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The Transformation of a Heart



by Al Drucker





I had been working with nuclear weapons. I had been involved with the development of every major ballistic missile system. I knew something about the terrible power of these weapons and how at any moment a button can be pushed and initiate a cycle of events that in a short time would extinguish all higher forms of life in the world, leaving only the grasses and insects and microbes to inherit the earth. By the middle of the 1960's I could no longer live with myself. The inner conflict arising from being in the killing business began telling on me. I was in and out of hospitals with ulcers. Even changing to more peaceful NASA-related work was not enough. I had to change professions completely and get out of the world of machines and computers and into the world of living people.

Looking for ways of being able to perform some service for humanity instead of destroying it, I registered for the first residential program at Esalen Institute on the Big Sur Pacific Coast. I became a Peace Corps trainer, a Gestalt therapist, a Rolfer, and a few years later ended up in Oxford, England studying Chinese medicine, homeo-pathic medicine and other natural healing arts. When I returned to Big Sur I opened a free acupuncture clinic on the Coast. But, having been intimately involved with so many aspects of nuclear weapon delivery systems, the threat of nuclear holocaust never left my mind. It seemed like a hopeless situation for mankind. We came within seconds of averting total annihilation during the Cuban Missile Crisis in the fall of 1962. It could easily happen again, and next time Armageddon. Where was there a power on Earth that could prevent the arms race and the inevitable confrontation that was sure to come? On that fateful day when I first read Swami's talk, my heart leaped when I suddenly realized that here was real hope, that here was a power of goodness and love that would not let the world slide into chaos and darkness.

As I mentioned before, we were scheduled to have an esteemed Taoist scholar come to our Institute and conduct some seminars on ancient Chinese culture and philosophy. That evening in his introductory lecture, he spoke about the unusual nature of the Chinese mind, which in the West we consider to be inscrutable. He gave as an example, how in the border war with the Indians in 1962 (the same month as the Cuban Missile Crisis), the Chinese came in great strength, overwhelmed the Indian forces at the border and drove deep into the Indian heartland. But then one night, at the height of their success, they suddenly withdrew, seemingly without rhyme or reason. This is what made them so mysterious to Westerners. The professor attempted to give some explanations for their actions by quoting certain verses in the I Ching and the Tao Te Ching, books of great antiquity whose prescriptions for different life situations still guide Chinese thought, even those of the present communist rulers of China.

At this point I showed the old gentleman the torn-up book I had discovered that day, and said, "Professor, please read these short passages in this book. It seems to indicate another explanation for the same incident." He read. His eyes became very wide, he shook his head, and said, "You know, we may think that the Chinese are inscrutable, but the Indians are inexplicable, and when the Chinese and Indians come together then it all becomes totally incomprehensible."

Well, I thought alot about this mystery that had suddenly been launched into my awareness and that was to have such a profound effect on my life. I should mention that reading those talks of Swami's I was touched on much more than just the cognitive level. There was something in the second talk which I could hardly understand at all, but, nevertheless, which shook me to my very roots and awakened some kind of deep acknowledgment in me that convinced me of its truth. This is what Swami said at the end of that talk: 

"Suppose you are asked 'Who created all this diversity in the world, who is responsible for all this variety?' What will you answer? The correct response is, 'There is no variety at all'. The question makes no sense. No person or force or urge or accident produced this multiplicity. There is no multiplicity. The one always remains as one. You mistake it as many; the fault is in you. Correct your vision; remove your delusion. Brahman did not change into the world; the rope did not change into a snake. Only you mistook it to be a snake. Brahman is Brahman for ever and ever; your ignorance of this fact makes you see it as world. The world stands on the one leg, delusion. Cut down that leg and it falls... I often tell you not to identify even me with this particular physical buildup. But you do not understand. You call me by one name only and believe I have one form only, but there is no name I do not bear and there is no form which is not mine."


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