The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Philadelphia Inquirer article

One of my essays (Escaping the Matrix) was recently republished in the Philadelphia Inquirer, and I'm getting interesting responses, one from a lady who thought it made no sense at all (and therefore would win me a Pulitzer!) and the other a gentleman who sent the following:
Dear Mr Barnes,
I read your interesting, if sometimes difficult to understand, article in today's Sunday, April 9th issue of the Inquirer. I was curious about a few of your perceptions towards the end of the article:
1. What do you mean by hitting muck at each level of searching for the light? When you find the light why do you need to keep digging and hit muck again?
That in meditating, you are forced to work through your unresolved emotional pain and damage.  The Light is not a static thing, but more like a perfectly pruned and tended garden...if you stop too long to admire it, the weeds grow to choke it.

2. When you episodically reach the state of spiritual clarity, what takes endless vigilance? Why do you want to stop and rest? What is so tiring in that state?
The spiritual clarity is there in the meditation, and to a certain degree in the hours and days that follow.  But if one gets smug enough to think "hey!  I'm there!" you immediately backslide.  It takes real work to engage in a struggle with your demons, and it seems that the more of them you conquer, the more your subconscious starts sending in the "A-Team."  Luckily, if you work constantly, you also grow stronger as you go.  The ego is a powerful enemy.
3. What are the contents of your reminders everyday of who you are and what you are committed to? Who are you and what is it you are committed to?
I am a father, a husband, a brother and friend.  I am a writer, a teacher,  a seeker of truth.  I am a warrior, a healer.  In other words, I bring it back, every day, to my three arenas of concern: my family, my writing, my martial arts.

4. Do you reach the state of spiritual clarity (approach GOD) by being acutely aware and vigilant of your thoughts (voices in your head) or is it by trying to achieve a thoughtless state?
Is it heads or tails?  These two things are joined.  Become aware of your thoughts by becoming aware of the space between them.  Deepen that space.  Ultimately the thoughts fade, and you are left with the space itself...quite an experience, if you've never had it!

Within that clarity, you can build anew, and create your life in the image of your deepest values, of the creative Force that you hold closest to your heart.  If you call that God, or Jesus, fine.  Works for me.  But there are other paths and labels as well.  And, not trying to be confusing, but there are paths without labels.  They can be mighty interesting and valuable as well.

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