Wednesday, April 29, 2009

We are Challenge Challenged

I haven't been staying at the canyon cave all week. I'm house-sitting at my friend Roberta's by the Colorado River. She should be back tomorrow. 

Shall We Gather at the River? 

A lot of good people I know live down here. I might make this area one of my habitats, because I feel more of a sense of community here. Plus, I got a clear sign. Another one of many grand coincidences happened the other day. I was investigating the woods near the river & stumbled upon a beautiful kiva-type structure, half-underground. I thought I'd like to live in it, but then second-thought it belonged to somebody, so I quickly put that thought out of my head. I could build my own somewhere, perhaps, I thought.

The very next day I was bicycling into town & my friend David (whom I hadn't seen since last year) called out to me. He asked me if I was looking for a new place to live. David said he and his twin brother Isaiah had built a kiva-type structure by the river I could move into if I wanted! He had no idea I was just contemplating that idea the day before! Some signs are just so blatant you can't ignore them! 

There are other folks living in those woods. One friend is planting a good-size garden & would love for us & some other friends down there make it a community garden. We are envisioning a totally self-sufficient, subversive :-) community. 

Don't Sweat the Details 

You know that interview Chris Ketcham did with me for Details magazine, that I talked about a couple bloggings ago? I think it's coming out in June, not in May. He says he's coming back to Moab mid-May to maybe do another interview for another magazine. 

The Mysterious Ugliness & Beauty of Religion 

I'm doing a lot of thinking about different world religions & their scriptures these days. I don't talk about this with most my friends, because it's not interesting to them. But I can't help it, it's a passion of mine. Taste is taste, & how or why should everybody have the same taste? 

Scriptures & Religion are like fire. To those who are attracted to them, they can be sublime & powerful. But, also, they are usually in careless hands & get out of hand & end up causing more destruction than good. Even with all the hypocrisy & destruction that come in the wake of religion & scripture, I still have a passion for them - I can't help it, any more than I can't help staying away from using fire. Some creatures get warm at the fire, some are so attracted to it they fly into it to their deaths. 

Something is brewing in me about the sublime three-part harmony of the Quran, The Bible, & the Book of Mormon, under the grand conductor-ship of the Buddhist sutras & the Bhagavad Gita. Sometimes I see it as sure as the sun. But other times there is doubt, because the sun also sets. This is what makes it so infinitely & sublimely mysterious & intriguing & so very hard. 

Yes, what makes it so hard is there are also discordant & irritating noises, I mean totally un-PC, in the Quran, the Bible, & the Book of Mormon - putrid things that make you want to chuck them back into the dusty cellar. Thus, their one divinely harmonious symphony remains hidden in the dust. 

But this is what's so sublime about those scriptures & religions. They're just like people. They are people, full of both attraction and revulsion. The trick is to see religions & philosophy (culture) in the same way we must see each other: full of hideousness and also full of sublimity. Take the good & leave the bad in everything & everybody. If you don't, you might as well not get out of bed in the morning. 

When you see somebody as all good or all evil, you then have what psychiatrists call personality disorder. We all have vestiges of personality disorder. 

Right, Left, Right, Left, into the Ditch 

And that's what's happening to people in droves: we either become discouraged, whining, cynical, suicidal crybabies, because we sometimes have to pick somebody's hair out of our gourmet dinners, or we put on a fake smile & pretend the status quo is perfect. Either our bubble bursts when we find out our romantic partner has flaws, or we maintain a facade relationship. I don't speak as a clueless judge. I myself went through years & years of bored, crybaby, suicidal cynicism, as a reaction against the blind optimism I had had before. Yes, I speak from experience. 

We drop our saintly friend when we find out she has hidden rages. We become bitter when we find out Dad & Mom aren't the gods we'd imagined. We find out Jesus or Buddha or Muhammad or Joseph Smith or Krishna were human & maybe even did some atrocious things. So we throw away the Perfect Divine with the flawed package it came in. Yup, we throw out the Baby with the bathwater. Either that or we hide our head in the sand and pretend to see no evil, hear no evil.

Hitler on the right, Stalin on the left. One pretends to see no wrong in Tradition and the other throws away Tradition. One sees everything new as a threat, one sees everything old as a threat. One glorifies Religion and one crushes Religion. One is sickeningly optimistic and one is bitterly cynical. Both are suspicious and hateful toward each other & ultimately toward everybody. 

