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

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. 

“HERE I AM, READY OR NOT”

Men invented the ego but kept it mostly to themselves –
Women thought this quite the magic show
Generally permissible to watch.

Men created masks for dancing round a fire –
Women hummed and pounded the earth with their fists
Which resulted in many children for the community.

Men invented writing but kept it to themselves
Women said: “alright” and retreated into kitchens with daughters
Resulting in men monopolizing societal memory
Which, in turn, encompassed gods, wealth, and power –
Thereby inheriting a “male heaven on earth.”

Someday, all these “men-as-Gods” will have to stop
And take a break – in order that women can stand up without fear
And show us what we’ve all been missing.

I pray the right woman, reading this – today –
Will stand up and say: “alright – I’ll do it” –
“If the world is now willing to accept a “woman-as-God” –
“Here I am – ready or not!”

WELCOME TO THE KINGDOM!

When you’re a baby, you’re the entire universe –
And there’s nothing else that matters but you.

You’re given a beautiful mother
Who takes care of all your needs –
So you never forget her face.

Then, slowly, surely, everything starts coming into focus
Until the day you’re finally able to see yourself –
Along with all your limitations.

The surprising pain associated with becoming aware of those limitations
Leads to constructing a fantasy “self”
That you can almost believe in –
A splendid “ego” useful for dressing up your more primitive, negligible self –
Someone capable of surviving and succeeding in this world.

Eventually, you become a “real” puppet – like Pinocchio –
Who can “pass” –
Manipulating the world from behind a curtain –
While it’s only in bad dreams you realize the rest of the world
Is the same as you –

Puppets!

You exist through an unreal “person” or “persona” –
Unaware of having an alternative, even if asked.

Entire religions are built around the existence of a few chosen people
Courageous enough or insane enough to become their “true selves.”

But established religions never explain it that way –
Instead, they say such people are “gods” or “super-beings” –
And that if you’re willing to turn yourself over to them, they’ll protect you –
Most especially, after you die –
And then you’ll be able to “live forever” – whatever that means.

Gurus and other hotshot spiritual hustlers
Ask who “you” are –
Knowing you’ll have no answer –
And that you’d have to “die” to obtain one – and there’s no chance of that ever happening!

Actually, it’s quite simple –
There are no religions or spiritual “masters” available to help you –
There’s only you.

To discover your “true self” you’ll need to give up everything
You are, have, and want to be –
And be willing to be your naked self – and then look at that!
Then drop that, and keep dropping all the that’s which subsequently appear –
Until there’s nothing left
Nothing, at all –

When you discover the magic of being “born again,” as Jesus recommended –
Even then, you’ll need to be very careful not to let this new state of being
Develop into a more advanced kind of Ego.

This is why humbleness comes first –
True humility –
Someone used to being overlooked.

Then, when you finally start breathing freely again –
When you can “see” actual reality,
Including, most importantly, the reality of “yourself.”

That’s when God will suddenly appear and say:
“Good job, little one,”
“Welcome to the Kingdom!”

THE WORLD APPLAUDS HYPOCRITES

The more suitable word for ego is “hypocrite.”

In ancient Greek theatre, hypocrites were actors –
Those who “play a part” –
From which the word “hypocrite” originally derived.

I’ve often spoken of one’s “true self” as opposed to one’s ego –
Because we create egos as our “face to the world” –
And, sometimes, more than one such “face.”

The Greeks used masks in their plays –
So egos are our contemporary “masks”
Used by us to “play” the world
And manipulate society (along, of course, with our own selves).

So who are we fooling?
Is the world nothing more than a huge “theatre” – as Shakespeare intuited –
In which all of us cooperate in playing out our several parts?

What happens, though, when a person enters the world and refuses to play that expected part –
Refusing to be anyone but her “true self”?
I think she might get killed – even if not physically –
Certainly, she’ll face rejection for her refusal to “go along.”

The world insists:
“Play your part – whatever it is – and don’t try to be ‘real’” –
Because that might call everything into question!

