Saturday, December 31, 2016

Freedom, the Watercourse Way


Freedom.  That's the thing.  There is a prescribed way of thinking, there are rules because the majority of people are convinced that they have a need for greater security in a world that is not vague, but defined for them.  Improvisation is limited.  Creativity is shackled.  Expression is channeled.  But the demands for conformity are high; the price for nonconformity perhaps higher.

There is an ongoing struggle between those that wish to exercise free will and those that believe that free will needs reigned in and controlled.  It is a disagreement between the forces that promote nature taking its course and those that think they know better than nature and can enhance their own lives and the lives of others by imposing standards they have concluded are better.  Perhaps since the beginning there have always been some that seek to impose their will on others.  Religion and Science were invented to support those who sought what is best for others, for the community, and especially for themselves, over the free will of the individual to exercise independent expression.

Those that have come to power - the imposers (imposters) or call them the takers - have set a dichotomous world into play with their standards, establishing a right way to do things and a wrong way.  Religion and Science are all about defining what is right and what is wrong.

Without a prescribed way of thinking there is no consensual judgement, no natural dichotomy, no right and no wrong.  While the concept seems foreign, it is the natural order of things.  Nature does not judge action by any standard.  It simply flows, always in dynamic flux.  A flood or an earthquake are not bad things any more than a fox catching and killing a lemming.   A calm breeze under pure sunshine is no better a condition than a gale wind at forty below.

While society seeks to channel our energies, I choose to exercise my freedom with as little compromise to convention as possible.   I choose to judge not the world.  It is what it is.  While others around me get incensed with the ebb and flow of the affairs of the world, I maintain a certain equanimity without concern for the outcome.  When water in a stream encounters an obstacle - a rock or a windfall - it flows around it.  Eventually even the gentlest flow of water will wear down both the rock and the windfall, straightening and leveling its course through the world.  I choose the watercourse way.

I choose to demand nothing, and prepare to sincerely give anything of myself when asked.  I attempt to remain impassive under any circumstance and seek only the approving signal of spirit in the form of a kind word or appropriate gesture, and when I receive it I express gratitude and redouble my efforts.  I listen and watch so that I am humbled in my conquests and enhanced in my defeats.  It is true freedom that I seek to live by as my standard.  Therein lies my peace and salvation.

Friday, December 30, 2016

the Silence Between the Notes


                          The music is not in the notes, but in the silence between. 
                                                        Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

I speak the language of music. I listen to, enjoy, and attempt to play the music of many cultures and many diverse genres. Do-Re-Me. I attempt to keep some kind of music always in my head because music distracts the mind, and when the mind is not in the way I'm not always thinking about things. So, music turns off all the mind noise and allows me to just interact with the world through sound, without analysis and judgment of images and words. Sure, music is just a dream, like anything else, but at least it allows me to take a break from thinking. Some of the music that runs through my head has been there for fifty and more years, but for some music it is only now coming to the forefront of my appreciation. For some music I think you have to have lived a certain amount of life to "get it". You cannot possibly understand certain compositions until you have the heavy experience to interpret the genre and the composer's message.

I don't know how to read or write music, having never had a lesson. I'm not a trained academic musician. The way I learn is by playing or by listening or by being close to someone who has mastered a style to learn from. The thing that appeals to me most is that music encompasses the scope of human experience - laughter, joy, pain, heartbreak, and loss - all those things can be better expressed by music that with words. And I like to use silence and space in music more and more in what I do. I love that moment where you are suspended. It is not the silence that occurs at the end of the music, but the silence that occurs between two notes. I play my guitars from time to time, when the spirit moves me, and let the notes take me from one place to another. For me, it is easier to play a lot of notes; that's easier to achieve; you just practice a lot. Not playing so much, that's a little bit more difficult, but more expressive.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Dreamers, Doers, Thinkers, Seers

We Dreamers
Thinkers, Doers, and Seers.
Creating time to make the world.
Passing between
And knowing that, though truth be a goal
it is only bound to a reality.
Passing beyond a reality of here and now
And truth or fiction have no necessity.
Visualize a peak and climb to its top to
Jump into life.
Energies of here focus
one through to the beyond.
Confused, see the inter-relatedness of life.
But to see we pay the price of the Doer,
Doing a life’s work, like a dream unfolding
And when we return with spirit’s vision
It requires thinking to put it all
Together.
Break the chord, See, Be, Do, what is a Life?
Lost in vision, we stop to know.
Thinking straight, we see the curves
Which come round again.
The Vision is expensive.
Energy flows.
Stops.
We are dreamers,
thinkers, doers, and seers.
Silence enfolds us now.
donald j. voss jr.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Return of the Toltecs


Thousands of years ago a group of men and women of astounding knowledge lived in southern Mexico. These were the Toltecs, not a race of people or a nation, but dedicated scientists and artists that came together to explore and conserve the wise teachings of "the ancient ones" that came before. The ancient city of pyramids outside modern day Mexico City, Teotihuacan, was where masters (naguals) and their students (apprentices) emerged to revitalize the ancient teachings of obscurity. Teotihuacan was a mystical place known as a place where "man becomes God".

During and following the time of European conquest and because some apprentices misused the ancient knowledge, the teachings were shielded from those not prepared to use them wisely. Different lineages of naguals have carried the ancient ways and understandings of the distant past forward to the present day. While the teachings have been sequestered for hundreds of years, they have been gaining increased familiarity and practice once again within modern culture during the last fifty years due to the writings and teachings of Don Juan Matus and Don Miguel Ruiz, among others. The timing is ripe for the return of these teachings in today's world.

Toltec wisdom arises from the same essential unity of truth as all sacred esoteric traditions. While it is not a religion it honors all spiritual masters that have walked the earth from the beginning. Like Buddhism, it embraces the spirit and is best described as a way of life, characterized by its ready accessibility to happiness and love.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Awakening the Deamer Within the Dream


                 ”God is dreaming the universe and we are the dream dreaming”
                                                   Australian aboriginal traditional saying

As soon as we perceive light, hear sound, and feel movement in the womb, our brains begin to react with a series of images in our imagination, in our mind. It is how we are wired. Before we come into the world we bask in a rich and varied placental dream without symbols, without interpretation, without thinking. Once we emerge as human beings, who is to say such dreaming comes to an end? The dream continues, twenty-four hours a day for all of our lives. The way that it changes is that we learn symbols from our parents and others around us, then we learn how to interpret those symbols, and we learn how to think about those symbols and examine our interpretations.

When we are awake there is a material framework that allows us to perceive in a linear fashion. When we sleep there is no such structure and our dreams wander and change frequently. For most of us, we sometimes abandon the framework of "reality" while awake and take a break to day dream. Day dreams are like night dreams, ever changing and unstructured. The day dreaming imagination is without limit and can take us many places instantly. We see things others don't see, hear things that others don't hear, go places that we don't recognize in our everyday waking lives. The images of our day or night dreams seem every bit as real as those we perceive while awake. Where does one draw the line between what is real and what is solely imagined? Consider that what we imagine while awake is no more real than the adventures of our day and night dreams. It is all dreaming.

