July 17, 2020


Big Creek Cascade 11/16/2009 — Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Waterford, North Carolina, November 16, 2009
Joseph Campbell said,
"We know when we are on the beam,
and when we are off it."

That is all we need to know.

Yet the 10,000 things interfere with our knowing
even that much.

Distractions abound.
Diversions proliferate.
We lose the way.
Stray from the path.
Wake up--if we are lucky--
at the bottom of some wall,
wondering how we got there
and where we go from here.

We got there by being smart.
Thinking we knew what we were doing.
Knowing what we wanted
and how to get it.

That will do it every time.

Knowing what we want
overlooks the most important thing:
What Does Wanting Know???

Nothing as it turns out.

When we live from the center,
we are not influenced by either
fear or desire,
anger or greed,
but from the Life Point,
like leaves turning to the sun,
we turn toward--
move toward--
exactly what we need at that point,
knowing only that this
is the right thing for us to do 
at that particular place in time,
and to not move toward it
would be to do irreparable damage
not just to ourselves, 
but to our place in life,
with implications moving outward
like a giant Tsunami in all directions,
altering forever what might have been.

Our task is to live from the center
and not let anything knock us off
the Life Point
because from there
everything flows
for good or for evil. 



Yellowstone Falls 09/26/2001 –The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone, Yellowstone National Park, September 26, 2001
Money is the most meaningful thing
in our life--
not only in our life,
but in all our lives.

And yet,
we use money to buy Crack,
if we are poor, 
and to by Cocaine,
if we are wealthy,
and to buy Opioids
regardless of our financial status.
Alcohol will do in a pinch.
And there is always Religion.

Money is meaningful
as a doorway to escape.

How meaningful is that?

We are such a sad,

We are pitiful.
We are a joke.
The joke is on us.
And no one is laughing.

Our life is--
our lives are--
And all we know to do about that
is to find something
to take our mind, our minds, off of it.

We get by with a little help from our friends,
Coke, Cocaine, Opioids, Alcohol, Religion...
Anything to take our mind off our emptiness.

We are people in search of some reason to keep going.

Joseph Campbell asked,
"What keeps you going?
What do you turn to when you have nowhere to turn?"

What enables you to face the complete loss of everything
without succumbing to the futility,
and absurdity of one more breath?

And, he says, "When you have found that,
you have found your myth!"

Our myth is our meaning.
It is the ground of our existence--
the very source of our life and being,
the ever-present wellspring
of balance and harmony,
and resilient joy
in our life.

And we are people who have lost their myth.

Joseph Campbell would say the Quest starts here.

We are searching for the source of our own meaning,
for the reason, the purpose, of our own existence.
As he said, "To find the inward thing
that you basically are."

All of the myths refer to you, to me, to us,
and are pathways of opening us to the realization of ourselves.

We are what we seek.
"We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time"
(T.S. Eliot).

Back to Campbell, "You are God in your deepest identity.
You are one with the transcendent."

And we throw ourselves away as the source of meaning and purpose, 
and look here and there,
hither and yon,
for what is only found by
"Turning the light around,"
and looking within for that which is looking for us.

Campbell again:
"That which you seek
lies far back in the darkest corner
of the cave you most don't want to enter."

The first step is the hardest:
We have to bear the pain at the heart of the journey.
Bearing the pain of our life--
of the experience of being alive--
of life itself
is essentially "the divine acceptance of death"
(Thomas Altizer)
--not only at the end of life,
when life is done--
but at every point along the way.
Right here right now
is a dying to all that might be
wished for,
hoped for,
and is an acceptance of life-as-it-is
in its "just-so-ness"
right here, right now.

Which is made possible through
the recognition that right here, right now,
is the very time and place of our living,
of our being fully,
alive to the experience of our own becoming
in this moment,
open to,
and overwhelmed by,
the mystery at the heart of being.

Campbell said,
"The goal of your quest for yourself 
is to find that burning point 
(where the veil of time is burned away,
and we are opened to the realization of eternity)
in your point (here and now), 
becoming the thing in yourself, 
which is fearless and desireless, 
(and forever) becoming."

We are always becoming something more
than we have ever been!
We are forever being born anew--
a brand new thing--
in the world each day,
in each moment of the day!
We are becoming always and forever!

That is who we are!

Born to life again and again,
each moment, 
through bearing the pain of being alive
and opening ourselves to the wonder
of our own becoming.

The nature of the pain is the fear that there is nothing there.
We have to take a chance on ourselves.
But, we think we know there is nothing to us at all.
We are the cave we most don't want to enter,
and it is the experience of the wonder
of our own becoming
that waits far back in the darkest corner,
wondering if we will have what it takes
to find what it takes
to be fully alive
in the time left for living.

A bit of encouragement at the start:
Everyone starts where we are.
Fearful, doubting,
certain there is no reason to go on.

Campbell said,
"The word religion means religio, linking back, linking back the phenomenon of a specific, unique person to the source."
To their/our source.
To who they/we are at their/our core.

The old Taoists linked the Tao
with our Original Nature,
with "the face that was ours 
before we were born."
With the Source of Life and Being.
And said, "Thou art That."
We are It.
We are What We Seek.
Like the man riding his ox
looking for his ox.
Like the woman with her sunglasses on her head,
looking for her sunglasses.

We only have to stop,
see and hear
to know it is so.

But we are afraid to look,
afraid to listen,
afraid it is not so. 

We have to bear the pain,
and take a chance
on the wonder
of our own
unending becoming
coming into being
in every moment,
here and now.

Published by jimwdollar

I'm retired, and still finding my way--but now, I don't have to pretend that I know what I'm doing. I retired after 40.5 years as a minister in the Presbyterian Church USA, serving churches in Louisiana, Mississippi and North Carolina. I graduated from Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, in Austin, Texas, and Northwestern State University in Natchitoches, Louisiana. My wife, Judy, and I have three daughters and five granddaughters within about twenty minutes from where we live--and are enjoying our retirement as much as we have ever enjoyed anything.

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