Mastery is a state of being which puts an end to all suffering.It is our default state. Yet few, very few, experience it. Why? Simple really… the road to mastery is strewn with suffering.One cannot become a master without going through the suffering. There is no going around it. Until one stops trying all the intricate way we have at our disposal to navigate around the hard work, little if anything is accomplished. Rather than embrace our natural state, we run, really run, in the opposite direction. We are like Forrest Gump. “Run Forrest, Run!” Rather than sacrifice in place, we hightail it to the next pleasurable experience.Our lives are a serious of state changes.
“The only way to get to the bottom of it, is through the dark, bottomless pit” Jay Cradeur
In short, we suffer, we look for something, anything, to stop the suffering, and we move towards it and away from mastery.We are state change junkies.Rather than be Human Beings, we are Human State Changers.
It breaks out like this.A man feels bored so he masturbates.A woman feels bored so she shops.We all have free time and we watch television.Few are the men and women who will face the fire and stop moving.Few will sit in the place of boredom, or anger, or lust,and feel it through and through.
We are trained state change artists.Masturbating, shopping, eating, talking, internet, television, books, work, relationships, children, sleeping, workshops, movies, drinking, and (add your own) all serve as ways for us to change our state.We seem to want to walk a middle ground, stay in the same safe emotional range, and not sway too far from one side to the other.Not too happy and not too sad.Better to be in the safe middle part, because that part we know.
The path to enlightenment, to mastery, isn’t pretty.To quote Richard Rose:
“Look, if you ever want to discover anything of importance,” he said with great seriousness, “you’ve got to get this Pollyanna crap out of your heads. People think they can indulge in whatever whim overpowers them at the moment, and that somehow this ‘spontaneity’ is going to transform them into a wonderful spiritual creature that God just can’t resist loving. This is nonsense.”
This action of changing state is the real killer. It kills our birthright of freedom. Why is it that when you buy a new car, you feel good? Why is it that when your new car gets in an accident you feel bad? What fucking difference does it make it the long run? Why feel good or bad about anything? How many times do we need to have an experience to recognize there is no special in special? There is a puppet master pulling the strings and nobody sees the strings.
Here is a prayer I often use:
I am eternal
I am infinite
I am grateful
I am nothing
Nothing doesn’t burn
Every feeling is a learned behavior. Certain things make you feel good, and certain things make you feel bad. Doesn’t anybody want to dig even a little bit deeper and ask the question: Why? What are the value systems that are in place? Where did they come from? You have money – Good. You don’t have money – Bad. Says who? Why do we think we are any better or any happier than the guy who lives on the street with his shopping cart?
I need a little Thoreau right now:
As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler; solitude will not be solitude, poverty will not be poverty, nor weakness weakness.
Could a greater miracle take place than for us to look through each other’s eyes for an instant?
Do not trouble yourself much to get new things, whether clothes or friends… Sell your clothes and keep your thoughts.
I see state change every where.Everyone is so uncomfortable with experiencing the present moment.At the heart of the this is the Ego.Rather than accept what the universe delivers to us, we move away.Rather than take the shortest path to mastery, we walk, no, we run, in the other direction.
I am reminded of the recommended solution for a partner that has betrayed and had sex with someone else.Rather than sit with the feelings, and figure out why it hurts as it does, we say “Go have sex with someone else.”State change.Yet, when you look at this situation in the objective light of day, if he or she wants to have sex with someone else, why not?If someone isn’t in to you, why do you want them to stick around.It makes no sense.Wish em well and send them off.But no, it would be better to go have sex with someone else as quickly as possible.Makes no sense.
We create these worlds of insulation, all to stay in the middle ground.Note to reader:
There ain’t nothin’ that happens in the middle ground.It all happens around the sharp and jagged edges.
Rather than saying to the universe: “Hit me with your best shot”, we run and hide and protect and cover up so that we don’thave to experience the uncomfortable.Where did we learn to run and hide (another way to say “state change”)?
I am not interested in people who, when I ask them how they are doing, say “Good” all the time.I am interested in my brothers and sister who are in the struggle, who are willing to feel the pain and not run from it.For me, these people are alive.Everyone else is dead, living in some prefabricated fantasy for which only the harshest of life experiences will create any sort of awakening.
We live in a world of zombies, all with the same goals, all with the same feelings, all with the same beliefs, all so shit sure they are living a full life.Where is the questioning?Where is the desire to know thyself?Where is the thrill of a life lived in the unknown?
