They rang my doorbell when I did not expect anyone, but I immediately recognized Geoffrey. He had brought a friend with him. The weather was bad, with sleet and snow, and they wore thick shoes, which they politely removed when invited to enter. They both wore the same kind of cap, popular with rappers in the nineties, but now less fashionable.
I offered them a drink, but they were not thirsty. We all sat down in the yellow lounge, my former study, but now more like a playroom for the children.
Geoffrey started the conversation with ‘the end of the days’. His favourite subject. And I told it was apparent that since the beginning of the 20th century things had changed, and were constantly changing, not always for the better. The weather made me a bit pessimistic.
I compared society to a house, and sometimes when you want to build a third floor, there is no other solution but to make a new plan, clear the plot, put new foundations and build from scratch. They liked the idea, but said the problem was much deeper. The other guy spoke my local dialect, and we continued the conversation in it, making me more eloquent and assertive than usual. He mentioned greed and dishonesty.
Greed is based on fear, I said, the fear of not having enough. Not unlike envy, when you fear that you are less worthy than your neighbour or colleague, just because he shows a bigger car on his driveway, or talks about their holiday in Mauritius. And related to that is jealousy, fearing that you will lose something, most often to another, most often the object of love.
Geoffrey took his book and mentioned something from Jeremiah, but undisturbed I continued.
Fear is the opposite of love, even more so, the absence of it. Love is like light, darkness does not spread itself. Darkness is the absence of light and just like that fear is the absence of love. The ground state, that you feel when utterly alone, forsaken by friends, family and even God.
They liked the word God, they nodded, the friend was impressed. Geoffrey mentioned he had a different name for God in his book.
Then a silence came, a couple of seconds. A silence that took my attention. The attention to confirm what they always suspected but never felt through the words of their book. So I continued …
And the source of Love can only be God, the God you feel when Silence is there.
And then a longer silence came. It felt mystical.
Geoffrey had noticed the Buddha altar, my wife made above the television set, and mentioned that God had the plan to inform the chosen people, the twelve tribes, descendants of Jacob, and that by this source and only by this source we could know God. He also tried to dismiss Silence as Meditation – for some reason he was opposed to meditation or the associations the concept brought into his mind.
The other remained silent.
I continued …
Silence is available to all. It is being speechless when seeing something awesome. All people on earth, now and in the past, have always had the opportunity to be exposed to Silence. Silence is not meditation. It happens to you when you least expect it. It can be trained through meditation, but it can not be forced.
The ethics I find inside Buddhism are the same ethics I find in Catholicism. Besides, are the people to have inhabited the continent of Australia, long before time, un-chosen, because they never encountered the Christian or Jewish God before any missionary came there, late in the 19th century? Didn’t they have their own ethics unrelated to any book?
We agreed that you needed a written law for people. So he posited that there was a need for his book. But unfortunately his book was also derived from a book edited by the same Roman emperor as was my mother’s book. They changed some words in his book, although not many, and left out some less interesting chapters, … but basically the same book.
I reminded them that 70% of the population in my country is post conventional. They left the church because the words in the book were made of concrete, and couldn’t be interpreted according to time and place. People are smart enough to think for themselves. Most are consciously aware when they break the law, regardless of the book.
Moreover, God can never be a concept in your memory. You cannot contain God in a concept, even less in a word, never in a book, even if 100 authors and 1000 editors and 10000 translators have contributed to it over 3000 years.
God is beyond mind, and can only be experienced through Silence.
And that Silence is available to you here and now, and has been available throughout written and unwritten history as long as mankind is on earth. If my dog would be interested in Silence, he too could hear God right now.
Geoffrey became speechless. He had come the past 12 years, round Easter, to invite me to their annual celebration of the resurrection. He had once told me that if I did not belong to the 144000 chosen, I would not see the New Earth. He had well remembered that I’m usually home wednesday afternoon, but now he was really lucky to find me. I would only be home for about an hour.
Time was up, and now I started thinking of leaving, and thought of finding a quick and polite way to inform them. Another silence …
The friend broke the silence and said to me: “We think much alike.”
The Silence had bridged two completely foreign minds,
bridged two completely foreign worlds.
I gave some time to let his last surprising sentence reverberate my being.
Then I kindly informed them I had to collect the kids from school, and started wearing my shoes, so they did the same thing and moved towards the door. Geoffrey tried just once more about his book being the only real words of God. But I reminded him of the Silence, and that God was not to be found in words alone, in fact the labyrinth of words kept him hidden from our deepest self.
And with those words they left. And returned to their daily world of conventions. Conventions that were taken away from them by those who think too much about everything. Conventions needed when raising children to an adult, from the world of play over the world of conventions, to the world of discovery of the real truth behind the books.
Those who are afraid of discovery, should never be forced to discover.
Those who want to venture beyond conventions should never be restricted from discovering the Truth their own way.
Truth, whatever truth, is always beyond conventions.