In my small way
I knew the call while still an 8-year-old boy beside a lake at first light of dawn while birds began chirping.
It’s an ancient call to the soul from the solitude of nature.
All great spiritual leaders have heard it while listening to the unfathomable peace in the heart of the mountains, streams and desert.
Moses heard the call on Mount Sinai. Buddha got it beneath the bodhi tree.
Jesus knew it in stillness and prayer by the River Jordan. Paul on a lonely journey in the desert.
St Francis in prayer in the crags of Alverno.
Mohammad got it alone on a mountain at Mecca.
All that is spiritual for each of us arises from quiet in solitude.
What is it about the spirituality of the call?
Genesis tells us what it is.
Forget the snake and the details of the story, for it is allegory. But deep wisdom is there in many forms.
The part about the temptation and the Fall is significant for understanding the importance of stillness, peace, quiet in nature.
The Fall is the forbidden apple. Maybe not literally, but great euphemism.
For it was knowledge that went to the head and gave humans their worst enemy — our hubris.
As Confucius puts it: “He Who Knows Not And Knows Not That He Knows Not Is A Fool.”
Humble Instead of Hubris
Don’t most authorities fall into this category, much of the time? I mean there is so much misinformation around it is a miracle that life in the world gets along as well as it does!
Getting back to solitude in nature and seeing the sky on a starry night lets us realize how little — so preciously little — any human knows. And yet we all go on as if we know a lot more than we actually do.
Realizing this about ourself is what humble is all about. Hubris is the opposite, thinking we are better, or wiser, or more informed than others. I for one, believe there isn’t a politician who doesn’t think that they know better what’s good for us than we do ourselves.
A little humility from spending some time under the stars aids us in not going off with half-baked ideas about saving the world from things it doesn’t know it needs saving from.
Out there on a trail
What do we know about the stream running past us at our feet? Other than it gets us wet.
Heraclitus said it a few thousand years ago: “No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.”
Getting back to nature allows us to let go of all ideas in our heads and to experience it all as if for the first time, which of course it is.
This does not require us to flee from the world of works. It is only to slay our ego. At least for a few minutes before we let it take charge again.
Eternal life is here already. It is the life of the eternal light within us, of the love that is incorruptible, though we are not always aware of it. To find it we perceive reality, absorb it and be absorbed by it, is the reward of returning to it in solitude.
It frees us from anger, worry, greed and lust, which impede the growth of our spirituality, our gateway to eternal bliss and freedom.
Aging releases us slowly from so much of what we had to do in life — concerns about earning a living, paying the bills, providing for the family in funds as well as services, caring and nurturing the children and all the efforts required for these.
We Geezers Have Been Through It
We now are getting a taste of life of the spirit that we’ll have after we leave this earthly form.
For when we say our last good-bye we will no longer have the tools to put forth the efforts — no hands, no brain, no mind to fret and work.
I’ve been close to a few who have passed on. Not one of them seemed unhappy about taking that journey.
As close as I am to my final breath, I know that, only in the present do I think I will miss a lot of things — my wife, my children, grand-children and my friends. But I do realize that I won’t have a mind or feelings or thoughts about them once I finally close my eyes the last time.
On a hike I do not fret, for I know I’ll return to them. Or will I?
Does my dad or mother, deceased wife, daughter and my friends think of me over there on the other side?
Is so, with what do they think, if they have no brain or mind to do the thinking?
Intuitively though, I know they’ll welcome me when I get there.
My dad’s last words to me were, “I’ll take you squirrel hunting when you get there.”
He meant it. I loved hearing it.
But, it will be without gun or bullets or even squirrels. Not at least, as we know them here .
I got to tell you, I do believe that the software programs that operated in dad, mom, Molly, Marcella, Wayne, Allen and Jock’s bodies and minds are still out there somewhere, unless they’ve already been uploaded in another bodily machine.
Unless that is, the Upanishad is true, that the soul is like a caterpillar that leaves the tip of one blade of grass, crosses over to another, grasps it and goes over to that blade’s tip.
Or I guess, we are still just too far removed from the details to know. Though do we know intuitively that beyond here there is being, consciousness and bliss eternal.
Like Pascal, I’ll bet on that, for if I am right I’ll profit greatly, and if I am wrong it won’t matter.
Betting it isn’t true, is a lose-lose proposition. I would lose if it is true and I don’t qualify. And if it isn’t true, it won’t matter.
“Enjoy the delight that flows from peace. The man whose mind is well-controlled is firmly established in peace. When the heart is thus established in peace, there arises the true bliss of the Self without delay.”
(Yoga Vasistha V.8)