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Only the Blade

Appearances to the contrary, there’s an awful lot of light in World. It’s bandied about in phases according to the whims of forces both beyond and within our control. Indeed, there is much with which to reckon and even more to try and comprehend. But we can also ask whether or not we need to do any of it.


Western values have long plagued themselves and their holders. It’s not that the values are bad, but they hold no currency in the realms beyond matter. Being too focused on the material, the political state, the institutions of education, finance, and neat familial units, is no way to organize a culture. And yet, it’s for too long been becoming the only way.


There is a silver lining within the stability provided by attempts at so much control. It is the opportunity to radically break free. It’s not the kind of freedom taught about in history class. It’s the freedom of being safe, having all of your needs met, liberties guaranteed by law, and much more, but instead choosing to risk it all for the mere hope of something better. It’s radical freedom.


The invitation is toward the light. The system that gives you rights can take them away. They can be consumed by pettiness, by the darkness. The light has no such burden to contend with and it only shines brighter, the bleaker its home becomes.


Wise men and women have already found this to be true. Many others have guessed or hinted at it. Inside their private rooms, doors locked, and windows drawn, they’ve dared to dream. Other worlds have appeared, sometimes with a tour guide and sometimes the trip is alone and in confusion. But it’s the existence of where they were going that mattered more than the journey or if they even arrive. And so too is this the case for you.


At the last stop of a train line, far off into the countryside in England, there’s a sheep farmer. He has 37 sheep at the last count. Six of them have a venereal disease that will likely infect the whole herd at some point. The farmer has a choice. He has many choices. He could sell them all off. He could slaughter the sick to save the healthy. He could burn the farm down and walk away. He could sell everything to a younger version of himself and transfer his worry. He could walk into the sea and never be heard from again. His options are only limited if he is unwilling to lose everything. The known is a trap, masquerading as wisdom and choice. Radical freedom is in embracing the unknown beyond, even if the safe choice is ultimately made.


Walk 1200 miles north in any direction from this farm and you’ll be consumed into the belly of the Earth. Stand completely still and the result is the same. Yet, given the two options, so few would become explorers of the unknown.


Conventional wisdom says there is an “in between,” a middle path. Conventional wisdom is wrong.


The middle way is a prison of its own sort. Frozen stillness and dramatic gestures each hold a sacred power. They are each the path to enlightenment. The middle way is the surviving we do in between these states. It is not part of the journey or a path anywhere but to where you already are. It’s so beautiful that we’ve got to keep it under constant attack or risk drifting off into the ether. The middle way is the gift, the respite, a place from which to explode or dissolve into oblivion, no place to stay with any permanence.


Letting go sets you on a course beyond the egoic mind and steadily into a state of madness that whips across a grass-lined shoal on the coastal plain of some land that time forgot. Watch that you meet your arrival without too much straining or self-delusion. You’ve already given over the deciding. It’s too late. You’re beyond the struggle to remain calm and in a comfortable stasis with the experiences around you. You’ve burned it all to the ground and flown into the sea and are paralyzed by the release of what was holding you down.


The next move is the only sacred thing in the whole universe. The rest is window-dressing to the moment you break your paralysis. It’s the explosion of your heart out of your chest and into every doorway of every soul that ever sprang forth from the mouth of God. It’s the only decision you’ll have ever made. And you can take as long as you like to savor it because everything will begin to unfold on its own from there, and beyond your wildest imagination of what is possible.


All is born of the first choice. And, like any parent, you have limited say about what parts of you your creation carries into the world. It’s a light that can be reflected off mirrors or covered up by a blanket or diluted by a zig-zagging hallway. But the light shines forth and when its external restrictions fall away it beams in every direction, all at once, without hesitation.


Walk the path or stand still. Stay home on the farm or sail off to the stars. These are not decisions of consequence. Only the blade knows when it’s reached its destination. And it has no means of reporting back on the state of things there.


-Winged Bard




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