Saturday, March 31, 2007

POETS


There are two worlds, that of form and that of emptiness. But the emptiness is never stagnant, nothing is every hollow. Everything in it, rather, is constantly filling with every shifting spirit. The more we can surrender to the world of emptiness, the less stressful and anxious we become. We become attuned to Vidya, the sanskrit Ultimate Reality, and the world that, as Paul writes in "Epistle to the Thessalonians," God hides from the unrighteous. Many of us in the "West" know this world--the world of mindblowing coincidence and flagrant interconnectedness. This is the world alluded to page after page in the Holy Bible as well as in Buddhism. Many of us are already living in Ultimate Reality and doing our level best to put up with the nitpickiness of the delusional world. Many of those whose lives "we," meaning the progress starved West, never made the mistake of leaving it. Many still know all the bullshit we call progress is totally delusional and is the very "sin," (off the path) we preach against. The literature of the Ultimate Reality didn't ever stop getting written in Europe and America, though, even if the Bible got hijacked by materialists 2004 years ago. Poets have been writing it, and knowing exactly what they were doing provided they had contact with the masons and rosicrucians (of which Shakespeare is called "The Mask").The poets who have lost touch with the fact of Avidya/Vidya and from whom the dual creation described in the "Epistles" was successfully kept never lost touch with the primordial mind, the mind that perceives the ultimate reality. Nowadays we reduce the most wondrous phenomenon to literary terms: metaphor and simile. These are techniques not only for talking to God, but describing it as well.

COMPASSION


Compassion itself is seen to be
The Seed of a rich harvest, water for growth,
And the ripened state of long enjoyment.
Therefore at the start, I praise compassion.
--CHANDRAKIRTI

Compassion draws the world into us. When we reach out with the light streaming from under our fingernails, as Chekhov says, we can touch the world, something it is impossible to do "literally." Imaginatively, though, we can do this, and the Vidya world, the Ultimate Reality, is reached only through imagination. Therefore, compassion is a doorway, every expanding into it, until ultimately the door is all it opens into and we no longer need it. Compassion becomes our natural state and we are thereby fused to and of the world completely. In this state, we become, as Paul writes in "Hebrews" "authors of life." Our compassion shapes the world in its own image. What we think, is. First, though we must overcome our perception of ourselves as separate from anything. We have to overcome our attachment to the illusion of form.

It is easy to overlook the mentioning of the nurturing mother in the Bible. When God's harshness is mentioned, it is in a context of a father "shaping" a son, just as fire shapes matter. When the Holy Ghost's desire for our return is mentioned, it is in terms of a mother's undying compassion for her child, her desire for her child to get well again. Paul mentions in "Romans" the world in labor pains until we allow ourselves to be adopted back into the whole. Certainly the strictness of masculinity, of form, dominates the subject matter of the Holy Bible, but in the manner of the feminine, the feminine when mentioned, when present indicates an unfathomable mother whose pains we are causing by not returning to her. The Bible is written in the masculine idiom of violence, but once we tame that violence by perceiving the fire as a healing and purifying force adn the sword as a method of
"detachment" from form, the language opens up and we can experience the compassionate teachings as celebrations of the imaginative mind liberated from linearity. The Dead Sea Scrolls become anthems toward creative spirit and perception of what lies under the material surface of 10,000 things.

And there, too, we find again and again, as in the Bible, that the path to this liberation is love. Love for the whole. Once we traverse the violent shells of the Holy Bible's words and enter the mystical content, we find, on every single bloodstained page, the Buddhist notion of compassion. Shame we didn't see this before we killed everybody. . . .

BALANCE OF HEART AND MIND


Seeing with the mind and seeing with the heart reveal two very different worlds. One of these is what Paul calls "delusion" in "Epistle to the Thessalonians" and one of these is "the way, the truth, and the light." None of this anything to do with anything beyond the human mind, which in Buddhism is the exact same thing as the world. Looking through the eyes, we can only perceive delusional reality. Poetry and visual art reveal the sight of the heart. Sages can see both worlds. To merge them, reason and emotion must become one. The only way to accomplish this, develop both. Create communication between the heart and the mind through a commitment to art, poetry and developing intuition. This is how to access what the Hindi call Vidya, Ultimate Reality.

