GOD CREATING GOD

Each of our lives is a part
Of the lengthy process of the universe
Gradually waking up and becoming aware of itself.
                                           Thomas Nagel

God is a rabbit in a hat
As well as the magician who owns both rabbit and hat
Along with an audience raptly watching.

When the lights go down
God appears
Pulling himself out of himself –
Even God is surprised
At what he’s been able to accomplish.

God, hat, and rabbit –
Are monistic –
Since through Spinoza’s eyes they’re identical
Along with the audience
Cheering or groaning
Depending upon where they sit.

God, when empty, became lonely for himself –
So sparked an inorganic universe
Of whirling, expanding particles
Bursting into existence –
Which eventually changed from original black/grey to “all” colors
On its way to organic life –
And then changed again upon achieving consciousness –
Where, finally, God was able to kiss God
On the lips
Then, God changed one last time
Creating cognitive human spirit –
Where, at its peak, Jesus came to life, beyond any colors
Up on a mountain, transfigured, face shining like the sun –
Garments “white as light.”

WHO WOULD HAVE GUESSED!

“You must die before you die.”
                                    Rumi

It’s a race against time –
Like a river filling up,
Drowning you, and then leaving you behind.

We begin life swimming upstream –
Towards birth, towards an unfolding life, and, then, towards death –
Which comes like a wave –
Or an unfinished song.

There is physical life
And spiritual life –
But they don’t start at the same time
Or travel in the same direction.

The physical life starts out strong but over time winds down
Spiritual life may also get old quickly –
However, “dying” to discover the next life
Sometimes can be useful –
Getting born a second time before dying the first time –
Entering a spiritual world –
Eyes wide open –
Prepared for a birth into love and joy.

Life is such a surprise –
So unexpected –

Who would have guessed!

BURNING!

“The cells of our bodies are like candle flames,
Their atoms constantly replaced by new ones.
 Only their structures live on.” 
                                                   John Leslie

Burning!
I’m burning up –
Yet being replaced instantly and constantly.

I’m also a flower –
In flower –
A bouquet in bloom –
A gift to myself.

I’m composed of about an octillion atoms
Walking around in my own modest interstellar space –
Sometimes, I spin out of control –
Like a supernova
Or a black hole
Depending upon which side you’re facing.

I know nothing, I know everything,
I know some things –
Modest in my enlightenment
I’ve also been accused of enlightened modesty.

One of our secrets, traditionally, has been love –
Hiding everywhere and nowhere –
Over and under our eyelids –
And deep in our – beat, beat, beating – hearts.

I want everyone to stop – just for an instant –
So love can finally appear in all its glory!

 

GOD LOOKS THROUGH A WINDOW

Joy is so un-American, it can’t be expressed out loud
Because saying that word in mixed company
Would compel many people to look away.

Joy never developed much in Western tradition –
Except a few flakes – never more.

Joy comes with a dance
But there’re no “dancers” in neo-colonial wars.

Joy can’t be taught – it’s always a surprise –
Nor can it be earned because, essentially, it’s a gift.

Joy is usually found in the face of beauty
Especially that of blue green Nature.

Joy (first level) is who I want to be –
As the key to happiness (second level).

Joy is the name God proudly shows upon entering the world.

God looks through a window
To see if you’re “awake” –
To see if you’re “born again” –

To see if you’ve decided to become your “true self.”

REALITY AT ALL LEVELS

How can we see like Jesus could see –
As fully human and fully God?

He saw with two eyes – one a human’s and one God’s.

A real human eye is found only in a “true self” –
Like the eye of an infant – where everything is fresh and new –
And, as the scientists say,
Pure uninterrupted experience is limited to three seconds,
But is never found in the head of a wooden puppet – like Pinocchio
As an “ego” or a “false self.”  

