Puncturing the Cynicism of Our Age

The motivations of any professional include supporting themselves and their family. In being drawn to a new career in hypnotherapy, I am somewhat unique at HMI in that I have no dependents, and no expectations that I will have a comfortable retirement. In contrast, many of my peers-in-training are openly concerned about financial success, and some among the instructors project aspirations of personal wealth.

The conversation I walked into during workshop break went a little farther than that. Three students and the facilitator were agreeing that “you can talk about love, but ultimately everything is about money.” I guess that my reaction was incongruous, for they all turned to look at me. I tried to soften the pregnant silence with a jocular “Speak for yourself!”

The retort came from the man lazing in the recliner on the stage. I had to turn to see the subtle smirk on his face after he said “It’s all about money to you, too.” I tilted my head to the side in a manner that I am certain appeared calculating, and he reiterated his assertion. Stepping closer to him, I firmly asserted “You don’t tell me what I think.”

Turning back to the astonished triad, I explained:

“It’s all about power. There are two kinds of power: some power you can store – that’s what money is, in fact, a way of storing power. And there’s another kind – the kind that has to be about the world doing work. In my experience of life, there’s far more of the second kind of power than there is of the first.

“And that is why I love unconditionally: because I like to see power at work.”

The other students opened their mouths, but the facilitator closed the conversation with “Very well put, Brian.”

The Law of Distraction

When I finished the exegesis of John’s Revelation, I went around to several local congregations to advertise the work. I went first to the pastor of the church for the Bible study I was attending – a meeting that went so well that I was soon disinvited from the Bible study.

I then went to the Center for Spiritual Living just two buildings down the street. Having read Ernest Holmes’ work, I thought that the ministers there might be receptive to other work that clarified the intentions of Christ. The conversation with the two female leaders was uncomfortable, the energy shifting decidedly when I handed over my business card, turning even more sour when I suggested that “there were certain constraints on the focus of our intention.” On the way home that evening, I was nearly run off the road by a man that I clearly perceived was under their influence.

Oh, boys and girls.

The marketing of the power of intention for our society – whether as “The Secret” or “Spiritual Living” or “Neuro-Linguistic Programming” – tends to treat it as magic. You set your intention, and the “Law of Attraction” brings together the elements that will manifest your desires.

Unfortunately for the neophyte, the management of intention has a lineage that predates even humanity. Among the pre-historic intentional fields we might include “predation” and “lust.” These fields accumulate power by giving those under their control a brief moment of satiation that requires persistent struggle to attain. In every other moment, their subscribers focus intention toward that satiation, making others in their community susceptible to the same urges.

At one time, human society recognized these intentional fields as corrupting personalities – known variously as devils or demons. But the devil’s greatest trick has been convincing us that he doesn’t exist. The sexualization of romantic love follows from the idea that we’re just acting naturally – like all the animals around us. The “dog-eat-dog” culture of high finance is seen as a defense against the testosterone-fueled aggression of our peers. The problem is with other people and the cultures they create, rather than with the sinful intentional fields we inherited from our Darwinian past.

Purging sin was the challenge of monotheism as undertaken by the ancients. Socrates preached that there must be one God, and this was also the conclusion reached by Abram, the father of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Both observed that the gods fought among themselves for our attention, forcing upon humanity patterns of behavior that corrupted our societies. So they chose to celebrate one god – a god of higher human intention.

A god that was eventually refined into pure love.

So try not to be distracted by attraction. Yes, it will draw people to you that share your intentions, but when you reach a certain critical mass, you will come to the attention of those ancient animalistic tendencies, and the weight of their power will humble you if you do not take refuge in love.

It’s not magic. There are mechanisms, and the choice of mechanisms is still a choice that binds your soul – even if the devil no longer appears personally before you with a feathered pen and parchment in his hands.

So choose love, and trust that love will choose you. After all, that’s its only purpose.

Wake Up!

When all the channels broadcast messages that promise satisfaction but lead only to disappointment and suffering:

  • privilege
  • novelty
  • lust
  • violence
  • addictive substances

The abused loyalist has no place to turn for truth but inward.

How do I feel?

It is in that moment that the quiet, still voice of the Holy Spirit enters.

If you still seek love, here we are.

All other messages are then recognized as meaningless clamoring for attention from those that have no power other than to steal strength from the weak.

Those that hunger for love follow the dictates of the Holy Spirit because once that assurance is tendered, the greatest desire is to sustain the connection. Each of us walks in the world open to its suffering, and healing enters in our wake because we do not attempt to monopolize its energy.

There is far more power available to us than is necessary to solve the problems we have created. We simply need to accept that we can’t control it – we can only recognize those that wish to share it with us, and so heal us in turn.

