Monday, November 10, 2008

A Non-Churchy Sense...

Without the transcendent and the transpersonal we get sick, violent, and nihilistic, or hopeless and apathetic. We need something “bigger than we are” to be awed by and commit ourselves to in a new naturalistic, empirical, non-churchy sense. Perhaps as Thoreau and Whitman, William James and John Dewey did.

Abraham Maslow, the 20th century psychologist, conceptualized a hierarchy of human needs. He is considered the father of humanistic psychology. Maslow saw human beings’ needs arranged like a ladder. The most basic needs at the bottom were physical; air, water, food, sleep. Then came security and stability, followed by social needs for belonging, love and affection. At the top were self-actualizing needs; the need to fulfill oneself, and to become all that one is capable of becoming. Maslow felt that unfulfilled needs lower on the ladder would inhibit the person from climbing to the next step. Humanistic psychology teaches that people possess the inner resources for growth and healing and each individual is capable of climbing this ladder once obstacles are removed.

When we are feeling moments of love, understanding, happiness or rapture we have a sense of wholeness and we experience forms of truth, justice, harmony and goodness in those moments. We are motivated to maintain those emotions and we continue to self-actualize them in one way or another. We want more of the same and try to force happiness and wellness to manifest in some way. We yearn to express our desire to be more than what we think we are. Something extraordinary is lurking within us and we try to use our ego to manifest this otherness. But the ego is focused on outside issues so we disappointment our self and don't know why.

The ancient philosopher Plotinus explained it this way:

We must close our eyes and invoke a new manner of seeing… a wakefulness that is the birthright of all of us, though few put it to use.

This new manner of seeing is really not new; it just has been forgotten as we climbed the ladder of needs that Maslow wrote about. Our external needs are a top priority and the fundamental aspects of our consciousness sits behind this house of illusions until a tornado hits the house, and it collapses around us. Once our reality is revealed for what it is, we begin to use another mode of knowing to rebuild the outside of our spiritual house.

What Maslow meant when he used words like transcendent and transpersonal is the other portion of our consciousness that waits for us to remember it. It’s the next step on this ladder of transformation. It’s us redefining the self and how we perceive our role in our humanity. In a sense we live in a cloud. The cloud is a distorted manifestation of our own thoughts. We are a prisoners of our own minds. We live in one room, believe it’s the entire building. We stay in that room and look out and see nothing, but the sameness we created.

Maslow realized that this sameness makes us sick, violent and hopeless. Our world is a pot filled with poison and we are waiting to die from the recipe we use to create it. Other ingredients are available to change the mixture, but our beliefs prohibit us from using them.

Maslow’s ladder is reaching new heights as we step into this new reality. We are discovering that the self has a non-churchy sense of oneness. We really do belong to each other as we climb our self-made ladder.

Sunday, July 27, 2008


This face you got,
This here phizzog you carry around,
You never picked it out for yourself,
At all, at all, did you?
This here phizzog somebody handed it
To you, am I right?
Somebody said, “Here’s yours, now go see
What you can do with it.”
Somebody slipped it to you and it was
Like a package marked:
“No goods exchanged after being taken
This face you got.

Carl Sandburg wrote that poem. Somebody or something is always giving us something. We don't realize our choices play a role in what we experience. Somehow we became models built by a godly entity, and we travel through time with our free will switch in the off position. We allow the beliefs of others to become our beliefs. We sign on as a clone and act as if we had nothing to do with what we believe or who we are.

This veil of separation has kept us locked in a box of distorted mental cracker jacks with no prize inside. We wait quietly for someone else to open the box and let us out. Our consciousness knew how to create before we manifested physically. We used the action of consciousness to expand our awareness of being physical. We function physically thanks to the non-physical energy that is the foundation for all consciousness.

We exist in a stream of non-energy, and it flows through us all the time.

Believing in the power of individual consciousness dissolves the veil of separation, and we sense other aspects of the self. We create what we experience through our emotionally charged thoughts and beliefs. The people we blamed or praise for our experiences are there to assist us on our awareness journey.

Phiz means self or face, and zzog meaning made. We are self-made forms of consciousness that continue to create in order to physically and emotionally feel our experiences.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Moses And The Shepherd!

Rumi, the 13th century mystic, wrote the short story about Moses and a Shepherd. One English translation is in Coleman Barks's book The Essential Rumi. It's an old story, but the message is as important now as it was back then. Unity within diversity is the key to peace, especially within the self. Honoring the act of connection to the source of all energy is a lesson we are here to learn. Rumi the ever-present teacher explains how Moses and the Shepherd learned that all roads lead to the same place.