The mind is always dreaming. You and I are each dreaming right now. There is a world in each of our minds, one that each of us creates through symbolic images, interpretations, and analysis of those interpretations. The world that we think we see, hear, and feel outside of us is actually inside. We create our own virtual Matrix.  Our whole world is entirely images, in fact, entirely within our imagination. We live in a dream. This is a truth that has been acknowledged down through the ages by all wisdom teachings. The only important question is, are we aware that we are living in a dream?

Until we awaken to an awareness that we are living in a dream, we continue to be victims - victims of all the symbols in our head, victims of the voices of others in our head, victims of all the superstitions and lies imposed on us by religion, government, and our entire collective way of thinking and believing. When we are young our parents, schools, religion, and entire society introduce us to their opinions and beliefs through their agreed upon symbols. We believe in the religion our parents believed in and we believe what they taught us in school. We are told stories by our parents, stories about our country and its role in wars and about all of its heroes. There was never any bad intention behind those who nurtured us; we learn from those around us according to the only world they know. The world we grow up in prepares us to be a part of society, but unfortunately a society built upon symbols that are representations, not the truth. We learn to live in the same dream as everyone else around us, our faith gets trapped in the structure of that dream, and we see it all as normal. Adults can teach what they know, but they cannot teach what they don't know. Generation after generation we remain lost in the same dream, a dream within our heads that is a lie.

Once we have an awareness that everything we have learned through symbols is only a representation and not the truth, the only thing left is to enjoy life. When we give meaning to everything with symbols, our attention is dispersed; when we take away the symbols that we have assigned to everything, we are open to enter communion with all things. We become one with all things. There is no longer any symbolic distinction in the world. Even a momentary realization of this oneness causes the whole structure of our belief system to disappear as it all becomes the singular wonderful dream that it is. When we awaken from believing that we are not what we think we are, we come to understand what we really are, without words. And because there are no words to explain what you are, you resort back to a knowing peace where you no longer need to explain who you are by words. 


This is what separates the masters from the apprentices. The highest point we can reach is when we go beyond symbols and become one with all things, become one with God. It is the point at which we no longer judge ourselves or anyone else. It is the day we accept ourselves just the way we are, the day we accept everyone else just the way they are. The war in our head is over and the true dream is realized, where truth, respect, love, and joy fill our time in this playground of life. Only by awakening to full awareness can we rediscover the real dream within the dream we are living within.

The ancients would say that no one can say the name of God. It is true because there is no symbol for God. The only way to understand God is to become God. The truth is that we don't know the name of that which created us. The word God is our best symbolic attempt to wrap our head around the concept, but it ends up being interpreted in endless distorted ways because it is not real, but merely a symbol whose meaning we will never mutually agree upon.

So, the first lie of our collective dream that each of us is taught, early on, is that "I am not God". From this fundamental lie springs a chain of lies that we build our fearful lives upon. The lies mount and become overwhelming, overshadowing our birthright of divinity. We see the beauty of God and the perfection of God and we want to be like God, so our life is spent searching and searching in vain for the perfection that was always there. Humans are storytellers and we tell our children about a God who is perfect, but a God who judges us and punishes us when we misbehave. We also tell our children about Santa Claus who knows somehow when we've been naughty or nice and rewards us accordingly, like God. But these stories are distorted. Santa Claus does not exist. Nor does a God who judges and punishes. All these fundamental ideas in our head are not real. Culture downloads a program into its children that is filled with assumptions of unworthiness and submission to a system that “has always been”, but in reality it has not. When we awaken to an awareness of the dream we finally realize that we are and always have been God - we are life, we are love, we are truth, we are all things.

The dream of our life is actually the sum of thousands of little dreams. Dreams are born, they grow, and they pass away; they are always in flux, transforming our lives, whether we are aware of them or not. When we become aware that we are dreaming at every moment we can recover the power to change our dreams at will. Use the power. Each of us creates the world that we live our dreams in. If we are going to dream anyway, why not create beautiful, divine dreams! Wake up, dream well, and enjoy the perfect life that each of us was born to experience, a divine life that only we can create in total awareness.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Go to the Limits of Your Longing


God speaks to each of us as he makes us,
then walks with us silently out of the night.

These are words we dimly hear.

You, sent out beyond your recall,
go to the limits of your longing.
Embody me.

Flare up like flame
and make big shadows I can move in.

Let everything happen to you: beauty and terror.
Just keep going.  No feeling is final.
Don't let yourself lose me.

Nearby is the country they call life.
You will know it by its seriousness.

Give me your hand.

RAINER MARIA RILKE 
 Book of Hours, I 59

Sunday, December 25, 2016

Sharing a Dream Together


On this holiest of days in the Christian tradition, let's share a beautiful dream together, you and me.

It's a warm sunny day. You find yourself in the middle of a broad field of colorful flowers, birds singing from the trees at the edge of the field; a light breeze caresses your cheek and flowing hair as you walk toward the sound of a stream at the edge of the field. There you find me sitting quiety and notice all the colors of the flowers seem to be shining as beautiful light from my head. You look into my eyes and feel love in my smile. You smile and ask if you can learn to shine with all these beautiful colors as I do.

I tell you a story of how I have been loved by many people over a lifetime and how I stored love that was given in my heart and used it to kindle a great fire there, a hot fire that purifies everything that it touches. The fire touched every cell in my body, and as I loved every cell in my body, every cell in my body loved me back. I became one with my own body. But the flame grew and reached my emotions and mind, and as I loved them as well I came to love myself completely and unconditionally.

As the fire burned brighter with my love, a great need grew within to share this love, so I shared it with a tree. I shared a little piece of my love with each of the trees, and the trees loved me back, making the flame within me grow even brighter. I put a piece of my love in every flower, in all the grasses, in the earth, in every stone, and each loved me back in turn, and we were one. I gave my love to the wind and all the waters of the earth, and we were one. My love grew to form a communion with every animal and every plant in the world, the air, the waters, and all of the earth. As each loved me back in turn, we became one and my love grew only that much stronger.

I turned my love to the sky and gave a piece of my love to the sun and the moon, and a little piece to every star in the night sky, and they loved me in return, and my love kept growing and growing. Then I put my love in evey human and became one with all of humanity. I turned to the Creator of All Things and gave thanks for the gift of all things around me and the opportunity to love and be loved by them. I gave thanks for my wonderful body and mind, the air that I breathe, the water that I drink and bathe in, the sun, the moon, and the stars and everything under them. I gave thanks for the Creator of All Things for living within me and shining its radiance through me in love. I gave thanks for using my heart to share this love, for my senses to appreciate all the beauty, wonder, and mystery of the world.