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

DYING IN THE MATERIAL WORLD



I am teaching my students T.S. Eliot's "Waste Land." I have been teaching British Literature, Beowulf to Ted Hughes, for almost ten years. I think having the words of the master English poets wash over me, through me, around me all this time has played a role in opening me up. Now that I'm open, I can't help but see how many of them--all of them--"practiced" poetry rather than just wrote it. They were all affiliated--ALL--with some aspect of Rosicrucianism or Masonry. And I am more and more convinced that these societies based on Alchemy have been the keepers of the True Religion all this time. There is in "The Waste Land" a perfect journey through the boundary "between worlds." As I taught it, I described this journey as it is found in the poem and this sparked a whole discussion about what the poet means by "dead." Dead is Avidya. Dead is all of this stuff. But what I want to impress upon them is that the spiritual path does not have to be taken in robes and shaved head and that they do not have to give up stuff intentionally. This is a forced detachment and I don't know if it accomplishes anything. All of my losses have been engineered from within the world. None have been my choice. And I live in a really nice house and I drive a CRV. And I've touched God and been feng shui'd from within by Boddhicitta that refragranced my mind. But I read People, Us, and I dye my hair blonde. What opened the doors for me wasn't at all an intentional pushing away of the material world. I was ripped from it as it was ripped from me. And I live in it now with awe and reverence. Just as I did before. And it is not at all far from me. I lost nothing. It's all here.

Avidya


Avidya is the Sanskrit word for the delusion of separateness. The purpose of life is to overcome it. It is used repletely through Hindu texts and also forms the basis of Buddhist Sutras and teachings. Adi Shankara says in his Introduction to his commentary on the Brahma Sutras, "Owing to an absence of discrimination, there continues a natural human behaviour in the form of 'I am this' or 'This is mine'; this is avidya. It is a superimposition of the attributes of one thing on another. The ascertainment of the nature of the real entity by separating the superimposed thing from it is avidya (knowledge, illumination)". In Shankara's philosophy avidya cannot be categorized either as 'absolutely existent' or as 'absolutely non-existent'. Once we commit to overcoming avidya, the realization of the true Self begins. This search finds expression in the universal metaphor of the snake and the rope. Avidya, our delusional attachment to the material perception, leads us to see a snake where a sage, one who has overcome Avidya, will see a rope. This metaphor appears in the Qur’an when Mohammed speaks of prophets, “are the rope of Allah which should be held fast. (3:104).” Signs and wonders connect us to the Divine, but we reject them because they do not make sense. They run counter to our Avidya. The serpent, the snake, lives on in Judeo-Christianity as Satan’s chosen form in the Garden of Eden. Avidya knowledge damns us to suffering. Freedom from avidya is communion with God.
We must face our own realities, though, before we can see the Reality of Creation. To do this, we each move through our individual darkness. People who deal with their ghosts in weekly therapy appointments are already doing this. Once it has been traversed, it allows us to see the “flipside” of reality, the material world in its spiritual manifestation. When we have traversed what Everett Fox translates as “waste and wild,” we attain the Buddhist state of the Brahmin, “one who having banished his evil, a contemplative for living in consonance, [is] one gone forth for having forsaken his own impurities (Dhammapada, 26).”

Monday, March 19, 2007

SAMADHI

Setting the correct wind-to-music
ratio driving home today

I thought of how looking back on the
world must feel for monks who,

having sung the sanskrit right,
walked the prayer wheel one last

turn, maybe had the wind jam a seed
of luminescent lapis shaded sand

in an eye where it lodged and blossomed
into a vision so complete it blinded

him forever, and as it did how small
it must have seemed then, the world, not

the sand, suddenly, how insubstantial to
have deserved so many believers in it,

walking their heavy steps that should
have, were it not for so much faith in nothing,

fallen through and yet driving their stupid
cars, windows half way up, down, no, up,

no, down, moon roof moonlessly open
on an open wide lashless cold March

sky and the music for today was U2’s
Achtung! Baby, the song, “You’re So Cruel.”

