Luna ex Machina (for Troy)

When the bird and the book disagree, always believe the bird.                                                             

–John James Audubon


                I had just read that quote last night before bed. And I’d noted its resonance with the sense of disconnect I’d been feeling from my home beacon of nature this spring, as the world waked up outside, the birdsong changed and pierced the walls with recharged exuberance, as the big wind– in all its brutish bluster– could not. While the walls protected me from the botanical gang rape of pollen season, particularly debilitating in this body, I felt bereft, my own aliveness as muted in its reach for fellowship as the birdsong was through these sheltering walls.

                  I rose in this dark morning to glimpse the lunar eclipse predicted in my Llewelllyn’s Pocket Planner. It should have been underway now. But it wasn’t. As I puttered through my morning routine, I monitored the moon’s descent, which never showed the slightest dent, no matter how I squinted.

                  The book says there should be an eclipse, I mused, shaking myself from its spell and remembering the Audubon quote, but I’m going with the moon.

                  The evening before, as I had crept out onto the dark deck to first glimpse the rising full moon, she was already high enough in the sky to be “eclipsed” by the patio roof. But her bright white luminosity spilling onto the woody rose brambles and the deck posts splashed like a siren’s call into my eyes. Just that sight stirred me; and when I stepped out of the shadow and locked with her gaze, I felt recognized, reminded, included, as a mother always includes.

                  So this morning when I rose, I looked for her again, on the other wall of the sky, as dawn already glowed in the east. There she was, lower, bigger, pale amber. But through the windows, she seemed static, more distant and, somehow, more of a “he.”  

                  The only reason I could think for this was that my mind was holding her amid a theoretical context, imposing the expectations of Mr. Llewellyn’s written stage directions and trying to read them into her understated performance. She wasn’t conforming.

                  Once I loosed her from the image that I was trying to see —the shadows of her antagonists—she reclaimed her autonomy as a player and hung again in her own aura of charisma—some projected by me, some by the sun, and some, surely and mysteriously, her own.



Hot Heir (or “From Castles in the air to the High Ground…a step up?”)

“The world is inflamed,” I mused to my friend today, “and Donald Trump is simply an expression, a symptom, of that inflammation.”

Michael Brown, in his brilliant book “The Presence Process,” speaks articulately about how suppressed  emotion is stored in the human body-field as heat. (You find it reflected in countless idioms in our language.)  And anyone sensitive to energy can attest to having experienced this in his own body or psyche–whether as reactivity, inflammation (when the friction of inner conflict collects unexpressed) or as simple heat (when some pocket of physical or psychic material moves within the body or releases from it).

Chinese medicine recognizes this. Certainly, in Ayurveda, this would promote, and qualify as, a Pitta imbalance.  In Western Medicine, the approach has more often been to ignore it until it becomes a symptom– or complex of symptoms– assertive and established enough to earn its own title: like arthritis, heartburn, hypertension, or hemorrhoids.  But this is just a way to acknowledge and treat the symptom without having to address the subtler, underlying cause.

Another way this phenomenon finds expression,when unacknowledged in the individual or culture, is to either leak out in behaviors or be out-pictured in our greater world, which is a reflection and projection of the personal or collective consciousness.

We all experience its consequences, whether we are sensitive, self-aware and health conscious on the one hand, or tend toward the other end of the spectrum, or fall somewhere in between.  And it’s as likely as not that the heat showing up in our lives and our world is not the consequence of only our current or recent wounds, thoughts and deeds, but are individual and collective Karmas, if you will, bubbling to the surface from our deeper physical and non-physical heritage. Those factors, combined with our constitutional strengths and weaknesses, govern how, where and when it shows up.

The sages saw it not so much in terms of wrong or right, but a matter of natural, inevitable consequences, rather like the predictable outcomes of physical laws or the mixing of certain chemicals.   

When we see violent natural phenomena, actions and their equal and opposite reactions, we tend to be awed unless they disrupt the veneer of control we like to think we have. Then they become cruel tragedies.  And if we drop stones into a pond and watch the ripples radiate out and interfere with one another, we are watching  calculable phenomena, even though, if we took to rooting for one or the other stone’s patterns of influence in the surface of the pond, we might subtly demonize the other stones’ waves as disruptive, obstructive, violent, intrusive, inappropriate, evil.

Social movements are the same way. They are natural, cumulative progressions, which have origins, rises, plateaus of influence and then dissipations, as newer, stronger waves neutralize, absorb, distort or react to their energy or ideas.  It would seem these are the evolutionary gyrations and growing pains of our species and probably our whole Cosmos, in which most thinkers acknowledge unfathomable intelligence and order, even when, from our limited perspective it looks like chaos.  One observer’s miracle is another’s messy universe. Ever baked cupcakes with children? Messy universe! (Though, I hear,  if there is chocolate involved it’s somehow more tolerable– even medicinal ).

At last we are seeing a pushback against Trump. The pressure had to build sufficiently behind and between the tectonic plates of complacency.  We had to feel the earth shake and contemplate what we might lose, and put down our smart phone windows on the world and walk out onto the shaking earth, look at the shingles and shutters tumbling off already neglected village walls, hear the ululating security alarms and dodge the occasional fire geyser of a ruptured gas main–I reckon that last one might describe Trump, yes, but also any of too many mass shootings, climate-change-induced natural disasters, or acts of terrorism. 

