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Friday, March 1, 2002

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  • Jerry Katz
    GLORIA LEE This just in... Even those who may not care much for poetry, have to see the timeliness of this poem just happening to be so on topic and relevant
    Message 1 of 2 , Mar 3, 2002

      This just in... Even those who may not care much
      for poetry, have to see the timeliness of this poem
      just happening to be so on topic and relevant to
      the gender discussion. This happens fairly often...
      in the Islamic culture, the poems of Hafiz are
      often consulted like an oracle. People consider the
      page they open the book to has an answer to their
      question. Well, interesting to consider. -Gloria

                                            LOOK!  I AM A WHALE
                                       We live on the Sun’s playground.
                                       Everyone gets what they want.
                                  Sometimes the body of a beautiful woman,
                                   Sometimes the body of a beautiful man,
                                         Sometimes the body of both
                                                  In one.
                                       We used to play that kind of tag
                                           In the animal world too.
                                               Now a mouse,
                                                Now a tiger,
                                  Look!  I am a whale – I got tired of the land,
                                     Went back to the ocean for a while.
                                    What power is it in our sinew and mind
                                              That will not die,
                                 That keeps us shopping for the perfect dress?
                                      We have all heard the Flute Player
                                             And keep dancing
                                                Toward Him.
                                       You have seen the Flute Player
                                            And cannot help but
                                    (“The Gift” – versions of Hafiz by Daniel Ladinsky)



      I'm so witty and pretty and gay!
      Zorro the Gay Blade
      And in the evening I dress up in women's clothing
      and hang around in bars!

      hey guys, the word gay means happy. the 'gays'
      adapted the word as a way of starting to feel good
      about them selves.

      talking about sexual practices, can someone who
      tattoos and pierces themselves be real non-dualist?

      what if your religion told you to masturbate in the
      forest three days after the full moon? would you
      practice your faith? i would! hahahah better not
      take a chance, eh? :-)

      and how do they get the hole in the donuts, anyhow?

      buncha nutbagz!

      oh by the way, do you think that things could be a
      bit more, oh i dunno - mellower on this planet?
      ain'tcha tired of war?

      if you want to change the world, it has been said,
      change yourself. the how of it is easy. <wicked
      little grin> practice self inquiry in the present
      moment. don't waste time thinking about what you
      should have done yesterday or look forward to the
      breakthrough you know must come tomorrow. do it now
      - find out who you am. be present and alive.

      sweet dreams! and don't worry about the other guy
      just love'm.


      MELODY: What is the 'milieu' of being a woman......
      beyond what society tells me it is? That's a story
      yet unwritten for me.....a road less traveled. And
      the more I let go of my fears, defenses,
      resistances, and agendas concerning

      "woman", the more I'm free to explore and
      appreciate whatever experiences I'm given.

      SU: Beautiful, yes. And this may include touching
      the rythm of the moon reflected in this female
      body/mind, it may include fighting heroically with
      a sword or fist, it may be all the softness and
      comfort in this world, freely given and
      miraculously received.

      Yours out of the bonds, (nods to eric) Su

      Melody, interesting question, Su, interesting response.

      Yesterday I was sorting through mail, dumping most of it in the
      recycling when I surfaced a recent UUWorld newsletter. Typically, I
      just toss the things. Yesterday, I thought I might as well flip
      through it and look at the graphics. Right in the middle of an
      article entitled Sacred Anxiety, I spied a full-page chart comparing
      the Toxic, Natural, and Sacred Voices. (Speaking of categories..)
      Reading what you have written above reminds me of this piece.

      In typing out the piece (the whole time thinking: why bother? hehe),
      I found it possible to touch base with many areas of 'my life' very
      quickly. It strikes me that what is nice about seeing these areas
      placed within these three categories is that it is possible to
      understand the categories as distinct and to experience the
      categories as fluidly interinformative.

      yours in the flesh, er bonds, (gives eric an arm noogy)

      Here it is:

      T- Illusion-based
      N- Nature-based
      S- Spiritually-based

      Time Frame:
      T- Past and future
      N- Present
      S- Eternal present

      T- Anti-life, anti-love, distracts us from our true path and
      ultimately tries to destroy us.
      N- Helps us meet our needs and realize our desires. Warns us of real
      dangers, alerts us to opportunities, energizes us for growth.
      S- Calls us to be aware of our spiritual self and the deeper
      questions in life.

      Traditional religious terms:
      T- Devil, Hell
      N- Natural man/woman, Earth
      S- God, Heaven

      T- Misuse of consciousness and ego. Past negative conditioning,
      especially from formative years. Negative patterns passed from one
      generation to the next. Suppressed desires, memories, and unresolved
      inner conflicts.
      N- The personal self. Desires, biological needs and drives, emotions.
      Realistic concerns about health, love, success.
      S- Our spiritual nature. The deeper existential unknowns - "Who am
      I?", death, the meaning and purpose of life, the afterlife, God.

