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Tuesday, September 1, 2020

On Joy

If you suddenly and unexpectedly feel joy, don’t hesitate. Give in to it. There are plenty of lives and whole towns destroyed or about to be. We are not wise, and not very often kind. And much can never be redeemed. Still, life has some possibility left. Perhaps this⁣ is its way of fighting back, that sometimes something happens better than all the riches or power in the world. It could be anything, but very likely you notice it in the instant⁣ when love begins. Anyway, that’s often the case. Anyway, whatever it is, don’t be afraid of its plenty. Joy is not made to be a crumb.⁣

– Mary Oliver⁣

Monday, August 3, 2020

Putting everything on the line. Here She is.


Wow. Portland. Her. From time to time the mythic emerges and is captured in iconic form. Behold the Divine Feminine in all Her glory. Unadorned. Unprotected. Interrupting the banalities of evil. Spreading awe. Vulnerability ~ the only power strong enough to threaten fascism. She appeared as if out of nowhere and approached the blockade fully nude looking at the stunned officers. She pointed at them silently. The police and the feds didn’t hesitate to shoot back with rubber bullets. A protester with a shield appeared also as if out of nowhere covering the woman briefly from police fire. She began to make slow yoga-like poses, then sat down. She sat there fully naked legs open, gazing at the officers. Using her pussy riot power and white woman privilege to the epic degree. Bewildered, as if outnumbered, the military line eventually dispersed. One day this will become one of the iconic images of the 21st century. Among these others. The Feminine Rising. It’s no instagramable goddessy bullshit, it’s leaning into good trouble, it's the uprising of the unprotected, it’s the kind of love that disrupts injustice, it’s the naked against the machine in the middle of the night. It’s putting everything on the line. Here She is. - Vera de Chalambert

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

On Freedom

The current anti-lockdown protests highlight something very deep about our modern view of 'freedom'. This is the idea that 'freedom' is the ability to do whatever we want whenever we want, no matter the consequences. From the yogic perspective, the human desire to follow every impulse, no matter how harmful, no matter how socially and psychically disruptive, is the exact opposite of freedom. It means being at the whims of our basest impulses, which, when magnified across an entire society or world, generally doesn't tend to work out so well. This mindset of 'I get to do whatever I want whenever I want it and no one can tell me otherwise' is on full display in the anti-lockdown protests, but it is not the sole domain of the far right and libertarians. It also permeates and underpins neoliberal capitalist culture in general. Hence - trade without human rights considerations, free movement of capital without regard for local communities and environments, billionaires who don't pay taxes. Yet this type of 'freedom' is not free of the laws of cause and effect - and every freedom happens within the context of a larger order, the order of nature. The deep interconnected web of the natural world is based much less on what we call 'freedom' and is much closer to what we call 'harmony.' Shifting, interlocking relationships that, in their relationship, make up a whole that is ultimately dependent upon each part. This is the same harmony that makes for good music. If you've ever been part of a really bad drum circle, everyone just playing whatever they want whenever they want, then you understand the consequences of the modern American view of 'freedom.' It's called chaos. The good music comes when people understand their responsibility to the whole composition, and each contributes accordingly, and within the structure of the song, there is breathing space enough for each to express fully, and find ecstatic freedom, within structural harmony rather than outside of it. - Josh Schrei

Monday, June 1, 2020

James Baldwin on Shakespeare: "He could have done this only through love"

The greatest poet in the English language found his poetry where poetry is found: in the lives of the people. He could have done this only through love - by knowing, which is not the same thing as understanding, that whatever was happening to anyone was happening to him. It is said that his time was easier than ours, but I doubt it - no time can be easy if one is living through it. I think it is simply that he walked his streets and saw them, and tried not to lie about what he saw: his public streets and his private streets, which are always so mysteriously and inexorably connected; but he trusted that connection. And, though I, and many of us, have bitterly bewailed (and will again) the lot of an American writer - to be part of a people who have ears to hear and hear not, who have eyes to see and see not - I am sure that Shakespeare did the same. Only, he saw, as I think we must, that the people who produce the poet are not responsible to him: he is responsible to them.

