Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A piece of storyboard from the Faith & Mr. Floppy trailer- click on it to see it big!

Pt.2: The Maya of Religion (Essene but seldom heard...)

"Yeshua said: If you bring forth that which is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you."
Logion 70, The Gospel of Thomas

There are lots of obstacles to Enlightened Consciousness inherent in this human form, most of which are created by a level of unconsciousness that will never allow that goal to be reached. We struggle with these obstacles, usually not recognizing them for what they actually are, often denying their very existence – so it's necessary to show great care when pointing them out, lest we ruffle some feathers. Of course, some feathers probably need to be ruffled.

Presenting abstract or hard-to-grasp concepts of self-realization to people has often led to the invention of elaborate mythologies that end up permanently concealing the simplest, most effective truths. The beauty of the core teaching can be obscured and subverted by human ego, and it's pathological need for control. This leads to The Maya of Religion (of many religions really) illustrated in this "passion play" example of the early Church of Rome.

Prior to the inception of the Church, it's fathers saw the influence and potential of "Gnostic" post-Hebraic Eastern–influenced mysticism, like that taught and practiced by the (possibly mythological) Essene Master, Yeshua (Jesus), throughout Egypt (where he may have studied), into Asia Minor, and then upon his storied return to Judaea. 

The Essenes were a wide-ranging sect (or sects) of Hebraism, whose communal inns where all were welcome were the inspiration for modern hospitals. They fed and healed anyone who needed their help. They celebrated meals. They practiced advanced hygiene, and herbal medicine. They were strictly vegetarian, and disapproved of the taking, or disrespecting of any life. They wore white. They were into foot washing and massaging (feet were especially important back then). Love and service was their rule. In short, they were the christians before Christianity. It is from this school that Yeshua came. The Gospel of Thomas, quoted above, is one of their texts.

Hebrews, and Pagans, weary of the politics, corruption, and barbarity of Jerusalem and Rome, were very likely hungry for the Alexandrian synthesis of Eastern mystic "religion," like Buddhism, The Bhagavad Gita, and The Tao te Ch'ing that traveled the road from Egypt to India; mixed with the simple wisdom of the Ten Commandments, and consciousness expanding practices as taught by Yeshua. This wisdom from the east taught that The Kingdom of God was to be found within each person. That "heaven" was here and now – accessible to anyone, based on personal realizations of transcendent unity, or gnosis. It became the heart of the Gnostic (Essene, Ebionite), or Nazorean teachings, and it became quite popular.

Over the next several hundred years, the shifting power base of the Roman Empire systematically usurped and subverted the potential of this Gnostic message by cobbling together a synthesis of their own: They consigned the Feminine Divine to a subservient role; they fashioned a mythology from existing mythologies, replete with a ritual life that only they could administer – the Eucharist; and they synthesized the appealing aspects of numerous competing religions by styling messianic narratives for each group of potential followers whose ultimate message established the deadly authority of Rome. They even aligned popular holidays of pre-existing religions to their version of "Christianity." They began a ceaseless campaign of genocide against "heretics," and of scriptural suppression, effectively removing The Essenes and their texts from Western history.

This inexorable reconstruction project guided it's mostly illiterate followers along a "Path to God's Kingdom" controlled by an organized elite. Spiritual seekers were directed to take part in a tailored mythology – a kind of occult hall of mirrors that continues today – The Maya of Religion – full of constructions that conceal and subvert true spiritual discovery, limiting it to a fraction of it's potential. The Church parcels out the benefits of the underlying spiritual wisdom with corrupt or unconscious authority, forcing their adherents to accept the most egregious offenses of material humanity; politics, war, slavery, money-worship, sexual predation and pedophilia. Ironically, from it's own central text the truth comes, to paraphrase: "You shall know the tree by the fruit it bears."
This post-Christmas Tale is the story of the wealthy, corrupt—yet for some, spiritually irreplaceable—Church of Rome; but the recipe for The Maya of Religion described here has been applied many times through the ages, and can be clearly seen in more contemporary examples, in fabricated religious myths and dogma like those found in Scientology, or the anti-Essene versions of Christianity that replace humility with a prideful lust for material "superiority."

It's a testament to the illuminative power of the true light that shines through all that dogma and artifice – that even though it's potential is seriously stifled, the little bit that escapes this vacuum of delusion can still be enough to inspire profound spiritual transformation to take place. Direct inner, "mystical" experience has always provided this solution to the conundrum posed by institutionalized religion.  

