Category Archives: spirituality

Dead Sexy

 

I finished this back in 2009, but it never seemed like the right time to publish it.  A couple of days ago, at the Academy for Spiritual and Consciousness Studies “Aspects of Consciousness” conference, I heard Miles Edward Allen give a presentation on sex in the afterlife (to the extent that we know anything about that).  His attitude is that we need to stop stopping ourselves from talking about sex.  I can’t argue with that.  I guess now it’s time.  Everyone quoted or mentioned here gave consent for me to write about them publicly, so I’ll give myself permission too:

“It happened in the late 1970s. At the time I had the flu and was running a fever. I was in bed for about three days. And one night I just woke up realizing that I was orgasming. My boyfriend was asleep next to me and wasn’t touching me, but I felt like a person was on top of me, like I could feel the weight of a person, even though there was no one there. I thought I had been having a dream about making love, but when I woke up it was continuing and it wasn’t a dream.”

Catherine’s story reminds us that contacts with the unseen worlds can take on a vividly, even disconcertingly, physical quality. It’s not particularly unusual for frankly sexual events to occur, and often they are indefinable and unclear in nature. For example, one woman told me about being slowly kissed all the way down her spine, one vertebra at a time, by someone unknown and invisible. We may not know who we are with, or why.

Catherine’s account also illustrates the slippery way that spirit experiences can intertwine with apparent past-life memories, raising questions, or maybe providing answers, about our own identities:
“I had the sense that it was a man, and that I wasn’t exactly myself. I felt that my name was Frieda. I don’t know if the other person or being had a name, I don’t remember. It seemed like we were Nordic somehow; it’s pretty vague. It happened more than once. I thought it was mildly interesting, but I didn’t have any interest in encouraging it. I told my boyfriend about it, and other people that I was living with, but we didn’t really dwell on it.

“We had just moved into a very, very old log cabin out in the country, that had been hand-built a very long time ago. I don’t know if that had anything to do with it.

“I was in a mask-making phase from about 1995 through 1997, and one of the masks I made I named Frieda. I’m only now making the connection—I didn’t think about this at the time. I would make a plaster of Paris mask by having a friend lay the strips of gauze on my face, and then I would go into a meditative space and ‘let the mask paint itself,’ so that I never knew what the finished project would be. Sometimes I would glue things on the mask. Each mask was a healing experience, would heal some part of my life or some episode; sometimes I wasn’t sure just what it was, but it felt healing. One of my favorites, if not my very favorite, was the one I called Frieda. It was a very strong, protective female spirit. I told my husband, ‘This is Frieda. She’s the guardian of children and small animals.’ It just came out of my mouth. Whether I just made that up because it seemed to fit the mask or not, I have no idea.

“I was so moved by the Frieda mask that I made a cast of my torso to go with it, sort of like a shield. I wanted to make it more of a person, sort of fill it in.”

 

A Reiki student of mine, now someone I respect as a colleague in healing, reported a clear encounter with her deceased boyfriend. She described this to me after a Reiki class with another teacher, who had told her that she had a ghost on her left shoulder. The student, Patrice, took exception to this. She told me that not only did she not believe there was anything around her left shoulder, she was perfectly capable of perceiving such things for herself, and had done so many times before.

“In fact,” she said, in a conspiratorial tone, “I knew when my ex-boyfriend was dead because he showed up in my room and was trying to have sex with me.”

“Well, that’s not necessarily such a bad thing….” I replied, hesitantly.

“But he was DEAD!” she cried, sounding truly horrified. She explained that she had reacted by immediately and firmly telling him to hit the road. She didn’t have any trouble getting rid of him.

Oh, well, he was her ex. She wouldn’t have wanted him around if he had shown up in the flesh, either. But I was amused to hear that the fact that he was dead made such a difference. I guess I’m used to thinking of “dead” as not necessarily one of a person’s more socially important characteristics.

 

And I have a much more positive feeling about my own deceased ex.

One night in February 1993, as I was lying in bed, ready to go to sleep, I had an impression of a hand stretching toward me out of the darkness, and I reached out to take it. I didn’t know what I was inviting. The experience began with an intense, electric tingling at the base of my spine, and, well, it went on from there. It was as completely pleasurable as anything I’ve done with a physical person, and I welcomed the pleasure at first without reservation. But when I came back to my senses a bit—to find my invisible companion still at work—fear took over. (It didn’t help that my husband was sleeping no more than two inches away.) “Please,” I thought, “I’m not ready for this, please stop!” But it didn’t stop, not for quite a while. Eventually I slept.