I had an experience of Samadhi some four years ago.During those hours, it was made clear to me that this life is an illusion.The idea that we are separate beings seemed preposterous.I felt in that experience that I could die having achieved what I came here to do.It was a blessing and a curse, for now I am still here, seeing the world through unfiltered eyes.Part of me has wants to scream out at the top of my lungs, something like “Wake up!!!”There is another part of me that recognizes everything is as it is and that is just about perfect. And.. there is yet another part of me that feels that any efforts on my part would be about as significant as farting in the wind. We all have our own paths to follow.
The Divine Process is not magic. You must respond. Beings must respond. You must do the work. Otherwise, you are controlled by the structures of your own adaptation, and no great thing occurs. Adi Da
In the process of self exploration, something shifts which creates an opening, a focal point through which the universe can speak directly.The more I read and study, it seems this is the common experience.It isn’t light flashes and a permanent state of bliss.It isn’t anything really.It is discovering nothing.It is realizing that the ego is nothing more than a little voice of distraction.It is not me and it is not you.The ego is the gatekeeper, who keeps telling us to move towards the comfortable.The ego thrives in the comfortable.Life is lived on the edge, far from the comfortable.To get to the edge, stand still.It will find you.And so I walk my way through this existence, speaking to those who want to hear, and not caring one way or the other whether I am only talking to myself.
“My purpose is to deprogram you, to clean you, to uncondition you and leave you fresh, young, innocent. And from there you can grow into a real, authentic individual.”
And the only way to bring consciousness is to go on hammering from all the sides so that slowly slowly chunks of your mind go on dropping. The statue of a buddha is hidden in you. Right now you are a rock. If I go on hammering, cutting chunks out of you, slowly slowly the buddha will emerge.”
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An homage to my friend
There is a man I know who has the power of Hercules
He moves with inspiring force, grit and determination
(Truly he is a sight to behold!)
Big and lumbering and broad and ancient and vast
He is a miracle, a paradox, God’s divine contradiction
So afraid of his power to kill, so massive his strength
Moving about the room, a lion in his gelded cage
(Sheer masculine presence ebullient and overflowing)
Feeling his way through this life and those many far gone
We long to see the force, oh leader, the pent up rage
I have looked into his dark orbed eyes to touch his soul
It is a rare honor to feel his divinity, his shining might
(He is a wise old soul who knows much)
In ages past, villagers came just to gaze into emptiness
Many turned away, so great was the master’s radiant light
I remember the change, I cannot ever forget
Transformation from human man to child deity
(Truly, there was a man-god amongst us)
I cried in wonder, how could I not have seen it!
I trembled, mesmerized, basking in authentic humanity
To see this giant stripped of his mental gyrations
I bowed at his feet, and prayed for redemption
(If you have ever felt god unfiltered, you know)
Words no longer necessary, golden light fills our hearts
I have witnessed Little Buddha here on earth, Grenville in completion
*** If you feel inspired to leave a comment, please do so.***
“Now, for those of you who don’t know, this ain’t a debatin’ society, and it sure as hell ain’t a democracy. I ain’t standin’ here tryin’ to win your approval or sell you on my particular brand of bullshit. We ain’t doin’ no meditatin’ or chantin’, we ain’t mergin’ with our mantras or tryin’ to cleanse our minds or purify our souls or get all happy or earn our eternal ree-ward, and we sure as hell ain’t tryin’ to save the world or rescue our fellow man. All we’re tryin’ to do here, the only goddamn thing, is figure out what the hell’s goin’ on. That’s it. If you don’t find that to be a worth-while use of your time, or if think you already know, then clear out and come back when you don’t need to be dragged kickin’ and screamin’ every inch of the way.
Spritual Warfare by Jed McKenna
Life on earth is such a contradiction! At times, I just want to throw my hands up in the air and say “For Fuck’s sake!” On the one hand, I live in an American society that highly prizes wealth and opulence. “Follow your dreams.” “Visualize success.” “Work hard young man and you will make it.” “Have you seen The Secret?” “Create a vision board and look at it every morning and night.” “Outwit, outsmart, out play.” We look at the rich and think they figured it out, they have it made, they must be so very, very happy. Well, I have been rich, and I have been poor. What I know for sure is when I was rich, I was asleep, gourging on my accomplishments, gently petting my ego for leading me to the top, and forgetting that all I had achieved wasn’t worth a pile of dung with regards to answering the question: “What’s Goin’ On?”