As you stare at the love and light dancing in my eyes I remind you of what you already know - the secret behind the mystery is to sow the seeds of love, beginning within yourself, then expanding outward to all things. The more love you sow (share) the more love you will harvest, fueling the fire within. It is the fire within that is the Creator of All Things in you. Feed the fire with your love and become one with All Things. Give thanks at every turn and make love your way of life, and you will forever shine in your own bright light.

Saturday, December 24, 2016

Prayer for Freedom


Today, Creator of the Universe, we ask that you come to us and share with us a strong communion of love. We know that your real name is Love, that to have a communion with you means to share the same vibration, the same frequency that you are, because you are the only thing that exists in the universe.

Today, help us to be like you are, to love life, to be life, to be love. Help us to love the way you love, with no conditions, no expectations, no obligations, without any judgment. Help us to love and accept ourselves without any judgment, because when we judge ourselves, we find ourselves guilty, and we need to be punished.

Help us to love everything you create unconditionally, especially other human beings, especially those who live around us - all our relatives and people whom we try so hard to love. Because when we reject them, we reject ourselves, and when we reject ourselves, we reject You.

Help us to love others just the way they are with no conditions. Help us to accept them the way they are, without judgment, because if we judge them, we find them guilty, we blame them, and we have the need to punish them.

Today, clean our hearts of any emotional poison that we have, free our minds from any judgment so that we can live in complete peace and complete love.

Today is a very special day. Today we open our hearts to love again so that we can tell each other "I love you" without any fear, and really mean it. Today we offer ourselves to you. Come to us, use our voices, use our eyes, use our hands, and use our hearts to share ourselves in a communion of love with everyone. Today, Creator, help us to be just like you are. Thank you for everything we receive this day, especially for the freedom to be who we really are. Amen.

Don Miguel Ruiz

Friday, December 23, 2016

Waiting on the Last Train


A day may come when someone could say to me that TOMORROW, YOU ARE GOING TO DIE. Since no one can see the future clearly in this mysterious world of probabilities, I can't imagine myself dying tomorrow, but the possibility remains as very real, still. Nonetheless, a day will arrive when in fact I could say, TOMORROW, I AM GOING TO DIE. The truth is that we don't know if we are going to die tomorrow. How could we? When I acknowledge that, in fact, I could very well die tomorrow I open the gates to truly living today. For that is what I would do if told definitively that this was my last day on Earth. If a doctor told me I had a day or a week to live I could choose to be miserable and tell everyone "oh woe is me" and create a big drama around my misfortune, or I could choose to be happy in every moment and do the things I really enjoy doing with those I love. I certainly would not worry about what other people thought. I would do whatever I wanted and not be afraid of what others think or say. I would be the best me I could be to close my final chapter.

I drown one time many years ago. The ocean took my breath and the light gave back my life. I didn't see it coming and in an instant it was gone. You never quite look at the world the same after something like this. Everyone likes to hear the story of your Near Death Experience, but few query far enough to ask how it has changed you. For one thing, you no longer take life for granted. Nor do you look at the future as a given. You don't wait to tell the people you love that you love them. Every day could be your last opportunity to tell others exactly what it is you feel and believe. I want others to know how I feel before they pass on, and I don't want to leave anyone behind without telling them I love them.

More recently I took a real bad fall while cutting a tree, with huge concussive head trauma. Refusing to seek medical care, I sat in my favorite chair in what could have been my final hours and took that time to reconcile my life, accept the accident for what it was, and accept the real possibility that this was the end. I took the time to express gratitude for everything and to send out love to everyone. I made peace in the moment and was ready to board the last train if it stopped at my station. The train kept on riding down the rail this time, but I have not stopped showering the world with my gratitude and love, because I can't say exactly when it will be back again.

So, since tomorrow may very well be that day of final reckoning, I choose to live in peace, gratitude, and love, without regrets, each and every day, each and every moment. One day there will be no tomorrow, but today I am here, I am alive, I watched the sun come up this morning, I am grateful to everyone and everything. I give thanks for one more day to be me. This is the way I choose to live. And I aim to be ready for the return of that train that finally takes me home, and plan to be blowing its whistle loud and clear all the way around the bend.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

the Wind in my Sails


      “I won't tell you that the world matters nothing, or the world's voice, or
       the voice of society. They matter a good deal. They matter far too much.
         But there are moments when one has to choose between living one's
             own life, fully, entirely, completely — or dragging out some false,
         shallow, degrading existence that the world in its hypocrisy demands.
                                You have that moment now. Choose!”
                                                 OscarWilde

 
I chose to pay attention to the words, thoughts, and feelings from the inner voice of conscience that always seems to be there when I need direction, whether I acknowledge it or not. I always have the choice to listen or to disregard the messages that we otherwise attribute to intuition. Just before I receive a message of any kind there always appears to be a pause in the endless inner dialogue or an interruption in the action, allowing me to refocus, even if just momentarily, on the subtle intent and message of my inner voice. This pause is known in Sanskrit as Ksana. Sometimes, when the world briefly stops, a great spiritual truth is revealed. I have seen what happens when I disregard the message, and what happens when I attend to its suggestion. When I choose to listen I seem guided to a better state of being, sometimes in ways that do not become apparent until much later. With experience I have come to trust that when I do listen, the quality of my life is always expanded or transformed in some beneficial way.

On the highest level, conscious awareness of our inner voice can alter the direction of life through spiritual understanding and by allowing us to move into that mysterious, unknown part of the universe where we more easily navigate through feelings, imagery, and sensation. Consciously choosing to pay attention to this aspect of the universe can lead to fascinating connections with others, opportunities, and expansion of personal capabilities. Intervention may occur in the heat of an argument, right before I depart by car or airplane on some trip, or when I am about to make a significant decision. It often comes as a specific alternate suggestion, but the pause may also be found between the inhale and exhale of a breath in the space when the universe breathes life into us.

I try to stay disciplined and ready for things unforeseen. Opportunity often follows open readiness. We may meet and encounter new people at any time or have our attention drawn to some grand new opportunity. We may find the right teacher or notice heretofore negative patterns gently dropping away. At any rate, life always seems to expand when I chose to listen. Often, without notice, I am stopped in my tracks upon meeting someone new, and without a doubt have an implicit understanding that this person either has something to give to me, or that I have something to give to her or him. One or both of us is there to teach; one or both of us is there to learn. It is a growth opportunity. So I keep on the alert and know that I am quite sane to attend to that hidden part of myself that has its hand on my rudder. As long as I maintain this course, the wind keeps my sails full and I seem always to be headed toward fair weather and open seas.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

the Psychedelic Roots of Christmas


The modern Christmas meme of Santa Claus is of a rotund, white-bearded jolly fellow in a red suit with white fir trim, in the company of elves, riding a sleigh full of toys behind flying reindeer, sliding down chimneys to deliver gifts which are hung in stockings by the fireplace with care. In actuality, Santa is the modern version of the archetypal Siberian mushroom shaman. Even today many Siberian male shamans and female mushroom gatherers still dress in ceremonial red-and-white trimmed jackets when they go to gather the sacred mushrooms, which are then hung to dry in the branches of pine trees, like the colorful ornaments that decorate modern Christmas trees. The biochemical effects of these bright speckled Amanita mushrooms (fly agaric) are quite enjoyable and transformative when they are dried before consuming.

