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Monday, August 16, 2021

Onto a Vast Plain - Rainer Maria Rilke

Onto a Vast Plain


You are not surprised at the force of the storm —

you have seen it growing.

The trees flee. Their flight

sets the boulevards streaming. And you know:

he whom they flee is the one

you move toward. All your senses

sing him, as you stand at the window.


The weeks stood still in summer.

The trees’ blood rose. Now you feel

it wants to sink back

into the source of everything. You thought

you could trust that power

when you plucked the fruit:

now it becomes a riddle again

and you again a stranger.


Summer was like your house: you know

where each thing stood.

Now you must go out into your heart

as onto a vast plain. Now

the immense loneliness begins.


The days go numb, the wind

sucks the world from your senses like withered leaves.


Through the empty branches the sky remains.

It is what you have.

Be earth now, and evensong.

Be the ground lying under that sky.

Be modest now, like a thing

ripened until it is real,

so that he who began it all

can feel you when he reaches for you.


- Rainer Maria Rilke (Translated by Joanna Macy)

Monday, July 19, 2021

School failed me, and I failed the school. - Einstein

School failed me, and I failed the school. It bored me. The teachers behaved like Feldwebel (sergeants). I wanted to learn what I wanted to know, but they wanted me to learn for the exam. What I hated most was the competitive system there, and especially sports. Because of this, I wasn’t worth anything, and several times they suggested I leave.

This was a Catholic School in Munich. I felt that my thirst for knowledge was being strangled by my teachers; grades were their only measurement. How can a teacher understand youth with such a system?

From the age of twelve I began to suspect authority and distrust teachers. I learned mostly at home, first from my uncle and then from a student who came to eat with us once a week. He would give me books on physics and astronomy.

The more I read, the more puzzled I was by the order of the universe and the disorder of the human mind, by the scientists who didn’t agree on the how, the when, or the why of creation.

Then one day this student brought me Kant’s Critique of Pure Reason. Reading Kant, I began to suspect everything I was taught. I no longer believed in the known God of the Bible, but rather in the mysterious God expressed in nature.

The basic laws of the universe are simple, but because our senses are limited, we can’t grasp them. There is a pattern in creation.

If we look at this tree outside whose roots search beneath the pavement for water, or a flower which sends its sweet smell to the pollinating bees, or even our own selves and the inner forces that drive us to act, we can see that we all dance to a mysterious tune, and the piper who plays this melody from an inscrutable distance—whatever name we give him—Creative Force, or God—escapes all book knowledge.

- Albert Einstein

Monday, June 14, 2021

Thunder (Nag Hammadi Codex VI, 2)

I was sent out from the power

and have come to you who study me

and am found by you who seek me.

Look at me, you who study me,

and you who hear, hear me.

You waiting for me, take me into yourselves.

Don’t banish me from your vision.

Don’t let hatred enter your voice against me

or let anger enter your hearing.

In no place, in no time, be unknowing of me.

Be alert. Don’t be ignorant of me.


I am the first and the last.

I am the honored and scorned.

I am the whore and holy.

I am the wife and the virgin.

I am the mother and daughter.

I am the members of my mother

and the barren one with many sons.

I have had a grand wedding

and have not found a husband.

I am a midwife and do not give birth.

I am the solace of my labor pains.

I am bride and groom,

and my husband produced me.

I am the mother of my father

and sister of my husband,

and he is my offspring.

I am a slave of him who prepared me

and ruler of my offspring.

He produced me earlier yet on my birthday.

He is my offspring to come,

and from him is my power.

I am the staff of his power in his youth

and he the rod of my old age,

and whatever he wants happens to me.

I am a silence incomprehensible

and an idea remembered often.

I am the voice whose sound is manifold

and word whose appearance is multiple.

I am the utterance of my name.


Why do you who hate me love me

and hate those who love me?

You who deny me confess me,

and you who confess me deny me.

You who tell the truth about me lie about me,

and you who lie tell the truth.

You who know me,

be ignorant of me, and those who have not known me,

let them know me.


I am knowledge and ignorance.

I am shame and fearlessness.

I am shameless and ashamed.

I am strength and fear.

I am war and peace.

Hear what I say.

I am the disgraced and the grand being.

Consider my poverty and wealth.

Don’t be arrogant when I am cast down on the earth,

and you will find me in those who are to come.

Don’t stare at me lying on a dung heap.

Don’t run off and cast me away.

In the kingdoms you will find me.

