Archive for category Spirituality, 12 Steps, Religion & Self Improvement

releasing flow, receptive absorption.

Dear God make my giving and my taking change forms.

May the giving shift from a pushing forth what is mine,
to a releasing flow through me what is, was and always will be yours.

May the taking shift from a grabbing what I want or think I need,
to a receptive absorption of whatever You flow to me.

And ultimately through me.

For me there is time.
A time for this and a time for that.
For Me, there is no time.
All is here now, though there is no now and no here.
Only Now. And. Here.
No tea, no pee,
Know tea, know pee.
Pee.

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Dripping wet but out of the pool

Bob my friend, calm down. You are dripping wet, it is true. But Bob, five minutes ago you were in the pool itself! You are so much drier than you were then, and you keep getting drier by the moment. Bob my friend, you are moving in the right direction.

During your days in the pool you were completely enveloped by wetness. You barely understood that you were wet. It was so essential a part of your environment that it barely deserved notice. Ah but now, Bob, with all the progress you have made, you are living on dry land, surrounded by air. Breathable air. And now, dear Bob, now in this world of freedom breathable you find that you have an unneccessary parasite traveling with you here. It is that pesky water from the pool of your past. And so yes, you are wet. Very wet in fact.

But the true state of things with you isn’t wetness. You are a man of land and air now. The water will evaporate in time. Perhaps it needs a little help from an absorbant cloth or a warm breeze. But the water isn’t the state of things with you today. The pool is of the past. Focus on the water and you are likely to say, “fuck it, I’m wet anyway. I may as well jump back in the pool.” But you are one of us now, Bob. You are a free man. A living breathing man of the earth and air. Welcome. Welcome.

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Transactions

Transactions. Is that what this whole big thing called life comes down to? Is it really the case, Joe wondered aloud, directing his gaze deep into the reflection of his own eyes in his grimy bathroom mirror.If nothing happens does that mean that nothing is really happening? I reject that, his bleary eyes said back to him, coming to life through the haze of this morning’s glossy redness. The world is what the world is, irrespective of our little agreements to transact.

And yes, it does seem that the question has merit. For it is as true in intellectual discourse, emotional exchange and romantic endeavor as it is in commerce that so much of our intereactions with others come down to negotians. Little verbal and non-verbal conversations that ultimately lead to a transaction or an agreement not to transact. But if there is a certain eternal, non-physical reality, call it truth or created wisdom of truth, then that something exists in the same measure — measurelessness to be more accurate — before during and after transaction.

Says Joe back to himself in the mirror: “it is in the moments of transactions that conduital windows are sprung open through which wisdom of truth gains potential for revalation in this time bound material plain. Transactions are only of this limited world, but their occurance here is our version of change. And in that moment of transition, the opprotunity for the revalation of truth in this world is born. There is a momentary opening, a possibility for dedensification.

But Joe’s search was for something larger, some truth beyond that both governs our transactional experience and transcends it. He always maintained that he could sense the presence of that certain something beyond anything. That nothingness that is more something than all the somethings combined. And yet he could never defend adequately what it meant to “sense” something. Intuition is immeasurable and ultimately undocumentable. Modern psychology is adept at swallowing it into its own world of rationale or irrationale thought. Modern neuroscience posesses equal facility and stealing intuition’s thunder, claiming micro-interactions among brain chemicals and electrical processes as the true and physical seat of all that is mental, emotional or spiritual. And yet, belief in that non rationale, non empirical perceptor we variously call intuition, vibe or spirit remains strong as ever. It is the great in-between. The truth greater than all other truths. The easiest to debunk but the hardest to derail. It is as inborn as any human impulse. It trumps cogito ergo sum a thousand times over. It may indeed be nothing more than an amorphous amalgom of experience and reason but then again it may truly be a thing unto itself. Never mind that parsing, for it is certainly ours and here to stay. Be it illusion or ultimate truth, it cannot be brushed aside with accuracy or even utility. It is the essence of all perception.

