The Unique Burden Humans Bear

Maybe one day we humans will be able to actually communicate with some other species, perhaps primates, or whales; or what about ravens, or octopuses, highly intelligent creatures themselves?  If I had the chance, one question I would want to ask any of these is “Do you feel complete?”

One unique thing that we humans universally carry, regardless of who or where we are, is a sense that there is something missing in our lives.  Our very existence needs more – and that more is not to be found materially, or in our relationships or environs.  Of course such a thought or inner voice may not arise until one is mature, or should I say, one’s consciousness is mature…..it’s not an age thing necessarily.  But eventually, I would think we each, who ever we are on the Earth, have at least a fleeting question, “Isn’t there more?”

Likely each person of sufficient intelligence will have their personal speculative answer to that question.  When one considers how many belief systems there are in the world, and then considers the diversity of interpretations of even recognized religions and paths, why the number of different beliefs must approach the same number of people alive at any one time. Is is assured that if we ask anyone of we humans about her or his  beliefs about matters pertaining to spirituality and religion, inclusive of those who are agnostic or atheist, each will have a unique answer to the question “Why do you believe that?” although the question may need repeating a few times to reach the essence of their sense of awareness of more.

Our consciousness ask, “Is this all I am?” Deep within us all is the awareness, embedded within our self-awareness, this wondering, a pondering of how did we and all this come to be.  Since this question has been with us since early humankind began to develop consciousness, we can assume it is innate, not phenomenal.  Was the “apple” Eve offered Adam as told in the Bible possibly a metaphor for consciousness?  With a bite from the apple Adam became aware, and with that awareness surely came the question that we humans have borne through the ages, “Is there more?”  Of course in the Bible then God was pretty straight forward with the answer, which makes for a great story for believers of the Judeo-Christian faiths.

Within each of us is this question, in many it is perhaps latent, but it is there.  It may be the one thing that makes us unique here on Earth.

What do you believe, and why?  If you believe within some major religion, why? Do you just accept that answer as a given? Why? What is your basis of such acceptance, blind allegiance called “faith,” or historical/scientific proof?  If you opt for a humanist perspective, how do you explain this position to yourself?  I mean, don’t we owe it to ourselves to understand what we say we believe?

Personally, my belief is in continuing to search for the ground of being where my consciousness is one with the perceived and hidden universe.  To accept a finite answer to the question I have posed today would be an attempt to circumscribe the infinite.  Therefore, I choose to continue my Tao, where ever it may lead.

“Life” after “Death”: What do you believe?

My mind often has wandered back to that night years ago when my wife transcended, slipping “over.”  She passed with me on her bedside holding her hands, as we held eye contact.  We were alone, as she was terminal and there was nothing any doctor or nurse could do, except turn up her oxygen feed, which had max’d out.  I won’t bother you with the poignant hours leading up to this moment, but I want to share her very last words with you:  “I see God.  I am God.”  A few minutes later her heart stopped, and she left me, eyes wide, with a beautiful relaxed smile on her face, and with Venus shining into our room.

That moment set me off on what was a year long journey of mourning, and searching for what I could believe in.  The night she passed we were visited by a chaplain, who was Christian.  He asked us a few basic questions, and to the one regarding if we had an affiliation with a religion, we both replied “No,” after looking at one another, answering’ “We are spiritual but not religious.”  She had grown up in an African American CME church, and I had some exposure within a Southern Baptist church as a child, but neither of us had been to church except for funerals since.  Yet she was a studious seeker of guidance from many sources.  She practiced fasting with a Muslim friend during Ramadan, read from her Bible, read many books on African-centered spiritual paths, and Theosophy; however, her real path was her love, “Jazz.”  Her music was everything to her, the voice of the Muses singing the Alpha Omega.

