A Recovery Blog

This blog is about my continuing recovery from severe mental illness. I celebrate this recovery by continuing to write, by sharing my music and artwork and by exploring Buddhist ideas and concepts. I claim that the yin/yang symbol is representative of all of us because I have found that even in the midst of acute psychosis there is still sense, method and even a kind of balance. We are more resilient than we think. We can cross beyond the edge of the sane world and return to tell the tale. A deeper kind of balance takes hold when we get honest, when we reach out for help, when we tell our stories.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Violence In Response To Violence Makes The Cycle Continue

The above is a quote by Martin Luther King Jr when he was fighting for civil rights in the US, but it is an appropriate quote for anytime and especially now almost a week after Paris suffered from multiple attacks by organized terrorists.  The French government has chosen to return violence for violence, thereby continuing the cycle of abuse, sickness and terror.  So many countries, including the US, have bought into perpetuating this cycle using the insane logic that somehow more violence can subdue outbreaks of violence in the world.  It is a grave misunderstanding to equate strength with violence.  In my mind, I equate violence with weakness.

The Americas and Europe are mostly Christian countries, yet not truly followers of Jesus, the most famous pacifist in our history.  He is a more striking example of pacifism than Buddha precisely because he lived in a hostile environment and was crucified for his beliefs.  Jesus was smart; there is no way that he didn't know that there was a high probability that he would be harmed or murdered because of the way he spoke to all the people in Israel.  And yet he continued to speak out.  And in our patriarchal, war oriented world he was killed in a very horrible way as thousands of people were in those days.

So here we find ourselves over two thousand years after Jesus' death in the same situation.  As far as I know there are no more crucifixions, but there is a proliferation of other ways to torture and kill.  Terrorists are particularly frightening to most of the world population because the do not follow past rules of war.  There is no war zone.  Anyplace can be a target from places of worship to schools to hospitals as well as to war zones.  Terrorists are very clever, manipulative, secretive, organized and often motivated by deranged religious zeal.  Simply put, they are premeditated, armed and severely insane.  Very predictable in their attitudes and behaviors amongst themselves, yet seemingly unpredictable as to when and where and who they will strike.

Jesus was said to have said:  "But I say to you who hear:  Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, and pray for those who spitefully use you."  He said "to you who hear" but who is really listening to Jesus these days?  People don't want to hear this message, just like they didn't want to hear it two thousand years ago.  The message hasn't changed and it appears neither have we.  Do you think these terrorists are living joyful, love filled lives?  Obviously not.  So what do they really need - more hatefulness?  No.  They need love and tenderness.  Without it they will continue to do what they are now doing.

These terrorists are the negative spiritual teachers of our time.  People who act out violently do not love themselves.  And when they are punished for acting out, it only goes to prove to them that they are justified in hating themselves and so they continue to act out because there is no reason not to.  And so, the cycle continues.  It is basic psychology.

How many children who have been punished severely turn into juvenile delinquents and then become prison inmates, only to be released and start the same cycle over?  The prison system doesn't work in the US.  For many inmates, prison is just a place to learn how to be better criminals inside and out.  Recidivism is high.  How can it be otherwise when their rights are taken away and they are stamped with a convict label?  And what affects them affects their wives or husbands and children and therefore the larger communities and society as a whole.

How many of us will do good for terrorists, bless them and pray for them?  It seems very few.  The same goes for those juvenile delinquents and prison inmates, for criminals and drug addicts who act out, for the violently mentally insane.  And who would Jesus be hanging out with if he were alive today?  All of the above, including terrorists, if he could find them.  That's how he got into trouble in the first place, but that did not stop him in his quest to love and teach all the people he came in contact with.

The answer to how to deal with terrorist is simple, but not easy.  And it is not to stockpile weapons in your home, nor to go on raids or to bomb their homes.  When you find them, capture them, not with weapons, but with sedation guns.  I mean we do this with large potentially ferocious animals, why not with humans?  Go on a mission to capture as many as you can and keep them in locked down communities, but not as prisoners, rather as severely mentally ill patients.  A closed healing community can be for them a means to change deeply from violent animals perpetuating the cycle of violence, to peaceful, loving human beings.  It is the same system that should be applied to transforming prisons.  If this were openly done on a large scale, the word would get out across the world.