After the mushroom harvest is complete, the shamans collect their mushrooms in a sack and place them on their sleighs, which a team of reindeer pulls back to the yurts that members of the community occupy. The nomadic shamans typically live in yurts made out of birch branches and reindeer hides. In winter, snow drifts can cover a yurt's main entrance, so the shaman enters through the smoke hole at the top to deliver his mushroom gifts to other clan members. To further dry the mushrooms, they string them up around the fireplace, and in the morning they awaken to a ritual feast of dried magic mushrooms. Once they ingest the mushrooms, the celebrants leave the physical plane and are transported to the mystical realms of the Cosmic Tree, guided by spirits that live within the mushrooms - corresponding to Santa’s little helpers, the elves.

At the very center of these belief systems stands the persona of the shaman and his or her unique ecstatic experience. With the aid of spirit helpers he can travel to and intercede with the supernatural forces of the Upperworld and Underworld whose mystical geography he has traversed through training and trance. Frequently, although not always, his mastery comes from the use of sacred psychoactive plants, which serve both as a portal to other realms and as a source of transforming power or “soul stuff.” With the concept of “transformation” so fundamental to this worldview, it is easy to see why sacred plants with the power to radically alter consciousness and provide direct access to these supernatural realms would be universally revered in ancient religions. Throughout prehistory the religions of our ancestors were shamanistic.

All of these Christmas themes including the image of Santa Claus, the Christmas tree, the flying reindeer pulling Santa’s sleigh, Santa coming down the chimney, the exchange of gifts—even the elves who live in Santa’s workshop at the North Pole - have a real presence even to this day on the steppes of Siberia. You would be jolly too if you ate as many magic 'shrooms as Old Saint Nick. And because fly agaric is probably the favorite and preferred food of reindeer it comes as no surprise that Rudolph's nose may have in fact become red from sunburn after standing stoned and mesmerized in the sun for hours at a time. Kind of changes the way you'll think about "Merry" in the greeting Merry Christmas from now on, doesn't it!

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Gifts of Christmas


I have a deep respect for the heart of Christianity, but when Christmas rolls around each year I must admit that a part of me cringes. I grew up in a Christian household with presents under a decorated tree and family meals together. While a celebration of the birth of Jesus and reading from the Bible were not a central part of the holiday, the part about family togetherness was very important. The 1950's and 60's were not a time of great commercialism and my father's income was not much more than what we needed, so, with the exception of one Christmas morning, gifts were on the meager side as my memory serves me. We seemed to be happy with the little toys we received, as well as the new underwear. It was a simple time with simple pleasures that were appreciated. The love was always there, however, and that was the most important memory I have of Christmas past.

Fast-forward to raising my own family. The world became more commercial and the mother of my children was a very generous Mrs. Claus. Looking back at the wonderful memories that I video-taped, the sheer volume of gifts for our three children was almost embarrassing. We would go to Christmas mass and always enjoy meals together, but my children were never overdosed with religiosity, but merely taught to be generous in turn and compassionate to others. In that we succeeded.

I enjoy giving gifts and surprising others, and am always humbled by the kind giving of others, but... bah, humbug... I remain uncomfortable with the heavy commercial influence on a celebration of such spiritual significance. Ritual is essential, certainly, to hold communities and families together, but I feel we as a culture are being sold short by usurping the significance of such a time-honored ritual just to drive the economy. The season has become distorted, in turn leaving each of us, families, and the culture at large irreparably distorted.

I still object to having to yield to the obligatory gift-giving because 'tis the season. The commercial onslaught has co-opted Good Friday and Maundy Thursday into buying orgies of Black Friday and Cyber Monday that have become economic events by which we measure a weird sort of cultural health. But this sort of cultural health is not health at all, but an exercise in excess and trivia. Even good Christians, which I do not call myself, seem too often taken by the religious distortion of Christmas. Too many churches present Christmas as a children's holiday with re-enactments of the manger scene performed by little children, which does not begin to do justice to the historic message of God become human.

So what does the Scrooge in me really think??? There is something audacious and mysterious and reality-affirming in a tradition that has survived in some form or other for two thousand years. It is still profoundly humanizing and spiritually exacting at the core. And its irrationally-accepted distortions are no more crazy than any of the other economic and political myths to which we routinely deliver over our fates in this culture, to our individual and collective detriment.

In the spirit of gift-giving so alluring at this season, perhaps we can all make the world a better place with our generosity as we celebrate our spiritual connection with our family and community. There are many fine charitable organizations that house, feed, and clothe less-fortunate members of our communities. Since most of us buy what it is we need and want throughout the year anyway, without any delayed gratification as in days of old... instead of buying presents for the Christmas holiday for family and friends, take an equivalent amount of funds that you would have bought "stuff" with and spend it on coats, underwear, shirts, and jeans for needy folks. My wife and I have always given our time and effort to the Marine Corps' Toys for Tots program, but I sometimes wonder if needy children really need spoiled with this once-a-year generous commercial overindulgence. Perhaps we each could sponsor a catered meal for a needy family to celebrate the holiday together at home. These are things we can do quietly, with humility, without public notice.

We need to remember that we still need each other. And that impulse, surely, is deep in the original heart even of the most secular things like Santa Claus and surrounding your home with lights: examining what we are to each other and experiencing that, sometimes when we do this, something transcendent happens.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Embracing the Darkness


In two days we celebrate the Winter Solstice once again as the Earth's gyroscopic axial tilt reaches its extreme on its annual journey around old Sol. As we go beyond this hiburnal episode it is hard to resist the metaphor of the increasing light ahead. But in our longing for days of warmth and light, as we sing our winter blues, it may be time to reflect on what the darkness has to teach.