It is a very frustrating experience, knowing that achieving wealth isn’t going to nurture my soul, yet finding myself in a society that tells me the opposite. I watch television and notice all the blatant and subtle messages guiding everyone to the false promise land of trendy new clothes, fast cars, and opulent mansions on the hill. Lifetimes are spent in pursuit of these false idols, and for many, there is no wake up call, no life shattering incident that jars us from our delusion stupor. For many, it is not their time. For others, it is their time, and it is a tough time at best. At worst, it is a living hell until all the debris is cleaned from the interior. I know the direction I am to go, and yet there are so many distractions, damned attractive distractions, that lure me onto the inevitable side roads of life.
If I had my way, I would simply stop, take two years off, travel the world, and experience different cultures. In my travels, I would focus on writing down every feeling that comes up, and delving into it until I understand exactly what makes me tick. I would constantly ask myself questions like “Who am I?” and “Why am I here?” and “What’s goin’ on?” But… I can’t do that! I can’t just stop living this life. I have responsibilities. I have a wife and daughter who depend on me. I have a business with clients and employees who need my attention. How do you handle all the tasks, and still find time to delve deep within, and stay there, and do the necessary work in pursuit of an accurate answer to the question: “What’s goin on?”
I do my best, which I suppose is all any of us can do. I make time to write. I write this blog to get some thoughts out of my head and put them on paper where I can noodle around with them more objectively. I am writing a book which allows my mind to run wild and explore other worlds, other dimensions, making them real and tangible. I attend, organize and facilitate various initiation ritual events to keep opening myself up to things I don’t yet understand. I do a ton of reading, mostly the same books many times over, in order to hammer my sieve like brain with key concepts that make sense to me. I am in an intimate relationship with several men and women who constantly push my buttons, allowing me to stew in my own shit and confront my own false beliefs. It is a beautiful life when it is. It is a hellish existence when it is. I do my best.
So what’s goin on? I am ever so tired of the bullshit. I bristle when I am around a group of people and the talk centers around work, the economy, falling 401K values, and home improvement. I hate it. Stick a share stick in my eye so I can leave the room. It works for most people so have at it. Am I that different? Am I a freak of nature? Often it feels like it. I have come to realize I am not good dinner company. It is better to leave me at home with good books and my laptop. I am reaching a point of what feels like collapse, as if I don’t want to play the game any longer. Frankly, I don’t give a damn what happens to me or anyone else. I feel like a prisoner, a slave, a worker bee, a fly buzzing around the shit hole of life. Sometimes I think I would rather be homeless. Then I would have the time to focus on what is really important to me. Am I being selfish? I sure hope so!
To Clutch At Madness
Conventional opinion is the ruin of our souls,
Something borrowed which we mistake as our
Ignorance is better than this; clutch at madness
Always run from what seems to benefit your self:
Sip the poison and spill the water of life.
Revile those who flatter you;
Lend both interest and principal to the poor.
Let security go and be at home amid dangers.
Leave your good name behind
and accept disgrace.
I have lived with cautious thinking;
Now I’ll make myself mad.
Fuck it all. Burn it all to hell. Release me from these goddamn attachments. I have taken the red pill, and yet I still find myself in the matrix. Neo had it easy. He took the red pill and went to a completely different world, devoid of the delusion, and surrounded by likeminded people. I wish I had someone like Morpheus to sit me down and tell me I have been a slave. Bring on the Oracle! I’d like to hear what she has to say to someone who isn’t “the one.” Why would any of us be granted this awareness and then still be in the same mesmerizing, tantalizing, idol worshipping place. Once you get a taste of the truth, you can’t let it go. I have seen many who act like they don’t know, but they do. It is painful to watch. Ignorance is bliss, except when it is not.
Waking up is the goal. Knowing the truth is the prize. Enlightenment is the ticket to contentment. Really? Who says so? All questions are valid. All beliefs have to be challenged. All lies must be burned. What’s goin’ on? We are all in a carnage strewn arena with an outright battle for our bloody birthright in front of us. We are all going in the same direction, ultimately, marching slowly towards a lifetime of deaths and rebirths.
Why are there so many tasty temptations, so many false roadblocks? That is such a pointless question. The roadblocks are there, and understanding why won’t move me one bit closer to any substantive answers. Life isn’t fair. Get over it! Never have I understood more the phrase: the gateless gate. It ain’t there. We put something there and call it a gate. My gates look like work, relationship, finances and children. It is time for some good, primal, teeth gnashing and hardcore gate busting!
