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Technical knowledge is not enough.  One must transform techniques so that the art becomes artless art, growing out of the unconscious.

D. T. Suzuki, in Zen and Japanese Culture

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How do you fully live?  Yes, how do you access and activate the unconscious – awaken the essence of the human legacy?  Same question really.

He met the conformity of culture as structured by man but never conceded its control over his breathing, his heartbeat, his life here – as it preceded him and stretched into eternity.

He always had one foot outside the box.  His wry comments and independent judgment kept him free and gave him a sharper vision than most.  He saw behind the silk scene – people, after all, were not clever in concealing their shallow and predictable motives.

He was not often fooled.

Having access to the unconscious, getting to know it in detail made his life art – artless art, a movie from birth to mortal death … and then the everlasting sequel, a seat above in the presence of a warm May sun.

He was never much for formulas.  A blank canvas was more his comfort. Something to write on, to scribble freehand what came to heart, mind, wrist and hand.  Free flowing.

Operating on the margin of the box – turning the rules into sources of amusement and dismemberment so to say: “You do not have me yet.”  Life in the present structures as a game of escape and evasion, lest he suffocate, dry up and become weak and brittle.

Victory.  Life as artless art in all its ease, in each breath, in listening, hearing and seeing.

The experience of experience in its full range – from joy to sorrow and back again, never a dark day in triumph over the warmth of the sun reflected in the others, the friends, the children, love, laughter, kindness, the beauty, the quiet, the memories, the experience in yesterday and today.

… artless art …

Shalom.

The salvation of this human world lies nowhere else than in the human heart, in power to reflect, in human meekness and human responsibility.

Vaclav Havel

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Salvation.  The heart + reflection + meekness + responsibility.  So observes Vaclav Havel.

Don’t see much of this around Washington these days.  Salvation is a word rarely heard since we began barring God from public conversation.  We can thank the marshmallow middle and the strident Left for that basic act of dislocation – as to the latter their inevitable preference for error.

Heart, reflection, meekness, responsibility.  Little of this here today.  Heartless is more the form.  Reflection, like thoughts of salvation, appears permanently shelved in favor of the instant news cycle where comments issue as frequently as pulse beats as politicos and “talking heads” tommy-gun out the “latest inside scoop” replete with “unnamed sources” (a delightful name for twins today, by the way).

Meekness, my God!  None of that here.  Washington is more a mob at Filene’s Basement tearing the bargain “name brand” apparel from one another in a melee resembling Wrestle-Mania gone mad.  Meekness, it seems, is too orderly and vulnerable for Washington today.  Gone is the obvious power of a calm and measured voice.

It follows there are few signs of responsibility – at least among the those who daily carp and complain, and report and exploit.

We could use some Vaclav Havel.  Inmates running an asylum never works well.

Shalom.

Footnote – Vaclav Havel is among the most interesting figures of the late last century and early 21st century.  A writer, philosopher, political dissident and politician who served as the last President of Czechoslovakia (1989-1902) and the first President of the Czech Republic (1903-2003).  A widely-esteemed and admired man or faith, courage, talent, heart, thoughtfulness, insight, humility, service and responsibility.  Don’t you wish we had such a presence here today. ‘Tis time to tell the children to be quiet.

“Are you the only one visiting Jerusalem and unaware of the things which have happened here in these days?”  And he said to them, “What things?”

Lk 24: 18, 19

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This is an exchange between Jesus and one of two men he encountered on the road to Emmaus after his crucifixion.  Neither of the two men recognized Jesus. They were both down trodden.  They had hoped that Jesus was the Messiah who would redeem Israel.

The interesting thing about this exchange is how Jesus approached it.  Having been the subject of the crucifixion, he said “What things?”

Why is this important and interesting?  It is an example of two things: one – He uses words to prepare them to recognize Him when they sit and break bread together.  That is, He prepares them for a remarkable and hopeful and reassuring experience – the experience of His Truth and their hope fulfilled.

Secondly, it illustrates that what is said cannot always be taken literally – for the apparent meaning it would seem to profess.  “What things” in this instance does not seek knowledge of what had transpired but “sets the table” (literally) for Jesus revealing Himself to them in the Eucharist.

Why would I explore this?  One reason: we are too literal … we hear in a very narrow way and as a result we lose access to the story of life, to the essence of what is revealed by the words we choose and the underlying meaning of those words.  In such a state, we are easily influenced by those who command communications – we are easily managed and our impressions easily formed by others who seek control over us.  In the above case – the authorities sought to dash the hopes and beliefs of others for fear that Believers would diminish the power of those in positions of authority.

