Forever and ever -- longer than soil is brown and solid --
longer than water ebbs and flows.
-- Walt Whitman
The trek of the Joad Family in John Steinbeck's "The Grapes of Wrath" is toward their place, their work, and their purpose: the "Promised Land" of Home. This is the essence of the great American vision of "justice for all" and the driving force of all of the movements for social change: an end to slavery, women's right to vote, worker's rights, civil rights, women's rights, farm worker rights, LGBT rights, marriage equality, environmental protection, the Occupy movement, and peace-building (from among still others). And this vision continues in the many creative efforts to "return to the land", preserve the commons, and resistance to the destructive nature of multinational financial entities and globalization: with the powerful vision of both saving the Planet from catastrophic climate change and leaving no person or people behind or out on the margins. Like the "Rose of Sharon" in "The Grapes of Wrath", we are each (and all) called to activate our compassion: and engage in a grand purpose beyond our own narrow self-interest: we are all bound together in a common humanity and we must each offer the "breast" of our commitment to the well-being of every "other". This is what it means to live in, and from, our soul: that core part of us that is our true identity: and at the same time, our "bridge" to the divine.
We all need one another! No one truly lives who pretends to live in isolation from others -- and intellectual or spiritual isolation is the most damaging of all -- for deep personal and sustainable transformation only occurs in the experience of dynamic relations with others. Each one of us has the power to live as an expression of "soul commitment" to the gift of Life that has been freely given to us... that we all eventually become "bruised, scarred, and wounded" is as badge of honor! We are meant to become manifestations of courage and to both intend and practice the soulful art of becoming "helping hands and healing voices" for everyone in our human Family: regardless of our personal stories of pain. In fact, the surest way of easing our pain, is to become agents of active kindness to others: in helping others who are suffering and are burdened by life, we reduce the amount of hurt we ourselves are carrying! This is an amazing truth! Try it out for yourself: practice a random act of kindness -- in secret -- everyday, and observe how your own life will open up: and then, when you've built up your courage, try loving the "unloveable" in your community: serve them, share with them, listen to them, advocate for them: and then observe how every aspect of your life will begin to shine: as you love others, love will come back to you, overflowing... and the "grapes of wrath" in your life will steadily become the "sweet wine of discovery": you have become happy and you have found the Promised Land of your "Welcome Home"...
"In this New Beginning, there is the Poem.
And the Poem is within the Heart of the Holy One, and the Poem is also the very Mystery of the Holy One. The Poem is the New Beginning with the Holy One. All things are recreated through the Poem, and without the Poem there is nothing. What is, and that which may be, are sourced in the Poem: as the Poem becomes, consciousness rises into Being, and Being is the joy of infinite possibilities, and infinite possibilities overcome every darkness." (Adapted from the Gospel of John 1: 1-5)
Inspiration... mystery... the surprise of sudden insight... The poet, the musician, the artist, the mystic, the quantum physicist, the scientist of consciousness: each and all make themselves "available to possibilities", the always-present possibilities, pregnant within every moment: some, like Mozart, seemingly dwell immersed within these "available possibilities"... It is as if there is a universal "field of consciousness" that both surrounds and penetrates all consciousness, and that, on occasion, one may be able to venture into or tap into this universal field... It is there that all music has already been imagined and composed... all art has been created, every poem written... and it is there that the mystic-unity and intelligence and imagination reside as if a "trinity" of divine being... and more: this "trinity" of divine being extends throughout / within all of creation: both transcendent and immanent, everywhere at once...
Ancient sages and mystics "understood" this which is not understandable as our very ground of being: and called Her Mother. Earth and Moon, Tree and Field, Fruit and Seed, Cycles-within-cycles: and in the shaman-trance these same sages and mystics accessed an intuitive wisdom of Original Blessing and Oneness that blessed these "primitive" societies with the practical awareness of the divine feminine: that they were all crushed by even more primitive societies who excelled in the art of war is undeniable, and that these suddenly "pagan" religions were perceived as a threat to the new dominator paradigm is also undeniable... This dominator paradigm successfully drove the divine feminine underground -- and then chased the remnant of practitioners through centuries of witch-hunts and inquisitions: the victors of war always write their stories of truth: and to "get along" in the world of exploitation, oppression, and violence, one quickly learns the importance of "going along": holy scriptures are "massaged with the victors' message", creeds are pronounced, systems of advancement are established, and "civilization" is born... and yet, and yet...
