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From Murderous Domination to Fairness to the Gift: Part III

posted Jun 7, 2014, 1:13 PM by Jesse Dow   [ updated Jun 7, 2014, 1:16 PM ]
 Part III: Welcome to the Gift!

(Scroll down to read Parts I and II)

Okay, let's get ourselves on down to a quick recap. Where were we? Fertile Crescent. Beginning of civilization. The introduction of the story 'Kill who you want, take what you want.' The horrible injustice of all that, which eventually gave rise to the the dominant human Story of Fairness. And money, the tool that allowed our primary mythical archetype to transform from 'Me Big Strong Kill You,' to 'Hey, Wait, That Is So Unfair', a story which continues to dominate our culture today.

Dang, don't you wish I'd been that succinct back in those last two posts?

By the way, in the telling of this story, have you noticed that it pretty closely mirrors the basic story of individual human development? You know, we start out as infants, go through all those stages and then die? That one.

Oh, wait, I need to quickly backtrack first, because there was a story before 'Kill it! Take it! Kill it!' It was the pre-civilization human story, and it was primarily defined by this: 'All the people of the world take their proper place in the balanced whole of life.' Now, when they said people, we all tend to assume that they were talking about Human People. They weren't-- That wasn't their story. Their story was that everything was alive, including the rocks and the water and fire, mountains, oceans, everything. Not only were they alive, they were people. And the story, the ideal to which they aspired, was for all people to live in balance together.

So back to the parallel with individual human development. When we're born, we're just about as close as we can possibly be to the oneness of the universe. We have little to no concept of ourselves as individuals. This state, in many ways, reflects the first human story, pre-civilization. We saw ourselves as a part of the whole. We very well may have actually lacked the capacity to identify ourselves as distinct, like a baby.

So that first little step into human civilization was like when a baby first notices that she can control those hands waving around in front of her face. It was the beginning of the realization of identity. It reminds me so much of the terrible twos! I'm a father of three children, and I can tell you, if all the two-year-olds in the world had unlimited power, there would be no survivors. It seems like the process of discovering personal identity is such a monumental task, that we loose, for some amount of time, the ability to recognize the existence of 'The Other'. So killing and taking is a kind of natural activity from that perspective.

And what happens when you grow out of that? As a father of three, I can tell you the phrase uttered most loudly and often in my house:


My kiddos live the story of Frodo and Luke-- the story of the little guy, the underdog, who saves the world and makes everything okay for all the other little people.

That's a beautiful story, by the way. God, I love that story. It really is just full of love. Especially as it continues to evolve.

Which brings us to the possibility of a fourth human story.

Fantastically, I'm completely off the hook in terms of trying to tell that story, because nobody knows it!

How exciting!

I'll tell you what though, here's what I'm watching. I'm watching the walls just beginning to get torn down. I'm watching a few people, here and there, from all over the world fall in love with each other. Have you noticed that?

Any of y'all know the story of Jetsun Milarepa? For whatever reason, Milarepa is my best guess at the new story:

Once upon a time, there was a wealthy landowner in a prosperous valley of ancient Tibet.

(Isn't that a wonderful beginning?)

This was a time only a century or two after Buddhism had first come to Tibet, and the whole concept of buddha stuff was still pretty new. The wealthy landowner had a wife and a daughter and a son. And he died.


But the worst was yet to come. Before he died, the wealthy landowner put his brother in charge. He said: 'Bro, you're my Steward. Until my boy comes of age, you're in charge of the land.' And after he died, that guy's brother completely screwed the guy's family over, and told them to pack it.


Milarepa was the son of the dead wealthy landowner.

So his mom lost it. She was a big time martyr. After doing a whole bunch of stuff to try to get the land back, she eventually basically commanded Milarepa to kill his aunt and uncle, sending him off to be trained in dark magic by a shaman.

Well, Milarepa got the training that he needed, buried himself in a pitch black cave for days, and chanted the name of a mountain spirit 24-7 until the spirit's spirit finally broke and said 'Shut up! What do you want?' And so Milarepa told the spirit to kill his aunt and uncle. Unfortunately, they were having a party, and it killed everybody in the house with giant bugs, except for Milarepa's aunt and uncle.

Wow, that was an even worse bummer.

And so what comes next is the part where Milarepa wanders the Tibetan landscape in destitute dismay. He has killed thirty people, and has failed his mom's last wishes. By the time he gets back to check in with her, he finds out that she died, suffering greatly. Of course.

