Why is it so hard for Westerners of the last century to feel the intimate presence of the divine intelligences? Every other culture in the history of the world has had a more vital connection with the realm of spirit.
According to poet Gary Snyder, California’s Yana Indians explained it this way: The gods have retreated to the volcanic recesses of Mt. Lassen, passing the time playing gambling games with magic sticks. They’re simply waiting for such a time when human beings will “reform themselves and become ‘real people’ that spirits might want to associate with once again.”
"Dear Oracle: With the help of a flood of pithy coincidences, I’ve become aware that the Universal Mind recently lost Her train of thought. I believe we are now under the care of a substitute ‘Universal Mind,’ and that therefore the laws of karma are not being enforced as strictly as usual. Cosmic SLACK is available in extravagant amounts. Tell your readers so they may take advantage of it by aggressively reconfiguring their little slice of reality to reflect their deepest needs and their longings to give generous gifts. -Opportunistic Slywoman”
Dear Slywoman: Good catch. I agree with your assessment. As you suggest, karma now has a reduced power to whip our fates this way and that; our willpower has more room to maneuver. I suggest we call this holiday “Freedom from Cosmic Compulsion.”
35 PRACTICAL STEPS MEN CAN TAKE TO SUPPORT FEMINISM
1. Do 50% (or more) of housework.
2. Do 50% (or more) of emotional support work in your intimate relationships and friendships.
3. Consume cultural products produced by women.
4. Give women space.
5. … but insert yourself into spaces where you can use your maleness to interrupt sexism.
6. When a woman tells you something is sexist, believe her.
7. Educate yourself about sexual consent and make sure there is clear, unambiguous communication of consent in all your sexual relationships.
8. Be responsible for contraception.
9. Get the HPV vaccine.
10. Have progressive name politics.
11. If you have children, be an equal parent.
12. Pay attention to and challenge informal instances of gender role enforcement.
13. Be mindful of implicit and explicit gendered power differentials in your intimate/domestic relationships with women…whether a partner or family members or roommates.
14. Make sure that honesty and respect guide your romantic and sexual relationships with women.
15. Don’t be an online bystander in the face of sexism.
16. Be responsible with money in domestic/romantic relationships.
17. Be responsible for your own health.
18. Don’t ogle or make comments about women. (i.e., Keep your tongue in your mouth and comments to yourself.)
19. Pay attention to the sex of experts and key figures presenting information to you in the media.
20. Ensure that some of your heroes and role models are women.
21. Praise the virtues and accomplishments of women in your life to others.
22. Have integrity with your male friends. (i.e., Don’t be a “bro.”)
23. Don’t treat your spouse like a “nag.” If she is “nagging,” you are probably lagging.
24. Know that acknowledging your own sexist opinions and stereotypes you hold is not enough. Do something about them.
25. Befriend women.
26. Find female mentors/leaders. (i.e., Be subordinate to women.)
27. When in a romantic relationship, be responsible for events and special dates associated with your side of the family.
28. Don’t police women’s appearance.
29. Offer to accompany female friends if they have to walk home alone at night…or in a public space where they may be likely to feel unsafe.
30. Inject feminism into your daily conversations with other men.
31. If you have a tendency to behave inappropriately toward women when you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol, do not consume drugs or alcohol.
32. Be aware of the physical and emotional space you occupy, and don’t take up more space than you need.
33. Walk the walk about income inequality.
34. Get in the habit of treating your maleness as an unearned privilege that you have to actively work to cede rather than femaleness being an unearned disadvantage that women have to work to overcome.
To be the best pronoiac explorer you can be, I suggest you adopt an outlook that combines the rigorous objectivity of a scientist, the “beginner’s mind” of Zen Buddhism, the “beginner’s heart” of pronoia, and the compassionate friendliness of the Dalai Lama.
Blend a scrupulously dispassionate curiosity with a skepticism driven by expansiveness, not spleen.
To pull this off, you’ll have to be willing to regularly suspend your brilliant theories about the way the world works. Accept with good humor the possibility that what you’ve learned in the past may not be a reliable guide to understanding the fresh phenomenon that’s right in front of you.
Be suspicious of your biases, even the rational and benevolent ones. Open your heart as you strip away the interpretations that your emotions might be inclined to impose.