We have a Bridge event coming up in one month. As these events get closer, this is what happens. The energy get stronger, the issues get more pronounced, and the fire in the furnace gets fueled. Four days with the men will give me an opportunity to let the lion roar. This is what I want to talk about. These are the issues I want to process. These are the questions I want to throw into the space and see what comes back. The energy is full on. I feel like I am ready to explode. Annie, bar the doors. No one is going to get out alive!
I was driving home from Chicago, heading toward California, when the title of this article popped into my head. My intention was to drive home in two days. This trip, according to my GPS system, should cover approximately 2100 miles, and take 36 hours. Having made this trip many times, I know that if I drive at 8 miles over the speed limit, I can make the trip in 30 hours. My goal is to drive 20 hours the first day, and then 10 hours the second day. I get up the first morning at 3:30AM and am driving in Nebucanezer (my car) by 4AM. Then I drive until midnight. On my trip out to Chicago a month ago, everything went very smoothly, and I stopped at North Platte Nebraska the first night, and made it to Chicago by 7PM the following day.
I experienced something quite different on the way back home. First, I made a stop in Lincoln, Nebraska to see and spend some time with a fallen Grail brother, B.B. who is currently residing at a rehabilitation center while recovering from a horrific automobile accident. Initially after the accident two months ago, B.B. was paralyzed and in a coma. When I saw him last Saturday, he was starting to get some movement back. His speech is still not really understandable, and his right side is fairly well shut down. While his recovery is amazing, he still has ever so far to go. It was sobering to see B.B., helpless as an infant. My memory of B.B. from before the accident was of a man very strong, very proud, and very active. Our lives can change in an instant!
I had checked the weather before heading out. I was very aware of a blizzard that would be blanketing the Midwest sometime Saturday. My goal was to drive through that area of the country before the blizzard hit and then let it pass over me and continue on the next day. If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans! As I was driving through Nebraska, heading towards Wyoming, I saw a road sign that was flashing, “Highway 80 closed at Big Springs heading into Wyoming.” Then the snow started to fall, and fewer and fewer cars were on the road. My commitment to get home by Saturday night was strong, and so I kept driving.
When I arrived at Big Springs, there was still a road that was open. It was Highway 76, which headed toward Denver. I thought that since the road was open, that if I headed south toward Denver, I could miss the blizzard, and make a bit of a detour through Denver, on to Grand Junction, and then back up to Highway 80 at Salt Lake City. This would add 6 hours to my trip, but it was doable. So off I went, for 6 hours of some of the most treacherous driving I have ever experienced.
White Out Conditions! I have never experienced true white out conditions before this trip. Basically, I was driving at about 30 miles per hour, when suddenly, it all went white. So much snow was blowing across the road, that I could see absolutely nothing. I hit my brakes and skidded for what seemed an eternity, praying I wouldn’t hit the car in front of me, slide off to the side of the road into a ditch, nor get rear ended by the car behind me. It was a long skid. For 100 miles, I drove this God forsaken road, with just a few fellow road warriors. I saw so many cars and trucks that did not make it. Cars turned upside down in the center section. 18 wheelers all bent and mangled off to the right. It was eerie, as if driving through a morgue. The white out conditions, the strewn wreckage of fellow travelers, and my visit with B.B., all served to jack up my adrenalin as I pushed forward.
At last, I broke through to some clear weather as I neared Denver. It did get a bit hairy again as I drove late at night through the mountains of Colorado. I stopped for a 3 hour nap somewhere near Grand Junction, and headed off Sunday morning at 4AM. When I drive so many hours, I develop a relationship with fatigue. There are certain things to do to keep focused: music, red bull, cold air on the face, and fond memories of my family back home at my final destination. Driving across the barren landscape of Nevada was quite a challenge as I tried to keep alert and not day dream for extended periods of time. Once I hit Reno, adrenalin again kicked in as I knew I would be home in about 4 hours. I walked through the door of my home in Sebastopol at 6:30PM on Sunday evening, 39 hours after leaving Chicago.
During a solitary trip like this, one has plenty of time to think. I thought about all the people I had met during my travels. I was blessed to have so many interactions with people of varying life experiences and belief systems. It seems most folks in this country would call themselves Christian. And as I heard them speak about God, I came to realize that Christianity, and really any organized religion, is just a clever form of slavery. I was reminded of a line from the movie, The Matrix: “You are a slave Neo!”
