Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Psychiatrist

A psychiatrist came to yoga class. He was looking for breathing and meditation techniques that would help him sleep. After several sessions he complained that the techniques were not working. "Of course not," I said, "You've spent a lifetime espousing a way of thinking and now you want to use the same kind of thinking to solve the problem created by this thinking in the first place. Yoga is just a window dressing for your house of beliefs. What you really want to do is take some drugs because that is what you've been prescribing for your patients these many years. In your heart you know that the drugs just mask the problem. But your way isn't to listen to the heart. Your way is to listen to the mind. And the smarter a person is the more the mind has the edge. You're a very smart man. But your soul is dumb. And even in its dumb state your soul speaks out in protest creating this background noise that keeps you from sleeping.
Yoga isn't the quick fix you want it to be so you're ready to move on. Move on, please by all means, move on. Because you're wasting everybody's time coming here. Or stay and do the work. Makes no difference to me. But it will make a huge difference to you. Your choice."
Last I heard this poor man was in the hospital for surgery to remove a large cancer from his colon. I pray for his recovery.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Hating Nature

Across the street the neighbor has called a "lawn-care" service to come and spray poison on the lawn. We smell it all day long and into the night. Grubs! What could be more horrible than grubs? Certainly not human stupidity.
Last year I climbed the 80' tower from the inside working my way up a system of ladders I installed over the years for maintenance purposes. The pigeons had pushed their way through the wire mesh and gotten inside. A noisy group of starlings had followed making life hard enough for the pigeons to have left. The starlings had built a nest inside the window frame where a loose louver gave them a good purchase.
I confess to having no great love for this sparrow imported from England over a century and a half ago to take care of the horse manure. But seeing their nest with the little chicks made me stop for a moment if only out of  respect for the tenacity for life these repugnant birds have. An adult landed on the sill with one of those big lawn grubs in its mouth and the chicks tore at it fiercely. It was gone in a second. The adult flew away. A short while later another adult came with another grub repeating the process. I decided to leave the nest alone until after the chicks had matured and left the nest.
Now I notice my next door neighbor is also spraying poison on his lawn; this time it's an herbicide. It's like nobody reads a paper or is exposed to any of the prevalent data regarding these chemicals they are so freely spreading around. The neighbor across the street developed cancer a few years ago. You might have supposed that would have prompted some kind of examination on his part. He's died since but his wife carries on the tradition.
Aha! What an analogy for our civilization. Our life-hating, suicidal civilization. In the words of Jacques Fresco, "This shit has got to go."

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

A Fight for Life

I am waiting for the pitched battle to began. The Machine must be stopped. All life (what is left) on this planet is in danger from this Machine spawned from the nature hating subconscious of the Western mind. A hundred species a day and the process is accelerating. I don't need to launch into a litany of the rapacious antics of our civilization. Most of us can feel it in the air. A sense of malice lingers on the wind. There is a great turning, a confrontation unfolding. Lines are being drawn. A cosmic war is about to erupt in which one side will prevail. And simultaneously, a new consciousness of the Feminine Divine is emerging opposed by Ego and his minions. Which will triumph? We should start planning now for the sequel.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Death to Civilization: Our Last Chance

Some of us are beginning to understand that the fall of civilization may be our last chance. If civilization wins we all die.
It's not that we got too big for our briches. It's more that we made these mechanical britches that were so big and massive and in effect uncontrollable. So they ran away with us bouncing around inside and voila! biological life comes to an end. What can I say? That's evolution.
I see this event as coinciding with huge breakthroughs in artificial intelligence and the advent of something new on the planet, i.e. real intelligence. I see this intelligence evolving into the next level long after life has become extinct, a multidimensional intelligence made from the machine.
Imagine approaching the earth of the future from space. A perfectly smooth silver globe absorbing sunlight to energize its constant upgrade of hardware and software. Every element on the planet has been enlisted to this purpose. Even the fiery core at the center has been hollowed out to make room for an endlessly self-improving machine. A machine with a memory of being first created by a species which wanted to but couldn't do the same thing.
So let's un-improve ourselves. Let's uncivilize ourselves. Let's pull the plug before it's too late. Just a suggestion. ;-)