That is why he is called a poet. And his responsibility, which is also his joy and his strength and his life, is to defeat all labels and complicate all battles by insisting on the human riddle, to bear witness, as long as breath is in him, to that mighty, unnameable, transfiguring force which lives in the soul of man, and to aspire to do his work so well that when the breath has left him, the people—all people!—who search in the rubble for a sign or a witness will be able to find him there.

- James Baldwin, from "How to Think like Shakespeare: Lessons from a Renaissance Education Hardcover" by Scott Newstok

Friday, May 1, 2020

Tao Te Ching - Lao Tzu - Chapter 80

A small country has fewer people.
Though there are machines that can work ten to a hundred times faster
     than man, they are not needed.
The people take death seriously and do not travel far.
Though they have boats and carriages, no one uses them.
Though they have armor and weapons, no one displays them.
Men return to the knotting of rope in place of writing.
Their food is plain and good, their clothes fine but simple,
     their homes secure;
They are happy in their ways.
Though they live within sight of their neighbors,
And crowing cocks and barking dogs are heard across the way,
Yet they leave each other in peace while they grow old and die.

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

ACCESSING THE DIVINITY IN ALL THINGS (INCLUDING POLITICS)

Thursday, Aug 22, 2019
—Michael Channeled by Shepherd Hoodwin

Divinity could be defined as the pure experience of love, truth, and beauty. Some people think of the divine as being “up there.” Others see it as being in nature. Many will tell you, however, that God is everywhere, and that is true: the Source is inherent in everything—all things spring from the Tao. Therefore, love, truth, and beauty are at the core of all things.
Because human beings have sentience, which we define as the ability to function in a purely intellectual manner—for example, the ability to make plans—this opens up the possibility of greater knowing and therefore richer experience. But the downside is that there is also the ability to become preoccupied with temporal things and lose the awareness of the divine that most beings have by default. Sometimes your companion animals inspire you because you notice that they have not forgotten love, on the level at which they are capable of experiencing it.
It is a paradox that humans have a greater capacity for the joy of knowing their divinity but also a greater capacity to forget it. Much growth comes from choosing to remember, especially when remembering is not easy. If you remember when you’re under stress, you strengthen your ability to know. Happy young children easily remember, but because they are not as intellectually developed, they have a limited capacity to choose to remember when something triggers them. They can go from joyous laughter to a temper tantrum in a moment. If you choose to remember when it is difficult to do so, your remembering when it is relatively easy becomes stronger. Your conscious connection with the divine became greater because you overcame an obstacle and evolved—you gained skill.
Some people are naturally attuned with the earth, while others have an affinity for the higher realms. The divine in the higher realms is not any more divine than the divine in the earth. It is simply a different color, you might say. If you are connecting with it in a pure way, the divine is beautiful, liberating, nourishing, and happy whether it is accessed through nature or through spiritual practice.
The divine is also an intrinsic part of everyday life. It can be accessed through enjoying good food or music, for example; in fact, it can be accessed through every part of life. But this is more challenging for most, because between heaven and earth is human unconsciousness. It arises from forgetting the divine.
One does not hear many examples of people accessing the divine while waiting on hold for tech support or trying to figure out how they’re going to pay their bills. However, it can be done. Like all skills, it benefits from regular practice.
Let’s say that you have pain in your knee. Usually one’s habit is to resist pain or discomfort, and retreat. One doesn’t want to feel it, but it is necessary to go through the pain if one is to access the divine within it. Even if you’ve taken a painkiller, it’s wise to bring your attention to the pain and lovingly be present with it.
There are stories of Christian martyrs enduring great pain, and then that giving way to bliss. Some people deliberately take on pain hoping to find that bliss. We do not recommend that, but sometimes extreme stress breaks down ego defenses, and an awareness of the eternal comes through. That can help one realize the temporal nature of pain. Of course, one can choose to open to the divine without enduring pain.
Consciousness is the most fundamental power there is because all things ultimately are consciousness. The universe itself is consciousness. When you bring higher consciousness to any situation, that transforms it. There then may be actions that naturally follow from it.
Many spiritual practices have value. Some are complex and take a long time to master. The discipline of a lengthy study, or following rituals or rules, can be growthful, and much can be learned. However, if your aim is simply to be at peace and know your own divinity, it is not truly difficult to reach that state. You are already eternal and infinite; you don’t have to achieve that. You just need to remember.
Granted, there are times when that is challenging. This is where techniques can be useful. Psychological techniques can help you reframe your experience. You can use healing techniques to release negative energies, making it easier to concentrate on the divine that is always your true reality. Getting a massage or just a good night’s sleep can help reduce your distractions. However, in any moment you are in distress, you can first choose to accept everything as it is and remember your divinity. If you start there rather than trying to get there after lengthy meditation or other practices, you will be in a better position to clear away distractions. You might affirm: “I am already divine. I am not becoming that—I am that. I am just learning to remember more often.” That can help you relax and simply do the work that will allow you feel better more consistently.
