Wealth

Often the poor in third world countries, at least those in the villages, have a wonderful community and spirit to them. Chickens and children and a love of music, they bring the food for livestock, and there is space in their lives for nature. 

They are often richer than a lot of other more sophisticated folk, or at least, it seems to me. Richer in the leisure of less pressured lives. 

 
Wonderful, that for those others, shocked by the tragedy of insecurity, there is the kindness of bigger hearts. 

It is something to go through the crucible of change within to come to that inner state of joy and expansion.

Responsibilities become something else. Like great and wondrous mountains we choose, fully, to climb. 

The richest people I have met, always, without exception, they are those who simply appreciate. 
Their quiet need for dignity and kindness and a deeper knowledge. 

They learn to see that in others and it’s like someone switches the light on 

Life

It comes like a dream in the night, unexpected and most welcome. It lights up the darkness and burns through the tedium of a limited and mediocre falsity; all falsity. 

It is the requiem for this dream that we sing, and in the singing, in the unearthing, we do dare, we do nourish, we do celebrate, a great and enriched awakening. 

Where you go fishing 

You go where the fish are most plentiful and at ease. You go to the great bite. The abundance is not an illusion. Yet, fearful neediness in myself is. 

If I had one advice for my younger self, it would be walk away happily, calmly, run away, from half hearted friendships. No matter how cool and important they may appear to be. Do not compromise on the real and implied need. 

Half hearted is a real thing and has its own evasive logic. It is a stress we invest in, not an embrace that liberates. 

Drop all of it. It does not feed. Wish such folk well, but leave the well trodden path that is not genuinely interested in one another. 

It is not about judgment; one being more worthy than another. It is about the eschewing of all that; the embracing of a deeper acceptance of your worth and your friend’s worth, and by so doing, seeing through to the architecture of what will not wear the mask of clever and strategic evasion, to what will not proclaim and sing, consciously or unconsciously, the song of self-loathing projected as an uncaring and divisive personality, a fragile lie that spawns the land of the guilty and the blind. 

If we truly care, we will recognize it, and knock on the door of an implied and happier harmony. If we do not,  we will chase approval and disapproval like a puppy chases a dove that will surely fly. 

It’s better to not fill nature’s vacuum with a rotten seed. You do great injustice to yourself, and the other, when you settle for such meager and hampered undergrowth. 

How else might the canopy of your greater kindness and dreams break through the shadows to the bright stars and wide open sky’s of our collective firmament? 

I come from a school where the facts are confronted without stress or blame. I have outgrown all others. I don’t see the power or point in casual relationships and judgey shows of a lesser worth. 

I embrace real friends and step away from the half hearted and the disturbed and artificial. I’m no longer interested in presumed and stressful maybes. 

I’m only interested in friendship beyond the pale of meager scraps that do not address our deepest self worth, so I must, naturally and sanely, bow out of those that attempt to tether with such a noose on affections. 

Wish them well and, instead, embrace those where the whole heart is engaged. It’s like gardening, the weed of self interest is cleared, so the fruit of shared worth may bloom. 

The wretchedness of disapproval and approval 

I have found when folk are mean and indifferent, lacking in kindness and withholding the natural bonds of affection between us, when they transmit their lack in the form of judgment and negativity or the positivity of vested interests, it is wiser to not feed that lonely, absurd and wretched wolf. 

Then, we are free to be ourselves and remember the principles of true and lasting friendship, free of the ego’s mindlessness and its totally unnecessary disconnection from the heart. The gut does guide, if we care to listen. We simply need to drop our judgments and be real.

When someone demeans another they simply demean themselves. There is really no difference between demanding another’s attention and not giving it, out of spite. They are they two sides of the same coin. Wiser to focus on freedom from that currency altogether.

 A wise ass and a dumb ass, when paired together, just make the whole world mediocre, reactionary and self centered, in the unenlightened sense. Wisdom is engaged with a whole together different symmetry, where each one is inseparable from one self and the whole. 

That was then, and this is now.  

I don’t believe sacrifice or compromise is needed. 

Why would it be? 

It is only there, when we do not fully appreciate our deceptions, the repeated and stubborn will filled hammer to our rusty nailed tale of attacking and defending our insecurities, there in our attachment to complexity, the wizardry tricks of the fearful mind, that we may look from above, within ourselves, and see we yield the hammer, we can see it clearly, so we can with wisdom and wit and great care, put it down. 

We have no more nightmares in our night and in our world, when we refuse to ignore the dark side of ourselves, the impatient pool of scarcity, when we look upon those fears and irritating repetitions of feeling and habit, and we firmly resolve to be dictated to by them no more. 

We see them with abundant attention, so as to bring our affection and laughter and wisdom into the dark areas of the mind. We see them as to see clearly beyond them. We see them to reunite with our whole hearts. 

That flip of the perceptions gifts such incredible gratitude, trust, love and friendship…it would be crazy not to do it. 

How does one disengage?

There is, throughout our lives, adherence to authority. It is wise to stop at a red light. Some authorities make sense for the good of all. But could our education begin to serve us in a way where, no longer we identify with some principle in a school of logic or a head master or a savior, but with a more grounded and less ego driven version of our very natural selves?

Can’t we just be normal, like we are, like chimps and monkeys and dogs. They all live together and care for each other. It’s very natural. Sure, there are leaders among them, but above all else, there are families and bonds of connection. Can’t we listen to the commonality of our inspiration and shared interest? Can we give ourselves to that more fully, free of all desperate effort?

So to disengage from the crutches of heavy beliefs and defiant ramifications and justifications, there needs to be an embracing of less haste and more attendance to anger, hatred, jealousy, blame, demeaning oneself and others, all the different ways that insecurity manifests.

The hand of mind brings what is projected from within without. But we are the sculptor. We shape our response through our will. Wisdom would become intimate with the ways of will.

Whether I will discord or harmony. Whether I am the victim of circumstances, or whether I may see my own reactions and responses to circumstances as the artificers and artifacts of my artifice. 

My creative output and my will, shaped by wisdom, or the lack of it, becomes my artifice, my contribution. The hand exists to feed the mouth. The breast to feed the babe. Giving, bearing witness and receiving are not separate from each other. No more than a hologram is less whole than a drawing. 

The hand may also wield a knife in endless anger. In so doing, a world of bitter butter is whipped from the creamery of our intent and acts. Is there a cream or ointment to heal my cynicism and bitterness? The knife that cuts bread for yourself and another deserves a better class of expertise.

We may refine that with our heartfelt adherence to truth. I’ve never known a sensitive child to bloom when yelled at. They bloom, we bloom, when we drop the idea the yelling is going to help or is needed. That is how one disengages from the lies. 

Now we see. 

Now, we the have the beginning as the end. 

What is our greater discretion and our happiest direction? What do we choose? What do we will we will?

Now we the have the beginning as the end. 

What other forces of wisdom, emotional intelligence and intrinsic harmony might we learn from our nature and the natural world, where there is no lack. If we see it correctly. If we gift each other that leisure. If we gift it ourselves. 

Learning to be yourself (part 2)

And to sit with wisdom, I found it helpful to look at Parzival. And George Price. And Alan Chadwick and Freud.

Parzival is the first knight in the stories of the Knights of the round table to discover this cherished cup or grail at a castle, where there is a wounded king. Years ago, Tara Singh asked me what I learned that I did not learn in a book or secondhand. I began, over the years, and especially recently to see quite acutely, the things I had learned that way. 

I had learned to trust myself and others. To some extent. I had learned to philosophise less and look more. I had learned to travel and speak other languages, even if with mild ability. I had not learned those things in a book so much. but I had learned them secondhand in the case of learning a language. I was supported by those people I met on my travels. And I supported them. Life is like that.

Tara Singh said that he had learned to lose. That was all he had learned. I saw a clue in what he was saying, but it took a number of years to get it. Seeing back into the story of Parzival, many years after the initial reading helped me see something I had missed.

