Monday, August 15, 2011

a place without danger

Where is the safe place, the place of peace, the place without danger? On a guess, I think I'd say that as soon as anyone started to imagine such a place, yearn for such a place, set up the defenses that would assure such a place ... in that moment, the harbingers of discontent would stir and take root.

For example, in spiritual endeavor as in orthodox religion, the format and function that is built to assure and insure a life of relief and succor bring with them the potential and actuality of true horror. What so often are disdained and excoriated as "cults" are built into the welcoming and persuasive temple walls. This is not a criticism (except for those who have too much time on their hands). Bliss and horror are a package deal -- a risk -- and not to keep an eye on such things is careless and stupid. No one can talk their way out of horror. No one can talk themselves into bliss. It's just a fact within the human heart.

And still the yearning remains ... to be safe; to be at peace; the be free from danger.

On the island of Jersey (pop. ca. 93,000), six people, including three children, were fatally stabbed on Sunday. Even police officers were reportedly shaken. Jersey, in many minds, was bucolic and peaceful and cohesive and ... well, safe. It was an assumption, a given, a reason to live in a peaceable kingdom. And ... now ... this.

And when were such surprises ever absent from the human heart? Someone once observed about meditation practice, "Understanding is knowing to get out of the way of an on-coming bus. Practice is for the bus you didn't see coming." And there is always a bus you didn't see coming. Why? Because no one -- no one -- can know the future. Guess, hope, believe, yearn -- sure. But know? Never.

For some, the easiest course is a worldly skepticism: All things are mixed, so submitting to any does not accord with the yearning for pure peace or a place without danger. But skepticism, like pedal-to-the-metal credulity, does not bring peace and does not allay danger. No one can know the future ... no one.

How then is anyone to actualize the peace they may yearn for? How can the horrors of a cult be separated from the wondrous advertising of spiritual life? Where is the safety that admits no danger?

The only option I know of that makes any real-time sense is to acknowledge and embrace the danger against which others may build towering spires and imposing buttresses. This does not mean everyone has to go out and drink poisoned Kool-Aid or strap C-4 to their bodies or flagellate themselves because they are so wicked. No point in being any stupider than you already may be.

But to take the risk, whatever it may be, that seems to hold out some promise in your life and then to really follow it, fearlessly follow it, right down to its roots .... A million mistakes beckon. Make a mistake, correct a mistake. And when you can't correct it, investigate it. Look and look and keep on looking. No more walls. Just look.

And is there peace -- a place without danger -- at the end of this rainbow?

I don't know. You tell me.

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