Sunday, December 22, 2013

The Growing Pains of Transcendence

I recently read a friend's thoughts on the recent overturning of the Utah ban on gay marriage, which I think make a really good point in this whole discussion. He represents a significant number of folks who see this topic as important, but not as an "Us vs. Them" scenario. Simply, he wants to be free to vote 'yea' or 'nay' without his motives or demeanor bring presumed, one way or another (and I intentionally have not said which side of the issue he falls on). I think it is completely valid, and not an entirely hopeless quandary. We don't have to agree to disagree, or agree to stop at nothing til the opposition fails. Believe it or not, it IS possible for both parties to be satisfied (given, of course, there's always that other demographic which just wants to see the world burn...).

Many devoutly religious, kind- and tender-hearted people are accused of being bigots, or homophobes, simply because they understand "marriage" to refer to a man and woman knitting their souls in the sight of almighty God...
 Many equality advocates are accused by the religious community of defying God, attacking the sanctity/making a mockery of a religious institution, etc. When the reality is that these individuals never wanted to have to choose between loving God, or loving their fellow man.

Notice that one doesn't have to be gay, atheist, apostate, or antagonistic to be an advocate for gay rights. Really though, trust me, it's possible.
Likewise, one doesn't have to be homophobic, violent, bigoted, or closed-minded to vote 'yes' on a proposition with a definition of 'marriage' which aligns with their own.
Really though, trust me. It's possible.
Unfortunately, at this point in history—in which you and I join the debate—things have already started down a certain course, and the myopic approach that worked (or only seemed to work) in the past, no longer suffices to resolve these issues. If we're going to find long-term solutions, we have to all take a(t last one) BIG step back, and reassess the big picture. What we begin to see is a history of folks who can't see past the end of their nose presuming to have a grasp of, and solution for, the issues we're facing now.

This generation is experiencing the growing pains of transcendence, and we are not quite able to move past the modes and methodologies of our predecessors. Astigmatism is a persistent, recessive gene. Our caveman ancestors had to make due with what they had. If one had bad eyes, it essentially led to removal from the gene pool. Our recent forefathers had eyeglasses. Not only that, but they also enjoyed the benefits of a more hospitable culture and environment, where bad eyesight didn't necessarily ensure an early death. Eyeglasses had to suffice for a couple hundred years from the time of Benjamin Franklin and the Founding Fathers, til contact lenses came around... and that has been it for the past few generations. But times are changing. We now have laser eye treatments which correct the eye itself. We may not be able to chose the genes we inherit, but we don't have to be stuck with bad vision for the rest of our lives. We no longer rely on the existence of outside accessories to augment our optics to put things in perspective. We have reached that point where we can admit to ourselves that we are not perfect, and we might not see things the same as others, and that perhaps—perhaps—our neighbor's perspective can shed a little more light on the human condition than we are able to see from our vantage point. Our generation is learning to adapt, and adjust, the world is changing so rapidly that we absolutely must go forward with eyes wide open, taking nothing for granted.  Can we agree that we no longer need to rely primarily on tradition or convention to navigate and construct our social lives? How different would our perspectives on the world be even just 50 or 60 years ago? Our generation is able to see past superficial differences, and co-exist with people of different color and cultures, religion. etc. We can answer to the inkling inside us that says everyone deserves to be treated equally, regardless of their appearance or their salary... but we cannot do so with two different definitions of "equal". Is it a bad thing to think that eventually we may not even see such distinctions as relevant? Perhaps in the future individuals will not be labelled and categorized before their needs are assessed. Everyone will be entitled to equal treatment simply for existing.
But that's not where we are. We are stuck. Bogged down by politicking and protesting. Where one wrong approach led to another wrong approach. Now there's no getting back on track without major overhauling of the system. If I may borrow a term from Bruce Lipton, we need a "spontaneous evolution" to solve this perplexing problem to the satisfaction of everyone. That is, every single--or married ;)--person on the planet, now or in the future. 

The traditional "religiopolitical" process (and it has been a long, drawn out process indeed... Make no mistake) has thus far failed to appease either side of the issue. And from where we stand, it doesn't seem possible at this point. But it is solvable, and it is actually pretty straightforward. We just have to live and let live. This means that we no longer seek to be in a position of favor over any other person or demographic in the eyes of our legal system. If Marriage is, as many would argue, the domain of religion, then I think we have found common ground. Let religion have marriage. Do away with all legal recognition of the religious rite of marriage. Does this mean an end to tax breaks for married couples? an end to visitation rights in the hospital based on marital status? and all the other little incentives that government has developed for married folks? Perhaps so... But then again, perhaps that is the price to pay in order to retain (indeed, to re-claim) the so-called "sanctity of marriage"... What does government know of 'sanctity' anyway? Why have we allowed government to dabble in affairs of 'sanctity', in the first place?
So, once Marriage is stricken from the vocabulary of government. What is to say that it can't be replaced with the term 'civil union', across the board? 'Civil Union' is a pretty darn good descriptor for a family unit formally recognized by the government for tax purposes, and paperwork. Being 'civilly united' would be one thing, and being 'married' would be another, and never the twain shall meet, As a religious rite, marriage would not be recognized by government, But, if you would like such recognition (and the government perks, and legal obligations which go along with it) then you may file the paperwork for a civil union. Nothing would prevent a couple from doing both. This seems to me to be the only solution to maintaining the religious definition of marriage, while allowing all civil unions equal recognition under the law. This scenario seems to meet the needs of the religious crowd, the equal rights crowd, and the religious, equal rights crowd. It seems reasonable enough to me. It would be the proposition to end all propositions. It would also do away with "common law marriage", replacing it with "Common Law Civil Union". Makes sense. No one should "accidentally" become married through prolonged cohabitation... That seems to be the most glaring travesty in regards to the Sanctity of Marriage, in my opinion.

Prop. 8 and its similes, have not been geared toward removing government from the jurisdiction of marriage regulation (reserving it as a religious rite and term) which would look something like... "We the people propose that government cease all legal regulation and recognition of "marriage", and forthwith to cease using this term, as it is (we believe) a religious term, for a religious rite, to be defined and addressed by our various respective religious communities..." .
 Instead, these propositions have done kinda the opposite. Soliciting further "official" government interpretation of what the prop. supporters believe to be a purely religious rite/concept. In other words, presenting for a vote a legally enforceable definition of a religious rite. It looks something like "We the people propose that henceforth, government shall issue no official license or recognition to any couple who do not meet this definition of marriage: one man, and one woman..."

See how the the first example would permit freedom of religion for ALL folks, and the other seeks to legally constrict the religious and legal rights of folks who's god/religion may not have any such criteria?
This is where the boundaries of church and state are being pushed. Those who feel strong religious convictions on the matter are not looking to tell government to butt out, they are instead asking government to get involved, and to take their side.This is simply not a feasible approach to resolving the issue. It begins to be seen as elitist, and folks begin to presume that the religious community wishes to reap exclusive government benefits for their respective brand of human relationship.
When a law is found to infringe on the constitutional rights of any citizen, it is to be stricken from the books. The constitution is the law by which laws must abide. Therefore it is irrelevant how many people voted to enforce such a law.
It is similar the process which revoked/overturned the "extermination order" in Missouri, which allowed anyone who killed a Mormon to be exempted from murder charges. In other words, the measure reduced Mormons to lower value than human life. Once it was passed, it was completely irrelevant how people felt about Mormons... the fact was, that whether deliberate or accidental, maliciously or mistakenly, killing a Mormon was an excusable offense. For a long while--much, much too long-- this law was on the books. It was simply passed and enforced by the majority/popular vote of that particular geographical area at that time (1838), and though attitudes toward Mormons became much more tolerant in the generations that followed, the law was never rescinded until the mid-1970s—nearly 140 years later. Not that it was ever constitutional... It was never a constitutional law. Overturning it did not fly in the face of democracy. It also never meant that folks who rejected Mormonism as being offensive (to their definition of Christianity, or whathaveyou) while that law was in place were murderous and/or intolerant. Nor did it mean that overturning that law was an attack on the traditional/Christian definition of the Holy Trinity, or the Atonement, or any other. It meant that a certain group of citizens (Mormons) were no longer excluded from exercising their constitutional rights in the state of Missouri. Just as the recent ruling in Utah will allow gay couples the rights they have as US citizens to "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness..." With equal rights to recognition and due process of law.