God’s eye is different –
It sees through time (eternity) and space (infinity) –
Set within the four cardinal points of love, truth, justice, and beauty –
With the lines meeting at the top of a spiritual pyramid –
Love meeting truth, truth meeting justice, justice meeting beauty,
And beauty resting on love –
All conjoined at the tip – where God lives.

Two eyes – one a human being’s and one God’s.

Jesus could see through a child’s eyes
Balanced by those four spiritual attributes of God.

When those two eyes exist in a single head
They see reality – and at all levels.

EXCHANGING THE EGO FOR A “TRUE SELF”

             Some say the most profound scientific discipline is theoretical physics which has vastly expanded our understanding of the structure of the physical universe using the language of mathematics, but I think this now needs to be matched by an even more profound spiritual/theological discipline that can further our understanding of the relationship between God and the human self through expanded human consciousness of love, truth, justice, and beauty as expressed through the arts. Materialistic evolution via science and technology has taken us about as far as we’re going to get while still retaining our basic humanity, but the prospects for our species will be pretty dim if that’s the full extent of what we’re ever going to achieve.

             I propose it’s time for human beings to make a conscious choice about which evolutionary path they should take: materialistic evolution (especially digital artificial intelligence) or the next step in humans’ spiritual evolution. Greater spirituality, however, won’t necessarily increase our intelligence or ability to manipulate the material world, but could, eventually, evolve us into an entirely different type of humanity – the kind originally pointed towards by Jesus, Buddha and Mohammed.

            When a person enters the world as a baby, they’re totally open to God – arriving as pure energy in human form. Because they come straight from God, they’re completely natural upon arrival. After their surprise landing in this world, however, they need to figure out how to survive in this particular time and place. They eventually do, but the cost is often high. They’re faced with the necessity of becoming the kind of person that other people readily recognize and the surrounding culture use. Since usually they’re raised by parents – people who’ve already made the requisite compromises and adjustments – the baby ultimately learns how to “fit in.”

            This baby, who started life as a tiny energy “sun,” eventually begins “dimming” because so much of her original natural energy will be perceived as “alien” to her family’s world. Eventually, the baby matures and becomes a “person” by developing an ego – and ultimately joins society. One day, however, that baby – after attaining adulthood – might begin wondering where all her previous energy had gone – and whether it might ever be regained.

            In traditional societies, a person’s roles remain largely the same throughout their life and also determine how their children will turn out.

            In modern societies, however, by early adulthood, a person usually gains abilities and opportunities to change “who” they are by making individual choices – leading them away from predestined family roles – becoming partly a family-destined person and partly a self-determined one – in a “composite” role. Nevertheless, whatever this composite role turns out to be, it’s still just a role.

            All roles, traditional or modern, become included in one’s “life story.” As Shakespeare asserted in As You Like It: “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players.” So, the problem with developing an “ego,” along with one’s accompanying “story,” is the temptation to “make up” that story as one goes along – like in a dramatic film – even if carried out mainly unconsciously.

            Another problem with “roles” is their need for consistency and continuity, so the self can seemingly remain “the same.”

            This is why “higher” values are necessary to effect any serious changes in our quotidian roles and stories. Traditionally, humanity’s highest values have been attributable to a “Spirit” (usually “God’s”) – as well as to divine spiritual attributes like love, truth, justice, and beauty.

            Roles and stories, however, compel us to live as unfree. Since we believe these roles and stories (as reinforced by the surrounding society) constitute our “identity,” we sometimes even believe we would need to “die” as the price for achieving freedom. If a person becomes threatened with losing their identity, frequently, they’ll think they might as well be dead. That’s how important roles and personal stories are for a normal human being. In fact, there’s a general consensus in the humanities, as well as in psychotherapy, that the ego, as a person’s chief fictional character, is one’s essential self.

            So, how is it possible to free ourselves from embedded roles and stories that obstruct our natural human self-understanding and close down our best, most spontaneous thoughts – in order to gain the freedom necessary to become our “true selves”?

