Archive for the ‘reading’ Category

thanksgiven&taken

November 22, 2017

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for the Eno People

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for the Eno River

a

for brokenhearted ignorance

b

part Cherokee?

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Occaneechi Band of the Saponi Nation

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about NC Native Communities

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Triangle Native American Society

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Thanksgiving/Thanks-taking and Privilege

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Rethinking Thanksgiving

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Eno Indians

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Eno Tribe

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20 Questions for Memorial Day

May 30, 2016
  • How can you have your ideology and I have mine, and we freely enjoy common sources for food and oxygen and art and education?
  • How does our identity grow compassion? How does it grow conflict and war?
  • How can we allow creative co-existence for all physical and mental expressions/abilities, all genders, for all races, all religions and atheisms, all cultures, and for all organizing structures?12552820_1133990649959493_1479680752676447220_n
  • How do humans manifest religions and then ever become convinced that there is some ultimate source for beliefs?
  • What can be undone?
  • What can be done?
  • Why are folks not jealous when another is in trouble, in need, suffering, but jealous of another who is happy, healthy, enough?
  • How can my suffering be a remedy for all suffering?
  • How can precariat creative class organizers, in an effort to slow down gentrification, act with knowledge and respect that this struggle comes after communities of people of color have already been displaced?
  • How can a focus on my relative imperfections enlighten your ultimate perfect-ness?
  • How will our struggles over access to oil and water ever stir into enough?
  • Why does that uniformed human invoke a sense of relief or unease? Is it the cloth? The person inside the cloth?
  • Why is it predicted that soon we will see the right wing populist movement manifesting more government welfare programs?
  • How is not-enough-ing distinct from never-enough-ing?
  • How can we heal from scarcity driven capitalism?
  • How is this time of haves versus have-nots different from any other?
  • Why does perceived space seem to stretch time?
  • How does obscuration of our interdependence continue to be possible, even as the evidence of it gets clearer and clearer?
  • How are we convinced that consuming culture, romance, vacuums, and new shoes will save us?
  • How are these questions dependent on my privilege? My lack of agency?

    Anatomy of War Smith & Wesson by Noah Scalin

    Anatomy of War: Smith & Wesson           by Noah Scalin

  • How is another deployment or bomb going to teach children that we have learned from our history?
  • How much do health and happiness cost?
  • How can we honor the lost, the dead?
  • How is it useful to have an inhale and an exhale?

It is uncanny how these 3 different sources overlap in their clear awareness of what our challenges are and their ideas for what-to-do:

  1. incredible history lessons here (worth e.v.e.r.y minute 1:48:30), https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZO2kXaVd5gc
  2. a lovely lengthy writing on queerness and polyamory, http://www.makezine.enoughenough.org/newpoly2.html
  3. a confounding and humorous display of understanding and compassion (57:47), https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nAvM3GTXRtc&app=desktop

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being. genderqueer. today. in NC, USA.

April 13, 2016

phew. tears roll. with such political/systemic fear governing dehumanization… naturally, i am reading the word transgender oftener in the news media. more visibility, yay. that is tender izing. fumbling lower lip quaking under smooth exhales. the word and myself are more apparent. that is frightening and exhilarating. confusing. yeah.

and, yes, i know the legislation was not about bathrooms… or, but, i know the legislation was in drag as about bathrooms… and as of yesterday it is clearing and becoming rather about bathrooms. wow McCrory.

just this morning, in my state-of-origin, SC, a subcommittee hearing was allowed for a similar bill, S1203/bathroom bill, even though so many including the Governor are denouncing it.

the present [not permanent] results shape my breath all the same. the legislation shapes my urge and in/ability to shit and pee and think limited or free…

here’s what emerges as relevant, interesting:

  1. art + science embodied [~8minute vid]
  2. creative identity [~3.40 min vid, ~4 min vid, ~2hr full concert vid]
  3. relationship as spiritual crucible – i dialog with an article. worth the time! take it in small bits…

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2.

3.

Retrieved date of NC GA special session for “Bathroom Bill” f-ing signed by Governor,

Wednesday, March 23, 2016 from:

http://www.lionsroar.com/intimate-relationship-as-a-spiritual-crucible/

my responses are italicized and indented with block quote format

John Welwood is one of my favorite authors I studied in my Naropa space-times.

Intimate Relationship as a Spiritual Crucible

by John Welwood – March 4, 2016

I’ll go ahead and interject a translation I often do as an asexual alien. Given this title’s first two words, I’m already thinking of parts of me in relationship with me – or my intimate relationship with true and false core beliefs I have – or identities I roll through in any given day to make it bearably to another day…

Living with someone we love, with all the joys and challenges, is one of the best ways to grow spiritually. But real awakening only happens, says renowned psychologist John Welwood, in the charnel ground where we acknowledge and work with our wounds, fears, and illusions…

While most people would like to have healthy, satisfying relationships in their lives, the truth is that everyone has a hard time with intimate partnerships. The poet Rilke understood just how challenging they could be when he penned his classic statement, “For one person to love another, this is the most difficult of all our tasks.”

Rilke isn’t suggesting it’s hard to love or to have loving-kindness. Rather, he is speaking about how hard it is to keep loving someone we live with, day by day, year after year. After numerous hardships and failures, many people have given up on intimate relationship, regarding the relational terrain as so fraught with romantic illusion and emotional hazards that it is no longer worth the energy.

Indeed, my inclinations towards not existing speak to this challenge betwixt my own differentiated inner body systems and disparate thought habits…

Also, I find it important to hope and read between the lines that Rilke nor Welwood are encouraging anyone to stay in abusive or unhealthy relationships!

Although modern relationships are particularly challenging, their very difficulty presents a special arena for personal and spiritual growth. To develop more conscious relationships requires becoming conversant with how three different dimensions of human existence play out within them: ego, person, and being.