I titled this article, Satan Lives In A Church, not because I believe in the devil, but because so many people do believe in the devil. And if you do believe in the devil, you’d have to believe he had something to do with the creation of organized religion. How else could so many go so far towards a life of death? These are strong words, damning words, and it hurts my heart to see things so clearly. Still, there is no denying the power of the church, and its control over the masses.
The entire structure of the church is built upon beliefs. Another way to put this is…. The entire structure of the church is built upon lies. There is nothing there! I was raised to believe there is but one God, a loving God, who watches over me. My life, my current life, is a test of sorts, a test of my candidacy for a life in heaven. If I pass the test, I get to go to heaven. If I fail, I get to go to hell. So, just to be very clear, if I live my life the way I am told to live my life, I win. If I don’t, I fail. The trick to this whole system is to get folks to believe all of this is real. To believers, beliefs in God, heaven and hell are not beliefs. They are real. They are the truth. And there is no opportunity for discussion or dissension. Those who don’t believe are pagans.
Worse yet, children are born into this slavery of beliefs. Baptism gets the process rolling. Attending church every Sunday reinforces all these beliefs. More important than what a child hears in church is the simple fact that his or her parents are attending church. Children want to please their parents, and mimic their behavior. So before a child even has the capacity for discerning thought, their belief system and body of actions are in place. It is like a factory which produces revenue streams by the millions, all brilliantly packaged in a “save your soul” wrapper.
“Family religiousness is undoubtedly the most powerful predictor of adolescent and subsequent adulthood religiousness” (Michele Dillon, Sage Encyclopedia of the Sociology of Religion, 2007, p. 538).
This raises some big questions: Why do parents raise their children with a given belief system? Why is there so much fear around raising a free thinking child? What is in it for the parents when they raise a child to think and believe the same concepts? Why are parents so threatened when their children don’t believe the same things? In my own family, I have come to be called the black sheep. I do all the wrong things. I smoke. I am divorced. I don’t go to church. I am agnostic (meaning, I don’t have an opinion about God’s existence). I participate in all sorts of “bad” behavior. In short, if you believe in hell, you would have to assume I am going there.
I realize that the writing of this article is somewhat pointless.
The power of religion is so great, I don’t see how anyone nor anything can dislodge this blind obedience in beliefs. As I was driving, I was struck by how many Christian radio stations there are, especially throughout the Midwest and deep south. Clearly, people who do believe, find great comfort in listening to others who believe. It feels good to be part of a tribe, to be accepted as a member, to feel safe and unthreatened by the pagans. One radio station told me that Oprah was participating in devil teachings. One woman called in and said “Praise Jesus!” for she had turned off the Oprah show a couple of years back. Hallelujah!
Why is it so few of us are willing to look at the possibility of experiencing heaven here on earth? I happen to live in a very progressive part of California, where “the church” doesn’t seem to have such a strong foothold. It was a real eye opener for me to experience life outside of California. The church is very powerful. Its tentacles reach far and wide. Billions of people are living with belief systems that bear no resemblance to reality. And all the time, the churches get richer and stronger. The government provides the church with attractive tax breaks. Why, in America, where we are to have separation of church and state, don’t we? When you start to peel back the shiny veneer, the picture you see isn’t very pretty.
I can say based on my own experiences, that there is something so loving, so wonderful, so divine, and so precious which lives within me. Further, it not only lives within me, it is me. And it is you as well. It takes hard work to unpeel the onion until there is nothing left. It is a treacherous path through the dark side. I am delighted when men sign up for a men’s event, for it demonstrates a thirst for the infinite. It demonstrates one’s desire to unearth that which is lying dormant. When I feel that thirst, and get to spend time with men who are searching for heaven on earth, my gifts get to be used. In those instances, I can be of service. In those instances, we might just find that God lives in the spaces between us, in the spaces between our words, in the spaces between our cells, and in the space where silence lives.
“Perhaps it is the opportunity of our lifetime!”
These last few weeks, I have driven. I mean….Really Driven! My Acura TL is resting now outside of my hotel room. His name is Nebacanezer and he has been a freaken stud.
