In the days of olden times, wise men with beards; and quirky men; and men that never fitted-in (and it was usually always men and not women), would head off into the desert alone – or the mountains – or the steppes, or any other wide-open space free of human habitation, and there – in that great unknown space they would live on their own for a while like pariahs. Once there their ears would be privy only to the sounds of nature or sounds of their own making. Their tongues would speak only to themselves or (depending on the heat) to the insects or birds. Their minds would be forced to focus their gaze inwards – unraveling the onion rings of their own consciousness – digging a well so deep to the kernel of their true being.
But more importantly, the time spent apart from other men and all that introspection would begin to distance them from the world they knew, like looking through a binoculars the wrong way round – such that, when they looked back they saw the ‘whole’ world in a single image. Like the Apollo astronauts seeing the ‘blue marble’ in space. The whole world as a single idea – and in seeing the ‘whole’ they saw what was wrong with the world, where the parts didn’t fit properly, what the problem was and how it could be fixed. They saw how people and the world could be made to be happy. How it could be terraformed into a paradise and not one of hellish torment. It was a eureka moment for them.
So, thus – armed with these insights, these ideas and a new hope gained in the wilderness of silence, these wandering nomads; these wise men with beards (assuming they had survived the ordeal of the desert and hadn’t shaved say) would trudge back to the city walls and gates of ‘civilization’ – where they would then stand in squares, or plazas, or on ‘street’ corners, or in homes – and in these gatherings they would tell all – extol and preach, with upraised arms and divine confidence and solemnity, what time spent alone away from men had taught them.
Many of these men were destined to be ignored – forsaken. Many would be laughed at and treated as lunatics, some put into asylums, some particularly troublesome one’s locked away or even executed, and a few – a tiny, tiny minority – would change the world. We know these men today as prophets. Moses went up a mountain and came back down with ten inscribed tablets. Mohammed went into a cave – heard voices, and came out with the Quran: ‘Whoever kills a man – kills all mankind’. Jesus went vagabonding for a while and came back with ‘love thy neighbour & do unto others as you would have done unto you’. Buddha sat under a tree for many years and found the light: ‘Life is suffering. Life is want. Renounce the flesh and the suffering will be less’. And the list continues.
There are many differences in the detailed stories of these men and their philosophies, but there is one glaring similarity – something they all share in common: for all of them, their moment of transcendent illumination, took place in the wilderness where the tongues of men were silent and only their own consciousness could be heard. Aloneness – that profound state of inner silence, was the spark that lit and kindled the fire of their seeming divinity.
I too am in the wilderness. I too have been going days now without any proper conversation. I am forced to look inwards – and then outwards at the ‘whole’ as a unified organism. I am in my own proverbial desert you might say. Days go by, weeks go by – (have gone by) – where I utter only the most rudimentary of sounds. A Neanderthal grunt perhaps, or a sigh, or a gasp, or some other sound that pretends to be Espaniol. Graced as I am with an eloquent tongue – it sadly sits idle in my mouth gathering dust. If you don’t use an organ for a while will it wither away and die I wonder? There are moments where the aloneness wraps its talons around me and I shudder with cold and suffocation and I desperately want to go to the central square and shout out my name and say unto the hordes there (usually homeless men asleep on benches): “I do exist!”.
Will I trample back into ‘civilization’ from this self imposed exile, with the kernel; nay the ‘book of truth’ etched on my tongue? Will I then declaim it on street corners – my words spitting like fire on the squares and into the rapt ears of eager followers and acolytes?
In short – will I become a prophet of New Times?
Have I any gold in me to entice the world that is barren of meaning?
Will I have my own harem of nubile virgins?
Who knows. Only time will tell.
For the moment I am content with using the blogsphere as my town square. The medium of the prophets of New Times.
Well – it’s either that or madness.