Parzival was a knight who had a happy family, and was good and kind and not pretentious. He was symbolic of a quest we all face. And George Price was the Parzival of today in a way. But he reached great heights and then crashed and burned like Icarus trying to fly to the sun.

Somewhere between George Price, the American scientists in London and Alan Chadwick in California, I saw into something we had missed. We had created mythological symbols to try and herd aggressive and sometimes joyous human beings through the hurdles and challenges of living together. But we had not assimilated the two men and what they represented. Alan was the great artist and horticulturalist and George the intrepid scientist.

One shaped hillside and field in South Africa and California into the most incredible fruit orchards and vegetable patches and the other, in a sense, confirmed and reinforced with an equation, as shocking and clear as any of Einstein’s that we were doomed to be tribal and limit ourselves to special relationships and meanness and occasional joys. And an economy based on that would, and is, perfectly justified.

Perhaps the abiding theme of Parzival, is that at some point, he learns to let go and sort of follow his heart, his interest, his genuine, in built gifts and enlightened nature – including his natural virtue. It is symbolized by him letting the reigns of his horse ride slack and letting a deeper nature guide him. He was not some saint that went away from the world and lived with the lepers. He was just a guy who was trying to live a happy life and be a decent human being, to the best of his ability.

Tara Singh mentioned once a poet from Pakistan, I forget his name, but he had written: “Make yourself a mule and someone will ride you.” We have this expression in the language: “You can’t have your cake and eat it.”

“The proverb literally means “you cannot simultaneously retain your cake and eat it”. Once the cake is eaten, it is gone. It can be used to say that one cannot or should not have or want more than one deserves or is reasonable, or that one cannot or should not try to have two incompatible things. The proverb’s meaning is similar to the phrases “you can’t have it both ways” and “you can’t have the best of both worlds.”

From the Wikipedia entry for that phrase.

So there will always be lack at some level. Once the cake is eaten, you have eaten it and you must make another one. There is also, an implied guilt. A sense of not being able to enjoy things fully. There will always be unfulfillment, some paradox to sustain insecurity and the dark clouds beyond the silver lining.

This is an old saying and a received and conventional wisdom. I think it is quite sane to live within your means. I have a few bags which I have honed to what I really need and I am interested in gardening and growing food and writing. I have seen the earth’s ability to sustain man and I have treasured nature and human nature, in different ways, all my life.

We all have a version of that story. Some family that brought us into the world, some belongings, very few or very many and we have perhaps had a relationship with a cat or a dog or a goldfish and children and other human beings.

I don’t think the earth is a disaster zone. I believe like Buckminister Fuller, the visionary engineer that it is quite possible to meet the load we and nature bring to it with ample supply. So what prevents us?

Tribalism. Vengeance, Economies built on the vision of: “you can’t have your cake and eat it.” There will never be enough. There will be pain.

I believe the Earth is quite an amazing treasure actually. I don’t have to believe it even. I have seen it with my very eyes. To swim with dolphins and play with dogs. To hear a great musician play and see a heart open, my wonder, it is quite a place. And do you notice, that though I talk of sane, I have not once mentioned the word “God.” I have used the word mystic, the word of another to describe Darwin.

Why do you suppose not? Because I don’t really feel we need perfect human beings who get nailed to crosses to hold up as icons. Or any gods for that matter. I am not against gods. Nor really for them. I am neither an atheist nor a believer. But I do see nature and its bounty and treasure it. Why ever would a sane person not?

I do see condemnation naturally arising after a transgression of virtue. You can see that in animals. Where some are mean and overeat or are unkind there are dog fights and battles. That is in the story of the DNA too. Coded in. Apparently. On the American dollar it says: “In God we trust.”

Now what does that mean? Does it mean we trust in an unseen power which we do not know and cannot explain? Does it mean we trust in our power to subdue and attack and pillage others? Or to sanction others who do that? Does it mean we trust in fear and condemnation? 

Does it mean we do not trust in the vital, vast and extraordinary potential of human nature and the nature all around us? Joseph Campbell, instructed me that a god is just an authority figure and Einstein and his colleagues showed that the observer influences the outcome of what is observed.

George Price, faced with the ramifications of selfishness, tried to become a genuinely caring human being. He lived alone in an apartment in London and while he worked at the university during the day, in the night he would come home and open his home to the homeless population of that city.

He tried to prove to himself that there was a deeper kindness potential in him, a more persistent laughter and a less binding and tight vision of our biology.

He exhausted himself helping others, desperate to make amends for his challenging discovery, and didn’t take care enough of his own body’s needs and died of thyroid problems. No one, in a cloth robe, sitting in a pulpit, self-righteously made him a saint posthumously. 

He just died in relative poverty, and a little conflicted internally. At his funeral, his remains were surrounded by quite a few grateful and perhaps drunk and rather confused homeless people, and two of the leading professors of Evolutionary Biology in the world at the time. And they too were confused! 🙂

It is at this point we must go back to Tara Singh’s fascination with judgment. Parzival let the horses reins go slack and, metaphorically. he let the reigns lead him. And President JFK came to power after two of the most humbled and inspired administrations in American history. Especially the policies of the Four Point Plan. 

The world had been at the brink of devastation and so America. the light of the New World, came up with a plan to help the world get back on its feet. The strongest nation, and the child of all other nations, reached out its hand to help the weak and disenfranchised around the world take care of each other better, not by giving the hungry fish, but teaching them the self-reliance of being better fishermen.

And with that went a measured effort by the United Nations, Buckminster Fuller style to manage the fish stocks intelligently. The same for farming and the land. And Emerson even said that was the office of America to bring such order and affection to the seas and the land of the earth. And to go beyond caste and class and priestcraft and find a deeper commonness of spirit that was less bound by the prejudices of fear and the threatened mind. That was the office of America that Ralph Waldo Emerson envisioned. 

He saw the history of the world in a grand sweep and from Europe to Asia, to Oceania and Africa and Latin America, the world over, even in the United States, there was a history of lawlessness and war. Pain and disease.

There was a brilliant man named Cabeza de Vaca who came to the new world and was not greedy for gold or insecure within. He was shipwrecked with his men and he developed wonderful relationships with the tribesmen and women he found in the hardly discovered (by Western man) lands of Central America. But, no a trail of genocide and greed, defense and attack has, by and large been our path. 

Religious war and war over symbols and territory and money, race and class and caste. So Emerson was on to something when he said, please, for our own sake, can we not repeat these heresies to our deeper nature. Can we be the fresh hope of a new earth on this territory so marked with blood and guilt ridden cakes. Or his writings, and those of Thoreau and Whitman and Lincoln, began to ask as much of us.

So what has all of this got to do with perception and judgment? And Alan Chadwick’s incredible gardens? Well judgment is a tricky subject to really understand. So let us go into it very simply. Do you see this separation of sacred and profane? The guilt associated with sex and overindulgence in our minds? Why is that there? 

Must we sacrifice our enjoyment and happiness to be holy or pass muster with some authority figure at a pulpit? Or do we embrace that? I mean what mother or father would not want their child to be happy, cherished and free? Must we go live with lepers or walk on water to be sane?

Why do we cling to fear and the authority of doctrine and received wisdoms? Isn’t it wise to question everything, if our greater harmony and happiness is at stake? The beauty of science is that it does question and observe. The beauty of art is that it praises and affirms natural beauty, when done well. How does love of wisdom (philosophy) and understanding of judgment come together?

If someone is rude to me or hurts me it impacts my emotional makeup. This is true for all human beings. Sociopaths included. They become that way because of how they were nurtured, or not nurtured properly. And therapy is needed to heal those blocks. We get hurt and we tend to hurt others in return. But what if we get what we plant in the mind? 

When we plant a lack of virtue and hostility and a lack of forgiveness and a lack of patience, we get that back from the universe. That was the relative plasticity that Einstein picked up on. I think Emerson saw it too, in a different way.

