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Primitive Spirituality Deux

The sacred is not a discipline.
It is a dimension beyond the ordinary and beyond the mechanics of analysis.
For those who come to sacred ground, it is a kind of mystical experience.
A deep and singular encounter.
~N. Scott Momaday

The chanting, soothing us weary travelers, wound around the pillars before washing over us, cleansing our souls. The slow-burning temple incense added to the ambiance stimulating our olfactory memories in the many thousand-year-old temple sprouting tall in the heart of Madurai honoring goddess Meenakshi, consort of Lord Shiva. Instinctively, we knew we were sitting on holy ground. On 25 December 2019, I stepped foot in a Catholic Church for something other than a wedding or a funeral. It was Christmas Day in Mexico City and we attended Mass with the local faithful at the grandiloquent Catedral Metropolitana, the largest cathedral in Latin America. We bathed in the spirituality on the most celebrated day in the Catholic Canon leaving with souls invigorated. The Catedral, situated atop the Aztec sacred precinct near the Templo Mayor, was built, mostly, with building materials stolen from the Aztecan Templo Mayor ruin. Whether the deeply mystical aura wafted from the Catedral or the sacred Aztecan ground below, I cannot say.

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Primitive Spirituality

I firmly believe in blood memory. A capacity for
remembering things beyond our corporeal existence.
~N. Scott Momaday

We label animals primitive that rely on instinct for survival. The more instinct plays a role in their lives, the more primitive they are classified. It is a self-serving definition little different than the laws passed making it difficult for minorities to vote in elections. The obvious implication the most advanced beings rely on abstract reasoning to navigate life. Taken to the next level, we get the mythical Vulcan 🖖 race who eschew all emotional entanglements to exist in a state of pure logic.

Human emotions are sourced from the limbic system, a paleomammalian (old mammalian) cortex that is closely associated with the lizard brain. This is why triggered emotions feel like a raging river of love or hate or fear or other emotions over which we initially experience outside the bounds of reason as a river raging over which we have absolutely no control. And that’s because this instinctual system living in blood memory is crucial to our survival. If we had to logically cogitate on fight or flight while danger was barreling down on us, we would, more often than not, fail to react before calamity snuffed us into a nether level of Dante’s Hell.

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When do We Arrive at Destination Happiness?

There is no path to happiness.
Happiness is the path.
~Siddhartha Gautama (aka the 7th Buddha)

A proof for happiness being the path rather than the destination lies in the phenomena of nostalgia, believing the past is superior to the present. At that time in the past, we likely imagined a better tomorrow while going through the motions of today and glad to have escaped the drudgery of yesterday unscathed. When we discovered joy was wanting on the morrow’s arrival we became flummoxed wondering where we turned wrong or, maybe, thinking the future happy longed for is probably around the next bend, the upcoming year, the next life season.

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Praying into the Universe

Writing is a lot like prayer in that
you’re in conversation with the Universe.
~Daniel José Older

Some days my written words flow as free and easy as Hawk soaring on thermal ideas rising from an energized soul. Other days I must drill a thumb-sized hole in my skull and bank the opposite side like a ketchup bottle hoping an idea will dislodge and spill on the page with some semblance of coherent form. If that doesn’t work, I stick my pinkie finger in the hole and dig around until I find a morsel which I then smoosh onto the page and scrape a pen through the muck hoping to string a few words into an idea to doodle into a prayer worthy of my blog.

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Seeing The Sacred

See first, think later, then test. But always see first.
Otherwise, you will only see what you are expecting.
~Douglas Adams

We typically see what we expect to see. It is this very reason the delusional tRumpers see a messiah where most of the world sees an antichrist. If we don’t see what we expect, we are likely to be disappointed the seeing did not meet our anticipations. I have this problem when returning to places I loved only to discover the return was not as great as I remembered. And I become unsure if it was ever great to begin with or if my imagination created a rainbow unicorn fantasy filtering my memories through rose-colored glasses.