We had best listen more clearly.  We are missing life, its depth, and forfeit access to its wholeness and its expansiveness.  In the above, Jesus is using “What things” to bring these two men to a greater understanding, life’s full experience. Do not be too literal – meaning often exceeds the words we hear.

Shalom.

Dedicated to Grandson Jack: The King’s Voice in a Small Child

 – Mindfulness helps you go home to the present.

Thich Nhat Hanh

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Age introduces the present, the immediate – especially when you live alone, in the quiet of the forest and the mountain.  In mindfulness the present moment is your home.  In age you are home alone.

Being in the immediate moment is a gift.  Yes, and being in the quiet too is a gift. The senses heighten when you are alone in silence and in nature.  Quiet says “now, this second, this breath.”

Today the gray clouds hover everywhere.  They still the heart.  The birds are quiet. You can hear the silence.  It says “forever.”

In life we conquer little – and surely neither silence nor forever.

Acutely aware of silence I hear the voice of grandson Jack happily shouting “Hi, Bobby Bob … Hi, Bobby Bob.”  His unrestrained joy and excitement, his indigenous, spontaneous love of his Grandpa Bobby Bob rings in the present, never fades into yesterday.  It is the call of the King to his lowly subject.

Yes, Jack sings of mindfulness in those words, his loving call and unbridled excitement. His little voice cloaks the old man in royal purple robe and anoints one simple, regular life in the magical love of the Young for the Old.

Alone with reminders of aging, I take up the task of ordering the cottage. Sweeping here. Making the bed.  Washing the dishes.  Folding the laundry.

Putting all very quietly in order, I think of those who prepare the altar for communion -their silent movements are in the present and in the forever. Mindfulness.  Peace.  Eternity.

Jack’s excited call focuses me on the immediate now and forever – one in the same.  His words a call to communion.  In this sacred present there is no end, no yesterday – love never dies and a child’s words sing sacred truth – one voice a heavenly chorus … the words of forever and a day.  Jack calls me to the present, to communion – to forever and The Mystery that Is … and the rain falls and his little voice calls to comfort and assure: “Bobby Bob … Bobby Bob …”

Shalom.

Then the Lord came and stood and called as at other times, “Samuel! Samuel!”  And Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”  (Emphasis added)

1 Sam 3:10

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News reports today indicate that there is one arrest related to some of the recent threats aimed at the Jewish community.

The individual arrested is identified as a former internet journalist who in the past (according to the reports) made up sources and (apparently) lost his job as a result.

According to his electronic posts, the suspect was enamored with Hillary Clinton and seems to have been motivated in his threats by the dissolution of a romantic relationship with a White woman whom he referred to (in his electronic posts) as having radical ideas and herpes.

Hard to tell if these details are true and complete on their face.  Yet, the story itself as presented gives one pause.

In reading this news account, I am reminded how this culture we live in has generated psychotic dispositions and disordered people over my lifetime.

I remember healthy communities and whole families. I lived in a time before the Nanny State and the explosion of the dependent class – yes, before the liberal creation of a permanently disenfranchised class.

I remember communities where people went to church.  Where people saluted the flag, and prayed in public.  Where marriage involved a man and a woman.  Where access to a medical procedure (i.e., abortion) was not a fundamentally protected constitutional right and where people loved babies and did not fight and campaign for the right to kill them and when obesity was not commonplace.

I remember a time when you relied on your own efforts to succeed.  When you treated others with courtesy and respect and didn’t feel compelled to put your own interests ahead of others. When politics did not dominate life and when legions of whiners did not find fault with just about anything and everything. When people did not actually believe that they could change anything and everything.  And when entertainers were not magnified to a god-like celebrity status.  When the liberals and the judiciary had not become the enemy of the country and the people in it.

It is stories like this of the man arrested in this case (and so many others that tumble out daily) that tell me – our secular, mass culture and its godless Leftist political disposition has fractured and divided this nation, produced a bumper crop of disordered people and a wide range of psychotic behavior.

“Samuel! Samuel!”  Are you listening?

We might want to reverse course – and do so intentionally and very quickly.

Shalom.

… the mind that withdraws from gossip, useless news, potboiler novels, and surfing the Internet will have much more time and energy for God, and for praying, readingthinking, and listening to and caring for other people. (Emphasis added.)