The fruits of the dominator paradigm are all about us: a precious blue Planet on the edge of irreversible catastrophe, endless wars, theological justifications for the oppression of women, the malnutrition of millions, economics of a predatory greed, and cultures of mindless consumption (to list only the more obvious "fruits"). In spite of (or perhaps because of) the evidence of of the likelihood of an impending "final victory" of the dominator paradigm, the divine feminine is returning to the forefront of human consciousness as if to present to humanity another possibility: the creative possibility in the face of the likelihood of planetary destruction. Mystics of the Divine Feminine, like Lao-Tzu, Francis, Rumi, Lalla, Ramakrishna, Aurobindo, Margaret Starbird, and Andrew Harvey have always been "present" -- even if on one level "invisible" to the dominator paradigm: marginalized with epithets of "eccentric" or "delusional" (the civilized method of burning at the stake). And it is to these mystics of the Divine Feminine, one must inevitably add the Name of Yeshua the Poet of Nazareth: even though his community of mystic-activists were co-opted by the then ages-old dominator paradigm, both the Person and the Vision could not be overcome! Mary Magdalene may have had to flee its crushing grasp and live her days in exile with her Child... and Yeshua himself -- in death paraded as King and God -- lives still on the margins of church, theologies, cultures, and powers: he hides himself with the Broken and Marginalized, with the Exploited and Oppressed, with the Hungry and Homeless, and with the Lovers and Creators of Beauty: his prayer is "One Love", his action is "Peace and Justice for All", and his heart is Free for the Giving: its access point is in everyone's mystic-center: the Heart... the true Home of the Universe...
Divine Mother of Loving Compassion, we give thanks for your sacred vow to not enter Paradise until All Beings are saved! Bless our attempts to activate our minds and hearts to likewise live our days as Loving Compassion in sacred service for everyone's liberation in justice and peace... Om Peace Amen...
So, how is your pursuit of happiness going? Are things beginning to come together and work out for you? Has your meditation jumped to the super-conscious level yet? Have you been able to finally let go of all the baggage of hurts, regrets, and pains that you've had to endure and lug around with you for so very long? Is your love-life finally where you've dreamed it would be? Are you adored by someone? (Are you still seeing your therapist? It has been a real long time now, hasn't it?) Why haven't you made any lasting advance in your life-long pursuit of Self-realization?
Do any of these questions resonate with you? Have any version of them been asked of you? Do you ask yourself any of these questions -- or your own versions of them? How about this one: have you ever wondered why self-help gurus write and sell so many books to the same people, over and over again? You would think that if the first book didn't prompt the jump to self-realization -- what with a title like "How to Know God, Fulfill Your Divine Potential, and Fully Awaken to Your Chosen Destiny" -- why would the second book -- with a title like "Manifest Your Liberation, Achieve Limitless Prosperity, and Orgasm Everytime" -- still reach the bestseller list (with an advertisement on the back page for an exclusive Carribean Cruise for Seven Days with the Cosmic Series Author and Your Own Private Consultations, morning yoga on the sundeck, clothing optional hot tub, and nightly Tarot Readings)? Ah, self-realization is big business...
But where does it all leave the average person, perhaps with a heart that has been broken a few times over... perhaps with a marginally successful career, but still coming home alone... perhaps very sincere and devout in daily meditation, maybe some yoga, maybe some faith community worship, maybe some friendly volleyball and campfires on the beach... but ... but... but... Mountains of good-will, integrity, sincerity, faithfulness, and good ol' effort just never seem to be able to put "Humpty-Me, Humpty-You Back Together Again"...
