A Dialogue Between Aum and Maya
Aum: Are you asleep, my son, or do you still dream away your life ??
Maya: Ask me no questions. Tell me no lies.
Aum: A fitting response.
Maya: What is the one true value that remains ??
Aum: In the valley of the blind, the one-eyed Jack becomes awake. Let us call it then awareness, understanding, courage, a greater consciousness.
Maya: Understanding of what ??
Aum: Of the human condition— which is the fit place to begin, but not end our inquiry into life and meaning. We realize the absurdity of self-satisfaction and hubris in the face of eternity. The courage to overcome one’s own conditioning. The willingness to establish the Self in one’s ‘lake of soul.’ To become that which one most truly is. And finally, my son, to die with nobility, grace, and peace. To die as one integrated whole person rather than this multiplicity of personages within us– languishing within the human heart, each unfinished, each unsatisfied, each full of doubt, and denial, and the dogma of someone else’s truth.
Maya: The task is enormous is it not ??
Aum: The task is enormous, and in a very real sense it is fit only for the very few who persist all their lives because they realize with all their whole-heartedness and intention of will, that this is the most important thing that they can do with their lives.
Maya: Who is capable of such an effort ??
Aum: Almost no one; and certainly no one is capable at the beginning of the interior path of ‘the long way’ home, the inner journey within one’s lake of soul.
Maya: Then why would one begin ??
Aum: Because one must.
Maya: And then what ??
Aum: One simply begins knowing that each act of real consciousness and will is irrevocable. One need be utterly sincere with oneself through the process of self-observation because self-knowledge is never finished. It requires this pre-condition of self-observation. In effect we take a series of mental ‘candid snapshots’ of ourselves at different moments, and under different conditions. It should be noted that no one can dive the full depth of the waters into their lake of soul. We can, however learn to stop needing to swim on the surface and to progressively learn how to go deeper into our psyche and spirit. Self-knowledge is the key to the apparent lock on this door. Once the key is turned and the door is opened, we find new access to other rooms and upper stories in our house. Our house is our consciousness matrix, You could liken it to a great hotel with many rooms on many floors. We have the opportunity to knock on many doors if we have fulfilled the prior conditions. Without having fulfilled the ‘requirements,’ the door does not open.
A very simple example is the ethical foundation to any emotionally and spiritually mature life. If the ethics are undeveloped or come from a position of mere whim and fancy (as is the modern custom all too often), the door will remain shut to us– because we are not worthy and equal to its contents. This happens at a very subtle level. I am not speaking in terms of a set of rules. What I am offering to you is a deeper understanding of how the inner domains operate in reality. Choose. Test. Form your own conclusions from the evidence of your life— that is what is important; that you take these words in and work with them, assimilate and digest them— then put them into action and use in your life. Test and find out for yourself. You must do this work yourself. No one can do it for you.
Maya: Yes. I want to know what I know from my own experience and realizations.
Aum: One thing more. Be aware that people do not want self-knowledge. They think they have it already. They know they like this and not that. They want one thing and not another. Liking— not liking, wanting— not wanting, agreement— disagreement. That is what people think self-knowledge is. These are merely preferences, and tastes that change. People will avoid at all costs the true process of self-knowledge– which is a life time of work. We learn to turn our gaze and attention inward– as an inner glance of our thoughts, our feelings, our mood. This is what the work of self-observation really entails. People all too often will consider this work as a morbid act of self-indulgence. We will have to give up a great deal in order to take upon ourselves this task in deep sincerity. Much must be sacrificed.
Maya: And what is it that must be sacrificed ??
Aum: One will need to become as ‘objective’ as possible in their process. One needs to learn how to release our personal reactions and patterns of response. At a minimum to note our reactions, to be responsible for them, and not to project them on to other. Such is the custom of the day. We will need to give up, as best we can, our aversions and attachments. We will need to give up our judgments, our self-justifications, our self-indulgences and 101 other ways that we persist in keeping ourselves ‘asleep’ and only partially present to life. All of us have moments of psychic and emotional suffering– this is a part of being human; but we can learn to give up our involvement and identification with those times of suffering. We stop identifying with them as ‘us’ as mine. Therein lies the key. We learn to sacrifice these inner states on the alter of wisdom. One learns to go through those difficult moments and phases of our life with as much equanimity and good will as possible. One learn to do so with consciousness and intention.