For those who found success through this method within the closed system, they would become a profound resource for the world, especially the communities within the countries they grew up in.  They would know all about their home and their people.  They would know how to reach those still caught in the cycle of self-hating violence.  If they were brave enough, they could be allowed to return home to spread the news.  Of course, they would be targeted and would have to, like Jesus, be willing to lay down their lives for peace.  They would be truly spiritual teachers, peaceful warriors.

Jesus said to do to others as you would have them do to you.  He said it is not a great thing to be kind to those that are kind to you because really anyone can do that.  The aspiration is to be more like God, who is compassionate to all people, regardless of what they have done or not done.  And that means, now more than ever, to love those that abuse you.  To become the tolerant, loving, compassionate beings God has always meant us to become.  Is it hard to potentially lay down your life for peace?  Of course it is!  But wouldn't it be worth it to pave the way for future generations to live in a peaceful world?  The terrorists may not know it, but they are sending out a world wide call for peace on earth. They are challenging all of us.  I say, let's step up to the challenge and change ourselves first.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

New Start Next Week

I got the key to the dance/art studio space today, but the owner still needs to do some more work removing things from the smaller room before I can claim the space as my own.  By this time next week I will be in it, getting to know it and bringing my art stuff into it.  I got the camper toilet and I'm getting a cheap camper kitchen set up on Friday and I now have two ceramic heaters to heat the space.  So I'll be roughing it a bit, but I'm sure I'll get used to it pretty quickly.  I'll have a lot of sweeping to do and if I can clear my clogged vacuum cleaners, I will vacuum, too.  But first the electricity needs to be turned on.

It's been off since December 2012, so an electrical inspector came today and gave me the thumbs up, so the electricity might be on by the end of the week.  Luckily, we're having pretty warm weather for this area at the time of year, mid 50s.  I'm just hoping it will last till after Thanksgiving, which will give me a few days to bring over my main easel and a whole bunch of other stuff, most of which is not too heavy.  I have a long list.  I have a small refrigerator, an extra microwave and an extra coffeemaker machine.

I bought 8 cheap chairs and 8 cheap display easels to use for drawing if I set up a sketch group.  I've been doing research looking for the best out of the cheapest things I can get for this space because I just don't have the money to get the great stuff.  It all adds up...  I will be spending a chunk of my inheritance.  If I work hard and am fortunate I will make that money back with a bit of a profit if I start a business in 6 to 9 months.  It will take 2-3 years, but I could do it.  I will also be working on improving my house, so that I can possibly rent the upstairs and live downstairs using the heated garage as an extra room.

I have to pull up all the crappy carpet myself, which will be hard, dirty work.  First I have to clear out as much stuff as I can from the upstairs and store it either downstairs or in the smaller room of the rental space.  I don't have a lot of truly big, heavy furniture, so I might be able to do it myself.  Or I might have to get past my insecurity and ask for help.  I will also check out YouTube which is an amazing video resource library.  My cats will have to stay downstairs while I work, which I think will be fine once I've cleared out and organized the garage.  It's a part of the house I don't allow them in, so they will have a blast checking it out.

The first thing to take care of is my garage and I've worked on it a couple of days this week.  Once it is cleared, swept and organized I can paint the walls.  Probably just with primer to start but that should lighten up the space.  Then I can bring my music equipment into the garage and set up a tiny studio so I can continue to work on songs and sing.  So I'm figuring by mid to late January the house should be looking pretty good and then my friend can visit for a few days and get a feel for the house and the town and the surrounding country and see if she likes it enough to move here for a while.  She'll be coming during the hardest season, mid winter.  If she can like it then, she'll really like it when it gets warmer.

So I've got two jobs to do in two months, the home job and the studio job.  Can I do it?  Right now I feel as if I can if I pace myself.  I'm praying that it's not going to be a very snowy winter with temperatures dipping below zero, but even if it were, I think I could manage.  The studio is only a ten minutes drive away.  When I can't work in the studio because of the weather, then I can work at home, including making some tie dyes.  I have to test out all the dyes I got 7 years ago.  They've never been opened, but they have been sitting in a dark, but heated garage.  I'm getting a 3 DVD instructional set to walk me through how to set up in my garage.  The laundry room/kitchenette area is adjacent to the garage, so I'll have easy access to a double sink, a washer and a dryer.