I woke up with a case of the willies, thinking about demonic possession, incubi, and so forth. I felt vaguely violated, even though I had, at least at first, invited the experience. I knew that I had been perfectly lucid and had not been dreaming or hallucinating, that in fact I hadn’t even been sleepy when it began. It had been so real. I felt that I had been unfaithful to my husband!

Or had I? I wondered if Bob might have been dreaming about me or something, but he said he didn’t think so. “Well,” I whispered darkly, “something touched me last night.” I decided not to go into any more detail than that! Bob reacted with a total lack of surprise, as if he had known all about it. “You weren’t hurt in any way, so why worry?” was all he said. I felt a little better after mentioning it to him, though it seemed odd that he was so nonchalant.

Still, I was distinctly uneasy. I called my Reiki teacher; I thought she might either have had such an experience or known someone who did. I gave her a short summary of what had been going on with my spirit contacts. I had a lot of trouble getting around to telling Elizabeth about the racier aspects of my experience, but she understood where I was heading and was able to get it out of me. “Well, you know,” she said, “it is creative energy.”

I’ve already told you that soon after Fryderyk first came to me, he began to approach me in a clearly erotic manner. It’s so hard to decide what, how much, I should say about this. I want to tell the truth. I think it’s important to tell this in some detail, because I am trying to get at the clearest possible picture of what spirits (we, I mean) are capable of. However, while prudishness is not a habit of mine, I don’t want to be any more indelicate than absolutely necessary. In saying this, I have in mind my lover’s very private and reticent nature during his Earth life; surely, I think, he would prefer not to have his most intimate secrets and activities broadcast—although, during that life, come to think of it, they were.

I also want to avoid unnecessary disrespect toward my husband, who has already put up with more than I think should be expected of him. No matter how I present it, this puts Bob in an unavoidably awkward position. He knows everything, and he accepts it all. But if I had a “real,” completely physical, male human lover, I expect that he would not show the same degree of tolerance. (And is there really a difference?) Above all, I would never want my husband, that noble being, to be seen as laughable or ridiculous.

On top of all that, I find that I’m rather nervous to write about this because out of all the crazy-sounding things I am describing to you, this may be the craziest. But it’s time to take the bull by the horns, or some other part of its anatomy.

I keep asking why a ghost, or whatever we want to call him, has any interest in sex whatsoever. His interest seems most enthusiastic, and it doesn’t necessarily correspond with the timing of my own. Sometimes he comes to me at the most inconvenient moments imaginable, when I can’t go along with what he suggests. Some other times I long for him but can’t find him no matter how hard I try, or if he is with me, nothing erotic occurs despite my suggestions or even pleadings. I get the impression that it is only at special times that the worlds are aligned in such a way that he can get this kind of connection with me. At some of those times, he seems almost to materialize.

Naturally, a lot is missing from this experience, but the part you are probably thinking of does not seem to be missing. I can’t easily kiss him, hold him in my arms, do anything to any specific area of his (non)body, because I usually can’t see him and don’t quite know where his body is, except in a very general way. But when I feel distinct thrusting, as often happens, I at least know where that one part of him seems to be.

Sometimes I only feel tingling and buzzing around my root chakra; sometimes, very rarely, there is clearly and incontrovertibly a man in my bed, impossible to ignore. There can be any degree of physicality or solidity from a feathery breath to a weight that presses decidedly on my bed and on my flesh, though it is a light weight indeed. On occasion I feel him sit down next to me, seeming to depress the mattress ever so slightly, then stretch out and lie close beside me or just above me. At such a time I’m likely to feel that slight weight settle onto my hips, and I know that he is about to enter my body.

I have proven to myself that I cannot produce these effects on my own, through imagination or any other means. If I could, I surely would, because I enjoy the experience so very much.

But again, why would he want this? Why should someone without a body desire this most physical of acts? It’s clear that libido is extremely variable, that it can change dramatically with shifts in hormone levels and other vagaries of the body. I remember, for example, that for a while during my pregnancy I had no interest at all, and then, when I started lactating, that interest came roaring back despite the fact that I had a huge incision in my belly and a newborn to keep me occupied. None of those changes had anything to do with my relationship with my husband or any other “real” factors in my life; they were no more than shifts in my internal weather, of no ultimate importance. And now, in my journey through perimenopause, I notice wild ups and downs as well. All these things are purely, totally of the body.

