lived life

            is into the Sun

                        with shadows left behind

 

 

**********

 

 

 

When the light came

            I used to say

"It dawned on me"

                                    never wondering

                                    what It was

 

Finally I wondered

            until I discovered

                        that the SUN

                                    dawned on me

 

                        and It is I

 

Often

            in those days

                        when spirit fled me

            I returned silently

                        to the SUN

                        awaiting rebirth

 

            While waiting

                        I discovered

The awesome power

                                    and infinite knowledge

                                                of the SUN

 

            The mystery of our meetings

                        touched me deeply

 

Now

            with ultimate questions

            I always go to the SUN

 

                        He knows

                                    about man

                                    and meeting 

 

*********

 

 

 

MYSTERY OF MEETING

 

I asked Him once

            about meeting in our special way

            a kind of encounter

                        remembered for its depth

                                    and treasured for its wealth

 

"What is the mystery?" I asked,

 

"Whenever we meet

            sparks fly

                        the air is electric

                        I am charged, changed

                                    and never forget!"

 

"Yes," He said,

            "There is mystery in meeting

 

            "Whenever two others

                        two separate others

                                    dare stand together

                                                in their separateness

                                    the transfiguration occurs

                                                                        again

 

            "Ones apart

                        become at one

                                    in the magic moment

 

            "Without losing their separateness

                        their division vanishes

in the unity

                                    which is the

                                    mystery of meeting."

 

            "But why is meeting mysterious?," I asked. I have always feared the unknown.

 

            "Meetings of consequence are mysterious," He replied, "because they are always between mysterious ones. Only individuals, apart, can meet in this way, Each one is like a sphere: complete, contained, separate, and mysterious--above all, mysterious.

 

            "As a mysterious one, you can show aspects of yourself, but you cannot finally be known by any other. You can know about an other, but never fully know an other. Always the element of mystery remains. You can be with one, encounter his mystery, but you can never grasp the mystery itself. Bits of information may obscure the fact, but they do not change it.

 

            "Your people seem only willing to meet what they know. They immediately try to name, place, and categorize each new unknown. When they find a person, they first try to pin him down in their mind's eye, with such irrelevant information as, 'What's your name?,' 'Where are you from?,' and, 'What do you do?.' Once they have him pinned with a label, a location, and an occupation, they act as though they know him.

 

            "Unfortunately such classifying creates a spiritual gulf which is often uncrossable. Once the asker thinks he knows, he has no reason to remain alert. Soon he will be bored. If the answerer falls for the trap, he may become immeshed in the asker's web, losing his own freedom to remain a mysterious person. The assumed 'knowledge' may obscure the real mystery, killing the encounter.

 

            "Mystery is the basis of the authentic encounter, not a curse on it. When you think to eliminate the risks of meeting by getting to know the other, you unwittingly destroy the one essential requirement. To know anything for sure kills meeting in proportion to the assumed 'knowledge.'

 

            "Therefore, gather no information about the other. Ask not his name, where he is from, where he has been, or what he does. Risk encountering him as he is and always will be--a mystery. Stand with, but do not lose yourself in seeking to understand the other. Bring your mystery to him; reveal chosen aspects of yourself; and respond to his mystery. Listen for your own name to be called from it, but never try to eliminate the mystery of the other.

 

            "Nor should you destroy the mystery of yourself. Stand with him, revealing what you will, but never try to make him understand. Let your record always be incidental. Though it may be revealed as you show yourself, never make a show of it. Do not substitute information for revelation.

 

            "So, if you would meet some one--be he stone, moth, or human--you must keep the element of mystery alive, both in yourself and in the other. Let your fear of the unknown become excitement in the face of mystery. Worship at its altar rather than attempting to destroy it. Pin nothing down; take nothing for granted; let nothing be for sure. Never conclude that you know an other. Explore him, but do not try to figure him out.

 

            "Remain a mystery yourself. Reveal your mystery as you choose; encounter the mysterious other; but never erase the mystery. With it goes the meeting."

 

 

************

 

WHO?

 

            I was intrigued by His grouping stones, moths, and humans together. "Who or what can I meet, in the way I meet you?," I asked. "Who is an other?"

 

            "All meeting is the same," said He.

 

            "Meeting a person

                        is no different

                                    than meeting a mushroom or a redbird

                                                a snake or a snail

                                                a rock

                                                a situation

                                                a grain of sand

                                                a star

                                                a butterfly

                                                a moment

                                                            or Me.

 

            "Whenever you are there

                        with an other,

                                    the meeting of consequence

                                                            is possible."

 

            "And the other is ought else than yourself. All the world is my other. I meet every mountain peak and valley, every stream and desert, each plant and animal. No insect or bird is foreign to me. Each man, too, I invite to encounter. Not even the moon is alien to me. In my absence from you I cavort freely with the planets and stars in the velvet night.

 

            "All else is a possible other. Regrettably, man seems to divide himself from his possible others, placing himself above or below many of them. He deceives himself into thinking he is better than some and worse than others. By his judgments he is removed from the level plane where meetings of consequence occur. In becoming unequal, he becomes unable to meet.

 

            "In reality all ones are equal. A man is no better than a mosquito, or worse than myself. Any separate one can meet an equal other."

 

            A question came to my mind just then. "Must we both be aware of separateness and equality?," I asked.

 

            "Only the fact is required, not knowledge of it. When either lives as a separate one, whether or not he is aware of the truth, meeting becomes possible. Ideally, each knows his separateness. Then the greater sparks fly. Sometimes neither one knows, yet each exists and encounters as an individual. The chances of the consequential meeting increase if at least one does know.

 

            "If you know your separateness, you can meet any person or thing, even if he does not know his own. So long as you maintain your oneness, the other will also. Not knowing or accepting his own, he may tempt you to abandon yours. Resist every such effort. Remain a separate mystery at all costs, or you prevent a meeting of consequence.

 

            "You are, in fact, all equal. Live accordingly. Look down on nothing. Look up to no one. Meet every one and every thing as you will. Each is your other."

 

*******

 

 

 

HE WAS HERE

 

A huge flock

            of dappled pink sheep

                        danced across the purple dawn

            heralding His impending arrival

 

Breathlessly I waited

 

            Suddenly they disappeared

                        as quickly as they had come

            leaving me alone in the gray morning

 

But not for long.

 

            Their carefree prelude

                        was not for naught

 

            Immediately

            the gray gave way

                        to His silent burst

 

                        and He was here

 

*******

 

 

 

WHY?

 

            I was spellbound for a time, but soon began to wonder about our encounters. "What is the purpose of these mysterious meetings?" I asked, suspecting that it was a foolish question. Yet my analytical mind always leads me to ask why? For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to know the purpose of things. So I asked.

 

            He was busy repainting the morning sky. Patiently, as though He knew I was indulging my pretended ignorance, He replied, "The creative encounter is its own goal. It reaches for nothing beyond itself. The purpose of a meeting of consequence is the meeting. Its rewards are inherent within the event. Go to meet, not to get or give.

 

            "If you would meet creatively, abandon any other intents. They can only prevent that which is inherent within the experience of true meeting Do not try to use the event for any external purpose. For instance, do not run to any meeting to escape yourself. Carry your fullness or emptyness, but do not go to empty yourself or to be filled.

A true meeting is the apex of sharing, not a relief from wealth or poverty. Go when you have much to do, not when you seek occupation.

 

            "Nor can you have any intent for the one you would meet. Any attempt to use the other requires transforming him into an object in your mind's eye. Objects can be had and used, but not met. Only mysterious ones can encounter each other. A 'one' and an 'it' cannot.

 

            "Thus you must respect an other, but seek not to gain his respect. You may honor him, but seek not to be honored by him. To use another to provide your own respect and honor is to reduce him to an object, thereby preventing an encounter. Love an other, if you will, but seek not to beloved by him.

 

            "Whenever you approach an other with purposes in mind beyond the event of encounter, you must devote your attention to achieving goals. Often they will require concealment and manipulation, both of which are enemies of meeting. Certainly there are times for purposive endeavors. These, however, are outside the limits of meetings of consequence.

 

            "Just as you go not to gain from the other, neither do you go to give ought to him. Giving is also a goal. Though a higher goal than getting, still it is a goal. All goals, high or low, stand as obstacles in the path of meeting. Anyway, nothing which ultimately matters can be given to another. You can respect him, but not give him respect; you can honor him, but not give him self-esteem. You can love him, but you can not give him your love.