Together, we started in Sebastopol, California, and drove 20 hours straight to North Platte, Nebraska. Next day, onward to Mokena, Illinois. A week later, I was driving to Lee’s Summit, Missouri and back to Mokena. A few days later, off again to Nashville, Tennessee and then to Bay St. Louis, Mississippi where I am right now. As I go back in my mind and recall all the states I have covered: California, Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, Missouri, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi, I marvel at the diversity of climate, landscape and life experience. In the end, as I sit in my hotel room in the deep south, one mile from the Gulf of Mexico, warm humid air outside, storm clouds threatening, listening to The Allman Brother’s “Eat a Peach” and writing this article, I am struck with a question that feels called to be explored: “What is poverty?”
Over the last few weeks of this “walkabout” I have had oh so many conversations with my brothers, my dudes, my male buddies. All of them are fairly seriously tweaked out about finances, the economy, the spending patterns of their women, the IRS and taxes, and just what the hell is going on in these crazy times. Fear of not surviving is rampant. Fear of not being able to provide for themselves and their loved ones runs wild. In short, it is a fear of poverty. It is like a plague has descended, a massive dark cloud engulfing us all during these trying times. I am fortunate in that I seem to be getting a much broader perspective of this phenomenon through all my many conversations. When I talked to one of my brothers, just telling him that everybody is feeling the same way, i.e., “scared shitless”, this brought him some peace of mind. It is always good to feel you are not alone. Even if this feeling of being a part of a tribe is an illusion, the illusion brings comfort to most. I have to remember that most people don’t think or feel as I do. My true tribe is a tribe of one.
There are many aspects to this issue of poverty. In the American culture, it is a bad thing. Yet monks, whose whole life is a search for enlightenment, chose a life of poverty. Interesting isn’t it? We pursue financial security and things like cars, houses, televisions, and fat bank accounts. They choose to live on a very limited diet, spend as much time alone as possible, and eschew all the material possessions we rabidly pursue and show off to our neighbors. Frankly, I am overwhelmed at the prospect of writing about this topic. Heresy isn’t real popular.
So as I hear the cleaning staff outside my room speaking in their southern drawl, I will endeavor to keep writing and see what flows out. In a very wonderful way, this is a nice metaphor for the situation many of us are feeling right now. Overwhelm. So I will take a deep breath, take each thought as it comes, do my best at conveying my feelings, and go on from there. That is the best I can do. That is the best any of us can do.
I have always thought of the word “poverty” as a bad word. My general definition would be “not enough!” Isn’t that what poverty is, it is not having enough? I knew as a young boy that I didn’t want poverty in my life. I remember my Dad driving me and my brothers through East Oakland in some sort of life lesson experience. He showed us how even people in our very own country were poor. Trash was everywhere. Safeway shopping carts were strewn on the streets. Houses were all dilapidated. Old Cadillacs with flat tires were parked on the brown dead grass. I think my dad sensed we were a bit spoiled and wanted us to begin to appreciate what we had. My Dad grew up poor, so he knew something about gratitude. My Dad is a good man, and he made this special effort to teach us about some of the realities of life. I got the message: “Poverty is to be avoided at all costs!”
Then in my twenties, I read a book by Carlos Castandeda, A Separate Reality. In that book, there was a 2 page passage that I will always remember. In the book, Carlos is a student, who is doing some research on a shaman named Don Juan. Carlos is your typical American, westernized male, very left brain, and quite unaware of the unseen world. He had arrived in a little village, awaiting the coming of Don Juan. During his days in the poverty stricken village, he noticed some local boys, and was struck by how they would beg for money, and eat the scraps off a restaurant table after the patrons had left.
“Do you feel sorry for them?” Don Juan exclaimed in a questioning tone.
“I certainly do,” I said.
“Because I am concerned with the well-being of my fellow man. Those are children and their world is ugly and cheap.”
“Wait wait. How can you say their world is ugly and cheap?” Don Juan said mocking my statement. “You think you are better off, don’t you?”
I argued my point for a while longer and then Don Juan asked me bluntly. “Didn’t you once tell me that in your opinion man’s greatest accomplishment was to become a man of knowledge?”
“Do you think that your very rich world would ever help you to become a man of knowledge?”, Don Juan asked with slight sarcasm.
“No!” I said emphatically.
“Then how could you feel sorry for those children?” he said seriously. “Any of them could become a man of knowledge. All of the men of knowledge I know were kids like those you saw eating leftovers and licking the tables.”
