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Showing posts from 2007

THE MOURNING PATH

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I've been reading the Gospels for references to mourning. I see so clearly how little space there is for mourning in our society. We are moved from one tragedy to the next with hardly space for a sobbing breath in between. Years ago, when I lived on Riceville Road and taught at the Juvee, I bought an enormous block of clay and molded chunks of it with my hands into these hollow standing figures, only two of which survive. An art historian friend told me they were examples of funerary art. I hadn't known such a thing existed and just continued making them, one after another. There's a movement in Qi Gong called "Carry Tiger Up the Mountain." And every time I did Carry Tiger, which you repeat 17 times or something, I'd weep then feel sobbing approach. It was the strangest thing. None of the other moves had this effect. My instructor explained one day (he'd never comfort me during the practice, always left me to do the work myself) that the movement was begu

RISE

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RISE I wake to rising, to the elevate sun and flight of birds. I wake to the lift and life of daylight, the streaming of shine clouds illuminate in. I wake to a rising child whose small arms reach up for holding. I wake to her uplifting face, a helium kiss. And I salute this day for the upward shift of heart it gives. I wake to the uplift of bloom and branch and catch as much of the sun as I can. I insist on joy and the living out of it like the infinite box of good things it holds for me. I live for the lifting hands, and haul each beaten dreamer out of the dark, one by one, the basement empties of starving child, wounded student, yet another undreamed of horror. I stand at the circle door of heaven sleeves rolled up for the work. My muscles flex in delight and purpose. I lift so they may rise. I do life like love and revisit the morning light of everything I do. I imagine the arisen. I enact the rising. This life invites the illuminating action. I reach out to you, child, all who hav

DHARMA AND THE CHRIST

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As we walk the paths of our lives, we are to exercise our love for all things spiritual. In a close relationship with the world, we develop a close relationship to God. By loving life, we love God. For the poets of the Bible, this love was deep to the point of being all consuming. Amazement and wonder accompanied their every step. They walked aware that every grain of sand that shifted beneath a sandal was luminous with the light of creation. And just as much as it is a commitment to live life for every minute drop of wonder it can contain, it is a choice to engage life on this level of ultimate intensity. Such is the choice to know God not only through creation but through the experiences that arise in our lives. For just as the flower blooming through the snow is a presentment, and a metaphor, of the divine every conversation and kiss is as well. Once we choose to visit the sacred level of life, we find that it extends through all things and events. In the reclaiming of Christianity

WHY THE HOLY BOOK IS HOLY

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In Conversations with God , Neale Donald Walsch "quotes" God as saying that the Bible was written by men and they got a lot of things wrong. I know that the Holy Bible has been the source of much horrendous action. Yet, our lack of understanding does not make the poets unskillful. The cipher of alchemy runs through these texts like water through soil, nourishing every word, image, and symbol with cool life. It has been hidden, and in its discovery and application the Holy Bible shifts into its own deliberate meaning. It flourishes under our eyes like a living forest rich with all life from root to loam to wolf to leaf to eagle and cloud. What is unfolding in me unfolds further each time I read, and I am awed always by the depths it finds in me to sound. These are words we fall through into the mystical. Beautifully enough, the text with the cipher running through it does not in the least bit vary in meaning from the contemporary view of the Divine held by many, including Wa

THE WHISPERING GALLERY

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At the top of the dome at St. Pauls Cathedral in London, in an area called the Whispering Gallery, aged benches curve the dome’s circumference. Lean forward and you can see the brilliance of the marble floor below, look up and see Sir Peter Thornhill’s glass mosaic scenes of Creation. Sit still, raise your eyes slightly and you can see, between the arches of the inner dome, mosaics of prophets and saints as they sit at their desks either engaging or trying to escape from the task of writing down the word of God. Each man takes a varying degree of dislike to the process. John is most disciplined, there with his lion, as angels hold open his book. Not so willing, Isaiah looks about to haul off, punch the angel holding the pen, and ditch the job altogether. Jeremiah must be held down while one angel forces the pen into his closed fist and implores him to take the divine dictation, which he does. It’s a scene of violence and trepidation, furor and resistance. The whispers of the Whispering