If you've been able to get this far -- great! Now scan back to the Divine Mother Prayer at the top of this page... do you notice something important, something very special revealed in the prayer? That something important and very special is what Buddhists call the "Bodhisattva Vow": To not enter Paradise until All Beings are saved... and then to work throughout all time for everyone's liberation in justice and peace. There is nothing in the prayer about "me"... about "my" self-realization... about "my" fulfillment... except that "I might serve everyone else's liberation!" Holy Moly! Do you get it? You don't need to buy another book (except perhaps mine)! Love is all you need! All you need to do is Love! All you need to give your therapist is Love! All that your past needs is Love to turn the page! All that your dreams need is for you to actively engage your compassion and to Love! All that Love needs for you to do is to Love! Do you see? Nothing -- absolutely nothing -- in this life is about "me"! Everything in life is about Every Other -- and then about "US"! "God" is not here for "my" salvation: God is "there" for the "others' " liberation in your Love! This awakening is called "Bodhisattva Therapy": this awakening is the point and the purpose of life. And this awakening is absolutely free: all you have to do / be to receive it is to give it away.
Teresa was born on March 28, 1515, in Avila, Spain -- a scant twenty-three years after the Moors were expelled by Ferdinand and Isabella. She is said to have been a stunning beauty with black hair and a voluptuous body. Her beauty, with her intelligence and sense of humor, captured the heart of everyone who knew her... yet her life was to unfold, not in marriage, but in a life dedicated to intense interior contemplative prayer -- while at the same time actively engaged in forming and reforming intentional religious communities.
This briefest of possible introductions, truthfully, does no justice to Teresa's life and faith: but the point of it is not to re-construct an era, a place, nor a religion. Rather, it is to invite the serious student of "Mystery" and worker in the "field of Compassion", to engage ever more deeply with the One Love, who is at the same time: Source, Sustainer, and Liberator. This was Teresa's example: this is our opportunity! [The best book to study about Teresa's life and teachings is "Teresa of Avila, Mystical Writings, by Tessa Bielecki.]
Meanwhile, astronomers have discovered a structure in the universe so large that modern cosmological theory says it should not exist: a record-breaking cluster of quasars -- young active galaxies -- stretching a mind-boggling 4 billion light years across! By way of comparison, our own galaxy, the Milky Way, is "just" a hundred thousand light-years across... (not that any of us are planning either of those vacation trips right now...).
Why is a cosmological surprise mixed in with ruminations on spiritual mystery? Well, this being now the 21st century, to be "interested" in one requires interest in both! The writings of the mystics -- whether Christian, Hindu, Buddhist, Islamic, Jewish, Goddess, Ancient Indigenous, etc. -- are as "windows" for a deeper look (usually intuitive) into the nature of Reality, into the truth of our being, and into the Only One (the Unitive Reality). Likewise, the work of scientists, particularly the work of astronomers and quantum physicists, are "unlocking doors of new perception" for the modern mystic to venture through. This meeting of "sage and scientist" holds out the hope that humanity might be able to survive the chaos of predatory cultures, religions, economics, and politics: only an evolution in consciousness is capable of transforming chaos into community, violence into justice, hate into harmlessness, poverty into abundance, and division into unity.
So, back once more to Teresa. Why read her writings now? Why look to her example in this century -- one so very different from hers? The answer lies in the "grit" of transformation: while grace is always a free gift, pearls are seldom tossed upon the walkway to be trampled upon. Teresa fought hard for every free gift of grace that she received! Our philosophical tendancy in this day and age is to either "say our prayers" or "state our intentions" and then wait to be "delivered"... it isn't to surrender our minds to constant Remembrance... it isn't to surrender our hearts to the alternating "whims" of the Holy One: now abandonment... now ravishing... now the dark night... now the ecstasy... And it is definitely not to surrender our wills to the Consciousness of One Love: without limits... Yet, this is precisely the example of Teresa!
Take a listen:
"The soul is like a castle made entirely out of a diamond or a very clear crystal, in which there are many rooms..."
"The things of the soul must always be considered as plentiful, spacious, large; to do so is not an exaggeration..."
"The soul is capable of much more than we can imagine..."
"Have great confidence, for it is necessary not to hold back one's desires, but to believe in God that if we try we shall little by little, even though it may not be soon, reach the state the saints did with His help..."
"If we practice love of neighbor with great perfection, we will have done everything."
"The Lord doesn't look so much at the greatness of our works as at the love with which they are done."
"The important thing is not to think much but to love much; and so do that which best stirs you to love."