Image from: Zen Gardener
Maya: Will you say something about the day and age in which we live ??
Aum: Indeed. Your generation lives in immense times. In the 6,000 years covering the historical and cultural record, no period of time appears as self-destructive as this present moment. And remember we are speaking on a global level in these matters. No historical period has ever been so violent, so empty of soul, so unable to establish ethical and ontological foundations. It is like a cancer that is spreading over the face of the Earth. What will stop this insane impulse towards annihilation ?? That is the question, is it not, that confronts your generation— how to apply the breaks, and how to bend the course to the left, how to apply wisdom and right understanding into the present catastrophe.
We will need to learn how to develop and sustain an ecological harmony and inter-connectedness to all living things. The governance of the 21st century that is most needed is a ‘biocracy’ in which human beings are the conscious stewards and caretakers of the biosphere— that thin and fragile envelop of life. The patient (humanity) is very ill; the prognosis for cure is not good, my son. How your generation will summon the courage the will, the intelligence to this enormous challenge is the great educational question of the day. All future generations will be given that same task as the primary issue to be resolved. It must be resolved. It is not about alternative methods or new technological wizardry. You are fooling yourselves. It is a crisis that must be faced now directly. Every person alive today lives within an inter-connected global network with a crisis that must be resolved at a higher order of thought, response, activity, consciousness than your present economic-political-corporate structure will allow.
Maya: What is that higher order of thought ??
Aum: It will need to be a synthesis of many streams and rivers. The new creative thought need occur on multiple levels. One example would be that the economic paradigm must change to where the wealth is distributed with a sense of justice. There are many people who have thought this out and developed methods and structures that would allow this to occur. The hat trick is to get the nations of the world and the rich and powerful to agree to it. Power and wealth never relinquish their ‘status quo’ position voluntarily. Yet, that is what must occur. The same re-thinking need occur in our educational system— especially what is called, ‘higher education.’ People are trained to take on social and economic roles. It is as if the educational system is proceeding in its ‘business as usual mode’ as if there were no world wide crisis. This is a major location where the denial is nurtured. This is where new insights, methods, and understandings can be taught to our young and beautiful ones.
Maya: And religion and spirituality– what would that look like ??
Aum: In a very real sense, all that need be understood is already been spoken about for many hundreds or thousands of years. We need to become better people. People need to understand how corrupted over time much of the religious institutions have become. They distort the original teaching. The institution is really about the establishment and consolidation of its power. Like all institutions, its primary motive is self-perpetuation. A thorough house cleaning would need to occur. But, who among you has the credibility and inner authority to begin such a monumental change ?? Nothing new needs to be added to the great truths or to the revealed mystical tradition. It has all be said before. What need occur is to begin to apply this wealth of realization on the meaning of being human both individually and collectively. What does it truly mean to be a human being ?? And let me emphasize that we must learn how to embrace our depths in order that we may reach up and receive this new emergent consciousness that is present and available to those who make themselves truly available to its resonance. This is no easy task, I assure you; but this is what need be undertaken now by those who are awake and aware of what is happening now on the Earth stage and why.
Maya: What we have out there is anything but conducive to that. There are so many separate and discordant voices promising great things, but with few tangible results. It is especially sad to note how the religious-spiritual traditions in their writings, teachings, methods have been co-opted by the marketplace. There is a growing sense of inner emptiness. People are lost and without foundation and desperate for someone to give them what they do not have. There are all manner of persons selling their knowledge wares to anyone who will open their wallet to them. People are searching from a place of great need today.
Aum: Indeed, a sad, but true commentary on the state of affairs in that tent. The issues are everywhere for those who choose to see. The injunction and need for massive change is undeniable. Why is it that we continue to move in the opposite direction ?? Why do people embrace and consolidate in upon the problem rather than the solution ?? I am asking for your opinions in these matters. What do you think about what I am saying ??