      T- Shames, blames, complains, catastrophizes, and lays guilt trips.
      May also indulge in grandiosity, narcissism, and Pollyanna thinking.
      N- Calm, respectful, friendly, confident. Can also be excited and
      enthusiastic. Logical, rational thinking coupled with emotional
      S- Unconditionally loving, wise, awe-inspiring, and occasionally
      divinely terrifying to the ego.

      Mental States:
      T- Mental pathology and dysfunction. Anxious, depressed, confused,
      low self-esteem, frustrated. Or narcissism, megalomania, lack of
      empathy, and abusive.
      N- Clarity of thinking, healthy emotional self-awareness, good self-
      control and self-expression, Energized, empowered, confident.
      S- Deep inner peace, self-acceptance, and empathy for others.
      Unconditional love.

      Anxiety Reactions:
      T- Activated by false alarms, overreacts to or paralyzed by real
      alarms. Sees opportunities as dangers. Vague, unrealistic,
      unreasonable, ineffective repetitive mental tape.
      N- Responds to real dangers. Anxiety is in direct proportion to
      degree of danger. Energizes us for new opportunities. Specific,
      realistic, reasonable, helpful.
      S- Directs our attention to ultimate concerns about the meaning and
      purpose of life, the inevitability of eath. Helps us find
      unconditional acceptance and serenity.

      T- Chronic and repetitive.
      N- Usually brief and informative.
      S- Continuous, but only rarely comes to conscious awareness.

      T- Tries to get us to focus on things beyond our control (like other
      people's behavior) while ignoring areas within our control (like our
      own thoughts and actions).
      N- Directs our attention to responses within our control.
      S- Helps us surrender gracefully to what is beyond our control.
      Reminds us to take full responsibility for our own experience of life.

      Resulting Behavior:
      T- Inaction and paralysis or impulsive and counterproductive
      behavior. Procrastination, workaholism, addictions, obsessions,
      compulsions, worrying.
      N- Clarity, decisiveness, effective action, and change.
      S- Self-reflection, spiritual awareness, wise and loving responses to

      Effect on growth:
      T- Veering off our life's path, getting stuck in stagnant comfort
      N- Active personal growth.
      S- Spiritual growth and acceptance.

      Skills and techniques needed for mastery:
      T- Self-calming, self-aware, emotional self-management skills.
      N- Life skills, mental clarity, problem-solving strategies, goal-
      achieving action, interpersonal skills.
      S- ALigning daily behavior with ethical creed and life purpose.
      Meditation, prayer, self-reflection.

      Potential Gift:
      T- Gets our attention, makes us aware of unresolved
      issues and negative programming. Properly used can
      lead to healing and self- integration. N- Personal
      growth results in successfully surmounting
      challenges and achieving goals. More dynamic
      relationships, creativity, passion. S- Serenity
      results from an unconditional love of life.
      Spiritual growth, oneness, compassion, love and

      Key Phrase:
      T- Become aware.
      N- Do it.
      S- Let go.


      What if this was what Jesus was alluding to when he
      said, "You cannot serve two masters"?

      One cannot fight to preserve identity, while at the
      same time being willing to allow identity to

      That really would be like trying to pick up the
      board you're standing on! It just can't be done.

      Melody, yea..

      But on the other hand, I have seen the local
      skateboarders... and they are quite capable of
      picking up the board they are standing on. That
      they do this in pants that will barely stay on
      their hips and in sweatshirts that drag their knees
      impresses me greatly. There is a new skateboard
      park in town with big concrete bowls and
      scary-looking cliffs. I suppose the kids like it -
      kinda like going to a nice church - but they still
      practice their illegal missionary acts of skating
      on the edges of concrete plinths around town. I
      have noticed that they are winning ever younger
      (and even older) converts with their charming
      adolescent social posturings. I foresee that there
      will be generations to come where most everyone can
      lift the board they are standing on. This is
      progress. Having your cake and eating it, too. Yep.
      Or your donut, or something.

      best wishes from one who barely manage to stand on
      a moving board, Nina

      MELODY: Maybe. :-) I suspect that upon closer
      inspection you will notice that they 'give up' that
      board...if only for a flash... before they ever
      pick it up.

      NINA; Huh! I will check this out. Perhaps my
      awareness is torn usunder by the loud crash of
      wheels and plywood against concrete when they hit
      the ground again.