The compassion and unconditional Love that gives us a connection to the Divine. Faith without works is dead. Showing up for one another. Releasing the false attachments of material desire. Entering into transcendent union though the means of self-examination and meditation. The silent surrender to the loving Universe, and the power that grows out of it – out of what Mahatma Gandhi called ahimsa – absolute non-violence. The powerhouse of Love to heal the rift between the two – Ego and Spirit, as taught by the Essene Master, Yeshua (...whose true story can only be found in your own heart).

"Yeshua said: If two make peace with each other in this one house, they will say to the mountain, 'Move Away,' and it will move away."
Logion 48, The Gospel of Thomas

Read about concepts like these and much more in: How to Get to Heaven (Without Really Dying), Wisdom From a Near-Death Survivor  from Llewellyn Worldwide available direct on this page, or online. The first book: How to Survive Life (and Death), A Guide To Happiness In This World and Beyond is available the same ways – but ask for it at your local bookstore!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Tales: The Water's Fine - (1)The Maya of Individuality

"Yeshua said: If you bring forth that which is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you."
Logion 70, The Gospel of Thomas

This profound and timeless lesson by the Gnostic Master Yeshua speaks of ancient spiritual concepts, like The Kingdom of Heaven, The Tao, and Buddhist Karma, and in two little sentences underlines the whole of Modern Psychology as well: Freud, Jung, Adler, Maslow, and more. This is scripture that was left out of the New Testament, and largely purged from history by the Roman church.

For me, it inspires this first of three explorations into the Hindu concept of Maya, a term often defined as "The Illusion of Life," but is closer to delusion – the intellectual and emotional investment people make in various unreal surface "realities" or constructions in order to give their lives definition and purpose. I've heard it compared to living by looking at a map of your surroundings, rather than using your senses to experience them. It's the development of our sixth sense that enables our ability to perceive maya, and is the goal of Buddhism, Jnana Yoga, Gnosis, and Jungian Individuation.

Water has always stood for the mysterious depth of being, the unity of all things, the fluidity of spirit, the profundity of the unconscious. With that in mind, consider the New Testament metaphor of Jesus' "walking on the water," most often thought of literally, as something Jesus could actually do. He could, and so can you.

A Religious Literalist would attribute this ability to the human manifestation of an all powerful God, who can basically do whatever the heck He wants without regard for the physical laws of nature. An Agnostic Scientist, who needs a rational explanation for any magic trick, might suggest that Jesus was a master of quantum reality, and commanded the mechanics necessary to engage a phase transformation of the water on a sub-atomic level, temporarily changing it's physical characteristics to support his weight.

Both of these explanations only serve to separate us from the Divine by making any kind of real identification with the experience impossible. Which way can you realistically use to walk on water? Maybe Yeshua, the "Nazorean," Gnostic teacher had something else in mind.

Consider the water metaphorically standing for the depth of your personal experience; the formative moments, patterns of coping, and genetic predispositions that constitute your psyche, and provide the foundation for "who you are," determining your life actions and beliefs. The effects of those early experiences assert themselves in your conscious mind, often positively, when you remember a life lesson you've learned in the past, and make decisions based on that knowledge. Sometimes you might still behave irrationally, ignoring the lessons of your past and acting out on some destructive impulse, out of habit. You know you're acting irrationally, but the reason you have to do it is rooted in your subconscious mind, the "...that which is within you," in our opening quote by Yeshua.

When we don't know why we make certain life decisions, or harbor certain beliefs, it's time for some healthy self-examination, "If you bring forth that which is within you" – especially if it's manifesting as self-sabotage. If it's a destructive script we're compelled to act out over and over. (People experience this a lot in bad relationships...) Then it's our karma, a place our past actions are bringing us to so we can learn the lesson and move ahead with our lives. In these cases, our Ego forms some unfortunate opinion about how to "protect ourselves," which becomes a kind of survival instinct run amok. Often it's about something we feel we must have, or something we're clinging to. But if it's not Love, let it go. You're not protecting anything. There's nothing to protect. It's more likely, you're doing new damage based on old damage.

Time to dive in! to your conscious past. Jacques Cousteau around your memories, the circumstances and experiences that may have formed this instinctive need to repeat certain actions. Things arise from the depths to help you. Answers may have been staring you in the face all along.

"To dive into these dark waters and stay conscious, you have to take off your individual personality and leave it on the shore." Eknath Easwaran

Now comes the hard part about "walking on the water." Some destructive behaviors arise from deeper down, from your unconscious mind. These are based on experience that hasn't just been repressed subconsciously, but has been fully suppressed, deep in the watery reservoir of your psyche. Ancient fears. Shameful fears. The simplicity of being that you had as a child is stuck in the mud at the bottom by this stuff. You may never be able to fully "bring forth" these deep motivations, but you can become more aware of them. There are ways of bringing them into the light, where they might "save you," rather than stay within and "destroy you."