Now George Price, with his neat equation, overlooked that man is not just his genetic makeup. He is also the mind and the eyes and the heart that looks at that measurement faculty in man and uses it. 

Science, using electron microscopes and math (and other chemical measurements) was able to discern the building blocks or basic protein structures of organic life, as we know it. To date no aliens, carbon based or silicon based, have come down and sat on the White House lawn. Except in movies or proposed alternative realities perhaps. Some scientists today we are the invention of a computer program in another galaxy or reality or whatever you call it.

But the science is pretty clear, single celled life, developed into multicellular life and here we are man and dog, lion and eagle, limpet and frog, mountain and stream, desert and forest and ocean on this Earth. Right now, it’s the only one we have got. We are of the earth, our bodies are organically born of it and we are psychologically, participating in its stories.

I think George Price scratched a deep wound. When you scratch a wound it bleeds. He died. Alan Chadwick was on a boat in the English Channel/La Manche, dredging his way through a minefield. Life is sort of a mindfield. 

Step on someone’s toe the wrong way and someone is sure to be annoyed. The French call the Channel La Manche (a French word) and the English speakers across from France, call it The English channel. Wherever we go there are toes to step on.

Alan Chadwick went and created beautiful gardens that showed the incredible fertility of the earth, and the artifice of a single man, with a few helpers, to live among nature, and create great food abundance. The Four Point Plan set out to provide shelter for the poor and threatened in the world and give them the potential for a greater Self-reliance, as fully envisioned by Emerson in his essay.

Buckminster Fuller planned out the supply chains as if he were calculating how many bananas a chimpanzee home would need in a zoo. Only the zoo was the entire Earth and the chimp was us. And he accounted for the needs of ecosystems and nature too.

But you don’t have to be like Jesus. You don’t have to imitate and make up all this stuff about immaculate births and endless prophecies of doom and false hope. Guilt ridden cakes. You have the potential for a good and sane life in you, everyone does. But that means slowly down and looking at resistance in the mind. It means looking at psychosis and neurosis and fear. They breed condemnation and a guilty sense of lack.

In his closing lines of the first edition of the Origin of Species, Darwin wrote:

“Thus, from the war of nature, from famine and death, the most exalted object of which we are capable of conceiving, namely, the production of the higher animals, directly follows. There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.”

Yes, it seems there is a natural tendency in nature to evolve. It is somehow intrinsic. But how does evolution happen? By adaption and transformation. By new forms and weaves of forms coming into the world.

Physics tell us things are not fixed. That we influence what we look at. That is the whole beautiful plasticity of it. The code is not cracked one and for all. It is cracked now as best we know how. The code changes because of what changes in the makeup of what we are. And seeing that IS cracking the code.

Charles Price aspired to make sense of Darwin and so gave us an equation that revolutionized genetics and our understanding of evolution. But he also, after that, aspired to act like Jesus, giving the shirt off his back, not attending to his health needs. He lost it. And died. He didn’t see the full implications of Freud and Einstein and the plasticity of mind. He was lost in the material – the profane – and the vision of what is – the sacred is. And he got stuck there.

But we do not have to. We can see that we can re-garden this earth.  Wouldn’t that be holding it in the high regard it effortless and awesomely deserves?

We can be custodians of nature and our own nature and our deeper refinement, as Alan Chadwick sought to be in his own way, and as Buckminister Fuller did too. We can be honest about what interests us and learn to go beyond the stressed lives we have built for ourselves.

We can learn to be more patient with ourselves, and listen to the fearful authorities that our minds give power to. We can alter the plasticity of the code that has been there since the early days of multicellular life, by sitting with our depression, prejudice and our ill ease and disarming those imposters as best we can. 

Letting go his resistance and letting his deeper nature shine through is what made Parzival achieve a balanced and happy life. Like George Price, he was no saint. he just wanted to live a good life and be real and kind and natural with others. And he found his way to that grail, by looking at his resistance his negative judgments and disapproval and defeated lack of love for others.

Preference is there, and it’s not necessarily a bad thing. But so too is the tremendous potential for wisdom and affection in the human heart. That lead Abraham Lincoln to say: “I do not like that man. I must get to know him more.” Maybe, deep down Lincoln knew that his lack of affection stemmed from a self-loathing hidden in himself. And possibly that is the ultimate discovery of Freud, when that rabbit hole is dug down deeply enough into. 

What is made conscious depends on the state of the unconscious. And what is seen in the universe, by the observer, impacts the outcome of the things observed.

“You better watch out, You better not cryYou better not pout, I’m telling you why: Santa Claus is coming to town.” Maybe Santa Claus is a mythological fiction. But we are not.

I hope you have your cake and eat it. And recognize, with the right, quality of perception, there are ample to go around. And no guilt or desperation needed. Just part of the natural flow of deeper and happier evolution. The Bhagavad Gita says the universe will end in laughter. That’s more philosophy, evasion of the now. Why not make it begin that way?

We have that potential. If we might just expand our vision of care and humanity. Will you? Will you have the patience to get to know and be your most honest and unafraid and cherished self? And will you see that in each other? That way, my dear friend. you change the code. And the birds and the dogs…and everyone, will thank you for it. And what’s more you’ll be a fulfilled and sane human being. What’s not to cherish and love?

This is neither rocket science nor some abstract mythology. It is what is actually happening and what is actually possible. Forget God and creation. Do you see yourself? Your friend? Your so-called enemy? The seed you might plant? In yourself. 

With a simple relieved shift in perception. Something tells me there will be far fewer lepers in the genetic code if we could do that. Far less outcastes and happy people. Intelligent, multicellular life is an extraordinary and inspired projection of what may be. Like, Parzival on his horse, may we fully go with that and fully trust our nature.

You cannot google how many people you can borrow a hundred dollars from. Or a thousand or ten thousand. But you can learn a deeper trust and learn to see deeper bonds of connectivity that are nothing short of awe inspiring. Welcome to your world.

We need not escape to some idea of an afterlife or a heaven yet to come. We merely need to fully embrace our honesty and our honest needs and interests and cherish this marvelous earth and each other. That’s the ground of our being. Here and now.

These might appear to be heavy topics…, but maybe I just want to see the light return to things and to those things, that have greatly enriched my life. Would you not wish the same, if you could see through illusions like this, would you not share and witness that natural expansion, with a happiness, that is your due? If you choose to see and shape that with the plasticity that is? 

Why not choose that deeper caring, that lack of resistance to what may be and mold that with your frankness, free of all superstition, evasion and fear? You have that simplicity within you. It must be there. It is surely intrinsic.

There is a garden in the mind is a book about how we can plant a new earth with old values and fresh wisdom. We just need to look at the fear which creates psychosis in the mind and renew our definition of how plastic plasticity might be. It’s all in the mind. In the end. And in the beginning.

Maybe deep down we are enough and we could and should welcome that kind of thinking so we may evolve as a deeper humor and kindness can and will decree. Through us. We can crack the code. Just as Richard Feynman did with the spaceflight that ended in tragedy. And, in so doing, we can avoid further tragedy.

We do have that potential. It is implied, and therefore, given the plasticity of the genius that we are, it is quite potential. We find it in the beginning, not the end. What we sew we reap. What we avoid we become prisoner to. What we confront, with love and affection, we come to see beyond our lack and our lack of trust. In ourselves and in one another. It’s a holographic mirrored perceptive universe after all.

The fruit of our perception is the cake we eat. Day in and day out. We are unhappy and lacking in peace and bounty only to the extent that we personally believe it to be true. Tara Singh that day in great depression on the beach at Carmel saw that if he could treasure his upset and fully heal it, he could go beyond it, in himself and with one another. So our sadness, and our happiness is only in proportion to our perceived inner strength and virtue and how much you see and genuinely know is there also, in any other.  