Peace on Earth, goodwill toward men.... Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Kundalini Awakening

Tonight, I am a satellite.
I am a solitary drifter.
Observing. Searching the cosmos.
Embarking on a quest for knowledge.

I sit and gaze steadily at the pine cone in front of me. A perfect specimen of the Fibonacci spiral.I stare intently at the center of its crown, even as the natural spiral tries to draw my attention outward like a spiraling corkscrew. My focus is fixed. After a few minutes, it seems as though the center of the pine cone is becoming a white-hot pinpoint. After a few minutes more, this pinpoint seems to be an entire galaxy. Still, my focus is steady, as if my life depends on describing all the stars, and their planets, contained in this minuscule galaxy.

When I first began this style of meditation, I would have described it as a process of "peeling a hole in the universe" through pure conscious. The idea is that, when you find yourself with a moment to spare, you may look around you and find any blemish or imperfection on any object or surface... And if you are able to focus on this point, you will find that it is a gaping passage into another world. The blemish, pattern, or imperfection is simply "a glitch in the matrix". Once you peel the hole, you may pass through it into another dimension. It doesn't have to be a pine cone. I have used a dime, placed at arm's length, and focusing on the mint mark on the face of it. I have used a grain of salt on my fingertip... the first time I did it, I was staring intently at a string cheese wrapper. Later, I found that this meditative process I thought I had developed was simply the serendipitous discovery of an ancient meditation technique called "Trataka", translated as "Fixed gaze" or "Steady focus", and it is traditionally practiced by looking into a candle flame.

At first, the eyes want to wander. They seem impossible to control; fidgeting and flitting about. After just a few moments of staring at a stationary object, their attention is drawn by any movement, any sound, any color that may promise to be more stimulating. The Mind must master the eyes. Eventually the eyes become disciplined, and a steady gaze is possible. Even still, the eyes crave to be active. They try to adjust focus on the stationary object. Again, the mind must command the eyes to be singular in purpose. Once a steady gaze, and a fixed focus is established, the mind is free to relax. Upon relaxing the mind, there is often felt a sensation of leaving the body. For me, it is the sensation of "falling into my own head". This is the rabbit hole. The wormhole leading out of this world.

Once this sensation sets in, I close my eyes. At first, it seems as if there is a wall of darkness just beyond my reach, but this is simply due to the fact that the brain is accustomed to observing the world outside of headspace, and had some difficulty with the concept of self-observation. In the day-to-day, it is used to operating in a proximity (usually the cushion of space arms' length from oneself) that we usually term as a "personal bubble". But the mind now must master itself. The brain must become introspective, and confront its own delusions: consciousness—the processing of all sensory experience and thought— occurs within the brain, not within the cushion of space surrounding the body.
Did you know that the eyes are technically an outgrowth of the brain? Our brains are literally bulging out of our skulls. Exposed. Protected only by a thin fold of skin, and the brain's ability to observe, interpret and avoid threats through reflex.

I meditate on the absolute zero clearance between my eyes and my eye lids. I struggle to reach a conscious level of awareness that this blackness—this almost tangible void— is not outside of me, it is within me. If I am able to come to terms with the fact that my entire existence is emanating from my conscious and subconscious mind, I continue to freefall into my own head, and experience nothingness: Zen masters call it "No Thought". I soften my gaze at the seemly expansive black void of my quiet headspace, and try to conceive of the vastness of my universe. Yet again, I must remind myself of the fact that my eye lids pose a physical barrier to the outside world, resting on the surface of my eyes. Again, my eyes revolt in a fit of self-importance, insisting that this is trickery. But the real trickery is every day life. In everyday wakefulness, the eyelids are only allowed to cover the eyes for a few hundredths of a second at a time. Because the brain places such value in the function of vision, it has hardwired, autonomic commands, which cause the blink to become nearly imperceptible to the conscious mind. But now the conscious mind is attempting to acknowledge the very presence and position of the eyelids. My poor, weary eyes are conditioned to believe that they are the gateway to my reality. That through them, I am able to perceive my world. This is why they are so eager to perform, and so anxious at the thought of relaxation... Through habit, they try to see beyond my eyelids but they are unable. Unable to focus on my eyelids, they ache, twitch, spasm. My eyes seem to have a will of their own, which my mind must struggle to tame. They seem to suffer from claustrophobia; They can't handle the proximity of my eyelids. Flashes of light, and electric white circles dance in my head as my brain receives a frantic neural feed through quivering optic nerves. I must calm my eyes with my mind: 'you are not needed at this time, I can see just fine without you...'. Eventually, my eyes relax, and my brain activates an eye of its own.

My third eye stirs in the recesses of my reptilian brain. I am entering the realm of pure conscious. From this realm emanate the esoteric abstractions of universal knowledge and energies, the concept of Nirvana, transcendence, or absolution through communion with the divine self found therein. The Chakras and their various domains, the flow of Yin and Yang energy throughout the universe, the Sephirot and the rungs of Jacob's Ladder-- All consciously perceived only by those who have a sense of this dimension. There are worlds within worlds. The physical realm lies on the surface of all human experience. In order to get below the surface, one must venture inward. On this inward journey, one may encounter the true self.  But to reach this depth of self-knowledge, one must be disciplined, with singleness of purpose: to navigate the precipice between physical stimulation of the senses, and a welling chasm of thought which reflects the outer world, and the outer self.

Within me—within the confines of my skull—there is boundless space, unexplored territory... ever expanding, yet my conscious is coalescing and condensing as my mind becomes centered. Now that my eyes have submitted to my intentions, I am able to begin drawing my other senses inward. My body awareness becomes more keen as I "scan" its surface in a microcosmic orbit. I situate my skeleton on the axis of my spine, and feel the flow of chi, serpentine, rhythmic. This is Kundalini energy. Ancient mystics describe it as "the serpent coiled three and a half times at the base of the spine". it is represented in the symbol of the Caduceus; the symbol of medicine. The two intertwined serpents represent positive and negative energy, or active and passive, yin and yang. The light serpent is known as Ida, and is the essence of masculine, or Yang force. Pingala is the dark, and represents receptive or passive energy. Like terminals on a battery, winds on an electromagnet, these two channels run along the spine. The spine is the staff represented in the Caduceus. The wings of the Caduceus represent the soul or human spirit, and its potential to "ascend". Kundalini energy is latent in the human organism, and is roused and cultivated by yogic practice, and meditation. Though it is said that some Gurus are able to waken Kundalini in others with a simple touch, or even with their voice. Kundalini is cosmic energy, and the spine is a veritable superconductor of this energy. The human brain the quintessential node between the two.

Ida, the active force of Yang energy, elongates and straightens my spine and stretches my neck. Pingala, the passive energy of Yin, flows behind, soothing my body in waves of relaxation and healing. They follow the path of the microcosmic orbit. Up the spine, over the head, down the throat to the navel, and around again. This energy slithers and weaves between the chakras, drawing vital energy from the extremities and channeling it up to the crown. My toes find repose. slowly my ankles release all tension, and I feel my conscious pull away from my feet altogether. I relax my calves, my knees, my thighs, my haunches.... each region that relaxes releases more awareness, which is drawn in by the black hole forming in my mind. The single goal of this process is to direct all conscious thought, all sense, all awareness, into that void in my head. The void becomes more dense, more energized. Blue-white energy is building. Deeper still, the vortex of this wormhole is opening. At last, the third eye looks up along the axis of the spine, beyond the crown chakra...

Kundalini is awakening.

