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ROOTS AND WINGS: adventures of a spirit on earth        

by Jack Haas

 

opening chapters

 

 

 

 

 

 

chapter one

 

            Out in this world, in this impossible world, in this crazy, mysterious, magical world. Out into this world I came, like a wild thought fleeing its captor. Out and out I plunged, never towards but only away, as if I was born solely to become what God had not yet made. As if life was my way to expand the miracle, to make it more than it is or has been, and to seed that new realm even though I was lurching forward with all the grace of a limping man in a blinding sand storm, who yet was filled with all the privilege of a knight sent in pursuit of the Grail, because I was a seeker and I was the sought, and yet there was nothing to find in life that was better than creating what had not yet been.

            To do this is to embrace the making instead of the made, and so to serve the Self like a polished magnifying glass making focused light of the giving sun. To be one with the Creator is to have entered into the stillness of the living word become flesh, and to be that living flesh also; it is to be the gold which is not gold but rather the condensed light of God formed out of the archetypical blueprint and into the eternal liquid structure of the ephemeral day.

            And for this have I lived in our implausible world as if on an endless tightrope strung between the pinnacles of confusion and wonder, while hovering over an infinite abyss as full of joy as it is of sorrow. For there was a time when the yin and the yang, if there be such divisions, were stretched apart to their furthest dimensions within me, leaving my mind in the lofty reaches, and my heart in the pit of hell, so that I was ripped open by the insoluble feud between them. Which is why it seemed that nothing worked, because I was composed of two perfect halves, but I was not whole, and since the agony came with the ecstasy, the tug-of-war between the two halves became the goad and the leash from which I sprang forth only then to be hauled back again with ignoble regularity. And thus I was forced out into life, to take it in, enjoy it, despise it, correct it, and destroy it, and was then pulled painfully back again, withdrawn so as not to be petted nor fed. As if to enter the banquet, to drool a bit, and then be pushed quickly out the other side, in a neverending chain of engagements, was my destiny, so as to live and to not live, to die and to not die, and to always be given and never to have, which was the only way I could learn how to not-exist while existing, to enter the jail without being taken prisoner, and to fly without growing wings, so that in the end I could live free upon this earth only by continually wriggling out of my old self, and becoming what I had never been.

It was this pendulous oscillation, which in its singular turn drove me nearer to myself by the same distance it tore me apart, that broke and also mended me together. How else could I describe it? How else could it describe me? Others called it life. I didn't know what to call it. It was all very strange. Very, very strange. I never knew a damn thing. No one ever does.

And so I had to learn to embody all of my own contradictions: I had to accept and deny myself; I had to have faith in God, and I had to rebel; I had to love and also abhor the flesh; I had to strive and not strive, be and not-be, do and not-do, and take on all of life's imperfections knowing that they were somehow perfect.

I had to always be coming, and always be going. And in that provincial domain of our feral aristocracy, where the duty and dreaming mingled into an indivisible one, nobody could have told me what I would find when I ceased living with expectation, preconception, or need. No one could show me how to get no where. For throughout those formative days of my so-called separate existence, there were many seemingly inexplicable and yet undeniable preconceptions, synchronicities, exuberances, coincidences, messages, voices, wonderings, and dreams. Good God there were dreams. Night after night did I writhe upon the mythical membrane in between consciousness and sleep, where the greater and lesser forces spun webs of unspeakable drama throughout my defenseless becoming, while obstinate realities took refuge rhapsodically within me.

I did not know then what life's reckless meaning beckoned, for I recognized no impetus behind my manic actions other than flight and boredom, though I knew not why I was bored, nor what it was I fled. In fact, I did not at first seek truth, only a complacency to dispel such arduous yearnings. Every act was an escape from myself and the mind's implications. I was made stable by the force I exerted against what opposed me, and not because I could stand. And that is that.

            Never let it be said, though, that my despair outweighed my euphoria, or my agony my bliss, for I have gone down into the belly of the beast, and there I howled with a woe and tremor enough to chill the gods, and there I also laughed and roared with a rapture enough to cause them envy. And there it was that I gathered up both sides of that rope strung between everything and its opposite, until I pulled the chasm into me, filled that hollow with my own emptiness, and caused my divided world to merge the darkened moon into the light of the sun.

But in order to do this I had to learn to sit with the disquiet, to feel it, accept it, and then throw up my arms in resignation, and hallelujah, for it is a crazy path which the spirit partakes in its breathtaking descent into the earth. It is a perilous dive into the catacombs of the flesh, wherein the transformations are as fast and furious as the raging seas of spirit all around. And it was only in the release of all that refuses to fall that, paradoxically, I learned again how to fly. Which is to say, it was only when I allowed fear to become loneliness, loneliness to become acceptance, and acceptance to turn into wonder, that …that I became the unknown God.