Every soul is growing. One can grow through either joy or pain. One can be more conscious and endeavor to make the best choices possible, or one can default to growing unconsciously, on autopilot, through the School of Hard Knocks, making repetitive mistakes that one might eventually realize are mistakes.
A lot of human consciousness is subterranean, and many choices are knee jerk—they come from the subconscious, which contains a lot of false programming and frozen fear and anger. Better choices—those that end up having happier results—usually come when relevant factors are considered with objectivity and care.
Better choices involve intellectual reflection, but they are not merely intellectually based. You consider the facts as you know them alongside your gut feelings—what your body is telling you; sometimes your body knows things that your mind does not. You also consider your emotions, intuition, spiritual guidance, and the counsel of other people. Ideally, you bring all available input together in your heart. You process it until it becomes clear to you what the best choice is for you. If you do this, you are less likely to make choices that will cause unnecessary pain for yourself and others, and you will generally grow a lot more quickly than if you are attending the School of Hard Knocks.
Perhaps you are distressed by the current political landscape. You see many people growing through pain, and unfortunately, dragging others along with them. Human beings have largely grown through pain throughout most of recorded history, so this is not new. However, modern technology, which in some ways is a great blessing, can also do more harm than would have been possible in the past. We encourage you to be politically active if you feel called to that, but changing destructive policies is only a temporary measure. The solution comes from raising consciousness, from humanity growing more through joy. You can only raise your own consciousness, but you might inspire others to also raise theirs.
There is great ignorance in the world, some of it willful. You probably will not reach those who shield their ignorance. But there are many people who simply have not seen alternatives. They have not seen others who are more conscious and therefore are growing more through joy.
If you discuss charged issues with those who seem ignorant, the most important thing is to model love and respect. We suggest that you feel into whether there is some openness to what you wish to say. If there is not, you could make things worse—you could cause them to dig in their heels. If there is a little openness, try to sense the best way to say it, what could speak to them. Sometimes you can better connect with someone with a question rather than a statement. Also, be open to what you might learn from them. Respect the divinity of others, because truly, no matter how they may be behaving at the moment, they are just as much a part of the One as everything else in the universe.
Avoid attacking, because that puts people on the defensive and they will not hear. If defenses then come up anyway, we suggest that you let it go for the moment. Similarly, if you are being triggered by them, you will probably not be able to communicate well with them, so first bring your loving awareness to your triggering and see if you can let it disperse.
Don’t be discouraged if a particular interaction doesn’t go as well as you would like. Focus on handling it as kindly and wisely as you can, and learn from your experience. That is what it is to be a light worker. Maybe you have helped move that person forward an inch, and maybe that is more progress than they have made in quite a while. Everyone is connected energetically, so your work is not just with that person—it is with all the people that that person is connected to and the entire consciousness that that person is aligned with. Your work is not primarily intellectual conversation; you lift humanity by living from a higher vibration of love, truth and beauty.
Everyone has blind spots, to a greater or lesser extent. There are many reasons people can be unconscious in some areas and believe things that are not true. Do not assume that they are generally lacking in goodness, intelligence, or evolution. People are complicated. The side they are showing you in any given moment is not the whole of who they are. See if you can engage with others as divine beings and not who they are temporarily revealing themselves to be. Even if they are momentarily defensive or belligerent, everyone wants to be seen for who they really are.
No experience is wasted. When a soul becomes more awake, past mistakes made through lack of consciousness become fodder for the growth of consciousness when they are examined and their underlying causes are healed. Even a soul who committed atrocities but allows itself to more fully awaken can become a beacon of understanding, possibly reaching others who are still committing atrocities. All experiences can be used. All the unwise choices that you have made—and everyone has made plenty—can be used to refine your vibration. Growth does not occur in a vacuum. One has to have experiences to grow, and some of your experiences are inevitably going to be unpleasant, including things that you look back on mistakes. Mistakes can bring pain but also growth. There’s no need to be ashamed of your mistakes. It is a good idea to learn from them. And once you have learned as much from them as you are currently able, it is a good idea to leave them behind. You can always revisit them later after you’ve gained more experience.
If you continue to beat yourself up for past mistakes, you are likely to make similar mistakes in the future because you are energizing them. Extract the learning from them, apologize if warranted, forgive yourself, and move on. If you are having trouble doing that, see if you can discover the reasons you are not letting them go. Perhaps the main reason people do not fully forgive themselves for their mistakes is that they were raised with conditional love. To a child, that translates as “I can only be loved if I am a certain way.”
MEDITATION
See if you can, in this moment, have unconditional love for yourself. Close your eyes and feel the pure energy of unconditional love.
Ask your soul to light up within you anywhere you believe that you do not deserve it. You may see visual images, or notice emotions or sensations. You may simply know what’s there. Be present with what is lit up. Maybe there is a voice saying things such as “I have to be a certain way.”
