Ethelgiva and Deiniol

Saints of the day

Please see my post from earlier this month – “Family Tree, Holy Tree”- for a fuller explanation of my little project here this month of intending to post info on each of the many historical saints in my genealogical family tree whose feast days fall in the month of December.  I honour the saints and holy persons of all religious and spiritual traditions. But for this month I thought I’d try to list those in the Christian tradition from whom I’m directly or co-laterally descended (ancestral grandparents and ancestral aunts & uncles) on one or both sides of my parents’ family lines.

12/9
Saint Ethelgiva (Æthelgifu) of Shaftesbury (-896), generation 37 aunt
Princess of Wessex (West Saxons), England; founding abbess of Shaftesbury Abbey; daughter of King Saint Alfred the Great and Queen Saint Ealhswith (Elswith, Ethelwitha). Yes, I know: who knew that Alfred the Great and his wife are both revered as saints? But they are. Do they deserve to be? I don’t know. For now I’ll give them the benefit of the possible doubt….Their daughter Ethelgiva, celebrated each year on this day, seems to have been a deeply holy person.

[Link below: a recent article about scientists’ hopes for finding ancestral grandfather King Saint Alfred the Great’s grave:

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2387685/Archaeologists-hope-Alfred-Great-unmarked-grave-Winchester.html

12/10
Saint Deiniol Gwyn (Welsh: Deiniol; Latin: Dainiolus; English: Daniel) ( – 584) generation 46 uncle
First abbot-bishop of Bangor, Wales; founded monasteries at Bangor Fawr (modern Bangor on the Menai Straits) and Bangor-Is-y-Coed (Bangor Iscoed, modern Bangor-on-Dee). Bangor Iscoed became the most famous monastery in Britain, with over 2000 monks, before being sacked by a pagan King of Northumbria.

Deiniol was son and heir to King Saint Dunaut the Great (c505-c607), ruler of the Celtic Briton kingdom of the North Pennines, after whom it was re-named Dunoting. Dunaut was a son of King Saint Pabo Post Prydein the Confessor, ruler of Northern Britain and a descendant of Coel Hen Godebog (“Old King Cole”).

St Deiniol chose the life of a monk and priest over that of a prince, perhaps inspired by his grandfather who had become a hermit monk after being driven from his kingdom by enemy armies in 460. Deiniol settled on the Menai Straits, where his relative, King Maelgwn of Gwynedd gave him lands in Bangor Fawr to establish a monastic cathedral. He attended the Synod of Llandewi Brefi where he was consecrated Bishop of Bangor Fawr by St.David (Dewi), patron saint of Wales. He later founded churches at Llandeiniol in Dyfed and Llanfor and Llanuwchllyn near Lake Bala. He refounded his monastery at Bangor-Is-y-Coed (upon Dee) under the patronage of his uncle, King Brochfael Ysgythrog of Powys.

In time, Deiniol’s aged father King Saint Dunaut (Welsh: Dynod; Latin: Donatus; English: Donat) was also driven from his kingdom of Dunoting by Northern Angles, and became abbot of his son’s monastery at Bangor. As such, he attended the unsuccessful meetings of the Welsh bishops and abbots with St. Augustine of Canterbury at Aust (Glos) in 602 and 604.

St Deiniol, held during his life as comparable in status with St David and St Dyfig, died at Bangor Fawr on 11th September 584. His body was taken to Ynys Enlli (Bardsey Island) to be buried. The Cathedral at Bangor Fawr remains dedicated to him.

 

 

 

 

spiritual but not necessarily religious

“It does not matter what name people give to their religion or what rituals they follow in their churches, temples, mosques, synagogues or pagodas. As long as they are established in the spirit of religion and have risen to a state of God-consciousness, as long as the stream of life is attuned to the cosmic stream of evolution, it does not matter whether they call themselves Christian, Muslim, Hindu, Jew or Buddhist — any name will be significant. On the gross level of life these names carry significance, but on the level of Being they all have the same value. What does matter is that an individual should have a life of God-consciousness in eternal freedom, a life of complete integration. The key to the fulfillment of every religion is found in the regular practice of Transcendental Meditation.”      

        —His Holiness Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (c1917-2008), 1961

“As spiritual development is the basis of all other forms of development, it is necessary that this great science and art of successful living should now be handed on to every interested and concerned person everywhere in the world.”
—Maharishi, 1964

I am among those increasing millions of persons who generally regard themselves as “spiritual but not religious.” I have never self-identified exclusively with any one religious worldview or belief-system, with any one religious tradition or community, not with any one religious institutional structure or organization, never with any sort of judgmental, fear-based worldview, or exclusivist, supremicist dogma & belief-system.

Ironical as it may seem however, in addition to being trained and certified to teach and serve as a guide in a few ancient traditional spiritual lineages which are independent of any religion, I have also been ordained as a priest in more than one of the world’s religious traditions. But none of this has required or involved any sort of exclusive affiliation or allegiance. I would never wish to have any sort of personal membership in any religious (or spiritual) community, tradition, or organization that expected or required me to adhere to any particular dogmatic mindset or worldview to the exclusion of others that are more accepting and benign.

I certainly support and apply the principle of not mixing-up certain elements of spiritual or religious methodologies which may not work best, if at all, if their effectiveness is interfered with by certain other elements. But the traditional spiritual practice paths and religious systems I personally find interesting enough to engage with internally can be lived and followed concurrently at least by individuals who have sufficient understanding and effective training.

In the modern West, many people assume that one cannot validly self-identify with more than one religion at a time, or perhaps cannot practice more than one spiritual wisdom-teaching tradition at the same time. In my experience, the model most frequently brought up to support such assertions is monogamy: no one, according to this view, can be validly married to more than one spouse at the same time. But, first of all, this analogy is simply non-applicable within several cultural settings in which polygamous and/or polyandrous marriages not only were fully valid and normal, but were also experienced as no impediment to deeply religious devotion and attainment and/or dedicated and advanced spiritual practice and realization.

This is the case within several historical and even some contemporary Hindu, Buddhist, and Taoist cultures, as well as some Sufi &/or Muslim cultures, to which could be added many others—including some Native American and other indigenous cultures around the world, etc. I’m not in any way suggesting that I would prefer to live in a polyandrous or polygamous marriage or community; I’m just making a side point about a flawed analogy.

Second, I feel a much more helpful analogy or model is that of multi-ethnic, multi-racial, multi-cultural, multi-linguistic marriages, families, and personal identities. One can be, and many individuals (and families, and communities) are, validly more than one “thing” at the same time. For instance: both black and white, both Swedish and Indonesian, fluent in both English and Russian languages, etc. To pose an imagined but possible example, one may have a father who is a Missouri Synod Lutheran from Nigeria who speaks Icelandic as well as English, Yoruba and a little Italian, and one may have a Mother who is a half Danish, half Navajo Tibetan Buddhist who speaks Portuguese as well as some English and a little Apache as well as Danish and Diné. If you are born and raised in a family such as this, as someone who is completely conversant and at home with both Lutheranism and Buddhism, loves and identifies with both, you may feel that the one-religion-only model is silly and simply not true. Your self-identity may be both fully Nigerian, fully Danish/Navajo, and at the same time perhaps fully American, or Bulgarian, or something else, depending also on where you grew up, etc. Personally, I feel exactly this way with regard to “religious” self-identity and with regard to my own “braided” (but not confusedly jumbled) path of diverse spiritual practice, understanding, and actualization. I self-identify fully as both this and that, and also at the same time, as this, that, and the other.