Don’t stare when I am cast with the disgraced

in the most sordid places

or laugh at me.

Don’t throw me out among those violently slaughtered.

I am compassionate and cruel.


Be careful.

Don’t hate my obedience

or love my self-control.

When I am weak, don’t forsake me

or fear my power.

Why do you despise my fear

and curse my pride?

I am a woman existing in every fear

and in my strength when I tremble.

I am a woman, weak,

and carefree in a pleasant place.

I am senseless and wise.


Why have you hated me in your counsels?

I will be silent among the silent

and appear and speak.

Greeks, why do you hate me?

Because I am a barbarian among the barbarians?

I am the wisdom of Greeks and knowledge of barbarians.

I am the judgment of Greeks and barbarians.

My image is great in Egypt, and I have no image among the barbarians.

I am hated everywhere and loved everywhere.

I am called life and you have called me death.

I am called law and you have called me lawlessness.

I am one you pursued and seized.

I am one you scattered and gathered together.

I am one before whom you are ashamed,

and to me you are shameless.

I am the woman who attends no festival

and whose festivals are many.

I am godless and one whose god is great.

I am one you studied and you scorn me.

I am unlettered and you learn from me.

I am one you despise and you study me.

I am one you hide from and you appear to me.

When you hide I show.

When you appear I hide. . . .


Take me into understanding from grief,

and take me from understanding and grief.

Receive me into yourselves from other places

ugly and destroyed.

And steal from the good even in their ugliness.

Out of shame take me to yourselves shamelessly.

Without shame and with shame, rebuke what is mine

in you

and come to me, you who know me

and you who know my members,

and make great ones among small first creatures.

Come to childhood

and don’t despise it, because it is small and tiny.

Don’t turn away the great in parts from the small,

for the small is known from the great.

Why do you curse and honor me?

You wound me and have mercy.

Don’t separate me from the first you have known.

Don’t cast out or turn away,

turn away and not know. . . .

I know the first ones,

and those after them know me.

I am perfect mind and rest. . . .

I am the knowledge of my search,

the finding of those who look for me,

the command of those who ask about me,

the power of powers

in my knowledge of angels sent at my word,

and of gods in their seasons sent by my counsel,

and of spirits of all who exist with me

and of women who live in me.


I am one who is honored, praised, and scornfully despised.

I am peace, and war has come because of me.

I am alien and citizen.

I am the substance and one without substance.


Those unconnected to me are unfamiliar with me,

and those in my substance know me.

Those close to me are ignorant of me,

and those far away have known me.

On the day I am close to you, you are far,

and on the day I am far, I am close to you.


I am . . . within.

I am . . . of natures.

I am . . . of created spirits,

the request of souls.

I am control and the uncontrollable.

I am union and dissolution.

I abide and dissolve.

I am below and they come up to me.

I am judgment and acquittal.

I am sinless,

and the root of sin comes from me.

I am lust outwardly, yet within me is control.

I am hearing for all, and my speech is indecipherable.

I am an unspeaking mute

and enormous in my many words.


Hear me in gentleness and discover me in roughness.

I am the woman crying out

and cast upon the face of the earth.

I prepare bread and my mind within.

I am the knowledge of my name.

I am the one who cries out

and I listen.

I appear . . . walk in . . . I am . . . the defense.

I am called truth and iniquity. . . .


You honor me and whisper against me.

You, the vanquished, judge those who vanquish you

before they judge you,

because in you the judge and partiality exist.

If you are condemned by one, who will acquit you?

If acquitted by him, who will arrest you?

What is in you is outside,

and one who fashions you on the outside

shapes you inside.

What you see outside you see within you.

It is visible and your garment.

Hear me, hearers,

and find out about my words, you who know me.

I am the hearing all can reach;

I am speech undecipherable.

I am the name of the sound

and the sound of the name.

I am the sign of the letter

and the designation of the division.

I . . . light . . . great power . . . will not move the name . . .

to the one who created me.

I will speak his name.


Look at his words and all the writings completed.

Be alert, hearers and angels and those sent

and you spirits arisen from the dead.

I alone exist and have no one to judge me.

Many pleasures exist in many sins,

uncontrolled passions and disgraceful desires

and brief pleasures

embraced by people until they sober up

and float up to their place of rest.

There they will find me and live, and they will not die again.