"Oh Love! How I would want to say this word everywhere!"
"Perfection as well as its reward does not consist in spiritual delights but in greater love and in deeds done with greater justice and truth."
Teresa for the Mystic-Activist, is an example of love in action, of perseverance in the face of great obstacles, and of a living spirit of constant adoration... Even while washing dishes, it was in the adoration of constant "remembrance": "Lord of All Pots and Pans", was a working refrain for Teresa... we would do well to follow her example in the "everyday" of building a world worthy of our children.
Imagine how very much different this world would be, if we lived by means of Rumi's advice! "Let the beauty we love be what we do." Entire Universes, planets, and transformations dwell within the confines of these nine words... now, where would you like to go?
I live much of my life in my imagination. Did you know that the Original Question that dawned somewhere within the Original Consciousness was, "What if?" This Original Question incited a riot of Imagination within that Original Consciousness: all this scientific talk about a "Big Bang" doesn't even come close to the Cosmic Enthusiasm for Unlimited Possibilities that followed after, "What if?" The next amazing thing was the Awareness that to ask, "What if?" an answer was required: and so Love was born: and then in quick "dis-order" came Delight and Passion, Curiosity and Serendipity, and Pleasure and Opposite. After an eternity or two of a rub here and a rub there amongst that crowd, they collectively asked, "What now?" Immediately upon asking that question (it was as if the Original Consciousness had already figured out what would, of course, come next): Beauty was born... and "OC" crowned her Queen and Mother of All That Was To Follow. Her first children, you ask? Well, of course they were the twins: Wisdom and Wonder... And thus, the Universe was seeded with the many fruits of Sacred Imagination... and so it continues... and so it continues to this very day and to you...
Each of the Sacred Archetypes -- OC's primary thoughts -- are encoded within the DNA of every living creature, but even more, they are actually encoded with the very fabric of every existent thing: they are the completely invisible threads of Reality and of Being: this isn't another "string theory": this is the Whole Kit-and-Caboodle-Reality. Here's the point: we can, through the activation of our will and intention, clothe ourselves, every day, with this "Awareness Fabric". We can choose to awaken from the slumber of our little-pretend-selves, and clothe ourselves with this Light: we can choose to awaken from our tired sleeping culture of collective delusion, and live within this Light: we can choose to awaken from the sleep-walk of time, and so become Light-Bearers for Beauty.
Is it obvious to you that the next question is, "How?" This is where the spirit-filled, luscious poetry of Rumi comes in! Rumi is a Master-Guide into Awakening. All great poetry is a revelation of each one of the subtle movements, the ebb and flow, of Love. This is certainly true for Rumi: it is as if he takes the rough-cut diamond of Love and holds it up to the light to catch ever-new angles and sparkles for each of us to wonder over, long for, and maybe occasionally to touch... Rumi is a long, slow, seduction of the heart: a motionless disrobing of the mind: and a thrust, a penetration, a reception, and an all-engulfing climax of Liberated Soul: I am You, You are Me, and We are All Together One: this is Enlightenment (and the Difficult and Delightful Journey of "Getting There", or Remembering Only That Which Is).
Listen. No.. I mean Really Listen:
"Ahhhhh retreats back into my mouth..."
"I turn my face to you, and into eternity: we have been in love that long."
"When you die into soul, you lift the lid on the cooking pot."
"Love looks like fire. Feed yourself into it. Be the fireplace and the wood."
"See clearly the glory of nothing and stand, inexplicably, there."
"Still dizzy from last night's wine?"
"Sometimes I praise love; sometimes love praises me."
"There is a sun within every person, the you we call companion."
"Love wants an arm and a leg."
[Each of these lines are from Rumi, The Glance translations by Coleman Barks]
So we come to the Big Question: will you consent to become Love's arm and leg? This decision is the essence of the essence of the choice this particular moment in time is presenting to each one of us individually, and all of us collectively. Will you opt out of the mystic-activist Quest, and settle down-down-down into "life-as-normal"? Will the Great God of Money corner you in some back-alley of your mind and seduce you into submission? Will the Other God of Power wake you up some night in a cold-sweat of sweet possibilities -- you know, there are so many people who just need a good moment of having "it" stuck to them? Will the Final God of Fear leave you alone: I mean really leave you alone? This un-holy trinity rules the world of "normal": and there are so very many good reasons for negotiating with them: maybe you could work the system, you know, massage it enough to reduce a little bit of the world's misery... that would be a life with purpose and meaning, right? But, then too, you could just say f**k this s**t and numb yourself in whatever way that works for you...
