a conversation with a prophet

A famous and respected prophet was sitting outside one evening watching the colors of a beautiful sunset when he heard a strange, faint sound. It sounded a little bit like the wind but also a little bit like the hiss of a snake. The sound slowly grew louder and louder.

Soon, within the flowing waves of the strange sound, the prophet started to identify distinct individual sounds, as well as pauses of silence between them, as if the fluctuating of the sound was slowing down. The various sounds reminded him of a very ancient language, like the sounds of different animals- perhaps even types of creatures that he was hearing only now for the very first time.

Next, the prophet focused attentively on the sounds, even closing his eyes to the colors of the sunset. Suddenly, the prophet began to understand individual words. The words were not familiar at first, but, like a tiny child learning the language of others speaking nearby, the prophet learned that certain sounds symbolized certain patterns and experiences and perceptions and relationships.

The prophet also learned the secrets of the sequence of the words. For instance, the prophet effortlessly recognized the difference in meaning between “the prophet ate an alligator” and the very same words in a different order: such as “an alligator the prophet ate” or “an alligator ate the prophet.” The prophet recognized that just as each word references a pattern, like the pattern of alligator or the pattern of eating, the word sequence references distinct relationships between the patterns.

This all seemed only mildly curious to the prophet at first, until the moment that the prophet realized what was actually being communicated by the sound he was hearing: “Hello, famous and respected prophet! I am so glad to finally meet you. I have brought you a gift of the most precious food, the delicacy of pickled alligator. Please, if you are indeed such a wise prophet as I have heard, would you answer a few questions for me?”

The prophet, whose eyes were still closed, said nothing. However, he did raise one eyebrow, which is a sign in body language for alertness and curiosity.

So, the questioner proceeded: “Okay, first thank you very much for your attention and interest. Here is the situation. Basically, when I think of the past, I am ashamed of many things that have happened to me, but should not have happened. There are also things that did not happen to me, but should have. Sometimes I even think of many things that I did, but that I should not have done, as well as things that I did not do, but should have done. I am ashamed for all of that, plus I am ashamed of many things that other people did or did not do, and so I am angry at those people and afraid about what they may or may not do in the future, or what other people may or may not do, or what I may or may not do. So, I am angry about what did happen but should not have happened, except when I am sad about what did not happen but should have happened. Basically, I don’t want to be ashamed or sad or angry or afraid. So there it is. Well, can you help me with this, prophet?”

The prophet raised both eyebrows at once while squinting the muscles around his closed eyes. Then, just in front of his nose, he brought his hands toward each other with fingers straight, relaxed, and apart from each other, then tapped his fingertips together, bouncing them repeatedly.

The questioner eagerly said, “yes, let me know what you discover, please! And, by the way, I’m sorry that all I could afford to bring you was pickled alligator, but it is so hard to get your favorite- pickled penguin- at this time of year around here. So, yeah, I had to improvise, but at least it is pickled alligator, right?”

The prophet reached over and picked up the pickled meat of alligator, lifted it to under his nose and took a deep breath in, and then gently shook his head up and down nodding in approval. He tossed the meat into his mouth, chewed on it slowly for a while, then turned his head and spit it out.

In distress, the questioner shouted, “Don’t you like it? I went to all this trouble to come to you so that you could fix my shame, and now you spit out my gift! What am I going to do now?”

“One thing you could do is agonize,” said the prophet. “Shame is not the issue. The root pattern is agonizing. You could just keep doing that.”

The questioner was startled, not only that the prophet was speaking the sacred ancient language, but with perfect pronunciation and dialect. And then suddenly the questioner realized what had actually been communicated.

The questioner began breathing fast and shallow and soon was out of breath, but still managed to get out these words: “But if I keep doing what I have already been doing, then how is that going to fix anything?”

“It won’t,” said the prophet. “However, you really could keep doing what you have been doing already to cause yourself all of that distress.”

“What do you mean about causing myself distress?” said the questioner. “Didn’t you understand anything I said earlier? I thought you were a wise prophet! I was so naive to think that you could help me. I can’t believe what a complete fool I am.”

When the questioner finally finished, the prophet answered: “Yes, I thought I was a wise prophet, too, for a while. However, then I realized that while I very much like the taste of pickled penguin and pickled alligator, I do not like how my belly feels after I eat it. This did not seem very wise to me at all. So, in order to fulfill my destiny as a wise prophet, now I do not swallow pickled penguin or pickled alligator, but I only chew the meat and savor it until it loses it’s taste for me, then I spit it out without swallowing it.”

