If I have learned one thing over the past twenty five years of my travels and study of China and what could be called “Eastern philosophy”, it is that it is not enough to simply return to your source – it is that once you have done so – you become rejuvenated and become the source over and over again.
One of my most favorite books I have ever read is called “The Snow Leopard”, by Peter Matthiess. I believe it is now out of print. Hopefully not. I would like to have copies to give as the ultimate gift to friends who recognize that they are on their own journey of discovery and can utilize various means to connect to and with their own universal vibrations. I am moved initially by a quote in the forward of the book by the Lama Govinda that says..
“Just as a white summer cloud, in harmony with heaven and earth freely floats in the blue sky from horizon to horizon following the breath of the atmosphere – in the same way the pilgrim abandons himself to the breath of the greater life that leads beyond the farthest horizon to an aim which is already present within him, though yet hidden from his sight”.
What is it that moves us? Are we here in some desperate way to follow instincts that lead us as we watch our lives as they pass unfulfilled? Are we here to try to portray reality as others see it? When do we step out of the painting we have created that seemingly defines us as the world sees us? When the true essence of “who we are”, is a mere reflection of the canvass we continually change, as we notice the silence and recognize that we are nothing more than a small, yet integral part, of creation.
That it is as Kierkegaard said, “That we wander from one path to another with no real recognition that I am am embarked upon a search with scarcely a clue as to what I might be after. I only knew that at the end of each breath there was a bottom that needed to be filled”.
The journey is meant to be hard. The journey may begin with a restless feeling, as if you are being watched. You begin to believe that there is a source for this deep restlessness, and the path that leads there is not a strange place, but the path, or way home. It is here you realize that you have always been home, that all you are required to do is wake up. This place though is overgrown with weeds and is unkempt and in disarray due to ideas of fears and prejudices tied to who we think we are. It is as Zen Buddhists call finding our own true nature. That each man is his own savior.
It is here that I am directed to the ancient shaman and sages and universal law, i.e., truth. The Chinese call this the interior way, or the Tao. It is as if it is an irrepressible force, or flow that steams toward its goal. For the individual to rest in the Tao means you have found fulfillment and wholeness, as is one’s destination has been reached. Your mission is done. You have found the beginning, end, and perfect realization of the meaning of existence of all things, as expressed by Carl Jung.
Joseph Campbell saw as the greatest human transgression “the sin of inadvertence, of not being alert, not quite awake” when you are in search of what can only be defined as “finding your bliss.” as he would say. This question is universal and eternal. Why do some people awaken and others not do so as they seem to find themselves tied to attachments beyond themselves? And why can some people awaken easier than others and some never do so? In other words once awakened, you have a responsibility to follow through and what role does one’s karma play.. Perhaps it is the task of those who have awakened to assist those who have not. Another question is why this sense of separation from others that leads to a singular path of enlightenment?
What is it that gives us or makes us have a feeling of separation from those around us that keeps us from fulfilling our sense of service to others, to nature and the universe? What can be the last conscious thought of the individual soul on its journey through life and death as we try to justify how we lived? What is it that obliterates, or takes away, our sense of self as we stream back into the One? As we helplessly hang on to our sense of delusion of who we thought we were and attachments we have clung to along the way. When putting things in divine order is the key to our longevity.
What can be our ultimate goal and realization of what we are here to do or accomplish? How can we be separate from others and have a duality of purpose? To by chance become a beacon of light for others to follow. How are we to act and show others the way? What comes of it all is a sense of service to our own inherent universal nature. How good, how worthy – or how not – will be the question we have to answer when it comes in that moment. What will we have done for this world as we go back into the eternity that define us? Finally, how does the universal sense of the need to be “in service to others”, fit into our own path, or journey.
When I taught at the university in Qufu, my primary focus besides teaching English, was to convey to my students the importance of service to their community and others. That we are here to discover our innate talents and utilize them to find our niche, or place, in the world. Since almost all of the more than 400 students would become teachers themselves, it was a message that resonated.