Friday, May 14, 2021

The Kingdom of Astonishment

This is not the spiritually materialist mindfulness practiced by corporations seeking to improve employee productivity. This is not the sterile “peacefulness” that helps you better accommodate oppression. No, this is ecstatic participation with the natural world. This is the inter-penetrative experience of awe that only occurs when you realize the world is a polyphony of aliveness. “Split a piece of wood. I am there. Life up the stone and you will find me there,” instructs Jesus. The “me” he speaks of is not himself, but the kingdom of astonishment. The fragrant pith of the cedarwood entering your nostrils is the kingdom. The awe you feel at the moonlight-silvered grub under the stone is the secret gospel. 

We live in a moment when we are woefully blind to the kingdom. Sensory gating, the neurological process of filtering out “redundant” stimuli from our sensual experience to create a homogenized reality, has been tightened by patriarchy and civilization. We quite literally do not see “what is in front of our faces”. Reading stories of miracles in older texts we laugh at our ancestor’s “belief” in magic. But what if the magic was still there? As we codify expectations, we limit our ability to experience surprise and awe. In short, it gets harder and harder to change our minds and experience the marvel under a stone or in a piece of wood. We expect the ordinary, and receive it in return, growing increasingly despondent each day, even when just beyond our blinders mountains move and kingdoms explode from mustard seeds. Lucky that our brains are malleable. There are still methods of “dilating” into greater participation with the divine animacy of the natural world.

- Sophie Strand

from

https://www.facebook.com/sophie.strand1/posts/10225969809498508

Friday, April 2, 2021

Meanderings around sweetness and sarcasm

Esteemed Gentlemen,

I am a poor, young, unemployed person in the business field, my name is Wenzel, I am seeking a suitable position, and I take the liberty of asking you, nicely and politely, if perhaps in your airy, bright, amiable rooms such a position might be free. . . . Large and difficult tasks I cannot perform, and obligations of a far-reaching sort are too strenuous for my mind. I am not particularly clever, and first and foremost I do not like to strain my intelligence overmuch. . . . Assuredly there exists in your extensive institution, which I imagine to be overflowing with main and subsidiary functions and offices, work of the kind that one can do as in a dream? — I am, to put it frankly, a Chinese; that is to say, a person who deems everything small and modest to be beautiful and pleasing, and to whom all that is big and exacting is fearsome and horrid.

- Robert Walser, from "Job Application”

Monday, March 1, 2021

Playing with Children

 Early spring

The landscape is tinged with the first

fresh hints of green

Now I take my wooden begging bowl

And wander carefree through town

The moment the children see me

They scamper off gleefully to bring their friends

They’re waiting for me at the temple gate

Tugging from all sides so I can barely walk

I leave my bowl on a white rock

Hang my pilgrim’s bag on a pine tree branch

First we duel with blades of grass

Then we play ball

While I bounce the ball, they sing the song

Then I sing the song and they bounce the ball

Caught up in the excitement of the game

We forget completely about the time

Passersby turn and question me:

"Why are you carrying on like this?"

I just shake my head without answering

Even if I were able to say something

how could I explain?

Do you really want to know the meaning of it all?

This is it! This is it!


- Ryōkan


Thursday, February 11, 2021

Are you a Mystic?

22 Characteristics of Mysticism:

Experience: The mystic respects discoveries of the rational mind, but they are keen on experience. Mysticism cannot be read about or learned objectively. The mystic trusts implicitly in their own experience which is a trust of the universe and of oneself. The anti-mystic may protest that one’s experience is “subjective” and therefore unreliable. The authentic mystic, however, argues that both the right brain and left brain are necessary for comprehending reality. This argument is based on the next characteristic of the mystic which is

Nondualism: The mystic seeks unitive experiences. As Fox reminds us, “All mystical experiences share in common the perspective of nonseparation or nondualism.” Ultimately, the mystic experiences what mystic and Buddhist teacher Thich Nhat Hahn calls Interbeing—the reality that everything is interconnected. (More on this below.)

Compassion: Because the mystic has experienced the interdependence of all living things, they invariably develop compassion for all beings because for them, no being is separate from another. The mystic recognizes that the wellbeing of all must be taken into account.

Connection-Making: Because the mystic seeks unity and unitive experiences, they seek to make connections where connections have been lost. Mystics are often found in the so-called “helping professions” in which connection-making is fundamental; however, artists may also be diagnosed as mystics, for they too are essentially connection-makers by way of the imagination.

