For all my writing about “Brunch for the Soul, Following the Sacred Path, and How to travel the road to enlightenment, I have to stop for a minute and scream: “WHAT ARE YOU THINKIN’?”
For weeks the Broadway Metro, a local art theater in Eugene Oregon has been packed with patrons anxious to harken back to a nostalgic time when kids sat enraptured in front of the TV to watch Mr. Rodgers ask them “ Won’t you be my neighbor?”
Mr. Rogers philosophy sang loudly through his show--that the feelings of children are real. They matter. They deserve to be acknowledged and taken seriously. Adults need to listen to children and respond respectfully.
“Today’s corporate education would break Fred Roger’s heart.”-- Democracy and Education in The Eugene Weekly, by--Colleen Hunter and Roscoe Caron.
Big data about little people. Children in kindergarten, are tested for literacy, math, and approaches to learning. And that’s just a warm-up for things to come.
At that age, I thought kids were more interested in eating dirt.
Math? Who knows math at five-years-old? Well, maybe a few.
“Hey teacher, if I already knew all you are expecting of me, I wouldn’t need to be sitting in your classroom.”
If they had tested me at an early age, I probably wouldn’t have a B.A. from the University of California, Riverside.
Many of the corporations who make fortunes in the testing industry—mostly early education, have lost sight of what Mr. Rogers so wisely expounded.
Last week I attended a meeting of a local alternative school applying to be a Charter school.
Supporters sat in front of a tribunal of School Board members who sat stone-faced to hear plaintive cries from parents who want choices for their kids.
After the meeting, I was alone in the hall, and one of the board members passed me as though I didn’t exist.
I wanted to yell after him, ”You’re not that important!”
But I guess he is. He is one of that tribunal that has the power to say “Yes” or “No.” The school will either go, or it won’t.
I had a wonderful experience in that hall earlier, having left early letting the legalese people speak a language I didn’t understand and leaving my husband to soak it up.
There in the hall, a kid approached me, “Why are you here? he asked.
“In the hall or at the meeting?
“I came to support your school. I figured the more people the better.”
He extended his hand and said, “Thank you.”
This kid was a student at the alternative school applying for the Charter. I had never interacted with him although I had stopped by the school many times to pick up a grandchild. At that time my hallway friend had spent most of his time in the closet. And I thought he didn’t speak.
His story was that he was born so early he was considered a fetus.
He was small for his age, fourteen, he told me, and he also informed me that he was learning to read.
Don’t test that kid.
For the following half hour, he entertained me by describing a Video game where androids burst out to be sentient. (Yes, he used that word.) He acted them out, emoting, pressing a fist in the air, breaking through some invisible barrier, running down the hall and back. And he was not walking on tip-toes as he had in previous years.
He, like the androids he was telling me about, was breaking through the bounds that had previously constrained him.
Evelyn lived in the same apartment complex as my daughter’s mother-in-law. And she heard voices. No, really it was a song, not the sort that often comes to us in our mind’s ear, but a real earthy loud song.
No songs were playing outside her apartment; it was definitely coming from inside. The stereo wasn’t on; either was the television or the radio. Still, she could hear that song.
Evelyn began to think she was having mental problems and went so far to speak with a psychologist that lived in the same apartment building. They couldn’t find an answer, and she seemed of sound mind, except for that damn song.
One day Evelyn found the answer.
Have you ever seen one of those coffee mugs that has a song player in its bottom? Pick up the mug, and it is silent. Set it down, and it plays—well, Evelyn had such a mug, and it was playing in her cupboard. She had forgotten she even had it. (Maybe it was playing its Swan’s Song.)
We have voices too, not literal ones, but ones that yammer in our heads on a regular basis. Some call it a monkey mind. Others call it “Being conscious of being conscious.” You are thinking thoughts while thinking that you are thinking them, while also thinking about the task at hand. G. I. Gurdjieff called it “Self-remembering.”
One way to combat this is to stop whatever you are about to do and use the “Gathering mindfulness” technique, that is to take a few seconds to notice what you are about to do. Take in the sight, the sound, the feeling.
The background noise fades, and the world becomes richer.
To quote Jean Huston, “Change perspective through meditation, reflection or focus, and discover yourself to be the latest flower on the tree of the cosmos, ready to Bloom.”
“Have you been half asleep and have you heard voices? I’ve heard them calling my name.” Kermit the Frog (The Rainbow Connection)
Sweetpea: "What? You're saying my great great great granddaddy was a wolf?"
