Zealotry and Fiction: Not So Distant, It Seems

If extremist fanatics wish to make their religious zeal look any more despicable and ridiculous to the rest of the world, I really do not know how they could do it: the continued fatwa on Salman Rushdie’s head, and the renewed furor against him caused by his recent knighting, serves only to make these religious zealots look like murderous retards. Have any of them read and understood The Satanic Verses? It has little to do with blasphemy, and much more to do with understanding (and damn good storytelling). But of course, such people can only read all things completely literally, and are unable to fathom depth, complexity, nor challenging themselves with differing perspectives. And they read the Qoran in just such a manner as well, and are thus able to find justification for blatantly murderous and bigoted responses to everything. Just as Christian religious extremists dig through the Bible to hunt for random verses that will support their prejudice and hatred of all perceived evils.

What I continually fail to comprehend is how people who claim to believe so strongly in something could have their faith shaken so easily by such misperceived and unimportant slights as contained within a book of fiction. While this may attest to the power of the written word and of ideas, it also attests to the fear and insecurity lying so close to the heart of fanaticism. If these people truly believe in their God and in his prophet, then they would know that this God is untouchable by insults from nonbelievers, or blasphemy by outsiders. What is important is the knowledge and faith that they have in their own hearts. But quite obviously, many of them do not have knowledge and faith in their hearts. They only have a slinking overprotective fear that turns quickly to bristling anger and direct attack in the face of any challenge.

What these so-called religious zealots fail to realize is just how apparent their own inner blasphemy is made to the rest of the world when they react in such a manner. These are not men of God. These are hypocrites and blasphemers of the worst sort, who proclaim and beat their chest about their beliefs to the world while all along they do not actually believe them in their own hearts. These are idolaters, murderers, and bigots, who have created a desperate farce of a show to demonstrate that they are righteous, that they are faithful, that they will get into heaven.

Such people earn nothing but disdain from the world, and if there is a God, then they are undoubtedly plowing themselves a direct path to Hell. This is what I think of the people who would uphold a fatwa against Salman Rushdie, and of those unsavory and hypocritical businessmen who have posted bounties on his head. This is my sentence on you.

Self Perpetuating Fear

Just so as in a field in which the soil has been upturned, baring subterranean life to the cruel face of another world, so too in society we unearth, endlessly, the depths of what we cannot consciously understand. We look at these strange unintelligible truths we have unearthed in our cultivation, these creatures of a world before sight, and we are afraid. Because what we are destroying through our shallow misconceptions are the roots of our survival. We are wholly dependent upon the most simple and basic aspects of the earth, and we are destroying these structures like a man kicking at the essential pillars holding up his roof. And then we evince shock when we see our illusions crumbling? Shock that this civilization based on the myth that the earth is ours, that our minds are ours, that our bodies are ours, is falling all around us, leaving us as mere blind destroyers, simpletons sitting in the ravaged dirt?

(But perhaps this is our very function as a part of Nature, to serve as murderous wardens of restrictive mentalities. The dark to counterbalance the light. This is not for us to determine, either way.)

Again, go back to the field, the plot of land that has been blindly cultivated following tradition and convention. Weeds spring up at every turn, like viruses in a weakened immune system, and manufactured chemicals must be sprayed relentlessly, as weeds attack viciously like barbarian hordes. All along when in reality weeds are simple seeds attempting to capitalize on an open market, a market opened wide by methodical devastation. Insects infect the crops, capable of instantaneous destruction if not immediately ridden with poison. Poison leveling beneficial and invasive alike, like carpet cluster bombs in a city, like radiation in a cancer patient.

By creating environments that are based on the illusion that human life is the pinnacle and cream of all creation, we have set ourselves directly on the path of addiction and self-destruction. And we watch with confusion the nightly news repeats of murder, war, famine, suicide, refusing to draw the connections that would render ourselves complicit in all of this madness. The line that would link us to perversion, terrorism, and murder. The line that connects the dots of the individual and the masses. The line that swaths a path direct from innocence to guilt. From hunger to power. From resources to capital.

There is a reason why we fear certain things. These certain things are what we have created through our ignorance, by our deliberate ignoring of all other life that we are wholly dependent upon to survive. It is ok to be afraid. But it is better to be at peace with death. To accept that life is not the central meaning of the universe. That we are in fact nothing in the face of what we are a part of.

