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.

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.