After Christ, Seeking

My father, after reading Ma, recognized that the book was an attempt to share with the world my experience of life. He had to admit, however, that he understood it very poorly.

When my son Greg learned that I had spent almost $20,000 on publishing and marketing Ma and The Soul Comes First, he chastised me, “You’re  wasting your money. They don’t care!” My response was, “I understand, and some may think that they are taking advantage of me, but it’s not just money. It’s intention, and that investment is allowing me to get close to the things that oppose the realization of my goals.”

As part of that process, I went out to meet Hugh Ross at Reasons to Believe in Arcadia. He wasn’t in that Sunday, but the presentation gave me hope that I had found a community that might understand my journey. Conceptual frameworks color our perceptions, and thus our experience of life. The presenter summarized a book that proposed criteria for assessing conceptual frameworks, and surveyed the limitations of Humanity’s most robust frameworks. Having realized that I had been allowed a perspective that reconciled many of the limitations, I tried to engage him, only to be completely rebuffed because my understanding of angels was incompatible with his.

That made me think of the Apostles in the Garden of Gethsemane. As a child, I was taught that “The spirit is willing; but the flesh is weak” was a chastisement. Today I understand Jesus’ words as self-diagnosis, and recognize that the reason the Apostles slept is because to share Jesus’ struggle with him would have shattered their hearts and minds.

I don’t write about all of my experiences as I inch closer to the heart of Christ. Partly, that’s because they won’t make sense to anyone – the scientists will say that they are impossible, and the religious will reject them, citing dogma and creed. But it’s also because the experiences often aren’t fun. I was juicing oranges Tuesday morning when India’s poor landed on me, and I sobbed for several minutes with my forehead resting against the door of the kitchen cabinet.

While listening to WOW Worship Gold last night, I went in really deep. A sequence of songs reiterated the encouragement to open hearts to Christ. A flood of energy arose from mine, and I struggled with grief as the great tide of Life’s suffering pulled on it. I raised my hands to the sky and felt him reaching down to me, almost ready to surrender the sorrows of the cross. Entering into that heavenly will, my hands reached down, touching all the hands raised up from the ground.

No, it doesn’t make sense. It is just what it was.

People make better choices when they understand, but understanding is possible only upon surrendering oneself in service to needs that are insurmountable in the clothing of our Humanity. So Love, with infinite patience, watches as we take two steps forward, and then one back. With infinite endurance it suffers and heals the corruption of our self-serving. With infinite compassion it guides us to relationships that bring us strength and affirmation.

Please try to understand. Love is perfect. It is our experience that is imperfect. To offer love to the world is the only way to bridge that gap.

So this helps: the marchers in Charlotte, N.C. stopping outside the prison and shouting up to the inmates:

We see you. We love you.

In Service to Eve

This was inspired in discussion with Linda Boeckhout.


Interview Purpose

Concerned that contemporary culture is forcing women to interpret their lives in terms of masculine virtues, In Service to Eve is dedicated to celebratory expression of the feminine virtues. You have been chosen because the author finds you to be inspirational.

The interview is free-form, organized as prompts rather than questions with answers. Drawing upon notes and memory, the interviewer will create a portrait in blog post format. Some of the terms used by the subject may be changed to ensure consistency with a philosophical system. To avoid misapprehension, the portrait will be submitted for approval by the subject, and not published unless it is found acceptable.

The ultimate goal of the interview is to empower the subject through an affirmation of their virtue.

Interview Prompts

Describe yourself.

How would you like to inspire others?

Who is your most profound feminine influence?

What frustrates you?

Who is your most profound masculine influence?

What resources do you rely upon in bringing your inspiration to the world?

Balke, Principal of Uncertainty

After seven-and-a-half years of working with ancient technology at my current employer, I began putting my resume around in February. The process has been discouraging. I was truly excited about a start-up in San Francisco that was looking to help self-generators maximize the return on their excess electricity, but the HR manager wasn’t interested in organizing a plane flight up from Los Angeles. The hiring manager broke off contact with “Let me know when you’ve got yourself relocated to San Francisco.” I’ve also looked for opportunities in the motion control industry, applying to half-a-dozen positions. I didn’t even get a call back.