Our very labels, Right Wing and Left Wing, indicate one single Bird. A house divided cannot stand, and this is why our house is falling. Hitler & Stalin are still here, in us, every one of us. 

Yeah, both tradition and innovation are hard. But they are joy when they dance together. They wreak havoc when they separate - when they ethnically cleanse themselves from each other. 

Immune diseases, Gangs, School Shootings, Wars, Suicides 

In our modern age, we have processed everything so much there's no more fun. We want gems without digging for them. We want food pre-processed & pre-packaged so we don't have to hunt for it & prepare it. We want everything explained to us in soundbites so we don't have to think. We can't handle the mysterious parables of tradition nor can we adapt to the newness of progression. We want sterility so our immune systems have nothing to work on anymore. 

Over-processing & sterility: this is what both the Right Wing and the Left Wing have in common. Yes, what the Right & Left have in common is their refusal to see that they have anything in common! Ha!

We are unchallenged. Challenge is the backbone of joy. Our muscles of creativity have atrophied so much that the joy of living is gone! Gone! Then we can't figure out why mental illness & immune diseases are so epidemic. We can't figure out why our bodies, for lack of anything else to attack, start attacking themselves with cancers & immune diseases. We can't figure out why our brains go into loops of self-destructive thoughts. We can't figure out why our unchallenged politicians create imaginary enemies to bring whole nations to war against. We can't figure out why bored kids join gangs to fight fictitious foes. We can't figure out why children project their own created nightmares onto others and go to school to gun them down. 

Processed, pure food is fine, in its place. It comes right from Mother's nipple. But then comes the time to grow up and chew food. Then to gather & prepare your own food. Mother's milk is poison to an adult. 

Behold, with hardship is ease. Behold, with hardship is ease. (Quran 94:95 & 96)

Thursday, April 16, 2009

One Soul, Nothing Else

Provo Providence

I've been mostly in the canyon cave the past month, interspersed with a couple short house-sits. My friend Damian took me to Provo a few weeks ago to visit our mutual friends, John & Courtney. John, a non-Mormon, is a BYU-taught archaeo-astronomist writing a book in the Heart of Mormonism. He has discovered that the stories in the Bible & Quran are taken directly from the star constellations, going back to ancient Akkadia & Sumer! He invited me to the BYU ancient scriptures library, where he's doing his research. I poked around there a bit, and felt privileged to peruse the late Hugh Nibley's personal library and see the notes he wrote in his books. Nibley was a Mormon scholar with a deep & open mind to other religions & philosophies, and helped me to break out of my prejudices and see profound substance at the core of Mormonism. Of course, like all religions, you have to dig through a lot of caca de baca to get to it.

There's some good, alternative culture in Provo. It seems the more repressed a place, the more it cultivates good art & culture through the cracks. John introduced me to some of his Provo friends. I got to share some of my moneyless philosophies with them & they were all ears, which was way encouraging. One of them, James, about my age, stays in a tree house in the backyard of another cool couple. James decided to take me back to Moab & camp out a night with me at the cave & provide me with stimulating philosophical conversation.

Free Meal Wisdom

A highlight of my life in Moab town is Free Meal. Free meal was started a couple years ago, serving food a couple times a week, by my friend, Brer, who modeled it after Food Not Bombs (a world-wide phenomenon in major cities & towns). Basically, Free Meal serves free food leftover from restaurants & schools, as well as meals made from scratch, from donated ingredients. Brer finally had to back out & my friend Auggie started bottom-lining it. He decided that people needed to eat every day, so now it's 7 days a week rather than just 2. Now there are 2 professional chefs, Scott & Pat, cooking for it, as well as a couple women, Brandi & Kathryn, cooking off & on. They all act like it's a privilege to cook for free, and indeed it is. Scott's enthusiasm, especially, is contagious.

What is grand about Free Meal & Food Not Bombs is that they are about undiscriminating giving, meaning it all turns into a community picnic. It's free food for all, no strings attached, regardless of economic status. That means it doesn't have that condescending Us-Them charity, like in your usual dreary soup kitchen. Those who cook & serve food also share in the eating, with us.

