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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.

“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 my Grandchildren, my Nation and to you.

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Zion will be redeemed with justice and her repentant ones with righteousness.  But transgressors and sinners will be crushed together, and those who forsake the Lord will come to an end.

Is 1:27-28

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It is Lent.  We are closing in on Easter and the Resurrection.  Is it not a good opportunity to take this time between now and Easter to reflect on the above and ask: What do I see around me?  What do I hear daily?  In the news?  On television?  What is the state of our culture? Our nation?  Our leaders?  Our public conversation?

Have we forsaken God?  Have we listened as if there is no God?  Have we deserted our faith?  Been led astray?  Become pagans and thought and acted as such?

What is the tone of public discourse?  Do those among us divide for the lust of power? Have some among us elevated ideology and politics above all else?

Who among us speaks with faith?  Shows the courage to offer an honest picture of who we have become and how that is so unflattering, so godless?  So destructive of person and nation?  

We live in urgent times.  In talking about the Jews and Jerusalem and Judah, the Prophet Isaiah is speaking to us, today at this hour, in this time.  You best take heed.

Nothing good, absolutely nothing good, comes to those who forsake God.

If you do not live first in faith, then who but yourself can you blame for the troubles we have and the decline we court?

Shalom.

Discouraging – It is truly discouraging to see so many House and Senate Democrats carrying Mr. Putin’s water in their efforts to delegitimize President Trump and anyone who dares to challenge the settled and corrupt ethos of political Washington.

It leaves one to conclude: (a) they are the unwitting handmaids of Mr. Putin, (b) they are showing their Leftist allegiance, (c) they love the sweet Washington honeypot that gives them privileges the voting public does not enjoy and keeps them from real work, (d) all of the above.  Whose team are these guys and gals on?  Putin’s?  Their own?  Both?

To know eternity is enlightenment, and not to recognize eternity brings disorder and evil.  Knowing eternity makes one comprehensive; comprehension makes one broadminded; breadth of vision brings nobility; nobility is like heaven.  (Emphasis added.)

Lao-tse, in Tao Teh King

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Last night I watched a conversation between Tucker Carlson and a clean water “activist.” In this experience I was reminded once again (as I often am in virtually any televised news or interview program) how narrow and limited we are, how we have no familiarity with any of the multitude of sources of wisdom (like that cited above) that are part of the treasured record of human history.

In short, we are ignorant of the human story and in this loss of story, we have lost both self and sanity.

The “activist” (i.e, one who draws a stipend to advance the idiotic ideology of a particular point of view and those who possess it like one might seize The Holy Grail) postured as a sneering, hostile, anti-social, narrow-minded lout who (as these types always play to this character) could neither answer direct questions asked for fear of conceding that an opposite point of view to their position might exist, nor concede in conversation that there is a greater complexity to the issue that they are paid to advance.

Forget dialogue.  Forget conversation.  The Left does not allow that freedom. Small-minded as they are, they are, of course, tolerant of all things except tolerance.

The activist today stymies discussion.  They are the N.M.L.W.B. – the “narrow-minded Left Wing Bigot” from “central casting” – a dime a dozen and worth even less.

They are, it seems, always lawyers … and true to the “profession,” they open their mouth only to establish that there is a vast difference between “an education” and a fully developed, stable, insightful, wise, social and discerning person.

Having seen this sort of conversation over and over, it is hard not to conclude that mass communication in present day secularized culture is not worth a person’s attention. It is, sadly, too often merely the display of the sickness, arrogance, stupidity, hostility of some half-baked, none-to-bright mini-Marxist spewing the simpleton-mantra of some “party” line as if their view was indeed critically examined or contained a sliver of truth or value.

When you think about it – Who needs these hand puppets?

Frankly, when a sense of story is lost, nothing but insanity follows.  Such chatter will, in time, blunt the senses and leave one wondering where these “crazies” came from … only to find out they are hatched by Liberals, tutored in early and secondary education, and bolstered at places like Harvard and Yale.

Beware of the “crazies.”  Listen at your own risk.

Shalom.

When woke in the woods and in the dark and the cold of the night he’d reach out to touch the child sleeping beside him.

Cormac McCarthy, in The Road

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A father reaches out to touch his young son in the opening line of a story about a father’s love and duty to shepherd his son in post-apocalyptic America.

Constraints.  Shepherds have constraints.  Fathers, too.

With constraints comes identity and meaning.  In constraint is form and purpose. And other and self – true self in the constraint of another.

Rather puts the rest to selfishness and legal and political claims and the insistence on “equality” so often in demands that distort the value of self and other, and kill both.

The 19th century French sociologist Emile Durkheim led us to this truth: the fewer constraints one has the greater the risk of suicide.  What is true of man and truer yet of society.  When anything goes, everything goes!

Without bonds and obligations, relationships that are honored – death cometh.

