Beltane Garlic Moon
The philosophy department at Ball State resided in a brick building littered with the remains of other days. Religion was there too. The chair of the Philosophy department Robert (his last name has fled for the moment), a buzz cut positivist, an ornery, no see it, no believe it kinda guy. Let’s just say metaphysics were taught under sufferance in this department.
Bob drove me out of philosophy, convincing me that the most pressing questions of the day were what hot meant, or cold. Couldn’t see it. Not then, not now. But then I didn’t explore much more, now I’ve been in the wide world and know there are more things than that dreamt of Bob’s dreary positivistic philosophy. Much more.
In fact, if I’d listened to my self, I would have known it then, did in fact, but didn’t know I knew.
Many of us disenchanted with postivism found a real ally in Alfred North Whitehead, the creator of process philosophy. I used to think I understood it, now I’m not so sure; but, I knew this about it, Whitehead said the universe was alive. And that made sense to me.
Still does. In some deep place it made a whole lotta sense, because one October morning a chill hit me as I left that brick building, a class in metaphysics just finished. The next step, the one over the threshold into the quad, never happened, at least not in my consciousness, because my consciousness was otherwise occupied.
My heart filled up, my mind expanded, the whole of myself plugged itself into the throbbing matter of the cosmos. I was one with the whole and it with me. A sensation of light and vastness and yet intimacy became my reality. Just for a moment. I don’t know how long it lasted and at this remove, some 45 years later, I couldn’t reconstruct that aspect if I had to.
Since that time, if I remember to recall this, I have never felt alone. The universe can be known through one flower, one bird, one puppy, one rock, one college sophomore, that much I learned for sure that day. And more.
The universe can not only can be known (or felt); it knows (feels) back! Now this is not revolutionary nor advance news. Mystics before and after me have had similar experiences, remarkably similar, in fact. The positivists and their ilk might explain this away through brain chemicals, but even if that were to turn out to explain this experience, it would only serve to under write its power.
It just occurred to me today that long ago moment on the quad, in the chill of an October morning, might have hints for how to live my third phase.