Steal this Rock
Steal this Rock
The title of this talk is pattered after Steal this Book, written by Abbie Hoffman. Abbie was prominent in the anti-war and anti-establishment movement of the 1960's. He became what one source called “a counter-culture icon.”
In 1997, I went on a Vision Quest and part of my journey took me to a huge obsidian flow, south of Bend, Oregon. This flow is high above ground level and very wide. I had to walk up some wooden steps at the foot of the flow to reach the top. Posted by the steps is a sign that states it is a Federal Offense to take pieces of obsidian. Needless to say, there is a lot of obsidian and over Eons, pieces have broken off in many different sizes. As I was walking on top of all this black glass, I felt the urge to pick up one particular piece and put it in my pocket. Now this was not a good idea. At the time, I was a Federal Employee with a job that requires a security clearance. Stealing a rock could cost me my job. For those of you that consider that this fear is a little extreme, I offer two thoughts. The first is that suspicion of wrongdoing is sufficient to revoke a security clearance. If your clearance is revoked, you are escorted out of your office and you have no legal recourse. This actually happened to a fellow employee while I was working for the government. The second thought is that fear is like temptation. It is an individual thing and we get no credit for overcoming other people's temptations, only our own. So my challenge was to Steal this Rock. While I was looking around to see if there were any other people present, I heard “Whose rock is it?”
So here is the rock.
After returning from the Vision Quest, I decided that this rock represents what is hidden in me. It is what I have that I don't know. Considering what I have learned about myself since 1997, I have concluded that this is only a very small representation of the unknown within. I will pass this around so that you might reflect on the unknown within you. I do ask for it back, hopefully no one will hear, “Steal this Rock” during this service.
I would like to say more about the voice that I hear. It has the powerful sound of authority. I recently asked a friend if she had ever hear it, and she said only once. I asked if she thought of not following it and her response was, “No way.” That is exactly how I felt. Although the voice does not sound as forceful as it did it first, it still rings with authority.
I have heard this voice many times and I have always found it to be correct. I believe that it is the voice of GOD. There are a number of reasons why I have come to that conclusion. Here are two: It sometimes says what I don't want to hear. The second is the more I hear it, the more it is about me and the less about others.
Several months ago, I heard, and I quote: “To follow your path, it is not necessary to know where it goes (although you may catch glimpses) or what lies along it (although sometimes you will know). It is only necessary to face in the right direction, hold the intention, and take the next step.”
A few days later, I was talking to my daughter, Heather, and I told her what I had heard about following my spiritual path, she said that she had heard almost exactly the same thing about the same day as I did.
This can take Trust and Faith. Sometimes I stop because of the unknown, or because of fear. This is what happened when I had the thought to pick up and take the rock. Then I remember that I should not be surprised that the unknown or fear is there. It is a test to see if I have Trust and Faith.
It also can take work. When hearing this quote a friend said, and the important thing is that you must take the next step. I picked up that rock in 1997 and almost exactly a year later, I took a trip to Nepal that changed my life. I went to Nepal in search of three Tibetan Buddhist Monks that had appeared to me in a Vision, in the middle of the night. I did not find them on that trip. But the trip was not about finding them, it was about the journey of finding myself, it was about finding what that rock symbolizes. It was a trip that truly changed my life. I was speaking at a collage in California a few years ago and told the story of my trip to Nepal and one of the women in the audience said, “You were meant to take that trip.” I thought about it and all of the difficulties involved, and they were many. One of the first ones was that I had inherited my parent's house and I sold it to get money for the trip. Many of you are aware of how much work it can take to sell a house. And that was only the start. I left my job, my family, my ordered life and spent 5 weeks in Asia on my own to trek to a Monastery that I wasn't even sure existed, somewhere high on a mountain side near Mt. Everest. It was one of the most difficult things that I have done in my life. So I looked at the woman and said, “No, I was meant to have the opportunity.”
Thomas Edison said, “Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls, and looks like work.
I think that one of the most misleading phrases also came out of the 1960's, “Go with the flow.” To me that is the no-brainer. It is like falling off a log. What is more difficult is “to go against the flow.” And that is what we are sometimes called to do. That can be our next step.
I would like to mention what I call, “The feeling of Oh, Oh.” This is the feeling that I get when I hear something that I can feel is probably for me and it is not easy. For example, I read that, “It is well known that the best time to meditate is between 4 and 6 am.” The feeling that I had is Oh, Oh, because I felt that it was for me. And I learned that it is true, for me.
Recently I became frustrated by several health challenges and I cried out in meditation, “Oh GOD - What can I do about my health, my body?” I heard, “Remember the didgeridoo - you must follow your spiritual path.”
I know that refers to 2003 when we were in Australia; I kept hearing that to find a didgeridoo I needed to follow my spiritual path. I kept asking because I was running out of time and was very frustrated. But in the end it was very rewarding. I learned things that I would not have and found the right one in an out of the way place at the last minute. I had no idea why I wanted a didgeridoo, I only had this feeling that I needed to find one and bring it home.
