Matthew 18 - 1. At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?
2. And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them,
3. And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.
4. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
In response to one of my recent postings I received a couple of comments that told me that it is important to return again and again to the basics. One of the comments complained about my "one size fits all " philosophy. And the other commenter literally went on for days, both with me and other commenter's, explaining long philosophical arguments regarding love and it's place in this "cosmic trifle " we find ourselves suspended in.
In regard to my "one size fits all " philosophy. I would have to plead guilty. This commenter went on to say that I would be good at the funeral of a murderer. Again, I would have to agree. While I would "tailor " my approach to a particular "seeker ", I would not stray from earnestness in the pursuit of Love itself. At a murderer's funeral, I am sure I could find something worth while to talk about. All human beings are created out of the substance of Light, as well as dust. A person of light sees light even through the skin of human dust.
Recently, it has been implied that I am a "milktoast ", naive, or some kind of ex-hippie who lives in some kind of airy-fairy world of pseudo-bliss. It's true, I was raised in Marin County, California, in San Rafael. Marin was, even then, a bastion of "new age " and pop-psychological thought. But, finding myself to be Gay, as soon as I met my partner, it was off to San Francisco. My Partner and I managed residential hotels in San Francisco's Tenderloin district. We were the first to advertise in the mainstream press that our hotels were "Gay managed ". At that time, in that area of San Francisco, there was a lot of racial strife. The area was predominantly Black, but Gay people, being excluded from most other areas except for the expensive Castro district, were finding a home here.
In my "career " as a tenderloin hotel manager, in addition to helping hundreds of young Gay kids find a new life after having been tossed out of their homes by less than understanding parents, , I have had guns pointed at my face, my life threatened more times than I can remember and an arsonist burned one of our buildings to the ground at three in the morning. My Partner and I were both from the "burbs ", and were both plenty scared when we started. But after a short time, we not only brought up our buildings but helped change the face of the Tenderloin. Like the people we rented to, we were poor, but we found Love alive and well in that setting. We found, in a world of thieves, junkies and prostitutes; heart, love, and compassion. No, I am not a milktoast. I saw many of our former tenants and Friends die of AIDS, at a time when a diagnosis meant a death sentence. I have literally sat, talked and eaten with murderers, rapists, and child molesters. I have also consorted with Cathedral Deans, Lord Bishops, and Monks. I have had good friends in both groups, and seen "good" and "bad" in both. I do not write and speak from education. I speak from my life.
That brings me to the second commenter; the one who wants to define Love with words and thoughts. Love as I define it, is all that is. Some call this Parabrahman, the Absolute, Awareness, Nirguna Brahman, and on and on. Love is the tears in your eyes when you suffer, or when you observe a beautiful forest or sunrise. Love is a child's kiss on the cheek. Love is alive in the promise of a seed. We do not need big words or ideas like Parabrahman. We know what love is. We may have been denied it. We may have a distorted or even perverted idea of it, but we know it. Many of us, particularly the intellectual ones, will try to hide from it in the mind. We will insist on talking; using big or esoteric words. We will design systems that lead intellectually to the "door of truth ", and then stand outside the door trying to open the door with our talk, having forgotten the "key ".
What is this key ? It is stated in the quotation above: Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. What does it mean to "become as little children "? It means to live in unconditional Love. My "teaching ", if I dare call it that, is simply to return to that simple loving trust that you "knew " in childhood. The difficulty comes about when we understand that this unconditional love comes at the cost of vulnerability. As we grow, we keep putting on layers and layers of masks. Education, social conditioning, unbridled regimentation, all play a part in masking and hiding our "true " nature. Education, rightfully held up as "valuable " often becomes the biggest enemy. For it is here where we "seekers " in non-duality find our shelter. We study our own and other religious systems, we learn new words to describe the indescribable. But mostly we hide. We hide in the mind because we know that the "truth " will not bother us there. Every person who has made even a cursory study of religion, philosophy, spiritual ideas, practices or rituals finds that at one point there is that step beyond the mind into silence.
This silence is the "classroom of the heart ". This is where the child learns. The child sees the sky in silence. Not yet having words like atmosphere, or possibly even "blue ", the child sees the sky as it is. The view brings wonderment and love without definition, by simply being. This is becoming a little child; this "conversion " of sky back to it's original substance; Love. This is really what the spiritual "search " is all about, this "converting " maya back into love. As we "age ", we not only begin to see "blue ", we begin to define "sky " as atmosphere if we are "educated ", and perhaps "God's Home" if we desire to live in fantasy. But either way, the clear "seeing ", without "blue", "ether", atmosphere, "heaven " or any "quality " or name is the clear "seeing " we strive for. This is the reason for the "classroom of the heart ". Silence is not something to be "cultivated ". It is the absence of cultivation. It is completely unsophisticated and uneducated. It is the "silence " of the little child. Not that little children are silent. They are filled with the exuberance of Joy. A Joy that comes from this "silent " observation without defining boundaries or verbal "prisons ".
This is the humbling of oneself like the child. To give up the web of words, leave the "search " and become empty. Not empty in some negative sense, but empty of ideas about yourself. Many are so afraid of the "next step ". They fear that "death "; that leaving behind the image of the "seeker ", the "learner ", and the "enlightened one ". But a child has no image of "enlightened ". They are free of to see the "sky ", initially, even with out "sky ", let alone "blue ", and all the other complicated "thought stuff ". I once said that "enlightenment " is giving up all that you hold for all that you are. This requires trust. It requires returning to a "time " when you lived free from words and conditioning. That means stepping out of all your ideas about yourself. Your spirituality must be simple, wordless, visible only in the fulfilling of love. The Bible speaks of the rich man turning away from Jesus because he was asked to give his riches to the poor, and follow. This applies to our "wealth " of knowledge as well. All must be burnt up in the fire required to "become as little children ".
When you become, "as a little child ", lost in love, living in the "kingdom of heaven ", you are in a wordless realm. Like the exuberance of Joy of the child, you want to jump on the furniture and shout to all about this wonderful Joy. But you are in a wordless realm. All of us who try to "teach ", can just smile, babble a bit, and point to the moon. Like a child's rattle; not even color or sound to the child, but Joy itself, we wave our little words, giggle a bit, and share love. This great wisdom of the child, this great bravery and trust of the child is simple and gentle, but not "milktoast". It takes great courage to live as a child in a world of "adults". If you don't remember, ask one. But that is what earnestness is all about. To live on Love alone, without concepts, images or words. To live in the trust of a wordless understanding and Joy. That is becoming as little children.