The Four Cairns
How does one condense twenty-five years of a slowly gestating paradigm into one or two pages without having it become unintelligible shorthand? The mind hesitates. Then, seeking reassurance, it reaches for a memory. The memory it retrieves is several years old by now. Yet, like a well-banked fire, it’s very much alive.
A book by Huston Smith, The Religions of Man, lies open before me. I have just returned from my second Vipassana meditation course. The practice feels strong and promising. Reconciling Buddhist theory, however, with the world-view emerging here at Light Morning is proving to be a struggle.
In a chapter called “The Man Who Woke Up” is the story of how Gautama the Buddha arrived at his Four Noble Truths. One sentence in particular leaps out at me. “Most persons, if asked to list in propositional form their four deepest and most considered convictions about life, would probably find themselves very much at sea.”
Still under the influence of the fey mood induced by ten days of silent meditation, I close the book and rise to the bait. Several hours later four deep convictions take shape, like seed crystals in a super-saturated solution. Lacking the chutzpah to call them noble truths, I refer to them as cairns, recalling the piles of weathered stone used by climbers to mark the path up a mountain.
The Four Cairns, then, is one articulation of the paradigm that has been forming in the soul of Light Morning for going on three decades. It is, of course, only one person’s interpretation. Others would no doubt tell a somewhat different tale.
These cairns are also being shared (at least for now) without commentary. They are, perhaps, like heirloom seeds, cradled in the hands of a gardener. Or a special blend of teas, needing to be steeped. Or freeze-dried trail food, ready to be reconstituted and then served to friends around a camp fire, under the night sky.
The First Cairn:
We Are Dreamers
Re-entering the Theater of Dreams
Viewing Daily Life as a Dream
The Second Cairn:
We Are Being Dreamed
Playing Roles in One Another’s Dreams
Finding Ourselves Alive in a God’s Dream
The Third Cairn:
We May Awaken Within Our Dreams
Inducing Lucid Dreaming
Awakening in a World of Sleep-Walkers
The Fourth Cairn:
The Ego is a Larval Creature
Weaving the Glimpses of a New Creature
Choosing a Shared Path Through the Cocoon
Towards the beginning of The Religions of Man, the author states that his book is about religion that exists,
Not as a dull habit but as an acute fever. It is about religion alive. And whenever religion comes to life it displays a startling quality; it takes over. All else, while not silenced, becomes subdued and thrown without contest into a supporting role.
A new world-view, therefore, isn’t merely some theoretical construct. It’s a story–one that is feverish, visceral, and alive. Like a live wire. It’s a quickening agent which throws all else (reason, caution, community, relationships) into a “supporting role.” It kindles passion, and keeps us walking the talk.
In short, a new paradigm is a new religious impulse. Because the need for it is both personal and collective, it is gestating not only in our individual psyches, or in the soul of this community, but in the world soul. Like a fetus come to term, it seeks release from the womb of our subliminal awareness into the dream-like world of our daily lives. The call going forth, then, is for midwives.