I have a sense of standing on a line. On one side of the line, there is "me", with a name, a body, thus a house for the body to stay in out of the elements; the ego, the one who likes movies and Tom Clancy and Stephen King and John by-god Denver...this me whose serenity was taken away long ago; but then that other part, on the other side, that part knows my serenity is true, and real, and cannot be taken. We don't have to be afraid.
I have a severe brow. Looks like I'm scowling, but I'm really not. I knew a girl in high school who had a severe brow. I remember one day (she worked in a restaurant) I sat at the counter as she worked, her face in its "neutral" mode. She looked as if she were frowning, as usual. But then someone spoke to her, and the most beautiful smile appeared on her face. She had not been frowning at all. Her face had simply been at rest. Why do we think such weird things about one another?
Why can't we leave one another alone?
Now, here is the other part. (The "parts" are just symbols, as words are symbols.) The "deeper" part, if you like. I begin, and I feel the flow come in. Like a cloud full of words rather than rain, it comes, and the words fall in a shower.
I listen. I wait. (We only think we lost our patience, what with our instant messaging and our constant contact with "others". We did not lose it, we just stopped exercising it.) We want to be left alone, and yet we want someone to help us, or at least listen to us. This, too, is politics.
I do not tell total strangers to smile.
Three words: I am still. I am moved by diaries that speak of people being laid-off; people undergoing profound transitions; by a certain terrific series of diaries about UFOs, that subject which won't go away...How do little black marks on a screen touch us so? I am still. A certain something that seems calm, yet with a definite vitality and validity. As if it knows all is well. Knows for certain, without doubt. "I", this reader of novels, writer of poetry, little mass of complexity wrapped around eternal simplicity...I don't know for certain. I just feel it, and yes, I trust it. I am still.
You are witnessing my trying to get out of my own way, and just let it flow. Because the flow is real. The more I feel it and exercise it, the more I want to stay in it. I don't lose anything, but I gain everything. You are part of that, as we are part of one another, like it or not, understand it or not. That is why we cannot leave one another alone. A stranger is affected by "my" energy. It isn't just that I'm not walking around with a stupid grin on my face...it is that they sense my energy, as I sense theirs. Was it John Donne who wrote "No man is an island"?
We are teaching each other. By mowing my grass precisely where I believe the property line is (no fence,) I teach my neighbor that I respect his/our boundaries, and I defer to him, as he was here first. He teaches me by doing the same, that he is cool with it. My first winter here, we had a huge snowstorm, and one morning I awoke to find my neighbors out in force, helping dig each other out. So I grabbed my shovel and joined them. Which was not easy at first, as I am rather reclusive. That is politics, too.
Our urge to be helpful, hopefully without hanging labels there: "It's the Buddhist way", or, "It's the Christian way..." That urge seems strong in us, and labels to me are as a big door slammed shut. This need not be.
There is one teaching, and all teachings teach it.
I have a book, "Up Your Bracket" by Dr. H. Frederick Vogt (rhymes with vote.) He was SR. minister at Mile Hi Church of Religious Science, in Lakewood, Colorado. This copy (published by Graphic Impressions, Inc./Denver--1977) is signed: "Just be! --Dr. Fred." I didn't get it at first. "Just be."? Dr. Fred was well-loved, and I greatly admired him--I had dreams of being a minister of Religious Science myself, but that did not materialize--It was years later that "Just be" finally sank in.
A tall, graceful, happy man with silver hair, he would smile broadly at me, make eye contact, and sort of point, as if to say, "I sense your energy...something there..." We never had a conversation beyond a few words of greeting, but "Just be" still remains after thirty some years. "I yam what I yam", declared that great philosopher, Popeye.
We sense in life a great mystery, maybe many great mysteries. We feel that if there was some way that we could just loosen up, the result would be a whole new manifestation of our lives and an expression of that which we somehow sense that we are. We feel that there is something back of us or within us that could really make a difference. We could be greater, finer, more effective people. We have a consciousness of a bigger self.
--Fred Vogt, Up Your Bracket.
Just be. Thank you for your patience.