Finding the Bedrock
by Scott Bradley
by Scott Bradley
As I have previously mentioned, I am presently staying on a ranch in the Sierra foothills of California -- Gold Country! I work a lot with a guy, Mike, who was passing through the area many years ago when his motorcycle broke-down. So he decided to stay...and began panning for gold. Now, he'll be the first to tell you that he could have made more money picking up aluminum cans beside the road, but yesterday when he told me about seeing that beautiful pocket of gold with that one big '46 penny-weight' nugget in it, well, it's not about the money.
He was 'sniping' at the time. What's sniping, Mike? Working in the river with a wetsuit on. I was working through the ‘over-burden’, the sand.... That's where the gold is, right!? Well, there's some in there, but most of it's made its way down to the bedrock....
Okay, the fun part's over; now for the analogy. When Socrates said, Know thyself, he was basically telling us to find our own bedrock; that's where the real nuggets are. What are the presuppositions that motivate my thoughts and actions? Why do I behave as I do? As long as we find reasons, justifications, for our behavior and prejudices outside ourselves we are still working the sand, the ‘over-burden’. The bedrock is always and only about 'me'.
Some might justifiably ask, Why bother? To this I reply that there is no need to bother, unless you have chosen to engage in some 'spiritual work' to grow a happier way of life. Finding what motivates us, working on the psychological side of our experience, is by no means the only way to 'work', but it can be a fruitful part of the work, nonetheless.
As we discover what motivates us, we begin to understand the subtle (and not-so-subtle) workings of our ego. This is not so that we can drive a stake of holly through its dark heart, for this would just be the same ego finding new expression. (And it's not a devil, in any case.) Rather, in knowing ourselves, in exposing ourselves, we begin to see other potential ways of being, happier ways of being. And that's where other aspects of the 'work' come in.
Now for some more fun. There is actually an old gold mine here on the ranch. You better believe we'll be 'noodling' that! There's also an old stamp mill (crush the ore, get the gold) from which we will be salvaging hundred year old lumber. I'll be looking in the cracks! And then there's just plain diggin '— In the garden, diverting a seep -- you never know.... Maybe I can get those commentaries translated without winning the lottery (if I get a 'cut' — the nugget wouldn't be mine).
You can check out Scott's other miscellaneous writings here.