Jeff Shampnois

The Man Who Mistook Himself for his Dog
The Man Who Mistook Himself for his Dog

Well, I tend to update this page every so often. I don’t know myself except as whatever feelings and perceptions I happen to have at any given moment. These selves can vary drastically, as I ‘m sure they do for you also.

The phrase “pathless land” alludes to an address Krishnamurti made in dissolving a semi-religious organization that had grown up around him as a child and young adult. Part of what he said was that “… Truth is a pathless land, and you cannot approach it by any path whatsoever, by any religion, by any sect. That is my point of view, and I adhere to that absolutely and unconditionally. Truth, being limitless, unconditioned, unapproachable by any path whatsoever, cannot be organized; nor should any organization be formed to lead or to coerce people along any particular path. If you first understand that, then you will see how impossible it is to organize a belief. A belief is purely an individual matter, and you cannot and must not organize it. If you do, it becomes dead, crystallized; it becomes a creed, a sect, a religion, to be imposed on others. This is what everyone throughout the world is attempting to do. Truth is narrowed down and made a plaything for those who are weak, for those who are only momentarily discontented. Truth cannot be brought down, rather the individual must make the effort to ascend to it. You cannot bring the mountain-top to the valley. If you would attain to the mountain-top you must pass through the valley, climb the steeps, unafraid of the dangerous precipices. So that is the first reason, from my point of view, why the Order of the Star should be dissolved.”

———–

Why is it so difficult to be frank and open? Why are there so many layers of pretense, so many roles and poses, so much self-deception among people? Do you ever feel that there is some great love choking to death, like a stillborn child, in all these twisted pathways of perception?

If the elephants are wiped out, if the bears and tigers are murdered off, if there are no more hemlocks, maples or whales, I don’t want to live. The shame and grief will be too heavy.

Humor has always been easier for me. And I don’t want to lose a sense of humor, and we can’t hate ourselves for the terrible things we are doing without adding to the destruction. But how will we be able to love ourselves after the bear and elephant and whale are gone? We may not hear the low voices of the whale and the elephant. But when there is only an empty ocean and an empty savannah, we’ll hear their silence. We’ll notice the emptiness, and there will be no point in living.

I’m trying, perhaps pathetically, to address the poison I find in myself. What Leslie Marmong Silko calls “the witchery.” I want to lay it bare, so that the witch might shrivel and die of shame.

———–

Previously I had a sense of humor, and I hope it returns:

I also have a few Essays in German 

  • Contact: jhs11@cornell.edu

 

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