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?