“Everything!” say the Zen people
But have no idea, really, how that might work.

“Nothing” says 21st Century Man
And doesn’t give it another thought.

Actually, it’s naming a specific object or task
As being “holy” –
As if, by naming it, one can make it so.

There are those who try to eat the sacred
Believing, by swallowing it, you can bring God inside you –
Many religions practice a form of this belief.

The word “sacred” has also been used by various religions
And their faithful
As an “Open Sesame” to their proprietary collective –
A password that can get you past the front door.

Usually, when one claims something is “sacred,” they mean it’s “related to God” –
Something God has “touched” in the past and might want to touch again.

Are there people that, in and of themselves, are sacred?
Or is it only when such a person touches an object that makes it so –
For example, a spiritual symbol that can be worn on a gold chain
Ensuring that, if one suddenly dies, they’ll have a better chance of ending up with God?

Maybe sacred objects are simply reminders passed by along the road of life
Muttering: “There’s something important you’ve been missing.”

Back here, though, in the land of sunshine,
One final bit of unconscious joy is allocated just before we pass
To brighten up our final step
Into glory or, alternatively, to the place that’s quickly going dark.

Hopefully, long before then, you’ll be allowed the time to become a little more
“Sacred” yourself –
You know – along with God – in the land of the living.


They’ve gotten too big! – I mean Jesus, Buddha and Mohammed – like a succession of Macy’s Day Parade balloons. But how did this happen since, at one time, they were human beings just like us? Continuous attention by large numbers of people over a long period of time accomplished it. Hundreds of millions of minds and hearts focused on a few individuals over millennia and, eventually, you’ll create something that’s no longer human – just giant light projections bouncing off the dark insides of people’s heads.  The psychic wattage has just been enormous.

In turning attention back to ourselves, we seem so small in comparison.  All three of these people repeatedly told us that they were just human beings. But that made no difference once they physically left us – because institution-building in each case had gotten well underway.

So how can we get them back down to earth without seeming disrespectful?  We’re certainly thankful for their existence – for their time with us – it was a good thing.  But such deep and largely unreflective worship has gotten us diverted from our duty to respect ourselves, as well as being a major distraction from God – who lives in our own hearts.

We’ve been on the way a long time now, and we’re finally ready to arrive!

We’ll begin by engaging with God and our true selves directly – not with a giant projection. Then, we’ll open up the colorful gift of joy secretly placed in our hearts – that little present God provided us at birth – to be opened only on the day we wake up spiritually.

This present was not one given to Jesus, Buddha, or Mohammed – because they’ve already opened their own special gifts –

No, this present was given solely to us

A personal joy – straight from God!


It’s because there’s nothing more democratic than a diner!  I just love diners!  They’re open, accepting places where one can read a book, drink countless cups of coffee, and not have anyone bother you.  You might get a side-glance when you first go in, but soon you’ll be no more interesting than day-old pie – just part of the scene – which might include teens on a date, fingers entwined across the table, smiling at one another and sipping strawberry milkshakes; or an elderly retiree on a careful budget, solitarily nursing a cup of black coffee; or a bus driver who knows the first names of all the waitresses, ordering eggs “over easy,” along with country-fried ham and biscuits; or a local crazy person drooling on his shirt and mumbling irritably, so long as he’s not too loud and, even if he is, the waitresses will simply give him a “Shush;” or a businessman reading the financial and sports sections, eating a slice of apple pie while taking a break from his office pressures; or a group of women friends, grateful for a bit of uninterrupted time, delightedly sharing the neighborhood’s hot and cold gossip.


The light inside diners is usually bright enough to read by given the combination of daylight and indoor fluorescent lights.  Outside, the traffic is rushing continually by – which is part of what makes diners so pleasurable – the outside world rolling by in a constant stream of moving lights and colors while we’re sitting comfortably inside, food on the way.


Diners themselves, however, aren’t really mystical in any true sense – except maybe passing in the night – but they do offer the single most important prerequisite for mysticism – clear and open spiritual space.  Diner space has unique emotional, psychic and cultural aspects.  For example, no matter how crowded a diner gets, there’s always enough room for everyone to get in.  Even more, diner space is democratic space – i.e., there’re no special privileges in diners – no one has to make way for anyone else.  Everyone takes their own turn – and can end up in a booth if that’s what they really want.