This came about because, in the intimacy of all our absences, where the self assumes no borders, and form shatters without breaking, I remembered …how to forget. I forgot, and that was enough to release me from woe. For only the unadorned Self can slip through the membrane of matter and into the void of the One, because you cannot get to the other side by trying to get there, but only by letting go of what holds you, and floating away though yet planted amidst life's pervasive glue.

For me there was no other option. I had to leave, and I had to stay. And in the violent collision of these two necessities, in the wash and fire of the spirit's healing, in the sacrificial evisceration of the mind, in the fiery assumption of the grosser self, when I knew I was done for, and the Word itself hovered hopelessly above the willess flesh, at the crescendo of my dismemberment, I suddenly came to peace because I finally realized that everything in life was wrong, that it was intended to be wrong, that God was insane, that men were as devils, and that it was going to get far worse before it got any better. And, given these unequivocal suppositions, easy enough it was to recognize life as naught but a terrible joke. But, then, after all ...a joke it was. So with that matured understanding it occurred to me that it is up to each one of us to choose how we take that joke- whether we walk through our days with a foul and bitter scorn, or skip merrily through life with a hearty chuckle. That is what I came upon. And what happened to me is ...I began to laugh.

And in that jocular twist it seemed as if everything wrong had suddenly vanished, and the only thing to remain was ¼the inexplicable. And so all I was left with was a formless, passionate, intimate ...faith. I have no better way to poorly describe it. All I was left with was the madness and mystery called life. And that was enough, for if truth be known, the last straw does not break the camel's back ...it gives it wings. And so my cup had gone from being half empty, to being half full, and the cup which is eternally half full, is the same one which forever runneth over, for appreciation is one of the symptoms of heaven, of that terrible, agonizing gratitude, the kind that bends you over weeping and then grabs you by the breastbone and lifts you up in joy.

Gratitude. When you sift out the trials and struggles, the loneliness and perils of existence, no matter who you are or how you got there, what's left in the end is the privilege of life.

            It was through that privileged and pathless mayhem that I came like the mountain wind, without warning or direction. And the curses and blame did not end nor impede me as I went on beyond the God who is and the God who is not, beyond what the powers made of me and what they took away, beyond all way and connection, beyond where they caught me and where they tried to make me stay. I went on. Up, and up I climbed, to where I could not climb back down. I climbed up and up, alone and not wanting to be alone, until I chose once again to reverse my course, and took that desperate mad plunge back down, down through the sky, through the earth, through the mind, and into the soul, for though I no longer cared to be in this realm, I also cared to be here, despite the love and sadness of it all.

            For that is the heart and the reason I came here. To dive in, and descend, and never look back with regret, nor with worry. For below the waters of life is the same Self, as above that wild surface.

 

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two

 

But let me explain. Let me hopelessly explain why I cannot explain what I cannot help but try to explain.

Were it not for the fact that God dwells, and is worthy, in all people, I could not just now have so emphatically declared the gospel of my own idiosyncratic dissent, ascent, and descent. For life never follows an intended course, because there is no course here, there is only life. Here, where everyone dances their puppet-self on the ephemeral stage of Babylon; here there is no authority, there is only a ruleless dance, not danced rulelessly. Here, the sun shines, the trees twinkle, and the trumpets play Taps at a hero's funeral, and yet there is no one around to hear the music except mourners, and so it seems such a waste, because the miracle hems us in as much as it inspires us, and so the glory and grief walk hand in hand and only a fool would choose to walk along with them, and only a madman would not. And that is why it seems such a waste. Though it isn't. It just seems that way.

Most of us come into life without asking, and leave without knowing why. We laugh, strive, want, suffer, and cry. And yet there are times when life stands us back up, when life awakens us with a haunting. You see, I had lived so long within dreams of my own invention, that I had lived for so long without actually living. And then, somewhere in between it all, amongst the cacophony and the void, when the hold I had on life- or the hold life had on me- weakened as if from sublime intent ...I began to remember. And in that remembrance I forgot without caring.

Many things I will never understand nor be capable of explaining: Why we are the way we are; why life is the way it is; when it all began, and where it is all headed- of these I have not a clue. There were many odd and unexpected experiences, mythical hallmarks, and sublime events throughout my journey, but, I suppose, this is the way it happens to us in this fantastic realm where being and becoming are both different and also the same, because what was is what will be, and what will be is what is, for time is a false matrix placed over a continuum, just as the acorn is the oak when seen through its continuance, and the song is the singer as long as the music goes on.