Seeing is believing. Sculpting. Forming. It takes great simplicity and stillness within to see this without distortion. It inspires you to look beyond all defense and attack thoughts and quit the cycle of being threatened and threatened. Being grateful for lighting reflexes around a snake, but not strangling the snake of our inner demons, instead caring deeply enough, to tend to them and go beyond them. That is how we crack the code of our own unfulfillment.

Unconscious conditioning and condemnation is there. So too is conscious undoing.

Happy cooking 

This has been an attempt to tell a child of twelve years old that heaven isn’t some mystical, strange crazy thing. And that life as we know it, can be heaven on Earth, if we could just transform our perception and be grounded and sane human beings. Years ago William Blake wrote:

“To see a World in a Grain of Sand And a Heaven in a Wild Flower, Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand And Eternity in an hour. A Robin Redbreast in a Cage Puts all Heaven in a Rage. A dove house fill’d with doves and pigeons Shudders Hell thro’ all its regions.”

I sense he meant that if you take an electron microscope or whatever measures logic, the instrument behind the measure of the Plank constant (our smallest unit of measurement – to date), we can see an incredible intricacy to things. But to cage ourselves and the birds of the wild in cruel misadaptions of our deeper dignity we have denied ourselves the blessings of the heavens.

One root meaning of heaven is just the sky above us, the firmament. Superstitions and a lot of vested interests brings in the need for a church and saviors and temples and gods. And from that we get another meaning for heaven. Even Mother Theresa of the guilt ridden pie, who cared, in her own way most deeply, said clearly she would have no work if families just loved each other. If you go to the root of the word “economy” you get a family and a small plot of land, that they worked.

And Lincoln once said that he saw, with the rise of a middle class and a clearer sense of shared resources, the future looked like what man and his family might make of a small plot of land. No greed, no insecurity, just the treasuring of his life and his home, without avariciousness and a lack of virtue. That was his simple and very grand vision for America. It is still possible today, and possibly more needed than ever.

But might we get beyond our limitations and fears? Might we come to a new awareness of our potential. It is not by accident that one child loves to dance and another is drawn to animals and plants. I love to dance, but I sure could do with some lessons! At least if I wanted to learn tango. With the right partner, I feel at ease. 

And once, in South Korea, a very gifted male dancer asked me to dance and I was like what the heck, OK. He had it down and I was kind of fascinated how he did it. I had never learned to dance with a woman that way. Perhaps I will learn one day. Either way, he was very good. He clearly had that gift and that great interest.

Just as I had such an acute interest in science and the mind and nature and, of late, much more, laughter. I see the buoyancy of life. The treasure of our relationship with nature. I know many others share that affection for the natural world, and for that music of resilience and hope and possibility in us. 

But we must learn to listen to the child and his natural direction and interest. And nurture that and the earth, over enforcing territory and obsessing over ideology. 

Maybe the ground we have to till is our own natural inspirations and inclinations too. Maybe not everyone must farm, we all have our gifts. I do think teaching children organic farming and some of the many techniques might be good for our journey to better treasuring the earth. 

But can’t we just learn to be kinder and less pressured? Is that really so difficult, if we really re-envisioned our resources and our capacity, maybe the world would be a far less hierarchical and frightened cold place. For many it is quite a happy place. It can yet be much happier. I’m quite certain of that. It’s always been perfect and it’s always been a mess. It’s just what we choose to make of it. 

Maybe we could throw out a lot of our older guilt ridden “holier than thou” arguments about our nature and embrace a deeper happiness, a shared virtue and a deeper affection for the Earth and one another. Is that some mystical and crazy thing or is it not just the natural evolution of multi-cellular life on Earth. Who cares if someones god approves or disapproves of such a plan. Doesn’t it just practically make sense?

All you have to do is embrace what is most hated in yourself and in the world. Not to fix it. Not to prove to anyone, yourself or another, how strong and powerful or sweet you are to forgive. None of that. Just because it makes sense, to lighten up the dark corners of our frightened minds, to go beyond neurosis and trauma and find a way to be that isn’t about promising happiness when we die at the gates to some imagined heaven, but rather embracing the beauty and extraordinary resilience of the human spirit.

I’m not for judging others. Where does it get us that is helpful? Maybe Jesus was a very happy man. I am sure he was. A lot of folk have been. This life can be pretty grand when we grant it to be. 

Maybe we feel goosebumps when we feel that our mom is watching us do a dance performance. Maybe we have a dream about a dead grandparent saying something loving to us. Maybe there are a lot of strange things in the world. But if someone finds love in Jesus and the saints, I am not against that. Or any of the people that have, in history given some inspiration.

What doesn’t make sense to me is to undermine those goosebumps, when a little girl does a dance performance, because she feels excited and feels her mother’s gaze watching with cherished attention. I don’t see any point in living a life without virtue. 

If God had a face, what would it look like?

And would you want to see?

If seeing meant that you would have to believe

In things like heaven and in Jesus and the saints and all the prophets?

And yeah, yeah God is great

Yeah, yeah, God is good

Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah

What if God was one of us
Just a slob like one of us

Just a stranger on the bus

Trying to make His way home?”

Joan Osborne – What If God Was One Of Us Lyrics
Taking advantage of another just degrades myself and me being cheap with myself does the same. So an expanded vision is called for. And the measure by which we embrace it, is directly proportional to the measure of our dedication to our own self worth.

I don’t think relying on saviors gets us more in touch with ourselves. I do believe looking at our resistance to inner peace and a kind and more progressive way of being is in life with the evolution of multicellular life and, liberating the caged birds of our better selves is perfectly sane and pragmatic. 

I don’t think pedestals and pageantry breeds nobility and majesty, I think it just comes down to how fully we embrace our deeper dignity, our more cherished earth and the laughter of our friends and families, out beyond tribal limits and approval and disapproval. Will you meet me out in that field? It is the ground of our more conscious being. Home.

“Thus, from the war of nature, from famine and death, the most exalted object of which we are capable of conceiving, namely, the production of the higher animals, directly follows. There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.”


Even the concept of gravity as fixed is in question, since Einstein. But I don’t think much else has changed in terms of the truth of Darwin’s words. Maybe we are bigger than our mortal coils, these miraculous bodies, sure consciousness seems to be quite extraordinary and vast and playful and wise. Surely, there is something encouraging there.

I am confident there is much and great wonder behind our ultimate genesis and reformation and redemption. But I really don’t see what we need redeeming of, beyond our lack of inner peace, wisdom and affection. 

It can be reversed. Only, though, when we are ready to go beyond our resistances and our upset, no matter how small, and  look at fear and dissolve a lot of our limitations brought on by not questioning our conditioning deeply enough, and being too casual with ourselves and the deeper truth.

Mother Theresa was cloaked in the robes of a religion and a church, with all the ideology and complexity that brings. But the one thing I took away from her was that quote I mentioned earlier. It was very practical. If families just loved one another, would there be homeless folks? If we could just get beyond our neurosis and our condemnation and forgive without the shadow of the guilt trip on the victim of the crime, nor the perpetrator. Whatever the transgression may be. Sure, horrific things happen, but with virtue and wisdom, far less self-destructive behaviour would occur.

I never had a religion, though I have studied most of them. The word actually means to relink. To link to a source of meaning or to reconnect with meaning. That’s all the word actually means, outside of all the organized religions and ideologies. Philosophy means love of wisdom and religion means to reconnect to meaning.

Mother Theresa said: “There is a light in this world, a healing spirit more powerful than any darkness we may encounter. We sometimes lose sight of this force, when there is suffering, too much pain. Then, suddenly, the spirit will emerge through the lives of ordinary people who hear a call and answer in extraordinary way.”

I saw a snippet online the other day of a German kid in his teens who had managed to inspire the planting of millions of trees around the world And he wasn’t even out of his teens. Whole new and thriving economies of sharing might emerge, when we rethink the code of how we do business and conduct commerce and farming, once we re-envision education. They go together.