I grew up exposed to a variety of religious outlooks, with an understanding that all religions were probably basically sincerely well-intentioned but also potentially or actively subject to severely problematic, perhaps even dangerous, distortions. Fortunately, I was also exposed from childhood to a wide range of profoundly universalist spiritual persons, traditions, views, practices and experiences.

From childhood, I have been deeply dedicated to daily meditative spiritual practice for the sake of (a): the tremendous enjoyment and fulfillment entailed in the exploration and stabilization of the experience of profound inner dimensions intrinsic to natural higher developmental states of enlightened consciousness. And (b): for the sake of the holistic personal growth such daily practice nourishes in terms of awakening, stabilizing, and applying humane values of universal friendliness, compassion and loving-kindness, happiness, equanimity, broad-mindedness, empathetic insight, forgiveness, generosity, selfless magnanimity, goodwill and fellow-feeling, commitment to doing minimum-to-zero harm and maximum good in all spheres of life, sharing of dynamic inner and outer peace, and the natural unfoldment of full human potential.

I don’t claim to have attained anything like the fullness of each of these universal virtues and character-traits! But to the degree that I may have grown during my life in unfolding and integrating them into my personality and behaviour, I feel it is due entirely to being devoted to daily practice of deeper self-cultivation. Of course you may say it will have been due to grace as well (or entirely). Fair enough! In either view, it would seem that dedication to transcending the gross boundaries of the ego-self, willing conscious openness to the expanded vision of unbounded awareness, or of grace, if you will, will not have been lost.

As a university professor of interdisciplinary humanities, I design and teach a variety of courses in the history and comparative study of world religions (along with other courses in world history and culture, and yet others in world literature). I am intellectually fascinated by much of the history of the world’s religions, the literature, myths, symbols, art, music, dance, dramaturgy, and rituals of various religions and cultures.

I love aspects of the academic study of the theory, philosophy, psychology, anthropology and sociology of world religions.
But I think it should go without saying that I have no common interest in, or concern-free rapport with, any mindset that asserts that there is a particular set of metaphysical or theological “faith-claims” that others must adhere to, must commit some sort of allegiance to, must “believe and have faith in,” in order to be “saved” from eternal damnation and endless suffering after death. Or even–and perhaps much more significantly–just in order to be good and decent, fully acceptable and significantly worthwhile, life-supporting and life-enhancing human persons while living on Earth. Such inherently self-defeating notions strike me as simply infantile and silly and/or dangerously insane. Such views and assertions have nothing to do with what I personally value and find of positive interest about religion and/or spirituality, with what I perceive and conceive as the meaning and purpose of life, and the essential nature and structure of reality.

I can understand—somewhat—something of the sad, unnecessary causes, as well as the all too-obvious negative-to-tragic effects of religious fanaticism, bigotry and triumphalism (the idea that one’s own religion is categorically more “right,” “good,” “valid” “proper” “true” “authoritative” “worthy”, “virtuous,” etc, than other religions which by contrast are assumed to be inherently valueless and worthy of little, if any, respect or positive interest). But I can not agree with or support such attitudes. I can love those who suffer from such narrow limitations to their joy and understanding, I can even sometimes be friends with them to some extent. But I certainly do not wish to be associated with such ideas.

To whatever degree I may personally identify in certain limited ways as “religious,” it is in a universalist and perennialist sense, not in any sectarian or denominationalistic sense, but rather only in the broadest sense of recognizing and respecting the deeply positive transformative values and potential of spiritual life as being inherent among all people in all ages. I simply can not conceive of personally believing in religious or spiritual provincialism. In my view, “triumphalism”—religious exclusivism and supremicism,—is little or no different than racial supremacism and discrimination. I regard it as ignorant prejudice and bigotry.

In religion, as in any other aspect of life, such supremicist attitudes, belief-systems, and life-styles seem inherently life-denying (symptomatic of a destructive “death-wish” psychosis), universally life-damaging to others as well as to oneself. Such outlooks seem inextricably intertwined with mindsets of intolerance, hatred, self-hatred, fear, fear-mongering, insecurity, xenophobia, projections of “othering” & scapegoating, of pain (sadism, masochism), resentment, jealousy & envy, self-abnegation projected as self-aggrandisement (&/or vice versa), of selfish desire for aggressive domination, enforcement of conformity, exploitation of others, violence, imbalance, narrowness, and on and on.

It seems to me likely that any institutionalized racist police state of the past, present, or future will be found to be correlated and complicit with a mind-police state of religious supremacism (or its “secular” equivalents, such as Maoism, Stalinism, or McCarthyism of the past, etc, or perhaps future Trumpism, Cruzism or Carsonism now on the rise). It seems just as likely also that any past, present, or future theocracy that lasts past some possible early honeymoon phase, also ends up as a mind-police state violently enforcing racism, inequality, criminalization of diversity of thought, belief-system, worldview, lifestyle, etc.

Horribly, supremacist religious orthodoxies, of whatever sort, don’t require holding the outward full political powers of a theocratic police state in order to perpetrate and enforce many such gross psychological and social crimes of attempted mental terrorism, at least against their own potentially dissenting followers. Naturally, I find all such aspects of religion (and statism—nationalist/imperialist politics) utterly repugnant. They are the exact opposite of what I find interesting, positive, valuable, and transformative about the practice, experience, actualization, and sharing of any effective, worthwhile form of spirituality (and social community). And of course I couldn’t care less whether the words “religion(s)” and “spirituality” are used more or less interchangeably in a context that recognizes and appreciates these kinds of realities and concerns. I’m happy enough to acknowledge my self-identity as being either/or, both/and “religious” as well as “spiritual,” just as long as there is something approaching a commonality of understanding of what is implied. Either word can be equally useful or problematic.

Throughout my life I have had the good fortune to meet and study with a number of traditional spiritual elders, master-teachers from a variety of ancient wisdom-practice lineages of a meditative/ contemplative and/or mystical/visionary sort. I feel that the practices, experiences, and insights of these and other such ancient wisdom traditions, deriving from and productive of stabilized higher states of enlightened consciousness, form the often forgotten and/or hidden innermost experiential core and original underlying insight sources for the initial & early development of many of the world’s historical religions.

Most of the traditional elders I have studied with have been revered as enlightened living saints within the religious and cultural communities of their birth and upbringing, and sometimes within many other communities as well. However, these are individuals who have dedicated themselves to teaching spiritual practices and insights that are universal in value and application, rather than to attempting to promote affiliation with any particular religious dogma or identity. As I kept stating in several posts to this blog site, the most important of these teachers for my own development is His Holiness Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (c1917-2008). I knew and studied personally with Maharishi from my childhood until his passing in 2008. Ever since first meeting His Holiness and getting to know him, I have admired and cherished him as my life-long primary teacher and personal spiritual guide, as well as my (unofficially) “adopted” honourary parent and best friend.

[The video linked below was recorded during one of the many annual 9-months-long international meditation teacher training courses and intensive meditation practice retreats conducted by Maharishi throughout much of his teaching career. This particular course, attended by over 2,000 persons from dozens of countries and belonging to many religions (and none), was held in Spain in 1971-72. The talk is from one of a series of interviews with a visiting journalist from the Catholic Vatican press (the man seated on left with glasses and silk scarf) whose questions are read by a Swiss translator who was attending the teacher training course.]

