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Tuesday, January 6, 2009

The Milk Stool Principle – CREDO XXXVIII

During WWII, the summer I was twenty, I volunteered to work on a farm outside of Brandon, Manitoba. Historically, the wooden house was the first two-storied building in the area and had neither electricity nor running water, but there was a big barn, a chicken shed, and an outhouse with an old telephone book for you know what. There were eight cows to be milked twice a day and I was to be the milkmaid. This was my first introduction to a milk stool. It had three legs and would not tip over under any bovine circumstance. Why? Because the legs were balanced.

Years later, when I was looking for a metaphor, the memory of that simple sturdy item came to mind as a practical example for three basic spiritual needs we all have: Love, Wisdom, and Power. If you think about it, they too have to be balanced, and we spend a great portion of our lives discovering this.

Each of us tends to favor one of these over the others.

But if we love without wisdom or power, we spoil our children and our marriages or relationships. To spoil, as in fruit, implies that what is spoilt was potentially good to begin with. Psychologically, it is a matter of boundaries or codependency. Wisdom and the power of an occasional “no!” is needed. The Sumerologist Noah Kramer writes about an ancient Sumerian clay tablet of cuneiform in which a father bemoans the fact that his grown son lolls around in the marketplace, when as a boy growing up he never forced him to work in the fields as other fathers did ... and we all know the archetypal mama’s boy or girl. Eugene O’Neill, the playwright, based his The Iceman Cometh on the problem of an alcoholic and abusive bum of a husband who commits suicide, blaming his wife for constantly forgiving him and never setting limits. Alas, too much love expressed without wisdom or power to guide it upsets the balance.

The introverted scholar or professional man or woman who pursues knowledge or skills to the exclusion of love or power to serve others is one example of unbalanced wisdom. Or the false guru who misuses his teachings to enslave others for personal ego or money is another example. We have had quite a few notable cases of these in the last few decades!

For many, power used without love or wisdom is the hardest of all. It is the disease that afflicts every dictator in history and many a tyrannical boss or family member or bully in school. Many of us avoid power for fear of misusing it.

In 1998, seventy-two men and women gathered on Iona to prepare for the Centennial Peace Conference at The Hague. Several were retired military members, and a lively discussion ensued of the role of the soldier in the world. We finally came up with the archetype of the Knight, who before his installation had to spend a night’s vigil in a church with his sword on the altar, vowing only to use it to serve his Lord, to protect and defend the weak and helpless. Imagine today if, everyone in the world had to do this before purchasing a gun! Needless to say, many knights broke those vows, but it was an ideal.

The curious thing is that after the Peace Conference in The Hague, only a month passed before the war in Kosovo ended.

At the closing ceremony, we all stood in a circle holding hands, and I quoted the theoretical physicist William Tiller, who discovered at Stanford University that in biofeedback when two people hold hands the energy is squared. We therefore were putting out the power of 72 x 72 which equals 5184 ... As this was quickly calculated by someone else, it gave me the moment to realize we had solved the unsolvable problem of the alchemists – we had squared the circle!!! (You just have to think outside the box.)


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