Being asked to write a Seeker’s Story by Tess, poses an interesting challenge for me. Although, for a long time, people have told me that I should write, for as long, I have found this peculiarly difficult. Even determined attempts to do so would wilt under an enervating sense that it just didn’t feel right to do so. This would grow into a kind of revulsion if I tried to write about myself, particularly if the slant was in some way spiritual.
Recently I read Black Elk Speaks, the dictated autobiography of the Ogala Sioux medicine man.
I found myself nodding in agreement whilst reading his opening words: ‘For what is one man that he should make much of his winters even though they bend him like a heavy snow? So many other men have lived and shall live that story, to be grass upon the hills.’
Despite fighting against the army and cavalry to save his people and homeland, he witnessed their massacre and loss. He travelled abroad with a wild west show and lived on to old age to finally share his story with the poet Reinhardt, but he would still claim that ‘this is not the story of a great hunter, or of a great warrior, or of a great traveller.’
He explained that although the incredible adventures of his life, ‘may come to seem to be the very tale itself,’ in truth, ‘it was the story of a mighty vision given to a man too weak to use it; of a holy tree that should have flourished in a people’s heart with flowers and singing birds, and now is withered, and of a people’s dream that died in bloody snow.’
In his final words, Black Elk called out to the Great Spirit, in the frail voice of his age and dereliction, ‘ With tears running, O Great Spirit, Great Spirit, my Grandfather- with running tears now, I must say the tree has never bloomed. A pitiful man you see me here and I have fallen away and done nothing. Here, at the centre of the world where you took me when I was young and taught me. Here, old I stand and the tree is withered, Grandfather, my Grandfather.’ When I read these words, I want to stop writing my own because what offerings are they in comparison? And who am I to do so?
But it is the words that follow that give me pause for thought, ‘ It may be that some little root of the sacred tree still lives. Nourish it then.’ Aye, Black Elk, my silence is not worthy of you, and if you can raise your frail voice to the Great Spirit, I’ll raise mine for you and for the nourishment you so desired.
And so it comes to be, that after all this time, I am asked to write three times in one day and it seems to me that the universe is telling me to do so as if shouting in my ear to be heard through the cankered wax and deafness of my disbelief. And though I am not on a mountain, nor a medicine man, but sitting in a chair in my living room, still full of misgiving, I ask you Great Spirit to help me.
As I was walking home this evening from work, through the cold and dark of an early winter’s evening, a man crossed the road in front of me and with swift, aggressive purpose smashed the ground floor windows of a house with a hammer. The violence was stunning in the sleepy fishing village where I live and I was the only person on the road. After phoning the police, the man disappeared as quickly as he had come, I wondered that if the hexagram patterns of life are an I Ching of meaning, what would this mean for me? I wondered too about the dream I had last night in which I ran desperately through the streets and markets of an Asian city knowing that I was going to miss my flight. I wondered too about my father dying hopelessly and slowly from cancer bereft, it seems, of even the smallest root of the sacred tree in the wasteland of his despair.
Is it presumptuous of me to conclude that this is the tableau of a warning that I would be foolish to ignore, as I have ignored gentle advice and encouragement for many years, and that the truth will out, if not with shouts, then with the swift aggressive purpose of Job’s devastation?
The night before Halloween, I lay awake, death-suited, thinking of my father, worried that the physical pain that had begun to afflict me was, in some way, my body’s reaction to the contamination of his fear in a sympathy of cancer. Eventually I slept, to be woken at 6.00am by my two young sons of six and three dressed in their halloween costumes, standing by my bed. Torin, the eldest, was dressed as a skeleton, and Lachlan as a wizard with a pointy hat and long white beard.
‘Daddy,’ said Torin, ‘ I have to tell you my dream.’
‘What was that?’ I replied, bemused by their costumes and seriousness.
‘ I dreamt I was walking through a graveyard, Daddy, and I was scattering seeds amongst the gravestones. As I looked down, I could see that trees were growing up beneath the gravestones and pushing them aside, and as I looked around, I could see huge trees growing everywhere where there were gravestones, and I danced for joy, Daddy, because I had done such a good job.’
