Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Bits o' Wisdom & Crumbs of 'Huh': part 1

It won't go in words but I know that it's real...
-Willie Nelson, Still Is Still Moving To Me

Brook (Woodstock, NY)

Long ago and far away, the favored servant of a favorite king was shopping in the marketplace when he came face to face with Death. The two stared at each other in surprise before the man, recovering his wits, ran to the king and begged the use of his fastest ship, "for death," he concluded, "is surely out to get me."
With the king's blessing, the man saddled the king's fastest horse and rode to the harbor, whereupon he set sail for a foreign land. Arriving in port the following week, the man stepped off the boat and onto the pier, only to find Death standing there, waiting.
Sighing, the man bowed his head in resignation, then looked up with a question.
"Before you take me, I have to know - why did you look at me so strangely that day in the marketplace?"
"I was surprised to see you there," she replied, "For I knew we were to meet here today, and I could not fathom how you'd manage to arrive in time."
-my retelling of Fudail ibn Ayad's "When Death Came to Baghdad" (9th century)


So, remember my plan from a couple weeks ago, the one where I'd go to a Zen Monastery in New York where I'd find a Messenger who'd impart some sort of divine, critical wisdom?

Turns out he was waiting in a garage in New Jersey.

No, seriously.

But first...

...After traveling from Bard to Mt.
Tremper, only to not find the monastery, I held my own services in the woods. By which I mean the woods talked and I started to listen. What exactly did they say? How to "draw out" the arthritis from my hand by breathing in different patterns. How to receive blessings from certain place-energies, where the trees lean together to make pyramids with their bodies. How to look underneath horizontal branches to reveal the paths you might not otherwise see.

Believe me when I say that I know how strange that sounds. I, maybe more than most, have spent a good chunk of my life worrying at the line between what's Sensible and what Makes Sense, balanced nervously between what I experience as truth and what I know I can talk about without people thinking I'm unable to distinguish between reality and imagination.
These days, in some ways, that may be the case -but only because I've worked to become both practical in my methods, and expansive in my approach. And in doing so, here's what I've learned:
  1. Reality is obviously a web of illusions, individually and collectively crafted.
  2. Truth exists in fiction, parable, myth, religion, poetry, art, and dreams, and does so in quantities far greater than any one person's waking reality could ever hold.
  3. The imaginative and magical worlds are valid, significant, and real.
  4. There are myriad ways of accessing and experiencing knowledge and wisdom from the Collective, as well as those realities beyond the ones we're most familiar with. Every faith has them. Every lay person has access to them. From meditation to mitzvot to medicine, to just stumbling into the right place at the right time, we're constantly presented with opportunities to connect with the rest of existence, to establish and reestablish the little root-tendrils and hand-holds that bind us all together.
  5. The old phrase "all the Gods are one God, and all the Goddesses one"? True dat, yo.
I have a degree in Transpersonal and Counseling Psychologies, and the more I travel and talk to people about their experiences of reality, the more I learn that I've got about half a degree I don't understand. I'm tempted to go back to Burlington College and take up Consciousness Studies.

But back to my story. I should point out that I don't know how or why any of the things I learned in the woods the other day work. But I don't doubt that they do, and I'm sure that if I were to search around a little bit, I'd be able to find several cultures and faiths that understand those bits o' wisdom as common knowledge.
"What, you mean you don't get a tingly, breezy sort of feeling when you walk under those trees? Get out, everybody feels that."
So remember the first lesson the trees shared, the one about breath and healing? That one's really interesting. I bet it's entirely possible to do a lot of healing with bones and joints through different breath-work; that it's an entire field of medicine, like homeopathy or chiropractic.
Does anyone out there have any info on this? Maybe you've heard of some shamanic practice or folk medicine that sounds familiar? I am so curious, and it's so obvious that what I've got is the most cursory, minute bit of elementary knowledge.

Anyway, if this reminds you of anything, please call me.

To be continued...

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