      Have you ever marveled about how really good
      skateboarders are able to keep their feet on the
      board as it shoots into space, sideways, torquing
      the whole way? Is it that their feet are pushing
      the board? Or that the board is something upon
      which to rest their feet? Doesn't it seem that
      their feet are being pulled upwards and around by
      the board? And then, in the midst of catching air,
      the really good ones greet the board with their
      hands, just for a moment, before the whole
      configuration dissembles?

      I have this pet theory that some of those
      skateboarders have glued their boards to the
      bottoms of their vans sneakers. That would be
      cheating, wouldn't it? Is there any such thing as
      cheating when it comes to picking up the board one
      is standing on? Bypass the practice, just get
      straight to the benefits.

      NINA: I foresee that there will be generations to
      come where most everyone can lift the board they
      are standing on. This is progress. Having your cake
      and eating it, too. Yep. Or your donut, or

      MELODY: Sweet response.

      Such an answer might make one feel more comfortable
      in an uncertain world for a second.....maybe two.

      But I rather suspect Jesus had it right all along.

      NINA: Yeah-s'm, you and about 3 billion of my
      closest neighbors. Hehe!

      What would Jesus do with a board? How do you think
      he would look in baggy pants and sweatshirt? How
      about vans sneakers and a beenie? He'd prolly fit
      right in around here with that beard and long hair.
      He would need a few piercings, though. Then he
      would really have it right.

      Well, you're seemingly serious, I'm seemingly not,
      but I get what you're saying.

      By the way, skateboarding is not about comfort.

      The old skatepark used to be on top of the parking
      garage across the street. Though the kids liked the
      desolate urban siting, really, they were on top of
      the world, they were glad to get the new place with
      the smooth, as compared to combed, concrete
      surfaces. Perhaps skateboarding is about comfort,



      If Rumi is the most well known Sufi poet, Ibn
      al-Arabi (1165-1240) is the most influential Sufi

      The most famous idea attributed to Ebn al-'Arabi is
      wahdat al- wojud "the oneness of being."

      Although he never employs the term, the idea is
      implicit throughout his writings. In the manner of
      both theologians and philosophers, Ebn al-'Arabi
      employs the term wojud to refer to God as the
      Necessary Being. Like them, he also attributes the
      term to everything other than God, but he insists
      that wojud does not belong to the things found in
      the cosmos in any real sense. Rather, the things
      borrow wojud from God, much as the earth borrows
      light from the sun.

      The issue is how wojud can rightfully be attributed
      to the things, also called "entities" (a'yan). From
      the perspective of tanzih, Ebn al-'Arabi declares
      that wojud belongs to God alone, and, in his famous
      phrase, the things "have never smelt a whiff of
      wojud." From the point of view of tashbih, he
      affirms that all things are wojud's self-disclosure
      (tajalli) or self-manifestation (zohur). In sum,
      all things are "He/not He" (howa la howa), which is
      to say that they are both God and other than God,
      both wojud and other than wojud.

      The intermediateness of everything that can be
      perceived by the senses or the mind brings us back
      to imagination, a term that Ebn al- 'Arabi applies
      not only to a mode of understanding that grasps
      identity rather than difference, but also to the
      World of Imagination, which is situated between the
      two fundamental worlds that make up the cosmosóthe
      world of spirits and the world of bodiesóand which
      brings together the qualities of the two sides. In
      addition, Ebn al-'Arabi refers to the whole cosmos
      as imagination, because it combines the attributes
      of wojud and utter nonexistence (Chittick, 1989).



      "Life is like stepping onto a boat which is about
      to sail out to sea and sink." -- Suzuki Roshi

    • Jerry Katz
      The Nondual Highlights outstanding posts sent to the Nonduality Salon email list (and other online communities) Friday, March 8, 2002 The 997th Edition Search
      Message 2 of 2 , Mar 9, 2002
        The Nondual Highlights

        outstanding posts sent to the Nonduality Salon email list
        (and other online communities)

        Friday, March 8, 2002

        The 997th Edition
        Search all Editions of the Nondual Highlights:

        Editors: Jerry Katz, Gloria Lee, Christiana Duranczyk, Michael Read, John Metzger

        Today's Highlights Edited by

        Jerry Katz



                                        universal grace - is nuclear grave
                                        universal power - on repulsive war
                                       universal dogma - is a vulgar demon
                                         universal love - on a virus level
                                          universal god - a golden virus
                                         universal space - silver saucepan
                                         universal game - evil man argues
                                          universal tool - overt allusion
                                       universal theory - on virtual heresy
                                        universal belief - unbelievers fail
                                         universal logos - valorous single
                                         universal math - hum as interval
                                      universal teacher - a cleverish nature
                                    universal application - principal evaluations
                                       universal essence - clever uneasiness
                                         essence of NDS - confess needs
                                    essence of rudeness - so censures defense
                                         essence of self - fences feel so
                                       essence of caring - science of ranges
                                         essence of love - seven cool fees
                                        essence of space - peace confesses


        from Petros-Truth

        When feeling any negative, painful feeling, simply
        be aware that it is a negative, painful feeling,
        without manipulation, without judgment, without

        Do the same for positive, pleasurable feelings.
        Always non-clinging, always recognizing the
        nonpresence of a separate "self" in the feeling,
        always mindful, always nonjudgmental.

