Saturday, October 23, 2010

When I was quite young religious teachers informed me that I was guilty of “Original Sin” and that the rest of my life would have to be spent making up for that “sin”. They never seemed to nail it down, though, except for stories about Adam and Eve and Serpents and Apples. Just what exactly did I do that could be such a grievous evil deed without being aware of it? This idea of “Original Sin” cannot be valid unless one can elucidate the nature of this heinous act.
Well, here is my explanation and I defy anyone to supply a better one:
The process of being born is one of separation physically and also spiritually.
By residing for a time in a physical body that requires almost total identity we immediately assume that we are separate from the rest of the universe. Obviously we are not actually separate, but that’s the ubiquitous impression that colors every aspect of our self-awareness. The conviction that we are somehow separate is the
“Original Sin.”
It is not evil. It is natural. It is the challenge that is presented by our having chosen to experience this existence. Inevitably we will forego this physical existence and then there will be nothing more to what we are other than the non-physical (spiritual) aspect of our being. Please accept for the moment that each of us is a spiritual (non-physical) being just for the sake of argument. I will treat the validity of this position subsequently.
For now simply ask: ‘What am I other than all this that I know I am not?’

What does the word ‘forgive’ mean? If we apply the meaning of ‘fore’ as in foregone, foresworn,
forethought, etc, we get the idea of before. So that forgiveness somehow means that something is given before
the need for it arises.
Just what could be given to us before the need arises by the Creator of the universe?

Why, everything!

I believe that everything we need has already been supplied and is waiting to be realized. This is the idea embodied in the ‘Law of Attraction’ that has become so popular recently.
When bills keep coming in and income doesn’t cover everything it is difficult to believe that these
needs are already paid, but that’s what it takes to survive when the lack appears overwhelming. One must remember that the tools that worked yesterday when all was well still work today regardless of their resale value. Our economy is a function of the confidence people have in the government. Tough times mean that it’s time to change the government and that is something the forefathers of the United States foresaw. The Declaration of Independence embodies statements to the fact that the people have the right and the ability to change the government when it no longer serves its constitutional functions. We have come to a crossroad
internationally and we must choose between freedom defined in terms of responsibility and license defined in terms of dependence. The former supports the individual and the latter supports the collective.
I favor freedom because the problem of separation must be addressed by the individual and that it is the most important challenge one faces in this life. Identification with a group further enforces the perception of separation from the rest of the universe by the false empowerment of ‘membership.’ For example, joining a club, or a union or a church automatically interposes a label that separates those so labeled from all others who do not share that label. Labels are barriers that complicate our relationships. Now some of them are necessary and beneficial, but words are tools and, as such can be used creatively or destructively.
Now the concept of freedom is directly related to the idea of free will. Free will is not a matter of
permission from authority. Free will is the quality of creativity that resides in each of us by nature. It is closely akin to the universal creativity that is the basis of Reality.
Actually we are using free will all the time to define our experience. Even if we believe we are helpless in changing our situation it is the application of free will that has taken us to this pass. In order to reshape our experience in life to a more pleasing and fulfilling one we must first acknowledge the first aspect of freedom as responsibility. If one allows others to be responsible for the outcomes of his life, then he is relinquishing his freedom to them. No longer can he make the choices that steer his life. Over the years we have allowed responsibility to be redefined as an onus that one needs to avoid in order to have an enjoyable life. After all, immediate pleasure is always more attractive than .working hard now for some reward on down the line.
We are taught by our parents from the start to obey their authority, but rarely taught why it is efficacious to do so.
Therefore, when we reach the age of rebellion, it is easy to assume that freedom is freedom from
responsibility rather than the manifestation of having assumed responsibility. A dispassionate view of our society today readily discloses our collective abhorrence of responsibility. That’s a mistake we’ve been nurtured to make...and for which we are paying.


How can each of us wrest fulfillment from the dire situations we are told are befalling us?
The answer is to reject what others tell you and begin to trust that invisible forgiveness that is as real as the atoms of which everything seems to be comprised. It starts with us looking at ourselves in a mental mirror as a self-creative manifestation of the rest of the universe. That means that we first recognize that the universe is an incalculably vast oneness. Diversity is simply an illusion manifested by our creativity. Our power lies in our ability to visualize. We can dream awake and by doing so we make our expectations manifest, literally. Whether we believe that or not, it is exactly what we do day in and day out throughout our lifetimes.

