Dear Friend in Christ,
Often I think that our inescapable cultural baggage, meaning our fragile egos and the influence of all who've crossed our way, "make being certain a necessity." Clearly, this is a reality that can never be — thus an exclusive product of our own heads!
What I have questioned for decades is that the scriptures, beautiful and inspiring as they may be, are simply the product of a theologically divided church (367AD), and a power hungry Emperor Constantine (which Luther and those who followed him viewed with anathema) who sought to bring political stability and power to the western Roman world.
As I've come to understand the gift of scriptures, they are the "finger that points to the moon." That simple idea has become quite liberating for me. Of course, the problem is (at least in the Protestant world) men choose to "suck the finger" rather than adore and embrace what it points to! As a consequence, the Bible has become the infallible A thru Z textbook for Truth. Sadly, this has given rise to innumerable emotional and psychological problems for believers.
It's near impossible to deny the history and politics behind the scriptures. This should be a warning that scripture is not absolute in any way, shape or form. Whenever I've witnessed teachers using scriptures beyond simple instruction or contemplation of faith and pushing holy writ as a "key to everything," inevitably students end up trapped in their own conceptual thoughts and bias'. From there a sense of alienation, incompleteness and self-righteousness grows. As Laurence Bolt observes:
"…Struggle (alienation) brings resentment, ingratitude, and withholding, which rob “us of joy” and keep the energy from flowing freely in our lives. This leads us away from the path of our spiritual destinies. Instead of following our own paths, we crave the approval and attention of others. This craving for approval, in turn, produces competitive hostility and envy. Envy, in turn, provokes greed, which agitates our minds and sends us on the mad chase that today we call the "rat race." In the process, we lose the ability to appreciate the simple enjoyments that come with life in the spirit (BECAUSE WE ARE IN OUR MINDS!). Ultimately, this leads to a sense of chaos and confusion that obfuscates our innate intelligence and robs us of our capacity to appreciate the beauty in life" (NOW WE JUDGE EVERYTHING!)."
No room for the Spirit there! This is a large segment of Biblical Protestant Christianity — no longer walking by faith, but blindly embracing dogmatism that justifies all sort of religious nonsense'.
What is even more stunning is Biblically trained fundamentalists teachers carry with them (secretly) an underlying distrust of the very God they preach. How could they not? Their fear based theologies subtly and sometimes overtly permeate their own hearts and thus those who follow them. This travesty is simply "off the charts!" It's everywhere, particularly in the Christian fundamentalist world. Makes me sick! And if anyone in the remotest sense questions biblical inerrancy they are immediately cast aside as a heretic. For where one set of biblically based doctrines go, so too do their opposites. One can make a pretty good biblical case for "conditional salvation" or "universal salvation" or "Jesus is God" or "Jesus is God/man" or "Jesus was a man who infused by some sort of "cosmic consciousness", etc, etc." I'm sure you get my drift.
"The wind blows where it desires, and thou hearest the sound of it, but canst not tell from where it comes or where it goes; so is every one that is born of the Spirit."
What Christians end up with is a biblical message of grace inner-woven with a fear based theology, legislated by a sometimes angry, bi-polar, anthropomorphic god (male, about 6'6", ripped — a bit of Zeus-like character) — who stands ready to annihilate, yet on the turn of a dime can forgive unconditionally.
Sad to say that annihilation wins out far too often! No wonder Mariology (adoration of Mary)came into being!
You appear to be scholarly in your biblical efforts. I'd encourage you to be the same as a historian with those early church centuries. Consider your sources (not just evangelical, but consider other schools of scholarly research). Objectivity is paramount. Open mindedness is not a threat to your salvation. It takes you ever deeper into the mystery one's faith.
This whole divine walk is clothed in mystery, it is intuitive, beyond the conceptual mind and rooted deeply in the heart. We can speculate on all sorts of Biblical concepts, but there is "that which is beyond dissection and definition." Either the scriptures are inerrant, written by the hand of God, or they are a product of inspired hearts woven with/into the politics and worldliness of the time. And if the later is true how does that change your walk?
