"Onward! Onward! You Are Called!"
Hello, my friends.
I have realized for some years that I cannot fully accept the teachings of any particular philosophy, religion or school of thought. Believe me, this is not something I easily admit, or express with any degree of arrogance or pride - indeed, I'm not sure whether it's a strength or a weakness. I can only honestly tell you that it's been a source of both deep solace and extreme distress in nearly every aspect of my life - professional and personal, public and private - on many, many occasions.
I recently re-read Herman Hesse's classic little novel, Siddhartha, a book to which I was first exposed during my freshman year at Rose-Hulman in 1970-71. In that book, the title character concludes that, "a true seeker could accept no teaching if he truly wished to find," and that "Wisdom cannot be communicated… Knowledge can be communicated, but not wisdom."
In my beloved chiropractic profession, I know doctors who can quote extensively from the "Green Books," written by the founders and developers of our philosophy, and who seem to regard every word of every page as absolute, infallible truth. I find that I cannot.
Many religious leaders can recite passages from the Bible, the Torah, the Koran or the sacred works of Eastern religions with great authority, and some are willing to kill or die for their interpretation of what they find written in those pages. I wish I could be so sure. But I am not.
In Hesse's book, Siddhartha describes, "the clear and certain inner voice, which had awoken in him long ago and had always guided him in his luminous times." I have a voice like that, and I believe we all do, although I must freely admit that mine is rarely so clear and certain. There are times, however, when it is, and I find that nothing guides my actions and decisions more truly in those moments than listening to it.
I have no difficulty with the concept of turning my life over to the direction of a Higher Power - indeed, it seems the only rational way to live. I simply find that I must rely, in the final analysis, on the guidance of my own mind and heart in listening for that direction. It seems obvious to me that all men are fallible, just as I am, and I conclude that I must rise and fall according to the dictates of my own innate awareness, as I am best able to discern them.
Joseph Campbell, in his wonderful book, The Hero With A Thousand Faces, writes about "a deliberate, terrific refusal to respond to anything but the deepest, highest, richest answer to the as-yet-unknown demand of some waiting void within." This is no easy path, but is the one I, when at my best, consciously seek to follow. The Vedic texts of Hinduism say that, "Truth is one, the sages speak of it by many names." It is for that truth that I search within myself.
A few nights ago, we watched the movie, Braveheart, for the first time in several years, in which the young William Wallace is advised by his father that, "Your heart is free. Have the courage to follow it." Those seem like wise words to me. For as C.G. Jung has written, "But 'the heart glows,' and a secret unrest gnaws at the roots of our being."
It is against that inner "glow," that "secret unrest" that I try to measure all teaching, for I believe it represents a yearning and a restlessness to know the divine will. "Onward! Onward! You are called!" is the message Hesse's hero receives time and again as he faces the mighty struggles of life. In the end, I believe it will be our ability to hear and heed that call that determines our fate, both in this life and the next.
Wishing you health, happiness and peace,Dr. Frank Bowling