The American poet Walt Whitman banked on it happening. I don’t see why not either. I don’t think that emergent spirit she speaks of above is some hokey thing. I don’t think it is something we believe in. I think it’s just there, waiting to be seen and affirmed and recognized as essential to our makeup. It is there when we look our self-defeating and self-loathing selves in the eye and quit projecting that out on to others. When we end the cycle of condemnation and negative judgment.

The ingenuity and the heart of man is quite something to behold. The most ordinary people do not exist. We are all extraordinary. You just have to learn to see yourself. And see yourself in another too. For our kindness to another is, in no small measure, our kindness to ourselves.

Biology has come down to this nature red in tooth in claw diagnosis. The survival of the fittest. Scarcity of resources. All of that. But also in nature, less highlighted in our current day biology, which could change radically quickly, is a sense of symbiotic relationships. Lichens are made of three species, two algae and one moss. We used to think it was an algae and a moss, but its more dynamic than we thought.

So are we. More plastic too. More capable of renewed vision and fresh hope, grounded in the wellsprings of a deeper introspection, than some among us, may have thought possible. But if there is one thing I have learned, it is this: the plasticity of mind and form and function. That is, after all why we are named Homo sapiens sapiens. The most wise ape.

We are more able to discern fear and loathing than we have long assumed.  Down that empty alley of perversions and aggressions and tears, we get nowhere but a repeating guilt trip and a cake that does not fulfil. Well, that can change radically. And no one need lose out.

Unless we consider a greater sense of togetherness, a greater hope, a greater gentility of spirit and abundance, a freedom from war and famine and appreciation for one another and this earth, losing out. 

But I don’t think the most stubborn and fearful among us, I don’t think, if they were to come into their right minds, through the fresh inspiration of those around them dropping their very real and yet illusionary misgivings and resistances, I do not think they would long sit on the bandwagon of defeated hopes, justifications and despair. I think they would drop the seed thoughts associated with them, and learn to dance again. In whatever way they know how 😉

I end with something William Shakespeare wrote:

this most excellent canopy the air, look you, this brave o’er hanging firmament, this majestical roof, fretted with golden fire: why, it appeareth no other thing to me, than a foul and pestilent congregation of vapours. What a piece of work is a man! How noble in reason, how infinite in faculty! In form and moving how express and admirable! In action how like an Angel! In apprehension how like a god! The beauty of the world! The paragon of animals! And yet to me, what is this quintessence of dust?”

Out of the congregations of atoms and vapors, organic life was somehow fashioned on this Earth. And from a mixture of proteins, we got a cell and then a multicellular creature and then plants and animals. 

And out of the animals we get the higher animals, lizard and the fish and the cows and the dog and man. And here Shakespeare is just marveling at what man can be. And then coming back to this overly analytical mind, that says, yeah, I am depressed, I am spellbound by it, but defeated by it all at the same time. We come, we live, we die and become dust.

Do you know the expression: “to burn the candle at both ends.”

It means “extreme effort without time to rest.” This phrase came originally from a French expression. It came to mean working so hard that you burn yourself out. Candles were once expensive, and so to burn one at both ends was seen as a precious waste of resources. All done to achieve and help an obsession. The poet Edna St. Vincent Millay used the image when she wrote:

My candle burns at both ends; It will not last the night; But ah, my foes, and oh, my friends— It gives a lovely light.”

We need not waste precious resources, we need not race around like headless chickens and sacrifice our natural leisure. Indeed, surely, we must find ways to re-embrace that leisure. Maybe the candle is lovely without unnaturally burning it out. 

Maybe everyone can share in the light of its flame. Maybe we can grow up as a species and go beyond the maligned duplicity, misaligned duality and senseless hypocrisy of not shining a light where it is most needed, in ourselves, and in our conduct with each other.

Maybe that is no elusive dream. Maybe that is what we reveal ourselves to be, when we decide to confront the insecurity that masquerades as sanity and the long (or short) line of excuses we parade to substantiate our resistance. Maybe we transcend that when we shape and carve a different future to the past.

How do we do that? By going beyond our tired and cynical definitions of what the human spirit is capable of. Maybe that allows us to question again our considered biology and symbiotic potential with one another, and our considered economy, and the economy of our affections towards our natural resources and each other. And maybe, through such inquiry into our finer selves, we may reshape the destiny of this treasured moment and this blessed earth.

All beliefs are real the believer. So we must respect the mind and where it is. Discouragement does not heal a wound. Kindness and attention does. But, if we cease giving power to a superficial lie, we are free to embrace a deeper truth. If what we fear is fear itself, we are still propagating fear.

But if we look at fear and resolve to no longer be its slave, but to embrace our deeper power, in dropping resistance, in embracing kindness and an uprooting of the notions born of a disposition of lack…we can fully embrace this incarnation, this present moment. And wouldn’t that be in line with the twice wise ape, “Homo sapiens sapiens,” we nicknamed ourselves?

Is that possible when we embrace our grandeur and humility and leave behind our humiliated and grandiosely depressed and addicted selves? Addicted to approval and disapproval and never fully read to embrace our more hopeful less pressured abundance of spirit.

I sense a change is gonna come. Evolution is about change. Adaption. And when we consciously will it, with a full heart and the best in our minds, we are alive to ourselves and our moment in history.

When we give up our stories we are at the beginning of living beyond them. Try questioning perception. 

True and direct perception means not seeing what threatens and is threatened as anything other than a fiction, it means not making real the lie about us, when it’s just a stand in for the truth. Right minded perception means seeing what is there and real, and not giving power to those things that appear to negate the deep truth.

Largely because of the way our education systems has been shaped, since the Industrial Age began and, before, but much more so with the pressures of industrialized society, there is a strong tendency to live in very trained and conditioned ways. 

And we pledge our allegiance to many thoughts and feelings that appears in our awareness. More often than not  we are living in our projected cloak of fears. 

In many ways our world has long been entrenched in the business of engendering fear. People, not having resolved insecurity in themselves as individuals want to control outcomes and, because it is done from fear we sanction and propagate worthlessness, resentment, guilt and hate. 

Alternatively, we try and think positively and imagine a feel good world born of  idealized forgiveness. Ideas of future heavens and rewards. And hells for those evil enough. Banish the buggers. 

If we look more closely, we see how they are the natural outcome of evasion and escape (in that order, as referenced above).

It just takes identifying the seed thoughts in the mind. If we cease propping-up every thought and feeling that keeps us a prisoner to our lack, be it lack of charity or lack of trust, or a lack of openness, then we may question: 

What am I beyond my story, and my identity in that story, and beyond pain and fear? I am a witness to my mind. And it’s potentials for a deep and peaceful life. That life is not in the future. It is in the present. How I greet it, free of neurosis, and freed of condemnation, liberated of insecurity, creates a future free of that too. 

Can we slow down? The indigenous people of the earth always were slower. To treasure the rain and the sun, it is needed. And then we may begin to question what life is really about. You may choose vision and gratitude over…over what? Life’s riches are only really understood when we learn to share them. What’s preventing you?

We can nail ourselves to mental crosses within. If we so choose. Or we can reinterpret the resurrection. Perhaps, the “resurrection” just means to question our limits. To question our fear around death and dying. To live more fully and find a renewal in our dedication to each other and what matters in how we value what we value. 

Maybe it symbolizes, not so much the cruelty of man, as has been emphasized, but the potential for rebirth and fresh awakening in the human being, when we let go of defense and attack, threatening and being threatened, when we go beyond the blindness of vested interests. A fundamental change of mind about the meaning of the world and our place within it. 

If, as the physicists tell us, most of an atom is empty space, and if the substance of something is plastic and impacted by the pliability of our perception, perhaps it is wise to question the apparent paucity and scarcity of what we see and measure. Perhaps we can value what is there, rather than lament what is deemed lacking by our every judgment in favor of defeated visions. 

