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Thursday, December 10, 2009

Dia de Gracia Eterno

I was getting a few complaints about this blog being hard to read so I finally changed the template. I changed my anarchist black and slipped into something more comfortable.  Let me know if anybody still finds it hard to read.  [10:33 pm Dec 10.  Okay, I read the comments below and changed the template again, and I can keep changing it if it's still hard to read - no prob.  (This house computer won't let me put comments below)]

I also added to and revised the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) on the website, and posted there the media myths thing I blogged about last time. There are still more FAQs I want to add, when I get time.

What a surreal last few weeks this has been.  Cody just hitch-hiked out of Moab to the Salt Lake City area to visit relatives.  This is the first in weeks we haven't been together.

Dia de Gracia
Cody and I camped up at the cave, as well as in the near-town camp, until I began a house-sit at my friends', Deb and Ray's, over Thanksgiving.  We threw a nice Thanksgiving bash, cooking up salmon and fresh cuisine a la dumpster.  I baked a couple apple-strawberry pies from scratch and some dinner roles.  And my parents joined us all the way from Fruita, Colorado.  Brer and Haila and their baby Veda came, too.  My old friend Damian popped in, too, along with my friend John from Provo.  I got to see Damian's mom, Louise, too, after not having seen her for a few years.  A grand and happy time was had by all.  My parents definitely lit up the party, and I was glad they loved my friends and my friends loved them.  I must say it's great to have parents who are proud of their vagabond son.

Freemeal and Friends

My friend Pete took Cody and me up to Arches park a couple times to hike around and hang out and sketch.  We make a freely freaky threesome. 
That's an arch at Klondike Bluffs, on the left, that we hung out at and sketched. On the right is Moab - downtown I think - although it doesn't look too familiar for some funny reason... oops... I guess that's Moab, Jordan!

And then freemeal!  Every day at noon!  It's Moab's hub of freaky fun and palate pleasing.  My friend Auggie bottom-lines it, and my friend Michael has been cooking a lot for it, lately.  All the food at freemeal is food that would otherwise end up in the garbage.  It's leftovers from the schools, restaurants, stores, and various and sundry other spots.  It's usually quite delicious and nutritious, even gourmet sometimes, but totally shwaggy and greasy at times, too.  And you couldn't ask for a better host of company.  It's not just about hunger for food, but hunger for free community.  It crosses all class lines, and you don't have to pay for the right to sit your bum (pun intended) down and hang out.   

After Deb and Ray's house-sit, Cody and I camped out again a few days before I had to start another house-sit at my friends Phil D and Anne's, along with my co-house-sitter and good friend, Phil B. 

As I said in the previous blog entry, people ask me to house-sit.  I never ask for house-sitting or seek it out.  I often refuse it when I feel the need to be in the wilderness.  This house-sit lasts for a couple months, so I'm hoping to take advantage of this time to write.

"Do you love anybody?"

Brer, Conrad, Cody and I had a big jam with didgeridoos, xylophones, the piano, drums, and our voices a few nights ago.  It was a kind of going-away jam for Cody.  It was beyond splendid.

The next day I got an email from a stranger simply asking:

"Do you love anybody?"

I started crying.  Yeah, strangely, it came the day Cody hitched out of town and I missed him terribly.
I told Cody he can now tell everybody that he came all the way to Moab and caused me to fall crazy in love with him.  Just when I'd thought I was immune to all that. Totally unexpected.  It's a grand test of whether or not my life conforms to my own philosophy: Love and Possession - Sex and Money
He's got a beautiful girlfriend back in Colorado he is madly and faithfully in love with, and he is young enough to be my son. In other words, I'm trying to pick up my heart weighed down by crushing, unrequited, romantic love. 

On the other hand, this is exactly what I need, to learn divine love that goes beyond romance, beyond male and female, eternal. This is what he and I have mutually, and it gives me unspeakable peace.  This divine compensation makes all other loves pale in comparison. 

Romantic love is blind. Real Love is crystal clear vision of All Reality. Romantic love believes what it wants to believe. Real Love sees what is. Romantic Love comes and goes and breaks your heart. Real love never fails, through thick and thin. Real Love is Eternal. Real Love is often hidden under and obscured by Romantic love, and (if you are open to All Truth) is revealed when romantic love collapses and the heart shatters. Real love makes no distinction between male and female, old or young, ugly or beautiful.

Yeah, I don't think it's just me.  My male and female friends can testify that an angel came to town and caused lots of people here to fall in love with him.
Now, on with life.  The night after Cody left, Brer and Chris spontaneously came by the house and whisked me away to another jam at Conrad's house.  It was absolutely splendid.  Exactly what I needed.

Now life is quiet again, sort of, I think, and I am mulling over what to do with these splendid gifts I'm being showered with, mixed in with my aching heart.  I always did like bittersweets.

Saturday, December 05, 2009

Dispelling Rumors

I guess today I can't do my usual bragging about how healthy living moneyless makes me. I got a nasty cold, & so did Cody. I am house-sitting (yes, people ask me to house-sit; I never ask for house-sitting or seek it out). On the one hand, it's nice to be in a warm house when I am sick. But, on the other hand, honestly, it's only when I stay in houses that I get sick. With the exception of having gotten bronchial infection at a couple Rainbow gatherings a few years ago, I simply don't get sick when I'm living out-doors, even in freezing winter.
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Media Myths About Me

I want to blog about other things. But since there are several myths about me spreading around the media, I am reluctantly writing the following:
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I am learning how media works, & how the public & journalists often take what is published as infallible gospel, and how much rumor is spread without investigating the source.
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Firstly, I must say I felt very respected & honored by all the journalists who have interviewed me, & the inaccuracies they reported could probably be due to my being unclear. Journalism is like painting. The painter can't possibly do a perfect representation, but creates artistic interpretation.
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Here are the myths:
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Myth: I have a master's degree in accounting & anthropology.
Fact: I have never studied accounting & have only a bachelor's degree in anthropology (not that degrees really mean anything). I have no clue where it came from that I have a degree in accounting! I don't put much stock in degrees or titles. I learned way more outside school.
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False: I started living moneyless after my fishing trip with my friend Ray, after which I lived off the land in Alaska & then hitch-hiked back to Utah.
True: I started living moneyless years before working on Ray's Alaskan fishing boat. I went to Alaska 2 separate times. The first time was 2 years before I gave up money, and the second time was in the summer of 2007 (recorded in this blog), when I worked a summer without money on Ray's fishing boat. On both trips I ended up living off the land in Alaska. But on the 2nd trip I flew back, paid for by Ray. On the 2nd trip, I often felt I compromised my path, because I was supporting a money-chasing industry that exploits living things, & because I accepted the airline ticket. The experience was invaluable, though. I'm pretty unclear when I talk of chronology, which may have confused the reporter who wrote about me, & both my Alaska trips melded into one.
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False: I was a sadhu in India and a Buddhist monk in Thailand.
True: I was never a sadhu in India, but only observed sadhus & considered becoming one. I was never a Buddhist monk. I only stayed & meditated for a month in a Thai monastery. I also stayed at a Zen monastery in the US for a while.

