THINKING ABOUT RELIGION

Once upon a time, religion was primarily about God
But, today, young people want nothing more to do with any such “religion” –
Pointing out that, in many cases, it’s been transmuted into raw politics –
That is, into fields of strife and hate in a variety of forms and forums –
Including racial, class, and culture.

One prime example is the Russian atheist KGB kind of guy
Who got control of an entire national religion (the Russian Orthodox Church)
And has been using it as a tool to assist in unleashing death like a dark blanket
Over the heads of a neighboring Slavic state
As the first step in re-establishing the “Mongol Empire.”

And then, there’s our own American QAnon clown blaring: “You’re so fired!”
On his way to establishing himself as a cult leader and wannabe tyrant –
Along the way, subverting a primitive Christian religion – Evangelicalism –
Into a ready willingness to trade in its past spiritual wealth for political hard-wired power –
Saying: “If you give me your votes, I’ll ensure abortion becomes unconstitutional”
By sprinkling “conservative” justices and judges like anti-feminist dust through the land –
Requesting his “Evangelical” followers, in fair return, to give him the American “throne!”

Following all this, clever peripheral guys have come flooding in – seeking open opportunities
To cynically work their game of manipulating hard hearted fools –
(Ones who think violence is “cool”) –
(Ones infected with fascism through a nightly Fox punditry dosage) –
All, in exchange for money, power, and cheap notoriety.

After God was sold out by many of the current Christian Evangelical leaders –
Young people saw through it all
Discovering that Christian “God” wasn’t necessarily “Good” –
Yet failing to understand they weren’t rejecting the “real” God
But only a “puppet” God promoted (from the beginning) by Satan
Who, it looks like, may, temporarily, be winning.

Yet, I promise that the real God is alive and on the way –
Armed with Truth, Love, Beauty, and Justice –
You’ve probably never seen nor experienced all those elemental powers of God at once –
Who, as the “true” God, will, of course, emerge victorious
Over all these recent tin-plated political/media online “gods.”

TO LOVERS OF LEARNING

You are my friends
No matter where you live –
Alabama or Ukraine.

For some reason you’ve discovered the secret of being a “true” human being
Through a desire to know everything!

Primary school teachers hurled straight ‘A’s’ at your head
While other children were envious because, for you, it was so obviously not “work”–
Just pure joy.

You’re getting what you want,
Have wanted, and will always want in the future.

It’s a lot like cracking open walnuts –
Or oysters –
This peculiar ambition of the mind!

Stars shine brightest in blackest nights – especially when looking up
Waves arrive at a shore without end
Based upon the love God promised us at birth.

The moon smiles –
Even though just partly lit –
But the sun laughs out loud because it’s day’s turn now.

Let’s drink to old age –
And greet Jules, our first grandchild,
In this New Age – filled with joy and dread –
Mixed up, shaken like a fizzy,
By the Mistress of the Universe.

I FEAR MY SOUL HAS DIED

This is essentially an American question
Especially in the South
Where most of the nation’s sins lie buried.

What does it mean to fill up with hate –
Through Fox fascist “cable pleasure”?

And when did nihilism become an American color
Rubbed on elbows and knees –
But mostly reserved for our most scary bodily tattoos?

When did leaders of American spiritual life and politics
Become media stars – and nothing else?

Don’t we need, once again, to respect character, integrity, humanness –
Even though all have apparently evaporated.

Minutes are getting louder by the day –
By the hour –
Striking like bell towers falling.

Families separate and come apart
In an invisible American emergency –
Turning unrecognized losses
Like love, once alive,
Into a culture that no longer exists.

Bursting bubbles –
Modern romance in the 2020’s.

WHAT’S THE DIFFERENCE?

What’s the difference between a mental concept and a mentally direct experience?

“The tulip is reddish-orange.”
“Snow covers the mountainside blindingly white.”

Are these mental concepts or mentally direct experiences?

Or perhaps both?

Zen argues we should rely solely on direct experience
And avoid mental concepts which can be manipulated inside one’s head
And end up, really, as almost anything at all.

So, tell me, are love, truth, justice, and beauty, direct experiences or mental concepts?
If they’re direct experiences – they could be reality – the same as God.
If they’re mental concepts, on the other hand, they might be mirages, dreams,
or complex manipulations inside one’s mind – i.e., lies!

Zen repeatedly has attempted to distinguish between mental concepts and direct experience
but, in my opinion, has not had much success in parsing this.

I think that’s because, sometimes, mental concepts actually are identical with reality –
at least in certain times, circumstances, and places.

They just are!

“LAYERING”

Our minds “read” reality through differing layers of abstraction
Because human beings embody a complex architecture of consciousness
Made up of different “levels” of virtualization using mental abstraction.

For example, the micro-physical level is on a radically different level
From the “normal” human body level –
When we move our arm, the mental abstraction of “arm”
Lies on a different level from the millions of cells making up that arm
Which, in turn, is on a different level from the gazillions of electrons making up those cells.

