The most beautiful blog on the Web

…is back!   Mark Walter’s original blog, Eternal Awareness, is back after a very long hiatus, at a new URL: http://eternalawareness.com.

When I say that his is the most beautiful blog on the Web, I don’t say it lightly.  I mean his IS, and at all levels.  It’s illustrated like no other, with photographic and graphic art often blending the real and the surreal, mirroring the interpenetration of the spiritual and physical worlds often sensed by those on the Path.

But its beauty isn’t pixel-deep. Mark’s blog is beautiful in its communication as well.  Mark writes both sensitively and sensibly about the most inexpressible things, and transcends the language and conceptual problems that have been snaring people embarking into these realms for thousands or years. Whether you’re theistic, non-theistic, panentheistic, or don’t know or care about theological positions, Eternal  Awareness can communicate to you.  I’m not talking about a watered-down, “something for everyone” offering.  I mean everything/no-thing from the One, for the One in all.

The third way in which his blog’s beauty shines, is by the fact that it’s Mark’s blog.  And it’s his soul that will be meeting yours through his writing and insights.  And that, my friends, is a very, very beautiful thing.

Freedom

Seven years ago, I made the bodhisattva vow. And now, I’m feeling it. There is nothing more I want to do with my life than to set people free. Everywhere I go, to whomever I speak, I see bondage and brainwashing.

—This is who you are.
This is the way it is.
This is what you should do.
—Why?
—Because I / your Mom / your Father / the teacher / our minister / the pope / the Bible / the Koran / the law / the president said so.”
—Oh. Okay.

The dialogue continues like that until the only change for most people, is that the “Why?” stops being asked. At that point, you enter the mind-made cell.

Why do you stay in prison when the door is so wide open?
—Rumi/Barks

The irony is no one can free another… all we can do is inspire them to freedom.

Announcing RockOm.net

RockOm.net(Time for absolutely shameless plug!) Well, after months of work, it’s here… RockOm.net is now live! I’m proud to be a part of the RockOm team. RockOm is an online music community with a spiritual focus… but inclusive of all musics, and all spiritualities, from rock, Gospel and bluegrass, to Hindu kirtans, and Sufi chants, and all the yearning, questing, and questioning in-between.

The bottom line is that if you have any love of music, or any interest in the spiritual aspects of life, you are who we built RockOm for. So check it out, listen to our podcast, download our featured track, read and comment on the articles, and join in the discussions that are beginning or start a new one… And oh yeah, it’s OK to tell your friends and help us get the word out, too!

BTW… RockOm is in “Beta,” which in English roughly means “you ain’t seen nothin’ yet!” We have big plans for it and really would love for you to be a part of it!

Into the wild

Into the Wild

I could write a thousand-word review about this movie. I could call it the Walden of our times. I could tell you how it is an ode to the beauty of America as The Constant Gardener was to that of Africa and Spring, Fall, Summer, Winter… and Spring was to that of Asia.

I could tell you that its five chapters, Rebirth, Adolescence, Manhood, Family, and The Getting of Wisdom, form a remarkable portrait of renunciation and self-discovery in the mystical journey. I could tell you how it reminded me of my teacher’s wise counsel to me when I was “hell-bent” on getting enlightenment as soon as possible. (And, of course, I just did.)

But there’s something about profound experiences that demands a restraint of the tongue, a savoring of the sublime, and a respect for silence, so that the fewer the words, the better.

You see, watching Into the Wild is a sacred act. It is prayer. And, as prayer, there is nothing to say afterwards but “Thank You,” or “Amen.” Thanks to Trev for pointing me to this inspiring, but insightful and honest examination of one man’s incredible journey.

You think that…

I recently saw a video of Eckhart Tolle teaching at the Findhorn Foundation in Scotland. One of the stories he shared was of another teacher, Byron Katie, who was visiting some patients in a cancer ward. She stopped in a chatted with a very depressed woman who had a massive tumor on one of her legs.  The prognosis wasn’t good; she was probably going to die.

Byron Katie asked her why she was so depressed and said, "I don’t see what the problem is."

Needless to say, that angered and depressed the patient even more.  "Here," she said, throwing off the sheet, "Look! My right thigh is twice the size of my left!"