I am often struck my how clueless public figures are and especially those who comment on the daily news.  None seems to see what is clearly in front of them.  One might ask but a simple question – if a book about the love of a father for a son in post-apocalyptic America can be a best seller and a motion picture, what does that say about us, about today?

When we do NOT wonder what that says, what dies that say???

Durkheim observed that those who had least demanding religious obligations committed suicide more than others with a religion that expected more of them. Likewise those in families were less likely to commit suicide than those alone. Those married least likely than those not married.  Those with children least likely than those without children.

Perhaps, someone might inform Supreme Court Justice Kennedy and his colleagues and then school the Left, the Democrats, feminists, abortionists, the media, Hollywood, Ivy Tower types and the other “deconstructionists” who seem hell-bent to destroy time tested institutions, mores and identities that save us from self-destruction.  

In the deep glens … all things were older than man and they hummed of mystery.

Cormac McCarthy

This from the last sentence in The Road.

Shalom.

‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but in every word the proceeds out of the mouth of God.’

Mt 4:4

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This is the response of Jesus to the first desert temptation of Satan.  The word more important than bread.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

This, of course, is the opening line in the Gospel of John.  It asks us: to what do you give primacy?  To money?  Power?  Politics?  Yourself?  Celebrity?  Your sexual desires?  Drugs?  Alcohol?  Food?

Food?  Yes, is obesity not a sign of self-deprivation?  Self-consumption? Emotional starvation, and spiritual suffering?  Would not God fill us to satisfaction so much better than food can?  Does Jesus not so very clearly say this?

There is nothing wrong in American society that cannot be radically altered for the better if God and the Word of God is not given primacy to each of us, and to this nation and its culture.  Nothing.

The Toltec Mexican writer Don Miguel Ruiz, Jr. reminds us that in our head two entities reside: one is a parasite and the other is an ally.  Each speaks to us.

The parasite is the one who reminds us of the negative things others have said about us or done to us – the words and deeds which would have us think negatively of our self, impose on us the sense that we are deficient, less worthy. The ally offers, in contrast, thoughts that we are valuable and that voice comes to us from the voices and deeds of those who have seen our value.

Don Ruiz reminds us that we must dismiss the parasite and listen to the ally, but more to the point he reminds us that “neither voice represents your whole Authentic Self” for you are not your thoughts …

In our Christian tradition, its story and its truth: you are an extension of the Word of God, a child of the Master – a word in God’s vocabulary.

There is NOTHING in you, or this nation and its culture, that cannot be corrected by simply placing God at the center of our being – the defining reality of our life, this nation and its culture … and of life itself.

Ignore the many among us who speak as godless parasites.

Shalom.

The Holiness of Rain

The rain falls hard today in the mountains.  Hard enough to give it voice, a steady presence in a quiet room.  There is a peace in its persistence.  It seems to “hush” with its music, its patter –  coupled with its consistent, rhythmic din.  To match rain, the skies are close in; clouds and their gray dim the light as if to call us within.  Peace is at hand.  God visits today.  Being alone takes on its holiness, forcing the Truth of God’s eternal, everyday – day and night, year in and year out existence.

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” … my … pilgrimage has come clear and purified itself … I know I have seen what I was obscurely looking for.  I don’t know what else remains but I have now seen and pierced through the surface and have got beyond the shadow and the disguise.”

Thomas Merton

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These are Merton’s words upon visiting a cave adjacent to the ruins of ancient temple buildings near Polonnaruwa, Ceylon, and entering the cave to find large renderings of human beings and a giant reclining Buddha.

He felt in this excursion into this place an “inner clarity.”  He referred to this as “an aesthetic illumination” allowing him to see “beyond the shadow and the disguise.”

This was Thomas Merton’s last journey.  He was to die at 58 in a matter of days.

Is your life a pilgrimage?  Do you seek what you are created to seek.  Or are you captured by what is not Truth, not of the soul, of God, or of your divine nature?

Do not let the thought-police take you captive.  Your warden is a Loving Father.

For Merton the great stone figures were “in full movement,” beautiful and holy.

How does the world look to you?  What do you see?  Hear?  Feel?  Experience in the rain and the clouds?  Do you see “full movement” in motionless stones?

Shalom.

We face up to awful things because we can’t go around them …

… it may be that love sometimes occurs without pain and misery …

Annie Proulx, in The Shipping News

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Today, east over the mountains I see gray clouds and a dark pink sunrise.  Gray and pink against the faintest of pale blue-gray sky.  Another day of hope and promise.

Last night I watched The Shipping News – good book put to film.  It reminded me of many things.  How stories teach.  How we each are made good and bad, and how the hurt we suffer or inflict settles a sadness deep within – next to God.

How those who hurt us loose in the end as their glass shatters.  How often small towns can give us the shelter of caves before death and in those shelters we might – just might – heal the curses previously inflicted.