Once this fact has been faced, then we can get on with the tasks of enjoying dancing, enjoying breathing, enjoying eating, enjoying shitting, enjoying being alive, and fuck all of this stupid shit like fear.

Dreaming of Dreaming

Jamie’s pic of potted plant

What dream do you choose? The dream of success, of money, of multiple abodes across the globe? The dream of idealism, of righteousness, of home always within your heart? The dream of bitterness and self-vengeance, drinking and wasting away all hope? The dream of union with your beloved, the dream of searching always for fleeting pleasures, the dream of yourself as beautiful, the dream of yourself as nada?

All dreams are dreamed by the dreamer plugged into a subterannean extraterrestrial world of subconscious desires. The pulls and tugs of what could only be understood as destiny and happenstance, one and the same. Everything moving according to the inner weight of necessary becoming. All players in a play determined by respective positioning in the spatial field of time, the temporal plane of existance. Even the rocks and trees stand dreaming, so rooted in essential is-ness that their dream is inseparable from reality. Mankind branches out far into the dark unknown, leaping across collective synapses, gene pooled neurons formed of generations of conscious suffering. So far into the emptiness that their dreams can become seemingly severed from what is. Conscious tears in the fabric of self, riven of the struggle to know itself. It Self as ultimately everything that is and could be. The stars and the stuff of legends, the matter of fear, the synthesis and culmination of evolution.

Leading us musicmakers to here, this point of knowing and not knowing, this movement into future. Into death of what we thought we have known and birth of what we will know, can know, because we have known it all before. Because spring comes after winter, and there is no philosophy that could deny that life is recurring, continuously—so life is recycled after death into life anew. The dream was a dream conceived to move yourself into yourself. The Dreamer at the end of the worlds dreams of itself in the trizillions of forms. The play of moonlight upon the water. The play of emotion across your face. The play of prayers playing at pray.

Consciousness Beyond and Before Mind

“It is becoming always clearer that not only does the capacity of our total consciousness far exceed that of our organs, the senses, the nerves, the brain, but that even for our ordinary thought and consciousness these organs are only their habitual instruments and not their generators. Consciousness uses the brain which its upward strivings have produced, brain has not produced nor does it use the consciousness. . . Our physical organism no more causes or explains thought and consciousness than the construction of an engine causes or explains the motive-power of steam or electricity. The force is anterior, not the physical instrument.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine

Late Night Ponfiticate

tusk-whirl.jpg

I’m tired. But I can’t sleep, which necessitates, of course, a blog post. Something to do with the lingering scents of cigarette and bleach. Funny because I stopped a Harry Potter flick midway to go to bed, but here am I, fingering the little keys of my laptop like herein I might find the meaning of life. I write generally because I am in need, need of expression, need of compassion. Call and response of the heart and mind. It would seem that everything in life is causation, simple cause and effect, spark of synapse and subsequent baby manifestation, but we know this ain’t the complete picture. That there is something still, calm, centered, beyond the action, beyond the forces, some ultimate blissful unknown. Not god, necessarily. Like a you within yourself that is not yourself but everything which includes you and moves beyond you to include the cosmos. You glimpse this glimmering place within yourself when you breach that line between ego and insecurity, and find something more that connects you to everything else. Like you could die and this would still be there. Contexts shift and ebb and flow. Your heart flutters like an aspen leaf in divine current. But there is within yourself still this stillness. Unspeakable, unshakable. Closest thing you could do would be to sing unprotected. Producing fairy children out of thin air with the sheer volume of living magic exhumed from your lungs. Too often we are fearful and layered, buffered in sadness and joy. Unable to breakthrough to anything beyond what we would tell ourselves and each other we are. When in reality we are so much less, so much more insignificant than anything we would ever imagine. Ourselves, as we know it, are nothing. The sheerest, thinnest stretch of connection between galaxies. Rolled endlessly between infinitude and a single pointed finger. What seems at first glance like utter madness is in fact the most logical of steps descending into knowledge. Beyond appearance and self castigation lies this lakebed realm of playful alien forms defined only by our own seeing. What do you see? There it is! Simple, powerful, devastating. The world flattens, bends, shifts to our limitations. We can ruin everything, but it wouldn’t really matter. Because what matters is beyond matter. The sparrows flit from bug to bug over the water, wings bathed momentarily in sunlight as you eat your spaghetti. Everything would seem to center on the sauce, on the light. All is everything. Not just this, not just that, but every single minute thing collects itself into a picture which cannot possibly be deconstructed. So you fly, you sing, you move from point A to point B and in between the weather changes and you comment on it and people say “how are you doing” and you nod and say “good.” and the world explodes all around you to fall at your feet as you craft fantasy after fantasy after TV shows and spam filtered half lives, but nothing will ever quite approach what is there in the movement of the image of light to fall into your eyes backwards to right itself into your retinal after perception firing into thought, into perception, into meaning.