Hha, yes! And solo time –self-study– has it’s medicines and terrors for the growing and being too. These can be very distinct salves and horrors, and they can be just the same ones that torment and heal partnered and familied folks: how to balance and be accountable to both loving, compassionate, skillful means of selfless serving in my world/community/home and loving, compassionate, skillful means of self-care so to be resourced –grounded and inspired. How to neither abandon deep outer space nor deep inner space as places for opportune wholing and healing all beings. I am of the all… too…

Every close relationship involves these three levels of interaction that two partners cycle through—ego to ego, person to person, and being to being. While one moment two people may be connecting being to being in pure openness, the next moment their two egos may fall into deadly combat. When our partners treat us nicely, we open—“Ah, you’re so great.” But when they say or do something threatening, it’s “How did I wind up with you?” Since it can be terribly confusing or devastating when the love of our life suddenly turns into our deadliest enemy, it’s important to hold a larger vision that allows us to understand what is happening here.

Ne’er forgetting the ol’ i am my own worst enemy and most understanding advocate…

Relationship as Alchemy

When we fall in love, this usually ushers in a special period, one with its own distinctive glow and magic. Glimpsing another person’s beauty and feeling, our heart opening in response provides a taste of absolute love, a pure blend of openness and warmth. This being-to-being connection reveals the pure gold at the heart of our nature, qualities like beauty, delight, awe, deep passion and kindness, generosity, tenderness, and joy.

Yet opening to another also flushes to the surface all kinds of conditioned patterns and obstacles that tend to shut this connection down: our deepest wounds, our grasping and desperation, our worst fears, our mistrust, our rawest emotional trigger points. As a relationship develops, we often find that we don’t have full access to the gold of our nature, for it remains embedded in the ore of our conditioned patterns. And so we continually fall from grace.

The words “raw” and “fall from grace” tug at my curiosity as to why our original nature is often perceived as so goodly and one sided. Beneath any pure gold or damning responses to woundings  (which are also perfectly natural) is maybe something even more whole and less dualistic…? Direct experiences in the womb, during birth, and cellular memory whilst hanging out in our gone-befores’ anatomies (explicitly the egg-bearing grandparent) condition embodiments of a full repertoire of emotional and thinking and feeling in response to life on earth – movement in gravity appearing in human form…

It’s important to recognize that all the emotional and psychological wounding we carry with us from the past is relational in nature: it has to do with not feeling fully loved. And it happened in our earliest relationships—with our caretakers—when our brain and body were totally soft and impressionable.

Yah, and the actual original egg bit of us was being with our blood line and informing our vibrational capacities a lifetime at least before said egg becomes fertilized – even if that blood line of humans has no direct hand in bringing us up in the world.

As a result, the ego’s relational patterns largely developed as protection schemes to insulate us from the vulnerable openness that love entails.

Seems wise original nature there, both/and eh, patterns responding to conditions in life-sustaining ways.

In relationship the ego acts as a survival mechanism for getting needs met while fending off the threat of being hurt, manipulated, controlled, rejected, or abandoned in ways we were as a child. This is normal and totally understandable. Yet if it’s the main tenor of a relationship, it keeps us locked in complex strategies of defensiveness and control that undermine the possibility of deeper connection.

I’m all in with this paragraph above!

Thus to gain greater access to the gold of our nature in relationship, a certain alchemy is required: the refining of our conditioned defensive patterns. The good news is that this alchemy generated between two people also furthers a larger alchemy within them. The opportunity here is to join and integrate the twin poles of human existence: heaven, the vast space of perfect, unconditional openness, and earth, our imperfect, limited human form, shaped by worldly causes and conditions. As the defensive/controlling ego cooks and melts down in the heat of love’s influence, a beautiful evolutionary development starts to emerge—the genuine person, who embodies a quality of very human relational presence that is transparent to open-hearted being, right in the midst of the dense confines of worldly conditioning.

Yeah, it is essential for an infant human to be in intimate relationship(s) to survive early childhood. Of course, the conditioning may be largely a result of abuse, as much as love – as indeed abandonment/neglect more likely results in death than abuse. Indeed, early relational imprints happen with other(s) – not in solitude.

Relationship as Charnel Ground

To clarify the workings of this alchemy, a more gritty metaphor is useful, one that comes from the tantric traditions of Buddhism and Hinduism: relationship as charnel ground. In many traditional Asian societies, the charnel ground was where people would bring dead bodies, to be eaten by vultures and jackals. From the tantric yogi’s perspective, this was an ideal place to practice, because it is right at the crossroads of life, where birth and death, fear and fearlessness, impermanence and awakening unfold right next to each other. Some things are dying and decaying, others are feeding and being fed, while others are being born out of the decay. The charnel ground is an ideal place to practice because it is right at the crossroads of life, where one cannot help but feel the rawness of human existence.

Yes! Yum. And here the full range of life encompassing death and birthings of new things is embraced.

Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche described the charnel ground as “that great graveyard, in which the complexities of samsara and nirvana lie buried.” Samsara is the conditioned mind that clouds our true nature, while nirvana is the direct seeing of this nature. As Trungpa Rinpoche describes this daunting crossroads in one of his early seminars:

It’s a place to die and be born, equally, at the same time, it’s simply our raw and rugged nature, the ground where we constantly puke and fall down, constantly make a mess. We are constantly dying, we are constantly giving birth. We are eating in the charnel ground, sitting in it, sleeping on it, having nightmares on it… Yet it does not try to hide its truth about reality. There are corpses lying all over the place, loose arms, loose hands, loose internal organs, and flowing hairs all over the place, jackals and vultures are roaming about, each one devising its own scheme for getting the best piece of flesh.