I wonder sometimes if he does it only for my sake, because he wants to please me. Or perhaps it’s because this is one of the few ways he can communicate with me. Maybe it’s even just to show that he can. It’s probably quite a technical feat. Some biographers have made snide comments about his ability as a lover—something they could have no real knowledge of—and it may amuse him to prove them wrong. But I think the most likely explanation is that he feels this need because during his Earth life he was largely deprived of sexual expression. At times I have come into contact with aspects of him that feel profoundly painful to me, connected to his sexuality and the frustration and difficulty he experienced.

I don’t know what, if anything, Mme Potocka may have contributed to that frustration. I find it hard to imagine her refusing him, given her own overheated nature. I do know that the first time he came to me in that way, the night I described above, there was an edge of anger, as if he was looking for some sort of revenge. It was a feeling of, “Aha! Now I’ve got you!” I’ve never been sure what to make of it. I was uncomfortable about it for a long time, for years in fact. It’s not that there was any violence or anything remotely like it. He was perfectly, wondrously gentle—but utterly relentless. I didn’t understand what was going on, and I didn’t even know for sure who was with me or why. I was thoroughly enjoying the experience anyway, but after a while I started to get nervous. I asked him to stop, and he wouldn’t stop. In fact, he kept going for so long that I eventually drifted off to sleep for a little while. It’s very odd to remember that now. It seems like I should have been more frightened than I was, if anything. I guess I was pretty sure who he was, and somehow it seemed natural to relate to him that way, though I had no clue why that should be the case. But I still thought that he should stop when I insisted on it. It’s possible that he didn’t understand, but based on the rest of our communications, that seems unlikely.

There have only been two instances when this kind of experience went on for any substantial length of time, and I’ve just described the first. The second time, years later, I lay there on my stomach, utterly blissed out, for so long that I pushed my jaw out of place and needed to see the chiropractor the next day. That is the only harm I have ever suffered, to the best of my knowledge.

Most of the time, in the first few years, the feeling was somewhere between making love and being struck by lightning. There was great intensity, but it was over within a few seconds. (Some of you ladies are no doubt thinking that this sounds like your normal, everyday experience….) It could be tremendously satisfying on every level, or it could leave me high and dry, having just started to get interested. I had no control over any of that.

As I said, the timing was often quite inconvenient, as well. Most often he would come to me when I was settling down to sleep, and that was fine, but he also showed up at random times when I was not at all available. It took me years to realize that I could say no. This is truly strange, because I’m an assertive person, and I don’t take well to being coerced in any way. I suppose I didn’t want to refuse him because these episodes were rare and I didn’t know when there might be another opportunity. And he wasn’t causing me any serious problem, usually quite the contrary. I was a little bugged, though, and I thought that it would be nicer if he could approach me a bit more gradually and slowly and give me some warning. Eventually I got smart enough to simply tell him that. Ever since, he has asked first. There is a sort of little tap on my aura, and I either tell him to go ahead or let him know that I’m in the middle of something and can’t be with him right then.

Months can go by between these escapades, even as much as a year. Then there are stretches of a few days at a time where he approaches me over and over. During March 1998, the month in which he was almost constantly with me, so much as almost to make a pain of himself, I started to get used to the idea of having a second, steady lover. I started to think, why not? He was around so often that I began to rely on him and expect him to please me, which turned out to be a mistake. (I suppose that would also be a mistake with a “real” lover.) I think I gave the poor creature a case of performance anxiety, and I myself started to feel disappointed sometimes instead of elated and full of love. It was not fair or realistic to expect him to fulfill that role for me.

And again, there was the guilt. It has waxed and waned over the years. At the times when he and I have achieved a more nearly physical connection, I have tended to feel worse about it, more like I was truly cheating on my husband. I have often felt more comfortable with receiving only a little tingle or two, just enough that I know he’s there and still interested. I’ve tried to discuss this with him, but I’m not clear about his point of view. More recently I’ve decided that I just don’t care, it’s not worth feeling guilty about this, and I want everything that I can get, or everything he wants to give me.