That would mean a shift in our conduct and behavior, a dropping of old unhelpful beliefs and fresh awakening of vision where we are lead, inextricably,  to treasure the perceived and the perceiver. Then we might be inspired to question and value communication, more deeply. Because of what is at stake. 

I worked with someone in a leadership position who used to often quote the Sun Microsystems CEO line: “Vision is cheap,” with relish. I’m afraid vision is not cheap. Great leaders are visionaries, men and women of impeccable vision. Period.

And passionate. There is a book that says: 

When you strive for anything in this world in the belief that it will bring you peace, you are belittling yourself and blinding yourself to glory.” 

But that does not conclude that striving is altogether futile. What would life be without passion? It must be passion fueled by the right motive. 

What is the right motive? Maybe, the right motive is to live from peace, not as an idea or abstract holy grail, but as the foreground and background of a deeper clarity about our natural artifice and hidden abundance, and the value of one another, as a state we learn to fully inhabit when confronted with the neurotic resistance of the ego deception.

Then, one would not be striving for the “heaven” of a promised future, but seeding our peace in the full acceptance of our cherished now.  

Impeccable’s root meaning is: “not capable of misperception.”

There is a way to go beyond the howling gails of fear. A way to re-evaluate sorrow and anger. A way to drop the bitter winds of our confusion and attachment to pained approaches and pained outcomes. 

According to the late, world renowned mythologist Joseph Campbell, in Sanskrit, the word nirvana literally means “no wind.” While looking into a pool of water, you can see your reflection. When the wind blows the water ripples, distorting the image, you don’t see reality as it is. 

So what nirvana is, is the place without wind. It’s the ability to see things clearly without distortion. If, when confronted with a crisis, we can clear our mind and choose the proper way to respond, rather than lashing out, which ends up hurting others and ourselves, we can take action that’ll help the situation rather than make it worse.” 

Philip Perry

In karate, and other martial arts, you need to be still inside to respond sanely to your opponent. You focus on keeping the pond waters still so you can see the reflection of the moon. You give up the auto-pilot response of the ego. But, even then, we uphold attack and threat. We can drop that too, with sufficient individual and collective wisdom embracing us. 

Or is it about us embracing that within, by undoing what has, for too long, been misinterpreted by us. Your dissatisfaction, seen in the right light, is your mirror to the greatest treasure: the blooming of yourself. 

An eye for an eye, just makes the whole world blind. Possibly, with a little focus and inner quiet, Homo sapiens sapiens can learn to see himself as impeccable, in sole charge of his destiny, and incapable of misperception, fully married to his grander vision, free of the winds of past fears, ready to embrace a happier and redeemed present, and plant the seeds of a more hopeful network of sharing relationships in the future, in the ample and rich soils of today, of one another. 

Future generations, looking back at our recent times and history, might well marvel at how long we lost our sanity to fear, and our humor and laughter to a lie, we ourselves were spinning. 

I doubt they will dwell on the unnecessary tears, rather, I sense, they will celebrate their fresh crops of gentle laughter. 

To judge is to condemn. It is to seperate ourselves from life, rather than to perceive impeccably and embrace most fervently. This is the cracked code of our biology, the grace of life within us. It isn’t in just one person or a few. It is implied in every one of us.

If  we have the presence of mind to look with new eyes…a lot more is open and possible to us when we let go the heavy justifications, weary grievances and vain strivings of our frightened minds. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Learning to be your self (part 1)

Its is a funny thing being a limited neurotic frightened and, fundamentally, happy human being. You begin to question what humanity is, what your humanity is. 

I met an extraordinary man years ago and he was the most passionate and peaceful human being I had ever met, at that time, in my life. I met him in a small room with about twenty people and he read a line, this line:

“I am determined to see differently.”

Then he said:

“Determination. Determination. Determination.

Not one of you in this room knows the state behind that word.”

I was the fourth of four children and I, like many children, fell in love with the natural world. I went to good enough schools and I had a happy childhood. But there was pain in the story too. As there is in every human story.

And I was fortunate enough to be bright enough and rich enough in family, teachers and friends, to learn a lot about genetics and evolution. I didn’t get into the university of my choice and, after that, I was a little bit like a deer in the headlights. I suppose, like everyone, I wanted answers.

So this man, as if by chance, turning up in my world was a bit of a shock. He didn’t have the air of someone who was disturbed. He had a very noble countenance. It was, at the time, quite an impression he made on my young mind.

I didn’t get into the top college for Genetics. I was interviewed by one of the foremost professors. But I wasn’t given a place. Someone who had done the course had been my friend and tutor for a couple years, and I had asked him a lot of questions, so I understood most of the key concepts in biology. And wham! That door was closed. 

Over the years, haphazardly, part vanity, part insecurity, part genuine interest, all conspired to try to have me go back to college. I did study and practice massage therapy extensively, thanks to the friendship of another man, whose interest in it sparked my own. 

But thanks to this man, that day, something in me walked away from it all. Not from achieving, not from reading or enjoying people, not from finding some people difficult, not from my own shortcomings, not from finding some sides of people close to me difficult, not from enjoying nature, not from enjoying my human nature,  but, to a certain degree, away from illusions.

Over time, an awareness matured in me that I had met this man for a reason. He had spent five years in meditaton, alone by the sea, practicing yoga in Carmel, California. Before commencing that period of silence, he had gone to the health food store and told them that he would like to buy food to cook and that he asked for their kindness to treat him for a while as a deaf man. He had a need for stillness.

Once he was chronically depressed. What the hell was he doing? Life was out there in engagement and people and friendship. He had nature though. He would walk on the beach. One day the depression was worse than ever before.

If he went to the beach he was depressed. If he stayed in the house he was depressed. While he was walking on the beach, the thought appeared in his mind, maybe he willed it, from a deeper place inside him…

“Treasure your anger and depression it is your most valuable asset.”

Maybe they were not the exact words. But they were the essence of the thought.

A tool kit for sanity began to emerge. He began to see, very quickly, whenever he was sad or carried low self esteem or when he harbored venegeance or ill will for another, or when he was paranoid or stressed, it was a trigger for him to look at those things differently.

Sure, when we cease to raise children with virtue, then we reap those rewards, generation after generation. When we act from fear we cultivate fearful realities. They are no illusion, they are very real. They are the product of inattention. Attention might remedy that. 

When we demean ourselves with the aura of insecurity we need more and more money. Imagine if everyone that eats avocados planted the seed with love and utmost care? Would we really be limited to human doings? To poverty and poverty of spirit?

Meeting this man awakened me to a newness of heart that I hardly new possible. I was trying to get to the best schools to study, whatever my choice of contribution in the varied arts and skills of our humanity might be. But that, most likely, would tailor me for a world in which I would compete and demean others and be demeaned by them. Professionally and otherwise.

And even if I strayed from that model and had been a throughly good person using whatever skills I had honed to share, it would have been fine. The world can, and does, work very well in many ways.

But, in some ways, because of how things were, it didn’t happen that I went to college. I had, however, met this man. And when confronted with marriage and children, living in Paris at the time, I really did not know which trade to plow and so, whatever you may call it, desperation or hope, my fiancé and I, at the time, moved to Los Angeles to be close to him.

He was helpful and he cared for the human being. That was very apparent. We were in our mid-twenties, and it almost appeared, to our young eyes, that this man was part of a strange cult, with him at the center of it.

Blessed by parents who loved to travel and did not go to church, but opted instead for a love of poetry, music and art and culture and human rights and science and engineering, and the friends that attracted, I could see this man was quite a different kind of man to those I had met up til then.