First, sit in meditation, where you learn to recognize the false internal voice of the neurotic Ego. It's easily recognizable: anything that's judgmental, comparative, or fearful...anything that's not Love. "Bring [that] forth..." You are not that. Disassociate yourself. (I discussed this method in more detail back on 11/11, in "Tales: Through a Glass Darkly.")

Next, realize there are seven billion people here, all going through very similar experiences. You are not so special or so important. Individuality is something of a delusion that your Ego will cling to, even if it destroys you. There's nothing to hide, everyone knows who you are already. They are the same thing.

If you believe it's especially difficult  even inescapable, if it's just "who you are, and that's all there is to it," if you just react, fearfully and unconsciously, then you'll sink into those depths and drown.

"What you do not bring forth will destroy you." In Matthew (14:30), Peter takes a stab at walking on the water, but as soon as his fears take over, he sinks. Guess who saves him? The simplest interpretation of this is look to Christ to save you, but that might lead you to neglect the actions you need to take yourself.

There are lots of creatures who walk on the water all the time. They're insects. They're just being. Their "personal gravity" isn't great enough to break the surface tension of those dark waters, so they can simply skate across the surface, using all that underneath as support. We can do that too, when we lighten our personal gravity and know we're not that special – except for Love. We have nothing to fear, nothing to protect. We never have to be what we used to be.

When we "bring forth that which is within you," we can use all that deep, murky stuff as a foundation for just being what we are truly meant to be, and "What you bring forth will save you." Then you can walk on the water too.

"Water finds it's power by seeking it's lowest point."
Zen saying

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!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Tales of the Koko Lion, Part 17: The Drive to the Next Life...

"The fundamental, simple, and great mystical realization is that by which you identify yourself with consciousness, rather than with the vehicle of consciousness. Your body is a vehicle of consciousness."
Joseph Campbell

Koko just couldn't pass it up any longer, that tiki torch cocktail lounge with it's glorious lacquered bamboo façade, so when Grace needed a ride to the airport to visit her aunt, he volunteered to drive her, knowing the trip home would take him right past the place—past it's flapping torch flames, and red chop suey script sign. The round trip would take him much farther away than he ever could've imagined. He parked her car—the one she loved, the one her father bought her—in the side lot, and ambled into the place as the sun was setting.
"Gee," he told the waitress, whose features are long since forgotten, "I've never had a Mai Tai." "Then let's fix that," she said, smiling. She smiled at the first easy Mai Tai, and easy it was, bright orange hanging garden of fun in an imperial pint glass. The second was still fun too. But the third spelled trouble, and forgetting her face was just the beginning of the bad part. She knew that sideways loss of recognition all too well, working at The Tiki Lounge, there in downtown Glendale. But Koko really had never had a Mai Tai, at least not an official one, and he could've sworn that he didn't feel a thing after the first, or even after the second. He never felt all that much anyway, so the third seemed like a reasonable experiment. He hadn't quite finished it when leaving seemed like a good idea too. The King Kong Club interior looked too flammable to last.

It was an easy drive. Weren't they all? A quick hop home—and just to be on the safe side, there were unexplored back streets that pointed in the right direction, and promised a cop-free ride. After all, it was always smartest to err on the sidestreet of caution's sake.
Now it was dark, and there was a stubborn cassette acting up in his wife's car's tape player; and a funny, winding little suburban street, right where they should all be straight, and a little too much foot on the... BLANGG!! 
The tape broke and sputtered out of it's dashboard slot.

"Pingk... pingk.. .pingk..." went the wrecked car, steam hissing out of the stove-in front end. From where Koko was, near the top of the telephone pole next to the streetlight, you could see everything real easy. Steam poured out and roiled up through the light against the dark sky, hot water running all out on the blacktop. Some other liquid, dark and glittery on the ground. That stuff. Dark dark red, and sticky.
The Celica's front end was really bashed in, but the pole wasn't even crooked! And what was that down there below? Koko wondered...what is that I see hanging half way out the busted window down there? The windshield was busted too, like a tempered glass spider-web target. The steering wheel was whacked into a loopy shape, his motionless arm draped through it. Lights in the neighborhood snapped on, and Koko could hear their approaching voices..."It looks bad... somebody call the..."
There, twenty feet below, with his very badly busted face in, just out of the light, was him. Was me, thought Koko. But he was up here—safe and sound, it seemed—though he couldn't see his hands or body. Perhaps because his body was down there, a bloody broken mess, wearing a red drenched punk t-shirt and black jeans.