“Diner” mystics need the quality of freedom that’s available in a typical diner.  Anyone, however, who believes they’re better than other people, whether due to higher education or greater knowledge, income or status, will never qualify as one.  Diner mystics know, without thinking much about it, that they’re nobody special, and so are happy to take a seat in the next free booth, pick up the plastic-covered menu sitting on the table, and enter their own personal diner “heaven”!  No one in their right mind would think that they can go into a diner and demand that everyone bow their heads in prayer or insist that the customers recite religious formulas together.  If the waitresses couldn’t get this kind of person to leave, the cooks would, and if the cooks couldn’t, the highway patrol who are always sitting in the back nursing coffee, certainly would.  My advice is to test everything you’re told the same as you would if you were sitting happily in your favorite diner.


The Jewish version of diner is a delicatessen, but with better pickles.   Everything else is pretty much the same – a community hangout.


Once, long ago, God decided to send some lofty souls down from heaven (Hasidic teachers) to illuminate the darkness of exile in the Russian Pale.  In like manner, God may, one day, send a few diner mystics down to us – brilliant sparks of spiritual light to sit in the back booths of diners, waiting for a signal to spiritually light up America.  In early Christian times, it wasn’t uncommon for mystics to sit on tall columns out in the desert.  Today, a “diner” mystic might be sitting on a counter stool, turning slowly back and forth, holding a cup of bitter-brewed coffee, and available to anyone who’s able to spot her.


Denny’s will never be a “real” diner.  Chains, by definition, are in an “anti”-diner category.  No true mystic would ever eat in one!  Un-chained diners, on the other hand, operate free of franchise regulations.  The cashier who’s worked there 20 years can say whatever he wants, for good or ill, while you’re paying your check, while the waitress who’s been working there more than 30 years will have her own personal style of tossing the plastic menus onto the tabletop, saying: “Coffee now, hon?”  Diner employees frequently are from the same Greek family or may be their next door neighbors.  A diner is a lot like a home.  Families in homes aren’t required to live subject to the requirements of a franchise manual.  Can you imagine a mother having to consult her franchise handbook before deciding where and when to send the kids out to play or to determine how many times a week she’ll be making love with her husband?  People living in families do anything they want!  They can be as functional, dysfunctional, enlightened or dim-witted, as they wish.  It’s a “free country – and diners fit a free society, perfectly.


Why am I taking all this time to talk about diners and what, if anything, do they have to do with “mysticism”?  I think it’s commonly agreed that there will be no real spiritual life without at least a certain minimum level of humanity.  But how will people be able to achieve this if the world becomes increasingly regulated by the institutional requirements of multinational corporations which are now intruding, consciously and unconsciously, into every facet of our daily lives?  The franchise itself is just a tiny nut or bolt in a much larger more elaborate corporate machine, designed by financial, legal and corporate experts working in mega-cities, like New York, London or Tokyo, who are striving to satisfy the quarterly financial requirements set by the investment world.  Franchisee employees are fungible, paid at the minimum legally-required level, and treated as temporary in every respect, usually with no health or other employee benefits.  Even the local managers are temporary.  In general, you’re never going to develop a deep personal relationship with a franchise employee, except by accident.  They have to do what they’re told, by carefully following the franchise regulations and procedures.  Nor are you ever going to meet (nor would you want to) any of those responsible for preparing the franchise manual or managing the parent company. Yet it’s impossible for you to escape their influence.  Franchises, along with the policies and procedures by which they’re run, are these people’s personalities projected into your world.


We need a lot more un-chained family diners in this country so as to restore civilized space back into our lives.  The same would be true of family-owned pharmacies, toy stores, farms, etc.


Isn’t it a fact that our economic system has now evolved itself into a worldwide Darwinian money game, favoring those most skilled at playing competitive intellectual games?

Do we really want to end up living inside a worldwide economic machine beyond anyone’s control, even that of the United States Government?  Do we really want a society where the people who end up with the most power and economic resources are simply the world’s best game players?