I had no idea that a hollow log would change my life. And I want to make clear that this opportunity was wearing overalls. When I got my first didgeridoo, the only sound that I could make was not suitable to play in the presence of others. It was only after I made the commitment to play it everyday that I eventually could make a decent sound. And a few years ago, I heard a very skilled didgeridoo player say, “To really play well, it is necessary to play at least 20 minutes a day. That is because if you are not doing something right, you can feel it.” Can you guess my feeling when I heard that? Yes, Oh, Oh. However, I have found that it is true for me. So at this time, I often get out my stopwatch and play for 20 minutes.
I want to be clear that I don't hear The Voice very often. What happens more often is that I use intuition to make decisions. My methods include meditation, feeling energy, paying attention, music, and Visions. I started out unaware of any intuition methods and have found them over the years. They were in the area represented by the rock. I expect that there may be more there waiting to be discovered.
Intuition is the way that I find that next step on my spiritual path.
Intuition has guided me on finding and playing the didgeridoo. It is said that, You do not learn to play the didgeridoo; you learn what it has to teach you. That is true and continues to be true for me.
The culturally correct way to play the didgeridoo is with a repetitive melody and rhythm. The rhythm is created by interrupting the sound of the didgeridoo and sometimes accentuated by hitting sticks together. I don't do this. I seek a continuous sound and pay attention to how I feel. I tune myself to what needs to happen. I stop or change the sound based on how I feel. I let the sound flow through me rather than trying to create it. It is difficult to explain, but often I wonder how I am making a sound. I believe that this is a revolutionary way of playing the didgeridoo. I will demonstrate this in the meditation after this talk and I invite you to attend my Mystical Didgeridoo workshop to experience more.
Abbie Hoffman said:
“Revolution is not something fixed in ideology, nor is it something fashioned to a particular decade. It is a perpetual process embedded in the human spirit."
I am convinced that this applies to not just to the didgeridoo, but that it applies to following my spiritual path. That sometimes I need to go against the conventional, to go against reason, to fight through resistance.
In her Master's Thesis, Journey Through Resistance: Bridging Psychotherapy to the Course in Miracles, Paula Shelkin notes that both Psychotherapy and the Course recognize that resistance shows us where we need to change. Sigmund Freud saw the ego as essentially the representative of the external world, and Carl Jung wrote of the ego's resistance. So although resistance can arise externally from the World or internally from the Ego, they are essentially from the same source. They are from the World, from our culture. My thought is not that I should go looking for resistance. Instead I should go looking for the next step on my spiritual path. However, I should not be surprised when I experience resistance to that next step. And I should not be surprised that I am being called to work though that resistance: to go counter to our culture.
The following joke has provided me with a useful tool to deal with our culture.
Two woman who had graduated from High School together met by accident a number of years later and the first woman said, “Wow, it has been just ages since we graduated, what have you been doing?”
The second woman said, “Oh, my life is just perfect. My husband is very rich and we have a huge home in a gated community. We have three teenagers, two sons and one daughter. They are just angels. We have two cars, a Mercedes, and a BMW. My Mercedes is in the shop, so I am driving my daughter's old station wagon.”
The first woman said, “Why that is fantastic!”
The second woman said, “My children will be going to Ivy League schools on full scholarships and my husband wants to give each of them a new car as a High School graduation gift. They are so bright and talented. They would be with me now but they are working on their homework.”
The first woman said, “That is fantastic!”
The second woman said, “We are always going somewhere. Last year it was Greece and the year before that it was the Bahamas. My husband plans to surprise me this year, so I have no idea where in the World we will go. Why he is always doing nice things like that, I have so much diamond jewelry and fine clothes that I have a hard time deciding what to wear. I have old clothes on today because I love gardening and it is the gardener's day off. The gardener, maid, and butler spoil me so much.”
The first woman said, “That sounds fantastic!”
The second woman said, “But silly me, I have just be running on about my life. What have you been up to?”
“Well”, the first woman said, “my life is nothing like yours. My husband and I live from paycheck to paycheck and I just pray that my two teenagers will graduate from High School somehow. But recently I took a self-improvement class and it has helped.”
“Really?” said the second woman, “and what did you learn that so helpful?”
“To say, fantastic instead of bullshit.”
Sometimes when we are told how to think, how to behave, and perhaps more importantly when we are told what our religious beliefs should be or what they are, it is best to say Fantastic! One reason I think this is important is because we sometimes need to say what the other person needs to hear, but we also need not to lie to ourselves. Using fantastic we can do both.
Note that something may be exactly what another person needs, however I can feel that it is not for me. That is the power of this tool. I may need to express what it really means to me. The problem is that now that I have told you the joke, I will have to be more careful when I say fantastic to any of you.
I have had a problem with the biblical commandment not to lie. Always telling people the truth sometimes does not work. What I have found is not to lie to myself.
I am going to end with a call for Jihad (Gee-hod). When we hear the word Jihad, we think of this as a call for Muslims to protect their faith by war. However, the prophet Mohammed said that this was the Lesser Jihad. The Greater Jihad is the battle between our humanity and our divinity: that battle within us. The battle to bring forth the Christ, from the rock inside.
So I return to what I heard. That is: “To follow my path, it is only necessary to face in the right direction, hold the intention, and take the next step.” However, that next step can involve work, going through fear, and going against my Ego (which according to Freud is the inner representative of the external world.)
I challenge you to follow your own spiritual path, to work through resistance, and that you need to be the revolutionary that changes your life. Not to just think outside of the box, but to live outside of the box. Sometimes we are called to “Steal this Rock.”
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