Among all the proofs of the efficacy of loving, none is more compelling to me than the existence of institutions of learning. I am one of the most favored and grateful recipients of the investment made by others in discovering and sharing the truth.
During my freshman year at UC Berkeley, my dorm roomie was a talented pianist named John Schmay. John would sit down at a piece of music and spin out a million notes in extemporaneous composition that wandered effortlessly across musical genres. He tried to tame the volcano within through meditation at a self-made Buddhist shrine. Inspired by that example, I turned within as well. As the year progressed, through meditation I had a series of conscious transitions, an opening of doors to ever larger realms of truth. I realize now that those transitions were facilitated by others, and reflected a judgment that I would be respectful in my navigation of those halls.
Since leaving the UC system (I worked at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory for the first eight years of my professional life), I have tried my best to bring the gifts of truth into my work in the commercial world. It is an ongoing struggle. Our hierarchical corporate structure and the legal framework of property rights both support and sustain the exercise of tyranny. This is expressed in a psychology of management prerogatives that extend, in the most aggressive case, to the idea that a supervisor has a right to untrammeled access to the sources of truth in our minds. In my own case, access has been sought through appeals to lust and greed, and when those failed, through raw threat to my survival and the survival of those I love.
Of course, as one that has surrendered fully to Christ, this is all terribly wearisome. I don’t own the truth; I don’t control the truth that flows through me. Having been given the gift of wandering in it, perhaps to a greater degree than anyone now alive, I perceive that remit to be a jewel precious beyond measure, and something that death will not steal from me. It will only interrupt the process of living that allows truth to manifest itself in the world through me.
Paradoxically, upon realizing that none of the afore-mentioned inducements will gain access to the truth that reaches out through me, a subtle psychological shift occurs. Instead of negotiating an exchange of value, the world itself is raised as a threat to the survival of the truth in me. The assertion of authority is not one of merit, but rather a claim of allegiance from one providing protection. Of course, this is always the last resort of the tyrant. When they no longer can command weakness in their subjects, they manufacture enemies without.
What has been essential to me, in working through this resistance, is to recognize that it is not the specific individuals that concern the truth. They are merely attempts to manifest a pattern of relation that has engendered habits of thinking – just as I manifest a pattern of relation (unconditional love) and habits of thinking (a relentless plunging into the veils that hide the truth).
Having exhausted the resistance of ownership, in America the next barrier is the defense industry, the enormously voracious “protector of liberty.”
So last night I awoke to a dream of captivity to Jihadi John, the target of yesterday’s drone strike in Syria. As I was injected into the scenario, I firmly resisted the garb of a victim, instead asserting that I saw this as a demonstration that would undermine the rhetoric of fear. Firmly enmeshed in the illusion of captivity, I shared with the jihadists that I had never finished reading the Qur’an, and asked them to provide me an English translation. With that link established, I offered them the truth as I understood it, opening my heart to reveal the love that I have received, eclipsing in measure any claims of my worth.
In that moment there was a lifting away. Something gave way, an ancient predatory spirit that has roosted in the Middle East.
Gently I asserted to the jihadists, “Isn’t this the goal you desire?” Their affirmation spread throughout the region. I then became one with that spirit that watches the world from outside, gently guiding our hearts, spreading the hope that one day we will stop fearing the consequences of receiving it – foremost being the power that it brings to elaborate wills that are not yet strong enough to resist the self-tyranny that is our self-concern.
And to my countrymen, I then turned to ask, “Did you really believe that the truth needs protection?”
You can run but you can’t hide.
It is that which is.
We were/are/will be that which we were/are/will be.