When we look at other people and suppose that we know how they feel and what they are going through in life we are actually imagining how we would feel and what we would be experiencing given their situations as we understand them to be.

How can it be any other way?

So the key to personal power is within each of us whether we are aware of it or not…whether we
use it in a coherent manner, or not. Our attitudes, expectations, beliefs…all those subjective, inexpressible impressions that become associated into a cohesive feeling about what we are and who we are and about the rest of the world are all the result of our own free will manifesting our experience. Can anyone imagine more realistic power than that?

So far I’ve been generalizing about the individual as an all powerful entity separate from all other such entities and yet I am also talking about our need to overcome the conviction of separation that pervades our awareness. That sounds self contradictory, but it isn’t.

The Golden Rule, gravity and Karma are all expressions of universal laws. None can be broken.
Actually the law of Karma and the Golden Rule are expressions of the same principle and both are essentially expressions of the law of attraction, too. They are all as pervasive and inevitable as gravity. To some that is a great comfort and to others it seems a threat of unspeakably horrendous consequences. Attitudes and expectations prevail.

To get what you want, give it.

If one wishes to be more intelligent, then one should recognize intelligence in others.

If one wants love, then one must love others.

This fundamental reciprocity works on all levels of endeavor and aspiration. So that one’s situation can be ameliorated simply by recognizing the fulfillment of such a situation in others. The trick is in knowing exactly what the needs are. I submit that they are always mental needs and not physical. I say this because I assume that the basis of reality is non-physical.

Now if the physical universe is the manifestation of mental activity, then the mind must be a precedent agent. Let me demonstrate that as briefly as words allow:


Well, here we are sitting in the classroom as our theoretical professor attempts to demonstrate the composition of the physical universe in the simplest possible terms. He marks a small dot on the blackboard and then gazes about the class expectantly.

“This dot that I’ve drawn on the board represents a point. However it is not a very good likeness because a point really does not exist. It is only a theoretical figure for the sake of explanation. Now, if I move this point in a
direction I get a line segment.”

The chalk makes a screech as he draws in across the slate.

He continues, “This line segment is also theoretical and, therefore imaginary. We recognize it as a figure of one dimension.” He pauses and then gazes about the classroom to note that we are all in rapt attention.

“Now if I move this line in a direction I have a plane.” At this point he completes the figure of a
trapezoid on the blackboard. Here we have a two dimensional object, but it, too, has no real existence. It is simply a theoretical figure.”

Again he casts his professorial gaze about the classroom just to make sure he’s still there.

“Now, if I move this plane in another direction,” his chalk seems to take on a life of its own as he
completes a picture resembling a lopsided cube, “we arrive at a three dimensional figure.”

Obviously the professor is overjoyed at having created something “real”, but his glee is short-lived because he must admit that this three dimensional figure must remain theoretical until it has duration.

“Yes,” he admits, “even a three dimensional figure can only be theoretical until it exists in time. the fourth dimension.”

At this point a shrill bell signals the end of the class session and we find ourselves in the locker room getting ready for Phys Ed.

One problem that our geometry prof. failed to address is that time has no physical component that can be isolated. Time is not perceivable except as relative motion in space which has been demonstrated to consist of purely theoretical terms only. In order to perceive the existence of time there must be a fifth dimension.

I choose to call that dimension ‘memory’.
Now the existence of memory implies mental activity which requires a sixth dimension that
could be called intelligence.

And that would require a seventh dimension that could be called ‘consciousness’.

And so it goes with each dimension more inclusive of the previous, the implication is that there must be infinite dimensions.

From this, one must conclude that the basis of reality resides in dimensions far more inclusive than the first four that are normally considered the basis of the physical universe.

To me, the contrarian, the assumption that the basis of reality is physical just does not make sense.

If that “fundamental” position is not borne by logic, then what else can I accept as granted from the authorities?

