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Friday, December 31, 2010

Slab City

I'm in Slab City, California (near the Salton Sea).  It's been weeks since I could get onto a computer.  I'm not sure when I can do Internet again, so don't expect comments or replies from me.

Isaac, Jen, and I didn't have much success finding a boat to Hawaii.  Yachts & sailboats rarely go to Hawaii this time of year, and port security for freighters is way too high to even get near a port much less into it to even ask people.  Everybody we talked to was pretty clueless.  It's probably worth trying again in warmer months.

Both Isaac's and Jen's families wanted them home for Christmas, so both families bought them round trip plane tickets back to Illinois.  They want to return to San D after the holidays and, this time, hitch south to Costa Rica (and maybe hookup with our friend Aaron on his farm there).  I don't like San D and didn't want to wait around there, plus I feel the risk of hitching without ID, much less passport, past the border just isn't worth it right now.

So I started walking east, through miles upon miles of mcmansions in Chula Vista (a SD burb).  I thought I'd see if I could make it back to my parents' by Christmas.  But the rains and wind hit, and I hunkered down in a baseball field bathroom "foyer" for 3 days until the rain sort of passed.  The next day I started walking and came to Lower Otay Lake.  I was absolutely overjoyed to finally be out of the city and hit the beautiful countryside.  But it started raining again.  Border patrols were everywhere, and a man and woman stopped to see why in the world I was walking in the middle of nowhere in the rain, 4 miles from the Mexican border.  The woman seemed way too serious, but the man was friendly.  He seemed like a classic, young, idealistic military type.  He said he thought my living without money was "cool".  They told me where a campground was miles up the road, and took off.  Then they screeched a u-y and came back.  The man asked if I wanted a ride to the campsite, and the woman seemed annoyed at him.  He told me there were hot showers there.  There was a shelter there which I stayed in until the rain subsided.  Then I found a tree outside the ground and set up my hammock high in its branches.  And I went into the campsite and took a hot shower.  Thought I was in heaven.  It rained all night and I got kind of wet, but stayed warm.

I walked further until I found a creek and a bridge.  I camped under the bridge.  The sun finally came out so I could dry my bag and wash my clothes.  Border patrols were everywhere, watching my every move.  But they were all super friendly with me.

I decided to hitch up Honey Springs road, more away from the border, than Highway 78,  A man picked me up right away.  I asked him what day it was and was surprised to learn it was Christmas Eve.  He was really kind and took me way out of his way to I-5.  He gave me a burrito, too.  Very few cars were going east on 5.  One man with "Jesus" and a big fish on his TShirt stopped and handed me $10.  I then decided it would be better to hitch the road crossing under I-5, and found out it was highway 78.  It was the road going north to 79, which heads to the Salton Sea.  I had had it in my mind days before to go that way anyway, so this was working out!  I'd heard Slab City was that way, so maybe I could check it out.

Hundreds of cars passed me by.  People have more important things to do on Christmas Eve than practice the teachings of the one who's birth they celebrate.  Finally a couple Jehovah's Witnesses (who don't celebrate Christmas) stopped and gave me a ride, going way out of their way to the town of Julian, but preaching my ear off in the process.  I was told it was going to rain again, and my tarps were leaky, so I hunkered down at an awning at an elementary school.  I found lots of apples in Julian, and lots of good food thrown away at the school.  The sheriff kept watching me, but didn't seem to be bothered I was staying around the school.  It rained crazy that night.  But the sun came out on Chrismas and I started hitching again.  Hundreds of cars passed me by that day until a 70-something man named Fred stopped.  He said he thought I was a Pacific Trail hiker.  He asked me what I did, and seemed extremely irritated that I lived without money.  I actually appreciated finally meeting somebody willing to tell me that to my face.  Hundreds do it anonymously on the Internet, but few to my face.  That's what I like about old people, they often speak their heart.  Anyway, we discussed it and went round and round with my philosophies until he started getting what I was saying and doing.  He then got really friendly and we enjoyed each others' company thoroughly.  He told me about Slab City and Salvation Mountain and Leonard Knight (who created the mountain).  He took me all the way to Brawley.

I dumpstered some food there, and a couple stopped and handed me a delicious Chinese dinner-to-go.  I started walking up hiway 111 toward Slab City.  There were lots of feral date trees, and a fig tree, so I stocked up their fruits.  I found an abandoned warehouse and slept there in my hammock.  The next morning I got a ride right away from a woman named Helen.  She took me to her home town of Nyland.  I started walking to Slab City from there, and a super nice Slab resident named Evergreen gave me a ride in, and introduced me to some folks.  A woman named Karen showed me a place to camp near here little trailer.  We've quickly become good friends.  I've met some good people here so far, and am glad I'm here.  It's nice to rest.  I'm clueless how long I'll be here.  Maybe until the winter passes.  I had no plans to be here, but here I am.  It's a strange, funny place, and it's growing on me.  I met Leonard Knight and his Salvation Mountain, too.  A beautiful spirit he is. 

For days I felt really lost and disconcerted.  But, deep down, this is state of mind I so wanted to experience.  It's a beautiful thing, believe me, to find yourself in a position of being totally lost, discouraged, and full of doubt - ready to throw in the towel on everything; but, then, to take those feelings and sit with them.  Find out where they're coming from.  Hand them over to God, if you want to use that lingo.  Then watch the infinite Peace come.  It's absolutely splendid.  I've been getting into the Baghavad Gita again, and seeing again its shining splendor.  For me, it shines light on Christianity, revealing it's deeper mysteries, rather than diminishes it. 


Monday, December 13, 2010

San Diego

I'm in the San Diego area with Isaac and Jen. Computer time and access is rare so this could be the last post for a while.  Jen's cellphone died, too, so texting email is out, too.  This is a quick and scattered post.

Our encounters with friends, new and old, has been absolutely grand.  We spent Thanksgiving with Roy's family. One of the funnest Thanksgivings I've ever had.
Then we spent time with my close friend Grace, as well as our friends Jeromie and Jayme.  We also got to stay over at the house of Grace's boyfriend Eric and his roommates, Paul and Jupiter as well as Eric's daughters.  Paul wowed us with his sitar music, having studied under Ravi Shankar.

From Jen's cellphone.  Our camp beach.
Sun dim like moon through clouds. 
I don't have time to figure out
how to right-side-up these.
Paul took us down to Santa Monica where we walked the coastline trying to check out all the harbors and docks in our attempt to find something to Hawaii. Futile attempts. We found some shopping carts for our packs and walked for 3 days to the southern side of LA. Then we hitched southward, camping on the beach and in random crannies of civilization. And who should pick us up and take us half way to San Diego, way out of her way? A young woman named Apania, Jenna Jameson's personal assistant. Apania was so friendly and funny - had us laughing the whole way. Gave us an inside tour of California's chic spots down the coast. What a foreign world, almost creepy to me. Apania commented on how she serves the rich and is around unbelievable wealth and celebrities constantly, but hasn't enough to pay her own rent. But she said she has a deep bond with Jenna, a priceless friendship.