Friday, November 1, 2013


"It seems like the universe is an hourglass, filled with people as innumerable as the sands of countless beaches. We pass from one orb to the other, we are shifting sands that count the time in eternity, my life is a single grain of sand, rough-edged in its own way, but indiscernible from the lives of those countless others... maybe the grain of sand that represents my existence is born from the same stone as those I feel an affinity with, some who have already dropped and landed, and are buried under yesterday. I'm just now joining the eddy of sand, the churning swell that channels me to my moment of freedom—falling. I only get that moment to glimmer, as we all get our chance to join the heap below. But, when I pass through that calculated orifice of fate, that keeps order to everything... I want to stand out from the rest. I want to be the crystalline silicone among the dull brown, I want to fall away from the rest and have my glory with the few who have the rough edge that catches on the spout, who spin away from the predictable stream of life. So while we're all together, with the gravity of destiny pulling at the sands of time, I'm just waiting my turn...." Gypsy Kid: Finding my niche July, 2007

I was recalling the essence of the above post today at work, and wondering to myself  '
...How did I get here? What series of choices led me so far off track from such worthy aspirations?' I feel as though I neglected a part of my soul, and let it die... I am not this person. 

This year I have been backtracking in my mind through all the philosophies I have embraced in the past 7 or 8 years, and how they have shaped my world view. Certain experiences have left me bitter and resentful, vengeful... afraid. I made excuses which, through repetition, have become thought patterns. These contrived patterns have shaped how I see the world at large, and they have certainly served to form my warped, myopic, self-centered views, and how I have viewed those around me.

 It seems to me now, looking back, that somewhere along my journey down the mid-way of life, perhaps in a dizzy daze from some wild ride that left my head spinning, I entered a house of mirrors: A maze full of smoke and illusions... my friends, who came along, have either passed me up and found their own way, or they have stayed with me, and shared in my experience... or I have left them behind. But I am only now realizing that I am still inside this so-called "Fun House". Stuck.

As I have tried to navigate through the the hall of false doors and rippled glass, I have seen my friends in a bad light, I have seen them as grotesque, I have mistaken them for circus freaks, I have fled and abandoned many of them. Some of those who were 
closest to me have tried to talk sense into me, and lead me out of my circles of confusion, but have been unable. I was too despondent. Either I ignored them and plowed ahead, convinced that I knew the right way... or I was so hopeless and afraid that I wouldn't budge, or follow their beckoning calls. It feels like I fell asleep in that place. As I awaken to this surreality, and try to remember who and where and what I have been. I am all the more perplexed at the task of navigating my way out. I have been looking at skewed reflections of myself for so long, I always wonder if I will ever see my true self again. Will I forget who I used to be? I am afraid that I will emerge from this experience  permanently disfigured. Afraid that if I ever find my way out, my friends wont recognize me. That, if I ever find my way back to the comfort and safety of my long-lost home... as I scrub and wash away the stink and grime of all those years lost in the carnival... as I step up and wipe away the steam from a familiar mirror, I am afraid that I will not recognize myself. 

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

The Power of Intent

Tonight has been a tightrope walk between existential anguish for opportunities lost or squandered, and the pure transcendental ecstasy of realizing that I don't have to let my past define me. I am currently free falling through the infinite space of the timeless now, into a net of unmitigated self-actualization. What a rush it is to be alive. Each heartbeat confirming to me that my existence is validated.

Despite who and what I may have been, I am who I choose to be. The collaboration of the hundred trillion cells which make up my physical body is like a petition to my conscious to rise to each moment.  The concerted exertion of my organs is a demonstration of confidence in my potential—an aggregated, reverberating testimony of my inherent worth. A pledge of allegiance to my cause. Until the very fibers of my being are finally expended in the discovery and pursuit of my purpose.

If my next breath should be my last, then I cannot let this moment pass without manifesting my intention to begin my ascension to a higher dimension. I will aim to find, define and align with divine source; to refine my character; to excel in this shell. I will find the Tao in the timeless now—Today. It is my goal to temper my soul; to channel love from above. Today I will start to impart of my heart.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

The "Traditional" Female

As strange, and even abusive as this may seem.... these women actually derive validation, pride, and even their very sense of identity from their respective "tradition".

I for one am glad that I wasn't raised in such a culture. Though if I was, it would seem normal, and even attractive to me.  I find it disturbing that, as a "suitor" I might even do my part (however subtle, or overt) to make some young woman —who is trying her hardest to meet my (conditioned) expectations so that her appearance is pleasing to me— feel inadequate and unattractive.

I see many correlations to this sort of senseless, arbitrary behavior in my own given society. It is mind-boggling to think that tradition is what we do to feel "comfortable" simply because it's all we know...
Is it a bad thing to want a world where things like neck rings, or lip plates, and plastic surgery, no longer imply social status, or attractiveness?

I think there is a bigger picture to all of these varying traditions. I haven't spent a whole lot of time learning about the given cultures and origins of these practices, but I have an inkling of their commonality. I'm not sure I even know how to explain it. It is the suppression, exploitation, and desecration of the "sacred feminine". Making women feel that they are a commodity by insisting on certain behaviors in order for certain "rewards", like marriage, or care taking. This is done systematically, and systemically within cultures, and the various ways range from the banal to the bizarre. But all forms have the same effect: eliciting a voluntary display of their desire to be accepted. Usually, on patently masculine terms. Men participate in similar behaviors on some level to, but these examples tend to pale in comparison to those of women, and many hardly bear mentioning (though some compulsory traditions like circumcision do deserve a discussion of their own...).

The above examples are modes which are physical augmentations, and are therefore visually perceptible. The psychological modes are so nuanced and varied that I don't feel I'm able to even delve into that aspect of social conditioning. While the physical manifestations of women's subjugation to male-dominant culture can be seen around the world, and around us each day, I don't think most of us really acknowledge the full implications of what we see. It is so common place to see women trying to be "10"s, trying to adhere to fashion "do's" and social "musts", that we forget that it is arbitrary, and senseless.

 So, are these traditions wrong? They do seem unnatural... But does "natural" necessarily mean "right"? In the context of tradition—and especially in long-held traditions passed down through many many generations of practitioners—what does "unnatural", even mean?  It seems almost like a case study in Darwinian evolutionary theory, except that the individual is accountable to either augment themselves, or else essentially become "less fit" than those who do. The individual must "evolve" themselves. If individuals cease to do so, then the species/culture at large "devolves", and these arbitrary traditions are lost, for better or for worse.

This is both a beautiful fact, and a perplexing one. On the one hand, it means that each of us is free to define ourselves. On the other, it means that we must *allow* each individual to make that choice.  We must each be free to choose to define ourselves as "one of the herd" if that is what we truly desire (whether that desire stems from familiarity, or sense of duty, etc.) Perhaps that "herd" happens to be the one that says that a woman's desirability is directly proportionate to how large a hole she can create in her lower lip. Perhaps we choose to go against tradition, and miss out on all the comfort/familiarity, status and protection afforded to those who keep up the tradition. It may seem unjust for a woman to be cast out of her tribe for refusing to mutilate her face. But then again, if she chooses it, who are we to say that the consequences of that choice are not just, and natural? Non-compliance is, after all, anti-social behavior....

What's so fascinating about tradition, to me at least, is that it seems to not only elicit compliance, but even a fervent, zealous commitment.... no matter how bizarre or appalling it may seem to an outsider.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Transforming Thoughts

I'm not exactly sure what I'm going to write here, but I have already picked the title, so here goes.

I guess I have been thinking a lot about where my life experiences have led me, and how they have culminated in the person I am today. I have been kind of regretting my passive role in many of these experiences, wishing that I had been a little more thoughtful, a little more motivated, a little more judicious, in my decision making. I have pondered on this sort of thing before, but most usually I conclude that I am more introspective, more judicious, more thoughtful than most people. I guess lately, I have stopped comparing myself to "most people" in a lot of different ways. I have developed my self-identity to the point that I get to shelf my insecurities and simply exist in my mind, sometimes for hours out of the week. I have recently been told that a new acquaintance considers me one of the most spiritual people they have ever met. That surprised the heck out of me, because not only do I not generally identify as a 'spiritual' person, I have a long history of skepticism (to say the least) of what most people call 'spirituality'. However, at the same time, I can accept it as a compliment.

