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#1478 - Monday, June 30, 2003 - Editor: Jerry
We sit on the lawn, an igloo
cooler between us. So hot, the sky
is white. Above gravel rooftops
a spire, a shimmering cross.
You pick up the swollen hose, press
your thick thumb into the silver nozzle.
A fan of water sprays rainbows
over the dying lawn. Hummingbirds
sparkle green. Bellies powdered
with pollen from the bottle-brush tree.
The bells of twelve o'clock.
Our neighbors return from church.
I bow my head as they ease
clean cars into neat garages, file
through screen doors in lace gloves,
white hats, Bible-black suits.
The smell of barbeque rises, hellish
thick and sweet. I envy their weekly
peace of mind. They know
where they're going when they die.
Charcoal fluid cans contract in the sun.
I want to be Catholic. A Jew. Maybe
a Methodist. I want to kneel
for days on rough wood.
Their kids appear in bright shorts,
bathing suits, their rubber thongs
flapping down the hot cement.
They could be anyone's children;
they have God inside their tiny bodies.
My god, look how they float, like birds
through the scissor-scissor-scissor
of lawn sprinklers.
Down the street, a tinny radio bleats.
The sun bulges above our house
like an eye. I don't want to die.
I never want to leave this block.
I envy everything, all of it. I know
it's a sin. I love how you can shift
in your chair, take a deep drink
of gold beer, curl your toes under, and hum.
Anthony de Mello, SJ
"Where shall I look for Enlightenment?"
" When will it happen?"
"It is happening right now."
"Then why don't I experience it?"
"Because you do not look."
"What should I look for?"
"Nothing, just look."
"Anything your eyes alight upon."
"Must I look in a special kind of way?"
"No. The ordinary way will do."
"But don't I always look the ordinary way?"
"Why ever not?"
"Because to look you must be here. You're mostly somewhere else."
Sri Sri Ravi Shankar
Enlightenment is a joke!
Seekers on the spiritual path are curious to know about
Enlightenment. What is Enlightenment? I say, Enlightenment
is like a joke! It is like a fish in the ocean searching for
the ocean. Once upon a time, there was a congregation of fish, who got
together to discuss who among them had seen the ocean. None of
them could say they had actually seen the ocean. Then one fish
said, I think my great grandfather had seen the ocean! A
second fish said, Yes, yes, I have also heard about this.
A third fish said, Yes, certainly, his great grandfather had
seen the ocean.
So they built a huge temple and made a statue of the great
grandfather of that particular fish! They said, He had seen
the ocean. He had been connected with the ocean.
Enlightenment is the very core of our being; going to the core
of our self and living our life from there.
We all came into this world gifted with innocence, but
gradually, as we became more intelligent, we lost our
innocence. We were born with silence and as we grew up, we
lost the silence and were filled with words. We lived in our
hearts and as time passed, we moved into our heads.
Now the reversal of this journey is enlightenment. It is the
journey from the head back to the heart, from words back to
silence; getting back to our innocence in spite of our
intelligence. Although very simple, this is a great
Knowledge should lead you to that beautiful point of
know. The purpose of knowledge is ignorance!
The completion of knowledge will lead you to amazement and
wonder. It makes you aware of this existence. Mysteries are to
be lived, not understood. One can live life as fully in its
completeness, in its totality.
Enlightenment is that state of being mature and unshakeable
under any circumstances. Come what may, nothing can rob the
smile from your heart. Going beyond the limited boundaries,
and feeling all that exists in this universe belongs to
me, is enlightenment.
Unenlightenment is easy to define. It is limiting yourself by
saying, I belong to this particular place, I am from
that culture or I belong to this religion.
It is like children saying, My dad is better than
dad, or My toy is better than your toy. I think most
people around the world are stuck in that mental age group,
just the toys have changed. Adults say, My country is better
than your country or my religion is better than your
A Christian will say, The Bible is truth,
and a Hindu will
say, The Vedas are the truth. They are very ancient.
Muslims will say, The Koran is the last word of God. We
attribute glory to something just because we are from that
culture, not for what it is.
If one could take credit for all that exists throughout the
ages and feel as though It belongs to me, then, that is
maturity. This is my wealth because I belong to the
The Divine, according to time and space, gave different
knowledge in different places. One becomes the knower of the
whole universe and can say all the beautiful flowers are
from my garden.
The whole evolution of man is from being somebody to being
nobody, and from being nobody to being everybody.
Have you observed that young children have that sense of
belonging that oneness, that innocence? As we grew up we lost
that innocence and became more cunning. The innocence of an
ignorant man has no value, and the cunningness of an
intelligent man also has no value.
Enlightenment is a rare combination of innocence and
intelligence, having words for expression and, at the same
time, being very silent. In that state, the mind is fully in
the present moment. Whatever is necessary is revealed to you
in such a natural and spontaneous way, you just sit and the
song of the nature flows through you.
WHAT COULD HAPPEN
Noon. A stale Saturday. The hills
rise above the town, nudge houses and shops
toward the valley, kick the shallow river
into place. Here, a dog can bark for days
and no one will care enough
to toss an empty can or an unread newspaper
in his direction. No one complains.
The men stand in loose knots
outside Ace Hardware, talk a little, stare
at the blue tools. A few kids
sulk through the park, the sandbox full
of hardscrabble, the monkey bars
too hot to touch. In a town like this
a woman on the edge of forty
could drive around in her old car, the back end
all jingle and rivet, one headlight
taped in place, the hood held down with greasy rope,
and no one would notice.
She could drive up and down the same street
all day, eating persimmons,
stopping only for a moment to wonder
at the wooden Indian on the corner of 6th and B,
the shop window behind it
filled with beaten leather, bright woven goods
from Guatemala, postcards of this town
before it began to go under, began
to fade into a likeness of itself.
She could pull in at the corner store for a soda
and pause before uncapping it,
press the cold glass against her cheek,
roll it under her palm down the length of her neck
then slip it beneath the V of her blouse
and let it rest there, where she is hottest.
She could get back in her car
and turn the key, bring the engine up
like a swarm of bottle flies, feel it
shake like an empty caboose.
She could twist the radio too high
and drive like this for the rest of the day--
the same street, the same hairpin turn
that knocks the jack in the trunk from one wheel well
to the other--or she could pass the turn
and keep going, the cold soda
wedged between her legs, the bass notes
throbbing like a vein, out past the closed shops
and squat houses, the church
with its bland white arch, toward the hills,
beyond that shadowy nest of red madrones.
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