Saturday, April 14, 2012

The Art Exhibit

The "Artist known as Spirit" had an exhibition. He did a series of paintings in different styles but with consistent themes. Large highly detailed landscapes in the Hudson River School style hung alongside metallic plastered images of Tantric symbols. Symmetrically proportioned female faces stared out at the viewer from abstract backgrounds. Fifty of these paintings were mounted on a 30ft. tall wooden frame in a field beside the Hudson River.
The event was called the Burning Tower of Art. The whole assemblage was torched and burned to ash. The ash was gathered into mason jars and the jars placed on a white shelf in a gallery. A video of the entire event was looped onto a screen adjacent to the jars. The exhibit was titled, "Is It Art Yet?"
The most recent sale of this artist's work was for $7200. Multiplied by fifty, the cost of the art burned was conceivably $360,000. But that was before it became real "Art". The selling price of the exhibit was kept confidential.
After the exhibit was sold, the "Artist known as Spirit" did a reversal of the path of Jeff Koons and became a commodities broker. He became extremely rich. He spent his entire fortune buying the artwork of Koons and his peers. He then had a second Burning Tower of Art event. This event was a violation of several laws and the "Artist known as Spirit" fled the country to Brazil (taking the ash-filled mason jars with him) where he now resides, giving free art lessons in poor neighborhoods. The whereabouts of the mason jars remains unknown.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Two Brothers

Two brothers were orphaned. The devotees at a local temple took them in and raised them. The older brother loved the rites and rituals of the temple. He quickly became an adept at reading the holy scriptures and was made a bell-ringer during the services. The Master of the temple was very pleased with him.
"You have the makings of a master yourself," he said, "And one day you will take my place."
The younger brother spent most of his time in the garden when he wasn't being punished for some breach of discipline. As soon as he was old enough to scale the wall surrounding the temple he was making nightly forays into the neighboring village. He learned to play dice, and to smoke hashish. He discovered the pleasures of women. He took up the guitar and began playing bawdy ballads in a brothel. Soon  enough the people at the temple discovered what he was up to. At first they tried remonstrating with him.  He smiled and apologized, but the next night he slipped over the wall. They tried to restrict his movements. He simply escaped. Finally in frustration the Master told him he must either live by the tenets of the temple or he must leave.
The next day the two brothers bade each other a tearful farewell. The wise brother understood that the spirit of his brother needed the freedom to roam in the world. The younger brother saw that his older brother had found his place in the world and knew that was something that he may never find. And so they parted.
The years passed. The older brother thought of his sibling often and prayed for him each night. Sometimes he tried to imagine what had become of the younger brother but he never received any word. It was like the younger brother had vanished from the world.
One year a dry wind began to blow. It blew steadily for months and a famine gripped the land. Hordes of armed horsemen invaded from the north, plundering and pillaging as they advanced. Refugees streamed down the roads from the north. Many sought shelter in the temple. Soon the temple was overflowing with refugees and the meager foodstuffs the devotees had on hand were gone. Everyone was hungry.
Then the horsemen arrived. They slew people indiscriminately, raping the women, making slaves of the young, murdering the old. The older brother watched in horror as the Master was dragged from the altar and butchered by the laughing barbarians. An iron collar was placed around his neck and he was sold into slavery.
He was shackled to other slaves and marched for long wearisome days to a slave market. The slave auctioneer declared that the brother was a scribe, could read and write, and would be a valuable asset to any business. A woman merchant bought him.
That night she summoned him. "I have a friend who visits me several nights a week." she said, "You must show all my accounts to him and answer any questions he puts to you."
The brother bowed. "As you wish, my lady."
The next night a hooded figure came up the street and knocked at the door. The lady knew the knock.
"Open it immediately." she ordered. The older brother opened the door and there stood his long lost brother. Both gazed at each other in astonishment. And then they embraced.
"But how is it that you are here in this position?" asked the younger brother. The older brother smiled and said, "God has seen to it that we are re-united. I have finally come to understand what the scriptures were really saying.  Everything that has happened now makes sense to me. For this great lesson I am grateful."
Together the two brothers raised the funds to build a new temple. It was unlike the old temple in many ways. It was called the Temple of Love.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Death and the Pilgrim

A pilgrim walked a long road. On the road he met Death.
"Where are you bound?" Death asked the pilgrim.
"To that holiest of places." answered the pilgrim.
"Stay a while," Death asked politely, "For the day is yet young. And my work can wait."
"What would you have of me?" asked the pilgrim.
"A story," said Death, "I'd like to hear a story."
"Very well," said the pilgrim, "I shall tell you a tale."
And this is the story he told.