Maya: I have come to conclude that we have a great deal of information and very little aptitude for knowledge on a broad scale— as an integration of understanding within the many disciplines. As such, there are few people who are authentic examples of what I would call real understanding. People’s knowledge is limited to their field of interest or specialization. Few are the one’s who have the depth as well as the span of knowledge to move into becoming a person who is an authentic holder of real understanding. I would call that person a wisdom carrier. That is most uncommon today.
Aum: Yes, a fine insight. Our old ones had the historical function of being the wisdom carriers within the group. Now, our ‘olders” (historically our elders) seldom embrace a real understanding and wisdom– they simply have long years of experience. What can a man teach his son if that man works for thirty years in a small box, behind a desk, spending countless hours looking at an electronic screen. His entire function is to find out how to buy a pound of hamburger for ½ cent less by getting Brazil to compete with Argentina.
Maya: Yes, every son wants his father’s teaching; but our fathers no longer have a teaching to pass on to us. When we ask them what they do when they are away all day– we want to know what they do with their bodies, we want to know what they are doing with their minds. We want to know what thoughts are they thinking about and if they are remembering their family. We want to know what they are doing with their hands. When we ask these questions– they give us a brief description of their job title, the name of the corporation, or what the business of their corporation is. This is not a teaching. We want to know how to do things. We want to be taught how to make things. We want to be taught how a man becomes a man. We want to know the history of our lineage. We want to know how to go outside under the night sky, look up and see stars that we know can guide our way. This is called, progress, I ask you ?? This is not progress— this is the way that a culture destroys itself from the inside out by choosing to actively remove itself from everything that really matters. Now people work for paper money. They do not have enough; and so many, many people are increasingly overwhelmed by the circumstances of their lives.
Aum: Soon there will be a renting of this fabric. You will see a time of great fracturing that will affect all societies and cultures. It is all one soup today; and it is becoming increasingly bitter. I suspect nothing can really occur until after things that prop up this present absurdity ‘hit the wall’ and can no longer continue. The ‘beast’ of the market economy requires a continuous offering to be sacrificed to its greed and insatiable hunger. That is the function of what is called ‘the third world’ and the peasants and poor people, the working class. They are the ones that are being offered to be sacrificed and made yet another casualty of the system. I am reluctant to share more on this matter; but I assure you I have thought this matter through for quite some time– and I am a studied observer of the human condition.
Maya: Indeed you are. I would like to talk today about education. What do you see as important to understand now ??
Aum: I think that essentially the school curriculum for the 21st century need to be about relationship. That is my ‘skinny’ on it. It is a good thing to have a single criterion as our star to guide on. Let me develop that idea. Relationship, as I understand it has three faces. One is the relationship we have with ourselves. We have to be able to effectively teach our young and beautiful ones how to become better people. We will need, of course, first to educate the educators. We will need to choose the people who stand before our children and youth upon a much different criterion that their ability to score well on tests. Today, increasingly we have education from the ‘top down’ that is being standardized at the highest levels of government. They offer a carrot, of course, which is always money. They will also have a stick if you do not ‘perform’ on task to the standards they have set. It is simply carrots and sticks depending upon your performance.
Maya: Yes, I see. This causes a fear based response on all levels at the state, district, school, etc. Everyone is frightened that their children will not measure up to the standards that have been set for them. The teachers are in the ‘crunch position’ and mainly responsible for delivering the goods. The teachers are the ones most responsible for making most certain that the children pass, the classroom passes, the school passes, the district passes, the state passes.
Aum: Is there anything wrong with this state of affairs in your thinking ?? I am asking again for your thoughtful opinion about a subject, I know, that is close to your heart– namely, education.
Maya: If we give the matter some thought, and think the issue through– which I see very few people have done; we will see that this situation is perhaps the worst possible process for the education our children. I have wondered a good deal if this strange absurdity is not by design because no one could be so stupid as to create a system like that. What has happened, and what can only continue is that the teachers will teach in such a manner that supports good scores on their tests. These tests have been developed all too often by people who probably have not set foot in a classroom in 10 years– and know next to nothing about what is really going on in the minds of our children and youth. The quality of what was once called, education, can only be significantly decreased. Fear is not a proper motivation under sustained conditions. Everyone will be put under pressure for good numbers and scores: students, teachers, principals, superintendents. And the more they try and fix it by creating new standards of control, the worse it will get.
