Thoughtline December 1996
Did You Really Mean That?
The following talk by Tom Carney was delivered at the Community Meditation Meeting for Scorpio on October 25, 1996, at Meditation Mount, Ojai, California.
The Zodiac, a symbol for the seamless pattern of evolutionary development, is a very deep well. It gives to the patient inquirer meaning and significance on microcosmic levels (you and me, for example) and on macrocosmic levels for our planet Earth, and, indeed, if we were seers enough to register it, for the entire Solar System.
Starting with Aries, each sign signifies a stage of opportunity for the unfolding of certain aspects of the inner potential of the purpose, the cosmic seed, embodied in each form, whether the form be a Solar System or, like you and me, a person. In that grand and eloquent pattern, Libra faces the traveler with a point of decision. This point of decision is, believe it or not, unavoidable.
You may not remember what you chose last month or even that you did choose. Most people do not. But choose we did. In making that decision, we tipped the balance of our lives one way or another. Actually, I think that the most common choice is to not choose; in not choosing we choose to maintain the status quo, to go around the wheel of life again the same way that we did last time. However, consciously or unconsciously, we made a decision. Scorpio simply asks us if we really meant it.
Scorpio, the Grand Inquisitor, simply says to us, if we can hear it, and presents to us, if we can see it, in one situation after another, opportunities to evaluate our decisions. Frequently these messages are very subtle, but sometimes they are quite startling. They are frequently painful; but sometimes, most of the time, if they are handled appropriately, they lead the traveler to a joyous new morning.
"This is what you chose," Scorpio says to us. "Are you satisfied?" Or, "Are you still satisfied with these results? Are you sure? Would you like to reconsider? Do you see the way in which these decisions point? Can you handle this?" Our response to these "tests" determines our course around the wheel of life. We continue on as we are going, or we readjust or realign our path either toward the light or toward the darkness.
So, there you have the point of Scorpio.
We are on this thing called a Path. I speculate that we refer to it as the Path because Path is a much more poetic, visual kind of concept than plain old evolution. On this journey, we need visuals. We need poetry; we need color printers. (Think about the marvelous illuminations that were on every other page of the ancient scriptures.) We need multimedia. At least I do.
This process of Path walking or of unfolding the Plan, which we call evolution, gets mighty complicated, especially when we stir a little 'free will" into the mix. Multimedia helps us understand.
It is the 'free will" aspect, by the way, that makes Scorpio so interesting. It is the mark of some maturity to realize that one chooses one's own destiny, and then, of course, to accept the responsibility for the choosing is not only a mark of maturity but a mark of enlightenment. I find it interesting that enlightenment is not about knowledge but about the courage and the willingness to be responsible.
There is a Plan, of course. It only makes sense. There is a Way that evolution will go. And, like the master storytellers we all are, we really do know the end from the beginning. Evolution is not a dumb, blind accident looking for someplace to happen. Evolution is not a mindless "survival of the fittest" force ("surviving what," "fit for what" is never mentioned), trying this and that, hit or miss, let's go this way, try out dinosaurs for awhile. OOPS! That meteorite (or was it a cold front?) sort of messed that one up. Let's try algae or maybe mushrooms or, 'Hey! Let's try these curious looking humanoids. They survived the meteorite and the dinosaurs. We'll give them a few billion years to see how they work out."
By the way, according to many of the materialist scientists, they are not "working out" so well and are in danger of terminating themselves (unfit, I guess) from the random selection process. This materialistic view of evolution is engendered, I think, by our old self-conscious focus that fails to see the Plan, is actually incapable of seeing the Plan because it is only self-conscious, and thus concludes that there is no Plan.
It is interesting to note that in order to see the Plan we must lose sight of ourselves. That is not such a far-out concept, is it? I mean if one is constantly focused on one's self, how can one possibly see anything else? I tried this out: I looked at myself in a mirror. As long as I was looking at myself, I could not see anything else. If I tried to look at something else, I could not see me. Startling, scary
Evolution is an UNFOLDING LIFE. It may sound corny to the physical scientists, but there is, after all, A GREAT STORYTELLER. All of these concepts are relative, of course. So the GREAT STORYTELLEWS story is this Solar System. On our level, the Storyteller is the Initiate. The Initiate is the cause, not the result, of one's evolution.
