By Dr. Stewart Bitkoff
It was a clear, fall morning and Amoun wanted to go for a walk. Entering Washington Square Park Amoun pointed to a bench, in the sunlight, overlooking the large cement circle and meeting space in the Park’s center. The Park was alive with activity: children playing with a colorful beach ball; young parents pushing babes in strollers; vendors selling hot dogs, pretzels, and peanuts; and street people waking from their night in and around the bathroom lawn.
As we came to rest beside an empty bench Amoun looked-up at the sun and took a long, deep breath. Slowly he smiled and said, “God is Kind.” Together we both sat quietly and observed the variety of activity about us. People were going and doing, exploring all of the fun things to do in the Park.
By this time the street people were up and about. Some had started to pan handle from willing strangers and others purchased drugs from pushers. Then an old man caught my attention. He was struggling, walking slowly with the aid of a walker; a middle age, female attendant assisted with words of encouragement. I enjoyed the variety of late morning activity and wondered to myself, what is the point of all this going and doing? To what purpose is all this activity?
Amoun looked at me and replied, “All of this splendor sings the praise of the Light. Each going and doing; enjoying, suffering, laughing, struggling and moving forward in their own way. While some are lost in the shadows for a time; on another day, in a different place, they may embrace the Light. That is the point of the journey. That is the point of the friction between darkness and Light. This friction, or struggle, exists to push us forward.
Like this Park- the world is a giant bazaar. You will find in it exactly what you are looking for. Some seek enjoyment of the senses. Others seek responsibility and family. Does this make one right and the other wrong? No it is not like that. While many activities and choices are harmful and must be avoided, their real impact is that they distance the traveler from the Light. The flesh is weak and must fade, however, the spirit lives on. Remember the real or lasting meaning of an endeavor is if it brings you closer to or distances you from the Light. This measuring stick, or internal indicator, awakens as the traveler progresses.
How can we evaluate the importance of a life? How do we know the outcome of years spent in the darkness? If the traveler can only awaken after years of being in the darkness, is he not like you and I? Was it not dark last night and this morning the sun caresses our skin? Does not the Light follow the darkness?”
By this time I no longer listened to Amoun’s words, I had become absorbed by the peaceful, loving energy that emanated from him and carried the words. Somehow by being in Amoun’s presence I was transported to that peaceful, loving place that I now
recognized as the goal of the journey. As Amoun reflected the Light, I perceived my own connection to the Light and recognized the Light in everything about me. This energy was the very fabric of life and we were created to know and serve the Light.
This piece “A Walk in the Park” first appears in Stewart Bitkoff, Journey of Light: Trilogy, Authorhouse, 2004.
About the author:
Dr. Stewart Bitkoff is a poet and spiritual traveler, and the author of The Appleseed Journal, Light On The Mountain and more. Visit his website at www.stewartbitkoff.com. His new book is The World of Pond Stories. To purchase your copy go to Amazon: www.bit.ly/bitkoffpond (Paperback $13.99 | Kindle $5.95).
by Dr. Stewart Bitkoff
In solving problems, people look for one step solutions. We regularly search for and propose singular approaches to often very complex problems. Now this technique works sometimes, where one adjustment or change results in a useful outcome. We must recognize this is the way our mind works: looking for the most expedient, uncomplicated remedy.
Yet, many problems, particularly social problems can only be ‘fixed’ with multiple and varied approaches that depend upon changing circumstance and require adjustment over a period of years. Yet, people continue to propose one solution and often debate that their way is the correct way to make things happen. Hence, there are arguments, particularly, when the solution requires a ‘political remedy.’ People have opposing agendas and often cannot agree on which approach to use; they fear they will lose and have to give something up.
Let us take the case of gun control, or to be more specific, how to stop shooters from going into our schools with automatic weapons and killing people. While I personally think that gun control, is one technique to begin to solve this problem; the problem is far more complex and involves a much larger set of circumstances. From my perspective, it comes down to a society working on how to create better people who will not do horrible, deadly things to each other. There needs to be universal discussion and awareness that the reason for this level of harm, arises from people not being healthy and concerned about their neighbor, and treating each other like them self.
In an enlightened society, there should be many discussions and multiple approaches to making better, healthier and more complete people; people who are not frightened, mentally ill and distraught, and take out their ‘inner demons’ on others. Also in an enlightened society, there should not be a gun lobby that ridiculously takes the position that restricting the sale of automatic weapons, will not move, in some way, toward a solution of controlling school gun violence. Seems obvious, this restriction of automatic weapons is a beginning and much more work will be needed.