Koko stayed for a minute, silently hovering up high, next to the streetlight. It had been long enough now, until he realized that that wasn't him anymore. And he wasn't alone—no, there was somebody safe just behind him, just out of sight, and they spoke to him but not so's anyone else could hear. They told him it was time to go, and so he reluctantly moved along, shepherded into the warm grey cotton night. From then on, he forgot, with only washed-out flashes coming back years later. A piece of effervescence. A seat in a pastoral place. An inventory of some kind...

Koko came to, briefly, in another ambulance, being taken to the hospital where the University had their plastic surgery residency. Then he slipped back to that other place, where he wasn't him anymore, and stayed there for "twenty hours" or so. The girl had long gone back to waitress again at The Tiki Lounge by the time he finally woke up, for better or worse. He had a little different face. He had a whole different life, beyond this seemed. Alongside of it, perhaps. It's funny, he thought, to die—to know how easy it is. Like walking into another room. 
But it was only a personal knowing that would play a part in changing him many years later, when he finally realized that he couldn't just live this body's life anymore.

And as for Grace, well she cried of course, for Koko and his face, and for her car. But from that point on, they never discussed it again. They would be apart for many years by the time he really awoke from the impact of that day, and came back to life.

"If an earthquake opens the prison walls, do you think an escaping prisoner will complain of the damage done to the stone and marble work?"

Read about this and 2 more NDEs in the new book: How to Get to Heaven (Without Really Dying), Wisdom From a Near-Death Survivor is due out early 2018, from Llewellyn Worldwide can be pre-ordered online. The first book: How to Survive Life (and Death), A Guide To Happiness In This World and Beyond is available everywhere – but ask for it it at your local bookstore!

Saturday, November 14, 2009

"Philosophy is really homesickness." Novalis

Mr. Floppy helps Faith escape the material, for a little while...

"The true individual Self should be distinguished from it's distorted reflection, the ego. The ego, the little self, which regards itself from others and the world, is a physical, vital and mental formation; it belongs to the transitory personality and dissolves with it." P. B. Saint-Hilaire

"When the overmind descends, the predominance of the centralising ego-sense is entirely subordinated, lost in largeness and finally abolished; a wide cosmic perception and feeling of a boundless universal self and movement replaces it...In this boundless largeness, not only the separate ego but all sense of individuality...may ...disappear...and this sense of the not confined to the person or the body but can be felt at all points in an unlimited consciousness of unity which pervades everything." Sri Aurobindo

For many, particularly those whom life has broken open to the Divine, there's an ennui, a sadness to being in this form that I can only chalk up to the Ego's insistence that we are separate from each other, and all other forms of life on this planet, when it clearly is not the case. It's a lot of work, fighting against those urges to constantly compare and judge, the need to claim some kind of dominance of individuality - like a mad explorer sticking their flag into the shore, and proclaiming the whole expanse of some vast unknown continent in the name of their personal country.

The alternative that's presented to us, a graceful middle-ground where we hear the prideful, cajoling voice of the Ego, but pay it no mind, allows us to easily turn that sentimental coin to it's other side, which though equally sentimental, is purely joyful, even in the "sad" parts. A freedom that can't come from being attached to the ever-changing, only to the ever-unchanging.

Read about this and much more in: How to Get to Heaven (Without Really Dying), Wisdom From a Near-Death Survivor  from Llewellyn Worldwide available direct on this page, or online. The first book: How to Survive Life (and Death), A Guide To Happiness In This World and Beyond is available the same ways – but ask for it it at your local bookstore!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

When you gotta design a silly, happy, friendly little robot...

Tales: Through a Glass Darkly...Ouch!

"The Meaning of Life is to embody compassion. Anyone can discover this. When you discover this and live it, you discover your truest nature and share its joy."
The Dalai Lama

This form our spirits assume, this changing body/mind we occupy on Earth from our birth to our death, is a miraculous combination of the magical quantum/electrochemical exchange of matter and energy, and equally amazing mechanics. The material "reality" of our flesh and bone bodies, bumping around this world. Our attitudes and beliefs; our genes and chromosomes; our focus and intention; our psyches and our Karma, shape the physical "realities" of our lives.

We intuitively know about this stuff, and more and more, Science is confirming the magical relationship between all these aspects of being; but it's confusing. How does the system work exactly? To bring our wants, our purpose into physical reality?

Confusing the issue are programs like The Secret, a difficult combination of the magical nature of intention and power of Love's creative force, and the occult power of Ego – man's will for self-enhancement through acquisition and "mastery" over Nature. "The Dark Side."  It's the difference between being naturally aligned with Source (God and Love, if you will), and open-heartedly receiving all that you require for peace and fulfillment (success); and the separation from Source into your Ego Self (dark side) – an entity that through force of will manipulates the energies of the world to achieve sensory rewards, which are elusive and momentary (everything except Love is.)  Putting it simply, both you and your Ego Self want a nice girlfriend or boyfriend, but your Ego Self still won't be happy when it gets one.