 

 

Family tree, holy tree

“To remember the greatness of one’s family traditions and the glory of one’s ancestors, parents, friends and environment, helps to elevate the consciousness and directly encourages one to rise above weakness.”                                          

     —His Holiness Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, The Science of Being and Art of Living [1961]

My family genealogy includes European ancestors from all over the continent, as well as American Indian ancestors from a number of Native Nations, and also some Persians and Chinese!

Among my family’s Christian forebears are over a hundred ancestral grandparents who are canonized saints. Among my co-lateral forebears (ancestral aunts & uncles), there are something like a thousand more canonized Christian saints. The earliest of these canonized ancestors lived at the beginning of that religion in the first century CE (AD); that is, about 63-66 generations ago. The most recent are from the later part of the 17th century (1600s), eleven and twelve generations ago.

From my own spiritual perspective, some of these ancestors seem as though they were quite likely enlightened beings and true sidhas, as would be appreciated within the Vedic tradition and also within Buddhist, Taoist, Sufi, Kabbalist, & other traditions. Some others seem to have been revered as saints primarily or exclusively because of having died as martyrs–not necessary, if at all, by how they lived their lives prior to the time of death.

The vast majority, however, were revered within their own local/regional societies, cultures, communities, or nations, during their own lifetimes, as genuinely holy exemplars, as persons living a truly saintly quality of selfless integrity, an integrated, integral awareness, throughout the thick and thin of daily Earthly human existence. Posthumously, this community-wide reverence by their contemporaries was also officially noted within the institutional church structure through a formal process of canonization.

Others seem most likely, from my personal perspective, to have been officially canonized primarily or exclusively as part of some less than worthy political &/or ecclesiastical agenda. From the Vedic perspective, a person is enlightened, a living saint, in terms of the permanently stabilized holistic quality of their day-to-day unbroken experience of a truly unified consciousness-&-behaviour, regardless of their particular belief-system, or religious or political background or affiliation (if any). Again, in my assessment, it seems that some of my canonized ancestors truly were living saints, and others certainly appear to have been far less spiritually evolved. Others were not even nice!

In any case, I certainly also have among my many other ancestral grandparents & aunts & uncles a large number who were distinctly unenlightened, ungodly—notorious evil livers, wicked people. Murderers, war-mongers and-profiteers, war-criminals, torturers, slave-traders, slave-hunters & slave-holders, robber-barons, horse-rustlers, cheats, liars, land-speculators, even some procrastinators! Whereas, doubtlessly most persons sitting in my family tree were just ordinary folks—neither uncommonly ill-behaved & morally depraved, nor unusually advanced spiritually.

In either case, certainly no positive or negative “ethical or spiritual credit or demerit” accrues to me personally from the thousand-&-more saints perched in my tree! nor from the probably equal or greater number of murderers historically seated there beside them! My maternal & paternal DNA contains no doubt some of the best, some of the worst, and mostly lots of the middle-of-the-road potentials able to be passed along through that heritage. Personal karma is highly personal…though I will allow there is doubtless also some elements of family karma and cultural karma in every person’s heritage and “indebtedness”as well…

Each and every one of us has the inherent capacity to unfold our fullest human potential, to live the wholeness of enlightened freedom and holiness in terms of our own being and cultural context. We are all potential enlightened holy sages, saints-in-training. That is our most basic birthright as human beings– regardless of our innate genetic (and genealogical) heritage, and regardless of our socially-imposed &/or intentionally-acquired cultural, religious, and other heritage and identification.

I don’t assess the saints in my ancestral family tree as granting me any actual spiritual advantage!—but I do find that my acquired knowledge of the personal histories and examples of the best of them certainly helps inspire me to “just go for it!” If some of my own historical grannies and granddads, aunties and uncles, have attained Self-liberation and God-Realization, then surely I can dedicate myself to following their inspiring examples within the context of my own life circumstances and path of conscious evolution.

Among my ancestors are also many non-Christians: Jews and Pagans from Europe and the Middle East, Persian Zoroastrians, and Chinese Taoists. Both my mother and my father are also part American Indian from our various tribal direct forebears. Among each of these non-Christian braided strands within my collective family lines, there are also some historical special individuals noted for their personal holiness & spiritual wisdom—esteemed within their own communities as the cultural equivalent of living saints & enlightened sages, with or without a parallel process of official posthumous canonization.

All of these ancestral exemplars also greatly inspire me. What has been attained in the past can also be cultivated and achieved in the present and future! As for those ancestors of mine who were less edifying, I have sometimes been able to learn from them as well, by negative example;—how not to waste my life in self-defeating heartless self-interest or mindless indifference.

“Wise elders in society have seen people flourishing and being useful to themselves and others by right actions, and they have seen people who, having taken the path of wrong behaviour, exhibit cunning and cruelty, deception and dishonesty. They have seen such people reap the consequences of their own misdoings and their families suffer as a result. They speak with authority, and their advice can help to decide what is right or wrong in certain situations.

“The example of great men could also be a criterion for deciding which actions to take in life. History records the actions, the successes or failures of great men both good and evil at different times in different lands. The paths they took and the consequences they reaped from a particular way of life are another criterion by which to decide right and wrong ways of life.”    

        His Holiness Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, The Science of Being and Art of Living [1961]

As within many other traditions, in classical Christianity each historical saint is assigned his or her own annual feast day or eucharistic holy festival, originally memorialized on the anniversary of their death—viewed as their ultimate “(re-)birth-day” into the liberated spiritual immortality of heavenly existence. There are said to be over a hundred thousand historical canonized Christian saints, so virtually every day of the calendar year is a shared feast day or festival dedicated to many saints. Several of my canonized Christian ancestors have their feast day in the month of December.

I will attempt to note each ancestral saint’s day celebrated in the month of December. There are a few Christian saints, both ancestors within my own family and others, whom I regard with special affection as patrons of sorts. But otherwise, I don’t often ordinarily do much during the year to honour my saintly Christian and non-Christian ancestors, beyond general daily prayers including wishes for blessings from and for all of my ancestors, living family members, spiritual teachers and lineage masters, friends, and all other beings. But as December is the season of some of the highest holy days in the Christian tradition—Advent / Christmastide,–it is also a time of year when I tend to remember & think more about those aspects and persons within my family heritage that have been historically influenced by and influential for Christianity.

I’m already a few days behind in posting any notes to this site about those of my family saints who are celebrated in December, but I will begin with the holy feasts kept from the first day of the month. This list will be far from complete; it is a work in progress! From time to time I continue to discover additional holy grandparents and other forebears levitating, so to speak, here and there in my genealogical family tree!

I realize that all of this is doubtless completely boring to everyone else! –perhaps superseded only by detailed accounts of a stranger’s health history or dream-memories! But besides being a purely personal exercise of my own pleasure in studying the history of religions and cultures, perhaps it will inspire some of my blog-viewers to learn about their own genealogy. In most cases, the saints in my tree are rather ancient, and therefore are shared as ancestors by millions of my contemporaries who happen to share some European genetic heritage. Welcome, cousins!

And though I hope it goes without saying, I shall make it clear right now that I regard the entire world as my family, and all beings (not just humans, living and historical), as my brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers, sons and daughters! I can’t imagine believing that any particular heritage or group of people—whether genealogical/genetic, cultural, religious, ethnic, linguistic, regional, national, or otherwise, is in any overall categorical or isolated significant way “superior” to any others! Particular family trees are simply interesting, that’s all—or not! depending on your personal perspective and predilections. Enjoy!