Ah, again, I get tangled in use of “rugged nature;” so that is some conditioning and not our “true nature.” A human cannot make it past infancy without conditioning, happenings, respondings. Even belief in the Four Noble Truths is a condition… so… I, uh,…

Many of us have a cartoon-like notion of relational bliss: that it should provide a steady state of security or solace that will save us from having to face the gritty, painful, difficult areas of life. We imagine that finding or marrying the right person will spare us from having to deal with such things as loneliness, disappointment, despair, terror, or disintegration. Yet anyone who has been married for a long time probably has some knowledge of the charnel ground quality of relationship—corpses all over the place, and jackals and vultures roaming about looking for the best piece of flesh. Trungpa Rinpoche suggests that if we can work with the “raw and rugged situation” of the charnel ground, “then some spark or sympathy or compassion, some giving in or opening can begin to take place. The chaos that takes place in your neurosis is the only home ground that you can build the mandala of awakening on.” This last sentence is a powerful one, for it suggests that awakening happens only through facing the chaos of our neurotic patterns. Yet this is often the last thing we want to deal with in relationships.

Yep, and, Buddhist worldview is not synonymous with psychology. And, but, yet, that overlap in the pre-trans fallacy is juicy illuminating useful helpful clarifying shit. (See what I did there.)

Sorry to include Ken Wilber’s privileged useful brilliance in here, stomach turning.

Trungpa Rinpoche suggests that our neurosis is built on the fact that:

…large areas of our life have been devoted to trying to avoid discovering our own experience. Now [in the charnel ground, in our relationships] we have a chance to explore that large area which exists in our being, which we’ve been trying to avoid. That seems to be the first message, which may be very grim, but also very exciting. We’re not trying to get away from the charnel ground, we don’t want to build a Hilton hotel in the middle of it. Building the mandala of awakening actually happens on the charnel ground. What is happening on the charnel ground is constant personal exploration, and beyond that, just giving, opening, extending yourself completely to the situation that’s available to you. Being fantastically exposed, and the sense that you could give birth to another world.

This also describes the spiritual potential of intimate involvement with another human being.

Another quote with a similar feeling comes from Swami Rudrananda (known as Rudy, a German teacher who was a student of the Indian saint Swami Nityananda), further describing how to work with neurosis in this way:

Don’t look for perfection in me. I want to acknowledge my own imperfection, I want to understand that that is part of the endlessness of my growth. It’s absolutely useless at this stage in your life, with all of the shit piled up in your closet, to walk around and try to kid yourself about your perfection. Out of the raw material you break down [here he is also speaking of the charnel ground] you grow and absorb the energy. You work yourself from inside out, tearing out, destroying, and finding a sense of nothingness. That nothingness allows God to come in. But this somethingness—ego and prejudices and limitations—is your raw material. If you process and refine it all, you can open consciously. Otherwise, you will never come to anything that represents yourself … The only thing that can create a oneness inside you is the ability to see more of yourself as you work every day to open deeper and say, fine, “I’m short-tempered,” or “Fine, I’m aggressive,” or, “Fine, I love to make money,” or, “I have no feeling for anybody else.” Once you recognize you’re all of these things, you’ll finally be able to take a breath and allow these things to open.

bowing

Rudy suggests that we have to acknowledge and embrace our imperfections as spiritual path; therefore grand spiritual pretensions miss the point. In his words, “A man who thinks he has a spiritual life is really an idiot.” The same is true of relationships: beware of thinking you have a “spiritual relationship.” While loving connection provides a glimpse of the gold that lies within, we continually corrupt it by turning it into a commodity, a magical charm to make us feel okay. All the delusions of romantic love follow from there. Focusing on relationship as a spiritual or emotional “fix” actually destroys the possibility of finding deep joy, true ease, or honest connection with another.

Sooner or later relationship brings us to our knees, forcing us to confront the raw and rugged mess of our mental and emotional life. George Orwell points to this devastating quality of human love in a sentence that also has a charnel ground flavor to it: “The essence of being human is that one does not seek perfection, and that one is prepared, in the end, to be defeated, and broken up by life, which is the inevitable price of fastening one’s love upon other human individuals.”

This then is the meaning of the charnel ground: we have to be willing to come apart at the seams, to be dismantled, to let our old ego structures fall apart before we can begin to embody sparks of the essential perfection at the core of our nature. To evolve spiritually, we have to allow these unworked, hidden, messy parts of ourselves to come to the surface. It’s not that the strategic, controlling ego is something bad or some unnecessary, horrible mistake. Rather, it provides the indispensable grist that makes alchemical transformation possible.

bowing

This is not a pessimistic view, because some kind of breakdown is usually necessary before any significant breakthrough into new ways of living not so encumbered by past conditioning. Charnel ground, then, is a metaphor for this breakdown/breakthrough process that is an essential part of human growth and evolution, and one of the gifts of a deep, intimate connection is that it naturally sets this process in motion. Yet no one wants to be dismantled. So there are two main ways that people try to abort this process: running away and spiritual bypassing.

The problem with running away when a relationship becomes difficult is that we are also turning away from ourselves and our potential breakthroughs. Fleeing the raw, wounded places in ourselves because we don’t think we can handle them is a form of self-rejection and self-abandonment that turns our feeling body into an abandoned, haunted house. The more we flee our shadowy places, the more they fester in the dark and the more haunted this house becomes. And the more haunted it becomes, the more it terrifies us. This is a vicious circle that keeps us cut off from and afraid of ourselves.

One of the scariest places we encounter in relationship is a deep inner sense of unlove, where we don’t know that we’re truly lovable just for being who we are, where we feel deficient and don’t know our value. This is the raw wound of the heart, where we’re disconnected from our true nature, our inner perfection. Naturally we want to do everything we can to avoid this place, fix it, or neutralize it, so we’ll never have to experience such pain again.

Again, the above two paragraphs are not, I believe, an endorsement to stay in relationship no matter what. Sometimes, you gotta go, for incredibly sane survivable reasons!

A second way to flee from the challenges of relationship is through spiritual bypassing—using spiritual ideas or practices to avoid or prematurely transcend relative human needs, feelings, personal issues, and developmental tasks. For example, a certain segment of the contemporary spiritual scene has become infected with a facile brand of “advaita-speak,” a one-sided transcendentalism that uses nondual terms and ideas to bypass the challenging work of personal transformation.

