Tuesday, June 20, 2017

I don't Know . . .

It’s not easy to explain something
that I myself don’t understand.
Maybe that’s why I try
poetically.

Difficulties and setbacks never quell my curiosity.
A swarm of new questions
emerges from every challenge I face.

Whatever inspiration is,
it’s born from a continuous
 I don’t know.

So many of my churchgoing friends simply know,
and whatever they know is enough for them
once and for all.

They don’t want to find out about anything else,
since that might diminish their security.

But any knowledge that doesn’t lead to new questions
quickly dies:
it fails to maintain the temperature
required for sustaining life.
In the most extreme cases from ancient and modern history,
it even poses a lethal threat to society.

This is why I value that little phrase
I don’t know
so highly.
It’s small,
but it flies on mighty wings.

It expands the space within me
as well as those outer expanses
in which our tiny Earth hangs suspended.




In daily speech,
where we don’t stop to consider every word,
we all use phrases like ordinary,
as in the ordinary course of events.

But for me,
in my poetry,
where each word is important,
nothing is usual or normal.
Not a single stone and not a single cloud above it.
Not a single day
and not a single night after it.
And above all,
not a single existence,
not anyone’s existence in this world,
certainly not mine,
nor yours.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Wisdom's Residence

I have just begun
to learn
that

Wisdom resides

where
knowledge ends

in the stillness
of
the precious present moment.


All I need do
is

Be there,
Truly Be there

in
Love.


Or did we all always know that
and I simply just recall it?



Friday, June 16, 2017

Un-knowing

Unknowing,
if I can be open and vulnerable,
can take me to the very depths of Wisdom,
not informing my mind
but coursing through my whole body, artery and veins
provided I can thrust aside
what the world calls common sense,
that popular conventional wisdom
that prevents the emerging of the spiritual,
access to the Divine within.

I cannot wipe my mind clean of its knowing,
as one would wash a face,
for, indeed, paradoxically,
I need some knowing
As an essential aspect of living,
not to be despised.

But when my mind attempts to usurp
the whole realm of my consciousness,
of which, after all, it is but a fragment,
the possibilities of discovering Unknowing 
are overlaid and lost.

The world belongs to silence and stillness.
Unknowing, 
itself being empty,
can be approached only in moments of emptiness
which the ego-mind mistakes for boredom
hastening to fill that condition
with ever more and more learning.

To my ego
the phrase I do not know
is one of self-reproach.

But for me
I do not know
is the door to Wisdom,
the Open Sesame,
which to pronounce 
costs nothing less than everything.

So, I must drop from busy awareness
into the stillness
whence life springs, 
into the void within me.




Only by such means
 can I come upon fullness, 
the fullness that my mind, 
with all its acumen, 
cannot begin to conceive. 

Thus, True Self offers itself to my self
 and I know without knowing 
whatever is vital to me
and that there is manna in the wilderness.










Monday, June 12, 2017

Believe it or Not

I discovered
that I  was hanging on to beliefs
given me early in my life
when I had no right to believe them
given the evidence before me.

I had to learn
that no one holding a strong belief on one side of a question,
or even wishing to hold a belief on one side,
can investigate it with fairness and completeness
as if really in doubt and unbiased;
Holding on to beliefs not founded on fair inquiry
diminished me.

The sacred tradition of humanity, 
I learned, 
consists, not in propositions or statements 
which are to be accepted and believed 
based on the authority of religious clerics, 
but in questions rightly asked, 
in ideas which enable me to ask further questions, 
and in being willing to live the questions. 

The value of any beliefs
depends on their being tested day by day. 

The very sacredness of humanity 
imposes upon me the duty and the responsibility of testing my beliefs, 
of purifying and enlarging them
 to the utmost of my power
and in leaving them in the dust
as I grow.

 A religious hierarchy that makes use of beliefs 
to stifle doubt, 
or to hamper the honest inquiry of people, 
is guilty of sacrilege.