Monday, March 12, 2007

AL-CHEMISTRY


What is it in us that makes us go absolutely crazy for a person, to fall head over in heels, to reach levels of emotional ecstasy just by thinking about them, by soaring out of our bodies and minds just by touching them?

I have this in my life. Just the thought of him nourishes me when I am in my darkest places. In fact, thoughts of him have actually lifted me out of these dark places. Hearing from him when I was in the depths of a depression magically reminded me what happiness feels like, and its contrast to where I was slowly guided me upward. Love is a ladder out of darkness. It is a healer. And I think it is why "God" is "Love."
God is the name given to this state of enlightenment, (That hardly demystifies it since enlightenment is the deepest mystical state.) this corridor of wisdom wherein one interacts with the world and the world interacts back, as though no separation existed, epidermal or intellectual. I am increasingly aware that it has everything to do with brain chemistry, with some perfect balance that allows one with the universe on a chemical level.

What I have with this man in my life--it's nothing short of divine chemistry. It corrects depression. It heals wounds. It inspires art. And it flows like a fountain out of us and between us when we are together. Yet, how often have I read the term "chemistry" in Cosmo dating columns and not considered that Chemistry is what Alchemy is all about. Now I see that we have "chemistry" with things and people in this life because they are our chemical pathway toward wisdom. This is why it is important to follow one's heart, one's bliss. Because chemistry is a map. It leads us home.

Sunday, March 11, 2007

THE ALCHEMICAL HEART


At its very heart, this is about connecting with the heart of the world with our own hearts. We do this through feeling passionately, through taking risks and finding where our path is. The only way to find where one's path is by bumping into walls, especially invisible ones. The labyrinth is therefore a powerful symbol for Alchemists, for whom the process is not at all really about laboratories and bunsen burners but about everything that goes on within and around us. Our life is a labyrinth. And the life of the planet is a labyrinth. Our personal labyrinths are microcosmic of the whole. How passionately we live determines how deeply our path merges with the path of the world. It is so indefinably beautiful we can only turn to the poets through the ages to find reflections of the experience. The emotional daredevils of history draw us closer to the path we should be on. The fools who had the audacity to wander far from safety--they should be our guides.

WIKIPEDIALCHEMY


Here's a little bit about Alchemy. For deeper stuff look at Lyndy Abrahams' Dictionary of Alchemical Imagery--or just cruise online. But you won't find anyone saying the Bible is written by Alchemists. That's new. What's very, very cool and what makes this whole thing so striking is that Alchemy (Masonry, basically) is forbidden in Christianity. Also, Hebrew Scholars scorn Kabbalist insistence of a connection between the "divine influx" and a "hierogamos," a heavenly union of God and the Divine Feminine of Knowledge (Shekinah) to produce the sacred seed that grows into infinite wisdom. This hierogamos is one of the key symbols and concepts of Alchemy.

Here's Wikipedia, a sort of a primer since I know I go off on this stuff. . . and forget to ground out the basics.

In the history of science, alchemy (Arabic: الخيمياء, al-khimia) refers to both an early form of the investigation of nature and an early philosophical and spiritual discipline, both combining elements of chemistry, metallurgy, physics, medicine, astrology, semiotics, mysticism, spiritualism, and art all as parts of one greater force. Alchemy has been practiced in Mesopotamia, Ancient Egypt, Persia, India, and China, in Classical Greece and Rome, in Muslim civilization, and then in Europe up to the 19th century—in a complex network of schools and philosophical systems spanning at least 2500 years.