        Never repress, deny, exaggerate, or otherwise try
        to superficially control or strategize a feeling.

        Feel all feelings as spontaneous arisings. Consider
        all feelings as fuel to burn off karmic

        -- from the Satipatthana Sutta at


        BOBBY G. contributes

        Sri Ramana Maharshi-"Reality in Forty Verses"

        11. Without knowing the Self that knows, to know
        all objects is not knowledge; it is only ignorance.
        Self, the ground of knowledge and the non-Self,
        being known, both knowledge and ignorance fall

        12, True Knowledge is being devoid of knowledge as
        well as ignorance of objects. Knowledge of objects
        is not true knowledge. Since the Self shines
        self-luminous, with nothing else for It to know,
        with nothing else to know It, the Self is
        Knowledge. Nescience It is not.

        13. The Self that is Awareness, that alone is true.
        The knowledge which is various is ignorance. And
        even ignorance, which is false, cannot exist apart
        from the Self. False are the many jewels, for apart
        from gold, which alone is true, they cannot exist.



        Dear Bobby,
        thank you very much for your comments.. in fact,
        indirectly, one of the purposes of this essay is to
        show that western society (and its philosophy) is
        mostly based on the normative ethics i try to
        demystify and renounce.. with a few exceptions like
        f.e. Nietzsche (and Wittgenstein ('Each a few of my
        favourite quotes..

        'There are no moral phenomena, only a moral
        interpretation of phenomena' Nietzsche

        'Philosophers use a language that is already
        deformed as though by shoes that are too tight'
        'Don't take the example of others as your guide,
        but nature' 'Each of the sentences I write is
        typing to say the whole thing, i.e. the same thing
        over and over again; it is as though they were all
        simply views of one object seen from different
        angles.' Wittgenstein

        in the essay i try to show that normative ethics
        are a rejection of our own existence (viz. taking
        up a role), and that we need to acknowledge and
        re-cognise non-normative ethics.. in that way, a
        new 'hierarchy' appears, viz. the 'distinction'
        between those acknowledging non-normativity and
        acting in that way and those who 'think or pretend
        to be normative'..

        in other words, when we 'break down' normative
        ethics as universal scale (both in its universal
        and relativist form), we are re- cognising
        non-normative ethics as a scale, in fact the only
        truly universal scale, for ethics.. when we
        re-cognise that it is not the individual acting,
        but always the universe looking at itself, we re-
        cognise this realisation as the basis of our
        ethics, viz. non- normative ethics.. in that
        perspective, "..to be ethical is to exist without
        taking up a 'role'; 'the point is to prefer being
        to seeming'. To be ethical in this sense is to act
        from the awareness of the situation; to live in the
        awareness that each situation is real and to allow
        the truth of that situation to be acknowledged.
        Sartwell defines this as 'ethics of authenticity';
        a willingness and faith in one's own being in the
        situation without taking up a role, adding that:
        "…We are all 'ethical' merely by existing…".

        In fact, as 'we are all already real' in each
        particular situation, "… The point is to live in an
        acknowledgement, enactment, and celebration of the
        fact…".Therefore; "…The task of living in truth is
        a matter of keeping faith with oneself as a real,
        situated, particular being. The 'ethics' of
        authenticity emerges out of a willingness to hold
        on to oneself (thus not to 'roles', ed.), to allow
        oneself to be…".

        there is another reason why i view non-normative
        ethics as a new universal scale.. as normative
        ethics represent a rejection of our existence, they
        are fundamentally contradictory to two crucial
        features of our own existence; "..Fundamental is
        that two crucial 'modes' of our world, peace and
        love, are contradictory to normative ethics and
        exactly a result of non-normative ethics: "…
        Abstractions are precisely what it is impossible to
        love; love is always precisely what holds dear the
        particularity of the beloved. Love is an opening of
        the self to the particularity of the beloved, so
        that love is not an abstraction away from ugliness
        but an allowance of ugliness to be…Particular
        people are the hardest thing to love; on the other
        hand, they're the only people that can be loved… To
        love is to allow the beloved to be outside of one's
        control, or rather, to acknowledge that the beloved
        is outside one's control…We speak of loving people
        'just as they are'…Peace flows from letting oneself
        go, as does humor, for example, which often occurs
        in an allowance of oneself and the world to be…".