In the past 9 months or so, I have had so many mind-boggling spiritual experiences that if I shared them with most folks, they would be less interested in my stories, and more concerned with my psychological profile. But I don't share them with most folks, I share them with people who I trust, whether I think they will understand or not. Even so, nearly all of them not only believe me, but support me in the path I am on. Essentially every single person I interact with—and certainly those I interact with on a daily basis— I have known for a year or less, give or take a month or two. Most of these people have no idea how I was raised, or what I have been through in my life. That's because it's irrelevant. I guess it might be nice for them to know something of my background, but in the end, I have taken a lot of opportunity to reinvent myself, after going through a life-changing year 2012. I moved somewhere that I didn't know anyone, and I got a fresh start. It has been great to be able to start a new path, where I am not constantly reminded of, or beckoned to return to, a path I stopped following. I don't mean to be vague, but I assume that my readership is at least somewhat familiar with what I'm referring to. I am no longer living with people with whom I shared a common background of Mormonism, or the same college, or even the same pastimes. This being the case, I get to represent myself to my new friends in a much more immediate, and relevant way. I guess what I have been saying for the past half a paragraph, is that my relationships now consist of much less BSing, and much more exploration of widely varied concepts, since I have left so much routine and familiarity behind.

One thing that I have been spending a lot of time with is my inner self. I have been able to tune in with my spiritual side, and I have had by far the most rewarding spiritual experiences in my life. I have gotten more in tune with my own energetic frequency, and my intuition has become so reliable that I often surprise myself with my ability to foresee various situations, or others' needs. I am not completely at peace with who I am. I know I have many habits and patterns in my life that I would like to eradicate and replace with healthy, loving behaviors. I know I'm moving in the right direction, because of all the opportunities that have presented themselves to me through changing my attitude and adjusting my lifestyle. Yet, parts of me that I would like to leave behind linger still, and just like old habits, these tendencies die hard. I wish I could see the future, but the present will have to do. I am grateful for great friends who are always ready to really, truly listen and give thoughtful feedback. This has been quite a year for new experiences and new perspectives.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Digital Age

Facebook is a really great tool for keeping in touch with friends and family all across the globe. It's a great platform for discussing myriad topics and issues in near-real time, It's a convenient place for finding and relaying information and creativity...

But I feel like it has taken over my life, in the same way that TV seems to take over people's lives. I want to spend more time in my own head, getting to know myself, getting to explore my own thoughts and psyche, experiencing real time.. But with a massive distraction like Facebook, I am continuously drawn outside of my own mind. I am bombarded with new and often personally irrelevant information that I can be so fascinated and obsessed with, that I will sit for hours reading about things that I will never actually utilize in my life.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not blaming Facebook for my love of learning (at least for entertainment value), but I have come to realize the extent to which I am simply distracting myself. Like watching MTV (or even the History channel) I am just spending my mental energy observing others as they produce, instead of digging deep into my own mental resources and producing something of my own. I have always kept up my creative writing as a hobby. But I am realizing how many books I could have written by now if I had spent anywhere NEAR the amount of time writing that I do on facebook.

I think I'm going to take a hiatus. I have said I would before, but I've never done it for any significant amount of time. I am still not sure how long I will do it for (something I will figure out before I start, so I have a clear goal). Perhaps it will be based on completing a work of some sort (screenplay, book, etc.) instead of a time frame. Maybe a good combination of both. I have a sneaky suspicion that after a month or two of not using it, I won't even have an interest in using it. I have given up a few other things in my life recently (smoking, drinking, etc), and I feel that this will be one of the more difficult ones for me, but perhaps one of the more significant ones, in terms of becoming a new/better person. Information is like a drug to my mind, and I need to break the cycle.

I have been second guessing this inkling that I should "log off" for a while, mostly because it makes me feel weak to have to go to such extremes to manage control over my compulsions, but habits are hard to break. They say that it takes at least as long to break a habit as it does to establish one, and I've been an FB'er for about 5 years.... ;)

I just need a healthy routine. I need to kick my laptop out of my bed, and sleep. I need to wake up in to morning and not roll over to log on. Even though I am fairly productive (okay, maybe not this past week) during the day, I feel like I waste my 'me' time doing absolutely nothing. I am pretty sure that the development of digital interfacing will soon be considered an essential part of being human. Perhaps in my lifetime, we will become what sci-fi has termed "Cyborgs". But I want to have a solid foundation in my biology before I make that step, and an essential part of that is being able to control my thoughts and actions, not simply to veg out and go with the flow.

I will probably be redirecting much of my time toward writing, so you may even see an increase of activity on my blog.

Thanks for reading.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Universal Love

Just over a week ago, I had a life-changing brush with Death and the Devil himself, or at least a couple of impersonators who held my life in their hands. In the moments that my life was suspended before my eyes, I awoke. I don't know how else to put it. The entirety of human existence flashed before my eyes, and I saw quite clearly how this world is very much 'black-and-white'. Sure, everyone and everything is some shade of grey, but that only means that there are varying levels of black and white in everyone and everything.

Consider the classic, esoteric symbol of the Yin-Yang...

Remember in the 90s when these were all the rage? I used to draw these constantly, but until the past couple of years, I never really knew the depth of its symbolism. Although the symbol is widely known, the profundity, purity, and depth of the concept it represents eludes the vast majority of people today. It is ancient knowledge, not to mention that it doesn't translate well from its native eastern hemisphere to our western hemisphere (perhaps the symbol offers insight into that, as well?) but I will explain to you my interpretation of this symbol, and then attempt to get back on track. 

For the longest time, I just understood the yin-yang as representing good and bad, or male and female. Or duality in general. Which is perhaps all most people really care to know about it. But so much more is represented in it. It represents a flow of energy—a life force. Sir Paul wrote "Ebony and ivory sit together in perfect harmony.... There is good and bad in everyone..." This symbol depicts the concrecence of the male/female relationship, but it also represents the time dynamic of societies and cultures, it represents the flow of time, the trend of the masculine ideals of active power, logic and rigidity giving way to the feminine qualities of passive power, intuitive knowledge, tenderness...

I say all that to say this: Ultimately this symbol represents the qualities of Fear and Love, and their universal forms: "God" and "Satan".

God is love. God is Good. God is life.
Satan is fear. Satan is evil. Satan is entropy. 

Whether you believe in these traditional characters or not, they may be considered icons of their two respective modi: Love and Fear, and those who exhibit these same characteristics will naturally sort into beings of either Light, or Dark.

When we are told in church (or war, or family feuds, or volleyball games) that we "must choose a side", it is quite literally an invitation to take on the qualities by which we will govern ourselves. This is, in turn, how we will see and treat others, and the world at large. 

To get back to my religious experience of being assaulted by demons (those who have chosen to live and operate on fear), I found myself suspended in the air, midway between a scaffold, and the ground, staring into the vicious glare of one of these demons, who was attempting to create an association between mortal fear, and his own persona by physically and psychologically dominating me. I realized that his expression was iconic of nearly any depiction of demons in classical art. 

Having been involved in 20-something car accidents (none of them with serious injury), I can say that I am pretty well familiar with the term "My life flashed before my eyes", but in this case, that high-speed, adrenaline-assisted review of the facts was hijacked, and overwhelmed with the image of someone ready to kill me. Thankfully I escaped this encounter without much physical injury, but the psychological aspect followed me for another 12+ hours. I had a strong sample of what exactly Post Traumatic Stress Disorder consists of each time my phone rang, and I thought it might be this Satanist, or as I rode my motorcycle across the valley, and was gripped with a fear that my attacker would be in on-coming traffic, and run me off the road... Or his voice in my head. It was absolutely terrifying.

I am grateful that I have spent so much of my energy lately getting to know my inner self, and I was able to talk sense to my traumatized spirit, and release my soul from whatever psychological bonds that had been forced upon me. I truly believe that meditation has saved my life twice in the past 12 months.

After going through this whole ordeal, I have concluded that I can no longer try to exist on the imaginary plane between dark and light. There is no middle ground of the yin-yang. I am either Black, or White; Good or Evil; Loving, or Fearful. If I am light, I must choose if I wish to be the sole light amid the enveloping darkness. If I am darkness, I must be an enemy of light. There is no reconciling that there is a duality in me, as there is in everyone, but there is a chance for me to choose a side.

