TITLE: Star wars AUTHOR: Jon DATE: 11/29/2005 10:19:00 PM ID: 113332090555073675 ----- BODY:
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-------- TITLE: Where are my current blogs? AUTHOR: Jon DATE: 12/05/2004 10:44:00 AM ID: 110226197300414725 ----- BODY:
Right here, on the main index page to my site. You probably came here from my Blogger profile page. I'm actually using Movable Type as my blogging engine, but I love Blogger's community. Hence, the links that brought you here. Please follow the link above, where you'll be able to read and search all of my blog, including many new entries which are not on this page. In addition, I have dozens of articles which you can access from the drop-down menus. Welcome to the Wild Things of God, and enjoy reading about Jedi Life in the Real World! — Jon
-------- TITLE: The Kingdom and the Empire redux AUTHOR: Jon DATE: 11/12/2004 09:47:41 PM ID: 110031429617326948 ----- BODY:
A few years ago, I posted a page on this site contrasting the Kingdom that Jesus preached with the Empire(s) that man builds. The Empire is about power, control, influence and thought. The Kingdom is about love. Even in most religious environments, the Empire is more more prominent than the Kingdom. Emperor Theodosius even went so far as to name Jesus the head of the Byzantine Empire, forgetting that Yeshua said,

"The kingdom of God does not come visibly, nor will people say, 'Here it is, ' or There it is,' because the kingdom of God is within you."

Yep, the words are inspiring, but if I'm really honest with myself, I've got to admit, I would like it to be outside of me. I'd like my leaders and teachers to bring it about. But only I can reveal it where I am. It's not a matter of getting the right guy into office, but getting my "self " out of office. This is the real point of Christianity, to get self out of the way, so the Light of God, which is already here, can shine.

Sometimes it seems that absolutely no one understands, and when I feel that way, I have to realize that I've lost sight of the truth, and have become stuck on appearance. The kingdom is here right now. Despite terrorism and war, corporate greed and personal licentiousness, gluttony and famine, God is here, in every soul, waiting for the mask of the cravings, angers, and fears to break, like a butterfly shedding its chrysalis.

This is the work of the kingdom, to know that we are nothing, and in that No-thing, is everything. The only thing. One thing only. Heaven is here. How creatively we hide it! That's Jedi life in the real world.

-------- TITLE: AUTHOR: Jon DATE: 11/06/2004 11:41:00 PM ID: 113133857859212733 ----- BODY:
-------- TITLE: Climate Change and International Security AUTHOR: Jon DATE: 10/30/2004 01:23:37 AM ID: 109911157297814932 ----- BODY:
This leaked Pentagon report made the news in the UK, at least. God knows what our own press was talking about at the time, but I don't remember anyone broadcasting the fact that the Pentagon was warning that climate change is a far greater threat than terrorists, as it may cause nuclear buildups and nuclear war as more nations try to protect their resources. They also warn that Britain's climate might become "Siberian" by 2020. When I posted my entry on The Day after Tomorrow, I was shocked to find that prominent scientists were predicting scenarios not that far from the film. Now the Department of Defense is believes the same thing, with an administration that insists global warming is no more real than Santa Claus. God, help us. Thanks to Derek K. Miller for posting it on his blog.
-------- TITLE: Jesus: Wrong for America AUTHOR: Jon DATE: 10/29/2004 06:00:18 PM ID: 109908735403574006 ----- BODY:
On Coleman Fannin's blog I found a link to this hilarious piece by Mad magazine. I think it's the funniest piece of election humor I seen since JibJab's "This Land." Says a lot, doesn't it?
-------- TITLE: Freedom from Want AUTHOR: Jon DATE: 10/26/2004 01:35:38 PM ID: 109880913657088329 ----- BODY:
It's occurred to me how much noise there is in most spiritual websites, spiritual books, and so forth. (And this one is one of the worst!) That's because most writers, like me, try to use concepts to get beyond the concepts. We blather about this tradition and that tradition, this Scripture and that Scripture, this teacher and that, this experience and that. In addition, this blog is the "online journal" variety, sharing my downs as well as my ups. But since the little revelation I had Sunday night, I see that the noise itself is the silence, that "samsara is nirvana." It's hard to describe—I see garbage by the curb, and it seems as beautiful as a painting in a museum, although I still have the urge to pick it up (or wish someone else would!). I can only laugh at the energy and time I've invested in spiritual "seeking." What is there to seek, when God is in everything you are, everything you see, touch, smell, and hear? Why do we seek the return of the Lord, when he said "I am with you always"? Just renounce wanting, having, needing. Live your life, meet your responsibilities, do what's appropriate to do, and don't resent or resist unpleasant things, or crave or try to hold onto the pleasant circumstances. A roller coaster has ups and downs, without them, the ride's no fun at all. You wanted to go to heaven right? Open your eyes. "There" is here!
-------- TITLE: Jon, updated AUTHOR: Jon DATE: 10/25/2004 01:49:21 AM ID: 109868186164498480 ----- BODY:
I've made a few changes to the site this last week. I've jazzed up a couple of the stylesheets, revised and reposted the pages on Biblical Panentheism and Universal Salvation. Also I completely rewrote the review of Waking Life. Its vision of life as a lucid dream was something which I could not get when it first came out. Now, it's screamingly obvious. When I'm more aware, I see that my existence is very much like a lucid dream. Ordinary life, without awareness, is like a sleep. One who's begun to realize his true nature, begins to see it as a lucid dream, aware that he is dreaming. It's an incredible metaphor, actually much better as metaphor than The Matrix. I also came back to two texts with much greater understanding. The Tao Te Ching was the first Eastern religious text I had ever read. I've read it several times, but not in the last five years since I began meditating and exploring the nature of things. In the past, my "mysticism" was philosophical, now it's much deeper. There's so much in there that no one can understand deeply until they begin practicing it deeply, and then it opens up. Also, I revisited The Gospel of Thomas again. I read that more recently, but going back again, since my practice has deepened as a quest to know my being in the Ground of Being, I understand so much more there than I ever did before. The scholars write commentary after commentary, but cannot "get" it, since it's beyond everyone who's not practicing.