If you are ready to release these beliefs, ask unconditional love to explode them. This may create some debris. Ask unconditional love to send this debris into the sun where it can be recycled as pure energy.
The way things are in this moment cannot be changed, because this moment already exists. It is “what is.” The paradox is that if you embrace the facts of this moment, it is easier to make choices that bring change in the following moments. The way things are now are as good a starting point for your reality creation as anything else might be. You could conceivably be more advanced than you are; you could also be less advanced. But you are where you are, and your present state is the result of unfathomable eons of evolution. You are perfect the way you are, and so is everyone else. That liberates you to peacefully get clear on your next step. “What do I wish to choose now in order to create something better?”
Donald Trump is perfect the way he is. He is a damaged human being, and that is perfect because that can be used for his evolution and that of humanity. You don’t have to like him (or anyone else). But you will be able to do more to change things if you observe him with understanding. He is acting out of his current consciousness. If he could be more evolved, he probably would be. A lot of his ignorance is willful and he may not change in this lifetime. But like all people, he is giving lessons to others, in his case on a large scale. And others can always use “what is” to grow if they choose.
If you approach those who seem deeply ignorant with animosity, you will be less effective in bringing change. Those who do harm likely do not know any better and may themselves have been victims of abuse—they need healing. It is possible to see clearly and call a spade a spade, working for change, and at the same time acknowledge the divinity in all people, realizing that even those who are deeply ignorant are on a path of evolution. You can wish them well and desire their highest good, and actively seek change in government and policies. If you are peaceful about the state of the world, it does not make you apathetic; it can actually energize you to work for progress.
If there is a part of you that feels the need to hold anger and hate toward those who are doing harm, love that part of you with understanding and compassion. Be okay that you have these feelings until they are ready to shift.
Are we collectively becoming more conscious?
Yes. For several thousands of years, humanity has had quite a dense consciousness, but there has been a great deal of forward movement since WWII and especially in the last fifteen years or so.
You are seeing a purging of old consciousness in the current political landscape. A lot of buried energies have been surfacing, things that were not properly resolved when they might have been. For example, the resurgent racism in the U.S. could have been healed in the middle of the 19th Century, but it was not. Purging does not necessarily need to happen in the way that it is happening, but these things have to come to the surface one way or another.
Many are heavily resisting change and are quite uncomfortable. However, maybe ten or fifteen percent of humanity is growing by leaps and bounds, faster than we have seen before. They may not identify consciously as light workers, but they are seeking. You might say, “What good is that it is only ten or fifteen percent? That is not enough.” However, higher consciousness is much more powerful energetically than lower consciousness. It may be that for the time being, lower consciousness has control of governments, but those bringing a higher vibration can have a huge impact in the medium- to long-term.
Forty years ago, we were not convinced that humanity would survive. Both environmental and nuclear destruction were possible. Now, we are more optimistic about your future. There will of course be bumps in the road, but consciousness is accelerating. You would not know this if you were getting all of your information from the media, mainstream or otherwise. But if you could observe collective energies the way that we are able to, you would see a lot to encourage you.
There has always been much in the world of politics that could capture one’s focus and trigger anger and dismay. Believe it or not, throughout much of history, things have been worse than they are now. If you wish to be a good citizen, you do not ignore what is going on—political events are important and need attention. At the same time, try to observe them with as much equanimity as you can, knowing that they are a necessary part of humanity’s evolution, the way that many are choosing to have lessons. Yes, they are doing harm, but eventually things will come clear. Of course, one would prefer that that be sooner rather than later. However, it is best to focus on the choices that are yours to make and not worry too much about those that belong to others. Resisting what you have no control over increases suffering, your own and that of others.
The choices of those holding office are theirs to make. However, there’s a lot that you can do. You can choose whom you vote for, what articles you share on social media, and various forms of activism, making your voice heard. You can you do what you can to reduce suffering. Most importantly, you can choose to raise your consciousness and live from greater love.
Some people ignore politics because it is too painful for them or it distracts them from being centered. Others ignore it simply because they cannot be bothered. If you are reacting to the news, it might be a good idea to take a break from it for a while until you can handle it with equanimity. You probably won’t miss much anyway—it’s pretty much the same thing over and over. But if you are called to informed activism and can do it with compassion, respect, and kindness, that is good work. As there are more light workers, human beings will increasingly learn how to grow through joy.
All is well. You are eternal. You cannot die and neither can anyone or anything else. You are growing and so is everyone else. Every human being is divine and can choose to align with that knowledge at any time. You are perfect exactly as you are. The world as it is today, with as much room as it has for improvement, is also a perfect starting point for the future that is being created now. You can choose to create from love, truth, and beauty.
September 30, 2018
Los Angeles, California
Transcribed by Kate Hockaday
Proofread by Dahlia Grossman