12/1
Saint Hereswitha (Haeresvid, Hereswyde) (c600-c670) generation 49 aunt
Anglo-Saxon (English) princess & queen; widowed by war, retired as nun to Chelles convent in Gaul (France) and later Paris. There were a large number of saints in the immediate & near generations of her close & extended family. Her sister, the famous Abbess St Hilda of Whitby functioned virtually as a Bishop-Abbot and helped form the direction of the Christian church in Anglo-Saxon England.

12/4
St Osmund of Salisbury (c1050-1099) generation 31 uncle
Norman-English bishop. Son of Count Henry of Seez & Isabella of Normandy, half-sister of William the Conqueror. Canonized 1456, by Pope Callixtus III (first Borgia pope).

12/8 & 12/9
St Budoc of Dol (-c585) generation 48 uncle
Abbot-Bishop of Dol, and later hermit. Son of King Chunaire II (c522-c582) and St Azenor (Senara), Princess of Brest and Queen of Brittany (-635). I am directly descended from St Azenor through her second marriage to King Alain VIII of Brittany.

Dreams – Part 1

Occasionally I have dreams that come true. Do you?

Here, I don’t mean in the sense of attaining some highly desired life goals, and that sort of thing (though that happens also!). I mean in the most simple and direct sense of having an actual dream at night, during sleep, an unexpected dream, containing specific people, places, and/or events unknown to you in “real life,” which then, later, in the waking state,—perhaps during the next day, perhaps much later in time, indeed many years later, as it may be,—identical, previously unknown persons, places, or events first viewed or experienced only in dreams, make an appearance in the “real world” of your waking life. Call it “pre-cognitive dreaming,” call it “dreaming true.”

Does this ever happen to you?

My teacher Maharishi* and I used to discuss this type of dreaming. He explained that having such dreams is a result of having a clear conscience, a “pure heart.” (I make no claim to possessing such an admirable character trait &/or condition to any unusual degree whatsoever!—I think I’m generally a fairly decent chap, & I hope folks mostly find me to be on the menschy side of “nice enough guy”, etc, but “uh saint ah ain’t !”)

Other, more ordinary, kinds of dreaming Maharishi assessed as almost always little more than a melange of more or less random images, feelings, and thoughts, stimulated by the release of stresses occurring as a result of some needed rest having been obtained during an earlier portion of the night’s sleep, or obtained even in the process of falling asleep.

Sometimes, he explained, the imagery and feelings in a dream are related to impressions stored in one’s memory of events or circumstances from the past associated with the overload to one’s system which had resulted in the stress originally having been incurred. But no matter how old the stress being released, dreams most often draw for their content primarily from impressions of events and circumstances merely from the day before the dream or from the past few days, mixed together into more or less seemingly realistic, or perhaps just as often surrealistic, “screenplay” narratives, themes, plots.

On the other hand, if we have a tendency toward episodes of significant precognitive and other intuitive insight during our waking life, we are very likely to have an equal or sometimes greater number of episodes of intuitive/precognitive insights conveyed in the form of dreams. “Sometimes greater” because, in the dream state some portion of our mind may be more open to receiving clear impressions of the future, or of subtle structures in the fabric of reality, etc.

There are other aspects to the nature, function, cause, and value of dreaming, of course. And Maharishi’s further teachings about dreams are precise, detailed, and fairly extensive. But in the larger context of his Vedic science teachings as a whole, dreams hold only a very minor importance. This is in part because, in the ancient Vedic tradition, and its developmental branches such as Yoga, Vedanta, Ayurveda, etc, it is understood that once an individual attains the basic “normal” condition of permanent, fully stabilized optimal neurophysiological functioning, he or she thereafter only rarely if ever experiences ordinary dreaming. If and when dreams do arise in the mind of such a Self-realized person, they do not overshadow that individual’s experience of pure consciousness as the boundless, blissful essential nature of the Self. Established in the experience of one’s true Self as pure consciousness, such a person is never thrown or drawn completely out of this innermost continuum of pure awareness.

My own dreams have always come in one or another of three semi-distinct modes or “styles.” In all three of these modes, I am aware throughout the duration of the dream that it is “only” a dream I am witnessing, a play & display taking place on the surface “mental screen,” of my consciousness, somewhat like a movie being viewed, rather than an “actual” “real life” “event” taking place in the waking state.

Nonetheless, once in a great while, mostly only in childhood, I have sometimes had a “nightmare” or somewhat more often a dream that simply began to turn somewhat unpleasant, perhaps unpleasantly boring. Usually in these circumstances, I will experience something equivalent to someone deciding they no longer wish to continue watching an unpleasant movie or tv show: one turns off the tv set or leaves the theatre. Whenever I’ve found a dream becoming noticeably unpleasant—more often unpleasantly boring than unpleasantly ugly or scary, I will find that just the awareness of this state of affairs is almost always enough to cause the dream to cease “playing”—puff, it’s gone. Or else I would find my awareness leaving the “scene” of the dream, rising to the surface of the mind, whereupon I would suddenly find myself more or less fully awake outwardly as well as still already awake at a deeper more inward level, and now aware also of my body and ordinary physical surroundings, etc.

In the first and least frequent of these three dream modes, it’s as if I am directly present on the movie set of the dream, an actor in the drama, as it were. Inwardly, I am witnessing the scene while also outwardly participating in the activity as it is taking place in the dream, however bizarre or mundane that “movie” scenario is. I’m aware that what I am experiencing is a dream, but I am also as if a theatre or movie actor, playing a role in the performance of this dream drama production. I am aware that the drama, and the character role I am playing in it, have “nothing to do” directly with my actual life  when not performing in this particular role. I am aware that the dream drama is a kind of fiction, played as if for entertainment. I am aware that it is not “real,” even if the character role I am temporarily portraying is that of my own “real life” self, perhaps only partly fictionalized, as if to make the drama more interesting!

Of the three varying dream modes I experience, it is this mode that has the most “immediate” sense of quasi-verisimilitude. Because the action of the dream is directly experienced as going on all around “me,” and I feel like I am “actually” there, acting in the scene, I feel compelled to react to whatever dream “business” and events are going down at the moment—even though I’m very aware it’s just a dream I’m acting in. And, simultaneously, in the back of my mind, as it were, there’s always that part of me that is simply silently, serenely observing my own thoughts and feelings and activities and whatever other dream actions are taking place around me in the dream play.

In the second style or mode, it’s very much as if I am viewing a mental movie, one that in a sense has already been filmed, rather than one being filmed live while I am performing on the set. In this mode, the sense of being simultaneously both in the dream activity & outside it is somewhat more distinct. In this experience, I am as if watching a movie in which I was one of the actors performing in the film and that mental screen image of myself as that actor is now appearing on the screen, actively portraying the character role of “myself,”–again, however fictionalized the dream play’s “action” and story-line may be.

In this type of dream, I will usually have some degree of vested interest in my representative character’s feelings and affairs being portrayed. I am always aware that the primary actor being viewed as if from a distance on my mental screen is “me” in my “dream actor mode,” playing the role of “me” as the main character in yet another dream drama. But at the same time, I’m witnessing his (my) screen actions and emotions and thoughts as if I’m also totally outside the “filmed” action I am viewing as if from somewhat of a remove.