Suffice it to say that the only sensible explanation for the universe in my cosmology is that some vast intelligence creates it and that everything we experience, including ourselves is a manifestation of this mental activity. I want to be as intelligent as I can be and so, by the Golden Rule, I grant that all that I experience physically and non-physically is intelligent somehow.
Now because intelligence is a quality, it cannot be truly defined in terms of quantity. It is like love or beauty, the result of mental acuity, a non-physical attribute.

So, in order to be personally empowered we must rely on our own ability to create in our minds the outcomes we wish to experience more fully in life.

To do this should be easy for an artist. All it requires is a modicum of relaxation and the ability to
visualize with the inner senses and the imagination to realize our most beneficial outcome. To do this in the face of seemingly contrary evidence requires courage and stubbornness.
What creative person can there be without a liberal share of those attributes?

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

The Boxer's Portrait

This is the story of a professional boxer’s wife and how her life’s dream was finally fulfilled.

Eva and Rodrigo had known each other from their earliest childhood. So it was fitting that as they came of age they fell in love and were married.

Rodrigo fell into the profession of a boxer for he was small in stature and had learned at an early age that he must fight in order to survive the bullying that accompanied the rites of youth and coming of age in his village.

He was fast afoot and had learned to punch with authority. He was purposefully aggressive in the ring. Apart from fighting for a living he was a mild and gentle fellow by nature. He also had acquired a deep faith along the Catholic walk in keeping with the major traditions of his village.

Eva was also religious, but she was somewhat rebellious and often questioned the more rigid pronouncements of the nuns in her school. She loved Rodrigo most deeply and was always pleased to gaze at his face adoringly.

“If only I could paint his picture,” she thought “then everyone could see how beautiful he is in my eyes.”

But it was not her fate to reproduce his likeness. She had not been blessed with the talent of an artist. Apart from that unfulfilled desire to paint Rodrigo’s portrait she was content to keep his house in order and to love him in every way she could.

As Rodrigo’s career progressed he was required to travel often, for his reputation grew with his winning record. For five years they had increasing prosperity with Rodrigo gaining rankings in his weight class and then moving up from flyweight to bantamweight. He trained hard and appreciated the growing rewards his successes bestowed.

Sometimes after a fight Rodrigo’s face was swollen from the punches of his opponent. Often his muscles were sore for a week or more after a fight. Eva attended to him dutifully with all her love. They enjoyed a relatively simple life, but it was more frequently interrupted by Rodrigo’s manager and trainer demanding more of his time.

“That is the price we must pay for our success.” Rodrigo would say to Eva. “It is my job.”

Eva accepted their life, but she wanted more. She knew Rodrigo wanted a son, but it seemed that she was barren. It was a growing sadness in her that she could not conceive a child. Nor could she produce the picture of her love. Both of these failures beset her thoughts until she began to pine for her lack.

She bravely hid her sorrow from Rodrigo, but sometimes he would be on the road for months at a time. Neighbors often came by with bits of news about Rodrigo they had clipped from the newspapers. As his fame grew Eva felt increasingly less relevant in his life. Rodrigo’s trainer refused to allow Eva to travel with him.

“We can’t have any distractions, Chica,.” He would say. “It’s all about focus.”

And so Eva’s life went until Rodrigo’s frequent absence and her dearth of purpose grew until it was a gnawing pain in her chest. Her neighbors came by often to help, but she became progressively more sickly and sorrowful.

“Such a pity,” they would pronounce to each other and shake their heads. “…so pretty and young to be sick like that.”

Father Diaz visited when Eva’s neighbors reported to him that she had confined herself to her bed and would not stop crying.

He sat by Eva’s bed and prayed with her. He asked her for the cause of her pain.

“My Rodrigo’s success has stolen him from me and I have no baby,.” She complained. “And I have no ability to paint his portrait,” she sobbed. “I close my eyes and I can see his face as clearly as I can see yours, but then when I open my eyes his image is gone and I can only stare at my door to see nothing..”

She was desolate. Nothing Father Diaz could think of seemed to help.

“I must get Rodrigo back here,” he thought. “Perhaps prayers and his presence will snap her out of this terrible depression.”

Rodrigo returned as soon as he could. He was terribly distressed to see Eva’s debilitated state. He was perplexed that she should be so unhappy when he was ranked in the top ten of his weight class. “Does she no longer love me?” he asked himself. And he determined to do even better to rekindle her love.

