Parables For The New Conversation (Chapter 1: The Hermit)
The following is a chapter from my book ‘Parables For The New Conversation.’ One chapter will be published every Sunday for 36 weeks here on Collective Evolution. I hope it is a source of enjoyment and inspiration for you, the reader. If perchance you would like to purchase a signed paperback copy of the book, please send me an email at email@example.com and let me know.
From the back cover: “Imagine a conversation that centers around possibility—the possibility that we can be more accepting of our own judgments, that we can find unity through our diversity, that we can shed the light of our love on the things we fear most. Imagine a conversation where our greatest polarities are coming together, a meeting place of East and West, of spirituality and materialism, of religion and science, where the stage is being set for a collective leap in consciousness more magnificent than any we have known in our history.
Now imagine that this conversation honors your uniqueness and frees you to speak from your heart, helping you to navigate your way more deliberately along your distinct path. Imagine that this conversation puts you squarely into the seat of creator—of your fortunes, your relationships, your life—thereby putting the fulfillment of your deepest personal desires well within your grasp.
‘Parables for the New Conversation’ is a spellbinding odyssey through metaphor and prose, personal sagas and historic events, where together author and reader explore the proposal that at its most profound level, life is about learning to consciously manifest the experiences we desire to have. The conversation touches on many diverse themes but always circles back to who we are and how our purposes are intertwined, for it is only when we see that our personal desires are perfectly aligned with the destiny of humanity as a whole that we will give ourselves full permission to enjoy the most exquisite experiences life has to offer.”
1. The Hermit
One day a hermit emerged from the forest on the island of Allandon, seeking to share his wisdom. As he had been in silence for forty years, his sudden appearance excited considerable curiosity among the villagers, and they all followed him to the top of the great mountain at the center of the island.When the villagers had settled comfortably beneath the hermit, he spoke.“From my time in silence, I have divined one sublime truth,” he said, and after a dramatic pause, continued: “Life is fun.”The crowd below started to buzz. People smiled at each other and some of them started to laugh. The hermit was puzzled by their response until a woman who had been laughing particularly heartily stood up and responded.“Sorry, but—we already knew that.”“You knew that?” the hermit replied.“Indeed,” said another, “we’ve been talking about it for some years now.”“We have to remind each other of it all the time!” said an elder man, causing more laughter amongst the villagers.The woman walked up to the hermit and said, “We would like to invite you into the village, to show you all the games we have invented during your silence.”Before he knew it, the hermit was walking down to the village and talking amongst the people, smiling like a child.
I am a serious man. And I am on a serious mission. And that mission is to take life less seriously.
I don’t think I’m alone in this. I look around me and I see other people searching out from behind stern faces. We are looking for something to believe in. Without it, the gravity of life weighs on us. We are tired of our heavy walk through life but we are unsure of how to lighten our step. Rather than experiencing our life as a dance of ongoing discovery and creation, most of us march to the tune of rampant familiarity. We notice that we are basically living the same day over and over. Worse, we feel doomed to continue this way, focused only on improving our material comfort as our health and vitality slowly deteriorate and finally we die.
There are those saving moments of course, perhaps connecting with friends on the weekend over wine, or being part of the lives of our children. Certainly when we observe children closely we are reminded of the rapture we once felt about life. We see through them a faith in a greater future, and an optimism that all dreams will one day come true—at least until they themselves begin to follow in our rut-steps.
Are the words joy, wonder, and fun part of our daily conversation? Perhaps they could be, once we dispatch of the mountain of obligations needing our serious attention at the moment. It’s just that this mountain of obligations never seems to subside. We are commanded by many voices outside of us and they never stop. So we do what our society expects of us, our boss and co-workers, our friends, our spouse, our children. We do what we are supposed to do.
It’s not that we can’t think for ourselves. We very much can. And so we have to ask ourselves why we keep so perpetually busy. Maybe we want to stay a safe distance from that uncomfortable inquiry into what we really want from life. The temptation is compelling: it’s much easier to follow instructions than to figure things out on our own. Being told by others who we are and what we really should do removes the need to look into our dark insides and discover it for ourselves.
We have been living in a society where there is no shortage of advice on what to do and how to think. Simply keeping our hands and our minds occupied may have worked for most of us up to now. But things are changing. As we become more aware as individuals, as we become more conscious as a society, the voice inside of us is getting too loud to ignore. No amount of noise on the outside will be able to distract us from it much longer. It is compelling us to look at ourselves and figure out what we really came here to do. We are running out of places to hide and people to blame for our disenchantment. Let’s face it, most of us are living a life we have outgrown. In our collective restlessness, we feel the need to kick-start ourselves into a greater and more profound experience.