"Before we can receive the unbiased truth about anything," wrote my teacher Ann Davies, "we have to be ready to ignore what we would like to be true."
At the same time, don’t turn into a hard-ass, poker-faced robot. Keep your feelings moist and receptive. Remember your natural affection for all of creation. Enjoy the power of tender sympathy as it drives you to probe for the unimaginable revelations of every new moment.
"Before we can receive the entire truth about anything," said Ann Davies, "we have to love it."
"That which can be destroyed by the truth should be," wrote author P. C. Hodgell. I wish there were a gentler way to articulate that wisdom, but I can’t think of one.
Instead I’ll suggest a way to apply it so as to make the end result more graceful than shocking: Don’t pour out the whole truth all at once in one big dramatic gesture. Do it gradually and tenderly.
As you do, keep in mind that when the truth has finally dismantled the thing that could not endure the truth, you may be able to use the debris as raw material to build something new that the truth will feel right at home in.
To achieve what the Zen Buddhists call “beginner’s mind,” you dispense with all preconceptions and enter each situation as if seeing it for the first time.
"In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities," wrote Shunryu Suzuki in his book "Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind," "but in the expert’s there are few."
As much as I love beginner’s mind, though, I advocate an additional discipline: cultivating a beginner’s heart. That means approaching every encounter imbued with a freshly invoked wave of love that is as pure as if you’re feeling it for the first time.
BBC reported on the growing number of “spiritual tourists” who shop around in their search for inner peace. “We are entering a world,” said one expert, “where people aren’t interested in whether something is true or not, or whether they believe it or not, but whether it works.”
EXPERIMENT: For a given period, say, six months or ten years, reject any idea or theory unless it has the practical value of making you feel more at peace and more generous toward others and more devoted to caring for the earth.
Jungian analyst Arnold Mindell explores the relationship between mind and body. He thinks you can achieve optimal physical health if you’re devoted to shedding outworn self-images. In his book “The Shaman’s Body,” he says, “You have one central lesson to learn—to continuously drop all your rigid identities. Personal history may be your greatest danger.”
Kate Bornstein, author of “Gender Outlaw: On Men, Women and the Rest of Us,” agrees. Raised as a boy, she later became a woman, but ultimately renounced gender altogether. “I love being without an identity,” she says. “It gives me a lot of room to play around.”
"The state and legal system may have an interest in maintaining only two sexes, but our collective biological bodies do not. While male and female stand on the extreme ends of a biological continuum, there are other bodies that mix together anatomical components conventionally attributed to both males and females.
"Comprising about four percent of all humans born, three variations can be identified: the so-called true hermaphrodites (‘herms’), who possess one testis and one ovary; the male pseudohermaphrodites (‘merms’), who have testes and some aspects of the female genitalia but no ovaries; and the female pseudohermaphrodites (‘ferms’), who have ovaries and some aspects of the male genitalia but lack testes."
“‘Two-spirit people’ is a modern umbrella term used by some indigenous North Americans for Gender variant individuals in their communities.
"Third and fourth gender roles historically embodied by two-spirit people include performing work and wearing clothing associated with both men and women. Some tribes consider there to be at least four genders: masculine men, feminine men, masculine women, and feminine women. The presence of male two-spirits ‘was a fundamental institution among most tribal peoples.’ According to Will Roscoe, male and female two-spirits have been ‘documented in over 130 North America tribes, in every region of the continent.’"
"You are the hidden God. Wake up in the dream. Read between the lies. To question is the answer. The frontline is everywhere. There are no innocent bystanders. Truth is a three-edged sword. Practice infinite tolerance except for intolerance. Achieve strength through joy. Embrace your shadow. Change is stability. Creation never ends. Everything is verb. The way in is the way out. All things fornicate all the time. The going is the goal. Today is the day!” - the Whores of Goddess Scientists website at http://adtriancain.tripod.com/
In his book “The Storytelling Animal: How Stories Make Us Human,” literary scholar Jonathan Gottschall muses on the crucial role that imagination plays in our lives. “The average daydream is about fourteen seconds long and we have about two thousand of them per day,” he says. “In other words, we spend about half of our waking hours — one-third of our lives on earth — spinning fantasies.”
