Woman, What Art Thou?

Not having had a woman in my bed in the seventeen years since my separation, I was tempted by the Sacred Cuddle event at Soul Play on Saturday night. “Cuddle” sounded safe enough – like a pile of puppies. It seemed possible that the participants would be counseled to avoid sexually explicit behavior, and I was beckoned by memories of the sweet pressure of a woman’s torso resting against my chest.

I realize now that I was reaching further back for motherly or platonic sensuality predating sexual fascination. Probably not the goal of the average adult.

The event started out tamely with regulated exercises, but after “free play” started, I stood up from my second chaste encounter and glanced around the room to discover that the energy was tipping inexorably into the sexual. Slipping discretely through the corner panel of the enclosure, I danced playfully through the last hour of the DJ set in the Ecstatic Ballroom, and held on until after 1AM to appreciate the romantic lyrics and tender acoustic guitar of the live closing act that I know only as “Colin.”

Despite the solace of Colin’s artistry, my expectation on Sunday morning was that I would leave Soul Play with only the gift that Parmatma Cris had delivered to me.

I could not have been more wrong.

My knees were aching from three nights of dancing, so on Sunday I decided to focus on workshops. The first was the Group Energy Mandala offered by Matt Sturm and Leslie Grace. I arrived early, but didn’t poke my head in the door because I found a free power cord lying at the corner of the building. Waiting for my cell phone to charge, I absorbed the warmth of the early sun and eavesdropped as the two worried whether anyone was going to show up at 8 AM.

Not wanting them to get too panicked, I retrieved my phone and introduced myself. After settling, we wondered about attendance until I asked them to explain their method. People began trickling in, until with the fifth participant they announced that they had enough to start.

In Tibetan Buddhism, a mandala is a visualization of sacred relationships. Some are purely abstract; others visualize deities. For the tantric practitioner, the body itself is a mandala. Tantric sex is an intimate paired mandala in which each lover surrenders to the inspection of their partner. Matt and Leslie hoped to guide is into a larger sharing.

The session evolved much as it did in Movement Alchemy. First grounding, then activation of the third chakra to chop away impediments. That was the actual physical metaphor: we did belly crunches while chopping the air with clasped hands. Just as when Parmatma described Kali tiger claws, in going through the motions I called forth the presence of my supervisor at work.

The process continued with exercises designed to build intimacy among the participants, culminating with a compassion mandala in which each of us took turns at the center while those outside grounded our immediate experience of love to source and the earth.

As this reached its conclusion, a final participant joined us, sitting to my left. She had Persian features, serenely youthful, her hair tied in a bandana from which a long helix escaped to fall along her right cheek.

Matt and Leslie organized the four men first, two sitting back-to-back and two resting against their shoulders. The women were posted outside, face-to-face with the men. I found myself paired with the young beauty. We introduced ourselves, and I was confronted with a tender femininity almost confounding in its receptivity. Incongruously, a female voice whispered in my ear, “This is our gift to you.”

The organizers asked the women to scoot in until our knees touched, and the meditation began. It was a simple journey through the chakras, and as stages of our experience were triggered by the description of chakras, it seems easiest to describe it in that framework:

The root chakra: grounding in the self. I as a man and she as a woman, but with a gentle intimacy where her knees rested on the inside of my calves. The tender tickle traveled upwards, so we rerouted it into the bones, establishing between us that whatever occurred would be managed consciously and consensually.

The second chakra: seat of passion. Awakening that energy, both of us were aware of the potency of sexuality, but I redirected my response into admiration for the freshness of her flowering. Gently she offered her passion to mine, and the energy built slowly, resonating back and forth until arousal became inevitable, and then we redirected again: she the flower, I the sun shining down to reveal her glory. Gazing into that light, she saw herself also in the trees and the sponges and corals of the ocean shallows. In each species the male emitted the seed, the female receiving and bringing forth new life.

The third chakra: seat of will. We fell back through time to an era of barren earth. The sun beat down, willing life forward. Lichen and moss spread, to be burned and digested by bacteria, becoming nutrients for new forms of life. Rain fell, capturing nutrients that enriched the fresh waters. Breathing deeply, the muscles of my abdomen forced my will out with my exhale: glaciers ground the stone into powder, merging with the dead residue to create soil. Again forcing myself into her, she saw herself with child, blocked only by the fear of birth. Inhaling I promised her relief, and exhaling she dilated effortlessly. The vision was broken by the sudden thrusting through the soil of the giant conifers amidst which we sat. Life presented itself to us: full, replete, joyful and proud.

The fourth chakra: seat of compassion. Our hearts opened to each other. A simple awe seized us: the rightness of our complementarity. We saw that reflected in the world and its contradictory dualities, and concern for its suffering filled us. Not compassion, in the sense that we felt also other’s pain, but as a unending resource for the wise to draw upon in attaining well-being.