We camped the beach that night, were told in the morning it was illegal. We tried hitching, then walked. We camped in a crack under a road overlooking the ocean. We tried hitching out of Carlsbad but some cops told us hitch-hiking was illegal, and we'd be cited if we got caught again the next 15 miles. I discussed with one of the cops how unjust the law was, telling him both he and I knew in our hearts such a law has nothing to do with serving and protecting humans, but it had everything to do with economic status. He couldn't officially agree because he has a job he has to do, and has to say what he is paid to say, and that helps me not be angry.  Slaves to mammon cannot do other than what mammon says, otherwise they would not be slaves. I understand, I've had plenty of jobs where I sacrificed my mind for the mind of the institution I worked for. After the cops left, a man named parked at the beach, named Carlos, called us over, asking us what happened. "Fascists." he said, "I'll give you a ride, though I can't go very far." But he ended up giving us another royal tour of the entire coast, all the way to San Diego! "I didn't have anything to do, anyway!" He said.

So we've been walking a lot, with shopping carts again. It's strange, this lifestyle. I go from feeling overly flattered from publicity to going to feeling less than scum from the looks and the treatment of quite a few people. Both the flattery and the ill treatment are based on distorted images in the head, not on reality. Isaac and Jen have discussed how troubled it makes them feel, sometimes, too. My masochist side actually gets off on it all, like it's some big wonderful challenge to maintain noble dignity at the bottom of the heap. I love it in fact, usually.  But we're almost always treated with real respect by the Mexicans here, who now an then astound us with their generosity and friendliness. I've found there isn't much to eat in dumpsters in Mexican neighborhoods. They keep giving us what they don't eat instead of throwing it away.

Then there's the authorities. Most everything is military and high security here. Cops, military all around, continual helicopter surveillance from above. Pretty much everything is illegal when you don't have money. I'm not being facitious by saying that to live freely is to live illegally. You simply cannot live without money and be legal here. I suppose that's true all over the US, but especially here.  But I can also see it from the viewpoint of law enforcement. There are simply too many people here, and it's out of control. Everybody wanted to move to beautiful southern Cali, and everything turned into money and privatization and business and military. Humanity has been almost squeezed out of the picture. You try to rest your bones at a business, the owners shoe you away. You try to rest your bones on "public" land, the cops shoe you away. You walk, you're tresspassing. You hitch-hike, you're an illegal "threat." If you live free, you remind people that something matters besides business, and that might be bad for the economy. But people are "free": "free" to shop, "free" to buy plastic surgery and botox and silicon injections, and look at all the "freedom" of choice at supermarkets and malls! Okay, I'm seeing this place from a different viewpoint than most. But few get to see it from the bottom. So now you get to see it from homeless eyes. I hope it's a bit uncomfortable for you.

We've been sleeping in a park and found an abandoned rowboat on a nearby fenced-off beach. I found some discarded cans of latex paint and used it to patch up the holes. So we might take it into the bay tomorrow and float south. That's probably illegal too. We're still open for a chance to find a magical boat to Hawaii, but not attached to expectations if it doesn't happen.

I'm still learning guitar and feeling good about it.  We have flutes with us, too.

I love Jen and Isaac more than I can say.  They're amazingly still with me though I've led them on a wild goose chase.  We are amazingly compatible.


Accept disgrace willingly.
Accept misfortune as the human condition.
What do you mean by "Accept disgrace willingly?"
Accept being unimportant.
Do not be concerned with loss or gain. . . .
Surrender yourself humbly;
Then you can be trusted to care for all things.
Love the world as your own self,
Then you can truly care for all things.
(Tao Te Ching 13)


He who takes upon himself the humiliation of the people
Is fit to rule them.
He who takes upon himself the country's disasters d
Deserves to be King of the Universe.
(Tao Te Ching 78)

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

To La LA Land

Jen, Isaac, John
Jen and Isaac and I are now in Los Angeles.  What a crazy fun trip!

Me, Aaron, Carolyn

Amanda
Goodbye Again to Moab

We finally hitch-hiked out of Moab on Tuesday of last week.  Aaron had thrown us a going-away party at his hogan, Amanda traded my bulkier guitar case with her lighter travel one, Gregory and Beth did my laundry and sent me off with a sleeping bag and a food care package, John gave me his climber's backpack, and Travis and Kate gave me their hammock for Hawaii and walked us to our hitch-hiking spot on Highway 191. 


Church Rock
Roadies Again

A rock climber named Nick gave us our first ride out of Moab.  His Suzuki car had a carrying capacity of just 650 pounds, causing us to weave all over the road.  He took us to the Indian Creek turn-off.  I remembered there was a cave at Church Rock, so we camped there that night.

The next morning a Boznian trucker named Denis took us all the way to Gallup, New Mexico.  He said he used to hitch-hike all over Europe.  It's funny how he described free-spirit hippy types as "real Americans", and how he was disappointed when he first got to the US to find that most Americans were slaves to jobs and money and talked about guns and war and US superiority all the time, not the "real Americans" that he admired from afar in Boznia.  Denis gave us lunch on the road and dinner in Gallup, taking us to a Chinese restaurant there.

Hobos Again

Woody Guthrie

We hopped a coal train out of Gallup, which took us as far as a small town in Arizona and dropped our car there.  I knew from past experience we could hop another train from another town farther west in Arizona, but not from this one, so we started hitch-hiking again.  We weren't having much luck with the three of us.  But it was good, because it finally gave me a chance to pull out my guitar and play my Woody Guthrie roadie songs I'd been practicing (66 Highway Blues, Hitch Hike Blues, I Aint Got No Home In This World Any More).  We were even hitching along Woody's old hitching Route 66 that he sung about.  Okay, so we had only a few moments of hitch-hike blues and started walking down the highway until a guy whose name I forget, which means "bear," picked us up and took us to the town we wanted to go.  We cooked and hung out at a campfire we built under an overpass and camped out there.  The next morning we found an abandoned shopping cart, put our packs in it, and walked to the other end of town where we could catch a train out.  Just as we were wheeling the cart near the tracks where we were planning to hop, a sheriff's deputy showed up.  He said he wanted to check us out since we stuck out like sore thumbs and we were "close to the tracks," but he ended up being really friendly, telling us where shelters and food were located and warning us of wanna-be gangs in the area.  He told us, "try to stay off the tracks," shook our hands, and left.  Within 5 minutes, a stacker train ("hotshot") stopped, and we hopped on, and we managed not to touch the tracks :-)  A hotshot was what I was looking for, since hotshots are "express" and would take us all the way to a major city like L.A., with no worries of being dropped in the middle of nowhere (as happened with the coal train).

Off we went, with spectacular views of Arizona and grins on our faces all day long.  As it got colder, Isaac decided to open up one of the crate containers and we crawled into the warmth, bedding down on top of bags of cat food for the night.  I wouldn't have thought to do that, and we would have been pretty miserable had we remained outside all night over the passes.