Advaita-speak can be very tricky, for it uses absolute truth to disparage relative truth, emptiness to devalue form, and oneness to belittle individuality. The following quotes from two popular contemporary teachers illustrate this tendency: “Know that what appears to be love for another is really love of Self, because other doesn’t exist,” and “The other’s ‘otherness’ stands revealed as an illusion pertaining to the purely human realm, the realm of form.” Notice the devaluation of form and the human realm in the latter statement. By suggesting that only absolute love or being-to-being union is real, these teachers equate the person-to-person element necessary for a transformative love bond with mere ego or illusion.

Yeh, and it is sadly easy to catch this odor in political realms of “we are one” – what I want is what everybody wants, so elect me because I’m so progressive sounding. Gagging…

Yet personal intimacy is a spark flashing out across the divide between self and other. It depends on strong individuals making warm, personal contact, mutually sparking and enriching each other with complementary qualities and energies. This is the meeting of I and Thou, which Martin Buber understood not as an impersonal spiritual union but as a personal communion rooted in deep appreciation of the other’s otherness.

A deep, intimate connection inevitably brings up all our love wounds from the past. This is why many spiritual practitioners try to remain above the fray and impersonal in their relationships—so as not to face and deal with their own unhealed relational wounds. But this keeps the wounding unconscious, causing it to emerge as compulsive shadowy behavior or to dry up passion and juice. Intimate personal connecting cannot evolve unless the old love wounds that block it are faced, acknowledged, and freed up.

For my part, I’m always churning/charneling with some conscious awarenesses of unhealed/healing relational wounds. I am no well-developed practitioner, just on the path, developing… And I do have quite intimate relationships with beloved chosen family and friends and students. So, we can play with defining what “intimate relationship” technically refers to, as self-growth can happen in varying proximities with other(s).

As wonderful as moments of being-to-being union can be, the alchemical play of joining heaven and earth in a relationship involves a more subtle and beautiful dance: not losing our twoness in the oneness, while not losing our oneness in the twoness. Personal intimacy evolves out of the dancing-ground of dualities: personal and trans-personal, known and unknown, death and birth, openness and karmic limitation, clarity and chaos, hellish clashes and heavenly bliss. The clash and interplay of these polarities, with all its shocks and surprises, provides a ferment that allows for deep transformation through forcing us to keep waking up, dropping preconceptions, expanding our sense of who we are, and learning to work with all the different elements of our humanity.

More “yup.” And, I am one of those sensitive ones that find such intimate mirrors and existential fodder in the darn daily news, social justice efforts, and even often energetic over stimulation from walking amongst the rivers and trees I love so painfully deeply. All the things of this worldly beingness are nourishments to support my unpacking, undoing, revealing of and contemplation of my identity and wounds and false judgments and lies I tell myself that have tuned into governing beliefs for my wei-wu-ways, etc…

When we’re in the midst of this ferment, it may seem like some kind of fiendish plot. We finally find someone we really love and then the most difficult things start emerging: fear, distrust, unlove, disillusion, resentment, blame, confusion. Yet this is a form of love’s grace—that it brings our wounds and defenses forward into the light. For love can only heal what presents itself to be healed. If our woundedness remains hidden, it cannot be healed; the best in us cannot come out unless the worst comes out as well.

bowing. This again stirs my curiosity of my perception of Buddha-nature, original sin/blessing, or true nature as confused Advaita-speak or some pre-trans fallacy…? How to not lose the twoness of love and disillusion in some oneness of either love or unlove… how not to lose the oneness of breathing or being in some twoness of non-being and being…?!

So instead of constructing a fancy hotel in the charnel ground, we must be willing to come down and relate to the mess on the ground. We need to regard the wounded heart as a place of spiritual practice. This kind of practice means engaging with our relational fears and vulnerabilities in a deliberate, conscious way, like the yogis of old who faced down the goblins and demons of the charnel grounds.

The only way to be free of our conditioned patterns is through a full, conscious experience of them. This might be called “ripening our karma,” what the Indian teacher Swami Prajnanpad described as bhoga, meaning “deliberate, conscious experience.” He said, “You can only dissolve karma through the bhoga of this karma.” We become free of what we’re stuck in only through meeting and experiencing it directly. Having the bhoga of your karma allows you to digest unresolved, undigested elements of your emotional experience from the past that are still affecting you: how you were hurt or overwhelmed, how you defended yourself against that by shutting down, how you constructed walls to keep people out.

The word deliberate has always held a leading spot in my egomindheartbodyenergy’s wei-wu-way of practicing life contemplatively.

Another term for directly engaging our karma might be “conscious suffering.” This involves saying “yes” to our pain, opening ourselves to it, as it is. This kind of yes doesn’t mean, “I like it, I’m glad it’s like this.” It just means, “Yes, this is what’s happening.” Whatever comes up, you are willing to meet it and have a direct experience of it. For example, if you’re hard-hearted, you have a full experience of that. Then you see how acknowledging this affects you and what comes from doing that.

Bhoga involves learning to ride the waves of our feelings rather than becoming submerged in them. This requires mindfulness of where we are in the cycle of emotional experience. A skilled surfer is aware of exactly where he is on a wave, whereas an unskilled surfer winds up getting creamed. By their very nature, waves are rising fifty percent of the time and falling the other fifty percent. Instead of fighting the down cycles of our emotional life, we need to learn to keep our seat on the surfboard and have a full, conscious experience of going down. Especially in a culture that is addicted to “up,” we especially need our “yes” when the down cycles unfold—to be willing to fall apart, retreat, slow down, be patient, let go. For it’s often at the bottom of a down cycle, when everything looks totally bleak and miserable, that we finally receive a flash of insight that lets us see the hidden contours of some huge ego fixation in which we’ve been stuck all our life. Having a full, conscious experience of the down cycle as it’s occurring, instead of fighting or transcending it, lets us be available for these moments of illumination.