        As a sage once said; Life is hard, it's breathe,
        breathe, breathe all the time... i guess we're all
        little 'fans'.. :)

        i thank you again for your inspiring comments and
        suggestions.. to end a small quote from the Atharva

        We are the birds of the same nest,
        We may wear different skins,
        We may speak different languages,
        We may believe in different religions,
        We may belong to different cultures,
        Yet we share the same home - our earth.

        Born on the same planet
        Covered by the same skies
        Gazing at the same stars
        Breathing the same air
        We must learn to happily progress together
        Or miserably perish together,
        For man can live individually,
        But can survive only collectively

        let love rule :)

        BOBBY G.

        I think this touches on something I try to say to
        people in conversations to get them to think
        outside the box. It is this. "I believe in anarchy"
        It is true by the way, I do, because I am referring
        to the idea that no government will work
        indefinitely without perfect people and with
        perfect people you don't need the government or

        At some point I expect humanity to grow up and
        leave the ego behind. I believe that will happen
        and so I work for it the only way it is possible.
        On myself. Thus anarchy is the highest goal for
        humanity. My friends seldom agree.



        Kenny's foreword to an upcoming book. It's nasty
        and rude.



        Thanks for the loud laugh John! Talk is cheap
        but... Kenny has to make a living too and obviously
        his skills are neither analytical nor poetical as
        for instance, Ramana's or Yogananda's devotees, to
        mention just two, weren't asked. When knowing how
        the mind works, appropriate issues can be dressed
        in sweetest words, yet never failing to 'hit' their
        target. Hence the foreword reminds of the belief
        that the fast food industry (rude boys) is much
        better for your health than ecological farming
        (nice guys).

        Not to mention those Kenny is referring to could,
        using his favored "rude boy talk", be labeled the
        handicapperceiving, clubbing Neanderthal clowns of
        the new age enlightenment circus: a business for
        profit only.



        Copyright 2002

        from Live Journal
        The mirror before me held a platter of stars and I
        gazed up to where the black rim of silhouetted
        trees met an eerie chartreuse blended with a blood
        red, which melted into permanent black dotted with
        an infinite array of galaxies and open clusters and
        the moment was too beautiful to pass by, so I went
        back to the cabin and grabbed my swimsuit. I’d
        never seen a lake as serene without ripple, and I
        tripped with excitement, as I scampered up the
        mosquito-ridden slope towards the cabin, quickly
        stripping off my clothes and robing myself in a
        swimsuit I’d owned for four years. When I returned
        to the black mirrored lake, I heard a momentary
        fright in my head, that spoke to me with whispers
        of inhibition. It said: “this is spooky and this is
        strange and are you deranged for entering an
        unknown?” It was closing in on midnight and the
        other women stayed near the docks, quietly
        gossiping and waiting for me to exceed my
        boundaries and then return. The skin of the lake
        inhaled me into its frigid depths and if I imagined
        my body as being warm, I found I was warm and
        invited into the depths surrounding me. But the
        water was so still, it felt like jello - as an ant
        in a casserole dish of deep blue jello - impossibly
        consuming my minuscule body - and it being large
        enough to fill two million me’s - I began to see
        that it was not that I swam in it, it was that I
        was held up by it. And when I swam entirely
        submerged, my every movement created the only
        ripples in sight and I imagined fish and
        prehistoric spirit animals nibbling at the corners
        of my toes, and I thought I heard moaning in the
        waters. But the waters kept me bouyant, if I let
        them hold me in the tentacles of a million hydrogen
        atoms fused with oxygen, billions of atoms creating
        a gigantic chain link fence of jello water that
        suspended me as I swam, further and further away
        from the docks, and further into the lake and I
        imagined myself as a single tear immersed in a vast
        ocean current. Becoming completely connected to
        every vast tear in the ocean but being there, by
        being here. And as my limbs grew exhausted and my
        mind grew frightened, I emerged onto an old, mouldy
        buoy, suspended alone in the middle of the lake,
        held still by some barrels or cement anchor beneath
        me, which I did not imagine, and still do not
        imagine existed. Only in that moment, a moment
        irrepeatable and shared with only myself, I lay
        back on that chipped-white painted dock, with
        strange dragonflies hovering above my silent mind
        and green fungis tickling the interior of my knee.

