Spirituality Immanual Aaron Thunder Hart is a lot of different things to a lot of different people. Whatever hat he seems to be wearing at any given moment in time, you can be sure that the philosophy expressed in his words and actions can not be conveniently labeled or categorized. He seems to have one foot on each side of the threshold, bridging the past and the future, the logical and the mystical, the reasonable and the unfathomable, the up-to-the-minute with the antediluvian - in a style that's uniquely his own.

The following interview took place in a 24 hr. coffee shop, late in the evening, following a chance meeting at a local "New Age" lecture which we both attended. I asked him if he would be open to an interview, and expecting to set the meeting for a future date, I reached for my appointment book. He responded by inviting me to join him and a few friends for a late night snack. The following is a transcript of what transpired during that most memorable meal.

J. P. {All italics in brackets represent my thoughts or personal comments - J.P.}

JP: Well, sir...

IATH: Please don't call me sir, John.

JP: Okay, Mr. Thunder Hart. Can you...

IATH: {Scowling.} Now see here, John. I'm not going to let you put me into that preposterous position where I'm elevating myself by putting you down. I see that happen every day with people and I really don't care for it.

JP: Huh?

IATH: Let's look at this same situation... in a little more impersonal way... and see if you understand what I'm talking about.

Let's say there's a doorman at an apartment building. The doorman says "Good evening Mr. Smith. How are you today?" Mr. Smith says "Fine, Jimmy. And you?" and keeps walking, never even expecting an answer. What's actually going on there? Isn't there a degradation? An implication that Mr. Smith is important and worthy of respect... and Jimmy is not? Isn't Jimmy's stature as a human being degraded... at least to that of a child... perhaps even to that horrible status of a non-person?

You see, John, the world is full of these non-persons - people that it has somehow become okay to ignore and treat as if they weren't really real... or at the very least, lesser than us. The clerk at the grocery store... the porter in the casino... even our waitress here. Watch how the people react to her, and treat her.

{As if on cue, the waitress approached the booth next to ours. "Hi, my name is Jackie. How are you this evening?" She said with an honest and warm smile. The couple stared straight ahead and gave no acknowledgment that they were spoken to. Jackie stood there about 15 or 20 seconds waiting for a response. I could tell she was getting irritated. (I sure was.) Finally she forced another smile, and said, "I'll be your waitress this evening, and I'll be back in a bit to check on you."}

IATH: See what I mean? Jackie just became a non-person - and she didn't like it one damn bit! Yet in all truth, Jackie is a real human being, and she is entitled to all the dignity, respect, and warmth that she extends to her customers.

We are all human beings, John; we're all in the same boat - all part of the same whole. No one is any better or any worse than anybody else. And we all forget this simple truth many times each day.

So you see, if I let you get away with calling me Mister, while I've already been calling you John, I'd be falsely elevating myself above you - at your expense - by creating a separation between us and then pushing you down, so to speak, so that I can appear to be higher. I won't let you get me involved in that game. I'd rather experience our sameness; our connection rather than our separateness.

JP: {Cautiously.} I understand. I didn't mean to...

IATH: John, please correct me if I'm wrong here. But judging by the look in your eyes, I feel that you really haven't grasped what I'm talking about yet.

JP: No si... {I caught myself before I completed the word 'sir'.}

IATH: {Chuckling.} I didn't think so. John, have you ever read "Our Town"?

JP: The play... by Thorton Wilder? {He nodded.} Years ago. I saw it again last year when my daughter's school put it on.

IATH: A wonderful, wonderful work, isn't it? {I nodded yes.} Did you know that that play has been performed more times and in more places than any other play in history? {I shook my head no.}

I think that the reason for that is... that it touches upon some simple but major truths about us human beings... in such a plain and simple every day way... that people don't even realize what they've been exposed to... or that it's one of a handful of major spiritual works of our times. If you ask people about it, they'll tell you that it was really a heart warming story, and it touched them. It's the rare person that will say "Wow! Was that ever enlightening!"

But anyway... do you remember the part when they're all gathered in the grave yard... and the just deceased girl is reunited with her mother... and she's beginning to understand all the things that she didn't understand when she was still alive? {I nodded again.}

It was the church organist... Stimpson, I think... he says something to her like, "Yes child, living people don't understand. They go about trampling on the feelings of others, as if they had all the time in the world. Yes, living people just don't understand!"

{I began to see where he was going with the conversation - and I began to understand the point he was making, too.}

IATH: Okay, have you read any of Dannion Brinkley's books? {I nodded.}

I've read them both recently. Now I can't say for sure that that's the way it is... cause I've never had the near death experiences he has... but it feels right to me... that when we die, we go through that 'Panoramic Life Review' as he calls it. It feels right to me that we go through a time of introspection and self analysis in which we would personally experience the results of all our actions and interactions... and actually feel how our actions and interactions have affected other people. So I'm going with it - for the time being... at least until I know for sure... myself.

Now I'm 45 years old, John... and I'd like to think that I've got at least another 45 years to go... and god knows that I've trampled on my share of other peoples' feelings in them first 45 years... and I guess what I'm saying here is... that I'd like to think that I'm smart enough to learn from my mistakes - before I die.

