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Elizabeth Boleman-Herring Headshot

Still Seeking 'The Ineffable' in 2012

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"Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a field. I will meet you there."
-- Rumi

"If you want special illumination, look upon the human face: See clearly within laughter the Essence of Ultimate Truth."
-- Rumi

"Lede: A lead paragraph in literature refers to the opening paragraph of an article, essay, news story or book chapter. Often called just 'the lead,' it usually occurs together with the headline or title, it precedes the main body of the article, and it gives the reader the main idea of the story. In the news journalism industry, particularly in the US, the particular news-style of lead used is sometimes referred to as a lede. This spelling is no longer labeled as jargon by major US dictionaries such as Merriam-Webster and American Heritage." -- Wikipedia

A longtime friend of mine, a "Famous Journalist," accuses me, quite regularly, of "burying the lede."

In other words, it takes me a long, long time to "get to the point" of any given essay, or column, or disquisition. Famous Journalist, Esq., accustomed to the strictures of 20th-century print journalism, looks upon lede-burying as a grave journalistic failing: one should, one must, "lede," or lead, with the most important nugget of news in one's story. Otherwise, one loses one's reader; otherwise, one should lose one's reader.

A good reporter ranks her information in order of importance (based upon the criteria of newsworthiness yadda, yadda, yadda -- I could list them, but you haven't got all day), and then structures her story according to that list. No extraneous matter. No hemming and hawing.

"Asteroid to hit Earth at 2 p.m. GMT tomorrow, claims renowned astronomer, Dr. Somesuch." (Not much need for more story beyond that lede, Famous Journalist might grant me.)

Or: "God appeared to Moses in a burning bush in The Sinai early this morning, numerous trustworthy observers report." Some further elucidation should follow that lede but, basically, the lede communicates the essential nugget of information, true or not.

However, gentle reader, I have found, over the past 60 years of living on our formerly fair planet, that the real lede is always buried and, I ask your indulgence if my prose style reflects that glaring reality.

Recently, I've written a novel. A short novel but, I believe, one that packs a certain wallop.

People ask me, "What's it about?"

And I say, "Everything I know about love, sex - -mainly sex, I admit -- and 'The Ineffable.'"

"The Ineffable?" they ask.

"Well," I say, "All my life, I've been seeking one thing only -- Enlightenment, God, Goddess, Whatchamacallit. You know -- Him, Her, Them. And the novel is also largely about that, about finally finding it ("The Ineffable"; the lede), at least in my own life."

Then, of course, they look at me funny.

An aside here. A segue, or a diversion, who knows which.

Since the early 1980s, I've been studying yoga, and I've been mightily disappointed with most of my teachers, especially the "highly ranked" ones, the ones with all the credentials and diplomas and certifications. It has been my experience that, like the false prophets the Sufi poet Rumi is always going on and on about, these "teachers," these "gurus," are just a bunch of paper tigers, fakes, charlatans.

It actually took me almost four decades to realize (or, more properly, remember) that the student knows the teacher when she sees her, hears her, watches her, observes her at work, not when she reads the diploma(s) on the wall.

This is something I once knew, "got," really well a long, long time ago, when I said that all of us should be granted Ph.D.s, M.D.s, Ladyships, Orders of The Garter, etc., at birth.

In the pudding, not the titles, is the proof. Always.

I've had veritable butchers perform surgery (oral) on me, butchers despite whatever strings of capital letters accompanied their names. And I've had highly-ranked Iyengar teachers abuse me, emotionally and physically, though they have, in truth, "studied" (put in their time) in the vicinity of Guruji Iyengar, a true Enlightened Master and, somehow, got their pedigrees to teach via his underlings.

I guess this is something that's simply taking a long, long time to get through my noggin: I, myself, and only I, myself, will know God/dess when She/He speaks to me... and I will, do, need no priest/ess, no middleman, no medium, no avatar, no prophet, no pope, etc., to hear "The Ineffable's" message.

Call this my "Joan of Arc Epiphany." A long time coming and, thank God, in my case, there's no burning stake at the story's end. Yet.

I call myself a Presbyterian-Yogini-Sufi now, for lack of any better moniker, and I actually believe God speaks to me, in perfectly understandable, perfectly comprehensible, ways. Probably all the time, were I listening carefully which, often, I'm not (I do watch "Law & Order" re-runs; I do ignore all incoming, from all sources, even the Divine, much of the time. I even take the phone off the hook for days).

But, at 60 now, I have to admit, I have to report, that, for decades, I have been reaching Enlightenment, reaching always toward enlightenment. And it's a reaching that happens interiorly. It happens within the individual soul. Not, of necessity, in churches, though they're not excluded from the entry of the light, and not, of necessity, in the presence of teachers, though some teachers, at some times, can lend some help along the path, usually willy-nilly. And not, usually, through the means of following any of the precepts of our currently dominant world religions.

Along with Idries Shah and other such unclassifiables as G. I. Gurdjieff, I believe, most closely, in the Sufism that pre-dates Islam, and all other religions. I believe in a strain, a path, a way of spirituality that goes way, way back, before homo sapiens clapped his/her bureaucratic/prehensile paws on the real deal.

I am a Sufi in the sense of Rumi, with whose luminous quote I opened this essay: "Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a field. I will meet you there."

And you may well look at me funny but, if you like, I'll meet you out there in that field, and we can talk about what I can only call "The Ineffable," that entity with whom I maintain a dialogue now, sans interpreter.

But, if you're seeking enlightenment, don't come to me. Don't go to anyone but yourself.

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