Infestation

In decrying injustice, we tend to focus on the tall nails – the people with power that misuse it. In the end, though, these people really do not amount to much, because the power accumulated in love is so much greater than the power that they can scrape together here on Earth.

Rather, it’s the “scraping together” that is so hard to overcome. It’s like a disease of a certain type. We have these gifts all around us to use in healing the wounds left in us by selfishness. These gifts include food, air, light and companionship. The disease is to consume those gifts and do nothing with them while others do the work of bringing love into the world.

Anyone that has had the flu knows what it’s like to host this kind of activity. Jesus’ teaching on the matter reflects that reality. At the end of the parable of the talents, he commands [ESV Matt. 25:30]:

…cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

This metaphor is the prop for conservative political philosophy. Indeed, the only coherent definition of “Conservatism” holds that institutions are extremely difficult to create, and are the first thing to collapse when resources are wanting. Therefore they must be conserved at all cost against the locust-like masses.

Unfortunately , the trap that has snared so many Christian Conservatives is built right into the parable of the talents. It is the convention that money is the measure of value, and so we weigh the contributions of our companions by the wealth they have accumulated. As explained in The Soul Comes First, however, Jesus’ reference to wealth was intended to be ironical. The parable was offered to a collection of disciples that didn’t have two minahs to rub together on the road to Jerusalem. Jesus didn’t inspire them with wealth – he inspired them with courage, purpose and faith. The disciples were being cautioned to mind that investment, and seek to expand its reach.

If on the cross Jesus took sin into himself to heal its effects, how would infestation have manifested in the project of Christ? Today I see it in ministers that substitute rigid rules for compassionate and creative problem-solving. It manifests more subtly in the queen bee that organizes social pressure to protect husbands and ministers threatened by those that seek to put love before convention. But it is also in those that come to church on Sunday seeking forgiveness for the sins they commit every other day of the week.

In my own case, I’ve been struggling for some time with another manifestation of infestation – a purely spiritual manifestation. In the great struggle against selfishness, there are personalities that live by the zones in which pressure builds. They siphon away energy, creating little kingdoms without contributing to the creation of a world guided by love.

Addicts call theirs “the monkey on my back.” In my own case, it’s been described as a fairy that chops at the side of my head with an axe. It’s been a source of injury to me. I’m not certain that was its intention, but in trying to manage my influence on the community I love, it’s drawn in all kinds of sin. Inevitably, it’s become infected itself.

Down at LA Ecstatic Dance yesterday (my last dance with them, unfortunately), Ataseia got me on the massage table and tried to push it out. He was really conscious of the process, pulling its roots out of my back and arms to push it up into my left shoulder, and then through my neck and up toward the crown chakra.

The immediate benefit has been a greater sense of connection to the left side of my body. But I’m not ready to let it go yet. It’s tied to one of those kingdoms I mentioned, and now that I’ve got it up in my mind, it’s time to cast some light into that realm. They’ve had their reasons for hiding, but now it’s time to put their talents to good use. While the rulers of that realm will resist the loss of autonomy, I’ve found that most subjects will embrace enthusiastically the opportunities presented to them.

It’s not the last such problem I’ve got to deal with – there is something wound about my waist that doesn’t respond to reason.

I offer this today to stimulate similar introspection in others. Each of us has a world inside, and some of those worlds are rich enough to support independent personalities. To discipline them to loving is necessary to our own immersion in Christ.

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

Presenting Ourselves

When Parashakti runs her Dance of Liberation workshops down at LA Ecstatic Dance, she begins by facilitating the pairing of spirit buddies. While my first experience with her was pretty intense, more recently I’ve been working in service to others. That means that I am chosen, more often than choosing, when she finally says: “Look around and find a spirit buddy, someone close to you. Once you’ve found them, describe your intention for this dance.”

So I pivoted slowly and found myself hooked on the eyes of the really pretty woman, standing tall enough to almost cover my chin. Another gentleman tried to step between us, but she raised her hand to gesture to me.

