Saturday, February 24, 2007

Winged Pharaoh

I feel so frustrated tonight, in such a good, joyful way. I feel like driving to the next town with the windows down or running ten miles. I took a shower and it felt so good to be clean and feel the water coming down my skin. I just want to move, and write, and be in the world.

I found a passage in a book, Joan Grant's 'Winged Pharaoh,' that I think sets down everything squarely, regarding anything you could argue either way for religion. I originally read Winged Pharoah because it was recommended by 'Sri Harold Klemp,' the leader of the cult I grew up in. But Joan Grant is one of the few things I've had to carry over from my life in the cult. Her writing is beautiful and breathless in its simplicity and sincerity. Her stories are moving and unaffected. So here, in terms that an Eckist can understand, is the whole thing:

"Often I talked to this man, who I called Dio: for I wished to learn of the art of building, so that the temples and palaces, which I might cause to rise when I was Pharaoh, should be worthy landmarks of my journey.

"Sometimes I told him of the things that I had seen away from Earth, but I found he listened as though I were making a pretty story for a child. He believed that men perish when their bodies die and that their immortality is only through their children, or in men's memory. He would talk of children as though each generation increased the father's store of knowledge, just as a tree each harvest bears a heavier crop of fruit, flowering more freely on its lengthened boughs. In his philosopy the spirit of a child springs from the mind of its parents to think their burnished thoughts; and when its body leaves its mother's womb, then for the first time it sees the sun; and in the child its parents find their immortality. Though he saw no ordered pattern of life, he was content. He thought that what I told him were pleasant fancies, as when his servant put a crumb of food before her household goddess before she ate. And I told him that his beliefs were as if he had forgotten all yesterdays and denied all to-morrows.

"To Dio, time sped so quickly that he could almost hear the sweeping shadows hurry across the sand. to him, life and time were measured, and in the dark sea of eternal nothing his life was like a little lamp of oil, which for a small space let him see, and feel, and be alive; and when the oil was gone, his body cold, the greaet unruffled sea of nothingnesslay undisturbed.

"He said, "To have a building, conceived within the mind, and then born like a child through heavy labour, and to see it in its calm purity of line, that is the greatest man can hope for: that of their minds they should achieve something of beauty that endures, so that ahead in time others may see and say 'He knew, just as I know, that beauty is permanent, though bodies go back to dust.'"

"I had never met one who thought like this. Evil I knew, and good. Yet he was neither. Young ones I knew, too young to understand more than the simple rules of right and wrong. But this man had been well tempered in the fire of life. So this strange obscurity I could not understand; and I tried to remove it with my will, and with my wit, and with my heart and mind. Just as a blind musician brings sweeter music than does his brother who can see the stars, so perhaps do those on Earth see beauty in form more clearly when the eyes of the spirit are closed with leaden seals.

"How do they live, these people? How can they laugh, and sing, and praise the stars, thinking each day the sun that rises brings them yet nearer to a timeless dark? Why do they try to steer their lives, when they think the endless river a stagnant pool? Why, when they do not see the ordered pattern of life, do they not rail against the blind injustice which for them ousts the Gods? For they think themselves a grain in a great sandstorm of blinded forces seeking disordered doom."

When it comes down to leaving a cult, either you continue to believe, or you stop believing. When you stop believing, this is simply a new belief: the belief that your beliefs were wrong. There is no such thing as unassailable fact. Between "I think," and "Therefore I am" there is an endless chasm of doubt which only belief can bridge. But failure to make this bridge leads only to madness, and I've rejected that possibility for myself. I would rather enjoy the world I see, which I have decided to accept as reality.

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