The real action is in Java and cloud services, but when I began to work on updating my skills in these areas, I came down really sick in the beginning of March with symptoms that hung on until just this week. Not wanting to be taking interviews while sick, I put the job search on hold. But it might be deeper than that. My brother is also looking for work, and calls me occasionally to share experience. The last time I found myself saying “I don’t know, Ben. I think that I’m getting messages from the world that I’ve been investing my energy in the wrong places.”

With some extra time on my hands, I decided to take up the charge placed on me by John Zande, who insisted that I should try to drum up support for my ideas on fundamental physics. His recommendation was to focus on the Templeton Foundation and its awardees. So I went out to the Foundation’s site and discovered the Fundamental Questions Institute. The mission of the institute seems sympathetic to my goals, but when I contacted the academics that dominate its board, their responses were “I can’t participate in this.” I didn’t even see any hits on my New Physics page.

I understand the reticence of these men: they probably deal with a lot of cranks. But I led my invitations with a list of serious deficiencies in the standard model that should have demonstrated that I am a serious commentator. You would have thought that they would have at least been curious. Of course, I can invest in developing a presence out on their forums, hoping to establish myself in their community, but the conversation seems to be dominated by philosophers rather than physicists, and – dammit – I’ve got a full-time job already.

As this was unfolding, I met with a life coach named Jamie Wozny down in the little garden next to the contributors’ steps at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Still wobbly with my illness, I chased her down standing next to the parking elevator facing a sign that said “Tired of Waiting?” Feeling frustrated with life, I just let it all hang out, telling her a lot of things that I’ve never shared with anyone else, culminating with the laughing observation “You know, the angels love me. If people don’t want me here, why shouldn’t I just wander off to be with them?”

Jamie’s advice was to get myself registered as a minister (thank-you, Universal Life Church), purchase some insurance, and hang up my shingle as a minister at Weebly or one of the other free web-site hosting services. “Your tribe will find you,” she assured me. Remembering the excitement I felt when I designed my t-shirt, the “Love Returns” theme came to mind. I spent my spare time over the next two weeks learning HTML5 animation syntax to build an introductory page, and outlining the content for the rest of the site. Today, I’ll be heading down to a workshop run by Jamie and her partner in Santa Monica where they rent out space in a healer’s studio. That might be a good place to hang up my shingle. While it’s a little distant from home, it’s close to the community centered in Culver City that I’ve been dancing with over the last ten years.

I got another push in this direction from Ataseia, co-organizer of LA Ecstatic Dance, when I told him that I was probably going to be relocating in the near future. He looked at me seriously and said “That’s going to be a real loss to our community.” It was the tone that gave me pause. Robin and he have always made a point of thanking me for my presence, but I had always assumed that was just because I come to all the events.Nobody had ever explicitly recognized the energy and love that I share on the dance floor, except the rare participant that comes up to tell me “thank-you” (and those that do I usually never see again). But at last week’s event, the staff went out of their way to honor my presence among them.

So I’ve been trying to shift my perspective regarding that community, wondering how to introduce myself as a commentator on science and theology with the goal of encouraging people to interact with me. It’s not easy – one of the few people to have read Ma told me that there were very few authors that could write the gamut from the intimately personal, expanding into broad social concerns and beyond to the eternal. There is just so much to say. And so maybe the right way to start is with “I love you all. I express that love through dance and touch, but it’s rooted deeply in my understanding of science and theology. I think that it’s time to share that understanding with the world. If you’d like to hear what I have to say, or know of a forum that would be receptive, let’s talk.”

Then on Thursday morning I came out to check the site stats and discovered that I had almost two hundred hits overnight. When I checked my e-mail, I found a note from Jeffrey Nash that he had printed out all of the essays listed in my “New Physics” and “Faith” pages. We’ve been chatting about quantum mechanics and the basis of spiritually at his Awakening Process sessions and before the Improv Jam on Sundays. He tracks a number of researchers, and wanted to meet with me to discuss my ideas. When that was delayed due to upcoming travel, he said that he would print out some of my writing and read it to prime the conversation. His obvious enthusiasm is deeply flattering. Jeff is a profound healing presence for the people that gather around him.