Homies Again

We slept through the night and the train arrived into a city by sunrise.  We couldn't figure out where we were, but I suspected a burb of LA.  The train stopped outside a train-yard there, and it would have been wise to hop off there.  But we decided to sit tight and see how much farther the train would go, since we were clueless of our location.  Unwise decision.  The train started up again, took us into the yard and stopped, for good.  There was activity all around us.  We sat tight inside the container.  Then one of those big upside-down horshoe-shaped lift thingies came along right above the car in front of us and started preparing to lift that crate out of the train!  Talk about nervous!  Nowhere to run without being seen, and our container was going to be lifted out, and we couldn't see where we could exit the yard!  We finally had no choice but to run, so we scurried left.  A service vehicle came by and we got non-chalant and pretended to not see it.  The driver asked us where we were going, and we said, "out of this trainyard!"  He said, with slight grimace, "Well, you better hurry before you get arrested!"  So that we did, and we happened upon the gate and escaped with a sigh of relief. 

However, after we walked about a block outside the yard, a "bull" (security truck) pulled up beside us and demanded we line up against the wall and produce identification.  We ignored his request.  He asked us if we had been on the train, and we simply said we were lost.  He had zero authority outside the yard so we said "bye bye" and walked on.  He followed us, trying to bluff us, and it was working.  A couple other bulls drove up, too.  We came to a tall barb wire fence in an alley and were cornered.  We could have just ignored them and kept walking, but fear set in and I decided we should climb the fence into the private lot.  Jen said, "now we are adding bad to bad and could get caught tresspassing."  The bulls circled the block and kept yelling at us, but we sat tight.  Finally they lost patience and went away, and we left the lot and walked to freedom.

Bless-ed Again

We found out we were in a burb of L.A. and walked to a park.  It started raining, so we hung out in a community center there.  We were the only white people around.  The people around were refreshingly friendly.  One man handed me $5, which I passed on to Isaac (although Jen and Isaac aren't using money on this trip either).  Some other folks had had a kid's birthday party and gave us tons of left-over food from it, which we gladly snarfed down.  

Gary
I'm not used to the luxury of having a cell phone around.  I decided to check email on Jen's phone and discovered that a dude named Gary was offering us a place to stay at a ranch he is caretaking north of LA if we happened to be in the LA area!  So we called him and he gladly came to pick us up.  We stayed at a primitive cabin at this charming ranch filled with funky artwork and animals and good people (e.g., Cici and Steven), and he offered us hospitality, grand conversation and joy for a couple days until the rain subsided.  He then took us all the way back to LA and dropped us off at the ports there.

We found another abandoned shopping cart and wheeled it for miles into Long Beach.  Real Bag People we were! 

Roy, Silvia
At the ports we got a message from Roy and his mom, who offered to pick us up and bring us to their home.  So that's where we are now!  So good to see Roy again, as well as his mom and Sylvia!  They invited us to spend Thanksgiving with them.  After that we plan to go back to the ports and figure out getting on a boat to Hawaii.  If it doesn't work out in LA, we'll head to San Diego.

Roy's mom has been  showering us with Mexican hospitality, feeding us splendid food, overflowing with generosity. 

I feel so intensely grateful I'm traveling with Isaac and Jen.  They are about as pleasant and easy-going and fun as you can get, never complaining about anything and open to everything, never saying anything bad about anybody.

Born Again, Continually

Yes, how blessed I feel.






     

Friday, November 12, 2010

Falling Leaves and Winter Migration


Chasing the Setting Sun Over the Sea

It looks like I'm blowing out of Moab soon for the winter, heading west.  Every year I talk about hopping a boat to Hawaii without money, but I never quite get inspired enough to do it.  This year all my talk infected my friends Isaac and Jen, and their passion to do it pushed me off the fence.  So we plan to hitch to San Diego and wait around until we can hop a random boat!  It's a shot in the dark, but I know of people who have done it.  Last winter was like Siberia here, so I'm itching to go to warmer climes.  Another person might be coming to join us (but I won't give his name until/if/when he actually comes).

I decided to bring the guitar that I found in the dumpster.  I can't believe how into playing it I am (since I was not much interested in it in my youth).  This old dog is learning.  I wrote down some Woody Guthrie roadie/hobo songs that I'm wanting to master as we go west.  Maybe I can write a few of my own when I get better. 


Gift Economists' Cyber-Meeting 

Since I last blogged, quite a bit has happened.  Twelve of us moneyless folks  in the world had our cybermeeting on Oct 27th.  We were, besides me:
Heidemarie (Germany)
elf Pavik (Germany)
Offie (Germany)
Mark (UK)
Sonja (South Africa)
Adin (South Africa)
Tomi (Finland)
Hugo (Brazil)
Raphael (Germany)
Benji (Holland)
The 2 girlfriends of Raphael and Benji (who just joined them. Sorry, can't remember their names).
     (Raphael, Benji, and their 2 girlfriends are currently traveling in Central America)

To see links to websites/blogs for some of the above friends, see

Lifestyle Gift Economists

We spent a lot of time trying to figure out how the cyber thing worked, so there wasn't much substantial conversation.  It was mostly a chance to see some moving faces of our clan with a bit of chatting, and it was fun and heart-warming.

We couldn't get some faces (like Mark's and Heidemarie's) to show up, but here's a few:

(L-R) elf, me, Sonja, Adin, Hugo
(L-R) Adin, Raphael & Benji's partners, Sonja, me, elf

It turns out Hugo, Sonja, and Roy are no longer on the moneyless path.

New Friends Joining Me, Coming and Going

Roy didn't get a chance to join our cyber-meeting (he was busy hitching moneyless into Mexicali, Mexico!).  It also so happens that, shortly after, Roy quit the moneyless path and decided to settle in LA and be with his daughter.  I think it's a good decision.  He's one of the few who actually gave up all his money to join me.  He then hitch-hiked out to the east coast and back here without money, then to LA and back and back again, then down to Mexicali!

A mellow dude named Braedyn came down from Canada for about a week with his guitar.  I was looking forward to getting to know him better, and have him join us in our go-west adventure, but it seems there were some family complications calling him back to Canada.

Shortly after that, Carolyn left to see her family for the winter.  She plans to come back to Moab in the Spring.  I'm also hoping to be back here then (If the Hawaii *cruise* happens and we find a boat back!).  Carloyn spent 7 months here, and added sparkling joy to my life.  I did a lot of fun and unique things I don't think I would have done had she not been here.  She was also by me through some intense, down times and helped keep me going.

Freegan Ponderings

Free Meal in Moab has also been a total joy, on both ends of it: eating and preparing.  It has brought a lot of people together in Moab, like a daily party.  New people from in and out of town meet all the time.  Just like Food Not Bombs in other cities, I am often pleased at how close I feel with people there.  You can go to clubs and churches and jobs and organizations, supposedly to meet people you have things in common with, but it's not the same.  What we have in common is food, and it's freely given.  That's it.  That's what Communion, (Eucharist) really is.  All food is my body, your body, one body.  No ideologies, no trend stuff.  Free Meal is not classist or hand-down like your classic soup kitchen or welfare program.  It is hand-across.  Folks from all classes and needs and no-needs show up and sit down together for food that would otherwise be thrown out.  

But I do think there's a certain kind of person who is willing to go to eat at something like Free Meal or Food Not Bombs.  It's a person willing to forget class and ideology and sit humble on the grass with everybody else and just be sincerely human.  I'm realizing that that's what's the only real common among us all: simple human-ness.  When we try to find people with things "in common" with us, trying to find people who "think" like us, that's not the common I'm talking about here.  Our common-ness isn't in what we think.  Our common-ness is when we give up thinking.  It's not about belief, it's about Being, which is the True Faith.  This is why I feel so passionate about the freegan path (freely giving, freely receiving), the path that every natural creature in the infinite universe follows.  That is the One True Church, the One Mind.