I saw in this story that nothing is more evil than nailing a man to a tree and that doing so brings in a blood thick fog, until a pure unpainted face appears to smile so we might see the ocean, its living waters – deep, endless, timeless as God who makes the gift of love for each of us.

How good women can rescue men, and men inexplicably, modestly reciprocate without understanding how.

How men do not cry for the treachery they see and know.  How this is our excursion and how we face it all without fear.  How children worry about death but men do not.  How those who loved us never die.

How a woman’s face can be warm when she is but a woman.  How her delicate fingers touch the world and the hearts in it so carefully.  And how darkness can exist within some and make warmth deathly cold, snaring and hard.

How living waters make us all “water people.”  And how story is life and life is story.

Shalom.

 

The opposite of love is not hate, it is indifference …

Elie Wiesel

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It is rather amazing to me that in a society that spends lavishly on education, we can have public discourse that seems so often devoid of familiarity with history or culture.  The absence of each leaves us talking of things without knowing very much, having any insight.  The result: we are trapped in ignorance, bound for error.

I cite a simple case in point today and I will follow tomorrow with another one or two.

Joseph Campbell in his excellent book The Hero of a Thousand Faces tells of the “head hunting tribes” of New Guinea who sought to excise the image of the father as an archetypal figure who intrudes in the blissful paradise that is the relationship between the mother and the infant.

In this culture whatever is killed in life, by the protector men in the culture, becomes a symbol of the intruding father and the killing restores an equilibrium, a state of paradise. In this context, they project aggression on their neighbors and violent conflict becomes a natural result in the course of securing contact with what is recognized as a perfect setting – the mother and the infant.

Well, so what?

If you review cultures, you will find that these sorts of ideas are not uncommon, that the human being projects all sorts of notions that, attempting to secure a sacred experience, produce behavior that might seem wrong, immoral, savage. The further point is this: such paradigms and their resultant conduct are common to the psychological nature of the human person.  Well, still – so what?

Has anyone in public commentary sought to understand precisely what poor inner city violence (say, in Chicago) that has young Black men killing one another and innocent bystanders says psychologically?  Culturally?  Does anyone seek to decipher what this might actually say?

Is it an expression of the loss of the institutions of fatherhood and family in the urban Black experience?  Does it arise as a statement of the grief, or protest, or disorder that Black men know within from the loss of something so vital as fatherhood and family?

Could anyone not image the pain endured when such a vital identity as fatherhood is denied?  And family lost?  As Christians who value above all the Father and the Son, and revere the Spirit and the Virgin Mother, is what we see not speaking to us at greater and more urgent depth?

I just never hear much of a conversation that sheds light on what is a tragic, serious and desperately sad problem that we must come to understand and address.

At present we seem so uncaring in our abject indifference.  We talk, and the killing continues.

Shalom.

If this post connects with you, please share it with others – on social media or in email.  Thank you.

Back after and unplanned day off-line as I had computer problems.

So sorry for the inconvenience.

The mass state has no intention of promoting mutual understanding and the relationship of man to man; it strives, rather, for atomization, for the psychic isolation of the individual. The more unrelated individuals are, the more consolidated the state becomes … (Emphasis added.)

Carl G. Jung, M.D., in The Undiscovered Self

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The Democrats lost in large part because of a Marxist ideological perspective they pursued for fifty-five years which depended on the divisiveness of identity politics that pitted women against man, Blacks against Whites, the “educated” liberal and celebrity class against the working class and made enemies of anyone who deigned to differ with them while, at the same time and consistent with their views, expanding government power into all manner of personal, economic, and social life and creating entitlements which have put our affluent Nation on the road to bankruptcy and grown a huge caste of those dependent on government (i.e., those of us who work and pay taxes) for their survival.

Yes, the “aggregate thinking” of the arrogant Left caught up with them.  People prefer being individual human beings rather than wards of the Nanny State or treated as “a basket of deplorables” by a bunch of privileged misfits who have demonstrated no particular maturity or achievement whatsoever.

As in all delightful human stories the Democrats destroyed themselves in pursuit of the Nation’s destruction.  Not to be undone in this human comedy of Democrat collapse, their Presidential candidate, her underlings and her husband by their actions and words added an implicit message that it was time to reject their idiocy and that of their Party.  Ah, all done in by their panache and deftness.

So where are we now?

We may have experienced a significant and fundamental turn in our culture – a return to a healthier state of being.  If so, we may have dispatched the ideological nonsense which has made life less full and each day more inane under Leftist politicians, their foolishness and intentional hostility.  Yes, we may have neutralized their destructive pathology.

As Jung notes we are individuals and social beings not a “basket of deplorables” owned by the State.  The mass Leftist state does not seek that you are free, prosperous and happy.  Perhaps their days and ways are now behind us.

Shalom.

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