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The Litmus Test of Religion

The whole purpose of religion is to facilitate love and compassion,
patience, tolerance, humility, forgiveness.
~HH Dalai Lama

My litmus for the veracity of religion is to touch a human and see it it the litmus paper is colored love, hate, or indifference. Indifference might as well be hate for they are both violence against the soul of another being. A few, always isolated individuals, transform the paper into the deepest red love. Most char the paper black with hate. The preponderance of hate, outnumbering the love by a million to one is how I know their religion is fake and their God an illusion or, more likely, the face in the morning mirror.

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Will Time Wait For Me?

Of all the featherless beasts, only man, chained by his self-imposed slavery to the clock, denies the elemental fire and proceeds as best he can about his business, suffering quietly, martyr to his madness.
~Edward Abbey

Sometimes, I fear all the diligent investment in my future will go for naught and the dreams I’ve hung happiness on are worse than illusions, a baited hook with my destination a slimy table and a shiny fillet knife sharp as a surgeon’s scalpel slicing my soft belly from navel to larynx. The nearer I get to pensioner age, the greater the fear scratches at my underbelly. I stand at T-6 years until I can hang up my computer and walk comfortably into an adventurous future freed from the tyranny of time and the fascism of schedules. I’ve been waiting on time for so long, I hope time will someday return the favor and wait for me.

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What is in A Name?

The Kiona give everyone a sacred name,
a secret spirit name to use in
the world beyond this one.
~Lily King

When reading about aboriginal cultures, original peoples still connected by an umbilicus to natural prehistory, I wistfully embed myself into the equation under the guise of an ancient time with close connection to all things nature based being a better, nay, a superior mode of existence. (It’s is the same old sorry ass thinking propagated by all generations that yesteryear was the pinnacle of being and today a de-evolution into decay. It is all bullshit nostalgia our brains can’t seem to escape.)

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Instinctively, he had already trained himself in the habit
of pretending he was someone, so it would not
be discovered that he was no one.

~Jorge Luis Burges

I oft wonder how close to reality are the blogs I labor over with love. By reality, I mean are they an accurate portrayal of who I am or are they a portrayal of the person I wish I was or are they a portrayal I wish to project to impress people or are they a portrayal to keep people at bay or are they a portrayal amalgamation of all the above?

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The Fall of Man

I believe in God, only I spell it Nature.
~Frank Lloyd Wright

If I had to identify the Fall of Man from grace, it would definitely not be the moment Eve shared the apple with Adam, an act of love for which she is forever condemned by those blaming then subjugating her but not Adam, who willingly accepted her offering thus is equally guilty under the law. No, I would look deeper into history, beyond prehistory, back to the cusp of preherstory when the first humans turned eyes skyward in search of the supreme deity thinking the object of reverence should be an imaginary being in the heavens rather than the living being at their feet. It was Goddess Earth that birthed our ancestors from primal muck and nurtured us into thinking, feeling beings capable of the greatest love and the greatest destruction. It was Gaia herself that fed, clothed, and sheltered us. It was, it is Tellus Mater who gives sustenance to all known life.

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Writing with Light

If you could say it with words,
there would be no reason to paint.
~Edward Hopper

I have, for as long as I can remember, been enthralled with visual imagery. It is scenic gorgeousness repeatedly drawing me to the outdoors, especially the Four Corners area, where I can sit for hours and marvel at the beauty of this blessed Earth. It is artisanal exquisiteness that draws me to the majestic temples of India, the Blue Mosque in Turkey, Il Duomo in Milano. And then there is the female form which has titillated me for as long as I can remember. Naturally, I would like to capture this magnificence to feast upon during the doldrums when I’m trapped inside especially during the long, bleak, northern Winter.