I've been feeling pretty good lately working with all these plans.  It's been rather quiet in my mind, too.  It's like pre-work quiet time, not pressured, a time to prepare for a lot of activity.  But still, I have to pace myself and keep the balance, neither overdoing nor doing too little.  Next week is Thanksgiving, my favorite holiday, but I don't know if I'm going to celebrate it this year, except for getting myself a turkey breast, making up some stuffing, cooking some green beans and eating some pumpkin pie at home.  My brother will be making a feast for one of his friends.  Last year was the first year in a while that my brother hasn't prepared the Thanksgiving meal at my house because I was just too mentally ill at the time to handle it and now I just don't want anyone in my house till after I've worked on it.

Not much more to say right now, except that my life seems to be shifting into a new direction.  We shall see how far I get in a month, before Christmas comes.  I'll try to continue posting here as I make progress.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

A Space To Dance & Paint In

This is the building that I am leasing very inexpensively for six months starting today.  I am leasing two rooms, plus a loft space and attic.  The front room is large, large enough to dance and paint in.  It used to be a bicycle store for over thirty years.  The owner moved the store to a better location nearby and has been trying to rent out this space for several years as an art studio.  One of the reasons he is leasing it so inexpensively is that there is absolutely no plumbing in the building, so no toilet and no sink.  I have bought a cheap camper toilet to use when I'm there and will have to bring in my own water and basins to use when I paint.  I have paid the owner to cover the front windows with strong white plastic that blocks anyone from looking in while I work and helps to preserve some of the heat during the Fall and Winter and early Spring.

I have a bunch of plans on how to use this space beyond dancing and painting in it.  One of my ideas is to have an open sketch class once a week.  I've already gotten eight folding chairs and eight cheap easels are on the way.  There is an art school nearby where I can find models to pose.  I'll ask for donations to pay the model for modeling for two hours or so.  I know one local artist superficially.  She is the local veterinarian's wife and she also works at the animal hospital.  I plan on talking with her about it because I believe she has organized sketch groups before with her friends and she may be able to give me some guidance as well as joining the group and having her friends come, too.  There are also art students nearby who might be tempted to come, or even painting teachers.

I decided to commit to spending the money to get the chairs and easels as a way to push myself to do this.  It would force me to get involved with people, especially the local artists which would also motivate me to draw and paint.  I will need to also get a small stage platform for the model to stand or sit on in a chair and that will cost at least $240.  Luckily, I inherited some money and can do this right now.  But the money will run out in a few years and I need to find a way to earn some income.  So my other idea is to take these six months to write up a business plan and do a bunch of research and if starting a store at this location seems feasible, doing so in six to nine months time.

Right now my idea is to open a home made tie dye shop which would also offer jewelry and ceramics and paintings by local artists.  If the shop holds its own I should break even the first couple of years and then hopefully begin to make a profit.  My brother says the shop is not in a good location, but I think he is wrong.  It's on the main street of a very small town and the road is the main road that leads directly to a college/university town only a few minutes drive away.  There is no local competition in the area.  There are three other businesses there: a beautiful, old country store, a knitting studio and and antiques shop.  There is one church and a post office.

I think if I have a tie dye shop and advertise it well throughout the area, it might bring business to the other businesses there and that would be good to support them as well.  I would put up on an easy access wall a business card holder and get business cards from different interesting businesses.  I would also like to have a community board telling what's going on in the area.  I would put my displays and clothing on display cases with wheels so that I could push the displays to the sides of the room and open up the space for a sketch class, a dance space for me and possibly an Al-Anon meeting.

I'll have about five months before the lease can be renewed to make up a supply of tie dyes out of my garage and even if I don't decide to open a shop there, I can still sell my tie dyes to local businesses and give them as gifts to friends.  Right now I'm all for committing to this business idea, but I know there is so much work I have to do first and I am grateful that I have these six months to do that.  In the meantime, I will dance and practice yoga and paint.  I plan to paint portraits of animals and children because I have some talent for that and I might be able to promote a joint business painting portraits of people's children and their pets or even both in the same picture.  A photo studio is possible, too because there's enough space for it.

This is all big stuff for me, but I feel ready to give it a try while I have some funds to work with.  I grew up in Brooklyn, but I've lived here for twenty six years and I feel comfortable here.  I look forward to getting to know the other business owners in the area.  Another great thing is that a friend of mine from Brooklyn might come to live with me for anywhere from six months to a couple of years depending on whether she likes it here.  She will be a great support.  She is already a true friend to me and I love her.  She will help to end my self imposed isolation.  So developing my true friendship with her and working towards opening a business will extend my responsibilities out into the world.  May I find success!

