Carol A. Hand
As a young child, I had two recurring dreams. In one, I was on a screened porch. Just beyond the screen were hungry, scary monsters. They were snarling and clawing in their attempt to break through the screen to get to me, and I huddled in fright. I would awake with my heart racing. But this dream was often followed by another. In the second dream, I would stand at the top of stairs in my house with my arms widespread. I would jump gently and soar thought the air. I easily exited my house as I swooped though the front door and realized my thoughts could take me high into the sky far above the earth or allow me to hover just above people who were walking on the earth. I still have days that alternate between these two possibilities.
Photo: Crouching Child
I often think about these contrasting choices – to feel boxed in and exposed, paralyzed by fear or to fly free above the chaos. Both are lonely choices for a life lived on the margins. I’m sure there are other choices, yet these two seem to alternate in an endless loop for me. And I return once again to contemplate the words of Krishnamurti.
“The urge to find out what truth is, what God is, is the only real urge and all other urges are subsidiary. When you throw a stone into still water, it makes expanding circles. The expanding circles are the subsidiary movements, the social reactions, but the real movement is at the centre, which is the movement to find happiness, God, truth; and you cannot find it as long as you are caught in fear, held by a threat. From the moment there is the arising of threat and fear, culture declines.” (p. 89)
As I think about what is happening in the world today, I see the consequences of fear – paralysis or efforts to ensure safety by conquest and control. And I see the consequences of people who have continued to pursue change or revolution by fighting inside of the imprisoning paradigms of the oppressive, limiting assumptions they have been socialized to accept without question. I was one of them in the past.
“Have you not noticed how arrogant idealists are? The political leaders who bring about certain results, who achieve great reforms – have you not noticed that they are full of themselves? In their own estimation they are very important. Read a few of the political speeches, watch some of these people who call themselves reformers, and you will see that in the very process of reformation they are cultivating their own ego; their reforms, however extensive, are still within the prison, therefore they are destructive and ultimately bring more misery and conflict to man [sic].
“Now, if you can see through this whole social structure, the cultural pattern of the collective will which we call civilization – if you can understand all that and break away from it, break through the prison walls of your particular society, whether Hindu, communist, or Christian, then you will find that there comes a confidence which is not tainted with the sense of arrogance. It is the confidence of innocence. It is like the confidence of a child who is so completely innocent he [she] will try anything. It is this innocent confidence that will bring about a new civilization; but this innocent confidence cannot come into being as long as you remain within the social pattern.” (pp. 94-95)
Of course there are risks when one takes flight, free from the comforting confines of tradition. It is takes great faith and love to dare the lift off – and even greater faith and endurance to remain in flight. But the first steps may seem impossible. How does one free oneself from “the dust of many centuries, the dust of what we call knowledge, experience”? (p. 101) The first step for me is recognizing it is crucial to free my heart and mind so I can leave the screened porch to see new possibilities. It’s a hard step to take in these times. The second is mustering the courage to take flight outside of the prison of “yesterday’s reminiscences.” (p. 101) Although I carry the weight of my ancestors’ historical trauma and my own, let me choose to take the risk at this moment. As one simple ordinary person, let me observe what was and what is without paralyzing fear from the distance of love and possibilities for what can assuredly come to be.
Photo Credit: Dancer (Carol A. Hand)
Krishnamurti (1989). Think on these things. New York, NY: Harper Perennial.
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