It sounds like I'm idealizing.  But idealizing is seeing Idea rather than Reality.  Realizing is not eutopic but is just Being, accepting the bad and the good, the downs and the ups.  Commerical civilization is base upon eutopism, trying to eliminate the negatives and stockpile the positives.  Realism is based upon Reality, accepting the negatives and the positives as they naturally come.  Realism is balance, peace, contentment.  Eutopism is a pipe dream that shatters.  Realism, ironically, feels more eutopic than any eutopia we chase after.

Free Meal, like everything in the universe, is precarious and could end tomorrow.  But there's a principle there that is the essence of all life.  That's what doesn't end and what we can every day cultivate within ourselves.

Catching Cynical Comments Before They Come Yet Another... Yawn... Time

Some cynical joker with a stick in his or her hinder parts will invariably come along and say all these free things couldn't happen without the businesses that create them and caste them off.  Never mind that few say anything when enough food is thrown away in the US alone to feed the entire starving world.  [Note added Nov 13: My statement probably is exaggerated, and even if it were accurate, I should have references. Now I'm dealing with the consequences of quickly writing a post without editing or fact checking before I hit the road. I won't be able to rectify this for some time, so I'll just leave this disclaimer for now. But what we do know is that the waste in both this country & in Europe is beyond obscene in a world where millions are malnourished. I recommend Tristram Stuart's writing to get these facts straight.]  Never mind that few consider that businesses couldn't exist without the sun and the clouds that freely give, expecting nothing in return, sending sun and rain on both the "deserving" and the "undeserving", or without the earth which few seem to have problems taking from beyond her capacity.  And a separate entity like free meal wouldn't need to exist if we didn't have commercial civilization.  Again and again, I say, freely giving and freely receiving, without thought of credit and debt, is the essence of all of nature.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Courts & Parents & a Comrade Conference

Summons and Plea

If you've been following this blog, you might be curious what happened with the summons I got from getting caught train-hopping in Arvada, Colorado in early August with Roy.  I was to appear in the Jefferson County Court in Golden on October 15.

I called the Court shortly after to see if I could work out avoiding court, to save me hassle and to also avoid court costs and save taxpayers' money.  They told me to wait until mid-September and call them again, asking about a "plea by mail."  So I did.  They gave me instructions, then I faxed the "plea by mail" (my friends Damian and Dorina let me use their fax machine).  I plead guilty and requested either community service or jail time in lieu of any kind of fine, because I live without money.  Then I waited.

Last Tuesday I called them back.  The first woman I talked to told me the plea by mail was rejected and I must appear in court the next day at 1:15pm or I would have a warrant for my arrest.  So I asked her if there was anything I could do, since I was moneyless and car-less, out of state, and didn't think I could make it.  She referred me to another woman.  This woman wasn't very friendly and wasn't open to any other options, but kept saying, "be here or you will have a warrant for your arrest."  She wouldn't tell me why my plea by mail was rejected, either.  When I asked her why nobody contacted me about this, she said, "We don't make long-distance calls."  I had stated in the letter that the best way to contact me was by email, but also leaving open the option of calling my friend or contacting me by snail mail.  By this time I was expressing my frustration.  She then asked, in a not-so-friendly tone, "well, why did you wait so long to fax the plea by mail?"  My mouth dropped open.  "I waited until mid-September, as your office, at this number, instructed me to do!"  She then told me if I couldn't make it to court I could show up at the DA's office by 8:15am to avoid the arrest warrant.  So I hung up the phone, immediately got my backpack, and hit the road to hitch-hike.  It was about 3pm Tuesday here in Moab, and my appointment was at 1:15pm in Golden, Colorado, about 350 miles away.

Hitch-hiking seemed harder than usual.  I got as far as Fruita, Colorado by nightfall in 2 rides.  Fruita happens to be where my parents live, so I decided to pop in and stay with them.  I had been trying to keep them out of this.  Of course they insisted on driving me to court the next day.

Parents

So my dad drove me across Colorado.  It was good, because he and I had great conversation the whole way.  My dad talked a lot about how much he adores my mom.  Yeah, believe it or not, my parents have been married over 60 years and adore each other.  But he's naturally concerned about how they are nearing their end.  My mom is getting fairly decrepit and my dad has to care for her more and more. 

My dad and I also talked theology.  My dad is a theologian (he used to be a pastor), so we talked a lot about the principles of living by faith and, as Jesus taught, to "lend hoping for nothing in return," and why Jesus said "lend" rather than "give."  How in the world can you lend if you're hoping for nothing in return?  This idea has been on my mind for a long time.  It unravels all these ideas about nature's "interest banking" that have been brewing in my head and heart over the past year.  It's about nature's "lending at interest" as opposed to human ego hijacking this process of lending at interest, bringing corruption into the world.  I'm still working it all out, to write down.  But my dad totally gets it, and it makes me happy we can find agreement at deepest levels.  We used to have arguments about religion in the past (a lot of it having to do with my bitterness over most religion and its hypocrisy), but we've both mellowed and found common ground.

My parents are unusually supportive of my lifestyle and would do most anything for me.  How many parents would could be like that? They are conservative Christians, and they blow stereotypes of what a conservative Christian should be.  Now they have been giving me full support in this latest adventure of going to court for train-hopping.

So my dad and I walked into the courtroom together.

Court

My name was alphabetically near the end of the line, so my dad and I had to listen to case after case before the judge, Susan Fisch, before she got to me.  Seeing the other cases I was preparing myself more and more to possibly be put into a Jefferson County jail.  But I also grew to be very impressed with her.  She seemed to be an endless supply of patience and compassion, and I started relaxing about my own case.  By the time she finally got to me, I told her my circumstances, that I lived voluntarily moneyless and "homeless" as a spiritual path.  For this reason I requested either community service or jail time in lieu of a fine.  I also explained how difficult it was to make it to this court appointment due to my circumstances, and that it would have saved a lot of hassle for us all, and it would have saved court costs and taxpayer money if the plea by mail had been accepted.  She said pleas by mail can't be accepted if there is the possibility of jail.  Giving me an endearing look, unusual for a person in her position, she told me that, due to my indigent circumstances, she would wave all fines and give me 10 hours community service and 90 days probation (which would be erased on completing the community service).  I was astonished that was all the sentence I got, and my dad and I left smiling.

Cyber Conference?

Now I'm back in Moab.  A guy named elf Pavlik, who recently started living without money in Germany, decided to contact me and other folks in the world who are consciously living moneyless, and have a kind of "cyber conference" this Sunday.  Hopefully I can get it to work on my end with a borrowed computer.  There are 3 moneyless folks in Germany (Heidemarie, elf, Jurgen), 1 in England (Mark), 2 in South Africa (Adin, Sonja), maybe another new-comer in Brazil, plus the Dutch (Benji) and German (Raphael) dudes who are hitching moneyless around the world (now in South America, I think with their 2 girlfriends who've just joined them), and 2 of us in the US (Roy and me).  I hope we can pull this off.  It's getting scintillatingly exciting.