You take a breath. The whole universe quivers. What will be created? What will be destroyed? What will be understood?

Ever More

Aguaje Tree

This moment is you. Standing hopeless on the brink of your desires, your washed up dreams. All the fantasies that you cultivated in solitary stimulation. The world moves on, distant, primal, alien. You listen to your mind striving to form some narration that would fit you in, lock you into a perfection and beauty undeniable, eternal, broadcast across time and space to shine into understanding and love and sex and money. But you know, of course, that your spirit is undefinable. Incapturable. That the only things that come out of you that are beautiful are not your own. That this darkness, this doubt, this everyday struggle simply to look in the mirror and walk out the door into the unseeing crowd is the keystone to this very moment.

When you stand face to face with your death, you understand then that such moments are everything. That all the times of wasteful heedlessness—spent suckered into some suit’s notion of what you are supposed to want, given your date of birth, sexual orientation, and geographical location—were exactly that, a waste. That most of your life has been wasted. That even despite all of this waste, all it takes is one moment of truth, purity, and honesty to clear it all away. The tally is tipped every time by one simple look into despair. You could never be good enough. The world could never be enough. And yet, it moves, it breathes, it feels, it floods. Death and movement are one and the same. Periods are a pause in the formation of thought, like the pulling back of the sea before it moves to crash itself into the shore. Again and again. There is no stop. No end. No final dark night that has no meaning.

What do we call this thing within us that fears and hides and spits at the world? It has been called ego, it has been called self, it has been called humanity. It is our suppressed divinity showing forth as demonic manifestation. Let it shine. Let it out. You know everything that there is to know about yourself. You were born crying, helpless, misunderstood in your inability to articulate. You learned to buffer yourself by silence, conformity, and following the drawn lines of tradition. You found moments of freedom when you rediscovered connection, empathy, intuition. These are the tools that take us into the future.

Draconian regressive clutchings at domination and anger, addiction and blame, have defined our history. These egos. This humanity. These childlike gods, terrible in their bitterness. We all must grow up eventually, one way or another. To face our extinction or our transmutation. Both which appears the same to the uncritical eye.

The alchemist leaves behind his learning, leaves behind his doubt, leaves behind his fear. To make magic. To believe in what has been taught to us as impossible. To find in one moment the key that would unlock all of sleeping eternity. To move beyond himself, his attachment, and his desire.

Because beyond death there is a greater power. It has nothing to do with the transformation of lead into gold, or of water into wine. Nor the movement of mountains, or of the stars, or of your heart. What stupidity! It is the power and binding strength of communion. The severing of self to find union in your Beloved. The letting go of what holds you back and pins you down to find that you can fly, that you have been flying all along, that the world flies and holds you and cradles you and pushes you beyond yourself at every turn to look down into what seems inevitable and certain impossiblity. Can you handle it? Can you handle what you were given? Can you handle what you were made to become?

It is not one or the other. It is not you or them. It is not life or death. It is love, or it is Love. It is death, or it is Death. Nothing less. Ever more.

Behind and Beneath and Behold

Here’s an exercise in possibility. Take a look at the picture of the sky between the branches and needles of a pine tree. Look at how the lit sky in the space between the nebulous branches of the trees resembles constellations, milkyways, galaxies sprawled across the cosmic distance. Then think of this: scientists know that there is something dark and invisible (dark matter) that constitutes the unseen mass of the universe, exerting force and direction.

We can see the lights of the stars. Everything else appears as empty vacuum, empty space. But we know, indirectly, that this space is not empty.

Perhaps this space that we cannot see is in fact the majority of what is. What is seen is in fact the slim space in between. See what I mean? That what we know and can directly envision is in fact only the tip of the iceberg. That the trees, the formations that connect and form and breathe the universe, is constituted by what we do not understand, and can only sense indirectly by the undertow and impulses that guide our existence.