Fr. Hugh Feiss, O.S.B., in Essential Monastic Wisdom

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Fr. Feiss has a very relevant and useful point for today.  I add but one caveat to what he says.  What he prescribes does not allow only listening to and caring for others – but rather listening to the quiet voice of self within you and caring for yourself so you might be of maximum wisdom, help and guidance to others.

Let’s face it from high court to kindergarten, and at all junctures between heaven and hell, the disordered, selfish, wrong and malevolent liberals and Leftists have corrupted this culture, abandoned truth and made a mess of simple public discussion.

The first step toward sanity is to disengage from the “house organs” of Leftist nonsense – popular sources that echo their foolishness.  Yes, there is a monastic wisdom that is wisely invoked today.

In the ageless separation that Fr. Feiss describes one can read and think, engage timeless wisdom and embrace Truth once again.  Doing so will bring confidence and vital knowledge to you – with that, liberals and the Left can be put to the test and shame they deserve – clueless clowns that they are.

The fact of the matter is this: it does not benefit to engage disordered and hateful children in debate or conversation.  To do so is the epitome of “wasting one’s time.”  As they say, there is no reason to try to teach a pig to sing, it is useless and annoys the pig.

Fortunately the liberals and the Left are louder than they are large in number. Our failure has been that we have not attacked them head-on.  We have debated as if they pose arguments and points of view that justify conversation.  Wrong. They do not.

Think about it: abortion is child sacrifice, countries require defensible borders, there are only two genders, marriage is between a man and a woman, habitual deficit spending ends in economic disaster, free market economics produces a higher standard of living and greater individual wealth and socialism and Communism do not, religion and faith matter, and there is a God and He is neither dead nor irrelevant.

Shalom.

If you find this post useful, share it with others.

Observation – Time to put the Judiciary in its due Constitutional place – which is limited not superior to the Executive.  If we let the matter stand – we will have government by and of ill-informed, biased Federal Judiciary and chaos, and the Nation’s collapse will result.

By the way, President Trump should pull his pending nominee for the Supreme Court in favor of Federal Judge Pryor. Why? The pending guy is not independent – he likes to be “liked” and we already have at least two such individuals on the Court.  Judges have to have more maturity and courage than needing to be “liked.”

Tomorrow – Polis and ekklesia: learning from the Greeks.   

A Post Today for Parents and Children

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Our consciousness does not create itself.  It wells up from unknown depths … it wakes each morning out of the depths of sleep …

Carl Jung, M.D., in The Psychology of Eastern Meditation

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Jung would say that we are not born tabula rasa – with a clean state.  No, his views is that each person’s brain has a history of human experience and within each person is a psyche that will seek expression, fulfillment, realization of personhood.

Jung would say that each of us is born with “a high complexity” and “existing determinants” that persist throughout each life.  Yes, in many ways we play out our particular being within this divine design.

The fact that we share this excursion seems, it appears to me, to promise our completeness provided we accept life, its lessons and – listen to the cues we observe within – evolve as we are uniquely called to life within this divine design which is itself made to insure uniqueness and commonality.

It follows, in my mind, that relationships with others, intimacy, marriage, love, family, fellowship, friendship, community and nation flow from this magnificent divine design.

What a gift is this life and its living.

Shalom.

Would any seed take root if he had not believed His promise when God said,

“Dears, I will rain.  I will help you.  I will turn into warmth and effulgence,

I will be the Mother that I am and let you draw from My body and rise, and rise.”

St. Thomas Aquinas

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If there is no God, how can these words from the 13th century survive, interest us, speak to us, make us think, perhaps alter our consciousness, orientation to daily life, and the meaning of our existence?

Aquinas thought that contemplation and solitude were among the greatest gifts we are given.  But alas we are very busy, and noisy.  So easily distracted, indeed to a state of exhaustion and impatience.

He became a Dominican monk and lived a vow of poverty with complete devotion to God.  Even in the 13th century this was a radical departure from what was.

His family kidnapped him and held him in isolation for two years in their castle to try to dissuade his choice of a monastic life.  This only strengthened his will and his faith.  In his solitude and forced imprisonment, he memorized Holy Scriptures.

Released he became a master at the University of Paris and focused his attention on Aristotle’s writings on metaphysics.  From this he learned how to make the profound seem simple to his audience.

In his studies his faith deepened and matters like the growth of a seed or the expanse of the human being came to form and to his understanding and he shared his insights with all.  To this day his words survive.

Are you not the seed promised life-giving water and eternal warmth?