            The answer is that we need to be “born again” – at any age. That is, we’ll need to reverse direction, spiritually, and become a “child” all over again so as to become as free as God.

             Jesus himself said this, did this, and then died for it – all to show us how.

             To be “born again” is scary – few can do it all at once. Most people need time to shed their artificial roles until they’re free enough to make a long daring leap into their “true selves.” Starting at an older age, it actually becomes easier to work towards greater spirituality by breaking up and discarding pieces of one’s earlier “false selves” and gain a greater naturalness and openness spiritually even though one is at the same time physically degenerating.

NOBODY

             One trump card used by “enlightenment masters,” when meeting prospective new followers, is asking: “who are you?,” knowing in advance they can’t answer that – because, in actuality, at the deepest levels underneath their “ego,” they’re “no one” and “nobody.”

            Recognizing the need to rid myself of ego before taking up the search for my “true self,” I started studying Western medieval mystics like Marguerite Porete and Meister Eckhart, as well as more modern writers, like Emily Dickinson and Simone Weill, all of whom wrote about becoming “nobody” or “no one,” as being necessary to approach God directly. Marguerite Porete wrote: True freedom is when we “become love.” This reaches far beyond simple humility (because, obviously, a lot of pride can be hidden behind a show of humility). Going all the way – to zero – and then experiencing the world – is what they seemed to be recommending. At first, this approach seemed meaningless to me, even nonsensical, yet they repeatedly kept saying it.

            Eventually, I came to accept their approach as being centered on freedom. That in order to escape one’s ego, one first had to free oneself of one’s “old” self – along with all the wrong ideas and assumptions about one’s “life” and “the world.” Apparently, becoming nobody does the trick! As Marguerite says: “The soul swims in a sea of joy!”

            We need to go to the place where we stand alone – waiting for the promised meeting with God –and then just wait. As Meister Eckhart says: “To be empty of all created things is to be full of God, and to be full of created things is to be empty of God.”

            The promise is that God arrives out of “nothing,” That by accepting loneliness – even depression – and waiting patiently, God will eventually “come home” – into your heart.

            Immediately upon “waking up,” you’ll be seeing through fresh eyes – a newborn’s eyes – and what you’ll see and experience is what God sees and experiences – through you – just as if you’re God and God is you.

            This is the easiest, as well as the hardest, thing in the world to accomplish – to give up your ego in order to find your “true self” – to become the individual you were born to be. It’s what Jesus understood – that one’s old self has to “die” for one’s “true self” to come to life.

            And this is what he accomplished – and why people either spontaneously followed him or desired to kill him. The former filled with a joy they’d never experienced before, while the latter became angry that any human being would dare to become that kind of person.

            As Meister Eckhart says: “God’s ground and the soul’s ground are one ground.” That is, God’s essence and the soul’s essence are the same – at least in the eyes of great mystics

SELF REFLECTION

The problem with acting out of an “ego” or “puppet” is that it results in inauthenticity.

There’s no possibility for “enlightenment” without first attaining the ability to “see” oneself. Self-reflection is the prerequisite to conscious human change. If one desires to drop one’s ego, one needs to see that ego clearly – and then decide upon the necessary changes to accomplish that. Self-reflection that is non-spiritual in nature, however, is often used to increase the effectiveness of one’s ego roles, to make the manipulation of others more effective, and so add to one’s power and influence in the world. But, alternatively, critical self-reflection permits one to sit on God’s throne, look down and through oneself, and then make the changes necessary to bring ourselves into a more natural relationship with God and others.

Self-reflection is often assisted by being viewed in the context of some special spiritual quality like “truth.” We often find ourselves embellishing our character or accomplishments to make ourselves “look better.” But we should not do this. Only by expressing the truth in each particular circumstance is what makes it possible to “free” ourselves from our egoistic self-puppet. Slowly, surely, self-reflection brings us closer to God as we become our “true self.”