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Maybe Either True or False: I don't work.
I say this because it is no body's business to judge whether or not I work, and it is not my business to tell! Perhaps when I say the whole point of this lifestyle philosophy is to "freely give, freely receive," I am lying or being a con. Perhaps not. The point of this path is to relinquish credit for work, as is proscribed in the Gospels, the Bhagavad Gita, the Tao Te Ching, the Buddhist sutras, & the Quran. This means doing service in secret. Credit is money. Credit is praise. If I do service work & advertise it, my living moneyless is in vain. I may be a lazy bum who does nothing, or maybe I'm not. It's not for me to say & it's not for you to judge.
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Let me let folks in on a secret: life becomes splendidly beautiful when we stop judging (speaking assumption as fact), when we stop worrying about whether or not somebody we have never met might or might not be contributing work, and we do our own work and mind our own business!
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True & False: I live in isolation.
True: Sometimes I do, sometimes I don't. I feel deep down it's unhealthy for anybody to not have solitary time; and it's also unhealthy for anybody not to have social interaction. Both must be in balance. Why is it that because my part-time home is walled by stone rather than sheetrock, this somehow makes me a permanent isolate?
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A reason I live this way is to eschew the utter isolation of American suburbia, where people don't even know who their neighbors are! If spending all day in front of a computer or TV & having interaction only through gadgets & windows (car, teller, digital screens) is not isolation, what is? This lifestyle actually puts me into a position of not being able to hide my dependency on people. I must mingle with people. I can't pretend that I am "self-sufficient." There is no such thing as a self-sufficient life form, or even particle, in the entire universe.
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Okay, this is really minor, & it's kind of silly I even have to bring it up - but folks love to capitalize on it for some reason:
False: My cave smells like patchouli (Denver Post article). My cave smells like I've lived there for years (Details article).
True: I've never used patchouli ever in my life - not that I have anything against patchouli. And I don't have anything against balanced, natural body odor. Either my candles or my citronella incense must smell like patchouli. The cave's vicinity sometimes smells of pack rat waste, since there are pack rats living in crevices above & near the cave. Having traveled, I hadn't stayed in that cave for months when I brought the Details reporter there. The Denver Post reporter says he didn't detect any bad odors on either me or in the cave - just the "patchouli" scent, while I myself noticed the packrat smell). I'm a clean-freak, like a cat, & I transport my urine & bury my shit & compost way away from the cave. And I bathe constantly in the creek, though I do not use soap (because it is a pollutant), though I scrub with sand. I constantly wash my clothes, too, by placing them in the creek overnight with rocks. Though these are minor issues, they are based on stereotypes. Perfect strangers I've never met, even on the other side of the world, have become experts in my hygiene! Then, again, maybe I reek so badly that my body odor wafts to New York & even to Europe!
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There are lots of other myths floating around the media, but these are most common now.

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Again & again, I keep recommending people read the FAQ in my website before making assumptions. I've tried in recent years to make my life as much an open book as possible, & to make investigating the facts about it as easy as possible. But folks still assume & insist on stating their assumptions as fact.

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Hopefully I can get back to some real blogging now.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Rainbows & Zygotes

My life has been crazy-packed with strangeness these days & keeps feeling more & more surreal, on the one hand, yet, on the other hand, more natural & normal & at peace than ever. I've been dividing my time staying at the cave & at a camp near town. I'm adoring Moab & the people here these days.
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Dilemmas

I've been in a lot of contact lately with Mark Boyle, the British guy in the UK who started
the freeconomy community, and has been living moneyless the past year. It looks like he is contracted to write a book about his year living without money & has felt himself in a dilemma - because a book brings in money royalties. It sounds like he might use the money to buy land & create a moneyless community in the UK. We had a bit of an email debate about it, because at first I was feeling disappointed that he might go back to using money. But since then, I'm feeling in total agreement with his venture, & want to support him in every way I can. It's splendid. But I myself have different ideas, a different path. That doesn't mean better.
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Heidemarie Schwermer, moneyless in Germany, has also written a book, DasSterntalerexperiment - mein Leben ohne Geld ("The star talers experiment - my life without money."). She has given the royalty money away.
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It's a fascinating time, that the world would want to put a spotlight on such a thing now.

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Yes, in corresponding with Mark, I also had to think about my own dilemma. A Sarah from Penguin books had contacted me months ago about writing a non-fiction book. I told her the only way I'd write a book is if it could be totally fr
ee - given away free & zero money for me. It would be absurd, otherwise, I told her. She said they'd think about it & get back with me later. So she did, & suggested somebody else write the book, namely Mark Sundeen, an author & former Moabite I happened to know! The book would not be free, except for donated copies to libraries & maybe a supplemental pamphlet, & I, of course, would receive no money. It's not my business whether or not somebody else gets paid for their work. So it looks like it's happening.
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Thinking about this whole scenario after corresponding with Mark Boyle, I thought his decision could be the better one. But now I'm realizing it's foolish to compare. Whether or not I made the right decision matters not, now. What is, is, and I pray that the utmost best comes of it, regardless of my own shortcomings.

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Forgiving Egoism

Hence, Mark Sundeen has been in Moab interviewing me, and just left yesterday. He's coming back for another round in the Spring. On the one hand it's been intense, like talking to a therapist, and, on the other hand, my ego has enjoyed it.
Yeah, part of me is an egoist. It's our human condition. As long as I'm aware (holding it in the light), my ego can't take control. We all must forgive ourselves for our egos, because every single one of us billions of humans on earth (except maybe artificially inseminated ones) was, in our past life, in the zygote universe, one spermatozoa among hundreds of thousands or millions or billions (if you include multiple ejaculations) who made it to the egg! That's right, each one of us was superior to all other sperm in our past sperm universes, respectively! Yup, when I was a spermatazoa, I alone made it to the prize, the egg, above all other sperm.
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However, then I was born into this universe, right back at the bottom again, an infant, among billions of humans, for another round of competition & cooperation. The first shall be last.

