Beyond the Edge

Almost ten years ago I had a dream that changed my life.

I found myself at dusk in a deep val­ley, although still high up in the moun­tains. Above me, at the very sum­mit of the tallest hill stood a torii gate catch­ing the last rays of the sun. A sense of dan­ger swept over me and I saw that I was caught between two advanc­ing, war­ring armies with nowhere to hide. They came for­ward and I crouched down between them, total­ly exposed, and afraid for my life. Sud­den­ly, a deeply throat­ed noise rum­bled toward me, engines or wheels, I thought at first– was it artillery being brought to the front or a bat­tal­ion of tanks? But then sud­den­ly I looked up to see that the noise did not come from any­thing mechan­i­cal at all, but was caused by a herd of elk stam­ped­ing side­ways across the space between the advanc­ing armies — the very space I was in. They rushed around me toward the edge of an abyss to my right, and so I thought toward their own destruc­tion. But, mys­te­ri­ous­ly, as they plunged for­ward and I instinc­tive­ly trailed them, it became clear they knew a secret, a wild way down beyond the edge, and I could also use this ancient path that almost invis­i­bly tra­versed the the sheer sides of the cliffs. They knew exact­ly how to make their way to safe­ty. And so I fol­lowed them.

They were show­ing me the way out of the human war, per­haps my own war of intel­lect or inse­cu­ri­ty, straight beyond an edge I had mis­tak­en­ly con­ceived meant cer­tain death. Such was my con­di­tion­ing. Appar­ent­ly I believed that the very thing that might save me would kill me for sure. And what is this thing? This abyss? I did­n’t know at the time, although the image of the torii gate sug­gests enter­ing sacred space where nature spir­its, like those elk, still reign. To me, back then, the sacred sure­ly was an abyss — I knew so little…

And I have learned there is anoth­er world beyond the edge of this one. And, like a well, it can give us the ener­gies to begin chang­ing this world where the wars con­tin­ue to blaze, where we live in fear of one anoth­er and often find our­selves caught in the middle.

Instead of the raw noise of traf­fic, jets, phones, beep­ers, tele­vi­sion, and mod­ern war, we can be held by the great music of silence and notice voic­es with ancient, wait­ing wisdom.
Instead of being caught in the time traps of worka­holic dead­lines and use­less pur­suits, we can enter time­less­ness and the now.
Instead of fac­ing the sheer ugli­ness and com­mer­cial destruc­tion of what used to be the human vil­lage, we can redis­cov­er pro­found beau­ty, not just in nature, but also though our own arts, sym­bols, and rituals.
Instead of liv­ing alone in shal­low rela­tion­ships, set­tling for mis­trust, love­less­ness, cyn­i­cism and neg­a­tive beliefs about oth­ers, we can find open­ness, rich­ness, and community.

Beyond the edge of this world is anoth­er, and in it is all the ener­gy we will ever need to nour­ish our per­son­al leadership.

Silence, time­less­ness, beau­ty, com­mu­ni­ty. All these are gifts to us. What have we done with them?

Can you touch this place, have you been there, and can you now source your own vision of change from it? Can you open your­self and let it pour forth of its own accord through you?

Today, like every day, we wake up emp­ty and scared.
Don’t open the door to the study and begin reading.
Take down the dulcimer.

Let the beau­ty we love be what we do.
There are hun­dreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.

Rumi

Today is the day.

3 Comments

  • Anonymous wrote:

    Let’s see. When I take down my dul­cimer, here is the song I sang:

    At night, all the agents, and the super human crew,
    Go out and round up every­one who knows more than they do.
    And they take them to the fac­to­ry, where the heart attack machine,
    Is strapped across their shoul­ders, and then the kerosene,
    Is brought down from the cas­tle by insur­ance men who go,
    Check to see that no one is escap­ing from, Des­o­la­tion Row. 

    Bob Dylan wrote about our des­o­la­tion in 1965. It seems to have come back again in 2005 – maybe it nev­er left. We seem to be lost. We hunger for mean­ing, but read the paper and want to cry. CEO’s going to jail, resign­ing in dis­grace, mil­i­tary and gov­ern­ment offi­cials obvi­ous­ly lying to pro­tect them­selves and their polit­i­cal posi­tion, busi­ness­es focused on prof­it — not serv­ing cus­tomers, the jus­tice sys­tem con­fused, insane crime, polit­i­cal bat­tles that polar­ize instead of har­mo­nize, health care – what health care, on and on.

    The aver­age per­son, like me, cries out, how can I change things in this over­whelm­ing and mean­ing­less world? Me? – you want me to be a leader to change the world? Bet­ter that I buy a new CD, a new kitchen gad­get, a new car, and be thank­ful I’m not worse off. Where is nobil­i­ty of pur­pose? Some have it, I’m sure. But many of us don’t. What is noble about cut­ting 10% from our bud­get, doing 20% more work and call­ing this a vision for suc­cess? What is noble about degrad­ing the envi­ron­ment, our orga­ni­za­tions, our souls in the con­stant pur­suit of prof­it and share­hold­er value? 

    Is there anoth­er world beyond the edge of the one we cling to in fear? Some­times I get a glimpse. But then I say, that’s not real. This is real – this world of crazy dead­lines, over stim­u­la­tion, gaudy mar­ket­ing and TV, dis­re­spect for nature and beau­ty, lone­li­ness and isolation. 

    You write beau­ti­ful­ly about silence, beau­ty, time­less­ness and com­mu­ni­ty, Dan. We ran­dom­ly expe­ri­ence these qual­i­ties in odd moments in our lives — a qui­et morn­ing, a beau­ti­ful moment in a muse­um or the­atre, in dreams, in the time­less mag­ic of coach­ing our child to ride a bike or kick a soc­cer ball, in the inde­scrib­able feel­ing of being a part of some­thing, a com­mu­ni­ty of friends paint­ing a house, a vol­ley­ball team, an act­ing troop, a choir. 

    But is it pos­si­ble to con­scious­ly call up moments of silence, beau­ty, time­less­ness and com­mu­ni­ty? Is it pos­si­ble to go beyond the edge of this world and find anoth­er one filled with hope, a place to stand up for love? 

    The answer is – yes, we are learning.

    Jay

  • Anonymous wrote:

    OK, guys how do I find a link to your beyond the edge work­shop. How do we sign up or learn more about it. I have been search­ing for hours.

  • Sor­ry you’ve been search­ing! Click the link under the draw­ing or the moun­tains on this page or go to http://www.beyondtheedge.org. Next event will be May 7–10. Shoot me an email if you would like to talk more about it! Thanks.

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