It doesn’t matter where I am… because I’m already there.
Martin Luther King, Jr. in April 1968, a few days before he was killed, in a speech said “he had been to the mountaintop and seen the other side. I may not get there with you, but…” Wasn’t he imploring us to be in the presence of consciousness. To open the door of illumination within ourselves… that it was from this place we act in the presence of our better angels. To understand and accept who we really are. In the present, isn’t this what we see today with the response in St Louis and elsewhere to feelings of inequality and its response; i.e. taking a knee. One gets the feeling that MLK spent his life taking a knee in prayer hoping mankind would simply see others as they see themselves. He is seen here in Selma, Alabama in 1965.
Seeing this, do we have the convenience of remaining in the background, not recognizing who we are and our own role? To somehow see beyond what blocks our own vision of the mountaintop and move ourselves and others to higher ground that defines transformation and enlightenment within each of us.
Joseph Campbell told us to put ourselves in situations that will evoke our higher nature, rather than our lower. To elevate yourself out of the local field and put yourself in the field of higher power, higher danger. To follow our bliss. And in doing so are you going to be able to handle it? If you are not eligible for this place into which you’ve put yourself, it’s going to be a demon marriage, it’s going to be a real mess. If you are eligible, it can be a glory that will give you a life that is yours, in your own way. It’s the edge, the interface between what can be known and what is never to be discovered, because it is a mystery transcendent of all human research. The source of life: what is it? No one knows. Campbell added that it’s important to live life with a knowledge of its mystery and of your own mystery, as it gives life a new zest, a new balance, a new harmony to do this. That it is in discovering our own source that we come closer to discovering that mountaintop experience for ourselves.
Almost twenty-five years ago when I wrote my own version of the I Ching now called The I Ching/Voices of the Dragon (found on my website), my entire life changed. I had moved to Massachusetts and was ten to twelve miles from the original homestead where my father’s family had settled over a hundred years earlier from Italy. Returning to the source representing my family’s own history. What was the outcome? After losing my job there, it was that I learned that “it was not where I am that was important, but who I am.” And that finding and returning to my own source that was the most important thing. Ram Dass came along at the time and relayed that “the person we are from nine-to-five is not who we are from five-to-nine”, and conveying that I would not find it where I was. That what we do (a doctor, city planner, pharmacist, teacher, etc.), is not who we are as a person. As if our life experiences are meant to move us in stages to that higher realm once we wake up to what the meaning of “finding our higher selves” is all about. It’s not simply a sudden aha moment that changes us. It’s what we do after we change direction midstream in our lives that matters. That what we do becomes emblematic of who we are yet to become, and we simply spend our time learning to do and express that. It’s that mountaintop moment and seeing the other side that moves us to our own awareness and enlightenment as MLK, and many others, have implored us to find and do for ourselves. For myself ultimately, expressing that and coming nearer to the source, the who am I, that would be found half the world away in China. As if the universe had gotten my attention. The dragons of ancient China were calling me. Now what was I going to do about it.
Next, it was leaving Massachusetts and moving to Florida for a new job and exploring what it all meant. After twenty years that led to writing several hundred thousand words and discovering the meaning of the I Ching, studying the writings of Lao, Chuang, and Lieh Tzu, Taoism, Buddhism, Confucius, etc., founding the Kongdan Foundation, what I learned was – it was as if there was an innate connection that I had tapped into of what I had always known but simply forgotten. That what I wrote was who I was to become and where I went in China served to solidify I was home and what had always been my ultimate “source”, and to where I was to ultimately return… As if it doesn’t matter where I am because I’m already there. That the true “source” of this “who am I”, lies intrinsically with combining this idea of who and where we are. Traveling to China almost fifty times now, living and teaching in Qufu, I can see the process of self-discovery led me to re-discover my source again. As if returning now to the Ozarks where I grew up and lived is like coming full circle, like having a walk through prior to a final unveiling that leads me to the present. To live and appreciate each moment knowing ultimately to where I will return.