 

            "So, go for meeting, and naught else."

 

********

 

 

THE EVENT

 

It's

            in the event

                        always

            in the event

                        only

            in the event

 

 

*******

 

 

I WAS MAN

 

I drank a tree

            consumed an old wooden bridge

                                    to somewhere

            ate red and yellow autumn leaves

                        and

            swallowed the setting SUN

                        that day

                                    and

                                                I was man

                                                            then

 

*******

 

 

WHAT?

 

            In that heady moment, I asked, ere He was gone, "What am I to do with an other? What is a proper activity in a meeting which matters?"

 

            Ignoring my pride, which must have been apparent, He replied, "All consequential encounters are like our own. From our private worlds we move into the presence of each other, revealing who we are, and receiving the other. Without leaving ourselves or probing the other, we freely give and openly receive what is given to us.

 

            "Your first move in any encounter is to extend yourself to the other. Begin by revealing who you are in some appropriate way. Move openly into his presence, even as you do into mine. Only in perceiving you will he also be able to meet. You may let him see what you are doing. Stand openly, doing your work before him, as though he were not there. He will perceive you best through your deeds.

 

            "Or you may open your mind, letting him see you reflected in thoughts you are having. Give voice to passing images which move across the screen of your brain. Translate your observations, memories, opinions, and fantasies into verbal form, revealed for his own mind's eye.

 

            "In like manner, you may open your heart, giving expression to emotions moving within you at the moment. Without pouring them out on him, allow him to know your feelings. Reveal your emotional self.

 

            "Note carefully that I speak of revelation and not demonstration. You are letting him see who you are by revealing some aspect of yourself. You are doing your deeds before him, rather than acting for his benefit. You are thinking aloud, not telling

your thoughts. You are feeling openly rather than privately, not putting on a display of emotions.

 

            "Revealing and reporting are different matters. One is personal; the other impersonal. One is subjective; the other objective. Meetings of consequence are always personal and subjective. You reveal who you are, rather then report on yourself.

 

            "Revealing serves two purposes. First, revelation confirms you. In speaking, you discover yourself. I am affirmed as I move openly on my appointed course. You will be constantly affirmed as a person through the continual revelation of who you are.

 

            "And then, seeing you makes it easier for the other to be present also. Revealed, you become a mirror in which he may see his own reflection. Catching a glimpse of who he is in the light of your revelation, he will be encouraged to move more openly himself. By going first, you invite him also.

 

            "Yet your revelation must always be honest, Work openly, but do not show your work, Simply do what you are doing in his presence. If you speak, say what is on your mind at that moment, Never think of something to say. Speaking is not a speech. Reveal what you are feeling, but avoid showing your feelings.

 

            "Shun resurrection of what you have been. Reveal what you now are. Speak of what you are doing, not what you have done; say what you are seeing, not what you have seen. In like manner, avoid old thoughts and emotions. Voice what you are thinking and feeling, not what you have thought or felt. Ancient history from yesterday is a rope around encounter's throat."

 

            A thousand questions flooded my mind. I closed my eyes, trying to collect my thoughts and decide what to ask first. Unfortunately, when I opened my eyes, He was gone.

 

*********

 

 

ANOTHER DAWN

 

A single bright star

            and a moon sliver

            held undisputed reign

                        over the dark world

 

Topping an Ozark

            I reverently moved nearer the throne

            as a pale pink light

                        revealed the horizon-born contender

 

And before my star wish

            and moon prayer were finished

            His invading orange assaulted the night

 

In holy awe

            my eyes shot back to my already fading sky gods

 

"Rape," I cried,

            "Rape,"

                        but there was no stopping Him now

 

The round red Master had already

            kissed the peaks

                        and taken command of the valley

 

In submission I bowed to the conquering One

            as did my now flickering star

                                    and pale moon

 

*******

 

 

 

HOW?

 

            Still bowed, I began to think about my own revelation. In meeting Him, I had not considered that I was also revealing myself. My attention had always been focused on His revelations to me. Not being one to proceed before I knew how to move, I asked, "How shall I reveal myself?"

 

            Without stopping His commanding resurrection from the night, He replied, "Speak first with your presence. Your clearest message is given in being there. Even when you are otherwise dumb, your presence voices you.

 

            "Once there, speak with your body. Say yourself in the way you sit or stand. If you are open to an other, let your stance say so. Cross not yourself--legs or arms, fingers or toes. Be open-bodied and open-handed. Speak with the movements of your physical self.

 

            "Touch, when appropriate. Reach out with your hand. In the magic communion of surface to surface, however brief, miraculous revelations can be given. Touch can say things otherwise impossible to utter. With some others, such as plants, touch becomes the major tongue. Although they love your voice, they hear your hand, if tenderly placed, better than ought else. Some people, too, have become word deaf. With such ones, only the primal messages of touch can reach them.

 

            "And your eyes, they can say the most. The power of their voice is so thunderous as to deafen the ears of all but the bravest hearers. Carefully you must moderate their tongue. In measured glances, lingering only for the appropriate instant, you may say yourself with your eyes.

 

            "Of course there are times for words. They can be icing on the cake, sweetening the bread of encounter. However, many have become jaded by much speaking. Their ears are hard of hearing. With such ones you will be long on signs and short on words.

 

            "Innocent ones can still hear an honest tongue. With them, the flow of your words may increase. When you speak with words, discern carefully between the jaded and the innocent.

 

            "Let your words be a confirmation of all other languages, never a substitute for them. Let words amplify, not contradict, what you are saying with your body. Preface all words with the corresponding expression on your face. Say with your mouth only what is not clearly voiced in your presence. If your body says it all, place a period there. When touch speaks honestly, stifle sounds which may confuse. If you can be heard with your eyes, leave words until the darkness.

 

            "When you do verbalize, say yourself in terms of yourself. Some earth ones have been taught that it is egotistical to say I. They speak in terms of we, you, they, and it. Avoid such deceptions. You can only speak yourself anyway, so do so openly. Freely say I. Preface your declarations with their honest source, except when you are obvious in the way you say them. Say, 'I think..., 'I feel...,' 'I believe...,' 'I see...,' 'I have discovered...' I's are easy to hear. Voice them often. Such prefaces help keep you honest, while reminding the other of your mutual equality.

 

            "Sometimes you will speak yourself through subjects, things which appear external to you. Often this will be appropriate with fearful ones who yet need the cover of a distant language. Never forget, however, that any subject is but yourself in a veiled form. The weather and all things or events are also you, even as I am. Though your hearer may have forgotten this truth, feeling safe with your distant language, still he will know you through your cloaked revelations.

 

            "Never speak in terms of the other. Eliminate all 'you' language. While you may freely say, 'I am.,.,' meticulously avoid, 'You are...' Always remember the mystery of the other. You may discern his signs--see, hear, smell, touch, or taste what he reveals--but you can never know for sure who he is. Therefore you have departed from truth you know when you say, 'You are...' Leave all definition of being to God. Even if the other asks you who he is, do not succumb to the omniscience required for an answer.

 

            "'You' language has two great dangers. It tempts a speaker beyond the boundaries of himself, thus eliminating the only basis of meeting; and it invites the other to escape responsibility of being himself with you. If he can abandon the necessity of faith required for the constant discovery and affirmation of himself via the illusion of definition from you, why should he not flee the scene also?

 

            "The resulting game between a false god who defines, and a hidden other who allows him to, may be momentarily satisfying. But in the resulting absence of persons to meet, the authentic encounter will already be ended.

 

            "So how shall you say yourself? Honestly, with the appropriate avenues at your disposal in the particular moment."

 

*******

 

 

 

LISTENING

 

            Revelation, as He described it, made sense to me, Soon, however, I began wondering about what to do next. "After I reveal myself, what then?," I asked.

 

            "There is no end to saying who you are," He answered. "Meeting is constant revelation. Each new gift opens the door to more. The other is a mirror, even in his silence. His presence is a screen upon which the light of your projections are amplified and returned. Each reflection shows you more of yourself, giving more to reveal.

 

            "Yet in the midst of your revelation, you will be listening also. Even as you are open to send forth messages, so you will be open to receive. To the multiplication of your being, he will add himself, perhaps with words or deeds. If not, his body will eloquently voice him, even without words.