I imagine it is somewhat like an actual actor-&-director who views the daily “rushes” of his filmed portrayal of himself as his own autobiographical character acting in a fictional feature about himself.  But in my case, as the dreamer viewing his own dream scenario, I don’t know in advance what the filmed action narrative/plot-line of the dream I am viewing will include. As the witness viewing this show, I haven’t read the script before hand, and don’t know what will happen.

However, it’s also as if the script is unknown to the primary figure I’m watching on my mental screen, the tiny dream-image actor-me, who is starring in this production in a role portraying a character who also represents “me.” This actor-me is engaged in an improvisational reaction to the events taking place within the dream. From the viewpoint of this superficial aspect of myself, represented by the figure of this actor in the dream, it’s typically as if the drama is more or less real and is actually happening in “real” time. This actor-me is often rather involved in his dream character role and in the various activities that entails. All the while, however, at the deep, innermost level, I am the non-involved observer of this dream action, observing the actor-me moving about engaged in his dream thoughts and feelings and activities.

Fairly often, it occurs to me–either as the actor in the action and/or as the outside observer–that I would like the current dream to take a different direction, perhaps change to a new location setting, or undergo a distinct shift in improved mood, or tone, etc. If this impulse arises the dream almost always instantly follows suit. But sometimes a little while later I will feel that I need to give in yet another prompt or nudge toward what I would like to see occur.  Usually by this point, I start to have a thought along the lines of “Oh, this is a silly waste of time–this is just dream nonsense, anyway. Why am I bothering? What a nuisance!” And the dream will most often then cease altogether, or else it will veer off into a more absorbing direction.

Occasionally the dream-actor aspect of me, although playing a character role in some dream, is not the lead character in that particular “movie.” In these cases, the dream that is being viewed is not particularly about that character (myself), and the screenplay, so to speak, is not a fictionalized autobiographical narrative or even a biography of some other character. It’s some other kind of story being acted out on my mental dream screen. My “actor self” in such cases remains a minor character portrayed in whatever story scenario is being presented. His/my role is not directly important to the story being performed in the dream.

In each of the types of dream experience described above, the “deeper me”, the larger part of my conscious awareness, witnesses the action, observes the small image of the more “superficial” actor/me appearing on the near-distant “dream screen” of my mind. To some extent, the deeper aspect of me who is not directly acting in the drama is seeing and feeling what this actor/character-me sees and feels. I know “his” thoughts as they occur in the dream. They are in a sense “my” thoughts and emotions, yet simultaneously, and at a more significant, “larger,” deeper level, there’s an awareness that I’m not “really” having those thoughts and feelings. Or any other thoughts or emotions, per se. At this deepest level, I’m simply observing the movie as it unfolds. At a less deep level I may or may not be having “my own” thoughts or feelings about what the actor-me is thinking, feeling, and doing, and about what is happening in the dream in general. At a less deep level yet, a more “outward” level, I am simultaneously aware of myself as the actor playing a character-role. The events happening in the dream are more “real” on this level. Yet all along, I know it’s only a dream being experienced on the mental screen of my larger, “non-embodied” self.

–Okay, I think I’ve explained these kinds of dreams about as well as I’m able to do.

In the third style or mode of my dream experience, there is simply a dream “movie” being viewed on my mental screen. As before, in my deeper, more basic mode of experience, I am simply viewing this drama, much as I would view any movie in real life, or even much as I would observe any situation taking place before me in real life. But in this case, there is no actor/character aspect of myself involved in the action whatsoever. It’s as if I am simply watching a move, so to speak, in which other actors/ characters may or may not come and go “on screen”; actions take place, but the story is not being “told” or acted out from the “standpoint” of any one particular  character in the dream.

The experience of viewing this sort of dream “movie” may be just as engaging, or just as boring, as my other kinds of dreams, depending on the action, or mood, or dialogue, or theme, or lighting, etc., but it has no autobiographical feature. It is more like the experience I have in real life of simply viewing an ordinary movie in which I do not play even a small character role as an actor, let alone a starring role.  It is also a little like “people-watching,” perhaps from a seat in a sidewalk café. There may or may not even be any dream people appearing in some of these dreams. In such cases, it’s somewhat like gazing out at a landscape vista from the near remove of a window-seat or while sitting in a meadow, something like that.

(Although in all of my dream experiences, there is no particular “location” to my observational vantage; I observe from a kind of non-directional or omni-directional, non-embodied “borderless spaciousness”,  “upon” which, or “before” which the holographic dream imagery appears, as if on the “surface” of my mind. )

In this third kind of dream, it is as if I am simply watching a mental “movie,” simply observing what is there on the dream screen, noticing what goes on, but there is no figure or character present on the screen who directly represents me. I am not as involved in what is happening on the screen. I may or may not find the scenes intriguing (and sometimes there is plenty of dramatic action and/or complex subplots to some of the narratives), but however enthralling it may be as a drama, it has “almost nothing to do with me, personally,” so to speak. It is simply a dream movie I’m engaged in watching as the sole audience member, so to speak, a seemingly non-embodied awareness observing a scenario appearing on my own mental “screen.”

My level of interest in these dreams in which I neither “star” as an actor-character figure, nor even play any active supporting character-role whatsoever, may range in intensity, but in these cases the dream play-and-display is simply something I observe, very much like a non-actor viewing a film on a theatre screen, tv, or computer screen, or what have you. I am not in the dream, the dream is not about me, I’m not “personally concerned” with or attached to any of the characters appearing in the dream (if indeed there are active characters), but I am observing the dream appearing on my mental screen and I am aware that it is a “only” a dream.

Sometimes these dreams in which I am completely absent from any actor-role within the drama are the most interesting and intriguing, sometimes they are the most boring. Sometimes, though nothing much may happens, they are incredibly soothing and uplifting–more atmospheric mood scene rather than action-drama. The content may be simply a landscape or even something like a painter’s still-life.

Indeed, sometimes the dream imagery content is simply that of a particular dream painting, or series of paintings–not actual historical or contemporary paintings known from real life, just “imaginary” dream paintings by an unknown artist…who I supposed would have to be me.      ….In terms of how beautiful and interesting I find these dream paintings to be, they are light-years ahead of any paintings I’ve created in the waking state, or even of most paintings I’ve ever seen by great artists.

Perhaps I should also say that I’ve always dreamed in color and in full spatial dimensionality. I can’t quite imagine what it must be like to dream “only in black-and-white.” Sometimes, though, there is a surreal sort of mood palette to certain dreams,–the lighting may be as if filtered through a scrim which causes everything to glow in one or more particular tone–as if the sunlight or moonlight was lightly but distinctly purple, for instance.

At this point it has been some years since I have had very many dreams of any sort that I remember upon waking. I assume I dream somewhat more frequently than I happen to recall afterwards, but when dreams have arisen and left conscious memories in recent time, they tend to contain elements of looking both forward and backward in time. There’s a sense in such dreams (not as a  visual component, but a sense) of time being a fabric, somewhat like a silk Chinese scroll painting, that can be rolled up or unrolled back and forth from either end….

And what are some of your dream “styles” like?


*“my teacher Maharishi”: The great Himalayan Vedic sage, His Holiness Maharishi Mahesh Yogi (c1917-2008), founder of the Transcendental Meditation and TM-Sidhi Program. He restored the fullness of the ancient Vedic science of consciousness, making it available to the people of our age.

From my early youth and until his passing in 2008, I studied and trained directly with His Holiness as a personal initiate-student, a teacher-trainee, and later as a certified instructor of his program.