We look through this prism of our perceptions – Through a Glass Darkly, to try to find the way to at-one-ment, the unification of purpose and lifestyle. But so much seems to stand in the way.  Julian Schnabel's wonderful film, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, based on the book written by stroke victim Jean-Dominique Bauby, does a brilliant job of describing the obstructive quality of our bodily forms. The subtle yet powerfully destructive nature of the Ego Self. Bauby's story demonstrates the nature of what's really important, beyond considering our self as just a body and mind.

Of course, the answer is Love. The mechanism it empowers for attaining real success lies in our attitudes, beliefs, and actions.  An uncompromising attitude of Love and compassion towards all (no matter how challenging that may be at the moment!).  An unshakable understanding of the oneness – the interdependence of everything, and the belief that every expression of Nature is Divine and requires proper care and respect. Living these attitudes and beliefs will intuitively guide you in the right direction. Your actions will have a path to follow. Your purpose will become clear. 

Meanwhile, going about that in these clunky and obscure "rides" we inhabit can be pretty challenging. Why is my hair falling out? We need to sit in meditation to touch the energizing light of Love, and sort through our psychic baggage objectively. If a piece of semi-conscious luggage pops up on your meditation screen, or rides your mind day-to-day, don't let it weigh down your serenity – take care of it!   Investigate, illuminate, resolve. That way, it won't be in the way when it comes time to help someone else. Compassion is the path to purpose. It's not just a tree hugger's dream, it's a real strategy for success.

While you're trying this strategy out by being as compassionate as possible, don't forget the most important person, without whom no success can be attained – yourself.  It's the nature of the beast that our Ego Self (judgement, comparison) is hard on our True Self (Love, compassion), for being imperfect. For not measuring up to the material scale it measures success by. So every time you hear that critical voice within, simply forgive yourself.  Have compassion for you.  Quietly get in touch with your inner nature, with your True Self, and you'll immediately know that you're doing the best you can – especially tricky for a subtle, expansive spirit of light stuck in an imperfect form.

Associate with this inner, spiritual self more and more, and less and less with your body, with it's aches and pains. With how you look. Less with your five senses and the momentary gratifications of this world.  For example: Meat isn't worth the killing because it tastes good for a couple minutes. Associate less with the ceaseless, sequential demands of your intellect, and the willful need to figure everything out. In short, relax into your being.

Make an effort to relate to this world using your sixth sense – your magical, intuitive sense – which you can connect to through the practice of meditation. Then the actions you're led to through Love and compassion for others will show you your path to all forms of real success. Even the tough parts (ouch!) of being here in this doggone body will become easier to deal with. You still have to look out through that glass...but it will look a lot clearer.

"As is a man's meditation, so is his feeling of love;
As is his feeling of love, so is his gain;
and faith is the root of all."
Sri Ramakrishna

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

No Star Wars here, just junkyard flyers from Kids Next Door - stepladders, exercise bikes, and a nice big jet engine...

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Tales of the Koko Lion, Part 16: May the Force Get Started

"Myths are public dreams, dreams are private myths."
Joseph Campbell

It was being San Francisco again. A dense gray-blue watercolor sky bleeding down into the wet streets. San Francisco was fine like that. A little rainy and a little dreary. It felt right, and smelled good when it rained, and the fresh Pacific flow scrubbed the town from edge to edge, so that when it rained the streets sparkled grease-lessly, like no other town. A second season as a ski bum, this time in Park City, hadn't panned out. There'd been no snow that year, so no ski. Just bum.

I ended up back in the garlicky little beach town of Del Mar, California, drawing horse portraits and designing youth soccer logos, when out of the blue, I got a call from an old friend whose uncle was hiring up in San Francisco. We packed up and moved, first to Burlingame, by the airport, then to a Mondrian-inspired apartment on Potrero Hill. My friend left after a few months, but I stayed on. I had fallen in love with a city for the very first time.