Western alchemy has always been closely connected with Hermeticism, a philosophical and spiritual system that traces its roots to Hermes Trismegistus, a syncretic Egyptian-Greek deity and legendary alchemist. These two disciplines influenced the birth of Rosicrucianism, an important esoteric movement of the seventeenth century. In the course of the early modern period, mainstream alchemy evolved into modern chemistry.

Today the discipline is of interest mainly to historians of science and philosophy, and for its mystic, esoteric, and artistic aspects. Nevertheless, alchemy was one of the main precursors of modern sciences, and many substances and processes of ancient alchemy continue to be the mainstay of modern chemical and metallurgical industries.

Although alchemy takes on many forms, in pop culture it is most often cited in stories, films, shows, and games as the process used to change lead (or other elements) into gold. Also another form that alchemy takes is in the search for the Philosopher's Stone, in which to obtain the ability to transmute gold or to eternal life.

MYTHOGENESIS AND THE LOST WAY


If one's God(s) and one's spirituality don't match, it is a sign that things are terribly misaligned. My experiences with the Divine have been playful and generous much more than stern and frightening. Most people I know who "know God" and have a working relationship with some form of the Mystery do not speak in terms of "going to hell" and "getting into heaven." Rather they borrow the language of the Buddhist path, which more and more people are turning to. The lifeblood of teh Judeo Christian faith has been, it seems, cut off from us. Needing this source so we may follow our hearts into the sacred, it only makes perfect sense that we would need to turn to other fountains.

I was reading the Dalai Lama's Little Book of Inner Peace the other day. I was deeply saddened by his suggestion that Judeo Christianity is a harmful religion. I agree that the way that it is practiced--with its patriarchal misinterpretation of Alchemy's deep symbols (in which the "male" and "female" references describe the active and passive nature of these psychic aspects)--is harmful. The Dalai Lama does not see the Alchemic metaphor in the text, otherwise he would not suggest we turn from it. He sees only the veil cast over it. But why not scrap the Judeo Christian faith? Why can't we just turn from it and pursue wisdom down other roads? Certainly, Buddhism is much more attractive and the Native American religions offer much more in the way of earthly connection.

According the Jung and Joseph Campbell, however, we achieve the heaven state of enlightenment through the symbols emblazoned on our psyches. A person whose pschye is forged in the "West" must fill the symbols of the Western tradition with meaning--these being the grail, the sword, the star, the cross (for Christians), the wheel-a-rollin' in the middle of the sky. These are the breadcrumbs back to the primordial mind, and connection with the God consciousness therein. Dreamcatchers, Totem Poles, yin yangs, and Buddhas may serve as cool reminders of the existence of sacred paths, but ultimately to cross over into the backlight of the ancient mind within us--to allow the "Buddha seed," or the "mustard seed" Christ speaks of, within to germinate, we have to go through the grail and the sword and the cross and the star. And there has been no way that we can know how to move through these symbols safely without knowing they were alchemical symbols for 7500 years before the Hebrew Bible was even written and added to 1500 years later.

My own path as definitely been a patchwork of world religions. From the Salish artwork, I learned the breakdown of hierarchy. From Buddhism, I learned self-examination and how to love without grasping. From the Koori in Australia, I learned about the dream ceremony and the power of imagination in traversing great distances. From Taoism, I became aware of some kind of balance between humans and nature. From Christianity, all I got was music, but damn I loved the music. But I also got something about the liturgical calendar. Teaching at an Episcopal boarding school I have to attend almost daily chapel services and I've come to see great correspondences between the sacred calendar and my own life. For instance, Lent is a time of death and letting go, whether I go to church or not. It's just a gloomy time. But I had to use all the other faiths I've explored to finally fill my experience in church with meaning. I have had to draw the connections that the church, long ago, severed. And it is through working with the alchemical symbols in the Holy Bible that I've crossed over into this other place of understanding. I think it's an important connection to make--this one between other faiths and Judeo-Christianity. After all, all faiths emerge from the same Mythogenetic zone in Asia thousands of years ago. In the end though, we each have our own mythogenesis in our psyches. To fully enter the enlightened state, one, I beleive, does so through the doorways laid out for one through centuries of gazing at them from infinitely deeply within.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