I think the lesson here is that we are not victims of our universe, but participants. So, just as peaceful cultures tend to work cooperatively with nature, so we must learn to do, not only with outer nature, but inner nature, our own human nature, respecting the power of all our faculties– emotional, spiritual, and others, as well, not just the mental or the grossly physical.   As wise ones inscribed on the Temple at Delphi millennia ago: Know Thyself. And as Jesus added: Love One Another.  Even the Egyptians knew that DE NILE inevitably yields a Flood. So they learned to work with the river.  

If we do not drown in our own ignorance or arrogance, human evolution continues forward like a river sloshing along and slowly rearranging its banks and changing its trajectory, as it meanders back to the sea of Unity. But the rocks dissolving in its path might see nothing in this but dissolution and entropy.  

One might ask, “So, do you want to be a Rock or a River?” But why limit ourselves? A Taoist uses the wisdom of both and practices to employ the strength of each in its appropriate turn.  Not “either/or,” friends, but AND.  That is the teaching of TRUMP.  The either/or culture has served its evolutionary purpose, and now the citizens of AND are awakening and rising up.

As case in point, I close on an amusing, uplifting pop-culture note: I happened to catch a recent episode of Castle last night. The show is consummately smooth and catchy fluff. But the last scenes of the episode gathered together the students in an English-as -a-Second-Language class, many of whom were featured as the police procedural wound through its twists and suspects, toward the inevitable apprehension of the murderer. They were all invited to feast at a table spread with “American Food.” 

“This is American Food?” one student asks in thick accent, as the camera continues to pan over colorful platters of pizza, kimchi, egg rolls, enchiladas, saffron rice,  etc. “It’s very …Internationale.”

“Exactly,” says Martha (Castle’s mother), “And this country was founded by immigrants; and it’s those  customs and cultures that have shaped and molded us. And YOU…were the ones that made this country great….”   Obvious? Sure. A tad maudlin? Maybe…. But (I’m betting) a response to Trump: another voice for an America awaking from slumber, a voice issuing, importantly, from country’s leading hypnotist, one of its favorite pacifiers and teaching tools.  

From her mouth to God’s ear.


THE APPRESIDENCY — a review of season one.

This morning, after Super Tuesday, I was amused to find that’s word of the day was:

  1. vainglorious boasting orbragging; pretentious,blustering talk.
  2. bragging.
  3. to boast; brag; talk big.

…A thinly veiled reference to the Republican front-runner, one can hardly doubt.

The word trump is related to triumph. In his world, The Donald is living his manifest destiny. And because small minds focus and amplify the flow of conviction like the nozzle on a hose, that conviction is powerful, especially in the estimation of onlookers who perceive their own hoses to be obstructed –by some shadowy behemoth they have little capacity to clearly see, but still have the power to blame. The power of blame is seemingly one of the last at their disposal, and certainly the easiest. Especially when the mighty blow-hard hose before them is modeling it so confidently.

Trump  starred in a “Reality T.V.” show called The Apprentice. He lives in a world of winners and losers. That is what most popular reality shows are about. Most of the media in fact is a hypnotism based on a hierarchy of winners and losers. In fact,  it might be said that the consensus reality we share in this culture, or on this planet, is framed in terms of winners and losers.

All “reality” we seem to see objectively out there is a product of perception, interpretation codified into a consensus reality. And the one we have inherited, and continue to choose,  is a “reality” founded on a scarcity consciousness  in which creatures must prey on one another to survive, one that turns God into a parent who plays favorites, withholds love and pits creatures against one another.

Swimming in this cosmology as one’s home ocean, it is nigh impossible to see– much less believe, embrace or BE– the best a human can be. As social creatures, we are susceptible to the domino effect.

Our media panders to this lowest common denominator and is a machine for manufactured conflict.

Judging from  the accepted narrative of human history, and the current enthusiasm demonstrated by a disheartening number of American people, not only have we lost the ability to distinguish between reality and perception, we have lost the ability to distinguish between what is reality and what is Reality T.V.

It makes sense. As a society, we are addicted to T.V./media, and we get our ostensibly factual information and news from the same source as our fiction and entertainment. They blur. Some of this entertainment we call, with waning irony, “Reality T.V.” And Donald Trump is a luminary of that false firmament.

We are turning this election campaign, which, in the consensus reality effects everything on the planet, into a reality T.V. show; nothing more.

Imagine a planetarium that has introduced additional celestial bodies into its representation of the sky. No one bothers to go outside anymore, because they have this facsimile in climate-controlled conditions, with cell reception and refreshments. They accept the facsimile as a reliable version of cosmos, and they don’t bother to go outside–or within– and check.

This is our predicament.

If a president of a nation is elected to lead and represent the best of a people, to model the highest potential of humanity, what is Donald Trump? Now, I don’t know the fellow personally, but it strikes me that he represents the worst of humanity, an egregious step backward into a frozen, selfish adolescence.

And as a country, we are mired in the frozen adolescence of a society allowed to become a bully before it matured. Growing up, at this point, looks like untenable sacrifice. So, of course, we might want to throw in with the loudest bully, to fall in behind the charge of the most blusterous bull, under the protective flag and fanfare of Blamefulness, in order to trample all that antagonizes us “out there.”  Alas, falling in behind such a lot of Bull, obscures the way ahead. I fear it is off a cliff. But that may be the humbling we require as a people to re-join the human race, which, at its best, isn’t a race at all, it is a dance.