Can we honestly say with a straight face that we are living up to our full potential? There may be a few people in the world who think they are, but I have yet to meet one of them. No, we know very well that we are not. Not even close. We are underachieving by a longshot. We know that we are not living the life of our dreams, and yet we haven’t gotten around to getting that life going.
It’s almost as though we are waiting for some cataclysmic event to bring out our greatest selves. When a loved one dies of a tragic illness we step in and create foundations to support others going through the same difficulties. When the child of a neighbor has gone missing in the woods, we somehow find the superhuman strength to search for days on end, without our usual complaints and self-concerns. In the aftermath of the attack on the World Trade Center stories of compassion, courage, and humanity abounded. When we do these things we feel good about ourselves, we feel truly alive.
Naturally it begs the question: why should we wait for tragedies to occur in our lives before we decide to be authentic, to get excited about life and to love with passion? What is stopping us from doing it now? Nothing. It’s a choice that is available to us, 24/7. But who will lead, who will guide us into this authentic existence? Ah, but this is what is most exciting about this time in history: we are actually starting to find the wherewithal to guide one another.
There is a new kind of conversation that is emerging today, in our homes, coffee shops, offices, indeed wherever people meet. It is a conversation that has enchanted those who have taken to engaging in it. The price of admission? Careful listening and speaking from the heart. In other words, we are all invited. The new conversation in the air is around possibility—the possibility that we can find fulfillment in our lives, and that we may really be able to live out our dreams. The new conversation honors our uniqueness, allows us to make mistakes, and supports the exploration of what we most deeply desire. It makes us step back from a life of duty and obligation and step into one of freedom and fun. In the space of the new conversation we will inevitably be challenged to look at our greatest obstacle—that we generally take ourselves far too seriously.
Now I can assure you that I have done extensive research on the subject of futile seriousness. I have arrived at a place intellectually where I now fully concur with Deepak Chopra when he says that we live in a recreational universe. But knowing something is not the same as experiencing it. Any delusion I had that I had shed my own aura of seriousness was quashed in the early stages of writing this book, at a meeting at the home of my writing coach. I got the opportunity to talk with his daughter, who was very bright and quite interesting to talk to, and so we spoke about such matters as writing, drama, and politics. A week later her father told me that she likened me to a bottle of wine whose cork was on far too tight.
“Fine wine inside,” he said laughing. He was trying to take some of the sting out. And I did feel some, knowing that this was her honest impression. I thought that at least my visage of seriousness had been left behind in my university days. Alas, I was left to put this down as another in my long list of opportunities to laugh at myself. When I can do that and let go of a self-image that doesn’t really fit, then the sting is removed. But in truth it’s never really easy to do. There always seems to be something new to learn about letting go. So I don’t come to you as an expert on the subject. I come as a work-in-progress. I am hoping that you will accept the notion that we should teach what we most need to learn.
And the term teach is meant very loosely. What I am really intending with this work is to present ideas that will enrich our conversation about what is possible in our world. It could serve as a signpost to what you may have already noticed rising up around you. There is no need to accept anything proposed here as gospel, especially when it doesn’t seem or feel right to you.
In fact this is one of the hallmarks of the new conversation: the truth of one may not necessarily be the truth of the other. The great teachers throughout history knew this. On his deathbed Buddha urged his followers to “be a lamp unto yourselves.” It was his way of saying that one could only achieve enlightenment if they followed their own truth, and then shed the light of this truth onto the world. To copy someone else’s life or follow a formula that proscribed the ‘proper’ ways to think and behave would not be the way to true enlightenment.
Instinctively we know this. And yet we have to admit that there is a gap between what we know about life and how we live. Personally I want to work towards bridging this gap. This book marks my intention to wake up in the morning happy to be alive, explore my creativity every day and experience my life as fun.
For you it may be something different, something uniquely yours that nobody can uncover except for yourself. What is your intention from life? If you think you don’t know it this moment, then it might be time for you to engage in a conversation, one that is designed to help you in your search. This conversation might not only provide you with the opportunity to unravel and reflect upon the beliefs that are all rolled up inside of you, it also may give you the chance to hear about and try on other ideas that might stimulate your growth. There has never been a greater opportunity in our history to share the unique flavors that each one of us has been storing up. Will you join me in popping our corks in celebration? I am convinced that everyone has fine wine inside themselves to offer the world.
If you have up to now been on the outside looking in, and have been waiting for an invitation, then take this as your official invitation into the new conversation. I invite you to believe that your uniqueness is a gift to the world, and you are here to do nothing other than share that uniqueness, so that we all may benefit from the memories of where you have been and the vision of where you want to go.