Monday, June 27, 2011

Congratulations on Our Rainbow Connection!


......................a rainbow in Word World must always be legible!


The singular purpose of Life is to transcend (but not abandon) our senses, and to live and think on the level of spirit; then we gain the self-awareness to recognize and remove the obstacles between ourselves and Love.


Congratulations! to all our brothers and sisters who have finally won the battle to make it legal for same-sex couples to get married. It's been a long time coming, and I suspect, it's an issue of simple compassion that has been around for a much longer time than we think. We've always all had these little differences, it just depends on the consciousness we use to notice them.
Extending the rights of marriage to gays, lesbians, and transgendered people, as it was to differing religions and races, is literally a real "no-brainer," but it's always been an issue with those people whose thinking is dictated by fear. Who sing the praises of personal freedom, yet insist on playing God by denying the simplest of human unions to others whose little differences aren't like their own. In other words, what they've always needed is less brain, more heart.

Nonetheless, this small breakthrough is still more evidence for the expansion of compassionate consciousness into the world – the spiritual growth of our earth-bound collective – that indicates the (albeit stubborn) relinquishment of that fearful minoritys judgement to the over-arching power of Love and shared en-lightened consciousness.
It has always been those zealous dogmatists, forever seeking compensatory control and self-enhancement, who've led the way into that particular darkness – blindly following the delusional intelligence that in our past has been responsible for such ingeniously misguided evangelical inventions as thumb-screws, "The Iron Maiden," and the Rackas well as the bans on gay and interracial marriage. God Bless Them. They're helping us identify with how difficult it can be to accept our differences. We have to show gentle tolerance to be an example of how it can work.

Shall we toss out those resultant stigmas when we put out their dogmas as well? None of our earthly brothers and sisters need bear any brand of separation – nothing that marks them as being anything other than "Children of God" and the expression of shared humanity, of Love, that we all are actually here to learn to be. That's our ticket to real freedom.
Like it or not (and I do), even with the most stubbornly prideful, egoically deluded of us, our inner and outer obstacles to Love come tumbling down, and what's simply humane, just, and blessed inevitably overcomes even the staunchest advocates of self-hatred. It's a spiritual evolution that we're taking part in, and evolution can't reverse itself unless a species is extinguished, which although it might seem like an option at this particular point, a more enlightened application of that same dogged human tenacity makes such an outcome very unlikely.
What's more likely is that we are learning to Love each other, differences and all, and are inevitably overcoming the petty greed and intolerance that threatens us, and this beautiful Earth as we know it.

"Love thy neighbor as thyself."
Leviticus 19:18, Matthew 22:39

For the lucky, ever-increasing number of us for whom that Christian dictum has always been a simple function of karma (likewise a "no-brainer"), that beatitudinal expression has always worked in both of the directions that it was intended to. Outward, and inward, which is where it all really starts – with ourselves. Treating our fellow human beings well is an easy enough principle to understand, but how about loving Thyself with the same kind of unconditional compassion?

As we are all essentially the same player in on this stage, judging our brothers and sisters, and their choices and expressions in Life, is always simply a form of unnecessarily harsh self-punishment. Now it can be released at the same time as our stridently illogical and intolerant "Laws of Nature" deconstruct themselves, revealed and overturned by compas-sionate consciousness. Only then can intuitive intelligence and reason be freed up, and allowed to demonstrate where our boundaries really need to be. Where boundaries make sense for everyone – such as the need to save all the life of our precious earth.

What do you say we finally "let ourselves off the hook" (along with all the rest of God's creatures), and instead of identifying ourselves with the painful obstacles to happiness and fulfillment, finally accept our true potential as channels and stewards of the Divine Spirit of Love?

"Would it be possible for you to hate your brother if you were like him? Could you attack him if you realize your journey with him, to a goal that is the same?"

A Course in Miracles, 24.I.6


The book: How to Survive Life (and Death), A Guide To Happiness In This World and Beyond is now available everywhere, but ask for it it at your local bookstore!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Tales: Don't Just Do Something, Sit There! Finding Your "Right" Brain.