Money Charity

This gets me flash-backing to my times on the road. A couple years ago when I was train-hopping, I ended up in a town early in the morning - I think in New Mexico. I was filthy & exhausted after days on the rails. I walked to a park and plopped myself & my pack onto a bench. A mid-aged woman walked up to me and said, in the kindest voice, "I'd like to share breakfast with you!" I felt warmed & elated. I thought she would actually sit down with me & share a meal. But my heart sunk a little when she handed me $4 and walked away. Don't get me wrong, I felt so grateful that she cared enough to do that rare thing. But, at the same time, it was a slight let-down. She didn't really share breakfast with me. Of course, she didn't know I didn't use money, but that's still not the point. I left the $4 on the bench and walked on.

This kind of thing happens fairly often when I'm on the road. People sometimes share money, but it's rarer than gold to find people actually willing to share themselves, share their time. On the one hand, who can blame them - trusting a filthy vagabond stranger? On the other hand, "perfect love drives away fear." Money seems like a good thing, but money is usually a substitute for love. Money is what we fall back on when we fear. Money is an attempt to pay the debt of guilt for our lack of true love. We can "help" others and yet not have to let go of our fear of one another.

This is why I like to let people know I don't take money before they try to help me. Then, it causes people to dig inside to find out an alternative way of helping, to find out what love truly is. It causes people to face human contact.

Now notice this: we "love" to "love" everybody but our neighbor. And money makes this kind of "love" possible. I speak from experience. Back in my money days, I'd send good sums of money to over-seas charities. Then I wouldn't feel bad about not ever knowing who my own neighbor was, much less loving her or him. I could also feel not so badly about ignoring street people or hitch-hikers because I'd already paid my dues - as if doing good deeds is some kind of a credit system rather than a natural, non-stop overflow of the heart!

The Wholly Trinity For Dummies

This brings me to a recent grand epiphany I had in the cave on what the Holy Trinity really is. It's so simple it blows me away. Understanding it is practical, the key to love. The Trinity reveals itself blatantly in grammar. Yeah, simple enough for a grammar-school kid:

First Person
(I, Me, Myself, We, Us)
Second Person (You)
Third Person (She, He, It, They, Them, Those)

How can you love the Third Person (They), whom you cannot see, if you cannot love the Second Person (You), whom you can see?

You, the Second Person, are Here and Now, in the Flesh.
They, the Third Person, are away in space and time, dis-embodied.

Most of us are deluded and see the Three Persons of Grammar as separate. We love to love Them (the Third Person) while ignoring the Second Person (You) and the First Person (Myself). At least we think that's love. We love helping somebody else, Him, Her, Them, in some other space and time, just as We walk right by You, our Neighbor. We are in a world where They are more important than You. If you still don't get what I mean, just observe what's happening right now. Is loving Them through this computer, maybe Them on the other side of the world, more important than loving You sitting in a chair right next to me? How often does the cell phone come before the Person in front of You? And television - need I say more?

However, does it all become good when I send money to Them Over There, even as I walk around You or even step over You and Your suffering body in the Flesh?

Does this mean I don't help Them (Third Person)? No! What it does mean is that I cannot love Them (the Third Person) except only through You (the Second Person). The Third Person (They) must become Flesh, must become the Second Person (You), must enter the Here and Now, before I can love Them. And just as They are the Third Person to Me, so I am the Third Person to Them. If I am to love Them, I must become the Second Person to Them. I must become You. I must have contact with You, in the Flesh, Here and Now. The Third Person (They) is disembodied in Heaven and must leave that disembodied state and become Flesh, become Present.

You, the Second Person, are the One Mediator between Me and Them. But if I can't stand in Your Presence, because of fear, and instead throw money at you and walk away, so that You and I become Them to each other again, is this Love?
I was hungry, and you didn't feed Me.

The First Person is the Second Person is the Third Person

But I am scared. How do I overcome my fear of You, so I may be in Your Presence? By realizing My Self. How can I love You if I don't see My Self in You? How can I see My Self in You if I don't know My Self? How can I know and love You if I don't know and love My Self?

If I cannot accept myself as I Am, then I cannot love You, and, hence, cannot love Them. I AM Who I AM, the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one can come to Them except by You who are Me. This is the honest, simple truth. This is not a play on words. You know it if you but look at Your Self.

All I am saying is be sincere. Say to yourself, I Am Who I Am, and I can't be anybody else. Only then can I be courageous, be free, be without fear, be Love.

