Excerpt from The Child Within Us Lives! A Synthesis of Science, religion and metaphysics
By William Samuel
MANKIND'S SEARCH FOR TRUTH
Da Shan, Mythical Mountain of Seeking and Finding
THE INFANTRY SOLDIER OVERTONE
In the book A Guide to Awareness and Tranquility, I wrote briefly of my time in warfare and one of the grand lessons about judgmentalism it afforded me. Over the years people have said how much that story meant to them, perhaps more than all the stories I have written.
To the Western set of mind there is a certain incongruity about an old soldier being one to whom a measure of Light has been revealed. I can understand that. Many singular events that I have never written about occurred during those days. I was, after all, a captain of infantry in two long wars. I lived with Chinese infantry troops in the field for nearly three years---subsisting with them, nearly starving with them. The few American soldiers in China had very little support from the United States during World War II. We were at the end of the world's longest supply line, and anything that reached us from home had been flown over Japanese occupied countries, over the great Himalayan Mountains into Kunming, thence to be trucked and packed in by animals to us, wherever we might be.
I didn't live very well during those years. My last year in China, as the great war came to an end, I joined Chinese troops who were actively engaged against the Japanese and fought in the battles that recaptured Ishan, Liuchow and Kwelin.
In Korea, less than ten years later, I commanded King Company, 279th Infantry Regiment. Things were much harder for me in Korea's combat than in the long, strange war in China. Being older didn't help me in Korea, nor did I have wise old Mr. Shieh (William's Chinese interpreter, Taoist Master and teacher) at Korea's great Sandbag Castle or at Vulture's Roost on the 38th Parallel.
It is interesting that I've never written about those days, even though I've told of the learning events to seekers who have come to visit here in Alabama. I especially relished telling such tales to the metaphysical "absolutists" or to the young zealot idealists who arrived expecting only gentle words of peace from a Godly teacher. Since stories of strife, warfare and suffering are the last thing those people expect to hear from a "metaphysician," that's often what they got.
Show me a revelation and I'll show you a traumatic event from which that Light emerged. Show me a true vision of heaven and I'll show you a descent into the anguish of hell wherein that vision was tried, tested and found faithful. "Prove me now herewith, saith the Lord...." "Put all things to the test," Paul echoed. And now, having written nearly everything necessary for the final book, I sit me down on yet another Memorial Day to remember my soldiers who fought with me in many battles.
Let me write a Glimpse or two from those days. First, harking back to China, Mr. Shieh and I, with five American teammates, were being pursued by a Japanese combat patrol. We were "retrograding," bringing up the rear of our little patrol, trying to get back to the safety of friendly lines. We were close to being captured. In those days, neither the Japanese nor Chinese "gave quarter." That is we took no prisoners. I knew that if I were taken by the pursuing Japanese, it meant certain death. On the other hand, Mr.Shieh might successfully pass himself off as a Chinese peasant. Oh, I cannot write this story! At this minute it is enough to remember Mr. Shieh seeing and pointing out the beauty of those purple blooms on the distant mountain we had yet to climb. I marveled at a man who could see beauty under such oppressive circumstances. I marvel more that he helped me learn to do it.
During the Korean War, an artillery round burst among my men on the left flank. Several bodies were hurled about and I ran to see the extent of the damage and whether the platoon leader was still effective. Sick to my stomach at the sight, I sat down among three of the bodies sprawled along the slope. I became aware of a visual "Presence" hovering beside them. A misty, blue-white light of sorts. A different kind of light, primal, persuasive and powerful. I could not explain what I saw then, nor can I now, but with the sight, and because of the sight, I was absolutely certain within myself I was being shown evidence of the deathlessness of Life--the survival of the Child, the Soul of men. I felt a marvelous sense of relief, almost gratitude, concerning those men and everything happening that day. Within a few minutes of that incident, my regiment, and my part of the line in particular, was hit by an enormous wave of shell fire and oncoming Chinese troops. Hell erupted in a manner that no one can sufficiently describe or picture for another.One simply must experience something like that to fully understand.
But, to the ongoing Glimpse I'd like to write here if I can. In the early moments of that terrible onslaught wherein everything that moved was slaughtered ten times over--advancing troops, men, women, children, dogs and chickens, and every moving creature caught at that place at that time--I was suddenly unable to hear. My world went silent and I was enveloped in an immeasurable calm. In the midst of that horrendous din of exploding bodies and shells, I could hear nothing but my own voice. In some marvelous way, I was caught up in a quiet, tranquil dimension, separate, but attached to the carnage at hand. I had not been wounded. I felt as well as one could be expected to feel under such circumstances. I could hear my own voice and even my breathing quite clearly. I went from gun position to gun position and heard myself giving calm encouragement to my troops. I could see their mouths move in reply and gratitude--and terror--but I couldn't hear them. I heard myself but couldn't hear the shells bursting in my face. I was beset with a wonderful enwrapping calm that let me move fearlessly to do whatever the moment asked me to do, as hideous as those moments were.
Perhaps a man can so detest a situation that his body produces the chemicals which, in turn, erect a barricade between himself and the galling situation. But as this was happening for me on the long day in Korea, there was a clear perception that a superlative Reality stood just behind the events; that there is another Scene just above this one, surrounding it; that Reality was bursting through that corridor of chaos into my own conscious recognition. I walked with a detached courage, as if the mortal body couldn't and wouldn't be hurt. I ran from soldier to soldier, gun to gun. I was knocked down,spun around and stung with rocks and earth, feeling nothing but a calm, clear sense of Life's dominion over the sights and sounds of the world; as though, with the Presence I had sensed and seen moments earlier among the first bodies felled, I was SEEING and FEELING Life's eternal Nature, even in the face of death. Perhaps this was the beneficent calm Mr. Shieh had felt those years earlier when he saw the blossoms on the distant mountain.
That particular hellfire and damnation in Korea lasted four nights and three days, without sleep for my troops and me. I have never forgotten the different time frame and the enwrapping inner peace nor how I was held and supported during that time--or non-time.
More significant, that Peace has not forsaken me since those days, at least not when I was mindful of It nor when the chips were down and I called for It. How do I call for It? I bring forth the Child of Me.
Why I write this now after all these years, I really don't know, but on this Memorial Day when I feel everything necessary for the book has been written, I sit me down and write something that might tell others, like Janice and Bill, that there are times when the anguish of the lesson is absolutely necessary--that leaving the anguish may not be the answer.
Now, with absolute assurance, I can tell people, old and young, their lessons can be learned under the most difficult and trying circumstances. Better that we leave our nets after we've learned their lessons. Better that we call on the Child because the Child knows what to do. The Child and the Presence are the same one Presence and It is right here where we are, transcending this world's time and space.
The final tone in this Overtone: The day I moved King Company onto line in Korea, I was given the Order of Battle of the "enemy" opposing me just across the valley on the next mountain. Facing my regiment, and me in particular, was the Chinese 60th Army, the same troops I had lived with and trained for two years in China. We met again, eight years later, in a terrible and senseless slaughter.
In the apparent world, our friends and enemies are the same--and, sometimes, needlessly, insanely, we try to destroy one another, thence to find that Life is eternal. Like Arjuna, in awful combat, I was instructed in certain of the Mysteries and learned the sense of senselessness. Memorial Day 1985