I was on my own, welding in a free-standing fireplace factory in Hunter's Point by day, surrounded by noxious fumes, surly illegals, and the odd furloughed worker from San Quentin. By night, I made the rounds of particular nightspots. I was still too young to drink legally, but Montana had taught me how to order up with the proper attitude, so it was never a problem, getting in, getting served. Especially in North Beach, where I could catch Stan Getz at Keystone Corner, or last call at Gino and Carlo's, The Saloon, and of course, Specs' - the famous Adler Museum, with an optometrist's sign, tucked in an alley just under Pacific Street. (Before the city felt compelled to name that alley after William Saroyan)
The big, round table at Specs' was always lively just before closing, with guys named Gary and Larry, Leon the Cabbie, and John the Painter, some of whom were apparently quite famous, some decidedly weren't. They were just the guys at last call for me. I was, as usual, the youngest. We traded quips and opinions; poetry and pontifications, until Specs hit the lights – and out we'd go into the fresh night air.

 It seemed a little odd, living the high life low, or the low life high in San Francisco. It always smelled so fresh and clean, even with the stinkiest stuff on your breath, or on your conscience.

I spent a lot of my free days there in North Beach too – picking up salamis at Molinaris; having coffee at Puccini or Trieste. Sitting up on the riser at City Lights Bookstore, discovering Ginsburg like you're supposed to there. I picked up my first Sam Shepard, and continued to devour Steinbeck and Vonnegut, the beta magical realism of Tortilla Flats and Breakfast of Champions sending me away south to Marquez and the South Americans. I discovered some Czech roots, stumbling across Milan Kundera, and pouring over it in front of the bookstore's picture window, under the watchful gaze of Carol Doda's neon nipples that flashed kitty-corner at The Condor Club.

Alone, and participating in such a seemingly common life, it never occurred to me back then that I was manufacturing any memories. Just free-standing fireplaces.

That sparkly, dreary day though, a memory was making me. I'd seen a tiny photo, like a postage stamp, in the Chronicle the day before. It was a mysterious shiny black figure, wielding what appeared to be a neon sword. There was a little announcement of this film screening up at the Coronet theater on Geary street, scheduled for noon. I had nothing planned for that Sunday, so taking my youthful hangover to the movies sounded healing.

Driving by the theater, I passed a short line of wet attendees standing out front, movie-goers in the mist. Mostly guys a little like me. I joined the queue strung along the unprotected theater façade in the light rain, collar up, hands in my pockets, like everyone else. No one said much, getting wet and feeling a little dumb...what is it? I dunno...I heard it was...saw the picture in the paper

They ushered us in, and I don't remember any fanfare or trailers – maybe just a brief announcement that they were screening a new film before it's release. What I do remember is that first impression – an expository serial-like text scroll vanishing into space, followed by the interminable rumbling of a gigantic I didn't know what – apparently a spacecraft passing overhead as the film began, and the collective "whoah" breathed out by the seventy or eighty soggy witnesses. The theater had recently installed the new Dolby Stereo sound system, and the bass hummed up through the seats.

When it was over, they ushered us back out. I remember us all smiling and nodding to one another like a pack of stupefied nerds. Exactly like that. We were handed some flyers, or questionaires, something you bet I wish'd I'd kept but didn't think to. I wasn't thinking of much, other than what I'd just witnessed. A new, updated action genre. Classic, even eternal themes. Alec Guiness. It was a really terrific movie – no question about it. Especially coming from the American Graffitti guy.

I doubt that any of us realized what we'd just witnessed. I sure didn't. What it would mean to our world. What it was to become to a culture of people who spend their lives staring at screens, wishing they could lead other lives. I, and seventy or eighty damp Bay Area compañeros, had born witness to George Lucas' first public screening of Star Wars.

Read about this and much more in: How to Get to Heaven (Without Really Dying), Wisdom From a Near-Death Survivor  from Llewellyn Worldwide available direct on this page, or online. How to Survive Life (and Death), A Guide To Happiness In This World and Beyond is available the same ways – but ask for it at your local bookstore!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Bring Dogheads! into reality, and leave the world to the dogs!

Tales: The Real Rapture

"...our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the in being able to remake ourselves."
Mahatma Gandhi

We're a little like moss on a rock here on earth -a simple colony of life. In the same way that any collective life form experiences stress when the conditions for it's survival begin to change, our world is experiencing some stress. For all of us, as well as each of us, there's a need to adapt.
There's a flaw in our culture's perception of Darwinism. It's not about "Survival of the Fittest." It's about "Survival of What Adapts in the Most Cooperative Way" (see Dr. Bruce Lipton). What carries us through the tough times, with Love. It's an altogether different definition of fitness. It's a spiritual fitness.

The biggest, meanest guy may clobber everyone who disagrees with him, take all the food, and force himself on the prettiest women; but his karma (created by ego and fear) and the failure to evolve spiritually, will cause his destruction (sex specificity intended) – a genetic dead end. The richest guy may have the most secure, most isolated fortress, the largest vault of canned food, and the most guns and ammo; but his isolation and fearfulness will lead to spiritual atrophy, and the inward collapse of his world. Those attributes and characteristics that are associated with Power are dying out, as those associated with Ethics are on the rise. Life on earth is always adapting; the parts that don't, don't last.