 

            "As you speak, so you will be listening to his actions, voice, and quietude. You will see what he does, listen to his words, and perceive the signs of his silence. Receiving symbols, you will proceed to read through them. Accept every symbol at face value, but never leave it as an isolated symbol only. Each sign means only what it means to the particular other in the given instant. This may or may not correspond to your own meanings. In either case, you must hear through the word to grasp the true gift of the speaker.

 

            "Listen mostly with your eyes. Words are often deceptive. Look deeply into his deeds. They speak more clearly. Watch his movements; read his expressions. Above all, listen to his eyes. They tell more than all else.

 

            "By these means listen for the revelation of the other. Look for the one who stands hidden before you. Listen through all facades, beneath all covers, behind all screens. Listen for the sacred other.

 

            "As he opens his mouth, be attentive to his words. If he speaks personally, saying, 'I am...,' you shall be blessed with easy listening. If he speaks through a subject, sharpen your hearing. Permit any subject, never seeking to change one or require personal language. If he speaks through objective topics, it is because he still needs to. Let it be so.


            "Listen carefully through each subject, seeking to discern the one speaking. Often the translation is as simple as replacing his subject with himself. 'This is a nice day,' may mean, 'I feel nice.' 'The weather is terrible,' can say, 'I feel bad.'

 

            "Even if he speaks cryptically, in terms of you, rather than himself, be not deceived. Still he speaks himself. He simply uses you as the subject for revealing who he is. Though the route sometimes he tortuous, listen back through each apparent declaration about you for the kernel of himself hidden there.

 

            "Often you can accurately decode by simply changing each 'you' to an 'I' 'You are dumb,' then becomes, 'I am dumb.' He is probably saying he does not grasp what you mean. 'You look good,' often means, 'I feel good while looking at you.' 'You are crazy,' commonly reveals, 'I am confused.' Decode each such 'you' statement in your mind's eye. Always remember, he is talking about himself, even when he uses you for a subject. Listen for him as reflected in you.

 

            "As you hear him, remain a separate one. Do not lose yourself in his revelation, whatever it may be. If it is exciting, taste the delight; if bitter, share his horror. Yet flee not into him. Always you must remain a separate one. Though tempted to abandon the burden of your own existence in the light of his sunshine, or to forget your joys in the pain of his sorrow, yield not. Momentarily you may enjoy the loss of yourself. He too may be flattered in the power he has exercised over you.

 

            "Soon, however, you will taste the bitter gall which each lost one must drink. Avoid this tragic draught. Tenaciously cling to yourself in the excitement or despair of every revelation shown you.

 

            "If you lose yourself, the encounter is over. The game may continue for a time, but meeting will be ended. Remember, only ones can meet. Always remain one."

 

*******

 

 

WHAT A SHAME

 

What a shame

            to be caught

            in the gray dawn

                        between

                        the ought and the would

 

It is dusky there

            in the pre-light of birth

 

            No longer the tyranny

            of the midnight

                        should

 

Not yet the splendor

of the noontide
would

 

Just gray

            and a shame

 

            No longer the compulsion of guilt

            Not yet the release of I will

 

                                    Just gray

                                                and

                                                What a shame

 

*******

 

 

 

UNDERSTANDING

 

            My mood was gray that morning. Through much of the night I had sat thinking about myself, realizing the distance between where I am and where I want to be. His words about listening made me realize how little I actually hear others. And when I do hear, I do not know what to do.

 

            Although I could not see Him yet, I knew He was there. I asked, "What shall I do with what I hear?"

 

            Ignoring my morose mood, He spoke from behind a cloud. "First, accept the revelation of the other, standing-under-with him. Receive each expression as a gift. By whatever means--deeds, words, or silence--he has made his offering on the altar of the encounter. Accept it graciously.

 

            "If he has shown his work, look openly, receiving him with your eyes. If he has given you his thoughts, receive them with your ears. If his silent presence has been offered, accept him in his solitude, However he has extended himself, he has also made his own presentation. Receive him in whatever measure he is revealed.

 

            "If he has thrown aside all cloaks, accept his nakedness; if he has but momentarily parted the blinds on the house of his existence, accept your brief glance as his gift. Even if he has concealed himself in various deceptions and lies, accept the gift of his robed presence.

 

            "Through his present, whatever it is, his presence is made known to you. The umbrella of his existence has been raised before your eyes, revealing the one he is, naked or clothed. Now you will stand-under-with him. You too are a fellow-traveler on the common pilgrimage toward the grave. Move closer. His world has been opened to you. With tender boldness, stand-under-with him."

 

            I was fascinated with His reversal of the common word, understanding. "Why do you turn that word around?," I asked.

 

            "Because people often misunderstand. They seek to grasp an other--to pin him down in their mind's eye, to figure him out, to eliminate his mystery--and call their manipulation 'understanding.' If you would meet, have no part in such misdirected endeavors. Your function is to accept and stand-with, rather than to 'understand.'


            "The two functions are very different. The first is an act of faith, a willingness to exist openly in the presence of a mysterious other. The second is a device designed to eliminate the risk of faith. In their efforts to 'understand' in this fashion, people often reject, rather than accept the other. They ruthlessly attempt to jerk away one's cloak, exposing his nakedness to satisfy their own curiosities. Their probing questions are like mental rape. Shun this kind of 'understanding.'

 

            "Instead, take the chance of existing closely with the other, whatever the degree of his revelation. If he shows himself openly, stand with him revealed. If he cloaks himself, stand with him concealed. Accept his right to open when he will. Stand-underwith him as he moves toward you at his own pace.

 

            "You may at times, partially 'understand' because you have had a similar experience. Let such 'understanding' be an extra bonus at the moment. Enjoy it, but do not let it become your goal. Remember, in the final analysis he will remain a mystery. Stand-with the mysterious other, enjoying each bit of light, but seek not to dissolve the mystery. With it goes the light."

 

*******

 

 

 

THE SUN NEVER WAITS

 

With or without fanfare

            He makes His appointed rounds

            Beginning at the proper moment 

                        never a second early 

                                                or late

                        never pushed or rushed

 

            He does not wait

                        to be invited

 

            Yet gently He moves

                        through the ghosts of dawn

                        pushing back the night

                        making His own light

                                                and way

                        asking not for approval

                                                support

                                    or even understanding

                        yet meeting openly

                                    all those who dare

                                    walk their own path

                                                in His light

 

He draws

            but He takes not

            only He receives that

                        which is given

 

Until,

            when His appointed hour comes

                        the reign He took 

                        without regard

            He relinquishes

                        without regret

            joining the Earth

 

*******

 

 

 

RESPONDING

 

            As He was leaving that day, I asked Him about responding to what I hear. Although I know it cannot be, it seemed that He paused in His downward journey. Then He replied:

 

            "While accepting and standing-under-with an other, you will be responding inwardly. Understanding in this way will evoke larger circles on the lake of your being. His gifts will call for new feelings or thoughts. Perhaps your heart strings will be plucked by his melody. His sad song may call forth your sorrow; his happy tune may invite your laughter or joy. Whatever his melody may be, let it awaken its natural response in your heart. If emotions well-up from the springs of your being, let them flow.

 

            "Perhaps your mind will be freed by his gift. His story may recall your own. A memory, long buried beneath joys and sorrows of yesteryear may be awakened. Perhaps a dream will emerge still wet from birthing. Given the revelation of the other, pieces of your own puzzle may fall together in a new way. Or a towering fantasy may be evoked by his gift.

 

            "Whatever he brings, even if it be only the gift of his silent presence, let your heart and mind respond fully to him. The spirit also moves toward you through each revelation of the other. Receive him openly.

 

            "And from the wealth of your inward response, give another gift of your own, as spirit leads. You responded when you revealed yourself. Now, increased through hearing him, you may respond again. If you have accepted and stood-with the other, your world has been enlarged. You are more than you were before. From this expanded storehouse of treasures, draw another pearl and cast it on the waters of the encounter.

 

            "Let spirit guide you in selecting the perfect gift for that particular moment. There is a sacred time for each new expression of who you are. Spirit directs and gives utterance at that holy instant. Respond as you are led by the spirit of wholeness.

 

            "Sometimes he will lead through the voice of the other. Something the other one says, or the way he says it, will awaken your heart or mind. Or perhaps spirit will call you through the appearance of the other--the beauty of his form, his captured colors, the shape of a feature, an expression of his face, or a movement, ever so slight. Again, you may be led by spirit's voice totally apart from the other--from the morning breeze, a quail's call, the colors on a butterfly's wing, or rays of light caught in a spider's web.

