Sunday, May 30, 2010

Jesus in the New Yorker, letter to editor, who knows

if they'll take it.

I greatly appreciated Adam Gopnik’s essay “What Did Jesus Do?” As a participant in an evangelical and extremely good hearted Christian Church, I often feel that I’m a little crazy for having the sorts of thoughts that, from this article, I realized many people have been having for many years.

Like: If Jesus knew He was God, or really, really close, and the obvious end to all human life is death, and He knew his place after Death was a lock, what is the grand tragedy, other than a day of extremely unpleasant suffering? We all die. Many with more that a day of intense and awful suffeing. He got to join humanity in that. Good.

But the main craziness I feel is the contradiction between a gospel of Love Your Enemies; Cast not the First Stone; Judge Not that Ye Not be Judged, and then all the judgment that Christians have about those who don’t believe that this is the one route to …. Whatever. Heaven let’s say.

“My Way or the Highway” is certainly a favorite human attitude, and more than one of my ex-mates would gladly testify to my shortcomings in this area, but to base a religion of love and freedom from judgment on a premise that yeah, yeah, love is great and all that, but by the way: if you don’t do it our way: judgment, damnation, eternal suffering. Tough cookies for those who don’t line up on our side.

Which could be summed up something like, Christianity is really great, and wouldn’t it be even greater if Christians were Christian about those who didn’t subscribe to their take on the path to salvation (or their idea of what salvation is. OR, their ideas of what the “sins” are that bare the route to “salvation,” and so on.)

Okay, that’s a mess, to my mind, and then this article helped clarify that this isn’t just a trait unfortunately adopted by the Church under Paul’s zeal and guidance and organization building. This lack of tolerance is conveyed in the Gospels by Jesus Himself.

Which is to say: along the way Jesus isn’t very Christian. Gads, what to do with that?

Well, I’ve pondered down these roads many a year, and in reading this article a number of times come to a possible conclusion that Jesus, as a real man, born into a real time in history, was like most real humans, deeply dependant on his cultural biases in his perception of the world.

So he’s divine, maybe all along, or maybe he discovers what enlightened people have throughout history, that in a certain state He is divine. But he’s in this tradition of a people of the Book, and all these prophets, and a tradition of My Way or the Highway, our Way is right, we are the Chosen People, you all other people don’t really cut it, too bad, repent, get your act together, become just like us.

“Why can’t a woman think like a man,” says Henry Higgins. Why can’t you think like me, thinks every wife of her husband, every husband of his wife, every leftist of those on the right, every Republican of every Democrat.

We can have humor about this, or get serious, life and death, what a temptation if you can walk on water and whatnot, to let those who don’t buy your way know that they are going to suffer eternal damnation.

Alas, perhaps the damnation of anyone to and or in “hell” is the suffering that we all suffer, in the good old here and now, in this daily life on this ongoing planet, whenever we condemn, judge, feel superior to, angry at, dismissive of any other human. I.e., when we forget to “Love Our Enemy.” Righteousness is such a tempting poison, but when we feel what goes on in our hearts, minds, spirits, behavior, breathing even when we are busy in the world of “Me Right, You Wrong,” we are certainly far from happiness, and close to hell, if not well dammed / damned up in it.

There’s a thesis in here, which I’m in no hurry to round out. And, thanks so much Adam Gopnik and the New Yorker for giving me, and I hope many others, so much nourishment in the possibilities of real faith combined with real intelligence.

Chris Elms, Orcas Island, Washington.

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Wednesday, May 26, 2010

rain in May

when you move

you can get big fat
in May

you can slow down
and if
it's too hot
spend some
in the shade

if it's too medium,
too hot,
too cold,
too wet
too dry

you/ I / we
can slow down
wait a bit
call it a meditation,
or a return to our
"real selves"

and just




for a while

or the rest of the way


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Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Waiting for nothing and we're there

a wet and beautiful day

This moment
has enough

can we come to it

wait for nothing

nothing will show up

can we bask in the silence
this nothing

and feed there?

waiting as a kind of



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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Happiness May be Who we Really Are, or the Current underneath

What if happiness

And the unhappiness thing
Is when we
Do something to cover
It over
Hide it
Obscure, destroy, squelch it?

When do we make
Our selves unhappy?
How do we go about that?

What happens when
We come out of
Whatever unhappy story is
Capturing us.

Come out, say
By being present
To the now
Without any story
About how it “should” be
What is left when unhappiness is gone?

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Friday, May 07, 2010

Day 42: What to do, or How to Do it?

Going slow.

This is “hard” for us sometimes, or maybe all the time. We have an image of ourselves as “getting things done.” Or, the other side of image: we are hard on ourselves at the end of the day if we don’t “get enough done. And in order to please other people, we often say we are going to do more things than the day has time to hold.

Or we slip up and get present in one of our tasks of the day, and just “waste time” enjoying a conversation with someone, or simply being present in their company.

And then the “next thing” on our list gets shortened, or cramped, or rushed, or cancelled.

It’s a funny thing, this linear time bit: people want a lot out of us. We want a lot out of ourselves. There are lots of fun and amazing things to do, and lots of just “get this done” things to do.

And where are we in all of this?

Hey: that’s the task for today: to go slowly inside of each and every event/ task/ job/ subset of our day. Take time to just sit, to take a walk, to listen and not respond right away, to take two breaths before you respond, to sense yourself and feel “I am alive” all the while that you are doing whatever it is you are doing.

Feel your Being inside of all your Doing.

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Saturday, May 01, 2010

Day 41: Having Fun

More of the "Functional Integration" lesson, aka Neurological Upgrading

Ah, fun. Not a bad way to spend one’s time, and sometimes we worry we will waste our lives. What a pleasant dilemma.

Ah, fun. This can be an excuse to have a life where “nothing gets done,” and then again, from what I’ve seen of how Picasso went about things, or the Mozart of Amadeus presentation, having “fun” and being delightfully productive are not incompatible.

And, hey, I am trained in the Anat Baniel Method and the Feldenkrais Method, educational transformation modes wherein we use all sorts of slowing and awaring and using less effort and varying the how of something to create amazing improvement in function.

So, today, play at various things in various ways. What does that mean? You get up. Have some fun thinking of one or two things different you could do in going about getting dressed. And then some exercise or a walk: an obvious place to vary a little or a lot your usual routine.

Or, you have to rush off to work.

Oh, well. Rush with a whistle. Rush with following your breath. Rush with a smile. Rush with no cell phoning, or no radio, or whatever your usual diversion.

Have fun throughout the day noticing whatever is your habit, and then playing with two or three other ways of going about something.

I’m typing on keyboard. I can tilt my head one way and the other as I type. I can press one elbow into the surface it’s on and then concentrate on my pelvis on the side, then the pelvis on the other side, then the other elbow.

I can watch the screen and rotate my nose right and left, and follow my breathing as I type these words.

I can try to distinguish the different feel of different fingers as they type these words.

Driving a car you could sense the different fingers of each hand. Walking you could discover all the toes. Breathing in could you find something different than breathing out.

And this is fun?

Could be. Doesn’t sound like the act silly kind of fun, which could be part of your day. More life finding freshness and newness in everything you do. Give it a go.

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