Hard times stress the colony, challenging it, forcing it to change; and now we see the shape that change is taking. It's like breaking up bad pottery, and soaking it until it softens and becomes the clay that forms the basis of real life, in order to start over. People are coming together to re-configure their world on that basis – what's actually real and important in life; inspired by a sudden common awareness of what the management of Earth's abundance actually entails, and what the real consequences of continued unconscious exploitation will lead to.
A new cooperation – an evolution –  is exploding into reality, based on the spiritual unification of humankind, facilitated by the internet, manifested in an expanding sense of a global community, called to action by the impending catastrophe of climate change. The explosion in clean energy, expanding cooperatives, reuse and recycling, uncontested environmentalism; the elections of Obama, of women, of representatives of diverse religion and ethnic backgrounds; and the impetus for universal health care, local food production, the accelerating growth of animal rights awareness, vegan and vegetarianism, social support systems of all kinds – as well as the public momentum to institute these ethical concepts by means of regulation and legislation (a result of the rise of destructive fascism in the world), is the shape of the change.

Extremists and fundamentalists – religious, financial, racist and militaristic fascists – are dividing themselves off from the majority of peace-loving, compassionate humans, and defining their differences in preparation to be shed from the whole. They actually constitute just a small part of the world's total population. The rise of climate-denying, pro-corporate, racism and fascism actually marks the end of their world. It will be a little messy, but it's happening.
 Do everything you can to help it along. If you open your heart, you'll intuitively know what that is. You'll know how to behave, how to shop, how to contribute, how to vote. You already do.

In a manner of speaking, a kind of biblical "Rapture" is actually taking place now amongst those who are awakening to this new consciousness, many of whom are experiencing hard times, and finding themselves and their neighbors falling through the same cracks in the system that allow spiritual evolution to enter. These are fractures in the false world of materialistic consumerism, and a dis-identification with a media that's destructive by corporate design. The Christ Spirit that's returning isn't the bearded redhead in the paintings, it's the spirit of Ethics, Cooperation, Compassion, and Love.

Those who want it all, who think they have it all, who are trying to get as much as they can, and will do anything not to lose it; who want to keep things like they are, who suffer the delusion of their superiority and entitlement, who think they can will the truth to be what they want, are fast being "Left Behind" in their spiritual morass – a private hell of their own making. They won't remain here suffering while the blessed ascend to Heaven, they'll simply become redundant. Their hateful opinions will hold no sway. Their methods of fear-mongering will become ineffective. 
 Your biggest job may be to help those backsliders you know and care for catch up to the change – by generously applying Love and compassion.

Heaven will return on Earth as we stop poisoning it (because we must), restore natural balance, use free energy, distribute the earth's resources equitably, and evolve into our divine state of spiritual unification. The balance is returning as it must, and if you're part of that change, you needn't worry about the hard times. What truly matters is what each and every one of us keeps in their heart, just be sure it's Love.
"Our present world is conditioned by our present mode of consciousness; only when that consciousness passes from its present dualistic mode...will the new creation appear, which is the external reality of which our world is a mirror."
Bede Griffiths

Read about this and much more in the latest book: How to Get to Heaven (Without Really Dying), Wisdom From a Near-Death Survivor, from Llewellyn Worldwideand the first book: How to Survive Life (and Death), A Guide To Happiness In This World and BeyondBoth are available everywhere – but ask for them at your local bookstore!

Monday, October 19, 2009

reminds me of the mountains...
reminds me of the mountains...

Tales of the Koko Lion, Part 15: A Big Sky Trailer

"A change in the weather is sufficient to recreate the world and ourselves."