 

            "Sometimes you will not know the source of the mysterious voice of spirit. Yet he will call you. A memory, long dead, may be resurrected; a feeling, new and strange, or old and familiar, may arise on hearing its name. A move you had not planned may suddenly become appropriate. For no known reason, you may be led to laugh or to touch, to say a word or to cry.

 

            "Give birth to this gift from yourself. Even before cleaning, drying it off, or cutting its cord from your soul, deliver it to the other. Do not try to discover its womb or understand why it has come. It is your gift; give it.

 

            "At times, spirit may lead you to speak. Again, he may call for silence. A deed, a laugh, or a tear, may be his next invitation. Be serious, he may demand; play a game or tell a joke; reach forth to the other, or withhold yourself. Move closer; or leave, without saying goodbye. The spirit calls as he will. Your business is to follow his lead, wherever it may be. Do not move or speak until he calls; but do not delay when you hear his voice. When your propitious moment comes, reveal yourself again.

 

            "A word or deed, a laugh or kiss, or a silence--at its appropriate time--is a gift unspeakable. But after its time has gone, each becomes a burden unbearable, killing an encounter of consequence. A deed after its time is an act. A word too late is a recitation. A look, beyond its moment, is a stare. A touch turns to a feel; an emotion becomes a performance.

 

            "Shun all these. Listen carefully for the voice of spirit; discern his message, and follow without delay. If you miss the sacred moment of any given revelation, let it go. Wait for the next, rather than trying to recapture that which is gone.

 

            "Nor must you be distracted by the other. Whatever he is saying or doing has naught to do with you. If he is occupied, join his occupation. If he is speaking, interrupt him. If he is silent, enter the chamber of his solitude. Think not of rudeness. Creative encounters have manners of their own, unlike those which oil the machinery of society. Never apologize for entering. Neither introduce your gift nor explain it. Give it as it has come to you. Do not bother to wrap and tie your present. If polish is called for, do so as you deliver it.

 

            "If your call has come through the other, still it is your own gift. The spirit simply used the voice of the other to speak to you. Therefore, do not credit the other. Say not, 'You made me think...,' or, 'You made me feel...' That is the work of spirit. From wherever he has come, give forth your gift as your own.

 

            "Let each gift be separate and apart, complete within itself. Do not try to tie your offerings to those of the other. The beauty of an encounter comes from the shared wealth of diversity, not the similarity of gifts. Even if a particular prompting of spirit seems unrelated to the current subject, do not try to be logical. Give it anyway. Spirit has its own order. Speak what is given to you, trusting the infinite knowledge of your guiding spirit.

 

            "Always there will be a pattern, perhaps hidden at the moment, yet there. Each meeting has its own secret warp and woof. You may participate in its unfolding, observing as you move; yet you can never discern it ahead of time. Only in retrospect may you sometimes be able to grasp its full beauty. Such recognition is a second blessing, an afterglow of pleasure beyond the time of flame. At the moment, however, let each gift fan the fire of the present. Follow spirit's lead as he guides you through the mysterious encounter.

 

            "Nor should you seek to prolong any expression. Say only what is given to say at the time. To say more is to kill the next moment. If the other receives you, well and good; if not, he was not ready. His time had not come. Do not try to force his moment with explanations or repeated expression.

 

            "Move through the instants of an encounter freely, even as I kiss each mountain peak and caress each valley, ever onward in my course. Let each new revelation of yourself be as the fragrance of a rose, freely given to whomever may receive.

 

            "Each moment calls for its own fragrance. Do not force or cling. Let go of yourself in each instant, freely giving gifts of who you are. Even if they are not received, you are blessed in the giving. If the other hears, you are twice blessed. Once, or twice, all revelation is a blessing.

 

"Gifts can only be given freely. Never force an offering. Do as you are doing, but look not for something to do; speak as you are thinking, yet strive not for ought to say. Certainly to force an emotion is an absurdity beyond compare.

 

            "Just as you give your gifts as they are given to you, so you will wait when you have naught to give. Silence is also a blessed revelation while one is waiting to speak. Make friends with your quietude. Think of it as the growing night which births the dawn, not as a void. I come not forth, save from the silence of the night. Nor can you, except you are conceived, nourished, and delivered in solitude.

 

            "Be silent together, awaiting times to speak. Let each one think his own thoughts, close at hand, subject at any moment to the other. Shared silence is a priceless treasure, Wait, thusly, while your gift is prepared; then give it freely when its time is ripe."

 

*******

 

 

MAN'S TREES

 

Sweat-dripped

                        from evening's labors

            I went to the setting SUN

                        for the day's final worship

 

            Serenely

                        our souls merged

                                    in the downward communion

 

            But then

                        as He moved toward

                                    His daily destiny

                                                with Earth

                        a terrible tragedy occurred

 

                        A telephone pole

                                    with its gruesome tentacles 

                                    emerged

                                                to obscure His path

 

                        Angrily

                                    I cursed the accretions of man

                                                marring the face

                                                            of the universe

 

But then,

            my constricted eyes

                        fell on the dark-hued leaves,

                                    accretions of nature

 

                        They too obscured His course

                                    yet without my curse

 

            I pondered the paradox:

                        Do trees only

                                    with their accouterments

                                    have the right to be here?

 

            Does not man also

                        have the right to his extensions?

 

As He set

            Light dawned for me

            Man too

                        with all his paraphernalia

                                    belongs.

 

            If I can accept nature's leaves

            Surely I can accept man's trees also

 

Slowly

            this bare pole, this monstrosity of man

            turned into a simple part of his nature

            as acceptable as the leaves of nature's

                                                            nature

 

Finally He merged with Here

            Past leaves

            Past poles and lines

            Past me

 

                        One

 

********

 

 

 

APPROPRIATE RESPONDING

 

            As I sat, the next morning, pondering the appropriateness of things in nature, I began thinking about responding to others as He had described. Surely there must be order in responding. I did not grasp what He meant about spirit leading. Shall I simply say the first thing that comes to mind? Shall I express every feeling? Did He mean that I can do whatever I feel like doing?

 

            When He appeared, my questions poured out. Before speaking, He laughed in that disarmingly open way He has. "Of course you will not give every gift," He replied. "Not all gifts which the spirit brings are destined for the other. Some are for you alone. The sharing or withholding of any gift depends on what is appropriate at the time.

 

            "When you are alert, the storehouse of your material for responding will be full. Many gifts--thoughts, feelings, and actions--will await your choice. Always you will respond honestly, yet with the one appropriate gift from the available multitude.

 

            "First you will choose between actions, words, or silence. Will you speak or extend yourself non-verbally? The range of choices within each dimension is vast. If you choose to speak, will you reveal your thoughts or feelings? Of the variety of each flowing within you at the moment, which will you bless with expression? Then too, you will choose the degree of your revelation. Will you expose the depth of an emotion, or only reveal its surface? Will you tell your entire fantasy, or only its outline? Will you relive the full memory, or only refer to it? The multitude of choices to be made in any instant is truly staggering for one involved in an encounter.

 

            "Although many gifts are available at any time, only one is right for that particular moment. Always there is an appropriate response for each given instant. At each sacred juncture in the mysterious movement of a consequential encounter, there is one response designed exactly for that encounter, exactly for that time.

 

            "Fitted to the current shape of your existence and the condition of the other, it becomes a magical bridge over which you both may move to the next exciting moment. That perfect response is an appropriate extension of your honest self, carrying you exactly the right distance toward the other; not too far, lest you be shaken from over-exposure, nor too short, leaving you lonely in your secrecy.

 

            "Likewise, it extends perfectly to where the other stands just then. It does not overwhelm him with its force, or make him lean in order to grasp. Appropriately, it meets him where he is."

 

            "But how can I know which is right?," I asked.

 

            "Spirit will guide you in determining the appropriate response. He will lead you in discerning that which you are able to reveal without losing your own balance, and that which the other can receive without loss of himself.

 

            "In your awkward moments, as you learn to listen and follow the guiding spirit, abide by these rules:

 

            "Give as much of your immediate inward response as possible, without loss of yourself. Give that which leaves you vulnerable, but never that which leaves you off-balance. If any reaction from the other is required to reassure you, you have given too much. If you are not excited in the release, you have given too little.