Lastly, it is clear to me that the vast majority of Christians are not free. This whole religious show can be so disingenuous! In fact, the fruit of this disingenuousness is emotional mayhem on the part of the believer. And why is this scenario so common today? Because scripture has become an end in itself, rather than a liberating pointer to the mystery we call faith.
“Broken Man" by RedRedRose
A few evenings ago, in a moment of intimate conversation with my dear Basherte, she explained to me the process (at least from her perspective) of how “loving a man” is born inside a woman's heart. It was a moment of epiphany! Not because she was unveiling revolutionary details, but it was how she logically and sequentially phrased the steps, perfectly connecting them like unearthed pieces of ancient Chinese pottery — meticulously placed side by side to reveal a mystery called “Yin heart.” I was touched and astounded! She was imparting to me how a woman desires to be loved. It was like I didn’t want to miss a beat; I wanted to extract and absorb every morsel that fell from her sacred lips! It all made me love her that much more!
This discussion that follows isn't about her vision (I will leave that for a future writing), nor is it a “scientific analysis” of men’s cultural and emotional deficits. The real intent of this work is to look at why a majority of men haven’t a clue how to comprehend, let alone love, a woman’s heart. What I hope to stir is a deeper awareness of the “whys.” Why men have become so disconnected from women — leaving themselves essentially emotionally bankrupt. Why are we (men) so clueless of what my basherte describes as the “wondrous process of wooing a woman?” And finally, why are we so secretly fearful of not embracing the “call of Yin” (which in truth we sense, but know so little about)?
To understand these “whys,” I will lay out some of the more delusionary perspectives men operate from, and as a consequence, how men’s belief systems and actions negatively impact all aspects of life on this planet. First, I’d like to borrow a comment from an Amazon reader regarding archeologist Marija Gimbutas’ classic, The Civilization of the Goddess: The World of Old Europe. The commentator shares some interesting insights on the value of probable past matriarchal societies of ancient Europe:
"a compilation of cultural clues shows cultures which challenge all previous notions of how civilizations evolved. The basic equality in size of houses and graves, the emphasis on feminine images in art, the lack of defensive walls or caches of weapons, suggest civilizations focused on the arts of nurturing families, plants and animals. Perhaps the survival of the fittest here meant the flourishing of those best able to care for each other."
Here we see the potentially beneficial effect of societies where Yin (the feminine) was free to flourish and Be. And my belief is without these thriving societies we end up with what we have today; Yin and Yang imbalanced; Yang over-emphasized; unbridled competition, greed, hunger/famine, dominance of male over female, sexual exploitation, violence, war and genocide!
From an early age boys are taught that girls by nature are the weaker of the sexes, ignorantly confusing physical strength with intellectual fortitude, evidenced by the lack of certain “physical abilities” associated with boys/mens sports. That so called “gender frailty” is reinforced when girls begin to imitate and initiate the “nurturing and care-giving behaviors” demonstrated first by their mothers and secondarily by women in their Yin communities who surround them during their formative years. Girls inner-makeup deepens and they are blessed by observing and then modeling their female elders demonstration of ever greater levels of gentleness, care-giving, kindness, listening, compassion and intuitiveness. Boys, on the other hand, learn greater levels of aggression and “one-upmanship.” This may be why, at early developmental stages, boys begin to openly tease and scorn girls and use “gender slamming” as a form of universal put-down [e.g. ‘you act/throw/whine/cry like a girl’]. The fear factor is born.
Boys also learn, at a young age to quickly “dry their tears.” In the masculine culture tears are equated with “the weaker sex” (girls) and therefore used as a judgment on other boys as a sign of “weakness, lack of bravery and character impairment." Any boy seen crying beyond the age of seven or eight is castigated as a “pussy” [here female genitalia is pejoratively symbolized]. In need of help, by adulthood most men need some sort of intense “cry therapy” just to feel human again! In fact, any real sensitivity of the heart, a natural part of being human, men will diligently repress into a form of psychological malignancy! Lost in a sea of worry, desensitized and sometimes acting inhuman the male mind desperately clings to one key thought, “Life is a game of protecting myself from any form of emotional vulnerability; it's me against the world. I must and will protect myself at all costs!” And so a mantra is born.