It looks like Roy is getting ready to start his moneyless trek south of the border!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

How to Become Free From Debt

In the last post, I got a comment from Jayme, one of my vagabond Christian friends, urging me to write down and publish these ideas on debt that he, our friend Jesse, and I talked about when I last saw them.  I plan to put it as an essay on the website.  It's partly from a letter I wrote to a friend, and it probably needs more editing, simplifying, for the website.

I also just wrote My Answer to Ayn Rand in the website, responding to an email from a thoughtful challenger.  It also needs editing, but this computer won't let me edit my website now.  Somebody once told me my thoughts reminded of Ayn Rand.  There are a lot of things she says that jive with me, but some that totally don't, like her ideas on money, which she didn't think over very thoroughly.  She was genius in logical intelligence, but a total retard* in the greater intelligence of Intuition, which is usually, ironically, the domain of women. [*Note, added Oct 12, 2010: I'm admitting myself wrong in saying Ayn Rand was intuitively a "total retard", tacking a label on somebody--going against my own principles. Tacking labels on people is a tactic of politicians and is a lazy way of avoiding critical thinking.]

Okay, I've been putting this off for a long time because of the repurcussions it could have.  Gulp... here goes:


How to Become Free From Debt

To state the obvious, people all over the world are dealing with endless debt, slaves to banks, slaves to their own promises. I get lots of emails from folks wondering what they can do. Debt puts us asleep to reality and blinds us to gratitude, compassion, and abundance.

I could easily say, “I told you so. You shouldn’t have gotten in debt in the first place!” But I’m not faultless.

My Own Experience With Debt

Back in my money days I took out a loan to go to school. For years I was plagued by this debt, not making enough money to keep paying it. I had to keep applying for deferments. But the more I deferred it, the bigger it got, due to interest. When I slacked on my payments, the bank would send me notices, threatening my credit rating. I had forgotten that my parents had cosigned for my loan, and when I defaulted long enough, the bank started harassing my parents. I didn’t want my parents to bear my burden, so I decided to hunker down and pay off my loan. I gave up living in a house and camped out, so I wouldn’t have to pay rent, and I ate rice and beans and foraged produce. I became a total slave to the bank. I sent most all my paychecks to the bank until my debt was totally paid off.

At the time I thought paying off my loan was the responsible thing to do. Now I’m realizing that I did not do the responsible thing. I was not paying back my loan to those from whom it was taken.

Let me explain.

Is It Okay to Break Our Promises?

I’m a strong believer in holding to our word. This is why I don’t believe in making promises, because making promises is a guarantee that we will break our word and become liars. Making promises is boasting for tomorrow, the work of ego. When we make any kind of promise we put ourselves in debt.

If we make promises, we should keep them if it’s in our power. But sometimes we simply cannot keep our promises.

Are there situations in which it is not only okay, but mandatory, to break our promises?

Let’s use an extreme example to drive home a point. Sometimes people make promises in an irrational fit of vengeance to do something horrendous, like a gangster swearing vengeance upon somebody in a blood oath. If you promise to kill somebody, is it a “sin” to break your promise?

We in modern culture are making promises in an irrational fit of faithless anxiety and fear, faithlessness that everything we need is not in the present.

Is It Okay to Default on a Loan?

Until now, I've been reluctant to talk about walking away from debt, defaulting on loans, because I surely don't want to encourage anybody to shirk responsibility! But now I am sure that we have fooled ourselves into thinking we are responsible to banks, just as the gangster is fooled into thinking he is responsible to keeping his blood oaths to his peers!

But don’t get me wrong. We must be responsible and pay back our unforgiven debts. But we must pay back our unforgiven debts to whom they are due!

Again, I say, we must pay back our unforgiven debts to whom they are due!

Steps to Becoming Debt Free

1. We must establish that it was bad judgment to take out a loan in the first place. We desired what we didn’t have, or we got scared we wouldn't have enough. We lost faith that everything we needed was available in the present. We must acknowledge and confess, “I was wrong in ever taking out a loan.” Now that we’ve acknowledged and confessed this error, forgive ourselves and move on.

2. We must acknowledge that we made a promise to pay back our debt, and we want to be responsible and keep our promise.

3. We must also acknowledge and confess that our promise was more than a simple “yes” and “no," because we signed a contract promising we would pay back our debt. We must realize that going beyond a simple yes or no comes from a corrupt mind and reasoning. A lie is a lie, and to sign a contract is to water down Truth, to say that a simple yes is not a yes, that a promise or oath is somehow more worthy than our word. Both the mind that requires us to sign a contract and the mind that signs the contract are equally corrupt: both are lost in faulty, irrational thinking. Now that we've acknowledged this error, we forgive ourselves and move on.

4. We must now ask ourselves where our loan came from so we can pay it back. Every banker and economist knows that a bank does not lend us what belongs to the bank. The bank lends us an illusion it creates out of thin air with the stroke of a pen or a typing of a keyboard. This fiction is called fiat money. The bank wants you to think it is lending to you from its own reserves, but it is lending you nothingness, then has the audacity to charge you interest on this nothingness, creating more nothingness. Every banker knowingly practices this pure deception. But every bank justifies itself, not because it does not know that what it is doing is pure deception, but because what it does is tradition, and all of commercial civilization depends on this tradition! The bank, however, does deceive itself and us into thinking civilization will end if it does not practice this pure deception.  If you doubt what I'm saying, see the video, Money As Debt.

5. Now that we realize we have entered into a knowingly-deceptive contract, this invalidates the contract, and frees us from any responsibility to the maker of the contract. The fact that the whole world uses deceptive contracts does not validate any of those contracts. It is, in fact, irresponsible to hold to a corrupt contract in the same way it is irresponsible for a mafioso or gangster to hold to a blood oath to his peers!

6. We must not stray from our integrity, from our responsibility to pay back our debt! Thus we must continue to ask ourselves where on earth our loan really came from! When we step back and look at the world scene, it becomes clear. In the greater world economy, we see, obviously, that most money and goods flow from workers to non-workers, from the poor to the rich, from the creative to the non-creative, from those who are productive to those who produce only illusion, from the givers to the moochers. These who produce only illusion are called bankers. The bankers take, and do not borrow, from the world’s workers and creators, and they pay nothing back. By doing any business with the bank, you have become an accomplice to this theft and must reconcile it. You have taken money, which is not a real substance, but an illusion you borrowed from the bank, and used it to trade for actual goods created by the world’s poor. 

Ah, now you see who you must pay your loan back to, don’t you? If you find out you have stolen property, the only ethical and responsible thing is to return it, and it definitely must not be returned to the one who stole it! This is called redistributing the wealth.

The bank will probably turn you over to a collection agency. But if you have already returned your stolen goods to those from whom they were stolen, the bank has no more power over you.  Perhaps in many countries the bank can jail you.  This is where you must have faith in the Power of Persecution, as Gandhi, Martin Luther King, and Jesus demonstrated.

An Appeal to Your Own Faith Tradition

I have already appealed to your basic logic and to your heart, and that should suffice. But if you don’t trust your own judgment and want assurance from past prophets of your faith tradition, then I appeal to that:

Charging interest is considered criminal by the world’s religions and ancient philosophers (the Bible, the Quran, the Vedas, the Buddha, Greek philosophers, all the early church fathers, etc).  [See Is Banking Criminal?  What The World's Ancient Philosophers and Religions Say in my website].