Just so is Shakespeare the cause rather than the result of Hamlet. Knowing the end from the beginning is what makes a story tellable, is what differentiates a story from a chaotic ramble or a blind and irrational accident. But that end, or the knowledge of it at least, has not been hard-wired into this particular edition of our equipment. I mean that we forget who we are, where we came from and where we are going. Instead, we live a series of lives in which we are able to discover the Path by choosing our own way, or, as the Wise Ones are fond of saying, "We discover the Path by becoming the Path."
If we knew or remembered all of this stuff up front, where would the challenge be? Where would the fun be in that, or the drama, the spectacle? And where would the pain be, the disappointment of unrequited love, the incredible lessons that we have all learned from that? Where the despair and discouragement of failure? Where the agony of Othello as, looking upon the strangled and broken body of his beloved Desdemona, the meaning of his life breaks upon the shore of his consciousness, as he realizes where his desire and pride, his self-centered pomposity have led him, where his lack of faith and his self-denial have led? He is tragic and noble and oh, so very, very human. We all, if we are perceptive enough, learn from these other lives. And, again, if we are perceptive enough, we can avoid duplicating the errors of Othello and Hamlet, of Agamemnon and Oedipus, of Willie Loman, of Laura Wingfield, of Blanche DuBois or Stanley Kowalski. One could go on for an hour or two.
Humanity has been focused on Humanity for a very long time. When one clears away all of the critical "incredimentia," all of the deconstructionist's "factoids" and intellectual trappings, one of the basic messages that lies at the root of world art and the world's Ageless Spiritual Teachings, is simply that desire and the self-centered focus that desire unavoidably engenders leads to pain, to despair, to the illusion of separation and, ultimately, to ashes. It is an old, old message. You would think that it was about time for us to get it. But we are still not quite there. There are still many, many of us, some of whom know better, who are still victims of our own little selves, our own desire, that mother of immobility.
Let me tell you a little story about a fellow traveler. I know this man who at 65 years of age has accomplished much. He lived through the Korean war as a Paratrooper-no mean feat. His professional life was spent as a professor of biological sciences at a Mid-Western college. His education and professional life led him deeply into the environmental challenges we face on the planet. He is a passionately concerned man. He cares a great deal for the planet. He has been married to the same woman for 35 years. He and his wife raised three children all of whom are college educated and well-balanced people.
These are magnificent accomplishments. They all speak eloquently of a strong and courageous soul. Risking one's life in the insanity we call war requires courage. Maintaining a marriage relationship speaks of great skill and understanding in right human relations. Raising three children and sending them all to college requires a lot of self-sacrifice, to say the least.
And yet, and yet, I sense a kind of despair in this man, a kind of disillusionment. Here he is, he has done everything that was indicated to make a happy life. And if you ask him he would say he is happy. But he is also not fulfilled. He wants something more. He desires something more. I do not know what he will do. He has made choices. It is Scorpio. I do not know.
If he would look just slightly to one side of himself, just slightly past the personality's desires... to so look takes tremendous courage, and it may be that the courage to do this is of a different kind than the courage to risk one's life in battle. But I think that in his case, as in most cases, the great hindrance is the lack of courage to step from the known and the comfortable, even though it may be a painful situation, into the new, into the unknown. If he does so step, it would have to be a conscious deliberate step, and it would be a step on to the Path, a reversal of the Wheel, perhaps. Only time will tell.
One more story. Several years ago I encountered a man at a conference in Ojai, California. It was on the weekend of the Meditation Group for the New Age (MGNA) Conference. I had known this man for 15, maybe 20 years. We were old study associates, and had exchanged many, many letters over many topics concerning the Teachings.
Over the years, this man had developed a particular pattern to his life through which I had witnessed him cycle 3 or 4 times. He would become very focused on the Teaching, and start to make real progress in his service efforts which, by the way, are always the indicator of Soul infusion. This pattern would develop to the point where he was taking on study associate responsibilities, working as a study associate with other travelers, starting full moon meditation groups, really serious service efforts.
And then, out of the blue, he would discover a new Teaching or a new teacher that he was convinced he needed to follow. He would disassociate himself from all of the service projects that he had undertaken, discontinue the study association links and just sort of disappear. One or two years would go by and he would return and start the entire process over again.
When I encountered him here at Meditation Mount, he was about at the high point of that cycle. He was hosting Community Meditation Meetings like this one, and working with other travelers in the Teaching. He was also very active in certain areas of community service. I was, therefore, not surprised at his announcement to me that he had discovered a new Teaching and that he felt compelled, by his soul of course, to follow it.