Radical Amazement: Awe is one of the most prized emotions among mystics. Fox describes it as, “a reverential fear based on a realization of the greatness of our existence, of our being included in the amazing twenty-billion-year drama that is the universe.”[2] While the mystic respects rational analysis, their psyches are large enough for awe, and they revel in it.

Affirmation Of The World As A Whole: The mystic affirms not the world laid waste by human neglect or greed-induced destruction, but a world that is whole and connected. They facilitate and strive to promote human connection and the wholeness of the Earth community. The mystic loves immersing themselves in nature because they experience viscerally and erotically that they are intimately connected with it.

Right Brain: The mystic affirms and delights in the qualities of the right brain: Art, music, literature, dancing, and deep embodiment appeal to them instinctively. Intuition is the crown jewel of the right brain, and scientists tell us that intuition may be the highest form of intelligence.

Self-Criticism: The mystic is self-critical without being judgmental. They understand the reality of the human shadow and are actively engaged in shadow healing. They are vigilant about projecting their shadow onto others and are willing to take a hard look at their own belief systems.

Heart Knowledge: The mystic values heart knowledge and heartbreak over intellectual knowledge. They have experienced viscerally that to ignore or minimize the heart in favor of reason diminishes their humanity and compassion.

A Return To The Source: The mystic may have many names for the Source, but they live their lives with reverence for something greater than the rational mind and human ego.

Feminist: To be intimately connected with “the mysteries” is to have moved beyond patriarchal consciousness. Mystical awareness is inherently feminine and honors the feminine in the Earth and in all living beings. As stated above, the mystical inclination is relational; it fosters connection, and helps heal division and separation.

Panentheistic: The mystic knows that all life is sacred because the sacred abides within all people and things. Panentheism is not atheism, nor is it the notion that the sacred is somewhere “out there.” Most atheism is a rejection of theism which usually celebrates divinity at the expense of the body and the senses. Matthew Fox writes, “I do believe that if the only option I was given by which to envision creation’s relationship to divinity was theism, I would be an atheist too.”[3] To paraphrase Fox, the “God” you don’t believe in is the “God” that I don’t believe in.

Birther Of Images: Every mystic is an artist because the mystery is found and expressed through images. Images, not complete sentences uttered in linear fashion, most aptly convey what is happening in the inner world. The mystic thinks and feels poetically and values poets, or as James Joyce called them, “priests of the imagination.”

Silence: Mystics love silence and solitude. While the mystic may be extroverted and enjoy the company of others, they require silence. A left-brain culture, says Fox, is a culture ill-at-ease with silence because it is devoid of mysticism. The mysteries are not ubiquitous in the din of industrial civilization, but rather, in the silence.

Nothingness and Darkness: The mystic knows that light is not found in light places, but in the darkness. They understand that they lived nine months in complete darkness before bursting forth into the light of birth. They have experienced firsthand the treasures that darkness holds, and they open to what it may ask of them next.

Playfulness: Mystics enjoy fantasy and play. They do not repress their childlike spirit in order to appear mature or reasonable or spiritual. Humor is an essential nutrient for the mystic’s wellbeing.

Justice and Activism: The mystic is not an apathetic person who is oblivious to the world around them. Because they passionately crave the mysteries, they also crave justice and mercy for all beings. Many Christian mystics, such as St. Francis, Hiledgard of Bingen, Meister Eckhart, Thomas Merton, Dorothy Day, Hellen Keller, and others were also activists and pioneers of social justice movements.

Prophetic: The mystic is a prophet—a word with two distinct meanings. One role of a prophet is foretelling or the ability to see and forecast the future. Another role is forth-telling which is to speak truth to power, to say what is so, and to call out injustice.

Being-With-Being: The mystic is committed to being present with other beings—to fully listening to them and offering presence and acceptance even when nothing else can be done and when disagreement and division seem insurmountable.

Cultivation Of The True Self: The mystic understands the difference between the false self or the human ego and the sacred or True Self. Their lives are committed to the painful journey of daily surrender of the false, egoic self to the Sacred Self.

Universal Consciousness: The mystic may prefer one tradition over another, but they absolutely honor all traditions. They are committed to inclusivity and acceptance of all beings.

Animals: Mystics love and protect animals. Because they honor their own animal bodies and their own animal natures, they befriend and work for the safety and protection of animals. A mystic will almost always have one or more animal companions or be in daily contact with animals in their natural habitat.

- from "The Coming of The Cosmic Christ" by Matthew Fox, via Carolyn Baker 

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Julian of Norwich’s Seven Lessons For Navigating A Pandemic

Facing The Darkness

  • Look darkness squarely in the face.