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The Halo Around Only Me, Around Only Us

Have
you ever noticed in a spray of water in the sunlight that your own shadow is always at the very center of the rainbow? Always! The rainbow is our halo. Ezekiel the prophet noticed this in his vision: the Son of Man is surrounded by the rainbow halo (Ezekiel 1:28). The Son of Man is the One and Only, the very center of the universe. It's a grand ego trip until we realize the Golden Rule, that every creature is the One and Only Son of Man, the Word made Flesh, Adam-Eve One, Ruler of all Creation, who is "all and in all": "The Anointed within, the hope of Glory."



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Moab Happenings

I've started going to yoga sessions, taught by my new friend, Mel, & she's totally splendid. It's a spiritual practice for her, not just a physical exercise
that most American yoga has been reduced to. I'm growing to really love her & her hubby, Matt.
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My friends Tina & Forest & Diane & Karen have also started doing sweat lodges, and I'm excited to have started participating. I'm feeling such
a beautiful bond with people in this town these days.
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Cody


Last week I came into the library to check email. It was the first time in a while I'd been there. As I was typing at the computer, a young guy I'd never seen before, named Cody, came up to me and asked me if I was Daniel Suelo. Yeah, I said. He said he'd walked away from everything in eastern Colorado & had been on a hitch-hiking adventure the past few weeks through New Mexico & Arizona, and decided to come to Moab on the whim that he might find me. The fact that he'd never told me he was coming, that he was running on pure spontaneity, stepping out on crazy faith, totally swept me away. He's pure & beautiful & a total joy. He's been camping with me since.

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The day Cody came a Denver Post journalist (Jason) & photographer (Yuang) were here, as well as Mark Sundeen. The Denver Post folks stayed up at the cave with me & Cody. What a crazy life.

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Another thing that made Cody's coming so unusual was that Mark Sundeen was just asking
me the very day before Cody came about my life in the canyon - a life not too conducive to relationships. It would be a rare individual who'd be willing to share this lifestyle with me, we both agreed. It seems I am running away from relationships with people, I'm often told. Yes, I truly would be happy living the rest of my life solitary. But accepting only pure relationship, if it comes, is a point of living this way, I told Mark.
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A universal fairy tale in cultures all around the world is about a princess who will only accept suitors who can make it through near-impossible trials. She won't take anything less. She prefers solitude to anything less. It seems like she is avoiding relationship that way. These fairy tales & myths are from Nature, conveying the very Law of Nature. Back to that sperm-and-egg scenario, see how the egg is at the center of a near-im
possible obstacle course. Sperm must go through a competition with other sperm through spermicidal fluids to reach her. Nothing less than the Naturally Select, the Elect One, will do for her! Every single one of us earthly creatures, in that past zygote universe, has played the Princess and the Suitor, and won the Game! It's pure, magical "coincidence", coinciding of Elect Zygote halves!



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Yesterday Cody & I were on our way to visit my dear friends, Brer & Haila &
their daughter Veda, & we decided, for fun, to check a dumpster on the way. I found a child's compound bow, (which I might modify & use to hunt small critters). When we got to Brer & Haila's house, in the light, we noticed the name "Cody" scrawled on that bow! It gave me the chills.
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Cody could stay or he could leave soon. Nobody knows, and nobody has made any promises, and nobody must ask for more. Everything is impermanent and fleeting, and being able to accept the impermanence & fleeting of life is true life. Accepting the Cross of impermanence is life. We fool ourselves into thinking there is a permanent family or permanent relationship on earth.
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Smell and relish the desert primrose while it is here in all it's fickle glory! Spread those peacock feathers while you can, because it is Nature!

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Colorado & Back

I’m back in Moab, after a couple weeks at my brother Doug’s cabin in the Colorado mountains.

I’m now house-sitting for a few days at the house of my friends Phil & Anne, which is giving me a bit of time to write, and also update the website. I just added a 27th FAQ & A to the website:
"
I want to live moneyless; but what if I have a family with children?"

And I recently revised # 14, too:
"
You say you don't use money, yet aren't you using products of the money system & relying on the hard-earned money of others?"

I hope to add more, as time allows. Time is getting ripe to write one about technology. I’m also working on an essay about the basic laws of lending and interest in Nature, the Banker in the Sky vs. our bankers of commerce on earth. It’s about that epiphany I had about the World Dragon not long ago in the Gila wilderness, while experimenting with living off the wild land. Hopefully I can put it in the website before I’m gone from this house.

Back to the happenings in my life the past couple weeks:


Biological Family

I visited my parents in Fruita, Colorado for a couple days before going to Doug’s cabin in Conifer. I also got to see my other brother, Ron & his wife Aggie, in western Colorado. Biological family time!

At the cabin, Doug & I talked a bit about our parents and upbringing. We feel grateful. Can you believe our parents still adore each other after over 60 years married?

My brother Doug is a jack of all trades. I never thought before how incredible it is. He is a clinical therapist, and an ordained
minister, but can’t find employment in those fields, so he’s working at Home Depot. He is also a mechanic, a carpenter, a roofer, a musician, an artist, and who knows what else. He’s really struggling, working constantly, like lots of folks, with the bad economy & his debts.

We talked a lot about debt and Christianity, what all this means, what are the solutions? He can’t seem to find a niche in the church world.


Pastors, Priests, Pulpits & Pews

Strange, this is my time to be surrounded by ordained Christian ministers!
Doug’s neighbor, Bart, also happens to be an ordained minister at a Messianic church near Denver, and told me he is really interested in my lifestyle. So Bart got his friend, Peter, another minister from another church, and took me to lunch. I was pleasantly amazed at how sincere and open, even passionate, about what I am doing, Peter and Bart were! Peter looked like he was in his 20s to me. When I first met Peter, I thought, “he’s still young and idealistic, fresh out of seminary, not corrupted by cynicism, yet." But my mouth dropped open when I learned that Peter is 40, and he’s been a pastor for many years!

I've been disillusioned with most of what is called Christianity, and its hypocrisy, for years. But I’m finally seeing a remnant coming out of the woodwork, and it warms me to the core.

Coincidentally, about this same time, I got an email from an Episcopal minister, very supportive. Also, when I hitched back to Moab from eastern Colorado, another Episcopal priest gave me a ride, and told me how much he believed in this lifestyle.