....................................................you see, meditation is not boring!

It's easy to see how someone might think that sitting in meditation would be a terribly boring thing to do, sitting there, doing nothing. Trying to think of nothing. Trying to think of not thinking. Of course, that thought (like most of them) couldn't be farther from the truth.

When we just sit at first and try not to think, we naturally fail, and so we start thinking of all sorts of things. Everything comes up. Everything. Like: What your father said to you twenty-five years ago. The money your Ex still owes you. That guy who was on Oprah. When will the landlord finally fix that leak upstairs? Things in the Mid East will never get better. Is there an asteroid heading directly for Earth? What are we having for breakfast?
 
That's one of the really great things about just sitting in meditation, thinking about nothing is an endlessly interesting and entertaining thought show, and we have the best seat in the house.

All these different crazy kinds of thoughts occur in a serial fashion, that is, one after the other after the other. One leads haphazardly to the next, sometimes connected by the barest thread that only makes sense right at the moment it connects. A few more turns of the wheel down that road, and you can't even remember how you got there, or why. Because there is no why.

How you got there is simply caused by the incessantly demanding nature of your "thinking organ," your brain, which like some kind of wild, prehistoric shark, insists on relentless movement, the continuous exercise of thought, that overlying process that we often confuse for ourselves. Descartes was a little off on that one, "I think, therefore I am." We are, whether we think – or not.

Thought requires consciousness; Consciousness does not require thought.

"Serial" thought, the kind most of us often find ourselves and our identities tied to, is an apparent function of our Left Brain, the left hemisphere of our thinking organ, which is our serial processor. It's job is to process, process, process in that con-tinuous shark-like motion, joining one thing to the next, relating each significant fact (or not so significant lie) to another. Often, the best we can manage is to discipline our mind to think things that we want to think about. Like to focus our thinking on problems that need solving, say building a bridge, creating a Unified Theory of Everything, or figuring out how to get the TV remote to work. As long as it's something we want to think about – hopefully something productive, or creative, or at least painless.

The simplest form of this discipline is the common self-request, I don't even want to think about it.


When we sit, all we're really trying to do at first is to witness this serial inner monologue, try to wear it down a bit, until it gives in. Or best of all, to side-step it completely. That's the best way to put it, because it describes what the (very appropriately named) Right Side of our brains are doing while all that exhausting thinking is going on. It's functioning concurrently as a parallel processor, connecting everything to everything, simultaneously. Processing our entire sensory experience holistically, with a kind of quantum perception, which for the most part appreciates Life. It's the part of our brain power that gets short shrift because of the sequentially demanding nature of contemporary life, but you're using it every time you find love, beauty, melody, serenity, and joy.

As we sit longer, we try to engage our Right Brain experience, and to live in it for as long as possible. When, in this state, we're collecting beauty, creative energy, and Love in our hearts, suddenly, your serial thoughts no longer have all that urgency. Life can be experienced in a more realistic way when we are in this way less realistic, because we recognize that the moment is always fine, as it is, not full of demanding or threatening "realities." Nothing really needs to happen right at the moment, unless the doorbell rings, your butt is getting wet, or the kitchen is on fire.

This escape from serial thinking, to the Right Side of our brain is a much more pleasant state of affairs, when we can experience a presence for life that's only possible when we give the crazy person in our heads the day off.


In the popular myths of religion, this is the same experience that was reached by Buddha, when Mara the Tempter assaulted him with all the allures and fears of the world (see illust. above); or by Jesus, when he was in the wilderness, and Satan offered to make him the King of Everything.
Neither of them even wanted to think about it.


"What have you gained from meditation?"
"Nothing at all."
"Then what good is it?"
"Let me tell you what I lost through meditation: sickness, anger, depression, insecurity, the burden of old age, the fear of death. That is the good of meditation, which leads to nirvana."
The Buddha

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Tales of the Koko Lion, Part 23: The Saturday Matineé


A full-on hellacious meleé is what you would call it.


