Welcome to a poetic and philosophic blog about the struggles of life and relationship.

“The ambiguity of life exists in every creative process. In every creative process of life, a destructive trend is implied; in every integrating process of life, a disintegrating trend; in every process toward the sublime, a profanizing trend.”(Paul Tillich, Ph.D., from The Meaning of Health, 1981)

Life cannot exist without the essential possibility and existential reality of death. Life is impossible without the daily, chaotic struggle against death... against the unremitting threat of entropy and nothingness. As Tillich again informs us, “Life must risk itself daily in order to win itself, but in the risking it may lose itself. A life which does not risk death--even in the highest forms of the life of the spirit--is a life poorly lived." This willingness to risk ourselves for greater life is the key that opens the door to the wellspring of creativity deep inside of us... that wellspring of transformative vitality that propels us through the struggle of death into the richness and renewal of new life.

"Creativity is 'the elixir of life' that heals and transforms life. Through the creative process we enter that 'sacred place,' that zone of evolution where the world lights up to itself as we light up to the world. It is here, in that 'holiest of holy' places that we are reunited with the waters of the wellspring of creativity, The Source of the 'River of Life' from which all creative energy and vitality issue forth to be manifested as new life. Through every creative act, life fulfills itself. Through every creative act, we transcend the mortality of our separate ego-self of I and enter into the realm of immortality to become one with our contextual self as Thou, as a self-realized collaborator in creation. Through creativity, we are delivered from the chaos of illness into the dynamic order of new life."
(P. Donovan & Herb Joiner Bey from The Face of Consciousness, 2006)

Please join me on this courageous venture of life and "enter into the realm of immortality," the realm of dialogue and relationship by poetically sharing with this community, your struggles to live... to "nullify the unremitting recurrences of death" through the continuous recurrence of birth. Through dialogue and relationship, the Face of consciousness is seen, recognized and witnessed. It is your Face, my Face, the Face of all life, the Face of our God. Thank you, Patrick.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

To The Salmon People And The Salmon Eaters From Mack

Last night I attended a presentation given in Seattle by wisdom-keeper storyteller Michael Meade. I went because I am in a bit of a doldrum, and wisdom (so rare in our world) tends to pick me up. It was an uplifting experience.

In oration and storytelling and song and drumming, he told of how our souls come to this life with a purpose, aimed in a certain direction, although we are sometimes unaware of that purpose. He said that usually there is a wounding experience in our childhood that stimulates and enlivens that purpose, turning fate into destiny. As he spoke I thought of how his words might apply to me. My wound was in being lied to, first by alcoholic parents who could not admit their alcoholism, then by a religious cult and complicit family members, and finally, on escaping that cult, by a world culture which does not know itself. Each time the lies sought to conceal the character of the very air we breathed day to day.

The storyteller said that initiation is a process of separation, ordeal, and reunion with a welcoming community that recognizes a rebirth of the soul and welcomes the initiate back into a place of belonging. How might this apply to me? My separation occurred at age 3, when I was fitted with a leather and steel leg brace to keep my right leg bones straight despite a disease which threatened to make the bones bend and then harden again in a disfigured state. The brace was mostly successful, as my lasting disfigurement is very minor, and could have been much worse. It is literally in my hip, as Jacob (another who asked for a gift as I did) was said to have been touched in his hip by an angel to teach him humility. I wonder if this is a reminder of humility to me.

But my bone disease was not the real wound, only an initiatory separation. For wearing the leg brace during my early years of socialization, three to six, created social separation, which Michael Meade says is a signal to the soul that initiation has begun.

My wound of fate is also my initiatory ordeal. Being lied to massively and intricately, more convoluted than the most complex Celtic knot you have ever seen or imagined. He says that next to our wound is our gift to the world, and that we have to go completely through the wound in order to find our gift and let it shine. My cult recovery process is now in it's second decade and counting. During this time I have completely reclaimed my mind from the web of lies, and am, more than anyone else I know, quite immune to them now. Since reclaiming one's mind is the greatest sin that one can possibly commit as per some of my siblings still in the cult, they count me a heretic worthy of death. This thought is wounding too, for my family was supposed to be my foundation in this life. There is no home to return to, even if I ever would.

But I have gone all the way through this wound. Some days I am even free of anger about it. Each day I try to deliver my gift by means of clarity and sincerety and alignment with the Nature of what is, and vibrating in the electricity and beauty of it, and I don't know if it is of benefit to anyone but myself, but I keep trying, for that is all I have to give. I hope some day it can benefit my unborn grandchildren so that they can enjoy the pure beauty that I have loved. My golden ball is certainly a treasure to me. Perhaps that is enough.

The storyteller related a Celtic story about the tree of life and the salmon of wisdom who became wise by eating nuts that fell from the tree of life into the pool where the salmon was swimming. He suggested that a life of wisdom means swimming against the current, as salmon do, because wisdom is rare in our world. So wisdom means struggle? I can relate. I have had to swim against the current for most of my life because I love and pursue wisdom, although I may not define it as Michael Meade does. He also said that wisdom varies for each individual, that it is creative and dynamic and infinitely malleable. I don't know if that is so. Perhaps.

But there is also another wisdom, and there must be another wisdom that we can share, at least long enough to solve our collective planetary problems. I suspect private creative wisdom, no matter how essential and helpful, may not be enough without a collective wisdom based on the Nature of what is, because collective solutions are required in order to survive these times. Somehow I can't help wondering if my golden ball is involved, but I don't quite know how.