“Yeah, but what does any of that have to do with me? I thought you were going to help me, but obviously I was just a fool…. again! Well, at least I do not eat gross stuff like you do.”

The prophet said: “Well, maybe you would like it. You could try some, right? You might learn that you actually like the taste and, if you like the taste, then you might even like how you feel after you swallow it. Similarly, if you like the way your belly feels when you swallow your own words, then keep doing that. However, if you do not like the way your belly feels when you swallow your words, then only taste them and savor them without swallowing. Finally, if you do not even really like the taste of your own words, then spit them out quickly. Do not even keep them in your mouth long enough to finish what you were about to, um….”

“What?” said the questioner. “Finish what I was about to… do what?”

“What you were about to say,” said the prophet. “You can just stop as soon as you notice whether or not you like the taste.”

The questioner then asked: “So, I can slow down my speaking and notice how I feel as I speak. Is that what you are saying?”

“Well, however slowly or quickly you speak, you cannot change what you have already said or how fast you already did. All you can do is to notice whenever you notice the taste and the feeling, then spit out what does not taste like swallowing. If you do swallow some words- like you think to say them but then do not actually say them or otherwise share them with anyone- then you can notice how it feels after you swallow them and keep them within yourself. Maybe you will keep swallowing those words and maybe you will share them somehow with someone or maybe even just spit them out without even finishing whatever you were about to, um….”

“Whatever I was about to say,” said the questioner. “Right?”

“Well, I would warn you to be careful of finishing other people’s….”

“Sentences?” asked the questioner. “Is it finishing other people’s sentences?”

“Or, finishing other people’s thoughts,” said the prophet. “Yes, like you said, sometimes what you may think that they are about to say can get in the way of listening to them. Also, sometimes what you may think that they have been thinking can get in the way of asking a question and then letting them tell you for themselves how they have been thinking. Haven’t you ever heard that presuming makes an ass out of you and….”

“Me?” asked the questioner. “But isn’t it supposed to be assuming, not presuming?”

“I suppose that it should be assuming as well as presuming, shouldn’t it?” asked the prophet.

“What?” said the questioner. “What you just said was confusing.”

“Or, maybe you are confused now and only just recognized that whenever you recognized it, so maybe what I said was not confusing. Maybe you were already confused. Maybe I was just demonstrating your confusion to you. Anyway, here is what confusion is- like how to practice the activity of confusing yourself. Confusion is supposing what should be assumed and/or presumed, but without noticing that one is merely assuming, presuming, supposing, or otherwise operating in the mode of what and how life should or ought to be. Got it?”

“Listen, prophet, I only came to you because I am ashamed about….”

The prophet interrupted and said: “Yes, you are. If you say that you are ashamed of anything, for any reason, then first you are already ashamed. You can be ashamed of really most anything you say, except that first you must believe that you should not be how you are (or how you have been). First you should assume that what you are supposed to be and supposed to do is something else.”

“Something else?” asked the questioner.

“Yes, anything else!” said the prophet.

The questioner asked: “You mean to fix how I already am?”

“Confused.” said the prophet. “Fix how you already are confused.”

“No, I’m not confused!” said the questioner. “At least, I’m not confused anymore.”

“But you were, right?” asked the prophet.

“Well, I might have been but I’m really not so sure any more,” said the questioner.

“So are you certain that you were not confused or are you in fact confused now about whether you were confused that one other time?” asked the prophet.

“Um, hold on: exactly what other time are you referencing, prophet?” asked the questioner.

“Oh, well most any other time will do,” said the prophet.

“Yes, fine,” said the questioner, “but I am not particularly interested in ‘most any other time.’ I am interested most in this time right now!”

“Um, hold on: which time is that?” asked the prophet.

“This one now,” said the questioner. “I mean, who really cares if I ever was confused about how life should be or if I used to say that I was ashamed or any of all of that?”

“Seriously, who really cares?” repeated the prophet.

“I care!” said the questioner.

“Do you really? About what in particular?”

“About what I say right now- that’s what I was saying,” said the questioner.

“No,” said the prophet,” what you were saying was that….”

“Oh, never mind what I may have said then. Just notice what I am saying now, okay?” said the questioner.

“Well, I’m sorry, but now that I fully understand your situation, I really do not think I can be of any help to you,” said the prophet. “Thank you for the pickled alligator though.”

“But… but, prophet, God simply could not love me!” the questioner blurted out, so abruptly that she startled herself.

“Oh, really? And why is that?” said the prophet. “Who are you anyway?”

“Prophet, duh– I’m the devil! I thought you were a real prophet. Aren’t you supposed to know these things? Anyway, just to inform you in case you are actually just a false prophet, here’s the deal: God cannot love the devil. God hates the devil and condemns her to eternal suffering, endless agonizing and torment, you know, the whole thing about life after death.”

