The following article was originally published in ‘Crazy Wisdom’
The Journal of The Free Daist Communion
November/December 1987, Vol 6, NO 6
“Heart is neither here nor there”
When I was a boy I read Treasure Island, and, ever after, I have associated islands with buried treasure. What I couldn’t anticipate was that I would one day take a trip to an island where there was an unburied treasure. Nor could I have imagined that I would be invited to take away as much as I could carry—not to lay up treasure for myself on Earth, but to share with all who might be interested.
Late last summer my wife, Toni, and I found ourselves on a plane to Fiji, Hermitage bound. As the English farmer said to the American tourist when asked about the location of London, “You can’t get there from here!” In other words, you can’t get from the conditional to the Unconditional simply by a linear progression. Getting “there” from “here” is not the point anyway, I realized, because the Heart is neither here nor there. And that was true even as we were pushed forward in space and backward in time. Flying southwest from San Francisco to Honolulu and then due south to Fiji we followed the moon rather than the sun, losing time even as we gained space. And so a very long night’s journey into the unfamiliar ended at dawn at Nadi Airport in Fiji.
This was not a trip, but a voyage. Not a voyage, but a pilgrimage. And not only a pilgrimage, but a night-sea journey, a rite of passage; and a passage of no return. Oh, we would come back all right—God willing. But if we refused the treasure we would come back empty-handed, suffering only a sea change in one more change of seasons. But we did not refuse it, and so we have returned to share it with all our friends.
At our first gathering (they had continued after all), I felt as if I had just stepped into the room with Heart-Master Da after an absence of five or ten minutes, and we then continued our conversation. Actually it had been years since we had conversed. He Himself used similar words to describe the proper relationship of the practitioner to the True Heart-Master. The intimacy is so natural and unself-conscious that it is not blunted by time, and both parties instantly acknowledge one another in the Heart.
I wanted to talk to Him about death, because I thought it was a real question in my mind. He was willing to talk about it, but in His terms, which are the terms of Spiritual life. It didn’t take long to realize that my so-called fear of death was really the terror of surrendering the self-contraction utterly.
I said, “A couple of years ago, I felt really desperate. Here I am, getting older, and things are winding down. The plane is on a long course, and ‘fasten your seatbelts’ and ‘stop smoking’ sighs are on, and I’m making the real turn toward death.”
“The body is going to death—you are not. I hope you understand this.”
Heart-Master Da’s laughter was hilarious and His reply immediate: “Jump off, Kerwin!” (Everyone laughed.) “Do otherwise. Screw the dream. Screw the airplane. Wake up! Get the lesson and transform your own existence. But what about it? The body is going to death—you are not. I hope you understand this.”
A little later in the conversation I mentioned the fact that people, especially young people, are still making plans and starting new programs. Heart-Master Da said, “Yes. Well, that’s fine. You can move forward and perform actions for various purposes at any age. That does not mean that you cannot or should not be sensitive to the principle of mortality itself. This is why any action you perform should be self-transcending, purposed toward ultimate self-transcendence, or God-Realization. That is what Wisdom or Reality consideration allows you, you see.”
“Reincarnation is not just coming back to Earth”
I mentioned that reincarnation seemed more like a nightmare than a dream to me. He replied, “And death is not a ticket to heaven or to the Ultimate, either. Reincarnation is not just coming back to Earth or to a gross form. One can be reincarnated in any plane. In other words, one continues. And apart from Ultimate Translation, one continues in a variety of ways in limited spheres. They are all equally mysterious, equally threatening, equally disturbed, equally limited. You are your own ticket. While you live you make mind, and when you die, mind makes you.
“However much time you may have, you have all the time you need. But in this particular mortal form, you can be totally transformed, like Scrooge. You can be awakened by a Great Vision and transformed in your action. You can make sense of life and devote it to the Great Purpose. That will not only transform your life, it will transform death. The best and only true and right preparation for death is practice. That is how you prepare for it.”
This touched me deeply and reminded me that self-transcending practice is the only real response to both life and death. Heart-Master Da had said: “Jump off”. He did not say, “Get ready to jump off”, or “Think about jumping off”, or “Consult an expert on jumping-off strategies”. He didn’t say, “When your mortgage is amortized” or “When your son is established in a career and your health is good, and the crackers and jelly have all come out even, and the world ends not with a bang but a whimper—then jump off.” No. He just said, “Jump off, Kerwin!” Now! I did that, and at first it was scary, and it gets even scarier. There is only the stark, difficult reality of practice, which is also joyful.
Neither Toni nor I had any idea that we would be so Graced, but after our first evening (which Heart-Master Da had avowed would be our last with Him), we experienced twenty-six more gatherings in His Company.