Sovereign Earth 11- Life’s Path
I am not a Christian, Yet Christ is all around
I am not a Buddhist , Yet Buddha is my ground
I am not a Muslim, Yet Allah’s here in all I see
I am not a Hindu, Yet Krishna speaks to me
I am not an Atheist, Yet Nothingness counts too
I walk the path of Yahweh, Although I‘m not a Jew.
None of these, and all of these
All of these, and more,
If one excludes the others
Love’s truth goes out the door.
Come build a mighty rainbow
embracing all beliefs and creeds
Form something even greater
Than our wildest dreams exceed.
Dream this mighty rainbow
Encircling the Earth,
Sacrifice our dogma
Celebrate rebirth. JJ Middleway
In my early teens I rejected Christianity -it didn’t work for me – and I set out on a journey to seek a path which worked (not realising at the time that this itself is a path). As a child of the 60’s I spent a few years as what might be loosely called a hippy. During this time I shared a stage and sang a song with the Incredible String Band. I saw the Doors and Joni Mitchell live. I was present at Jimi Hendrix’s last live concert – part of which, would you believe, I slept through. So music and inspiration and Summers of ‘Peace and Love’ played their brief part.
Yet something was missing. I went on a journey – as so many of us do – to find the place of resonance and truth – at least in the sense where some external wisdom path might sing to my soul and strike a note of inner harmony – as in a moment of ‘ah yes I’m home’.
So before I continue with that personal story, here is a short parable from ancient Chinese wisdom.
Once upon a time —–There was once a small fish – a youngster – who swam around with her friends in ‘a school’ – However this small fish was a bit bored, somewhat rebellious and very curious. So she took time out from her school of fish one day and swam away looking for adventure. Soon she came near to shore and there she overheard some people talking on a large wooden platform above her head (it was a jetty as it happens, but she didn’t know that word – and the only reason she could understand the people speaking is because this is fairy tale and such things are possible here). Anyhow, she heard them discussing the wonders and magical qualities of water. Water she thought? What’s water ? So hearing of its magic, she knew she must set out to discover its whereabouts and qualities.
First of all she asked around in her school. Had anyone heard of water? What was it? Why was it magical? No one knew the answers to any of her questions. She tried the oldest fish. Did they know? No joy. She swam far and wide, asking all that she met. This was of course quite dangerous, just like swimming toward the shore had been. More than once she was nearly gobbled up by larger fish or strange shaped creatures hidden in the rocks or on the sea floor. But always, she was sufficiently nimble and quick witted and also lucky enough to escape. Wherever she asked, she was met with blank faces, although once an ancient old clam said that she had heard of water but never really understood what it was. She thought the salmon might know, but the young fish couldn’t find any salmon.
Exhausted and despondant, the young (but slowly growing) fish swam back towards its old home. Yet it felt strangely different and unsatisfying there now and the young fish knew she must continue her travels. Something was calling out to her and somewhere else – she couldn’t tell where – something was ‘calling her in’. Confused, hungry and at a loss, the young fish decided to see if she could find out any more by swimming back to the place where she had first heard the people talking about water and its magical qualities. As she swam along, she saw a fresh worm wriggling before her in the water and being ravenous after all her travels, she opened her mouth wide and snapped shut on the worm. OH! OH! OH! such pain. A knife through the top of her gullet – and then worse, as she was rapidly pulled along, struggling wildly, with whatever was in her mouth biting deeper and deeper. What an awful experience. Then suddenly she was hauled out of wherever she’d come from and into something completely different – a place where she was unable to breath – where the world appeared ‘different’ and where the people she had heard talking, were fishermen on a wooden jetty suspended above…… suspended above …what? Oh my goodness. Oh my Goddess, now in her moment of loss, she suddenly realised: The wonderful and magical place she had just left and been hauled out of, was …..WATER!. Too late she thought. Now I’m done for. I can’t breathe. I’m impaled on this sharp blade at the end of this long line. But wait. The fishermen have pulled her close and are looking at the young fish. “Pah, its only a small one” they say. “Not worth keeping” says another. “barely a couple of mouth fulls” says a third. “stick her back in” says the original voice. With that she is painfully taken off the hook (her mouth will forever be malformed and unable to eat properly from now on) then thrown into the air – and, as if in slow motion, falling, falling, falling; then ‘crash’ as she hits the surface and ‘splash’ as she enters the miraculous water. Oh to be home. Oh to breath. Oh to be fully alive. How lucky am I thought the fish. And how unbelievable is this substance called water. Full of life and beauty and mystery. What a miraculous and life affirming place to live. How lucky am I.
