In the book "Trumbo" by Bruce Cook, the writer Dalton Trumbo tells a story about getting a job as a screenwriter. During his interview, the producer Bryan Foy had asked him to imagine a man at the bottom of a pit, sixty feet deep, with smooth, vertical walls and absolutely no way to get out. I think we all have been in a position where we felt we were sixty feet deep in trouble and no way out. Many spiritual teachers try to create situations where there is no hope of escape; there is no talk of blissful or ecstatic experiences –(not that these do not exist.)
I have been told that being around one spiritual teacher, U.G. Krishnamurti has been described as "a house of pain", meaning there was no compromise, no way out-- only total surrender. One quote from a book titled "No Way Out", compiled from the many talks he gave, has the following encouraging words (gallows humor intended!): "You are not ready to accept the fact that you have to give up. A complete and total surrender. It is a state of hopelessness which says there is no way out, any movement in any direction, on any dimension, at any level is taking you away from yourself.”
Jiddu Krishnamurti, another well-known spiritual teacher, has said, “The fact is there is nothing that you can trust; and that is a terrible fact, whether you like it or not. Psychologically there is nothing in the world that you can put your faith, your trust, or your belief in.”
Marie-Louise Von Franz, in her book “The Interpretation of Fairy Tales” quotes Jung: “Jung has said that to be in a situation where there is No Way Out, or to be in a conflict where there is no solution, is the classical beginning of the process of individuation. It is meant to be a situation without solution: the unconscious wants the hopeless conflict to put ego-consciousness up against the wall so that the man has to realize that whatever he does is wrong, whichever way he decides will be wrong. This is meant to knock out the superiority of the ego, which always acts from the illusion that it has the responsibility of decision. Naturally, if a man says, "Oh well, then I shall just let everything go and make no decision, but just protract and wriggle out of [it]," the whole thing is equally wrong, for then naturally nothing happens. But if he is ethical enough to suffer to the core of his personality, then generally because of the insolubility of the conscious situation, the Self manifests. In religious language, you could say that the situation without issue is meant to force the man to rely on an act of God. "
From birth to death we come to points in our life that we consider there is No Way Out but sometimes luck, fate, miracle (spiritual law) or maybe even like physics (for example at 100ºC., not one degree less, water turns to a gas as steam) "THE NO WAY OUT" TRANSFORMS into a new beginning!
I like how Ernest Hemingway in his book "The Old Man in the Sea" sums up this No Way Out, and gives us all a little hope, even after total surrender: “A man can be destroyed but not defeated.” (Meaning the man has become transformed)
Returning to Bruce Cook’s Trumbo and the story of Trumbo’s job interview, Dalton Trumbo told his interviewer, Bryan Foy, that he could imagine how he could get the man into the 60-foot pit with no way out. "Well," said Foy, "if you can get him out, too, then we're in good shape."
Another teacher has told me “No way out leads to surrender and surrender leads to transformation, but love itself is transformative. So one possible solution to no way out is the transformative power of love.” Since Valentine's Day is in February and celebrates this transformative power of love, I wanted to share a few quotes about it:
“Be with me now. … We. We together. One being. Flow together like water. Till I can’t tell you from me. I drink you. Now. Now. … Love. Where does it come from? Who lit this flame in us?” - James Jones
“LOVE is the ultimate meaning of everything around us. It is not a mere sentiment. It is truth; it is the joy that is at the root of all creation.” Rabindranath Tagore
Here is a poem I wrote when I was battling cancer almost 5 years ago scrawled on Valentine's Day to my wife.
The First Light of Spring
Did you think I live alone? That I do not share this tent and cot with a woman? Revelations! I have a Wife! Let us forget about this Old Man's Illness for awhile! Let us celebrate! Her name Eileen. It means First Light of Spring. Her hair is like the clouds kissed by Dawn's blessings [Chorus: Cheers!] Her voice is a caress, [Chorus: Cheers!] Her eyes are deep pools of mysterious Beauty and Peace, [Chorus: Cheers!] She smells good! [Chorus: You Fool!]
May this burning violence of love in my heart for her spill over to all! [Chorus: Cheers!] [Fool, you are pardoned.]
From the Little Shack of Musings: Happy Valentine’s Day! I have put up a white flag on my Little Shack!