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Honesty, Open-mindedness & Willingness

I have stated before that I believe that the entire human race is mentally ill to varying degrees.  Those that are brave enough to face the fact that they are addicts know from painful experience that they are mentally ill.  The only way to have that bravery is through the willingness to be honest.  Very few addicts come to embrace self honesty quickly.  First they repeat sick attitudes and behaviors each time expecting a positive outcome only to find themselves sinking lower.  The more they do this, the more insane they become, only they can't see it, which is the worst part of the insanity.  Lack of self-awareness has led to the death of many fine people caught in the grips of an addiction that has affected their spirits, minds, hearts and bodies.

Many people practice self-deception and deception of others.  Deceiving yourself is very tricky.  Rationalizations become more important than an adherence to truth about one's self and others.  When you rationalize and try to justify attitudes and behaviors that have repeatedly resulted in harm done to yourself and others, you condition yourself to live sealed inside an illusion that everything is okay and will be fine when your experience says the opposite.  That is one of the insanities of addiction.  Self-deception can be very compulsive when you are so afraid of the truth which you instinctively know will lead to the requirement to change yourself.  Even the thought of changing yourself can seem as serious as facing death, which figuratively is true - change requires the death of one way of being in order to embrace a new way of being.

Deceiving others is more straight forward:  you make a choice.  You decide that it would be more painful to tell the truth than to hide it or lie about it.  In choosing to consistently lie to others, you are also choosing to turn away from personal integrity.  You also become chained to the lies you create.  Instead of working to preserve honesty and integrity you shift into preserving dishonesty and a lack of integrity.  You become untrustworthy.  You waste precious time trying to remember and organize your lies.  Lies become your master instead of truth.  Instead of being open and willing to learn, you become closed and suspicious of the lessons.  Your true self becomes overtaken by your false self.  Yet another sign of insanity.

The false self is the self committed to the addiction or addictions; it is the Addict Self, the egoistic self, the self that lives dual lives or multiple lives, an inconsistent, untrustworthy self, a self that betrays itself every day it lives in active addiction.  It is also a sorely misguided self whose heart attaches to the subculture of active addicts.  Active addicts may think they are very loyal to their addict friends and lovers, but what they are really loyal to is the addictive process.  An addict world is a world of reward and punishment.  The bond amongst addicts is both the highs, the fixes they literally and figuratively crave, and the lows, the pains they endure through in their bodies when they don't get a fix, and in their spirits by sacrificing their integrity and thereby sacrificing their ability to love and care for themselves.

It's a very sticky web that gets woven and, because we are all human and sensitive, guilt and shame do enter into this addictive process.  The horrible thing is that it grows over time and the more there is of it, the greater the desperation to run away from it and deny it.  It becomes too overwhelming to face alone, which leads hardcore addicts back into the company of their addict community where the addiction continues.  The only way out is through an act of kindness to ourselves and that kindness comes when you allow yourself to be honest with yourself.  When you can admit that you are suffering because you are inside a no win situation, which is the addict world, and that you are powerless to approach the problems that are so overwhelming, you acknowledge the truth, you return to reality and discover humility.

The opposite of humility is arrogance.  Considering all the amazing things we human animals have accomplished over time using our intelligence, talents, skills, vision, hard work, etc... it is not surprising that many of us fall into the deception that we are greater than we actually are.  One of the greatest disservices to our species is the general denial that we are, in fact, mammalian animals caught in the cycle of life and death just as all living things on this planet are.  Many have lost awareness and respect for the power and beauty and harmony of the nature within us and around us.  Being caught up in egotistic orientations shrinks the world and sometimes pushes it out of view.  In the same way humans used to believe that the sun circled round the earth and that we were the center of the universe, we tend to view the world as if it circles around us.

We need the reminders of a star filled night sky, the expanse of Grand Canyon, the seemingly endless stretch of the ocean and sky.  We need nature to show us just how small and vulnerable we really are. The openness in nature can be reflected within the openness of our spirits which have the capacity to expand through a combination of the mind and the heart held in the balance of health.  Which type of person does your spirit expand with, the dishonest and arrogant or the honest and humble?  Thank the Powers That Be we humans have a natural almost childlike response to people who are open and honest and kindhearted.  Most of us can't help but to respond in kind.  That is the true nature in all of us shining out for anyone to see.  To be honest, open-minded and willing to believe in the basic good nature in all of us is the starting point for a path of spiritual self discovery.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Poem: Dear Great Spirit, What Is Love?