For the year after she passed I was a devout student of world religions and spirituality, reading everything I could get my hands on, studying from the beginning, the Bibles, their history, religious archaeology, Judaism, the beliefs of KMT (Kemit….Egypt), Mayans, Christianity with all its twists and turns, Islam with its own twist and turns, Eastern religions, and finally I found a growing affinity for Buddhism.  One day I saw that a Buddhist monk was giving a talk, and the location was three blocks from where my wife’s grandmother’s home had been where we had spent many fun hours visiting.  I saw it as a sign, and went.  I accepted Buddhism that very day, and through Buddhism arrived at my beliefs of today.  My journey and quest is far from over, but I know I have a path to walk on.

When my wife died, a close lady friend, younger, became pregnant.  I had never known the lady well, just at a distance, but some months after becoming a widower, I found myself interested in this lady, even though she was pregnant.  A few weeks before she was to give birth, one morning at the crack of dawn, I was sound asleep, when BAM, there was an electric shock that went through my body, following the route of kundalini, and i suddenly was just sitting straight up in bed, seeing in my mind a marquee across my third eye, that read: “_______’s baby is Shirley(my late wife’s name).”  I kid you not! This happened exactly as I state.

So I became very friendly and helpful to this lady, and while I wasn’t there for the moment of birth, I was there just a few hours later, the two of us in her recovery room, when the baby was brought to her for her first nursing.  That baby and I just connected, I mean to tell you!  I became her Godfather (along with her siblings and even another wonderful girl), and today that baby is a beautiful 24 year old pursuing her music career.  Oddly it may seem, but the girl is so very much like my wife was, even physically, her own mother has remarked so many times about all the similarities.  Of course we believe in reincarnation, but the mother and I do have differing views to a large extent.  That is the joy of spirituality in my way of thinking, that it truly is personal.  I truly believe that which my wife saw clearly at her transcending, that we each are the manifestation of our own God.  Every religion that seeks to bind people to one belief system to me is nothing more than slavery of the Mind.

For myself, God is unknowable, but definitely not an old white guy with a beard.  God to me is the Void from which all emanates, the great Mind of which each of our minds is a part in the grand scheme.  We must remember the enormity of life as we know it, in all its varieties on Earth, and at the same time know that we are infinitely small in the overall scheme of the Universe, its space, gravity, constituency, energy and dynamics.  God to me is a vast information store, and our own minds are part of the processor.  What we think is brought into “reality” (samsara).  Buddha is said to have said, “All is Mind.”  As our telescopes and probes go further into space itself, perhaps that space  manifest only in our Mind, because we observe it, just like quantum experiments are affected by the observation of the physicists conducting the experiment (this is true if you don’t know).

So I ask you what you believe?  Do you believe you go to “Heaven,” and if so what will it be like?  What body will you have, the body you die with, or one 16 years old? and what mind will you have?  Will you not have any sexuality?  Or will you enjoy 16 virgins if you are a man, or hopefully 16 young men if a woman?  Or do you believe the bodies will be resurrected from the soil?  What about those that are cremated or otherwise vaporized over millennia?

I think it is important to use the mind that your God gave you, and not merely be a religious pawn, blindly following stuff written by monks or holy men who were as lost and confused as most of us. Know the real history of any religion you follow, do not just blindly accept it.  Know the Truth and the Truth Shall Set You Free.  Someone said, I think the musical artist George Clinton, “free your mind, and your ass will follow.”  I take those words literally.

It is very important that we live in the moment, savoring each moment, and doing our best to practice what sages have taught going back to early Judaism, Confucius, the Greek philosophers, the Kemetian principles of Ma’at (which cover everything in the Ten Commandments, and all other “good books.”), and the spiritual realizations of all tribal and “pagan” religions.  The only one I ascribe to is the One that is the Totality of All.

My wife’s mother and I became great friends after she lost her only child.  She was a Christian woman, and I never attempted to argue religion with her, but made it clear to her I was a Buddhist.  But she was not interested in that, and one day said to me, “Well Joe, you are a good man, you do good things…….so, you are a Christian.”  To her that was what Christianity was, simply living life as the Jew who was crucified lived it.  I miss her.

