Actor Keith Hamilton Cobb website

I Didn’t Sign On For This

This “Oneness with God” idea is tricky even in the simplest of terms.  Like sitting at The Master’s feet, one can’t really not do it.  And yet what it generally comes down to is a measure of the magnitude of mishegas that stands in the way of an awareness that one is, in fact, doing it.  And it is surely that measure of magnitude which regulates how much one is actually capable of taking away from the perpetual encounter that will induce, even by fits and starts, anything akin to enlightenment.  Many, I dare say most, of the junior partners, if they care to put things in the language of the common man, employing the vocabulary of the body-bound, will tell you that that very lack of awareness is, in fact, madness; that we are all stone crazy in our dis-ease, while everything is, in actuality, simply perfect, or at least (“perfect” being a human invention to name a human perception) as it should be.  As a mystic I can buy this.  As a fair weather mystic, I’d like to send the monk back to his mountaintop with my sneaker firmly lodged in his butt crack and search on alone.  And that very desire, of course, confirms my continued practice in aloneness and separation from God, Source, Spirit, in essence, my anti-oneness while at the same time seeking to be one with.  Boy, am I fucked up!

But fucked up is part of the process, which is why I can’t blame anyone for being their own unique brand of it, from Bernie Madoff to Mother Theresa, and that’s fairly advanced awareness if I do say so myself, and that’s without ever thinking that I would be a mystic, nor ever seeking to be one, thank you very much.

Every single intention I ever set in my entire life was towards something else.  My conscious (we’ve got to be careful with that word) intentions, while they tended towards the spiritual enlightenment, were like most people’s in that they were not devoid of the need to make money.  I was no more free of the fear of living – we just showed up here one day, we didn’t ask to attend, like being thrown terrified into the ocean before being taught to swim – or free of the fear of how to sustain a life than anyone else.  Thus, like most, somewhere at the seat of my aspirations, however spiritually inclined, was the desire to get paid.  I did get paid, some, but not without considerable struggle inherent in all of it.  And if the struggle was not in striving for the money itself, it was invariably for a more fulfilling way of making it.  This last, though I would not have known it at the time, was dipping a toe into the mysticism.  Many of us would never really care how the money was made so long as it was basically legal, and in amounts sufficient to support the common requirements, food, shelter, cable television…  Others, like myself were thinking, even early on, that we wouldn’t second guess God in Its plan to realize in us precisely what we felt most drawn to.  There would be no fall-back position in accounting, or clerical, or whatever else, but only the fully supported actualization of our creative selves, if for no other reason then for our having the shear effrontery in this frightening place to expect it and accept no compromise.  Art, I thought, would make money, and money would make more art.  This was the intention I set.  And while The Master, whom I hardly knew, never offered any indication of alternate plans per se (for why would The Master need to manipulate my life?) there at the feet, no wisdom was ever clearly and loudly imparted so far as I was able to ascertain that might have made my assumed life goals any easier to achieve, or abandon, for the sake of a more fervent pursuit of my sadhuship.  No more fervent pursuit was needed.  I was frustratingly, infuriatingly, imperceptibly where I was supposed to be.  I still am. We are mystics despite ourselves.

It is probably all considerably less difficult at the mountaintop, provided that the seeker has, in his practice, crossed that threshold that separates him from his wanting.  For isn’t the human condition “to want,” which should not be construed as a bad thing.  To want is “to aspire?”  Without want, why would any seekers ever aspire to seek?  Still, this austere devotion on the mountaintop, if it is to bear fruit, requires a sequestration from all of the distractions that the human process of wanting create; that ego in its insatiable need to define the self strives to achieve.  And isn’t the monk on the mountaintop, unless he’s extremely advanced, hearing, if only in the smallest voice from somewhere within him saying, “You’re one damn good monk for having sat up here another day.  You keep at it and you’ll be one of the best.  You’re awfully close to enlightenment.  Keep it up!!”  Does he not aspire?  Does he not want?  And is it not more difficult, and thus more to be recognized if your levels of spiritual attainment, however slight, are got without respite from the clamor of the marts of Earth?

You are a monk right where you are.  You may as well strive to be a good one… where you are… as you are.

Am I telling you anything you don’t know?

I didn’t think so, which is precisely the point.  Isn’t it?



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