  • Do not deny or scapegoat the realities of the pandemic.

  • Take the pandemic as an opportunity to examine your goals and intentions.

  • Your life is short. How can you contribute? What gifts do you have to offer?

  • Stay connected with your fear, anger, grief, and despair.

  • Beware of addictions that numb and make you stupid and silly.

  • Face the darkness of our own personal shadow and do shadow healing work.

  • Stay close to the teachings of mystics, poets, indigenous wisdom.

Welcome Goodness, Joy, and Awe

  • Fall in love with nature and human goodness.

  • Realize what a blessing it is to be here in an amazing universe on an amazing planet after an amazing journey of 13.8 billion years.

  • Nature is God; God is nature. Immerse yourself in nature.

  • Seek and cherish awe. Julian says that “A reverent awe is the proper response to the supreme beauty of the sacred.”

  • Practice gratitude moment to moment.

Practice The One-ing of The Sacred and Life

  • Live your life as if there is no separation–between you and the sacred, between you and Earth, between you and other living beings.

  • All of nature is interdependent. We are interdependent with each other and with nature.

  • Understand how the story of separation shows up in your life. Notice your own “othering” in relation to people with whom you disagree. What might happen if you stopped “othering” them?

Understanding the Sacred Feminine and Divine Motherhood

  • Regardless of your gender, be aware of the patriarchal influences in your life, past and present.

  • Remember that patriarchy and gender are different. Women can be as patriarchal as men since patriarchy is simply a way of life based on power and control.

  • Learn how to be a spiritual warrior against patriarchy.

  • Learn how to be a spiritual midwife on behalf of goodness, compassion, generosity, awe, joy, and creativity.

Practice Non-Dualism and Living With Paradox

  • Practice holding the tension of opposites. Cultivate a both/and consciousness.

  • Consider that in the age of extinction, something profound is trying to be born in you and in the world.

  • The extinction of our species is likely, and at the same time, nothing is certain.

  • In Julian’s life, the Black Death came in waves. When people thought it was gone, it came again. Know that pandemics in our time are likely to repeat that pattern.

  • Stop asking “When will collapse happen?” It’s happening NOW, and we don’t get to know the outcome.

  • Experiencing joy will deepen your capacity to grieve. Grieving will enhance your capacity to experience deep joy.

  • The more you open to death, the more enlivened you become.

Trust Your Body and Your Sensuality

  • Julian said, “God is in our sensuality.” This is hardly a statement from an institutional, industrially-civilized Christian. Julian’s perspective was wild and nature-based.

  • Be at home with your body. She says, “God willed that we have a twofold nature: sensual and spiritual.”

  • Ground yourself in Earth-based spirituality and sensuality. Reject any spirituality that emphasizes transcendence, “rising above,” or escaping “this vale of tears.” Julian rejected the transcendent theology of her time, preferring to embrace nature and the body as holy.

Celebrate The Power of Love Over Evil

  • Know that all beings are “swimming in an ocean of divinity.” We have every right to dislike any being, but it is our responsibility to acknowledge their humanity and their divinity.

  • Embrace “mystical hope,” not conventional hope. Mystical hope is not tied to outcome and does not depend on external circumstances. It is nourished by our connection to the sacred within ourselves and in the world. As with Viktor Frankl’s experience in a Nazi death camp, mystical hope is about finding meaning and making meaning in all circumstances.

  • “All shall be well,” is not a declaration of naive optimism. It depends on our willingness to wake up and do the inner work that “pandemic times” demand of us.

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Saunter

Hiking - I don’t like either the word or the thing. People ought to saunter in the mountains - not hike! Do you know the origin of that word "saunter?" It’s a beautiful word. Away back in the Middle Ages people used to go on pilgrimages to the Holy Land, and when people in the villages through which they passed asked where they were going, they would reply, "A la sainte terre," "To the Holy Land." And so they became known as sainte-terre-ers or saunterers. Now these mountains are our Holy Land, and we ought to saunter through them reverently, not "hike" through them. - John Muir

Monday, November 9, 2020

Haiku saves the world

Salvation by Deeds

One autumn, one of the autumns of time, the Shinto divinities gathered, not for the first time, at Izumo. They are said to have numbered eight million. Being a shy man I would have felt a bit lost among so many. In any case, it is not convenient to deal in inconceivable numbers. Let us say there were eight, since eight is a good omen in these islands.