She saw the shadow of doubt veil his eyes as he leaned over her.

“Oh, Mother Mary, he no longer loves me because I have not given him a son.” Reason left her as she concluded he had rejected her. “I can only love him, until I die.”

Rodrigo felt impotent to help. It seemed to him that she had somehow stopped loving him. “I don’t know why she rejects me so,” he thought, “but I will fight harder to be her hero again.”

And so Rodrigo went back to the training camp and Eva lay in her bed weeping and staring silently at the door.

When she closed her eyes she saw Rodrigo’s face as always. Every contour and line was there as if indelibly etched on the inside of her eyelids. She remembered happy times when they were both filled with exuberance for the life they had chosen to forge together.

But when she opened her eyes there was only the door at the end of her room. The grain of the wood formed a patternless weave of light and dark with a knot that looked a little like an eye in the middle.

Eva slept fitfully for a while and when she woke and opened her eyes the knot in the door was definitely an eye. She could even make out the lashes and the little wrinkles in the corner. “It’s just my imagination,” she thought, “Perhaps I have a fever, but that sure looks like an eye looking back at me.”

The door fascinated her from then on. In her mind the grain in the wood was rearranging itself until a vague outline of a head began to show.

Eva grabbed that thought with the tenacity of a drowning man grasping a life line.A new idea struck her, “If I can remember Rodrigo’s face so vividly with my eyes closed, then surely I can imagine his face in the grain of the door with my eyes open.”

With that in mind her sadness somehow lifted. She stared fixedly at the door and, sure enough, Rodrigo’s features began to emerge before her eyes. Bit by bit she was willing her imagination to create the image she had longed to create for so many years.

“Of course, this is only my fever and my desire making me think this is happening.” She thought. “No one else will see Rodrigo’s face there.” Still she kept looking at the door and willing the image of her husband to show itself. Minute by minute the details become more and more distinct to her eye.

As she continued this process her sorrow vanished. No longer did she feel her life empty and meaningless. By the end of the day the image on the door was as complete as any photograph. Eva could even see the little scar above his left eyebrow and the way the corners of his mouth turned up slightly in the hint of a grin that was his customary expression. She began to feel a peculiar joy envelope her as the image emerged on the wood completely.

Her strength had returned and she wondered why she had felt bad before. After all, her Rodrigo was becoming a famous boxer and she was his wife and lifelong love. Soon he would come home and they would be together again for a while.

“I’m still young,” she thought, “I can still bring to him the son of his dreams.” Tears of joy flowed and she called out to her neighbor. “Tia Ana, come in here. Hurry. I’m all right now. Help me clean up so that I can be again beautiful for Rodrigo.”

Ana came rushing in along with several of the other ladies of the village who had been keeping a de facto vigil for Eva. They were all pleased to see the sparkle had returned to her eye and there was a smile on her face.

“It must have been a mysterious fever of your soul,” said Concha, one of the elder women of the village. “Surely it is broken now.”

After several women gathered around the bed Eva pointed at the door thinking they would only see the knot in the wood. But the women all gasped and gaped. They could see Rodrigo’s image plain as day.

“Oh, my God,” exclaimed Delores, “I never saw how much that grain in the wood resembled Rodrigo. It’s simply amazing.

They all agreed.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Loving Raindrops

Like drops of rain we are returning to the Father Ocean, or so the Hindu analogy goes. Each one of us is a little drop of ocean that must find its way back. The analogy stops there for most of us. It’s a pretty picture, poetic and romantic. We feel we understand. Therefore we are satisfied. We tuck the thought away as if it were complete. It requires no analysis or parsing. It is a whole picture in itself, the way things are.

Yet somehow something is amiss. The thought is not really complete. The story is not finished. It is simply a statement of the mystery of our existence hinting at a purpose yet to be disclosed. Thoughtfully we view the water drop. Perhaps we meditate as to its purpose. We see the light diffused into a rainbow and remark upon its beauty.

We see the world’s thirst quenched and the earth nourished. And yet a bit of the mystery lies still obscure, an ageless wonderment that only hints of an answer, but never enunciates the question. The drop of water is a miracle of formlessness. All life exists within it and outside it, but never without it.

