Tuesday, March 27, 2007
Visiting My Parents, My Earthly Roots
I just returned to Moab from a bicycle trip to Fruita, Colorado to see my parents & brother. It was nice seeing them and my brother's 2 boys also. The bike trip was splendid, too. I did part of it on Kokopelli's trail, which kinda follows the Colorado river. I saw 3 different herds of pronghorns, and the weather was perfect for riding.
My parents and I talked a lot about the Christian walk and the Bible. I'm often astounded at how accepting they are of my chosen lifestyle. It is about getting us to face the teachings of Jesus, after all. Growing up, Christianity was the center of our home-life, so was always the center of conversation - and still is. When I went through years of clinical depression, with bitterness about the hypocrisy of Christianity, there was a lot of silence when I visited my parents. Then I realized there can be no Divine Peace until we find reconciliation with our roots, and, in fact, find reconciliation with every particle of the universe.
This time, looking beyond the political & religious disagreements, I learned profound things from my parents, could see their spiritual authenticity shining through.
The Middle Path Between the Two Extremes
The path of Truth is a razor's edge, the Upanishads say. It's the narrow way, so Jesus and the Tao Te Ching tell us. It's the Middle Way, the Buddha declares.
Yes, the Middle Way, between the Two Extremes, the Buddha says. YHWH between the Two Cherubim, the Torah states. Truth does not, cannot, take sides. On the one side I have Christianity and my conservative upbringing - my family and conservative friends. On the other side I have Secularism, other religions, and my liberal ("progressive") friends. It's like I'm a child of divorced parents, searching for reconciliation between the two. Both try to manipulate me to take their side.
When I see the profound truths of secularism and non-Christian Religion and do not speak it for fear of what Christians might think, I am not a servant of Truth. When I see profound truths in Christian thought and I do not speak it for fear of offending non-Christians, I am not a servant of truth. Find the truth in EVERYTHING, and leave the rest. ALL truth is One Truth. When we know truth and don't speak it for fear of what somebody thinks, are we worthy of having a spine and walking upright?
For years I have basked in the light of secularism and the non-Christian world and Eastern Religion, because I saw that it had more integrity and honesty in it. But all this time I have seen layers upon layers of profound truth in Christianity, and profound wisdom in Christians, including my parents. But I have been afraid to speak it for fear of being categorized with the Jerry Falwells and Pat Robertsons and the Crusades and the we're-right-and-everybody-else-is-wrong mentality.
Jack Kerouac and Dharma Bums
Jack Kerouac's Dharma Bums is so popular you can rarely find a copy in the library that's not checked-out or stolen. I've found that when I just talk about wandering moneyless and my ponderings in Eastern religious thought, people out there lap it up. But as soon as I relate it to the teachings of Jesus, I lose one audience and gain another - the Christian audience. Seems to be an either or. Then I get attached to my new audience and find myself in fear of losing this Christian audience, so I keep the profound truths of Eastern Religion under my hat. Yet I know in my deepest heart that Enlightenment or Salvation or whatever you want to call it is exactly the same thing in Hinduism as it is in Christianity. Exactly.
Now a funny thing I've discovered is if you really want to turn off everybody, talk about Mormonism's deep truth. I have been astounded to find the most profound truth in the Book of Mormon. When I speak it, it goes over like a lead balloon. The rarest gems of all are the most hidden, least recognized - and most lost in hypocrisy.
Back to Dharma Bums. A couple years ago I read some published pages from Jack Kerouac's personal journal while he was on the road. They were all musings over New Testament passages, mainly Jesus' teachings. These were his main preoccupation! Yet we hear nothing of this in his books for the public. In his books for the public, it seems his main preoccupation is Zen Buddhism. He was divided, and I totally get why. Both Eastern and Western Religion are my constant preoccupation, because both are One. But to the public I become divided. But I am fairly certain that Jack Kerouac would not have died a lost alcoholic if he could have found the courage to state ALL of his mind, to not waste energy in trying to please one side. We must find reconciliation with every particle of the universe, leaving nothing out, if we are to find Divine Peace. It comes down to this: do we prefer popularity or Divine Peace?
Omnipresent Means Omnipresent
To Christians I will keep repeating: if you truly believe your own Christ, you will believe the Buddha, you will believe Krishna, you will believe Lao Tzu. If you do not keep Jesus' teachings, then you do not believe Jesus, and your "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life" business is meaningless hot air. To Buddhists I will keep repeating, if you truly believe your own Buddha, you will believe the Christ. "Here, O Israel, YHWH your Elohim is One YHWH." Every Hebrew student knows that Elohim is plural, meaning Gods. Literally, Gods is One.
Evangelicals want to evangelize, proselytize. Really, that means all Christianity is evangelical - because that's its nature. But I have learned that to evangelize means Jesus' Golden Rule: "Do unto others what you would have them to do unto you," which more often than not means keeping your mouth shut and learning from others, not teaching. How do you feel when a Muslim tells you your religion is bullshit and his is the only right way? Don't you think he feels exactly the same when you tell him his religion is bullshit and yours the only right way? If you don't think Islam has something profound to teach you, you are not worthy to talk to a Muslim. It is Spirit we are spreading, not words. Spirit is Love. Buddhists and Hindus have taught me the depths of my own Christianity.
If God (Truth) is limited to one religion, then God is not, cannot be, Omnipresent. This is the common sense of all common sense.