An Email to Father Tom at St. George's Episcopal Church


Dear Tom,

Thank you so much for the honor of presenting the alchemical reading of the passion narrative at St. George's. I read the Mark narrative last night in McDonalds while Andaluna played. And I just wept, Tom. Wept. Christ was so real to me, and the story, which I have read before, just resonated not with fear and terror and the anger I've been taught to feel against the priests, some righteous indignation which has blocked me from the meaning I received last night. What I saw was Christ's isolation at his darkest hour. In the Peshitta Bible Mark says, "and he began to be sorrowful and depressed. . . and he went aside a little and fell to the ground, and prayed that if it were possible, the hour might pass away from him." This "sorrowful and depressed" part and the desire to let an event pass without our being in it is so beautiful. It fits in with what I mentioned about Jonah yesterday, that there comes a time when we can't "think" through something and must relinquish control to our emotions so they may carry us. As the men fall away then in the series of betrayals, the ones who are left to witness are the women. (tho who that mysterious man in the loin cloth who runs off naked is invites so much inquiry--he's like the last male witness before the trial.) In the alchemical process, reason has to disappear in order for the soul to be free to unite with God, to enter this psychological heaven. Reason, being a masculine aspect, does fall away here. The women follow Christ. And the women are the first to see him after he rises. It is the feminine which remains the constant if we are to traverse death into rebirth. We must let go of our reason and allow the dark to carry us through, and the feminine aspect is what moves us. This is the thread throughout much of the whole Text. The women may be on the sidelines, like the animals, but they are the carriers through of the most profound transformations.

The great gift of this new way of seeing scripture is that we can invite illumination from the brethren faiths of Navaho, Buddhism, all. And this is our death myth. This is the myth and ritual we revisit just as we let winter fall from us. But the traversion of the border between seasons, particularly that from dead winter to living Spring is no small hop. This is serious. How do we get across? How do we ensure safe passage? This is so gorgeous: when the woman with the alabaster jar (the jar a symbol of the feminine of course) pours all the perfume over Jesus's head, he praises her actions as opposed to wishing she'd saved it for the poor. This is the key--do everything now, commit to this moment. be here. It's zen. It's about not thinking through the moment, weighing alternatives, but rather about just pouring all you've got into it in the spirit of sacred kindness. This is how to let the moment die completely in your hand so it can live on forever in a pure state. It is to act without regret or thought. It is to give.

The cup of suffering a strong figure. Christ knows he is staying in the fire and not forsaking suffering in favor for an easy life. The cup is something we can use to "pass away" from ourselves in times of suffering. We pour ourselves into the cup to be made new. The cup here becomes the metaphor for the crucible in which we are constantly formed. We transubstantiate into it, deliver the parts of ourselves that need taking away. But we don't get to choose which parts these are. That is God's will only.

In alchemy, Al-khaim (and I wonder if this is "chaim" in Hebrew, life?) in Arabic, the crucifix for 7000 years has been a part of the most difficult process, mortificatio, death in which the four elements that make us are drawn to their polarities completely (hence the four points of the cross). In the alchemical process, this is the torture and destruction of the matter so its soul can be set free. When it is done, the matter is covered with linen soaked in dew and left in a "tomb" to putrefy. The putrefactio stage renders the matter without its former identity. It is the death after the death. Most painful. It is the descent into the nothingness before nothing. When it is over, fermantatio occurs. The dead grape has turned to a great bottle of wine. But the key to all of it is commitment to each phase. We must go into the tomb and be in utter darkness.