Come to know what is in front of you, and that which is hidden from you will become clear to you. For there is nothing hidden that will not become manifest. —Thomas 5

That brings me to what really "updated" me tonight. In my last post I was quite discouraged and in a state of "spiritual indigestion." But taking Mark's advice regarding SI was helpful— very, very helpful. As he suggested, I sat down quietly and renounced knowledge and desire from my heart. (I know nothing, I need nothing, I want absolutely nothing.) Tonight, after sitting in the quiet of that no-thing-ness for a little, something just "popped," and I realized, this is it. This is really it! Soto Zen calls just-sitting meditation "the first enlightenment." The thing is that simply being in that awareness of Being is what enlightenment is. The abbot of The Cloud of Unknowing and the Book of Privy Counsel pretty much says the same thing, that this is the contemplative work of eternity. It's so easy to get caught up in seeking the big, explosive, once-and-for-all "capital E" Enlightenment, which is nothing more than neurotic, clinging, desire. My teacher told me to give up wanting enlightenment, and now I think I have. I can see its here. As Jesus said: Come to know what is in front of you, and that which is hidden from you will become clear to you. It's so easy. My heart overflows with gratitude. Thank You, Father.

-------- TITLE: Spiritual Indigestion AUTHOR: Jon DATE: 10/22/2004 01:27:50 PM ID: 109846640806253862 ----- BODY:
Probably the most helpful spiritual website I've ever seen is Pure Silence. org by Mark McCloskey. I came across this post today, and it hit home, to put it mildly. I'm disgusted with my own "spirituality." I'm sick and tired of mysticism, I'm weary of wanting to awaken. I feel like I just want to go back to sleep.
-------- TITLE: Destroy the World, Save the Earth AUTHOR: Jon DATE: 10/11/2004 05:57:46 PM ID: 109753672654204943 ----- BODY:
I've got to apologize for going so long between posts. Sometimes what I want to share here in this space feels so personal, or so difficult to put into words, that I end up not doing that at all. Something that's been on my mind the last couple of weeks is "the world" vs. "the earth." There's a big, big difference between the two, and probably the easiest way to distinguish them, is simply by realizing that the world is not real. What do I mean by not "real?" Well, take a look at the earth, for contrast. Look at your friends, spouse, kids, your cat, dog or parakeet—those are real. Look at yourself. Feel your skin, your clothes, your headache or your peace. That is real. They are there. Go outside, see the cars, the grass, the sky, birds, clouds, bushes and asphalt. Real again. Better yet, give yourself a nice, total immmersion experience of reality—go canoeing in a park, or mountain biking, or swimming in the ocean, with a minimum of thinking or conversation. You'll start to get to know the difference. What's not real? Everything that exists only in the mind. Chances are, as soon as you start talking with someone, conversations will turn to things that have no basis in reality. Whether someone or something is "good" or "bad." Whether something "means" something else or not. The past. That's right, the past happened, but it is not real. Past sounds like passed for a reason. The future is obviously not real, but we devote inordinate amounts of our thoughts to it. When you feel stress about the future, you're feelings are real enough, but their cause is unreal. There's some profound truth in the trite workplace sign "FEAR = False Evidence Appearing Real." But there's a lot more non-reality to become aware of. Our very identities are pieces of the past we esteem and carry on with us into the present. If you ask my name, I'll say, "Jon." That's a real sound, but how does it become a shorthand for me? I could have been named Douglas, Vladimir, or Akhbar. And if I so chose to, I could change it. Ask my nationality, and I'll say "American." What I really mean is that I was born in a part of the earth where people had agreed to recognize an organization of people as having some authority over them, and by agreement, this organization was known as the government of the United States of America. But look at a view of the earth from space, and there are no lines drawn, no square patches colored blue, pink, or yellow, and no names written upon the land. There's no "United States of America" there, no "Switzerland," and no "Iraq." What's real are the nameless landmasses with their nameless forests, plains and deserts and the nameless oceans, lakes and rivers. I am not my past, my name, my family, my upbringing, my country, my religion, my ideas, nor my thoughts. Neither are you. Kind of makes you wonder why all the fights about names, families, lifestyles, countries, religions, and ideologies, doesn't it? Meditation is an opportunity to begin stripping away the conditioning, the associations, and shared hallucinations that comprise "the world." What are you, there in the dark, with eyes closed, with no name, no past, no future? What is that? It's worth getting to know, because that is real. That is you.
-------- TITLE: What the #$*! Do We Know AUTHOR: Jon DATE: 9/26/2004 03:52:47 PM ID: 109622980345247019 ----- BODY:
Virtual Basketball CourtAbout 20 years ago, I encountered quantum mechanics in The Dancing Wu Li Masters by Gary Zukav, and the Tao of Physics by Fritjof Capra. Despite the relative popularity (note the emphasis on "relative") of such books, the average person in the street has never read a science book that wasn't assigned to them in high school or college. And those books certainly weren't using the implications of quantum physics to speculate on the nature of Life, the Universe and Everything! But I found myself very inspired by the fuzziness of the new science. It seemed to me to be showing the undefined edges of Creation, and left me with a conviction that the Universe is held together in God's imagination. That, along with many other things, helped to start me on my study of Christian mysticism and other traditions. So imagine my delight when I learned What the #$*! Do We Know? (pronounced "What the Bleep Do We Know") promised an exciting investigation into the cutting edge of science and spirituality. . . . (Click to go to the rest of the review.)
-------- TITLE: Donnie Darko - Director's Cut AUTHOR: Jon DATE: 9/14/2004 07:10:34 AM ID: 109517096828755334 ----- BODY:
Donnie DarkoLast weekend at the Naro, I had the pleasure of watching the director's cut of Donnie Darko. Simply put, it's brilliant. I discovered Darko on video two years ago, rediscovered it with the deleted scenes last year (and watched it four times in two days!), and relished the short run of the director's cut at Naro. (And it's probably fair to say that no recent movie has needed a director's cut more than Darko. I'm going to have to post a full review of this. Till then, all I can say is you've got to see this. And if you think you've got it figured out, let me know!
-------- TITLE: A breath of hastily denied honesty AUTHOR: Jon DATE: 9/11/2004 01:31:12 PM ID: 109493515798743381 ----- BODY:
In an unexpected moment of candor less than two weeks ago, the President of the United States said regarding "the war on terror:" "I don't think we can win it. But I think you can create conditions so that those who use terror are less acceptable in parts of the world." Knowing that such honesty doesn't play well at the polls, the President and his handlers rapidly spun it to mean nearly the exact opposite, that the United States can and will definitely bring an end to terrorism. Of course, his opponent, John Kerry, must also pretend that such a war is winnable. Of course the war is unwinnable, at least by the methods presently used by nations. Great Britain's war against the Irish Republican Army has been going on for eighty years now, Israel's against the PLO for nearly sixty, Russia's against Chechnya for a full decade, and the list goes on. A war is winnable only if its fuel can be exhausted. The fuel of violence is resentment. How is resentment brought to an end? By either the complete and total exhaustion of one of the two warring entities, or by ending the underlying resentment that fuels the violence. World War II was won by the utter exhaustion of the Axis powers, after the destruction of millions of people on both sides. A single entity, like a government, can indeed be brought to such exhaustion. The Taliban fell, Saddam Hussein fell. But Iraqi and American forces are now wracked by almost daily terror attacks. Al-Qaeda still commits terror attacks around the world. Afghanistan is now back in the control of local warlords financed by the opium trade, and Iraq has largely disintegrated into chaos. Brutal dictatorships like Pakistan are propped up with weapons and money to become even more dictatorial to their citizens. This is the simple truth, which no one wants to say, and no one wants to hear: War doesn't stop terrorism. It fuels the resentment, and for every terrorist killed, more rise up, as long as the resentment grows. This is the bitter truth that world leaders must face, regardless of their country or party: do what is needed to end the resentment, and you will cut off terrorism at its source. It's essential that we try to understand why our enemies hate us, and how we can change that hatred into something else. Not a thousand American troops, nor ten thousand Iraqi civilians killed, nor any number of insurgents, militants, or terrorists killed will bring peace, as long as people are angry enough to die. I told you you didn't want to hear it, but that's Jedi life in the real world.
-------- TITLE: Live outside the box AUTHOR: Jon DATE: 8/23/2004 12:53:21 AM ID: 109323716111904749 ----- BODY:
OK, I'm a geek. I work in front of computers all day long, I play mostly in front of a computer all evening. But it's occurred to me that I live too much of my life (almost all of it!) in boxes. I live in a box, work in a box, and get from home to work (and vice versa )by means of driving a smaller box. This is true of a LOT of us. (You know who you are.) Today I had a pleasant day with several hours outside the box at Cape Hatteras. It was great! New goal for the Frimster: a hour of unboxed living every day.
-------- TITLE: A Christian Fatwa? "He Should Be Killed"—Robertson AUTHOR: Jon DATE: 8/20/2004 10:58:07 PM ID: 109305916248187474 ----- BODY:
Q: What religion has leaders who use all available media to call for a religious government, and urge those they find most unworthy to be killed?