I invite you to tell me some of the fantasies you’ve been spinning out most frequently of late.
Here’s how novelist Tom Robbins described the term “crazy wisdom”: It’s “a philosophical worldview that recommends swimming against the tide, cheerfully seizing the short end of the stick, embracing insecurity, honoring paradox, courting the unexpected, celebrating the unfamiliar, shunning orthodoxy, volunteering for tasks nobody else wants or dares to do, and breaking taboos in order to destroy their power. It’s the wisdom of those who turn the tables on despair by lampooning it, and who neither seek authority nor submit to it.”
And why should you do any of that weird stuff? Robbins: “To enlarge the soul, light up the brain, and liberate the spirit.”
His statements appeared in the magazine “Shambhala Sun.”
What is sacred? Friedrich Nietzsche declared it was anything that you cannot or will not laugh at. I can’t believe he really meant that. He must have been in a satirical mood at the time. I have the opposite view.
If I can’t riddle a fucking ruckus or crunk a lucky upthrust about a jumble-jamble I regard as holy, then it most certainly ain’t holy.
To be sacred, it must have the power to convulse my gravity, tickle my morbidity, and cackle my enslavement.
In related news:
The U.K. newspaper *The Independent* reports that avid reader Mark Bastable consumed the collected works of D.H. Lawrence and found “not a single laugh, not a wry chuckle, not even a quiet grin in the entire po-faced oeuvre.”
If that’s true, I say we put an asterisk on the covers of Lawrence’s books, similar to the mark that will go on the home run record of the allegedly steroid-enhanced baseball star Barry Bonds. In D.H.’s case, the asterisk will denote that he won a place in the literature hall of fame despite having never expressed the second-most-essential human emotion.
In related news: There was one main reason why America’s founding fathers gave Thomas Jefferson, not Benjamin Franklin, the job of composing the Declaration of Independence in 1776. They were afraid that Franklin, a compulsive teaser and trickster, would slip jokes into the document.
In my opinion, we Americans would have been better served if Franklin had been chosen and allowed to mess around. Even the most profound commitments and weighty situations benefit from the leavening power of humor.
In related news:
Here’s a quote from Tom Robbins’ “Jitterbug Perfume”: “He’d grown convinced that play—more than piety, more than charity or vigilance—was what allowed human beings to transcend evil.”
Psychiatry obsesses on what’s wrong with people and gives short shrift to what’s right. The manual of this profession is a 991-page textbook called the *DSM-V.* It identifies scores of pathological states but no healthy ones.
My readers have helped me compile material for a proposed antidote, the Anti-DSM — a compendium of healthy, exalted, positive states of being. Below is part one of our initial attempt at creating an *Anti-DSM-V,* or as I also like to call it, “The Outlaw Catalog of Cagey Optimism.”
* ACUTE FLUENCY. Happily immersed in artistic creation or scientific exploration; lost in a trance-like state of inventiveness that’s both blissful and taxing; surrendered to a state of grace in which you’re fully engaged in a productive, compelling, and delightful activity. The joy of this demanding, rewarding state is intensified by a sense that time has been suspended, and is rounder and deeper than usual. (Suggested by H. H. Holiday, who reports that extensive studies in this state have been done by Mihaly Cziscenmihaliy in his book, *Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience.*)
* AESTHETIC BLISS. Vividly experiencing the colors, textures, tones, scents, and rhythms of the world around you, creating a symbiotic intimacy that dissolves the psychological barriers between you and what you observe. (Suggested by Jeanne Grossetti.)
* AGGRESSIVE SENSITIVITY. Animated by a strong determination to be receptive and empathetic.
* ALIGNMENT WITH THE INFINITY OF THE MOMENT. Reveling in the liberating realization that we are all exactly where we need to be at all times, even if some of us are temporarily in the midst of trial or tribulation, and that human evolution is proceeding exactly as it should, even if we can’t see the big picture of the puzzle that would clarify how all the pieces fit together perfectly. (Suggested by Meredith Jones.)
* AUTONOMOUS NURTURING. Not waiting for someone to give you what you can give yourself. (Suggested by Shannen Davis.)
* BASKING IN ELDER WISDOM. A state of expansive ripeness achieved through listening to the stories of elders. (Suggested by Annabelle Aavard.)