That in fact this visible world that we have investigated so thoroughly is in fact only a petty and slight extension of what is, of what truly forms our lives. And that to get into connection with this unseen mass of the cosmos is to get to know the truth. That most everything else is somewhat of a distraction. Fool’s gold. Glimmers and glints of surface residuals from the dark cavernous depths that lie voluminously beneath and behind everything.

Sea

Pennies in a pond

It isn’t there, if you have to look for it, see. It’s already envisioned, already happening. It’s moving. You’re on it. You’re in it. You are it, every step of the way, every hurt, awakening, joy. The godhead, this beautiful presence. That’s what you’re looking at. Don’t look for it. It’s there. It’s here. It is, it be, it now. This has all been said before, but it has never, ever been seen quite the same way, through quite the same eyes, in quite the same form. Quietly, the world revolves into wholly new arrangements of recycled material. Spiraling coils that stretch into any space given. A beauty that is everpresent, evergreen, all inside everything that exists, as long as you can see it. Look at yourself. You really believe that you are anything else? Anything but you? Who you been listening to?

Because it sure as hell can’t be said. This is just kind of a reminder, you know what I’m saying? This is a memo between me and you so that we remember. Remember that nothing in the world is as important as what is manifestly occurring right now within us. Here. Beholden only to our own sacred knowledge of what we feel. No one can tell us that, not even ourselves. We’ve just got to be listening real close to the world which is ourselves in different times speaking in different voices through different movements that we are one, that we are many, that we are all in this shit together and that it really don’t matter what anyone holds onto—because everything has already been made into a picture that moves and defines and clutches at hungry bittersweet beauty when we all know, all we know, we already know quite well that we are this, peace, whole, center focus of all understanding and polyrhythm and harmonious atonal interconnectivity that thrusts and crawls and flies into love, into love. Into what we can only call love, belatedly and in sad departure because we are full, as the apple is full when it falls to the earth, in the middle of nowhere, in the middle of everything, falling out of fullness and inevitability into the future. Because it must be. Because it is. Because this wind has blown in this current out of the circulation of this sea from this sun in this exploding set of dust and stars and energy.

Each Thing Is All Itself

“When we withdraw our gaze from its egoistic preoccupation with limited and fleeting interests and look upon the world with dispassionate and curious eyes that search only for the Truth, our first result is the perception of a boundless energy of infinite existence . . . an existence that surpasses infinitely our ego or any ego or any collectivity of egos . . . We instinctively act and feel and weave our life thoughts as if this stupendous world movement were at work around us as centre and for our benefit . . . When we begin to see, we perceive that it exists for itself, not for us . . . And yet let us not swing over to the other extreme and form too positive an idea of our own insignificance. . . Science reveals to us how minute is the care, how cunning the device, how intense the absorption it bestows upon the smallest of its works even as on the largest. . . To Brahman there are no whole and parts, but each thing is all itself and benefits by the whole of Brahman. . . The form and manner and result of the force of action vary infinitely, but the eternal, primal, infinite energy is the same in all. The force of strength that goes to make the strong man is no whit greater than the force of weakness that goes to make the weak. The energy spent is as great in repression as in expression, in negation as in affirmation, in silence as in sound.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine

The Divine to Man as the Sun to Earth

“For the senses the sun goes round the earth; that was for them the centre of existence and the motions of life are arranged on the basis of a misconception. The truth is the very opposite, but its discovery would have been of little use if there were not a science that makes the new conception the centre of a reasoned and ordered knowledge putting their right values on the perceptions of the senses. So also for the mental consciousness: God moves round the personal ego and all His works and ways are brought to the judgment of our egoistic sensations, emotions, and conceptions and there are given values and interpretations which, through a perversion and inversion of the truth of things, are yet useful and practically sufficient in a certain development of human life and progress. They are a rough practical systematisation of our experience of things valid so long as we dwell in a certain order of ideas and activities. But they do not represent the last and highest state of human life and knowledge . . . The truth is not that God moves round the ego as the centre of existence and can be judged by the ego and its view of the dualities, but that the Divine is itself the centre and that the experience of the individual only finds its own true truth when it is known in the terms of the universal and the transcendent.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine

