Another Way

Getting Fresh


    Several years ago while filming an interview for my documentary film "The Language of Spirituality," I interviewed a Native American elder from one of the local pueblos.
    As we were talking about things metaphysical -- which in Native America is part of every day life -- he told me about the meaning of the word "tomorrow" in his native language, Tewa.
    "Tomorrow is the time when we will take something that is whole and shatter it so that we can be in tomorrow without today, or without the future so that we can then sing and be present," he explained.
    I asked him what he meant.
    "You have to shatter what you think that you think that yesterday was, so that you give tomorrow its own gift and not be cluttered by what happened yesterday," he remarked.
    It has stuck with these many years if only as an ideal that would not be achieved in this lifetime.
    But the metaphor resonated a little more loudly this week after I immersed myself in the writings of Jiddu Krishnamurti, the late, great Indian sage.
    Like the latest wunderkind in the spirituality biz, Jed McKenna, Krishnamurti pledged no allegiance to any particular creed or philosophy. In fact, he said "truth is the pathless land." Like McKenna, he warned people away from gurus and teachers, including himself. And like McKenna, he advocated radical inquiry into one's self in the quest to realize the truth of existence.
    But imagine Jed McKenna with more compassion and insight and depth and rigor. In short, Krishnamurti was a spiritual badass.
    How badass? Well, in 1929, after years of being groomed by the Order of the Star in the East to accept the mantle of "World Teacher,"  Krishnamurti promptly disbanded the organization in front of 3,000 members at an annual gathering in Holland.
    Here was an unadulterated example of shattering the mold.
    My reception of this Krishnamurtian and Native American wisdom happened to coincide with my current obsession with relationships -- with people, with the world, with ex-girlfriends, with the legless guy at the post office, with the woman who keeps parking in "my" parking spot and finally with myself.
    Thus, I was curious to see what the sage had to say about relationships and I was not disappointed, although I am still quite perplexed.
    In one breath, Krishnamurti says relationships are the basis of existence and something we must understand before we move on to the weightier matter of Truth. But in the next breath, he suggests humans as constructed, cannot experience pure relationship, at least at the level of thought, because thought, or consciousness, is the sum of all memories, projections, expectations, fears, ideals, experiences, pleasures, judgments, attachments and beliefs we hold.
    In other words, we can never really connect with the essence of another person, or ourselves, and realize our one-ness, no matter how we dress up the relationship -- unless we shatter consciousness and start fresh. Again and again.
    "To have real human relationship is to have no image whatsoever, no picture, no conclusion. And it is quite complex, because you have memories. Can you be free of memories of yesterday's incidents? All that is implied. Then what is the relationship between two human beings who have no images? You will find out if you have no image. That may be love."
    I'm also guessing it's either the definition of enlightenment, or it's a prescient description of the the Guy Pierce character in the movie "Memento," whose anterograde amnesia renders him unable to form new memories. So assuming we go with this for the time being, what would it be like not only to encounter the world fresh each day, but to know someone, yet experience them as a new person at every encounter?
    Hell if I know and Krishnamurti will only point you in the general direction of where that place lies. So, sorry if you were expecting an answer.
     I know that I am not enlightened or entirely Busted Loose as I write this, so I can only play with this idea in the hologram, while I continue to process and inquire.
    But Krishnamurti has at least shown me that my current way of relating to "others" is limited. Sometimes that's okay. Sometimes, it seems a pointless, tedious struggle, depending on what other aspect I'm dealing with. But at least that brings me discomfort, so it's not all "bad." Perhaps the answer is simply processing, until  the relationship transforms and we see it through new eyes.
    In the meantime, I'm curious. I know this doesn't sound practical. But is it obtainable?