While the highlands of absolute love are most beautiful, few but the saints can spend all their time there. Relative human love is not a peak experience nor a steady state. It wavers, fluctuates, waxes and wanes, changes shape and intensity, soars and crashes. “This is the exalted melancholy of our fate,” writes Buber, describing how moments of I/Thou communion cannot last too very long. Yet though relationships participate fully in the law of impermanence, the good news is that this allows new surprises and revelations to keep arising endlessly.

bowing

Relationship as Koan

Relating to the full spectrum of our experience in the relational charnel ground leads to a self-acceptance that expands our capacity to embrace and accept others as well. Usually our view of our partners is colored by what they do for us—how they make us look or feel good, or not—and shaped by our internal movie about what we want them to be. This of course makes it hard to see them for who they are in their own right.

Beyond our movie of the other is a much larger field of personal and spiritual possibilities, what Walt Whitman referred to when he said, “I contain multitudes.” These “multitudes” are what keep a relationship fresh and interesting, but they can only do that if we can accept the ways that those we love are different from us—in their background, values, perspectives, qualities, sensitivities, preferences, ways of doing things, and, finally, their destiny. In the words of Swami Prajnanpad, standing advaita-speak on its head: “To see fully that the other is not you is the way to realizing oneness … Nothing is separate, everything is different … Love is the appreciation of difference.”

bowing.

And wondering on the potential concretizing/conditioning of the wave imagery as applicable to all equally. It is not. (And it is!) Space breaths easier around and within my struggles with depression and suicide ideation when I allow that my wave patterns’ lengths, amplitudes, and heights are not the same as anyone else’s.

Two partners not holding themselves separate, while remaining totally distinct—“not two, not one”—may seem like an impossible challenge in a relationship. Bernard Phillips, an early student of East/West psychology, likens this impossibility of relationship to a Zen koan, a riddle that cannot be solved with the conceptual mind. After continually trying and failing to figure out the answer, Zen students arrive at a genuine solution only in the moment of finally giving up and giving in. In Phillips’ words:

Every human being with whom we seek relatedness is a koan, that is to say, an impossibility. There is no formula for getting along with a human being. No technique will achieve relatedness. I am impossible to get along with; so is each one of you; all our friends are impossible; the members of our families are impossible. How then shall we get along with them? … If you are seeking a real encounter, then you must confront the koan represented by the other person. The koan is an invitation to enter into reality.

In the end, to love another requires dropping all our narcissistic agendas, movies, hopes, and fears, so that we may look freshly and see “the raw other, the sacred other,” just as he or she is. This involves a surrender, or perhaps defeat, as in George Orwell’s words about being “defeated and broken up by life.” What is defeated here, of course, is the ego and its strategies, clearing the way for the genuine person to emerge, the person who is capable of real, full-spectrum contact. The nobility of this kind of defeat is portrayed by Rilke in four powerful lines describing Jacob’s wrestling match with the angel:

Winning does not tempt that man
For this is how he grows:
By being defeated, decisively,
By constantly greater beings.

In relationship, it is two partners’ greater beings, gradually freeing themselves from the prison of conditioned patterns, that bring about this decisive defeat. And as this starts reverberating through their relationship, old expectations finally give way, old movies stop running, and a much larger acceptance than they believed possible can start opening up between them. As they become willing to face and embrace whatever stands between them—old relational wounds from the past, personal pathologies, difficulties hearing and understanding each other, different values and sensitivities—all in the name of loving and letting be, they are invited to “enter into reality.” Then it becomes possible to start encountering each other nakedly, in the open field of nowness, fresh and unfabricated, the field of love forever vibrating with unimagined possibilities.

 Phew, bowing.

This essay is adapted from a talk given at the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco. Copyright 2008 by John Welwood. All rights reserved.

ABOUT JOHN WELWOOD

John Welwood, Ph.D. is a psychotherapist who has been a student of Tibetan Buddhism for more than thirty-five years. His books include Perfect Love, Imperfect Relationships: Healing the Wound of the Heart.

ground…’s day

February 2, 2016

“…I gentle you…”

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yes. that sounds workable…

i counter some of Clarissa Pinkola Estes’s wonderful words… enough to  wonder at my sharing this piece; yet, i enjoy this piece enough. it is years old and still relevant.

it’s queer. i can see the usefulness in her words. that’s why i share them here. there is a point to them. and to their opposites. and even other views…

My friends, do not lose heart. We were made for these times. I have heard from so many recently who are deeply and properly bewildered. They are concerned about the state of affairs in our world now. Ours is a time of almost daily astonishment and often righteous rage over the latest degradations of what matters most to civilized, visionary people.

You are right in your assessments. The lustre and hubris some have aspired to while endorsing acts so heinous against children, elders, everyday people, the poor, the unguarded, the helpless, is breathtaking. Yet, I urge you, ask you, gentle you, to please not spend your spirit dry by bewailing these difficult times. Especially do not lose hope. Most particularly because, the fact is that we were made for these times. Yes. For years, we have been learning, practicing, been in training for and just waiting to meet on this exact plain of engagement.

losing hope is encouraged by me. acknowledge, breathe, be with what is. i encourage you to be hopeless, to not need hope. to inhale and act skillfully and fullheartedly because you don’t need the futuristic distraction of hope. see. listen. respond. now.

I grew up on the Great Lakes and recognize a seaworthy vessel when I see one. Regarding awakened souls, there have never been more able vessels in the waters than there are right now across the world. And they are fully provisioned and able to signal one another as never before in the history of humankind.

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Look out over the prow; there are millions of boats of righteous souls on the waters with you. Even though your veneers may shiver from every wave in this stormy roil, I assure you that the long timbers composing your prow and rudder come from a greater forest. That long-grained lumber is known to withstand storms, to hold together, to hold its own, and to advance, regardless.

yes, both/and. my timbers (cells, organs, bones, breaths) are presently shivering veneers. and yet they too are of greater forests (lineages, mentors, teachers, beloveds, gone-befores).