During mortificatio, Christ transubstantiates and this is mercy--he does the process in a ghost walk, wherein he renders his soul to the maker while his body goes through the motions. It doesn't make it easy, it is a skill that one learns from the other stages because they have suffered enough by this point to be able to walk with ghost. (Glenis Redmond and I have often told eachother, "I'm ghosting" to get through a particularly difficult time.) It is the mastery of dissocation used to its fullest benefit, to get us through unspeakable trauma. It is the ability to move the greatest part of oneself back into God so this world can't hurt us anymore. And God carries us through. To be proud, to think we can handle it without Him, to think we are in this alone--these thoughts interfere with the process of rebirth. It is not enough to die. We have to die before we die. We have to give our lives back to God. It is like a suicide, only done in the right way. We kill our ego so our soul can live on. In putrefactio, we don't have the luxury to transubstantiate. We take on our death whole. When we rise, there's nothing left of who we were. The butterfly's got nothin' in common with the caterpillar.

In a garden, it would be wrong to try to keep the flowers alive through winter. To do so would be to interfere with the necessary husk and drain of the season. Andaluna got incredibly sad in the autumn when the last red leaves fell from the dogwood. I had to explain to her that this has to happen. We have to let go of the beauty so it can return to us in new form. The paradox of giving is always this--we can't do it thinking of what we'll get, but we can always know that in giving everything we will get more back in return. The motive must be separated from the action. This is the left hand path I suppose. The cup must be separated from the man. And all things must be permitted their course through the darkness--be they daffodils or us.

Speaking of daffodils--did you hear that thing on NPR years back, the man whose manic, troubled mother sent him a thousand bulbs which he, angry with her, didn't plant carefully but just, fed up with the space they took in his garage, dumped them all at once into a hole in his garden where a tree service had removed a tree. And he forgot about them. And she died and he still did not think of them, his countless issues with her madness unresolved. Then in Spring, there were these thousands of blossoms screaming gorgeous yellow from the unwintering earth. It is like this--this constant act of letting go of everything. This constant giving back to the earth what belongs to the earth and never stays.

In Native American tradition, every story is medicine. There are songs for our illnesses, rituals for great maladies. This is our medicine story of the greatest transformation, that which occurs in the final three stages of the alchemical process, and through which we all go as well symbolically, and hopefully as gracefully as Christ.

Safe journey,
Laura

Sunday, March 04, 2007

The Heaven Game


In The Alchemist we read this tale. A boy enters a great house. He is told he may venture throughout the whole house. The trick is he is to hold a spoon with two drops of oil in it. He may venture throughout the whole house but he is not to spill the oil. This is the state of the mind of the master, or the adept.

Chaim, the root of alchemy, is life. But it is more than life, it is, as the Vedas say, the very life of life. There is a way to do it right. It is about living wisely but never dully, living wholesomely but without deprivation. In all things, a balance between their opposites exists. Between the farthest room in the house and the entire bulb of oil, there is a secret. The masters live in this zone and life, as a result of their doing so, unfolds for them magically. I don't exagerrate. It's magic. There is magic. It is wizardry, light side, dark side, so very crouching tiger, hidden dragon-type magic. Plato said, "Life is a game." And this is what he meant. For those who enter the realm of the masters, life becomes simply that, a game. By holding the right posture of mind, a master can make things occur, can draw words forth from other's mouths, can invite rain. It is a reality, the most supreme reality. The Dalai Lama inhabits it. I don't know who else, but I shudder to think of the Masons knowing this and using it to design our cities and win our elections. I never would have thought it possible if I were not standing in this place and catching my own novice glimpses of what can be done. Early Christianity rocked.

The game of wisdom must have been so thoroughly embraced during the Bronze Age for it to have breathed into form of our Sacred Texts. Reading the Bible in this context, one sees the double edge sword of mastery--the wonder it allowed, the solitude it bestowed. When Christ walks out over the water to helps his buddies in the boat, what better metaphor for being able to manage the sundry details and hobgoblins of the unenlightened life. What is a life threatening situation to the neophyte is just a walk across the water for the adept.

Those who enter heaven join in the game. Those who don't, get by the best they can until they "get it."