Walking the Sacred Path is something I ascribe too but fall off more often than not. I hope it’s something like the airplane that is off-course most of the time, but with correction, it hits the mark.
The Sacred Path: that phrase came up for me when I saw the movie Alpha, a movie I wouldn’t see until I found out that the wolf lived. Husband dear informed me that it did, so on Saturday we went to the movie. It was set 20,000 years ago and tells the supposed story of how man and the wolf joined forces. (The movie was not attended like the big crashes and booms movies but it was a delight, a joy and visually perfect.)
In the movie, Alpha, the hunters follow signs on rocks put there by their ancestors to point the way to the big game. They need a once- a- year hunt of big game to sustain the tribe through the winter. (Food, furs, oil, etc.)
I got to thinking that our ancestors have pointed a path for us as well. The people that went before left trails for us. They wrote what they had learned, and thought, and inserted elevating thoughts into the culture.
Mostly we don’t honor our ancestors, once dead they are gone, and for many that is best, for we lose biases and prejudices along with their passing, but there are the others. The writers of the Declaration of Independence, and the Constitution are one. The Greeks who gave us astronomy ,democracy, and the idea of a Republic from wince the Constitution was patterned. We wrote “In God we Trust” on our coins, and e pluribus unum on our money. “Out of many, one.”
Is that not following the Sacred Path?
You know I am talking about those who challenged convention and gave us an elevated life, Jesus, Aristotle, Leonardo de Vince, Copernicus, Gallelo, Steven Hawkins—those are some of the famous ones, and there are the unsung heroes we learn about more and more, like the three black women engineers and mathematicians who helped send a man to the moon. That fact was hidden for what, fifty years?
Following the Sacred Path, is more than meditation, prayer, or sounding pious, it is living the life we were meant to live. It is life, not perfect, but one of experience and learning, of vulnerabilities, and shame, and guilt, and striving to do better.
The path has been laid down for us, think about it, some of the things we hear about now, were unheard of 50 years ago, near-death experiences, life on other planets, the teachings of the Far East, yes these have been around for those who searched the sacred writings, but now these teachings have entered mainstream. Think about all the years that the only book in the house was The Bible. (And without other sacred texts to guide the reader, that was often miss-interpreted.)
Humans have discussed the concept of the soul for longer than I know, and all along they have tried to understand and explain it, but end up scratching their heads.
The book, The Seat of the Soul by Gary Zukav, propped up one leg of my desk for years until I finally read it. (Sorry Zukav.) When I did read it, I wondered what took me so long. (What is it they say, “When the student is ready the teacher will appear?”)
Zukav has an analogy: The soul is the Mothership (picture a schooner, not a spaceship) and the little boats around it are the personalities, of which we have many. The little ships will fall away, but not the mothership is eternal.
Oprah said that Zukav’s book Seat of the Soul, changed the course of her show. First, she could not articulate the concept of the soul until she read his book, and second, she was afraid to talk about it, for then she would lose her audience.
You know how that turned out.
Now she has a show called Soul Sunday where she interviews voices for good, and has conversations that elevate the human spirit and heart.
“The soul,” says Zukav, “is powerful and purposeful…it existed before you born and will exist after you die.”
Our basic need to feel safe, valuable and loved has focused our attention outward. It has caused us to learn about the stars, the plants, the animals, and down into the sea. But that outward look isn’t working anymore. Now we, with exceptions, know how to feed, clothe and shelter ourselves, and that frees us up to pursue spiritual understanding.
Now we look to our lives, our homes, our friendships for a greater good—for spiritual growth.
I have often asked why we can build gigantic machines that build other gigantic machines (watch road builders), but we can’t solve poverty, crime, the need for people to alter their consciousness with drugs, the presence of brutality, or the many mental conditions that limit us. Why are so many on anti-depressants, and why are pharmaceuticals lining medicine cabinets?
We haven’t been following the mothership of walking the sacred path. We haven’t got it that we are all connected, and that we will suffer as long as there is suffering in the world.
A bigger, smarter computer won’t fix us.
A better phone, car, refrigerator, won’t either. (Maybe a new garbage disposal.)
Most feel inadequate most of the time, embarrassed sometimes, and angry often.
Facing these fears is the path.
Feeling vulnerable is the path.
Being imperfect is the path.
Rising above all these inadequacies is the path.
Take advice from the people around us that have pieces of the puzzle is the path.
the others are on the path will keep your reflexes sharp.