Everything is spun from the concept of “I am.” I used to have recurring dreams of pulling a tensile substance from my mouth and not being able to get rid of it. Recently it has become just a thin gelatinous strip stuck to my palate. The best form of the dream came when the substance was pure gold and spun itself into a city where a prince and princess married and they were spun with gold. This is the “I am” going from the unconscious to the conscious—a long, long journey.
Life is arduous and alchemical. If you think it isn’t, you have been listening to the wrong teachers. Those who would gather folks round them in satsang only to simplify the suffering are doing no one a favor. My own teacher pushed us deeper and deeper in to the swamp so we would KNOW we could never get out by taking thought.
He held out the promise of “I am” but never described it. What he did describe was what was spun from the concept of it. He made sure that our lessons were learned from the gutter up. I always felt like a bum on skid row when I came to his classes. One man described it as “having to lug all your junk through the airport X-ray machine.” Everyone sat there squirming in anticipation of Vernon Howard lowering the boom.
At a time when my son and I were having issues and I was in full attack mode, Vernon gave a scathing talk about a prisoner taunting a child when he was in the yard and the child walked by. “He has to return to his cell every night!” yelled Vernon. My attitude turned on a dime. I returned home chastened and straightened out. Why? Because every negativity hurled at anyone else returns you to your very own prison cell. He used to remind us that we can’t set our neighbor’s house on fire without first burning ourselves. It all comes down to “I am.” Do we say it consciously or unconsciously? That is the question a good teacher raises.