I've also been getting lots of supportive emails from folks of all denominations who are on that fine line--at the periphery of religion, not quite able to find a place in either the religious world or the non-religious. I know the truths I've seen at the core of my own and all world religions are too infinitely profound to throw them out. The bitterness from religion’s hypocrisy doesn't grip me anymore; the true light is shining from amidst the corruption, like gold sparkling out of ore. Now I’m finding droves of folks, all over, who feel the same, & are emailing me, telling me so. I can’t express the gratitude I feel.

One Heart, One Mind

I'm realizing all this time I've been giving the impression that I've been getting mostly negative emails & reactions. But the reality is that most, maybe 90%, of all emails to me have been very supportive. I'm stunned, and full of gratitude.

When you follow your heart totally, ignoring people’s opinions, you can feel utterly alone, almost unbearably so, on one hand. On the other hand, there is a hunch that drives you, that if you follow your heart single-mindedly, enduring to the end, you discover that your heart is the heart of all humanity, that we are all One Mind. Yes, it is so, without doubt! Our Babylonian distractions keep us from seeing our True Heart, our One Mind.

Okay, more about my hitch-hiking odyssey last Monday.

Hitch Hiking Across Colorado

I left my brother's place before dawn and arrived in Moab just before dark. Every single ride I got hitching back to Moab from eastern Colorado was from an amazing,
inspirational person. I can’t always say that about hitching, but now I can. My first ride was from a an experienced hitch-hiker named Curt, a man of clear eyes and awareness, who only took me maybe a mile from the Colfax exit outside of Denver to a better exit onto I-70. Then I got a ride from an amazingly friendly guy named JP, who brought me to Frisco & brought me into the coffee house there to meet his friends. My next ride was from a woman named Jennifer O., a Frisco resident who took me to Glenwood Springs. I must say it’s been hard to stop smiling since meeting her. She’s one of those people who knows mistakes & hardship and has come out with joyful, flying colors, and total compassion. That’s enlightenment. My next ride was that Episcopal priest, named Harrison, who just moved to his new parish in Glenwood Springs from Vermont. He’s near my age, but was only ordained a few years ago. He said his true seminary was life, working as an O.R. nurse, among other things, until he decided to go to official seminary. The next ride was with a young couple on their way to Salt Lake. I didn't get to talk much with them, because I rode in the back of their pickup, under a camper shell. But I couldn't help but feel that just their vibe was beautiful. They let me off at the river road to Moab. Two amazingly friendly & pleasant young guys from Denver & Boulder took me all the way to Moab. They were intelligent (like genius level) and passionate about science, philosophy, art, nature, the desert, and life in general. They are Burning Man fans, too. I've never been. Maybe one day I can go to Burning Man, if a way comes about for free.

Good to be back in Moab. I am in that season of feeling life’s endless, sparkling possibilities again! All feelings pass, but I’m enjoying it while in season.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Refining Fire

I'm sedentary in Moab & it doesn't look like I'm going anywhere for a good while, except for a trip to Colorado for a couple weeks to my brother's cabin. I'm hoping to leave within the next few days.

The BBC interviewed me (on the Equinox) for the program, "Outlook," which might air sometime next week. They told me they'd let me know for sure when. Hopefully I can post when it is scheduled. Part of me is amazed, in a surreal way, at what's happening, but the other part of me feels it is as natural as the sun shining.

I still have hundreds of emails I haven't even been able to look at, much less answer. So please don't feel slighted if you don't get an answer. I've been asked to house-sit in months to come, so I'm hoping I can eventually read them all & do more writing then. But being at a computer all the time is not my idea of healthy. Life is about loving our neighbors, & our gadgets have tempted us into loving everybody but our neighbors, isolating us from society. It's a strange irony to be going out into the cyber-world to say this. It doesn't do much good to preach to the choir, to talk about techno-isolation with my houseless friends outside this library. Yes, it's tempting for me to get sucked into cyber-isolation even as I write this.

I'm enjoying a sense of community here in Moab, feeling a grand potential here again. I'm liking the idea, more & more, of working with what we already have, of bringing out the moneyless mind of "freely-give, freely receive" that already exists & cultivating it - not separating out & trying to make a community apart from what is here & now. Everything in the universe, no matter how grand & miraculous & unattainable it might seem, begins with the small - with easy, patient steps, using what's already here & now, honed down by the trials of Natural Selection. There's nothing, in fact, that does not come about by small, easy, patient steps, using what's already here& now, honed down by the trials of Natural Selection! If you prefer religious lingo, call Natural Selection the Consuming Fire that burns the dross and leaves the Remnant, the Very Elect. Call it the Cross. The vision of the Grand Glory coming from the Small, Simple Insignificant through the Divine Fire is called the Hope of Faith. And the whole Universe is created right now by this Hope of Faith. Yup, the Seven Days of Creation are Ever Right Now, as sure as the moon waxes & wanes! That which is hopeful in you, in a sea of cynicism & intense pain & horror, understands. Hope, overcome cynicism! But don't condemn cynicism, for cynicism is the Fire that hones you down!

No time to write more, though there are infinite musings on the universe swimming through this noggin. Lots more FAQs, but that'll have to come later.

Time to turn off the damn computer & mingle with flesh & blood neighbors. Care to join me?

Monday, August 31, 2009

Roads & Maps

Getting Hitched By Love

I
made it back to Moab a couple days ago! I hitched out of the Gila wilderness a couple weeks ago.

Funny, my first ride was from the son of one of my good friends in Moab! I had never met the son before!
My next ride was from a 40-something guy named Fred, and he took me to Alma, New Mexico (near Glenwood), and asked me to stay with him for a few days. It was grand getting to know the local cowboy folks. I even donned my cowboy garb (including those boots I had found in the Gila), listened to a lot of country music (and loved it!), and worked my ass off. Fred & I became good friends, & we were both sad when I had to leave. I hope to go back again sometime.