As I walked away from that situation, I came to a realization that my life would never be the same. That I could never unlearn what I had learned. I prayed. I called my closest friend. I came home and thought long and hard about who and what I am, and eventually I got up the courage to begin expelling the darkness in me. I intend to continue this process until I am a person who radiates light and love.

I believe that our lives are engineered to teach us. I believe that when we have learned what we came to learn, we are released from this realm. I know that I will never be a being of complete and total light, because I am anchored to this plane of existence by certain fears, and delusions. But one day I will be set free of that, and I want to be able to go toward the light, not to cower away from it in the darkness of oblivion.

It seems so preposterous to say, but in the days after that experience, I took inventory of my spirit, and found that I have some major blockages in my heart. I have been learning about the physiological manifestations of consciousness. The direct correlation between physical health and emotional well-being. When I discovered that my new perspective on life was going to require a *conscious* change of heart, I began immediately working on it. First, I had to clear my mind. I knew this meant no more substances, and no more addictive behaviors. I have had a lot of success with self-treatment chakra therapy. I realized  that this major blockage that I have been experiencing is centered in my heart chakra. It is going to take a lot of work to cleanse this chakra, but I have already begun. One week clean and sober, and I already feel like a new person, even though my substance abuse was negligible, being clean and sober has cleared my mind and body to a tremendous degree.

The next step was to review and adjust my emotional mind. What is so difficult about it, is that sentiment, and the discomfort of growth are perhaps the most powerful reasons to resist the dissolution of these types of blockages. But I have been astounded at how quickly the universe sweeps in to heal the wounds once you begin the process of extracting poison from your heart. It is a hard thing to remove and dispose of desires, especially ones you've held onto for years. But already I am being soothed. Already I am finding reasons to hope beyond my dreams of yesterday.

Two days after this profound, life-changing experience began, I got a phone call. A job offer. This job offer has now evolved into full-time employment out of state, at $50k/year. All of this sounded too good to be true, but it's not. I have been feeling impelled toward apprenticeship in a craft, and I cannot think of any better craft to learn than hardwood flooring, and no better place to learn it, than in San Diego. I am intimidated by the pace at which I will be trained, but I will be being trained in a skillset that is internationally marketable. I will come away with all the knowledge that I need to do my job ingrained in my brain, and I will have it everywhere I go. I will be fully trained in two years, and at that point, if I so choose, I will be able to strike out on my own, get my own tools and clients, and potentially make a six-figure salary. I am about to be 28 years old, and I couldn't be more excited to leave my youth behind, and get started with adulthood.

Thanks for the love, my beautiful universe :)

Thanks for reading.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Fear vs. Love

I have recently undertaken to reboot my life. I had an experience that completely shifted my worldview, and inspired me to do more than simply survive for the sake of existing, just to bellyache about the state of the world around me. I have decided to take on a fair share of the work that must be done to change this world to a place I can be proud to leave behind someday (and hopefully not too soon).

I realized that I have been putting off adulthood for far too long. I have always felt young at heart. Sometimes  actually think I'm still 23. Seriously. But I'm going on 28. When I was 23, I didn't even think about being 28, because my health was so bad that I didn't see myself living another 5 years. But that actually was the case when I was 18, looking ahead to 23. So, since my inkling of impending death seems to be off, I may as well live as if I were someday going to be 56. Who knows? maybe by some great fortune, I will manage to hold onto the miracle of life for that long, or longer.

I had a brush with a real-life Demon about a week ago, and over the next few days, I have contemplated the idea of being "scared straight". It is a difficult thing to wrap one's head around. In the end, I decided that I WAS being "scared straight", but had I allowed myself to be scared straight by this demon, I would be allowing myself to be "scared straight to hell", by continuing to associate with that type of person.

To me, Demons are people who understand the tactics and methods of Satanic power, and Satanic power is simply that which seeks to control through fear, whether that be violence, deception, coercion, or psychological domination, or all of the above. In my particular situation, it was all of the above. I was drugged and hazed on a construction site by my boss and co-worker. It rattled my brain (perhaps even a mild concussion) but I escaped the situation without major physical injury, and with a profound insight into the nature of fear, and how it has played a large part in my life, since my childhood. I didn't seek it out, but perhaps in not heretofore taking such things as demons, and Satan seriously, I inadvertently invited this person—this demon—into my life. At any rate, I have had a life-changing insight into human nature, spirituality, and those behaviors which traditionally sort into either 'good' or 'evil'. To use an age-old example to demonstrate this insight, I will revert to the religious teachings of my childhood to show what I have learned. After all, one's upbringing tends to be the lens through which they see the world. What better way than an epic tale of Love and Fear?

 Love is an attribute of God (and godly people). Fear is a tool of Satan, and his followers. Now, just to clear this up at the get-go, the term "god fearing" has never really resonated with me, because I have never understood an association with an all loving, all caring and all wise creator as being someone to fear. The word seems to have no place in a sentence (or place) with 'God'.

Satan, or "Lucifer" used fear of the unknown in order to coax Eve into partaking of the fruit of knowledge. It might be claimed that the *original* Original Sin, was giving into fear. Fear, and not faith, led Eve to make her choice.
It is my personal belief that Satan has permeated every aspect of humanity since that day at the dawn of human existence, including that of organized religion. One of the guiding principles of my spiritual journey has been to steer clear of fear. However, I had no idea how deep seated that fear actually was in my own life until very recently. Satan rules this realm through promises of destroying our souls if we wander from the "straight and narrow path"... perhaps, it could be reasoned that he puts us on straight and narrow paths of his own through giving us fear of wandering astray from it, or wondering about other ways of living. If we are possessed by fear, we are not likely to take risks, even the risk to look askance to see the beckoning of angels to leave the Satanic path we are on.

I believe that there are many, many "straight and narrow paths". The fact that a path is straight and narrow doesn't imply that it is right. It certainly seems audacious to me to claim that it is the only path. In fact, I don't know that God ever used the term 'straight and narrow path', I believe the line is "Straight is the gate, and narrow is the way..." If someone claims their "path" to be the only one that will get you into heaven (or cerain of its kingdoms), it seems more an indication to me that it is of the devil than of God. After all, Satan's plan was one where we had no choices. We were not able to wander about and explore in his plan, we were all to be set on a path, and none were to be lost. In his plan, there was ONE way. The most efficient way to envision this, would be a like a straight, narrow corridor. No twists and turns. Perhaps even the presence of light is not even an indication of Godliness. I used to associate such a light with the so-called 'straight and narrow path'—a well-lit path that led to the gates of heaven— but Satan never wanted us to be groping around in the dark. He wanted us to *see him* as the only one way to heaven.

Bear with me, I know this sounds like I am embracing Satanism. I am not. I am suggesting that Satan has embraced organized religion, as an efficient set of precepts into which he is able to inject fear, and thereby defeat the practitioners of that religion who absorb his fear-mongering teachings. Through long held traditions (not limited to, but certainly including, religion) he has coaxed our understanding of the world to align with his own: That there is only ONE way—his way. A dictatorship. It makes sense that he would spell it all out for us, and deny us our choices. In fact, I believe that God's plan was, indeed, one of "forgiveness", simply for the fact that He wanted us to have a choice. Forgiveness implies that we are able to make choices, and naturally make mistakes in the first place, and then be forgiven for it. This is kinda the concept behind blessings, as well. We are blessed because we try and fail, and are given another chance, or a different opportunity and tool to succeed. In Satan's plan for humanity, "forgiveness" was not in his vocabulary.  "Not one soul will be lost," he said "I wont allow it." We weren't allowed to make choices which would prevent us from returning to God.

However, according to the story, God refused that plan and the word "forgiveness" became part of the human vocabulary. Satan's recourse was to play upon the meaning of the word, and thereby play on our fears that we would not be forgiven; that we were not worth forgiving. He perverted the teaching of forgiveness with a deep-set fear. he has convinced us that deep down, that forgiveness has its limits. 'Yes, it's for everyone, and yes, God will forgive you... but he will *not* be mocked. He forgives everyone, but not forever. He will forgive you a dozen times—perhaps a trillion—but eventually, he will draw the line...'

