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From Chapter 1. The Human condition

We humans are in a spot. We don't know where we came from, we don't know where we are going, we don't know what the purpose of our existence is. We are faced with constant uncertainty and loss. We have little chance to rehearse. Yet we must perform, and do so with sufficient adequacy to stay alive. We demand perfection from ourselves and others, yet we are faced with constant insufficiency. The other day scientists announced that recent knowledge of DNA makes it possible to trace our ancestry back to Eve and Adam. The only problem is that one group asserts that Eve appeared 200,000 years ago, and another equally confidently maintains that it was 40,000 years ago. Oh, there was one other difficulty. Genetic reconstruction winds up placing Eve on a different continent than Adam. "They must have had an enormous phone bill,"one scientist quipped. On that same day - and every day - forty thousand infants die of starvation, and the cities of the greatest nation in human history disintegrate in a plague of mood-altering drugs.

We humans are certainly in a spot.

And if all this wasn't enough, there is the problem of our minds being cluttered with all sorts of convictions based on decisions made in our earliest years,with little information and much terror. As I write, for example, I am aware of a great struggle. My spirit wants desperately to share these ideas. My demons-that part of me that wishes to stay fused with the past- have thrown up every roadblock possible in the past five years. Each time I sit down to write, a place in me gets activated - an old place, characterized, weirdly enough, by a desire to experience myself as lacking, wanting, short of the goal I have set for myself. It is a familiar place, almost like that of a former life - archaic,vague,hazy, sentimental, and very much alive My desire to see the world through my own eyes, to have wisdom, is a big job for me Despite many years of psychoanalysis, meditation,exposure to all manner of experiences and teaching in order to free myself, I am still riddled with old ways of being - with feeling states and behaviors that have reference not so much to the way things are but rather a world of the past created by me and sustained by me. In this world live my mother, father, brother, sister, and myself, relating to one another in unison and in tandem, at different ages and stages. I am an amalgam of their characteristics and perceptions and distortions of them -of the truth about them and my lies about them - and my reactions to them - my fears and anger, and love and protectiveness, and betrayals and guilt. I wear their moods, beliefs, bodily postures,ambitions , and inhibitions. I am ready at the drop of a hat to re-create these early childhood scenarios with the unwitting adults who happen to stumble into my present life.

I am definitely in a spot.

From Chapter 9. Wisdom

When we read about an ideal,such as forgiving parents, or being independent of such and such, it is tempting to want to leap right to that characteristic. "Arriving," however is not a goal but rather a by-product. It is the commitment to the journey that is important, and if our ambition, avarice, or self-centeredness prompts us to skip the journey to get to the result, we will have lost out altogether. It is the gentle journey, step by step, observation by observation, failure by failure, self-acceptance by self-acceptance, loving by loving that counts. Then, often unbenownst to us, we change "behind our backs."

To be separate is to know our aloneness. It is the most courageous and fully human thing a person can do. To be able to be alone, to engage the magnum mysterium, to reach out to others in companionate affiliation, to know love of spirit and Universe and lover and child and parent and friend; to look with awe at this creation and celebrate it and our part in it, to co-create with the Transcendent our very world; to meet the ambiguity and yet go on, to suffer, yet love, to fail and still create, to struggle to overcome mother-fusion and then fall gently yet resolutely into the arms of the infinite, doing our work as best we can, letting ourselves know the magnificence of what a human is capable-love,-tolerance, patience, forgiveness, gratitude...and finally, to accept with magnanimity, grace and gratitude the last mystery, the ultimate embrace of that which gave this all to us-this is what human life is, in it brilliance.