The shadow of darkness hangs over this age, but the dawn will dispel it.

Invocation of the Elders

I have been conscious of the prevalence of twelve in the traditions of Abraham: the twelve tribes of Israel, the twelve Apostles, the twelve wives of Mohammad, the twenty-four (twelve masculine and twelve feminine) elders in Revelation, the twelve stars in the crown of the Sacred Mother (in Revelation 12, of course).

Sometimes the individuals have names: the Apostle Peter, or the tribe of Reuben, but the repetition suggested to me that there was a through-line, something in common that linked the individuals. As the twelves are sacred, I thought of those links as virtues.

But what are they?

This came to the forefront yesterday as I flew out to Fort Lauderdale. The image that had been developing, over the last week, was to bless the students by creating the shelter described in Revelation 21 and 22: the New Jerusalem whose gates are guarded by the twelve masculine elders and within which the twelve feminine elders distribute the Waters of Life. I wanted to drape that aggregate over the school, allowing the students to focus on healing.

To organize such energies, the mystics needs names. Lord Baden-Powell, founder of the Boy Scouts, offered such a list. There’s no reason for it to correlate with the masculine virtues, but every time the problem comes up, the list comes to mind. So yesterday, on the plane from Phoenix to Fort Lauderdale, I decided to run with it.

In the invocation that follows, the philosophy behind the word choice is that every virtue is a gift that brings choice – particularly the masculine virtues that generate change. Each pairing below, then, ties the first masculine virtue with the goal that allows the feminine virtues to permeate our lives.

I offered the first version of the invocation last night. The campus is accessible only on two sides, so I wasn’t able to walk the entire perimeter. Passing traffic was a distraction, and my concentration was interrupted by contrary thoughts (“This is meaningless” and “You’re not going to change our culture”). Thoughts need time to focus, though, and I worked over dinner to memorize the list, and refined it last night before falling asleep.

I developed a serious back spasm on the plane yesterday, and went to bed resolving that I would go back to the school when I woke up. That came to pass at 5 AM, and I was back at the school around 5:30. I played some music first, and then walked along the front of the campus, reeling somewhat under the weight of grief. Then I walked back to the entrance and addressed the moon, low over the opposite horizon. The Lady who rests her feet there united her intentions with mine as I spoke these words:

Let those that are Trustworthy,
 support Trust, in which Love flourishes.
Let those that are Loyal,
 support Unity, from which Love builds strength.
Let those that are Helpful,
 support Compassion, whereby Love sustains virtue.
Let those that are Friendly,
 support Accommodation, by which Love multiplies opportunities.
Let those that are Courteous,
 support Gentleness, whereby Love preserves autonomy.
Let those that are Kind,
 support Kindness, with which Love inspires effort.
Let those that are Obedient,
 support Commitment, by which Love prepares its reception.
Let those that are Cheerful,
 support Harmony, whereby Love announces its presence.
Let those that are Thrifty,
 support Conservation, by which Love preserves its works.
Let those that are Courageous,
 support Endurance, by which Love overcomes selfishness.
Let those that are Clean,
 support Purity, in which Love is magnified.
Let those that are Reverent,
 support Grace, in which Love is made manifest.

May the Most High bless these children with Love.

Why Priests are Celibate

At all-hands meeting on Wednesday, I shared with a colleague that I had spent the Holiday weekend with a cold, lying on the floor watching movies. He himself had taken in “Lawnmower Man,” with it’s “gratuitous sex.”

Before remarking upon the similarities to “The Kids Are All Right,” I let slip: “As much as I remember about sex.”

I am single, but women make it obvious that I am attractive. It’s the sudden pause in their activity when I come around a corner, the frown and determination in their eyes when they look away, the staring when I dance.

It happened twice at the store on Christmas Eve: coming around the corner of an aisle to receive a woman’s astonished regard, frision all over my extremities focusing inwards as she fell into my heart.

As David Koresh did, I could make a real mess in the world. But I understand it this way: it’s not me. They are falling into the light that shines from me. They hunger for it because it promises surcease from the dirt that the world pours over them – the lust, the sloth, the greed. Freed from those burdens, they can manifest their most virtuous aspirations.

What I recognize, though, is that I can’t guarantee that to them. It is their right, but it is a right secured only in relationship with the Most High.

I am only a window that they can look through. They are responsible for securing the relationship.

And so I am single because I refuse to submit to their desire that I be responsible for that relationship.

To Love Truly

Our physicality brings us to conceive of relationships as pairings.

But when that is not an assertion of ownership but rather a consensus of trust, we discover that in loving a woman a man demonstrates to each man how to love his woman, and in loving a man a woman demonstrates to each woman how to love her man.

