When my uncle told me I would go to hell for my sins I knew he didn’t mean I would go there bodily. I knew he meant my ever-lasting soul would burn in that lake of fiery torment for all time. I wanted to tell him of the mystery but I had no words. I still don’t.
There was a time when I was the world, not a part of the world. I know this instinctively although there was also a time when the feeling was quite foreign to me. I rejected the one by embracing the many.
Now I embrace the one by rejecting the many.
I don’t remember being a baby. But over the years I have learned what it means to be a baby by watching my own children as they grew into the world. By learning to be a baby again and what it means to be a part of all this I see a mirror of me studying to be a part of it all.
There are those with whom I may learn in common but I find them unable to go along with me in principle. Perhaps we may go along together in principle but I find they are unable to become established with me on these. If we manage to become established in principle I find them unable to weigh occurring events along with me.
I was taught to look at the world objectively. I studied the world like it was something quite apart from me, like it might be nothing more than pictures in a book. I thought I could disappear from the face of the earth and look at it undistorted, like God looking down from heaven. What rubbish!
Growing up I was known as a big part of all the trouble in the world. My uncle warned me to stop doing the evil things I did. If I could have made him understand I might have told him the only way I knew to be part of the world was to be parcel to the misdeeds that were the foundations of everything. I knew such talk was blasphemous in his ears so I kept quiet and in continual trouble.
I would have told him the only way to find out about the world is to care for it, to win its love and respect. The only way to learn about the world is to believe in it and to have it believe in me. The only way to learn about the world is to immerse myself in it and to let it immerse itself in me. The only way to know the world is to suffer its pain. That makes all the difference.
A baby is one with the universe. Soon, though, a baby grows into two people. One is the world; one is the baby. One is the body; one is the soul. One is full of suffering; one is disinterested.
I am like two people: one who feels at home and the other who wants to leave. The first person doesn’t show itself to others. It will never be any count and knows it. The other person loves to show off. It revels in pride. The first person never speaks. The second person never stops speaking. The first person is the mystery. This second person I know.
I say I have a body and I have a soul. Why do I embrace the one and neglect the other? There is no telling them apart. By cleansing my soul of desire my body is without blemish. By discovering the face I wore before I was born I dream the original dream.
I hold loyalty and sincerity as first principles. Having no friends unequal to me I am unafraid to drop my faults. I dislike none; I covet nothing. Should someone refuse my words of admonition they shun that which is valuable in the manner of changing their conduct. When they are displeased with my gentle advice I can do nothing for them.
My uncle the priest worried about my soul. I wanted to tell him my soul was eternal and so it might be better to worry about this frail and mortal body. But I hadn’t the method to inform him of the mystery.
By keeping compassion in my heart I am without cunning. By understanding the shadows from which I came I see the root from which experience springs forth. By quieting my thoughts I open myself to all things. By considering the gloom behind my eyes I do nothing and yet achieve everything.
I take what I need and leave the rest. My load is light for I possess nothing. I let others take the credit so I can better lead without dominating. The wise are free from perplexities; the virtuous are free from anxieties; the bold are free from fear.
This is the way of the universe.