He had associated with men and women I deeply respected, Gandhi for one in his young life, Buckminster Fuller (a brilliant American engineer who conceived of the earth as a spaceship and calculated load and supply potential), Pearl Buck (the American Nobel laureate who grew up in China), Indian prime Minister Nehru and First Lady Eleonar Roosevelt, as well as the artistic and political pinnacles of New York and Washington society. He was close to the educator, Mr J Krishnamurti, for a number of years. And Nehru sent him to Russia and the United States to observe the impact of industrialization on nations. 

So yes, what did I have to lose by giving it a try? I had little or no money, but I couldn’t keep away. My life became very connected with his. My first marriage failed, likely because I did not honor my then wife by moving out to be with her in Massachusetts, where she was studying.

Krishnamurti was not for everyone, but he was a very different kind of man in his time. Essentially he was a teacher, though he denied it, basically because he saw any label other than “human being” as limiting.

Both he and this man, Tara Singh, were philosophers. I had a passing interest in philosophy, but my main interest was biology and falling in love. And travel. And poetry, music, science and strategy. Some of us, all of us, in different ways, are born with curiosity in-built. We extinguish that flame at our peril.

I drove across the country to be close to this man in Los Angeles, so that we might start a life together, my soon to be wife and I. But I was young, impressionable, and maybe, at that time, I needed his wisdom as much as I needed my wife’s love and somehow, for whatever reasons, it snapped, my relationship with her.

I remained his friend through the years leading to his death. Mostly it was a bond of affection from afar. After my separation with my ex-wife, life took me to Europe and different parts of Asia. I called him on the phone once just to ask a question. We spoke when there was a genuine need. His presence in my life had a great impact. 

He was a surprisingly easy man to be close to. He was friend to a lot of people, from babies to the elderly. He loved and cared for people and could see clearer than most others, that I’d crossed paths with, how they self-sabotaged and judged (and so in some sense demeaned themselves) themselves and others, and so he was not one to suffer unkindness and foolishness. 

I felt ill-fitted to some of the company around him when we lived a short distance away from him close to the Miracle mile area of Wiltshire boulevard in Los Angeles. I suppose, it was because neither my fiancé nor I had grown up with religion in our lives. Fun and tears, but no “God this” and “god that.” 

As a teenager, I got myself as close to the Galapagos as I could get and even lived there for a few months, so spellbound was I with Charles Darwin and his incredible voyage on the Beagle.

I had nothing against churchgoers. It just didn’t show up in my world. My parents being passionate for art and culture did take me to Beethoven’s house and the great cathedrals of Europe. I was lucky enough got to go to Iceland on an expedition when I was 16. To the glaciers deep in it’s heartland. Then to America which I have explored a great deal too. The cathredal interested me, but I didn’t fully get it til I met the video tapes (back then) and audio cassettes (back then ;)) and the books of Joseph Campbell.

He was a brilliant and inspired American Comparative mythologist and he opened my eyes to the deeper leylines of mythology. From my love (and his) for the indigenous cultures, the Native Americans and beyond, and the knights tales and the yogi and the destitute of heart, he immediately had my rapt attention.

Though I was fascinated by the potential of the human mind, I also, genuinely  just adored nature. My parents gave me a book (via Santa) about otters when I was 7, or thereabouts, and the kid before me in the Santa’s grotto had a very basic tiny robot. I wanted the robot!

I will however, always be grateful to my parents’ choice. That book birthed a love for nature and the outdoors in me. And otters. Otters weren’t too common round where I lived as a child. But birds were. And they became a great fascination of mine. And that lead me to Charlie Darwin. 

I like to think we live in a less uptight age, so with affection I call him Charlie. When he died he left the world a challenge. He shook up the floor of our world fairly extensively. He argued, with extensive evidence, that multicellular life had evolved from a few strands of proteins that became cells. And we were descended from monkeys.

Well, that didn’t please the traditional of the day too much. But Darwin, Freud and Einstein changed our perception of things. And then, years later, I come across Joseph Campbell and he was one who related the biological needs with the revelations of the mythological ground of our being. 

Tara Singh, my teacher of sorts, if only by wealth of experience and by a certain unholy discretion, a very matter of fact kindness and simplicity, and a very different vision, was there too.

So here are these men in the line up before me. Some on a video tape, some in a book, long dead and one in real life.

Taraji wrote a book and the title was: “The Future of Mankind. The subtitle was: Affluence without wisdom is self-destructive.”

There is another book, the title of which is:

The Primal Scream: Primal Therapy: The Cure for Neurosis.

Finally, one more book: 

There is a garden in the mind.

(I can explain later what the books are about. But, for here, right here it is only briefly for those books, of themselves are not the subject (they are in a sense) of this piece of writing.)

So:

Affluence without wisdom is self-destructive

The Cure for Neurosis

There is a garden in the mind.

And then we return to that moment, years ago when the calm and very passionate man said:

“Determination, determination, determination,

Not one of you in this room know the state behind that word.”

Some of us despite a bright start in life, can appear to be knocked off course. But we come to be saved from our fears by facing them. We come to launch our dreams by planting their seeds.

I think this man was right. He was from a very ancient culture, and though he knew the planet quite well, he made a beeline for America. When Voltaire, the french scientist, philosopher and essayist visited the United States, now in centuries behind us, he wrote of how impressed he was with this then New World.

It is still the new world. The statute of Liberty stands tall and not without reason for fresh hope, affirming the vision (at least, symbolically) and daring of that new world. She holds a light out to that dark ocean.

France gave her to the United States, after so many bloody revolutions and violence in Europe, they hoped that maybe, we’d do a better job in America. And Walt Whitman, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Abraham Lincoln and Henry David Thoreau, as well as the likes of Rosa Parks and Black Elk speaks, were the founding generations of that vision.

Tara Singh came to America as a young and impressionable man, as I did. I was there briefly as a teenager. He came to explore the soul and gut of America.
He came to learn what he could learn from the New World for the very ancient world he came from. He brought his own determination and lessons to impart too. They changed the law to give him citizenship. He worked for a number or years for the human aid charity care, and didn’t draw a salary. He introduced me to some of the best things about America. And he introduced me to the vastness of Indian culture.

He loved music. I once went to see a documentary about a blind man from San Francisco in Hollywood with him and a couple friends. This man, in the documentary, had been caught by throat singing. It is a little known art from some fairly obscure (to the wider world) Himalayan kingdoms. And this wonderful man travels to Tuva to compete in their throat singing contests.

He goes and he is greeted with such love and kindness. And mutual fascination. Maybe it is all the more touching that he is blind. At the end of the movie he goes back to his life, living alone in an expensive apartment, scraping by on social security, lonely, and missing his newfound friends, as they missed him, but grateful for the adventure. And

Richard Feynman the greatly gifted American physicist, and the great practical joker, for years wanted to go to Tuva to enjoy their wonderful throat, guttural songs. He never made it. But he loved the warmth and the song of that culture, despite our, crazy militarization and escape into organized fear. He was the man who cracked the code of the Challenger explosion. He proved with a clear and demonstrable experiment what actually happened to the O-rings.

Now I meet this man, Taraji and he can talk to any subject, and listen when he has to learn, but he is clearly very interested in what judgment is.

Affectionate, when genuine and not feigned, is perhaps devoid of judgment.

Affluence without wisdom is self-destructive.

The Cure for Neurosis.

There is a garden in the mind.

Darwin, Freud, Einstein, Joseph Campbell, Tara Singh and a man named Alan Chadwick, who Tara Singh knew and who I last year became interested in and studied some of the gardens and farms he set up….where does this train of stories lead, and what does it have to do with judgment?

Well all those men lead me to pause and deeply question. Buckminster Fuller too. The other day I saw a cartoon and there were twins in a womb in a scan. And one twin said to the other: “Do you believe in mom?”

When the baby is born the milk flows from the breast. So much genuine love comes for the poor helpless child. He or she needs much care. But through the natural outpouring of love, throughout nature we raise our offspring.