But don't forget: I know you! Remember: I am You, You are Me, and We Are All Together One? I know how your heart secretly hungers for something "more"... for something that truly awakens you every morning with the expectation that courage and grace will have breakfast with you... and for hearty companions to inspire and uplift the ordinary into an everyday extra-ordinary... You have been made for greatness! And right now, this precious blue Planet needs you to become her life-long Advocate; issues of war and peace need your passionate attention to build a world of Justice, Equality, Kindness, and Harmlessness for All: women and children are still not safe anywhere, nor are they equal to men, nor do the institutions that serve the God of Power intend to change -- you are needed to spark the difference! Do not be afraid and do not cave to the feeling of being overwhelmed! You have within you each of the Sacred Archetypes to give your body breath, your mind hope, and your soul light... who knows why, but there are some "knots" in the fabric of the Universe: You are needed to simply untie them... and then, once you've done that, let's all just go ahead and disrobe the entire Universe!
"non est ad astra mollis e terris via"
There is no easy way from the earth to the stars.
Neither personal transformation, nor the global, will ever be easy. No one can take transformation off of some shelf and hand it to you (and those claiming to have it "for sale", are only offering a bunch of hoo-ey). No one -- no religion, no economic system, and no political party -- has a "corner" on the ways and means of deep change, let alone the rapid and total transformation that is needed. So where is the intentional mystic-activist to look for some down-to-earth guidance: that holds out the possibility of radical and true "rEvolution"?
How about starting with getting profoundly familiar and deeply connected with Mahatma Gandhi? He was a unique combination of sinner, rascal, saint, mystic, and revolutionary activist: he lived "embedded" in the Bhagavad Gita (the Hindu manual for yoga practice, wisdom, and devotion): but not in the safety of a monastery or private club, instead in the grit, sweat, and blood of suffering humanity. The "rEvolution" which he led, not only freed India from the grasp of the British Empire through nonviolent means, but also inspired multiple generations of nonviolent mystic-activists around the world. Martin Luther King, Jr., Cesar Chavez, Dolores Huerta, Aung San Suu Kyi, Alfredo Perez Esquivel, Desmond Tutu, Daniel Berrigan, and Vandana Shiva, are but a few examples. Wouldn't it be great to someday have your name listed among theirs?
Gandhi offers a firm philosophical footing for proceeding in work for transformation. The first, and perhaps the most important, "Gandhian principle" would be the beginning line of this article: "There is no easy way from the earth to the stars." Change is never easy -- power will never simply hand over the keys to the kingdom. Martin Luther King, Jr. studied, practiced, worked, suffered, and lost as often as he won: yet racism was exposed and challenged: and civil rights for all continues to be the goal of new generations. The second "Gandhian principle" would perhaps be: "Love is the law of our being". This principle firmly entrenches our mind, heart, soul -- and feet -- in the timeless mystic wisdom of "We were created by Love, for Love, to become Love" (Simone Weil). If it is true that we might only get what we aim for so we better aim high -- there is nothing higher than this core realization. Is there anything at all more different from the dominator paradigm than "love without limits"? Is there anything at all the complete opposite of power than compassion, kindness, and practiced harmlessness? The third, and final, introductory "Gandhian principle" would be "There is only one liberation: that which frees both the oppressor and the oppressed into a new relationship based on love, forgiveness, and justice". We all either get there together, or none of us at all will enter the New Creation: there is no half way to Paradise.
Of course, this is the briefest possible introduction to Gandhi... but it is really intended to be an introduction to your own possibilities! Gandhi's life example and teachings are an invaluable resource for the modern mystic-activist. I suppose, though, if I were to add just one more thing to this page, and to your study and practice, it would be this: have fun! Smile all the time if you possibly can. Your enthusiasm will at least confuse the opponents of transformation! Be playful and joyous: act as if you and the cause of peace, justice, equality, kindness, and beauty have already overcome. Become the greatest Lover this world has ever known! And if two or three of you -- or a group -- steadfastly cling to becoming the change you want to see in the world: the rest of us will, sooner or later, follow you. Your life is worth this much, isn't it?