        And I lay there soaking in infinity. I grew colder
        and colder, as I gazed up into the stars above me.
        I became sad, knowing that I knew less than a dozen
        egyptian astronomers and that the constellations
        held no wisdom for me. But sometimes the
        meaningless creeps in. It seems to creep in most
        often when one ponders the astronomical smallness
        of earth. In a portion of sky no wider than a shell
        of sand is wide, we see thousands of galaxies, each
        containing 200 billion stars, each possibly
        containing millions of consciousnesses like our
        own. Oh, and we are so alone. Or are we? The
        nearest galaxy is nearly 200 billion light years
        away, and each light year contains trillions of
        miles traveled at 186,000 feet per second. And to
        make one orbit around the entire nucleus of the
        Milky Way requires 230 million years of waiting -
        which is one ‘cosmic year’ as deemed by
        astronomers. As if seeing evidence of the transient
        nature of life here on earth is not enough to make
        you feel small and meaningless, I guess pondering
        the vastness of the universe is supposed to make
        you feel even more worthless. But it got me
        thinking - if all those astronomers were more
        content with being here now, would even their
        wildest curiosity take them tripping out into the
        darkest light sent on vibrations from stars
        millions of years ago? What’s the point of
        pondering the vastness without if you can’t go deep
        into the vastness within? And who says which one
        has more meaning? It depends on the values of any
        given person.

        The universe soaked me into a second and I lay
        there with my eyes closed, only feeling, when
        suddenly the schoolteacher from the docks called
        out to me: “Come back in, Swim in now, It’s getting
        late.” I resented and resisted. She yelled some
        more and I hemmed and hawwed. It’s a matter of
        philosophical importance. To be truly free is to
        truly be present in the desire to drink in the
        beautiful universe. I procrastinated in my stay for
        five minutes, and dove back in after they grew
        impatient. The water, again, warm and buoyant,
        clear and fluid against my rigid body strokes. The
        lake held me in its momentary arms and I imagined
        from a mile above, a speck of nothing cradled in a
        vast cocoon of God-consciousness. The lake vibrated
        a smile ripple into me and I felt grateful to be
        held. The dock lay before me, but as my strokes
        propelled me through the water, I heard myself say:
        ‘trust God,’ and suddenly a meteorite fanned across
        the falling star sky, as if acknowledging the
        revelation in my heart and I repeated: ‘Trust God,
        Trust God, Trust God, Trust God.’ The words
        circulated in a cyclical spin, dizzying my head,
        until it became my weekly mantra, and I exited the
        lake for the very last time, soaked up my exhausted
        hair, lapped up the remaining licks of moisture on
        my skin, crawled into bed and fell asleep.

        My faith in vastness, in the existence of
        timelessness, outside of our time-space, is so
        passionate, that is one of the few ?things? that
        will never suffer from the transcience of my
        abandonment. I spoke to God as a child, when as
        four year years old, and in utter vilification of
        my mother, who sent me slamming into my room and
        under my sheets, weeping, pleading, begging for the
        return of my father from another day at work. In
        those years, I conversed primarily with an
        imaginary friend named Jonathan. Coincidentally, my
        brother’s name is Jonathan, and through some
        experiences involving DXM and late-night
        conversations over marijuana, I have come to feel
        an intense soul-twin connection with him, as if we
        are cosmically united and came into this world to
        breathe together and awaken one another.

        My faith has gone through many fluxuations, phases
        and (ac)knowledges. As a child, my faith existed in
        imagination, in a world I created for myself,
        because I had no friends that could tolerate me - I
        felt I existed so far outside of the commonplace,
        and as a result, I had to imagine my friends
        existence and converse only with them. The result
        was an imaginary world of elves and fairies and
        rituals that necessitated the existence of pills to
        be swallowed before crossing Main Street, on my
        daily pilgrimage to and from elementary school
        seven blocks away, otherwise the Trolls guarding
        Main Street would chase and gobble my fairy friends
        and I.

        I grew up in a household of strict Protestant
        Christianity. My mother and father took my two
        brothers and I, crammed into the backseat of our
        1981 Cutlass Supreme station-wagon with my head
        dozing onto the edge of my brother’s car-seat, to
        church every Sunday. We listened to Public Radio
        and Medieval Christmas music and we were forced to
        suffer the hour drive to church listening to
        Prairie Home Companion one too many times. As a
        child, church was the place where the old people
        sang hymns and where the children sat bored out of
        their skulls. But for me, it held a magical
        majesty. When at the age of five I stood next to my
        grandfather during church service, he forced me to
        sing, despite my reluctance, telling me that if he
        had to sing, I had to sing. (My grandfather was a
        baritone operatic and singing was a fundamental
        passion.) As a result, I spent the rest of my
        childhood singing the church hymns, not because I
        wanted to, but because grandpa said so. I began
        improv(is)ing on the songs, incorporating
        motown-ish licks underneath my breath, unbeknownst
        to the community of aging farmers and their wives
        that I went to church with.

