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Heal those around you with love

I am convinced we are here to spread love. We are surrounded by wounded people. Most people have no idea what life is about and wander around looking for happiness, but end up sowing pain. We are told money and things will make us happy, safe and secure. Only love can do these things.
We are not saints ourselves, so we must make due with what inspiration we can provide for each other. We all struggle with challenges and the pain of human experience. We all wish we could avoid the things that cause us pain, especially tragic loss, but it is these very experiences that show us who we really are. We may not always like what we see, but we can learn from even our worst moments.

I have a new baby, and although I love her, I am not getting enough sleep and am experiencing challenges like I never have before. My impulse is to not make that part of the journey I share with you because I want you to see me in the best light, but if my struggle helps anyone, it doesn’t matter if everyone else judges me harshly for my shortcommings.

For example, I don’tike getting g thrown up on. We have some awesome burp cloths that our wonderful friends made for us, but Adelia missed the one I had right under her and threw up on me. The sight of my baby throwing up (I have a 2 year old too, so it’s not new to me) combined with being covered with it, along with the kind of sleep deprivation that only comes from weeks of little to no sleep culminated in a string of expletives that would make a sailor want to shower. 

Immediately I felt bad. luckily, the baby was oblivious to me, what with being sick and all, and even while cursing, I still handle the baby with gentle care and cleaned her up and got both our shirts off and calmed down enough to get her calmed down. She really responds to being sung to well. Gabriel used to also, now he just shakes his head.

While these things are going on in my life, I am around others going through pain too; people I work with whom I care about, customers I don’t know, random strangers in traffic: we are all struggling with our own personal trials. 

Sometimes, I can see someone is in pain, but I am unable to do anything concrete. But I can give them moral support, encouragement, and spiritual energy. And almost without knowing it, the people around me send me healing vibes, too. This struggle combined with a symbiotic giving and receiving of spiritual energy is the key dynamic in out lives.

Again, I’m not pretending some of the horrific tragedies we face have value or meaning. I’m not one of those people who are like, “God gave that person cancer for a reason. There’s good to be found in the death of our loved ones” or things of that nature. Any good to come from any horrible situation has to be manufactured by the people going through it, and it’s cruel and wrong to say that people are better off for going through tragedy. What I’m saying is the everyday things that we have to deal with allow us to help each other deal with these things as well.

The more love we spend, the more love we have. If we share each other’s burdens, we won’t have to bare them alone.

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Original Sin

I have spent most of my spiritual life avoiding argument. It is usually a better idea to find common ground where one can and let people have their own spiritual truths. The exception would be if someone’s religious beliefs promoted violence, oppression, inequality, or caused physical harm. There are aspects of these negatives to most religions, particularly Monotheism, in which, not only is only one specific deity is recognized, but the worship of the deity is specific to one religion or religious sect. However, most people recognize the importance of extending the courtesy of religious freedom to others that they themselves would want to have extended to themselves. It prevents war.

This argument is really more of the bomb throwing kind. I’m not actually looking to start a fight, but I could easily avoid one by not making the following thesis: The Adam & Eve story is so ridiculous that it could never have been meant to be taken literally. That is; it was written by someone who thought the very idea of what they were writing was too ridiculous to be taken literally. It was probably a kind of teaching story that we lost the lesson part of in the ensuing millenia.

Here’s what I mean: Adam & Eve are created without original sin by an all-knowing, all-powerful, Loving, forgiving God. A God so loving and forgiving, he eventually sends Jesus to save mankind from itself. God places Adam & Even in the Garden of Eden, where they can eat or drink anything they want. The world is literally their oyster. With one notable exception: They cannot eat from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. You will probably agree that this is a very specific kind of tree. It’s not the tree of bad haircuts, or the tree of drunk driving; it’s the tree of knowledge of good and evil. And, although, the completely new, innocent and inexperienced Adam and Eve can eat from any tree in their garden, they can not eat of this tree. that’s also in their garden, where they can eat anything they want.

