I dream a lot. Often my dreams are filled with fighting and violence, but last night I had a series of very pleasant love dreams. I awoke with a deep thought (another thing I often do) and have learned to keep a journal by my sleeping place so I can write down the purity of it before it dissolves into the murky thought of the day and disappears.
My thought was a word . . . Simplicity . . . and how, like Lowell’s Sir Launsal, who was caught up in a life time quest, we also have been caught up in a quest.
Ours being the search for fulfillment through the acquisition of “stuff” . . . as propagated by the Capitalist’s continued advertisement of our needs.
Sir Launsal, the heroic young knight on a mission exited the confines of the kings castle atop his mighty steed and thundered over the drawbridge. Once across he encountered a beggar sitting by the way. Having no time for a mere beggar, the proud knight scornfully flipped a coin into the dust at the poor man’s feet and continued his God ordained mission in pursuit of the Holy Grail.
Americans too, occasionally flip a coin in the bell ringers box as they enter a store, but they’re minds, like Sir Launsal’s, are far away anticipating a prize as they make a mad dash down the stacked isles of consumerism. They are well fed, at the top of their game, and have little time to put much thought into anyone or anything else save themselves and their search for the latest gimmick.
Sir Launsal thought finding the Holy Grail would fulfill him. American’s feel that owning the latest “thing” will fulfill them. Both felt the poor and the beggarly should be able and willing to fend for themselves.
And that is the question I awoke with this morning, “What the hell are we looking for? Where in the hell are we going”? Compared to most of us Sir Launsal’s quest even made more sense.
We have to work. We have to make. We have to buy. We have to be somebody. We have to build our portfolio. . . We have to . . . We have to . . . have a new flat screen TV so we can watch the constant stream of advertisements telling us what we “need” in order to be happy. Do we need most of the shit we buy anyways? Really?
Aren’t we are just doing what we have been trained to do? . . . Aren’t we merely world class elite soldiers in the Capitalistic army corps?
Sir Launsal returned to the castle a broken down, disgruntled old man after many years of searching for the elusive holy grail. He never found it. His mighty steed being long dead, he now had nothing save a walking stick to help him on his way as he stumbled along the dusty trail towards the bridge leading across the moat and back to the castle door where he was sure to be welcomed as a failure.
Sitting by the wayside, in the very same place he’d been many years earlier was the beggar he encountered as he embarked upon his mission. The beggar had seemingly not aged. Sir Launsal, being confused stopped and stared at the man. The beggar’s eyes shown bright and clear from beneath the cowl covering his head. Emanating from their darkness was a power he found mesmerizing. This power drew him to to take a seat beside the beggar and listen to him as he spoke of the interconnectedness and simplicity of all things the knight had considered deep and mysterious.
It then became clear to Sir Launsal. He suddenly realized in the clarity of his awakening moment, the truth. He realized that for much of his life he had led himself on a wild goose chase in search of the Holy Grail. He realized the reality of his fulfillment was sitting along the way all the time in the guise of this beggar. This beggar contained the mystery. This beggar was the mysterious holy grail.
He also realized he had only to walk beyond the gates of his own home to have found his self fulfillment. That it took a return to his roots to find it. His long search and hard travels had produced little more than further questions. The truth had been there alongside, and within him all along.
As the Buddha answered one day when asked, “What must I do to find fulfillment?” by a man who had suffered hardship by walking long and far to find him.
“Feed the people.”
“But” . . . .
“Feed the people.”
“That’s to simple, anyone can do that! I need to DO something!”
“Feed the people.”