Moses And The Shepherd

Moses heard a shepherd on the road praying, "God where are you? I want to help you, to fix your shoes and comb your hair. I want to wash your clothes and pick the lice off. I want to bring you milk to kiss your little hands and feet when it's time for you to go to bed. I want to sweep your room and keep it neat. God my sheep and goats are yours. All I can say, remembering you, is ayyyy and ahhhhhhhhh."

Moses could stand it no longer, "Who are you talking to?"

"The one who made us, and made the earth and made the sky."

" Don't talk about shoes and socks with God! And what's this with your little hands and feet? Such blasphemous familiarity sounds like you're chatting with your uncles. Only something that grows needs milk. Only someone with feet needs shoes. Not God! Even if you meant God's human representatives, as when God said, 'I was sick, and you did not visit me,' even then this tone would be foolish and irreverent.
Use appropriate terms. Fatima is a fine name for a women, but if you call a man Fatima, it's an insult. Body and birth language are right for us on this side of the river, but not for addressing the origin, not for God."

The shepherd repented and tore his clothes and sighed and wandered out into the desert.

A sudden revelation came then to Moses. God's voice:

You have separated me from one of my own. Did you come as a prophet to unite, or to sever?
I have given each being a separate and unique way of seeing and knowing and saying that knowledge.
What seems wrong to you is right for him. What is poison to one is honey to someone else.
Purity and impurity, sloth and diligence in worship, these mean nothing to me.
I am apart from all of that. Ways of worshiping are not to be ranked as better or worse than one another.
Hindus do Hindu things. The Dravidian Muslims in India do what they do. It's all praise, and it's all right.
It's not me that's glorified in acts of worship. It's the worshipers! I don't hear the words they say. I look inside at the humility.
This broken-open lowliness is the reality, not the language! Forget phraseology. I want burning, burning.
Be friends with your burning. Burn up your thinking and your forms of expression!

Moses, those who pay attention to ways of behaving and speaking are one sort. Lovers who burn are another.
Don't impose a property tax on a burned-out village. Don't scold the lover. The "wrong" way he talks is better than a hundred "right" ways of others.
Inside the Temple it doesn't matter which direction you point your prayer rug!
The ocean diver doesn't need snowshoes! The love-religion has no code or doctrine.
Only God.
So the ruby has nothing engraved on it! It doesn't need markings.

God began speaking deeper mysteries to Moses. Visions and words, which cannot be recorded here, poured into and through him. He left himself and came back. He went to eternity and came back here.
Many times this happened.
It's foolish of me to try and say this. if I did say it, it would uproot our human intelligences. It would shatter all writing pens.

Moses ran after the shepherd. He followed the bewildered footprints, in one place moving straight like a castle across a chessboard; in another, sideways, like a bishop.
Now surging like a wave cresting, now sliding down like a fish, with always his feet making geomancy symbols in the sand, recording his wandering state.

Moses finally caught up with him.
"I was wrong. God has revealed to me that there are no rules for worship. Say whatever and however your loving tell you to. Your sweet blasphemy is the truest devotion. Through you a whole world is freed. Loosen your tongue and don't worry what comes out. it's all the light of the spirit."

The shepherd replied,
"Moses, Moses, I've gone beyond even that. You applied the whip and my horse shied and jumped out of itself. The divine nature and my human nature came together. Bless your scolding hand and your arm. I can't say what happened. What I'm saying now is not my real condition. it can't be said."
The shepherd grew quiet.

When you look in a mirror, you see yourself, not the state of the mirror. The flute player puts breath into the flute, and who makes the music? Not the flute. The flute player!
Whenever you speak praise or thanksgiving to God, it's always like this dear shepherd's simplicity. When you eventually see through the veils to how things really are, you will keep saying again and again,
"This is certainly not like we thought it was!"

Rumi wrote those words over 700 years ago. He believed that we are all one in this pot of diversity.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Interior Portrait!

Interior Portrait

You don't survive in me
because of memories;
nor are you mine because
of a lovely longing's strength.

What does make you present
is the ardent detour
that a slow tenderness
traces in my blood.

I do not need
to see you appear;
being born sufficed for me
to lose you a little less.

A swan swims on the water
surrounded by itself
like a gliding picture;
thus at certain moments
a being that we love
is utter space in motion.

Like this swimming swan,
doubled, it comes closer
on our troubled soul...
which to this being adds
the rippling image
of happiness and doubt

All my goodbyes are said. Many separations
slowly shaped me since my infancy.
But I come back again and I begin again;
this fresh return releases my attention.

What's left for me is to replenish it,
and my joy, forever unrepentant
for having loved the things resembling
these absences that make us act.

Rainer Maria Rilke was born in 1875. He is known as one of Europe's most prolific writers. In the German-speaking world, Rilke is considered the greatest poet of the twentieth century.

