It was another morning in Chu Lai, Vietnam--home of the infamous Americal Division. A large and ugly army base where i was biding time, waiting to be shipped out to a smaller place where i could work in my MOS, listening to coded Vietnamese radio transmissions. I was about halfway through my tour of duty and more than anything else, somewhat bored
As i avoided the mud puddles that February morning, i eventually found myself standing on top of a drive- up ramp to service jeeps. Looking through the mists toward distant purple mountains, i suddenly was aware that I WAS those mountains and they were me. The now perfect little mud puddles were as much me as my fingers. The olive drab trucks, the concertina wire, the things that had always possessed a negative connotation in my mind were simply...man's folly! Another GI i knew slightly since i'd been there less than a month, walked across the compound and i experienced a love beyond words for him, a realization that he was me wearing his own personal disguise. I was immersed in this joy that i had never even heard of--no separation from anything or anyone, no judgment of the world around me. I instinctively avoided people for who knows how long because i somehow knew this bliss would disappear when my mind shifted out of this neutral space it was in and that trying to share it with words would be akin to trying to "rope the sky." .Later, when i attempted to explain what i'd experienced with words, the only word that came close was one-ness.
Less than 2 weeks later i was at LZ Bronco and was looking through a meager dozen or so collection of books left by earlier tenants, i saw this curious title, "The Book...on the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are" by Alan Watts. When he began describing the experience i recently had, it triggered the Experience again, only this time as i immediately tried to hold on to it, to keep it, it dissolved, like quick-silver through my fingers .
A few months later, as i prepared to return "to the world"--America-- I thought, okay i now know some important truths life will be easier, more simple, but instead, it has become more challenging than ever. But, those experiences changed this Southern Baptist bred Okie for life. I am thankful every day for the grace that i received that February morning along with the realization that this beautiful state of being belongs to every single being of every color, culture or persuasion on earth.
Although i have pursued, even lusted after the Oneness experience I'd had, like a donkey chasing a carrot on a stick, i have slowly and painfully come to realize that only through knowing and then having the compassion to love myself just as i am and accepting completely this wonderfully terrible world just as it is, will i be able to open my heart to the state that is always there, that makes the pain and the fear of self-discovery so worth the journey i'm on.