 

UNCOVERING THE NUMINOUS LATER IN LIFE

Everything both is, and is not, “numinous” –
Depending upon which set of eyes you’re looking through –
The trick is to remember which ones you’re using at any given moment
So, when “holy time” arrives, you can wake up out of your ordinary eyes.

Sometimes, God gently touches (or slaps) your face –
So you wake up
And, suddenly, everything becomes numinous.

One’s ego, however, never engages with the numinous
Because the ego, by nature, is trapped inside itself for its own protection
And so neversees” God –
Which is why all the world religions, historically, have never been very effective.

Freedom provides a broad opening into the numinous –
– Freedom from self, from “God,” and from everything else –
Such freedom is so radical, it’s equivalent to dying –
And, then, dying a second time!

Permission granted –
Now you’re able to “see”
A single object – numinously!

But, one day, the whole world will open itself up to you in this same way –
An experience like going a trillion miles an hour
In pure silence.

TWO REVOLUTIONS

Evolving from animals into humans, the issue has always been one of freedom –
Physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual –
Because freedom releases huge amounts of energy,
As well as increases our demands for self-fulfillment.

With limited freedom, human beings are dull, subdued – frequently subservient –
While with more extensive freedom – available mainly to the few at the top –
They do have fun!

Athens was the cynosure of the world’s first revolution –
A political revolution that’s still playing itself out –
Providing people with individual responsibility for their nation
As well as for their personal lives.

Today, this battle is still raging on – the 1% versus, literally, everyone else.

This revolution, begun in Athens, has now become partially successful
And is responsible for releasing stupendous amounts of energy across the globe.

The second and a parallel revolution was the attempt to achieve spiritual freedom –
Jesus, Buddha, and Mohammed pushed open those stubborn doors
To a freedom providing human beings with the soul-openness of God –
That is, so that people could live pretty much like God does – but in human form –
In spite of their mortality.

Unfortunately, this revolution failed –
Primarily because it involved too much work and too much risk –
Requiring us to give up our cherished egos – those utilitarian “self-puppets.”

Jesus died providing us with a spectacular example of human spiritual freedom
But those who followed, later on, established a world religion instead –
Which taught that only one person could become as free as God –
Jesus himself –
While everyone else needed to live “through” him –
Giving up their own, once in a lifetime, opportunity to achieve a similar spiritual freedom –
In exchange for a promise of some “afterlife”
Available “nowhere,” “no-time,” and “no-place” –
Which is how Christianity turned Jesus’ spiritual revolution upside-down and inside-out.

This failure, and the consequent abandonment of radically increased spiritual freedom
Has resulted in an almost infinite loss of energy and hope for the entire human species.

Political democracy has always been thrilling because, with it,
We’re personally able to improve our society and individual living conditions.
Spiritual democracy, however, could provide us with an even more profound freedom –
The key to almost infinite human energy –
Freeing human souls to become their “true selves”
And allowing human beings to mature in a straight line after being born
Without having to stop along the way to develop an artificial “ego” for self-protection.

Freedom, political and spiritual, takes a lifetime of hard work and courage to achieve –
But, without both these freedoms, human beings will never be able to experience ultimate joy.

It takes guidance from Athens and someone like Jesus, Buddha, or Mohammed
To achieve ultimate human joy in our everyday quotidian lives –

And that’s no joke!

THE EGO AS DOLL

Certainly, a cherished doll – more loved than your own mother –
More than wife or husband –
More than life itself.

That’s a pretty heavy “doll,” isn’t it?

It’s something we’re prohibited from thinking about –
With a self-reflection ratio of zero/zero –
To date, no religious laws permit transcending that prohibition –
No direct commandments of God either.

That’s because, historically speaking,
There’s been nothing more dangerous than looking at one’s self
Eyes wide open
Since you can’t do it without the ego shriveling up and “dying.”

Jesus taught this lesson every day of his life – until the very end –
He knew his ego self had to “die” for him to “see” God –
So, during his life, he “died” over and over again.

Not for you or me –
But because he needed it himself –
And, needing it, he realized everyone else needed it too.

To die to one’s “ego self” –
Not on a tree –
Not to provoke Jewish leaders or Roman governors –

But simply because it’s the only way
To become one’s “true self.”