Aum: I trust you will receive my words gracefully and not be offended. They are certainly not directed at you. I am all too aware that young people, for the most part, (and that is the only qualifying phrase I will use) are being ‘dumbed down.’ What they know is what has happened since they were born, but they do not know the story of mankind and nations and civilization. The have been, with rare exceptions, fed the pap of commercial non sense that is the function of today’s media. A false sense of desire and dissatisfaction is created with great awareness and intention by the experts with all the answers. This is necessary because a continuous demand for goods and services (with conspicuous consumption, as icing on the cake) is necessary for ‘progress.’ The young are being trained to fulfill their primary function– to be docile consumers. The prime tool for this is the media in all its enormous forms and faces. In fact it could rightly be said that your generation has been completely and quite successfully mediated. The primary tool for this is TV. What is quite ironic here is that people have paid good money for the opportunity to put the media’s major broadcast receiving station (TV) in their own living room. I think of what my grandfather would say if he were to view these present state of affairs being played out on the world’s stage.
Maya: He would have wondered how we could have possibly allowed this state of affairs to put its noose around our necks.
Aum: Yes, that says it quite nicely, does it not ?? Let us return to the core curriculum which is simply: relationship. Let us move on to the second face of relationship which is our relationship with others in all its many forms and manifestations. This includes relationship within the family, group, nation, and world. There are certain long studied principles that order the rules of engagement when two people meet and exchange time/space, words, opinions, emotions, needs, wants and wishes, hopes and dreams, fears and strength. If you will note the list is almost endless. Each of us, will need to know the rules on the field, and be willing to play at the game when called upon. This is, of course, a long learning process. This second face of relationship includes war and diplomacy, economic systems, all governing bodies and institutions, travel, transportation, energy, etc., again the list is endless. This area has now been captured, for the most part, and re-directed away from the tradit-ional ‘rules of the road’ to where it is all now in service to great power and money. People still interact with each other according to the cultural standards they grew up with— but the ends and goals have now been greatly shifted by an economic-political paradigm that is always hungry for more.
Maya: So it is necessary that we agree to agree at the widest possible level on new life affirming parameters and rules of the road– the principles that are governing the play of the game on the field of life upon Earth. We would have to learn to ‘agree to agree’ when disagreement and discord, conflict and contention are everywhere. Where would the authority arise to establish such a fundamental shifting of the meaning and purpose of life ?? Everyone now seems to have their own self-interest firmly in place. If self-interest, money and power, are in control of the board game– and have no history of ever voluntarily relinquishing their privileged position, how could an enormous changing of this magnitude occur ?? This is a very important question to ponder and consider in its magnitude and depth.
Aum: I suspect it will only arise from a condition of dire necessity when those who are dealing out the cards see only a continuing and worsening condition of chaos and confusing spreading over the Earth with enormous consequences to everyone and everything. There is an old Greek maxim which says that: “Necessity is the mother of invention.” We do not seem to be either willing, or able to make the widespread course corrections that so many know are necessary and needed. It seems like things will need to go right up to, or over the edge before there is the necessary political will to change. How absurd and insane, don’t you think ??
Maya: I suspect this is the third face of relationship you are speaking of.
Aum: Exactly. This is the individual’s relationship to the greater whole at the widest possible level. This is thinking globally— which is something we must now do. This is the person-planet relationship. We must learn a new role for ourselves as human beings.
Up to now we have been simply a species of takers. We took from the Mother all that we could and then some. We did not consider the well being of other species and their right to their ‘beingness.’ We need to recognize that we are self-conscious, with the capacity for reason, reflection, abstraction, among the number of unique attributes we share with no other species of animal– in order for us to become the kindly caretaker of the garden, Planet Earth. We are here to be stewards and caretakers. It seems to me that is our real species function. I believe that we are on the cusp of realizing our great task and common purpose. This we must now do if much of life, as we know it, is to survive. We are at that point now in the river of life, and time, and history. How immense these times, my son.
Maya: Thank you for your words and understanding.
Aum: And thank you for your willingness and efforts to understand.