A: The Christian Religious Right. On the 700 Club on Thursday, August 19, Ayatollah Pat Robertson called for a fatwa on Ayatollah Muktada al-Sadr. His entire quote follows:

Al-Sadr is a rebel whose breaking the law. He's a murderer, there's a warrant out for his arrest. He should be killed, it's just that simple. They should execute him and they should take care of those people. He's holding up the most powerful army on Earth and he's thumbing his nose at the authority of the new government, and it's time the forces took action against him and stop the play. I hope this news says they're going after him.The news yesterday said, well. he'd agreed to some kind of a deal, but he's a liar, he's not going to do a deal and it's time we move in and do it swiftly and get this sore out of the way.

You can hear it yourself at The 700 Club website. [UPDATE: this broadcast has rolled off the page, as of Sept. 11, 2004l]

A few thoughts on Robertson's fatwa:

  1. Making al-Sadr into a martyr would be unbelievably stupid. It would almost certainly condemn Iraq (and the U.S.) to years of war.
  2. Ayad Allawi, the Prime Minister of Iraq, doesn't want al-Sadr to be killed. He actually wants him to run for office so al-Sadr can see that the majority of non-extremist Iraqis reject him.
  3. With this pronouncement, Robertson seems to have lost all contact with the teachings of Jesus Christ.
  4. Robertson can be quite comfy with killers when he can profit from them. Consider his business relationship with Charles Taylor in creating Freedom Gold through the tax shelter of the Cayman Islands. Taylor escaped from a Massachusetts prison, fled to Libya, instigated an insurrection in Sierra Leone, killed the president of Liberia, and initiated a war taking over 200,000 lives, and has been linked by the FBI to funding al-Qaeda:

Let's pray for light—for ourselves, for Iraq, and for Pat Robertson.

-------- TITLE: We know what we want for ourselves . . . AUTHOR: Jon DATE: 8/20/2004 12:36:13 AM ID: 109297701052154157 ----- BODY:
I received this email from someone called "The Writer." (I guess he or she meant to leave a comment but emailed me by mistake.) Anyway, The Writer had a brilliant insight, that basic spiritual truths are self-evident on the personal level, but not on the social level. No wonder Christ said to love our neighbor as ourselves!

It's amazing how basic spiritual truths take many thousands of years to be learnt via hard experience by humanity. That the ends do not justify the means, and that peace is better than war and life better than death, and freedom better than imprisonment, are on the personal level self-evident. But on the larger social level things do not seem quite so clear, for some reason. . . . the writer.