Dear Great Spirit, What Is Love?

Love is the Pure Land.
Love is Nirvana.
Love can wrap its arms around any pain
And soothe it like a parent comforting
A frightened child.
Love is in the breezes that make the trees sway.
Love is in the sun that shines on you
As you come out of the sea
Cold and almost shivering.
And as the sun warms you,
As the sun loves you,
You feel the essence of freedom,
The freedom of your swim in the ocean,
The freedom as you walk out of that sea.
The freedom as you stand on the shoreline
And survey the sweet space all around you
While you feel the water rolling down your body
And evaporating in the heat
As you lay your body down on the towel
You brought to dry yourself off
As you lie there in utter relaxation
And fall into sleep.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Poem: Inside The Labyrinth

Inside The Labyrinth

So close
Yet so far away you are
From me.

So close
Yet so far away you are
From all the aspects in your mind
Struggling to embrace
True freedom.

The freedom of unity
Within the core of a healthy life.
Don't you deserve this
Despite the horrors you have faced
And perpetuated
Like countless numbers of soldiers
Who have returned home,
Who right now suffer so extremely
Just like you?

Did you get your rest last night?
Did you eat?
Did you take care of these basic needs?
Are you giving yourself a chance to heal today?

You are my dear companion
So close, yet so far away
And I will stay right here with you
As you go through
This labyrinth
Circle after circle
Till you reach the deepest center
And finally turn around
To make your way
Back to the beginning.

And every circle you walk around
Will bring you closer
To your true self,
The self you purely were
Before you were born,
Before you were conceived,
The self that I will greet
When you cross the thresold
And return home.

Listen to Audio here.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Poem: The Great Spirit Is Here

The Great Spirit Is Here

I am of nature, yet not in nature.
No, I am in my house.
This is a real house
And this house is a symbol
Of my soul.
It is a dirty, cluttered house
Where things needed are hard to find.
Yet there is peace in this house
And a simplicity within my spirit.

The Great Spirit is here in me, in this house
And all around this house
And in the atmosphere of this world
And beyond the atmosphere of this world
And out in other worlds
And fueling all the suns in the universe.
This Spirit in its holy freedom
Has endless lessons to teach.

Yesterday's lesson was and Today's lesson is:
Put First Things First.
First there is the soul
Which must be tended to like a secret garden.
The flowers there and the food cannot survive
Without the sun, without the water, without a rich soil,
Without the firm but gentle hand of the gardener.
Even I, who have no green thumb for the physical soil,
The real out doors, I do tend to my spiritual garden
Every day and every night and even in my sleep.

Sometimes I feel graced by the light of awareness
And I am mindful of what I do.
Other times I am in a dream state
Where my spirit must rely on the wisdom
Hidden inside my unconscious self.

The Great Spirit rests inside our hidden minds
And speaks to us and sings to us
And lets us know in our truest selves
We are safe and loved and free.

Listen To Audio Here

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Evil Spirits & The Devil

I do not believe in evil spirits or the devil.  I know that we are animals, human mammals and that as a species we are all interconnected and we are all mentally ill.  War is mental illness.  And much has been done to harm ourselves and others through religion.  I do believe in God the Great Spirit or God as the Holy Spirit.  God is totally healthy.  And we are ill.  We have health in us, which is from God.  We always have God to reconnect to, but we get lost in our minds because we are not in balance, not in harmony as God always is.  When things are out of balance and in disharmony there is much distortion of Truth which is the essence of God.  

I believe the concept of original sin and the Fall of humankind is a mixture of imagination and mental illness.  Perhaps it the way some of us tried to understand our sickness and make it logical.  We knew something was wrong within us.  We saw that we acted out in violence and could cause great destruction within families, communities and countries.  So we became ashamed of what we had done and continued to do.  We believed that God the Great Spirit was angry with us.  I believe God is a God of Love and always has been.  He/She/It does not live inside fear and anger the way we often do.  God does not hate.  God is not angry.  God does not punish.  That’s all us and our mental illness.  We have such a desire to explain things to ourselves (just as I am doing now) but we misuse our imagination.  There is so much we don’t know and never will in our lifetimes.  It is not we who were made in the image of God but God who we have made in the image of our selves.  This is very disturbing to me.  There is so much beauty and goodness in the “holy” books of this world, but there is also so much sickness, so much violence!  This comes from us, not God.  