A loud crunch from outside woke me up—an alarm in the silent snow-world outside the trailer door. I opened my eyes, but couldn't quite tell what the heck I was looking at through the breath-cloud above me. It was...a blobby icicle directly overhead—a curious stalactite caused by the frozen condensation of my overnight breath. The little trailer had become a walk-in freezer because apparently, someone had left the door open about a foot wide. The same someone let the propane for the heater run out, and also left the VW stuck up to it's front doors in the snowbank out front. The snow drifting in the door pointed like a white arrow to the perpetrator, who happened to be bundled up in my sleeping bag, and still wearing my clothes.
There I was—there we were—hung-over and snowed-in, in a trailer park just off the road that led from the Gallatin Canyon to Big Sky, Montana. Our answer to the call of the wild. When the older brothers left San Diego and headed to the silver-mine ski town of Park City, Utah, we younger brothers felt we had to push it a little farther. 
Park City in the seventies was too safe, too familiar, and we didn't feel like hanging around for the exploitation boom to begin. Already the fur and turquoise crowd from Scottsdale were making their way via Santa Fe, seeping up into the Wasatch, wandering Main Street licking their chops. So Jimmy and I shook our brothers' hands and set sail for Montana, where no kid from San Diego had ever gone before. At least none that we'd ever heard of.  
It was a long, eventful trip. That's a hazardous web of highways that crisscrosses the West out there from Wyoming to eastern Oregon, and down to the Arizona border. The cowboy trucker's Bermuda Triangle. Salt flats.  Black ice. Nevada. Endless long stretches of road. Trickster spirits dancing past the car in the dark night. You always felt lucky to get where you were going, so when we finally turned up the road to Big Sky, and beheld majestic Lone Peak topping the end of the valley like the Paramount logo, we knew we'd reached at least some lower level of teen-aged legend. No San Diego boys had ever seen this, we thought.

We got jobs at Huntley Lodge, a brand-new resort built by Chet Huntley, half of the long-forgotten iconic NBC News anchor team. We skied all day, and in the evenings waited tables at banquets, playing the image-conscious conferees from Michigan or Minnesota one against the other for ever-bigger tips. I also set-up and bussed at The Yellow Mule—the least appetizing name for a restaurant ever. It was one of my jobs to build a fire in the huge dining room fireplace, and since I was always cold, and always a little angry back then, I built them as big and as hot as I could. Hot enough to render a couple four-tops absolutely un-sit-able. The silver and glassware would start to ping and shimmer—far too hot to touch. The golden light of the fire waved like a mirage around the tables in front of the hearth. Customers would start rubbing their thighs, and the back of their necks, and suddenly leap up clutching their napkins, back-pedaling away from the heat before they spontaneously combusted.  
That'd git my boss about as ding-dang teed-off as a cowboy restaurant manager can git. And quite the cowboy he was, pointy-yoked shirts with pearly snap buttons, curly hats, and even scarves tied in such a way as to look a little too decorative for Montana. His name: GREG, was branded in the back of his tooled-leather belt. He walked bow-legged on purpose.  
As it turned out, he was from San Diego, about two miles from where we'd grown up.

For some reason, a Montana State Trooper took us under his wing and had set us up in the little trailer park down the road to Bozeman. The crunch that awoke me that morning was that Trooper, delivering the bloody haunch of a road-kill deer by shoving it into the snow bank out front. He left things there for us stuck in the snow, like Boo Radley, with a hole in the snow, instead of the tree. Montana State Troopers can lead lonely lives.  
Later in the day after we'd warmed and sobered up, we butchered the venison in the trailer's little bath tub, being careful not to touch the fixtures because of the live electric current that ran through the plumbing. A lot of things out there were not nice, or easy. Like the girls, who were hard to touch too. Like the incessant bitter cold. Like life. This wasn't Park City anymore, Dorothy.

There were rough hill-people from Karst Ranch, who lived almost entirely off the venizon they shot from their cabin windows with their 30-30s. Laconic cowboys and ill-tempered truckers we drank with at a big log roadhouse bar called Buck's T-4, the place where we'd acquired our hangovers and lost our driving skills the night before.  
Rosy, the classic veteran waitress I worked with at The Mule, came in late with her husband—the largest man in Montana, who with predictable western irony was nicknamed Tiny.  She was always laughing, while Tiny always seemed pissed off. A local asked us where we were from, and when we told him San Diego, he spit old chaw in a cup and said, "Well, I won't hold it aginst ya..." And and a man of his word, he didn't. The cowboy-truckers appreciated that we weren't (quite) hippies, that we worked hard, were good listeners—and that we seemed to hold our liquor well. That was important to them, up in that part of The Rockies, as it was to us too. We'd known when we went there that the legal drinking age in Montana was just nineteen. Jimmy was there already, and I was nearly drinking age upon arrival. So we managed without incident, and realized that in fact, we were real westerners too.

But brother, it was pee-freezin' cold that morning out in front of that trailer, rubbing my hands together hard, looking up at the Spanish Peaks like a row of dog's teeth reflecting the rising sun against that blue, big sky.

Be on the lookout for Tales of the Koko Lion, Memoirs of a Cartoon Mystic, coming your way someday soon(ish).

Read about this and much more in: How to Get to Heaven (Without Really Dying), Wisdom From a Near-Death Survivor  from Llewellyn Worldwide available direct on this page, or online. The first book: How to Survive Life (and Death), A Guide To Happiness In This World and Beyond is available the same ways – but ask for it it at your local bookstore!