-------- TITLE: Underneath the Painting—the First Noble Truth AUTHOR: Jon DATE: 8/10/2004 05:54:30 PM ID: 109215753506945098 ----- BODY:
Last night, I had a deep realization of the First Noble Truth. Now, to anyone who's not immediately put off by the negativity of the statement that "life is dukkha (loosely translated as 'suckiness')," the fact probably seems self-evident. There's death, sickness, poverty, hatred, fear, all the stuff. You know it, I know it. Big deal. What came to me last night, (and it came to me like a sledge hammer on my head—it was a shock, I'm telling you, it was not pleasant!) was that life is anxiety. Or that anxiety is the canvas our lives are painted on. It's one thing to accept the suckiness of life intellectually, or even to see its effects in the world in general, but what happened last night was I saw it in everything. Most people have very few moments in waking life that don't have a tinge of anxiety, although it might be so subtle it's like the hum of a refrigerator in the kitchen, when you're upstairs listening to the stereo. But it's still there! We've really trained ourselves not to see it. (Even though it seems a third of their articles are about it, you could read Tricycle for years and not get it!) Our anxiety comes from many sources—psychologists concentrate on our parents and authority figures, and yes, there's anxiety there. All of our lives we've been given rules and consequences for not following them. And so, we become conditioned. Am I doing what's right? Did I do something wrong? But this root anxiety is a lot more basic than that. Will I get what I want? Will I get what I don't want? On an even more primal, unconscious level—Will I get something to eat? Will something eat me? How do I stay alive? And even more fundamental, and more subconscious—Do I really exist? Who/what am I? So we cover up our anxiety with everything—possessions, positions, activities, interests, thoughts, beliefs, etc. ad nauseum. None of which are wrong in themselves,but the anxiety that makes us cling to them is usually unaddressed. "Now that I have x, feel x, think x, know x, do x . . . I'm OK, right?" It doesn't matter what color the paint we throw on the canvas, the canvas is still there. Even the belligerent thug who slugs whoever disses him is just throwing another layer on the underlying dukkha, the canvas of anxiety. Just being—I mean simply be-ing, as opposed to doing, and having—is something that causes tremendous anxiety to most people. Try to even talk to some people about sitting meditation, and even the thought—not the action, mind you, but the mere thought—of sitting and doing nothing horrifies them. Now I can see that's at least part of what makes it the laboratory, where all the paint is stripped off the canvas of insecurity. What happens when we go farther and strip off the canvas? What's left? That must be what awakening is.
-------- TITLE: Spider-Man 2 AUTHOR: Jon DATE: 8/09/2004 07:32:18 AM ID: 109207823379288376 ----- BODY:
My review of Spider-Man 2 is now up. I see my reviews splitting into two categories—short capsule reviews handled as blog posts, and longer reflections in which I write at some length about a movie, including what I see as it's spiritual implications. Spider-Man 2 is definitely the latter kind of a review. I saw a lot in this one! Let me know what you think.
-------- TITLE: The Day after Tomorrow (Or two years after next?) AUTHOR: Jon DATE: 7/26/2004 09:39:09 PM ID: 109089469064093615 ----- BODY:
There's been almost a glut of good movies this summer. I really haven't had time to comment on most of them yet, and probably won't get to some of them. floodingI was actually going to pass on making any mention of The Day after Tomorrow—it was a fun way to kill a couple of hours, a blend of sci-fi and disaster movie. It suffered from poor marketing and poor timing—being released against major blockbusters like Harry Potter III and Spider-Man 2; as well undeservedly negative criticism, much of which was ranting about possible political motives rather than simple critiques of a Sunday afternoon escape.

It has a suprisingly strong emphasis on the small-scale human perspective—a fairly good story for the disaster genre. Dennis Quaid and Jake Gyllenhaal play a father and son, separated by a terrifying new kind of storm, unlike anything witnessed by modern humanity. The storm is powered by global warming and wreaks an ice age upon Earth within a couple of weeks, as melting polar ice shifts the warm ocean currents out of the temperate zone. Effects are excellent, and well-worth the price of a ticket. My assessment was that it was pretty good sci-fi. I really didn't think much more of it.

At least not until last night, when I read this in a interview with Ervin Laszlo:

"Right now, for example, with the melting of the ice deflecting the Gulf Stream, it's entirely possible that in three years England will have the frigid climate of Labrador,which is at the same latitude. Spring and summer just won't come. (What is Enlightenment? Issue 26, p.22 "will spring and summer no longer come?" )

Dr. Laszlo» is not just any scientist, but the pioneer of systems theory, which has revolutionized all science. He doesn't know everything, but he's one of sharpest minds on the planet. Dramatic climate change in northwestern Europe possibly within three years? While the heather turning into tundra does not an ice age make, it sure doesn't sound appealing to me. I happen to like spring and summer, and I imagine the Brits prefer their four seasons to climatological catastrophe as well. Laszlo, BTW, is hardly alone in his concern: there seem to be a number of European scientists quite concerned about the declining health of the Gulf Stream.

Let's pray it's neither the day after tomorrow nor three years down the road, but that we can still prevent it.

