Thursday, June 05, 2008

What to Do Until the Messiah Comes


Couple years back, I mentioned, in a posting about playing guitar, a quote from George Emery. Emery was a member of an organization based at Sunrise Ranch, in Loveland, Colorado, the Ontologists, later to become the Emissaries of Divine Light. My wife and I heard him speak at LSU, circa 1970 or so, though that could have been '71 -- the Sixties weren't really over until Nixon resigned, and that whole period is really hard for some of us to time-bind, for a lot of reasons. Blue pill, red pills, the nature of reality ...

Emery, who had been a Methodist, left the church after eighteen years as a minister. He had a strong Bostonian accent, and his opening statement, if I recall it correctly was, "In 1965, at the Edgewater Beach Hotel in Chicago, Timothy Leary said to me, 'George, you need to take a Trip.' And so I did ..."

Emery was funny, a good speaker, and by the time he was done, we were all on our feet, linked arm-in-arm, laughing and singing and swaying side-to-side. Kumbaya, y'all ...

The crux of that speech centered around the statement: "When you know who you are, you know what to do."

The trick is, of course, figuring out that first part. The Ontologists had it that metaphysically-speaking, you already had all you needed, you just had to clear away the crud in the way it to see it. You didn't need to go to India to find yourself, you just had to clean your mirror. The truth waits for eyes unclouded by longing.

When you know who you are, you know what to do.

You know when and where to do it, and with whom.

I have found that simple, but profound, statement to be true for me -- though at times, I have wandered away and temporarily lost sight of it. (And, having the warped sense of humor that I do, I sometimes laugh and link it to the Buckaroo Banzai line, "No matter where you go, there you are." because that makes such great fun of bumper-sticker profundity. But, still ...)

In discussions of various aspects of life, the universe, and everything, I sometimes have people challenge me on why I think this or that, or how do I know I'd behave like I think I would? Truth is, you can't know anything about the future for sure, but I'm comfortable with the notion that I damn sure know more about myself than anybody else does -- and probably more about myself than a lot of folks do about themselves, being a proponent of the examined life and all -- so I can smile and shine it on. I don't have to convince them, I only have to know it for me.

It's kind of like the old martial artist challenge: "Yeah, but what would you do if I did this?" To which the answer is, "I dunno, something. Do it, and let's find out, hey?"

Getting to know who you are is a big part of life's work, least in my mind, and you might be more like sand than stone, insofar as how you shift around, but still, if you are going to have a bumper-sticker to live by, it's a pretty good one ...

2 comments:

Mike said...

And equally profound (but perhaps a bit more proactive): When you know what to do, then you know who you are.

Shareen said...

Came across your blog as I was preparing something for George Emery's 80th b'day this coming week. He is still at Sunrise Ranch and we're putting together a scapbook for him. I'm thinking to include some of your words.
By the way, I was one of George's hosts for that lecture at LSU those many years ago.....small world.
Shareen Ewing (sewing@emnet.org)