As the years pass and with a scarcity of wise male mentors to guide these young men to deeper consciousnss, they enter what may be the most hard-hitting, confusing and painful time period of their lives, their high school years. Without wise direction — emotional immaturity, gender bias, a need to fit in, insensitivity towards others, irrationalism; and a lethal sex drive - render young men little more than emotional train-wrecks! All of this may sound a bit Orwellian or like a grim omen from an Old Testament, but it is what it is. Tragically, this “possessed mind-set” will last for decades. The sheer intensity of it easily parallels a scene from the third Star Trek movie, “In Search of Spock.” Mr. Spock’s dead body is resurrected (reborn) by the power of the Genesis Project. He’s discovered (now as a boy) on the Genesis planet by members of the Starship Enterprise. Spock is observed evolving from childhood to adulthood in a matter of minutes. As teenagers, the Vulcans enter into an intense transitional period called pon farr. It is at this point in time where soon to be adult Vulcans undergo a neurochemical imbalance that takes on a form of madness. A Vulcan could die within eight days if their pon farr isn't satiated. Science fiction and reality can speak a singular truth.
In the real human species, beset by lifelong fears and insecurities, teenage boys and adult men find temporary escape from their internal woes by creating one inadmissible scapegoat: WOMEN. Paradoxically, what men identify in women as “inferior,” is in reality Yin strength. This dichotomy between the sexes causes women to increasingly harden themselves towards men’s shallowness and sometimes moronic behaviors. Taken to the extreme, woman may eventually choose to tune-out completely and spend the rest of their days without male companionship (a whole topic onto itself).
Men on the other hand, reacting against women, indulge in a contemptible blame game! Such defective reasoning clearly demonstrates a great Yin/Yang imbalance inside the male (Yang) mind: men connected with their heads (no pun intended), but not their hearts. These misguided males enter a form of mental hypnotism, where comprehension and the gift of Yin (the feminine) is for the most part nonexistant. What he fails to grasp is her ability to see beyond the mundane; to out-think him and to out-last her emotionally stifled counterpart.
If a man’s own biases allow him to abide in a state of delusional superiority (excluding Yin as a necessary life factor), he actually cuts off his own right foot — leading to a gangrenous (inner) death. Yang cannot function without Yin, and vice versa. So by not seeing the continuity and co-operation of the Yin/Yang principle (male to female, female to male), fear allows him to descend into a discordant understanding of life, the universe and adherence with Yin (the feminine). In doing so he deprives himself of any possible connection that would fuse him to reality! What may be the most astounding aspect of this psychological drama is that in spite of his “irrational mind-set” and “rejection of his own potential authenticity,” he still intuitively (subconsciously) knows what’s right! Put another way, out of fear of personal exposure (the truth) and the need to “fix himself” (contrition) he chooses to suppress the very life-force he quietly knows he needs and direly longs for.
So what must we men do? One, is listen. Listen from within —not with our heads, but with our hearts; take time to “be attentive” to women. Allow the opportunity to “get to know them, the whole of them,” not just their “cup size,” or their attitudes towards “avant-garde sexual behavior.” Really get to know them; their pain, their joys, their disappointments and their sorrows. Here you will see their truest transcendent beauty. Watch and study how they comfort and love others, always giving of themselves. Observe them and savor every action they take. Study what is good and honorable about them. Lastly, laugh with them, and cry with them (if you can). In doing all these things you will begin, maybe for the first time in your life, to breathe freely. Your inhalation will no longer be purely physiological — but profoundly, inwardly deep - down to your core-essence. Your head will be lighter and your heart more vivacious. Life will begin to unveil remarkable color— astounding color beyond even what the human eye can detect. As time passes you will feel less “Yang” and more “Yin.” Balance of heart and thought will bring greater harmony to your Being, and there will be a slow, melting away of fear. MUCH LESS FEAR! As a result of your awakened state and energized presence, you will no longer feel disconnected from beauty, life, purpose, love, and most importantly, a women’s heart. A true sense of Being will arise within and guide you, even through the darkest times. Your journey as a man will come into the fullness of light and the resonance of Being... mark my words!