Another really nice 40-something guy gave me a ride all the way to Springdale, Arizona, & left me
with some Christian literature. A couple took me a short ways to a turn-off to Zuni, NM, out in the middle of nowhere. There was so little traffic I thought I'd be stuck there for days. But then a 60-something Roman Catholic priest, dressed in his backwards collar, picked me up & took me to Gallup, NM. Then I got a ride into the Navajo Reservation from a 50-something man who said he knew Ram Dass. He told me he also went many years wandering, carrying a change of clothes, sleeping bag, & a Bible, with no home base but Rainbow gatherings. A 40-something Navajo man took me all the way to Shiprock. He lived in Gallup but was going to his daughter's soccer game near Shiprock. We talked about world travels, cultures, and world religions. Really brilliant man. He said he used to be a Pentecostal, but has since expanded his vista. He gave me half his burrito. A 20-something Navajo guy then picked me up & went miles out of his way to take me to the Colorado border. He was a fire-fighter & paramedic, & told me one exciting rescue & adventure story after another. Then a 50-something Ute man brought me into Cortez, Colo, where a 40-something couple took me all the way to Dove Creek, Colo. Then, lo and behold, I got picked up within 3 minutes by a 40-something man named Jose from Paraguay, going all the way to Moab on his way to Salt Lake City! He & I hit it off really well, chatting the whole way about everything you can imagine. We even made it to Moab before dark! I haven't even made it back to the cave, yet! I found a new campsite nearer to town, where I'm parked until I get it together to head further out.

"Give Me Neither Poverty Nor Wealth"


My life feels so rich, now. Like the ric
hest man on earth. I don't always feel this way (I sometimes find myself getting pissed off or discouraged, of course) but I usually do feel rich - yes, more often than not! I can't figure out if my life is so easy or it's so hard. I don't even know the difference between easy & hard anymore. I don't even know what an ascetic is supposed to be. If I went contrary to my instinct, against my soul, for the sake of earning money, then I would definitely be a self-torturing ascetic. And if I had too much food & luxuries (addictions that abuse the body & mind) I would definitely be a self-torturing ascetic. But, also, if I did not take enough and starved myself and wore hair shirts for the sake of a hungry god of my own making, I would be a self-torturing ascetic.

Take only what you need, no more, no less, and all your desires become fulfilled - desire ceases to control you. Needs and desires become One. If everybody took only what they needed, no less, no more, then the human world would come into balance as it is in the non-human world. This is no statement of genius. It's such common sense, so very simple, it's almost absurd I have to say it. But our world has lost the most basic common sense.

That Ol' Dragon


In the last blog entry, I talked about brewing visions of the world Dragon, of banking
interest and the interest inherent in all of nature. It's still brewing, & it's exciting. But it's not ready yet.

What's intriguing about old religious stories, myths & legends, is that the theme is constant: the little conquers the big, and the little
becoming the big. The little guy and the dragon, the little guy & the giant. The little desert tribe conquering the Land of Canaan (Canaan literally means Commerce!). Canaan, full of Giants. And what life form doesn't begin as a tiny seed or zygote? Faith is the vision of the seed, the tiny becoming big, and all of nature runs on faith.

It is also natural for those who lack faith to laugh at the seed. Their laughter is also part of the fun. The Tao wouldn't be the Tao if it weren't laughed at, the Tao Te Ching states. Little do the faithless know, the genetic code of a cottonwood tree is hidden in a seed as tiny as a flea.

Finding a Roadmap in a Lost World

Some man from India just emailed me some wise words and ended up saying:

"The problem is that you are an example but not a road map. You need to provide a road map so that man kind can penetrate into animal kingdom of the market. If you have opened up a road and letting people realize being man instead of animal, you truly served the purpose of your life."

My reply (a bit revised):

"I keep getting glimpses of a road map, but it is still too incomplete to present to the public. Also, everything must happen one step at a time. First, be an example (prepare the ground), then plant the seed, if it is the divine will. There are too many road maps & advisers flooding the world, but few examples. The example must come first. Even if my example is not very good, it has to come first & develop. My example is still a child learning to walk, stumbling as I go... Like anybody learning to walk, I get laughed at, but also praised. Following a map is useless if we don't know how to walk. If it is the divine will, may the map come more clearly and may we be able to follow it, my friend."

I'm in the spotlight now, and I'd be a fool not to take advantage of this rare opportunity and totally enjoy it. I'd also be a fool letting it go to my head. If we've been given, by grace, bright peacock feathers to strut, why shun them? But also why forget they are a total gift and get arrogant about them? They will be gone someday, and our bodies will return to dust, as everything will, and a million years from now we specks of dust will all be forgotten in this infinite universe. Pray for me, to stay on the Middle Path, and to relish it.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Gila Healing


I just crawled out of the Gila wilderness in southern New Mexico, living with a primitivist (I'll call him "M"). Now I'm at a computer in a little public library. Culture shock.


Funny, the first woman I met in Silver City, at an Indian music kirtan, knew of M & his friend with the burros. Then the guy who gave me a ride here from Silver C knew M personally, & directed me to his camp!


M is a guy my friend Prema (formerly known as Gillian) has been wanting me to meet for a couple years. When I finally met M, I understood why Prema so wanted us to meet. I think I didn't really come to learn new skills, but to understand his spiritual presence. And he has a deep spiritual presence - quite astounding.


M is 40-something, soft-spoken, & lives with more grace & light-footedness than most if not any body I've ever met. He is the epitome of patience & living in the present. He doesn't seem to give a hoot about religion or consider himself on any spiritual path. That's what makes his path pristinely spiritual, in my eyes. His camp is pristine, like a Zen temple. And everything he makes is a total work of art. M is gradually replacing everything he brought from civilization with what he makes himself from his local natural environment. He makes his own gorgeous pottery & fires it at his campfire. He makes his own cordage, weaves beautiful baskets, made his own shoes, built his own bow & arrow, his own hut, table, chairs. The list goes on. Everything he does is to perfection - perfection in the way that Nature, not Babylon, defines perfection.
But M is new to the area & isn't any more skilled at living off the wild land than I - as far as eating goes. So I didn't learn much new skills in that area & was pretty much on my own.


M has close connections with an "intentional community" across the river, though he is not a member of it. He shares farmland with them and grows his own grains (wheat, rye, millet) which he harvests by hand. He is super generous & was always giving me food. His cooking is a work of art, too. What isn't?


Credible Edibles
I myself ate only wild edibles quite a few days, and I must admit I've lost a lot of weight. It's a good thing. The beginnings of my mid-aged paunch are now gone. I've eaten lots of mesquite, some honey locust, wild grass seeds, cholla (starchy cactus fruit) rattlesnake, fish, amaranth greens (seeds not ripe yet), acorns (the kind you don't have to process), black walnuts, & berries (I forget the name).