A Good Time to Practice the 3 Antidotes

As a Buddhist, often I need to kick myself in the butt to remind me that there are ways, even in these troubled times, to maintain equanimity of my spirit mind.  As any Buddhist will say, in her or his own words, there are three root poisons that work to impede our divine happiness, those being anger, greed and confusion.

Today, as throughout history, we easily can discern these 3 poisons infecting American society at large, regardless of one’s political persuasion, or apolitical posture.  So these poisons not only infect an individual, but spread like rotting fruit in a barrel,  pervading all society, ebbing and rising over time. This infection is always present, everywhere in the world, and has been since the proverbial Eve picked the apple (uuummm, that juicy, tasty apple!)

However, the antidotes to any or all 3 of the poisons must first be given to individuals, one at a time.  The antidotes are always present, in each of us, but have to be spiritually accepted.  And, only the individual can decide voluntarily to take the antidotes, as the curing effects will not be realized if forced upon she or he.

Everyday we witness all 3 poisons flowing and defiling our humanity.  From the highest political office in America, varieties of the 3 are pumped through channels of willing receptors, who often do not even recognize their sickness.  But every action has a reaction, so those who oppose the policies of the present Oval Office, likewise allow themselves to be infected with other strains of the 3 viruses.

So what are the antidotes?

  1.  To counteract anger:  Loving-kindness.  We must remind ourselves that each human being is just that, no more, no less, and strive to feel empathy and compassion for the challenges others are confronting that impede and block them from being the loving person they each have the potential to be, as we all do.  They are not responsible for our own feeling of anger, as no one can control how we feel if we are masters of our mind.  By cultivating a sense of forgiving, unconditional love for those who otherwise infuriate us, our internal anger will be restrained.  This does not mean we are not also responsible for externally working to arrest those in the grips of hatred from committing acts of violence or harm; by restraining them from such actions, we are actually helping them.
  2. To counteract greed:  Generosity.  We must overcome our own desire in the political realm to want everything to be the way we want it.  Our world view may have many good qualities, but it is just our world view, for none of us is omniscient. Generosity can also be expressed by reaching out to those whose views differ from us, offering a white feather of peace and a gentle request to explore together the root issues that separate us.  Lastly, generosity will not be sustained externally if we each do not strive to be more generous – consciously generous –  in all our social interactions, whether with a partner, a child, family or other close associations.
  3. To counteract confusion.  Wisdom.  With wisdom comes the faculties to negotiate this treacherous sea we live in daily.  All the great minds, philosophers and spiritual keepers knew this.  For instance, Proverbs 4:7 reminds us to get wisdom, get understanding.  Personally I like to use the term “overstanding,” to convey the higher quality that true wisdom exhibits.  One way of gathering wisdom is to practice critical analysis.  I have mentioned this a number of times in my posts.  I truly believe that if more and more younger students can be exposed to critical analytical discourse, then the fallacies, delusions, illusions and overall confusion we see today will diminish over time.  Most of those who have views supporting the Oval Office I believe are in a state of utter confusion and delusion, because they are not skilled in critical thinking, to search for the truth in any situation.  For instance, blaming immigrants for Americans being unemployed will fly in the face of logical cause and effect analysis.  Hating someone because of their skin color or customs also will be cooled when real exploration takes place.

Having spoken about these antidotes, I realize too that behind the anger, greed and confusion lurks what we can label just pure evil.  I truly believe that there is a negative higher force that is always present in the human mind, which will exist always (until we all attain enlightenment…..but that is another matter).  We see pure evil at work in the mass murders recently, but pure evil rears its supremely ugly face throughout all history, whether the genocide in Rwanda or Cambodia, or the Nazis, or the fire bombing of cities by the Allies.  When we allow evil to appear it always will.  Only the 3 antidotes keep it in check.