The other day a dog that has grown very fond of me and rarely strays, ran off when I picked up a puppy she was fighting with over food. She has never ran off like that before. She came back hours later. I wasn’t really angry, just protecting the pup. It is natural. But that older female knew not to mess with a parent or, an adopted parent. Nature has its own wisdom.

When I put it altogether I saw what Joseph Campbell meant when he said the “the mystic drowns in the waters that the schizophrenic crackup drowns in.” Tara Singh, in all his books, to my knowledge, only mentioned Darwin once. He was referencing the countries of the world and the great lights of literature and imagination and science that they had brought us and he spoke of England and listed Wordsworth and Shakespeare, there he briefly mentioned Darwin and simply referred to him as “the mystic.”

Darwin, at the end of his life was baffled by instances of altruism in nature. Where we share of ourselves without necessary desire for a return on our investment, or no apparent one for the labor. Later an American solved the puzzle with an elegant equation which basically said my the relative commonality of our shared genetic material story dictates how likely I am to help you. My cousin and I share more genes than someone far away and not related. So I take my cousin to the airport or bake them a cake.

Animals, though often tender, mark their territories with pee and fight off neighbors and neighboring tribes. As human beings we can discover a deeper reverence, through music, art and mutual appreciation. It is potential in is because it is potential in nature and our nature.

But we are not street dogs. What mother would wish her child to end up a street urchin?

Freud came along and he said when faced with an emotional trauma we are impacted and that creates a damage point in the psyche and neurosis results. He argued that to heal this trauma required a probing of the mind. With the focus being on a saner and happier disposition.

We had become very advanced as human beings but still those destructive impulses were not fully confronted in each of us. And Freud basically said, look, by my observations there is a consciousness operating in man, and in dreams, though there are many types, and in waking,  the unconscious is always communicating something to the conscious mind.

And then Einstein came along and said as far as my observations go, we are in a relative universe made of tiny quanta. And it’s very big.

And Joseph Campbell, in a way, fused something of the spirit of Freud and Einstein, but less of Darwin, and he went away and looked at the stuff Jung did and focused on how our myths and stories reflect the ground of our being. Like our dreams and aspirations.

Society and societies had myths and aspirations and adaption and human beings, individually, had dreams and adaptions and their own personal stories and favored myths.

But Darwin had to meet Alan Chadwick to make sense, at least to me. Alan Chadwick was an English born man who in his early years trained to be and worked as a Shakespearean actor. At least that was his focus. Then all hell broke out with the Second World War. He also was an immensely gifted gardener. He had extraordinary teachers.

When President Kennedy came to power, there was great hope, after horrific pain, America and the world had been humbled by the war and the Four Point plan if the Eisenhower and Truman administrations aspired to use American knowledge and expertise for the good of the world.

Inspired by JFK and the great hope in the country at that time, before it hiccuped into militarism and the Cold War, Alan Chadwick came to America and stuck his spade in the soil.

Alan was a great gardener and actor, but also tormented by the inner pain brought from first being a pacifist in the war, and then a captain of a minesweeper. He was once overheard in a field he was gardening in to have said, “Get out or leave.” He did not mince his words and he was very sensitive.

Not only because of his innate sensitivity, which had been so nurtured, but also because he had been the captain of a minesweeper in the Second World War. Imagine what that would do to your nerves!

That time was referred to as Camelot. Camelot in America. As it once was in King Arthur’s time. What was the focus of Camelot? It was for men and women of good heart to find a grail.

Darwin died with his question that got answers by George Price. Well, half answered. Price said, with his equation, that we were selfish by nature. That we, as life forms, had come from a single celled animal.

That we had banded together to make multicellular life. And we had birthed all through nature, brothers and sisters, friends and enemies and territories and we basically took care of our own because of the wiring of our DNA and our genes.

And George Price went away and basically became the schizophrenic crackup that Darwin spoke of. He was the man, with a neat equation explained why selfishness and tribal war happened in nature. Also why acts of kindness happen. Or so he believed. And the world lapped it up.

By and large, we teach his science in universities all over the world. Our banking models and our economies sit neatly on this received and observed wisdom.

But I am afraid, until perhaps now, science is a work in progress. A best guess.

Why until now? Perhaps because I, in a humble way, through my story here cracked, the deeper code.

What is the deeper code?

It took Parzival, Alan Chadwick, Einstein and Freud and George Price for me to get it.

For centuries man had lived, mythologically on the lip of the sacred and the profane. In the Middle Ages they drew paintings on walls called frescoes and the depicted saints with halos around their heads. When I taught English in a French university, I remember looking up the word root of ‘sane’ and it meant whole. So the sane ‘saints,” the root of the word, were people who saw without distorted perception. They had a certain calm and wholeness of perspective to them.

Because of my upbringing, a sort of healthy distance from all things theological, and just a great love of nature and the artfulness of man, I was less inclined to be religious and more drawn to science and music and adventure and laughter. The problems of philosophy did interest me though.

Philosophy, in ancient Greek means, love of wisdom. A philosopher is therefore, a lover of wisdom.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A man named Isreal.

I ran out of gas on a light desert highway this morning. A man, a cook, named Israel stopped when I waved my red canister, and we drove together to the closest gas station. 

When we got back to the car, we talked some, in Spanish, as he emptied my gas bottle into the tank, edged as we were, by the side the road. I had left my hose at home, so it was slow going to empty the tiny bottle. 

The gas poured down, drop by drop, into the funnel and so there was the leisure for Israel to tell me how, not that long ago, he had taken his family to a hotel, on a day pass, and had left them, in the evening, to drive to his work. 

As he drove, his tire blew out. He swerved and came to a safe stop by the side of the road. He had the tools to fix it, but struggled with some of the bolts on the wheel. They were locked tight. A beat up old car pulled up and some fishermen got out. 

They did everything for him. As they worked they laughed and joked. When done, Israel offered a tip for their efforts. They would not take it. They told him how, once, they had been out at sea and the motor on their boat broke down. 

For twenty days they were taken by the currents and the winds to who knows where. Their food and freshwater quickly ran out. They were close to death. On the twentieth day of uncertain drift, as they opened their eyes, a sailing yacht came into view. 

It was a Canadian vessel and it, surely, saved their lives that day. They vowed they would do the same for others, given half the chance. Israel, the beneficiary of their kindness, helped me in similar fashion, on the brow of that desert hill. 

We emptied what little gas was needed into the tank, and I backed down the hill, in neutral, to the flat dusty ground, where I turned on the ignition, and drove on, following this man, who had stopped to help me, to the gas station. 

It all took about fifteen minutes. Three police cars passed by, but there was no money to be made, so they did not stop to help. Later, a motorcycle cop kindly stopped to check on us. By then, we had remedied the issue. As he drove off, my helper described the police in his country as worse than street dogs.

I told him how three street dogs had taken to living with me of late, on the grounds of a simple dwelling. I wash and share great affection with them and we have grown fond of each other. Each one has different tastes and a different character. They bring me much laughter.

We value one another. No matter if they bicker. When they do, I look at them and remind them there is enough to go around. And they stop their in-fighting and bite the air in vain attempts to catch the flies. They understand my piercing look. They know by now to not bother me when I need to be still with my thoughts. 

Before we parted, I thanked my occasional friend for his help, and his uplifting story, and I told him I would write my own. He went on with his day, and I with mine. There is such love and hope between people we may never see again. We have that bond of appreciation, and a great deal more, to be grateful for. 

Of such threads men are made. And countries are made of men. Like men, a country can come close to its own desperate end, only to be saved by the engaged kindness of a higher moral order. 

Where there is too much haste and a prejudiced private motive, we will always reap mutual destruction from the seeds of bitter segregation and our hindered self-centered blindness. Yet, when we put that to one side, something very different might flower. 

We cannot change the past. But we can change our perception of it. Therein, lies the only hope for our collective future and the ground of our home, in the present. And it is given to us, given to each individual, as the dark night gives way to a brighter day, to do exactly that.