The Bliss of Honest Effort

Like everybody else, I’ve been watching Prince videos this week. So much beauty in his work and so many amazing collaborations. Sheila E. and the Purple One performing “A Love Bizarre,” (wittily tiled after John Coltrane’s “A Love Supreme)” blew me away. She was his Ginger Rodgers, singing, dancing, and co-owning the stage. I’d say like Ginger she did it all, except backwards in heels, but they were both in heels. They were both dedicated and committed to serving the audience. They gave full-tilt honest effort and in so doing, transported themselves into a transcendent state of joy clearly visible on their faces.

One clip I saw bugged me though, because it demonstrated a state of affairs I have noticed. When you get to be an old fart like me, you begin to see the world you live in with some of the same concern for its well-being as you do your own family. And you want the best for your family.

We have become too lazy, self-absorbed, and expectant of being spoon-fed, rather than doing our homework. I would like to see a return in our culture of consideration and work ethic. The expectation that we make an effort and care enough to really do our best… and that as we do we recognize “the other.”

How does a journalist assigned to interview Prince’s near and dear at Paisley Park,  not know who Larry Graham is… and ask him to spell his name?

Same deal with the person who posted the clip. How does the headline call him a “bandmate”? He was more than a bandmate. He was a musical collaborator, very close friend, and strong spiritual influence on Prince. Larry Graham is an iconic funk star in his own right. Bassist for Sly & The Family Stone, creator of a unique style of playing, leader of Graham Central Station, and vocalist as well as bass player.

We have become a culture of people who expect awards for just showing up, as if doing our best is an unreasonable expectation or even an imposition, rather than a privilege and a source of pride and joy. We can do better. Let’s do better. There is so much to do and that’s not all. We owe it to ourselves to let go of our resentment of and resistance to life. Life is always calling us to service and that’s where the bliss is!

Smiling and the Matrix

“The Matrix is a system, Peewee. That system is our enemy. But when you’re inside, you look around, what do you see? Mopers, worriers, complainers, and the chronically indignant. The very minds of the people we are trying to save. But until we do, these people are still a part of that system and that makes them our enemy. You have to understand, most of these people are not ready to be unplugged. And many of them are so inert, so hopelessly dependent on the system that they will fight to protect it. But we have a secret weapon, Peewee: the smile. It releases dopamine, endorphins, and serotonin. Neurotransmitters that can help any cowboy or cowgirl feel dingdang good.”

Cowboy Curtis sings a song about smiling.

The Book of Sneakers 4:25

My friend, Carol posts amusing photos on her Facebook page, inviting captions and I love to play that game while I drink my morning mug. This morning, I saw one that I found strangely moving. Several people lines both sides of a sidewalk on city street, creating a kind of experiential portal though which to walk. They were dressed in jeans and there was a sort of grungy informality to the picture. Eagle masks fully covered their heads. The image brought to mind myths of gods taking animal form, Biblical references to angelic appearances, and the wonderful song penned by Eric Bazilian, “What if God Was One of Us?” Since I don’t know who took the photo and can’t ask for permission to post it, I’m not sharing it here, but I am sharing my caption, along with my appreciation for the courage of all who dare to fully commit to life.

“Yea, I saw before me a procession of eagles, each one wearing simple human garb. They stopped before me as angels, blessing my footsteps and clearing a path for me. You do not need to fly, they told me. You, like your brothers and sisters, and all humans before you, have come to this place to put your faith in Love to action. Courage is not for storybook idols. It is for everyday heroes and heroines willing to fully live their lives.” – The Book of Sneakers, 4:25

Happy Easter and Pesach Sameach (Happy Passover)!

art c Kanta Bosniak

art c Kanta Bosniak

art c Kanta Bosniak

art c Kanta Bosniak

This year, Easter falls on Sunday, March 27. Passover begins the evening of Friday, April 22nd and ends the evening of Sunday, April 30th. Wishing my Christian and Jewish Friends blessed and joyous holiday celebrations!

Buddha Brunch Interview with Ned Kelley

I enjoyed my video chat today with “Buddha Brunch” Host, Ned Kelley. I invite you to watch and listen as we talk about the Abundance Triggers and Paradigm Shifting.

What to Do When the F Bomb Flies

Committed relationships need to stay safe and sacred. Most people are as kind and loving deep down as they are on the surface, but all of us have a shadow that can come out when we are stressed. When this occurs, we can choose to prioritize our relationship, hold each other in the light, and help each other grow to our full spiritual and human potential.

This is one of the biggest blessings of sacred friendships and marriage. Both parties keep stepping up their spiritual game, so to speak. They become better and better people, more balanced, more open-hearted, and even more effective contributors to life. When a tone of voice is inadvertently sharp, unconsciously contemptuous, or even just thoughtless and inconsiderate, both parties take the responsibility to, in the safety and sacredness of the relationship, and as ALLIES, address the underlying fear, shame or whatever was really being voiced and heal it.

However there are some men who as they not as they presented themselves in courtship… the husband who feels he has secured his wife, after the vows are formalized or when a pregnancy occurs, the formerly hidden ugly comes out. He figures she’s not going anywhere and she’s “his” now, so he can act as he pleases without consequences.
The worst thing a woman can do when verbal abuse or emotional bullying happens is pretend it didn’t. That sets an awful precedent. The best thing that can happen is that a woman calls him on it, stands her ground, and lets her support system know about it. It’s good for her, good for any children they may have, and good for her husband too, because to enable somebody is NOT doing them any favors.

