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Friday, January 4, 2013

Knowing Myself

There is always someone trying to make me feel inferior by offering ways for me to improve. Of course they do this without any expense to themselves. I call it ego-climbing but there is plenty of just plain meanness involved too.
I suppose they are mad about something though I can never be sure of what. I have heard it said that there are places in the world where living in poverty still offers a sense of dignity. But I have learned living here if you are poor, you are just poor. If you are rich you are somebody. If you are poor you are nobody.
At one time I found myself down and out, no food in my belly and no place to lay my head. I saw a fine house up ahead of me and thinking surely these people could spare a bite and a bed in exchange for a bit of work I knocked upon the door. No one answered and so I knocked again. An angry man answered telling me while pointing a shot gun in my face to be on my way before he called the police to have me arrested for vagrancy and trespassing.
I wandered on. The night grew darker and the threat of rain became real. I saw a tiny shack hidden in the weeds with one dim light filtering through a filthy windowpane. I knew these people would have nothing to spare but in my misery I hoped perhaps they might let me spend the night under the overhang that served them as a porch and so keep out of the coming storm.
Before I could knock the door opened. A ragged man stood there. He seemed happy to see me, as if he’d been expecting someone but couldn’t be sure who and now that I had arrived he was glad to see it was me. He invited me in and fed me a meal of fine soup and freshly baked bread. When I went to roll out my bedroll on the floor he provided me with an air mattress to make it all the more comfortable.
In the morning he fed me a good breakfast of pancakes and real maple syrup he was proud to say he had collected and boiled down himself. Afterwards he gave me a ride out to the Interstate highway in an old rickety pickup truck with bald tires and a loud muffler. Before we parted he pressed a five dollar bill into my hand saying that I had more need of it than he.
I never saw that man again but I hold his kindness in my heart.
I sit quietly to empty myself of all thought. My mind becomes still as a pond reflecting the sky. Like the quiet mountain meadow watching the coming and going of days I watch as these thoughts arise, flourish, and pass away and then return once more. They grow and flourish and return to the source.
I ply the depths of the water and emerge intact; I walk over hot coals without burns; I climb the highest of heights without fear. How do I attain this state? It is not to be described as skill or daring; by maintaining perfect breath I am without form and so beyond the capability of being transformed. I lie concealed in the clue which has no end and so nothing can injure me.
Returning to the source of experience is stillness. This is not the way of knowledge but of insight. The source of experience is the unchanging mystery. Understanding its constancy is insight. Not realizing its constancy will lead to disaster.
By opening my mind my heart is opened as well. With an open heart I act royally. By being royal I obtain the divine. By being divine I am at one with the mystery. Being one with the mystery is eternal. For though my body will one day die, the mystery will never pass away.


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