Like a Machete
When I look through my Social Media pages and see all the funny, smart status updates my friends and others make, I sometimes feel a bit intimidated. I can’t seem to come up with this great stuff on a daily basis. All I can do is share other people’s statuses and memes, and maybe make a brief comment or two that I hope is glib or witty enough to get a couple of likes. Sometimes I’ll even post a quotation or something simple like that; but I just can’t find all that personal info to share. I enjoy reading what other people are doing, well enough – but I don’t think I’ll ever be able to mention that I’m going out for ice cream or I’m rolling up quarters to take to the bank. I don’t even give too many reviews of old movies I’ve seen or great books I’ve read. I guess I’m very limited on the Social Media sites I frequent. I tend to put out whatever personal information and insight I feel in these articles and blog posts – perhaps especially in books I write.
That’s just the Path I’m on.
Most people have heard about this concept of a Path through life. It is often mentioned that there are three aspects to it: find the Path, walk the Path and know the Path. Less frequently, you might hear about other aspects of the Path: first you come to understand that a Path actually exists; then you seek out different Paths until you find the one that resonates with you; then you walk the Path and learn all about it as you explore the environment; then once you really know it you can make the journey part of your life; and eventually, after rigorous effort, you BECOME the PATH and others follow your footsteps.
I suppose the Path I’m on is kind of unique – at least I’m not familiar with many people on it. I’ve certainly had many, many teachers – what I call “teachers of the moment” – but there is no one that has carved out a full Path for me to follow. I think that before the advent of Internet publishing most people with my particular mindset would have ended up living in a cave or lighthouse somewhere and gone through life unnoticed. Like Siddhartha in the book by Hermann Hesse, my kind of teacher would be a humble ferryman, unknown to anyone outside the realm of his part of the river.
I seem to exist in a world somewhat like a tropical rain-forest or jungle. I suspect that others have traveled through this terrain before me – that somewhere in this primordial forest there might be a lost city or some ancient temple or at least a road leading out of the roughage. But if the ruins of such a city or temple still remain it appears to be long covered over with vegetation. In my adventurous youth I visited the once lost city of Tikal in Guatemala. Tikal was a thriving metropolis but hundreds of years ago, for still unknown reasons, the entire population abandoned the city and left it to the mercy of the jungle. The city remained hidden for almost a thousand years before explorers uncovered it in the 1850’s, exposing its long forgotten, massive pyramids and courtyards. What other wonders are still hidden in the physical world and what metaphysical mysteries still remain in the vast recesses of the unconscious mind?
Spiritually, it seems that I am tramping through the vast metaphysical underbrush alone; hacking away at the rough country like a machete; revealing, slowly, some sort of long forgotten trail that might have been used in ancient days. Like a machete, and not even like the person wielding a machete, I open up a narrow road here and there that can be traveled by some other intrepid souls. Some unknown hand might, indeed, be using me as I carve out this unique Path, unconcerned about who might follow me, seeking always for the way out of the jungle and moving to what I hope is the open field of Enlightenment. And like a machete, once in the open field I could be put down, perhaps forgotten, myself.
Will some follow me now? Or, perhaps, will it not be till many years after I am forgotten that a few will find the walkway made with this machete and use it to travel out of the dark, overgrown jungle and into the Light at the edge of the forest and beyond.
A machete does not make a smooth and clean road way. And like a machete, the path I carve out might not be elegant or easy to follow. Like a machete, I hack out only the roughest of paths – simple trails for rugged seekers anxious to venture through dark and lonely terrain to find the Light. Other tools and temperaments are needed to pave the ground and build up the rest stops and way stations that will be needed by weary, less impetuous travelers – to clear away the debris of obstacles and impediments to the journey and to supply markers and maps and guideposts for more genteel seekers of spiritual adventure who aren’t ready to plunge, unprepared, into the darkness of the primordial forest. A machete is not a delicate, refined instrument.
It’s fun to post pithy status updates on Social Media and connect with people in a jovial, whimsical manner and like a machete I, too, have a razor-sharp edge that can be used sometimes for the subtle dissection of reality. But mostly the machete is a tool for the rough parts of the journey – it hacks and chops at the wild, unwanted weeds and foliage and uncovers just enough of a walkway for those explorers desperate enough to brave passage through an untamed landscape. I’ll continue to simply re-post other people’s memes and updates on Twitter and Instagram, perhaps with just a word or two of commentary, and save the trail blazing, such as it is, for articles and books.