Below: In this four minute interview from 1965, Maharishi explains his method of Transcendental Meditation, which he first began teaching ten years earlier in 1955, following 13 years of study under his own master and another 3 years of silent solitary retreat.  He doesn’t mention dreaming in this video, but it’s a lovely four minute presentation!

 

Russell Brand & TM

This is an excellent interview with Russell Brand on why he learned & practices Transcendental Meditation.
It also thoughtfully touches on an amazing amount of pertinent topics–social justice, addiction & recovery, creativity, spirituality, children and education…
Happy Thanksgiving

 

Happy Thanksgiving!

I had mentioned in an earlier post that I was “planning to write more about Thanksgiving in the next few days,” along with this:

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday!
     There is much to give thanks for, to be grateful for, so enjoy what is      delightful and homey and delicious and convivial & celebratory about life, every day. We all have each other as friends and family, acquaintances and neighbors. As loved ones. As community, as planetary global family members. And that is the best and greatest thing. Dig it. Share it.
And just one day a year, eat til you sleep!

I had in mind to write perhaps a little more on the history of the American holiday, especially in terms of American Indian history and contemporary conditions. Perhaps combined with some foodie-feasty things from a vegetarian lifestyle perspective (I’ve been a vegetarian all my life).

Maybe I’ll get to posting such entries, yet. But for now I’ll simply wish you all again  a most happy holiday.

Here’s wishing you Many Blessings!
Jai Ma Annapurna Devi Ji!
(Salutations to the Goddess of Nature, to Our Dear Mother Earth, Abundant Giver of All Food!)

(the photo is from Thanksgiving last year.)

Has the entire world gone utterly insane?

Has the entire world gone utterly insane?

There is a rumor going around that I am mad and I answer: “Of course I am mad, but my madness is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Other people have Sanity No.1 on Monday, Sanity No.2 on Tuesday, Sanity No.3 on Wednesday and another Sanity next week. Of course, I cannot accept that kind of sanity.”

—Murshid Samuel “Sufi Sam” Lewis (1896-1971)           letter, December 12, 1961, in Sufi Vision and Inititiation: Meetings with Remarkable Beings [1986]

Has the entire world gone utterly insane?

The only rational answer, of course, is: Yes.
There may be a few exceptions—you know, enlightened saints, holy sages, and such. Most very young children. Maybe even a few more or less isolated communities scattered in overlooked pockets around the planet, tucked away quietly here and there. But otherwise, everyone sure seems utter full-blown batshit crazy looked at from the belfrey rafter I hang from.
How does it all look from where you hang?

Forget, for a moment, the Christian jihadis like Cruz and Carson & Huckabee and all the many other angry clowns & klanners packed into the GOP “Insane in the Membrane Campaign” bus, Keystone Cops car. Forget, for a moment, the Islamist jihadi Daesh battalions of death, the drone-striking Global Death Squad Oil Drug Cartel that is the Pentagon & White House. The henchmen of the weapons manufacturing profiteers, Big Pharm, & Fuel corporations raking in trillions while they destroy life everywhere on the planet. Forget, for a moment, “loner” students turning assault guns on their teachers and fellow classmates all across America. Forget, for a moment, racist cops shooting unarmed black youth in the back eight times as the youth run away or are kicked handcuffed to the pavement. If you haven’t figured out yet that “It’s Paris Everywhere Now” everyday, day after day, then you just haven’t been paying attention. Bombs aren’t going to stop any time soon. More bombs hurled back in any other direction aren’t gonna help those of us who are left. Not for long. We have to figure out something else, something deeper and more effective. Everyone knows this.

We’re all attending a concert or sitting in a sidewalk café in Paris, or sitting in a classroom anywhere across America. We’re all attending a wedding in Beirut, a peace rally in Ankara, sitting down to family dinner in Kabul. We’re all running the Boston Marathon, and the backpack-bombs are set and ticking to go off. We are all on a plane flying home somewhere. We’re all in this together.
Buddha described it as like being inside a burning house and your hair is already on fire. That was over 2,500 years ago.
Of course it all drives one insane, the crazy scarey way things are today. The way they’ve been for a very long time now. Are things getting worse? Doesn’t matter, really—they’re bad enough already.
Way past bad enough right now.
All we have is right now and right now is crazy deadly.
But no one gets out of here alive in the long run, anyway.
And we all know this. We’ve known it all along. This is what Buddha meant by the fire.
And yet, even though we all know this, still, when you realize that you may be blown up this very minute, or be gunned down later this afternoon, it can drive you crazy.
It can block your ability to move forward in this otherwise beautiful world.
It can make it difficult to know how to start your day.

I long ago found my own ways to deal with this. As we all must. I would try to pass these along, but each of us must find our own path, of course. Still, some possibly helpful little hints can be shared from time to time.
Naturally, it simply all has to do with love. Love more, and things will be better. Less crazy. More love, less fear and violence.

One form of love is music. Of course. More music.
I love this piece of music (posted below) and often find it helpful.
Give it a listen. You may enjoy it.

And I certainly had, and have, lots and lots of help finding my own way.

Sufi Sam, quoted above, was a classical musician, and the founder of the Universal Dances of Peace, among other things. He was an American Jew, the heir to the Levis-Strauss blue-jean fortune. He did not accept the inheritance, instead preferring to make his living as a gardener in the San Francisco Bay area, and later as a world-renowned permaculturalist. As a young man he became a personal disciple of the Indian classical musician and teacher of universal Sufism, Hazrat Inayat Khan (1882-1927).

Sam traveled the world for decades presenting his vision of furthering world peace and ending world hunger through organic permaculture farming and gardening.
He also met and studied with traditional spiritual elders and living saints from many of the world’s religious traditions, and eventually he became  traditionally-trained-&-recognized as both a Sufi murshid (master-teacher) and a Zen Buddhist roshi (master-teacher).

He may also have been indeed a bit mad. But only in a most loving and blissful way.

Murshid Sam was a personal friend and mentor, though my principal spiritual teachers were others—some of whom Sam and I shared.

He was a most lovable, and also at times irascible, madman, a goofy sufi.

One of Sam's travel journal entries:
When you meet real saints, real qawwalis, real sages and real Sufis and feel that marvelous spirit, you can ask for no more. But neither can you devote yourself to less....
July 24, 1956
Dacca, East Pakistan [now Bangladesh]


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uziSB-N5iFA

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uziSB-N5iFA

]

Massive anti-Muslim backlash

(photo: armed US right-wing vigilante citizen militia members terrorize US Muslims attempting to worship at their local mosque)

I just got this email:

From: Ben Wikler, MoveOn.org Civic Action <moveon-help@list.moveon.org>

Today at 1:34 PM 47

House Democrats have joined Republicans to pass a shameful anti-refugee bill, with a veto-proof majority.

47 House Democrats have joined Republicans to pass a shameful anti-refugee bill, with a veto-proof majority.1

Our last chance to stop this xenophobic anti-refugee backlash is in the Senate.2
Will you chip in $3?
Click here to chip in: Stand with refugees—and against anti-Muslim bigotry.