Yes, God works through our spirits which include our hearts, minds and bodies, and I do believe there are other non human beings who have reached a higher spiritual plane and can enter into our spirits, but they are there to teach us and not to punish us or drive us away from God the Holy Spirit.  Actually I believe they are there to reach the core of health in us, our true selves, and reconnect our true selves with the health and healing of God.  But first they must enter into our spirits which are ill, into our imagination, which is full of distortions and try to reach us through all the distortions we’ve created and often cling to in the form of prejudice.  Prejudice is the intolerance of those different from us who threaten us or perhaps who challenge our false selves/personas.  We are a very fearful species, easily threatened and we cling to our false selves as a misguided form of protection and security.  When that false self is challenged, we can become quite aggressive and even act out violently towards one another, using our prejudice as an excuse to judge and condemn others as if we were all little gods ourselves, as if we had that right when we do not - we steal it. 

We are not evil; we are very, very sick in our spirits.  How did we get this way?  It’s possible that it has its origins within our body.  I believe in evolution.  As apes evolved, so did the size of their brains and by the time we arrived the fetus had to be born prematurely.  Precious human babies are very, very vulnerable and very, very dependent on the mother or caretaker.  If it is true that we as a species are all born too soon, what does that do to our developing spirits?  The timing and rhythm of our lives is off, not balanced and we need even more nurturing and protection than ordinary mammals, a sort of womb outside the womb.  Most of us do not get this extra nurturing and protection for long enough.  Even the best, the healthiest of mothers and fathers cannot provide the optimal starting point for an infant.  We are are disadvantaged right from the start of separate life.  The sicker our mothers and fathers, the more disadvantaged we are for handling, let alone thriving in life.  We are very resilient creatures, but we are also damaged and become ill no matter how hard we try to overcome our obstacles.  

Hence, the need for God in our lives.  God our psychic doctor, our healer.  Some of us act as if God should just wave a magic wand and make us all better.  But I don't think for God that is the point.  The point is we have to learn how to take care of ourselves and each other in our present incarnation as spirits combined with bodies.  The key to doing that is to learn to love unconditionally, the way God does.  Cultivating love for ourselves, most especially, is our psychic immune system and defeats our spiritual malaise.  Extending self love to love of others, unconditional love, is the psychic immune system for our entire species.  This is the only way that our species can survive on this beautiful world that we are systematically poisoning, along with ourselves.  Loving your enemies is the ultimate test of unconditional love.  And despite what many people think, it is very possible to love those that abuse you and those that abuse those you love.  You can do this through the practice of compassion.  Compassion is empathy.  It is trying to walk in another person's shoes.  And it is true you should not judge a man (or woman or child) until you have walked at least a mile in his (or her) shoes.  Or put more simply - don't judge others.  Don't judge yourself.  Acknowledge that you are sick, that you need help and that much of what you have done in life that has been harmful is due to severe illness and not to an inherent badness, not to sin.  

There is no Devil.  There are no evil spirits.  There is just us and our collective mental illnesses.  Don't use the concepts of devils and evils spirit as a scapegoat for avoiding your responsibility to heal yourself with God's help.  Blaming others, even evil spirits or God is part of being an addict.  In our sickness the pain is so great the we want to project in outward onto something, someone, some other being.  What must we do?  Approach our pain differently instead of acting out, projecting, or acting in, repressing.  Pain hurts, sometimes very, very badly, but it is really only a small part of the bigger picture.  Pain is our way of telling ourselves that we need to take extra special care of ourselves.  Don't run away from your pain.  Sit with it as you would with an ailing friend as some Buddhists teachers have instructed.  Notice that there is much space around the pain and that pain is not all there is.  The space around the pain, the gentle, accepting, non judgmental, nurturing space is God.  Focus on the space.  Connect with God.  Do it again and again.  Make it a way of life.  Heal yourself.  Do your part to heal this world, our only home.  One person, one soul at a time, I believe we can heal the world by healing ourselves.  

