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Voices of Wisdom

I once wrote a story for an English composition class about an American Indian youth's search for truth and knowledge. Now, years later, I realize this story was about me. When I wrote the story, I believed that only those who traveled the same philosophical or religious path that I did could be of any help to me. After years of searching, I realize my mistake. Every being on this planet is my teacher, not just a select few. Further, I am a teacher to others. We are all in this human soup together; there is no isolation! There is not one thing that any of us can do that doesn't some how affect the rest of humanity, or our entire planet for that matter. We're like a pond where each being, metaphorically, could be represented by a single molecule of water. When one molecule moves, all move; and the ripples created are felt by every other molecule, forever.

About a month ago I was walking to town to treat myself to an ice-cream cone. As I entered a paved road from a dirt foot path I saw a young man with his head hanging pretty low. He looked like life had let him down in far too many ways. I said hello. He said nothing, not even acknowledging my existence. I thought about those times in my life when I felt like he must be feeling. I also thought about the fact that I have choices; we all have choices. About a block later a little boy came peddling up on his tricycle. He immediately peddled up to the despondent man and said, "Hi!" There was no reply. The child tried again. There was still no reply. After six or so attempts the child gave up. Then the child turned toward me; I didn't wait. I extended my greeting as soon as our eyes made contact. He smiled with a big full muddy face. He immediately peddled over and we talked for awhile. Finally I resumed my walk, considering what had just transpired. I thought about what each of us had taught the other about being human during our brief encounter. What is a laugh? What is a frown? How do we as individuals affect and celebrate ourselves as well as the lives of those around us? How can a simple act of unconditional love affect the whole world? I've never seen that man again. However, I have seen the child four times now. Each time he runs up to me in eager expectation. I know he's my friend; he knows I am his friend; I know I am loved; he knows he's loved.

There is no escape from our humanness, we are here for a reason. Our lives, our planet, our universe, they are not flukes. Amongst us walk individuals who are trying to actualize themselves. In their own way they are trying to become the best they can possibly be. To help us all, there have been many voices throughout the ages: Christ, Buddha, Krishna, the Saints, the prophets. They've all given each and every one of us a very special gift. Their gift is the challenge that each of us grow into something broader than our self-limiting beliefs would normally allow. As a result, every culture has called out to its brothers and sisters: "awaken to the intrinsic goodness residing inside, allow peaceful and thoughtful actions, serve your brethren and your planet, and make the world a compassionate, joyous and safe place to be." Sometimes we hear and we change. Then, slowly we tend to stop. And like falling asleep, we stagnate and shut our minds. We forget what's really going on around us.

Sometimes we awaken a little; we have insights. But too often these insights make our past wrong. And when this happens, the natural process of sleep grows deeper. To stay awake we must truly stay committed to the present. We must value our past as part of the growth process bringing us to the present. After all, it's taken all of our past to create this moment right now. Therefore, we should respect it and not deny it. By denying our past we limit ourselves and block the road to our future. Our tears, our hurt, every confused moment, every bit of laughter and love, all of these things bring us to this magical now.

As the voices of our prophets grow dim through the ages, new voices emerge; yet they sing old same old song. The reality we witness is the reality we've created and we alone are responsible for it. These voices of wisdom are lamp posts lighting the way along our individual paths to self-actualization. Our goal is to become fully human.


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Copyright: Oct. 30, 1990, John Worman