Among those are a number of young ladies that have strong and expressive bodies. I’ve generated some confusion among them, which I finally addressed while cuddling after an exhausting duet. The woman began to ask probing questions, and I found myself saying “Well, one of the things that an older man can do for a young lady is to encourage her to recognize just how precious she is.” After we broke up, I danced with a few more people, but having already spent three hours on the floor at Ecstatic Dance, I began to cramp up and creak in the knees. Looking to pack up and go, I wandering to the back of the room and found Sophie, a recent addition to the community, beckoning to me from the edge of the “squishy hug-fest” that forms towards the end of the dance. It turns out that she’s working on her Ph.D. in Jungian psychology. As the squishy mass rolled off, we stayed behind, she eventually allowing me to pillow my head on her belly, and talked about psychology and spirituality until the Jam rolled up at 9 PM. As we stood, she asked me about my Ph.D., and laughingly admitted that she didn’t know anything about particle physics. As I offered to explain it to her sometime, I realized that maybe I’d found another community of receptive people.

So here’s a summary of my life over the last two months:

PingPongBall

Let’s Talk Science and Theology

My friend Jamie Wozny told me, during a career coaching session, that I should “try to keep it simple.” As I drove down Wilshire away from LACMA considering the forty years spent studying physics and religion, I whined to myself, “But it all seems simple to me.”

To bridge that gap is why I dance. At the last nightclub that I frequented, the manager came up to me one night and said “You know, I’m noticing that wherever you are, that’s where the people tend to gather.” A Persian woman came up to me one night to say “You don’t know how good you make us all feel.” Just this weekend my friend Mary Margaret, as we lay all akimbo after rolling around on the floor together for ten minutes, admonished me about viewing myself as an old man, “You really should love yourself more. Others would benefit from the experience of your joy.”

The problem is that most people take the energy that comes out of the heart and direct it downwards to the sacral chakra, the focus of passion and pleasure. I try my best to be disciplined, because otherwise I would just be a slut, but the people that come to LA Ecstatic Dance and the Full-Contact Improv Jam do love to touch and be touched. For many, it’s an opportunity to mix masculine and feminine energy without the complications of a relationship. I’ve benefited from that willingness as I try to figure out how to unlock the feminine graces, but I still find it difficult to withstand the impulse to rest my hand over a woman’s womb as she arches backwards with her hips resting on my thigh. Nobody has slapped me yet, so I surmise that I’m giving in to what they want.

I attempt to patch things up afterwards, just consistently raising energy from the fourth chakra – the heart – up to the sixth chakra. While the latter is associated with the pineal gland and known as the “seat of intuition,” physically it rests right over our cerebral cortex which is the part of the brain devoted to higher reasoning.

Realizing that somebody was peeking into my childhood, I woke up at 3 A.M. with a sinus headache. It’s drying out here in Southern California, and the grass is disintegrating. I eventually dragged myself out of bed to rinse my sinuses with Alkylol.

After crawling back under the covers, it occurred to me that the sinuses sit between the sixth and fifth chakras, the latter being the throat chakra that focuses communication and creativity. I always struggle to engage others in conversation regarding the matters that demand so much of my attention – sometimes to the degree of a painful burning in my throat as emotion wells up from my chest.

In considering Dante, Santayana elaborates Dante’s metaphor of theology as his lost love Beatrice, their happiness frustrated in part by his flirtation with philosophy. This matches my own experience: theology does seem to rise from the heart, while science – the most mature expression of philosophy – rests in the mind.  In the modern era the two camps of heart and mind have chosen to dispute with each other.

Between them we have the voice that wisdom teaches us to reserve for the truth. I have spent my life on this problem – the reconciliation of those two warring camps, each holding half of the truth. If anybody knows of an opportunity to engage with others in dialog on those problems, let me know. I’m willing to travel.

Flirting with Trust

Since Friday I’ve been working on my relationship, sharing visualizations of inconceivably precious forms of intimacy. The organizing principles are healing and celebration, involving us in a powerful whirlpool of emotions, running the gamut from grief to dizzying passion. Underneath that runs a steady flow that guides us into deeper and broader connections. So we found ourselves kneeling on the floor, I catching her long hair from behind and stretching her will out into the world where it caught whales and trees and birds, and then her pushing me down on the bed and slowly dragging those long strands over my face so that understanding and love can bring order to life.

