Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Fast Becoming My Favorite Spiritual Writer...

Jay Michaelson rocks! I pointed you to his "Why Ramakrishna Matters" a while back, and I sauntered back over to that essay again today... I'm sloooowly writing a post about miracles, which has resulted in my consulting some of Ramakrishna's sayings, which reminded me of Michaelson's piece... so I looked at some of his other stuff, and--I'm thinkin' maybe I oughta retire from blogging and just periodically link you to Jay's articles and the other cool stuff on his cleverly titled web site Metatronics. He's going to say it better than I can, anyway.

Before I sign off for good, though, let me share something from the Jaymeister that really got my attention earlier this week... after a brief preface, of course.

Brief Preface
You know me: Mr. Figure It Out? Dr. Fausto-I Shall Possess the Lost Word? Swami Formulananda? It's always been a given for me that faith and reason could not only abide together as lamb and lion, but have really great interspecies sex, too. And so much of the time I spend thinking about the Divine Mother and Her unfolding is time spent modeling Her, working out the "lines of force" that link dynamo to Virgin, mind to cosmos.

"What is She?" I ask myself. "Does She even exist? What is the universe?" Clutching my toga with one hand, I point to the shooting star with the other, asking, "Was the star-fall ordain'd from before time, was it part of Her plan, or is it mere foolishness to seek a plan among Her glorious chaos?"

Trust me, it's not hubris that leads me thence (though it sounds like it), it's a relentless drive to know, to understand... as if understanding were my True Will. It doesn't matter that understanding is a pain in the rear or (in the case of a limited, embodied mind attempting to grasp the infinite beyond conception)... finally impossible.

I just want to.

The Thing I Was Going to Share

Then here comes Jay Michaelson, pouring cold water and maybe some beer on my pretentions, playing 'pon the saxophone of Dionysus the rollicking tune "
Stop Seeking"... or maybe it's a klezmer clarinet... and the lyrics go something like: you don't adore Kali and pray to Her and collect images of Her and try to breathe your life through your heart chakra in order to-- understand the universe!

You do it 'cuz you
like it... 'cuz--

you want to.

since spiritual practice takes a lot of time and effort, and since it gets sneered at by many smart people, those of us who do it spend a lot of time explaining why it's so important....Thus one hears all the time that "the purpose of our being here is to awaken to who we are," or that people who aren't "awake" aren't truly happy. Nonsense. That's just the New Age version of Jews thinking they're the chosen people, or Christians thinking that only Christ can save you....

when I'm able to sit back and let be whatever will be, then real receiving (kabbalah) can take place. Then God... really does show up....Stop looking somewhere else for God. Really--stop looking in every way. Stop seeking.

And I think: sheeeeeeeeeeeit, Jay. You boiled it down to the philosopher's stone there, homes. It isn't enough to free ourselves from materiality, from small-mindedness, from synthetic fibers-- we have to graduate from "spirituality," too, and eventually from the entire false "self" propped up by McEgo. We have to detach from the tree of received wisdom and, like October leaves, find our handstanding way to the Ground. I've heard this lesson so often before, and my dear Angel hath bespoke it... but it sounds so fresh now, like I'm ready for it.


Afterword (Dammit--does this mean I'm still seeking?)
What is a leaf, anyway? A light and CO2 gathering node supporting a tree's carbon cycle? This might sound like the barest set of facts, but it's already an interpretation: we've narrowed a forest of possibility down to one preferred spot of shade. And what if I say: a leaf is a tree in miniature, its veins tiny branches, a microcosm of the fractal whole? Just as "true," yet more abstract... and if I were to bring in other, more metaphorical trees-- Yggdrasil, the Tree of Life-- and call the leaf their child, their signature in physical space... then we've departed totally from the realm of fact, as myths expire and carbon is forever (or at least until entropy ≈ ∞). But in another sense, interpretations and metaphors and myths are what we are; they form one of the surest distinguishing marks of the species: its compulsive symbolizing.

If I see the leaf as more than it "is," am I seeking? ... with my theorizing, am I fobbing off God into the waiting room of my heart? Or am I just being me, Homo dialecticus? Or-- well, how would I know what a leaf looks like in the light of pure consciousness? I'm exaggerating, anyway-- in practice I'm more and more likely to greet leaves and the rest of the world with the mantra "This is You" ... this moment before me and around me and within me is all I have of my dear Kali-Ma. The theories used to be crucial-- finding the right one, formulating the right one, relentlessly distilling it in the alembic of intellect... but though I'll never be an anti-intellectual, I'm inclining Jay's way much more now. I never really "got" that the Tree of Life could be me as well as the cosmos, but I'm getting it, I think, with the help of the Mother and with the help of teachers like Sophia and her kids, and Jay Michaelson.

And if some mystic blogger can yank me that far above the topiary maze of my own intellection and the Campbell's Soup of pop-cultural maya, and push me that deep into what matters, then I say he's one hell of a guy. But he (and you, Long-Suffering Reader) will have to forgive me if sometimes I still seek the Lost Word under lettuce leaves or in tide traces in sand, or (Jay would approve more) in the arms of my Beloved.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

If Atheists/Skeptics Were Rock Stars

Jerry Coyne: Dire Straits
Good even when he misses the mark. Craft matters.

Richard Dawkins: U2
Life will be splendid if we all follow my simple plan. La la la la la laaaaaaaaa.

Daniel Dennett: The Rolling Stones, 2009
If he can't rock you, someone else will.

Sam Harris: Elvis Costello
The thinking man's atheist. Nuance never goes out of style.

Christopher Hitchens: The Rolling Stones, 1969
Others write about it; he's lived it. Lots of it. Eclectic, electric, elemental.

Penn Jillette: Billy Joel
You may not know what I mean when I say "piano." A "piano" is a large musical instument containing many strings, which, when the corresponding keys are pressed, are struck by small wooden hammers....

Hemant Mehta: Jonathan Richman
Is he supposed to be enjoying himself this much?

P. Z. Myers: The Ramones
To some: loud, crude, repetitious. To others: sophisticated, allusive, one hell of a lot of fun.

Michael Shermer: King Crimson
High-concept but rockin'; serious yet entertaining. Doesn't care whether you buy the T-shirt.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

woo, n.

1. [Amer. slang, obs. ] Flirtation, sexual overture, physical caresses (often pitch woo).

2. [Internet slang] Anything spiritual or "occult"; all things counter, original, spare, strange; any phenomenon lacking a differential equation or imprimatur from a Bishop of Positivism: Kalibhakta's blog covers all manner of woo, from tarot reading to Timothy Leary to bhakti yoga.

As an Illuminatus Dirigens and as an ordained minister of the Church of the SubGenius, I hereby reclaim the word "woo" on behalf of all the weirdos of the world. I like it because it's sexy, I like it because it's the name of a great filmmaker, and I like it because Nature Boy Ric Flair said it a lot.

Woo as you will.