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    Once when I was a teen working a summer job at a factory, some co-workers decided to play a prank. They dropped a lit packet of firecrackers behind me and waited for me to jump.
    For whatever reason, I did not react to the initial big bang or any of the rest of their lightweight attempt at pyrotechnics. I continued to do whatever I was doing. When the last firecracker exploded, I glanced over briefly to note their crestfallen faces.
    I relate this story to let you know that most of the time, I'm pretty laid back -- and naturally lazy -- so when certain spiritual practices advise that I need do nothing, it's not such a stretch. That's my fall back position all the time. It's also probably why I haven't written a blog entry in nearly three months. Or why it takes me 50 or so shots at the romantic relationships game to realize I might have some limiting patterns in that regard.
    Believe me, I've created myself to be provoked to do something several times in the last few months. I've created an unsteady stream of appreciation that I sometimes thought needed to be steadied by actually looking for work, composed a nasty note from a friend detailing some of my most heinous shortcomings, conjured several crazy business partners to test my patience and caused extreme resistance by "others" to my master plan for happiness and occasional sex.
    And then there was the spiritual cattle prod to the genitals that I created in the writings of Jed McKenna.
    But to paraphrase that famous line, whenever I get the urge to exorcise the demons I've created in the hologram, I just lie down until the urge passes. Then I do the Busting Loose process.
    I simply cannot get that exercised about anything any more. It's not that I've withdrawn from the hologram. I'm playing more than ever and enjoying it more than ever. The difference is that I used to just not play. Instead of simply ignoring or trying to transcend "shit" now, I'm actually playing in it and embracing it.
    So I still feel discomfort, but I'm rarely moved to respond in the hologram. Not that there's anything wrong with that if that's what you choose to do. But for me, any response beyond processing is a belief that the situation is real and that I can actually change something outside of me. Whether it's responding to some perceived slight, or having a "meaningful" talk with a friend to straighten things out, it's just an exercise. It means nothing, and will mean even less tomorrow. In some ways, talking is the easy way out. It's time better spent processing as far as I'm concerned.
    It also means I've tired of stories, most especially mine. I don't want to hear the reasons why my life or "your" life is the way it is.
    What I am interested in is the joy and surprise and insight you might have gleaned from your story and how it might take you closer to Busting Loose. I'm interested in the happiness you find in, and the credit you take for, the creation of even your most challenging stories. But I'm not interested in an explanation.
    We are genetically programmed to tell stories. Try not telling one when something happens.
    But my point is that I realize that doing or saying nothing sometimes takes a lot more discipline and energy than doing something.
    With acknowledgments to another of my spiritual mentors, Marianne Williamson and A Course in Miracles, here's what doing nothing means to me.
    It means I will resist the urge to create an agenda or purpose where there is none. I am willing to surrender to the wisdom and guidance of my higher self.
    It means I will not defend or explain myself, since there is nothing to defend or explain, and defenses and explanations are merely there to distract us from awakening from the illusion.
    It means I disavow anything that reeks of conscious intention. That is simply spiritualese for "I don't have a fucking clue as to what the truth is," i.e. we are not in control. As Robert Scheinfeld notes, do the process and let the power go where the power goes. It's not up to your persona.
    It means my only duty is to show up with the knowledge that I don't know what anything means, but I'm willing to be shown.
    I'll end this column with a quote from writer Robert K. Johnson about an aspect who represents much of what I aspire to be, who instinctively knows that doing nothing is often the highest form of consciousness.
    "Despite the decadence of his surroundings, he lives above it, seeking to respond with kindness and generosity of spirit..Even when (he) is time and again beaten up, doped, hit on the head, and verbally berated because of his sense of right(eous)-ness, (he) rolls with the punches, remaining true to himself and others.
    "Rather than seek gain at all cost, rather than give in to the materialism, selfishness, and decadence of his surroundings, rather than join the rat race, (he) chooses instead to simply enjoy life. Anything else is futility!"
    As you might have guessed, I'm not talking about the Dalai Lama. The man I refer to as one of my great spiritual mentors is, of course, Jeffrey "The Dude" Lebowski, from the movie "The Big Lebowski."
    Because, well, you know, The Dude abides.


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