However, I was not gifted any talent for drawing so tended to suppress the desire to sketch the wonders. Frustrated, I tended to lash out at those with genes attuned to drawing. Sorry world if you suffered my misplaced wrath. How then to feed my need for creating visuals? It started with capturing them. I shot into photography during those days of yore when Kodak film was king and upstart Fuji Film was just starting to eat the arrogant king’s kibbles and bits. Ironically, Kodak designed the first digital camera then sold the rights because they believed film, specifically theirs, was an irreplaceable medium.

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I Am The Desert

Desert space is space that is felt, completely and with certainty.
Out here, I feel like a small dot and a big voyeur…
The sky and open desert are so enormous around us,

who would know if we were out here anywhere?
~Ellen Meloy

After countless hours reading about deserts, hiking in deserts, photographing deserts, mountain biking deserts, contemplating deserts, planning my next excursion into the desert, I have come to the conclusion my strong affinity for those lands of little rain is because they are an extension of me, my ideas, my character, my personality. A parallel to my existence. I am drawn to deserts because they reflect my personality, (or lack thereof), mimic my soul, parallel my turmoil. Fundamentally, I am THE Desert. Not ‘a’ desert for that implies I am similar to deserts. THE desert because we are one and the same, identical, twins. There is no distinction between who I am at my core and what the desert is at her core…prickly, aloof, an open book populated by invisible words with a few becoming translucent but only under long study ensuring understanding remains obfuscated. I would almost go so far as to say we are symbiotic. Not quite. I can’t live without the desert but she has no trouble thriving independent of me. Actually, it would be closer to symbiotic commensalism wherein I benefit but the desert is neither helped nor harmed by my existence. I admire her indifference.

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Alone in the Elephant Graveyard

Death is the last intimate thing we do.
~Laurell K. Hamilton

In this Covid embattled era, the news is bloated with stories of people dying…the famous, the not so famous…many of them accompanied only by Nurses. Being on the cusp of 60, a heart buoyed by four stents, and within smelling distance of retirement has me keenly aware of the dead, the dying, the way one suddenly discovers the roads are chock full of the car model just purchased. There are not more of the same make and model. They were always flooding the roads. Attention shifted internally making us aware of the kindred spirits. I bought a small pickup truck in 1991 and quickly realized they were everywhere. Now that I’m contemplating buying a full-size pickup for life in the West, now postponed, those vehicles seem to be ubiquitous. Pickups have been the number one selling vehicle for decades are not new to the roads.

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Never Enough

Nora had always had a problem accepting herself.
From as far back as she could remember,
she’d had the sense that she wasn’t enough.

~Matt Haig

Lack of personal acceptance started, for me, in grammar school with the teachers whining to my mother that I was not meeting my potential, that I was underachieving and could do a lot better. That the grades I was earning were not a reflection of my true capabilities. That I just needed to apply myself and the David flower would bloom with the magic of a morning rose dripping with sweet dew on unblemished, velveteen petals.

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Shattered Dreams

Go West, young man, go West.
There is health in the country and
room away from crowds of idlers and imbeciles.
~Horace Greeley

For the past 36 years, I have dreamed of moving West, Southwest to be more precise. Not only to escape the flatlands and miserable weather but to exist in wide-open skyscapes where one can walk out the back door to see mountains, hike in labyrinthian cañons, mountain bike over challenging terrain, and explore scenic deserts waiting to explode into glory with the first drops of the relatively rare rainstorms. I was finally on the cusp of uprooting and setting new roots in Arizona only to be thwarted by the bureaucracy of an HR department unwilling to accept the recommendation of a person high in the management food chain. If the company can’t trust a company leader one must wonder at the internal machinations that would appoint the leader. I have confidence in him and his decision-making the company seems to lack. The carrot, never closer, vanished just as I was about to chomp down and chew with a vengeance.

