Before I send a column to Sheriar Foundation, my wife, Daphne, reads it. Sometimes she says my writing is so convoluted she can’t figure out what I’m trying to say. Other times she tells me my point is clear, but it was self-evident to begin with and therefore did not need making.
I think this illustrates something potentially important about a number of different topics — marriage, conflict resolution, the travails of editing and, possibly, the nature of Truth itself.
I will leave the first three topics, interesting as they may be, for another day, and will take up the last one. I suspect I am not the only one who has had what seems like an illuminating epiphany only to discover, when attempting to communicate it, that your listener says, with their attitude and demeanor, if not in so many words, “So? What’s the big deal? Everyone knows that.”
I think there are two main reasons for this (apart from the possibility that I’m simply an idiot which I prefer to reject out of hand). When one has an “insight,” a glimpse of the Truth, this is usually more of an emotional recognition than an intellectual conclusion. This is what makes it so powerful as well as so surprising. It is not something we have arrived at through a process of deduction. Rather we have “felt” or experienced it as being true. And this is what makes it so hard to share.
Secondly, if you remove the emotional component, you are left with words which, all too often, sound trite because Truth, by its nature, is not original. It may be new to us when we are suddenly in a place where we “have the ears to hear,” but the chances are that even then, we will have heard the words before. History is long, Avataric manifestations have been many, and the Truth has been proclaimed since time immemorial.
A glimpse of the Truth overwhelms us, not so much because of the uniqueness of our vision, but because of the depth of our realization. But the verbalization of our experience comes out sounding like a cliche.
Let’s say, for example, you travel to India, and you’re walking over the fields at Meherabad, and you suddenly get a sense of how ancient this land is, how these hills have witnessed the Lila of countless Avatars and the phrase, “as old as the hills” now strikes you as startlingly powerful, incredibly apt and emotionally evocative. When you try to communicate your sense of wonder about this to someone over the dinner table at the Meher Pilgrim Retreat, instead of sharing your awe, they are more likely to suspect that you’ve been out in the sun too long.
We all know that Baba has said, “Real happiness lies in making others happy.” But when we actually have a glimpse of the psychological truth that selfishness limits our very capacity to experience happiness, it’s a whole new ballgame for us. Try to share this insight with another Baba person by exclaiming, “You know Baba was right!” and you will find that they will be hard pressed to understand either your enthusiasm or your sense of wonder.
I think this all goes to explain why it is so difficult, if not actually impossible, to talk about Baba in a way that lets others see the Truth and beauty that we see. Fortunately, we don’t have to worry about it, however, as Baba said that it is our job merely to bring His name to another’s ears. It’s His job to bring it to another’s heart.