The Jump Up, near Itjinpiri in the Pitjantjatjara Lands

The More

What I have learned is that books, and other people's ideas, only take you so far. You cannot learn salvation. Salvation is lived.
You can't earn it, either. It is stumbled upon. It is given, just as Paul said!

"Salvation" is a traditional word from the Christian faith. It's a word Christians traditionally use to denote a certain kind of relationship with God. I'm accent-ing it with my own understanding; using it in the sense of arriving at some at-one-ness with the world, arriving at some peace and satisfaction. I'm using it in the sense of the man who has done all the right things, but is still crying out to Jesus, ''What must I do to be saved?'' I don't mean the narrow exclusive sense many groups apply to it. I want to get beyond the old view of some divine transaction.

Living out my salvation means going beyond the prescriptions of books, and the rules of others to what I really know. Books, and other people, can only point me to the way to go. I can read all the techniques about swimming, but until I enter the water and can swim from my our experience, the knowledge about swimming cannot save me.

So what do I know that I can really live? What is it that I can say from my experience, not repeating the statements of others? I am beyond submitting to the rituals of others in the vain hope they will being me to some truth. I cannot deny my reality, and subjugate it under some set of beliefs in the vain hope this will suddenly make ''God'' real! It is true that in the past a "master" has brought this student to a new place. But now, I see no master. I see old ideas which are failing and which fill me with despair rather than offer hope. So, I ask myself again "What do I know?"

I experience the creation as good. Despite all the waste and undeniable savagery of our existence, I feel a certain at-one-ness. I do not, for all the horrors, find myself alienated by existence. Life is good. I am going to trust this feeling, because it has grown stronger and more certain during the very years I have become more horribly aware of the pain and injustices of much of life or earth.

Life is also More. It is more than physics. It is more than chemical and atomic reactions which can all be explained. We are not simply material which has somehow had a self-consciousness evolve. I will not one day find a satisfying intellectual explanation of all this in terms of atoms and evolution. This statement, of course, is instinct which I cannot prove. But it is fifty years of instinct. It is my experience that inside the limitations of science, there is very little I can say which satisfies the ''me'' within. When it comes to love, poetry, art, ethics, and meaning the scientific method falters and fails. These things are meta-physical, and the scientists who quite reasonably wish to investigate them and find meaning for their own lives are being just as metaphysical, ie, religious, as the rest of us.

I live my life on this assumption that there is More. I call it "assumption" because there is so little I know. Yet I do also know. I know because the black cat and I look into each other's eyes and there is a terrible aloneness and yet a longing for connection. I can say so little, but when I look into the eyes of another I no longer see a frighteningly empty hole in a jellied sphere. (This was the horror I discovered as a young man.) I see a life, something I could once not see.

I know because I stand under more stars than I ever saw as a child, and I feel an at-one-ness with all that I can see. I can stand in the heat of a myall woodland where the silence is LOUD and feel there is more.

Beyond this there is little I can say about the More. I can mostly only say what it is not. I find myself content with this. Knowing the More is a gift, however fleeting, and does not depend on knowledge or great learning, I would also be suspicious if there were a lot to say. If "a lot to say" is not empty words, then it implies a mastery of the subject which cannot, by definition, exist about the More. I am content to live in the silence of what I do not know. There is no need to fill it with words.

If there is so little I can say then how does one live in relation to the More, or is it irrelevant to daily life?

The More is what completes life. Our daily life in all its pain and frustration has the redeeming sense that there ''is more to it...'' In our Aussie, and western, culture we are taught that the ''more to it'' has to do with self-fulfillment. Crudely, if I can make me happy, or get some things that will make me happy then life will be complete. I find that most of this search, from the very crude approach of material acquisition, through to much more noble searching for meaning, fails because it focuses on us. By contrast, I think the More takes us out of ourselves. The More is not focused on us. The little glimpses of More that I've had are not only uplifting, they are mostly me not thinking and feeling! I remember the trees outside the Royal Adelaide Hospital. I used to walk through those trees each morning, often looking up through the branches. One morning one of them reached up ''into the endless dimensions of Something More.'' That's how I expressed it at the time. For a moment I felt drawn up into another dimension. But it was outside of me, and not something I'd done, or searched for. It was given. When l am not focused on me, especially when I am focused on others, I sense the closeness of More. It's not the kind of ''be a good boy and get a reward'' type of focus on others. It is a focus of forgetfulness. Whether I feel some touch of More or, mostly, just am happy going whatever it is I'm doing, one thing is common. I am free of the constant self-observation where part of me is acting but acting under the observation and criticism of another part of me. When I am like this l am never free or happy. There is always dissatisfaction and insecurity. When I have that focus or others l am ''more together," less insecure, and much happier. In fact, l am not even happy. I am beyond happy. l am in self forget fullness, just being alive.

I cannot see that this avoids being old, or getting sick. It does not avoid death, or the irritation of taxes and all the other burdens of daily life. But here where there is a level of self forgetfulness there is a balance. There is a sense of wellness.

Posted November 2006


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