POP05 - Straight Arrow

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This is a continuation of the POP series (Power of Prophecy or Problems of Prophecy) that I am presenting, in which I am sharing some of my own experiences in that field of search.

For a number of years after I left Christian Science (actually, I was excomunicated, when my former wife informed them that I had become a nudist - in my volley ball and sunshine days), anyway in those years following - I became a Buddhist.

Attended a Buddhist Church for about a year, and then got into Zen. (Traveled to temples in China, and all that sort of thing). Was much attracted to the teachings in a book called - "Zen and the Art of Archery". (Was also very much into Sufi, and other teachings - but I have never been that much of a purist - about anything).

For years, after moving beyond Buddhism, I continued to practice "Zen and the Art of Archery". Also taught my children. Rented a corner lot cat-a-corner across from the house, on the main corner of our village, and set up an archery range with 4 target butts, of various distances, so 3 children and I could shoot at the same time.

Each of their special bows, sized as to weight, left or right hand, and so forth, still hang on our wall after years of usage. We sometimes attracted quite a crowd of onlookers, but I was never much of an archer. Wrong type muscles to properly pull a bow, and not really physically adept or coordinated at anything

But the idea of Zen, is not so much one of physical adeptness, as that of mental (actually spiritual) mastery. The question is - what guides your arrow?

The stories are numerous such as the old Zen Master, who sent the accolyte out to the garden to pin the target on a tree, and then shot the arrow through the Japanese papered wall of the house and the accolyte then goes back to the garden to find it implanted in the bulls eye.

Indeed, what is it that guides our arrow? After years of practice, I too felt that I was becoming somewhat adept. The arrows continuously landed in the bullseye. Finally I summoned wife to come and watch a demonstration.

I placed my arrow in the bow. Raised it to my chin and let it fly. It did something that it had never done before. It flipped out of the bow, tumbled forward and high into the air above the hill behind the target and to one side to come down on our dog who was lying peacefully there. Of all the places to land.

The dog was shocked. So was I. Fortunately it was a spent arrow and the dog wasn't hurt, but what had guided my arrow? A lack of humility.

There are two great tests for each of us in this life. Self and passion. Self is the greater test. Trying to serve God - without self.

    "Oh, God, if I do this - how great I will be in Thy sight."

The Walter Mitty dreams always plague us,

    "How great I will be". "How people will be astounded with me". "What great things I will have accomplished".

Getting beyond this is very, very difficult. We must learn to serve God -

    Neither in hope of heaven Nor in fear of hell.

How willing are we to serve God? I have a test that I often give people. Look at the following choices -

a. Would you like to be rich and famous for serving God?

b. But what if you were given the choice, that you could provide some great benefit to humanity, and that while it would make you rich still, humanity would not recognize you for the benefit.

c. Or that you could provide some great benefit for humanity but that you would always be in great poverty.

d. Or that you would provide some great benefit to humanity but not only would you be in poverty and not recognized for the benefit but that people would revile and despise you because they did not recognize the benefit or that you were the source.

e. Or even that you came to understand that while what you suffered to do and for which you were reviled while it was a benefit to humanity while it was God's wish that you perform it that you would still go to hell.

At which level would you be willing to provide the benefit to humanity? If you think the latter case strange, you must remember that the Book says, "Even in hell will I set my angels to look over them", so some angels have to serve in hell. If that is where God wanted you to serve, is that where you would be willing, even want to go, if it were God's will? You say,

    "You would want to go to hell?"

Indeed, I look at some of the hells on this earth, and there I find angels and saints looking after the inhabitants. Not my bit, I tell myself.

    "Oh, Lord", I say, "deliver me from that!"

And probably he finds me unworthy (I hope) (that old self will) of that. But we never know. We will have to do that which we will have to do.

But, what does all this have to do with POP (the Path of Prophecy)?

    Oh, my brother, Oh, my sister, if thou woulds't step upon the Path thou must first purify thy soul, so that not the least trace of self or passion remains.

And thus it is that I am but an observer - and not a prophet.