Global Research Assembly
July 22, 1976
We have worked with three campaigns this summer.
Campaign one is Town Meeting, or profound awakenment, and the
image that holds it for me is "Fire upon the Earth".
Campaign two is Social Demonstration r cr historical engagement,
and my image is "Journey to the Center of Care". Campaign
three is Intra Global Movement, the "Campaign of the Not
Yet". That one is probably held best by the group working
on Strategic Essays except all of us have been participating in
this invisible campaign.
Through the spirit life of the summer we have laid
a screen of tactical thinking upon these three campaigns. Resting
on even more primordial ground is the insight that the winning
general is a man of the Tao. The man of the Tao is a person of
the Dark Night and the Long March who lives out of faith. Before
we leave this assembly I thought I would just remind us of the
Dark Night and Long March and that we live out of faith Since
studying the general, this particular passage has come back to
me with white hot heat:
"Finally then, find your strength in the Lord, in his mighty power.
Put on all the armor which God provides,
So that you may be able to stand firm against the devices of the
devil. For our fight is not against human foes, but cosmic powers,
against authorities and potentates of this dark world,
against the superhuman forces of evil in the Heavens.
Therefore, take up God's armor; Then you will be able to stand
your ground when things are at their worst,
to complete every task and still to stand.
Stand firm, I say. Fasten on the belt of truth;
For coat of mail put on integrity;
let the shoes on your feet be the gospel of peace,
to give you firm footing;
And, with all these, take up the great shield of faith,
with which you will be able to quench all the flaming
arrows of the evil one.
I heard a few days ago that a young couple left the
Order. They were not an ordinary couple to me. You could look
into her eyes and see the depths of the spirit and he could really
get things done in a fantastic way. He ran circles around me and
yet they are done. I ask myself, "Why? Why?"
The shift into global mission, into building the
whole earth puts the weight of the planet upon us. When we were
out to build a Movement, we built something we could control,
something that seemed manageable and something that we could get
our minds around. But when you are out to build the earth, there
is no stopping, no way to release the pressure and no way to get
away from it. And that very struggle makes giants out of some
of us. We know how to do things we never knew how to do before.
A clergyman I talked to recently said that all his life he had
thought of himself as a lowly creature. You can see how the collapse
of the symbol system and our culture has allowed him to see himself
as a second class citizen. Then he said, "I have been meeting
people on these Town Meeting circuits. In the largest city where
I have been to work on Town Meeting, the mayor wants me to serve
as a key man on his council. Nothing like that has happened to
me before in my life. And I know I can do the job." That
type of thing is taking place over and over again and brand new
temptations come to us and the Dark Night and the Long March are
It is almost as if we forgot what we have been through.
When we began working with the Dark Night a few years ago, it
was a great struggle and great pain for us. But when we got through
our first bout all right, we seemed to think perhaps we could
forget about it. That doesn't happen, of course.
I recall how we used to say that we never get over
our birth. It did not mean too much to me then, although existentially
I felt it. But several years ago when Joseph Campbell spelled
out the terrifying images the newborn infant has on its journey
through the birth canal, you got a terrifying picture of what
goes on in each of our minds upon being born. A similar thing
has been brought about by the Dark Night and the Long March. It
is like a siren that goes off in the midst of our being. It wails
to the highest pitch until we cannot handle it. We take that siren
down to the bottom of the basement and bury it under layers and
layers and layers of earth until we cannot hear its scream.
It is no wonder we talk about our solitary space
being gone or our spirit depths having dried up. Yet there is
a sense of comfort. We feel we have passed through the Dark Night
and the Long March and now we are getting along pretty well. But
then, some small happening takes place and explodes the whole
abyss of our being wide open. We stand exposed to the radical
intensification of the Dark Night and the Long March. It feels
like that quote: "Despair is like a man-eating tiger waiting
around the turn of the corner to pounce on you."
We have moved miles into the spirit deeps. We are
not even able to keep up with our experiential wisdom in that
realm. You get the feeling now that it can only be interpreted
through stories that, although you never understood the meaning
of them, you knew in some way that they were about the human dimension
of life. It is like walking on burning coals or participating
in the trial by fire.
The issue of taking care of yourself has been discussed
again and again and what we have said has been extremely helpful.
In the turn to the world, we have seen that only through radical
engagement can we talk about taking care of ourselves. To attempt
to do that without engagement is catastrophe. But engagement is
We have also talked about the necessity for symbols
in taking care of ourselves. We would not last at all without
participating in the Daily Office, in the rites and in the rituals
we have created. That is gives us a base for being the Order,
for being a Movement. But that is not enough.
We also talked about meditation, talking with the
great heroes of the past, in our memories and history, that sit
on our meditative council. Without these friends we would not
have made it. But that is not enough.
There is another element but what that element is
I am not quite sure. We need to understand that whatever it is,
it has to do with the clothes of RSI or, if you will, the
clothes of faith. How do you, every morning, constantly put on
or clothe yourself in the faith out of which to live that day?
Last summer a colleague was telling us all how he gets up early
every morning and strides down the halls speaking to everybody.
My God, I am sure he didn't feel like striding and I am sure that
he didn't feel like speaking to everybody, but he was doing it
to take care of himself. And incidentally, each person has to
weld out his own symbols.
The other day I saw a friend of mine that I used
to know long ago. He is in his forties but he was shuffling along
like an old man, and I thought, "He's forgotten to take care
of himself." And so, we clothe ourselves in faith, always
intensifying our consciousness of that final relationship that
is always there. And, if we miss even one morning of clothing
ourselves with faith we are double down, and if we miss two we
are squared into the abyss, and if we miss three we are cubed.
