MANKIND'S SEARCH FOR TRUTH
Shan, Mythical Mountain of Seeking and Finding
INFANTRY SOLDIER OVERTONE
the book A Guide to Awareness and Tranquillity, I wrote briefly of my time
in warfare and one of the grand lessons about judgmentalism it afforded me. Over
the years people have said how much that story meant to them, perhaps more than
all the stories I have written.
the Western set of mind there is a certain incongruity about an old soldier being
one to whom a measure of Light has been revealed. I can understand that. Many
singular events that I have never written about occurred during those days. I
was, after all, a captain of infantry in two long wars. I lived with Chinese infantry
troops in the field for nearly three years---subsisting with them, nearly starving
with them. The few American soldiers in China had very little support from the
United States during World War II. We were at the end of the world's longest supply
line, and anything that reached us from home had been flown over Japanese occupied
countries, over the great Himalayan Mountains into Kunming, thence to be trucked
and packed in by animals to us, wherever we might be.
didn't live very well during those years. My last year in China, as the great
war came to an end, I joined Chinese troops who were actively engaged against
the Japanese and fought in the battles that recaptured Ishan, Liuchow and Kwelin.
In Korea, less than ten years
later, I commanded King Company, 279th Infantry Regiment. Things were much harder
for me in Korea's combat than in the long, strange war in China. Being older didn't
help me in Korea, nor did I have wise old Mr. Shieh (William's Chinese interpreter,
Taoist Master and teacher) at Korea's great Sandbag Castle or at Vulture's Roost
on the 38th Parallel.
It is interesting
that I've never written about those days,even though I've told of the learning
events to seekers who have come to visit here in Alabama. I especially relished
telling such tales to the metaphysical "absolutists" or to the young zealot idealists
who arrived expecting only gentle words of peace from a Godly teacher. Since stories
of strife, warfare and suffering are the last thing those people expect to hear
from a "metaphysician," that's often what they got.
me a revelation and I'll show you a traumatic event from which that Light emerged.
Show me a true vision of heaven and I'll show you a descent into the anguish of
hell wherein that vision was tried, tested and found faithful. "Prove me now herewith,
saith the Lord...." "Put all things to the test," Paul echoed. And now, having
written nearly everything necessary for the final book, I sit me down on yet another
Memorial Day to remember my soldiers who fought with me in many battles.
me write a Glimpse or two from those days. First, harking back to China, Mr. Shieh
and I, with five American teammates, were being pursued by a Japanese combat patrol.
We were "retrograding," bringing up the rear of our little patrol, trying to get
back to the safety of friendly lines. We were close to being captured. In those
days, neither the Japanese nor Chinese "gave quarter." That is we took no prisoners.
I knew that if I were taken by the pursuing Japanese, it meant certain death.
On the other hand, Mr.Shieh might successfully pass himself off as a Chinese peasant.
Oh, I cannot write this story! At this minute it is enough to remember Mr. Shieh
seeing and pointing out the beauty of those purple blooms on the distant mountain
we had yet to climb. I marveled at a man who could see beauty under such oppressive
circumstances. I marvel more that he helped me learn to do it.
the Korean War, an artillery round burst among my men on the left flank. Several
bodies were hurled about and I ran to see the extent of the damage and whether
the platoon leader was still effective. Sick to my stomach at the sight, I sat
down among three of the bodies sprawled along the slope. I became aware of a visual
"Presence" hovering beside them. A misty, blue-white light of sorts. A different
kind of light, primal, persuasive and powerful. I could not explain what I saw
then, nor can I now, but with the sight, and because of the sight, I was absolutely
certain within myself I was being shown evidence of the deathlessness of Life--the
survival of the Child, the Soul of men. I felt a marvelous sense of relief, almost
gratitude, concerning those men and everything happening that day. Within a few
minutes of that incident, my regiment, and my part of the line in particular,
was hit by an enormous wave of shell fire and oncoming Chinese troops. Hell erupted
in a manner that no one can sufficiently describe or picture for another.One
simply must experience something like that to fully understand.
But, to the ongoing Glimpse I'd like to write here if I can. In the early moments
of that terrible onslaught wherein everything that moved was slaughtered ten times
over--advancing troops, men, women, children, dogs and chickens, and every moving
creature caught at that place at that time--I was suddenly unable to hear. My
world went silent and I was enveloped in an immeasurable calm. In the midst of
that horrendous din of exploding bodies and shells, I could hear nothing but my
own voice. In some marvelous way, I was caught up in a quiet, tranquil dimension,
separate, but attached to the carnage at hand. I had not been wounded. I felt
as well as one could be expected to feel under such circumstances. I could hear
my own voice and even my breathing quite clearly. I went from gun position to
gun position and heard myself giving calm encouragement to my troops. I could
see their mouths move in reply and gratitude--and terror--but I couldn't hear
them. I heard myself but couldn't hear the shells bursting in my face. I was beset
with a wonderful enwrapping calm that let me move fearlessly to do whatever the
moment asked me to do, as hideous as those moments were.
a man can so detest a situation that his body produces the chemicals which, in
turn, erect a barricade between himself and the galling situation. But as this
was happening for me on the long day in Korea, there was a clear perception that
a superlative Reality stood just behind the events; that there is another Scene
just above this one, surrounding it; that Reality was bursting through that corridor
of chaos into my own conscious recognition. I walked with a detached courage,
as if the mortal body couldn't and wouldn't be hurt. I ran from soldier to soldier,
gun to gun. I was knocked down,spun around and stung with rocks and earth, feeling
nothing but a calm, clear sense of Life's dominion over the sights and sounds
of the world; as though, with the Presence I had sensed and seen moments earlier
among the first bodies felled, I was SEEING and FEELING Life's eternal Nature,
even in the face of death. Perhaps this was the beneficent calm Mr. Shieh had
felt those years earlier when he saw the blossoms on the distant mountain.
That particular hellfire and damnation in Korea lasted four nights and three days,
without sleep for my troops and me. I have never forgotten the different time
frame and the enwrapping inner peace nor how I was held and supported during that
that Peace has not forsaken me since those days, at least not when I was mindful
of It nor when the chips were down and I called for It. How do I call for It?
I bring forth the Child of Me.
Why I write this now after all these years, I really don't know, but on this Memorial
Day when I feel everything necessary for the book has been written, I sit me down
and write something that might tell others, like Janice and Bill, that there are
times when the anguish of the lesson is absolutely necessary--that leaving the
anguish may not be the answer.
with absolute assurance, I can tell people, old and young, their lessons can be
learned under the most difficult and trying circumstances. Better that we leave
our nets after we've learned their lessons. Better that we call on the Child because
the Child knows what to do. The Child and the Presence are the same one Presence
and It is right here where we are, transcending this world's time and space.
final tone in this Overtone: The day I moved King Company onto line in Korea,
I was given the Order of Battle of the "enemy" opposing me just across the valley
on the next mountain. Facing my regiment, and me in particular, was the Chinese
60th Army, the same troops I had lived with and trained for two years in China.
We met again, eight years later, in a terrible and senseless slaughter.
the apparent world, our friends and enemies are the same--and, sometimes, needlessly,
insanely, we try to destroy one another, thence to find that Life is eternal.
Like Arjuna, in awful combat, I was instructed in certain of the Mysteries and
learned the sense of senselessness. Memorial Day 1985
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