Tuesday, August 08, 2006

The Esalen Experience II

I would not want to leave you with the impression, Bush, that I indulged only in the doom and gloom of advancing age at the Esalen Institute. Far from it. The acknowledgement of all those feelings that welled up around the change in decades was only the prelude to their glorious release, which came about that very evening when I was offered the opportunity to take a good look in the mirror and make a sage assessment of my self. The words that came out at that moment were simple and to the point, but no less memorable for their directness. They were--excuse me--FUCK THIS AGE SHIT. THE TIME IS NOW!

These were words that apparently resounded in the hearts of my fellow-circle sitters, who took them up and echoed them repeatedly, in chorus, with gusto. Their support and heartfelt empathy was an inspiration to me, and I trust only that they felt the same from me. I'm sure it will sound hopelessly idealistic to you, Bush, but this is how people should be together: wise, caring, supportive. Such circles as these are a magical reminder of our deeply shared humanity and our ability, once we let down the defenses with which we armor ourselves against the outrages of the hard, real world, to communicate heart-to-heart, beyond the often inadequate level of ideas.

I have also to report from Esalen, Bush, that there was little sign of admiration for you, your administration, or your policies. None, in fact. The consensus, as I sensed it, was pretty much that you have been a disaster for our country. Oh, I did hear a few kind words spoken, early, in the hot spring baths overlooking the ocean. I woke at 5:30 Sunday morning and wandered down there in the gathering light of dawn, expecting to be alone--but finding already quite a crowd of early risers in the pools.

I found myself sitting in the water with a small gathering of what I took to be Esalen interns--young, passionate, curious about themselves, their friends, the world about them, and the universe at large. And talkative...! I had been hoping for a quiet, meditative moment, but instead I closed my eyes and simply listened to their voices. It was one of these--a young man who had evidently found the Buddhist path--who wanted to speak no ill of you, but rather to view you through the eyes of compassion. He decided that, while we could all agree on the unfortunate results of your actions, your intentions were probably not purposefully evil or destructive. Nice of him, no?

So that's the news I bring you from Esalen, Bush. Okay, I already hear you say that it's a just place for the usual band of California tree-huggers, and that you could hardly expect to pick up any votes there anyway. True enough. We are a bit nutty. But in a nice way. Anyway, driving back yesterday, Ellie and I finally found ourselves close enough to what we call our civilization to switch on the radio, and we discovered that virtually nothing had changed since we left it behind a couple of days before. People were still busy slaughtering other people in large numbers in the Middle East. The nations of the world were busy wringing their hands and wondering what could possibly be done to stop it, without coming to any agreement as to how to go about it...

And I thought to myself, we could really use more of these nutty people around the planet. People who are ready to sit down without prejudice in a circle and share what's in their hearts. People who are ready to listen to other people's truths and to speak their own, openly and without guile or deception. People who are ready to open their eyes to the realities of other people's lives--and recognize themselves. Ah, well, Bush. In the immortal words of the late, much lamented John Lennon, "You may say I'm a dreamer..."

And I suppose I am. But, as Lennon also added, I'm not the only one. Get to it, Bush. Enough pride, revenge, and anger. Enough tribalism, macho swaggering, and ancient warrior aggression. It's time to sit down with enemies in that ageless, primitive circle that human beings have used for countless centuries to sort out their differences. And talk.


David said...

Got to admit I'm envious, Peter. Haven't been up there in awhile. Thanks for the reminder.

PeterAtLarge said...

You're welcome, David. It's always an incredible experience. Cheers, PaL

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