People can change if they want to and are willing to take the responsibility to throw their selfish egos on the fire and choose love. When you hold them accountable, they either rise to the occasion or they don’t. If you allow bad behavior, it gets worse. And your children grow up thinking this is how men are supposed to treat women. If you don’t allow it, you get to stay who you are and be the happy and strong person that you were meant to be. To be able to stand your ground, you have to be willing to walk away instead of settle. If he stays on a wrong path, then you have to throw your fear of being alone on the fire, choose confidence in your self and God, and walk your own path.

Bunny & Swan: A Love Story

bunny and swan cropped
Once upon a time there was a blue swan. She loved to fly and swim and she enjoyed poetry and art. One day, she spotted a handsome bunny with a green mohawk gazing at her admiringly from the river bank. When he saw that she noticed him, he wiggled his tail, twitched his whiskers, and took two hops forward. “Beautiful Bird,” he said,” will you come out and play with me? We can frolic and hop in the tall grass and dig a burrow together,” he told her (for he loved to dig in the earth and cuddle up all close and cozy). “I will make you a fine blanket by wrapping my long ears about you and keep you warm.”

“I cannot dig,” she said, “Nor can I stray too far from the water, but I will come and play with you, Bunny Greenhair.” The two became friends and made a nest not in the water or under the earth, but in the tall grass by the water’s edge. She still swam and flew, for she was still a swan, and he still dug and hippity hopped, for he was still a bunny. But they delighted in each other’s company and linked their hearts together. And to this day, if you go down by the pond and sit very quietly by the water, you may see them together with his long ears warming her and his whiskers brushing against her bill.

Big Love and Good Questions

Detail from "Recognition," mixed media by Kanta Bosniak, collection of the artist

Detail from “Recognition,” mixed media by Kanta Bosniak, collection of the artist

On this Valentine’s Day, I am thinking about Big Love. Love as wonder-full (agape) and love as kindness, compassion, affection, and friendship (philia). I was raised as a Christian mystic, in a denomination which referred to all members as Friends. (Society of Fiends/ Quaker) and I loved the words of the Founder of Quakerism, George Fox, “…walk cheerfully over the world, answering that of God in every one.”

When in my college days I began to study Eastern philosophy, I realized that these words might easily be translated as being in a state of “Namaste” consciousness.

Reading a quote by Archibald Macleish, “Religion is at its best when it makes us ask hard questions of ourselves,” got me to thinking about what in Quakerism would be called queries. Questions that may not have pat and immediate answers, but rather prompt soul-searching, moral inventory, and spiritual growth. There are so many wonderful teachings of world religions and sacred texts that can inspire us to ask “hard questions.” The ones that immediately spring to mind are from my Christian upbringing, though they can, of course, also be found in other spiritual traditions.

I don’t actually think of these as “hard questions,” except in the sense sense that they they challenge our ego, because they ask us to notice cognitive disconnects and surrender to a higher path. To the heart, this type of query is richly rewarding. When we go into a place of openness and stillness, insights emerge and paradigms shift.

“Ask and is given.”
Am I living in trust?
“As you have believed, so it is done.”
Am I thinking thoughts that are in line with my highest good?”
“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”
Am I grasping and trying to control, or am I extending love that comes from within?
“Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. Love does not demand its own way.”
Am I trying to be righter, cleverer, and more special than others? Do I try to impose my will on others, or do understand and accept that others may think make differently than I do? If I relaxed and allowed myself to feel loved , to love myself, to love, and to lovingly embrace the adventure, how would that change my life?

May we continue to ask good questions and be open to answers that may surprise us. And whatever our path, may we be guided by Big Love, that Love which is beyond human understanding.



Warning Kids About Predators

As shocking as the are the recent news events in our area, it is important for people to know that child predation and predation in general is not isolated. Predators may be monsters, but they look like normal people and, at risk of sounding like a 50′s movie, “They Walk Among Us!”

Predators hide behind a mask of acceptability and resist taking responsibility. They can come from any kind of home. Religious homes are not immune because there are “religious” homes in which the parents abuse their children and very much do **not*** walk the walk of compassion, integrity, and kindness of their faith. Research also tells us that in some cases, there seem to be those who are born without conscience, and who frighten and horrify their own parents with their awful behavior, from early childhood on. And these are good, loving, and well-meaning parents.

Some common characteristics of those who prey on children, women, the sick, aged, and vulnerable are a lack of empathy, a sense of entitlement, a need to control others and actual pleasure at harming them. They make excuses, blame others, and have a complete lack of conscience. Many may seem successful and highly motivated, but if you pay attention, you can hear the empty place and self-loathing randomly pop out. The Virginia Tech student who killed the 13 year old girl had been a high school track star. I watched a video of an interview with him during his high school days. In the midst of bragging and more bragging, there was a sentence that spoke of his internal state. “There is no reason,” he said, “that I cannot be as good as other people.” What does that tell you?

May we see and hear clearly and teach our children to do the same. Not everyone is as he or she appears. We must not close our hearts, but also we must use our common sense, sense of self-preservation, pay attention to our intuition, and never assume that the other person is working on our same set of principles. Parents need to teach their kids that trust is earned over time and through observation. Parents also need to demonstrate they can be trusted, so that kids have a point of reference and go forth with both confidence and discernment.

A Christmas Prayer

Do not be dismayed, even in a time of darkness. For the light only appears to be gone when eyes are closed. When kindness awakens in even one person, an energy is unleashed. It is as if the power of a thousand Santa Clauses pours out into the world, unstoppable, determined to delight. Let us create a tsunami of laughter at the dark and send it back to the nothing from which it came.

Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukkah, Sweet Solstice, Peace.