We've been living for so long in the "dark house of greed', to even gaze out of the few remaining "windows" is a challenging task. Greed has been blessed by the religions of the world. Greed has been legitimized as the "only" viable economic system. And folks go crazy playing the lottery -- in the hopes of joining the rarified air of the super-wealthy... And those persons most "wedded" to the saving-grace of greed, are the followers of Yeshua, the Poet (and Poor Man) of Nazareth: how they reconcile his word with their hearts is a mystery:
"Blessed are you poor, for yours is the Kingdom of God... But woe to you rich... Woe to you who are full now, for you shall be hungry..." "... Get away from me: for I was hungry and you didn't give me to eat; I was thirsty, and you didn't give me to drink... Insofar as you did not do it for one of the least, you didn't do it for me, either." (Luke 6:20 - 24; Matthew 25: 41 - 46)
A Further Contrast of Light and Dark:
+ 3 trillion dollars a year -- this is how much the wealthiest Americans avoid in taxes through subsidies, back-room deals, and assorted schemes. these subsidies are from special deductions, exemptions, exclusions, credit, capital gains, and loopholes worth about $1.1 trillion (including business subsidies raises the total to $1.25 trillion). Contrast with the cost of Social Security ($884 billion) and Medicare ($524 billion).
+ According to the IRS, 17% of taxes were not paid in 2006 (an underpayment of $450 billion). Most of this is due to underreporting of income.
+ It is estimated that between $21 and $32 trillion is hidden in offshore accounts -- untaxed. 40% of the world's richest individuals are Americans -- that's $8 - $12 trillion of the total. The historical annual stock market return is 6% -- that's a return of $480 - $720 billion... the tax loss is between $96 billion and $252 billion.
+ From 1987 - 2008, corporations paid an average of 22.5% in federal taxes. since the recession, this has dropped to 10% -- even though their profits have doubled in less than 10 years. The missing 12.5% on $2 trillion in profits amounts to $250 billion a year.
+ There is no financial transaction tax -- not a penny of sales tax is paid on financial transactions which have been estimated at about three quadrillion dollars annually -- or three thousand times the deficit. Just half a penny from every dollar of total US financial transactions would pay off the national debt -- not just the deficit, but the whole $15 trillion debt.
Continuing the contrast with a different philosophical perspective...
in the fluid state of Inter-Being --
a sexual / mystical weaving
of the Sacred Feminine with the Divine Breath
within the fabric of creation itself --
all flesh, every creature, every river, every ocean...
Earth, Planets, Sun, and Stars:
we are water
we are ancient starshine:
every piece and every particle,
but at all times: Only One!
"Behind / within every substance:
everything is in motion
everything is very loose
and very luscious -- endless curves
in every direction -- all at once;
this bend of the Infinite into the finite
and then back again
the awakened know as: One Love!
"Still -- and yet --
(all of this and more besides)
the entire Universe is contained
within one eyelash of your Beloved --
if you remember anything,
So how we treat one another, how we arrange the economics and the politics of our lives, is exactly how much or how little we love the Holy One. This "no difference" is our human hope for Justice, Equality, and Peace. This "no difference" is everything...
Just as there are a range of sounds outside the boundaries of the human ear... just as there are a range of colors outside the abilities of the human eye to see... so too, there are "fields" of dimensions / consciousness outside the perceptive abilities of normal human awareness. Explorations into these "fields" has historically been the vocation of the mystic, the shaman, the yogi, and the ecstatic. More recently, psychologists, quantum physicists, and other scientists have joined in the study of the "mystic realm". For many, the movie "What The Bleep?", was their first taste of the infinite possibilities just beyond our human ability to touch or grasp (and control). Fred Alan Wolf, one of the scientist "stars" of the movie, famously said, "The real trick to life is not to be in the know, but to be in the mystery."