“In Tune” by Rosemary Kim Bal
Reading Walter Isaacson’s biography on the life of Steve Jobs, I came across a line early in the book where Jobs states, “The idealistic wind of the sixties is still at our backs, and most of the people I know who are my age have that ingrained in them forever.” I am a product of that idealism. Not that I can’t be as critical or cynical as the next guy, but there is a well-spring inside me that has always believed in the potential for human growth and personal enlightenment. I realize that climbing a stairwell to infinity is a perplexing notion, and logically (in this human existence) unattainable. But I have learned that it is not so much the goal, but rather the process itself that is most rewarding. In planting a young seedling it is not the mature tree that the planter witnesses, it is the wonderment of the seasons and long arduous trek the tree participates in towards maturity. The planter is simply immersed in the miracle of each season.
Yes, the sixties pushed the envelope: politically, economically, socially and maybe most importantly, spiritually (the term “spiritually” is not meant as an adherence to a doctrine or dogmatic equation). As this writer has often pondered, “The Tao” (God; Life Force, The Universe, that which exceeds our intellect, etc.) exists as something beyond our best attempts at conceptualization.” How could it be otherwise?
If life, as any of us know it, is what a grain of sand is to an ocean’s shoreline, so too, we must realize that life and human love are but small reflections of something much greater.
Any man who seeks to understand and love his woman with the best insights the Universe has to offer - will get back a thousand fold. This is the basic law of Love, the eternal axiom known by many as “sowing and reaping” or “karma.” It all begins with the realization that there is MORE to our developmental process than meets the minds-eye. May we all reverently bow to this phenomenon.
So where do we turn? How do we grow in the knowledge and action to serve our Beloveds? It may well begin with a simple nod and a recognition to the wisdom of the Universe itself. Allowing our hearts to be open and receptive to the unfolding of Life's purpose and blessings, even when such positive change potentially brings on acute discomfort. Though we are all hardwired to love and be loved, love is not simply a mental concept. It’s transcendent nature always points upwardly to the Divine! It opens a portal into the mysteries of all that is meaningful and good, and allows every man to find his own authentically. Such depth is no different when loving a woman. She is a miracle! An expression of the Yin side of creation. She carries in her heart and soul gifts needed and necessary to complete any man who sees beyond himself (or the culture that might argue otherwise). Women are the jewels that brings explosive color to an otherwise lackluster world and existence.
--“Depression II” by Marion Patrick
This letter includes a few small insights taken from my 60 years of inner-travel (I do like the sound of that). I've shared these thoughts near and far —with family, close friends, sometimes complete strangers, a few high schoolers, and now you. My words are small footprints— simple snippets of a heart's journey. But I think the essence to what I am trying to say is here.
My life’s purpose wasn't always to bless. Transformative change is arduous, ongoing, and never ending. It involves the unlocking and releasing of emotional and physical pain. It thrives on mega doses of humility. So as I write please know that judgement is not my intent. For I am a true believer in first aiming my considerations homeward—at myself. As Jesus so profoundly stated,
“Take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the splinter from your brother or sister's eye."
There are few wiser words.
The great thing about being alive, or at least some semblance of it, is the endless opportunity to go deeper, to expand one's inner domain —leading the heart to clearer waters. In such places Love's dazzling waves shimmer, and delight the human spirit. Equally true, life requires us to passionately work to rise above the psychological (mental) noise that "separates us from our own authenticity" and "sense of well being." Only in doing both can we begin to know the face of freedom.