So, isn’t it about time for diners to start making a comeback!  Spiritually, diners have always been even more open than the churches that sit just down the road.  In a diner, one doesn’t need to affirm a specific belief system.  It’s certainly true that diners won’t take you to God, but they also won’t drive you away from God either.  Diners never waste your time.  They feed you and leave you as free going out as when you first walked in.  Can you really say the same thing about churches?  Don’t you start feeling just a little bit restricted as soon as you enter the church parking lot?  When you decide to join a church, you’ll become aware of the necessity for wearing a “uniform” – i.e., required exterior (clothes) and interior (doctrines).  Diners, however, aren’t bothered about what you wear or think – whether you’re orthodox or unorthodox.  Jesus himself was totally open to people – just like a diner.  Anyone could come by, sit at his table and talk about God.  Diners stay open 24/7 while churches, for the most part, are open only a few hours a week, mainly on Sunday.  As a consequence, going to church is often wholesome, but is not necessarily holy.  True holiness isn’t found in crowds, even well-behaved, well-dressed ones.  Real holiness is usually a solitary affair.  When a radiantly holy person enters a diner to eat breakfast – no one thinks a thing about it.  That same holiness, exhibited in church, however, will probably make a number of people in the congregation pretty uncomfortable.


God flashes brief glimpses of Spirit down among us –usually in the deepest ambiguities of our lives – the times and places we’re the most fragile, puzzled and uncertain how to proceed.  It’s the people who don’t think they know everything, and simply want to be with God, who usually turn out to be God’s people, that is, the nobodies.  You can find them whenever you just take the trouble to look – in fact, they’re probably sitting at the counter in your local diner right now!


The kind of person who might be reflecting on God in a diner is certainly not restricted to any specific religious tradition.  They’re able to allow all kinds of religious and spiritual thoughts to reverberate freely throughout their minds and souls.  They might even let themselves take a few minutes to have fun “playing” with God.  One day, I sat down and tried to think about God from as many different angles as I was able.  What I came up with will be my next post – “Kaleidoscopic Images of God”.


Erasing Important Spiritual Distinctions

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world.” Ephesians 6:12


The conservative majority of the United States Supreme Court, in the recent Citizens United and Hobby Lobby cases, has taken the spiritually radical position that corporate entities, intended as legal instrumentalities for combining business capital, have the same constitutionally protected freedom of speech and religion that natural persons do – even though they’re only constituted of paper and money. For me, this raises some important questions about the religious and spiritual foundations underlying this Court’s thinking, e.g.:

  • Does the Court really believe that a corporation has a heart, mind, or soul, much less feelings, beliefs, emotions, dreams, and ideals?
  • Do they imagine that a corporation could ever be found down on its knees, praying for forgiveness?
  • Do they believe that corporations are creations of God – or even a part of Nature?

Why did this conservative (but actually radical) Court authorize the anthropomorphization of corporations – upon what religious or spiritual basis did they act – in other words, what was in the minds of these particular justices?

Actually, it probably hearkens back to the time of the merger of the Jesus movement with the Roman Empire under the Emperor Constantine when the church’s hierarchy officially became part of the imperial power. Since America is today’s successor to that Western imperial power, perhaps these justices were only being consistent with their forbears in holding in favor of official (in this case corporate capital) power over the rights of individual human beings. A corporation, as an artificial legal entity with certain tax and legal benefits, has now been judicially held to possess the same religious and free speech rights as natural “flesh and blood” human beings under the Constitution.  These holdings, without more, appear to be a striking “signal in the wind” that, today, there’s probably not much residual meaning left in our principal national religion – that God seems to have left us without giving any clear forwarding address –now that human beings are treated as having no greater “soul” than official pieces of paper or electronic imprints. These opinions constitute the official U.S. Government recognition of the primacy of power and privilege inherent in capital over whatever still remains of our “old time religion” – courtesy of the Supreme Court of the United States of America.

It seems to me that it was pretty easy for this Court to extinguish the time-honored status (at least two millenniums) of natural human beings as having preeminence in God’s eyes. Even so, I still wonder why this ghoulish “ensoulment” of business corporations has passed so largely unremarked by America’s principal religious institutions.

The effect of permitting corporations to possess constitutionally-protected religious and free speech rights, by treating artificial legal entities as spiritual beings, certainly did not deepen corporations’ “personal” relationship with God, but instead authorized their owners to impose their own religious and political beliefs on their employees and society.

Does anyone really think that if God, today, were really still alive for people living in the United States of America that these five conservative justices would have dared draft these holdings? If God meant anything to us, at all, wouldn’t citizens now be outside praying for forgiveness for permitting, even indirectly, these legal opinions that have the effect of abrogating the most basic meaning of the nature and existence of God and human beings?