I mean, why wait? Why not put myself, to the best of my ability, in the position of the people whom I have encountered during my day? In other words, try to experience the effect of any interaction, from the point of view of the other person. {He paused, looked at the waitress, then at the couple in the next booth.}

In the book "My Dinner With Andre", Andre is telling Wally about these instances in which we treat other people like non-persons. Andre calls these instances 'little murders'. And in a very real sense they are.

Each time we force someone into that position of a non-person, there's a type of character assassination going on. And where does that lead? Well, at best it ends in becoming another lost soul in a society full of lost souls, in which everybody lives an empty mundane life of quiet desperation.

JP: And at worst?

IATH: At worst... there's an unbelievably huge damn that just one day bursts... and all of the hurt, anger, resentment, and animosity that has been building over the years, are uncontrollably released... and for no logical reason at all, a man goes out and buys a semi automatic, and then heads for the nearest school yard. And all the neighbors say, "He was such a quiet man. Well behaved. I just can't understand it."

So you see John, if I let you put me into a position where I was calling you John, and you were calling me mister, I'd not only be falsely making myself seem better than you at your own expense, I be committing one of those 'little murders' as Andre called it. And the bottom line - no matter which way you looked at it - would not be good for either you or me.

And the other side of that bottom line is that every thing and every body is all one; we're all made from the same sack of fundamental chemicals... "We are all made of Star Stuff" (said with an exaggerated Carl Sagan impersonation - for those old enough to know who Carl Sagan is.) and we all share the same human consciousness.

And if we started treating everybody with the respect and dignity that we would like to be treated with, we could start making this world into a better place... one person... one instant... at a time. We could finally start experiencing some of that brotherhood that's been being talked about and preached from the pulpits for the last couple thousand years.

Close your eyes for a moment John; try to envision it. A world where we were all truly brothers, aware of our connectedness to one another. Wouldn't it be grand?

JP: I agree. That would be nice. {I guess we were both lost momentarily in our own thoughts of what it could be like, when our attention was pulled toward the sound of angry voices. It seemed the couple in the next booth had gone up to the cashier stand and were loudly complaining about Jackie, the waitress. I felt compassion swell up inside me for a few moments. I guess it showed on my face.}

IATH: I can tell that you understand what I was talking about now, John. {I could see that same look of compassion on his face. And he was right; I understood.}

So how about if we start this party all over? Why don't you just turn off that recorder, set it off to the side, and let's just talk... as friends... and equals?

{I set the recorder off to the side as suggested, but I did not turn it off.}

JP: What did you think about the talk tonight?

IATH: I enjoyed it. Some people tend to shy away from the earth changes area, but I don't. I haven't come to a complete understanding of it yet, so I'm always interested in hearing what others are picking up on the matter.

JP: Do you think that anyone is capable of a complete understanding about it... or about anything for that matter?

IATH: I don't remember most of my childhood, John, but one of the things that sticks out clear in my mind, is my father saying on a number of occasions, "Aim for the stars son, and you're bound to overshoot the gutter."

JP: Sounds like good advice. How do you apply that to the earth changes?

IATH: Well, I don't accept a whole lot at face value, John. Never a politician; rarely the bible; and seldom what others are saying about the coming earth changes. I do think there are a number of people out there with valid pieces of the puzzle; pieces of understanding. But I'm greedy. A piece won't cut it; I want to see the whole puzzle. And if in my reaching for all the pieces, I don't quite get them all, I'll still have enough to give me a better understanding of the big picture, so to speak, than if I settled for accepting someone else's little piece.

JP: I understand that you're talking metaphorically, but what do you do? Take everybody's thoughts and visions on the subject and try to fit them together - like the pieces of a jig saw puzzle?

IATH: Oh god, no! That'd be enough to drive a saint crazy. There's just too much stuff out there that's just too far out to do that with - although that's what I used to do when I was much younger and a lot more naive. From there I graduated to looking for the common thread and thinking that was the answer. But then I realized that that ain't necessarily so either. Now what I do is... well, it's a mixture... a balancing. To begin with, we all have this place of knowing inside, and if...{I started grinning ear to ear.} Huh...what?

JP: That's a New Age statement if I ever heard one!

IATH: I beg to differ with you there, John. But even if it was, what's got you grinning like the Cheshire Cat?

JP: Oh, nothing. It's just that I've heard that some people relate to you as being... well... almost anti-New Age.

IATH: Anyone can relate to me in whatsoever way they may choose. That's their choice, their viewpoint, their responsibility, and sometimes, their problem. The only viewpoint that I can work with and change is my own.

But let me tell you... I'm not anti anything - that's a trap I believe I've learned to avoid - but even if I haven't completely learned to avoid that trap, I would most certainly not be anti something that brings people closer together... inspires anyone to think for themselves... or propels them towards creating a warmer, friendlier planet on which to live. I see parts of the New Age Movement that strive for this - and I'm all for that part of it. What I do not care for is the outright greed and commercialism - taking something old... anything... be it a thought, a philosophy, a fish, an understanding, or a stone... and wrapping it up in some fancy new shiny paper, adding some new fangled terminology to make a good looking bow, and then selling it as something new - at a vastly over inflated price. Now that's one part of the New Age Movement I'm uncomfortable with.

Another is the outright foolishness! Look, John.

{He dug around in his pocket and finally came up with a small piece of lint fuzz.}

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