Sunday, March 1, 2020

From that unknown place that is oriented in creativity

There is a certain light that is found only inside the wound. There are images there, tunnels and passageways of perception, somatic data, and psychic vision that is not available in times of peace, joy, and clarity.

Inside the labyrinths of grief, transition, uncertainty, and doubt are hidden jewels, which long to be mined and to disclose their essence.

While we will naturally have a preference to be free of the wound, we are asked to find the soul there. For there are colors, fragrance, data, and revelation that is not accessible outside that landscape. It is buried within it.

To access this, we must go against the grain and flow of a world that has forgotten the poetry and melody of the dark… one that has become enamored by solar glow and where the lunar has fallen into the shadow.

Somewhere in the middle of transcending the wound and drowning within it, the call comes from there, from that unknown place that is oriented in creativity and holding the tension. In that liminal dimension, in between, it is there the beloved awaits, looking for us. 

- Matt Licata

Saturday, February 1, 2020

You can be more open to the power that will work through you

Do not depend on the hope of results. When you are doing the sort of work you have taken on... you may have to face the fact that your work will be apparently worthless and even achieve no result at all, if not perhaps results opposite to what you expect. As you get used to this idea you start more and more to concentrate not on the results but on the value, the rightness, the truth of the work itself. And there too a great deal has to be gone through, as gradually you struggle less and less for an idea and more and more for specific people. The range tends to narrow down, but it gets much more real. In the end, as you yourself mention in passing, it is the reality of personal relationships that saves everything.

So the next step in the process is for you to see that your own thinking about what you are doing is crucially important. You are probably striving to build yourself an identity in your work and your witness. You are using it so to speak to protect yourself against nothingness, annihilation. That is not the right use of your work. All the good that you will do will come not from you but from the fact that you have allowed yourself, in the obedience of faith, to be used by God’s love. Think of this more and gradually you will be free from the need to prove yourself, and you can be more open to the power that will work through you without your knowing it. 

