerful subconscious? I’m calling it – the slave of the ring is our individual subconscious.

‘If you must kill, do it without emotion.’                    – Meher Baba

The sage understood that killing shouldn’t be done lightly but on very rare occasions it might be necessary, like any extremely distasteful job.

I should add that Meher Baba also knew that ‘there is no death’ so killing means removing from worldly existence for a time, during which the magician might choose to clean up his act, not be so mean in future. You could call it giving him another chance.

Aladdin sees, takes a deep breath, sees off the magician, GETS BACK HIS LAMP  and takes his bride and castle back home.

I hear you all asking :’Yeah, but what’s the lamp then ?’

Well, that would be Universal Consciousness. When you have that you can move mountains.

Note : the skill of mountain moving ( a few steps up from mountain climbing) isn’t learned all at once. Since Aladdin had it in the first place, then had it taken away and had to go and get it back, we can say he only got to keep it once he learned exactly what it was. And how to use it, and to keep using it.

That’s the hero’s journey. Go find the Holy Grail that you are.

WEEK 24 : THE HERMIT IN SILENCE

Their Royalnesses advised me to call in at the hermit’s place.

“Where is it ?”

“Deep in the forest. Or on the edge of the forest. Or one at a time. Just ask someone and you’ll get directions.”

“What if the place takes ages to find?”

“That’s partly the point. Only the most determined get through. And when you get there you’ll be so puffed out you’ll be able to keep silent for a few hours.”

“To hear the hermit’s wise advice for my journey?”

“Probably not. Some hermits keep their lips hermitically sealed. You might get a smile.”

“But aren’t some known for helping the locals solve their problems? Giving wise advice and stuff?”

“That is true. But you see the point of being a hermit is mainly to keep silent. Rather like a group of Shut Your Trappist monks.”

“A group of monks who stay together in order not to have conversations with each other. Isn’t that a bit weird?”

“You have to realise that a shared silence is bigger than an individual silence.”

“I get that, but what’s the point ? Why go somewhere just to be all that silent  – what good does it do ?”

“Well, silence is golden, the saying goes. Years ago I read some books by Tuesday Lobsang Rampa. He was a hermit for a time though he made up for it afterwards with all his books. I mean, he got so many great ideas while being silent that he had enough material for all those books.

“Fiction writers do a form of the same thing to get their stories written. Usually they start in the morning according to strict discipline, put a Do Not Disturb sign on their office door and write for a set time. If they were being constantly interrrupted they’d get nothing done.

“Likewise a CEO. Why do you think CEO’s have secretaries? Yes I know all that stuff but the original point of a secretary was to limit access to the CEO in case the CEO was having a quiet time getting a brilliant idea for the company.

“Do you know, all this talk is making me quite exhausted. But there’s one last point before you leave. Tuesday (Mr Lobsang Rampa) also said there was a very special kind of hermit he met. They live in a row of special houses with no windows and almost no doors, to keep out as much light as possible. It was organised, they’d get food passed in to them and presumably a toilet bucket taken out though he didn’t explain that bit. If you like they were voluntary prisoners doing an important job for humanity.”

“What was it?”

“They would travel astrally round the planet fixing problems, had it down to a fine art. That’s easier to do in constant dark, without the distraction of lighted surroundings. Travel time wasn’t an issue – imagine your destination, intend and Bingo ! you’re there. And as they didn’t take their voices with them their help would have to be given silently, like just popping a good idea into the head of someone who was sitting there being silent.

“I’m not promising that you get your good ideas from one of them, but there’s a chance of it. You know when you ‘get a good idea’, that it comes in silence and you don’t know exactly where from.

“Now I really am exhausted. You’d better go.”

I went.

I learned something that day.

Conversation is for sharing ideas. No wonder it’s silver.

Silence is for getting them.

No wonder it’s gold.

 

WEEK 23 : THE ROYAL INTERVIEW

Everyone who ever makes it to Carbonek gets a one on one interview with the Royal Whomever. After eating, resting up, cleaning wounds etc – they know how long to leave it.

You go to your interview, which isn’t scary as you’ve been through so much already. The Royals have done their research and know everything but it doesn’t matter. Sure you made mistakes but ultimately only due to ignorance, of which you overcame enough to make it to Carbonek.