And then one day we wake up and we are surprised at ourselves,
for we find that we have our two suitcases in our hands and are
standing outside of the situation, gone, just GONE. And we hadn't
growled externally about the situation, we hadn't argued, we hadn't
screamed, we just woke up one day and found ourselves gone.
Each day we rise raked as the day we were born and
have to put on the garb of faith anew. We start anew; we are raised
up anew. You know, someone my age who has been in the Order a
couple thousand years, who knows al] I have known and has experienced
all I have experienced, has been where I have been, has been trained
like I have been trained, should be able to sit back now and rest
on his laurels or his symbolism or whatever. That might seem right
and fine, but let me tell you something: before the Lord that
idea is a pile. In the turn to the world I am just as much a babe
as a brand new intern, and I wet my diapers more than they do
because of the collapse of all I thought I knew. And you wonder
why you didn't know that would happen when your world changed.
Oh, you knew it, but you didn't K~TOW it, You hadn't embodied
it. You hadn't enfleshed it.
The Community Forum post was assigned to raise $500,000
in one quarter last winter. What a fiasco it turned out to be;
what a humiliation. Why just this week a large international bank
committed $50,000 to Town Meeting. That is twice as much as we
had raised to that point on our $500.000 drive. What a humiliation
that quarter was but what a gift. Now, you say that is
a decision. Of course it is, but on the other side of a decision
is creation itself. There is a whole new picture that what life
Ls all about is having to start over. It is not that it happened
last winter but that it is a rough terrible shocking thing that
will happen over and over again.
Sun Tzu, in the Art of War, talks about taking care
of yourself when he talks about knowing yourself and knowing your
enemy. We recently saw a movie about Harry Truman. He was a man
who had thought himself through to the bottom and had grasped
a clarity about who he was and what he was out to fight in this
world. You could say he was part of a society that existed before
society's mores started to collapse the last man
of another era, so to speak. Today we wake up with collapsed images
of who we are and what it means to be in the midst of the world
we are in. Any idiot and I am not talking about Truman
here can know who he is in the Greek sense when the
mores of society are glued together and tell him at every moment
who he is. But we live in a time of collapse and resurgence which
are both equally shattering and therefore cannot possibly have
clarity. Yet, as men of faith we live in the midst of the good
creation no matter what it is the Lord gives us, period. That
is what it means to have clarity.
I have clarity on who I am; I tell you I have clarity.
Now that doesn't mean I don't have flaws or that you can't see
the radical changes I ought to make here or there or that I am
not constantly homeless and homesick and wandering around with
no place in this world to anchor my life. But I tell you, I have
clarity that that is my life . . . my LIFE . . . my one unrepeatable
life to live.
I say I don't have clarity about my family. Yet I
stand up and I speak back to that. What do you mean? You bet I
have clarity about my family. Again, you can see the flaws and
the difficulties in the roles of the male and the female and you
can see that the family doesn't bring fulfillment, finally, at
all. But I tell you, my family is my life . . . my LIFE. And I
intend it to be my life my life in its fullest.
You say I don't know my vocation or my paravocation
or my task in this Order. But, I tell you, I do have clarity.
That doesn't mean that I don't wake up feeling like I am on the
outside looking through a peephole into where everybody else is
at the center of what is going on, or that I am not always stumbling
on myself being finally ineffective and not coming off as need
be. But by God, what I am doing is my life . . . my LIFE . . .
how can I say it? . . . MY LIFE. I have clarity .
When you say you have clarity it does not mean you
are boasting or that you are indulging in temporal hope, it is
just fact fact that is borne out whether you know
your ground or your stance on whether you are clothing
your Dark Night/ Long March self in faith, or whether you are
taking care of yourself.
Sun Tzu has been great, hasn't he? Especially when
he says that only a person of the Tao can be a successful general.
When you live at the center of life beyond contradiction, there
lies perfect action: perfect action that is inaction but then,
incidentally, out of which all right action flows. Isn't that
great? I would like to convert that into our own language if I
may. It is this: When are you and I going to learn that there
is only one thing you and I have to deal with for the rest of
our lives and that is God, period. That is all. I don't even like
to use the word mystery here. It seems too benign. Rather, the
mysterious power, Yahweh, that rips and snorts through our lives.
Yet, once we live before that One everything else
is added to it. Or, when you get the "pour soi" nailed
down, then the "en soi" is there. It is given back to
you. I like the way Paul put it: "Work out your salvation
with fear and trembling." So the rest of our lives is to
be spent in fear and trembling: working as people who foul up
their diapers, working as people who have to become like little
children again, struggling struggling struggling
and it is always going to be a wrestling with your Long
March role, your Long March generalship, your Long March family,
your Long March assignment, your Long March vocation, your Long
March social demonstration, your Long March community forum.
There is no end. It is just a march. That is all
it is. A March. There is no Fulfillment. No effectivity. No rest.
No end but heaven. But that is to be on the march.
Well, as I said, I just wanted to remind you of the
Dark Night and the Long March and that we live out of faith. Take
up "the great shield of faith with which you will be able
to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one." You are
going to get shot at this year and you are going to get scorched,
but if you enclose your naked self in faith you will be safe.
May our corporate prayer for this year be that we all be faithful
to our task and that we take care of ourselves.
And, incidentally, I'll see you next year.