Earlier today I was looking at how I have changed on the inside since the move into the unknown, a rural road in the Blue Ridge Mountains. I came here at the beginning of my spiritual journey that started in the foul rag and bone shop of the heart, where all ladders start. The last lines of Yeats' poem, Circus Animals' Desertion, stayed in the front of my mind as the ground I stood on to begin a new life in the unknown. "Now that my ladder's gone, I must lie down where all the ladders start." The ladders of my ambitions before, my desires before, my beliefs before, all came to an end at the chopping block moment of realizing God is. At this moment now, writing to you, I saw an array of delicate multi-colored flowers and the head of Ganesh, the elephant-headed god of beginnings, remover of obstacles, surrounded by radiant flowers. The image faded away. I used to want images that came like that to stay, and regretted them fading away. By now, I've learned to enjoy it when it happens and be grateful it happened. I keep a picture of Ganesh on the wall. A friend bought it from a vendor in the Mumbai airport for something like a dollar, the image made with dye on an 8x10 rectangle of cloth having a simple, Rouault quality about it. It is my favorite Ganesh image of all I have seen. The picture of Ganesh below is the closest feeling I could find to the image I saw in my mind's eye, though it was only his head I saw and flowers.
The moment I caught on that God, indeed, is, I could not go on living as I had lived believing God a creation of the human mind for the few to control the many. Turns out, it was religion I confused for God. I was able for the first time to see behind the mask of religion, beyond to God as God is, the Christ as the Christ is, the heart of things invisible. The same may be said of Krishna and Allah, Buddha. It was different from seeing Jesus the uber-judge, sitting on the right hand of God the Great Judge, tapping his foot for the chance to condemn me to hell on the least zero-tolerance charge. "You shook your fist at me and cussed me once for not giving you what you wanted. For standing up to the Great God of Testosterone, it's the pit of never-ending hell fire for you, to scream in agony forever." The heart of things invisible, a vision of God I can live with rather than dread I might have gone too far this time when I take a drink of good liquor. The heart of things invisible says, A man's gotta do what a man's gotta do. And the dire warning from the Judge On High, You better not. I came up in a medieval interpretation of God calcified over multiple centuries, complicated by Protestantism into John Milton's judge on a throne of adamant, and wrung dry of spiritual relevance by American fundamentalism.
It took fifteen years to clear my head of the theology of you-better-not. It all finally gone, the heart of things invisible pulled me to itself like a fish that took the bait, pulled to the bank by the hook hidden in the bait. Reeled in against my will. Reeled in by a power that seemed to be outside myself, which turned out to be my own higher self, the heart of things invisible. I needed to live with this new realization I could not deny. It was a hundred percent convincing to mind and heart. I needed time to digest what I'd learned and learn more about it, find a way to live that honors the heart of things invisible, and go on living in the world of work, living among other people in a spirit of solitude. Not dismissing others, rather embracing others, allowing others their own spirit of solitude. I've found the spiritual path to be in the world of others, not separate from. The solitude I wanted, I found I could not live, because I needed interactions with others, simply by being a social human being, and there was no sense that I could see in denying it. I went looking for balance, time for solitude and time for others. Do both solitude and social in a spirit of detachment and it's all the same.
By detachment I mean something like not being driven by things I want for myself, like fixing the rust and dents on my car and having it painted a deep gun-metal blue with money I don't have. I would like to realize the beauty of its lines. But so what. It runs like a race car, has good suspension, a fabulous engine that will just about make the back end drag the ground when I push the pedal to the metal. I can't want more from a car. A car that does 200 in six seconds would land me in the hospital, the grave or jail. It would probably be stolen first by big time car thieves that leave no traces. The car I drive, I can count on no thief wanting. It's the oldest and rattiest looking car in any parking lot. Thieves like flash, not rust. My house looks so ratty, no satellite dish, thieves don't look at it twice, but as something too old-timey to have anything in it of interest, an old-man car parked by the road. And Justin spread the word years ago, "That old man is crazy. He'll shoot your ass. He don't care." My favorite people are of the class of people thieves come from, working class people squeezed out of making legitimate money. They know by my reputation I respect them and honor them. They would be my bodyguards before they'd take from me. I feel confident on my spiritual path that I have learned to honor and respect the down and out people. They're beautiful people, too, when you know their hearts. I'm grateful I am now able to see the most in the least by way of the heart of things invisible. I'm grateful to live in a community where everybody has my back and I have theirs. I've come to learn what it is about humility God loves so much, learned it from the mountain people where even the tough guys have it.