Yes, until we learn to raise better people and focus on this issue universally, as a society, criminals will still get guns and arms dealers will still sell guns to whoever will pay for them.
I had a boss once, who offered, when I was considering which approach to use in solving a work problem: ‘sometime it doesn’t matter what you do, but that you do something.’
Well, how about we do something with gun control: like restricting sale of automatic weapons and seriously raise a discussion on how to help raise better people, who don’t shoot each other.
From a spiritual perspective, we learn that you make a better world and a better society, by first working on yourself. Becoming the best person you can become and using your abilities to help self, and your society. This is just one example of a mindset and approach that may be required; communities are different and what works in one community may not work in another.
What is clear, if people are serious about stopping this ongoing, horrible school violence, we must intensify the discussion on how to help raise better people who don’t harm each other. Restricting availability of guns is one technique among dozens that will be required.
About the author:
The following is a discussion generated by a letter from a reader of my new book: The World of Pond Stories; this recent inquiry offers an opportunity to have a discussion about the dynamics of spiritual writing and my experience while writing. Hope you enjoy this interchange.
Inquiry Letter About Spiritual Writing
As I was reading your latest book, I was wondering what your experience was like as you write them. The influence of the Idries Shah books is obvious in many places. I was particularly affected by the story of the Three Sisters which seemed to have a very similar impact to The Tale of the Sands.
As an amateur composer of music, every so often I get into a mode where new music seems to be coming into my head from somewhere and all I need to do is to capture it. Other times, it feels like a more labored experience requiring a lot of trial and effort.
So when you write your books, particularly the last one, is your everyday consciousness pretty much just acting as a receiver? A lot of the material feels like it was generated this way.
Also, how aware are you of the multiple levels present of which every now and then I get a small glimpse? I suspect that some of your writing and things like the overall plot of the Turtle prophesy cannot be contrived by ordinary consciousness and refer to deep transformational processes.
Is it worth asking you about what you think the meaning is of some of the material? For example, it occurred to me that silver minnow catching was a metaphor describing how our everyday consciousness works and how it might be mined to catch glimpses of something higher, possibly through Gurdjieff-like practices of self-observation or maybe in meditation. Or perhaps you are simply saying that if you get sufficiently skilled at something and pay sufficient attention to what is going on than this can be a conduit to the higher self.
Thanks again for The World of Pond Stories and all of your other books. I truly hope they help as many people as possible to bring more light into these troubled times.
May we all rise higher!
Some Thoughts On Spiritual Writing
Here is an initial response into your inquiry about my spiritual writing.
I’ve been at this spiritual writing for 50 years or so; during that time there have been many different ways this writing has manifested itself.
I first started writing poetry in my late teens; it was just something that happened. Until then, I never thought about writing: used the poetry to share some of my darker moods and ideas. This was when I was in college and I was fortunate to have an English Literature/Composition teacher who worked with me to improve my writing skills. She worked with me for a year and I learned basic skills.
Later, when I was working in psychiatric hospitals, after meeting my spiritual teacher, who suggested that someone write down what we talked about; this writing skill expanded and changed.
Sometimes a very strong energy would come over me and I could not resist writing down ideas/thoughts that were coming through me. Many times this went on for days and I could not resist/fight this energy; when I did it made me feel worse. I was unaware of the source of this energy and for many years it remained a mystery. Often, I was living in 2 worlds at the same time- going to work and writing down all the ideas and thoughts that would be coming through me. Nowadays the energy flow is more mature and causes less of a daily disruption but I must continually honor the call.
At first I thought it might be automatic writing, or someone/something infusing their ideas through me. Also at night I would have dreams/visions where someone in white robes was dictating books to me. At first, I really wasn’t sure where these ideas and the persistent, demanding energy came from. Over the years, I realized it was part of me and part of something else.
In the beginning this energy was persistent and demanding- I couldn’t run from it and it would manifest in short doses over a period of time (days, hours, and weeks). Many of my writing and early books were done this way; the energy would signal time to write, and idea would enter, and then I would begin seeing many dimensions to what ordinarily was in front of me or part of daily life. In some ways it was like putting on another kind of glasses that helped me see/understand things and interpret them for others.
They say writers write because they have to write- there is no other choice. In many ways, that summarizes the motivation. Also I always wanted to share something of wisdom with others; this also seemed like it was part of me; an inborn need/desire.
