(Testimony in the Glen, Broadmoor Community Church,
July 2, 2017, Charlie Coon.)
Stephen Hawking, the British physicist, has been revising
downward his prediction of how long we have on the planet
to change our "materialist" paradigm of living. His latest
estimate is a short 100 years. Spiritual teachers have
made similar estimates usually a few hundred years, a
speck of time in cosmic terms. I suppose this is a bit of
a pinprick to the July 4th holiday balloon which we will
soon be flying!
History has long recorded the various steps humankind has
taken to reach for Freedom and Peace. (I speak synonymously
regarding these two names.) We know of treaties, boundaries,
negotiations, war deterrence through military strength, and
walls. We also know of peaceful demonstrations and resistance.
I started my military years in Cheyenne Wyoming,
and was assigned to one of the early strategic missile programs
located there. Peacekeeping was called mutually assured
destruction (MAD), and indeed, the motto emblazoned on
the missiles and bombers was: "Peace is our Profession."
And, there have obviously been temporary successes in the
history of these peace endeavors. The question history asks,
from time to time, is whether there can be permanent
Peace and Freedom.
I like the tale of the Prodigal Son to gain insight into the
understanding of Freedom, and as a response to Stephen
Hawking. This story involves a search for fulfillment,
in which all 7 billion of us engage. The Prodigal went to the
far country and searched among all of the material offerings
for Happiness (another synonym for Peace and Freedom).
We all engage in this search. The search may involve material
things, but also relationships, or new spiritual ventures
which promise the fulfillment for which we long.
The mind is the instrument we use for our searching, but we fail
to recognize its limitations. The mind is like a moth which
desires the flame, but intuits that in order to really experience
the flame, it must sacrifice itself. The experience of the
Prodigal, as we all are, is similar. Our finite minds will
never find the Peace and Freedom we desire without recognition
of the mind's limitations. At last, the Prodigal Son turned
toward home, toward the welcoming Grace, which had always
been available. So must we, not turn to another planet for
escape, as Dr. Hawking recommends, but a turning toward the
real Peace and Freedom which make up our true Identity.
The Prodigal's story, our story, can also be understood as the
interplay between Forgetting and Remembering. I will end
with a piece I wrote to illustrate this interplay....
Forgetting and Remembering
Two sides of a coin really..
Yet..with our birth
separation shows up
and seemingly at least
a curtain is drawn
concealing our Freedom..
The separation adventure
extracts a high price..
Something seems missing:
the Freedom we knew..
Separation starts searching
for the lost Freedom
intuited as close
but perceived as far..
For how long..?
We search in wrong places
until Remembering appears
and our discovery:
Remembering is Freedom
dissolving our Forgetting..
Remember that coin...?