So at first they do pretty good. But then the devil comes as a snake in the grass to tempt Eve. And it works. She eats from the tree of knowledge of good and evil. And then she tempts Adam into doing it. And then God, who is everywhere, comes to the garden. The all-knowing God asks Adam and Eve what they were up to. Well, they hide, because what do they have now that they didn’t have before? Knowledge of good and evil. So they know they’ve done something wrong. So the All forgiving, loving God, what does He do to these first offenders? He Sentences them to death! And not just them; but all their progeny for all time. That’s me and you. We didn’t eat from the damn tree! Why are we being punished? So the all-knowing, all-wise God gave Adam and Eve free will and the all-powerful God put the temptation in their garden. In their refrigerator, if you will. “Hey, I’m gonna stock your fridge with food, you can eat whatever you want, but not this fruit that’s basically the same as all the other fruit except you can’t eat it.” “k. by.!”

What was the name of that tree? The tree of knowledge of good and evil. So, they didn’t know good from bad before they ate from the tree? So they couldn’t know it was wrong to do it? And God being all-knowing, knew they would eat from it. Hell, I knew they would eat from it, and I’m not all-knowing. So the all loving all forgiving, Just God punishes Adam and Eve for doing something they couldn’t conceive was wrong in the first place. And He’s punishing us for it, when we didn’t even do it! He gave them free will. He put the fruit tree in their garden and told them not to eat that one.

At this point, I would like to point out that I often use the analogy of a kid who sticks his finger in an electric socket when his parents have told him not to. The electric shock the kid suffers is not punishment for disobeying his parents, but merely the consequence of putting your finger in the socket. That’s not what’s happening to Adam and Eve. We are told specifically and repeatedly that this is punishment for disobeying God’s commandment. This God is an asshole.

That’s why I think this story was not meant to be taken literally. As Tori Amos says; “I thing the Good book is missing some pages…”

I think most of the fables in the Bible are meant to make us think. There are also some teachings that contradict others. There are some that I just don’t agree with. I think this is a case of “we don’t have the whole story.”

But it won’t make you think, if you just take it literally as this is how things are and how God operates. It’s not how things are, and it’s not how God operates. Learn to think, to ask questions.

I worship an all knowledgeable, all-powerful, all Loving God. This story does not depict that God.

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Devotion

Often when we engage in spiritual or religious conversations, some varient of the word “Devotion” is part of it. We art devoted to our path, devotees of our diety, and we measure our success by the amount of devotion we commit to our cause. When I met my first spiritual teacher, we talked about the life long commitment I would be undertaking. I don’t spend every minute of every day contemplating my relationship with the Source, but I do spend time everday, even spare time, not just, “ok, I have to spend a half hour meditating”, but throughout the day, because it is what I am most interested in, I come back to it over and over again.

What I am proposing is rather than creating a difficult regimen to stick to, instead think about just how important your devotion is to you. I like things to not be too structured so that my life can happen organically and I can still make time for what’s important to me. I was lucky that at some point on my journey, I heard a priest being interviewed for the radio, NPR’s “On Being” which is a fascinating look at how various people approach the divine. In anycase, the priest said that he liked to think of God as someone to have over for dinner, in an informal setting. His point was that rather than make every interaction with God formal, you make time for God in your everyday life, wearing your everyday clothes. Yes, there’s time for formal ritual, but I’m a believer that every moment of every day is worship, whether we mean for it to be or not, so how we act when we’re not “at church” is more important than the show we attend once a week.

Much of my work is devoted to the spiritual, but not all of it is specifically focused on that. I figure what I devote to God because I want to will have a better quality than doing it because I feel obligated to do it. There are many ways to devote yourself to God: all the way from simple prayer to becoming a monk or priest. How we treat each other is of primary importance.

