The Sliver of Light
originally published January 26, 2016
When I was about 45 years old, I gave up sex. Eventually, I went into religious seclusion so I might focus my full attention upon my studies and meditations of the wonders of the universe. I cut my ties to the secular world because none of it interested me.
I had spent half my life chasing money, career advancement, possessions, — empty goals, all of them. When I finally came to that understanding, I could no longer bear to live in that world.
It didn’t happen all at once. It began with a seed but the subject so fascinated me, it became an obsession.
It started with a drug that opened my mind just enough to let a sliver of light in. The first time there was no great epiphany. It was only different enough for me to say, “What was that!?” I’d seen only a glimpse but I knew I wanted to go back there. So, I did it again. This time I looked for the opening, and when I found it, I moved into it. People call this a hallucination but many so-called hallucinations are more real and more true than what humans call reality.
I did it again and again. I couldn’t get enough of that place. The more I went there, the less I cared about chasing the middle class dream. My family and my friends lamented. They felt I was throwing my life away. They begged me to get help for my problem.
The problem was that I didn’t see it as a problem. I saw my family and friends as the ones with the problem. They chose to remain enslaved to the pursuit of meaninglessness.
Of course, as I started to care less about the shackles of modern civilization, the more strange I seemed to most everyone else. They saw me as kind of feeble-minded, my once-intelligent mind now addled by drugs.
There were names for people like me and they were all dismissive and condescending. Society as a whole needs to ostracize people like me, the way I was. If they didn’t, and others joined the search for Truth over Power, the situation could become dangerous. If people are not kept in lock step with The Human Plan, the entire structure of power falls apart. Humankind could not function if everyone had their heads in the clouds like me. Who would run the factories? Who would wage the wars? Who would supply the food for all to eat? Who would produce the goods for all to wear? Who would build the places for all to live? Who would create the scaffolding upon which the human ego hangs?
The human species advanced because of cooperation among people; the division of tasks. When one person alone must hunt or gather all his own food, build his own shelter, gather his own fuel, haul his own water, make all his own tools — such a man has no time for philosophy. But when humans live together in a group, each is able to specialize in their own particular task. The more they do it, the better they get at it, and thus, technology is born. This co-dependent situation is to the benefit of everyone.
Modern society is built on this same structure, writ large, with each person far removed from most everything he or she eats or drinks or acquires.
So, if everybody followed my way, society would crumble, and humans would go back to having to do everything themselves, either way, leaving no time for philosophy.
But what would society be without a soul? Without a hand on the rudder to keep the human race from being set adrift?
Even primitive man understood this, and designated one person in each group, to remain in touch with the Spiritual. By so channeling, this person maintained the group’s balance between the quotidian and the heavenly.
This basic dynamic carried forward from small primitive groups to large cities teeming with millions. There are those who have the gift, the purity, and the charisma to remind humankind of its spiritual destiny.
But I was not one of them. I did not have the ability to make others understand what I saw or how I was feeling. If I told them what I knew, they would have thought me a lunatic and locked me away. Instead, I went away from them.
I retreated to a place where I could exist with the minimal. The less I possessed, the less I needed to worry about holding on to it. Without that concern, I no longer had to work long hours, putting my mind to things that ultimately made no difference.
Work is work, regardless of whether one is digging ditches or communing with the universe. All work is noble, as long as it gratifies the soul. Find meaning in your work, and it will show you the path.
My path led me to this new kind of work even though, to those I left behind, it did not appear to be work at all. I depended on the kindness, generosity and favors of others — friends and strangers alike.
I earned no money but even still, I had to do physical toil. No good comes from idleness, either.
And that’s where I spent the rest of my days, leading a simple life so I might spend more time in contemplation.
Those from my past believed I was turning my back on life. They pitied me. I, in turn, pitied them. So much wasted time and energy on empty things. The answers were beyond myself and I wanted to spend my life looking, even if I never found them.