If I am trying to be somebody else, I am trying to be a disembodied Them - I am trying to be an illusion. If I am illusion, I can only love illusion. I can only love a fictitious Them who doesn't exist. Fiction loves Fiction and Reality loves Reality. Fiction can't love Reality and Reality can't love fiction.

Being Raised to Glory

If I am striving to be Them, ignoring that I Am Who I Am, then I will never reach Them.

Glory, or credit, or fame, or reputation, is talking good about Them. If you are trying to get Credit, you want people to talk good about you as Them. We want people to say, He is a great guy, They are a wonderful people. The Third Person dwells in Glory. Credit goes to the Third Person. I can talk about the Third Person long after the Third Person is gone from earth. The Third Person is glory, reputation, living past the grave. Some, like Gandhi, are raised to a reputation of Glory, some, like Hitler, are raised to a reputation of Shame. But, in reality, You are always here, always alive, the same yesterday, today, and forever, though your body and mind comes and goes. If you were not here, you would be the Third Person, and I would talk about you as He, She, Them.

If you want a good reputation, just be yourself. Say to yourself, I Am Who I Am, and you will be remembered well as They. But also remember that They is only a disembodied illusion. I Am Who I Am is always Here, never changing, never gone.

When I Am Who I Am, I see You as I Am, and I see Them as I Am. When I have entered Reality, there is no more Self and Other, Only I Am Who I Am, in You, in Them, in Me. Your suffering is My suffering.

Compassion Is Pure Enlightenment

Compassion. Com-Passion literally means shared suffering. In our egotism we think we suffer alone - we only know our own passion. When I was in severe, clinical depression, I was lost in my own ego. I thought my suffering was my own and nobody else's. I was convinced nobody in the universe understood my suffering. I was so blinded I couldn't see others' suffering. It was only when I came to the understanding that everybody suffers, and everybody suffers the same suffering, that my suffering turned to Love, to indescribable Joy.

In our suffering, we only see passion, not Com-Passion. We only see suffering, not shared suffering. We see a Trinity of Three Persons, not One Person. In Our enlightenment we know Com-Passion: We see One Person in Three: I Am Who I Am in You, in Them.

In our suffering we see religions, not One Religion. We see faiths, not One Faith. We see baptisms, not One Baptism. We see spirits, not One Spirit. Am I making and manipulating all religions to fit, or are they really the same? If you are sincere, you will know.

The Great Compassion is the Spirit that prompts it to be ill with the illness of the People, to suffer with their suffering.
(Amitayur-dhyana & Vimalakirtinirdesa Sutras)

Your suffering is My suffering, and Your happiness is My happiness, said Buddha.
(Suramgama Sutra)

With the heart concentrated by Yoga, viewing all things with equal regard, He beholds Himself in All Beings and All Beings in Himself. he who sees Me Everywhere and sees Everything in Me, to Him I Am never lost, nor is He ever lost to Me. He who, having been established in Oneness, worships Me dwelling in All Beings -- that Yogi, in whatever way He lives His life, lives in Me. Him I hold to be the Supreme Yogi, O Arjuna, Who looks on the pleasure and pain of All Beings as He looks on them in Himself.
(Bhagavad Gita 6:29-32)

"...for, behold, He suffereth the pains of all men,
yea, the pains of every living creature, both men, women, and children, who belong to the family of Adam"
(Book of Mormon, 2 Nephi 9:21)

I, this world, and all sentient beings
attain the Way simultaneously, and mountains and rivers and grasses, and all things become Buddha
--Shakyamuni Buddha

And Elohim [literally, "Gods"] says to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM." And He says, "Thus You shall say to the children of Israel, 'I AM has sent me to you.' "
(Exodus 3.14 pi!)

Keep through Your Name Those Whom You have given Me, that They may be One as We.
--Jesus (John 17:11)

There is no one
besides Me.
(Isaiah 45:21)

You were created but as One Soul, and as One Soul You shall be raised to life. Allah hears All and observes All.
(Quran 31:28)

Do You not know Yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in You?
(2 Corinthians 13:5)

He Who takes upon Himself the humiliation of humanity is fit to rule them. He who takes upon Himself the country's disasters deserves to be King of the Universe. The Truth often sounds paradoxical.
-- Lao Tzu (Tao Te Ching 78)