Lullaby

Camino Inca

Flip sides o’ the same coin, ecstasy and suffering–like in the way when you cook a pancake and the first side is cooked deeply til it bubbles through, and then when you flip it, the second side cooks swiftly and lightly: a dark, covered burning and grappled scrambling, and a fleeting, golden cumulative few moments of divinity. The ecstasy comes in the throes of union, in the dissipation of boundaries accompanied by a visceral sense of unity, fulfillment, and flying light exploding bliss. Suffering comes when habitual patterns and perceptions fall back into place like confining walls, and separation, individual isolation, and anxious insecurity again take their status as the norm of daily existence. But the renewal of distinct, opposing forms is the essence of life and love. It is essentially impossible to maintain a blissful sense of unity and infinite harmony with all the Kosmos or simply with your beloved. Simply put, without the valleys there would be no peaks. The peaks are pushed into the stratosphere from the deep inner workings of years of slow burning flames, of frictive forces pushing against each other until the victorious simultaneous movement upward, far beyond the territory so painfully fought for.

What is commonly known as “suffering” is what paves the path to a deeper and lasting inner experience of love. Suffering is to work, traverse the pointed rock strewn wildernesses of the heart and mind, to be alone within yourself, to come close to the silence, the stillness of a concentrated listening and observation, when all the sounds and shapes form together slowly like jigsawed pieces of each other, to know the outward signs of mundanity as intimately as inner hidden wellsprings of divine light, to know humanity beyond words, to know love beyond touch, to know god beyond faith, to know everyday as struggle, to know every night as searching, to scrape the lowest dirty depths of the earth to know the wildest dances of lunar madness.

There is no having one without the other. There is no faith without an accompanying contact of skin, no peace without a tumultuous, bloody birth, no healing without protective, irritating scabs, no light reflectant beauty without brooding darkness.

We fight each other to know ourselves. The universe is cut up into words and diagrams to chart its unity into understanding. The heart is pockmarked with despair to know divinity. The moon is deadened rock reflecting the sun exerting its silent night pull on seedlings struggling to uplift their tendrils to the future. The pull is there in everything, up and down, earth and sky, light and dark–all one wave of one voice making its song to itself to sing itself into awareness of its beauty.

Evil as a Part of a Whole

“An omnipresent reality is the Brahman, not an omnipresent cause of persistent illusions . . . And if this Self, God, or Brahman is no helpless state, no bounded power, no limited personality, but the self-conscient All, there must be some good and inherent reason in it for the manifestation, . . . [there must be] some truth of being in all that is manifested. The discord and apparent evil of the world must in their sphere be admitted, but not accepted as our conquerors. The deepest instinct of humanity seeks always and seeks wisely wisdom as the last word of the universal manifestation, not an eternal mockery and illusion, . . . an ultimate victory and fulfillment, not the disappointed recoil of the soul from its great adventure . . . Brahman is indivisible in all things and whatever is willed in the world has been ultimately willed by the Brahman. It is only our relative consciousness, alarmed or baffled by the phenomena of evil, ignorance and pain in the cosmos, that seeks to deliver the Brahman from responsibility for Itself and its workings by erecting some opposite principle, Maya or Mara, conscious Devil or self-existent principle of evil. There is one Lord and Self and the many are only His representations and becomings.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine

To Be Here

Cracking the Ice

The Zen Buddhists are oft quoted curtly stating, “Here. Now.” Attempting always to snap attention to where it is most needed, the present moment. Because the world is sinuously, continuously shifting. Because enlightment is not some perfect pinnacle to be reached and planted a flag into. Because the only way to be effective, relevant, and alive is to be consistently adaptive, morphic, rooting, exchanging. Boundaries must be extended until they are simply memories, snapshots of shedded patterns of the past. Trails as an imprinted arrow to the impromptu point of now, where we stand attempting to surf the unknown stimuli that floods every moment into our hungry receptors.

So many of us are terrified of what is to come, this dark mass of potentialities. We cringe to look at our breathing selves, at the very raw animal divine life that we are, existing, extruding so many things that we don’t even know where to begin to prune. But what is to come is just as frankly irrelevant as what has already occurred. What of course always takes precedence over anything, every time, is the everpresent here and now. To be omnipresent does not mean to exist outside of time. It means to exist so firmly embedded in this very present, now, now, NOW, that in tunnelling through this eternal presence you come to exist everywhere all at once, through the simultaneous intuitive deep superconscious connectives that link you through to all life that exists in the same moment in other forms, to see through their eyes as your eyes, to know the universe through yourself through the universe.