While this isn't true of an all-loving God, we begin to believe it. We are convinced by our shame, that surely God isn't as freely forgiving the hundredth time around as he was the first. We doubt ourselves; 'Surely others don't falter as often as me...'  We think we must be the only one in the world who needs forgiveness this much, this often. We begin to feel ashamed that we have to be forgiven so often, because we "know better" and do it anyway. After all, that was exactly Eve's mistake; she knew better, but she did it anyway... We feel fear of being punished by God, for not "walking uprightly" every day, for not keeping our covenants made in His holy presence. We fear that we have fallen from his grace, and under the power of Satan. And truly, we are under the power of Satan when such fear rules our minds. Satan, not God, not Christ, is the one who utilizes a "Scared Straight" program. Satan's fear-mongering has absolutely no place in a "religious experience", God would not allow threats to be made toward His followers by Satan in Godly, sacred space. As the adage goes "if you can't see God from where you are, who moved? You, or God?" Unfortunately, for all the well-meaning and truly good work that religion does in this world, religion is susceptible to corruption. We have seen it in the news, where holy men do damnable things to innocent children. We live in a world where wars from time immemorial have been driven by fundamentally misguided ideas of God's love, or justice... God gave Satan power over this world, but he gave us each power over Satan. He is unable to take our power from us, by virtue of our having mortal bodies. But that doesn't mean that we cannot give our power to him. They say that Satan cannot abide in holy places, and that God cannot abide in unholy places. But it is up to the individual if their head space will be pure and holy. If we attend church out of fear, we bring fear into the church. Chapels may be sacred space, but they cannot purge the human mind of unholiness. Through establishing a religious tradition of "scaring straight", Satan has sneaked into spirituality. I am not a fan of religion, because it blurs the concepts of spirituality. When one simply deals in terms of spirituality, it is not so hard to discern between good and bad spirits. But when one tries to observe even their own spirituality through the lens of religion, things become much more unclear and convoluted.

Fear can be propagated very subtly. Satan's tactics have not been so much one of word choice, but of word re-definition. 'Worthiness' becomes a pursuit, because we have a fear of being unworthy. I hate those words, because the root of them is "worth". We all have worth. Religion (or Satan, through religion) has simply redefined in our minds what it must mean to be "worth" heaven, or blessings, or temples... "Worthiness" is a scale of measure for the imparting of conditional love, and God's love is NOT conditional. Again, fear drives us away from God. It causes us to hide from his love. This is the fear that Satan taught Adam and Eve when they heard God coming, and hid their nakedness. Shame is fear. Satan gives Adam and Eve an idea of obscuring themselves before God, in order to hide their guilt. But of course, God knew. God knew because he *created* them, and their impromtu invention of clothing could not fool him. Likewise, our feelings of "unworthiness" established through feeling judged by others, or by our church leaders, who want to know if we are "temple worthy", has nothing to do with our worthiness to speak to, and be spoken to by God. We are told by any given religion that we need that particular religion in order to gain access to God. As if God is helpless (or, much more disturbing, that he is unwilling) to embrace us with his love until we have ascribed to a very particular religion, and its dogma. This is why I believe that Satan has a stronghold on organized religion. Because, though they are quite adept at showing conditional love, religion is propagated through fear of damnation. But, paradoxically enough, we actually "dam" ourselves from progress when we allow others to give us laundry lists of what God demands before he will show his love. God's love is unconditional. Only WE can place conditions on it. When we do, we no longer feel God's unconditional love.

I know I haven't spoken hardly at all about the experience that led to this insight, so I will try to be as succinct as possible here, and wrap up my long-winded entry.

I was thrown from a scaffold by my employer. He did so in a mad rage, and it was so sudden and unexpected that I was put in mortal fear. I didn't know if there was a bolder behind me, and my brains were going to be dashed out, I just knew that I had absolutely no control over the situation. I was flying backward through the air, and all I could see was the look of a drug induced rage and contempt on my attacker's face. It epitomized every artistic depiction of Satan, or Demons in classic art: furrowed brow, bared teeth, glaring eyes. I realized this all as I was still in mid-air, wondering if this would be the last image I would ever see. I was simultaneously associating this fearful image with the fear of death, and as this was happening, my mind was reeling with what I could possibly have done to avoid it. The answers that I came up with were (understandably) rooted in fear: "I shouldn't have done that" "If I survive this, I'll never make that mistake again" "please please please don't kill me"... etc. It was as if he had taken control not only of my physical body (his hands gripped around my throat), but had actually injected himself into my brain, and usurped all my thoughts. I have been in quite a number of life threatening situations, the kind where they say your life flashes before your eyes (it does, in a very real sense) but none in which I was so completely unable to have any sense of peace. I have always been able to come to terms with my impending death, even in the milliseconds preceding a car crash.. but this time, I was tortured with the thoughts of how I might have behaved differently (not raised my voice to him, checked my ego, chosen my words more carefully, etc.). In short, those moments in which I was anticipating the impact, and possible mortal wounds, I was experiencing hell. It took what felt like an eternity, and for that eternity, I was racked with regret, and torment of how my choices had led me to this. I and landed flat on my back, in relatively soft dirt. He and and my co-worker pinned me down for perhaps 30-seconds, and continued to physically and psychologically dominate me. It was a very methodical way of asserting their dominance through fear. I was so shocked by the violent outburst that I my 'fight or flight' instinct didn't even kick in. The whole point was to put me in mortal fear, and to associate it with blind obedience, subservience, submission. It was a ploy to take my power from me by frightening me into giving it away. The 'deal' that I was supposed to make, in my head, was one where I would never question or contend his authority again. This is the core concept of the type of discipline I was raised with. I don't think that requires much explanation on my part, though it may require more reflection and pondering on the reader's part...

They said it was like an "initiation" and that they had never let it get out of control. 10 minutes later they were acting like nothing happened.  But as I walked away in a daze, I was already making plans to take back control of my own life. To never allow myself to be in such a situation again, to never allow myself to so mistreat another human being. I walked away with a certainty of the reality of 'Good' and 'Evil', and I committed myself to purging myself of the fear that had just been injected into me. Over the next few days I have realized that I have many more fears, that have been with me much longer. And I am committed to seeking out love, and replacing these fears with love and Godliness as well.


Monday, August 19, 2013

First Song Ever Written


I walked along, I talked with God
none to call my own, alone I trod
I sang a tune, no one was listening
under the moon the dew was glistening

'I'm calling you
can you hear me?
I'm calling you
I need you near me'

Then there was you, God said he made you
I needed love, and so he gave you
I only knew of you... and you knew of me
until I met you beneath that tree

I smelled your skin... passed close by you
but our innocence you kept inside you
I spoke to you: 'Did you hear me
when I called to you "I need you near me"?'

I went to pray, to plead for more
all night and day, fraught to the core
'I'm asking you, why must you test me?
I'm begging you, please come and bless me'
God said the fruit, it was forbidden
'but what's the use?' reason given.

I woke at dawn, I heard you crying
'My God is gone! I think I'm dying....'
I pulled you close, I tried to kiss you
you ran away, and how I miss you!

I'm calling you
please forgive me.
what will I do
without you with me?

Friday, May 31, 2013

Up and Adam

Up and Adam

I am greeting a new dawn like none other today. Each day, I do so, like it or not; it is my choice.

I am like none other, and so is this day.

I am Up. I spent a long night looking up at the sky, wondering how many countless minds had contemplated the same infinite, wondrous, supernal manifestation above. Was it David who mused that the heavens were so glorious, that he could not help but feel unworthy? No; it was me. It was myriad souls, time out of mind, who reflected upon mortality as they gazed on the face of immortality. Oh to attain Heaven. Their sole, soul pursuit.

What earned any of us the privilege of life?

What gives us the slightest impression or inkling to squander this moment thinking about tomorrow?
Or the past?

I am Adam. We are each of us fallen angels....

What a privilege!

What are the chances that we should fall upon this Earth? The universe (what ever that may mean), and its vast void of space lends well to an infinity fall. It is The nature. To fall infinitely, within the toroidal flow of God itself-- the universe.