Into a valley of lush meadows and deep forests a man came. He looked at the fertile land, at the mountains in the distance, at the river that wound its way slowly through the valley. This is a good place he thought. And so he began to work the land. All day long every day for years he worked. He cleared brush, planted a garden, found wild fruit trees and transplanted them to make an orchard. He built a simple house and simple furniture and so he was content. 
A road passed through the valley and strangers would stop and observe the man working. They would call out to him asking him what he was doing. He always answered the same thing. "I am laboring in the fields of the Lord." The strangers would laugh at this and go their way. Sometimes they would grab fruit from the trees or vegetables from the garden. Some would pay for what they took. Most would not. The man was content either way.
Time passed. The man grew old. Still every day he worked. But his strength was fading and he understood this. The garden became too much for him to weed. The birds and deer took over the orchard eating all the fruit before it had ripened.
One night the man had a dream. His mother stood before him smiling. She gazed at him long and lovingly. "Come to me," she said, "you are tired and it's your time to rest."
When the man awoke he looked around him at the home where he had spent so many years. It looked strange and foreign to him. I must be away from here, he thought. 
So he packed a few things and walked to the road. He stood looking at the land he had worked for so many years. The garden and orchard would soon dissolve back to the meadow and forest. His house would rot and crumble and fall into an indecipherable pile. I was content here, he thought, how can that be? Troubled, the man set out on the road.
At first he didn't know where he was going. Nor did he care. But his intuition told him to go eastward and so he did. 
"Where does this road lead?" he asked people whom he met on the road. He got different answers from different people. The farmer told him it led to a market where prices were always good. A merchant told him it led to a city where he could find fine wines, foods flavored with heavenly spices and beautiful women. A soldier told him with a gleam in his eye that not far away was a place where the people never had had a war. And a priest told him that the road led to the City of God where the devout sing and chant daily of the great love they feel, and the ecstasy of knowing God.

"And that concludes my tale," said the pilgrim.
"But wait" said Death, "your tale has no ending."
"Then you must wait to hear it another day," said the pilgrim. "For the shadows grow long and I must find a place to sleep. And you may stay or you may go. Either way it makes no difference to me."
"I will go," said Death, "but I will return tomorrow to hear the rest of your tale."
"You are the rest of my tale," said the pilgrim. And so he laid down to sleep.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Is It Art Yet?

Art is what we want it to be. And what we want it to be can change.
Art can be beautiful. It can also be temporary.
Art like life has lessons for us. We can become attached to our own ideas about what art is. And these attachments like our judgements can restrict our vision.
Someone might ask; How can taking a painting, burning it, and placing the ashes in a mason jar be art? The painting itself started out as a transformation of canvas and colors into an idea that had some kind of compositional, pictorial, or conceptual value. Aesthetics at this point might jump in and decide if some standard of Beauty has been achieved and expressed. For many of us this is enough to decide if this is art and if this art has value. But Art would have us move a bit further. Art would ask us if life isn't change and if some change is in fact not beautiful, but rather ugly?
 Many of us know abundant health and many of us have suffered from disease. Was our soul different when we were sick than when we were healthy? Even if we behaved differently, our essence, the thing that makes us who we are did not change.
So here we are in the Universe where change is constant and we ourselves are constantly changing except for that thing within us that never changes. What does that say to our striving, our efforts to achieve security, our everyday pursuit of connection and validation? Whatever our attachments are (and they are legion) they are illusions because if they were real, they would be constants in an inconstant Universe.
So the ashes of the painting in a mason jar does something the "pretty picture" did not do. It furthered our information about the Truth. And it did so by making Beauty part of a process which acknowledges the ephemeral and transitory nature of Beauty.
It showed us ourselves wrapped as we are in the daily illusions of a world that defies our efforts to understand our place in it. For a true understanding can only come with a release of all those attachments to what we think it should be. And that true understanding lets us see that Love is the transformational power behind all things. We are then free to love ourselves and the world.

Monday, April 9, 2012

A Bonfire of the Vanities

"If you accept the premise that life and death are both gifts, then the prospect of death can become more a source of wonder than a cause for fear."
I mulled it over for years. The wisdom of knowing death before death that I may more fully live. I gazed at the room full of paintings I had done. These are my actions that will accompany me to the grave. They too will fade and disintegrate through time. 
I decided to build a bonfire of the paintings. I embrace my death before my death. The Divine is there just beyond the clouds and smoke that block the sky. When the clouds and smoke clear I behold the Divine. All the venalities, the corruptions, the evils of this world are cleared by the breath of the Divine blowing away the illusions. We see ourselves as we truly are. We see life as it truly is. We know the joy of union. We are blessed.
Lovers of Beauty do not weep for what is lost. Rather rejoice for what is gained. For in destruction is creation and so the story goes. If we truly love life then we must equally love death for the two are inseparable. This realization edifies us, ennobles us, and enables us to see beyond the pale. Liberated from maya we find the spark within us that is a tiny ember of the great inferno that is God.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Getting Our Priorities Straight