Now the Turtle stories and the silver minnow catching material were conceived, probably first written about 20+ years ago and I have recently updated some of this material. There are many short books in this series and I wanted to get something out there in this format. Silver minnows represent flashes of intuitive spiritual knowledge that come and go; sort of like spiritual states. By focusing on the movement of the minnow’s tale, the young turtle enters in a meditation of sorts watching the movement and then as he/she focuses another window in the soul opens. I experienced this one sunny lunch time, at work, watching blades of grass move on the wind . . . For some that is the potential of transcendental meditation- focus visually on an object and gradually something else emerges within our consciousness.
In the World of Pond, silver minnow catching is in addition to awareness of the Great Turtle- here you have the Path and the Godhead. Similarly, each Pond creature has their own view of the God head (i.e., for grasshoppers it is the Great Hoppah and grass science). Silver minnow catching is the inner teaching because young turtles can experience spiritual learning through these classes/exercises; and it is helpful to have a teacher to help you along the Path.
Over the years, I have had at least 2 seers indicate the relative importance of my writing. At times, this direction/input has helped me fight through the ups and downs of trying to share this material. Over time, I have come to see some of this writing’s strengths and limitations. I realize it is not for everyone but needed to express myself in this way. Generally my writing skills are adequate and hopefully get the job done.
To Purchase The World of Pond Stories:
Amazon: www.bit.ly/bitkoffpond (Paperback $13.99 | Kindle $5.95)
Stewart Bitkoff’s Online Store: www.StewartBitkoff.com/books
Dr. Stewart Bitkoff has announced the publication of his latest book, The World of Pond Stories.
The introductory book in Dr. Bitkoff’s new series, it will take readers on a trip to a wondrous land where pond creatures live in harmony and often work together to solve problems.
These stories offer the opportunity for children and adult readers alike, to travel alongside amusing and delightful woodland characters that are expanding their hearts and minds. From “silver minnow catching” class; to humorous, yet meaningful exchanges among grasshoppers, turtles and dragonflies; to a mysterious quest with Master Turtle, you and the children in your life will enjoy reading about the spiritual journey of life in a unique and lighthearted way.
Reactions from some readers:
Dr. Bitkoff presents modern day fables and a fairy tale to entertain spiritual travelers of different ages. Tired of reading the same old thing, stories filled with violence and ill will, then try this book for the entire family. As you travel with the different pond characters through their struggles and triumphs, it will make you smile and even laugh. And perhaps learn a little more about yourself and the larger Pond, we call life.
-ML, San Diego, CA
“If you can’t explain it to a six year old, you don’t understand it yourself.” This quote, attributed to Albert Einstein, tells us that the world needn’t be as complicated as we make it out to be. And indeed, “The World of Pond”, Stewart Bitkoff’s latest book, demonstrates the truth of this. Written in an easy to understand style, this book will appeal to six year olds of ALL ages. Whether you’re 6 or 96, the stories in this book will entertain and provoke deeper questions. Here we meet the inhabitants of ‘Pond’ – from the enigmatic Turtle to the carefree Grasshopper, who do their best to make sense of the world in which they live. A collection of short stories, all linked by a common theme gives the reader the chance to look at his or her own life. How do we make sense of the world? Why are we here? Not merely a collection of children’s stories, “The World of Pond” is both philosophical and thought-provoking. Enhanced by Stewart’s own commentaries, this book is a ‘must read’ for everyone.
– Stephen Tidbury
One Sunday morning as I was driving with my five-year-old daughter to church, she asked me if her mother and father were going to die. She also asked if she too was going to die. This totally stunned me. I floundered a bit and I told her as tactfully as I could that yes, we were all going to die someday but it would be a long time from now. She then said, “What’s the point?” Stewart’s book answers this question in an amazingly simple, gentle, and graceful set of stories about the denizens of a certain pond. The book captures the highly distilled essence of all the great world spiritual traditions in a way that goes down easily. The language used has universal appeal since it avoids religious specific terminology. It is simple-minded and extremely sophisticated at the same time making it particularly valuable to share between generations. I highly recommend this for anybody who from time to time becomes aware of our short duration here on earth and wonders as my daughter did, “What’s the point?”
– Mark Berlin
About the Author
The author of The World of Pond Stories, Dr. Stewart Bitkoff is a poet and spiritual traveler who has written on the topic of the completed person and the original human development system. Professionally, working to help the mentally ill integrate their altered states of consciousness into the physical world. His website is: www.stewartbitkoff.com. Connect on Facebook: www.facebook.com/stewart.bitkoff