They were downcast, but did not show it: the visages of divinities are undecipherable kanji. They seated themselves in a circle on the green crest of a hill. They had been observing mankind from their firmament or from a stone or from a snowflake. One of the divinities spoke:

Many days, or centuries, ago, we gathered here to create Japan and the world. The fishes, the seas, the seven colors of the rainbow, the generations of plants and animals have all worked out well. So that men should not be burdened with too many things, we gave them succession, issue, the plural day and the singular night. We also bestowed on them the gift of experimenting with certain variations. The bee continues repeating beehives. But man has imagined devices: the plow, the key, the kaleidoscope. He also imagined the sword and the art of war. He has just imagined an invisible weapon which could put an end to history. Before this senseless deed is done, let us wipe out men.

They remained pensive. Without haste another divinity spoke:

It is true. They have thought up that atrocity, but there is also this something quite different, which fits in the space encompassed by seventeen syllables.

The divinity intoned them. They were in an unknown language, and I could not understand them.

The leading divinity delivered a judgment:

Let men survive.

Thus, because of a haiku, the human race was saved. 

- Jorge Luis Borges 

Monday, October 5, 2020

Grief Work

Every day now, I wake up, and I feel it - grief. It is not a grief conjured up solely from my own personal losses. Although those have a part to play. It is a different grief. It is a lingering, low-lying, non-distinct grief. It is a grief that hovers, mixed with concern, with worry, with desire, with longing. A grief for something lost, or dying, or calling out for my attention, that feels like it is going to perish because there is no way for me to reach it. It is like a baby constantly crying somewhere in the distance.  

Yes, like that, like that a thousand times over. A grief for things being harmed, that I alone have not the strength or power to protect. A grief that reaches out its hands to a burning rainforest, to a trafficked teenage girl, to a victim of crime that was denied justice in an unjustice system, to salmon contending with low water, to a stand of trees cut down for yet another development, to a beach covered in plastic, to a child covered in sores, to a sensitive soul shooting up the overdose of fentanyl, to the last caribou standing in a functionally extinct herd, to first nation communities surrounded on every side by industry, to the factory worker in China who forgets her own name after a 14 hr shift, to a migrant worker exhausted and unable to find a safe place to live, to a struggling farmer in India who can't afford his debts, to a millionaire buying love over and over again and never receiving it, to a cow in a feed lot standing knee deep in her own feces living a completely denaturalized life and yearning for an open field, to a person who hasn't been touched or hugged in months, to the freshly logged cut block in the last remaining old growth.  

I feel you, but I cannot touch you.

I feel you, but I cannot reach you.

I feel you, because I am you.

Here is the challenge of our time, dear beings: To truly open our hearts to the wonders of Interbeing, to live a connected, open-eyed, open-hearted, wide-awake life of awareness and responsiveness to what is happening on our beloved planet, this comes with a cost. And that cost is an intensity of grief.  The grief of being born to an earth family that is poisoning each other and our one and only home. That is neglecting and ignoring its elders (indigenous peoples worldwide), and squandering the inheritance of its children (our young ones, our future ones).

I don't think the world is full of cold-hearted people. I don't think that's why we're not seeing a full-scale REVOLUTION and REVOLT against business as usual. I think the world is full of people who only know their heart to be so big. Who feel the subconscious fear of the cost of it breaking, if they were to let the full reality enter in like a mighty rushing wind. I think the world is full of people who need to feel...more. And more. And...more. People who need a deeper and wider feeling experience inside of their human experience. People who have learned how to block that from happening, and so are in need of a great softening medicine. People who are exhausted with pain, and don't feel they can bear another drop.

Grief. You are a heavyweight champion. The great contender. The water and the stone.

And yet, I do believe our hearts need to be expanded by this collective grief. And so today I am making a stand for the grievers. I am making a stand for grief itself. That we must feel it. That we must not hide from it or run from it or lose our faith in its ability to connect us most deeply to all life. That we must not allow cynicism to arise in the absence of making space for it (because perhaps cynicism develops when grief is retained in the mind only, and is not allowed to reach deep down in and expand our hearts) . And that this grief, if we let it do its work in us, will have us turn fiercely and lovingly toward what we love. It will give us the wherewithal to protect it and each other and stay...open. To be giants of feeling.

I think the revolution will come through the catalyzation of grief work. It will arrive quietly and powerfully on a trail of tears.

May grief do its work in you as it is doing its work in me.

- Selah

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