Seasons... Aeons.

The sun compels life to spring up. Life is in the water. The water is in the warm earth, tapped by the roots of the Tree of Life, itself. The tree of life is me, just as much as It is you.
Breathe in, breathe out.... try to keep pace with the body's constant acknowledgment of The Way, the Tao. There is no moment more precious than the next; do the next thing.

After telling our deepest secrets of the universe over porridge or coffee what is left to do? Wash your bowl. Wash your cup. Do the next thing.

That is the Tao; Be the universe's perfect reflection. You have no other choice. You and I are star-stuff.

Twinkle twinkle, little star! Wonder, Wonder—what you are.

Were it but for such specks of dust like our Earth, we would be lost souls, with no pool in which to reflect upon our God-nature, as it has been my privilege to do tonight under the full light of the half moon.
'As above, so below...'

God's love compels all of creation. Every single Adam. Every quark and muon....

I fall into wonder while gazing into a mirror on my frame. It is only as imperfect as I will to see and be. And yet I am perfect. I am a perfect example of God, the universe, reflecting, musing upon itself. I am looking on a card house stack of bones, tethered in tendons and sinew, draped in precious flesh— rarer an element in this universe than gold or silver— in such a delicate and calculated fashion.... and it is Me! I howl, and my dog howls with me.

I am that I am!

I hide my nakedness in cloth, metal, leather in my own daily ceremony, and fall from one wonder to the next as I look out the window to my left, and see faint evidences of day....
I wonder, what today will bring?
I know what I will bring today, with me on the Tao:

Carry blade,
Carry fire,
Carry water.

My dog is not ready for the day she yawns 3 times before I even begin to collect my accouterments together, but she will have to get her beauty sleep in the well house. I am Adam, and the day is abroad in the garden. The sun is fondling the mountain tops behind my corner of Eden. The tree of life greets me again in the frost on my scooter seat. A colt awakens as I open the gate and lead my beautiful dog to sleep away a beautiful morning. The colt lets me take her photo, she walks up to me and looks me in the eye with curiosity. Did I just steal her soul? She is beautiful. Everything is beautiful.

I regard the frosty crystal pattern once more before breaking them up, and taking my seat. I turn to face the sun. She is still behind the mountain, but already her rosy fingers are tickling at the beautiful, selfish weeds in the fields. What a Beautiful day. The trees frame a telephoto effect of Wolf Mountain as I take to the road. 7 miles into town, give or take. It is all one long prayer of thanks.

For every moment, For every color, for every drop of water, for every element in every application, for every breath, for every exhale, for every mountain, for every fish, for every novel idea, for every necessity, for every beautiful life upon this beautiful planet, for every sensation, for every emotion for every thought, for the sun, for warmth, for absence thereof, for day and night, for the moon above me now, for every blade of grass, for every pattern, for every breeze, for every stillness that Thou gifts me, Thank You, God.

Thanks for reading.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

How To Save a Life

One never knows what the dawn will bring. A chance to start anew, a moment of clarity, a rock-bottom experience, a repeat of yesterday... A tragedy. Today, I found myself in a position I never thought I would be in. I fired a gun in defense of a defenseless mother of two unborn fetuses. It is something I will never forget, and it has given me a renewed perspective on the importance of gun rights. I shot at two dogs attacking my favorite pygmy 'nanny' goat, pregnant with two kids.

I was alerted by dogs barking outside the barn. Occasionally joggers have their dogs with them, and sometimes they bark, but this was clearly on the property. At first, I thought I must have a visitor, but then, another dog began barking and together, their barks grew more and more frenzied. I was searching for my gun. I grabbed it and headed for the door. then, realizing that this gun was not loaded, I dashed back inside for my loaded pistol. I ran outside, to find two dogs. A long-haired black dog, 'egging' on the other with loud barks, the other--a pit bull-looking dog-- on top of the pregnant black pygmy goat 'Black Mama'. I cocked my pistol, the black dog began running, and i fired at its heels, in the direction of the attacking dog. The dogs immediately turned tail, and began running. I fired after them, but with no intent to shoot them. Crisis averted... Or so I thought.

It had taken me less than two minutes to respond to the barks, and every instant I was kicking myself in the pants for not having my gun more ready. Precious time spent retrieving a loaded gun to ward off snarling canines is nothing to what I imagine are those eternal moments of anticipation and terror involved in a public shooting/mass murder situation. I cannot imagine if I had been saving a human being, I would never forgive myself. But this is a little different. This is "property", in the form of living animals, and I am not defending against humans, I'm defending against pets. The stakes are considerably lower. I felt that the situation had been resolved, because as I lowered my weapon, the thought occurred to me that I had actually made a pretty quick response time: I would say about 1 minute and 20 seconds, at the most. 'Imagine if I had not been a gun-owner...'

As I turned to the barn, I saw the black goat get up from the ground, stumble into the side of the barn, smearing blood on the door. I grabbed my phone and called a local yokel, and good friend, who has farmed all his life 'is there a veterinarian in the area?' 'not today...' I looked over to where the goat had been, she was gone. I ran around the side of the barn, and found her bleeding profusely from her throat. I grabbed a paper towel off the ground and held it against her throat. her breathing was labored, and the blood was bright red. If I had been a little more present, I would have made a much more judicious decision at that point, realizing that it was arterial blood. But, as I was somewhat panicked, I instead got her to lay down, I grabbed a shirt from a box of storage, and ripped a bandage for her. I tied it around her jaw, and ran to my vehicle for a blanket. I dialed my friend, the owner of these goats and left him a message. I looked over at the goat pen... The Billy goat, 'Otis', was dead outside the goat shelter. I feared the worst, and the worst was confirmed: all three (plus two unborn) goats were dead.

Less than two minutes, and two dogs had taken lives, and mortally wounded my little livestock brood. Imagine the devastation of a crazed shooter in a packed city mall, or public school... two minutes is a long, loooong time.

'What if I hadn't been a gun owner'? I will tell you what.

I retrieved the blanket and upon reentering the barn, found the goat had gotten up and was wandering around completely aimlessly in the barn. she was bleeding everywhere. there was no saving her.

I knew what I had to do. I laid her down on the blanket, scooped her up and took her outside. I laid her down and pulled the blanket over her head. I felt around her skull and peeked in once more to make sure of my aim. I covered her again. Her breathing was labored and gurgled with blood. I synced my breathing with hers, and closed my eyes. I pulled the trigger. It misfired. I invoked the universe and reached for some courage and some peace, and pulled the trigger again.

She slowly collapsed in total silence. she never took another breath.

What if I had run out immediately, and chased off the dogs without a gun? Perhaps this would have been effective. But, as they so amply demonstrated, dogs are dangerous animals when excited by the taste of blood. I could have found myself in the same fate of the goats, had there been even one more dog, perhaps if these two dogs had had less of a conscience, they could have taken me down. I will never know, I didn't give them a chance to prove themselves. I did, regretfully, spare their lives.. and jeopardize the lives of any livestock around here who might fall victim to their little spree.

As further investigation showed, the billy had been killed the night previous, and the dogs returned to finish the job. The other nanny--named "Roxy"-- was still limp, implying that she died this morning. Perhaps the black dog had gotten her, and the pit bull had pursued Black Mama to the barn...  I worked last night. When I arrived home after 11pm, I checked in on the black nanny, but I didn't check on the other two, who shared a separate pen.

I have had a lot of time today to think about this morning's events, and I feel surprised at how disconnected I was in the moment that I had to shoot a mother goat in the head point blank. It was still hard to do, and the only thing harder, would have been to sit and cry as she bled out in my arms. In my inherited traditions, the words "tender mercy" have significance as something one might be grateful for, when all else is wrong. I feel it was a "tender mercy" that I decided to jump the goat pen fence, and check in on Black Mama last night, and got to put a hand on her belly, and feel one of those little baby goats poking up her side. She was warm, she was calm, and I probably actually woke her, though I didn't have a light beside the moon. I talked to her for a minute or two. Something I haven't done often in the 5 months we've shared space, and definitely not after a fresh 10" of snow has fallen... except last night. I would have felt such immense regret if I had not chosen on a whim to check in on her. When my friends are not up here sharing space, these goats are who I talk to. It keeps the cabin fever away.