Although I do worry, my extracurricular activities have had mostly positive effects on my marriage. My body has become more responsive, and my heart infinitely more open. I have become more appreciative of men as a species, and I have come to see my husband, with his solidly molecular but transient, fragile human body, as more and more precious. I take nothing for granted. I understand that we can never be truly lost to each other, but I also see more clearly the vastness in which we travel and can appear to be separated.

Technically, it’s been good for us too. When I observe Fryderyk doing something interesting, I figure I can learn to do it too (well, except for that pianist-composer business). I’ve experimented and tried to understand how he gets the effects that he does, and sometimes I’ve come up with surprising new tricks. When this all started, Bob and I were not new to the idea of relating to each other on a purely energetic basis, but seeing that more was possible, we expanded our perceptions and our skills. Our interactions gained a depth and profundity that we would perhaps not have developed otherwise.

Knowing how I can create a particular effect myself doesn’t mean that I am sure how Fryderyk is doing it, though. When I feel that slight weight against my body, I’m reasonably sure that he is “lying” there with me, but at other times, from his point of view, he might be standing somewhere across the room or not even in the same world with me. I don’t know. Although there have been a few times when I had a vague visual impression of him, and once, just once so far, I saw his face, most of the time I perceive him only as a mass of Qi, an area of warmth, where the air is “thicker.”

Once I asked him how he sees me, that is, does he perceive me as a solid human being, seeing my body more or less as I do, or does he perceive only a mass of energy, more or less as I usually perceive him? He was able to give one of the clearest and cleverest answers I have ever received from him. First he lit up the entire surface of my body—yes, he does see me as a human form. Then he lit up my aura all over, out to a few inches from the surface—yes, he sees me as a glowing energy field too.

There was one time, only once, that he really seemed to pay attention to my body in and of itself, not just my energetic structure. It was late at night. I had just gotten out of the bathtub, and I did something I don’t normally do. I felt too tired even to look for my nightgown, and I flopped down on my back, quite uncovered, on my bed, to rest a little before making that supreme effort. Immediately he was there with me. Most often it happens that when he comes to me in the mood for this sort of thing, it’s bedtime, and I am settled down cozily wrapped in nightgown and blankets, feeling warm and safe. I felt weirdly vulnerable being naked with him—how odd! But perhaps that made things a little easier for him. That one and only time, some pleasant attention was paid to specific spots on my skin.

And once, something incredible happened to my lips. It was like being kissed by an aurora; beautiful lights in blues, purples, and greens, with an electric glow, played about my mouth. The pleasure was exquisite, delicate, and yet so powerful, as is true of so much that he does. This was many years ago, and nothing like it has ever happened again. But kissing has never been the same for me since. My lips seemed to wake up and perceive everything differently, to blossom into intense sensitivity. Another wonderful gift—and one I can share with my husband, too.

I have done my best to find out what Fryderyk gets out of all this, but there is little I can report. During one of the rare moments that I’ve been able to have a verbal exchange with him, I told him that I wanted very much to give him pleasure, but I wasn’t sure how to go about it because, among other things, I couldn’t perceive the structure of his “body.” “It doesn’t matter,” was the reply. “I feel pleasure with my whole being.”

Some of my psychic friends have expressed doubts about whether it is all right for an erotic relationship to go on between the worlds. Early on, they were concerned that Fryderyk was some sort of lower spirit that was taking advantage of me. Like an incubus—whatever that really is. Having gotten to know him well, Mendy Lou has concluded that everything is fine. However, despite her own experiences, the woman I referred to as Catherine still believes that something is terribly wrong, that Fryderyk must be evil or twisted. I think, or at least would like to think, that her discomfort is mainly an expression of our society’s overall attitude toward sexuality. Sex is seen as low and distasteful, whereas spirits are supposed to be more advanced and high-minded, so in that view the two cannot possibly go together. I see lovemaking as one of the highest functions of human beings, so to me there is no such conflict.

Or I am making excuses for my lover and for myself.

This issue comes up in Rosemary Brown’s writings. Liszt expresses the opinion that once the body has fallen away, its physical needs do as well, and that includes sexuality. I can only say that he appears to be incorrect. He must be telling it as it is in his experience, though. Oh, well, Liszt got plenty of lovin’ while he was on the planet, and perhaps it’s just that he himself no longer feels the need for more, not that this is true of everyone. And after all, he did become a priest in the latter part of his life.