        These old farm-hewn women knew how to make
        excellent homemade noodles and pies, and we had
        potlucks on a bi-weekly basis. On a warm Sunday
        afternoon, the elders would sit around discussing
        things that were too big or too boring for us
        children, meanwhile after eating too many noodles
        and too much chicken and strawberry-rhubarb pies,
        we children would go outside and frolick in the
        yard. It was a beautiful community and a beautiful
        way to wile away the hours. Quite often, I would
        stroll through the cemetary alone, waiting for my
        parents to finish with their conversations, a
        cemetary which had buried a number of my ancestors
        and relatives.

        My mother educated me on the beliefs of our church.
        She explained to me that we were pacifists and
        conscientious-objectors, that we had revolted
        against the Lutheran protestants in an ancient
        Germany. She told me that my ancestors were
        spiritual dissidents that arrived in America
        seeking religious freedom, leaving Germany as
        Anabaptists that were persecuted and hanged for
        their foot-washing ceremonies and new-testament
        based beliefs. During the love-feasts that I grew
        to love as a child, the men and women sat on
        opposite sides of the hall, and candles provided
        our only light, which kept it dark and mysterious,
        and for me magical. We drank grape juice and broke
        and ate communion bread (a delicacy the recipes of
        which were kept secret inside the imaginations of
        old German Baptist women - as they all had their
        own recipes and they were always better than anyone
        else’s). We washed each other’s feet and sang hymns
        that reverberated through our chests and our
        hearts. These were ancient hymns, crafted through
        some man’s inspiration, the most benevolent of
        which were as polished and worn as holy wooden
        pews, varnished brown - exposing the veins inside
        its tree trunk.

        My ancestors stood in spiritual opposition to a
        world they saw as corrupt and vain. They wore plain
        clothes, lived simple lives, ate plain food, worked
        in farm fields and separated themselves from city
        lives brimming with sexuality and passion. To me,
        they resemble hippies living on communes, eating
        vegetarian food and appreciating simplicity and
        vast beauty amidst divine creation. I never
        questioned my heritage. In fact, I embraced and
        grew comfortable in the history of my ancestors.
        But my ancestors grew complacent in their
        spirituality, which had a hard time reconciling
        itself with modernity. Eventually, women’s rights
        and women preachers and cars and technology would
        cause unfathomable schisms to breach the tree trunk
        of their dogma. I ended up living the modern life
        that my ancestors abhorred, and found my way back
        to their simplicity by knowing too well the society
        around me that wants me to desire, and buy, and
        live in fear, and to forget history, and to forget
        that life is sacred.

        Eventually, I wandered outside of the confines of
        my ancestor’s spirituality and into Hinduism and
        Buddhism and Sufism and Taoism. At some point, I
        was confronted with atheism, and I looked the other
        way. God was the only constant in my life, and I
        could not give up my soul for the sake of
        rationalism and the gratuitious absurdity of
        skepticism. But I had a problem. I kept falling in
        love with a series of intellectuals and artists who
        chipped away at my belief system, forcing me to
        confront God and Sexuality and Marijuana head on.
        Now that I see no conflict between being ecstatic
        during both sex and during spiritual liberation
        (and sometimes the two seem to intermingle) - I
        have found liberation inside orgasms and
        ejaculations and mindgasms and oceans and wisdoms
        that I once only read about, but never understood.

        My spiritual practice is essential to my existence
        - and it arrives after years of intellectual
        searching, of reading books and poetry, of writing
        mountains of poetry and songs and taking prodigious
        volumes of photography and of singing and dancing
        and celebrating in the existence of existence. My
        connection to the universe, to the energy that is
        greater than myself, that which I can call God, the
        cosmos, the soul, the godhead, the divine, Allah,
        Buddha-nature, Brahman, is something that I
        experience on a real level, in a day-to-day
        presents (presence). I know the sacred within my
        heart. My faith, when everything else is stripped
        away, is the only ‘thing’ I know to be true, and is
        the only ‘thing’ I will never discard. After I
        discard every ‘thing’ I have ever owned, including
        this body and these memories, I believe I will
        return to the infinite god-consciousness, that
        which some have called heaven, and which
        enlightenment is called heaven-on-earth or as Jesus
        described ‘heaven within yourself.’ I know that the
        door will be opened if you knock on it, and you
        will receive if you ask.

        It is not simply about asking and receiving. It is
        about dancing. My spiritual ancestors abhorred
        dancing, and vilified it, believing dancing to be
        erotic and dangerous for the pure of heart. I
        disagree with my ancestors, and believe that inside
        dancing it is possible to discover complete
        surrender to the present, which is transcendence. I
        believe that by acknowledging the eternal inside a
        present moment, to honor the sacred and create
        magic out of just another mundane moment, it is
        possible to open it up and surrender to God in
        complete transcendence and to feel the orgiastic
        heat waves of life pulsating through and inside
        yourself and the universe spiraling above and
        behind you, below and around you. I believe
        enlightenment to be your heart, my heart, opened
        and fully exposed to the whooshing of cosmic energy
        through the plankton of your soul, to be siphoned
        through the briny barnacles of an ecosystem of joy,
        surrounded by communities of mussels - muses that
        are the history of shamans and mystics and artists
        and poets around you.

