Some people just do not know when to allow themselves to be put out to pasture. In baseball, steroids have solved that problem, and now greatness is measured by the size of a man’s goiter. Football stadiums rise around the United States in the same way cathedrals once staggered to life in Europe.
In Beijing, China, over 20 million people live unable to inhale clean air. On occasion, we can sit in close proximity to just one or two people, and the oxygen will be just as toxic.
What strange creatures we are, that humans must breathe every few seconds to continue to live. Scientific studies have found the act of intense prayer or meditation—which is simply controlling that essential respiration process—quiets the part of the brain that tells us we are separate. Once silent, the mind sees no difference between the self, another man or woman, or the Great Spirit. It makes it much more difficult to convince humans to kill using any mode of violence, including organized warfare—that process made obsolete by the ideation of the atomic bomb. A nuclear nation can ‘win’ any war it wants. According to some charismatic leaders, we just have to muster the will.
How do I teach my children the skill of intuition? Perhaps it is teaching them how not to forget. The parasites wearing human skin abound. The walnut tree, though half-dead, spreads the poison black liquid of its seed to keep the blue spruce sapling from growing. Those leeches suck the beauty of the outside world from within, and spew ink clouds of propaganda. Outside of the camp of ‘saints,’ they believe all foreign elements must be devoured. They take pleasure in the pain of others. They cannot fathom there is an Atman or an eternal soul that is no different from God, and they root in their pens, then complain about the aroma of their neighbor, when the stench comes only from the illusion of self.
I return again to my first year of school, and south of our farmhouse, the chrysalis growing on a milkweed plant below the shadowy gaping mouths of the old hay barn. What essence preceding and outside of time compels a thick worm with black, white and yellow stripes to cover itself in a prison? It hangs upside-down in my kindergarten teacher’s class still, the staff of the plant resting against the side of the glass jar. In hushed tones, Mrs. Johnson ushered me to the tiny universe.
“Tiny little snack,” my two-year-old daughter Jasmine chirps about a plastic toy swiped from her big sister’s Barbie Doll house.
“Tiny little universe,” she might have said about the caterpillar metamorphosing in utero, hanging upside-down like a fig. But we must not bother the newborn. After all that work, it would not fly if we exerted our will on its transformation. Its path upward is effortless. Wings wet, it wipes sleep from its eyes. Once dry, my teacher cradled the Monarch to her chest, and walked with me to the grass beyond the jungle gym and tire swings. The butterfly left us below. If I concentrate hard enough, it is still orange-and-black against the early autumn filter of stratocumulus undulatus, those clouds that predict the future and keep the past frozen.
The same infinity created the moth with eyes meant to mimic an owl’s, and the hideous mouth of the leech, which in human form does its job by keeping its tongue extended for the more difficult syllables.
The poet Blake spoke of wiping the doors of perception clean. One does not do such a thing through the incessant hiss of gossip with its sociopathic gleam of ice, so charming but utterly lifeless—squirming lamprey tongue of the most hideous imagination that wants and wants but can never become a barn swallow. It ends up eating its own tail and getting stuck in time and death. There is nothing worse than a hollow woman, or the chrysalis of a man not allowing another birth to cling to his space on the branch.