The Want of Ages

Gladys Reichard wrote the seminal work on Navaho belief system in Navaho Religion. I bought this book 10 years ago when I was experiencing mysticism for the first time. I was reading everything I could about any belief system other than my own. This time, though, I am convinced that this magical mystery stuff is embedded in my own religion, Christianity. I can read every line of the Holy Bible and connect it to the simple structure of the Alchemical process. But I know it would not have meaning for me if I had not lived this alchemical life which I have--a live rich with nature and beauty, passion and disaster--then read The Alchemist by Paul Coelho, the book that gave a name to what I've been doing forever. To what many of us have been doing forever, I gather.

How could we not--for the alchemical process is ingrained in us, literally, emerging as we do from the earth, itself an ongoing alchemy. But it has been hidden from us in the West and from our counterparts in the Near East, these crazed monotheisms so much to blame. But not the texts of the religions, merely the interpreters of them, the confabulists of vertical cosmogonies, the makers of a faraway Maker. Once we undo that simple architecture, that heaven-up-there-hell-down-there and compress it to within the mind, the shifting symbols of the Holy Bible, drawn directly from alchemical symbology, are perfectly comparable to the Navaho symbologies in Reichard's text: "Considering a whole, all, or any one of its parts as the "same" affects classification. For example, , djic means "medicine bundle as a container," medicine bundle with all its contents, " "contents of medicine bundle," or a "separate item of a medicine bundle." The chanter knows perfectly well that the hide or muslin wrapper is not the same as a the bull-roater, that the "wide board" differs greatly from the talking prayer sticks or from the otterskin collar, yet in certain circumstances each is djic. He is acutely aware of the context and, therefore, of "sameness" and "difference," whereas his questioner is unable to determine the meaning because his is ignorant o the cultural context. (8) Cultural context is, of course, everything. And it makes our, meaning Western Judeo Christianity post-317 A.D., loss of the alchemical metaphor more heartbreaking. This is our culture. This is our context. And we have been forced to live without it and still expected to understand our own sacred texts.

What infuriates me: how may of my loved ones deal with depression and have actually succumbed to suicide when all along we have had this Book to guide us through our sorrows and our psychoses and no one was allowed to know. The way I see it: if a religion isn't healing its followers, somebody's being jacked.

And this is our story. 2700 years of jacking. And all along we have had what the Taoists, Buddhists, and Native Americans have had, a religious context for belonging in our own lives.

The Strawberry Field

At some point, a truth is simply a truth, a fact a fact. Whatever deafness took away from me, it has given me much more. I'm at the beach. This is, I suppose, my eighth week in this state of mind and every day brings a new lesson, a new penetration of what I used to call the world. Last night I prayed on the sand, just as I used to during my first initiation ten years ago. I used the prayer name I was given then, the one I don't say out loud to anyone. And I asked for a lesson. Lessons come in dreams and in day to day events. Once establised, as Mircea Eliade teaches, the dialectic of the hierophanies is a fluid interchange between invisible and visible worlds. My dream was this: an enormous strawberry. The biggest strawberry--as tall as a person, as wide as a couch, and inside it were all these other great big strawberries. I opened one of them took a bite and it was just the perfect strawberry, bite after bite. I can still taste it now. Later, the lesson came when I withdrew money from an ATM at the aquarium and found considerably extra funds in my bank account. This is also connected possibly to how yesterday when I was shopping rather wildly, I pictured a fountain each time I spent money. With my mind fixed on the fountain, I wondered if the "currency" of the water would flow into the "currency" of my cash. In the world of strawberries within strawberries, this apparently works. Upon finding the extra money in my account, I promptly started envisioning Niagara Falls and sending its "currency" into the bank accounts of my closest friends--and for the ones in my life who are coping with depression and break ups, I sent the currency as strength. Lao Tse teaches in one of the early Tao te Ching poems that one should be satisfied with enough in the cup and not ask for the filling portion. I remember this.