Welcome back, Mark!

There’s at least one good thing about a wonderful blogger taking a hiatus from Web: like all things it tends to be impermanent.

Mark Walter of Eternal Awareness is back. Mark’s blog has struck me as one of the wisest and most honest personal expressions on the Web, and one of the most beautiful as well.

Please stop by and treat your soul to the company of this fellow traveler. And it might be nice to leave a comment?especially since his last 100 comments have been spam!

At peace in a world of conflict

So much drama in the world! The strange thing is that, other than a very strong wish for peace, I’m very unmoved by it. I feel in a way, almost like Ashtavakra: The world and all its swirling storms are illusion, there is only peace. It’s like the posts that I’ve written against “belief” in countries, and “identification” with religions and other distinctions, are starting to take hold here.

Not to long ago, I would’ve rejected a peace like this on principle (interesting how our principles destroy peace, __nicht wahr?__): How dare I not get worked up! The world’s aflame from Israel and Lebanon to Afghanistan, “my” country’s in the thick of it, and Syria and Iran add major fuel to the fire. With that state of affairs, surely I’ve got a _responsibility_ to be disturbed, don’t I?

What about the other side of the coin? Should I dance and sing because a major terrorist plot was foiled? (Yes, I _am_ very glad that more massive suffering was apparently prevented. But I’m not fooled into forgetting where the _real_ battle is.)

So mostly I’m unmoved. I see the dramas that the ego’s identifications, defenses, aggressions, resentments and so forth make on the grand scale, and I can recognize them for what they are. And now, instead of feeling guilty about refusing the invitations to lose focus, I feel more certain that this _detachment_ from the blame game, the “me” game, the “us” game, the “them” game, and all the mess, is a significant key to peace.

Detachment isn’t a lack of love. It’s non-reactive love, or rather, the environment that allows natural love to flourish. Ego-based love falls easily into the karmic traps. (The bastards killed my sister on 9/11 ? I’m going to Afghanistan to pay them back!)? As natural as such a reaction is, it is a reaction. And at least one result is that al-Qaeda has gotten a lot more battle experience as the drama of action and reaction continues.

How to stop the drama? Shall I organize massive protests and marches for peace? Sometimes, and in some places, that seems to work. More often than not, I suspect, it creates more conflict, and hardens people into defending the positions they’ve already taken.

In ??A New World??, Eckhart Tolle discusses how personal awakening contributes to global awakening. One person is at peace, he can dampen the reactivity of others. Presence ? deliberate, calm, presence, extends outward, and not just through natural means, either. The butterfly effect can happen. “(ext)Kitabu Roshi”:http://soulsword.org writes in his new book, ??Soul to Soul?? that while you enjoy a cup of coffee, you can influence a vote in Congress between your first sip and your last.

Nonduality seems madness to those who haven’t had a glimpse yet. Who is dying in Lebanon, Israel, and Iraq? Me, just me. But even more than that, no one. Nothing has happened. Things are not as they appear. There is no world to disturb my peace. And there is no “my” peace, anyway. Hell, I’m not even here!

Want a non-mystical explanation? Chris Dierkes is back and blogging, and has written an insightful essay on the Integral World website: Dr. Persianlove, or how I learned to stop worrying and love the Iranian bomb.

Imagine (interlude)

I went to a peformance of The Mystical Arts of Tibet by monks from the Drepung Lobsang monastery in India. (A wonderful experience, by the way. If you ever get the chance, go see it.) After the performance, I went to the table in the foyer where monks were selling crafts, malas, and books to support the monastery. Among the titles: Imagine All the People: A Conversation with the Dalai Lama on Money, Politics, and Life As It Could Be.

More of us are Imagining!

Posts in this series: pt. 1, pt. 2, pt. 3, interlude, conclusion.

Time for a change

When I returned to blogging in April, I switched my publishing engine from “(ext)Movable Type”:http://www.sixapart.com/movabletype/ to “(ext)WordPress”:http://wordpress.org. I never got around to really integrating my static pages with my blog. In fact, I’ve simply used various WP themes (such as the “desert” theme and now this one) for my home page, while my interior pages continued to use my own very different (and increasingly dated) styles.

It’s time to fix that… and merge WP functionality with some new CSS of my own. So, expect things to be in flux. (As if they were’nt already! Anicca, anicca.

Meditation on “Imagine” pt. 3

Imagine there?s no countries
It isn?t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace…

“And no religion too” has a been a difficult part of the song for me until recently. One of the key points is understanding what is meant by “religion.”

It’s often pointed out that “religion” comes from the Latin for “to bind again.” In a positive sense, this is _repair_, binding us together again, making us whole, building community, creating moral underpinnings, providing purpose and hope, establishing a base upon which to reach out to others, and at its very best, providing an entrance through which one can experience the numinous.

In a negative sense, though, binding is bondage, creating vast arrays of mental garbage that prevents many _from_ discovering God, themselves, and full human life. It also implies separation.

Imagine (no pun intended) a stick bound in a bundle with other sticks. They become a group, a unit. Yet, in being bound together, they are also bound away from everything else. A single stick loses its fractured “identity” as a simple stick, and becomes a part of something larger than its small broken self, yet smaller that the whole it is inherently part of (all the wood on Earth).

This, in miniature, reflects the deficiency of “identity” given by the rebinding of religion. It’s excellent as far as lifting the individual to the next higher step, yet the very bonds that lifted him up to that point might inhibit him from being able to reach the next step beyond that. If so, he may identify with the religion, and create an identity from it. Our religious identities are as flimsy as our national identities, though they seem not to be at first. After all, I can have an experience of God, but does anyone have an experience of “country?” I don’t think so.