And Joe certainly didn’t see it as an amalgom of anything. He knew it to be the grogging apprehension tool by which humans could know truth and transform themselves into channels for the wisdom of truth. He knew with certainty that somewhere in the hazy shade of

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What is Religion?

For a long time I practiced a brand of “religion” all my own. The 12-step approach to spirituality gave me permission to sidestep any baggage a might have about any particular dogma and look inward and upward for guidance. This was at once freeing and perplexing.

my G_d your G-d — honest belief that there IS some objective reality — wanting the “real G_d”; plus, polytheistic undertone bothered me.

cultural pull — Jewish identity and pride.

Spirituality vs. Religion — does it really have to be vs. — think DC Deli — does that have to be how it is?

Torah Judaism’s allure — bringing it all together…..

But then, cultural stuff, social pressures — personal char defects — lox and bagel and the black hat

sprituality, religion, culture — structure support and accountability feedback loop. NONE OF THEM ARE THE IT!

According to Robert M. Seltzer in Jewish People, Jewish Thought, “Religion is man’s effort to elicit meaning and value from confrontation with the holy. Through acts of worship he enters into formal communion with the divine; through myths and theology he seeks to explain the relation between the divine and the actualities of life. Proceeding one step further, religious literature collects, records, and organizes this lore and teaching, enabling man’s positive respoknse to the holy to be transmitted over the span of gnerations.”

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Jimmy K., You and Me

To my dear friend –
If I have my facts straight, it was exactly 60 years ago today Jimmy Kinnon got clean in Alcoholics Anonymous. Without his efforts, and those of many others, Narcotics Anonymous as we know it today would likely not exist. I never met Jimmy, but singing his praises is not really my point anyway.

The fellowship that was born from Jimmy’s vision has become an absolute lifeline for so many of us. It has saved our physical lives and set out guideposts that lead us on an awesome spiritual journey when we follow them. It is our support network, our social club and our refuge from the storms of life and the storms of our minds. NA was there for me when I was in the worst trouble I had ever known, and it has been there for time after time after time since then. The fellowship is made up of people — no one person can consistently provide for the needs of others, but together — as NA — we can and do every single day.

It is through NA that my relationship with G_d has become such an important part of my life. My emotional and physical health is nurtured daily. My deepest friendships are with fellow NA members. All my other relationships would be impossible without the spiritual, mental and emotional “nourishment” I get in NA. My children — who bring me so much joy and sense of purpose — would not ever have been born without Narcotics Anonymous. And you and I — we would almost definitely never have met.

So today I remember and am grateful to Jimmy K. But from a broader perspective I am grateful to G_d for what He has done and is doing in my life right now — and I recognize the massive role that Narcotics Anonymous plays in that process. I thank G_d for the open, warm and inviting atmosphere that greeted me when I found my way to Narcotics Anonymous and for the opportunity to help create that atmosphere for others. I thank G_d for every part of my life today — for the bitter and for the sweet — and I thank Him for you. May we remember — at least for a moment every now and again — not to take each other for granted.

Feel free to pass this message on.

© All material Copyright 2009 by Foxx Falcon

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Mediums in a Misty Midst

At the culmination of arduous legs on parched journeys in search of the not-so-famed Oracle of Dromedary, our very own Martin, upon finally gazing into the ize of said wise man, could think of only one question to put forth. “Hey,” he staccato blurted, bringing forth his inner Tommy Chong. “Is the plural of medium media or mediums? I mean like, I know the plural of medium as in materials — y’know — that’s media, but how about a channel for the spirt, like you man? Like, is that mediums? I mean those?”

“Man is but a tube of paint,” came the silky smooth if pseudo cryptic response. “And each day the heavenly creator squeezes what is required from him, until all that remains of us is a stained and crinkled old container, ready for recycling.”

“Yeah, man.”

“And thou shalt treat that container with reverence, especially in its later years, for it bears the fingerprints of the Divine.”

“Whoa. Divine, man!,” Martin beamed, then forgot to resist a comment on pop culture then and now. “And you’re not just talking about that fat dude dressed up as a lady. Travolta sucked in that remake by the way. Not really, I just wanted to say that. Huh, huh,” Martin bubbled off.