“Oh really,” asked the alleged prophet. “And who told you all this? In particular, who told you that you were the devil?”

“Listen, I have always known this. This is obvious. Look, I have the horns and the wings; I’m clearly the devil. If you can’t see that, then you must not be a prophet!” said the questioner.

“Hmmm,” said the prophet, who had left his eyes closed through the entire dream so far, mostly because he was only sleeping. “Honestly, I was thinking that you were not the devil, but just another gargoyle. Gargoyles have horns and wings just like yours, don’t they?”

“What? You mean that there are others that are like me?” asked the questioner.

“Oh, you are unique, I admit. But, yes there are others like you. The devil believes that she is isolated from all the rest of life- totally and irreversibly unique, with layers of personal pride covering the layers of personal shame. The devil takes life very personally, you know. However, God makes all of life. The devil just may not recognize that. By the way, God does not make anything except exactly how it should be, though some of us may argue with God about that in order to make our lives hell, you know, before we die, which is really the only time that anyone can make life hell. Anyway, some of the life forms God makes are forms of life that go through stages of development, like babies growing larger over time. Maybe you were in the devil stage before, but now you really seem to have matured into a gargoyle, since you are beginning to notice that you are actually like most everyone else. However, I do not think that you are an angel yet. I mean, look at your wings, the feathers are still the same color as when you were just a little devil, like before you even knew how to use your wings. By the way, do you even know what an angel looks like?”

“Well, I’m not really sure. Aren’t their feathers supposed to be white, though?”

“Some angels have white feathers,” said the prophet, “but others do not even have wings or feathers at all.”

“Is that right? Well, then I suppose that I could have seen one without even knowing it!”

“In fact, I know this may sound weird, but even before the angel is fully grown and clearly identifiable as an angel, the angel is still an angel,” said the prophet. “For instance, before an oak tree is a fully grown tree full of oak leaves like in summertime, the plant is still an oak, even if it is not even a tree yet at all. It could just be a sprout and it would still be an oak sprout, right? Anyway, basically you are a gargoyle angel. You just did not recognize that this particular label applied to you until you did.”

“What?” said the gargoyle angel.

“Yeah, angel is the type of creature you are and gargoyle is just the stage of development you have reached as of now as an angel.”

“I have never heard anything like this before. This is a bunch of crazy talk, but could it really be true?”

“Oh, no, it’s not true at all. These are just words, silly! You have to understand what words are. They are just symbolic patterns- like of sounds and shapes of letters- that represent other patterns which they are not. Like how a map is a symbolic representation of something else, a word is just a symbolic representation of something else, so they are never absolutely true, well, or only in a manner of speaking.”

“Okay, so you are saying that calling me either ‘the questioner’ or calling me ‘the gargoyle angel’ are both valid ways of identifying a pattern. They are both relatively true, so neither one is more true than the other, since they are both just symbolic representations of something else. They are equally symbolic and thus equally true symbols.”

“Yes, words are only true symbols,” said the prophet. “They are just not true in general, but of course they are true symbols. That is correct. Words are true relative to some practical function as symbols,to some particular conceptual framework or context.”

“And beyond that, they are not true at all!” exclaimed the gargoyle angel questioner happily.

“They are truly words, like a map is truly a map, but is not truly anything other than a map,” said the prophet.

“So the map should be a map simply because it is a map and it should not be anything else because it is only what it is?” asked the gargoyle angel questioner.

“Well, that is if something is only what it is,” said the prophet. “In fact, a map could be not just a map, but also could be a piece of paper. It could be lots of things. It actually isn’t even anything in particular until someone says so.”

“Wow,” said the gargoyle angel questioner. “This is some powerful stuff right here!”

“That’s right. This is God performing the act of creation. This is the spitting out of language.”

“Us communicating now?” asked the gargoyle angel questioner.

“Well, it is God working through us. We do not actually do it ourselves. We do not even know how to explain to someone what muscles to use to make the sound of the word ‘poop.’ God does it all for us- kind of like how God makes poop without anyone even thinking about it and, by the time that everything comes out fine in the end, we really do not have to do anything for pooping to happen by itself. Basically, anything that happens, that is God doing it. So, anything that anyone says, that is God creating with word symbols. Cool, huh?”

“Prophet, this is amazing. How did you come up with all of this?”

“I have no idea, gargoyle angel questioner. I was just dreaming about a conversation with you, and then, through your participation in the conversation, God said some pretty interesting stuff and I just made a record of it in these English words. In fact, I did not even think about how to do the typing any more than you think about how to get your eyes to read shapes of letters or how to get your ears and brain to make sense of sounds that you, um….”