And you've got to feel for the guy. He was just trying to make it right. He was just trying to make it fair. And things got totally out of hand, and he ended up killing a whole bunch of innocent strangers. He just ended up making things so much worse. It was like he was trying to escape from the early human story of dominance via murder, and just ended up causing more death.

Can you imagine? The poor guy had basically turned into a demon, karmically speaking. He must have been so consumed with guilt and self-loathing that he couldn't even think clearly. He had no idea at that point how to even be a human being.

Have you ever felt that way? I have. I have sometimes felt that way about the whole damn human race.

So the final part of Milarepa's story is beautiful and poignant, and a lot happens to him. If you want to learn it, you should read it. Here's the bottom line: He learns how to be a human being again. He learns how to find peace, how to see himself as something beautiful and not a demon, and that gives him access to an actual experience of reality, probably for the first time in his life. He stops trying to fix something or to get somewhere, and he starts to be alive.

Here's one of the little bits at the very end of the story. Milarepa has been meditating in a cold mountain cave for decades, when his aunt shows up out of nowhere. Remember her? Auntie Evil?

You see, she found out that he was still alive and she freaked out. 'Oh crap!' she thought, 'He's certainly over eighteen now! He can legally reclaim his fortune!' So she loaded a donkey with rice and took it up to his cave and smiled her winningest smile, and she said, 'It's a miracle! You're still alive! How wonderful! I was so worried, my dear sweet nephew!' She offered him all that rice and tried to make a deal. 'You just keep meditating, and don't cause any trouble, and I'll keep giving you as much rice as you want!'

Milarepa's first reaction was Absolute Loathsome Rage. Had his muscles not atrophied from sitting completely still for so long, he probably would have gotten up and strangled her to death. He shook. He fumed. He saw red. All the terror of his life flooded back into his body and mind, and inside of it all, he had room for only one single thought. 'It's all because of you! All of this happened because of you!'

So that's an interesting thing to realize. 'All of this happened because of you.'

Have you ever experienced a slow dawning of realization? There's an interim period where one perspective is replace by another. You can't really see yet what you're learning, but you know it's coming. It's like discovering that you've been looking into a mirror your whole life, and what you thought was reality was actually just the reflection. And it's not really all that different. So it takes time to perceive reality. And then you realize that left is actually right, and that reality is on the other side of the glass.

That's how I imagine this moment was for Milarepa. While he was holding this single, same, unchanging thought in his head, his experience went from unbound rage to an explosion of ecstatic gratitude. He wept. He laughed. Had his muscles not atrophied, he would have lifted and spun her about in a wild embrace.

'All of this happened because of you.'

'The farm is yours,' he said, 'I don't need anything more than this incredible gift that you've already given me.'

So, like I said earlier, I don't know our new story. Nobody does. We're all in the middle of our own little global dawning of realization. I don't even think the new story exists yet. But it's conversations like this that create it.

At best, my own two cents will simply reflect the wisdom of many beautiful people. I think our new story is a story about The Gift. I think that we are starting to see that everything is a gift. The story of domination through mass murder is a beautiful wonderful gift. It is the first baby step of a new being who has just discovered her own existence. The story of fairness is a gift. It saved our lives. Money saved our lives. And it's also a gift because it is now killing us, all of us, and it's driving us to rediscover the original story of connection, of oneness. We are being forced as a matter of survival, to see those mountaintops and those trees and those squirrels and that bacteria and those oceans as people. Living, conscious sentient beings who are a part of us, of whom we are a part, and who deserve to live, just as we do.

Because we are also a gift. The truth is that we ourselves are divine creatures of unfathomable beauty.

One final disclosure: throughout my life, my own mythical journey has mostly been about me. The story always said that there was something special about me. That I was going to overcome my own weakness and save the world. Or that I was a failure, or that I was misunderstood, or that I was a fool, or that I was magnificent. Lot's of variations on stories about me.

It's only very recently that my mythical journey has started to become a story about us. Together we are the authors of our future. We fit together like a puzzle. All of us. All people. If we are to live in The Gift, then it is time for us to accept and embrace the vast cornucopia of gifts that saturate every moment. When we open our eyes, every color that we see is a gift. Every breeze that touches our face is a gift. Every conversation. Every thought. When we live in the gift, then it becomes natural for us to give everything that we've got. It's time for us to weave ourselves together and see what we become.

Imagine that. No, better yet, do it.