* BIBLIOBLISS. Transported into states of transcendent pleasure while immersed in reading a favorite book. (Suggested by Catherine Kaikowska.)
* BLASPHEMOUS REVERENCE. Acting on the knowledge that the most efficacious form of devotion to the Divine Wow is tinctured with playful or mischievous behavior that prevents the buildup of fanaticism.
* BOO-DUH NATURE. Dwelling in the blithe understanding of the fact that worry is useless because most of what we worry about never happens. (Suggested by Timothy S. Wallace.)
* COMIC INTROSPECTION. Being fully aware of your own foibles while still loving yourself tenderly and maintaining confidence in your ability to give your specific genius to the world. To paraphrase Alan Jones, Dean of Grace Cathedral: following the Byzantine ploys of your ego with compassion and humor as it tries to make itself the center of everything, even of its own suffering and struggle.
* COMPASSIONATE DISCRIMINATION. Having astute judgment without being scornfully judgmental; seeing difficult truths about a situation or person without closing your heart or feeling superior. In the words of Alan Jones: having the ability “to smell a rat without allowing your ability to discern deception sour your vision of the glory and joy that is everyone’s birthright.”
* CRAZED KINDNESS. Having frequent, overpowering urges to bestow gifts, disseminate inspiration, and perpetrate random acts of benevolence.
* ECSTATIC GRATITUDE. Feeling genuine thankfulness with such resplendent intensity that you generate a surge of endorphins in your body and slip into a full-scale outbreak of euphoria.
* EMANCIPATED SURRENDER. Letting go of an attachment without harboring resentment toward the stimuli that led to the necessity of letting go. (Suggested by Timothy S. Wallace.)
* FRIENDLY SHOCK. Welcoming a surprise that will ultimately have benevolent effects.
* HIGHWAY EQUANIMITY. Feeling serene, polite, and benevolent while driving in heavy traffic. (Suggested by Shannen Davis.)
* HOLY LISTENING. Hearing the words of another human being as if they were a direct communication from the Divine Wow to you.
* IMAGINATIVE TRUTH-TELLING. Conveying the truth of any specific situation from multiple angles, thereby mitigating the distortions that result from assuming the truth can be told from a single viewpoint.
* IMPULSIVE LOVE SPREADING. Characterized by a fierce determination to never withhold well-deserved praise, inspirational encouragement, positive feedback, or loving thoughts; often includes a tendency to write love letters on the spur of the moment and on any medium, including napkins, grocery bags, and skin. (Suggested by Laurie Burton.)
* INADVERTENT NATURE WORSHIP. Experiencing the rapture that comes from being outside for extended periods of time. (Suggested by Sue Carol Robinson.)
* INGENIOUS INTIMACY. Having an ability to consistently create deep connections with other human beings, and to use the lush, reverential excitement stimulated by such exchanges to further deepen the connections. A well-crafted talent for dissolving your sense of separateness and enjoying the innocent exultation that erupts in the wake of the dissolution. (Suggested by Sue Carol Robinson.)
* JOYFUL POIGNANCE. Feeling buoyantly joyful about the beauty and mystery of life while remaining aware of the sadness, injustices, wounds, and future fears that form the challenges in an examined life. (Suggested by Alka Bhargava.)
* LATE LATE-BLOOMING. Having a capacity for growth spurts well into old age, long past the time that conventional wisdom says they’re possible.
* LEARNING DELIGHT. Experiencing the brain-reeling pleasure that comes from learning something new. (Suggested by Sue Carol Robinson.)
* LUCID DREAM PATRIOTISM. A love of country rooted in the fact that it provides the ideal conditions for learning lucid dreaming. (Suggested by Kenneth Kelzer, author of *The Sun and the Shadow: My Experiment With Lucid Dreaming.*)
* LYRICAL CONSONANCE. Experiencing the visceral yet also cerebral excitement that comes from listening to live music played impeccably by skilled musicians. (Suggested by Susan E. Nace.)
To pave the way for your next liberation, you may have to impose some creative limitation on yourself. Check to see if there’s some trivial extravagance or unproductive excess or wishy-washy wish in your rhythm that is obstructing an interesting form of freedom.