I’m trying to keep this vague because whatever path you’re on, I want that to work for you. My understanding of the Deity evolves over time, which I think is healthy because if you have a perfect idea of the deity to start with, and no further understanding is needed then your education on this plane is complete, and you would no longer be confined to it. It may be useful as we go along for me to be specific about my beliefs, which I will do for the sake of getting from point A to point B. If the details of my beliefs don’t mesh exactly with yours, feel free to substitute your specifics for mine, if you find that to be helpful. It can be useful to bring us closer to our Higher Power to have details fill in blank areas that aren’t really turning points in spiritual advancement. For instance; I was raised Catholic, and Catholics believe that Mary was a Virgin when she conceived Jesus. This story helps some people realize the divine nature of Jesus, but to me, my faith in the divinity of Jesus doesn’t hinge on this detail. In some ways this is a story that brings the culture of the ancient world to us so we can enjoy being part of something ancient. On the other hand, it seems to say that even sex between to holy reverent people is somehow bad and Mary conceived Jesus without sex. (The idea that sex was involved, just not w/Joseph, since he was technically not Jesus’ father smacks of a kind of Zuesian tale, which it may in fact have been. My point is all this is a distraction from the teachings of Jesus, which are the focus of the religion.) I know it opens a can of worms to bring up this particular story, but that’s kind of the point. It’s a huge distraction from what important about Christianity. Just one point further on this argument: one often hears that God does this to show that all things are possible through God. Well, then why isn’t it possible for God to do it the conventional way? Of course, God is trying to make a point by doing it uncovnetionally, but I don’t think the point is that all things are possible, it’s that Jesus is more divine that human conception can yield (but if all things were possible to God, human conception could yield a divinity like Jesus; it’s that God is making a point, not that God is constrained.

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Courage

marinarainbow 001“Marina saw a brilliant light at the end of the vast expanse of clouds. The sun was breaking through the grey above. Great shining streaks of light poured through the sky. Marina felt the glorious warmth of the sunlight and melted back into a clear shining raindrop.
Marina and her friends basked in gleaming morning sunlight. She could see light pouring through her and her friends creating an arcing rainbow that stretched to the sparkling sea below.” from “Marina” The story of a baby raindrop. In this scene, Marina changes from identifying as a snowflake; unique and individual, to being part of a rainbow; a community whose whole is greater than the sum pf its parts.
The rainbow represents all colors, all faiths, all types. It is a symbol of unity.
Together, we can overcome obstacles we would not want to face on our own. It takes courage to defend the oppressed but we will br stronger for it. Cowards see something to fear in others, while the brave overcome their fear to find the common good. That’s why, in the long run, we will prevail, even if we face setbacks now. Because we are stronger together.
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Telling the Tao

fotor_147869657337290“The Tao that can be told is not the eternal Tao” so begins the Tao te Ching; “The Book of the Way,” by Lao Tsu. Over 25 years ago I consciously began my journey on the Path. One of the first books I stumbled upon was Stephen Mitchell’s translation of the Tao. I keep a copy with me and drag it out every once in while. Sometimes I get in a mood where I take my pocket copy with me everywhere, though I may never look at it when I do. The message is pretty simple: Don’t try to control the universe. Be in the moment, let life guide you, and become a master by not trying. Of course there’s more to it than this. I refer you to the first sentence in this post. I’m sure the Old Boy knew the irony of making that the first line of his book.
In the passing years I’ve learned many things, and unlearned many as well. I have to keep unlearning them. One of the things I’ve seen real value in for me is practicing zen calligraphy. The method is very similar to what I’ve just stated; be in the moment, let the universe be in charge and in this way, become a master. As zen is a Japanese form of Buddhism, the calligraphy is Japanese as well. Japanese traditionally write in Kanji, which was originally Chinese, like Taoism. The calligraphic method can be applied to any writing; indeed it can be applied to life itself. Using the tools to render the Taijitu (yin yang symbol) is a natural.

fotor_147869716888396What made me realize this was of course watching Kung Fu Panda III.
I was struck by the idea that the image can be seen to describe a spinning effect; as is often depicted with the yin and yang chasing each other. What was significant this time was how it is a symbol for everything. our galaxy is spinning, the sun revolves around it, the earth around the sun as it spins on its own axis. Dervish spin in meditation. Also, in reading up on the symbol, pronounced “Tai Chi tu” by the way, many of the complimentary aspect it represents were explained including one which I hadn’t thought of: the expanding contracting duality of life. This is key to Hamsa meditation, as well as understanding non dualist Kashmiri Shavism, which is another key component of my education.
So rendering the Taijitu deeply gratifying to me. It is a powerful exercise and a powerful symbol.