Life is full of long nights, some which seem impossible to live through. But darkness can be a friend and a great teacher if a person opens eyes wide and listens to the subtle message of the night. The poets ever remind us:


     Sun punctures the night.
     A new season is dawning.
     Winter has touched us. - Scott McCray


     In a dark time, the eye begins to see. - Theodore Roethke

     The sun is merely a chaperone to the darkness - Adam Foley

     In the dark you can not see what you don't need. - Uwe Stroh

     I have faith in the night. - Rainer Maria Rilke

     The ray of darkness / God is breaking / The lesser light - Gregory Golden

     Reveal thy secrets: / Darkness stands, / Holding a lamp. - Maitrayee Chowdhury

     To go in the dark with a light is to know the light.
     To know the dark, go dark. Go without sight,
     and find that the dark, too, blooms and sings,
     and is traveled by dark feet and dark wings. - Wendell Berry

     Darkness darkens but / Still deepens through / Her broken light - Gregory Golden

     Once I came here with light / Now darkness glitters... - Chandi Mandal

On this Winter Solstice, as we brighten to the prospect of the coming of more light, perhaps we need to spend some time embracing the darkness — or letting it embrace us. There are life-giving lessons to be learned in these days, as well as in our own darkest times.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Einstein on Religion


Before God we are all equally wise - and equally foolish.

Do you believe in immortality? No, and one life is enough for me.

God always takes the simplest way.

I do not believe in the God of theology who rewards good and punishes evil.

God does not care about our mathematical difficulties. He integrates empirically.

God does not play dice.

God may be subtle, but he isn't malicious.

I cannot imagine a God who rewards and punishes the objects of his creation and is but a reflection of human frailty.

I want to know God's thoughts... the rest are details.

It was the experience of mystery - even if mixed with fear - that engendered religion.

Morality is of the highest importance - but for us, not for God.

My religion consists of a humble admiration of the illimitable superior spirit who reveals himself in the slight details we are able to perceive with our frail and feeble mind.

One strength of the communist system of the East is that it has some of the character of a religion and inspires the emotions of a religion.

When the solution is simple, God is answering.

Whoever undertakes to set himself up as a judge of Truth and Knowledge is shipwrecked by the laughter of the Gods.

That deep emotional conviction of the presence of a superior reasoning power, which is revealed in the incomprehensible universe, forms my idea of God.

True religion is real living; living with all one's soul, with all one's goodness and righteousness.

Science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.

All religions, arts and sciences are branches of the same tree.

Friday, December 16, 2016

Forgiveness


Emotional suffering for a prolonged time is never necessary. Healing is always in reach. Emotional wounds must first be opened by confronting the truth, then healed with forgiveness. We must forgive those we feel have wronged us, not because they deserve to be forgiven, but because we love ourselves so much that it is not worth continuing paying emotionally for the injustice. Forgiveness is the only pathway to emotional healing. And when you forgive, you relinquish playing the role of the judge, as well as the role of playing the victim.

You know you have forgiven someone when you see or think about them and no longer have an emotional reaction. When you touch something that used to be an emotional wound and it no longer hurts, then you know that you have truly forgiven.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

the Smile of Freedom


Everyone talks about freedom. People all over the world continue to fight and die for it. What is it about freedom that makes it that important? In America we speak of living in a free country. But are we really free to do and say what we want? True freedom has nothing to do with political policy. Freedom is something that can only be found in the human spirit.

Who prevents us from being free? We can say it is the government, or we can blame our parents, or religion, or God. But in truth, we are never victims. No one anywhere is a victim. We make the choice not to be free. Some who marry say they give up their freedom to do so, yet when they divorce they are still not free. What is it then? What is holding us back from being free?

Do you remember when you were free? You were a child - maybe two or three years old, maybe four. Children are free people. They are free because they do whatever they want. They are still wild, like a flower, a monkey, or an oak tree that have not been domesticated. Most of the time a two-year-old has a smile on its face because it is enjoying itself. They are busy exploring the world and not afraid to play. Sure, they may be unhappy and cry when they are hungry or get hurt or have some unsatisfied need, but by and large they don't worry about the past and could care less about the future. They are absorbed in the moment, completely. They are free.

A free person is not afraid to say what he or she thinks, like little children. Free people are not afraid of love, like little children. And free people never see themselves as victims. There is a free person within each of us because the child within never completely goes away. You catch of glimpse of your inner child when you play or are having fun, when you are creatively engaged in writing or painting or playing music or expressing yourself. When the real you pops to the surface the past and future disappear.

Live your life the way you want to. Do it to please yourself. Quit trying to please everybody else. No "buts". Be a child. Be wild. Don't be domesticated. Explore the world and smile, and don't worry about it all, especially the past and the future. That is freedom. Isn't that what you want. Do it. Do it NOW.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Someplace Where Everybody Knows Your Name


    “And the world cannot be discovered by a journey of miles, no matter how long,
 but only by a spiritual journey, a journey of one inch, very arduous and humbling and

joyful, by which we arrive at the ground at our own feet, and learn to be at home.”
                                                                                   WENDELL BERRY

I used to live with a good friend from Manchester, England, who would go into great length about the pleasures of sitting down at the same table at the same pub every week with his mates of a lifetime, the same guys he grew up with in school. There was always a bit of envy in me when he would reminisce about life before he immigrated to the States. I must admit that I have fantasized about what it would be like to be a regular at a bar in my neighborhood, to walk in and hear everyone greet you by name, pull up my usual seat, and have the bartender pour me my usual drink. Maybe I watched too many episodes of Cheers, but that type of welcome atmosphere always appealed to me.

But such is not my lifestyle, as I move about quite a bit. In all corners of the continent I have running friends that meet on the same trails weekend after weekend, year after year, and have formed a deep bond that I am just not a part of, though I am always welcome to join them when I am in the neighborhood. I travel a lot, as I say, for adventures of one sort or another, shared with folks from all over. It sounds like a fabulous lifestyle. Many people tell me they want to be me when they grow up. There are always fascinating new people to meet, old friends to reconnect with to share new adventures, and challenges that extend as far as the mind can dream. Sometimes I even share adventures with my wife and other members of family. It is all very wonderful and keeps life ever fresh.

I am sequestered on my butt this winter, by choice, taking some time off from my mad dashes across the country, resting my bones and recovering from the physical abuse I put my body through this year, enjoying the time off in the mild Carolina weather. And as I take time to reflect, the undeniably not-fabulous aspects of my life surface. I love being at home and consider myself to be a latent homebody. It is nice to turn to appreciation of the arts, playing my guitar until my fingers hurt, catching up on the plethora of books I've accumulated from Amazon, entertaining good friends and family, and even watching the Discovery and History Channels to see what the rest of the world is up to.

But a true summary of my life is that it is lived on the road, on airplanes, in rental cars, in hotels rooms with a variety of amenities, but all pretty much the same. I normally wake up with a different view every morning throughout half of the year. Whether it is a city or a mountain skyline, every day begins with novelty. I guess my life is more interesting, but I wonder if it is as satisfying as someone who never gets out of town? Is a less-rooted life better? Healthier? Really a better way to live? Traveling as I do becomes ritualistic, akin to the routine one faces by going to work at the same job year after year. Since everything changes from day to day, my own routines of meditation or prayer and exercise have a different venue most every day.