Aye, Black Elk, a small root flourished in my boy that night, and through him, it nourished me. And I heed your warning Dad, Great Spirit, Grandfather to my boys – the Buddhists always say that the blessing of angels can come in terrible forms – and I honour your devastation, your dark night as holy ground, and it is for you that I offer these pages, these sacred leaves from our branch, so that your pain may prove fertile ground for the nourishment of the tree where birds are singing and flowers grow.
For using nostalgia in meditation in a practical manner, I see it like this: Richard Rose used to say that guilt is a mixture of fear and nostalgia, fear being we’re afraid of being punished for the act that brought on the guilt, and nostalgia being the longing for the relatively innocent state we were in before the act. Think of it in terms of a lifetime. We may feel guilty about having lived what we come to see as a meaningless life, or an unfulfilled one. The fear manifesting as the fear of being punished for our life asleep, of not being awakened, of wasting our chance. We will die, and not know why we lived, perhaps have to pay karma for our mistakes, and just the plain old fear of death, the unknown. The nostalgia would be from the longing for our innocent state before life affected us, such as the innocent state of a baby. We didn’t have problems or even an identity then, and sense it was better. Especially if we have children or have been around babies, we can pick this up.
Nostalgia is the key to using emotion to find our way back to our original state. If we only use the mind and the imagination in our search, it becomes dry and hollow. The emotional element is brought in by the nostalgic mood; it lends a direction, a practicality, and a motivating factor missing from the head only approach.
“It is absolutely essential that we actually get in touch with the eternal Child.” –William Samuel
I’ve found dreams to be a valuable source of self-knowledge through the years, and a great trick to get around the ego’s ruthless tactic of editing out anything truly useful in our search. The following dream is no exception. I was inisolation, a spiritual retreat, and had a curious dream. I wrote it down, and later, when back from the retreat, took the time to research the information. Even now the dream stands out, for it describes a fundamental aspect of us all, one that I continually find described by others in their own words, too.
The dream revolved around a character called the ‘gumb ‘. This term was accepted by me, as witness to the dream, being part and parcel to the world the dream presented. Only later in so-called waking life did I find the term curious. The character it described was an ordinary sort of fellow, of average height, build, and appearance, but his manner was most unusual. I was shown a series of vignettes where these characteristics were illustrated, as the dream narrator filled in the details.
In the first scene, the gumb was attacked with spears by a swarm of meanies. Being outnumbered and with no visible means of defense, I was flabbergasted at the result. He was able to simply wave off the spears, and continue on his way unharmed. Next, his bug-like adversaries built a series of walls from cement blocks in attempts to hem him in. Again, he simply waved his way through, never breaking stride. He never lost his cool or reacted emotionally in any way to these situations. He didn’t indulge in having his feelings hurt or stop to place blame, he just kept moving. He did not attack or retreat but held to his way, without hurry or delay.
While I watched in amazement, the narrator filled in the story. He told me the man was called the gumb. The reason he could not be hurt or stopped was because he did not carry a watch, and was not afraid to gamble. I remembered these words, and later, back in the world of organized information, I wrote them down and began the search for this word ‘gumb’.
While later on I found several different versions and roots of the word, the initial search was by far the most informative, and I believe, the most accurate. It resolved the dream for me. I found the word ‘gump’ in a large dictionary, and was surprised at the result. The word was Scottish in origin, and originally meant fishing in the dark, to search for with the hands, to grope and catch fish under banks or stones. It was said it later came to mean searching for insights, having no fear, and not being overly concerned with the outcome. To muddle through difficult situations thanks to a series of lucky chances. It is the root of the modern term ‘gumption’, meaning the courage to act, and the practice of common sense and presence of mind. The meaning of not wearing a watch and not being afraid to gamble began to make sense.
The gumb’s way of living contrasted heartily with my own, for I was fear-based and living from a state of mind handed down through generations having lived in fear and desire as their basis, too. Now, don’t get this wrong, no one in this line of misfortune is to blame, for no one was aware. They were not aware that they were identified with a particular state of mind. This state of mind called the shots, and even defined perception at a basic unseen level. It gradually covered over the innocent perception of the children of each succeeding generation with a fog of fear, judgment and desire, and transformed them into identified, reactive-oriented robots, each with a pride-based ego that they were aware individuals with a handle on their lives, and the meaning of it all. What a trap, and what a joke. No wonder the image of the gumb and his way of action was so appealing.