 

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Meditation part 1

madonna blueMeditation is an important part of my life. My pursuit of authentic meditation has fueled my spiritual path. When I was a teenager, I was curious to learn about spiritual paths other than the Catholic faith I was born into. A child of divorce, and of a parent who had been previously married, I felt that the rules I had been taught about my family and my soul were not that of a loving and understanding God.
It wasn’t until College that I really became pro active in researching spirituality. Until that point, my thinking was still centered on what had  been drilled into my head since I was born. So I worried that other religions might lead to damnation. Yet I became more and more certain that the people who had been building and guiding the Church were not as divinely guided themselves as they claimed. I was still building a case against my indoctrination into a religion that I had accepted and loved growing up.
I finally came to the conclusion that God showed Himself to different people in different ways. I was certain that God didn’t love Europeans more than Indians or Asains. Why would He expose some people to certain religions and others to other ones if being born in India was a sure ticket to Hell. I also concluded that God would want us to use our brains and our hearts to figure out for ourselves what religion was best for us. Just automatically accepting what I was born into as the only right way to worship seemed arrogant and lazy to me.
I began reading and taking classes that taught comparative religion. I am part Native American, so I went to sweat lodges. I learned about Wicca, which predated Christianity in Europe. Some will take offence at calling it that because it is a modern term. It’s just the term I learned about the worshipers of the Earth Mother Danu. Their way was almost completely wiped out and Danu’s Consort, the horned god, became the image of the Christian devil. Leave it to a Patriarchal society to completely miss that the main deity is a woman.samhain 001

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Sanctuary of the Beloved

devi

I recently had an experience that made me realize that I need to rededicate my life to what I’m passionate about. I have been concentrating on writing and illustrating children’s books, which is one of my life’s deepest passions. However, this is a long, arduous process, even when I’m self publishing and eliminating the middleman of trying to find a publisher. In the meantime, I need a creative outlet and focus to keep me centered in the moment. This has always been mainly spiritual work for me. I do sacred calligraphy, spiritual paintings, poetry and things of this nature. I have always just sort of worked on calligraphy until I feel like I need to work on children’s books and then I want to paint a landscape and then a painting of Mary, and back to calligraphy, and then I make a painting of the Goddess. And then they just sort of get piled on to my website in their various spots.

madonna blue

There’s nothing wrong with this per se; but I had the inspiration to create a space dedicated to my spiritual work, thus giving it a more cohesive feel.

 

The things I create can provide inspiration and solace. We are all given ways to help each other, and I don’t have to be the leader, I can be an artisan that creates little talismans that help people to focus on their spiritual goals, mantras, inspirational motifs.

The space I want to create for these things; for people to come to is the Sanctuary of the Beloved.

The Beloved is the Source. Some may refer to this Source as God, or Goddess; Buddha, Devi, Jesus, Allah; to me all rivers spring from the same Source, and they all lead to the Ocean. The Beloved is how I refer to Her. To me She is Love itself.aditiwc

I once had to evaluate the qualities I would look for in God. Who could I dedicate my soul to? Who could I rely on for steadfast guidance in all things at any time? Was is the God I was raised to worship? The patriarchal figure that gets angry at the slightest provocation? The one who condemns to hell people who aren’t born into the correct religion and perform the functions and rituals just so? The one to whom we ascribe all suffering to being a test? The punisher with a long list of what’s acceptable and what is not?Untitled5

I realized that I was also told that God is love. literally. Not metaphorically. This made sense to me. Here was a God I could do business with. Also, I thought that in all likelihood, the patriarchal idea of God was created by men, human men, to keep women in line. In ancient times some societies were not patriarchal, they were matrilinear; that is men and women were equal, but lineage or birth lines were traced through the mother, not the father. This makes sense because you always know who the mother is. Patriarchal societies had to have strict rules about sex to insure that the king passed his kingdom on to his son and not some other guy’s son. The best way to insure that everyone knew men were in charge was to say that God was a man, and He said men were in charge. We’ve been dealing with this for five thousand or more years. So to counteract that deep subconcsious embedding that God is a man, I celebrate the Goddess, from whom we are all born, who nurtures us and protects us. Who deserves respect and is every bit as wise and powerful as any male deity. A God who was truly Love wouldn’t care what religion someone was. Monotheist religions are meant to control people, not help them to grow spiritually. Besides, Male and female are not complete without each other. If God is a single source, than God is neither male nor female, but God.