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No Faith Left To Lose

You can kill ten of my men for every one I kill of yours.
But even at those odds, you will lose and I will win.
~Ho Chi Minh, 1946

Every time I read or watch anything related to the Vietnam war, I get either agitated or cry, frequently both (and I find myself compelled to blog). Still, I’ve watched the ten-part Ken Burns Vietnam series multiple times along with reading many books authored from both the US and Vietnamese perspectives. Never forget! The agitation goes so deep, my body shakes and sleep becomes near impossible without a sleep aid designed to dull the mind. I think, if I ever saw the Vietnam Memorial in Washington DC, I would collapse under the weight of the many deaths on both sides of the government sponsored atrocity. I was never in Vietnam so I can’t imagine the impact on those hoodwinked by the US government into serving in the Military during that period in history. Someday, I can only hope, those brave enough to volunteer will one day turn their arms against the real enemies pretending to lead our country for the benefit of the people when we all know, even if they entered with honorable intentions, they will leave with pockets stuffed full with blood money. Cynical? Hell Ya! For that, you can thank the repeated lies vomited by politicians throughout US history, a character flaw escalated to high art by the current administration.

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Masterful Manipulation

When it comes to lying, what one must consider
is not the plausibility of the fib but the
greed, fear, and stupidity of the receiver.
~Carlos Ruiz Zafón

I’ve always thought the best way to sell a lie is to wrap it in a veneer of truth or around a grain of easily verifiable reality, that it was the skill of the manipulator irrespective of the recipient. This way, in a heated discussion, pointing to the factoid adds a nagging sense of legitimacy obscuring the ninety percent bullshit…perfume sprayed on a dried turd rendering it palatable in the near term. Just don’t look under the kilt or behind the curtain. Lying by omission is a masterful way of creating an aura of legitimacy around a bald-faced lie. Then, yesterday, I read an interesting article claiming an angry person is more likely to lie and swallow a lie than someone who is mind is marinating in a less volatile emotion. This understanding, coupled with the Zafón quote above, finalized a puzzle that’s been plaguing me for some time. That is, why the serial con artist tRump has been so successful at hoodwinking nearly half the voting population.

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A Thousand Pictures or A Thousand Words?

To paint is to write with light.
~Carlos Ruiz Zafón

My favorite author, the prophet Edward Abbey, asserted the right word is worth a thousand pictures, a play on the adage that a picture is worth a thousand words. Being those words were uttered by the Prophet, I have a hankering to take them as holy speech…er…holy writing. But, I am not one to accept any utterance as gospel even when enshrined in a holy book be it the Popol Vuh, the Christian Bible, or Desert Solitaire, my personal favorite inspirational source.

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Cultural Diversity Spices Life

Cultural diversity is to the human species what biological
diversity is to the genetic wealth of the world.
~Eduardo Galeano

Growing up in a lily-white, Catholic suburb of Chicago, I believed all that was good, all that was necessary to a full life existed within my neighborhood. I believed tuna casserole and CBS (chicken, beef, and spaghetti) were the finest cuisines known to man. I could never imagine leaving my safe enclave where all and only Catholics were bound for heaven. I felt sorry for my few protestant neighbors knowing they were destined to burn for eternity. I also felt sorry for all the peoples born outside the US knowing in my heart of hearts they all wished they had been born in America with a desire so strong they would up and leave their native lands to immigrate to my earthly Eden. I believed the US was the envy of all rational people.

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Do We Really Want Fairness?

Life is never fair, and perhaps it is a good thing for most of us that it is not.
~Oscar Wilde

That’s not fair!” A common refrain hurled at every parent by the urchins we do our best to raise from infants into responsible adults. It is the same phrase adults scream at God for allowing the accursed COVID-19 for killing innocents and Government for doing (or not doing) their best to protect their constituents in these unprecedented times. As the 2020 virus blows into 2021, let’s hope COVID did not make a New Year’s resolution to double up in strength and vow to defeat the vaccines. As I told my kids many a time…life is not fair. You better get used to dealing with it or your life will be increasingly frustrating.

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