Sunday, December 21, 2008

Winter Solstice 2008

HOUSTON: I once ran into this Frenchman on the street and I knocked the wind out of him, and he said to me, when I was about fourteen, "Are you planning to run like that for the rest of your life?" I said, "Yes sir, it looks that way." He said, "Well bon voyage, bon voyage." And I ran to school, and the following week I met him, and we began to take these walks in the park, and they were numinous. He would say, "[French accent] Oh, Jeanne, Jeanne, look, look, a caterpillar! Hm! Jeanne, what is a caterpillar, huh? Moving, changing, transforming, metamorphosing. Jeanne, feel yourself to be a caterpillar." "Oh, very easily, Mr. --" I called him Mr. Teilhard -- "Mr. Teilhard." "And feel your transformation. Oh, Jean, sniff the wind. [Sniffing] Same wind once knew P¹re Jesus-Christ. [Sniffing] Ah, Marie Antoinette. [Sniffing] Ah, Jeanne d'Arc! Be filled with Joan of Arc." It was extraordinary. Everything was sentient; everything was full of life. He looked at you, he looked at you as kind of a cluttered house that hid the Holy One, and you felt yourself looked at as if you were God in hiding, and you felt yourself so charged and greened with evolutionary possibilities. And I used to go home and tell my mother, "Mother, I met my own man, and when I am with him I leave my littleness behind." And of course I found out years later, after he had died, it was Teilhard de Chardin I was meeting.

MISHLOVE: It's an interesting phrase -- "I leave my littleness behind."

HOUSTON: Leave my littleness behind, yes.

MISHLOVE: It seems that for many of us -- I know in my own life -- at times we get so caught up in our littleness we forget there's anything else.

HOUSTON: Well, we don't have time to do that anymore, do we? I mean, we are living in the most complex times in human history. I realize other times in history thought they were it. They were wrong; this is it. I mean, what we do -- in my travels around the world, which now are almost a quarter of a million miles, working in many cultures, in many, many domains of human experience -- I really discover that maybe we have ten or fifteen years of an open corridor to make a difference. Many people, all over the world, are really haunted by this. They wake up with a sense that they just cannot live out their lives as encapsulated bags of skin dragging around dreary little egos, and that all the walls are crashing down. I mean, we have extraordinary -- the membranes have cracked through as cultures begin to flow into each other. We are on the verge of a true planetary culture, with high individuation of individual cultures. Cultures are becoming more so, not less. The potentials of different cultures -- the potentials, for example, of an African culture that I have studied, which has no history of war, no neurosis as we understand it, incredible problem solving. And when I studied this culture in West Africa, and I saw how they solved problems -- they didn't say, "Uh, yes, what is it, A, yes, Subsection 1, 2, 3 --" No. First they danced the problem. [Singing] And then they sang it, and they danced it, and then they envisioned it, and then they drew it, and they talked about it, and they danced it, then they breathed it, and they all had the solution. Because they were operating on many, many frames of mind. In the harvest of world culture that is happening in our time, what we are gaining is not only different frames of mind -- thinking in images, thinking in words, thinking with our whole bodies -- but we are gaining access to the ecology of the genius of the human race. We are all becoming Edgar Bergen and Charlie McCarthy, but accessing this incredible domain of the human genius, so that we discover, for example, that we are in a state of chronic education. I have never met a stupid child. I have met incredibly stupid systems of education that diminish our ideas of ourselves, that give us a very limited, local notion, and we can't get away with it anymore. And we have incredible access to who and what we are. It's not for nothing that the whole earth as an image is in our mind at the same time as the whole brain, the whole, whole mind, and all these cultures converging, and -- what should we say? We gestate in each
- Excerpt from interview with Jean Huston - "Thinking Allowed,
Conversations On the Leading Edge of Knowledge and Discovery,"

with Dr. Jeffrey Mishlove.

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