An atheist, a monotheist, and a panentheist walk into a smoke-filled, crowded bar. The bartender is at the far end, but the atheist can’t see him through the haze. Finally the atheist declares to his monotheist friend, "There is no bartender." He turns away from the bar, and takes out a bottle of Dasani he brought with him.
The monotheist diligently looks for the bartender through the smoke, catches a glimpse of him, shouts and waves to get his attention, and orders a Scotch whiskey. After relishing a sip, he chides his atheist friend. "You foolish unbeliever," he says. "You don’t see the Bartender because you turned away, but just ask him, and he’ll hear you and give you anything you want. In just a moment I developed a personal relationship with the Bartender, and this fine Scotch is proof." He turns to the panentheist for additional support and asks, "isn’t that right?"
The panentheist says, "Who cares? I’m stoned just from breathing the air in here!"
I’m having a subversive Christmas. I’m thinking about the subversiveness of the Christmas story.
Spirituality is by its nature subversive… it sees significance and meaning beyond the material… that something is going on behind the "seen". Awakening (what I usually call mysticism) is even more subversive; it sees the interior (subversive!) way as of primary importance for the individual for experience God. The way of peaceful warriors is more subversive still: for us, it’s a challenge of (subversively!) transforming the world by allowing ourselves to be transformed.
Subversion, subversion, subversion! The arrival of the Teacher was announced to a few. Most simply weren’t interested. The presence of living Teachers today is of interest only to a few: most could care less. Yet the Teaching persists, and it’s so subversive, you can’t even grasp it with your mind. That which you think you know is the first thing that must be subverted for the seed to take root.
Nine months before this subversive birth in a smelly barn away from the eyes of the world, something else subversive happened. A messenger (angelos) privately, (subversively!) told Mary that she would become pregnant when "holy breath" (pneuma hagion) and "the power of the Highest" (dunamis hupistou) overshadowed her. (Lk. 1:26-36)
Mary immediately understood the subversive direction of this future birth:
He has shown the power of his arm,
He has routed the proud of heart.
He has pulled down princes from their thrones
and exalted the lowly.
The hungry he has filled with good things,
the rich sent empty away… (Lk 1. 51-53)
Just try saying that at a presidential inauguration, and see how long to takes the Secret Service to react! It’s subversive, and it’s not what the powers of this world want to hear, period.
So what will be conceived in you, when holy breath fills you, and your delusions are overshadowed by the Highest power? What or who will you give birth to?
Proving reincarnation among human beings is challenging and controversial. However, proving reincarnation (redigitalization?) among blogs is much simpler. Case in point: Eternal Awareness, one of the wisest and most beautiful blogs (or even websites) that I’ve ever come across, is now deceased. Its recorded bits and bytes are slowly going the way of all data, to fragmentation and decay as the server endlessly spins, satisfying the incessant requests for information to manifest in the blogosphere.
But… a new blog has appeared on the spinning wheel of the world-wide Web! It’s called One Word, and carries the same spirit, written by the same author. One Word is unique though, just as every person is unique. Where Eternal Awareness was sublime and serious, One Word is playful and funny, but no less insightful. It’s a cyberspace Shiva enjoying his divinity and merrily dancing on the demons of ignorance.
In this incarnation, Shiva answers to the moniker of my friend Mark Warner, whom many of you know from reading Eternal Awarness. Mark decided to revitalize his blogging through a digital death and rebirth, and revitalized it is. One Word will blitz you with blasts of creativity, humor, art, insight, and joy at brisk intervals. Enjoy!
Something that many Esperantists have to contend with is the perception that a planned language is somehow useless, something on a par of Pig Latin. (One of these is a co-worker and friend of mine, who often reminds me of this opinion.)
But consider this… On Friday, I IM-ed a complete stranger in a foreign country and we chatted for an hour completely in Esperanto… After introducing ourselves, we discussed our respective blogs, programming languages such as PHP and C#, languages in general, mystical perspectives in Buddhism and Christianity, personal experiences and viewpoints, etc.
What’s remarkable about this, is I’ve only studied Esperanto seriously for about five-and-a-half months. If I had to guess, I’d say I’ve spent at most 120 hours actually concentrating on the language, and probably less than that. Although I made many minor mistakes, I was well-understood by my fellow speaker (whom I now consider a friend). This was confident and easy communication that enabled me to say whatever I wanted to. Esperanto enables me to have the ability to communicate easily with any of the hundreds of thousands throughout the world who have taken the time to learn it, whether they’re Dutch, Spanish, Brazilian, Chinese, Japanese or Iranian… And that investment is miniscule compared to what’s required even with relatively "easy" Indo-European languages like Spanish.
Last year, I studied Spanish for twice as long as I’ve studied Esperanto, and I was nowhere near having the ability to converse easily about anything… I’ll return to studying Catalan and Spanish soon, and I expect the experience of attaining proficiency in Esperanto will help greatly in learning those languages more quickly and easily. (Numerous studies have shown that to be the effect.) My suspicion is that it will go like this:
T(Esperanto + other language) < T(learning other language alone)