So why can we love so deeply and in the next breathe spew fire with equal intensity? Why can we dance to life's enchanting beat and yet wallow in an abyss of hopeless fear? Who and what are we beyond the stuff inside these bags of skin we call ourselves? Why do we so often block the heart and choose the head that leads us to places we are ill-prepared to go? It can make a person feel unhinged—like trying to bite one's own teeth (Alan Watts)! In my own case healing was (and is) a process — slowly, and sometimes painfully challenging one’s cleverly crafted existence. In the past the fruit of my labor was mostly a disingenuous universe: an inauthentic existence —disconnected, lacking truth, manipulative, controlling, and often dishonest. Granted, these behaviors could be subtle to the eye and ear, but they were full throttled drama living inside of me. You name the mark missed, I was its chief archer! Why all the charades? Why the self fabricating illusions? I have my theories. Looking back, it is clear that all of this crazy chaos served as the prelude to a future that held a brighter promise. Symbolically, my aimless journey served much like a piece of jewelers velvet, highlighting an exquisitely placed gem. The darkened fabric, my misguided ways —the diamond resting on it, Life abundant. In retrospect a new sense of openness was headed my way requiring an honest look at Me and the destructive behaviors I’d embraced. Maybe “wisdom’s touch” was the kind hand prodding me from unconscious slumber—to begin to see all manner of things from the Heart. Call it “seeing from the core,” “the third eye," or “abiding in the spirit" —I recognized it as “practicing an honest heart.” The Book of Proverbs states,
“There's a way that seemeth right unto man, but in the end thereof is our complete undoing."
The first half of that statement was my old mantra. I carried a running, misinformed commentary in my head that never ceased. Thus, I acted accordingly. There were times where I couldn’t differentiate the commentary from the commentator. I was that voice in my head! As a result I acted out like a neurotic little god running his paltry domain. I judged, cast friends and foes alike aside, reveled in others failures, and overall was a wretched mess! In the end I became overwhelmed by the physical and emotional weight of maintaining a life I’d cunningly constructed. My little kingdom was coming undone. Bei, as I once knew him was approaching his final curtain. His universe, or more accurately his misguided consciousness, was imploding! Interestingly, I think my situation paralleled a simple principal in nature: a consuming fire later becomes the ground for a forest’s regeneration. A similar renewal process was working in me.
So my good friend, you’ve been let down by others, countless times I’ll assume. Most recently by a near and dear friend. And, to make matters worse anger, even rage flashes it’s ugly head to deepen your pain. I am so very sorry. Your agony must feel like a Boa constrictor compressing the life right out of you. No doubt there are countless reasons why your anger seems justified. I've certainly experienced similar battles in the attitude arena of "I've been burned." Anger (or disconnect) comes at a very steep price: estrangement from family, friends and often separation from humanity at large. It took me years and an immersion into humility to sort through my malaise of mental entanglements— to ultimately find some clarity of heart and mind. Throughout this long process “a growing awareness” revealed a misguided perspective on life and a darkened attitude towards others as the root of my suffering. Worse, for decades that illusion caused extensive emotional pain that rarely left my side. It's not that I wasn't justified in my personal assessments others, or the world around me, but as I would come to learn— abiding in that thought process is a path laden with rusty cans, venomous vermin, and is a treacherous slope only fools travel. As the Buddha stated,
“Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.”
Before you know it you become the very thing you've so despised in others! Sadly, I became that person. This is why as a father, grandfather, friend, teacher and sometimes mentor I have always been quick to challenge the concept of throwing fireballs (even if seemingly justified). Once they are thrown it's difficult to take them back. Being trapped in our minds, disconnected from the heart, can quickly cause anyone to descend into a hellish state of being, and act out accordingly. No one should have to travel that road (yet sadly many do).
After years of study and journeying around the planet you returned home, and back into our lives. Do you remember your first visit? Listening to your embellishments stirred me to make this comment, "if you didn't try so hard to be something beyond the real you you’d absolutely shine? I meant that. I still do. I think you are an amazing young woman. You are insightful beyond your years. Your energy, your driving spirit and your tenacity are all beyond measure. I also see someone emotionally guarded, on a mission to prove something (whatever that is), carrying with her a deeply rooted melancholic history. At times your face can light up the darkest sky, but equally your eyes speak with great sorrow. I know it hurts. I do not know your history and I don't pretend to know your pain, but I have slowly come to know my own. Haunted for decades it robbed me of my joy, and it kept me from the deepest measures of love. Thankfully, slowly but surely, heartfelt awareness soothed, softened and ultimately strengthened me—and as a consequence the greatest of gifts bestowed itself within: I could breath again!
Know that you are loved immensely. There is no judgment at this end of the fence, only compassion. We miss your presence.
All My Love,