That'd probably be a pretty fair description. It was about a thousand screaming kids, 98%of them boys from the ages of six to twelve, packed into the indescribable moderne-ity of the old State Theater on El Cajon Boulevard in San Diego, somewhere back around 1962. It was like that every Saturday, at the weekly triple-feature matineé. Kids' moms dropped them off, like mine did, watched the ticket being purchased, thirty-five cents back then, waited for us to go in, and drove off in their classic Chevys, Fords, and Plymouths, that weren't classic, then. Every mom had one, and had some place to go in it.


I would stop at the Snack bar and get a red-striped tagboard box of popcorn, fifteen cents, and a Nesbitt's orange for a quarter. For seventy-five cents, my mom could leave me there for almost six hours. A teenager with a challenged complexion, in a dark blue, gold-trimmed uniform pushed the doors open for me, and revealed that insanity within. In those days, they sat you, pointing out your seat with their flashlight, and as soon as they chased some other kid back up the aisle, you got up and moved to where you really wanted to sit. I liked to sit slightly up from the middle, down the right-hand aisle.

If you could look past the teeming kid mass, the flailing arms, kids standing on the seats, kids crying for their moms, kids running full speed down the aisles, pursued by the harried teen ushers, you'd behold the intense decorative splendor of the State Theater interior, whose tropical Botticellian paisley flourishes fluoresced slightly when the lights went down.


They were the strangest mass baby-sitting spectacles ever, those Saturday Matineés, made possible by Warner Brothers cartoons, and Italian sword and sandal spectaculars, stacked up in technicolor trinities like: The Thief of Baghdad, with Steve Reeves; Duel of the Titans, with Reeves and Gordon Scott; and Mole Men Versus The Son of Hercules, with Mark Forest. Or: Son of Spartacus, with Steve Reeves; Son of Hercules, with Ed Fury; and of course, Hercules Unchained, with Steve Reeves and the beautiful Sylva Koscina.


The show started up with an animated snack bar bumper, and a "smoking and crying baby booth in the rear" card, right before the golden Warner Bro-thers frame bounced the screen into life, and the kidmob, at least for a little while, calmed down to watch the cartoons. About half way through the mus-cleman marathon, the kids would get restless, and started taking the place apart at the seams, starting with the inevitable winging of the flattened popcorn boxes, with their wick-edly unpredictable tra-jectories, and ending up in an all-out pandemonium that necessitated the turning on the house lights, and the theater manager's stern announcements from the stage. Any unruly or destructive children would be ejected from the theater. The kids could care less, but everyone quieted down so the lights could go back off, the movies could start back up, and the insanity could build again to another fine state of perfect hellaciousness, starting the whole process all over again.

The last two or three hours were always like that, the over-taxed theater staff shouldering the Herculean task of containing a thousand agitated boy children, all ready to break their slave's chains, and slay the Minotaur. I didn't take part in the antics much, I was too deeply immersed in the incongruously lip-synched world of quasi-myth, nascent formative sexual stereotypes, and the enhanced and simplified life onscreen, complete with it's clear and predictable moral resolutions. Why wasn't that my life? It confused me, I'm sure, like everything did, and I just wanted to be Steve Reeves in my jaunty dress-toga, there by the statuary-lined reflecting pool, saying my sad, heroic goodbye to the beautiful Sylva Koscina. Why would I ever leave her? Oh yes...the minotaur wanted to steal her, and I had to stop him.


The show let out late in the still of the afternoon, and all the moms idled up in their massive Impala or Fairlane or Country Squire wagons to collect their kids as they poured out onto the too-hot, too-bright sidewalk. I walked myself the five or six blocks over to Adams Avenue, to my Grandma Minnie's apartment, the little place of her own my Dad had gotten her. She was worried there, waiting for me to show up, questioning her daughter's judgement - a poor little boy walking all that ways alone.