And then she stops and wonders what she is doing in the midst of this process, not conscious of the powers she possesses and so uncertain of her ability to manage the dangers she perceives. As I struggle to formulate an assurance, we spin apart. My last clear communication from her ended with her disappearance into a vortex of female faces, creating a cocoon in which she could incubate, but also from which others offered themselves as alternatives. I simply re-iterated my commitment to the self-discovery of my lady, and let her depart with the assurance that I would meet her on the other side to be certain that nothing had been lost.

In the pauses in this work, I’ve been re-reading Santayana’s Three Philosophical Poets. Santayana, philosopher and Christian apologist, combines a deep knowledge of culture and beautiful literary style in the service of revealing the choices we face as we struggle to find meaning and purpose in life. Santayana offers the works of Goethe, Lucretius and Dante as a progression that illuminates the submission of our animal nature to moral discernment, unfortunately with the growing risk of detachment from the joys and perils of human experience. Due to this tension, Santayana finds no superior voice among the three, instead celebrating each as a trustworthy illuminator of the power found in choosing either to do (Goethe), to create (Lucretius) or to serve a higher purpose (Dante).

To do is exemplary because it protects us from nihilism, the conclusion that any single life is insignificant and useless. In exploring this path, Goethe’s anti-hero Faust learns to discard self-judgment for personal wrongs committed against others, and so becomes capable of ruling an entire nation, granting purpose to his people by immersing them in struggle. Upon his death at one hundred years, Faust vanquishes Mephistopheles, demonic grantor of mystical power, who predicted that Faust would eventually learn to surrender purpose and be content with any experience at all, even to lick the dust. Instead, having demonstrated that each individual can find purpose in creating struggle against the world, Faust’s soul is received by angels and carried up to heaven.

Against this idea that we are glorified by struggle, Lucretius celebrates the orderly structure of the world, filled with creative forces that reclaim resources liberated by death. The philosophy of materialism stretches even further, propelling scientific study that allows the rational mind creative opportunities that would never be revealed in nature, and so to engage in an orderly process of improving the human condition. Among the virtues of Lucretius’s program, Santayana heralds self-control, and the defeat of superstition – the latter often abused by religious illusionists to steal the power of an adherent’s natural urge to improve his lot. Chief among the defects is timidity that arises from an awareness of life’s fragility, timidity heightened by the view that we had best live as though this is the only life we have – timidity that would be scorned by Goethe.

Of course, most of history is the story of how those characterized by Goethe twist the power liberating by understanding to subdue ever larger populations. Dante, following Aristotle, celebrates adherence to moral codes that sustain social order. Even more, in an era of deep Christian faith, Dante heralded the possibility of human perfection, of a rising into another realm in which all struggle would cease, each individual recognizing the benefits of submission to the will of a God that loved them without reservation. Dante’s ambition is for every person to be freed from constraints, excepting only the constraint to submit to the dictates of being guided by God’s love for others. Notwithstanding Dante’s outraged prosecution of the authorities of his era, Santayana follows Lucretius in decrying the passivity consequent to subscription to any externally imposed morality.

After his comparative analysis of the three works, Santayana proposes that a fourth poet must be sought to resolve the contradictions between the three philosophies, a poet whose celebration of vitality yet proves that self-control and other-service lead us into our most powerful and satisfying experiences. Incongruously in the context of his analysis, my reaction was “That would have to be a woman.”

But as I sat and pondered my experiences since Friday, I couldn’t escape the feeling that there was a thread that tied all of this together. Santayana brings us the writing of three iconoclasts, men who felt a strong need to assert themselves against the society they inhabited, each with a dour view of the fairness of life. And in my relationship, we have this expansion into ever greater realms of experience that recoils against fear of personal insufficiency. In both cases, the problem is other-trust. Faust trusts only in himself; Lucretius trusts only in personal discernment; Dante trusts only in God; and my lady does not trust that others will support our relationship.

What does it take, to lay mistrust to rest? We have the evidence of Good Friday services, in which multitudes gather to celebrate the worthiness of a man that was willing to die to redeem others of their faults, followed by Easter in which the resurrection proves the overwhelming power committed by God to the realization of that redemption. How can we not be discouraged by this standard of loving, a standard that cannot possibly be sustained in relationships between lesser beings?