It is fascinating to be on the outer edge of modern scientific explorations into the Mystery of the Universe and of Consciousness: from peering into deepest space to chasing down the Higgs Boson "God Particle": and into Consciousness Itself: layer upon layer, deeper and deeper: into the One Reality... That both sage and scientist are meeting in this "field" is one of the most hopeful signs of the dawning of a new age for humanity. But it is not enough that sage and scientist are meeting in this "field": everyone else must get there, too! There is no "technique" for getting there... but there is a Way to begin expanding the doors of perception... it goes by many names, but I call it, "The Alchemy of the Rose"... (alchemy: a medieval philosophy of the transmutation of base metals into gold -- but mystically meaning the transfiguration of the human into the Divine -- and the rose: a garden of secrets reserved only for the Lover -- those called and willing to go beyond the "convictions of faith" and into the "remembered" state of Original Unity and Blessing...).
1) Kiss More! In other words live to become, like Yeshua: the greatest Lover the world has ever known! Become a being of constant -- moment-into-moment -- adoration: begin in your home, with your lover, with your family, with your friends: expanding into your workplace, school, recreation, economics, politics, etc. Include within your "heart embrace" every person, every creature, every thing, and this entire precious blue Planet. As an agent of adoration, you will assist in shifting our human consciousness from "ego" into the selfless-transcendental, and so revolutionize on a scale deeper and truer than anything ever before.
2) Practice Beauty! With a daily intentional practice of adoration, you will become compelled to work -- neighborhood by neighborhood -- for the creation of beauty everywhere: you will discover that everyone is worthy of the very best: equality in every way for everyone, justice, safety, health and well-being, expanding opportunities, and a culture of kindness. Perhaps you will begin with creating free art... perhaps you will paint a rainbow on every door... perhaps you will organize a petition and a demonstration... with beauty as a core intention, another door of perception will find itself "ajar" in your heart...
3) Harmlessness and Service! Two-for-one here! They go together like a hand in a glove... or your lover's hand into yours... A conscious commitment to personal and social transformation requires this daily intention: "I will harm no one and I will serve all: by my thoughts, words, and actions." This commitment is absolutely essential for "polishing one's heart" as one might polish a mirror. If everyone and everything is worthy of the very best, then we must declare (daily) our intention of harmlessness and service: this is the path to peace and a politics and economics of justice: which is likewise the path to a transformation of culture.
These three core practices aim at nothing less than the recovery of our "right mind": the reintegration of soul with body with spirit with life: and ultimately, with our Original Unity. All things are as the unfolding of the Rose: a reflection of the theophany of the Holy within creation: and the alchemy, or path, of the rose is the fullness of our humanity unfolding in Love, for Love, to become Love...
"The Alchemy of the Rose" is powered by Sacred Imagination. When the "What If? Before the Big Bang" asked that Original Question -- which required an Original Response: Love -- the unfolding of creation began... carried by the Divine Breath... in a constant movement of expansion / contraction... A "mirror" of this eternal movement has been "built into" the human heart. Centering in the heart, through the means of Remembrance (mantra meditation) and facilitated by the Invocation and Imagination of Paradise (One Love), transformation will occur: as simply and as naturally as the opening of a rose...
Whew! I escaped by the skin of my teeth! Have you ever been "blessed" with a conversation about "God", "Truth", and "Church"? Have you been "blessed" with the certainty that a spot has been especially reserved for you in an "eternal hot tub" -- without the water? Whew, again!
Bless "facebook"! There are groups galore and incredibly interesting people... and then, low and behold, a "true believer" shows up and starts posting his stuff... at first there is the temptation to engage: I admit I gave in! There were a couple of posts about Dorothy Day... this and that about her possible canonization as "saint"... I added my penny in the mix: I believed her statement that she didn't want to be declared a saint: because she "didn't want to be dismissed so easily"... no direct comment upon her consistent Catholic faith and practice: after working in a Soup Kitchen for thirty years (named after her), I knew that intimate struggle with enduring in the struggle of faith, hope, and love in the midst of endless suffering. "The Bible, the Psalms, the Rosary, and good, strong, coffee" were each and all the daily practice of Dorothy: as she peeled potatoes, guided intentional communities, served the street homeless, and went to jail for peace, civil rights, and for the farm workers... but to stop and say that she was a "saint" is almost to miss the point of her life!