Eventually I hope to grow
to a point where
what someone believes is not as important
as simply being willing 
to live the questions.








Friday, June 2, 2017

Pro God

Religion flattens imagination
in service to literalism.
When prevented from thinking imaginatively,
people will inevitably think stupidly.

It is literalism in religion
that has primed us for fake news.

The religious are primed to be intellectually lazy.
Religion should be on the cutting edge of the sciences and humanities,
using the latest findings of each
in its effort to make meaning and articulate purpose.

When religion abandons reality
it risks becoming irrelevant to those who don’t.

I’m pro-choice pro-life, 
and if forced to choose, 
I choose the life and well-being of the mother 
over that of her unborn child. 

I’m pro-family, 
and I define family by the quality of love between family members
 rather than by gender, race, religion, or sexual orientation.

 I’m pro-God, 
and I understand God as that unnamable, non-dual Reality,
the loving energy
in which we live, move, and have our being 
rather than any of the named Gods of religion.









Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Humility

In my poetry,
I try to articulate Truth
at the edges of what words can touch.

Limited by my words,
I acknowledge my humility.

My life has acquainted me intimately
with humility,
a companion of curiosity and delight.

Humility,
like humor,
has softened me,
for hospitality,
and beauty,
and questioning.

Humility 
is not about making myself small,
not about debasing myself,
but about approaching everything and everyone
with a readiness to see goodness
and be surprised.

Humility
gives me a lightness of step,
not a heaviness of heart.


In that lightness,
I claim a love of others
taking that on as an adventure,
my calling.










Sunday, May 28, 2017

Suffering

Much that my religion taught
about suffering
is hogwash.

It was important for me
to learn to distinguish
between true crosses and false crosses.

Growing up,
I was taught that somehow
suffering was supposed to be good;
as I said, hogwash.

I do not believe
that the God who gave me life
wants to me live life,  suffering,
but indeed wants me to live life fully
and well.

Does that belief
take me to places
where I suffer
because I stand for something,
because I am committed to something,
because I am passionate about something
that is rejected by my religion?
Indeed!

But in all honesty,
suffering this way
Is life-giving.

It’s my Truth
and I cannot not live it.

And there is the suffering
that is death,
which must simply be worked through
to find life
on the other side.


Is God Love

I raise questions
in my poetry
because I don’t know the answers.
It’s become my Spiritual Practice.

Poems
are fantastic spaces
for unanswered questions
taking me as far down the road as I can go
striving to understand something.

So often,
the road ends
with a real Question.

What if God is Love?

What would that mean?

It surely means
I Am because Love is,
but
so what?

As precious as life is,
is it the most important thing,
the highest possible value?



If it is,
I’m lost,
because we all die.

Might the most important thing,
the most valuable thing,
be Love?

Though the world is full
of suffering and evil and pain,
Love Is.

So,
I have something to do,
I have something to look for,
I have a way to live,
a treasure
more important and valuable
than life itself.

 If God is Love,
(BEING-in-Love)
am I One with God
by
Being in Love?









Sunday, May 21, 2017

Let's dialog

I realize that my harsh and direct disagreement
 with Institutional Church polices, practices, governance, 
and especially theology
places honest thought under pressure. 

That’s its point. 

Pressure should be intellectually productive;
being forced to look closely at arguments 
against a beloved religious position 
can help those who hold it 
to honestly examine it
and perhaps even move them to abandon it
as non-sense.

But pressure also causes pain and fear; 
and when those under pressure 
find these things difficult to bear, 
they’ll sometimes use any means possible
 to make the pressure and the pain go away. 

They feel unsafe, threatened, put upon, 
and so they react by remaining secure 
in the darkness of the Church bushel
or attacking the messenger, me,
as heretic and dissenter.

Both moves are common enough, 
as is their support for the hierarchical powers that be. 