Despite my comments about hormones, I myself no longer see sexuality as primarily physical, and haven’t for years. Perhaps as I get older this will be even more the case. And as I get older, if my erotic connection with Fryderyk should persist, I suppose we will look sillier and sillier together—that is, if anyone who can actually see both of us happens to look. He appears to be perennially somewhere in his late twenties, and here I am, already old enough to have a son that age. Despite the fact that we must both be well into our hundreds, or even thousands, this thought gives me a little distress!

And then there is the inescapable thought that perhaps he doesn’t want to be with me at all, he wants to be with Delfina, and I’m no more than the closest available substitute. I’ve tried to remind him that I’m not her, can’t be her, can’t substitute for the one he knew and loved then. This issue comes into the brightest focus when he puts himself in the role of lover. But perhaps the totality of our relationship is far beyond the temporary forms of either Delfina or me—or him—and it’s not even meaningful to worry about this.

 

In the case of my interactions with Fryderyk, I’m completely certain that there is an independent, actual living being visiting me. However, it’s entirely possible that sometimes we are projecting the apparent entities ourselves, even in frankly sexual situations. Here, Patrick tells of an encounter that is not quite like anything else I’ve heard of. He also offers some potential insights into the reasons why such experiences may occur:
“The first experience happened while I was in college for my second degree, about 11 years ago. At the time I was exploring various forms of inner work. I practiced Daoist yoga techniques of sexual energy transmutation, in effect learning how to take the energy that would go into ejaculation and reverse it, direct it up your spine and disperse it through the energy field. I was also exploring techniques for out-of-body experiences, including how to form a double of yourself out of your own essence. At the same time, I was doing Toltec recapitulation and emotional clearing techniques. So I was doing various things to shake up the status quo of my interior language.

“I had resolved as much as possible not to have intimate relationships during school, because it was such an intense program and there just wasn’t time for that. So I was cultivating this sexual energy practice while not having any intimate relationships, and I thought I should have some kind of context, some way to relate to a female presence. And in one of the books on astral projection it said how you could have an astral relationship with someone else who is also astrally projecting.

“This was the most intense experience. I wasn’t trying to bring it about; it just occurred as a result of doing all these things. I was sitting on my bed one night, I think I was meditating or maybe just sitting quietly, and one by one I was visited by four different female presences. It was interesting, first, because there were four of them—I mean, one’s enough! They were from different cultures, which also was an interesting effect, because if I fantasize it’s generally about white women. [Patrick is white.] So that was something of a confirmation that this at least wasn’t being formulated by my conscious mind. One by one they sat in my lap, and we basically had energetic sex, and I felt like I do when I hold my ejaculation and have an energetic orgasm. I didn’t know them from anywhere. They were just beautiful women. I could see them in a ‘mind’s eye’ kind of way.

“I never had another experience quite like that one, that had that quality of spontaneity and that sort of unfamiliarity with what appeared. I didn’t intentionally try to make anything like that happen again; for one thing, it didn’t have anything to do with intention in the first place.

“It was a very positive experience, a very whole-making experience, rather than, ‘Oh no, I’d better watch out.’ I didn’t have to be on my guard or anything. One way among many of thinking of it is that I was doing so much work—I mean when you’re doing all that sexual energy work without a partner it can get real intense. I wasn’t real good at dispersing the energy so that it didn’t become a source of rage or a headache or something like that. It wasn’t till I started doing Cheyenne’s work [Cheyenne Maloney’s work with the Assemblage Point] that I was able to really disperse sexual energy in a way that was seamless for me. So here’s all this intense sexual energy rising with no female energy to interact with. Perhaps that whole experience was magnetized by the fact that that there was all this polarized male sexual energy without a feminine, balancing aspect.

“I would say that my relationship to my sexuality, shame, and guilt has changed enormously in the last five years. It’s the kind of thing where you think that something is behind you and you’ve had some kind of resolution, but you’ve just taken the lid off of something that has an even deeper layer under it. It’s an ongoing process. About five years ago, I finally realized the energetic experience of what guilt and shame is—I could finally feel the vibration of it and not just the emotional ramifications. Once I was able to feel that vibration, I was able to consciously modify my responses to guilt and shame in sexuality. For example, I would sit down with a pornographic movie and watch that energetic start to occur, the shame of watching pornography, and I would catch it and bring it into my heart, so it wasn’t something separate for me anymore. Which is my perception of what guilt and shame does, that it slices the experience in half, so that I’m over here and the experience is over there and we’re not one. So that I can’t have the experience without having the accompanying ‘I’m a bad person’ thing.

