Introduction to Essays

In 1986 I traveled to Nicaragua in the midst of the Contra war. A visit to three teenage victims of a Contra land mine turned into what I described at the time as an encounter with God. Joy, wonder and love erupted in the midst of horrible suffering. I caught a glimpse of the possibility of transforming human experience not through manipulation of the outside world but through a personal shift involving the abandonment of the barriers we use to shield ourselves from Life. It was only a glimpse. Upon returning to my life in Vermont I watched as the walls formed around me once again. I have tried since then to find a way to translate that glimpse into a daily reality.

It has not been easy, and it has often been too self-conscious. The joy I found in that hospital room in Leon, Nicaragua, came as a complete surprise, unsought, yet recognized and embraced.

I was first taught the practice of meditation in 1974. When I was asked by my sister to introduce her to meditation, I discovered a vehicle for describing what I learned in that hospital room and in the places, inner and outer, where that encounter has propelled me.

I am worried about our world, especially our assault on the Earth's life-support systems: the soil, the air and the oceans that sustain us all. It is essential that we find a way to live in harmony with the Earth.

The essays included here span more than two decades. They are attempts to understand what we can possibly do to live differently. They explore my experience that the changes we must undertake are both external and practical, and internal, subtle. They involve the most essential things: who we think we are, how we view each other, how we view the world. I do not pretend that they offer the whole solution to our problems. They offer a part of the solution. For if we are to change how we live, as we must, then we must change our sense of ourselves. If we are to live with less, we can not have self-images that are tied to possessing more and more. The changes now required for human survival are so deep, that the response must be equally deep, going to the very root.

The most pervasive theme in these explorations is the importance of living with awareness. Awareness of each other. Awareness of the natural world. Awareness of our inner silence. Awareness of our limits and our ignorance. There is something powerful in arriving at the point where your whole organism knows how little it knows, and begins to live from that place of not knowing. Knowledge is a wonderful thing. Living from a place of not knowing is even more full of wonder.

I welcome you to explore these essays and my Blog. Then find your own way in to your silent core, and back out to the living universe.

John Crockett
Westminster West, Vermont


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