CLIMBING MT. CONSCIOUSNESS
In trying to deal with my own biases, I have come to think of humanity’s struggle for self-knowledge as a great mountain, Mt. Consciousness, in a wilderness of the unknown with myriad paths leading to the top. Although the paths have names in many languages so the different peoples of the world can find them, they all translate into love, faith, truth, peace, mercy, and dignity to name a few. In addition, each path has a maintenance crew, named Universal Principle, to keep it clearly marked. Each path leads to personal and environmental growth, to consciousness and well-being, which culminates at the summit in the Unity of all things, the monastery that houses the Book of Knowledge. So long as individual travelers remain on the marked paths, keep them clean, and accept responsibility for their actions, they can all reach the top without causing damage to themselves, to one other, or to the environment.
When travelers stray from the clearly marked paths, however, they find that all of the so-called short cuts only lead deeper and deeper into the wilderness, and all end up in blind canyons somewhere low on the mountain. These short cuts also have names, such as greed, blindness, hopelessness, fear, violence, and denial to name a few. In addition, each short cut has a maintenance crew, named Materialism, to carefully disguise the short cuts as paths and thereby waylay and mislead travelers. Moreover, every short cut leads to personal and environmental degradation, and the only way out is to backtrack and to clean up one’s garbage and accept accountability or one’s actions on the way. Take note! Short cuts can only lead to other short cuts. No short cut can ever lead to a path except by retracing one’s steps to where one strayed off the path in the first place.
Although I’ve studied Mt. Consciousness for many years, I’m the first to admit that I’m not a Master Guide, but only a relative novice, having taken more than my share of short cuts. Nevertheless, I have experienced a few of the paths and many of the short cuts, and within the limits of my experience, I have done my best over the years to write a “traveler’s guide” to some of the paths and short cuts I have experienced.
Please keep in mind that we humans now have the technological capability to disarrange and disarticulate the entire global ecosystem; as Carl G. Jung, the psychologist, said in 1952, “Not nature but the ‘genius of mankind’ has knotted the hangman’s noose with which it can execute itself at any moment.”
For human society to survive, as we know it, we must face ourselves, as uncomfortable as it may be, and help one another to confront our human failings and our blind spots. We must be willing to risk changing our thinking and our behavior and get back in touch with our repressed feelings, our exiled feminine aspect, and our lost spirituality.
Although I cannot change what history has already written, I can change myself and thereby influence what may be written in history when the present becomes the past. In all likelihood, I cannot change over night. But I can begin, like the man who moved the mountain, by carrying away small stones. Personal change, however, is imperative, for as John The Baptist said in Franco Zeffirelli’s movie Jesus of Nazareth, “Before kingdoms change, men must change.”
I also have learned that change is an immutable law of the Universe, which states that the Universe is always in the present and never in the past or the future. To us as human beings, however, the past that which we call history is real, but the past is only illusion, only our interpretation of events, not the events themselves. This reminds me of a story I once heard of a Chinese priest in search of the “Book of Knowledge.”
The priest spent his entire, adult life fighting dragons, thieves, armies, and demons of every kind that would block his path to the Book of Knowledge, a path he followed without knowing where it was leading. Finally, after years of struggle, he arrived at the edge of the sea, and there, high atop a lava pinnacle, was the monastery housing the Book of Knowledge—the book, which held the meaning of life.
As he reached the monastery, the monk who was the keeper of the Book of Knowledge welcomed him. After resting awhile from his arduous journey, the priest opened the Book and found within a mirror, which reflected the image of his own face. And within that reflection was all knowledge contained for the priest saw the wisdom of what he had become as a result of his trials and struggles and the choices he had made along the way.
He had learned that discrimination of choice determines which path a person’s feet are destined to walk. He had learned that “desirelessness” is the key to freedom from materialism’s prison cell. He had learned that good conduct is the sole responsibility of the individual traveler and is not dependent on the behavior of anyone else. He had learned that all the demons along his path were but distortions in the house of mirrors of his own soul. He had learned that wisdom could neither be taught nor given away, that wisdom, the inexplicable knowing beyond knowledge, is the child of experience and must be earned. And he had learned that love, being of God, overcomes all obstacles.
The priest and we are one, and like his, ours is an inner journey, a journey without end, a journey without distance, a journey in which we are both in Creation and creating. As we create, either on the material plane or on the spiritual plane, so we are in creation and we are either freed by our creations born of love or imprisoned by those born of fear. The choice is ours because we have the freedom to choose, and it is how and what we choose to think and do in life that shall determine the mirror image we will one day see in our Book of Knowledge—our “Book of Life.”
Text © by Chris Maser 2010. All rights reserved.