She made me "supper," usually some canned corn beef hash, or succotash and fried baloney, a piece of white bread warmed in the bacon grease she kept in a coffee can by the stove. I pretended to eat, or hid it when she wasn't looking, waiting for the reward at the end of the sad little pioneer-style meal, and she never failed me. After I'd pushed the meager little meal around my plate long enough, she'd make a piece of bread with her famous peach and pear jam on it - the best jam I've ever eaten.

Mom always showed up a little later than she was going to, loaded me up, asked how the movie was. We drove home, mostly quiet, and I just wondered, Where is my chariot...and where is Sylva Koscina right now?


Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Tales: of Passion, Light & Dark



....................................................................................Rafael

You'll often hear it said that you must have passion for the important things in your life, and this is true of course, but it depends on what kind of passion. Passion energizes a state of action that can lift us to a higher plane of conscious being, or one that can raise our lowest expressions to a level of destructive dominance. It's a kind of moving emotional fulcrum that can make great things possible, but, when shifted, can also create a terrible self-serving momentum. This second state of passion is re-sponsible for what Christians call "sin," what Buddhists call "selfish cravings," what a 12-Stepper calls "instincts run amok," and what is often in a court of law referred to as "crimes of passion."

On the personal and world stages, this kind of passion drives so much of all the craziness around us that you could almost call it "life," or "history." It's the kind of passion that's often driving the goal of "doing what's right for the common good,"  but for whose common good? If there are winners and losers, it's probably not the kind of passion that invokes the interests of love and reason, but a passion that's fueled by ego-inspired ambition and fear. There are easy ways to tell the difference: How do others really honestly feel about it? And, what remains in the aftermath?
There is Love, and there is Hate. There's day and night, and "good" and "bad" - each burns as hot, each is equivalent to the other. Each is part of what is, so it needs to find a balance. The evidence of a passion that entails com-passion (as in com-municate, com-munity, or .com), shows the rewards that Love brings: equality, tolerance, abundance, responsibility, balance. The evidence of passion driven by ambition and fear is all around us, justified by the dictum "as long as you have passion for what you're doing." No one is surprised that madmen are quite passionate, and at the heighth of passion, any one of us is capable of throwing their life, and the lives of others, horribly out of balance. Collectively, it has happened to the world.

It's at that very personal level, when we're really honest about our motivations, that we can experience the real potential and effects of our passions. Is it just about what I want? How will it effect others? If the answer supports and encourages others, and celebrates a shared accomplishment of sorts, then it's a passion that's com-passion. If not, the momentum may take you into some dangerous ego territory, and make it difficult to get back.
Not to pick on Picasso, but...he was a very passionate guy, full of passion for his art and the women in his life. You could call that a good thing, if it's only the production of his art that matters, but a spirtually growing person knows that it often isn't what one is most famous for that's really most important in their lives. So what did he leave in his aftermath? Thousands of ephemeric artworks, many truly beautiful, many that are contested, and absurdly over-valued; a memorable chain of painfully destructive relationships, created by passionate self-centeredness; a history of emotional distance from his children; an obsessive need to project his virility and machismo.
I only invoke Picasso as an example of the "success" of passion as a justification for "passionate inspiration." I love a lot of his work (Moulin de la Galette, Portrait of Stravinsky), but truthfully (in my opinion) much of it is a redundant effort to capture an aesthetic that can be seen in more successful forms everyday, on the walls of any pre-school.
Now that's a higher plane of passion!

"It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child."

Picasso

..................anonymous pre-schooler

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Thursday, June 2, 2011

Codename: Kids Next Door, From the Sooper Obscure Files: Rainbow Monkeys!

Over the six seasons of Codename: Kids Next Door, I designed a lot of Rainbow Monkeys, almost enough to create a real toy line...but it would be a real strange toy line! Many of the variations called for old, odd, or esoteric RBMs. So, here's a collection of elderly RBMS for the true KND fans out there!