Such moments are hard to come by. Such concentration is required simply to relax. Such study and discipline and luck and love are required to allow and to accept and to embrace each fleeting moment to its fullest.

The first step is just to acknowledge the utter critical importance of awareness of your present existence. To meditate is not to sit. To enact yoga is not to exercise. These are matters of life or death. This is the purpose for which you are here. To be here.

Affirmation of Divinity Within Mundanity

“The affirmation of a divine life upon earth and an immortal sense in mortal existence can have no base unless we recognize not only eternal Spirit as the inhabitant of this bodily mansion, the wearer of this mutable robe, but accept Matter of which it is made, as a fit and noble material out of which He weaves constantly His garbs, builds recurrently the unending series of His mansions.”

Sri Aurobindo, The Life Divine

Vision Logic

Every event and thought and action in my life points to realization of the helix of life and death as one and the same, the helix of pain and pleasure as one and the same. Differing faces of the same coin, spiralling through time and space. All pointing inward to the interdimensional connectivity of our hearts. The boundless core of emptiness that is everything and nothing all in one breath. Twisting, turning, we dance about this flame that expels us and devours us every moment. We play games, we push away our deaths, we push away our lives, we put on masks and pretend to be something singular, one-dimensional, and dissociated from all the world. All songs and stories and myths of humanity. All maps of guidebooks to the spirit.

Looking into ourselves, we see a beauty so terrible, so hungry, so powerful, we flutter away into conventionality, we label away our own infinitude, we box up our horizons and hide behind simulations behind simulations behind simulations of this reality.

This world is mine. It is at my very fingertips, it is inseparable from my heart and my vision. This world is yours. We are gods. We are terrible, hungry, powerful divine beings–and you would be so selfish, so small-minded, so vain, as to say that there is some distinction between yourself and God? That you could ever be separated? That this umbilical cord of words and sight and touch is not God? That the emptiness, and the form, and the heart, and the mouth, and the death, and the life, and the pain, and the ecstasy, could ever be anything but God?

The only thing that divides us is our hesitation to accept, to submit to our own ability to see.

To Suffer, To Heal

Something I thought of while feeling my heart cracking open and tears streaming out–I could feel how in some strange way, pain is the only way in which to heal, grow, and expand. It is the numbing of emotion that is the greatest of danger. Human beings numb themselves with alcohol, drugs, TV, dead-end jobs, abusive relationships, destructive gossip, religion–you name it. The only way for us to keep moving is by opening ourselves to what we know will cause us suffering.

When you are addicted to something, then you seek to alleviate the suffering of withdrawal by continuously getting more and more of what you are addicted to. You seek to numb yourself into normality, just so you can get by. This is not a disease or abnormal behavior. Everyone in this society is addicted to something, whether it is money or weed or sex or wanting other people to think of you as good looking. We look down on those who shoot up heroin or smoke crack, and then we turn around and purchase the latest video game system, or we pretend to laugh at someone else’s stupid joke just because we want them to like us.

The point being that all of us, in some way, seek to numb ourselves so that we don’t have to suffer. To suffer is to lay open your heart, surrender your illusions, and look fully at reality. And once you do that, then you have to change, you have to evolve, you have to accept responsibility for your life.

There is no more pain then when you see someone you know and respect and love destroy themselves. There is no denying suffering in the face of that. It overwhelms you, it overcomes you, it plows you into the emptiness beyond yourself, it rips your soul out of your body. And in this storm of emotion, you begin to see the light of love. How you are not only yourself–you are everyone connected to you. Because you can feel the hole torn from you where that person once was. There is no denying, in the face of such pain, that for someone to tear themself from life prematurely is like pulling a full grown tree from the earth. All of the roots extend into the same soil that nurtures you. All of the limbs and leaves reached out into the same light that bathes your days. That tree was you, is you, and will always be you. There is no isolated, separated, detached individual here in this world.

So to know of this man’s suffering . . . this is to know of my own suffering.