Trials
The bugs are relentless down there: mosquitoes, chiggers, ants. That's been the hard part. The heat gets pretty bad at mid-day, but frequent river-dips remedy that. And there have been short, cool monsoons in the afternoons.
This all exacerbated my bouts of chronic fatigue. Yeah, bouts of extreme fatigue have been my little trial for decades (& living moneyless hasn't made it magically disappear). But it's my Teacher, & teachers stick around until our lesson is done.

Into the Wild Gila River
M's friend (who also seems enlightened to me, though I didn't get to know him much) told us about droves of acorns way up the Gila river. So, a couple days ago, M & I took a trek up to find them, camping overnight. I was a bit concerned, because I really had little food & not sure I could do it all in my sandals. But I didn't say anything. I just kept reminding myself that "all these things shall be added unto you" if I not worry. Besides, we were heading to the alleged "abundance of acorns". So off we went.
I found tons of super-sweet mesquite pods & chewed them the whole way, feeling not a bit of hunger. My sandals held up well, but my feet were pretty scratched up by the time we reached our destination. There was an abandoned camp ring there, &, lo & behold, a pair of perfectly good boots hanging, just my size!
There were lots of oaks, but all the acorns were gone - eaten by critters in the desert competition. That evening I toasted a few wheat berries M had given me days before, and a bunch of grass seed I had collected. I also ate lots of mesquite, again. And I pulled out a fishing lure I'd found & caught a fish. I felt great. In the morning, M insisted on giving me cooked rye cereal, which he had too much of. I had boiled a sweet milky syrup from the mesquite & carried it with me. We headed back. I came across a rattlesnake, knocked it in the head with a rock, & ate it. Rattlesnake has a texture like, & tastes like, calamari (squid), and peels off like string cheese.

Night Visions of a Dragon
The trek was incredibly gorgeous & wild. That night we camped I felt high, sleeping sporadically, interspersed with amazing dreams. New revelations were coming in the wee hours of the night on charging interest & world religions, believe it or not. Everything nature produces is interest bearing - an observation I've tried to avoid thinking about in my opposition to banking. But now the answer was crystallizing in me, and the idea of interest in the Torah, as well as the idea of Yajna (sacrifice) & renouncing the fruit of action in the Bhagavad Gita & Upanishads,& how Jesus often uses the word "lend" rather than "give" in his teaching. It's blowing me away.
But there is also something quite frightening about all this. We're getting to the Heart of the World Dragon, and do we dare stab it? I realized then I had to move on out of our wilderness refuge & go back out & help deal with the Dragon. Part of me is really reluctant, & part of me is excited to no end, & kind of scared about what's happening.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

Sitting in Silver City

Publicity, Dancing, & Credit

Now I'm in Silver City. I have lots of computer access at the U here, so I decided to stay a couple days & catch up on emails before heading "into the wild." But the internet server here was down yesterday.

I'm trying to get used to the sudden publicity & the plethora of emails & comments (both loving & hateful). Thanks for them all, but please understand I usually get little computer time & hope I can read them all & maybe even answer them all.

Maybe publicity will spoil my path. It can be an ego trip. It seems incongruous with this lifestyle, doesn't it - whatever "this lifestyle" is "supposed" to be, huh? But it's only natural to get a kick out of it, whatever.

Really, it's true, deep down I don't always live totally without money. I have hypocrisy in me. And I'm not talking about what people keep saying is "mooching off the products of money, like computers & libraries & dumpsters." I can't find any contradiction in that - being like the raven or the bacterium - using what is freely given or freely thrown out, what is released from obligation, debt, making no value discrimination between a pizza or a corpse or a nut. But I'm talking about what's within. I still find myself doing things for self-credit, doing things not out of natural instinct but to get credit, or out of a sense of debt (obligation), rather than from a sense of love.
Self-credit is money & money is self-credit. And I deal with this dilema sometimes writing this blog. A dancer deals with this when he dances: "Am I dancing out of the passion of my heart or am I dancing to get credit from spectators?" But does this mean the dancer should stop dancing before others? Should I stop dancing? Should a flower stop blooming?

However, your work in secret, done for no credit, is what is eternal. Since it must be unseen, of course, you risk being called lazy. And those who judge you as lazy want more than anything for you to expose your work, to give yourself credit so they can praise you, so they too can give you credit, and thus forfeit your eternal substance.

If you did things for no credit, nobody would know, would they? This is the comical paradox.

The nations of the world run on working for credit. But don't be like the nations of the world.

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Musings on Hitch-hiking

I'm in Silver City right now, probably parked here till Tuesday, then "into the wild" to hook up with a primitivist I'm hoping to learn from - like better how to live off the land.

A couple weeks (?) ago, after meeting James at the airport in Albuquerque, we camped in the woods by the Rio Grande for a couple days. James started teaching me Tai Chi. I had never realized you could touch the face of God through Tai Chi. This is what James came all this way to impart to me. He has an understanding of the Bible & other world scriptures & religions I've rarely seen before. We feel like we've known each other forever.

James & I got a couple rides all the way to Las Cruces. The first was from a Mexican American who told us he always picked up hitchers. He had gotten stranded once and had to hitch and not a soul would stop for him. Now he doesn't want others to go through that. I hear that story often.

We tried to hitch out of Las Cruces on I-10 for nearly 2 days in the blazing heat, and not a soul stopped. We got a lot of honks and heckles though. James started getting really sick and we walked to the rest stop some 3 miles west of town. Before sunrise, James was getting deliriously ill & couldn't sleep & said he didn't think he could make it through another hot day. He didn't think he had the strength to walk to town. So we tried to get a ride for him at the rest stop. Not a soul would help. Everybody said they weren't going to Las Cruces, but it was the only way you could go from the rest stop (it being one-way). Finally, I stashed my pack there and carried James' pack, & we slowly walked into town as the sun was rising. James called his wife & she booked him a hotel & a plane flight back home.

I felt sad & upset on the one hand - like the rug had been pulled out from beneath us. And I was upset about the lack of help from fellow human beings (& in the heat of the moment I went to the U & wrote an impassioned blog entry, which I later deleted). But beneath it all I knew it was the Divine will, and I felt intense peace.

