A Shaggy Dog Story: A second telling
Here’s that shaggy dog story but with a bit more context – not that this changes the joke (if I can call it that).
In 1974 I had travelled to Mexico to participate in a meeting in with other representatives of the areas that composed the North American Zone. We were there to compare reports on the psycho-social conditions in our respective home areas. It was information that would later be integrated with similar studies being carried out in the other zones to form a snapshot of our planet at this moment in time. In those pre-Internet days, gathering the most up to date information was a real challenge. Each area was responding to the same extensive questionnaire. All of its questions required research; many of them also required thought. The topics ranged from the political to the religious.
I would be the Canadian rep at that meeting, which was going to be held on a farm near Cuernavaca about 50km South of Mexico City. As a result, I was flying (my first time) down there via NY carrying a thick document amply illustrated with hand-drawn charts and graphs. Not only was this my first time in an aeroplane but also my first time outside of Canada and the U.S.
Besides that meeting I was also going get to see Silo in person and attend some meetings with him. It all sounded great, except for the idea that I was actually going to meet Silo. That was something that I had very mixed feelings about. In fact it was the one thing that might have kept me from going there. It wasn’t my idea of a good time. On the contrary, the idea of meeting a truly awakened human being, a Buddha, an enlightened master, man number who knows what, was not comforting it was terrifying. It wasn’t the first time since encountering Silo’s teaching that I’d felt a “climate ” similar to that been forced to overcome or at least confront it. *(see San Fran in 74 )
Our “zonal meeting” took place at a small farm on the outskirts of Cuernavaca. The meetings with Silo took place a few days later back in Mexico City. I’ll tell you more about that and my first meeting with Silo elsewhere. That’s an interesting story to say the least since at that encounter – he healed me – honest! Well, sort of…. (I’ll post that story later).
The meetings in Cuernavaca and Mexico City were finished. Silo had invited a small group of friends were invited on a number of excursions. I think – and it’s only my impression – that the gringos were given preference. If memory serves there was a general feeling that because of distance (in miles and culture) it would be nice for us (gringos) to get a chance to hang out with him in a more intimate, less formal, situation. It was nice, and for me it was much more. Unexpectedly it was also the beginning of my friendship with this man who was to be my guide and teacher in so many things.
In Teotihuacan I stood with Silo on the Pyramid of the Moon and looking down saw – to my amazement – exactly what the poet had described: “…our sign is in all the altars.” This unexpected vision led me to ask him about a theme that would remain tantalizingly obscure to me for almost another 30 years. Only a few months earlier I’d hitched from Toronto to San Francisco with my friend Kerri in order to join a group of about a dozen other young people and spend almost a month studying the works that we call Crafts and Disciplines. When we began it was explained that the Crafts prepared the way for working in a Discipline and some time in the future, if and when we had the opportunity to enter these works in earnest, we would work in one of the four Disciplines that were the foundation of all the rest of Silo’s teaching. For now we were only taking a cursory look at these very complex and profound works to round out our vision of Silo’s teaching.
The sun shone hard on us out of a cloudless sky as we walked along the Avenue of the Dead that is the central thoroughfare of what remains of this ancient city we approached a structure that I imagined had been some kind of altar. As we approached I gathered my strength and “with courage conquering fear” I asked him – if ever I had the chance to participate in the Disciplinary works – how would I possibly know which Discipline was appropriate for me? Today, we could use the example of the four entrances that give access to the Halls one finds in the Parks of Study and Reflection. At the time he used the example of how some preferred to walk with the sun shining on them, others, liked how it felt on their back, someone else preferred the shade. He explained, that in the end it didn’t matter since what was important was the experience to which the four Disciplines converged was the same – and that experience was what was important. As we passed the day looking at the famous mosaics and some less well known sculptures he expounded further both about the current state of Mesoamerican archeology, the various civilizations that might have built this place, the antecedents of our Disciplines and what seemed to be a thousand and one themes from the truly sublime to the delightfully ridiculous. In fact if I hadn’t been so uptight about being around him I would have enjoyed these excursions immensely. I was so “out of theme” trying to be attentive that I ended up with not much more than a headache. But luckily this was just the beginning of our explorations of Mexico and we would have a few more days with Silo – time enough for me to get over myself… or not.
Tula is a small town in the state of Hidalgo an hours drive almost directly north of Mexico City. Archeologist’s tell us that around three hundred years after Teotihuacan had begun to fall to ruin this area of modern day Mexico was visited by various invasions of people from further south. It is thought that one of these groups came to be called the Toltecs. There is little agreement about who in fact they were, the origin of the name, or even how important they were – the Aztecs seem to think that the Toltecs were hot shit. Some archeologists think that this was just really good P.R. on the part of the Toltecs (whoever they were). In any case, some 400 years before the bearded white-men came out of the ocean (purportedly fulfilling the prophecy, and undoubtedly producing very well known consequences), the Toltecs had built their capital city of Tollán. Some think that they used their overwhelming military force to make it the center of a vast and powerful empire — maybe. About this last point there is, like with so many things, little agreement.
Tollán lay buried in myth until, in 1940, when archeological excavations near the town of Tula de Allende – now called Tula – uncovered the hidden city. The ruins revealed a city that at its apogee covered perhaps 3 sq mi and was home to 50,000 inhabitants.
When we were there the town itself had perhaps half that number of citizens and of course some very cool ruins. It was the coolest of these ruins that drew most of my attention – the Atlantids or Atlanteans. But they’re another story and if I don’t get back to the joke you’ll have grounds to accuse me of pulling your leg with this rambling tale.
We were walking near the cathedral, when Negro put his hand on my shoulder and asked me (in Spanish through a translator of course)… “So, Danny how do you like Mexico.” I’m restraining myself and not telling you my response. That would just be another digression and it’s about attention, which we’ve already touched on, also climates, tensions and roles – but if you are interested you can check it out here .
The rest of this story will be posted soon (honest) 24 apr.