You sit with the king, who happens to have a weeping wound that after many years hasn’t killed him, but neither will it heal. In the legend I vaguely recall, one of the knights finally brought something that finally did heal the king, but by then that knight had passed on.

Somewhere in everyone’s interview the king almost certainly says : “The meaning of life is to find your gift, and the purpose of life is to give it away. When you’ve done that you can die if you like, though you won’t really”.

And you think :

“Why do I get one more part still to play

When someone else far greater passed away ?

Did they achieve their purpose while I may

Not have achieved mine? Could this be the day

I get the chance to make the passing grade?”

 

The world won’t die, but what if your contribution is the one that heals that persistent wound?

A lady I know once said that Galahad never having put a hand or foot wrong was all very well, but who can identify with that? It was his dad Lancelot who meant really well, stretched the boundaries, fell often and never gave up who played the vital role of showing how to be against Arthur and for him at the same time in Camelot.

“Do not go gentle into that, good knight.”            (Regards to W H Auden)

 

 

WEEK 22 : THE ACCIDENTAL HERO RETURNS BUT NOT FINISHED YET

‘I followed orders, God knows where I’ve been

But when I woke up alone, all my wounds were clean

I’m still here, I’m still here for the holy grail ‘

–  Hunters and Collectors,  The Holy Grail

 

I woke up. My dizziness is gone, my rash is nearly gone (some days it doesn’t appear at all).

I’m getting fitter, new diet, more exercise. More of the mind warehouse has been searched than ever before. This isn’t just the start, it’s been going on and off for a long time, but it certainly isn’t the end. We could always call it a restart.

 

Knights on their heroic journeys went out looking for the holy grail because it was once shown them. And seeing it pass in stately procession would have been an unforgettable dream.

Remember Carbonek ? That castle from the legend of the knights of the round table. An unusual castle because sometimes, no matter how carefully you followed directions, it just wasn’t there. Or, it just wasn’t there for YOU.

‘Ride fifty miles, reach the river, go upriver until the cliff gets too steep, work along the base past these dragons, find a narrow path up through the rocks, get onto the spiritual plain…’

Something prevented all the knights from following these directions all the way. They’re not accurate, by the way – the correct version is in one of the translations of the legend of Arthur, perhaps ‘King Arthur and The Knights of the Round Table’ by Roger Lancelyn Green.

Here’s a clue. If you’re about to find Castle Carbonek again, having found it once before, you know it because you remember how the colour of the landscape changed. You had somehow got onto a spiritual plane, and the last stage of the journey was kind of not on the planet. Somehow you see more clearly by seeing through an illusion, in which you’ve had plenty of practice along the way. You might be nearly there and suddenly the illusion returns. Or not, and the landscape changes, you gallop the last few miles and there’s Carbonek.

You go in and find they’ve been expecting you. The meal is ready – somehow they knew exactly when you’d arrive. Or they just have a meal ready all the time.

‘Well done, you’ve made it to Carbonek. But because you left a few things behind you’re going to have to go back and get them. But thanks to your experience the trip will be easier this time.’

Now to start planning for the next trip.

There are going to be more trips until you never forget the way.

” Therefore let us go, and take the adventure that is sent us. ”

– High King Peter, somewhere in Narnia

WEEK 21 : TO DO IS TO BE ( NO, WAIT…)

Long ago a group of friends were making fun of philosophy.

“To be is to do.”                   -John Stuart Mill  (even funnier if he said no such thing)

“To do is to be. ”                 – Jean-Paul Sartre

“Doobee doobee doo, bee doo bee doo bee ” – Frank Sinatra singing Strangers In The Night (that one’s genuine).

Perhaps Sinatra summed it up best. Something is going to happen anyway and ultimately it does turn out so right.

This time the rats weren’t running past, but sidling awkwardly because they were toting deckchairs, sitting down and forming a small audience. I cough a bit and begin.

“Welcome. We are here today to discuss the question :”What Does Genetics Have To Do With It ?’

“Shouldn’t that be ‘What DO genetics have to do with it?’ ?”

“No, because you can’t have only one genetic.

Now here’s the problem. We were all working away sorting our mind warehouses, making great efforts and believing that this was going to make a huge difference to what our future selves would become. Practice makes perfect and all that. But now scientists are saying that what we were going to do was all genetically programmed anyway, if I understand them correctly.”

