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    Home / College Guide / Transparent to Transcendence
     Posted on Tuesday, April 16 @ 00:00:04 PDT

    It was Joseph Campbell who used that title phrase to describe the phenomena of adoration. People with an extra dose of dynamic energy, a talent beyond the norm, a lust for fame that is linked with one’s destiny, will testify that they live for that moment on the stage with the audience roaring to its feet. They’ve won the Oscar or the election or the championship game and now they have a enormous price to pay. They need to wear sunglasses in public, lose the possibility of having a real and casual conversation with someone they meet on the airplane and are now burdened with the onslaught of adoration. And look what happens to so many actors, musicians and other famous public figures. That weight is too much for any one’s shoulders to carry and down they go into depression, drug abuse, alcoholism and even suicide. Without looking up a single person on Google, I imagine we can all make the list of such people we know of. Joseph Campbell hit the issue clear on the head. If the “fans” mistake their enthusiasm as something to be aimed at the person themselves, the living, breathing fellow human being who basically shares the same bones and muscles and hopes and sorrows and insecurities and confidences as we do, that’s where the problem starts.

    Then we buy the magazines at the check-out stand, secretly happy or despairing of the gossip and the downfall. But what we really are loving is what’s behind that person, the actual music or film artistry or breathtaking athletic prowess that comes through that person. Yes, they’ve done the work to become the vehicle of exquisite expression in all its many forms, so “deserve” some of the appreciation. But they themselves need to understand it’s not “them” but the work they are serving, be in the long legacy of jazz or basketball or Buddhism. They need to become transparent to the transcendence they are representing, to refuse praise of the ego and let it wash past to the larger Self. So with that as introduction, I can happily report that last month when I arrived at a school where I had helped out the music teacher for two years, but hadn’t been back this year, a group of boys at the door greeted me with shouts of “Doug!” and one prostrated himself on the floor and kowtowed to me. Here at Havergal College for Girls, in my last of three weeks, the kids are constantly greeting me in the hall and they’re starting to ask when I’m coming back. Today I taught a 4 th grade class that was so much fun for them that at the end, one of them kowtowed to thank me.

    Later in the cafeteria, 10 of them rushed over and got down on the floor, much to the witnessing teacher’s slight dismay and then amusement. I really should have taken a photo. Of course, I made light of it as I should, because I know exactly what they’re bowing down to. The thing itself of making such joyful music and dance, their sense of empowerment that they could learn so much so quickly, so confidently, so joyfully, with so much group spirit. My lifetime of training in my craft was the vehicle that allowed it to happen and I happily accept appreciation. But I’m not interested in adoration and if it does come, only from children, who quickly will let me know when suddenly they’re not so happy with me! Transparent to transcendence— it’s a fine feeling.

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