For more details on our emergency campaign, see Anna’s message below:

Dear MoveOn member,
The Paris attacks have sparked a massive wave of anti-Muslim bigotry.
We need to speak out against this racist, xenophobic backlash. Now.
At least 29 Republican governors—and even one Democrat—say they want to close their states to Syrian refugees.3 Indiana’s governor has already turned a family away.4 Presidential candidates are talking about shutting down mosques and discriminating against refugees on the basis of religion.5,6 A state senator in Tennessee is proposing rounding up all Syrian refugees in the state.7
And now Republicans in Congress are threatening to cut off funding for refugee assistance while 4 million Syrian refugees are begging for help.8
This is immoral. And stupid. Because shutting out refugees doesn’t make America safer—just the opposite: it fuels hatred at home, and resentment and extremism around the world. Will you chip in $3 to help fight back?
Click here to chip in and help fight the GOP’s racist, anti-refugee backlash.
The first thing we need to do is hold governors accountable for attacking refugees. We’ve launched rapid-response campaigns in all 30 states, calling their governors out for this xenophobic pandering. More than 115,000 MoveOn members have already joined the call to stop attacking refugee families.
Second, we need to block Republicans in Congress from defunding refugee resettlement. This is the most cynical, immoral act you could imagine in response to a refugee crisis of this scale, and we’re flooding Capitol Hill with phone calls and petition signatures to stop it.
Finally, we need to show the world that the hate mongers and racists don’t speak for us. So we’re teaming up with allies on college campuses and mobilizing MoveOn members on social media to show the world that we are a welcoming nation—and to push back against anti-refugee and anti-Muslim vitriol.
But this xenophobic anti-refugee backlash has intensified fast, which is why we need to raise at least $150,000 to enable all this work. Will you chip in $3?
Yes, I’ll chip in to stand with refugees and against anti-Muslim bigotry.
This is an incredibly dangerous moment for America. If we don’t push back against this outpouring of hate, it could spiral out of control into a wave of hate crimes like what we saw after 9/11—or get us stuck in another foolish war.
Republicans are telling people to be afraid of refugees. But over the past 40 years, America has taken in 2.5 million refugees.9 Not one terrorist attack has been committed in America by a refugee.10 Even the reports that the Paris attackers included a Syrian refugee are likely false.11
The truth is, attacking refugees makes America LESS safe by feeding extremist propaganda as a massively chaotic situation spills from Syria into Europe.
But the American people are scared. And they’re being misled by shameless politicians pandering to hate. That’s why we need to fight back now, before this gets out of control.
Will you chip in $3 to help stand against the anti-refugee backlash?
Click here to chip in and join the fight.
Thanks for all you do.
–Anna, Brian, Corinne, Milan, and the rest of the team
Sources:
1. “House OKs GOP Bill To Curb Syrian Refugees With Veto-Proof Majority,” TPM, November 19, 2015
http://www.moveon.org/r/?r=308281&id=135557-31447431-jrr6Upx&t=1
2. “Senate Dems Try To Shift Focus From Syrian Refugees By Backing Visa Waiver Limits,” HuffPost Politics, November 19, 2015
http://www.moveon.org/r/?r=308278&id=135557-31447431-jrr6Upx&t=2
3. “30 Governors Call For Halt To U.S. Resettlement Of Syrian Refugees,” National Public Radio, November 17, 2015
http://www.moveon.org/r/?r=308235&id=135557-31447431-jrr6Upx&t=3
4. “Syrian refugee family bound for Indiana forced to relocate after Gov. Pence’s ban on refugees entering state,” November 18, 2015
http://www.moveon.org/r/?r=308270&id=135557-31447431-jrr6Upx&t=4
5. “A Complete Guide To How The GOP Candidates Reacted To Syrian Refugees After The Paris Attacks,” ThinkProgress, November 17, 2015
http://www.moveon.org/r/?r=308254&id=135557-31447431-jrr6Upx&t=5
6. “Donald Trump: ‘Strongly consider’ shutting mosques,” CNN, November 16, 2015
http://www.moveon.org/r/?r=308255&id=135557-31447431-jrr6Upx&t=6
7. “Tennessee GOP leader: Round up Syrian refugees, remove from state,” The Tennessean, November 17, 2015
http://www.moveon.org/r/?r=308256&id=135557-31447431-jrr6Upx&t=7
8. “Syrian refugee fight sparks government shutdown threat,” Politico, November 16, 2015
http://www.moveon.org/r/?r=308257&id=135557-31447431-jrr6Upx&t=8
9. “Refugee Resettlement in Metropolitan America,” Migration Policy Institute, March 1, 2007
http://www.moveon.org/r/?r=308258&id=135557-31447431-jrr6Upx&t=9
10. “We risk more in not accepting Syrian refugees into the US,” The Hill, October 29, 2015
http://www.moveon.org/r/?r=308259&id=135557-31447431-jrr6Upx&t=10
11. “Here’s Why You Should Stop Worrying About Terrorists Entering The U.S. As Refugees,” The Huffington Post, November 18, 2015
http://www.moveon.org/r/?r=308260&id=135557-31447431-jrr6Upx&t=11
Want to support our work? MoveOn member contributions have powered our work together for more than 17 years. Hundreds of thousands of people chip in each year—which is why we’re able to be fiercely independent, answering to no individual, corporation, politician, or political party. You can become a monthly donor by clicking here, or chip in a one-time gift here.
This email was sent on November 23, 2015.

To Feast Again

 

Autumn is free-falling into winter already, and the Thanksgiving holiday is upon us again.

I celebrate this festive holiday pretty much like any other American. Well, pretty much like any other vegetarian American. Who also hates football. And refuses to own a TV. And who also is partly Indian (Native American) by direct family ancestry, and who was a supporter of the Indian activist occupation and reclamation of Alcatraz Island as a Gateway of Welcome to the entirety of the Free American Indian Homeland (ie Turtle Island, ie all of North America). That occupation by over 400 “Free Indians of All Tribes” lasted for 18 months, from just before Thanksgiving, November 1969, to June 1971, until U.S. Federal Marshals came with automatic rifles loaded and leveled and forcibly removed the peaceful, unarmed Indian occupants from their reclaimed island land.

My celebration of the holiday, since 1969, is always in this context. The conventional celebration of visiting and feasting is preceded by a day of more somber observance in recognition of the “forgotten” side, the hidden side, the tragic dark side, of the history of the holiday. Every since the Alcatraz occupy movement proclaiming the island as the Land of the Free Indians of All Tribes, and the Home of the Braves and their families, I have continued, along with millions of other Indians, fellow Métis (“Mixed Bloods”), and supporters, to annually observe what has been called by some “Unthanksgiving Day”—also known as National Day of Mourning and Reconciliation.

This is done with fasting, silent meditation, prayers, and more than a few tears, on the day before Thanksgiving (some years beginning as early as Monday or Tuesday), and ending at sunrise on Thursday, followed by the more or less conventional celebrations of visiting and feasting with family and friends, neighbors and strangers, as generally kept throughout the whole of our American society.

As we all know, Thanksgiving Day is said to be founded in large part as a memorial for the autumn day in 1621 when 91 members of the native Wampanoag tribe of Massachusetts and the 50 or so surviving English Pilgrim immigrants who had entered the nation the previous year joined together to enjoy a harvest feast which lasted three days. In addition to my Indian ancestors of several Native American nations, there are among my many other ancestral grandparents four who arrived in America in 1620 as immigrants from England on the Mayflower‘s first voyage. So my family has celebrated Thanksgiving Day right from its beginning 394 years ago.

