Who are you, who am I?
We grow confused, or are born that way. Not precisely, but for all intents and purposes. For the learning—the imposed sort that is—begins while we float in the womb. It’s unavoidable, it’s in the air we breath and certainly constitutes the better part of what we see and hear. It is what comes in from the outside, and there is so much of it that what might come up from within is drowned in its inexorable flood.
Krishnamurti put it this way:
“Can you listen to me completely silently, without any interference of thought?—Seeing that the moment you try to do this you are already in thought.” — You Are The World
In any case, we live in groups, communities, and each member is under assault from this relentless tide of outside learning. Granted, it isn’t all bad and society has certainly benefitted from it. Who would be rash enough to deny that? But all the same something vital, living and human is undoubtedly lost in the incessant barrage.
Ok, so it’s almost unavoidable, almost unstoppable. I say ‘almost’ because staunching the flood can be achieved for short spaces of time on occasion. Blessed quiet still moments away, outside, walking alone in the woods, amidst the mountains, or sometimes in yoga studios or retreats, in ashrams and monasteries and their countless iterations and incarnations. All conducive to the stilling of what comes in from the outside and a heeding of what might come up from within. No easy task after a lifetime of external noise or ‘learning,’ for sure.
Let me tell you something about the heeding of the voice from within.
For most of us the voice is low, dim, barely audible. We attend the retreats and listen for a whisper with all our being. It can be an earth shattering, life changing and affirming experience, this laborious and disciplined listening and the magical moment when the faint whisper is heard. Examples of it and the wonders that ensue are all around us today. It sort of underpins and defines the New Age movement that had its birth some hundred or more years ago now.
But there is another type of inner voice, unlike the vaguely felt and barely heard inner voice most of us have. It is the sort of voice a rare unique and often enough haunted few have.
I catch a glimpse of it when reading James Joyce’s works, Thomas Mann’s and Herman Hesse’s, Henry Miller’s and Thomas Wolfe’s and countless others. Joseph Campbell writes of its undeniable and ungainsayable force in his book The Hero With a Thousand Faces. Strident, raucous, insistent and even plaguing, it makes no allowance for the learning from without. As such, its possessors are often enough driven mad. They don’t fit in, they are scorned and frequently dysfunctional precisely because the inner voice is actually loud enough to drown out the outer learning which the vast majority of us traffic in. Hearing and even deafened by the inner voice, they are compelled to follow their own path, away from the group and membership in community, towards something else, something undefinable, but alive and vital to our wellbeing all the same.
And I’ll tell you one more thing.
Should these individuals (in the truest sense) succeed in the voyage their irrefutable inner voice insists upon, they may return to the world of outer learning we share with a boon, a world changing metaphorical golden flask if you will.
Ahh, but this has all become so high flown, chimerical. Words, words, and more words.
However, don’t be fooled.
Today we are waiting eagerly, hungrily for just such an individual and just such a message. The whole world cries out for it now.
Others through the centuries came and had their say. They spoke to greater or lesser subsets of humanity and brought a boon that lasted for a day, a year, a century, millennia or more. Their Words, though, and this we haven’t quite come to grips with—inspired at the time as they were—have largely become part of the outside ‘learning’ today, and ironically contribute mightily to the noise that would obscure and drown out our own true living inner voice.
Stop your ears I say…
Even to this blog…