Full of joy she swims off to find her old school of fellow fish. She can’t wait to tell them the great news. My how they have grown in her absence – but then she realises – so has she! “Well!” says one of the fish. “How did you get on?” “Did you find out what that silly old tale about water was all about? Did you find it?” “ Tell us!” “tell us!”
Pausing for a moment the returning fish carefully considered the questions and for a few seconds wondered how she might answer. “Well?”, said the school fish again, “ tell us”. “Did you or didn’t you find water? “ “Yes” she said “I did. But if I told you about it, you’d simply never believe me” . And with that she swam off.
So it is with our own path. Each with our individual quest:. With our encounter with divinity or magic or mystery. Supremely meaningful to each of us. Yet either ‘unbelievably absurd’, ‘far fetched’ or ‘off the radar’ for pretty much anyone else (or at least for ‘all but a few’).
Meditation on the nature of your own path – your own journey – your own belief system.
Hen in Pan – tat tvam assi – all in one .
Having been on my own adventure to ‘find out the nature of water’ – a sometimes risky journey, “seeking out the wilder places where the poorer people go” , I discovered aspects of wisdom in ‘Sufism’, in ‘Shamanism’ and in what I have come to term ‘Sillyfoolism’ – for there is much wisdom to be found in the absurd and in making what seem like silly mistakes at the time, yet turn out in hindsight to have been quite helpful or even -paradoxically – wise. I also studied and practised Buddhism- a philosophy and guiding set of teachings, generally free of dogma. Zen and Tibetan traditions seemed to fit best. Then , just at a point where I felt “there’s nothing quite right for me; I’m going to have to develop my own path” along came Druidry – and I found my way home – back to the place I’d always felt at home, right from birth, but didn’t realise, until, just like the fish in the story, I had lost it in order to refind it more fully again, and with much more appreciation and gratitude. Once again, Druidry, like Buddhism, represents a guiding set of principles, life lessons, and values. A toolset for discovering, illuminating, inspiring and enabling one’s own path to unfold and flower. For me, Buddhism is an eastern form of Druidry and Druidry is a western form of Buddhism. Each has something to teach the other, yet they have much in common, especially their lack of dogma. The deciding factor for me is that Druidry ‘is of this land’ – of the land of Albion and of the Isles of Britain, where I live. So my spiritual journey might best be described as seeking to follow a druidic path.
In that sense I believe the term ‘Druid’ to be a posthumous title. Just as with the term ‘poet’, one might aspire to follow such a path, but only with the benefit of hindsight and with viewing a life ‘in the round’ can one truly estimate to what degree the term Druid or Poet best apply. And so it is that the path wanders on for each of us, meandering and weaving its way mysteriously and inevitably on. It is my experience that for each or any of us to have what might be called in any sense ‘a path’ is a great asset, a privilege and blessing in life. A remarkable and trusted companion and guide. A helping hand when the going gets tough. A warm friend along the way. ~~~~~~
Two thoughts to conclude – before we finish with a chant
First from someone called Maha Ghosananda “If we cannot be happy in spite of our difficulties, what good is our spiritual practice?”
And secondly, this from May Sarton: “Each day and the living of it, has to be a conscious creation, in which discipline and order are relieved by some play and pure foolishness” Or as we say in Druidry – Reverence and Mirth – or prayerfulness and playfulness.
Whatever our path, it is a valuable ally as we unfold and proceed on our way.
Be blessed and encouraged on your path and may each of our unique and many ‘paths up the mountain’ serve to unite us as one on the summit, where it all comes together.There are many paths to the top of the mountain – but only one view.
May we each also remember this valuable Zen advice: The finger pointing at the moon is not the moon itself – in other words, don’t get lost discussing the nature of the fingerprint on the finger, when what really matters is to behold the beauty of divinity and the moon in its essential glory, aided and abetted by the finger pointing at it, yet not distracted by that finger ( representing the guiding teachings of any path).
To finish; This from the great teacher, Rumi.
Let my light reflect your light Lord
As the Moon reflects the light of the Sun in love, always in love. x2
OO Allah, Allah hoo Allah Allah hoo Allah Allah hoo x 2