Shalom.

Tomorrow’s Post: How the Democrat Left lost and Trump became President.

There is danger in all men.  The only maxim of a free government ought to be to trust no man living with the power to endanger the public liberty.  (Emphasis added.)

The true source of our suffering has been our timidity.  We are afraid to think … Let us dare to think, read, speak and write … Let it be known that British liberties and not the grants of princes or parliaments … many of our rights are inherent and essential, agreed on as maxims and established preliminaries, even before Parliament existed. (Emphasis added.)

John Adams*

It is odd to me how my efforts in writing Spirlaw over five years ago moved from a singular focus (living faith in secular culture) to address disciplines that stretch from Scripture, to contemplation, to spirituality, to mystic theology across varied faiths and many centuries, to psychology, psychiatry, cultural criticism, history at-large, American and Western and European History, philosophy, moral development, law, politics, literature, biography, and even military leadership.

Perhaps this is a function of my very varied and challenging life experience and my training in law, theology, politics, government, international relations and public policy.

Perhaps a better explanation is this: I have lived contrary to the way this culture is structured where we are compartmentalized, specialized, under-educated, homogenized and very lax in pursuing full human grow and emotional, social, intellectual and spiritual development.

That is, frankly, to say – life is not limited to but small slivers, small bits of this or that – no more than a banquet is experienced by one sampling but one item offered, and only tasting one ingredients of that dish that was, after all, prepared for our full enjoyment.

Are you as to life and as an American, and more particularly, as a Christian, one who samples one thing at the banquet?

Troubles arise when the populace, at all levels, becomes lazy and lax for then life goes off track, and too easy for a person, an ideology and a centralized power to endanger our liberty and our very existence as a nation and community of free and independent people.

You best think about this.

Sadly, I don’t listen to very many of the voices I am able to here.  I do this because they have nothing really to say.  Most parrot what contemporary culture tells them.

I am a far more selective listener and avid reader open to experience and my faith.  It seems Adams and his peers were quite the same.

Shalom.

* Note – These quotes come for Adams’ private journal (in the first instance) and from his A Dissertation on the Canon and the Federal Law (in the second instance).

If you like this post, please send it to others.  We are in a very significant time in our history.  We will correct course ONLY IF we join together. 

  

Reading is bound to silence … Constant and attentive reading alone devoutly purifies our inner self.

Peter of Celle, in The School of the Cloister

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These are the words of a devoted 12th century monk.  Yes, reading has been a regular course of monastic life.  It furthered a healthy distance from popular culture and advanced personal and spiritual growth, individual contentment, peace and understanding.

Proper reading is no less valuable today in secular culture; indeed, it may be a more vital necessity than it has ever been.  Yet, who among you has a list of key spiritual works?  I dare say: “not many.”

Think of it this way: is your peace not worthy of its pursuit?  Is your appetite for life satisfied by secular culture, its hostility to faith?  Does your family not demand a better more stable, calm and happier you?

Last night I awoke at 2 a.m. and reached for a book by my bedside.  The book? The Book of Catholic Prayer (given to me by my son) and I tuned to the Vigils for Thursday (named “The Night Office”) and recited softly in my silent room the prayers for early morning (in the dark of the pre-dawn new day).  This, the habit of monastics, took all of ten minutes.

The Antiphon was this: “My soul is thirsting for God, the God of my life.”

Is this not true of you today?  Of us?  Of this nation? Its people?  Its leadership? In politics?  In business?  In economics?  In law?  Medicine?  In education?

The Vigils ended with these words from the closing prayer: ” … renew within us the grace of the sacraments, first received in our baptism.  Through the same Christ our Lord.  Amen.”

Reading can comfort and conform us to what is good, the good we have been made to seek, to thirst for.

Good reading feeds the soul, grows our faith – safely situates us in a conflicted culture will all its false notions and unwise advocacy.  Reading lifts us out of mass confusion, what is untruth and transports us to what is best in us.  Reading connects us with God and with our inner self.  It offsets the nonsense of daily secularism.  It gives a wider, deeper, longer prospective.  It settles the heart and quiets us.

Reading brings us to Christ.  Renews our identity.  Staves off what destroys and disorders.

Reading makes for healthy space.

Think about it: regular contact with good reading awaits in the classics, in creative writing, in Scripture, in the works of the giants of our faith, in fiction, in poetry, in history, philosophy …

Reading awaits the quieting of your soul and the strengthening of your faith.

Shalom.

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