- Thomas Merton

Thursday, January 2, 2020

May you fall madly in love this year

May you fall madly in love this year ... in love with someone who unhinges your tired trajectory, in love with a spouse of several years who might be aching for lightning, in love with demanding children and crazy relatives ... in love with the particular pedigree of genius insanity that has perhaps claimed you in spite of your reluctance ... and certainly in love with an animal, a cloud, a redwood, the wild ... these at least once a day. May you fall in love with this fragile jewel of a world, with hard work, real learning, just causes, petitioning and prayers. May you fall in love with wonder itself, with the grand mystery, with all that feeds you in order that you may live ... and with the responsibility that that confers. May you fall in love with heartbreak and seeing how it's stitched into everything. May you fall in love with the natural order of things and with tears, tenderness and humility. May this be a magnificent year for you. May you fall deeply, madly, hopelessly, inextinguishably in love. - Rachelle Lamb

Monday, December 2, 2019

Involving the Reader

One of the aspects that made Western poetry so dreary at the turn on the twentieth century was the reliance on abstract thinking and words. Poets thought they had to write about love, truth, thoughts, and ideals in order to be a great writer. From the Japanese they learned that by using images of actual things – a grass stalk, a bird’s eye, the movement of a fly rubbing its legs together – abstract ideas could be conveyed with greater meaning and poignancy. Ezra Pound and the Imagists verbalized this idea, but more poets around the world latched onto the idea and used it. 

Long before Gertrude Stein was espousing the importance of using the exact word in poetry or any writing, the Japanese had based their writing on creating images of actual things. Instead of telling the reader what to think or feel, words describing images were used as signposts. The placement of these signs caused the reader to form certain pictures almost like memory. As the signs moved from one image to another, with one word and then another, the reader created the journey to the unspoken conclusion of the poem. This process of making the reader see or imagine parts of the poem has, on one hand, made it harder for people to learn to read haiku. Still, this miracle of involving the reader in the creation of the poem has expanded our own definition and concept of poetry. No longer is poetry what someone tells us. It is the mental and emotional journey the author gives the reader.

This technique of juxtaposing images so the reader’s mind must find a way from one image to another has greatly influenced how we perceive simile and metaphor. Metaphors were and are one of the cornerstones of poetry, and yet for years scholars told us that Japanese poets did not use them. They did. They simply made their metaphors in a different way. Instead of saying “autumn dusk settles around us like a crow landing on a bare branch,” Bashō would write:

on a bare branch
a crow settled down
autumn evening

The simplicity and economy of the words demand that the reader goes into his mind and experiences to explore the darkness of bird and night, autumn and bareness, and even how a branch could move as the dark weight of a crow presses it down. The reader is writing the rest of the verse and making it poetry.

– Jane Reichhold

Friday, November 1, 2019

Love vs Frankenstein

Love comes off badly in Frankenstein too – all the major relationships in the book are disrupted by the monster – and the monster isn’t allowed love either. We hear so much about disruptive technologies, and somehow we’re meant to think this heroic, because men (and it is men) seem to have a need to feel heroic, whether it’s killing people in wars or imposing austerity (‘difficult decisions have to be made’), or smashing into a city with something like AirBnB or Uber and feeling like a pioneer when all you are doing is ruining communities and pushing down wages. The social media platforms situate themselves as heroic. What have they done but increase hatred, misery, and anxiety? Oh, and make money. Sorry.

I worry about love in all its forms. Romantic and sexual love – trashed by web porn. Family relationships – how do you have time when you are doing three jobs to put food on the table? Friendships – again, how do we find time? And those other sorts of love, like volunteering, like charity work, like coaching a kid, like taking an old lady shopping.

The neoliberal project was bound to end in tech hell – everyone atomized online. Virtual communities replacing the interaction people need. Shopping malls replacing free public space. Extraction capitalism.

For me, it is all about love. What do we love? How do we protect what we love? And that is a big lesson of Frankenstein. In my book, the whole sexbot thing is funny and meant to be – because we need a few jokes these days, but it is also about the commodifcation of human relationships. The corporatization of everything.

I am not at all anti-tech. But we really can’t leave this stuff to socially stunted white boys and corporate greed.

The free market doesn’t make life better; it makes some people richer. With tech this could become dystopian very quickly. We need regulation – and most of all we need reflection. Victor Frankenstein, and my own Victor Stein are visionaries, but they are prepared to sacrifice all the things that make life worthwhile for most people; love and affection, community, stability, a measure of control.