We keep wanting to sense and feel our own interior portrait. We want to emotionally touch our inner self; the self that is not bound by time and space. We want to swim in the deep waters of our own awareness, and enjoy every drop of it. We want to embrace the physical self with the invisible arms of our essence,and we do, but we forget we do.

Our imagination and emotions create our physical reality, but the inner self creates our interior portrait. Our interior portrait is constantly changing as we move through time. We want to experience and love each one of our portraits. We may believe we are one portrait, but we are a gallery of portraits, and they all hang in splendid awareness of our consciousness.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

The Seed Market!

Every time I open one of Rumi's books it doesn't take me long to find something that rings a bell within me. The poem, "The Seed Market," from the book, The Essential Rumi, translated by Coleman Barks, is one of those works. Rumi talks about connected awareness in a way that is easily understood.

The Seed Market

Can you find another market like this?

with your one rose
you can buy hundreds of rose gardens?

for one seed
you get a whole wilderness?

For one weak breath,
the divine wind?

You've been fearful
of being absorbed in the ground
or drawn up by the air.

Now, your waterbead lets go
and drops into the ocean,
where it came from.

It no longer has the form it had,
but it's still water.
The essence is the same.

This giving up is not a repenting,
It's a deep honoring of yourself.

When the ocean comes to you as a lover,
marry, at once, quickly,
for God's sake!

Don't postpone it!
Existence has no better gift.

No amount of searching
will find this.

A perfect falcon, for no reason,
has landed on your shoulder,
and becomes yours.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

A Basket Of Fresh Bread!

Rumi's thoughts don't conform to a certain religion or time period. He expresses the unity within all religions, and he uses simple thoughts to do it. His thoughts have grown in stature with the globalization of the world. His messages are everywhere. Try this one on for size. A Basket Of Fresh Bread.

The Prophet said, "There is no better companion on this way than what you do. Your actions will be your best friend, or if you're cruel and selfish,
your actions will be a poisonous snake
that lives in your grave."

But tell me, can you do good work without a teacher? Can you even know what it is without the presence of a Master? Notice how the lowest livelihood requires some instruction.

First comes knowledge, then the doing of the job. And much later, perhaps after you're dead, something grows from what you've done.

Look for help and guidance in whatever craft you're learning. Look for a generous teacher, one who has absorbed the tradition he's in.

Look for pearls in oyster shells.

Learn technical skill from a craftsman.

Whenever you meet genuine spiritual teachers,

be gentle and polite and fair with them.

Ask them questions and be eager

for answers. Never condescend.

If a master tanner wears an old, threadbare smock,

that doesn't diminish his mastery.

If a fine blacksmith works at the bellows in a patched apron, it doesn't affect how he bends the iron.

Stripe away your pride, and put on humble clothes.

If you want to learn theory, talk with theoreticians. That way is oral.

When you learn a craft, practice it. That learning comes through the hands.

If you want sainthood, spiritual poverty, and emptiness, you must be friends with the ancient one.

Talking about it, reading books, and doing practices don't help. Soul receives from soul that knowing.

The mystery of spiritual emptiness may be living in a pilgrim's heart, and yet the knowing of it may not yet be his.

Wait for the illuminating openness as though your chest were filling with light, as when God said, "Did We not expand you?"

Don't look for it outside yourself. You are the source of milk. Don't milk others!

There is a milk fountain inside you.

Don't walk around with an empty bucket.

You have a channel into the ocean, and yet you ask for water from a little pool.

Beg for that love expansion. Meditate only on THAT. The Prophet says,

"And He is with you."

There is a basket of fresh bread on your head, and yet you go door to door asking for crusts.

Knock on your inner door. No other.

Sloshing knee-deep in fresh river water,

yet you keep wanting a drink from other people's water bags.

Water is everywhere around you, but you see only barriers that keep you from water.

The horse is beneath the rider's thigh, and still he asks, "Where's my horse?"

Right there, under you!

"Yes, this is a horse, but where's the horse?"

Can't you see!

"Yes I can see, but whoever saw such a horse?"

Mad with thirst, he can't drink from the stream running so close by his face. He's like a pearl on the deep bottom, wondering, inside his shell, "Where's the ocean?"

His mental questionings form the barrier. His physical eyesight bandages his knowing. Self-consciousness plugs his ears.

Stay bewildered in God, and only that.

Those of you who are scattered, simplify your worrying lives. There is one righteousness: Water the fruit trees, and don't water the thorns. Be generous to what nurtures the spirit and God's luminous reason-light. Don't honor what causes dysentery and knotted-up rumors.

Don't feed both sides of yourself equally. The spirit and the body carry different loads and require different attention.

Too often we put saddlebags on Jesus and let the donkey run loose in the pasture.

Don't make the body do what the spirit does best, and don't put a big load on the spirit that the body could carry easily.