So, given these different levels of “reality” –
Our minds virtualize “arm” as an ordinary everyday mental abstraction
As part of our overall physical self –
While our minds also have the capacity to visualize, using imagination,
The underlying cells and electrons supporting this “top” level of human reality.

God’s reality, however, encompasses reality at all levels.
Jesus indicated his understanding of this by teaching his disciples that God
“Numbers” the very hairs on our heads. (Mathew 10:30).

So, what is the next layer of abstraction that might become available to our human minds?
I think it’s a “human/God” level of experiential Love, Truth, Justice, and Beauty –
Which, in turn, would require a fresh spiritual language and accompanying supportive culture
To attain this newly-exposed world of reality existing beyond
All previous levels of human abstraction.

With the availability of a new language, fresh realities could open up to our “true selves”
So as to experience living “like” God would live if God were a human being – just like us.

LONELY AS A ROCK

If there were no God
I’d be lonely as a rock hurtling through the void.

If there were no “high true” human character to attain –
I’d travel to an amusement park and ride around all day –
Eating cotton candy – while going round and round.

If there were no love available for me –
I’d rent a room in some high attic
And never go out again.

If truth completely evaporated out of American society –
I’d hitch a ride to dusty red Mars with a bunch of bizarre billionaires.

If it turned out that Jesus was not really Jesus –
And that the Buddha never blossomed into his “true self” –
I’d stop asking further questions and respond solely in exclamations –
Like “Huh,” “Argh,” or “Wheeh!”

If I thought it’d be pointless to learn any new things –
I couldn’t find fault with Trump saying: “Duh, maybe Hitler was a pretty good guy
Since he did get people back to work.”

And if there really were no God, there couldn’t be joy either
And the word “hope” would never be found in any English dictionary.

GOD LOOKING AT GOD

Jesus did it –
So any of us can.

We need freedom, however, to accomplish it –
Because the “self” our parents and society provided us
Prohibits real freedom –
Yes, unfortunately, that “self” which we use to survive
And, hopefully, prosper in the world –
Partially blinds us to reality – as well as to God.

Very few individuals are able to drop their societal “self”
In order to glimpse God –
Zen Buddhist monks tell us that one should “Know nothing” –
And keep repeating it –
Because one’s “self,” and all its mental constructs, restricts our freedom.

This, however, is partially incorrect –
True, to the extent that when we accept any mental constructs
They tend to blind us to reality –
But false, in light of the millennia of human striving for greater understanding
That has led to acquiring tools that can test reality
For the presence of God –
That is, for “Love,” “Truth,” “Justice,” and “Beauty.”

Scientists of consciousness teach that we’re provided with approximately three seconds
To open ourselves to reality – that is, to God –
That we have a 100 trillion synapses available to accomplish this –
And that our mind has a capacity even larger than the entire known universe –
But also, of course, limited by the time available to take a look.

God, however, has no time limitations
(since “time” for God exists in an entirely different realm) –
Therefore, God is always looking at us –
And greatly pleased when we’re able to “feel” God’s presence
And, in response, turn in God’s direction.

Sometimes, we can “see” a flicker of God’s robes passing by –
In and out of our psychological reality –
Out there, on the edge of consciousness –

Not only “see,” but also have the ability to think about what we’ve just seen –
Using those spiritual tools of love, truth, justice, and beauty,
To reflect upon it.

This is what Jesus did, and why he was able to say the things he said,
And why the people who looked into his face could see God.

So, yes, Jesus is God
But so are you if you truly want it.

You just have to give up everything – so as to gain sufficient freedom
To “see” –
And then, have faith in what you are seeing,
Using those “spiritual tools” handed down to you
Over millennia of human experience.

We should be talking with one another about all this –
About God – and about our selves –

What could be more important?

GREAT GOOD GLADNESS

As I get older, the world appears to be getting worse –
But this is a mistake
Because things are actually getting better
The younger you are.

The young can’t remember anything they haven’t yet experienced –
So, to the young, now is always now,
The sun’s usually out,
And they’re certain love is on the way.

The young cherish clutter and rubbish –
Because it gives them plenty of “stuff” to clear away
When, eventually, they go out to make the world a better place.

There’re far fewer tragedies in the world of the young
Because everything is constantly getting better –
The Beatles knew this – singing: “Here comes the sun!”

The young are fresh, original,
With perfect skin and glistening eyes –
So they don’t need to pay attention to shadows
In their elders’ eyes.

Perhaps we got it all wrong –
That God was never an “old man”
Sitting on an emerald throne – dispensing iron justice –
But, always, simply, a beautiful child
Radiating life and joy
And, in general, great good gladness.

IT’S THE LIFE IN THE EYE THAT COUNTS

Where is beauty?

In a passing person’s face
Especially her eyes –   

Sparkling!

It’s the life in the eye that counts
Whether love, joy, or ecstasy –
The look that sees you as the center of the universe –
And as a manifestation of God –
You remember that passing-by look
For the rest of your life.

Tragedy, on the other hand, is when an actor isn’t aware he’s acting
Doesn’t know he’s in a play
And follows a script without the sense that he’s reading one.

He hears a smattering of applause, starts to bow –
And then
And then –

Wakes up.

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!