I’ve never heard such a strongly worded statement of intention. It went on for nearly ten seconds as she spoke about preparing herself in this year to let love flow through her and into the world around her. I brought it to a close by holding my hands over her shoulders and then lowering them until they hovered over her chest, encouraging my angels to fill her heart to the brim. “Thank-you,” she murmured.

“That’s my intention.” Parashakti then told us to stand back-to-back. Feeling that I wasn’t quite connecting with my partner, I tilted my head back until it contacted her crown. She nestled in a little more closely.

I had been right behind her as we danced a circle earlier in the ritual, and had noticed her hands moving as though warding the space around her head. Asthe blindfolds went on, that image came back to me, and after the closing circle thirty minutes later, I told her that I had received something to share with her.

She was the object of a lot of masculine attention during the open dance, and I half expected her to avoid me. But forty minutes in she took a break for water, and gazed pointedly at me. I guided her into a corner, leaning in close to block the pressure of the music, and began, “Our culture projects a lot of ideas that negate a woman.”

“What?”

Not sure whether she was just buying time to process what I had said, I repeated myself. “When you were dancing next to me before the ritual, I noticed you doing a lot of work with your hands around your head, as though you were warding things away.” Stretching my right hand to touch the heavens, “We tend to look to each other for validation, but there is a source of eternal truth.” Hesitantly, I moved my hand closer to her crown, gauging her reaction. “I was offered a message from them: they want you to know that they are reaching out to you.” She just gazed at me, frozen. “When I went through this process, I had to surrender my thoughts and let my heart guide me.” I reached out with my left hand, palm upwards, and envisioned cupping her heart in it. “I had to let my heart energy rise until it merged with my mind.” Raising my left hand until it was just under her chin, I concluded “The heart guides the head, and the head protects the heart.”

I was shirtless and slimy with sweat, so she embraced the air around me, murmuring “Thank-you, thank-you so much,” fleeing and returning two or three times before returning to the floor.

She continued to be popular on the floor, mostly among the younger men that I can now only join briefly in frenzy. I worked the room in my usual manner, spreading joy and tenderness where it was accepted, but really wearing down at the end. As the afternoon drew to a close, I sat on the floor to down dinner, watching as she was intercepted by man after man. Getting up to change clothes for Contact Improv, I came back to sort through my backpack and offer my gratitude to Ataseia. She passed by and I caught her eye. “One more thing.”

She didn’t hesitate. “What you said earlier explained a lot to me about myself as a woman.”

Thinking of her confidence on the dance floor, “Yes, I could see that. But the challenge is hanging on to it. We have to stay focused on them. They have their own purpose, and if we fail in our devotion, they tend to wander away.”

She leaned into the frame of the closed doors, hands clasped before her. That wasn’t what she expected. But her lips offered a gentle bow of curiosity.

“You projected a great deal of positive energy into the room today, but when you began to dance with a man, it turned inwards. I could see you winding inwards, and the source of that energy was left adrift.”

She stopped to reflect, and voiced her agreement.

“If we want to hang on to them, we can’t do that. We have to present ourselves, and wait for the other person to open to us in turn. It’s not a winding into, it’s an expanding through.” She looked uncertain, so I reached out to cup understanding in my right hand, brushing it gently across her.

“I’m not sure that I understand.”

I stepped back. “I present myself. All of myself. And if you respond, I come closer, not directly, but slowly spiraling as my angels introduce themselves to your angels. It’s not always pleasant – some things really don’t belong together. But that’s what we do here. You danced with a lot of people today, as did I. We gently join our personalities, and then the magic happens. We go out into the world and draw upon our shared wisdom and energy.

“But we shouldn’t make too much of that. We need to stay devoted to ourselves, waiting for that encounter to which all of us announces ‘yes!'”

She raised her hand tentatively to demonstrate her understanding. Her eyes narrowed as my entourage resisted her, and I caught them sending “Not without our permission.”

We embrace twice, and she departed with a wistful “Maybe I’ll see you next time.”

“I look forward to it.”