And so we study and wonder, finally accepting its precious gift, yet unknowing the secret relationship between the water drop and the Father Ocean.. It is only a drop of water, surely this one drop is among the least significant of things. It could never be missed had it never existed. Yet it does exist as real when it is apart from Ocean as when it is united with its numberless counterparts.

The Ocean is mighty, a colossal force of incalculable energy, impossible to contain or control. But it is only an accumulation of seemingly insignificant drops. Each drop is composed of the same components as the ocean, Therefore, the mighty properties of Ocean reside in each water drop.

With that, our analogy is a little more complete. Each drop of water has a measure of the same creative force as the ocean. So if our Creator is the Ocean, then we are drops of God.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Essential Non-Verbal Communication

Language is an essential tool without which we could not survive. As all tools it can be used for purely creative and healthful pursuits, but it can also be used destructively. I believe our dependence upon the use of language exclusively as the only means by which valid communication can occur is a serious flaw in our approach to understanding our own nature. The major and most profound experiences that affect the formation of identity and personality are often not expressible with words. Therefore such impressions, perceptions and subtle experiences are currently ignored or deemed unimportant. Yet these aspects constitute the essence of our identities and they are valid at deep levels of our consciousness. To make them secondary in importance simply because they are not readily expressible with words causes emotional blockages that I believe are responsible for much illness among us. The arts serve as a multifarious venue for such non-verbal expression. I feel we all will be well-served by promoting artistic creativity and allowing it an increasingly important role in defining what we are.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Getting Out of the Language Box

Our various languages are tools that we are taught to use in order to communicate with each other. That is obvious. But tools are not inclined to be always beneficial. A craftsman can build a house with a hammer and other tools, yet the same tools in the hands of a maniac can wreak havoc. Since language is a tool, it can facilitate understanding, lead to profound and loving relationships, disseminate vital information, etc.

But there is a downside to the assumption that the use of language is the only valid medium through which reality can be expressed. Most languages in use today by “developed” societies are fraught with structural limitations that restrict one’s ability to create an expansive self awareness. Thus personal enlightenment is attenuated unduly.

The tacit assumption that language embodies a complete and accurate nomenclature of every possible experience forces a coarsening of the subtle variations, nuances and conceptual relationships which form the rich mental experience that makes each of us unique. To illustrate just one of many linguistic shortcomings let’s consider the conceptual relationship of two important words we all know: ‘Love’ and ‘Hate’.

Each of these words expresses the strongest of emotions doubtless. Without question the linguistic convention we all accept is that these two words express emotions that could not possibly be more extreme from each other. Yet I aver that in reality these two words represent emotional states that are most closely related and not at all opposite.

To love is to care deeply about an affective object. The opposite of caring deeply is to care not at all. To hate is also to care deeply about an affective object. Again the opposite is to care not at all. Now obviously the emotional reaction to the caring will be different in effect and affect so that the outcome which results in behavior appears to make the two activities opposed, but, in reality ‘love’ and ‘hate’ center about the interpretation of one’s relationship to another for example. Both ‘love’ and ‘hate’ describe the emotional experience of one who cares deeply rather than not at all. Thus, not caring at all is the opposite of the emotional activities represented by both words.

Now, if this seems inconsequential, then it illustrates how dangerous to our healthy apprehension of reality such erroneous assumptions become. We seem to exist in a bifurcated universe populated with opposing concepts that belie the true unity of our experience.

Just as I have illustrated that ‘love’ and ‘hate’ are not really opposites, the same can be applied to many other pairs of words whose underlying concepts are not intrinsically opposed; for example, ‘real’/’imaginary’; ‘objective’/subjective’; ‘concrete’/’abstract’, etc ad infinitum.

These erroneous effects of linguistic convention cause one to reject as invalid or inconsequential a great portion of the subtle, linguistically inexpressible experience that constitutes the bulk of our operational personalities. Therefore we learn to reject our own direct experience as reality presents itself in lieu of conventional, inaccurate, yet generally accepted expressions.

The result of such blind obedience to a linguistic model of the universe is that one adopts a small, inaccurate concept of reality that belies the incredibly rich and varied life experience that we would apprehend more readily if we did not reject it by habit.