"Oh, " Byron Katie said, "Now I understand. The problem is that you think that your right thigh should be the same size as your left!"

And for the first time in months, the woman with the cancer laughed.

Isn’t it interesting how insignificant most problems shrink when viewed in just the light of the present moment without  that odd imaging we call the  "future?"

Journaling

I’ve kept a journal at several key times in my life, but never really threw myself into it until 1998, when I read The Artist’s Way, by Julia Cameron. If you’ve never read the book, well, you should. I don’t want to go into my "frimmin‘" superlatives here, but The Artist’s Way is a book that truly changed my life. It’s largely a workbook, filled with exercises to do. Unlike other spiritual self-improvement workbooks,such as Brezhny’s Pronoia, these exercises aren’t meant to entertain you by reading about them… they are really meant to be done, and the more of them you do, the more you will discover about yourself and the more you open up to Isness.

The primary exercise of The Artists’s Way is journaling, specifically a style of journaling Cameron calls "morning pages," writing out exactly three pages by hand, at the very beginning of the day, keeping the pen moving… no censorship, no editing, no revision, no effort to record the previous day’s events. The only goals were complete honesty and stream-of-consciousness itself. Morning pages is essentially letting your soul "take a dump" just as your body does. 

As for the other exercises, a group of friends and I regularly met to discuss them and do them. More often than not, though, I was the only one who did them, and (surprise!) I was the one who benefited most. The effects were tremendous. Really, the me of of 2007 2008 is pretty different from the me of 1998. The Artist’s Way had a part to play in that.

After a year or so, I began doing the morning pages less faithfully, and although I still journaled sporadically, when I started blogging, my private journaling virtually came to a standstill.

One of the reasons why I’ve been blogging less, is that I’ve started journaling again. My style of journaling now isn’t morning pages, per se, but it is just as uncensored and spontaneous. What I do now is carry my oh-so-trendy little Moleskine notebook with me almost everywhere I go. When waiting for someone or something, I have time to write a little. After a meal, I often have time to write a page or so. (Moleskine pages are pretty small). Sometimes I’ll make several little entries in a day. Other times, I’ll go several days between entries.

Is it dangerous to keep my most private thoughts and feelings in a concrete form where they could easily be read by others?  Not really. Since I started journaling again, it’s been in Esperanto!

Demiurge

Sometimes I think I really must be mad for keeping this blog. Not just because I’m trying to write about what can’t be written, but to do it publicly! Yet, when I feel that no one can possibly understand what I’m saying, seems to be when people understand me best. It’s strange, but freeing. So here’s a teensy story about something I did recently and what I learned from it.

On New Year’s Eve, I happily cursed "God." (And happily told him I loved him too, but that’s another story.) What was interesting was the rightness I immediately felt about it. For I while, I considered this the union of opposites, yin and yang, action and rest, blessing and blasphemy. God encompasses all, nicht wahr? But the word Demiurge came to mind soon after.

What was the "God" I lost when I had the "empty holodeck" experience?

What was the "God" I wanted to be free of?

What was the "God" Meister Eckhart prayed God to destroy?

If there’s one useful concept from Gnosticism that applies to those on the path today, it might be the Demiurge, though not in a literalistic way as many of the Gnostics apparently did. Gnostics believed there was a false God, the Demiurge, who erroneously thought himself the Source of all, and who demanded worship and sacrifice. Christ came to show us the way to the Father and escape the Demiurge. There’s something to that… False gods are the greatest bane to humanity. All concepts of God tend to be Demiurge.

Cast off concepts of God, and what is left? Nothing that can be imagined, nothing that can be named, but only what is always there, all the time.

It’s easy to show (facetiously, at least) that atheists and monotheists and Zennists believe in exactly same true Creator.

Atheist: God doesn’t exist. (Nothing created the Universe)
Theist: What came before God? Nothing. (Nothing is the ultimate Source).
Zennist: Emptiness is the true nature of everything. (Nothing is ultimate reality.)

There something about that Nothing. Even atheists, monotheists, and Zen practitioners can see that Nothing or No-thing is the real Power, the real One, ever-present, and with all the power to make Everything appear. Images and forms, mental or physical, are not that.

The God who can be cursed
Is not the eternal God
(with apologies to Lao Tzu)

An atheist, a monotheist, and a panentheist

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!"