Otis was a bully. He was aggressive at feeding, to the point of fending off the other two until he was full, or the food was gone. At 3 times their size, he got his way. But he was nice as ever when I was nearby. I kind of got in the habit of watching them eat, because that's the only way the nannies could eat at the same time as Otis. Sometimes, when it was too bitter cold, I would just make enough piles of hay, or alfalfa pellets that he couldn't or wouldn't try to keep them all for himself. But the last time I was lazy and cold, I turned and began to head inside. immediately Otis began butting the other two away. I turned around, righteous anger flaring up, and lept over the fence chasing Otis away from the grub. I swung at him with my foot and fell headlong over a fence post, scraping my chest and bruising some ribs. My chest felt like it had caved in. Instant Karma. I went to kick the goat, and I kicked myself.

For all the time and care, I have also directed a lot of anger and resentment at those goats. First, they are not much for conversation. Then Otis for not letting the others eat, and then the others, for not eating if I tied up Otis.. and they want food constantly. They eat more meals per day than I do. They are stubborn animals, and it can be frustrating trying to keep them penned up. Even more frustrating to tramp through 200 yards of snow to get them a bale of hay... After nearly impaling myself while attempting to dish him up a little of his own medicine, I decided that I will let goats be goats. If the nannies wont eat when Otis is separated from them, then I guess they prefer to eat whatever he leaves them. Goats will be goats.

Instead, I made a bunch of snowballs to throw at them. Even the wee Roxy is aggressive to the black'n, so I would chuck snowballs at them when they started fighting. But after the fence post hangup, I was too sore to even throw snowballs with any accuracy. Another tender mercy, as this was about 2 weeks ago, and I would have really felt like crap if I had been dishing out snowballs right up to their last days on this good green Earth; Mother of all. She who giveth, and she who taketh away...

I am grateful for life today.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Study It Out In Your Own Mind

Lately, questions like 'why would 'God' allow suffering though he has the power to stop it or intervene' have been discussed in the aftermath of natural disasters, massacres and social injustices. But to me, there are questions that invites only a short-sighted, here-and-now, way of looking at 'God'. And frankly, they don't interest me anymore, because they entail far too many presuppositions of what 'God' is. More pertinent questions would be: What is 'God', and what isn't 'He'? Is 'God' to be found in suffering and vice versa?  Does God' *want* us to suffer? Does 'He' speak to some of us, and not others? The last one may seem like an unrelated question, but it seems paramount to many interpretations of who 'God' is to many people across  all cultures.
‎One thing I believe about 'God': 'He' would either talk to everyone, or talk to no one; a level playing field for everyone.I have spent a lot of time exploring these two options as alternatives to the 3rd option (the one which I was raised to believe in) which is that of 'God' handpicking who 'He' talks to, in accordance to 'His' big plan. I can only explore these possibilities by being dedicated to scrutiny. As some say of faith, one might say of reason "it is found in the exercising of it". *really* turning a critical eye to the morality of my traditional, inherited God-concept, and what it must say of 'Him'...

I have never been comfortable with my inherited God-concept. 'He' has been a fearfully paralyzing, angry, vengeful, shaming, and cruel force in much of my life, and continues to be so, even though I no longer accept 'His' existence. This is best summarized in scripture(predictably enough)  Proverbs 22:6 "Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it." a sentiment which reverberates in Jesuit indoctrination philosophy:  "Give me a child until he is seven and I will give you the man"

7.... 8... who's counting?

I find it hard to remap the fear-induced thought patterns associated with the idea of damning myself to an eternity of "weeping, wailing, and gnashing of teeth" by not "choosing the right". Thus, I feel that my relationship to my inherited God-concept, and more importantly, 'His' relationship with me, is one that most human beings evolve out of as toddlers: Morality established through fear of consequences. Behaviors that are externally motivated by threats of damnation. This is poor child-rearing behavior, especially for 'God'.

What do this 'God's actions say about 'Him'? After all, our actions may say the world of us. So why should 'God' not be conceivable in the mind of someone created in 'His' own image? Surely we must *understand* 'His' actions, if we are commanded to *emulate* 'His' actions. Especially, if (as I was taught) we are to become *like* 'Him'...

One thing I could not understand was, why 'God' would make Jesus suffer so much that he bled from every pore? seems like 'gratuitous blood and violence' to me. And why 'God' would tell Abraham to kill his son? This story, among others, shocked me as a child; What if Abraham had just decided to get it over with as fast as possible? What if he hadn't opened his eyes to see the angel? (and again, I pondered these questions as a young teen, attending "Seminary"). Such as when 'God' kills an Israelite for attempting to save the Ark of the Covenant from toppling off a wagon-- a compulsive reflex at worst, and a noble intention, at best-- but 'God' had a lesson to teach everyone: 'I am everywhere. Always. There are no mistakes. Let this be a warning: Do NOT interfere with my plans, or you will be struck dead for doubting, as this man did'. Why? Because he wasn't a Levite? Didn't seem fair. And if 'He' did that sort of thing then, would 'He' do so now?

Could I get myself struck dead? If I challenged 'God', would 'He' send down a bolt of lighting? Or would 'He' just damn me for eternity, and I wouldn't find out til I died? Ultimately, I decided that 'God' knew my heart. At first, I thought "'God'  knows my heart, so 'He' would never kill me for trying to do the right thing..." but then I thought "'God' knows my heart, so 'He' knows that I hate 'Him', and it doesn't matter if I curse 'Him' aloud or not, I can damn myself with my internal thoughts...." and perhaps a few years later, I thought "I'm so glad that 'God' knows everything I think, because my sincerity cannot be denied..." My sincerity has always guided me to keep searching for answers that made sense.

For a much of my life, I have though that this meant studying and hoping to encounter a certain phrasing of what I had already learned, in such a way that I could understand, or wrap my head around it. Initially, My 'God' didn't seem so mysterious. The world was also much less mysterious, because of course, my belief was that it was less than 10,000 years old, and 'God' had personally designed every aspect of my reality, and I would learn how in the *next* life. But when one comes to terms with the age of the earth, certain things just stop adding up. my inherited God-concept became more and more a mystery, and my desire to understand ;'Him' became more and more compelling. Eventually, I stopping being curious about my inherited God-concept, and started being curious about 'God', or my own, personal, God-concept.

 Lately, I've been pondering upon what exactly this inherited 'God' I was raised to worship was asking of me.
In my inherited belief system, 'God' supposedly been watching over this universe for its entire lifetime (10,000-  13.77 Billion years). So, how would he allow himself, as an omniscient and omnipotent, omnipresent deity, to get into the situation of having to kill 'His' own child? and why would 'He' then want us to emulate, or celebrate that behavior? why would the suffering and death of 'His' son be the culmination of 'His' Big Plan? "Do I really want to "become as 'God'"..."? I decided I owed it to myself, to do my due diligence to the truth, and rethink my concept of 'God'. From there, I decided to re-investigate what exactly it would mean to follow the teachings of Christ, and that led to accepting him as a wise man, possibly fictitious, but no less or more compelling than the story of the Buddha, or Krishna, or Dionysus was/is to their respective age and culture.

This 'God' who supposedly spoke to an uneducated 14 year old farm boy sounds right on the money: don't explore other religions. explore your own mind. Unfortunately  I don't believe the 14 year old boy was any more "chosen" by 'God' than anyone else in this world, and his take away message seems nothing short of skewed at best. The time has come for our world to retire the archaic vernacular of oppressive, repressive religion. We are "worth" our weight in 'God'.

Stop looking for the *exceptions* to be your ruler.
Don't accept that you are 'unworthy' of anything.
Stop seeing yourself as exceptionally unworthy, everyone is dealing with the same thoughts and feelings that you are.

My 'God' would never use an adjective with the root "worth" to describe 'His' own creations. If 'God' makes no mistakes, everyone is worth exactly as much as everyone else, right?

Then we are all "worth-y".