Most everybody gets to see life from the viewpoint of the driver, but few know what it's like to be a vagrant or a hitch-hiker. Drivers are scared, based on some truth, but also overblown statistics & sensational media. I understand the fear. I've been both a driver and a hitch-hiker. I myself passed up hitchers in my driving days, and I picked up droves of them too, all without incident. But my friend could have died out there. James & I even asked ourselves, would anybody have stopped if James' corpse had been lying on the ground? People have pointed out that I am voluntarily living this way, and nobody owes me anything. Yes, nobody owes me anything. If I am speaking only about myself, then I am speaking selfishly. And what if I am? But consider that maybe, just maybe, I'm speaking for all vagrants & hitch-hikers, most of whom don't choose this lifestyle, and are even less likely to be picked up than I. This sounds moralistic. But it's just truth. And once in a great, great while, somebody gets mugged by a hitch-hiker, probably less often than when somebody gets mugged walking down any street. Getting out of bed is a total risk.

But the flip side is that nothing is black-&-white, and I began seeing an overwhelming outpouring of human compassion when I started hitching north. But, first, a little incident in Las Cruces.


More Usual Police Harassment... ho, hum

After I had said goodbye to James, I was hot & exhausted, hungry & sad & concerned about James, but strangely feeling exhilarated & in intense peace at the same time. I came upon a Domino's Pizza, which I usually avoid (due to both the junk food factor & my lactose & wheat intolerance). But exceptions are good, & this one felt right. I walked to the dumpster as a cop watched me. I decided to ignore him. There was a full pizza in a box, right on top, waiting for me. So I grabbed it & sat on a curb in some precious shade under a mesquite tree. I took one scrumptious bite, and, as expected, the cop walked up. As he was slipping on rubber gloves, he said,
"Put down the pizza. For your safety, would you please stand up, put your arms up and spread your legs?"
I put down the pizza, stood up, & asked, "Am I being held for any reason?"

"Well, no," he said, taken aback.
"Then may I go?" I said.
"Yes, but we are trying to help..." he started saying.

"This is prejudice. I choose to live without money and to live as ethically and morally as possible on earth, and I get constantly harassed for it."

"But we're not harassing you..." he replied.

"This same harassment happens all the time. Thank you for honoring the law and letting me go," I said, as I picked up the pizza & walked away.
Though I was turned off by the cop's insincere talk, I ended up admiring for him for actually honoring the law and letting me go without further harassment. That wouldn't happen in lots of other countries.

Hitching North


The door was closed going west, so I started walking north, to the side highway 185. Interstates are bad news. I walked most the day, without hitching, to find a good spot. I walked through opulent neighborhoods. I finally found some shade from a nice big tre
e overhanging the adobe fence of a fancy house. I plopped down on my back. It was public land. Then a young guy came out and asked me if I was going to stay there long. I was surprised about the intense mistrust, & told him so. Then, minutes later, another young guy (his brother?) came by & asked me the same, & that I should move along soon. I decided to get up and keep walking. I thought, "Wouldn't it be a wonderful world if somebody came out and actually asked me if I were thirsty (which I was)?" But this mistrust comes with the territory - literally. When you have a lot to lose, you have a lot of mistrust.

I finally reached a spot on 185 that felt right to hitch. As soon as I stuck out my thumb, two really nice young Mexican American guys picked me up and brought me all the way to their home-town of Hatch. I camped by the Rio Grande that night. That evening I feasted on gleaned corn & chiles from fields with canned pintos & a can of pineapple juice from a dumpster & some foraged
pig weed. The next morning I put my thumb out & immediately got a ride with another Mexican American named Eddy who talked like Cheech & Chong. He was a total joy to be around. He was delivering food to tiendas all over the area, and chatting it up and laughing with everybody he came across. He said he could do his entire day's work in a couple hours, but it ends up taking all day because of friendly folks.

I told him it was refreshing how friendly & kind people were here, unlike in the cities. "Yeah, in small towns, people can start remembering what Jesus' message really means. But in the rat-race of the cities, you forget. I was that way when I was living in the cities." I liked how he said this naturally, how he didn't have any agenda to convert me.


Eddy told me he was having problems with splitting headaches, & how his doctor told him it might be sinus infection. I told him to get it checked out, because doctors once told my
late brother the same, and it ended up being a brain tumor. "I know," he said. "I am afraid to get a cat scan for that very reason." But he still lives life with total gusto.

Eddy took me to Caballo and handed me a bag of cookies and his lunch. He did it as if I were his equal brother.


Caballo is where the back road goes into Silver City & Gila, exactly the destination James & I were trying to hit going the I-10 way! I put my thumb out & immediately got a ride to Hillsboro from a really friendly 60-something named Embree Hale. Embree is a petroglyphs photographer & there's even an award-winning documentary film about him & his work, called
"In Place Out of Time"

Hillsboro is teeny-tiny & beautiful, & seems a town of enlightened folk. After wandering around there a bit, I walked to a good place to hitch, right under the shade of a tree overhanging the wall of a modest & artful house. I plopped the pack down & a 60-something woman immediately came out. "Here we go again," I thought as I braced up.

"Are you resting?" She asked.
"Yeah, I'm hitching through."
"Are you thirsty?" She asked.
"Why, yes, I am," I said, grinning in relief. It was as if my wish from Las Cruces were manifesting itself right here.
"Well, come on in the house," she said.
It was beautiful in there. It was obviously an artist's house. She gave me cold water, plus a frozen bottle of water. Then she brought a chair outside and put it under the tree by the road for me to sit on.
"
There isn't much traffic out here, but people are friendly and you should get a ride. Are you hungry?" She asked.
"No, I just ate, but thank you so very much," I said, almost in tears.

"Well, if you're still here and you get hungry, let us know. Oh, yeah, by the way, the bathroom is right inside the door if you need it."
A few minutes later, her husband came out to chat. He also reminded me they had food if I wanted it.

I got a ride pretty quickly from another really friendly 60-something Anglo gu
y name Jim. We chatted about our travels & families. He wanted to show me the unbelievably huge copper mine on the way, where his dad used to work. It's shut down now, like most mines, because copper prices are too low, he said. He seemed to have mixed feelings about such mega-scars on the land. I often wonder why we need to ever mine any metal ever again, with so much already above ground. It would be so much cheaper & efficient & rational to recycle what we already have. But mining lobbies & tradition have kept this from happening. Maybe that can change now.

.....................................................................................................

Musing on Moochers & Technology

I smile when people keep calling me a worthless mooch.


When you stop to think about it, there's not a single creature in the world t
hat isn't a mooch.

The point of living this lifestyle isn't to become independent, but to realize my utter dependence upon you and every other living creature, and visa-versa.


Why do those who take more than they need call those who take only what they need worthless mooches? Ah, Babylon runs on Orwellian doublespeak, does it not?