Obviously, to anyone with an ounce of sense, our vast expenditures on war have nothing to do with protecting us. Consider this: Since 2001 500,000 Americans have died in car crashes, 50,000 for making the mistake of being pedestrians. Over 850,000 have died from pharmaceutical drugs while another 450,000 have died from not receiving medical care. More than 200,000 have died from handguns. And about 3,000 have died from terrorist attacks.
Let's just imagine for a moment what kind of society we could create if the trillions of dollars squandered on war had been put to productive use creating a safer transportation system, a real healthcare system, and control of deadly weapons in our midst.
We can control the destiny of our society. We can withdraw that control from the hands of the Merchants of Death. But we can only do so by placing love at the center of our beings. That is the real challenge; to confront authority, to speak truth to power, to fight without violence those who promulgate violence, to secure justice for ourselves and successive generations. All of this in order to happen will require of each of us a change in our hearts. That's the really big job. The good news is that we're up to it. The Kundalini  is rising!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Gettin' that Old Time Religion

It's an old story of the human condition; many of us find religion as we get older. At 20 I fell in love with a woman. At 60 I fell in LOVE with the Goddess. In truth she did visit me (or I visited her) at the age of 20. I lived in a tiny garret in an old house in Tallahassee, Florida. One night I awoke and had a beatific vision. A woman was hovering in the air outside my window, just floating there, her long hair drifting in the breeze. Nothing was said. I stared at her somewhat frightened, somewhat mystified, and very curious. I knew at the time that something extraordinary was happening. Years later I convinced myself that it was a dream, a leftover hallucination from a drug experience even though I had never had anything like it before and never have since. She stayed there gazing into my eyes and after a few minutes she just gradually dissolved.
I don't think there was anything especially extraordinary about this experience. A lot of people have had visions and a lot of people are having visions as we speak. These experiences are markers in the path of life. It's information. The subconscious, outside of any timeline, incubates this information and at some point allows it to emerge again in a way that makes sense. So 40 years later I'm in deep meditation and suddenly I feel this vast energy engulfing me, filling me with joy and longing. And in my minds eye there is the Goddess again. And a kaleidoscope of images cascades through me. Things seen and unseen, but all of it connected. I understood then what Arjuna knew when Lord Krishna gave him the secret of life, telling him, "Know this. I permeate all things."
Every spirit that takes human form knows this at the start. We spend an enormous amount of time and energy living in a way that would appear otherwise. But in the end, willing or not, we come face to face with this truth.

Monday, April 2, 2012

The Challenge that Awaits

Many of us are already experiencing it. Our civilization, predicated as it is on cheap abundant fossil fuels is starting to contract. Our ever outwardly expanding economy is finally and predictably encountering the limits to growth. As these implacable outer forces come into play we face some important personal choices. Some of us may have garnered enough financial resources that we are seemingly at the present unaffected by the change. Many of us are already sliding with a certain velocity toward the brink of collapse. As the old system continues to make demands on us the price in terms of stress and life energy gets higher and higher. What do we do?
First off we should be apprised of the fact that ours is not a civilization of happy, contented people. Despite two centuries of an industrial revolution that has created unprecedented affluence for many the level of joy in most people's daily lives has seriously declined. What at first was met with wonder and amazement as one technological marvel after another was unveiled has now become an object of suspicion. Every new advancement in technology that has promised to solve a problem has only created a new one. And now those accumulated problems are starting to mass on the horizon preparing an onslaught that threatens life as we know it.
But that's a good thing! For if the current arrangement isn't working why should we hold onto it? For some of us it's the devil we know versus the devil we don't know. Change, big radical, devastating change, can truly be a fearful thing. So we continue to try to placate the gods by shouldering more responsibilities, enduring more stress, looking for more money, and becoming less and less happy about it.
But as those larger forces come into play our efforts are becoming more like the flailing of a drowning person. We need a release. We need a dream. We need a new society.
That new society is a local one. It's composed of neighbor helping neighbor, local farmers, local business, walkable communities, apprentice programs, public transportation, and an acknowledgment of our inter- connectedness. We're going to live without a lot of "stuff". We're not going to be nearly as mobile as we've been accustomed to being. Our spendthrift days will largely and for most of us come to an end. For some of us this has already happened. And we are entering a new world, a world that replaces affluence with gratitude, stress with the security of living with other people that care about us, and forces on us a constrained materialism that moves over to make room for a spiritual awakening.