Monday, September 21, 2015

International Peace Day

I am a pacifist.  I believe in and practice non violence.  This means that if my life were being threatened, I would choose to be killed rather than to kill.  I follow Buddha.  I follow Jesus Christ.  Jesus, when his life was threatened, did not fight back and did not try to organize his followers to fight for him or protect him.   He was a man of peace and he died a man of peace.  He said - Love your enemies and pray for those who abuse you.  He said - Do not even hold anger in your heart and deal with it immediately.  He was a man of all people - man, woman and child, Jews,  Romans, Pagans, Samaritans and I think quite likely some Buddhists too and more.  He said -  If someone hits you, turn the other cheek.  Let them yell.  Let them hit you.  Let them torture you.  Let them hang you on a cross, but always, always Love Them.  Forgive them, forgive them for they know not what they do.  When Jesus rebuked the corrupted Pharisees I believe he did this to reach them, to wake them up to their own hypocrisy, and yes, to love them.  And how many of them did he reach?  How many turned away from their hypocrisy and became, once again, honorable people?  We do not know.  But if even one had awakened I know it would have been worth it for Jesus.  Jesus died on the cross in part because of the Pharisees and others corrupted by power who did not turn around.  He also died for them, to show how far you must be willing to go to reject hypocrisy in yourself.  In our world, it takes more courage to not be violent than to attack.

What a crazy world it is here in the United States, a mostly Christian country.  If Jesus were alive today, I'm sure he would love every one of us, but how could he look at most of us and say we were his followers?  How do we forget his message so easily?  He said -  Blessed are the peace makers - not blessed are the warmongers.  He would say God blesses the whole world, not God blesses just the United States.  Jesus would not be a nationalist.  If Jesus had children who said they were going to enlist, he would not say they were righteous - he would rebuke them.  His practice was to eradicate anger from his heart.  How can you go to boot camp and pick up a gun or any weapon with the intention of protecting your life and potentially sacrificing others' lives and also say the you follow Jesus?  Who had more courage - Jesus dying on the cross or a soldier who protected his men but sacrificed an entire village in a foreign country?  And all those soldiers who have died for their country, would they have been willing to die instead not to keep peace in their country only but to foster peace all over the world by laying down their weapons?

Twenty two veterans commit suicide every day in the USA, approximately one every hour.  What message does that send?  Is anybody listening? What would Jesus say?  What would Jesus do for these men and women who have suffered so and for those who are suffering so with Post Traumatic Stress right this second, every second?  Which is the path of maturity?  The path of war or that of peace?  Children can be cruel, often following the example of immature adults.  Must we stay cemented into global immaturity?  Soldiers are not big, badass and tough -  they are just as fragile as any of us.  Their collective response to war is perfectly normal.  War is insane.  And so they return wounded so deeply in their spirits.  That is what violence does to both the aggressor and the victim.  And how are our veterans treated once back home?  So very poorly.  And how many of these poor, suffering human beings are homeless, addicted, insane, in prison?

How many of you here in the US who say you are Christian realize that Jesus was one of the most famous PACIFISTS on this planet?  If we were truly a Christian country, our nation would be a nation of pacifists, pure and simple.  It's as if we as a nation have some kind of amnesia about who Jesus was and what he stood and died for.  It as if the words "Love your enemies" were never spoken by him.  His core teaching was about love.  I have heard people say, oh, it's too hard to love my enemies and so they don't even try.  But Jesus never said it was going to be easy.  Following a strong spiritual path is never easy.  And who in their right mind would say that being a soldier trained to kill, killing others and watching others die is easy and yet people are enlisting every day.  Love is about sacrifice, not for your country, but for peace and goodwill amongst ALL people.

We are one people contributing greatly to the vast decline of this planet.  How much time do you think we really have before natural and man made disasters extremely degrade the quality of life for not just some of us, but all of us?  Our resources are dwindling.  How much time and effort and money do we invest in perpetuating wars across the earth?  Do we really need to get to the point of some global disaster so huge that all our warring over the years will seem petty in comparison?  Quite simply we need peace on earth starting now.  We need to transform our hearts and all turn towards pacifism making it the rule and not the exception starting with the children of this generation.  The basic rule must become crystal clear:  DO NOT HURT YOURSELF OR ANY OTHER PERSON UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES.  Let's teach the children to grow up healthy by finally growing up ourselves.  That's courage in action.  That's what Jesus died for.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Childhood Victimization & Domestic Violence

I experienced violence up close for over five years cyclically month to month with my addicted, mentally ill, abusive partner.  I experienced fear I had never experienced before.  The intensity of it created mental, emotion distortions that repeatedly wounded my spirit.  I lost perspective.  I became insane, locking myself into a addictive relationship that I wasn't able to free myself from year after year.  My lover was very young, beaten down by the end of his adolescence, a victim of abuse.  He followed the father who raped him repeatedly in childhood and adolescence; he became an abuser and in doing so continued to victimize his true self.