All smiled blissfully.

“But mistake not any of the tubes for that ultimate, Heavenly paintng which G_d uses our inner essence to create.”

“Well wait a sec. I don’t know about that dude. I’ve seen some funky ass works of art made from what most people would think are leftovers. Did you ever see that house on South Street in Philly, man? Or that ‘Throne of the Third Heaven’ guy down in DC? Like, I don’t know man. Couldn’t the tubes themselves be part of a creation without you ever noticing it. I mean, like, some wider aspect of a bigger ‘It’? Like I don’t want to offend you man, but maybe you need to open up a little more.”

The oracle bowed.

© All material Copyright 2009 by Foxx Falcon

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Coin Shop insurance

Bolly is a serial small scale scamster who cooks up at schem for opening up a coin shop in order to commit insurance fraud. He opens up his hobby shop, loading the shelves with cheap supplies and coin related books. He makes documentable purchases, mostly on credit, of expensive collectable coins with a total wholesale value of about $100,000. Once he fills the display cases with common junk pieces he opens up for business and quietly sells off the good stuff one piece at a time at coin shows out of state, using the proceeds to pay back creditors in the order of the squeakiest wheel first.

Having broken even, Bolly bides his time, waiting for the inevitable robbery and his insurance payday. While he’s waiting he puts on a good show of things, playing the role of a coin enthusiast and shop keeper. The shop steadily becomes an afterschool haven for a group of troubled teens. Bolly becomes a reluctant positive role model for them. Becoming impatient, he purposely makes lots of sloppy, forgetting to lock windows at night, loudly proclaiming that his alarm system is broken iin front of dozens of people at a local coffee shop, etc. The interrelationships between the various teens and the middle aged counterfeit storeowner become increasingly iintimate, challenging his sense of who he really wants to be. Will that darned that robbery ever come?

© All material Copyright 2009 by Foxx Falcon

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monotheism and “other gods” references

How can a monotheistic religion’s primary text use terms like “other gods”?
The Torah repeatedly refers to various other gods.

Why does the Torah use the term elohim acherim, other gods, in describing the religious activities of other nations? If the Torah talked about the beliefs of others, saying that they were erroneous, I would have no question here. The use of the word elohim, though, implies that whatever deities or forces were being worshipped by other groups do indeed have some inherent powers. Even though it is done in the context of “putting down” those “other gods,” it still seems to give them a certain amount of credence and presents them as being actual (though less powerful) forces that are in a losing competition with G_d. Lehavdil a thousand times, what comes to mind here is two schoolboys arguing over whether Batman or Superman is stronger. My understanding of monotheism – of the very most essential Jewish theology – is that Hashem is One. There is one G_d, that rules over all things, and that any force within nature as observed by the layman, farmer, astrophysicist or mystic – is a power created by, ruled by and essentially part of Hakadosh Baruch Hu himself. This leaves no room whatsoever for the term elohim acherim in describing other religions. And if you say in response that the term should be understood in context, and means “G_d concept that those people think of as G_d” then why would the other nations be condemned – and the Israelites warned so sternly — about merely falling short on a complete understanding of who G_d is? The use of the term elohim implies something more — that these “other gods” are dangerous. Less powerful than our G_d, but nonetheless separate, heaven forbid, or even in opposition to Hakadosh Baruch Hu. This does not sound like genuine monotheism. What in the world is it doing in the Torah?
One possible understanding of all this is that the Torah acknowledges that the religious practices of the other tribes out there, though incomplete, are at least BASED on something real and powerful. The gods being referred to with the term “elohim acherim” are worshipped within religious systems that are not total nonsense, but rather are rooted in some essential truths about the way the world works – physically and metaphysically. Where they fall short is that the powers are thought of as powers in and of themselves, without recognizing them as being created by, ruled by and essentially part of the Infinite G_d that we worship. This falling short is worthy of the most extreme condemnation because it denies the existence of the Universal G_d. The term elohim acherim can be understood as saying that the various nations worship different gods from each other – nation A worships god A, nation B worships god B, etc. — they each worship another god – another genuine force within the world. Spoken of together, the nations of the world worship elohim acherim – OTHER gods from each other, all of them failing to recognize the unifying, Universal force that connects all of them and so many other unknown forces together in one total, world ruling, unified, non-seperable reality called G_d. They collectively worship all the separate forces, whereas Judaism sets forth the notion that there is only one ultimate G_d – multiple names, multiple manifestations – One G_d.
This interpretation would also explain why Judaism is so worried about other religious understandings. It always seemed to me, growing up in a multicultural, multiethnic world, that we are all big boys and girls, and that Judaism shouldn’t worry so much about what we are exposed to. We all have free will to make choices. Equip us with the real thing and trust G_d that we will be guided to make healthy choices. With the above understanding of how the Torah might view philosophies and theologies that are not consistent with our own, the grave concern seems well warranted. It is not that other beliefs are laughable and should be dismissed. No, they have genuine merit and power and should not be dismissed. Perhaps they may even be learned from in certain limited ways. BUT BE CAREFUL, LEST YOUR HEART BE TURNED ASTRAY AND YOU GO AFTER THEM – they attempt to disconnect powers from the SOURCE POWER that is our G_d. This “separation of powers,” so to speak, is ultimately dangerous in that it flies in the face of everything we Jews stand for – everything we have lived and died for since Avraham Aveinu first asserted the existence of One G_d. there is nothing more false than a partial truth.
© All material Copyright 2009 by Foxx Falcon