Goddess

God as Love is someone I can dedicate my life to; dedicate my soul to. In any situation, you can choose love; You can stop and say, what is the loving thing to do? All the other rules either hold up to this or they don’t. Everything becomes much clearer, much easier. I’m not perfect, but I don’t have to be. because God is Love.

I may go into more detail about my personal beliefs another time. Here, I just want to lay the ground work for the Sanctuary of the Beloved.

The Sanctuary is the heart.

Visit the Sanctuary here

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#AlwaysChooseLove

the faerie TreeI am a scatterbrain. Maybe I have a condition: ADD or ADHD. I don’t know. I flit from subject to subject. Lately I have been concentrating on Faeries. I am in the process of writing and illustrating a children’s book about faeries. It will be written in part if not wholly in some form of verse. I could conceivably write it in verse and prose and claim the whole thing was “free verse” which in part took a prose like form. I’ve read some modern poetry which seems to me to be prose. Incidental reminiscing of mundane events, beautifully rendered and proffered as poetry in the latest poetry journals which I leave on the shelf unbought because I don’t identify with it. It doesn’t touch me or move me. So, whose going to identify with faerie poetry written in some archaic style that people don’t even read anymore? I will I guess.

I’ve eluded to my process before; it’s rather backwards. I’m sketching faeries, writing whimsical verse with a fountain pen in a beautifully bound sketchbook. I’m approaching my subject elliptically, sneaking up on it, as it were. My son has nightmares, so I’ve decided that I am going to have the faeries chase out the nightmares. That’s basically the plot as of now.faerie Knight

I’ve also discovered that the faeries wear armor and live kind of like gypsies; in fancy wagons and stuff. So, it’s slowly taking shape in the fog. The nightmares themselves may be creatures of the otherworld too. My hope is reading this book, children will go to bed, feeling they have the power to drive away nightmares. Psychologically, if one feels they need not fear nightmares, then that is precisely the case. It’s all very FDRian.

So, now I have to come up with the dark creatures, which shouldn’t be a problem, given the genre; there’s probably more scary creatures in the otherworld than friendly ones. I’ll probably have a child for the fae to protect, and maybe Danu herself will make an appearance. That’s why I started this post with the bit about being scatterbrained. I wanted to abandon the faeries and court the Goddess for a time; but in the space of a few paragraphs I see the two aren’t mutually exclusive. The Goddess by the way is Love. whether she is Danu, Devi, Gaia, Demeter or Isis. Or Jesus, or Krishna for that matter. Whatever name you worship: #alwayschooselove.wiccan-grail-001

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Faerie Sketches

I’ve been working on a new series of faerie sketches for a children’s book. Some are more finished than others. Most of them are in a little 5×7 sketchbook that my wife gave me as a gift, so the sketches are kind of small. These newer ones are being done with water soluble graphite, watercolor pencils and markers. They are helping me to flesh out the story. I’ve also been writing some poetry for the book, but again, more as sketches or ideas that may or may not end up in the book.

All I can really tell for sure is I probably won’t do the finished pieces in watercolor pencil and marker.

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Om is Where the Heart Is

omtibet 001 (2)In the beginning was the word and the word was OM. Chanting OM is like a tuning fork for your soul. The ancient sacred sound permeates the Cosmos; creating it and sustaining it.

In the 1950s Bell industries aka the phone company was experiencing static on their lines. They assigned 2 physicists to find the source of the static; Peebles and Dick. What they found was a vibration that emited from everywhere simultaneously. At a frequency that matched exactly what scientists postulated the remnant of the big bang would vibrate at. The universe was created by a sound, and is sustained by it. omEPSON007At Azul BlueDragon, we offer ancient, sacred Sanskrit words and phrases, rendered in the expressive Shodo style of Calligraphy,which utilizes a meditative technique to harness the spirit of Creation, imbuing the very ink on the page with energy.

For a limited time, we are offering a free digital download of the sacred Om, to keep. You can print it out and use it to decorate your home or office. It’s our gift to you. (via Free Download! Om Sanskrit Calligraphy!)

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