When my lover became triggered by something in his environment, I could see the boy, the silly, sad, sentimental drunk flip into his sadist persona.  I was no masochist, but I did put myself in a position to become a victim.  Sadists are drawn to victims like a honey bee to honey.  Victims are nourishment to this brand of violent insanity.  My lover, in this mode, in this part of his personality, fed off me.  He fed off my fear.  In his eyes he was a righteous judge.  He was the high king and I was an offending slave.  In his eyes my fear was confirmation of my culpability.  The more afraid I was, the more justified he felt in condemning me if not to physical attack then to psychological torture, though the threat of attack at any moment remained.

What is the lure of violence?  For a more powerful attacker, it is the lure, the high of power.  For others, the chance to dominate and control.  For people trained in sadism might does make right.  A sadist might think that he has honor and justice on his side, but when it comes down to it he or she really enjoys having the power to generate fear and through that fear to control behavior, to set the stage for a cyclical, unending play.  My lover was both the director and the lead in this play.  I was no threat.  I was literally a trapped animal, the prey for the predator.  Without me, there would be no play and he would have searched for another to play the victim role.

At some point I realized that he was associating me with his father and was punishing me for the sins of his father and family.  He became "the father" and I became the despised child, a representative of himself as a child.  He tried to convince me through the shame of humiliation that I was not worthy of love and kindness, that I deserved what I got.  It was projection, pure and simple.  Only he didn't know it.  To be aware of just what he was doing would be to ruin the play and the thrill of the act.  And yes, I know that to abuse me as his child self gave him deep pleasure, at least while he was inside this part of his personality.  When he did this he was also inside his insanity.  He lost perspective and was psychotic.

He could lose himself for a night of sadistic pleasure.  He became the-one-with-the-power.  There was nothing to stand in his way and it felt good.  But something that initially feels real good and is at its core harmful to self and others becomes an addiction.  It traps the predator in a different kind of cage.  And so there were two people trapped in the abusive cycle continuing the seemingly unending play.  Predator and prey.   Abuser and victim.  The father and the son.  Perhaps the initial goal was catharsis,  but anything so negative cannot be cathartic.  It is addiction.  The interplay during the play or abusive episode is the drug.

Because his father had raped him, he judged himself unredeemable and his deep ambivalence towards his father had a strangle hold on him.  Though in times of self revealing anger at his father he said he wanted to kill him, but he did not kill him, did not expose his crimes, did not threaten him at all while he was with me.  He did not place blame where it needed to be placed - with the sins of his father.  Instead he sacrificed himself, branding himself over and over every time he acted out his addiction.  He associated this with honor.  The injunction was to protect the family, especially the image created for others to see.  He took on the role of the black sheep while actually becoming the scape goat for the family.

But that was truly unbearable and so he sacrificed me and made me his personal scapegoat continuing the cycle of shirking self responsibility.  His family never took off their masks and costumes and let me really see them and I learned that the way to survive was to put on my own costume and mask and deny my true self, go along with the sickness, letting my spirit start to wither.  But somewhere in me I was still saying NO to all this sickness.  I continued to think my truths though I rarely opened my mouth and spoke them - too dangerous.  And I prayed.  After all, I was addicted too and I was powerless over it.  I prayed to be released.  When opportunity knocked a year later, I took it and took off.

Before, during and after this relationship I was one of the walking wounded.  After I became darker, harder, my heart difficult to access.  I said NO to my abusive lover and turned away I thought in order to re-embrace myself.  When I sang and made up songs I found bits and pieces of me but they were mostly distorted because my thinking was still distorted by the conditioning of my love/relationship addiction.  I was far from my true self still laced with residual self-hatred passed on by my lover to me during his sadistic projections.  I refused to enter into another romantic relationship but was willing to swap a relationship addiction for a romantic fantasy addiction that only left me frustrated and ashamed.  Still self hating.

My mysterious voices which came forward during life threatening moments during my relationship resurfaced after I left my partner.  They showed me that I was on a spiritual path despite the residual web of self hatred.  They led me to the study of Buddhism and to the ancient Chinese oracle, the I Ching; they led me to practice yoga and meditation and mantra.  They also led me back to art and songwriting and writing.  They led me back to art school.  And, after a year at school, they led me to an even deeper, more dangerous place along the path - they led me into psychosis.  I saw that my relationship with my lover/abuser had been a sort of boot camp to prepare me for what I would have to endure through in psychosis.