January 30, 2022


Linville River 10/15/2008 Oil Paint Rendered — Blue Ridge Parkway, Linville Falls, North Carolina
"Darkness within darkness--
the gateway to Mystery."

This is one of the insights 
of the Tao Te Ching.
"The Classic Book of
the Way and its Virtues
(Or Powers)."

The Virtues (Te) of the Way (Tao)
are the powers of growing up.

The Way of growing up
is the Way of bearing the pain
of "darkness within darkness"
and stepping through
"the gateway of mystery."

Bearing the pain of growing up
is bearing the pain of life as it is.

I understand schizophrenia to be 
the way of avoiding the Way 
of growing up.

The pain is too much,
so we opt for denial,
and schizophrenia is the most 
advanced form of denial there is.

Schizophrenia is the refusal 
to live in the world as it is.
Schizophrenics  "are drowning
in the world gurus live in."

And the difference between a guru
and a schizophrenic is not much.
We are always only a slight shift
in perspective away from "lost"
to "found,"
from "blind" to "seeing."

The key to the shift
is the decision to bear the pain
of being alive.

More specifically, it is bearing the pain
of the conflicts/contradictions
at the heart of being alive.

To grow up, we have to leave Mama and Daddy
and find our own way in the world--
our own way through the agonies and sorrows
of life in the world.

The agonies and sorrows of not being able
to have what we want 
without giving up something else 
that we also want.

We have to give up "this" to have "that."
The fundamental crucifix of life.
Life is death long before we die.

We die metaphorically again and again
until we stop breathing at last.

And that is too much to ask of some people.
A lot of people.

And so, we have this world of pleasure
as denial of that world of pain.

For, we will not pay the price of being fully alive.
It costs too much.
And schizophrenia is the ultimate refusal to be
fully alive.

Being a guru is easier.
And just as much escapist.

My favorite examples of people
who had what it takes to be fully alive
are, on the fictional level,
Tevya in "The Fiddler on the Roof,"
and, on the actual level, Helen Keller.

If we could spend the remainder of our life
being Tevya and Helen Keller,
what a life it would be.

What do you think?
Are we up for it?
Do we have what it takes?
To be alive?


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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