The fifth chakra: seat of universal awareness. Seeing life as a system for healing, we sprung upwards and outwards, that purpose being revealed to us in the Earth as a whole: in the relationships between ocean, ground and atmosphere. Not ending there, it embraced the moon and tides; the sun and the space surrounding it.

The sixth chakra: seat of understanding. We regarded ourselves again, not as man and woman, but as masculine and feminine. Light emanated from jewels in the center of our foreheads, not merging but reflecting as sprays that formed two half-planes in reality. The two domains gathered themselves in preparation.

The seventh chakra: seat of enlightenment. From the planes threads arose into the heavens, guided by points of light. The lights sought each other, and as they danced the threads wove into helixes, the helixes merging into fibers, the fibers into stalks that merged into a great trunk. Braced by the trunk, the lights diverged to explore infinite possibilities. Pathways of inspiration drew others to become branches that branched again until individual expression was restored.

The Tree of Life.

I had opened my eyes several times on this journey, wondering whether she was with me, only to be confounded by her serene feminine receptivity. With the meditation at a conclusion, I gazed gently at her face, awaiting her return. She finally relented, smiling softly out of the side of her mouth.

We gazed into each other’s eyes, ignoring the suggestion that we describe our experience. I finally offered: “That was beautiful. Thank-you for the journey.”

She stirred and smiled more broadly. “Thank you.”

Can’t Compete

On the Santa Barbara Artwalk, I’ve been drawn again and again to Neal Crosbie’s booth. His golden Labrador is preparing to move on, which has occasioned deeper conversations. At the same time, three pieces caught my eye as being unusual in his oeuvre. I lingered over them each week.

All of Neal’s pieces have a figure he calls “coyoteman” as the central element. Among the Native American animal gods, coyote is the weakest and least reputable. He is unable to impose himself in any situation, and so must use misdirection to achieve his aims. As Neal recounts, eventually he achieves the ability to transform every situation, and so becomes the most significant of the gods.

This story resonates strongly with my own. Unconditional Love is the most powerful force in Creation because all things desire it, but cannot betray it without alienating themselves from it. Being so powerful, Unconditional Love cannot compete against the other elements of creation, lest it exclude them and lose its purpose.

Both coyote and Unconditional Love must therefore enter into relation with things – coyote because of his weakness, and Unconditional Love because of its strength.

Neal finds this characterization of coyote disturbing if not perturbing. When I realized how it related to the three pieces I was fascinated by – and a fourth that I had purchased already – he thought that I was describing his art. But I wasn’t – I was interpreting his art in a manner that allows me to relate better to my journey. I was talking about myself, and allowing compassion for myself in my empathy for coyote’s pathos.

So these are the images. All are oil crayon on paper.

The first is a black sketch that I think of as “Primordial Coyoteman.” It is coyote in his original state, denizen of mountains that we have rendered less and less habitable. He offers thanks for being allowed to testify as to his relationship to them – for being allowed to recall himself to us.PrimordialCoyoteman

The second is the most complex of the pieces I have seen, and the least sympathetic. Titled “Three Views of Mount Fuji,” it is Neal’s homage to mayorana Buddhism, the “Greater Vehicle” at the top of the piece.ThreeViewsOfMountJufi

Probably the dark and dense section around Coyoteman is to suggest his relationship to the earth, but I see it as an arena of mental and emotional turmoil. Coyoteman is alone, beset by threats, and has only the weapon of his wits. Under the strain, he seems ready to crack, and the boat flimsy.

The third is the most beautiful, both artistically and psychologically, for it places Coyoteman in the context of supportive relationships. “Relax Your Teeth,” it says. The bear-like figure to his right suggested to me Emerson, Neal’s dog. The fish figure is a metaphor for Neal’s wife. The teeth are shown twice, once of to the right, as though clenched, and again in a relaxed pose.RelaxYourTeeth

And the fourth, the one that Neal told me he had trouble letting go of. “If You Were a Tree” shows Coyoteman in his final state, bearing the Great Spirit feathers.IfYouWereATree

What does this mean to me? It grounds me in my journey. It reminds me to be open offerings of support even when they arrive in a context of struggle. And it gives me hope that I am not on this journey alone.

We Can’t Say ‘Thanks’ Enough

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Life is the opportunity to participate in organizing spirit. Our bodies escort them about in clouds, and as we move amongst each other they enter into new relationships. Some of these are wonderful experiences: “Love at first sight” is a good example. Some of them are horrifying: consider the records of the carnival atmosphere at a public lynching.

At the core of our primary personality is a set of spirits that manage our survival. Through the mechanisms of our glands, organs, muscles and nerves, they coordinate the biological functions that allow us to control the world around us, and thus to sustain life. For most of the history of life on earth, this was as far as it went. Innovation in the integration of body and spirit was controlled largely by survival. With humanity, however, the possibilities exploded – almost without check. Using the mechanism of our brain, in each…

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R&R Every Minute

Nestled in the hills of Scotts Valley at 800 Bethany Drive rises a new “multiversity.” Founded by a Silicon Valley entrepreneur, it’s mission is to provide relief and wisdom to stressed-out high-tech workers.

