THE ETERNAL SEARCH FOR GOD (6)
He sleeps. A new dream begins.
I am an old man, an ancient one, and I have been many things, lived and died many times, and loved as often as possible. And I tell you the gods exist within the limits of every thing–stone or vegetable, woman or man. Even the red clay the potter molds hides their essence. That a creature or thing exists makes it one with god. Blessed are we all. Because we exist we live for eternity as women or men, birds or fish, stones or wheat, dust in the wind. We shall be what we imagine though we know not yet what that may be. Blessed are we in eternal changing. We live among gods because we are gods. Blessed are the creatures and gods of earth, things of the air and water, flame from the fire.
I have lived in the midst of gods who knew not who they were. You and I are pure as dream, lasting as words, opulent as women. We were given the gift of becoming and the ways of it. After a time of forgetting, I come back to myself. I am as tied to my destiny as an ass is tied to its plow. Because the gods will it, the work is done, and our labor to become what we must is like the perfume of lotus and red oleanders.
I have taken pains to empty myself of the illusions of flesh, to accept failure, even success when it comes, but not to crave it as some men crave wine. I have looked into my heart and seen jealousy, pride and greed. I’ve seen fear and resistance to change. Even as I cast these off as a snake sheds skins, I’ve been tempted to congratulate myself. I have regretted the past and longed for the future, forgetting to notice the mountain of the present. But today, for this moment, I am here with you unburdened by thought and filled with joy. In this moment I regret nothing for the paths I chose led me here. I offer you my life. In this moment as the veil opens and before it closes, I see us as we are–that we are gods, that all that exists and can be named is god coming from the body of god. If I but touch the present, I shall know what lies before and behind for these, too, are holy members of his body. I am, therefore, a god among you, born in the company of men. I tell you in truth, here, in my field behind this sometimes slow and stubborn donkey, I am standing before god. It is good to be here.
Friends, let us add some additional life to our own Sacred Images, I want to tell you a wonderful story that will help you commune with the God of Compassion. This story is called the Giving Tree, written by Shel Silverstein.
Once there was a tree…and she loved a little boy. Every day the boy would come and he would gather her leaves and make them into crowns and play king of the forest. He would climb up her trunk and swing from her branches and eat apples. They would play hide-and-go-seek. And when he was tired, he would sleep in her shade. The boy loved the tree very much and the tree was happy.
But time went by and the boy grew older and the tree was often alone. Then one day the boy came to the tree and the tree said, ‘Come, boy, and climb up my trunk and swing from my branches and eat apples and play in my shade and be happy’.
‘I am to big to climb and play,’ said the boy. ‘I want to buy things and have fun. I want some money. Can you give me some money?’
‘I’m sorry, boy, but I have no money. I have only apples and leaves. Take my apples, boy, and sell them in the city and you will have some money and you will be happy.’ And the boy climbed up the tree and gathered her apples and carried them away. And the tree was happy.
But the boy stayed away for a long time and the tree was sad. One day the boy came back and the tree shook with joy, ‘Come, boy, climb up my trunk and swing from my branches and play and be happy.’
‘I’m to busy to climb trees’, said the boy. ‘I want a house to keep warm. I want a wife and I want children and so I need a house. Can you give me a house?’
‘I have no house’, said the tree. ‘The forest is my home, but you can cut off my branches and take my trunk and build a house and then you will be happy.’ And so the boy cut off all her branches and took her trunk and carried them away to build his house. And the tree was happy…but not really.
And after a very long time the boy, who was a very old man, came back again. ‘I’m sorry, boy,’ said the tree, ‘but I have nothing left to give you. My apples are gone.’
‘My teeth are too weak for apples,’ said the boy.
‘My branches are gone so you can’t swing on them anymore.’
‘I am too old to swing on branches,’ said the boy. ‘I am too tired to even climb.’
‘I’m sorry,’ sighed the tree. ‘I wish I could give you something…but I have nothing left. I am just an old stump. I’m so sorry, boy.’
‘I don’t need very much now,’ said the boy, ‘just a quiet place to sit and rest. I am so very tired.’
‘Well,’ said the tree straightening herself up as best she could, ‘well, an old stump is good for sitting and resting. Come, boy, sit down. Sit down and rest.’
And the boy did. And the tree was very happy. [my addition to the end]
And the boy remembered how much he loved the tree. The boy said, “Tree, I love you with all my heart and all my mind. You are the most important creature in all of my life. And I am happy at last, dear Tree. For you have taught me how God must love this world–even me with my selfishness.. Thank you, Tree. Soon I shall lie down in the ground next to you and we both shall remember our good times–forever.”
To summarize, dear friends, the eternal search for God is the path we each have chosen, hopefully each is making progress. This search represents the ultimate chore which must be accomplished for each man and woman desiring to be Present beyond the Inbreathes and Outbreathes of Brahma. This is attaining to Dharma. To find your particular path of attainment, practice the techniques given to you today. Do not settle for the complacency of cursory knowledge, but find truth and understanding for yourself. Realize that only knowledge you have personally earned can lead to God.
I am going to say goodbye now, realizing that our shared experience has become a part of my own Sacred Image, and for that, I love each of you. God bless.