 

            "Give only what the other can receive openly, without being overburdened by your gift. If he stumbles, attacks, defends, or runs from you, losing his own point of contact, you have given too much. If you have given appropriately, he will be enhanced by your gift.

 

            "Let each gift in response be truly a re-spond, another offering from your enlarged self. Do not become a burden on the encounter by piggy-backing on the offerings of the other. You risk such overburdening when you ask questions, judge, attack, argue, or try to change an other. Although there will be exceptions after you learn to follow spirit, use these guidelines in the meantime.

 

            "Do not ask questions about what you receive from the other. Accept his gift, whether clearly revealed or nearly concealed. Even your most innocent question may be taken as mental attack. Many cannot endure the probing of their minds without retreat, counter-attack, or, at least, diversion from their present course. In either event, the meeting is suspended. Rather than attempting to clarify the gift of the other, respond to it

as given. Instead of escaping into curiosity about the other, let him call you further toward yourself.

 

            "If curiosity threatens you, valiantly wage your own inward battle. Contain this

potential enemy of the creative encounter. Transform him into a stimulating friend before you proceed to give your own next gift. Limit your responses to extensions of yourself; exclude efforts to get more from him. Say how you are, rather than asking how he is. Speak your thoughts, rather than asking for his. Voice your emotions instead of asking how he feels. Leave the other free to reveal himself at his own pace. Forced exposure, via probing questions, may speed the revelation but kill the encounter. He too has his own time-table, which is not your own. Respect his right to follow it. Receive what is given; and wait. Ask no questions.

 

            "Nor will you judge any offering. You are called only to receive, not to judge. Though tempted to rise above the offerer or his offering, making some declaration about one or the other, resist. As an equal one, you have no right to declare what is good or bad, right or wrong. Accept his revelation, passing no sentence on it or him. Neither belittle or elevate his gift. Let your response be another gift from yourself, not a judgment of his own.

 

            "Of course you will resist any temptation to attack an other, physically or verbally. If your inward response is anger, voice it if you choose, by translating your feeling into a response of your own. Do not project your anger on an other, attacking him or his offering. To do so is to ride on his gift, rather than offering one of your own.

 

            "Arguing with or correcting an other is but a variation on the same theme. Each is an escape from responding. If you disagree with his opinion, accept him as holding it. He has the right to think differently. You may, at times, voice your own contrary opinion, but never piggy-back on his, with your disagreement. If you perceive inaccuracies in his message, seek not to correct it. It is as he thinks it. Even if he lies, his cloak is his gift. Receive it also. Then give another of your own, instead of becoming a corrector of his.

 

            "The effort to change the other may also become a tempting escape from responding. Though it may be easier than standing with his mystery, it is a lessor goal. Therefore, if you would meet, seek not to change his opinions, his feelings, his actions, or his way of life. Accept him as he is. Respond from yourself instead of trying to change what he is.

 

            "Let your responses be from you, never designed to call attention to you. The free flow of an encounter is always between two ones, yet never focused on either one. Thus you will never respond in a way which throws the spotlight on you or him, either to elevate or belittle. Removed from the level plane of equals, up or down, you destroy the possibility of meetings.

 

            "I sometimes hear people bragging--telling where they have been or what they have done, or dropping the names of significant persons in their acquaintance--all in such a way as to focus attention on themselves. I hear others putting themselves down, belittling their accomplishments, hiding their possessions, pretending to be less than they are.

 

            "All such diversionary tactics are escapes from responding. Aside from the potential damage to the encounter, they never work as intended. To boast is to ask for what cannot be given. The self-affirmation which one seeks in displaying himself can never come from an other. Better that he look to himself, accepting the confirmation in his own experience, than to seek the ungiveable gift.

 

            "In summary, no spirit-led response will ever have a motive beyond itself. The last rule is: Give no gift with a purpose. The honest revelation of yourself will be the only motive behind any expression. An appropriate response will never be designed to accomplish a goal with the other. If, for example, you discover yourself trying to impress, rest assured you have departed from the leadership of spirit. He calls for no gift with strings attached.

 

            "Follow these rules while you learn, but as soon as possible, let spirit lead you in each instant. He knows best."

 

********

 

 

 

RESPONDING AGAIN

 

            His list of rules seemed quite adequate to guide my first response. Soon, however, I began to wonder about what to do next. I am often thrown off by the way others respond to me. Somehow I feel compelled to react--to explain myself, to defend, or to apologize if I have offended them. I asked, "How shall I respond again?"

 

            He laughed when I asked. At first I was embarrassed, but then realized His laughter was His own amusement and not at me. "You know that," He replied when the heavens stopped shaking. "Respond again with what you are. As before, give another gift of yourself. After every response from the other, the encounter begins anew. It is as though nothing had happened until that time. With each fresh revelation of the other, you too are called to freshness. If you would keep the encounter alive, you must leave what has been before. Each time is now. Respond as though the world did not exist before each new instant.

 

            "Now that you have heard the other, you are different. Your world has been expanded by his revelation. Nothing can ever be quite the same again. From this new you, speak for the first time. The constantly changing tide of an encounter ever demands fresh experience. Subjects which were appropriate in the last instant may become dangerously irrelevant in the new now. Give them up. Leave yourself open to fresh winds of the spirit. They may lead you to reverse course at any moment as you receive a new awareness from the other.

 

            "Never react to the other. Remember, to respond means to 'spond-again.' Give another gift from yourself, rather than merely reacting to his offering. Avoid such reactions as explaining yourself, becoming defensive, or apologizing.

 

            "In an authentic encounter you will be responsible for every move you make or choose not to make, for every word you say or withhold. Your actions will speak for themselves, requiring no justification. Grant to the other the right of misunderstanding.

 

            "Sufficient energy is only available for one's appointed rounds. If it is wasted on such fruitless efforts as explaining oneself, then the journey itself must be curtailed. No

traveler can afford to lose power required for his own pilgrimage.

 

            "Besides," He added, "explanations never work. One receives only what he is ready to receive. He grasps those messages he is prepared for. If he is ready, he will hear you. If not, you may choke him with understanding beyond his experience. Speak yourself as clearly as you can, but never explain. Reveal without explanations. If he understands the language, he will grasp what he is ready for, leaving what is beyond him. If he cannot, he should not.

 

            "Of course allowance will be made for clarifying one's native tongue. Each one speaks a private language. Though you share common symbols, you do not invest each with the same meaning. Thus, one will at times amplify an expression, saying more of the same. With certain clouds I shine brighter. This more-saying is, however, an amplification rather than an explanation.

 

            "Defend yourself only when your integrity is at stake. Then, do so swiftly, using sufficient power to stand your ground, but never more than is required. Restrict your defense to self-protection whenever possible. Protect yourself without attacking the other. Delay counterattack except as a last resort. When it becomes necessary, hold him at bay, trying not to injure him. Kill only to protect your own life.

 

            "Carefully avoid the habit of being defensive. Defend, when necessary, but do not become a defensive one. To fight a true battle is an act of valor, but to constantly react by assuming a defensive stance is a cowardly escape from the excitement of meeting. Most apparent attacks are but veiled confessions, cloaked in language about you. Hear through these false threats and you will find no reason to become defensive.

 

            "Nor should you defend yourself by taking on the projections of the other. Hear of his emotions; respond to them, but do not react by feeling them for him. If one feels sad, hear of his sadness. Respond as you will, but do not take his emotion on yourself. Hear the ideas of an other; respond to them, but do not think his thoughts.

 

            "If his ideas are about you, carefully avoid accepting his thoughts as defining you. Never let an other tell you who you are. Hear his opinion; respond as you will, but leave his thoughts as his own. Likewise, you will recognize his desires, without reacting by acting them out for him.

 

            "Nor should you make apologies or excuses. If you speak and act responsibly, you will never have reason to apologize. To excuse yourself is to erase an essential participant in the encounter. To react by apologizing is to escape the faith required for your next response. Even if the other feels hurt by your words or deeds, stand responsibly with each. If he is injured, he deserves his moment of anger. Seek not to erase it by apology, lest you force him to repress his hurt before it is fully embraced. Voice your honest regrets, if you choose, but never be apologetic. Make proper restitution when feasible, letting your deeds speak your regrets.

 

            "Nor should you easily receive the apology of an other. If he is truly sorry, his actions will voice his amends. Hastily accepted apologies cheat him of learning to be responsible, and you of standing his offense.

