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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The Nature of Sin

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Over the last fifteen years, I’ve had the privilege of being passionately committed to the service of two spectacularly beautiful feminine personalities. Unfortunately, as women like that tend to have a lot of dirt dumped on them, neither of them understood the depth of their beauty. In the second case, I finally found myself whispering across a crowded room, “Please, please, please. Please come into yourself. We need you here so badly.”

While I’ve been physically lonely for a long time, this process of calling beautiful women into the world has its positive benefits. I dance alone most Saturdays, but I dance with the joy of knowing that my loving is connected to a purpose that I find to be precious.

Many women respect that intention, but there are those that see my devotion as a resource to be turned to their benefit. The methods they use are pretty crude…

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