Saturday, November 10, 2007
The following is from a description in the New York Times of Norman Mailer, the notorious American writer, who has just died:
Increasingly, he said, he was engaged in “less of an exploration and more of an occupation of territories I reconnoitered years ago.”
“What happens is you become the hat on your own head,” he said. “You’re not having the pleasure of enjoying your own mind the way you used to when you were young, but you have the product of your mind to work with. You know, I ran into Henry Kissinger years ago, and I asked him if he enjoyed the intellectual stimulation of the work, and he said in effect: ‘I am working with the ideas that I formed at Harvard years ago. I haven’t had a real idea since I’ve been on this; I just work with the old ideas.’ I certainly know what he means now — I think there are just so many ideas you can have in your life, and once you have them, you have to develop them.”
Norman Mailer was, among other things, an arch opponent of women's liberation (as the movement was then known) and to many represented the "mail chauvinist" in its worst embodiment. In his writing, he was the antithesis of the romantic or mystical approach (except for certain bizarre topics he embraced, such as power, violence, death). I agreed with almost nothing he said or stood for, except for the idea embodied in the above quote. I understand fully what he meant here.
In terms of the spiritual path, there are indeed certain fundamental "wisdoms" to be encountered and assimilated before real progress can occur. Aldous Huxley summed up many of these in his fundamental work "The Perennial Wisdom." These are the basic premises found in virtually all religions and creeds: there is a divine power; humanity has a necessary connection with it; a moral foundation is the basis of all good action; concern for one's fellows is paramount. The list goes on.
All of these ideas are good and right. However, once one has fully explored them and integrated them into one's one intellectual structure, one can fall into the habit of simply repeating them without thought, more like mechanical exercises than living truth. One looks about for new perspectives, fresh approaches--and for the most part finds duplication of the once fresh discoveries. The beginner is excited by these (to him or her) novel notions. Often this novice will go about proclaiming his/her new discoveries to the world, as if he were the first to uncover them. It is as this point that the elder has to hold a straight face and withhold judgment. This newcomer may in fact find great revelations in some emergent (or established)spiritual teacher's offerings, which, when examined, are in fact, old truths repackaged.
None of this is wrong. We all must step into the river somewhere. We must master the fundamentals before we can hope to move on to the advanced stages.
But--after we have followed our minds to the limit of (our) thought, something more is requisite to carry us to the next plane. For me, this is where kundalini comes in. It is experiential rather than mental. It requires no external validation, for it is a "self-validating experience." It changes everything on every level of our lives. It rips the veils from our eyes, and we see with renewed vision.
And this is when we can revisit old intellectual terrain, reexamine earlier ideas and explore them with a clearer perspective. A new layer has been added to our psychic scaffolding. We are the same but different. Our world is more complex and simpler at the same time. We are more fully in touch with who we are.