In any dark time, there is a tendency to veer toward fainting over how much is wrong or unmended in the world. Do not focus on that. There is a tendency, too, to fall into being weakened by dwelling on what is outside your reach, by what cannot yet be. Do not focus there. That is spending the wind without raising the sails.

veering towards the unmended is vital. some focus is required here. mending is required. allowing sp a c e and nesting/resting for weakened states is crucial. what is other or outside my reach is critical for me to at the least see and love, if not even touch.

We are needed, that is all we can know. And though we meet resistance, we more so will meet great souls who will hail us, love us and guide us, and we will know them when they appear. Didn’t you say you were a believer? Didn’t you say you pledged to listen to a voice greater? Didn’t you ask for grace? Don’t you remember that to be in grace means to submit to the voice greater?

i don’t think so. ehem. depends on what you mean by believer, greater, and grace. i’m of the godless, atheist, Buddhist leanings. and i still exist and have a place in this mandala.

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Ours is not the task of fixing the entire world all at once, but of stretching out to mend the part of the world that is within our reach. Any small, calm thing that one soul can do to help another soul, to assist some portion of this poor suffering world, will help immensely. It is not given to us to know which acts or by whom, will cause the critical mass to tip toward an enduring good.

ah, yeah, we can mend now. close in. okay.

What is needed for dramatic change is an accumulation of acts, adding, adding to, adding more, continuing. We know that it does not take everyone on Earth to bring justice and peace, but only a small, determined group who will not give up during the first, second, or hundredth gale.

i will try to not give up. i try. no promises- they smell like hope an’ shit…

One of the most calming and powerful actions you can do to intervene in a stormy world is to stand up and show your soul. Soul on deck shines like gold in dark times. The light of the soul throws sparks, can send up flares, builds signal fires, causes proper matters to catch fire. To display the lantern of soul in shadowy times like these – to be fierce and to show mercy toward others; both are acts of immense bravery and greatest necessity.

yeh, fire can be molten lava or sparkly licking flares. water can be frozen sharp piercing or flowing rolling down down down…

Struggling souls catch light from other souls who are fully lit and willing to show it. If you would help to calm the tumult, this is one of the strongest things you can do.

tumult. calm and balance the tumult…

There will always be times when you feel discouraged. I too have felt despair many times in my life, but I do not keep a chair for it. I will not entertain it. It is not allowed to eat from my plate.

i do invite despair, with space – breathable, healing, non-indulgent space. i understand your point, just sayin’. despair has a chair and eats from my plate daily.

 

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The reason is this: In my uttermost bones I know something, as do you. It is that there can be no despair when you remember why you came to Earth, who you serve, and who sent you here. The good words we say and the good deeds we do are not ours. They are the words and deeds of the One who brought us here. In that spirit, I hope you will write this on your wall: When a great ship is in harbor and moored, it is safe, there can be no doubt. But that is not what great ships are built for.

there is plenty of despair if/when i contemplate what my being on earth might be why for… ah, it is that spirit i don’t get with. i don’t think rejecting idealist monism excludes me from exploring existence as a ship made for sailing rough seas…

By Clarissa Pinkola Estes

American poet, post-trauma specialist and Jungian psychoanalyst, author of Women Who Run With the Wolves.

benediction

May 4, 2015

 

“…the regular small complaint and recover of the porch swing.”

~p. 21, Kent Haruf

blood on my face, blood in their eyes

March 18, 2015
rain.
falls.
hard.
burns.
dry.
a dream.
or a song.
that hits you so hard.
filling you up.
and suddenly gone.
~Midnight Radio

  i. was. the. chosen. one.

in 10 parts.

bah dhum Tsh.

.

for one show.  one night.  on Broadway.

.

what does that mean?!

choose your own adventure: skip to part XI to find out what that means…

Photo Mar 14, 11 51 11 PM

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part 1

he’s the one

i was set to see the Broadway version of Hedwig again.

this time with John Cameron Mitchell(JCM) himself playing the role.

this time in a front row almost center seat.

ahem.

breathing through the palpitating.

.

part 2

a gift

i was in NYC for an early childhood education conference.  before i left home, i’d been too busy to hand-sew that neck tie i wanted to craft for JCM.

i found a school’s colorful brochure, some wooden coffee stirrers, a small piece of duct tape scavenged from the sound engineer at the conference, and a ball point pen – to make a gift for JCM. i made a mini paper quilt with a story about knees in drawings, words, and photos mashed up – a story quilt of healing from my 2 “damaged/flowing” menisci to his.

JCM is currently wearing a knee brace and has brilliantly hilariously altered the script to integrate his injured and older/wiser status. i am 3 weeks into acute PT for a knee injury that happened 10 years ago…

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part 3

go monastic it’s fucking fantastic

setting the “stage” here. you’ll see: standing in line, i was reading up on 11th & 12th century diaspora of Buddhism from North India into Tibet. and the over-arching shift from more inward study to external icon and ritualized ways Buddhism was made more and more accessible yet distorted for more and more lay persons. why of course i was.

.

part 4

settling-in

ok, so now i’m armed with the gift and my ticket.

i approach my seat and find it situated near halfway underneath the protruding stage flooring. Thank goodness eye level was about one inch (literally-if even) above stage height. otherwise there’d’ve been no view of so much happening up stage…

noticing proximity to the mic stand – i flashback to early 90s Ani Difranco dive bar shows. those days were the last and only times i identified as a fan in the true sense, in that i even could attend multiple shows, follow her around, always smush up to the front center, and get in trouble for getting too close to the star…

oh, i fanatically study and love on many artists and their works. but live shows are my thing. they are what truly help me wake up and identify as a living human. quite a mash-up for my crowd-avoidant-introverted selfhood and performance artist worshipping freakiness. i have not been able to be the live fan for the artists i most deeply admire/melt for…

so here this year i’ve been blessed and privileged and able to move Hedwig from a movie/cd kinda dream place to tangible reality! (whew. tangible. indeed. still giddy-silly-high 4 days later, any moment remembering the physically and socially awkward oh-so public moment.