 

            "So, respond again in each new moment. Let each fresh revelation from the other call for another gift from the new you. Carefully avoid escaping in reactions."

 

*******

 

 

ALONE

 

In the setting SUN

                        and sand

            alone

 

                        I danced

                        and sang

 

                        I was man

                                    then

 

                                    in the setting SUN

                                                and sand

 

*******

 

 

 

DEPENDENCY

 

            Being such a one is rare for me, however. Thinking of my tendency to lean on others, I asked before He left, "What about dependency in meetings of consequence?"

 

            "Only ones meet," He reminded me. "Each one constantly stands on his own point of contact. Though he forgets this fact, ever it remains so.


            "Meetings which matter are between those who stand alone, together. Leaning is forbidden. When one attempts to lean, he obscures his point of contact. Although it does not go away, he forgets it is there. In his lapse of memory he becomes unsteady, off-balance, and often grasps at the being of the other, attempting to draw the strength he has forgotten from the one he would lean on. Such grasping is exceedingly dangerous, except with those who know they are one.

 

            "Such ones will tolerantly allow the illusion of leaning, because they see through the ruse. Knowing its impossibility, they are not tempted to omnipotency. Thus they can allow the illusion, enjoying the encounter, until the other comes to see through the game.

 

            "Such single ones are rare, however, among humans. Among plants, rocks, and animals they are common. Because this is so, you may lean on a rock or plant, but beware of leaning on a person who may not know he is one. In so doing, you tempt him to assume the omnipotence implied in your leaning. After all, if one like you tries to lean on him, then he must certainly be godlike! If he falls for your offered temptation, you may thereafter worship at the throne of his false godhood, but the one you went to meet will be gone.

 

            "Furthermore, you do yourself the disservice of denying the image of the ultimate reflected in you. All time spent in trying to lean, is time wasted in the experience of standing. In coming to be one, you can ill afford the loss of such precious learning.

 

            "Therefore, respect yourself, especially in times of weakness. Avoid leaning, particularly then. The strength for being is found only in embraced weakness, never in leaning on strength.

 

            "And if an other tries to lean on you, respectfully decline his invitation to omnipotence. Remember, it could only be false. If possible, be gentle in your refusal. Accept his compliment graciously. If you are much at one with yourself at the time, if your point of contact is well within your awareness, then you may allow his illusion without threat. Through his time of standing with the illusion in your presence, he may learn to see through the game himself. If so, you have given him a great gift, that of himself.

 

            "If, however, you find yourself tempted to believe you can actually help, speedily resign. Get away as fast as you can. Run for your life. Few perils rival the risks of standing with a leaner when you do not perceive the illusion.

 

            "So stand-with, whenever you please, but beware of leaning. Leaning is an illusion with dire consequences. Go to an other when you are one, but never run to one when you are not. Be always ready to part, without goodbyes, never looking back."

 

********

 

 

 

HAVING OTHERS

 

            I have been a collector of friends. Having friends makes me feel good. Yet losing one is terrible. I was exceedingly sad when I went to Him that evening. A friend had let me down. I was so upset that I could not speak for an hour. In my grief I thought, "Never again! I'1 never going to chance having a close friend anymore. It hurts too much to lose one. I'll stay by myself, alone." Finally my pain subsided, and I asked Him about having friends.

 

            I could not believe it when He started laughing at me. "You indulge your false godhood so freely," He replied. "Don't you realize that you cannot own an other? Possession is impossible in a meeting of consequence. Never deceive yourself into thinking you have an other. I laugh because you are not hurt; only your false godhood is threatened. How dare your friend not support you." He laughed again.

 

            "Your temptation to collect friends is understandable, in view of the faith required to meet as a separate one. Having someone gives the illusion of safety. Nevertheless, it destroys the basis of authentic encounters. Possessions can be played with, but not met. Once you transform an other, in your mind's eye, into an object of your ownership, you have elevated yourself to godliness and reduced him to slavery. In this unreal state a significant encounter is impossible.

 

            "The essential thrust of the meetings you consider lies in the opposite direction. Rather than binding, you should seek to free the other. In freeing him, you also unbind yourself from the slavery inherent in being a master. In each instant of being together, strive to let him go.

 

            "Seek not to capture his thoughts through understanding, his emotions through controlling them, his deeds through judgment, or above all, his mysterious self. Tempt him not to agreement, or any loyalty to you. Should he succumb, you lose him as an other. You may get a friend to add to your collection, but you lose a mysterious other to meet.

 

            "Shun the attachment which breeds possession, which in turn, kills encounter. In your moments of fear, as you face the threat of letting one go, embrace your own aloneness rather than clinging to him.

 

            "Should an other seek to possess you, resist with equal determination. When tempted to forfeit your freedom, recall the price of ownership. You do neither yourself nor him a favor in submitting. Certainly he will be free to think he owns you if he chooses. You are not responsible for any illusions of ownership he may have, only for carefully maintaining the fact of your independence. The critical issue in such moments is the fact, not his fancy. Chuckle or grieve at his illusion, but fall not for it.

 

            "If he attempts to give himself to you, politely refuse his great offering. Truly it is the most magnificent compliment. Yet to accept it brings the unacceptable condition which ends meeting.

 

            "Meet in freedom; neither have, nor be had. Encounter; be; and let be. Be friendly, if you choose, but never own a friend or be owned by anyone."

 

********

 

 

 

HELPING

 

            One morning I found a cricket drowning in a pool of water. Benevolently I built a paper bridge to him, helping him escape. When I picked him up, he bit my finger. I complained that evening about his response to my help.

 

            The SUN laughed for a long minute, while painting a white cloud pink, then said: "Never try to help an other."

 

            I was taken aback by his response. I have been taught that helping others is my duty. Before I could register my confusion, He continued:

 

            "Each one must bear his own burden. You may extend yourself to a needy one, standing closer than you ordinarily would, but seek not to lighten his load. Your burden, if truly borne, is enough for you. You have no need for a larger load. If you attempt to grasp the burden of an other, you drain energies required for your own quest, losing the strength necessary to walk with your brother.

 

            "Besides, you can never bear the burden of an other. That task is left to him alone. In the illusion of helping, you may forget your own needs. Such loss of awareness will not serve you well.

 

            "If you are caring for one, walk closer while he struggles with his burden. Let him

know you are near at hand. Perhaps you will build a bridge, as you did to the cricket. But do your building for your own pleasure, not for the other. Seek not to require his walking on it. Be one with an other, as closely as you choose, but never attempt to be for him. With equal diligence, avoid getting an other to be for you. Always it will be an illusion.

 

            "I sometimes see people trying to comfort or to cheer an other. It is a mistake. You may help him avoid the fact of his responsibility, temporarily, but that is no real favor. Even if he is momentarily deceived by your effort, he is cheated in the long run. In the illusion of leaving his burden, he ceases to exercise his own back.

 

            "Deceived into thinking himself stronger than he is, he may venture further than his strength allows. Tempted into pools beyond his ability to swim, he may drown. Be no party to such a murder. Even if he survives your attempt to help, he is cheated of the additional strength he would have gained in openly bearing his burden.

 

            "When one grieves, stand by him in his grief. Do not try to take it from him. It is his right. If one is down, seek not to cheer him up. Stand with him as he awaits the return of spirit. You may, while you stand with him, build a bridge with your words or deeds, thereby letting him know you are close at hand. Perhaps you will talk of your own times of grief, or recall your experiences in waiting the return of spirit. Seeing your bridge, he may choose to walk forth bearing his burden. Or you may extend your hand, personally or through a gift, saying you are near. If you reach forth, however, do not draw or lead. Simply extend your open hand, saying by your reaching, 'I am here.' If he grasps your hand, let him feel his own strength reflected there.

 

            "Better than all these, listen to him voice his despair. Let him say it all right out, to himself, through your ear. Listen with understanding, that is, while standing-under-with him. In so standing, you may gain a clearer vision of your own burden, learning better the joy of responsibility. If he is helped in the speaking, he has helped himself. His gift returns to bless him.

 

            "Carefully avoid advising him, lest you divert him from the honest search for his path. Each must find his own way. You too are man, not God. Resist any temptation to escape into the omniscience required for telling an other what to do. Even when you think you have his answer, carefully conceal it. To give it away cheats both yourself and him.