Horrifically, three years after the Wampanoags had saved the uninvited newly arrived immigrants from all starving to death during the first winter, and two years after having shared their first Thanksgiving Day together, the Pilgrim Christian immigrants from England organized another harvest feast to which they invited their friendly Wampanoag hosts and saviors and many other Indians from several neighboring tribes to join them in celebrating their mutual “eternal friendship.” Shortly after the feasting began, over 200 of the Indian guests suddenly fell dead, having been secretly poisoned by their Christian hosts. The history of America’s Thanksgiving holiday quickly gets even worse and worse after that. (More on this sickening history of systematic genocide and ongoing terrorism later, but for now, let’s celebrate. Aho!

Join me in spirit on Wednesday then, if you wish. Along with millions of other concerned Americans, both Natives and immigrants, I’ll be privately praying and fasting from home as I do every year. Then let’s all remain joined together in spirit from wherever we are on the next day, Thursday, along with millions and millions of more Americans, both Natives and immigrants, when we all shall feast as we do every year. Happy Holidays, all y’all !  AHO!

Last year, I thoroughly enjoyed being taken out to Thanksgiving brunch by two of my lovely lady friends, A.S. and C.V.  We feasted at a groovy, intimately tiny, family-owned-&-operated natural veggie eatery. We stayed through the top of the morning til the place closed up at 1 pm. Then we took a nice long, leisurely postprandial walk-‘n’-talk together, three abreast, arms around each others’ waists. It was a touchingly intimate holiday visit. Unfortunately, I’ve only been able to visit with each of these two dear women once or twice since then.

At one point on our walk, I was overcome with my fondness for A & made some declaration of the affection I felt. She stopped walking, turned her face up to mine and kissed me, but didn’t say anything afterward. This little exchange prompted C to declare with some exasperation, “For heaven’s sake, you two, why don’t you ever finally just get it together? I can’t understand you guys!” Neither of us knew quite what to say. Fond as we both are of one another, somehow things just never seemed to solidify that way. Mysteries in life abound.

Hard to believe an entire year has gone by already since then.

A. and C. in some ways are each others best friend. CV is an intensely earnest, loyal, spiritually sensitive and questing soul. She has a gift for healing and always sees only the good in others. A lovely & tenderly-strong woman and devoted single mom. We became friends through our mutual friendships with A.

Sweet A. is quite lovely & loving, strongly sensitive & perceptive. Earlier this year, she moved back home to NY to care for her parents. I miss her.  A. was the first new friend I made after my dear beloved sweetheart passed on. A & I first met literally only 3 or 4 days later. My Beloved had said toward the very end, “Go out right away and mingle. Meet new people. Make new friends. Don’t be stuck. Don’t hold back. Embrace the future. Be open to love.” I will always have a very soft spot in my heart for A. She is such a fascinating & kind person. An original, with an always-curious intellect, a naturally sensuous verve, and is a creative and accomplished cook. She’s also an insightful and magical painter (MFA studio arts), world-traveled photographer, and a former modern-&-jazz dance trouper, among other good things.

When A & I first began to spent time together in earnest, I was afraid our age difference might be a little too great for us to feel completely comfortable relating closely to one another. And perhaps it has been a factor (?), though it has never seemed to be. Little did I know then that in the next 2-3 years I would go on to also date &/or find myself strongly crushing on a few other women, each one of whom was born later than A. The difference in age has not seemed to matter at all in my experience of spending time with each of these rather remarkable persons and in our sharing  mutual interests & friendships and joy in getting to know and care about one another.

Becoming life-partners might be a different matter, of course, for any two persons.

But I see no reason why it necessarily should be the case even then, perhaps especially then. Stranger things have been known to happen. As real as such a consideration of age difference can be, there are other more important compatibility factors—mutual love, and mutual shared attunement, being on compatible “wave-lengths,” and all that. Other factors than age may be more significant in their impact on, or contribution to a dating friendship, romantic relationship or life-partnership. There are mysterious forces at work in bringing any couple together.

For Thanksgiving Day this year, I have accepted the earliest of a few invitations received to join friends and their families for feasting & celebrating. I’m looking forward to visiting with my friends G & R, a somewhat new-ish couple. G runs his own consulting firm and R has recently started working for the Uni. having given up on a job with The Gummit. Her main calling, though, is writing romance novels with a metaphysical twist. G & R met online last year. One of the amazing online dating/ matchmaking success stories. They really have made a good match, quickly-&-easily fitting together into a dynamic dyadic duo.

Last Christmas/Hannukah, R invited me to join them and her folks and kids for holiday dinner. Her parents were living in the coach-house, her three teens were half out of the house & on into their early college forays. But this year G & R are living alone together in a new place all their own. R’s kids are close-by but not too close, her folks close-by but not too close. R & G make it all seem simple and grown up. Impressive. Moving right along, they recently visited China and are already shopping for a vacationary second home in the mountains. They are playful, always gently joking & teasing a lot. Fun friends to have.

We share a love of books, an interest in history, philosophy, politics, and spiritual considerations—all with enough of a light touch, an overlap, and a difference of taste and views to keep things interesting. And an enjoyment of good food and good company. It also helps that R is from the old school of mom-mentored Jewish American home-cooking, resulting in a ton of holiday food to share, especially desserts. So off to R & G’s new place it is, next Thursday.

I’m planning to write more about Thanksgiving in the next few days, but for now,

                  Have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday!

There is much to give thanks for, to be grateful for, so enjoy what is delightful and homey and delicious and convivial & celebratory about life, every day. We all have each other as friends and family, acquaintances and neighbors. As loved ones. As community, as planetary global family members. And that is the best and greatest thing. Dig it. Share it.

And just one day a year, eat til you sleep!

And here in the links below is a brief video and article about the Free Indian Land of All Tribes that was Alcatraz, and an article on the history of Thanksgiving.                                                                 Learn thou (edge-you-muh-cate yo’ bad-ass self) and thrive!  Emaho!

A little history of Alcatraz All Tribal Free Indian Home Land:

http://www.historyisaweapon.com/defcon1/alcatrazproclamationandletter.html

A little history of Thanksgiving Holiday:

http://www.rense.com/general45/thanks.htm

 

 

Viggo, man

from  Thursday Nov 5
Late this afternoon I watched/listened to the wonderful live on-air studio interview from Democracy Now!—The War & Peace Report, conducted by journalist hosts Amy Goodman & Nermeen Shaikh with the amazing Viggo Mortensen. Just lovely, heartening stuff. Serendipitously, I’d just had a conversation earlier in the afternoon covering some of the same topical details with a musician/theatre acquaintance I hadn’t seen for several months. We’d talked of artists and art as activists and activism, what some have coined “artivists” and “artivism”. And then almost immediately afterward I went online and there was the interview with Viggo addressing some of the same topics.

Lovely Viggo!—what can’t that guy do? Accomplished actor, musician, poet, painter, essayist, photographer, publisher/editor/anthologist, multilinguist (English, Danish, Spanish, French, Italian, Norwegian, Swedish, and Catalan!). And activist. After college and before turning to acting, Viggo worked driving trucks across Europe & selling flowers on the street. Became friends with the late Howard Zinn. Was married to Exene Cervenka! (who seems recently to have gone somewhat loony, poor thing). For past several years now, Viggo has been partnered with a Spanish actress & has adopted her kids. He writes about his respect for, and personal bonding with horses, and has purchased some of the horses who starred with him in films so he can continue his daily bond with them. He also bought another horse-star to give as a companion to the stunt-woman who had ridden & bonded with the horse in one of his films. That makes me so happy. Such a generous, thoughtful thing to do.