I found the facility indirectly. Sera Beak and her partner were planning a workshop on “Being Imperfect.” I’ve been tossed out of such things in the past, but being as deeply involved in the process of Christ as I am, I figured that I owed something to Sera. She appears to have been traumatized by the crucifixion as she gestated in the Magdalene’s womb, a wound that she has sought shelter from in Mystery.

I signed up for the workshop back in March, and then planned to help Kevin with his relocation to Mountain View last weekend. As the date approached, I realized that I hadn’t received any “looking forward to seeing you” messages. So I called up on Wednesday and learned that the workshop had been cancelled back on June 6th. Because they had changed accounting systems, I was not notified.

I was committed to the trip, though, and decided to spend the weekend with them anyways. It was pricey, but I gained a lot from the setting, the staff, and the guests.

Waterfall1440The facility’s title: 1440 Multiversity. 1440 is the number of minutes in a day. And for three days, for every minute I did nothing of practical significance. I practiced my flute, took Qigong classes, and wandered among the redwoods. Three meals a day were provided by the kitchen, and I stuffed myself at every sitting without ever become bloated. When I became tired, I went back to my room and laid out on the king-sized bed.

StreamPath1440All of these factors combined to let my muscles lengthen and stretch. The burning cramp in the upper part of my right shin disappeared. Climbing up and down the steps to the stream, I discovered muscles in my back that allowed my to transfer strain from my knees into my hips. The burning around my patellae moderated.

Walking around the campus and eating at the dining table, I was heartened to encounter trauma counselors and patients learning new methods for grounding their emotions during treatment. Another workshop focused on yoga for the elderly.

When I woke in the pre-dawn hours, I played praise music and Brahms’ First Piano Concerto and Beethoven’s Ninth. As I projected my intentions into the world through this music, at one juncture a voice chimed in to observe, “So this is what it is like to be a god.”Centipede1440

And, yes, that is how I am presenting myself now. I walk around in my “Love Returns” t-shirt and when people ask me to explain the energy that surrounds me, I simply point at the crossed words and say “This is who I am.” The cognoscenti seem to believe that they can solve the world’s problems with the power of human intention, but they are misguided. They need the Most High. I thought that they would have recognized that by now, but this is a generation that seems to need to be beaten over the head with the truth.

Redwoods1440So how do we proceed from here? I’m doing my best to fill the world with light. The photos here represent my inspiration. It no longer makes a difference whether people declare their allegiance with my intentions. Those that hear the “still, small voice” in the night will be encouraged. Those that trumpet their own importance will tear each other apart as their dark islands become smaller and smaller.

Whose Free Will Is It Anyways?

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“Let’s say that you are on a camping trip with your son, and he suffers a snake bite. What if there was a source of information, freely available everywhere in the world that could tell you how to prepare the leaves on that bush to make an antidote. Would you accept that information?”

“Nobody tells me what to do!”

That was a real conversation on a Boy Scout outing. I didn’t say that there was a connection between receiving the gifts of love and choices that we make elsewhere in our lives, but that was assumed by the listener. Not that I didn’t make different choices: I was the father that stayed behind on that trip when the other dads went off to gamble, or to the topless bar.

As a physicist, the whole proposition of free will makes no sense to me. Given the initial conditions of the universe…

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What is Evil?

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This is a response to this post by Insanity Bytes on “There’s this Thing Called Biology”:


IB:

This is a terribly complex problem, but fundamentally, I see it this way: love (which is God) enters into all things, because everything desires the power that it offers (the essence of loving is to offer power). But that power comes with constraints – love will abandon us if we hurt others. So love turns everything to its purpose, which is loving. To preserve their identity, the things that love embraces will do terrible things to push it away.

You began your post with a meditation on dysfunctionality in relationships. Often, that is what I see going on: people struggling for control against the dictates of love.

Jesus taught on many occasions about this struggle: the parable of the talents, the exhortation to “die to yourselves.” He understood how difficult it was, confronting…

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Victory over Sin

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In my previous post, I promised to examine how a limited human perspective causes confusion when trying to interpret the teachings of Christ through the Holy Spirit. I’m going to take one of the most fearsome passages in the Bible, that of Revelation 21:8, in which John interprets part of his vision as a “second death” reserved for those that sin.

When confronted with the reality of sin and the pain it causes, it is natural to use threats to keep it at bay. Our legal system does this, and that is echoed in the Law of Moses that was used in the Bible between Noah and the ministry of the savior. For those that sympathize with this approach, it is natural to interpret the Crucifixion as atonement for our sins, and the terrible destruction John describes in Revelation is interpreted as justice being meted out on the sinful.

But…

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