            "You are deprived of the power of knowledge; he loses his right to the confirmation of discovery. Should he fall for your opinion, elevating you to godhood, he is reduced to dependency. You may, for a time, enjoy the illusion of the game, but meanwhile the authentic meeting is at an end. Only persons can meet; parents and children, gods and slaves, cannot.

 

            "Be particularly wary if he asks you to tell him. Those who ask are seldom ready to receive. They avoid the risks of knowing by pretending ignorance, inviting you to play the game of god. Should you succumb to the temptation, you but prolong the night of their blindness. As their god, you also lose your right to encounter.

 

            "Alert to these dangers, you may, on occasion, give information in response. The critical factor in such an exchange is the ability of each to remain firmly standing on level ground. If you rise or he falls in the giving and taking, you are beyond the danger point. Retreat immediately.

 

            "For the fun of it, you may reveal what you have learned. If you choose to do so, it is better to tell a story containing your knowledge than to drop pearls unattended. If he gets it then, he gets it. You have not indebted him to you with open treasures.

 

            "Or you may openly share a secret learned the hard way, if you give your gift as a flower does its beauty. Flowers leave each passer equally free to revel in their glory or to completely ignore. So must you with your wisdom."

 

*******

 

 

 

GAMES

 

            "What about games?," I asked, following a playful dawn when He had danced with the running ghosts. I have long been prone to play games. Even without thinking, I find myself trying to impress others, or to make them think well of me. I pose for their pictures, even when they have no camera. Sometimes I try to get the best of an other, to out-do a man or seduce a woman into admiring me.

 

            With a smile, He replied, leaving the ghosts running down a valley still cold from the night winds, "Play for fun. Any game, freely chosen by both parties, can be a delightful medium for encounter when your mood is playful. Tempt, tease, joke, tickle, dance, tussle, romp, laugh, as the spirit moves you.

 

            "Profoundly serious meetings of consequence are also comically absurd. Each tear cloaks a smile; pathos hides humor. Each tragedy is the top side of a clever joke. Death is the last name of Life. Single ones, knowing these two hands of God, move freely from one to the other. They realize the fun of even fun-erals. Being deadly serious, they never take themselves seriously. Always their laughter awaits the slightest invitation. Such ones are ever ready to play.

 

            "But only for the fun of it.

 

            "Their games, freely chosen, are also freely abandoned. As their smiles slip through tears, so their tears may bathe a smile. They play with gusto, but not determination. Quickly entered games may be speedily dropped.

 

            "While playing, they give the appearance of playing to win. It is an illusion for the sake of the game. In truth, they play only for the fun of it. Winning is completely incidental. Though they never admit the fact, lest the game be spoiled, often they play to lose. In fun games, the loser often wins in his losing.

 

            "So, if you would meet, be playful in your seriousness. Never, however, play serious games. As soon as you discern that winning has begun to matter more than playing, stop the game immediately. Get serious. Laugh at your temptation to abandon the encounter in favor of winning the game. Except for the fun of it, when you are silently laughing at your own game, do not play.

 

            "Often in the beginning of an encounter, you will carefully avoid games, because of the temptation offered to the other. Uncertain ones are easily tempted to play serious games, rather than face the challenges of meeting. You cheat them and yourself when you participate in their escape. Yet you may play their game for a time, as long as you are not serious about it, giving them a chance to drop it when they will.

 

            "The important thing is, play only for the fun of it."

 

*******

 

 

WHO AM I?

 

Who must ask the question

            cannot know the answer

 

            Yet one must keep asking

                        until the answer comes

 

                                    Who am I?

 

*******

 

 

 

QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

 

            Once He had advised me against asking questions. It seemed reasonable then, yet there are times when I need to ask, even as I ask Him. Friends often ask me questions, too. Sometimes I feel manipulated in answering, but often their questions seem pertinent. Should I never ask? Or never answer? In this double-bind, I asked about asking and answering.

 

            "When each one is solidly on his point of contact," He replied, "questions can be useful expressions of interest. Answers then, are honest gifts of response. Both asking and answering are functional at such times. Because plants, animals, and small children are usually solid, you can ask them almost anything, or answer many of their questions.

 

            "With others, however, one must be wary. When either party is not solidly based, questions or answers become a great danger. Apparently naive questions may conceal devious traps. Even simple requests for information can become terminal points in an encounter of consequence, transforming it into a raging battle, or a boring exchange, soon to be forgotten.

 

            "Naive askers risk dependency while tempting the answerer to omniscience. Naive answerers risk entrapment while tempting the asker to omnipotence. Either condition kills encounter. Thus you must be careful of interrupting the ebb and flow of a creative encounter with the potential sword of a question.

 

            "If you need information in his possession, you may reveal your need. Let him know of your wish to know. If he chooses, he may give the desired answer. Limit yourself, however, to revealing your need. This too is a gift. Never press him to supply it. Although the form of your revelation is a question, it must never be expressed with demand.

 

            "Be wary of asking any question when you are anxious, or when you can find the answer in any other way. You tempt the other to omniscience, and yourself to dependency. Although you may ask freely of a solid one who will be able to resist your offers to godhood, never ask when you are unable to willingly accept receiving no answer without judging the other or becoming upset yourself.

 

            "Likewise, be wary of answering. If you would avoid danger, learn to distinguish between true and false questions. A true question is a sincere request for needed information not easily available elsewhere. Only the answer matters. Whether it comes from the wind of the mountain or the wind of a mouth is incidental. In such a question the asker opens his soul to you.

 

            "However, what appears to be a simple question is often but the exposed edge of an elaborate scheme, carefully designed, even unconsciously, to relieve the asker of the responsibility of remaining human with you. This is a false question. Through forcing you to answer, pinning you down in his mind's eye. He seeks to escape the excitement and risk of encountering your mystery by reducing you to a small unit. By knowing your name, where you are from, and what you do, he may conclude that he knows you, falsely relieving himself of standing with your unknown.

 

            "With such false questions, only answering matters. The answer is incidental. He is not truly concerned with your name; nor does he care where you are from, or have interest in what you do. Likely, he will forget what you say in the next instant, if he hears you at all. The pertinent issue is only that you agree to expose yourself, allowing him the illusion of freedom from the unknown. To sustain such a state of false certainty, he may continue to ask an extended series of false questions, each equally unimportant to him. By keeping you on the spot, he also frees himself from the risks of any self-exposure.

 

            "True questions are great gifts. Through exposing his ignorance, the asker invites you to serious encounter. Handle such a gift with respect. If you have the answer, give it simply, without strings attached. Voice your answer, as to the wind, leaving the other equally free to accept or reject. You will be blessed in giving, and twice blessed if he receives. If you do not have the answer, be equally free in sharing your ignorance. It too will be blessed in the sharing. Beware, however, of any continued asking. It will tempt you to omniscience and him to dependence.

 

            "With false questions your response will depend on the stability of your own point of contact at the moment and your willingness to encounter an unsteady one. If you are solid, you may choose to play his game, knowing it is a game, yet hoping he will soon feel free to drop the scheme. Being unthreatened, you may answer his questions briefly, proceeding to reveal yourself freely. Perhaps he will choose to follow your lead. Often you can simply ignore the false questions, going ahead with your honest revelation.

 

            "If you are unsteady at the time, never submit to being pinned down by false questions. The capture may spell your own death. Even if you survive, you have done him no favor by reducing yourself to a victim of his scheme. Trapped, you cannot encounter. If you are able, avoid his false questions and continue with your business. Often he will be happy to drop them if he sees you are able to continue without falling for his trap.

 

            "Another option is to respond with a question of your own. To 'Where are you from?,' you might reply, 'Where are you from?' This keeps you on equal footing, holding the door open to further encounter. Often he only wants to tell you about himself anyway. Or you may remain silent, leaving him with the burden of his own plot.

 

            "Better, however, to respond through the question than to it. Listen for the person revealed in his false question. Instead of answering the stated query, respond to what you discern from the asker. If you hear his excitement at seeing you, cloaked in a routine question, such as, 'Where have you been?,' you might respond, 'I'm glad to see you too.'

 

            "By refusing to fall for the trap, you keep the mystery alive. Responding through his question, rather than to it, you invite proceeding to an authentic encounter.

 

            "If you are exceedingly threatened by a manipulative question, finding yourself unable to respond without entrapment, another option is to voice your honest condition. 'I find myself disturbed by your question,' or, 'I do not feel free to answer you at this time.' Without succumbing to his temptation, remain present with him.