.

part 5

impartiality

i’m in drag in my hoodie uniform, such as i always am. Audience community builds around my silent space. in my solo attendance, i wonder how much i can let go, cry, sing out-loud, express the way i ugly sob when listening to Wig In A Box or the film soundtrack at home…

i was ready in my anonymity to cry my eyes out, sing outloud etc… express. participate as i just don’t do in context of known others. not that i can’t, i just am quiet like that- energetically, emotionally, physically. of course some of you close family-of-origin and chosen-family members are laughing at me now; you get to see my drama-king-queen sides more easily.

Alone at home i naturally express a wider/fuller repertoire of emotion etc… That’s the kinda agendered asexual recluse i am. Alas, i thought i could i might… i felt a possible freedom this night to let go into the anonymity…

.

Some famous folks sit one seat over to my left – folks i don’t recognize, but everyone’s abuzz as to who they are. The couple to my right has seen Broadway Hedwig 30+ times. Many around have seen each actor portraying Hedwig at least once in the past year’s rock-n-roll-ness. i feel all humble and small and comfortable with my power of casting a leave-me-alone-to-my-experience wall around myself…

The show begins. Time moves. The 4th wall is broken quickly. Those interactive tropes of the show accumulate. Hedwig steps right on top of the head of the neighbor to my left. Spit falls on our half of the front row. A person way over on the house left side of the row receives the carwash. Another from that territory gets pulled up on stage as America’s Next Top Bottom.

It’s cool. It’s all good. i’m not having to fight my i-wanna-be-more-a-part-of-it-all / i-wanna-disappear demons. people are enjoying themselves, becoming more and more a part of it all for this night, this show at least. The energy is all… awakening. full. the sensory overload of such encounters are in the end always enough for me. more than enough. life-enhancing. revitalizing. i just know how i can easily come across as disinterested and disingenuous from the outside.

Yitzhak slays me per usual. Not sure whose pain ever eats me alive more, Hedwig’s or Yitzhak’s. i’ve made eye contact with all the actors and musicians. lovely. It is an intimate wonderful context.

i am not accessing the watery emotions. i am struck at witnessing JCM measure his body/cave, pushing and pulling softening Hedwig’s projection of voice and energy in turns. this is where my experience rests. witnessing the mastery of the artists. Lena Hall’s voice. Yitzhak’s forlorn gaze. ugghhh. i also cache some of this emotional distancing as response to how physically close i am! i can’t take in the whole postural humor and dismantling of identities in the way someone farther back can. i saw it that way the other time i came; of course that wasn’t JCM. but i’m finding my way in, to marvel as a lowly mortal receiving an inestimable gift from JCM/Hedwig hirself and the Angry Inch/Tits of Clay band members themselves!

.

part 6

blood on my face

and.

suddenly.

i. was.

f.ing.
french kissing JCM.
!!!
or.
s/he kissed me?
.
Hedwig seems the only and best time appropriate to ever never use “s/he.”
.
some call it the “triple crown” when they get the carwash, the spit, and the tomato ness.
i did not get the carwash.
i got tomato stains ample. 2 times spit upon.
and…
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part 7

I could swear by your expression that pain down in your soul

was the same as the one down in mine.

.

or.

.

part 8

why did s/he choose me?!

  • because i looked like i needed it the most
  • because JCM could see through my self-in-drag-as-self and see my 3rd/4th wave queer post-post-feminist non gendered performance artist self who ritualizes similar disrobing/dismantling of clothing, skin, identities – public bleeding literally – despite my inspirations not being JCM himself but artists he might appreciate: Carolee Schneeman, Karen Finley, James Luna, Annie Sprinkle, Meredith Monk, Diamanda Galas, Mierle Laderman Ukeles, …
  • because…!?
  • because I looked like I needed it the most
as a performance artist myself, i know those choices made precisely particularly to the very present audience of who to play with / off of. some moments it is the waifish needy looking sad case. other moments it is the one who looks willing, brave, open, able… verruh different presences/beingnesses that connect to how i as the performer am even feeling able to cull another’s energy in any given performative moment or exchange. there’s no simple one-way answer. what is not a performative moment? you are performing drag as your self – however you chose to dress/appear today!
.
oh the fantasies of self-importance. how JCM was gonna demand the online ticket seller reveal my email and reach out to me (via clues -that aren’t there- in the gift i handed him). and consult about pedagogy and all things contemplative embodiment. how young children teach us. and how i could support his management of physical and vocal energy. as if he needed such! neverminding that i witnessed him eloquently beautifully fluidly choosing to pull back and push forward with his vocal effort when perfect to do so in the character and story of the moment — and in the real knee pain compromisings i could detect. exquisite.
.
slip into your self-same shaped egomindheartbody mechanism and find those reasons you thinkfeelsayact your ways. you know at least the scape-space inside you, the same as the one down in me… where we keep our deepest sanest thoughtsecrets.
.
part 9
naiveté
i’d no idea what i actually looked like for hours after, as i sat in audience, waited in fandom queue, waltzed through the subway after 1am. i thought i looked freakish with some glitter and sheen all over my visage.
what a laugh, when i saw the bathrrom mirror at the seminary guest house i was abiding. i looked like – just like – i’d been kissed by a drag queen or some such. i looked just like i’d been French kissed by some heavy make-up wearing valkyrie. oh, the smiles and winks i’d exchanged with underground performers and subway folks waiting. i truly thought i just looked more queer/freakish with some sheen and glitter all over my head. inspite, i looked kinda sexual? active? available? or spent?! another layer of the hi.larity of the nightmorning and my ignorance as an asexual freak-thing.
.
dry cracked lips and all the smphwhaauhh marks around.
i’d chewed gritty glitter for hours after the kiss.
this. was. real.
this. happened.
to…
me?!
why?!
because i looked like i needed it the most
.
part 10
blood in their eyes
what still goads me is, 4days later, i still don’t recognize the depth of the laugh that leaves my body, when i remember how suddenly Hedwig’s/JCM’s legs were around me. i didn’t look up. S/he grabs the scruff of my hoodie and pulls me up into her/his face! there was the slightest non-verbal communication of: “Yeah. I mean. you. Yeah. This is happening. Now.” um. there were teeth and tongue and glitter was transferred. TMI. sorry not sorry.
.
i don’t remember opening my eyes until after. Yitzhak is glaring with stabbing defeat into my eyes into my colon. Hedwig is glancing with disappointment and requests Yitzhak to clear tomorrow’s appointments for more disappointments. me being disappointment #1. (i was already raising my finger high in the air – understanding my role in the scheme of things – belatedly remembering this play/line from the summer show…) what a rare true disappointment asexual agendered inexperienced non kisser me must have been for poor JCM! my contemplative lay-monastic Tibetan Tantrika self gritted glitter between my teeth for hours.
.
part XI

