Realizations The Autobiography
of Julian Lee / COPYRIGHT
2009 JULIAN LEE
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How my Early Childhood & Youth Set the Ground For Becoming an Astrologer,
a Student Of Religion, and More Disinterested in the World Than Most
In my life I turned out to be passionate about religion and religious knowledge. Or, you could say I turned out a religious nut like my cousin Mike. That should satisfy all sides: Those unfortunates cynical about religion, the ones who think I have 'the wrong religion' or am religiously corrupt ("nut" allowing I might be off-base, errant), and those positive about religion who can wink at "religious nut" and know it's O.K.
I've had a passion for knowledge lifelong, knowledge like "What is the world? How does it arise? How do conditions change? How does good/bad, pleasant/unpleasant conditions really arise?" These questions have been my true passions and I gave up a lot in search of those answers.
There is one inner narrative to my life, easy of elucidation, with four phases and three slow but dramatic turns. But I started life, I mean by age four, making this observation:
Phase 1: "Rules are not really rules"
My childhood made life seem chaotic. I didn't like that possibility.
So my mind hewed to a theory that life wasn't really chaotic, just that its real laws weren't known.
Middle children in big families observe that the "rules" don't necessarily apply. My father might promulgate a law: "All sons who reach 13 will have a nice big steak every Saturday."That would hold up for Mark, then Vick. When my time came things had changed, there was no Saturday steak. A middle child sees rules and laws always in the breach, and that the little systems of law human beings erect are loaded with exceptions. Going on "vacation" with the family was supposed to be "fun" by conventional logic, but it wasn't. Other boys seemed to find out how to join Boy Scouts and altar boys by some ordered process (perhaps their mother actually reading a notice sent home from school). Me, I'd find out by happenstance and be found scurrying in late.
By a young age I had contempt for what could be termed "conventional logic." This extended to eating apples whole, core-and-all, when others had rules to dispense with them on some instinct that this was more natural (I noticed cows and horses did it), doubting that I needed "lessons" to be able to play the piano, and doubting that college would guarantee anything to me when sad-heartedly I found my peers planning college careers. I dearly wanted to be part of their reality but I had doubts about the serviceability of the Law they were following. (I also wondered why my own parents never really inculcated into me many such laws that other kids took for granted.)
Later on my trips to your town, Ames, and seeing the beer bacchanals that college seemed to be, my doubts about the value of college gained new dimension. By the time a couple of priests created a "youth club" for Catholic young (remember the "Wherehouse") and I found there was not a whiff of holiness or religious culture to the place, there was not much conventional logic that I could respect beyond: "If you fall out of a tree, it'll hurt." Hey, but that was something! I dreamed that there were, indeed, some reliable laws of a bedrock nature. Just that nobody seemed to know many of them.
But as I grew into a young man's thoughtfulness I nurtured a faith in some deeper law -- a higher logic -- by which life really was ordered.
Now I saw this chaos and exceptionalism not just in family life, but in the great world of nations and religions, too. That same impulse to find order in things animated a campaign to make sense of multifarious religions; to sew them into something coherent. Thus the Baha'i Faith appealed for a time. It purported to reconcile all this, even if its theories were merely presentable and not profound.
Phase 2: "There are rules, the world is well-ordered"
Going deeper seeking the order in life I was irresistibly drawn to astrology. Not as a substitute for religion. That's impossible. But a system of metaphysical laws behind phenomena; really the nuts-and-bolts laws the Creator Himself uses for his world-show. Astrology, indeed, appeared to explain the once-chaotic world in greater detail. (I always assumed that all things are connected in the universe all arises from one Divine source; that this was why astrology worked. That it was about correlation between macrocosm and macrocosm, and not causation by planets. This is a side comment, but important.)
But The Law, it turns out, is cruel. All that astrology does, finally, is make one pine all the more for God and Grace. Maybe more so than those who don't see that particular net of laws.
Meanwhile, I was arriving at a new hunch, and one validated in the Upanishads I mentioned: That metaphysical laws such as those I was continually uncovering in astrology are themselves mind-created and personal. As I saw astrological laws themselves evolve and change according to the state of my own mind and aspiration, I gleaned that our own mind is the lawgiver. When we sleep at night we see and experience so many things and find it easy to consider the possibility that those things are ourselves; our own mental projections. I began to suspect that the same was true in the material waking world, that these things, too, are us. Out to the farthest stars.
Phase 3: "The world is chaotic again, but this is acceptable. So are our nightly dreams, and how satisfying they are!"
I ended coming out the other side of all this with a happy acceptance of "chaotic world." That the world/universe actually is chaotic; that there is no rhyme or reason behind it. This is because the mind has been the lawgiver all along and this mind is capricious. Our minds are as stable, and predictable as a two-year-old. In this view we are subjects -- hostages I guess -- of recalcitrant mind and the conditioning that arises in its wake. With our minds we basically create many messes. Just like a child on a playful afternoon.
This all comports with Non-Dualistic Vedanta, by the way, which is like the gem of the Hindu Upanishads. I came to it on my own.
Phase 4: "Grace is all that matters, God takes care of everything"
This led to where I abide now: As a seeker of the felt and seen grace nature of God or Brahman. For some reason that makes no worldly sense -- the Divinity is capable of applying grace to our mind-messes and to the worlds we construct; making them positive and fruitful, and beautiful. As He sheds that grace on our mind messes they can begin to make sense and be "orderly" if that is one's predilection! (In His grace he'll provide "sense" and "structure" scenarios if that's his son's desire, see.) The Yoga-Vasistha says "However the mind conceives the order (niyati) to be, the order becomes." So in the end, knowing the unreliability of the mind as an order-builder, all that's necessary is simply hewing to grace; applying ourselves to God. Take the little mess and let it soak in God's grace and He makes it charming, sensible, and pretty and how everything was in the beginning.
Now I care more about a felt sense of His blissful grace that trying to nail down metaphysical laws or construct new ones. If I promulgate a dogma here or there it's just to insert some beneficial rules into the game of life for others. This pile of mind-conditioning -- including the Creator God's formidable original concepts such as Space, Time, Earth and Fire -- seems mountain like in depth. So why not play along with it a little and have a decent world? But knowing that in the end it's all a creative play and we can't really control where it goes. God's bliss and grace are all that truly matter to me any more. For one of the important things I've learned is: The Divine Lord always comes up with better ideas that I do. His visions are far more spectacular, luminous and satisfactory than the ones I craft of myself. The scenario has arisen in my mind of the Biblical God coming to Adam and Eve, in some great dark void, and asking them to write down a list of "What they'd like a Garden of Eden to be like," and I suspect that they would have come up with "a garden" that is paltry, perhaps absurd, compared to what Pure Consciousness, or God, magically conceives.)
That is the nutshell contents of my intellectual development from childhood to now, and what led me to be deeply interested in astrology which tracks on our karma, and in religion which offers real hope of freedom from karma.