 

            "If all else fails, flee the scene before you are killed. Excuse yourself, politely if possible; if not, leave abruptly. Of course this will suspend the encounter at the moment, yet it will keep you alive for another event in the future. Better to be absent and alive, than present but dead.

 

            "So, consider all questions carefully, lest you unwittingly fall for a trap which will destroy the encounter. When you discern a true question, answer simply, if you choose. With false questions you may play the game, answer with a question, respond through the question, or remain silent. Never be trapped when you are unsteady. Ignore the question, respond with your true condition, or flee the scene. When any question comes, be wary."

 

*********

 

 

 

PRAISE AND CRITICISM

 

            I was admiring a yellow flower when I asked: "What is the place of compliments and criticism in a meeting of consequence?" I have been taught to praise the good in others, and to avoid criticizing their faults. Also I am inclined to seek compliments and to avoid the criticism of others.

 

            Without introduction, He answered, "Both praise and criticism are dangers in an encounter. Only solid ones can endure them without harm. I never engage in either. The dangers are threefold. Each is a form of judgment, requiring an element of godhood to pronounce. Before you can praise or condemn, you must elevate yourself above the level plane of equal others. Removing yourself from the arena of meeting naturally eliminates you as a possible participant.

 

            "The second danger is the temptation to remain omniscient with the other. If you fall for the godhood you have assumed, believing it to be true, you are permanently removed from the other.

 

            "Thirdly, you tempt the other to fall for your pronouncement Your compliments may invite him to think more highly of himself than his experience confirms. Your criticism, if he accepts, can shake his faltering integrity. Both an inflated ego and a diminished self-esteem are terrible burdens, hindering the meeting.

 

            "Not only praise and criticism, but all forms of judgment are inappropriate in meetings of consequence. Eliminate 'good' and 'bad,' 'right' and 'wrong,' from your meetings. Avoid the temptation to pass sentence on, or make awards for, anything

an other is, does, or says. Say not, 'This is good,' or, 'That is bad.' While you engage in judging, you will be absent from yourself, leaving the other alone in the meeting. Even if your judgment is not expressed, still you are removed while making it. You are like a judge who has retired to an inner chamber to prepare his judgment. Meanwhile the encounter must wait.

 

            "Your appropriate activity is responding, not making judgments. Certainly you are free to respond positively or negatively, with pleasure or pain, but carefully limit your response to an expression of yourself. Do not move from, 'I am pleased,' to, 'It is good,' or from, 'I am confused,' to, 'You are wrong.' You may be excited in the experience of seeing, but do not proceed to the judgment, 'You are beautiful.' If repulsed, say not, 'You are ugly.' Stand with your own positive or negative feelings, carefully revealing them if you will as your own.

 

            "Even liking and disliking are dangerous, since they imply that the other is the cause of your feelings. Unless you fully realize you are wording your emotion, never think or say, 'I like this,' or, 'I dislike that.' To continually indulge in this risky habit is a useless danger. Instead, give your attention to what you think in response. Rather than stopping with the judgmental feeling, 'I don't like your face,' proceed to examine your own thoughts. Perhaps you will then say, 'Seeing your nose reminds me of an uncle of mine.' Instead of, 'I like your laugh,' you may respond, 'I remember once when I laughed so hard I fell out of my chair.'

 

            "Of course you may voice your pro and con responses, when you clearly show them as a part of yourself. 'I am pleased in seeing you,' is a gift, even as is, 'I am upset in thinking of your decision.' Because of the dangers, however, it is often better to give your thoughts in words and to express feelings non-verbally.

 

            "Above all, do not attempt to boost the ego of the other or tempt him to enhance your own. The results of either are potentially disastrous. Allow the other to be up or down; reveal yourself as high or low, then stand with the other. Do not praise or condemn."

 

********

 

 

 

INTO THE SUN

 

When

            in the gray dawn

                        without looking back

            I had finished the appointed round

                        I knew the time had not come

 

So on I went

 

Then

            in the stillness

                        a window pane

                        captured a single ray

                        and sent it on to me

 

In wonder I stopped!

 

            And there

through a magic window
in the trees

                        He showed His face

 

                        I trembled

                                    thinking I was alone

                                    with heaven's glory

 

But no

 

            when I glanced

                        Death was on my left hand

                        and you were on my right

 

                        I laugh with my company

                                                as I move

                                                into the SUN

 

********

 

 

 

LOVE

 

            "What about love?," I asked. "What is the place of love and gratitude in the creative encounter?"

 

            "Love and gratitude will be continually present in every meeting of consequence. Naturally you will love one you have chosen to reveal yourself to. In turn, you will be grateful for his reception and the affirmation of yourself reflected in his presence.

 

            "Let your love for the other nourish the faith required for the continual revelation of yourself. Contain your gratitude as encouragement toward an expanded reception of the other. Both your love and gratitude will be clearly revealed in the successive movements through the consequential encounter.

 

            "He will know your love as he received each gift--the sight of your work, the sound of your words, the touch of your hand. Each will be a sign of the love which inevitably underlies the sharing of oneself. Your gratitude will also be known through the affirmation he received in your hearing him.

 

            "Because love and gratitude only exist in the experience of loving and being grateful, beware of trying to isolate either for show. The effort to show love or prove gratitude is a vain attempt. As soon as either is disembodied, it ceases to be real. Words or deeds intended to convey the reality may turn out to be empty vehicles, mocking the giver and deceiving the receiver. Better to continue loving thankfully than to stop to reveal either in a particular way. Be them, and they will be seen.

 

            "Yet there are appropriate moments for the naked revelation of each one. When your heart bursts with the fullness of your love, you may grant it overt freedom. When your thankfulness expands your spirit to its limit, you may give it wings. Such freedoms are best granted through gifts which can be deposited and left to be received privately.

 

            " Seldom will revelations of love and gratitude be given in person, when the other is required to stand nakedly with the reception. The brilliancy of revealed love is a light too great for any but the most solid ones. Most others will necessarily retreat into dependency, pretended blindness, or banal expression. Do not require such escapes.

 

            "If, perchance, you meet the other when he stands fully on his point of contact, you may sometimes say, 'Thank you.' In the most exceptional of moments you may be granted the privilege of saying, 'I love you.' Move quickly on, however, to the living of that which you speak."

 

*******

 

 

 

YOUR NAME

 

            "Above all else," He concluded, "Be always listening for your name to be called in meetings which matter. You may joy in the revelations of yourself, thrill in your glimpses of the mysterious other, delight in the fun games you play together; but in the midst of each exciting moment, listen constantly for God to call your name."

 

            I was intrigued by the idea, but was not sure I understood. "What do you mean by 'my name'?," I asked. "The name my parents gave me?"

 

            "No," He replied, "though you may hear through it too. Your name is who you are. God may call your being through the being of the other. He calls your name whenever your heart is spoken to.

 

            "His calls come in wondrous ways--sometimes through a message from the other; more often from a touch of his hand, a look in his eye, or an expression on his face. Perhaps you will be called in his laughter, tears, or that certain way he wrinkles his nose while deciding what to say. The way he walks, or tosses his head when I warm his hair, may speak your name.

 

            "His gifts, tangible and intangible, may have your name inscribed in some secret place. Listen with your eyes. Or you may hear him call in a sudden thought, prompted by a movement you hardly noticed, a sound, near inaudible, or the color of the dawn reflected in the face of the other. An unexpected feeling, apropos of nothing, may rise from your loin, surge through your breast and catch your breath ere it escapes. Never ignore such a silent messenger. Grasp him before he flees, demanding your name if he will speak it.

 

            "And sometimes in the still silence of your fullest moments together, He will call you from a distant star. At first you may think it to be only the night wind, or the crickets crying, the howl of an animal far away, or even that the other spoke to you. Ask, if you will, what he said. But when he replies, 'I said nothing,' cease not to listen. It was God calling your name.

 

            "And when you hear--as your faith allows--always say: 'Here am I.'"

 

********

 

 

 

ONE

 

Many

            I flew to the SUN

                        warmed

                                    there

            and came back

 

                                    One

 

********

 

 

ETERNAL TIME

 

When goes the SUN

                        down today

 

                        I'll be there

 

                                    foretasting

                                    eternal time

 

 

*******


Oh, yes,

            I think I forgot to say

                        The SUN is

                        the SON of God


*********



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