Traveling all the time endangers my relationship with anything local. I am lost from any sense of community in a local sense and can only take comfort in being a transient part of a more global community. We all want to be known. Perhaps it is just a fantasy, whether you travel or stay at home. The biggest difference between a wandering lifestyle and one that is rooted may be who we are known by and to what degree. When you travel you are constantly new to others. The ego is constantly getting a boost in the seeming importance of it all. You can always re-invent yourself and be anything or anybody you choose to be. There is great novelty in this way of living - surprises at every turn. You make lots of new friends. Some stick and some don't. But it can all wear thin. In the final analysis, the benefits of a wandering lifestyle may fail to rival the rewards of living in a home that you love and being a part of a community that cares about you. If life is made up of great conversations, too often mine are with strangers when I'd rather be having them with good friends, neighbors, and family.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Cup of Conscientious Caffeine to Go


How can I enjoy a cup of coffee at Starbucks when I know there are billions of people around the world that don't earn in a month what I paid for that one cup of coffee? Should I never have that cup of coffee, or do I need to take some sort of  responsibility and do something about it? Feeling guilty is of no use. Guilt can be paralyzing. Some are guilty and culpable, certainly, and they need to be reminded of their guilt and stopped.

What we do matters. What we say matters. Words matter. Words create worlds. What we think matters. Life is serious. God is in our world. we need to be reminded  that God wants something of us. The world is meaningful and we each have an important role to play in it. We can't despair and give in to nihilism, but should continue to look upon the wonder of the world, then go out there and make sure other human beings can appreciate it as the fortunate few of us do. We each need to find a pattern of living within whatever tradition we believe, then engage the world and help eliminate suffering and advance justice whenever we can.

Monday, December 12, 2016

A World Reborn through la Femme


"Cars were at a 12 minute standstill and the traffic light repeatedly cycled green to red. In the streets, throngs of sign-toting New Yorkers were giving voice to their passion. There were tears and profanity. The waves of protesters streamed endlessly. “FUCK TRUMP” was the choice mantra of this movement. The perplexed Nepalese driver turned and said in his broken English, “Why is dese womens mad? I know what woman is. Hillary has not even little kindly heart. She is no woman.”" - **Kelly Brogan, MD and Louise Kuo Habakus

Women donned in pant suits, desperately eager to play a historic role in breaking through the glass ceiling and usher in a new era of female leadership in the United States, exhorting each other through unity in their indignation over the aggressive rule-breaking Republican patriarchal candidate, aligned with Hillary as their redemption, their healer, the one who would right all the wrongs and confer upon women a power they felt they have always been denied. But the yellow brick road they followed would not lead them to meet the great Oz.

It seems only natural for women to get behind another woman running for office. But in their desperation to find an immediate solution, women who supported Hillary Clinton for President got duped. If nothing else, their advocacy served only to continue the shackles of the old feminism, which unfortunately serves only to indenture and arrest the development of women today.

"Classical feminism is men versus women. It’s burning bras. It’s fighting for what’s ours. It’s throwing our lipstick away, gunning for every shred of external validation offered to men — from clothing to salary to parenting roles to front-line combat units. It’s “no thanks, I got the door for myself.” It’s even cultivating aggression and hate. It may feel empowering. But when we engage feminism primarily from the masculine principle, it contributes further to our silent and chronic oppression."**

This illusion of power through sovereignty only takes women further away from their innate creative power, from their cosmic feminine energy, from the great divine mother. The old style of feminism only serves to divest women from their own sacred place in the world. A woman does not achieve equality by practicing the masculine principle and competing with men by their rules. A woman who sets aside her grace, her deep sense of nurturance, and her unparalleled powers of intuition has only co-opted the masculine principle.

Hillary Clinton represented women's tendency to be appeased with exactly what holds women back. Well grounded in the masculine principle, she was a phony as far as being a woman candidate. Even post-election polls showed that more of those who voted for her saw her as a man than as a woman. She is a wolf in sheep's clothing and she tried to prevail in a male-dominated institution by being like her counterparts and outdoing a wolf in wolf's clothing. The taxi driver's comment about Hillary having no heart was an unspoken embarrassment on the part of the majority who saw little feminity remaining in this candidate.

Hillary's gender-busting candidacy was mostly smoke and mirrors with the marionette's strings undetected by those tuned to the mainstream media. Now that the vote has been tallied, it should be clear that voting for someone just because she has a vagina is nothing less than an aggressive sexist notion extremized by the old feminism. Women who voted against Hillary saw beyond her subterranean hate and shadowy character and realized that a vote for Hillary was a vote for the world-destroying machine to which she is beholden. Putting a vaginal canal in the oval office would have been an illusory gain, at best, with women only drifting further away from their true healing potential.

It is a time for women to wake up. Disappointment and destruction may be a part of this process, and may instigate the healing and regeneration that is desperately needed. There is no doubt that we all need to activate the divine feminine to heal the planet. "Sometimes the darkness reveals the path toward the light and invites more and more of us to walk it than would otherwise."** If something good is to come of this it is because perhaps more people are "feeling" today, in their grief and mourning of perceived loss. A true awakening awaits, and invites. There is a lot of fuel for the fire. Feelings that have been sublimated need activated now to hasten the awakening.

We are in a place of potentially grave instability on this planet. It’s an instability that cuts to the core of all of our ecosystems and threatens our continuity on Mother Earth. A lot is out of balance. The pain is great. We are disconnected from something vital. We have become out of touch with the safety and love of our mother, our planet. It is a feminine wound. A better world awaits, however. Hillary was never going to be the conduit to achieve a better world. Perhaps Mr. Trump is precisely what is needed to awaken women, leading to a liberation from their continued captivity in a narrative that has no room for the divine feminine power.

The game is not vaginas versus cocks. We do not need women who seek to mimic the dress and comportment of men. Men and women are not equal. It’s not matter of “our turn” or fair play. Women must examine their collective time-honored hurt; own it, work with it and integrate it to bring about healing. "The most powerful force on this planet is a woman’s divine compass — a compass that only knows the feeling of the collective as one. It knows that we can shift out of our righteousness and into a place of core stability because we already have everything we need if we choose to trust it, feel it, and own it."**

Women have given away their deepest powers of manifestation and creation. It will not be reclaimed by grabbing, or crying "foul"; it returns not through victimhood, but with women radiating who they really are "because we already have everything we need if we choose to trust it, feel it, and own it."** When women can trust in their natural-born power and remind us of who we all are and our place in the world, they will find their long-lost place of honor and respect. Hillary demonstrated hopefully the last vestige of an old dying counter-productive and counter-intuitive model of feminism, built upon conventional power structures, dogma, and non-integration. Emboldened by possibilities, only women can bring about a new birth through pain and suffering through their heart-centered consciousness. Perhaps the seeds sown in this election, if nurtured well, will ultimately lead the wolf in wolf's clothing, whether intentionally or inadvertently, to heal the world and allow a New Story to unfold.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Magic a la Belle Epoque


                “Tout est nombre. Le nombre es dans tout. L’ivresse est un nombre.”
                           (“Everything is number. Number is in all. Drunkenness is a number.”)
                                                                          Baudelaire

Claire de Lune, Arabesque, La Mer, and the Suite Bergamasque have always echoed in my mind as some of the most magical, esoteric compositions these old ears have ever enjoyed. I am listening to Claire de Lune at this moment, the Bratislava Symphonic version, and so must pause. Its original title, Promenade Sentimentale, has always seemed more fitting to me. The mind of the man behind the piece has every bit as much intrigued me for his lifestyle and methods at la fin-de-siècle in Paris. Claude Debussy was an extremely private man; in his humility he destroyed most of his musical sketches and writings, so it is tough to get inside his head to appreciate the genius behind his work. He left fascinating clues, however, that give us a glimpse into his life during a magical time in Paris after the turn of the century.