No End

Like a tree embedded in the soil, nurtured by the sky, there is no true separation between you and I. All appearance is a veil, like the atmosphere over earth, protecting us from incinerating instantly. You could say that everyone and everything in this universe is really one and the same, existing solely in different space-time, morphic units scattered in morphic fields all stemming from one heart. This is the root of understanding, the empathic placement of yourself into another’s life, seeing the world through an other’s eyes. Like a sonnet structure, like a symphony, all life is on the surface but an empty form. But it is what moves through these forms that gives us meaning.

Does any of this make sense to you? What I am saying is that you–you, exactly as you are–are capable of understanding everything in this universe. Look inward to your heart. Look outward to your friends, family, and community. Feel all the world with your senses. All as one interlocked embrace, all eyes looking inward to the one, all one looking outward to the all.

On Atheism

I have somehow gotten myself involved in some on-line debates revolving around the existence or non-existence of a god. Rather than continue bickering with people who already have a set viewpoint, I thought I should just post a summation of my thoughts here instead.

To call yourself an atheist means that you do not believe in the existence of any god or deity, and that to believe in a god is to believe in a myth. Problem is, most atheists apparently have taken this position not because they have gone to the fullest extent of the logic required to get to this position (which I’ll get into in a minute) but simply because they don’t like institutionalized religion and the mind-numbing effect it has on the masses. Meaning that they associate “god” with the Pope, or as a construct of the Bible. They would be more suited by calling themselves anti-religionists.

The outcome of the viewpoint of atheism is that all of human existence can be reduced to objectivity and materialism. That is, all life and love is simply the happenstance interaction of chemicals and particles or what have you. Because to deny the existence of god is more than simply saying, “I do not believe in God.” It is saying that you also do not believe in the existence of ANY spirituality. You believe that all of life is simply what it appears to be, and nothing more. There is no magic, no love, no poetry, no spirits, no collective soul, no reason for seemingly random things to occur at just the right time. There is no unknown mystery to life. Hey, if that’s what you really believe, good for you. You’re officially hopeless.

But if you’ve got a problem with institutionalized religions, and their negative impacts on society and politics world-wide, then you’re in the same boat as most intelligent human beings. Nobody likes seeing neo-cons capitalizing off of a naive Christian populace to wage war for resources and increase the disparity between rich and poor. Nobody likes seeing desperate Muslims equating mindless bloodshed with soulful righteousness. Nobody likes seeing Zionists wrap selected history and vengeance around a slow suffocation of Palestinean life. Religions account for probably at least 75% of the world’s bloodshed. Oh, yes, I can understand why someone would despise religion and the bitter division it causes in the minds of the uneducated and downtrodden.

But to disagree with institutionalized religion is one thing. To deny all spiritual existence is quite another. Because you can believe in a god, and not believe in a religion, as I do. I think what it comes down to, oftentimes, is simply what your definition of “god” happens to be. Is it a white bearded dude sitting on a golden throne somewhere in the golden paved suburbs of heaven? If so, then you probably don’t know much of anything about the religion that you’ve subscribed to and have just been spoonfed a load of horseshit. But if you know god as an active, present force in your life, inside of your heart, inside of every little mundane part of your day, then you’ve gotten a little closer. As Rumi said, the water the thirsty man seeks is “nearer than his jugular vein.”

When Zen masters seek to jolt their students into enlightenment, they give them mind-fuck games (“koans”), they tell them stories or give them experiences that are designed to take their mind beyond logic. Logic and reason can only get you so far before you begin to realize that you could argue all day about anything from any viewpoint. Ultimately, reason and logic only gain you a shallow perspective, and in order to go deeper and gain a broader understanding, you must move inward. It is a common spiritual insight that one must, in a sense, die before one can open up one’s senses to spiritual dimensions. Die in the sense that you have to let go of attachment to your individual self and all the mental constructs you’ve built up to support that illusion.

To deny a god and spiritual existence is easy. To despise all religion and its effect on humanity is easy. To go deeper in search of the source is difficult. To admit that all things are beyond the safety and comfort of appearance is difficult. To live according to your heart, and not your mind . . .

Priests and the Power of Corruption

It seems like there is nothing the Catholic Church can do to rectify its public image. There is a constant stream through the media headlines of either some Dan Brownesque conspiracy, or some priest sodomy scandal. The public is thoroughly disillusioned now–not only with God, who’s been passé for some time now (excluding certain landlocked areas of the country)–but with God’s servants, who seem to have a disturbing affinity for young boys.

