THE TALE OF MOUNTAIN GROVE: A restoration of democracy
There was once a great village called Mountain Grove. And in that village, people from all walks of life lived and worked together in peace. A spirit of compassion and love was at the root of the village’s century-long tradition of harmonious cohabitation. Consequently, all the villagers shared an unwavering faith in their fellow man/woman and a commitment to follow what was best for everyone in the community.
This age of tranquillity went on, until one day, a village-wide vote was called to address an unprecedented crop failure that was the result of a devastating drought. As was the custom in the community, all males and females 18 years of age or older gathered in the town square for three days and two nights to discuss, debate and deliberate what should be done to respond to the crop failure.
Due to the severity of the crisis, tensions ran high. As the deliberations evolved, it became apparent that the community had hopelessly split into two groups. The first camp adopted a more conservative approach, and put forth an immediate rationing plan to avoid depleting the community’s emergency reserve before the next year’s harvest.
Meanwhile, the second camp took a more laissez-faire approach to the crisis and opposed the rationing plan. Instead, they proposed that the village should tap the reserves and increase trade with neighboring communities to make up for the shortage.
After much passionate debate, the time finally arrived for the village to cast their votes. As was also the custom, each man and woman came forward and placed their stone into the bucket of their choosing. Consistent with tradition, each one of the five members of the revered council of elders (who themselves did not vote) monitored the integrity of the process and counted the stones to verify the result.
When the final votes were tallied, the plan to implement a rationing system passed by a thin margin of 444 in favor and 398 against… not an overwhelming majority, but a legitimate one, nonetheless.
Benjamin King fans the flames of resentment
In the days following the vote, tensions boiled over in the village, as many people on the losing side continued to peacefully vent their frustrations with the rationing plan that would soon go into effect. One man by the name of Benjamin King fanned the flames of resentment against the decision. And quickly, he became the leader of a growing post-vote rebellion.
Only two weeks before the rationing plan was to start, King started delivering a series of fiery speeches in the village square, denouncing the vote and accusing the council of elders of “fixing” it. Despite having no evidence to support his claims, this self-serving narcissist began to draw a steady following. Within one week, he’d captured the support of around 75 percent of those who’d originally voted against the plan.
At his twice-a-day rallies, Benjamin King repeated his completely unfounded claims of voting fraud, and accused the council of elders and his opposition of nefariously trying to silence him. Only five days before the implementation of the food crisis management plan (as it came to be called), the firebrand speaker’s audiences grew to overwhelm the small minority of anti-rationing voters who had come to accept the results of the vote and urged respect for the time-tested traditions of their democracy.
Meanwhile, the council of elders and others within the victorious block looked on nervously, as the revolt continued to grow in numbers. But the wise group of esteemed and compassionate elders encouraged supporters of the rationing plan to remain calm. The council of five expected that faith in the legitimacy of the vote, as well as the villagers’ deep-rooted respect for one another, would ultimately prevail in the end.
A secret plan
With each passing day, Benjamin King’s rallies grew more outlandish, and his audiences swelled to encompass nearly 90 percent of those who had voted against the plan. Finally, only three days before the rationing program was to begin, some of his most militant supporters decided it was time to act. These violent agitators organized a secret plan to kidnap the council of elders, and kill them if they refused to publicly admit to the village that they had rigged the vote.
As tensions reached a feverish pitch in the community, word began to quietly spread, among those in the ranks of the revolt, that the day of forceful action was ahead. On the day before the start of rationing, the conflict reached its climax when a contingent of about 180 of Benjamin King’s supporters converged on the village square, armed with rifles, and readied themselves to march to the house of elders.
In an absurd scene fitting of a shameless demagogue, King stood to the side of the militia, shouting incomprehensible words into a megaphone while his supporters prepared to fight his illusionary battle for him. The foolish but heavily armed militia marched, unopposed, straight through the village and toward their destination.
The village was eerily silent, as if a mass exodus had just taken place. But when the militia arrived at the humble residence of the council of elders, they were taken aback by what they saw.
Nearly 500 unarmed men, women and children stood directly in front of the entrance to the house, blocking access to the elders. Word had gotten out about the raid, and the village had joined to protect their beloved wise men and women.
The militia members surveyed the scene of their own peaceful brothers and sisters who were willing to lay their lives on the line for what was right. The angry and ignorant mob then aimed their guns, as Benjamin King excitedly yelled, “Stand down or be shot!” into his comically oversized megaphone. The defenders of tradition stood defiantly, as the militia prepared to pull their triggers.
A thick and mysterious blue mist
But in the split-second just before the first shot could be fired, a thick and mysterious blue mist suddenly enveloped the militia, and an old woman appeared in front of them. The strange mist then lifted, and the violent rebels were shocked to discover that they were no longer holding their rifles. Their arms had disappeared into thin air!
Each of the protectors of decency and all of the militia members fell instantly to their knees in homage, as the old woman took three steps forward in the direction of the only person still standing… Benjamin King. The old woman stared straight into the tyrant’s eyes and spoke:
“It’s a great affront to the wisdom of your ancestors and traditions to act in the disgraceful manner that you have. But it’s an even greater affront to the spirit of your creator that you’d be willing to harm your own brethren to fulfill your sick desire for control and power. “
The old mystic woman placed her right hand on her heart, and through an unseen but profoundly felt power, finally brought the leader of the would-be massacre to his knees. She then spoke once more:
“May your soul find the healing that it so desperately needs, and may your dark desire to inflict harm on others give way to the light of spirit, truth and righteousness.”
The old woman vanished as fast as she had first appeared. The dazzled villagers stood, with tears in their eyes, and looked off in the direction of the village farm with disbelief. The fields were bursting with fresh vegetables and grain, as far as their eyes could see! A season of crisis had miraculously transformed into a season of abundance and gratitude. Partisans on both sides rejoiced, as the village unified, even stronger together than before.
Following the day of “many miracles,” as this sequence of events became known, the entire village unanimously voted to banish Benjamin King into the forest for the duration of a year. With ample provisions provided, the divisive and egotistical leader submitted to his fate, and left for the forest to mend his heart and set his soul right.
All the world’s mystics have discovered that the Self is more than our bodies and more than our minds. Why, then, do too many of us spin upon a wheel of despair driven largely by our own feelings of inadequacy? I can only attempt (key word here) to answer this question by posing another one: have you ever dug through your forgotten belongings only to find an old lamp covered in dust? If you have, then you noticed that as you flipped on the switch very little light shined. So, what did you do? Chances are, you simply wiped it away until a purer radiance shown.
The lamp metaphor can easily be applied to our own feelings of insecurity. Fortunately, there is something you can do when the negative emotions of shame, doubt and self judgement rear their ugly head (as they so often do). Meditation is that sacred cloth used to wipe away the dust of your childhood fears, pain and feelings of inadequacy. When we start to meditate regularly, it becomes increasingly difficult to run away from our higher selves…our “Atman” to borrow a beautiful Hindu phrase.
In the depths of meditation, the spark of God that lives within all of us reveals that very truth our minds try to keep concealed: self-judgment is a glitch in our own perception and is merely a small bump in the road on the higher path to self -realization. When we dust off our spiritual lamps through the awe filled trance of meditation, self judgement is transformed into self-acceptance.