 

My song begins back when I was eight years old, and my family and I had moved for two months to Halifax, Nova Scotia, where my father was teaching at St. Mary's University for the summer. During our stay we met and spent a great deal of time with another family which had two sons slightly older than myself. At the end of the summer our families were departing for different areas of the continent and, on the evening in which we said our goodbyes, I lay down for bed, not knowing if I would see this family- which I had grown to love- ever again. That night I experienced something immensely powerful, awakening, and destructive. The entire night I lay awake as if in a fever, though I had no fever, yet there was a tremendous battle between two opposed paradigms, or visions, going on somewhere deep inside me. In one vision I was on a gentle conveyor-belt with many others; there was a calm and peaceful feeling, and my body was seemingly immersed in a bath of harmonious energy. Then the vision would switch, and suddenly everyone would be contorted, and off the conveyor belt, thrashing their way manically down crazed and dirty streets, struggling to go forward, but being impeded by, and impeding, the flood of insane humanity coming the other way. In this second vision there was no peace, no respite, no harmony, and my body felt as if it were flung into a chaotic electrical maelstrom from which there was no escape. Then the whole show would flip over again, and the conveyor-belt scene and peaceful feeling would take over for a while, and then back again to the chaos and disharmony, and so on, the whole night, as I was flung continually between opposites, and lay pinned to the bed, an eight-year old kid who, as best as I can say now, had just begun his inexorable, head-long fall into the flesh.

            Perhaps the troubling initiation I underwent, that night in Halifax, came about because, in parting from that family which I had quickly grown to love and enjoy, I was receiving the first brutal awakening to one of life's darker characteristics- loss. I had begun to care, and, concomitantly, I had been cast out of the careless, quiescent realm of childhood, and into the trauma, confusion, and peacelessness of the flesh.

            I see now that, in many ways, at eight years old I had actually not yet left the warm and protected chamber of the womb. Not until that night when the blissful glow of childhood was suddenly swept out from under me, the floor beneath me vanished, and with nothing to hold onto but the insanity of the world itself, I began the terrible and essential downward plunge from limitless play, into limitless troubles.

            To be sure, it is a long and agonizing descent from the untroubled firmament, out of the womb, through the mind, into the heart, and down to earth.

            A close friend of mine once shared a very telling dream she had of this sense of loss which our angelic nature suffers upon arrival in the world. She had dreamt of a community of winged people, who spent their days flying joyfully together in a mountainous canyon they had come to call home. One day, however, they were all captured by humans, had their wings cut off, and then were released to live out the rest of their days without the freedom so natural to them. After this horrible mutilation some of them tried their best to assimilate themselves into the human world, though they never really belonged, and continued to carry the burden of loss and sorrow to the end of their days; others retreated from mankind, and sat up high, overlooking the canyon, forever remembering when they were all together and free to fly; and some took a last flight off of those canyon walls, not being able to endure the pain of their new imprisonment.

            As I write this down shivers are flowing into me from above, and tears are struggling not to fall, which is always a good sign that I have hit upon a truth. And though I have often felt as one of those whom had their wings clipped, and have anguished over freedoms I do not even remember losing, I see now that I have not come to this earth to mourn, to suffer, or to belong. I have come so as to once again learn how to fly. And yet, as I have found during the thirty-six years I have now been in this world, it is a different thing altogether to take wing as an angel, than to soar as a man.

 

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spiritual book, travel, bearded hairy man in Hawaii

ROOTS AND WINGS: adventures of a spirit on earth        

 

by Jack Haas, ISBN 0973100745

$16.00 paperback, $6.00 ebook

 

A rapturous saga, relating the author's unique experiences while out and about in “this crazy, beautiful, impossible world”, as he describes it. Following dreams, synchronicities, and inner guidance, Jack Haas journeys around the globe, encountering incredible individuals and unexpected experiences. His travels encompass a wide variety of places, such as India, Iceland, Hawaii, New Zealand, Nepal, Europe, and Israel. This book, however, is much more than a travelogue. It is a testament to one man's determination to find meaning and wholeness amidst the confusion and mystery of life. This is an inspiring book about the importance of individuality, and the need to follow one's own path at all costs. As much as this autobiography is an outer adventure, it is also an inner odyssey, and is a profound account of the author's acceptance, love, and alchemical union with the spirit and the earth itself. This is a true story about the necessity to belong both to the earth, and to the spirit, and so to have both roots and wings.

 

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"The union of spirit and flesh creates a subtle new harmony.

Two unique worlds come together, and through our hearts unite into one.

For it is only in the voice of the flesh, that the song of the spirit is finally sung."

Jack Haas