What I see out there is men in panic feeling sorry for themselves. I see men reacting to the current situation, which is essentially a dance with poverty, as if something is very wrong. I see men getting angry. Fear manifests in many ways. And it is all in reaction to having a bit or a lot less than last year. That’s it.
Many of us have to live on less. That is the current situation. All there is to do is adjust. All the whining, the anger, the emotional reactions are pointless and only bring heartache to ourselves and our families. The following comments, all of which I have heard numerous times, go to serve what purpose? “My 401K is getting killed.” “The IRS is after me.” “I don’t know if I can afford it.” “She is spending more money than she is making.” “My check might bounce.” I can speak for myself here and state very bluntly that my ego, my identity, and my sense of well being have all been tied to my financial stability. This has been a potent lie we have been told since birth. And I bought into it. Maybe you can relate. What I am getting at here is that perhaps, just perhaps… this dance with poverty is a massive opportunity, if only we could see it from a broader perspective.
This dance with poverty could be an opening for massive ego deconstruction.
This interaction with poverty presents the opportunity to go deep within and find humility. In the Buddhist culture, complete and total poverty of the ego is the ultimate awakening. Our current financial poverty can lead all of us to a profound humbling. It can teach us to appreciate the little things in life if only we would stop the struggle. How much time do we need to spend like a rat in a cage, running and running on the wheel, getting only tired, frustrated and depressed? Truly, we all have so much to be grateful for, even if we can’t afford to eat out at our favorite restaurant as often as we’d like. Just the simple fact that we are alive is all the reason we need to be grateful. Right now, take a deep breath and see how it feels. Recognize that those who have passed on can’t feel the air filling their lungs. Right now, imagine the eyes of another and see if you can feel the warm heart that beats inside. Close your eyes and feel the blood pumping through your veins. We are alive and life is rich.
As I drive around the bayous of Mississippi, I stop to sell cable with my newfound southern drawl – “Hey, I’m Jay…. Y’all got the dish?” Most of the people I meet with are poor. Many live in trailers as their homes were destroyed in Hurricane Katrina. It can get real hot, and the gnats (which do bite…hard) are everywhere. Yet, I can say based on my few days here, these are some of the friendliest people I have met. They exude warmth that I find ever so refreshing. I walk up to the door, and “poor ignorant southern folk” invite me in, often before I have even introduced myself. They offer me water or coffee. One man last night fed me and my buddy with an unlimited supply of boiled shrimp, garlic and potatoes that he made earlier in the day. Poor? Yes. Humble? Yes. Arrogant? No. Angry? No. Having a pity party? No. Worried about the world collapsing? No.
Out of catastrophe comes beauty. Out of complete devastation comes transformation.
Now it may be possible that some of you are saying something like “Well, that’s easy for you to say, you don’t have my bills to pay!” or “Fuck you, you don’t really know what it is like living with her!” or “Jay, you are so full of shit, go fuck yourself!” I get it. This isn’t great news. And yet it is! On top of a financial crisis, we also have a much larger crisis of spirit, and that is the crisis that is worth addressing with every ounce of our being.
Among the maxims on Lord Naoshige’s wall, there was this one:
“Matters of great concern should be treated lightly.”
Master Ittei commented,
“Matters of small concern
should be treated seriously.”
The choice is yours. The opportunity is here like never before. Never in my generation has there been such a massive calling by the universe to drop the ego, surrender, and free fall into humility and nothingness. This is our chance to go deep within ourselves and find the inner peace, the inner love and the inner lover. The universe is forcing the issue. You can go with it, or fight it kicking and screaming. What happens outside of ourselves is all noise. The real game, the real path, is inward. That is where the long lasting grace is to be found. This is what Osho calls “The Golden Path.
I invite you to join me and come to a place of acceptance, humility and exhilaration. I am slowly starting to see where this dance with poverty is taking me, and I am humbled by the intelligence of the universe. I am absolutely ecstatic about how the universe is bouncing me around, teaching me that I am not in control. This is an opportunity to learn the ways of the wizard. For many of us, we aren’t as young as we once were. The old ways don’t work like they use to. The sword is not so sharp. It feels heavy in our hands. Subtlety, wisdom and patience are called for. The universe is calling for it. And I bet your woman and children are looking for it within you as well.
And best of all for me, I am learning that by not being in control, and merging with the universe rather than fighting against it, things are actually working out with a shamanic mysticism, a divinity, and a magic that my soul craves. What a time to be alive. Game on!