THE ONION METAPHOR

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The mystical journey is often compared to the peeling of an onion. Here's my take. Go get an onion. Put it on the table in front of you. Take off one layer of the peel. Then another, and another. You get the point. You have tears coming from your eyes now. Keep peeling. Peel all the way to, well, peel all the way. The onion’s gone and you’re completely weeping and maybe the tears have now turned into real tears, drawing on feelings you did not know you had. But you can’t really tell. Wipe away your tears. Now, get another onion. Put it on the table in front of you. Take of one layer of the peel. Now, using a very fine knife or burning apparatus, remove one layer of your own skin from your entire body. Then another from the onion, then another from yourself. Then another, and another. You get the point. You are a screaming weeping ruin by this time. And you have to keep going in order to find the truth. When the onion is gone, you are also gone. If you really exist, this is the mome

CARRY TIGER UP THE MOUNTAIN

I am posting this poem in honor of Good Friday and the closing of a very difficult Holy Week. I have found that the more focused I have become on spirit the more deeply I am affected by the liturgical calendar. At present, I feel as though my heart is being gripped by enormous hands that want to tear it out of me. At such times, I remember the Qi Gong move called "Carry Tiger Up the Mountain." Years ago when I was doing Qi Gong I would weep every time this motion came into my practice. By the tenth movement I'd be a wreck. Finally I asked my teacher why I wept every time I did this. He told me the movement follows the story of a Tao master who carried the dead body of his pet tiger up a mountain because he knew that was the only way to fully embrace his death. CARRY TIGER UP THE MOUNTAIN If you really want it out of you, then we’re talking the Himalayas, Sherpa-less, no gear because who can carry gear when they’re carrying a tiger. You really have to take it all

PEACE AND PATIENCE

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In Mandarin, Patience means "to wait with certainty; to allow life to carry you." The Ten Commandments are lessons in dealing "with our own stuff" and not putting it out into the world. I've been thinking about how in Hebrews Paul writes that Christ becomes "an author of life" and how this reflects the Buddhist and Taoist notions of "ministering." The Taoists and Buddhists maintain that how we walk and talk and think creates the world. The Judeo-Christian Commandments are our version of this. Along with the command not to commit blasphemy, harsh speech, we, too, are instructed to only put peace in the world. I struggle with this when I want an answer NOW for a question. Our tendency is to "talk" about it when we are angry, to put our emotions out there for all to see, and endure. This is counter to peace. Inaction and silence prompt us to work through our attitudes toward things that confound us, rather than to turn them into a circ

THE DEAD SEA

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We who lived there didn’t call it that. We worked the ink as God works the tide, sealing it with sand and salt. We ate in grace, moved in peace. What kept us never yelled or scolded. No one got hurt. We were allowed to leave but who would want to? Gazing out, the water in us sang life that only ended when forgotten. Back then we all moved upon the water in our minds. I left my cup on a rock.It filled with rain. But you won’t find rain here. This rain cleanses memory but leaves no earthly mark. And when you remember us, picture me standing on this cliff as you stand now, kind visitor, gazing out at what I saw but not seeing.

POETS

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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

COMPASSION

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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

BALANCE OF HEART AND MIND

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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.

DYING IN THE MATERIAL WORLD

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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

Avidya

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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

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.”

AL-CHEMISTRY

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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

THE ALCHEMICAL HEART

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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

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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, bot

MYTHOGENESIS AND THE LOST WAY

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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

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

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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" t

The Heaven Game

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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.

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 Eas

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

How God Writes Poems

I think it goes very easily without saying, or hearing, that deafness isn't at all a physiological condition. Quite the contrary, were this so, the world would be such a better place. And as much as I have kept these posts to being about physical deafness, it's time simply to jump the fence. I've stumbled upon something. Call it an idea. Call it an hypothesis. But it's got proof to it. And it is amazing. Here it is in just a little over 1000 words: HOW GOD WRITES POEMS If I could do it all again, I’d be a locksmith. --Albert Einstein I’ve always loved a puzzle. Whether it was that little wooden triangle with red and white pegs at Stuckey’s through the 1970’s or hooking up a VCR, I was into it. And I was good at it. Interpreting and writing poetry have been great puzzles. And the greatest puzzle of all has been this concept o