So having written this to share with you today, I commit to myself to do be better at taking my antidotes, and not push away the spoon like a sick boy who pushes away his mother’s hand with the spoonful of nasty medicine.

Peace and blessings be with you all.

REPARATIONS in America: What WE WHITE folks can do now.

Seriously, WE do not have to wait on Congress to do anything about reparations.  There is much we WHITE peeps can do right now….I mean Right NOW!

Take a look at these links for example:

http://comingtothetable.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/CTTT-Reparations-Guide-June-19-2019.pdf

https://www.americamagazine.org/arts-culture/2018/11/28/my-ancestor-owned-41-slaves-what-do-i-owe-their-descendants

Step No. 1 is to open our fucking eyes and minds, ok!  Stop being defensive every time the subject of racism and/or reparations is brought up.  “Well, it’s not my problem, I didn’t live “back in those days,” or we immigrated from Europe long after the Civil War period, so my family is not accountable:  such typical feelings and responses.  All wrong.  Just like those “newcomer” IMMIGRANTS from Europe benefited and their progeny continue to benefit from A) the labor, sweat, blood and lives that African Americans gave to this land; B) having a leg up on most black people in this country who were told to bring yourselves up “by your bootstraps” when they had no fucking boots to start with, by virtue of capital accumulation, education, housing and you name it, we collectively – white people – not only carry the PRIVILEGE  that goes with our whiteness in this land, but carry the burden of DEBT that we have never begin to pay for that privilege!

I doubt seriously that there ever will be found an amount monetarily that would even come close to repaying black people in this country (or the rest of the African diaspora).  What is the price for the millions of deaths in the Middle Passage, the centuries of lynchings and beatings to death, the mothers dying in childbirth after being raped by their “owners,” deaths in the fields slaving in the heat and disease infested plantations, or all the black men and women treated like sub-humans through the last two centuries, even to this day, with cops being allowed to choke black men to death for selling single cigarettes.  Then there is the matter of blighted neighborhoods, guns run in by white nationalists to encourage desperate black youths to kill and shoot at will, the terrible inequities in income, savings, and hell, on and on.

But the issue must be addressed and STUDIED within Congress, and right now good ol’ boy Mitch is determined to block that Bill.  POX ON HIM.

But, we can begin to do SOMETHING, in spite of  Senator Mitch McConnell, who had a great-great-grandfather who owned 14 slaves. (I myself had a G-G-G who owned 50 slaves, and probably other distant kin who also were slavers.  Yes, I bear the guilt they should have carried, and am committed to doing all I can to be an advocate for reparations.)

So I urge all readers, especially whites, to get on board.  Read the documents I linked above.  The time is long, long overdue for action!  We all can do SOMETHING!

Jazz, America’s Classical Music

If you are not a student of jazz, nor even very familiar with its vastness, that’s ok, I just hope you will hear me out on this, and then think about how what I say applies to the music idiom you prefer or love even.  I assure you it will apply, you may just need to do some substitution.

I chose the photo above, two empty park benches, side by side.  Now imagine, on one bench is seated a single musician, playing jazz, all alone.  My vision is of a sax player, but maybe it’s a cat or a lady horn player blowing on the trumpet or coronet or …….you name it.  Now it could even be a guy on a trap drum kit, but I prefer to think in terms of a horn’s vibration.  An acoustic guitar will do well though, in this discussion.

Here you come, out for a leisurely walk before it gets too warm, and hearing the wafting notes of extemporaneous composition floating through the trees, you follow these, curious and perhaps bewitched.  Finding the player, who only acknowledges you with a quick glance, after standing a moment listening, you say to yourself, “I think I will just sit and listen for a while.”