However, since everybody relies on banks, we think it's okay or unavoidable for this day and age, even though charging interest has ultimately never, ever caused anything but grief in the world. It is ironic that the followers of religions that most clearly condemn banking are banking's best supporters! Banking creates poverty, then throws a few bones to those from whom it stole, giving the appearance it is helping them. I wager that poverty would end if most everyone practiced their own religion and agreed to never use a bank again. That means default on loans and, instead, be truly responsible and pay what we owe back to those who actually need it. Yes, there probably will be chaos first, but everything good and worthwhile must "have a falling away first." A seed begins by falling to the ground and dying.  What do your prophets say?  "Babylon is fallen, is fallen." 

It is our responsibility and common sense to redistribute the wealth to those from whom it was stolen. History shows us this does not work by Marxist redistribution through government or organized programming, but through basic, instinctual, natural human conscience, expressed in truly conservative religious values especially forgotten by self-proclaimed "conservatives".

Stop Thinking We're Do-Gooders!

We who think we are do-gooders must finally stop fooling ourselves that we are giving charity to the poor, thinking we're righteous! Philanthropists do "good" because they think they are owners.  The Human Spirit just does what's natural. The poor widow puts her penny in the temple donation box and gives way more than the wealthiest philanthropist.  Nature's creatures do what's natural: be like the ant or rabbit or redwood tree, which don't do "good," because they possess nothing.  Instead we who have excess must realize we have to simply pay our debts to the poor we robbed from! We must wake up and realize that sharing is no act of goodness, nothing that deserves reward or praise, but simply a natural act like breathing free air in and out, or a natural act like the sun sharing its energy on ALL life forms, expecting nothing in return!  Working with no thought of reward or ownership is a constant theme of the Bible, the Baghavad Gita, the Quran, the Buddhist Sutras, the Tao Te Ching, the Guru Granth Sahib, the Bahai scriptures, the Book of Mormon, the Jain sutras, and the practiced philosophy of Native Peoples all over the world. Christians, what does Jesus say but to be like the servant who works because it is his duty, not even expecting thanks.  Only we who fool ourselves think we own anything to give!  Muslims and Mormons, your Quran and the Book of Mormon especially stress this fact.  See Here's the One Point We Know the World's Religions Agree Upon.

To Possess Nothing is to be Under No Earthly Power

We ourselves who realize we don't need anything must forgive those who "borrowed" or "stole" from us, erase all grudges, simply for our very own mental health, if anything! Everything I am saying is directly provable if you but look inside and find what brings you Peace.  Actually, when we finally realize we own no possessions, we have nothing to steal, and nobody to trespass against us, and nobody can have power over us!  In other words, to give up the idea of possession is Perfect Forgiveness, "forgive us our tresspasses (debts) as we forgive those who tresspass (are debtors) against us"

"Neither Borrower nor Lender Be"

Banks will starve if you have the faith to not use them.  And you will find mental and spiritual health if you live by faith.  The health of the individual is the health of the whole world.  That is Pure Selfishness Divine (This is where I sound like Ayn Rand ;-)  Again, "forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors," as Jesus prayed, and, as Muhammad stated, there is no difference of blame between lender and borrower.  There is no difference of blame between corporation and consumer, owner and owned, ower and owed. It's a bit comical to see consumers blame corporations, when consumers are corporations' life blood. And there is no difference between physical and spiritual debt (also called "sin").

What really would happen in the world if every follower of religion woke up and actually practiced his or her own religion?

Courage to Follow What You Know For Yourself to Be True

Of course this would mean taking on persecution, meaning courage. This is why the central message of Christianity is the Cross. To live and speak any truth in this world is to risk the Cross, to believe in the Cross, regardless of your religion. If we call ourselves Christian and can’t live and speak truth, perhaps because we're afraid of losing our jobs or losing the respect of our church peers or losing our comfy McMansions, all our talk of believing in the death and resurrection of Jesus, all our talk of "not being ashamed of the Gospel," all our talk of salvation by “grace”, is utter nonsense. By Grace, not our own egos, we will live and speak truth. If we don’t live and speak truth, whereever and whomever and whatever religion or science that truth comes from, we aren’t under the Power of Grace, we are not living by faith.

Faith is the realization that debt is not necessary, that everything will work out if we follow truth, that everything we need is forever in the present, which means, as basic Buddha teaches, abolishing all wants (debts), which means taking on happiness & abundance.

I don't know if these ideas are conservative or liberal. All I know is they are simple & natural instinct in all life.

Don’t take mine or anybody else’s word for it. I am asking every human being to act on what you know to be true in your heart, by both your reason and your intuition.

Do you have the Courage (the Faith, the Hope, the Love) to act on what you know to be true?

Waiting For Messiah

You can keep procrastinating and wait for zillions of years for Messiah to come to zap everything right. Or, you can realize what your own scriptures teach you, that Messiah is in you, your Hope of Glory. You are the Hands and Feet and Eyes and Mouth and Breath of Messiah. Wake up and realize that Messiah will never, ever, ever come, except through you.

Take Responsibility.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Dying is Living

Life's been fairly peaceful since I last blogged.  My friend John is giving me a ride to my parents' in Colorado tomorrow, for a visit until next week.  They got rid of their computer, so I'll probably be out of cyber touch for a while.

Immutable Law: One's Life Means Another's Death


Carolyn took some pics of a roadkill dinner I shared with her and David, and I told her I'd post them here.  I found this squirrel freshly killed on the river road.  It had an acorn stuck between its teeth when I found it, plus about 14 acorns stuffing its cheeks!  Their looks of contentment say it all!












A Loud and Clear Calling

A few days later, Carolyn, Aaron, and I went to a party of mostly rock-climber kids way out in the desert at Jug Handle arch.  Though I'm not really a rock-climber, I love rock climbers.  The times I've done it, I've realized rock climbing is a spiritual path that teaches perseverance and humility, minus dogma.  Okay, once in a while I meet a really cocky climber, but not too often ;-)

Anyway, they had set up a really really high swing, made with a rope and harness, from the overhanging rock near the arch.  It was absolutely exhilarating!  Then we jammed around a fire with drums and a guitar and my flute.  Even though I can't play the guitar, I eventually picked it up and used it as a percussion instrument, sort of strumming it, and it didn't sound half-bad.  "I wonder why I never learned guitar?" I thought.  All the sudden I had this almost mystical urge to learn how to play guitar.  "But I'm 49," an alter voice said.  "Should that matter?" was the reply in my head.  "But I don't have a guitar," the other voice countered.

The very next night (a couple nights ago) I went dumpster-diving at the thrift-store to find warmer clothes for winter.  The dumpster was so full of junk it was overflowing--stuff piled around it.  I dug around a bit and found a booklet on how to play the guitar.  "What a coincidence."  I thought, "But I don't have a guitar," my other voice reminded me, again.  As I was getting ready to leave the dumpster, I took a last glance back and noticed I hadn't checked the stuff piled against it.  I lifted up a box and noticed a guitar case underneath.  "Nice case.  I have friends who might need it,"  I thought.  I lifted it, and it wasn't empty!  I opened it up, and, voila, a guitar!  "Surely there must be something wrong with it for it to be here," I thought.  I brought it back to the farm,checked it out the next morning, and found it was virtually new and flawless!  There were also some instructional DVDs included in the case and two extra strings.  If ever I got a clear message to do something, this time it was, "Learn to play the guitar!"