That tender touch is to affirm and heal the vulnerability of every man. That protective embrace is to offer shelter to every woman.

That is what it means to enter into the Spirit and Bride. We resonate within each other, and in that resonance discover the power and sensitivity that heals the world.

Goddesses

I woke up in the wee hours yesterday morning to the sound of gusting wind, crystallizing my plans for the day. The coastal arteries (US 101 and the Amtrak line) run on the seaward edge of Montecito. The tongues of the Thomas Fire had been licking its edges for the last week, and some of the fire team had predicted that if the winds ramped back up to 60 mph gust, the fire would burn all the way to the coast.

Not wanting to go three weeks without dancing, I resolved to reverse course and spend the day down in Westwood, where Ecstatic Dance was beginning its year-end celebration at 3 PM.

The day built through sublime moments. I always enjoy services at the University Catholic Center – the minds and hearts of college students are receptive. They were on holiday break, of course, but behind the fount a toddler delivered a joyous sermon of discovery throughout the mass.

At the Getty Center, a difficult moment: standing before four of Boticelli’s renderings of the Crucifixion, the woman next to me caught sight of my Love Returns logo and thought “Who is this man?” The passionate grief of that experience threatened to submerge me.

But the signature for the day was proclaimed by Ataseia at Ecstatic Dance. For the yoga warm-up, the foam puzzle mat had been set up in the middle of the floor. As the room filled up, Ataseia began to encourage us to join him there. Seeing people with rolled-up mats standing against the walls, he became more direct. “Really, people, I don’t need all this space for myself!” I was stretching my hamstrings, but heard feet padding onto the foam. Ataseia, famously gay, proclaimed, “Here come my goddesses!”

I haven’t been down to Ecstatic Dance LA since the Trump election. In that era, the ladies were young and timorous, and the crowd was smaller.

The dance was packed yesterday, which forced me into some restraint. That may have had some influence, but…something else was at work in the community.

As is typically for these events, the ladies outnumbered the men about three to one. They didn’t seem to care. They flaunted their sensuality for each other. When a man floated by, the ladies flirted, but didn’t get catty about it.

I didn’t recognize the change until about the midpoint of the celebration. When the energy begins to spin a little into the dirty, I’ll stop and raise my palm to the ceiling, focusing and projecting good will into the celebration. After a longish spell of such, I opened my eyes to start dancing again, and found a woman standing shoulder-to-shoulder with me, eyes closed in concentration.

That was novel.

So I went back into that space and enjoyed the feeling of sharing it with her. We danced a little together, and then floated off. She found another woman and starting dancing side-by-side with her.

The boys did get wild on occasion. For most of the celebration, the women held the center of the floor, but as I made my way through, my friend Adam confronted me. We began winding it up, leaping and lunging around each other, and the floor cleared a little. I was tired at that point, and didn’t last long, but by the time I wandered off, he had absorbed a couple of other men. When they were four, I couldn’t resist, and rushed back into the scrum. The floor opened up, a circle about fifteen feet across, and we went into Jedi mode, spinning and lunging, avoiding collision and injury only because we were one body. The ladies turned toward us, swaying, some coupled with arms around waists, smiling.

I was reduced to crawling across the floor to collapse on the pads in front of the altar.

Most important to me, however, was that the first meditative connection wasn’t the only time I found a woman creating space for me during the dance. Again and again I found myself connecting with a lady who just decided to hold her space while I moved through it.

The last experience was at the very end. A statuesque woman, showing a dancer’s tone and outrageous orange hair, confronted me solemnly from ten feet away. I had skipped past her several times, and she made it clear that she was ready to engage, slowly raising her hands above her head.

We began without contact, simply clearing the ether. Goddess or not, all woman I encounter have wounded hearts, and I ended up with my right palm hovering over the top of her breastbone. My left hand gently activated the upper three chakras. Her eyes were closed in concentration, but as I lowered them, they opened with a gentle smile.

I stepped in and whispered “Yes, you are beautiful. Believe in yourself.”

Dropping to my right knee reverentially, my palms hovered over her feet, and then my fingertips pressed into the floor, grounding her into the earth. Looking up to see how she was responding, I was rewarded by the most regal of attitudes.

I stood and we embraced. I felt her looking into my heart sympathetically, and I allowed myself to collapse against her. Eventually we knelt on the floor, ears pressed together, one arm over and one arm under; then switching to the other side. As we melted together, her forearms and palms glided slowly and tenderly over the perspiration on my back.

For the first time in my life I felt that in the presence of a woman neither she nor I had anything to prove. I was something infinitely precious. To be molded by her was a joy.