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It’s not about the memories

Today I was cleaning up a flood in my basement — about the 6th in this recent chain of rainy days. Among the things that had to get thrown out were some old drawings I did for an art class when I was in college. Those drawings, carefully hidden in a dusty portfolio for more than 20 years, hold a critical secret — a lesson about human potential. Thank God for the destructive rain that shook my core enough for me to wake up to a powerful fact I seem to have forgotten to utilize.

What I realized this morning is that I have been missing the point of my own lesson for a very, very long time.

You see, the reason I took that art class in college was that for years I had been deathly afraid of any form of art. I had long accepted “I can’t draw” and “I have no artistic talent” as immutable truths. Having recently gotten into recovery through a 12-step fellowship, I had embarked on a spiritual journey that opened me up to a world of possibility — a new mentality of questioning old assumptions and trying new things.

Why couldn’t I draw? I had met a friend named Dawn who was taking this entry level art class as part of a generral studies requirement. One day over lunch Dawn showed me a few things and I quickly discovered that I wasn’t quite as hopeless as I thought. It was an exciting, freeing, mind opening experience to be able to recreate that cartoon cat — or whatever it was — from a poster on the wall of the cafeteria. The very next semester I signed up for Intro to Drawing, a course that turned out to be a wild emotional ride for me.

The first day brought excruciating frustration and ultimately tears, anger and — finally — surrender. The first assignment was meant to see where each of us was holding in terms of basic skills. We sat with our desks in a big circle around a bunch of still life junk — chairs, flower pots, giant blocks…. As the girl next to me, a skinny, sexy Bohemian blonde who I had seen roaming the halls on the arm of an ape-ish thrash rocker type whose har was died black and nearly as long as her perfect legs. Sorry, I got lost in that digression. Always was a sucker for the skinny, skanky type. Very distracting, even twenty something years later. Anyway, she was drawing away, recreating the scene on the floor in front of us, and all I could do was keep drawing and erasing the same line over and over. Eventually, I just had to leave the room. I went wandering the halls pounding on lockers and wondering if I should have ever even tried this when I felt my eyes starting to fill up. I cried the tears of the three year old who angrily pushed a crown all over his drawing, frustrated that he couldn’t seem to get it just the way he had intended. The memories of that moment were hazy but the emotions were in vivid releaf, guiding so many of my choices at the subconcious level, part of the fabric of incorrect assumptions that we develop through early experience and then abide by faithfully, unalterably, until freedom final crashes its way into our lives.

