The tasks of life cannot be ignored. They must be served with our life-- our way with life-- all our life long. The five most important relationships are with ourselves, with our work, (which is not the work we are paid to do, but the work we are born to do, the work we are equipped to do), with one another and with our life (Which is the life that is our life to live), and with dying. What I am telling you with these little soliloquies is not something someone told me, though it is a compilation of what a lot of people have said, with my own spin on most of it, particularly on the implications of it, and what we are to do about it, but it is all available to each one of us, bubbling up constantly beneath the surface of us all-- as that "wellspring of living water" that is the source of all we say and do. None of you could be here now reading this if it were not corresponding, resonating, with something already there in you, which stirs to life in hearing what I have to say, and carries us into the company of all who are saying what we need to hear. We know the truth when we hear it. Which means, of course, that we know bullshit when we hear that, and a lot of people read what I write and say, "That's bullshit," and quit reading. I say that those people are out of touch with themselves and haven't had an original thought in years, and everything they think they get from someone else, someone who is their guru in the worst sense of the word. Joseph Campbell, who is one of my gurus in the best sense of the word, talks about the Official Gurus in India being, so to speak, "a clear pane of glass" through which their disciples can see back through long generations of gurus to the very first guru who was such a source of truth that he didn't need a guru, and all they say is what has always been said in a dharma-is-the-way-things-are-and-ought-to-be kind of way. Which is not to say that there is not a way things are and ought to be, but to say those things cannot be told/said, only realized/recognized, in the way of Martin Palmer's translation of the Tao Te Ching's "The Tao that can be said is not the eternal Tao" line: "A path that can be discerned as a path is not a reliable path." We have to feel our way along reliable paths. No guru can tell us where to step. But there is a path, the way things are and ought to be, and we each have to find it for ourselves, and become like beggars telling one another where they have found food (But not like Gurus telling their disciples what food to eat and how to prepare it). But I ramble. And rambling is essential. One thing leads to another. Just as "one book opens another," as the old alchemists liked to say. And rambling takes us where we are going, guiding our boat on its path through the sea (And as Campbell said, "We have to know what our boat is and paddle/row/sail it!") Our boat is our work. Campbell's work/boat/yoga was "underlining passages," mine is that as well, and saying (to anyone who will listen) what the passages mean, how they all come together what they are saying, and what they are calling us all to do, which is to know what our boat is that will get us there and paddle/row/sail it with conscious intention and awareness. With me, that means rambling. Without losing sight of where we have been. One of the tasks of life is not losing sight of where we have been. The tasks of life are general and particular, corporate and individual, universal and personal. Dedication to the tasks of life is immediate and eternal. The immediate task of life is what needs to be done here and now. What needs to be done next. What needs us to do it. Whether we want to or not. Being happy and doing what we want are the first things that have to go. The Hero's Journey cannot be lived around what we want and what will make us happy. We have to know (And be right about) what needs to be done and do it, in each situation as it arises. And we also have to know and be right about the tasks that have to be completed in each stage of life, tasks that are common to us all, and are placed on us by life itself, and by the culture in which we live. Which have to do with adapting ourselves to the requirements of living (Life eats life, for instance), and what we have to do to make a living, and how we come to terms with losing our abilities and having to die. We live our life around the tasks of life. And there are certain rituals that are naturally evoked by those tasks, so our life becomes a collection of rituals, and we live according to a particular pattern, which is uniquely our own and is generally found among all people everywhere throughout time. So be attentive to your tasks of life, and dedicate yourself to them, and take care of them regularly. They can be counted on to get you there. Happy trails! Fair winds and following seas! Mind how you go! May we travel together as companions on the Journey always, whether we ever "lay eyes on one another" or not-- just because we know what the other knows! Amen! May it be so!
All theology is bad theology. All theology-based religion is bad religion. Religion that is true religion is grounded/founded on the truth of awe and wonder, and the realization of more than words can say, confounded/enthralled by the mystical nature of the heart of life and being. Good religion cannot be passed along any more than an affinity for art and music can be passed along, and so the saying, "God has no grandchildren"). We wake up on our own. We stumble into wonder on our own. We look forever unseeing, and then, like that, we see, and the world is indescribably alive with numinous, ineffable, truth/reality, and our heart beats in sync with the heart of the universe, and we are "one with everything." The best I can do in telling someone how to find what I am talking about is to say "See what you look at, and be right about what needs to be done here and now, and do it to the extent that it can be done, with the gifts/daemon/genius/etc. that are your natural/original self, when it needs to be done, the way it needs to be done, in each situation as it arises all your life long, and allow that kind of doing lead you to the kind of being that does the right thing, in the right place, at the right time, in the right way, in sync with the flow of time and place always and forever. And letting that be that." Being happy, and doing what we want, and having our way does not fit into this scheme of things anywhere, at all. We hear that and say, "Uh-oh." That is the story of humankind. And, here we are.
There is nothing to it. Really. There is only the boat that is ours to paddle/row/sail on its path through the endless sea, and the realization that "the farther shore" is right here, right now, with the paddling/rowing/sailing, and there is nothing to it "but to do it," as Maya Angelou would say. Tell Jesus that he was wasting his time, that the world is going to be worse in 2,000 years than it is in his life, and that nothing he says or doe is going to make any difference in the way people think and live over time, and he would say, "Oh, well," and get back to work saying and doing what was his to say and do-- no matter what! That is all there is to it. Paddling/rowing/sailing our boat is a waste of time. And it makes all the difference. Doing our work-- doing what is ours to do-- doing what only we can do the way we can do it-- is essential, not only to us, but also to the basic framework of life. It matters how we live, that we live, doing our thing, being who we are. Nothing is more necessary than that. And, there is nothing to it. Just "get in there and do your thing!" Is what Joseph Campbell said is the summation of the Bhagavad Gita, the oldest religious treatise of all time, and let that be that, in an "Oh well, nothing is going to stop me" kind of way. This is the easiest thing there is, and the hardest, most difficult, most absurd thing there is. There is nothing to it, and nothing can make us do it. It is up to us all the way. Are you coming, or not?