At times in my life, I have imagined (pun intended) that I was a Baptist, a Methodist, a Charismatic, a Lutheran, a Messianic gentile, a member of the Christian Church Disciples of Christ, or a Catholic. Since my first experience of Christ, I’ve imagined I was “a Christian.” Yet Jesus only asked people to follow him, not to “become Christians!”

The truth is I am a human being, and as far as I can tell, even that apparent condition is only in effect until I die. I am spirit, or consciousness, or life. In Judeo-Christian terms, I’m made in “the image of God,” imago Dei. Other religions have other terms. Whatever it’s called (and it’s important to not attach to any particular language), that is the only thing that is unchangeable.

Yet the identification with a religion has nothing to do with the knowledge of God. The former gives the language and interpretation, the mental filling, that comes before and after those sacred moments of knowing. And the labels are purely products of the mind. No doctor has ever identified a Muslim headache or a Catholic T-cell. The Baptist gene remains stubbornly beyond discovery, and the Daoist dermis seems to be a myth! Yet there’s no shortage of people to tell you that you “are” Shi’a or Anglican or Jodo Shin Buddhist, or whatever.

Imagine there’s no religion…

Since the experience I had in January, I can. It’s much simpler than religion. Simpler than any concept of God or nirvana. Simpler than a single word It’s just:


Posts in this series: pt. 1, pt. 2, pt. 3, interlude, conclusion.

Is the Buddha a recognized Christian saint?

Saint Siddhartha Gautama, pray for us!

Sure, I’ve recognized the Buddha as a saint for years, but imagine my surprise when I received an email from a reader today pointing out that “Saint Josaphat” is a figure derived from the story of Siddhartha Gautama.

I decided to check it out, and found these links:

Check out the Wikipedia article on Saint Josaphat.

Still, I was wondering if this might be Christo-Buddhist wishful thinking, until I saw this article in the 1917 Catholic Encyclopedia, which simply affirms that the story of Josaphat is a Christianized version of the Buddha’s story. The article nowhere calls Josaphat a saint, which leads to the question, did he actually become a Catholic saint or not, and if so, is he still?

The email I received stated that the Catholic Church “proclaimed” him a saint, and he was later reaffirmed as such by St. John of Damascus (aka the Hermit, aka Damascene) who died in the mid-8th century. Technically speaking he certainly wasn’t “proclaimed” a saint. Proclamation, the culmination of the rigorous process of canonization, had not yet been developed by the Church. Saints in the first millennium were recognized by popular acclamation, and it does seem he was regarded as a saint, with a feast day of November 27. And here at the Online Medieval and Classical Library is the story of Barlaam and Ioasaph, attributed to St. John of Damascus.

Apparently his feast day was removed from the Catholic liturgical calendar in 1969, but that technically does not “de-saint” a saint—it merely de-emphasizes them. (And sometimes not very successfully; just google St. Philomena or St. Christopher to see that devotion to those saints persists contrary to Church efforts.)

Of course, all this ultimately is irrelevant. Is the Buddha a saint? Duh!

Peaceful Warrior

Peaceful Warrior poster

I just got out of the Naro’s showing of Peaceful Warrior, based on Dan Millman’s novel, Way of the Peaceful Warrior. It’s simply *perfect.* Finally, a film with overt teaching on the path, that succeeds on all levels and by any standards. I’ll write a full review this weekend.

In the meantime, let me say, SEE THIS MOVIE! Bring your friends. Bring your enemies. Just don’t miss this.

Ashtavakra Gita

In the “(ext)WisdomReading”:http://groups.yahoo.com/group/WisdomReading group, we’re beginning the Ashtavakra Gita, one of my favorite of the world’s Scriptures despite the fact that it’s relatively little-known.

Here’s a except from a recent post I made there:

The challenge with ??Ashtavakra?? is probably in being able to take it literally enough. It is nonduality, completely and totally uncompromised, presented plainly, in every verse. God is all that is, forms are part of _maya_, “the magic show.” ??Ash??. considers the world false, and [unlike the Bhagavad Gita] has no use for war, caste, or anything that divides the One:

v.2b Seek the nectar of truth,
of love and forgiveness,
of simplicity and happiness.

v.5a: You have no caste
No duties bind you.

To people who haven’t had an experience of nonduality, Ashtavakra’s use of the word “you” might require a little explanation. At times, ??Ash??. addresses the egoic self, the familiar self, the “you” you think you are, as in v. 1-6b. At other times, “you” is “the Self,” the One being that really is, no matter how many bodies and minds there seem to be, as in v.6c:

You are everywhere,
forever free.

It’s not hard to tell the difference. ??Ash??. constantly contrasts the illusion of forms and the limited “you,” with the boundless Self.

12 is another verse worth remarking upon:

The Self looks like the world
But this is just an illusion.

The Self is everywhere.


That’s an interesting departure from the usual pictures given to explain pantheism and “panentheism”:/spirituality/biblical-panentheism/. Panentheists sometimes say that the world is the “Body of God.” This would give some real substance 🙂 to the physical universe. ??Ash??, of course, doesn’t, and says that God “looks like” the world but that even that is illusion. ??Ash??. says the Self is Everywhere not “everything” because from his viewpoint, there are no “things.”

Remember, you’re welcome to join us.

There I am

You know the guy who never remembers where he parked his car, and has to survey the parking lot before he finds it? That’s me.

Now, I don’t identify with my car… But recently, I had that experience and when I saw my car, thought “Oh, _there_ I am!” This has probably happened hundreds of times, but this time, I realized how odd it is to see a car and call it yourself. (Really, I *don’t* identify with my car!)

And yet in non-duality, there is no car and no self. Maybe someday I’ll look at another person and say, “Oh, _there_ I am!”