Pewsitter tolerance for intellectual pain is low
as is tolerance for any sort of argument
against what they’ve been told
to believe.

Friday, May 19, 2017

God as . . .

The word God
has had a fairly clear-cut meaning for centuries in the West.
It has meant a being of some sort,
a Santa-like creator concerned with questions of good and evil.
I don’t believe in such a God.

I believe God is a cosmic energy of beauty and harmony,
verb as much or more than noun,
lending the term an entirely new meaning.

I used to see myself as some character in a cosmic drama: 
I was created, have sinned, and would be saved
 a grand story. 

Now I realize 
that we’re more like actors standing around on a stage 
without direction 
and I have no choice but to improvise a little drama here,
 a little comedy there. 

My aversion to religion 
stems from the fact that I felt a longing 
for something I now know isn’t true.

The laws of nature are impersonal;
they’re not all just about me.
How could I have warm feelings for them
as I do for another human being?


There’s nothing in the laws of nature
to suggest that I have a special place in the universe
without living my life fully in love.
I don’t find my life pointless
when I live in love while trying to understand creation.
I myself have to give my life meaning.

Great works of art can console me.
I can go on enjoying cathedrals and Gregorian chants
without believing.

And many of the greatest pieces of literature
manage without any religious background;
witness all the works of Shakespeare.

And through it all, I still have humor.

I can be amused with myself
not with a sneering humor
but with a kindhearted one.

It’s the sort of humor I feel
when I  see a child taking its first steps.
I  laugh at all the child’s arduous efforts,
but I do it full of empathy.

And if laughter ever fails me,
I can still take satisfaction
in that I was able to live
in Love.





Thursday, May 18, 2017

Leaders and/or Teachers

Religion should teach me
how to find out about the things I need to know
giving me the opportunity
to develop my own particular talents and interests
to the fullest,
to become whole,
to become wise.

The trouble is that
religious hierarchs really don’t know how to do this.
Those who do know,
or at least have some good ideas,
are not the people who actually control my religion.

The Church is controlled by the
Good Ole Ordained Quasi-celibate Boys Club,
and directly or indirectly these people decide
what we should be taught and how.

And what one gets out of religion
will largely decide what one gets out of life.

So I have a right,
and a duty to myself,
to becoming wise.

I know how the present religious system works
and what its limitations are
but I will not let this stop me
from seeking Wisdom.

If everybody dared
to be honest with each other all the time,
Institutional Catholicism
would collapse very rapidly.
But as a rule,
 neither its Clerics
nor its Laity dare to be honest with each other.

When being honest didn’t work
I then acted
to show that I meant what I said.
The best way to act
was to simply live what I’ve talked about for so long,
to live the religion I wanted my religion to be.



Most authoritarian Clerics
are tied up in knots,
afraid of something or other.

They’re often afraid of the Laity
and think they have to appear strict and unapproachable.
They’re afraid that the Laity may be right
and that they may be wrong.
They’re afraid that there’ll be chaos
if they give up their power and authority.

This fear arises
because they don’t believe in people’s ability
to find their own solutions to problems.
This lack of faith in others may be due to a lack of belief in themselves.
They’re insecure
and have to rely on their authority all the time.

Church Leaders remain leaders 
only as long as we let them
and as long as we let them,
we will not walk the path
to wholeness,
to Wisdom.









Saturday, May 6, 2017

Reform Reformed

I had participated
in efforts to help reform
Institutional Church,
specifically, the Roman Catholic Church,
when it dawned on me
that the people participating in such efforts
had widely different views of
Reform.

Many well-intentioned people
simply wanted to revise the rules and regulations,
rites and rituals,
to make the institution
more inclusive,
less discriminatory,
more accepting,
less condemning,
more feminine,
less patriarchal,
more loving
 less legalistic,
and more forward thinking,
less mired in the past.