Being a jazz aficionado of many years, you just close your eyes, and listen, non-judgmentally, as the player experiments, stuttering on this note, then hesitating, then repeating and repeating again, until satisfied with that stroke of the painting.  Each note you hear takes you somewhere in your soul, your memories, your very primordial essence, carrying you along the strands of your DNA to experiences and relationships of your countless ancestors, and even (in my way of thinking) your many reincarnations.  You sit listening, hearing but not analyzing, for it cannot really be analyzed, as it is “jazz,” a fully-constituted quantum wave/particle having only the smaller parts that make up your very body and all that you perceive around you and all that you do not yet perceive, the very web of the Potentiality that is what many call God, others just know no name may be assigned, for It is neither this nor that.  Of the infinite possibilities of each note you take in, your neurons fire collapsing at each moment the probability wave into that special note that you and only you can claim.  You own each note, just as much as the lady playing.  You become an Eulipion.

The thought may come to mind, does the player hear her notes and feel what you feel listening to his notes?  A little perhaps, but what she is laying down is a river, she is pouring in the sacred water, shaping the twists and turns and rapids and falls, which she navigates, but you are in your own boat, free to also navigate as you feel, or are drawn to do by inexorable forces that you have little control over.  It is her journey, her creation, but she gives openly for you to enjoy in your little “mind skiff.”

A large part of listening to jazz is just relaxing into what you hear, letting the mind and spirit, mind/spirit, synthesize the extension of the notes that are only yours alone to enjoy in the way that you do.  Each person will enjoy the same music differently, because what we hear is what each of us process as our personalized perception of those lyrical dimensions.  This is also true of what we touch and what we see, but that’s another story. All is Mind.

Of course, as I said above, please feel free to substitute your own idiom, your own instrument, and then just visualize mentally, let it be a brief meditation.  Your surely will “see” that of which I write this morning.

Enjoy your day.  Listen to some great music!

Just Being…

We had some hard rain yesterday, but after some hours it let up so I could take a short walk to the grocery nearby.  On the way back it occurred to me that a topic for today should be about “being in the present.”

As I walked along I traversed fallen twigs, leaves, and other unrecognizable “stuff,” much of it left by the force of the rain, knocked from bushes above, or blown from some other spot by the winds.  I allowed myself to become very thoughtful about this, and yet allowed my mind to just be open to blending with what I perceived, visually and mentally.  I thought about how each leaf stuck to the sidewalk had a history that was infinite.  The same for even the bird poop, and how leaves and poop were directly connected and essentially part of the whole.

Take one leaf for example. We can examine how it came to be a leaf, and we can examine how it came to be one of the leaves that was displaced by the rain water, and how the wind and the rain and gravity all conjoined to place the leaf in the exact position and orientation that I saw it in.  We can trace this history of the leave, from being a sprout on a twig, to being part of the bush or tree, to the seed that the tree came from, to what carried or placed the see where the tree grew, and if carred there, how and why, did a bird carry it, and what kind of bird and the full history of that one bird, such as its migration, the food it consumed…..and well, as one quickly sees there is no end to the investigation that one can do if one wishes.

The “bottom line,” (a favorite term in the West, since we are all about the almighty dollar) is that all things if explored thoroughly, are seen to be part of the web of life, and more so, the quantum web when we drill down to the ultimate state of perception.  This is what is called “sunyata” in Sanskrit.  It is the “emptiness” of all that we perceive, meaning empty of inherent existence.  The entire universe contains nothing that is not interdependent with everything else.  It’s really quite simple, yet so illusive to those never presented with such philosophy (and physics).  By just being in the present, observing each thing and phenomena and our own thoughts at the moment, we can be transported into the heart of this concept, and for at least a few seconds, or minutes, arrive in this suspended “place” that has no time nor space nor gravity.

That we can readily access this state of being anytime, anywhere, is really “pretty cool.”  If we do practice this, the least benefit we will attain is the realization that we as a person are fully connected with the ultimate creation.  No need to do much more than this, no need to prostrate, no need to cross the heart, no need to go to a formal place of worship (except for the social experience and support).  We each are given the full throttle power to simply, “Be.”

Enjoy Being today.