I drive a dirt country road with Meena, my granddaughter, carefully strapped into her car seat, which deer, squirrels, armadillos, possums, and foxes regularly cross. For a good distance, huge limbs of Live Oaks on both sides stretch out to meet the other, forming a canopy. Spanish moss dangles and plays in the sunlight of different times of the day. As I pass under, my mind engages in mystic ideas.
Usually not for long.
Local residents use this stretch of road to dump their garbage: washing machines, mattresses, love seats, puppies, kittens, and deer carcasses. Last year, someone propped a deer’s severed head, eyes opened, on a tree stump—eye level for passersby.
This morning fifteen vultures took flight from a carcass as I rounded the bend. Five of them remained flying in the middle of the road, their six-foot-wing spans led me eerily toward the oak’s canopy.
I don’t understand why people use the road as a dump. We have a county dump four miles away and disposing garbage is free. Why dump here? Certainly it’s not just due to stupidity. Laziness? Sure. Lacking refinement? Yes. To me, though, the reasons run deeper. As I repeatedly drive by, I suspect people’s hatred of earth, life, and themselves. It’s a strong word, but that’s what I feel when I look at the filth.
I write this blog in part to answer this question: Why do people hate themselves and their environment so deeply? How can I help others replace hatred—especially for themselves—with love?
After I wrote this question, a friend handed me a reprint of a December 2011 article “God Without Religion” by The Sun Magazine. Jacob Needleman, author, professor, and philosopher was interviewed. In a defining moment in the interview, Mr. Needleman says, “In Christian terms, one of the great mysteries is the recognition that we are loved for what we are and also forgiven.” Then he poses this powerful question, “Why is it so difficult for us to accept total love and forgiveness?”
Needleman says acceptance of ourselves cannot come from the level of the mind. It has to come from the “totality of our being.” In other words, we need to come to accept our Self, not the self that we see and observe, but the Self who we are.
Note that when referring to the self, Needleman used the pronoun “what,” and I used “who.”
Are we a who or a what?
Since the pronouns signify a world of difference in identity, we need to answer this question before we can determine how to come into the totality of our being.
And each of us must answer this last question for ourselves, for in asking this question we exit the realm of empirical knowing through our body, mind, and senses. We reach the land of inner knowing–the consciousness of heart, or Conscious Heart.
In the next blog, let’s compare the methods of a what and a who approach, so we can customize our own journey toward the desirable state of accepting our Self in totality.