I had long since given up trying to dissuade anyone, especially this man, of, well, of anything. I was, am, of the opinion that we go through these things because we need to hear the message of the Path through our own experience. That is the only way we will really get it. Scorpio, The Great Provider of Experience, of course, is always willing to accommodate.
I think that it is OK, however, to try to throw some light on a brother's Way. After all, I had seen this man be jerked around, bounced up and down, blown hither and yon for 15 to 20 years. He was good material. He has good equipment, a big heart and he seems to persevere. He keeps coming back. To be dragged around this way by his emotionally charged personality was a waste. So, very carefully-if you can believe that-I did talk to this man a bit about the razor edge quality of the Path, and the need to watch out for certain kinds of the meat eaters and boiling bogs that lie on either side. He listened to this and nodded his understanding.
The next day, as Mary and I were preparing to leave, this man rushed up to me and said that he had had a breakthrough. He had thought a lot about what I had said the day before and had come to the realization that he was on the Path, but that his personal path was a path with no borders. I told him, "Adios Amigo. Vaya con Dios."
Interesting, amazing in some respects. It could be a courage thing, but who knows. I have watched this soul literally drag himself up to the point of a major life decision several times and turn away. It makes me think of sea glass ... little pieces of green or brown or white glass that have been rolled up and down a sandy beach for years and years until they have this lovely soft patina. No hard shiny places anywhere on them. I guess this man still had some hard shiny places and needed to be rolled up and down some more.
I have not heard from him for a year or so now. I hope that he is well, and I hope that he has continued to ponder on things.
It is a mistake, though, to think that the light that Scorpio, The Great Light Shedder, throws on our Way always reveals a time of bleakness. There are those moments when we have our own little revelations, not cheaply arrived at, but not so expensive as Othello's or Hamlet's, one would hope. These little openings, little synthesizing moments, are accompanied by the joy of discovery or remembering as a portion of the Great Illusion is dissipated and the beauty and symmetry of the Path emerges into our vision. Synthesis is what happens when illusion is dissipated. The revelation is always of a larger whole. So, triumph, revelation, joy-these are also notes of Scorpio and aspects of the human experience of learning, of remembering just who we really are and why we are here, and the way home.
It is true that, because we usually do not remember these things, our lives, like that of the man I mentioned a moment ago, frequently look like random rambles rather than coherent chapters in a long unfolding story. And when we get to the end of a life, we are really puzzled because we think of death as an end of the Story rather than the end of a chapter.
A life, or Life itself, doesn't really begin to make sense until we start to remember or realize that we do have a goal, an end, that all this strum and strife is actually for something, is actually going somewhere.
There is a Way back to the Father's house, and we know what it is. But we have forgotten it. Even after we remember that we know it, we are continually forgetting that we do. We hide it from ourselves. We work very hard at this. Sometimes, I think that humans work harder at hiding their divinity from themselves than they do at revealing it.
Interesting thing, by the way, about this Essential Divinity of ours: it can only be revealed by totally forgetting one's self. Our problem is that we "revolve so much within the circle of our own expressions that [we] do not perceive other signs." Agni Yoga Series: Brotherhood #26. This is not so unusual. Anyone who has climbed even a big hill knows that "During the Ascent the outlines of the summit are lost from view." Brotherhood #25.
In response to the question, "How can I keep from going through all these things twice?" (or even in some cases, as we well know, three and four times) that Bob Dylan, the recent nominee for the Nobel Prize for Poetry, asks, I think that if we can keep the summit, which we know exists, in our mind's eye, even if we can't see it with our physical equipment, we will have a more productive, quicker trip up the mountain. It won't be any less painful (this is, after all, planet Earth) and it won't be any less beautiful, just quicker. We can, however, keep from going through all those things twice ... with a little luck.
Also, it is good to focus a little attention on the idea of unfolding. Evolution is an unfolding. As we live, we are trying to unfold a concept. As we gain in Path experience we gain a better understanding of what the concept is about. We realize what works, what aids and what hinders the Great Unfolding. One cannot see this, of course, if one is constantly looking at his own reflection in the mirror of life.
But as we learn to look away from our little selves or through the glass, as the darkness which causes it to reflect fades and it becomes transparent, and into the real, and as we put our backs and pour our courageous hearts into what aids, we walk the Path by becoming the Path, a way, a source of strength, a light.