Another pair of words that is accepted as utterly opposed is ‘success’/’failure’. This pair is somewhat different because it falsely reflects the true state of our endeavors at any particular stage of action. If one devotes much effort and desire to play classical piano, for example he will meet with varying degrees of success and failure as he develops. At no time during such development can he be said to be categorically successful or failed. Such an endeavor must be ongoing so that success is never complete nor can he be said to have failed utterly. Both states exist by degree simultaneously and never to the complete exclusion of the other. Therefore to fear one or the other is the equivalent of fearing both. It is the fear one should avoid without regard to the object of that fear.

A partial solution to these weaknesses in the habit of accepting language to the exclusion of a more expansive expression is the adoption of art as a more expansive medium. Indeed one cannot communicate narrow, specific information as accurately as through language, but on other levels artistic expression is not bound so tightly to convention. Therefore, art allows for the validation of experience that is otherwise inexpressible, allowing for the possibility of a greater degree of enlightenment.

These paragraphs only call to attention a very small number of bad linguistic habits that permeate our social structure. The irony here is that to critique language with specificity one must use it.

Please cultivate the habit when contemplating the real meaning of “opposing pairs” of words to ask yourself, ‘is there really a dividing line between these words? And while you are asking that, ask also ‘Where is the dividing line between myself and the rest of the universe.?’

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Everyone's An Artist

Everyone is an Artist...

Often artists claim they only produce work for themselves and, although it is true that a great deal of satisfaction comes from creating something beautiful, artists would be disappointed if no one else viewed their work. If you doubt that just ask a child with his new finger paints how he feels when Daddy is too busy to look at his latest creation.

One would think that being an artist is something special, but it really isn't. We are all artists in that we create from the moment we are conceived. To create is our main activity in life for we create our own experience automatically without thought.

The artist creates art and then he has the obligation to show it. This is automatic and as children we eagerly display whatever it is that we create from spattered paint on paper spread with our fingers to the most touching gestures with crayon on walls. But there are many in latter years who refrain from allowing this creative impulse to manifest in specific venues. Yet I maintain that they are just as creative as the artists who strive to bring their inner vision to the rest of us. When an artist creates a scene it is the first movement of a conversation that is not complete until someone else views the work and is engaged by it. As the viewer contemplates the scene created by the artist he or she automatically creates the world in which that scene fits. That created world is just as valid as the scene which the artist creates and no less meaningful. In fact, it is only when the initial statement of the artist is answered by the viewer is anything of true meaning established.

My wish as an artist is that those who view my work realize that they are contributing to the final product that I initiate. It is within that context that my realization of general human love is manifest.

A Short Conversation With God

The other day I was relaxing at home when a transformer in the neighborhood failed. There was a sudden silence in my apartment as I sat waiting for the lights to come back on. I started to do what anyone else in that situation does I got out a flashlight, shined it at my entertainment center and proceeded to pretend to watch television.

That was when God appeared. Well, he didn’t actually appear, but I heard a very masculine, deep voice that sounded very friendly.

“Well. Robbie, what have you been thinking about?"

I stifled the inclination to say, ‘Well, you ought to know.’ And gave Him a straight answer.

"I’ve been thinking about our relationship, actually, and I’ve concluded that the only thing that keeps us apart is that I’m in this body.”

“Oh,“ He said, “that’s interesting. Just where in your body are you, do you think?”

I couldn’t really pin that down and I said as much.

“Okay, where is your body, then?’

“I’m sitting in my chair,” I said.

“And just where is that?” He asked.

”In the living room”

”…and that is?”

“ my apartment.”

So it went. Every time I responded He asked for a more inclusive location:

My apartment is in Florida...the United States..northwest quadraspere…Earth...Solar System...Milky Way...The Universe.

I was getting a little frustrated by then and I knew that I had run out of bigger places.

“What’s your point?” I asked.

Somehow I knew He was smiling. “Well, that proves that the laws of physics are incomplete, doesn’t it? He said.

“How do you come to that conclusion?” I asked.

“It is often said about physical law that something cannot be in more than one place at a time, right?”

“Of course,” I replied.

“But, Robbie, you just told me that you are in all those places right now. Where do you think I am?”

I had the answer.

“Why, you’re in the Universe.” I said.

“Robbie, I am the Universe, so now I ask you again...where are you?”

Just then the lights went on.