As time went by, I discovered this path or way of being in the writings of others, and in the actions of a few. William Samuel’sChild within, Richard Rose’s between-ness, Douglas Harding’s headless seeing, the Puer or Intermediary ofMaurice Nicoll, and many other examples of this pure state of being. While this listening attention, as I’ve come to call it, is not the final state, it is the door. It is the timeless portal between the manifest and the unmanifest, the gateway to within. It is how to live in the world, but not be of the world. The ego state of mind may be good at managing the world of daily affairs, but it cannot go beyond. The child within us transcends the world, being our link to the formless. We then see why the ancients called it the Son, and that the Son and the Father are One.
The path to becoming the listening attention begins with self-observation. The hard work of ‘seeing’ what we really are, and what we are not. Later, we may find that we were the Child all along and had just become lost, but without this journey into time and space, we would not value our true state. To begin the homeward journey, look quickly, subtlety, without the editing of states of mind. In the moment of perception there lies a door, an attention that does not define, but simply sees. The nostalgic longing we feel at times for a better life, a real home, is a thread back to this child within. Follow it, and discover your own inner child, the gumb.
The cycle of desire and fulfillment may seem a trap of monumental proportions, but as all traps built in the framework of the mind, it has no inherent reality. Let’s take a look at this cycle of desire, fear, and fulfillment, and how an ache of the heart turned within is our release.
We see that if we want something and then get it, we feel better. After years of this cycle, we fall for the trick of believing that getting what we want is what life is about. And what would make us happy would be getting what we want, when we want it, all the time. We fail to look closer and see what has really taken place. Fulfilling desire simply puts it to sleep, and leaves us in the state of no-desire. It causes no fundamental change, and sows the seeds for our future discontent. If we saw behind the circumstance, we would see that the state of no desire, or pre-desire, is what we long for, and would no longer move from it out into the dual dimension of pleasure and pain, the so-called reality of life. This state of peace has been there all along as our true nature, lying much closer than any pleasure object of the world. But this peace is not peace of mind. The mind is motion, and does not manifest in stillness. This state of no-desire is stillness itself, beneath and primal to mind, and is our rest.
This trap of desire and its fulfillment also involves forgetting. We forget we are fulfilled as we really are, within, and thus move away through temptation and trickery. Not from being pushed, but from being fooled. We have become mesmerized by the world and its sensations, and have forgotten the peace that lies within. A potent cocktail, equal parts faulty memory and a profound propensity towards fantasy and projection, mixed with fear of unfulfilled desire and death, topped off with a passion for grabbing onto everything that feels good, keeps us on the endless loop of turning our attention out into the world for fulfillment, coming back into ourselves to rest, and then going back out again. We have become identified with the world and it’s dual nature, and have forgotten we are complete and forever in the state of fulfillment within, our true home. We are not an animal at heart, though we have come to believe this.
This leads to the longing of nostalgia and how we confuse the circumstances of our childhood events with a purer state within that was also present at the time. It is innocence and lack of guilt that we truly long for, a state before temptation and the chasms of the mind led us out into duality. We long for our childhood or nostalgic scenes, not because these props and times can provide peace, but because our inner state at the time was one of peace. We paint this inner state onto the scenery and confuse the two, fooled again. We mistake the event for the feeling, much as we do the act of fulfillment of desire with the state of no-desire. Nostalgia in its pure spiritual state is not the desire to live in a root-beer commercial, which might be nice, but the longing of our heart for its true state of oneness. Our inherent inner peace passeth all understanding, for to ego and mind, it’s completely unbelievable.
In the morn of my soul the track was smooth,
freely would I glide, skis on nothing flew.
I had come from Still and Quiet,
I knew just what to do.
Come the afternoon of mind, so came the Spindrift,
blown by the winds of mind, of experience,
to slow my feet, even to stumble.