OWSLEY ACID

        In the late 60’s, after putting out the first edition of a community-based poetry and photography magazine, People on the Streets, based in Washington, D.C., and engaging in several large anti-War rallies, my friend and I decided to take a break and travel to Mexico. Friends had told us about a village high in the mountains overlooking the Pacific Ocean that San Francisco hippies had discovered. So, late in December, after a long drive South, we crossed the border and arrived at Zacatecas where bright-eyed Huichol Indians (who take psychedelic peyote and play tiny violins) live. Leaving that city behind, we traveled to Puerto Vallarta where we boarded an ancient ship (resembling the African Queen) which took us down the coast to Yelapa. Left on an empty white sand beach, we were greeted by a tall young blonde woman who told us to leave our baggage on the beach (because no one would disturb it) and go into the village to rent a pelapa (cottage). This pelapa was constructed out of stone and colored glass bottles in the lower third, dark timbers with large open wooden windows in the middle, and a thatched reed roof on top. In the interior, stone steps led up to a one-bedroom loft. We had been told, and the young woman confirmed, that Owsley acid was readily available. The next day, after taking the acid, we climbed to a ridge overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Beautiful tropical trees and multi-colored birds surrounded us, while beyond the blue, shading into deep blue, Pacific Ocean was shining. Taking acid was like having the coverings of one’s eyes torn off – forcing us to see everything “fresh” – like looking at the world through a newborn’s eyes. It was exhausting seeing everything as if for the first time. Later on, coming down just a bit, I thought this must be how Jesus saw the world – no “ego,” no “self” – just pure consciousness.

       When I came completely down, I wanted to experience life like this all the time, but knew this experience had been a gift of “magical” chemicals and that I would never be able to repeat it in the same way – no matter how many “trips” I took. I understood that I needed to earn my way back – by changing my life and becoming more “like” Jesus and by some serious study. I also understood it would be a long road and wondered if I would ever be able to accomplish it.

        If one thinks about consciousness as an open circle, the part accessible to one’s ego is a very thin slice – maybe 10% – 20%. From early childhood on, that’s the tiny part of ourselves we choose to live within – with our experiences needing to fit within that narrow slice or be excluded. Our ego requires, as the price for its effectiveness, that each and every experience outside the scope of its chosen roles to be methodically and ruthlessly pushed back into the unconscious – sealing off wider and wilder experiences out of our consciousness.

       When we’re “born again,” we gain access to all our consciousness – all 360 degrees of it – and are able to experience full reality. We become completely “free” – open to all experience – just like when we first came into the world. This rebirth, however, doesn’t happen within an ego – it only happens after we break free from that ego and start living outside it. That’s what Zen training, for example, prepares one for – to get “outside” oneself. This, essentially, is the path Jesus took, and what he was able to demonstrate for us. 

A BABY’S EYES

As a young lawyer, I represented art galleries, dance companies, “movement” activists, and various educational and religious groups, especially those wishing to qualify for federal tax-exempt status. During that time, I was representing a small Zen Buddhist group in Washington, D.C. At one point, they requested whether I would also represent their parent group, a large Zen Buddhist monastery in the Catskills. I agreed, but they then told me I would first have to personally meet their Zen Master, Eido Roshi. Every year he came to Georgetown University to give a talk so I would be able to meet him there. When the time came, I went to Georgetown and was led backstage for a face to face meeting. I was a bit apprehensive – what would it be like to meet a “real” Zen Master? The man I was introduced to was in his mid-sixties, but when I looked at him, the first thing I noticed were his eyes. I was looking at an elderly man, bearing a lifetime of experience, who was looking at me through a “baby’s” eyes. (Of course, how this actually works is that one automatically sees oneself through the other person’s eyes.) This was shocking to me – I had never seen anything like it!  What I learned was that human beings exist who are able to combine the openness and spontaneity of a child with a deep adult wisdom. I learned that human beings are not all alike and that, with respect to my own life, I certainly had a long way to go.