|Living in the Tao of Life with nature:
surviving and saving your spirit in a world gone mad.
The following excerpt is from IN, AND OF: memoirs of a mystic journey, by Jack Haas, "The Kerouac of the new millennium." (FW)
| ...I would head out into the brilliant and impossible land, losing myself in the intoxicating earth and the natural life, and then come home, over and over again; I would leave and return, repeatedly, always carrying out, and then following back in, the Ariadne's thread of the Self, back to a city changed and become less friendly towards a me who was no longer the same as the one who had set out.
And so it was always hard to find myself again, after my time away from the world- because I returned as something other than what I remembered myself to be; it was as if, because I had chosen to pendulum between opposites- diving into humanity, and then resurfacing, again and again, into the natural world- that I had to quickly learn the art of pragmatic amnesia, or else I would have spent my whole life trying to be what I no longer was; I had to forget what I had been, and be who I had become.
This is the way of perpetual transformation, the way to the eternal liquid life. Which is to say, it is the way …of Life.
The self which adheres to form or conception dies within its own rotting womb. For the inmost self can neither be captured nor named and therefore needs no permanent residence in the form. The inmost self holds to no image nor finitude, and therefore can ever change and still remain the same. And if you come to live from the inmost self rather than the outer form, you find yourself becoming fluid as the wind, and supple as the sea.
At those times when I would finally break away, leaving the vortex of society, and the identity it encumbered me with, behind, I would know somewhere deep down in the lost requiems of my soul that I had left the world only so as to experience myself again, for I knew I was not whatever I had to become so as to mingle and cavort with others in the world of separation and identity, and I was determined not to know myself as such.
And so the sojourns out into the wilderness, time and time again, to die again and again, leaving behind the self they said I was- to die away until the only thing left was whatever I truly was- were the continuing chapters of my life as a gypsy of the woods. Never have I been able to stay amongst a group of people who have a rigid concept of who they are, but that is the hard reality of learning to thrive in the living flow through the dead stasis of mankind. ...
These trips of purgation would take anywhere from one day to one month, but no matter how long they took, at what expense, under what effort and duress, no matter how cold, alone, or confused I became, and no matter what I missed while I was away, they were always worth it in the end, and were the only thing which sustained me during those years in which I lived in the chaos of the city. For, after one of these trips, I would head back to Gomorrah, refreshed, renewed, re-inspired, and ready for another assault from the invasive mob.
Upon returning I always had great plans for a world which had no desire for such plans. I felt great understandings for a world which would only forcefully defend its lies. I felt great peace to bring to a world wrecked upon the reef of distraction. Like Lazarus arisen from his own ashes, I came back again and again, hollow and calm, and charged by the source I had re-found within. I had stepped back only so as to surge forward. I had gone under in order to soar. I had lost in order to gain, and had gone away, only so as to return.
Often the Tao of life became obvious to me just at the threshold, at the membrane between the two worlds, just as I was leaving the bush and heading back to town; I could see then, as I crossed over from one reality to the other, how easy it was to flow in harmony with the spirit in all things, if all thought was allowed to dwindle softly into oblivion, and the heart regained its song. How I planned at the end of each trip to return to the world and not be drawn back into the disturbance. How I planned to maintain a profound equilibrium in the ether, and live as if in the dance of the spirit itself, never moving but to the grace of life, never wanting but for the beauty of life, never indulging but for the love of life. Ah, but then the world has its own plans, its own noise, and its own wayward course, and the spirit is at best a silent visitor, wafting around the impervious obstructions rather than hopelessly trying to tear them down.
It is both bitter and beautiful for me now to recount such things, for as I do I wonder and worry about those who are to come after me- those of a similar temperament- what will they do, and where will they go, when all the forests have been rendered to ash, and the seas lie barren, and the land is foul with the garbage of moribund societies? Where will those like myself go to find respite, to hide and breathe, and live, and learn, and be saved as I was saved?
I have no answer, but I suppose that doesn't matter, because I never had an answer for myself. I only went where I had to go in order to survive. And I survived.
Jack Haas is a wilderness explorer, world traveler, and independent researcher and writer. He is the author of four highly acclaimed books: THE WAY OF WONDER: a return to the mystery of ourselves, ROOTS AND WINGS: adventures of a spirit on earth, THE DREAM OF BEING: aphorisms, ideograms, and aislings, and IN, AND OF: memoirs of a mystic journey.
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