Thursday, April 27, 2006
Tuesday, April 25, 2006
I’m debating getting a second tattoo now that it’s been a year since my first. I was hesitant to tell my family about my tattoo, write about my experience or display it here on my site for fear I was doing so from an egotistical point of view. I’m past that now; I know I did it for me, and no one else.
I chose the sacred Aum (Om, Amen) Sanskrit symbol for reasons I cannot fully explain here- but I knew beyond a doubt it was the perfect time and it was right for me and chose the area of my back closest to the Heart Chakra as possible. Ever since I was a small child I have felt an affinity with Eastern religions, especially Hinduism and Buddhism, but like most young Americans, I was raised in the Christian church. Perhaps, in a previous life I was Hindu or Tibetan.
It has allowed me to share the meaning of the Sacred Aum with those few who have asked what exactly it is. I keep it simple and say that Aum is the sister to Amen and is the sound of the universe unfolding according to God’s will. I don’t know if it’s a ‘good’ thing or a ‘bad’ thing that I haven’t been asked to elaborate on too many occasions…and it’s not like I run around everywhere without my shirt on :)
Now, whenever I think about the Aum or meditate with the sound emanating I know I have made it a permanent part of me, just as I know God’s presence is centered in me at all times- even when I am not centered in Spirit.
Thursday, April 20, 2006
That Radical Jesus!
Politicizing Jesus, That Radical
by John Brummett, Arkansas News Bureau, 4-13-2006
"I'd like to take this opportunity to tell everybody off about Jesus and politics.
Actually, Garry Wills, the eminent historian, author, columnist and Catholic, has already done the job quite thoroughly in his book, "What Jesus Meant," and an op-ed piece Sunday in The New York Times.
I'll apply pedestrianism to his academic thoughtfulness.
You are aware that we have this daunting modern Republican political force called the "Christian right." It's based in a fundamentalist and evangelical derivative of American Protestant Christianity.
It says Jesus is on its side on gay marriage, abortion, prayer in school, the teaching of evolution, the posting of the 10 Commandments, immigration, the war in Iraq, tax cuts and anything else you might have on your mind. It says you can't really separate church and state, and shouldn't.
We've seen the rise from this movement of so-called "values voters" in "red states" who have helped install conservative Republicans in the White House and Congress.
You are aware that cowering Democrats have responded by trying to expropriate Jesus.
There's this liberal preacher in Washington named Jim Wallis whose organization called Sojourners has done worthy poverty work in noble service to Christianity. Wallis says the problem with the Christian right is not that it applies religion to politics, but that it applies "bad religion." He has been called in to talk about this notion with the national Democratic leadership.
Last year I conducted a brief telephone interview with Howard Dean, the national Democratic chairman. He told me Democrats intended to embrace Jesus because Jesus cared about the poor and it's Democrats who care about the poor.
Garry Wills blasts the whole deserving lot of them.
He writes that neither side seems to understand Jesus. He writes that anyone trying to emulate Christ on politics would need to eschew the organized version altogether and pursue radicalism. He writes that to apply Jesus to politics is to trivialize his essence, which was transcendent and divine.
He writes that Jesus was all about separating church and state, telling Pilate that his followers were interested in something greater than political and governmental influence. Wills says Jesus didn't call on government to help the poor and sick; instead, he traveled personally among the poor and sick, performing a few miracles while he was at it.
Wills also takes on this popular idea that we should ask what Jesus would do and act accordingly. He says that's impractical in one sense and impossible in another.
Jesus ran away from home at age 12. He refused to see his mother at one point. He upturned tables on another.
Wills points out that Jesus sacrificed his life for a purpose. He says mere mortals - acting either individually or through governmental activism - couldn't possibly achieve a similar nobility in self-sacrifice.
Mere mortals have a powerful innate desire to preserve ourselves. (It was singer-composer Randy Newman who once said he couldn't understand why persons professing devout religion didn't drive faster.)
Wills is right on all fronts, of course, though I personally think the WWJD mantra can be useful.
If a fellow behaves better by reminding himself to do as he thinks Jesus would - though, of course, he couldn't possibly know and couldn't possibly succeed in the imitation even if he knew - then he probably is making the world around him a little nicer place.
One of my tennis buddies wears one of those WWJD bracelets, and he consistently reacts with less visible anger than I to error on the court.
I do not know how Jesus would respond to netting a forehand; I rather suspect it trivializes him for me to wonder.
But I also think I need to find something that'll help me stop yelling that certain word when I net one. I'll not wear the bracelet. But I'll try to do better by emulating the fellow who does. And that's not a bad thing."
Monday, April 17, 2006
“The World is Illusory;
Brahman alone is real;
Brahman is the world.”
Sri Ramana Maharshi
In my stumbling towards ecstasy I often stop in the midst of my confused thinking and take a few deep breaths, close my eyes and remember I am in the same world, occupying the same space as a mystical mountain creek bordered with sweet smelling laurel blooms in the North Carolina Mountains.
I go to Laurel Creek often in meditation and sit in the middle of the running stream on a gigantic boulder and let the mantra sound of the white- water along with the purifying scent of the clean mountain air wash through me.
My plans were to spend Easter weekend with my family near Laurel Creek, but as often happens with the best of plans it didn’t materialize and we stayed in the Low country.
My wife and I have lived in the upstate of South Carolina, the Low country, back upstate, and have been here, near Hilton Head Island and the marshy bluff by the May River for almost 10 years now. When we first moved to the island in 93 we fell in love with the sand and ocean, the tides and gentle lee breezes. We didn’t stay long and with the birth of our son came back to the upstate a few years later. There, in the tall pine woods and rolling mossy hills of the Piedmont I would often meditate on the vastness of the ocean, imagining the spray of salty air and what life would be like had we stayed.
Before that, in my late teens and early 20’s it was California that held my thoughts and dreams. I was sure Southern California was where I was meant to be. My music was fresh and my thoughts were of “one day.” I felt as if I would burst if I didn't make my way out to California. I eventually found myself in Hollywood, but the experience and thrill was short lived. Maybe San Francisco was where I was supposed to be.
Now, on the verge of turning 40 years old, I’m just beginning to understand how the years, places, faces, loves, and experiences have shaped me into who I am. I am fortunate my time here sofar has led me to a conviction that all things are always in divine order. I trust that with time to come I will learn even more about this me; this beginner destined to always have his head in the clouds, sometimes dreaming there is some place more perfect that here, now.
I often chuckle now at that part of me that still doesn’t get it, that still feels the need to look someplace other than inside for stillness and comfort. It’s OK thought- perhaps I’ll always need to nurture the little voice telling me… “It’s out there, somewhere.” I don’t mind loving the scared, little me that calls out for reassurance. I believe we must learn to love every part of our being, especially those parts that make us uncomfortable with questions and nagging little idiosyncrasies. These questions and quirks are our master teacher. Perhaps it’s a little like dreaming of the mountains when at the beach, or dreaming of California when we’re 2,300 miles away- our dreaming we aren’t complete, as we are, here and now.
“The process of growing in wisdom, of becoming more transparent to the soul is going on with us and all around us. This is not usually a graceful or a deliberate process. We stumble forward, often in the dark, using everything to become more of who we are. It is an effort worthy of our patience, our support, our compassion, and our attention.”
Rachel Naomi Remen, from “Becoming a Blessing”