Dorothy, like Thomas Merton (her good Trappist friend) and Phil and Dan Berrigan (her good revolutionary priest friends), loved the richness of a sacramental life -- rooted in the street, in the worker, in the peasant, in the addict and alcoholic, in the hardship of paying rent and putting food on the table, in the un-ease of comfort in the midst of raging dis-comfort, in all the struggles of classism, racism, sexism, and every injustice, environmental degradation, and the ultimate, brutal, folly of endless war and preparation for war: where else can holiness go except down on one's knees? From soup kitchen to shelter to jail to church -- to the Greyhound bus going anywhere: a chance to talk about war and peace: another chance to picket (this time with Cesar Chavez and farm workers): a chance to meet some college students pondering their fate, future, and faith... No, Dorothy was no saint: she is too big and too great for such a mean, little, definition!
Mean? Yeah, I said mean! Mean because folks want to use her to try and recover folks they've lost in their pews... "maybe she could be a connecting link": never mind that she lived a "harsh and dreadful love" (in the words of Dostoevsky). You should see how she is being suddenly embraced by the "good, conservative Catholics" who so admire her steadfast faith now (and forget how they used to call her a Communist)... she is suddenly a stunning example of the "call to holiness" for the laity (while forgetting her reference to the church as a collection of fish in a net: with not a few blowfish). Dorothy was never "easy": there is a story of her peeling potatoes in the New York Catholic Worker House with another volunteer, when a guest barged into the kitchen, cursing up a storm, getting the volunteer in a head-lock, all the while berating him... all the while Dorothy just kept peeling potatoes... finally, the enraged guest left... the terrified and humiliated volunteer angrily challenged Dorothy with "Why didn't you do something?" ... to which Dorothy calmly replied, "I did. I was praying for you." The volunteer scratched his head, wiped his brow, realized he was actually unhurt, and went back to work... Do you see? She was down-right mean -- and holy. A saint would have started hurling potatoes at the crazy guest!
Actually, the intention of this post was to focus a bit more on the good, conservative Catholics who are embracing Dorothy so dearly... and the Westboro Baptist Church, and the Taliban: they are, to me, all disgustingly similar: they all possess the truth! For them, the ends always justify the means (whereas for both Dorothy and Gandhi, "as the means so the ends"). For them, everyone who does not agree with their theological opinions and justifications is "worthy" of eternal damnation (all in the name of Love, of course). For them, and this is the core of the matter: every person is contingent and relative to truth: only submission to "truth" validates a human life: until then, every life has value only insofar as it may accept "truth" and submit to it. Delving deeper: Dorothy (and Gandhi... and King... and all the true lumineers, like Yeshua) believed (and lived) that every person (by the very fact of personhood / existence) is of absolute worth, and absolutely worthy of the very best (love, justice, service, respect, kindness, equality as a few examples) every moment of their life: which must never be harmed by any act of violence or injustice. This personalist manifesto was the real creed by which Dorothy lived her life. It is by her adherence to this creed that Dorothy is a saint. Likewise, it is this creed that will liberate all of us from the hate, violence, oppression, and intolerance, of all the "righteous" -- and perhaps save this precious blue Planet, besides...
Oh, and I did resign from that particular "facebook" page... it's all too easy for Westboro baptists to say "God hates fags"... it's all too easy for someone to call Matthew Fox a heretic... it's all too easy to question Hawkings "absolute atheism"... folks really need to spend at least an hour with me and Rumi... and maybe a glass of wine... life is meant to be beautiful and we are meant to be practicing beauty...
Robert Daniel Smith was privileged to serve the homeless and marginalized for 30 years in Salinas, California. Together with his wife, Michelle, they founded an intentional community called the 'Companions of the Way', also in Salinas. Robert and Michelle are community organizers, Catholic Worker renegades, sacred activists, writers, poets, artists, Divine Mother devotees, and practitioners of Kriya Yoga as taught by Rev. Ellen Grace O'Brian of the Center for Spiritual Enlightenment. Michelle is also a Montessori public school teacher. Robert is also an ordained Interfaith Minister.