In a letter to his publisher he noted that there was a bar missing, purposefully, on page 8 of Jardins sous la pluie. It was necessary, he wrote, to satisfy Euclidean mathematics within the composition: "elle est nécessaire, quant au nombre; le divin nombre". Debussy seemed always to compose with respect to using esoteric­ proportional techniques. The number he was preserving here was no less than the Golden Mean, which divides a single line into an internal harmony or divine ratio of greater and lesser. Once the missing bar is put in, Jardins sous la pluie conforms to the golden section mean proportion. Since the missing bar merely repeats the previous one, the bar’s addition is intended specifically to generate Debussy’s required internal symmetrical consistency. For Debussy this was in due deference to Euclid's precepts, how to cut a given finite line in an extreme and mean ratio. This is how the Divine Proportion is established. Discovered by Pythagoras and his mystical school, concerned with the occult but no less practical properties of numbers.

Renowned rule-breaker that he was, Debussy still wrote his music out in conventional bars using conventional notes. In the simplest application of the golden mean, you may have a piece of music of twenty-one bars. If at the thirteenth bar you climax the first movement, since thirteen is the golden mean division of twenty-one, the piece then conforms dynamically to a “divine” proportion. While this still conforms with traditional rhythms and melodies, it possesses a hidden “occult” form of celestial authority and coherence that is guided by the internal laws of nature. It is very apparent that Debussy was ever mindful of numbers in his work. Intrigued by how painters applied geometrical proportion, including golden mean proportions to pictorial composition, Debussy applied the occult principle to music as a means of giving form to ideas perceptible to him through nature.

The golden mean has always held mystical and magical properties, going back into antiquity. At the turn of the century in a settled and comfortable time referred to in Paris as the Belle Epoque, the so-called "occult sciences" were deemed as a higher science with regard to bringing about spiritual development and advancement of higher consciousness. The golden mean is the point on a given line where the ratio of the shorter part of the length created by the point is in the same proportion, or ratio, to the longer part, as the longer part of the length is to the line as a whole. This is not an arbitrary piece of geometry; nature uses the principle in its growth patterns; the rule is inherent to the universe of all things. It speaks of a transcendent, intelligence present in cosmic formation. The principle demonstrates the Hermetic dictum: “As above, so below.” The harmony of the greater ensures the harmony of the lesser, and the two are proportionately and harmoniously interrelated. And of course, harmony is everything in music.

The golden mean held tremendous meaning for Debussy and his esoterically-minded friends: his magical work is lasting testament to his experimentation with it. There is evidence of this in piece after piece as well as respect for the Fibonacci sequence in his progressive natural timing of pieces. Virtually all of his work shows proportional organization, perhaps the real genius behind his memorable harmonies. Nature seemed ever forward in the mind of Debussy; he saw within nature a deeper, hidden order of subtle intelligence, inherently aesthetic. His discovery of poetry within mathematics was infused throughout his mastery and expression of music. Debussy himself said that he professed “une religion de la mystérieuse nature,” the Hermetic religio mentis, the religion of the mind whose axiom held that mundus imago dei: “the world is the image of God”

Debussy had the essential spark of genius in himself, certainly, and like others so gifted, he sought ways of enhancing his talent and taking it via depths and profundities to magical heights through inspiration, originality, knowledge, and experience. Given what we now know of the genuine Occult Paris, it would be extraordinary, if not incredible, had a man like Debussy not taken advantage of the spiritual movement of Hermetism that was, for an epoch, alive and radiant in France’s capital. That he kept it to himself indicates a depth of understanding, loyalty to its precepts, and innate seriousness about his vocation

Saturday, December 10, 2016

the Limits of Tolerance

In the politically correct environment of modern liberalism we seem increasingly to be forced to choose between truth and tolerance, which has resulted in an unwelcome identity crisis on all sides. Can each of us continue to stand by some ultimate truth that we have always believed in, or do we now have to choose to honor the truths of other contrasting points of view at the expense of perhaps compromising our own time-honored convictions? The question has become one of how can the individual maintain a clearly delineated identity in a pluralistic world that she/he has now been forced to accommodate. When the tribe was provincial and homogeneous, there was only the rare opportunity for the expression of cultural tolerance upon the visit of some outsider. With the cultural diversity that has resulted from the recent liberal push for globalism, we now live in a world of outsiders with increasingly blurred lines between what used to be clearly either us or them.

It is a very difficult balance indeed - between maintaining a deep commitment to traditional beliefs on the one hand and tolerance and respect for other traditions on the other. Pluralism is a fine objective, aiming to make us all members of one happy world community. In practice, however, pluralism seems to be practiced more as relativism. My openness to people of different convictions or faiths might be just my opinion, as opposed to your opinion. But there are some things that don't stand the test of relativism. There are some things that are right; some things are wrong. There are some things that are true; some that are without question false. Some things are not merely a matter of opinion. Yet we are expected to maintain a certain largeness of societal vision and sense of mutual need to work with people who disagree with us profoundly. It is a balance that is hard in theory and even harder in practice, perhaps impossible in certain instances.

Sharia law allows for the brutal beating, torture, and killing of women, girls, and female fetuses under strict patriarchal religious standards. This seems intolerable under any ethical civilizational model. Not just my opinion. This is wrong and should not be tolerated by any society. Despite the rich tradition of Islam I find many of its beliefs to be intolerably incompatible with Western societal Judeo-Christian views, even those of more tolerant secular humanism, and sense that never will the two traditions coexist peacefully as one community. In my opinion, the world is not yet ready to blend us and them into one happy family. The divisiveness of diverse righteous religions may always stand in the way of progress toward the spiritual evolution of society at large until we can grow past this divisiveness and dance under one banner of ecumenical understanding. Perhaps all the children of Abraham will one day sit around the same table to feast in peace, but we are no where near that level of tolerance in the world today. 

I shall continue to hold self-evident truth above the conventional push for tolerance.