So I've been practicing like crazy, like an excited kid, playing my fingertips raw.

More Mulling Over "Duality"

I've been mulling over blog comments today, and here are some brainstorms to share here.  I'm still working out rough edges, so feel free to point out any flaws you might see.  Ideas are no good if they can't be thrown to Natural Selection.

Now these are generalized statements, and I'm sure you'll find lots of people who don't fit the stereotypes. 

This gets into the "non-duality" thing I essay about in the website.  On the lower level, I find I often have a black and white, good and evil, view of things: as is the very nature of the binary human brain.  But on the Higher Level, it's All Good:

Sometimes I like to step back and watch 2 energies at play--one Conservative, one Liberal--one saying nothing's going to get better so why change it, one saying let's progress, evolve, and not discount possibilities.  Both are in myself!  Each annoys the other, yet each holds the other in check.

Social Conservatives, who don't want to change the social order, are usually Tech Liberals, welcoming new technology with little reserve.  Physically, Social Conservatives are generally older, less prone to sexual exploration, wanting to preserve the gene pool, Old DNA.

On the other hand, Social Liberals, envisioning a better social order, are usually Tech Conservatives, wary of nature-manipulation, new technology. Physically, Social Liberals are statistically younger, more prone to sexual exploration, wanting to expand the gene pool, New DNA.

Both conservatives and liberals are playing out the innate Law of Nature, the Grand Drama!

It's becoming obvious neither will go away any more than positive or negative will go away.  Social conservatives often persecute and often kill their own prophets, just like an ant colony will attack and expel ants that are a bit different.  Social Liberals persecute and often kill their prophets, too, but usually when they have ripened into Social Conservatives (like in the late USSR and Red China and North Korea). Yet religious conservatives preserve the teachings and traditions (Old DNA) for future generations of the ones they once persecuted.

Religious liberals are accepting of other people's viewpoints and new ideas (New DNA), but dislike tradition and are bad at organizing and preserving tradition.  The persecuted sages are secretly grateful to their persecutors for refining their character and catapulting their messages into view of all.  Those who survive rejection are refined, Naturally Selected, secretly admired by their persecutors (silencing or eliminating "heretics" physically often means promoting their message, their Mystical DNA).  The canal to the female ovum is full of spermicide to weed out the unfit.  Those that don't survive go the way of the extinct, and secretly know this is their lot, and they can rest in it.  The two are always with us, battling it out in the Grand Drama. 

Religion most clearly sets the stage for this Drama.  It is the very nature of Religion to give birth to both the Dogmatist Persecutor and the Persecuted Prophet!  Reading the Torah, for example, it is as sure as the sun shines that Dogmatic Pharisees will arise out of Judaism side-by-side with a prophet Isaiah or Zechariah or  Jesus that they can persecute.  In fact, the prophet Isaiah says himself that it is ultimately God who blinds people's eyes, and God who crucifies the Messiah.  This concept of divinely-imposed blindness of the persecutors is a strong theme in the Quran, too.  This is why the persecuted ultimately realizes: forgive them, for they're clueless what they're doing.  But there's also a blindness of the "persecuted."  Actually, each side often sees itself as the "persecuted."  The left hand becomes clueless of what the right hand is doing.  The lion species could not survive if lions felt the pain of their prey, if the right "knew" the left.  Nothing in nature would survive if the positive "knew" the negative.  In the same way, it is the very nature of the New Testament to give rise to an intolerant Church and a Saint or Reformer to persecute or burn at the stake.  Likewise, you see this in Islam.  It's not as pronounced in Eastern Religion, but it's there.  It was Hindu Fundamentalists who killed Gandhi.  The Word comes to its own and its own does not receive it.  Both the Baghavad Gita and the Tao Te Ching describe this phenomenon, as does the Quran, Torah, and New Testament.  You see it not only in religion, but in science and in every institution and organism.  Ultimately, the baby is a nuisance to be horrifically expelled from the mother's body!

It is the very nature of Nature to create a colony of bees to protect their homogeneity, but also to hone down innovators and prove them worthy to progress the colony.  It is the very nature of nature to create a pride of lions and a pack of hyenas to harass each other.

But on the Highest Level, the Wolf lies down with the Lamb, the Lion lies down with the Calf.

Yeah, ultimately, stepping back and looking at it all, you realize it's All Good.  Good Drama can't exist otherwise.  On the lower level, it's Duality.  On the Higher Level, it's All One--beautiful beyond the human mind's ability to grasp!

People think money is my enemy.  On the lower level it is, in a way.  But money has arisen in human consciousness, evolution, for some mysterious reason.  It's no more my enemy than an obstacle course is to an athlete or a puzzle is to a gamer.  A toy or a game is fun until we learn what we have to learn from it, then we move beyond it.

Now we see in a mirror darkly.  Then we recognize who's in the mirror.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Endless Possibilities

Inspiration to blog doesn't seem to happen but about once a month.

Funny Farm

Drama has been happening at the farm, with our stupid mistakes and human silliness.  Several times it has seemed our sense of community was falling apart.  Maybe the farm itself is falling apart - who knows.  But the sense of community behind it?  I figure if our sense of community falls apart, it was never authentic in the first place, and should fall apart!  Then something happens and Love triumphs through our nonsense, we talk it over, forgive through hugs and tears.  Life is absolutely splendid if we stick with it, don't give up.

Penniless On His Own

Roy hitch-hiked back to Moab from L.A. with his little sister, Sylvia.  This was her first time out of Los Angeles, and what a way to do it!  I found Sylvia totally delightful.  She has a don't-give-up sense of adventure just like her brother, and I felt a connection with her.

It turns out that Roy's and Sylvia's mother, meanwhile, took a trip to New Mexico, so Roy and Sylvia decided to hitch-hike there to meet her.  She then took them back to L.A. 

Meanwhile, I was thinking and meditating on my relationship with Roy, feeling like our goals weren't the same.  He can't let grass grow under his feet and I often feel like I'm holding him back.  I was thinking of ways of discussing this with him before he came back to Moab, when he sent me an email saying he had other plans.  He wants bigger challenges and has decided to hitch-hike out of the country with no money, to head south through Mexico, eventually to South America.  His family, apparently, is helping him get a passport.  I feel proud of him.  He changed the name of his blog, which also makes me feel better.  I really don't feel comfortable with any kind of -ism, much less "sueloism". 

Ramadan

I take a deep breath before publishing this, bracing myself for the ire of commentators.

I last blogged at the start of Ramadan, and Ramadan is over.  Carolyn had the idea to celebrate Ramadan from new moon to new moon and asked me to join her, in solidarity with authentic Muslims, people of Peace (Islam, after all, means "peace", derived from the same semitic root as the Hebrew shalom).  What's great is that Carolyn is dating a totally cute dude named David, of Yiddish background, who happens to be a bomber cook.  David likes to cook elaborate Shabat (Sabbath) meals at sundown on Friday.  That makes for a perfect dance between Islam and Judaism for Carolyn and me, because on Ramadan you aren't supposed to eat all month until after sundown! 