Whoever you are - conservative, liberal, Christian, Hindu, Muslim, Animist, Atheist, Agnostic - my only challenge to you is to speak and act the truth that you know. Are you afraid to speak and act what you know because of what people might think? Are you afraid it will get you crucified? An atheist who speaks the truth as he knows it and gets nailed to a cross for it knows the Divine, though he thinks he doesn't. In Jesus' parable of the 2 sons, one son has the actions and not the words and the other has the words and not the actions. Which do you think is a child of the Kingdom of God? (Matthew 21:28-31). The goats think they are righteous and are not, while the sheep think they are not righteous and are (Matthew 25:31-45).
Here is the Gift of the universe: when you speak and act what you know, what you do not know becomes revealed to you.
Buddha means Awakened
Jesus the Buddha
Awakened from Sleep
Resurrected from Death
When one is Awakened
All are Awakened
Saturday, March 03, 2007
It’s the Catholic (and Eastern Orthodox) time of Lent, now. Mardis Gras kicked it off. Check out this painting I did for the Mardis Gras fashion show bash:
However, when it boils down to reality, Protestants do exactly the same thing with the idea of the Penance Cross. So we Protestants didn't believe in the debauchery of sensual naughtiness. But we believed in the even more heinous debauchery of greed and war. Though we called ourselves “Christian”, we excused our rejection of Jesus' teachings by saying that Jesus paid all Penance on the Cross. Jesus' Crucifixion was our Free Ticket to Heaven, and therefore we didn't have to do anything, not even keep Jesus’ teachings! If you've been raised Evangelical, you know exactly what I am talking about. You don't realize how twisted it sounds till you step away from it and look at it.
So I'm finally facing my karma, facing the reality that I have to speak first to the Christian, and in doing so, also to the non-Christian. I can't be content any other way but to follow my own karma. It's either follow my karma or be thrown into the sea and swallowed by a fish. If every religious person in the world followed his or her own religion (Taoism, Buddhism, Islam, Judaism, Hinduism, Sikhism, etc) Politicians & Bankers & Corporations would have no more power, and would collapse. And I dare say poverty would collapse with them.[[Though I'm first talking to Christians, it bothers some folks of Eastern faiths or New Aginess that I speak of good and evil. Yes, Christianity, too, like Buddhism, teaches "to the pure all things are pure". And, like Hindu scriptures, the Bible also says God creates both night and day, good and evil. On the lower level, my instinct tells me that my own poop is bad and I should bury it out of sight. But my higher self tells me that poop is good and pure, part of the cycles of life. To a fly, it is nectar. But if my lower self calls poop good and touches it or eats it, then I get sick. If my lower self calls poop good, it is denying the Law of Nature, and therefore really calling poop Evil by denying poop its natural role. So I am a fool, denying the goodness of all things, if I call rape good or if I burn down my neighbor's house. I must not let my left hand know what my right hand is doing if I am to realize the pure goodness of both. I must let my left hand believe poop is evil and my right hand to believe it is Good, if both are to be Good. If the lion weren't bad to the antelope, the lion would be Bad on the higher level and the evolution of the antelope herd would cease. This is the mystery of the Cross, the Eternal Sacrifice of the Purusa (Divine Person) of Hinduism.]]
So What of Mardis Gras and Lent, Excess and Penance? What of Creditor and Debtor?
In the Spiritual Path, the Believer fuses with the Believee in Devotion, the Future fuses with the Past in the Present, the Debtor fuses with the Creditor in Forgiveness, Negative fuses with Positive in the Neutral, the Four Branches of the World fuse together in the Center of the Cross. The Wave Crests become One with the Wave Troughs, stilling to a Sea of Glass, as our turbulent thoughts calm into the Perfect Peace of Zen. As Mary and the Jewish prophets state in the Bible, the Mountains are lowered and the valleys raised. The the Cycles of Time (Karma) cancel each other out at the End of Time, called Eternal Present, called Yahweh (Jehovah). By bowing totally to the Divine Other, the profane self fuses into One with Him. In the Spiritual Path, the Goal becomes the Path. Male and Female fuse into One, perpetually. As a Jewish rabbi said (in my paraphrase), "Of course the Messiah is coming! Perpetually."
Am I talking (gasp) Universalism?
Universalism is the Big Satan to Evangelicals & Fundamentalists of all shades in all religions. But I say this to my fellow Evangelicals: Please do not follow any other faith but your own. I wager that if you TRULY follow your own faith to its deepest core, with all your heart, you will also TRULY be a Jew, and you will TRULY be a Muslim, and you will TRULY be a Hindu, and you will TRULY be a Buddhist, and you will TRULY be a Taoist. Be TRULY yourself and no one else and you will realize you are TRULY everybody. You will then understand the Way, the Truth, and the Life, that it is Omnipresent, not finite, not limited to your petty little cash box possession.
When I say you, I mean me.
"Love is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No person can come to the Source except by Love."
This is exactly what your own Bible says, and your own conscience knows it.
Love, and no thing or no one else, is God-incarnate. Humans come and go, but Love is Ever Present, Ever Eternal, Ever come in the Flesh, Ever Dying, Ever Resurrecting, Ever Humiliated, Ever Glorified, the Same Yesterday, Today, and Forever. Love never fails. Become Love.
Don't be fooled by the thrill of thinking you understand these words. Rejoice only when you live these words, perpetually.
When I say you, I mean me.