During the course of the next 16 weeks, with the help of a teacher who was touched by my sincere desire to face my old fears and a willfullness that I have absolutely no explanation for, I slowly but surely developed the skills that enabled me to have a dusty old collection of drawings that led my kids this morning to say “wow, you’re a great artist” as I laid the damp remains to see what could be salvaged and to take one final look at the rest. Those tears, that resolution, and those humble efforts combined to bring out somethign in me that I never knew I had. That ability was carefully protected from actualization because of my self image and inexperience. It took surrender, hope, desire, honesty, willingess and effort on my part. And it also took a supportive, receptive and challenging guide to help me through. With those ingredients, the impossible became possible and then became actual.

It was an amazing act of courage for that young man to drop his guard of fatal coolness long enough to show his weakness and vulnerability. That was the first step in the process. The lesson learned was that nothing is truly impossible.

For taking that class and hanging in there when it got tough, I am a hero. But I do need to own my errors as well. First, I felt crushed when I saw this morning that my precious drawings were basically ruined. I had become so attached to the physical manifestation of my efforts, that I forgot to appreciate what those drawings represent. “I could never do this today,” I heard myself say. Oh boy had I missed the point!!!! Of course I could draw today — better than ever if I wanted to. The secret is tapping into that desire and opening up to that guidance. It’s not about the drawings — they are memories of a divine discovery. The Divinity itself is every bit as much present today as it was back then. Treasuring the pictures is an attachment to the physical world that blinded me from the actual beauty that was manifest in the pictures.

Secondly, to the extent that those pictures should be valued, it should be as an inspiration for continued growth and challenge of perceived limitations. Those pictures prove that what my brain tells me I can and can’t do is not objective truth — and it’s not necessarily true at all. Those pictures belonged on the walls, not in dead storage. And not because they would have made my house prettier, but because they might have served as an occasional reminder to me that what I think of as limits may be nothing but old stories that have become so engrained in my psyche that they stop me from going for my goals — or even from having the audacity to have goals anymore.

It’s time to wake up.

© All material Copyright 2009 by Foxx Falcon

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Learning to focus the mind — 7 books at a time

What a scatter brain I can be. Yesterday I picked up three books on meditation at the library. One of them, The Attention Revolution: Unlocking the Power of the the Focused Mind, by B. Alan Wallace, Ph.D., looks very promising.

All at the same time that I’m reading Mystic Quest: An Introduction to Jewish Mysticism by David S. Ariel, Jewish Meditation, By Aryeh Kaplan, and two partially finished works of fiction I’ve been on-again/off-again with for months. That’s 7 books!!! And that doesn’t include the countless other partially read works downstairs in my library or the book Hippie, which I also took out of the library yesterday.

I’m so on the fence about all this. Should I be working harder to stay focussed and finish one thing before going on to the next? That’s the constant refrain in my head. “You’re so disorganizized. Can’t you stick with any one thing long enough to finish it?!!!” This kind of self berating is totally unhelpful, of course. Could it be that wandering as the spirit moves me has value too? It certainly seems valid to say that I can suck whatever juice I feel I need or want from one source and then move on to the next.
Just as finishing what you start has merit, so too does allowing intuition to propel the spirit container to the next place.

And yet it does seem something is missing when I float aimlessly like I do. And in the times that I’ve toughed it out and taken things the din road — just do it — there also seems to be something missing. There is value in discipline and there is value in letting things flow. My strongest belief is that in the INTEGRATION of polar opposites lies truth and beauty. There must be some unifying element that can help a person like me bring together the structure/discipline side and the intiuitive/creativity side. Finding that link between these two sides of my personality has been a problem for me for years. In some ways, I feel like I’m closer to the answer than ever. At least I’m finally articulating the question. Maybe all this pursuit of meditation is a good next step. I actually sat in meditation this morning for about 15 minutes.

I have a strong suspicion that this link — this magic integrator that allows strict justice and and merciful kindness together — is the key to answering more than just my problems, but the disunity and disjointedness of all of humanity. All of the world.

And so we search for God.

© All material Copyright 2009 by Foxx Falcon

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