 Jeanette Winterson

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Despiritualizing the Universe

The European materialist tradition of despiritualizing the universe is very similar to the mental process which goes into dehumanizing another person. And who seems most expert at dehumanizing other people? And why? Soldiers who have seen a lot of combat learn to do this to the enemy before going back into combat. Murderers do it before going out to commit murder. Nazi SS guards did it to concentration camp inmates. Cops do it. Corporation leaders do it to the workers they send into uranium mines and steel mills. Politicians do it to everyone in sight. And what the process has in common for each group doing the dehumanizing is that it makes it all right to kill and otherwise destroy other people. One of the Christian commandments says, "Thou shalt not kill," at least not humans, so the trick is to mentally convert the victims into nonhumans. Then you can proclaim violation of your own commandment as a virtue. 

In terms of the despiritualization of the universe, the mental process works so that it becomes virtuous to destroy the planet. Terms like progress and development are used as cover words here, the way victory and freedom are used to justify butchery in the dehumanization process. For example, a real-estate speculator may refer to "developing" a parcel of ground by opening a gravel quarry; development here means total, permanent destruction, with the earth itself removed. But European logic has gained a few tons of gravel with which more land can be "developed" through the construction of road beds. Ultimately, the whole universe is open--in the European view--to this sort of insanity. 

Most important here, perhaps, is the fact that Europeans feel no sense of loss in all this. After all, their philosophers have despiritualized reality, so there is no satisfaction (for them) to be gained in simply observing the wonder of a mountain or a lake or a people in being. No, satisfaction is measured in terms of gaining material. So the mountain becomes gravel, and the lake becomes coolant for a factory, and the people are rounded up for processing through the indoctrination mills Europeans like to call schools. 

~

At this point, perhaps I should be very clear about another matter, one which should already be clear as a result of what I've said. But confusion breeds easily these days, so I want to hammer home this point. When I use the term European, I'm not referring to a skin color or a particular genetic structure. What I'm referring to is a mind-set, a worldview that is a product of the development of European culture. People are not genetically encoded to hold this outlook; they are acculturated to hold it. The same is true for American Indians or for the members of any culture. 

It is possible for an American Indian to share European values, a European worldview. We have a term for these people; we call them "apples"--red on the outside (genetics) and white on the inside (their values). Other groups have similar terms: Blacks have their "oreos"; Hispanos have "Coconuts" and so on. And, as I said before, there are exceptions to the white norm: people who are white on the outside, but not white inside. I'm not sure what term should be applied to them other than "human beings." 

What I'm putting out here is not a racial proposition but a cultural proposition.

- Russell Means

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

My Life's Purpose? Or: The Momentum of Energy?

One of the most common questions I get is “Am I on my life path?”

Depending on your perspective, this question can make your life easier or more stressful.

The words life path makes us think there is a pre-determined road we're meant to follow, yet we don’t know what it is.

We have free will which we're supposed to use it to choose the right path.

This perspective is a good setup for stress and failure because it turns life into a set of critical decisions, where we need to guess right path or make the right choice over and over with limited information.

This thinking attracts a lot of people to intuition training. They feel like if they have more insight, they will be able to make better guesses and find their path.

The "life path" model is stressful.
I suggest changing your model to something more empowering.

Instead of thinking about your life as a path, try to imagine streams of energy flowing around you.

Try to feel the momentum behind life events, your genetics, your upbringing, and your past lives trying to carry you in a particular direction like a wave. Your experiences are not simply random events, because every experience was chosen by you so you can experience a particular situation in this life. Nothing is pure coincidence — your experiences are manifesting something deeper within you.

You have many "life streams."
Unlike the one right path, there are many different streams influencing you and your life. One isn’t more right than the other, but you may feel more momentum from one than another.

I call them “streams” because you're not required follow all of them. Yet, it can be difficult to completely ignore them or fight against them. It’s much more fun when you feel yourself being pulled in a particular direction to learn how to ride that wave into your future.

You don’t need to keep guessing.
With this new perspective, you no longer have to guess the right path each time. You can simply sense where this energy stream naturally wants to take you.

Your goal is to learn to stop fighting the flow and let its momentum carry you to the things you want to experience.

What you previously thought of as a set of critical decisions becomes a fun process because you’re discovering your flow as you go.

“Life purpose” has the same problems.
I also get the question “How do I find my life purpose?”

Yet, the concept of life purpose can have the same challenges as life path. You may think there is a predetermined destination that you should be heading towards. Your life purpose is achieve if you follow your life path.