what does this mean?!

here’s what i learned about egomindbodymechanism after star-crossed kiss…
what does it mean that JCM chose me to kiss out of the shiney front row of stylized stylish wealthy and famous people that night?
i was seen.
for a moment.
that’s all.
that’s worth a lot.
for one who wishes for invisibility and death frequently.
it was validating.
i exist.
i am corporeal.
lovely.
intimate.
painful.
aching.
ripped apart and sewn together in my ways too.
literally. (which maybe isn’t the case for the hundreds of others JCM’s Broadway Hedwig has kissed and will kiss…)
among the throngs and thongs i’m nothing.
a speck.
tommy speck.
tommy gnosis.
.
part p.s.
i helped Hedwig lose the make-up and become self-knowledge and acceptance of self… or something like that.
and while i was outta town, my school officially shared the news with families and staff that i am leaving my job. whew. heart wrenching sadness.
Photo Mar 14, 11 50 34 PM (1)
.
part psst…
rain.
falls.
hard.
burns.
dry.
a dream.
or a song.
that hits you so hard.
filling you up.
and suddenly gone.
~Midnight Radio

presence & absence, visible & hidden

March 7, 2015

do ask yourself:

Caitlin Doughty’s list inspired by her life’s work and partly by Atul Gawande’s Being Mortal

  1. What do you fear most about dying?
  2. What are your hopes about dying?
  3. What would be your ideal death?
  4. How much do you want medical intervention to play a role?
  5. How would you like [folks] to care for your body after you die?
  6. What could [loved ones] do at a funeral or memorial service to make you feel honored?

sexuality, race, and gender are exogenous

February 8, 2015

…at least in what we mean by those terms. I’m not even convinced we all do have a sexuality and gender that we squirm, crawl, toddle, walk, run, strut, and stumble around with from age 0-100. We have labeled things, just as we have created/conceptualized/named “freedom.” This here is a call to wake up to your direct experience! with “others,” yes, or solo as you please – but without power filters from will-to-knowledge conditionings…

There is no binary division to be made between what one says and what one does not say; we must try to determine the different ways of not saying such things, how those who can and those who cannot speak of them are distributed, which type of discourse is authorized, or which form of discretion is required in either case. There is not one but many silences, and they are an integral part of the strategies that underlie and permeate discourse. (Foucault, 1978, p. 27)

lovely trifecta of reading happening:

foucault coverfor the 2nd time, so to better read the following 2 books…

Foucault, Michel. (1978). The History of sexuality: Volume 1: an introduction. New York, NY: Vintage Books.

 

 

stoler'sskimmed it before, glad for opportunity to slowly contemplate…

Stoler, Ann Laura. (1995). Race and the education of desire: Foucault’s history of sexuality and the colonial order of things. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

 

 

preciado'sthis book references Foucault also… well, like we all do even without knowing it.

Preciado, Paul Beatriz. (2013). Testo junkie: Sex, drugs, and biopolitics in the pharmacopornographic era. New York, NY: The Feminist Press at CUNY

 

a 1st whirrld litany

December 2, 2014

–some words, exchanged betwixt 5 & 6-year-old buddies, uplift this weary sideline observing teacher:

the older boy approaches, “I’m gonna ask you something your not gonna like… … …Do you wanna play My Little Pony… Chase?” The confident steady younger dude answers, “Yeah. I wanna play ponies! What are the rules?” So solid and humble and open on both fronts. There’s so much behind these personalities and expressions… too much to type here. an awesome moment in the schoolyard nonetheless.

–how one sliver of a news report slays:

an 11 & 10-year-old sleep alone at home these nights in Liberia, having lost grandma to Ebola. weeding through this report, that one awareness literally pulls me lower into gravity… slumped closer down to the ground/earth/heavy/wonderful/awful/permanent sleep…

–i finished Monica Byrne’s The Girl In The Road last night and it is stunning.

–it’s a “racket” :

word used by a friend regarding healthcare. and I think maybe the twisted dance of in and out of network, and/or precisely which procedures by a given provider are or are not “covered” mirrors some dance betwixt our old ways of bargaining with the local healer we entrusted our selves and kin with time immemorial… bargaining with belief, faith, food, possessions, sanity, safety… it’s quite the same and not quite…?

 

 

horrible haikus

October 12, 2014

a moveable wall

life passing possible strange

diaphragm pumping

.

forty pumpkins sit

ting on a gate – fifth one said

gravity is great

.

empty full of needs

autumn saturday chill warm

 friends read march book one

.

asexual vi

rus am i bacteria

young ones need the space

.

that smile of self-doubt

positively covering

hair-raising mirror

.

time is multiple

typical or strange passing

developmental