I think about Van Gogh. He was called a worthless mooch who didn't work, who only sold one meesly painting (to his brother) his whole life. Now art dealers have hijacked Van Gogh's
work & sell it for ridiculously obscene amounts of money. But Van Gogh was a mooch, and the art dealers, of course are not, right? Can you imagine the next Van Gogh scavenging from an art dealer's dumpster & being shooed away for being a worthless mooch?

Techn
ology comes from the same Creative Passion as do trees and ants and atoms

Just because I usually live in a cave doesn't mean I'm a Luddite!


I remember, in my money days, working as a counselor at a homeless shelter in Boulder. There was a white-haired man there nobody took seriously. He used to carry around tiny metal objects & fiddle with
them. One day I was astonished to find out he was a successful inventor. Presently, he was working on a new-fangled bobbin for a sewing machine. It's probably in use in machines today! Wish I remembered his name. But getting credit wasn't his gig. He, like Antony van Leeuwenhoek (who invented the microscope), and like most inventors we've never heard of, didn't care a lick about money or other credit & lived & died paupers. They ran on Creative Passion, not money or credit. Think about all the musicians, artists, inventors, and prophets who gave us all these wonders of civilization Babylonians love to turn around & take credit for! And Babylon hijacks all these things that were freely given and mass-markets them. And Babylon takes way, way, way more than it needs, and doesn't know how to say "enough," and then calls anybody a moocher who dares grab a few crumbs from its table of opulence.

The stone that the builders rejected becomes the Chief Capstone.

Hallelujah
(All Credit to Jah)
This is the whole meaning of life

Technology is meant to serve us, and it would be a very beautiful thing if it did! But who can deny that we are serving technology, rather than technology serving us? Why do people have less time than ever before with all our labor-saving devices? But is technology the problem? What you own owns you. And if you own, you owe. Owe & own are really the same word. Mammon isn't serving people, people serve Mammon. "Owe nobody anything, except to love one another." Own nothing, share everything, and all comes into balance. Then technology would serve us, not over-run us.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Blog Entry Deleted

For the first time in all my blogging, I've deleted a blog entry - my last one, "Bearing Las Cruces". I've been in meditation in this intense heat, & this is the decision that came out of it.
I will freely admit it was laced with self-righteousness and was not producing a good spirit. The main points I was trying to make were overshadowed & totally misunderstood by reason of that self-righteous spirit. Thank you all for your comments in it. I listened. But I'm sorry I couldn't delete the entry without deleting your valid comments (albeit a few were hateful - but the hateful ones are also part of the fun).

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Well I'll Be Quirky

I hitched down here to Albuquerque from Taos last Friday & am camping by the Rio Grand in the woods with my splendid new friend, James.

Taos


Taos was nice, besides the bumper-to-bumper traffic. I hung out at both the Hanuman temple and the Peace House. I made good friends with the temporary care-taker there, Annamarie. I got to be involved with Food Not Bombs a bit, too.

I also went to the Taos Pow Wow last weekend. It was not so touristy like I thought it'd be. I actually found my eyes tearing up, listening to the Taos singers & the drumming that went to the core of my being, & watching the dancers. Part of those tears were from the intense beauty, but also from grieving over what our culture did to native peoples.

There were a couple free bands in the Taos plaza last week, too, along with acrobatic shows. It was all so beautiful. I was again awed by the music, especially with the band "Last To Know" & the acrobats. That music was so heartfelt & those women acrobats were so beautiful, so graceful, it really moved me. And I couldn't get over the joy on the faces of the people watching, the children playing. I couldn't help but see the Divine radiating through everybody, as well as the latent pain behind it, in everybody. Seeing that, how can we ever look down on or judge another human being? I found my eyes tearing up again. I don't know what's gotten into me - I'm getting just like my sister, crying at the drop of a hat.

Albuquerque

Last friday i felt it was time to hitch to Albuquerque. I stayed my first couple nights at the Catholic Worker house. They kindly put me up & gave me grand hospitality despite the fact that I showed up on their doorstep totally un-announced.

My main reason for coming to Albuquerque was to meet up with a dear friend & Mystery I had never met in person before, named James. Here's the story. One day at the cave, months ago, I had realized there's only so much we can learn on our own. I was feeling like I could use an enlightened teacher. And I wanted to learn Tai Chi. But I wasn't going to force things & go out looking for it. It would have to be totally free, and it would have to come to me. This was my thought, my prayer. Then, days later, I went into town & got an email from a guy named James, who said this blog & website resonated with him & he very much wanted to hook up with me & live with me to learn some things. At first he didn't tell me he was a Tai Chi instructor, but I was realizing we had a deep spiritual connection. His wife believes so strongly in his vision that she'd bought him a plane ticket to fly out & meet me. This is the James I met at the airport yesterday morning. Though he came out to learn from me, it turns out he is really my teacher, & I am humbled. He's true blue. I have already learned so much through him I am awestruck. Yeah, my eyes have been tearing up again, with gratitude.

James & I plan to hitch to the Gila, NM area tomorrow to meet up with another person I've never met, Wind, who, I've been told, lives off the land & can teach amazing skills. My friend Prema has been raving about Wind to me for a couple years, wanting us to meet. So this is the time when I sit under teachers, who give totally freely, and I am flooded with utter gratitude.

Details Misgivings

I thought that Chris' article in Details magazine was well-done & respectful, and I would be putting on false humility if I pretended that my ego doesn't like it. It's nice to be heard & noticed. Every human being on earth knows that. But being in a little limelight makes my path more dangerous. There is really no danger on earth but the ego carrying us away.

However, there are a few things in that article that can give a false impression. The main is that my life is not really the life of an ascetic. Chris told me "this life seems hard". I told him yes, but I also said that my life is easier than it ever was when I had money, and that it's easier than most anybody's life I know. In reality, I was living in poverty & asceticism in the money world, as do the masses who live in it. When you force yourself to do what you do not want to do, when you force yourself against nature, so you can get a paycheck, you are a self-torturing ascetic. Your life is unbearably hard. I decided I didn't want to live the life of self-flagellation & unreasonable hardship anymore. This is why I walked away from it. Self-proclaimed Christians often tell me that I don't understand Grace & don't have to be such an "ascetic." They totally don't get it. It's the other way around. Living without money & possessions is the way of Grace. Grace is literally Gratis. Who is the possessionless one who implored those who follow him to give up all possessions, to live simply? "Come unto me all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." These words mean what they say. Let that sink way way way down into your soul, you who call yourself Christian.