What do WE know? We are big toe dipping into the Age of Aquarius when every presence will be as a byte in the collective consciousness. We certainly need to know what WE virtually know, and with more access to each other and more freedom of expression we may tap into a huge internal reservoir that generates new ideas and fresh insights. We may discover new truths that lie within our own psyche and be able to resolve difficult dilemmas about what to do with earth and us. But we have to understand what we mean by the profound question “what do WE know?” It’s a challenge that presents itself in everyday life.
For instance, I once had a miniature black poodle named Tex. He didn’t look impressive but he was 100% pure poodle. His legs were too short, his mustache was crooked, and he was always scruffy looking even after grooming and a bath, but in his own world he was highly regarded…a sort of champion. And friends who knew him said he was a born psychiatrist. There are lots of Tex stories, but I have a few favorites to share as a way to illustrate my own journey about the question of knowing.
My friend Cynthia tells a good Tex the Champion story about how he “saved” her and her own little poodle named Rosie. One early afternoon Cyn took Tex and Rosie for a walk in the park. It was an odd time of day for people to be in the park and they were the only ones walking a path through the trees. Suddenly a strange, wild looking un-collared dog rushed to about 15 feet in front of them. The dog, large and larger still with hackles up, stared menacingly at them, his lips drawn back in a snarl, teeth bared. His back was arched and he was growling strong enough to create vibrations in Cynthia. She was struck with fear for the poodles, and for herself, and was frozen to the spot, not knowing what to do when Tex slowly walked away from her and toward the growling dog. Cyn felt certain that Tex was trying to protect both her and Rosie but the stray dog was so big and dangerous. She was afraid for Tex and called him back but he continued to approach the other dog and when he got in front of him, Tex stood up on his hind legs and licked the snarling dog’s exposed canines. The towering dog stood still and tolerated Tex’s licking then he lowered his hackles and sniffed nose to nose with Tex. Somehow satisfied, the dog went limp and quickly sauntered off. Cynthia was amazed with Tex and exclaimed, “That dog is not a dog!”
Tex was a great soother. Rescuing dogs or people from their own troublesome feelings seems to have been innate in Tex. He once jumped from my lap and out the open window of my moving van in order to reach some crying baby in a nearby parked car.
He had his successes and he had his failures, but he never failed to have an effect.
For instance, there was Rusty who could not be soothed. I had a summer cabin in the woods and down the road a ways my neighbor Pat had a Pomeranian named Rusty. Her cabin sat back a safe distance from the dirt road but when Tex & I walked past, Rusty barked frantically. This went on for years. Tex usually looked at Rusty as if studying him and then walked on, but sometimes Pat waved us up to visit, in which case Rusty was beside himself with staccato-like barks every step we took while Pat laughed in great amusement. I think Tex tried everything to put Rusty at ease. Each visit he patiently used a careful approach. He walked slowly and paused frequently between advances. One time Tex even tried tucking his tail (something he never did, even in his sleep) and lowering his head, only glancing sideways as he moved forward. He stopped and laid down facing Rusty, he lay down not facing Rusty. He stretched out on his side one way, he turned the other way. Tex developed such a concerned look when he faced Rusty that he seemed to be pleading. Nothing worked. Rusty just barked all the more frantically, if that was possible, and never had a close encounter with Tex, but the effort was not completely without results. One year when we all came together for another summer season, Pat called to me and said,
“Look at Rusty. He has a limp. He’s been doing that all winter.”
Because of an operation, Tex had a distinguished limp himself. He would very briefly lift his hind leg just a bit every other step or so.
“Oh no” I said, “What happened? Did Rusty have an injury?”
“There’s nothing wrong with that leg!” she whooped. Can you see? He’s walking exactly like Tex. Ha! Imitation is the highest form of flattery. He thinks he’s Tex!”
So Rusty found a way to be strong after all.
Sometimes ‘what do WE know” has to arrive in just the right context for us to understand its meaning. Then it has its impact.
A year or so after Tex died, I did my usual morning meditation and was in a deep state. My mind, my senses, and my visual field were in a dark and silent empty space when suddenly out of the void a vision of Orion appeared, one leg bent at the knee, the other stretched straight back, sword and shield at the ready, and off he went in that static pose, as if propelled by some internal cannon, and he disappeared far into the vast space. It was so sudden and quick. The image rose and disappeared in a second but it carried a profound and wordless message: this was Tex. He was a great spirit. It literally struck me. Tex was a very great spirit. Not a “spirited” dog or a dog with spirit, but a great spirit as dog. I was profoundly moved. It was as if I had just learned that the Clark Kent I lived with was really superman. I had spent a little over 18 years with Tex, adored and admired him, but who really shared those years with me and with others? Call me crazy. Sure.
One day, soon after my vision, I ran into my friend Terry in the same park where Tex and I once walked every day. Terry was walking her own dogs and we talked as we went around the trail. She brought up Tex’s name because she missed him too, so I told her about my meditation and how I was stunned to learn that he was a great spirit, but then I hedged, became apologetic and dismissive.
“Well, I mean it was just something that came up in my meditation. It doesn’t mean anything really.” And she angrily retorted,
“What do you mean it’s nothing? What do WE know? You don’t know if it means anything or not. We don’t know anything about a lot of things. Tex was special.”
Wow. What DO we know? Or WHAT do we know? What do we KNOW? And what do WE know? What a great response from Terry, and how helpful. It made me think more openly about our own unshared inner revelations and of what a loss they may be to all of us.
Somehow we seem embarrassed by our own private knowing, as if it subjects us to even more scrutiny than our naked bodies. Or will turn people away. We’re embarrassed by other’s naked illusions too, and quickly react, saying “This is too much information. This has nothing to do with me.”, like the reaction to a religious belief. Someone says “God watches over me. I feel it.” and someone else says “Let me out of here. I don’t believe that stuff.”
My sudden impression of Tex as a great spirit took me by surprise. With time it has proven indelible. Because what does it mean to impress? It means to imprint, to stamp. Some things we just think. Thousands of fleeting thoughts come and go every second, while some thoughts make an impression and mark us. But what does this striking mean? Pay attention? I’m highlighting this?
Humanity used to put its greatest value on personal vision and revelation, the source of all creativity and knowledge. Christ, Moses, Muhammad, the Buddha… all men, each undeniably a human being. How seriously we consider what came up to and out of them! What has come out of all the Shamans and Yogis and Medicine men and women worldwide in villages and huts, on back streets and corner churches? What comes from an artist, a poet, a musician? What comes up to and out of me or any of us? It may be only I who knows what I know. Each individual has his or her own little storehouse but collectively our inner knowledge could open a wonder of wonders and give us answers undreamed of. Perhaps the time has come to trust our individual selves.