Wednesday, March 30, 2011

The Wise Dummy

In her book The Search for the Beloved, Jean Houston tells the story of going to visit Edgar Bergen with her father, who was a comedy writer.

Ed didn't hear us as we knocked at his open hotel door; he was sitting on the side of a bed deep in conversation with Charlie. My Dad shrugged. "He's rehearsing." But then we heard what Ed was saying. He was asking Charlie ultimate questions, like: "Charlie, what is the nature of love? What is the meaning of life truly lived? What really comprises the good, the true, and the beautiful?" And Charlie was answering! Pouring out pungent, beautifully crafted statements of deep wisdom. The funny-faced little dummy was expounding the kind of knowing that could only have come from a lifetime of loving study, observation, and interaction with equally high beings.

After several minutes of listening to this wooden Socrates, my father, embarrassed, coughed. Bergen looked up and somewhat shamefacedly greeted us. "Hello, Jack, hi Jean. I see you caught us."

"Yeah, Ed," my father said. "What in the world are you doing?"

"I'm talking to Charlie. He's the wisest person I know."

"But Ed," my father expostulated, "that's your voice and your mind coming out of that dummy!"

"Yes, Jack, I suppose it is," Ed answered quietly. But then he added with great poignancy, "And yet, when he answers me, it is so much more than I know."

Houston goes on to say how this short conversation profoundly influenced the direction of her own life:

At that moment my future was set. I had no choice but to pursue a path and a career that would discover ways to tap into the "so much more" of the deep knowledge that we all contain but rarely contact. These ways are offered in my seminars, not to produce more ventriloquists, but to enable people to inhabit more levels of themselves.

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