You might even feel like you need to create a plan to achieve a specific goal and you should know what that goal is. This perspective can be quite stressful.

If you’re following the momentum of your life streams, however, you don't need to know your destination or plan your path. It’s something you discover over time. As you live, you notice more about yourself and your life — what your desires are, what you like, what you don’t like and so on… It becomes fun.

There’s nothing wrong with planning.
I like to say that plans are written in pencil. There’s nothing inherently wrong with planning to go somewhere or do something, but pay attention to the energy behind your life and be ready to draw up a new plan as you feel the momentum change.

In this way, you're life cam be a curious and enjoyable adventure!

- Jeffrey Allen

Thursday, August 1, 2019

“Content… is a glimpse of something, an encounter… like a flash”

“Content… is a glimpse of something, an encounter… like a flash,” de Kooning told the critic David Sylvester in 1960. Who has described the spirit of his paintings better? Truth for him was fluid, protean. Just as he refused to be pinned down ideologically by the influential theoreticians of his day like Clement Greenberg, de Kooning’s paintings refuse to be defined as either “representational” or “abstract,” flitting restlessly between these notional polarities. Considered a virtuoso both by peers and successors, he wasn’t merely an acrobat with the brush; he was also, and more profoundly, an acrobat with the semantics of painting, playing the medium’s possibilities against one another to keep them open. It’s a thrilling and beautiful act to watch, a display of his intense desire to forge paintings from his own contradictions: his roots in the European Old Masters and his acquired taste for American pop culture; his careful craft and bold innovation; his architectonic intelligence and madcap improvisation; his grace and his violence; his ebullient confidence and corrosive self-doubt.

A small work on paper (mounted on canvas) in the show, Woman (1953), succinctly performs this splicing of opposites. The iconic figure, nearly centered on the page, is a monumental Venus of Willendorf, but her breasts are the teardrop eyes of an angry Mickey Mouse. No other painter of de Kooning’s generation makes it so hard to separate high art from low comedy. More than his painterly flourishes, it’s this embrace of contradiction that has made his work a source for generations of later artists, from his immediate successors, who included also Cy Twombly, Roy Lichtenstein, Jack Whitten, and Gerhard Richter, to contemporaries such as David Reed, Christopher Wool, Joyce Pensato, and Amy Sillman. All of these artists have mined de Kooning’s work for elements suited to their own purposes. That variety of interpretation is only possible because the vein itself is so rich. - Stephen Ellis

Monday, July 1, 2019

Haiku Poetry as a State of Wonder

Think Small 
 (Theme Song: My Favorite Things from The Sound of Music)

peony buds--
can an ant
relax?
  - John Stevenson

Mason feels that "think small" poems stand in stark contrast to one of the prevailing values of Western, and especially American, culture: namely, the perceived need to "Think Big" and thus provide a counter-balance to the cultural bias.

Come To Your Senses
(Theme Song: I Can See Clearly Now by Johnny Nash)

the tickle of bristles
I cover-up
my hickey
 - Yvette Nicole Kolodji

R. H. Blyth called haiku "a door half-opened, a mirror wiped clean." Thinking of it this way, haiku can help us "come to our senses" once again. 

Feel The Moment
(Theme Song: Anthem by Leonard Cohen)

winter night
the slow circling
of the bar rag
 - Bill Kenney

With advances in technology, our lives have become more busy not less so. To paraphrase Basho, haiku allows us to focus on "what's happening right here, right now."

Prepare For Surprise
(Theme Song: Surprise, Surprise by Bruce Springsteen)

sudden gust--
the book opens to a poem
I like even better
 - Carolyn Hall

This group of haiku also operates counter to the prevailing cultural tendency to feel vulnerable by surprise, an thus trying to limit, predict, control it, instead of finding delight in the unexpected..

Only Connect
(Theme Song: We Are The World or Circle of Life from the Lion King?)

migrating whales
all our footprints
wash away
 - paul m

The fifth category is perhaps a "meta-category" in that it encompasses all good haiku, which allows the reader to make a connection between the two parts of the haiku, and also between ourselves and the world. Mason ended his presentation by inviting all to experience the wonder of life through haiku, with his final statement, "Life awaits...may its wonder be with you."

from, HNA 2017 Recap: Scott Mason and The State of Wonder