Friday, December 9, 2016

Livin and Lovin


I don't have to meditate or sit around daydreaming for hours to grow in spirit. I only have to be human and honor the man that I am. I respect my body, I enjoy my body, I love my body, I feed, clean, and heal my body. I go for long runs and do what makes my body feel good. In India they do a ritual called puja in which they take idols that represent God in many different forms and bathe and feed them lovingly. They even say mantras to their idols. But the idols really don't matter. It is the way they say "I love you, God" that matters. I do a puja with my body. It is no less than a communion between me and my Maker. I don't need to worship idols of Jesus or the Buddha - I've got my own body to worship. My body is every bit an equal manifestation of the Divine, and when I practice giving love to every part of my body I am sowing the seeds of love. I honor the growth of those seeds as I unfold in this body in the world.

Every action becomes a ritual in which I honor All That Is. Every thought, every emotion, every belief becomes a communion with God as I live without judgment or victimization or the need to gossip or abuse myself. Action is about living fully. Inaction only denies life. I am not afraid to be alive and take risks to express just who I am. My expression is my action in the world. I love who I am and what I do and shall do my best at every turn. I am not here to sacrifice the joy in my life to anyone or anything. I am here to truly live, be happy, and to love.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

To Grow or not to Grow is not the Question


The fundamental dilemma underlying all our global problems seems to be the illusion that unlimited growth is possible on a finite planet. The irrational belief in perpetual economic growth amounts to a clash between linear thinking and the nonlinear patterns in our biosphere — the ecological networks and cycles that constitute the web of life. This highly nonlinear global network contains countless feedback loops through which the planet balances and regulates itself. Our current economic system, by contrast, is fueled by materialism and greed that do not seem to recognize any limits.

Economic and corporate growth are the driving forces of global capitalism, the dominant economic system today. At the center of the global economy is a network of financial flows, which has been designed without any ethical framework. In fact, social inequality and social exclusion are inherent features of economic globalization, widening the gap between the rich and the poor and increasing world poverty.

In this economic system, perpetual growth is pursued relentlessly by promoting excessive consumption and a throw-away economy that is energy and resource intensive, generating excessive waste and unnecessary pollution, while depleting the Earth’s finite natural resources. Moreover, these environmental problems are exacerbated by global climate change, caused not as much by our energy-intensive and fossil-fuel-based technologies as by the uncontrollable natural cycles of solar output.

It seems, then, that our key challenge is how to shift from an economic system based on the notion of unlimited growth to one that is both ecologically sustainable and socially just. “No growth” is not the answer. Growth is a central characteristic of all life; a society, or economy, that does not grow will die sooner or later. Growth in nature, however, is not linear and unlimited. While certain parts of organisms, or ecosystems, grow, others decline, releasing and recycling their components which become resources for new growth. This kind of balanced, multi-faceted growth is well known to biologists and ecologists. It is“qualitative growth” in contrast to the concept of quantitative growth used by today’s economists.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Mad Man Looking in the Mirror


I got mad during the presidential election - mad at anyone who was stupid enough to be voting for Hillary Clinton. In retrospect, the election was just an excuse for me to get mad at myself. I got mad because I was afraid; it was my way of dealing with fear. While I was fairly confident that Clinton would not win the election I projected my anger on those who refused to acknowledge the illegitimacy of her candidacy and criminality of her character. I was afraid of how much would be lost in our way of life if she were to prevail. Despite a desirable outcome I have still had to deal with my fear, and I have still had to deal with myself.

I like to think I am afraid of nothing. But if I had no fears I would not have gotten mad. I do not like myself when I get mad or when I judge others as being not up to my standards. Sure, mea culpa, but what am I going to do about it? I know that if I dwell in complete love, there is no place for its opposite emotion of fear in my heart and mind. If I don't feel fear, then everything around me will feel good. I need even to extend love to Hillary Clinton and recognize that even had she won I could have still chosen to find happiness and goodness in the world. I know that if I am loving everything around me and feeling great, then the world at every turn is going to be great. If I can live in a total state of peaceful bliss then everything around me will be wonderful and beautiful. That is true love-inspired reality. I am still wounded that I resorted to responding out of fear instead of maintaining a peaceful outlook. No matter what happens I can choose to live in peaceful bliss and make love to the world all around me.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Ghost in the Machine


The systems view of life is a revolutionary advance. At its core lies a profound change of metaphors, from seeing the world as a machine to understanding it as a network. At present, the mechanistic worldview still dominates many fields (e.g. medicine, management, economics, and most of politics), but we are well into a change of paradigms.The material world, ultimately, is a network of inseparable patterns of relationships. The planet as a whole is a living, self-regulating system. The view of the human body as a machine and of the mind as a separate entity is being replaced by one that sees not only the brain, but also the immune system, the bodily tissues, and even each cell as a living, cognitive system. Evolution is no longer seen as a competitive struggle for existence, but rather as a cooperative dance in which creativity and the constant emergence of novelty are the driving forces.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Wendigo


There has always been a certain illness of the soul in the western world that Native Americans have called Wendigo. Those of us, most of us, overtaken by this psycho-spiritual malaise seem insatiably intent on "consuming" everything we desire without feeling any need for giving back something of value or making balance with the world we take from. Whether for private purpose or profit this inner process is mirrored in our consumer society, a culture which fans the flames of never-ending desires, conditioning us to always want for more. As individuals and collectively we act as if we are starving, in a constant feeding frenzy, struggling to ever fill a bottomless void. Our obsessive-compulsive need to consume seems symptomatic of a deep sense of spiritual starvation endemic to the industrial world.

This psychosis may be the greatest affliction of modern humans. It is like a cultural virus that has invaded the mind leaving us with a wrong orientation towards life and that which is truly important. This moral insanity that the human species is acting out all over the world is at the root of humanity's own inhumanity to itself. It is like a self-devouring operating system that destroys everything in its domain, including itself.

The Bible refers to one aspect of this Wendigo as Mammon, the love of money, and it makes the point that we can never serve two masters. Those who serve Mammon are driven by power, control, greed and money. Uncontrollably, many of us seem unable to help ourselves in the compulsive acting out of this money-lust and endless consumption. The incredible destruction that results, be it of the environment, communities, or the lives of others, is considered to be nothing more than collateral damage, the price of doing business. We are all minimized to being nothing more than commodities as consumers.

Native peoples have suffered long over the insatiable drive for western expansion and endless consumption. The stand by native peoples today at Standing Rock in North Dakota to hold their ground and rights against the petrol-chemical corporate behemoth that procures on our collective behalf is no less than a battle between good and evil. In their sacred activism, these Native American protestors consider themselves to be the guardians and protectors of the water, of the land, of the earth as a whole system. This is a job that we shouldn’t be out-sourcing to indigenous people. We are all the custodians of this earth—protectors of life itself—which bears with it a great responsibility. We are all in this together. Those stuck in a rut of consumption need to find their indigenous soul within and make a stand against the Wendigo that afflicts our world.