Herman Returns

We turned off the typewriters and decided to take a break.

“It’s a shame that so many good people become trapped in nonsense about the higher life and meditation,” remarked Bob. “Maybe now they won’t.”

As Bob said these words, the room began to glow again. Soon, Herman had reappeared. “It’s a nice start, boys,” the angel said, “but watch out that you don’t become too negative.”

“Well, we thought we’d better warn the readers about the obstructions and diversions they’ll encounter on the road to our Higher Self,” Bob responded.

“To say nothing of the potholes on the path,” chuckled Herman. “Yes, that’s quite important, but please keep in mind that some of those practices you would do away with were once very important and even considered esoteric. Why, I remember back 35,000 years ago when we…”

“You’re not going to tell us to indulge or promote something just because it worked 35,000 years ago, are you?” interrupted Carl. “The chariot was quite the thing once, too, but I’d rather drive a car today. A lot of ideas and techniques which were suitable once upon a time just aren’t good enough today. Humanity has grown beyond them.”

“What’s so outmoded about loving God?” asked Herman. “Nothing,” Carl said. “But loving God, in ourselves and others, can be an act of intelligence. It doesn’t have to be an act of mindless idolatry.”

“Then you had better tell your readers how to do it intelligently,” said Herman quietly. “And you’d better be convincing, or you might just get an unwelcomed visit from certain ‘defenders of the faith’.”

“I’m not sure I like the sound of that,” said Bob. “We know we can’t please everyone, but I don’t relish the thought of being tarred and feathered, either. We just want to put our ideas out, so they can reach the right people, the ones who can think and respect good ideas intelligently explained.”

Herman sighed, as only an angel can sigh. “There’s a certain momentum in mass consciousness and human traditions which opposes any change, even change for the better. You are going to run into that. In fact, I believe you’ve both already sensed a vague force of disapproval as you’ve written. That’s not from me, it’s from the masses.

People are like that. Many of them just don’t want to grow more than the next two steps. They are comfortable with the status quo, even when it’s silly. But you are challenging that, and they will challenge you back.”

“How will they challenge us back?” asked Carl. “Do you mean the Druids or someone will show up some dark and stormy night and hurl stones at us?”

Herman laughed. “You know better than that. There won’t be physical people. But mass consciousness and group minds do speak up when pricked by the kind of ideas you are setting down here. They speak through the forces of discontent, fear, and resentment. You hear it in your heart. But that doesn’t mean it is imaginary. It can be quite distressful, as you both well know.”

“Then what do you suggest we do?” asked Bob. “We’re too far into the project to give it up. And neither one of us would set our hands to writing mush and sweet nothings. If we wanted to write about nothing, we’d write nothing at all, and be done with it!”

Herman appeared amused, as amused as an angel might be. He seemed pleased that he had finally struck the right chord. “No living person would want to refuse the opportunity to grow, to become more knowledgeable, or to learn new skills. People just misunderstand motives and ideas at times, especially when you insist a little too strongly that the old ways are outmoded.

They want to be cajoled and comforted, not intimidated. Of course, some people believe that all criticism is destructive, even when it is offered constructively and compassionately. So just take care to devote more space to encouraging people to do what is effective and helpful than you do to pointing out what is dangerous or passé. Tell them why you think you are correct, and then let them decide for themselves.

Invite them to put their own intelligence to work. If you have done a good job of explaining your ideas, their intelligence will see the light. It really is stronger than their resistance, you know.”


“And anyway, you can’t force people to be good or do good. Not even an angel can do that.”

“You can’t?” we cried in amazement.

Herman spoke very quietly. “Well, we do know how, and we have the power, but we choose not to. People have to learn to make the right decisions. Try to keep that in mind as you write. Don’t try to force people to do anything, even if it’s right. Instead, just carefully explain why your ideas and approaches are reasonable, as though you were loving parents entrusted with the duty of teaching your children what was helpful and what was not. Just make sure you don’t betray that trust.”

Herman paused to let that idea sink in, then announced:

“I have to fly now. I’ll be around now and then to nudge you as you need it.”

And with that, the light faded and we were left in the lesser light of our own thoughts. Carl spoke first.

“I never intended to write a lurid exposé of ‘Accidental Mindlessness.’ People who practice things of that ilk expose themselves. But we can’t pretend that passiveness is part of meditation.”

“I don’t think Herman would disagree,” said Bob, “although I doubt that we could get an angel to say the things we say in print. I think Herman was just warning us to stick to the business of being helpful. We’d better cool it on the sarcasm, even if the sandal fits.

We must not be afraid to point out the practices we know to be a waste of time, or harmful.”

Carl thought a moment. “I guess we should try to be helpful and kind, even as our higher selves have been helpful and kind to us. Over the years, we have found them to be trustworthy guides who respect our needs and abilities, but do not hesitate to nudge us toward our undeveloped potential. I suppose that writing in this manner, like our higher selves would speak to us, is what Herman wants us to do.

“You know, I think he’s a bit more clever than we give him credit for.” A faint, disembodied chuckle echoed in the room.

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