To me, wisdom means the capacity to solve problems, like Solomon is said to have done when two mothers came before him, one with a living baby and one with a dead baby. When I first heard this story about age 3, there was a quickening in my soul. Something moved inside me as if I had swallowed a live salmon. I knew I had a difficult problem too, my parents' alcoholism, and I very much wanted the capacity to overcome my problem like Solomon did his. So that day I prayed to God for wisdom, the capacity to solve problems, because that is what Solomon did. I thought if it worked for him, it might work for me. (Hmm. Salmon~Solomon.) That was the day the eyes of my soul opened and my initiatory ordeal began. Had I known the ordeal would last so long, I might not have asked for it.

Like dominoes falling in succession, knowledge (the possession of accurate information) can lead to understanding (an overview of how things fit together), which in turn can lead to wisdom (the capacity to solve problems by employing understanding). But this succession requires intellectual honesty which becomes disrupted by cultural error. Since culture permeates, like the air we breathe, intellectual dishonesty within individual minds is somewhat proportional to the errors of world culture, and unfortunately they are many.

I pursue wisdom like the scent of a distant spawning ground because I wish to clear away the problems that inhibit the elusive thing I love which I can barely describe. I love the purest beauty imaginable, that pure innocence, pure alignment with the Nature of what is, free of artificial contrivance, which vibrates in the electricity of being, standing toe to toe, seeing eye to eye, free of the need for any contrived device, stronger because of it, steadfast and unmoveable like the trunk of the great tree of life, flowing with the limitless qi of the universe because of essential alignment with the Nature of what is. This is what this indescribable golden ball means to me.

Some might call it "truth", but that does not quite convey it, particularly where that word has been painted a different color through abuse. This thing I love is not some abstract invented doctrine from a hypocritical cleric, oversimplified for spiritual babes, yet masquerading as universal light. It is the ability to recognize and celebrate the beingness of our own Nature, to tune into a universal frequency that can free and empower us to reach our magnificent potential. Although I no longer allow myself to be chained by doctrine, I do still believe parts of my scriptural upbringing, including John 8:44, "The Devil is a liar and the father of lies". This is consistent with my experience, for this golden ball, "truth" or "innocence" or "alignment" or "sincerety" or however one might attempt to label it (despite the fact that labels usually fail), is that which connects us to our limitless power and divinity. Any oppressor would first seek to disconnect us from that, would they not? I don't know what the Devil is, but some unseen force or person has certainly taken this oppressive role in our world. Who?

Sincerety, above all else, is not allowed in my world, and particularly not for adult males. Instead, now and throughout this lifetime which extends along the road behind me, I am expected to be stoic and accomplished and contrive an image of stoicism and prowess, for this artificial image is what a man "should" be. And this is my deep emotional ground, being prohibited by the world in which I live from openly being and celebrating who I am, a world which, on the one hand pays lip service to honesty, but on the other hand rewards artificial contrivance and punishes sincerety in every conceivable way. We are not allowed to be who we really are, much less celebrate it. Shame, projection, and artificial contrivance are everywhere.

I have not yet gone all the way through this wound, and I wonder if there will be yet time to do so in this lifetime. It is, needless to say, no mystery to me why so many of my fellow men, likewise expected to be artificially stoic for the benefit of others, or artificially accomplished in order to receive a modicum of respect, more now in our gender "enlightened" society than ever, without a thought for their own humanity, do accede to contrivance and even exploitation in order to gain some sort of satisfaction, for there is no reward in this world for those who hold to nobility of character and sincerety of word and deed. Because of my "innocence" or creative maladjustment, I am sometimes thought of as weak, where in reality I am strong because of it, yet no one knows it. I admit it's not polished, but it really is gold.

The storyteller also said that the third stage of initiation, a reunion with a welcoming community that recognizes a rebirth of the soul, is rare in our world. Even though I discovered this soul journey he describes back in my teens, and have been pursuing it ever since, having been through three formal indigenous-style initiations, and many informal ones, that third stage still eludes me. For I live in a world in which community has dissolved, and humankind recognizes very little of what is real. And so even the most fundamental human needs that we all share, having a place of belonging and being seen and accepted for who we really are, eludes most all of us, because most all of us are too blind to see each other or recognize our common destiny.

I have at times been angry over this, but in this moment I am sad for my race, and I hold out a hand tenderly upon the shoulder of those who have never held out anything for me. We are all potentially so much more than we have been. May we move toward our beautiful potential.

The times that I came closest to the promise of being known and accepted for who I really am, that is when I was most alive; but it took huge expenditures of energy to reach those peaks in a cultural environment that either cannot glimpse my golden ball or projects familiar stereotypes as an overlay upon an unfamiliar sight. But even those peaks were a false promise, for no one around me whom I trusted with this risk, could really see or even wanted to, even though I tried over and over again. And now I am old and tired, and perhaps unlikely to spend that much energy trying such a difficult quest that holds so little promise in the current climate.

However the beautiful thing I came here to celebrate, I still do and always will. I love a thing that I have only tasted in the briefest possible glimpse (like Finn who touched the skin of the salmon before tasting his thumb) many years ago and now nearly forgotten. To love and pursue that pure and beautiful thing, now a wisp of a distant memory, which I can barely describe and even so doing, I describe poorly at best, my indescribable golden ball, is my purpose in this life. I wonder if my purpose is entirely futile, and hope it is not.

It is the beauty for which I live. Well although I have little evidence of accomplishment, my life is well spent still.

© Mack