It gives one pause to think that perhaps those men who enter into priesthood, dedicating themselves for life to spiritual ideals, are not necessarily all godly seekers–that perhaps rather than entering priesthood to find God, they are entering priesthood to escape themselves. They want to escape their desire, their flesh, their past, and be retempered in some conception of purity. But the fact is that they are lonely creatures, and they are still humans, however well-versed in Biblical lore they may be.

To me, it becomes evident that priesthood itself, and its saintly demands, is simply an unrealistic role to assign to most people. These men are placed in positions of trust and power as empty vessels of God–so when their own desires and weaknesses become evident, as of course they inevitably will, given that they are mere mortals, it thus becomes magnified in its effect. The problem, then, is not simply that there are men who become priests that are perverts–it is that the very role of priesthood lends itself to perversity.

This is not to say that there are not priests who are indeed spiritual and godly men. It is rather to acknowledge that any and every priest is a human being, and that all human beings, placed into an idealized role and given power, are subject to corruption. We already know that all too well in regards to politicians. We already know that with policemen (or at least a certain segment of the populace knows it all too well). It applies just as well to priests, and just as well to the Church itself.

Mere outward trappings of justice, truth, or spirituality are not a guarantee of anything.

Ancient Connections

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I went on my first real hike of the year (finally) today, and watched as a forest fire sprung up on the other side of the ridge. I ate thimbleberries and right now I am drinking pennyroyal tea from leaves that I collected. I’m an idiot for not hiking more often. I hiked at least once a week last summer, but a number of things such as the World Cup and mosquitoes have prevented me from going thus far this year.
Anyway, I was thinking about some things as I hiked, and one of the threads regarded our civilization’s conceptions of “primitive” or ancient humans. We regard them inherently as simpleminded and lacking in sophistication. Even when there is ample evidence as to the contrary. We seem to have a hard time accepting that people who lived thousands of years ago could possibly have understood things on a deep level. And so when we come across irrefutable examples of their ingenuity, creativity, and intelligence, we inevitably attribute them to space aliens, or simply relegate them to yet another of the past’s “mysteries.”

Localized ancient wisdom, such as the understanding of herbs, plants, roots and how to make healing medicines from them, is swiftly passing away in the face of globalization and homogenization. But even as it is passing, something makes me think that this wisdom isn’t something that will just be lost forever. The only thing which can be lost is our ability to listen.

Shamans almost universally make the claim that their knowledge of plants comes directly from the plants themselves. I think that this is a claim that should be taken more seriously. Take the example of the Amazonian concoction of ayahuasca. It’s an amazing phenomenon to modern botanists and chemists, because the mixture of different plants which constitutes the hallucinogenic beverage is extremely advanced–on the surface, requiring a knowledge of chemical botanical interaction with the human brain that only modern science could provide. Yet ancient shamans have been crafting the brew for centuries, without science and without “proofs”. To say that they discovered the concoction through trial and error is akin to saying that we invented computer chips by banging rocks together. So unless you subscribe to the cop-out space alien theory, you have to accept the conclusion that there is a different system of acquiring knowledge than what we commonly accept. This system of acquiring knowledge does not rely on logical explanations and research. It relies, I would argue, on creative empathy and sensitive and attuned intuition–the ability to make associations between seemingly non-related and disparate things.

I think that we have a lot to learn from the earth and life itself, and that we have forgotten what it is to listen. We are so full of ourselves and our accomplishments as a species that we assume that we innately possess more wisdom than, say, a chipmunk or a tree. Yet the fact is that the earth breathes. Life is vast and delicately interconnected like the system of nerves and veins in your body. If a shaman says that he learned how to make ayahuasca from the plants themselves, than I would be inclined to accept his statement. I don’t think that plants talk. But I do think that if someone is in touch with themselves, than through the use of their creative empathic abilities, they can hear the call of things related to themselves, and the fact is that we are deeply interconnected with plants.

Humans are an extension of the earth. If you subscribe to the idea of evolution, which is supported quite firmly by scientific evidence, than you should know this. Which is to say that deeply embedded within our own minds lies the roots which connect us to all the world. The connection which we have temporarily forgotton, due to all the blinding surface lights of our modern conveniences, is to ourselves.