-------- TITLE: The system works. (Don't look behind the curtain.) AUTHOR: Jon DATE: 7/22/2004 05:45:51 PM ID: 109051691401660158 ----- BODY:
A week ago a friend of mine was thrown into jail, charged with trespassing. He was innocent, but because his accuser complained loudly enough, he was tossed into jail, without an opportunity to meet with, let alone to be represented by counsel. Furthermore, he wasn't scheduled for a bond hearing (his first opportunity to have legal representation) for nearly three weeks. Fortunately, his family was able to have his hearing moved up, and at his bond hearing six days after his incarceration began, he was released as there was not a shred of evidence against him. In school, I was taught that part of what made America "the greatest country in the world" is that you're always "presumed innocent until proven guilty." At least in Virginia Beach, there's a very good chance you'll be judged guilty until proven innocent. My friend was actually rather lucky. Last night, I learned from a local community leader of the case of a teen-age boy who was incarcarated for six months before having a hearing. The enormity of this problem goes unnoticed because this problem is invisible to most of us. But the fact is that 1 out of 50 American adults is in jail or prison as you read this. Not does America have the world's largest prison population, but even our per capita rate of incarceration is the highest in the world». Thats' right. Not Saddam Hussein's Iraq. Not the Islamic Republic of Iran. Not the People's Republic of China. But the Land of the Free. So what do you do when your friend is in jail, a victim of false arrest? You try to visit him, and give him a book to cheer him and help pass the time. But if your friend is in the Virginia Beach Correctional Facility, it doesn't work like that. This isn't the friendly cell of Mayberry RFD. An inmate is only allowed vistors for a half-hour, once a week, through the glass. Books can not be delivered to prisoners by visitors. Books can not be shipped to prisoners from local bookstores. An inmate may only receive a book if it arrives directly from a publisher! (Too bad if it's our of print, as many spiritual classics are.) But of course, since the jail is taking on the role of an unofficial prison, there must be a library, right? Wrong. Daily exercise, like in a state penitentiary? It's weekly in Virginia Beach. Adequate facilities? Inmates sleep on the floor, 30 men to a 20 X 50-foot room. Incarceration rates are soaring for minor offenses, when both violent crimes and property crimes are at their lowest rates ever recorded». That's right. So why do you feel so afraid when the fact is you've never been safer from crime, at least not in the last thirty years? Start recognizing cultural lies and marketed fear around you. Open your eyes. Children have no choice but to accept the stories they are told about the world. But part of adulthood means seeking the truth. Spiritual awakening is not really about seeking bliss. It's about ending the deception which the mechanisms of our fears, desires, and conditioning feed us in the Matrix. Here are some of them: The system works. It's not perfect, but it's the best we can do. If you didn't deserve it, you wouldn't be there. We spend too much trying to rehabilitate people. Sure we bombed them, but it was for their own good. If we kill all the bad guys, all the bad guys will be gone. It's time to determine to discard lies and seek the truth. That's Jedi life in the Real World.
-------- TITLE: DFW FanForce - Realm of the Insane AUTHOR: Jon DATE: 7/19/2004 01:06:46 AM ID: 109021358799776398 ----- BODY:
This is the funniest Flash movie I've ever seen! Check it out! This Land
-------- TITLE: It's dry here AUTHOR: Jon DATE: 7/15/2004 07:28:00 AM ID: 108989186556890517 ----- BODY:
Almost everyone I know has periods of spiritual dryness. I certainly am not past that; I'm in such a period right now. There's a lot of doubt underneath the surface—"Is any of this helping? Am I stupid for seeking enlightenment? Isn't meditation just a waste?" I know these voices—and I think every mystic is familiar with them. Sometimes they seem more convincing than others. I think it's strange we don't talk more about our doubts and fears in the spiritual life. Instead, it's much easier to keep up the mask of certainty. Almost all of our spiritual leaders do; uncertainty cannot be countenanced. "The Bible says . . ." "You must believe . . . " I distrust such degrees of certainty now—too often a past certainty can lead to a present spiritual blindness. "God is on our side, we must destroy the evildoers, etc." And I'm not really distressed by the blankness of my spirit, or God's silence right now. I'm trying to make it a part of my practice, to listen to the doubts, and fears "little Jon" has, and smile at them and let them pass. It isn't always easy. In December last year, for a few weeks, it became a pretty rough time, with some feelings of despair. Many mystics, such as St. John of the Cross and Eckhart Tolle, have described "the dark night of the soul," a period (often long) of despair and depression before God breaks through upon their consciousness and instills a never-ending awareness of infinite grace. Fortunately (I think it's fortunate), I've never had to deal with that, although a close friend of mine has. But last December for me was more like a shadowed nap-time of the soul. And this is nothing compared to that. Everything is practice, every emotion, even the fears and doubts.
-------- TITLE: My first maritime rescue mission! AUTHOR: Jon DATE: 7/04/2004 11:50:54 PM ID: 108900239430003576 ----- BODY:
A friend of mine invited me along for some boating this morning. We took out a 23-foot fishing yacht, and enjoyed the waters of Hampton Roads between Norfolk and Hampton. It was choppy on the east side of the Hampton Roads bridge, but quite a bit calmer on the west side. I even had a shot at piloting, which was a thrill, because I had never done it before (and my friend is not much more experienced than I am!) After a while, clouds began rolling in, and we decided to head back. I was just beginning to hoist up the anchor when my friend saw a flare go up from a small boat about a quarter-mile to starboard. (God, I love talking like a sailor!) It turns out, though, that the Fourth of July is the worst day possible for a Roman candle red signal flare to get any notice. It took me several minutes to pull up the anchor through the mud (there's got to be an easier way, and no, this boat didn't have any kind of wench at all). Honestly, we were hoping that another boat might answer the call, but none did, so as soon as we were free, we sped off to help. A man, woman and boy were on the boat—they couldn't start their engine due to a dead battery. They had called a friend to come and get them, but we offered a tow, and they accepted. (Good thing, too. A thunderstorm had opened up, and visibility was down to about 200 yards. They would've been stuck for a long time.) It's hard to understand directions being shouted from another boat over the roar of a 200-horsepower outboard motor in a heavy downpour, but we soon reached their boat ramp in Portsmouth. They were grateful for our help, and we felt grateful to be able to give it. It was a wet, long ride back to Hampton through the rain, but it felt like such a wonderful way to celebrate the holiday. No, my first "rescue mission" didn't involve CPR or any heroics, just a neighborly tow, but hey, that's Jedi life in the real world.
-------- TITLE: I'm not Johnny Contemplative... AUTHOR: Jon DATE: 6/29/2004 07:37:02 AM ID: 108851623470920809 ----- BODY:
Last weekend, I got an email from a good friend about starting contemplative practice. (If you're not familiar with the word contemplative, it's the word that Christian friars, abbots, monks, nuns, and hermits have used throughout the centuries for meditation as communion with God.) He expressed the universal fears that almost everyone has about beginning serious inner spiritual work. (Am I ready? Nah, probably not. Right?) My response was a slightly more tactful wording of "stop kidding yourself and just do it." After I sent it, I realized: there I go again, sounding like the "holy spiritual adventurer" when I'm just an ordinary person, with all the same weaknesses as everyone else. Actually, I've done very little practice in the last several weeks myself, and I know full well, first hand, how desperately the ego wants to avoid the concentrated ray of meditation. (The flip side is that I also know how incredibly refreshing my spirit finds it.) I've done just enough spiritual work to recognize the ego—whether it's crying out in a friend's email or if it's in my response to a friend. A blog like this is simply dangerous, and I'm probably an idiot for starting it. I'm not awakened. This blog is not about being awake, but awakening, with all its messiness. There's a risk that when I share my spiritual experiences and insights, it will sound like: "Wow! the Frimster's such a holy guy!" Everything else will sound like I'm a typical single gay American nerd, which is exactly right. That's Jedi life in the real world.
-------- TITLE: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter. . . and Spring AUTHOR: Jon DATE: 6/24/2004 10:10:45 AM ID: 108808620938797336 ----- BODY:
monastery on the lakeSpring, Summer, Fall, Winter. . . and Spring» is the title of an enthralling movie I saw last night at the Naro». It's a beautiful Korean movie about an old monk and a young monk in a small Buddhist monastery, and it's almost as stunning as that other Korean movie about an old monk and a young monk in a small Buddhist monastery, 1989's gorgeous Why has Bodhi-dharma Left for the East?» The setting is magnificent and even surreal?the entire film is shot on a floating monastery in the middle of a lake and the surrounding hills. It's a poetic exploration of the cycles of life and seasons, following one person's life from boyhood to maturity. In Spring, he's a child monk being raised by an old monk in the monastery, learning valuable lessons in compassion. In Summer, he's a youth who ultimately leaves the monastery when he discovers the pleasures of love and sex, and in Fall, he returns to the monastery briefly as a young adult under surprising circumstances. In Winter, he returns to the monastery to stay, and in Spring, begins to raise a child at the monastery himself. Spring has a much more substantial story than Bodhi-dharma did. But it is not a Western story, and there are a few scenes which are baffling, and almost disturbing. Its vision of life is not at all sugar-coated?there is life and death, happiness and tragedy:?but it is hauntingly beautiful and profoundly moving. If you get a chance to, see it. You won't be disappointed.
-------- TITLE: More blogs coming AUTHOR: Jon DATE: 6/20/2004 10:43:14 PM ID: 108778621455298015 ----- BODY:
I'm getting to like blogging. I've decided to make the new version of the site blog-driven. It will give me a chance to post thoughts much more quickly and easily. For instance, I can share quick thoughts about a movie, without having to spend a hour or two crafting and publishing a review, unless it's really calling me to. I'm going to move my thoughts on Web design into a separate blog; I'll probably keep movie stuff in this blog, but you never know. And I'm thinking about a third blog on this site, to be announced.
-------- TITLE: Killer Rainbow AUTHOR: Jon DATE: 6/20/2004 08:33:39 PM ID: 10877789097120238 ----- BODY:
Friday night, I was walking after it had just stopped raining in Norfolk. The air was fresh and clear, and the sun had nearly set. Suddenly a wonderful, full-arc rainbow appeared in the eastern sky. I stopped and stood on the sidewalk, admiring it for several minutes. Then BAM! A single bolt of lightning split the sky. A car was coming out of the parking lot where I was, and a lady inside rolled down her window and gestured for me to come over. She warned me not to get struck by lightning while looking at the rainbow. I felt like shaking my head in disbelief... One (and only one!) lightning flash, in a city of hundreds of thousands, surrounded by taller buildings all around—really, my chances were pretty good! I also felt a touch of sadness that so many people are so needlessly frightened by things. We all could do with more rainbow-gazing and less worrying about lightning. But I was also touched that she cared enough to pass a friendly warning on to me, a complete stranger. So I smiled and nodded, and turned back to the fading rainbow as the car drove off. And as the sun set and the rainbow dissolved, I thought, if you've got to go, there are far worse ways than by watching a rainbow.
-------- TITLE: The skin of God AUTHOR: Jon DATE: 6/17/2004 07:10:57 AM ID: 108748467832446986 ----- BODY:
On Monday night, I took a walk. Or, more accurately, I thought I was going to take a walk, but it was more like the walk took me. As soon as I stepped out of my apartment, I was almost overwhelmed by the beauty of—everything. Fireflies—whether in the distance or up close, were like meteors blazing in my heart. I was filled with wonder at the blossoms on the trees, the beauty of the lights shining in houses, the ambient light of the night itself. And I was able to just shut my mind up pretty much, and just BE there. I found myself led to a playground, and I climbed on top of the monkeybars and sat and meditated... it was one of my best sits in ages. MyZen teacher» has been instructing me in shikantaza—"just sitting" meditation, which I've always found very difficult. It wasn't difficult Monday night, though! Sure, thoughts came and went, but I just stopped caring, and melted into sacred Presence. No strain or stress of "trying" to meditate. And peace just opened up. It seemed to me not just possible, but screamingly obvious that the world is just the skin of God, like a movie screen holding back just enough divine light to show us the entertaining/painful images, sensations, thoughts we call life. It was obvious to me that there is no true separation, but there is One only. During one summer in the late 80s, I had experiences like this rather frequently. (My poem Across a World is about a night like that.) I wonder what keeps us from seeing it, experiencing it more often. (And I suspect that a great many people don't have these insights at all.) I'd like to hear from you. Send me your comments about your experiences, or your thoughts about this.
-------- TITLE: Blog This! AUTHOR: Jon DATE: 6/17/2004 12:41:40 AM ID: 108744726939447610 ----- BODY:
It looks like Blogger is going to be my new blog solution. Their tags are easier for me to use and manipulate than Movable Type’s» were, and Blosxom» didn't even have a built-in bloggy interface to simplify FTP-ing. That's the whole point, guys! To be fair, there were a couple of poorly maintained, atrociously documented "plug-ins."» I tried both Sxtem and Blog Post, and over several nights, couldn't get either to work. Sxtem had the unexpected effect of requiring another blogging tool, w.bloggar», to actually do the work, and THAT one somehow connected me with a long-lost, forgotten, one-day blog I had created eight months ago at Blogger.» Serendipity at work? I gave it a shot. I had a problem getting Blogger's commenting to work for a while, until I discovered it was my error. (I had tried specifying detailed root server paths from the real root, but Blogger was only expecting addresses from the web-accessible part of my site.) Once fixed, Blogger worked like a charm, and it fits nicely into the layout of my new homepage. Blogger is not only free with unlimited blogs, but it makes emailing posts a snap, and if that weren't enough there's BlogThis!, a neat tool that fits on your browser and opens up a post with the address of a page and any text you've highlighted on it already populated. Great idea. Blogger Help : What is BlogThis!?»
-------- TITLE: There's nothing to think about! AUTHOR: Jon DATE: 4/16/2004 08:53:19 PM ID: 109054669958422213 ----- BODY:
It's very humbling for me when I come to understand something more deeply which I had thought I already understood well, realizing that I actually had no inkling. A great problem that I've had in the spiritual life is looking for "the secret," or "the answer." I suspect that many others, have this problem, too, especially intellectuals. I just realized that in spite of all my spiritual study and practice, including the "no-mind" of Zen, and the mental quietness of meditation, my mind was insisting on figuring out the answer to "no-mind," and trying to think of how to stop thinking! What a waste! In retrospect, it seems so ironic that even when I thought I understood, I never did understand the simple stuff that all the teachers say, "take no thought for tomorrow..." and "there is nothing to understand." Suddenly it hit me. Just as Jesus said, this is the "easy yoke". Spiritual awakening is not a strenuous realization of any concept, doctrine, belief, state, or anything at all to understand or hold on to. It's no more useful to understand God (as if it were possible) than to understand air, and it's just as useless to try to "hold on." Just breathe, and you are blessed!

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