        So I choose to celebrate that moment. That’s what
        it is. A celebration of that moment of life. It is
        a prayer and a meditation and a rejoicing. That’s
        why it is so transcendent and ecstatic - because
        you’re so glad you get to be alive for that moment
        that you want to give back everything you can -
        everything you feel in the fullest rapture possible
        to the universe which gave you this moment. By
        standing back and watching it pass, you are giving
        the universe no joy, and thus you receive no joy.
        By praising that moment the universe praises you
        and a circle of joy and admiration ensues.

        I dance because if I do not dance with my arms
        fully wide open to the heavens, I will not fulfill
        myself. I can stand and watch or I can dance. The
        choice is up to the individual. My choice will
        always be: Dance and never look back. This relates
        to photography. If the world around you isn’t the
        most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen before - then
        you’re not a photographer. If you can’t jump inside
        someone’s eyelash and exclaim with ecstasy that
        that facial expression is a moment of pure joy,
        what are you doing? Begin noticing how the littlest
        of things are the same as the biggest of things.
        People look at my abstracts of a granite beach
        covered with barnacles and mussels and they wonder
        how I thought of seeing the world that way. I
        didn’t think to see the world that way. I just saw
        a moment of mind-exploding beauty and I wanted to
        preserve it for myself. Really, it’s completely
        selfish. But someone else looks at it and they see
        that instead of looking like a tidal pool with
        mussels and barnacles - they see instead a valley
        nestled in rounded hills surrounded by white trees
        and a perfectly translucent lake. In order to
        interpret it - they have to imagine what they’re
        seeing. They take a leap of faith and see something
        in a way they’ve never seen before. And then they
        realize there’s more than one way of looking at the
        world. They see that the smallest of tide pools are
        no different than the forest - they both have
        ecosystems complete unto themselves that if we
        bother will be destroyed. It is best to keep these
        ecosystems complete because then we get to see the
        beauty of its magnificent plan, rather than the
        cruddy ruddiness of our disintegrating society that
        in 500 years will mean nothing to anyone else
        except that it profoundly dysfunctionalized their
        society. We’ve got to start looking for the
        connections rather than distractions if we’re going
        to start seeing what the world is really made of
        and capable of.

        I believe enlightenment is a state of mind, a level
        of awareness wherein we are liberated from the
        imposition of unfulfilled desires and fears that
        contain our weaknesses. If freedom is a state of
        mind, it is possible to be living as a starved,
        emaciated slave inside a concentration camp and
        still be free. Though the shackles of a war-torn,
        poverty and disease ridden existence such as found
        in Sudan or Afghanistan can be the cause for
        complete mental imprisonment inside fear and
        jealousy and pride, it is possible to see through
        the transient metal bars that bind us. Freedom is
        the imagination to transcend fears placed over our
        eyes that know only how to look without seeing. But
        if we are not encouraging everyone in our
        surroundings to find the same freedom, then our
        freedom is selfish and false. If we are individuals
        standing in opposition to the rest of humanity, and
        we are not seeing a path towards the liberation of
        all humanity, then we are not really seeing the
        truth, and we are not truly enlightened. Our fears
        would keep us selfish, hoarding our knowledge and
        our wisdom, keeping our vision unique to our own
        and our immediate circle. If God is truly present
        in existence, in our existence, in our minds and
        our hearts, then we will want to help others find
        God within their world, divinity within their
        souls, creation within creation. By creating art,
        we are joining the vastly creative creator in the
        act of creation - we are helping others to imagine
        themselves as creators, and we are joining in the
        chorus of creators before us who used their
        imagination and intellect and hearts communicate
        with history and their world. In my humble opinion,
        I believe creating art is the noblest and most
        important job on the planet, because through art we
        open up in the hearts of others what it can mean to
        be alive, what it can mean to imagine, what it can
        mean to be healed and whole, in a world that is
        sadly dysfunctional and imbalanced, in a world
        fraught with struggles of gender and violence and
        despair and poverty.

        True freedom is not the freedom we speak of in
        America, the freedom of the American flag and the
        statue of liberty. Freedom is liberation inside the
        mind, a balancing of the mind and body and soul,
        liberation from transience and ego-gratification.
        When you find it, you will want to dance inside it
        infinitely and you will want everyone around you to
        dance in their unique ecstasy.

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