“But they didn’t say therefore we didn’t need to do the work. More like, we were programmed to feel like doing it when we, like, hear the herald’s call. The herald always makes a public call but not everyone hears it as such. Quite a few just assume the call is to someone else.”

“Didn’t someone say ‘For many are called, but few are chosen.’ ? I used to think that meant ‘You have all been called here today, and now we’re going to pick just a few of you and leave the rest.’ What if the choice is being made by those who hear the call, by what they do as a result?”

The rats were getting the hang of this. There were squeaks of approval.

“Now  here’s my theory.’ This from a rat, large from doing many sits and wearing a Platonic robe.

“You know there’s no free will. Subconscious makes the decision several seconds before you’re aware of it, you think it’s a free decision but actually it isn’t. But you can program subconscious in advance to decide a certain way. Or not, so that’s your choice and therein lies the freedom. It’s just that it’s not impromptu.

“You see, what Survival Of The Fittest, who then live, breed and pass on their genes must mean is that creatures survived due to something they chose to do before they knew it would succeed. Inevitably therefore, genes originated in active choice.

“Those that made a fatal choice and died still died making a choice, by which in other circumstances they might have lived. There’s no one who doesn’t make a choice.

” ‘To be or not to be’ is NOT the question, even though Shakespeare was definitely working along these lines. No one gets to ‘not be ‘ – you all simply ARE. The answer is clearly ‘to do, or not to do, is to be.’ ”

And those genetically programmed to answer the herald’s call and act on it? Looks like they programmed themselves and came back to follow their own program.

“Isn’t that sounding a bit like reincarnation, which ‘science’ is iffy about and likes to call unscientific on the basis of having carefully avoided studying it?”

“Sorry, Socrates. You don’t just get to knock my castle down with clever logic. The deal includes building one yourself that you think will stand up better.”

More rats were arriving. Some more space was going to need clearing.

 

WEEK 20 : MAKING IT (TO) MY LAST DAY, OG

I go dizzy sometimes as I carry my sorted boxes. The cleared area looks much bigger but it’s becoming a blur like the memory of the number of trips I’ve made to the recycle bin.

“And what shall I do with this last day that remains in my keeping?”

The author doesn’t know it, but he actually means ”the day I don’t know is going to be my last, but just in case it turns out to have been, I’m going to slog harder than ever before.”

Because there’s so much I haven’t done yet.

But Og, won’t there always be?

If I throw myself into getting more of it done than ever before, isn’t that like running up Mount Everest intending to make it in a day? Now that would help to make this day so much more likely to be my last that you must mean something else.

Doctors are known for saying this to cancer patients :

” The rubbish in your attic isn’t just sitting there passively as rubbish is meant to do. It’s gone rogue and it’s coming for you. For one of these days to be your last all you have to do is nothing different.

‘You see, you’re like Horatius, keeping the bridge with a few loyal followers who will never leave you. But there’s an army coming, in fact it’s already here, and the point is they don’t just want to kill and win, but it’s you they’re after, just you. There are millions of them, they’ve got into your city already and they’re taking you down from the inside. Your last day will be sooner rather than later.”

The magnificent gladiator gave his life for his country/his country’s democracy in the firm belief that he had an afterlife to go to. His fight was in existence and made no difference to his life – he just moved into another room.

So you want to disbelieve this? Be my guest, go right ahead. You and a few cynics up against all the cultural myth and legend ever. Are you really so sure they all got it so wrong? I’d say it isn’t that they all couldn’t face total annihilation – it’s that you couldn’t face the thought that when you come back from holiday your work will still be there to get on with.

So I’ve got cancer (not really, as far as I know:) ). And I start assuming that now is all I have and all that matters, because I’m going to meet my future self quite soon. IT knew more about my life plan than I did.

But nor do I believe ‘Life’s a bitch and then you’re dead.”

So let’s do something every day. Not nothing, and not more and more and more and more (sorry, Og – when I started this I just followed it and didn’t know I’d end up disagreeing 🙂 ).

Being the best I can be is by definition a task that never ends. Be your best anytime you like, but not on condition that one day will be your last, as there is no last.

This day can never be my last. Irrespective of days and sunrises, life just is and there’s no escape. Changing the conditions doesn’t change the state.