What I have learned in 40 years

What I have learned in 40 years

  Have you ever seen the movie, The Matrix? It is about a young man, who by day is a software engineer, and by night he is a computer hacker. He’s a rebel, who wears a suit and goes to work everyday in an office with an overbearing boss. But some other rebels are looking for him specifically, a guy named Morpheus, who occasionally visits him on his computer. Our hero, the young man, Mr. Anderson, sees a message on his computer one day, and after a harrowing encounter with the cold blooded Agent Smith, is rescued by the mysterious beautiful woman, Trinity, who takes him to meet his internet mentor Morpheus. Anderson’s ‘Username’ is Neo. And when they meet for the first time, the following conversation takes place, which I am quoting here, for reasons that will, I hope become a little clearer.   Morpheus: Do you believe in Fate, Neo? Neo: No Morpheus: Why Not? Neo: Because I don’t like the idea that I am not in control of my life. Morpheus: I know EXACTLY what you mean.  Let me tell you why you are here. You’re here because you know something. What you know you can’t explain. But you feel it. You’ve felt it your entire life. There is something wrong with the world. You don’t know what it is, but it’s there.  Like a splinter in your mind.  Driving you mad.  It is this feeling that has brought you to me……………Do you know what I am talking about?? Neo: Matrix… Morpheus: Do you want to know…WHAT…IT….IS? Neo: (nods his head, yes) Morpheus: The Matrix is everywhere. It is all around us.  Even now in this very room.  You can see it when you look out your window..or when you turn on your television….you can feel it when you go to work.  When you go to Church. When you pay your taxes.  It is the world that has been pulled over your eyes to blind you from the truth. Neo: What truth? Morpheus:  That you are a SLAVE, Neo. Like everyone else, you were born into bondage.  Born into a prison that you cannot smell or taste or touch….a prison for your mind…………..Unfortunately, no one can be told what the Matrix is……You have to see it for yourself. After this, there is no turning back. You take the Blue Pill. The story ends, you wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe……You take the Red Pill. You stay in Wonderland. And I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes…… Neo: (reaches for the Red Pill) Morpheus: Remember, all I am offering is the Truth. Nothing More. Neo: (takes the Red Pill) Morpheus: Follow me. While this movie was made in 1998, I felt the same feeling that Neo felt, way way…wayyyyy back in 1964. And even further back in 1956, after my father died. The world didn’t make sense. But I had heard the word, “Zen”, had no idea what it meant. And yet, in 1964, I wandered into a corner store, and on a book stand, along with cowboy novels and torrid romance stories was a book call Zen Flesh, Zen Bones. “There’s that Word!”I bought the book and read it. The first story in the book is about a professor who meets a Zen Master, who asks him if he wants to know about Zen. The professor answers, yes. and the Zen Master proceeds to pour a cup of tea. The tea overflows the cup, and finally, the professor says, exasperated,” The cup is full, it can’t hold any more!” The Zen Master says, “Your mind is like the cup. You are full of your own preconceptions about the way things are, so how can I teach you unless you empty your cup?” Do you see the connection between that story and the Matrix? If you don’t,  that is good! Inquire! At that young age, I knew there were questions that I did not have answers to, and the only way to find them out was through deep inquiry.  I finished the University, where my studies further confirmed these issues. Later, after I had graduated, I met a fellow who I thought might have some answers. I asked him why it is so difficult to change, and he said that our cultural conditioning makes it so. So  with these types of deep personal questions and questions about the world, why the wars, why the suffering, why are things the way they are, I decided to take up meditation. That was in 1971, and my Western body was not so used to sitting for long periods of time, which method has been used for centuries or even millennia, by virtually all spiritual traditions, both Western monastic traditions, as well as Native American traditions, and Asian traditions. Well, a lot has transpired in that time. In some ways I think I have some answers, and in other ways, not. Even Einstein, one of my great heroes said something to the effect that the more you know, the more you realize the depth of things and how little we know. That is true on the Macro Level, but on a practical level, what I did learn, was a great Existential Truth. Physics calls it ‘The Second Law of Thermodynamics”. As “Why is it that when you leave an ice cube at room temperature, it begins to melt? Why do we get older and never younger? And, why is it whenever rooms are cleaned, they become messy again in the future? Certain things happen in one direction and not the other, this is called the “arrow of time” and it encompasses every area of science.” Heraclitus, the Greek Philosopher called it, “everything changes” The Book of Ecclesiastes says, “A generation comes, a generation goes” And I say, “Stuff wears out”. In this case, my knees. And I also felt that not just myself, but other people had a similar problem. I have often thought of the song by John Donne, “No Man is an Island.” He said, “Each man’s joy is joy to me, each man’s grief is my own”. I am not the only one with knees that are wearing out. So I asked myself if there were a way to help not just myself, but others, too. Well, we can stave off wearing out. So I set about searching for something that would hold my knee together for at least a little longer. I went to the internet, found a supplier, and brought a product to market. It was a very good one, but I felt that, based on customer feedback, I could improve it. So I redesigned it, and have brought out a new model. I suppose we could call it . I will continue to look for ways to improve it, just as we have seen in upgrades of Apple phones. But for now, I think this is a darn good product, and I hope you feel the same way, too.    

The 2 Week Diet