Stale clouds darkened the path, Spindrift rumbled.
I became obsessed with the track itself,
obsessed with skis, with motion.
Feel of flying, of gliding free, gone, only
trudging, the means itself, the notion.
I no longer felt of flying, no longer the morn of my soul.
It was afternoon, and things had slowed.
From what and how did spindrift-knees-stiff
The fine granules catch my skis, sandpaper,
holds me back, turns the glide to waver.
Is it Spindrift, my mind to slow, my soul to feel anguish?
or attachment to the exact circumstances of the track,
which now leads me nowhere from nothing.
I find the pattern Spindrift, has caused a pattern smothering.
It accuses: ‘you created me’.
I’ve surely now become thee.
Now when skis catch, I catch.
When feet stick, mind sticks.
The pattern evokes a pattern prick,
the pattern’s pattern, anger.
For these reactions happen still, even when the trail is smooth.
It’s echo haunts my mind,
Spindrift, not there, yet binds.
The pattern begets pattern, I became the pattern fine.
Through blowing lines of
Spindrift, floating dreams of mind,
my soul in the floating haze doth see,
a steady distant sign.
Nostalgia speaks of earlymorn,
to ski and trudge no more,
of Home, peace and faith instilled,
Still and Quiet, as before…
” The Child and the Presence are the same one Presence and It is right here where we are, transcending this world’s time and space.” – Willam Samuel
Samuel was a man who learned his lessons through fire and suffering, and later put them to the test in everyday life, and found them true. He speaks directly to the Heart of the listener in a forceful and simple manner, leading them to recognize that their own intuition is the surest path to the Inner Child.
“The Child of Light and Love is the pathfinder, the guide, the wayshower up the mighty mountain in Kwangse Province. Science, religion and philosophy can take us a great distance, but the Child takes us to Dominion. It is absolutely essential that we actually get in touch with the eternal Child.” – William Samuel
In this modern technological age, we can see there is a noticeable disconnect between the online social networking world, and the factual world of our real actions. This can be seen too in the gap between the computer program generated weather reports and the actual weather. These examples help to show how the reactive ideas we automatically believe about physical events can and do become real in and of themselves. We take the computer or brain model for being the actual reality. The weather reports are no longer directly about the weather, they’re about the computer program. You can see this in all walks of life. Businessmen take their business beliefs as their model and can become disconnected from what’s actually going on in the day to day world of the real business. We develop a brain fog, a sticky mass made up of visualizations and patterns in our head that are formed from reactive experience, coupled with wishful thinking, along with a good dose of desire and fear. They’re mixed thoroughly to create and projcet a pattern we take to be reality. We then project or force this onto the environment and further reinforce the pattern. It has no direct link to reality but is actually a mixed up mess of associations, often disconnected from what we would see if we could see clearly.
The innocence of the child can clear up this brain fog by enabling us to look around with a different seeing, one that doesn’t rely solely on the computer model, but which relies on what we’re actually witnessing in our day-to-day experience without a forced projection. The computer models become the reality and the weather man forgets to look out the window to check the forecast. He may even refuse to refine the program in order to bring it more in line with the real weather, as that could affect his pride, his boss, or the bureaucracy, and put a damper on his career. This creates a separate force, holding us in a fairyland of belief, rather than basing what we’re doing on what we actually see. The clearing of the fog is by the sunshine that comes from the child, from the innocence.
States of mind can be the central revolving factor in our life. Our individual state of mind causes all our beliefs and our actions to spring forth, and we never question it. Instead of questioning our state of mind and trying to see what’s really going on, we try and force the belief system of our current state of mind onto the world, by attempting to change the world to fit the state of mind. All of our problems and their solutions spring from the state of mind, as well. This can be seen very easily in others, when you see that their state of mind is really not their own, but comes from someone else, it’s inherited. They can’t see this. They think it is their own unique individual thinking. It revolves around getting rid of the tensions we allow to be placed on us through these same states of mind. We dump on other people or the world to get these tensions off our back, which is only a temporary solution. The real solution would be to question the state of mind, and see where the tensions are really coming from.
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