Along the way,
I realized that 
even if the Roman Church
miraculously altered
its rules of governance,
I could not in Truth
make my way back into it.

I realized that to be a follower of Jesus
is not to be a member
of some man-made religion,
which He never espoused,
nor to spend energies
worshipping Him
in prescribed ways,
which He never suggested.

Reform
for many reformers
simply meant changing the rules, regulations,
rites, and rituals,
to order to increase membership,
or at least to stem the tide of those leaving.

Jesus
was killed because
He was a threat
to the hierarchies of his day;
If His followers
behaved as He did,
the religious hierarchy
would not be able to control people.

Jesus
never  intended to establish
some new religion,
least of all,
a Roman one;
Jesus was a JEW,
not some kind of Roman Catholic,
or even a Christian.

Revising rules, regulations, rites, and rituals
under the approval
of some hierarchy
is not a meaning of
Reform
to which I can subscribe.

Gathering
(the original meaning of church)
with people wanting to emulate
Jesus
is an idea of Church
to which I can and do 
subscribe.











Thursday, May 4, 2017

People

I believe in people.
I feel, love, need, and respect people above all else.

One person fighting for the truth
can disqualify for me
the religious platitudes of centuries.

And one human being who stands up against religious discrimination
can render invalid the entire hierarchy which has dispensed it.

I believe in the potential of people.
I cannot rest passively
with those who give up in the name of religion.

Human nature becomes an unexamined existence
if it is obliged to remain static,
paying, praying, obeying.

Without growth,
without metamorphosis,
there is no God.

The laborious, loving way,
the way of dignity and divinity,
presupposes a belief in people
and in their capacity to change, grow, communicate,
and love,
despite doctrine dogma to the contrary.

I believe in our unconscious mind,
the deep spring from which comes
the power to communicate and to love.

For me, love is a combination of these powers;
for if love is the way we have of communicating personally in the deepest way,
then what we can do
is to extend this communication, magnify it,
and carry it to vastly greater numbers of people.

Despite religion,
We must encourage thought, 
free and creative. 

We must respect privacy. 
We must observe taste 
by not exploiting our sorrows, successes, or passions. 
We must learn to know ourselves better. 
We must rely more on our unconscious, intuitional, inspirational side. 

We must not enslave ourselves to dogma. 
We must believe in the attainability of good. 
We must believe, without fear, in people.

I do.
You?

Monday, May 1, 2017

Self Transcendence

My Life Quest
has revealed to me
the Eros of my Spirit,
my capacity and desire 
for self-transcendence
through Love.

That capacity
meets fulfillment;
that desire
turns to Joy,
when
I am transformed by Love.

In Love,
all my pursuits
seem  furthered
by a cosmic purpose.

The Love
that enables my self-transcendence
is without conditions, qualifications, reservations;
it captivates all my heart, 
all my soul,
all my mind,
all my strength.

True Love’s
lack of limitations
corresponds to
my need for unrestricted questioning.

True Love
entails
fulfillment, joy, peace, bliss.

I can miss it
by evading questions,
being absorbed with other matters,
and by mental distractions.

But then the absence of Love
reveals itself to me
in my unrest, 
an absence of Joy
and a lack of peace.


True Love
  reveals to me
Values in Splendor
and the strength of this Love
brings their realization in me,
thus enabling
my self-transcendence.










Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Compassion

Unless I am very, very careful,
I doom others by holding onto images of them
based on my preconceptions
that are in turn based on indifference
to what is other than myself.

I claimed autonomy for myself
and forgot that in so doing
I fell into the tyranny of defining other people
as I would like them to be.

By focusing on what I  chose to acknowledge in them,
I imposed an insidious control on them.

I now know
that I have to pay careful attention
in order to listen to others
with an openness that allows them to be as they are,
or as they think themselves to be.

The shutters of my mind habitually flip open and click shut,
and these little snaps form into patterns
I arrange for myself.

