Aware that I am alive and of the preciousness of time, I am choosing to live with ecstasy and to serve others, and all life, with compassion, kindness, and holy joy.
How the heck does a positive attitude protect one from the dis-ease of an intensely negative person or life situation? How does forgiveness contribute to a better world when confronted with the deliberate poison of one (or a group) who lies, distorts, manipulates, and destroys every opportunity for harmony, tolerance, and community through a mad lust for power? How can one avoid retreating from these situations and experiences into either anger or fear? How does one resist these very same temptations that are within every person? Is it enough to propose "mindful breathing, meditation, and forgiveness" as a solution?
What is the REAL ALTERNATIVE to the dominator paradigm that infests every mind and social institution? Where lies the NONVIOLENT POWER for transformation? How do I build the life I dream of? How do I build a community that thrives in goodness, kindness, and passion? How do I sustain my / our hope in the midst of certain defeats and failures?
What do you think of our list of questions that begins this sixth "Light Upon the Path" reflection? What questions would you add? It seems to us that every life and great purpose begins with a question, or series of questions... every life and great purpose is a quest... it is that quest that makes life so incredibly interesting! Mother Teresa is quoted as having said, "You have not been called to success... You have not been called to failure... You have been called to fidelity." We would massage this statement somewhat and say instead, "We have each been called to the fidelity of our quest"... One more question: is there a quest that is common to every person?
Our answer is a resounding "yes!" So, what then is this quest and how do we actualize it? We've been following this meandering river of questions to propose two basic answers -- kind of like a patchwork quilt a grandmother would have made to keep all the kids warm on a cold wintry night... Our first proposed answer to our questions we found in our reading of The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck (if you've yet to read this novel, get yourself into a library or bookstore and get to it!). The trek of the Joad Family in the novel is always toward their place, their work, and their purpose, all of which is there Promised Land: their Home. The sweet irony of the novel is that by book's end they have yet to arrive at their goal. But in one of the most stunning conclusions to any novel, a marginal character, the Rose of Sharon, is presented with a moment of "sudden" grace and transformation and "suddenly" becomes the point of the book's revelation: we will find our purpose and our home when "our finding" is no longer about "us and our arrival" -- but instead, it becomes the "welcome home for every Other". And it also seems to us that this is what we have forgotten as a people, as a nation... The Grapes of Wrath articulates the great American vision of "welcome home and justice for all". Isn't this the challenge before us now, to leave no one behind or out on the margins of human community and possibilities?
So if our first answer to our list of questions is, in its essence, "Welcome Home", then what is our second answer? Are you ready? Ecstasy! Okay, we can see we've got a bit of explaining to do! Instead of casting about for new insights, we're going really weird: we're looking for the dictionary (that relic from the distant past)... We'll start with "home": the Random House Dictionary lists a number of definitions including "The place in which one's domestic affections are centered"; "any place of refuge"; and "a principle base of operations". And for "ecstasy" we find that the word's root is Greek "ekstasis": ek, out; stasis, standing or stoppage. So, ecstasy or a great joy and feeling of delight proceeds from having gotten "unstuck" and "into" the flow of life, wonder, joy, and "surprise". The great alternative to all power which does not serve to liberate is creative ecstasy and the practice of beauty (a gracious yet radical harmlessness in daily life).
Yeshua said something once, something like this: "Love is all around, but still you do not see." Talk about a Mindfulness Training! We live, move, and have our very being immersed in One Love -- Who is everywhere and everything... Who is the Only Reality -- nothing exists independent of "This". If this is true, then ecstasy is the path forward into this rEvolutionary delight. Rumi talks of the reed pulled from the stream bed and of how it longs to return to its source. This longing for intimacy and identification with the Beloved is the key for unlocking the treasures of the heart and for the ecstasy that will power the transformation that this moment in time holds out for us. Ecstasy is the conscious, deliberate, cultivation of sacred imagination for the liberation of this Planet and the life that it supports. And ecstasy, as the activating energy of creative imagination, even offers the possibility of the redemption of Time itself by un-creating "evil", the negative, the destructive, and the "ugly".
Ecstasy, as "the Way", means to cultivate the plaintive longing of the reed: it means to risk everything for the chance / opportunity to love! It means the freedom of orgasmic ecstasy from the strictures of power: and blesses every coupling that does no harm. It means that this bowl of soup freely given with no expectation of "results" or "success" is enough. It means that this deep bow of respect for the "other" is enough: this welcoming of the undocumented immigrant, of the LGBT, of the Palestinian as equal to the Jew and the Muslim as equal to the Christian, is enough. This kind word, this momentary embrace of a wounded being, this counsel in distress, this uplifted thought, it is all enough. Ecstasy is the deliberate removal of barriers in our minds and hearts, and then outward into our communities. Ecstasy can activate a sustainable rEvolutionary movement with which this precious blue Planet can be saved... Ecstasy is the mystical understanding that at the sub-atomic level, everything is very "loose". It all interpenetrates. It makes the rounds from star-seed to life-seed... We've all gone from algae to this moment, and to the brink of ecstasy (who knows, but maybe we'll all go back again)...
On the metaphysical level, the Divine Whole is the One Reality of which everything is. This Love beckons with all the ardor of a secret lover wanting out of the closet! This Love shares the ecstasy of remembrance: this glance, this word, this touch, this kiss... this act of service, kindness, compassion, and justice... this moment is pregnant with the possibilities of a rEvolutionary transformation: and here's the key, "Only One". In every way let this become your prayer, your economics, your politics, your culture: your passion and your play! So practice ecstasy! Get loose, get out of your "skin" and out of any other boundary or box in which you have placed yourself, or been placed by any power that oppresses: become who you were meant to be: a "paradise possibilitarian"!
Why sometimes I've believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast. -- Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There
Come out of the circle of time and into the circle of love. -- Rumi
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.