Enough: it was done. The powers that stood behind Jesus did so because he arose in confrontation with sin, and in surrendering to its power became capable of diagnosing it. The era to come will be the era of healing in which those that suffer obtain the power to send sin on its way.

Lucretius, in elaborating the dynamic between creativity and destruction, chose the mythical figure of Venus to represent the surging of life, and the figure of Mars as the force of destruction. In the introduction to his unfinished work, Lucretius pleads with Mars to surrender to the pleasures of Venus’s bower, protecting the poet from interruption during his great task. This pairing is not unique to Greek mythology: in the Hindu pantheon, Parvati is responsible for cooling Shiva’s passions after he enters his dance of destruction. In celebrating struggle Goethe obviously sides with Mars, while Dante casts theology in the person of his beloved Beatrice.

The idea that women are responsible for tempering the wildness of men is buried deep in our cultural heritage. In women, that belief manifests as a cautious predisposition to believe that men will turn their passions against their lovers. My prayer is that women cast aside their ancient burden and organize their fertile energies around men of healing and constructive intelligence. Rather than catering to Mars, they should amplify the character of Apollo. Cast aside the terrorist to invest your energies in the healer, and discover reciprocity for your trust.

Old Dirt

I’m in the process of boiling down what I’ve written here in a condensed format, with the intention of facilitating dialog with those that don’t know what to say about the confusion that the world confronts them with. As that process unfolds, I’ve been beset by a cohort of lawyers.

My divorce attorney was a real piece of work. He referred me to the “Man/Boy Love” association, and told me once that “Sometimes a man has to have sex with a child – for the good of the child.” This piece of garbage was referred to me by my corporate attorney, and had both my accountant and closest account call me up to intervene on his behalf. As if that wasn’t frightening enough, he threatened my relationship with my children in an attempt to suborn perjury from me for the benefit of a third party in the case.

The specific incident involved the presentation of poem to a day care provider. I had approached my wife of the time over the summer, telling her that this woman was acting in a provocative fashion towards me, and asking her to help me intervene with the management to get her to stop. The response was an accusation that it was my fault.

So I was left hanging without support, and the situation just got worse. It culminated with the presentation of a poem to the “lady.” It was just before Christmas break, and we drove the boys out to Tahoe for a ski vacation. There wasn’t much snow, but on the way back we ran into intense wind storms. The drive was a disaster, with long stretches of stop-and-go as traffic wended its way through the scattered debris of camper shells and jack-knifed trailers.

We stopped down in Goleta to get gas and have a light dinner. The wind was blowing down the Grapevine at over 100 mph. Getting back into the car, I actually couldn’t keep the door open on the downwind side, and had to turn it around so that the family could get into the car.

When we got back home, we found my youngest son’s cubby contents in a bin at the front door, along with a restraining order against me.

The poem that I gave to the woman was intended to frighten her – to make her aware that she was dealing with a subtle and mature man that she could not possibly understand. When my wife was presented it, the same was proven true. She got to the second verse and screamed at me “That’s sex!”

But when I wrote the poem over the summer, I was conscious of five interpretations, only the last of which was “Man in Mid-Life Crisis.” The first four were:

  1. Christianity and Science (Isaac Newton teaches the world of gravitation, and I upending Einstein’s theory)
  2. Beach Day with Kevin (father and son) (Starting: I come home and he runs to greet me at the door…)
  3. Advice from a Father to a Love-Lorn Daughter
  4. The Temptress

I was never asked to explain by the owners. They had plenty of reason to be afraid of a scandal, and chose to take the offensive.

It’s time to put this to rest, once and for all.

This is the poem:

Yearnings

The Earth, at night, dances with the moon
Cadence and rhythm, their persons speaking
Of love with power, purpose and strength.
Fluttering towards kindred recognitions.

The shore, in dreams, graces into the sea.
Lifting and rising, breathing in tumbles,
Tide mingling with sand, and of that warming,
The two orbs slowly fall, fin’ly as one.

And yet, and still, of certain knowledge there is none,
Held by confident eyes, in children fashioning the sun.