The opposite of this inattention is love,
 the honoring of others
in a way that grants them the grace
of their own autonomy
allowing mutual discovery.

Compassion is one of the purest springs of love.

I am mystified 
by the speed with which people condemn one another. 
Feeling as righteous as the money-changers in the temple, 
they cast their fellows into the outer darkness of their disapproval. 

This seems to give them intense pleasure. 

Whenever I am tempted by this pleasure,
 I remember some impulse in myself 
that could lead me into the same trap.

This causes me to distrust the part of myself
 that relishes self-righteousness,
constantly seeking
Compassion.



Saturday, April 22, 2017

Living MY Life

The life I was living
was not the life that wanted to live in me.

My values were based on a simplistic brand of moralism
that reduced ethical life
to making a list, checking it twice,
against an index in a catechism book of sins,
trying very hard not to be naughty but nice.

Trying to live up to
someone else’s dictates
or to live by some abstract religious norms,
invariably failed.

I stopped trying to tell my life
what I intended to do with it;
Instead I listened for what it intended to do with me.

I gave up telling my life what religious truths and values
I have decided to live up to;
Instead I let my life tell me
what truths I embody,
what values I represent.

I sought not religious conformity,
but wholeness
because blind obedience to doctrine and dogma
was an act of violence toward myself,
violence forced on myself from without
rather than wholeness grown from within.

True self resisted,
holding my life in check
until I honored its truth.

Growth came from listening.
I had to listen to my life
and try to understand what it is truly about
quite apart from what religious outsiders told me.

My life never would have represented
anything real in the world,
no matter how earnest my intentions.

I could no longer tell my life
what I wanted to do with it;
I had to listen to my life telling me who I am.

I had to listen for the truths and values
at the heart of my own identity,
not the religious standards by which I must live
but the standards by which I cannot help but live
if I am living my own life.

What a long time it took
to become the person I have always been.
How often in the process I masked myself
in faces that were not my own.

How much dissolving and shaking of ego
I had to endure
before I discovered deep identity,
the true self within,
the seed of authenticity.

Today I understand True Self quite differently
 not as a goal to be achieved 
but as a gift to be received. 

Discovering True Self 
does not mean scrambling toward some prize
 just beyond my reach 
but accepting the treasure of true self 
I already possess. 

Wholeness
 does not come from a voice out there
calling me to become something I am not.
 It comes from a voice in here
calling me to be the person I was born to be.










Unknowing

I no longer try to find answers
to the questions of life,
but only to stay with the reality of not knowing.

I strive to stay within the mystery.

Maybe one reason my mind continually asks questions
is that this questioning brings into awareness
my act of trying to separate myself.

I had assumed I was here,
and the mysterious universe was out there.
I went through life
assuming I was a separate being.

Self-inquiry challenged my assumption of separation.

The questioning gave me clues
to my attachments,
how I wanted things to be,
how I wanted things to be other than they were,
and how I suffered as a result.

When I deeply asked,
What or who am I?
I allowed myself to become one with unknowing.

I found that
at the end of unknowing
lies great awakening.
When I can doubt fully,
I will awaken fully.

Gradually it became clear
that there is no way to do away with doubt.
Doubt is an expression of what I am.

It became clear to me
that to ask deeply the question
Who am I?
was to allow myself to become doubt itself.

So it has been imperative for me 
to doubt the truth of my concepts about God, 
and at the same time to be aware that I was doubting. 


In the midst of my unknowing,
 I found that
reality could not be grasped 
by making it into an object of thought. 
But I had to try. 

Indeed, my desire for truth was deepened by trying. 
It was deepened by my wanting to know. 

But my true role
is not to know what reality is. 

Here and now 
is the source. 
I open my arms. 
I drink in the moment. 

Here and now
 is one hundred percent identical 
with every possible manifestation in the whole universe.

 When I doubt this idea deeply, 
I awaken deeply
into Unknowing.