Muslims celebrate Ramadan as the month that Muhammad received his Quranic revelations in his cave in the Arabian desert. I thought it a splendid idea, in perfect timing, not only as a declaration of solidarity with Muslims--because of the recent bigotry of people not allowing freedom of religion for Muslims wanting to establish mosques here (it's anti-American and anti-Christian to deny freedom of religion for others)--but also because I've been studying the Quran, with new brainstorms waiting to burst out of my head and heart.  It blows me away the epiphanies crystallizing in me this month: a strangely eerie harmony between the Bible and Quran has become crystal clear. 

I can see why people might reject the Quran for what it says, in the same way people reject the Bible for what it says.  If you take both books literally, the Quran's Jihad is almost as violent as the Torah's Jihad.  But whether or not the Quran is violent is a moot point for most self-proclaimed Christians and Jews: they reject the Quran not because of anything it says or doesn't say, but because of religious ego. It was already decided to be evil before they even looked at it (the simple fact they reject the Buddhist sutras or the Tao Te Ching, which couldn't be more loving and non-violent, proves my case).  In the same way, most self-proclaimed Muslims reject the Bible not because of anything it says or doesn't say, but because of religious ego, despite the Quran itself saying over and over that it was given to confirm the Jewish and Christian scriptures already existing as they are, not replace them.  I keep looking at the apparent contradictions and finding they are actually intriguing clues to get you notice something infinitely deep.  I hope to write down these mysteries to share, Insha'Allah.  No, I can't deny there are things in the Quran, like in the Bible, that I find way bothersome.  But the gold nuggets in the ore are too splendid to throw out with the ore. 

Religion, A-Religion, & Science

Besides, history shows us religion is not going to go away any more than the human heart will go away.  Whatever doesn't go away, we must find a way to embrace it, transform it. Maybe I'm wrong, but I keep feeling religion will go obsolete by embracing it, not fighting it.  Billions of people hold some form of religion in their deepest heart, and you can never truly understand any people or culture if you don't understand their religion.

The a-religious are also not going away, will always be with us, and must be embraced.  It usually seems the a-religious make less of a mess of the world than the religious.  But then there are huge exceptions, like the old Soviet Union and today's "People's Republic" of China.  It could be argued that the these two countries never eliminated religion (dogma) but simply replaced one form of worship (deity) with another fanaticism (state).

And Christianity?  The paradox of Christianity is that it cannot be Christian if it doesn't practice the Golden Rule.  You must examine other religions with your full, respectful, non-judgmental heart in the same way you want them to examine yours, otherwise your religion is not Christianity!  The Golden Rule is Christianity! 

And you cannot be a complete scientist, a complete anthropologist, sociologist, or psychologist if you ignore religion. Religion is part of human biology, part of evolution.  Looking at the horrors religion has caused in the world (especially our own Big Book religions), and after reading past comments in this blog, I often get discouraged and wonder why I bother.  I lose site of the gold in the ore.  The ore can't be changed, just burned away by life's trial.  Just when I'm about to give up, throw down my pick-axe, and leave the dirty mine, I see the gold sparkle: passion is passion, and I can't repress this passion in me.  Funny, me, Mr Zerocurrency, using gold as analogy.

What Next?

Roy and I had plans to travel together this Fall, but since he's meandered off a different path, I'm not sure what will happen now.  With all this inner stuff I want to write down, I feel more inclined to stay put, because time is short and I don't want to waste it.  I just don't want to leave this life without sharing with everybody the absolute splendor I see.
  

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Over the Rockies

We made it back to Moab from our little Colorado excursion.

(I've poached the photos from Roy's blog, since I don't have a camera)

Old Friends and Fam

Mark Sundeen took Roy and me to my brother Doug's mountain cabin in Conifer, Colorado, where we stayed a couple nights (That's when I wrote the last blog post).  Then Mark took us to Louiseville, outside Boulder, where we had dinner at the house of my old friends, Tim, Sherry, and their son Daniel.  My old friend Joan showed up with her 2 daughters, Charya and Maitri, and an old acquaintance, Bruce.  It was good going over old times, but also kind of emotional, talking about my little Mount Evans escapade (see last blog post;  Joan had been my room-mate at the time).

Roy and I then went back with Joan and her kids to Thornton (suburb of Denver) and stayed with them and her husband, Sokha, for a week or so.  Then Sokha took us out to Arvada to train-hop.

Snitching on Hobos

We spent the first night under a bridge, and the
trains kept stopping in the wrong direction. The next day we walked westward to where the trains went by an opulent neighborhood (which is unusual).  Rainy storm clouds were gathering, but there happened to be a horse trailer for shelter right by the tracks and we camped the 2nd
night there.  Again, no trains were stopping in the westward direction so we finally decided to walk out to hitch-hike.  Funny, I kept thinking
in the back of my mind how things always work out when we're on the
verge of giving up, that a train would stop right as we were walking
away.  Sure enough, it did!  We got excited and overconfident and loud.
We hopped into an empty scrap car, but a resident of one of the McMansions spotted us, came out with his cell phone, yelling out to us from his back yard.  I was feeling attached to our car so wanted to
just lay low and hope for the best, but Roy thought we should get out and
hide in the bushes.  We finally did.  But another train came eastward
and slowed way down, blocking our way to the westward train.  That got me a bit worried we wouldn't be able to get on if we didn't do it now, so we did.  Roy was still worried about cops coming, but I, Mr
Over-confident, told him we shouldn't worry so much, that I hadn't
gotten caught by cops in 10 years of train-hopping.  But...duh,..the cops came, and they knew exactly what car we were hiding in, and cited us.  Totally avoidable.  Roy was right.  So we ended up hitching out.

I later called up the court to see if I could work out community service and
avoid court.  They told me they thought it would be possible, to call back in September, and I could probably write out a plea thingy.

Family and Teeth

We hitch-hiked to to my parents' in Fruita, Colorado, where we stayed almost a week.  Roy and my parents got along splendidly.  I think my parents fell in love with Roy.

My parents also got me hooked up with an old friend of our family's, Don Adams, a retired dentist who goes to their church, and he fixed up my teeth for free!  He has been doing free dentistry for homeless people for years, as well as doing mission trips to Peru and Siberia to do free dental work.  He's a quiet, gentle man, and you'd never know all that he does for people - he never talks about it.  I didn't want to ask him to do my teeth, but my parents let the cat out of the bag.  I feel so grateful. 

We had pretty much gourmet dinners every evening at my parents' - most all bargain food (3 for the price of none) from the supermarket "specialty section".  The last evening there, my brother Ron, my nephews, Kyle and Wayne, with Wayne's wife, Lila, joined us for a nice dinner.

It feels good being back in Moab.  We're here just in time for Ramadan.  Carolyn and John and I decided to celebrate it this month.


On the philosophical side of things, because of a plethora of comments and questions from Evangelical Christians, I recently added FAQ # 32 to the website: Don't you know about grace? Aren't you trying to "work" for your salvation?