“Sounds that I hear?” asked the devil gargoyle angel questioner.

“Well, maybe that, too, right, but also the sounds we make. We don’t really know how we understand the sounds that God makes through us, not just the sounds that God makes through anyone that God identifies as not us. I mean, we don’t even know how we form sounds into words or words into communications, but we can understand the language and meaning of our own words, right? God does it all for us- the forming of all words, ours or not, as well as the understanding of those formed words, again, ours or not. It’s all totally effortless. All that there is for us to do now is to notice how it feels when God is communicating through us now, since God may choose for us to feel all sorts of things now as God matures his creations through various stages of development now. What does this feel like? Now, what does that feel like? Just notice how the different words feel now. What else is there really to do now anyway? What choice do we actually have about any of it now that it is what it is already?”

“God, I really like what you’re saying.”

“No, you actually have never heard anything that I have said. All you have ever heard is your own interpretation of what God communicates, like through someone else. However, no matter what, your own interpretation is always the true interpretation for you. So, in other words, you really like how you feel when you interpret God’s words how you do when you like how you feel.”

“What?”

“When you interpret God’s words in a certain way that results in you feeling some particular way that you say you like, that is just God interpreting God’s words in a way that results in you feeling God.”

“That is not what you said before.”

“Yes it is.”

“No, it’s not.”

“No, really, it is what I said before, you just were listening differently the other time.”

“Which other time?”

“Now.”

“Whatever. So one more question: when is this whole eternal life in heaven thing going to get started?”

“Well, heaven starts as soon as we realize who dies in the whole symbolic representation of ‘life after death.’ Remember, God does not die. Only a mortal identity can die. Whose death is it that does not actually stop life itself? What lives on is God and what is not God does not live on. By the way, do you know who lives eternally in heaven, like always has been and forever will be living there?”

“God, I really like what you’re saying.”

“You’re telling me!”

“God, I really like what you’re saying.”

“Yeah, you can say that again. Wait, didn’t you already just say that?”

“No, you just interpreted two different things the same way, producing the same pattern of interpretation.”

“Wow!”

“Yeah, you can say that again!”

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5 Responses to “a conversation with a prophet”

  1. True Worshippers School of Prophets Biblical University Says:

    Whenever we experience a sense of calling from God, we generally receive that experience with a degree of ambiguity. There are some markers that I look for in the process we call “discernment.”

    The primary marker is the presence of peace. Do I sense the presence of deep peace, even if there is conflict or threat overshadowing the circumstances?

    • jrfibonacci Says:

      When there is a direct experience of the presence of recognition, is there any concern for labels, or for clarification, or for validation? For instance, if these words and letters are visible, is there a degree of ambiguity about whether they are visible? Is there a looking for markers to confirm that these words and letters are visible? Is there any emotion stirred in defending the idea of what is directly experienced without the slightest doubt? Is there an urge to “convert” others to a particular system of linguistic beliefs- perhaps a rather desperate urge?

      When I have direct experience of recognition, do I “need” others to agree with me that my favorite words and letters are in fact visible on this screen right now? Do they “need” me to save them from their “failure” to notice the visibility of this particular screen and these particular words and these particular shapes called letters?

      Recognizing the presence which is distinct from labels and circumstances, is the presence itself threatened by conflict or violence or “threats?” “Calling from God” is a saying that involves a particular way of relating to an idea of God, relating from an idea of someone called by God. With or without the idea of a self-image or self-concern or self-importance, there is a presence that remains throughout the arising and completing of linguistic labeling, throughout the arising and completing of interaction, whether there is a storm outside or clear skies, whether there is a war outside or within or not at all.

      Dividing the broad category of activity in to the two subcategories of activities “called by God” and activities “not called by God” is of course itself just an activity of dividing. With or without the activity of dividing (or “discerning”), is there a direct awareness of the presence which is completely free of the past or of the future, completely beyond the influence of words, completely distinct from all linguistic beliefs and all other linguistic constructions, like categorizings of “called by God” and “not called by God” or “mine” and “not mine?”

      So, does that presence “call” you? Maybe there is a labeling in language of “I am not that presence and that presence is not me, but that presence is calling me.” That is one possible activity of the presence: that labeling in language.

    • jrfibonacci Says:

      Yes, all language is contextual. All language is relating. All language is “creative.”

  2. … no prophet arises from Galilee. « Inspirations Says:

    […] a conversation with a prophet (jrfibonacci.wordpress.com) […]

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