“My perception is that the shadow side of our culture’s sexuality is vast. The way our culture makes a pretense of being open-minded and at the same time clamps down with oppressive beliefs and institutions—that perceived open-mindedness is just a sham. I had to start to see how my own relationship to sexuality was a reflection of my culture as well.

“Recently, there was one thing that was recurrent and very powerful. As I started allowing more fluidity between what I previously thought was spiritual work and what I thought was profane or purely for physical gratification, as I started to allow those to overlap in my meditation, I started having this recurring fantasy of having sex with a Catholic nun. I went to Catholic school from kindergarten through high school, and there was one particular nun who was my music teacher. She was the only nun I can ever remember thinking was an attractive woman. So I would sit down to meditate and without consciously trying to, I would find myself in this fantasy. It literally had a life of its own. It would just surface in the meditation. And once more it became a source of channeling sexual energy during the meditation. So my meditations became, and still pretty much are, about cultivating and dispersing sexual energy through the energy field. But the fact that this fantasy kept recurring was kind of like someone knocking on the door and saying, ‘Will you open the fucking door?’ I knew I had to act this out in my life, and I did (not with a real nun!), and I haven’t had this enter my meditation again.

“At the risk of trying to interpret the experience, I’ll say this: I believe that there are aspects of oneself that are repressed, and when allowed to rise into consciousness, some need to be experienced viscerally, others can be experienced in fantasy or just as a mental concept, intellectualized. This one was not going to leave me alone until I experienced it physically, that was clear.

“It had a fantasy type of context, and yet it felt like it had its own agenda. Again, it felt like an aspect of me doing its darndest to make me recognize it. Once this started to surface in the meditation, I would just go with it, because I felt that not doing that would be just another way of keeping separate. What would be the point of that, especially in meditation? It seemed like another way for the self to become whole, and so I just feel that it was a natural surfacing of material that came out of letting go of shame and guilt. I mean, I probably would have tried mightily to suppress it if I had still been in that state of ‘oh my God this is bad.’ I would have used a great deal of energy to keep it out of the meditation.

“I haven’t had an experience yet that I thought was something other than an aspect of me or the ‘greater me.’ So whether these beings had their own objective existence, I don’t know. That is a total mystery to me, because the more I am, I hope, waking up a little bit, the more I see that we are these incredibly vast presences. And what we can hold and create— I mean, even just the tip of the iceberg is vast.”

But shame and guilt certainly do tend to show up in this context. Here is an anecdote from Rob, a married man who is crazy about his wife: “I was—I believe—astroplaning (which I am not good at and maybe have experienced what I think is less than a handful of times)—and met what I would consider a more feminine spirit. Sex WAS the issue.  I then recall saying to the entity, ‘But I am married.’  The session abruptly ended and I awakened very EXCITED and yet quite upset with myself—since I could have had a ‘good time’ without all the baggage of an affair.  Never had that experience again. Told my wife about the experience— she was smiling.  I told her that I am even faithful in an area where I don’t need to be!”

It’s not necessary to give up your physical body, or your partner’s, to experience an ecstatic energetic blending. We are quite capable of this in our present forms. In fact, I think this is one of the most accessible ways to experience ourselves as the unlimited spiritual beings we truly are. Two people who love each other can merge energetically to any degree they wish, either erotically or not, and I highly recommend it! You are sure to deepen your relationship and appreciate each other all the more.

So many changes, including menopause, have gone through since I wrote that, and my perspective is somewhat different.  But the eternal is still the eternal– and that includes us, no matter how much transformation we experience.

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Filed under channeling, past lives, psychology, sexuality, spirit communication, spirituality

Taking the Hill for Human Rights

At their immature levels, religions can be obsessed with the differences that make them better or more right than others. Pope Francis insists that mercy is at the very top of the Christian hierarchy of great truths*, and everything falls apart whenever mercy is displaced by anything else or anything less. —Fr Richard Rohr

 

Pastor John Pavlovitz wrote in a recent post: “Whatever hill is worth dying on for you in this life, take it now.”
https://johnpavlovitz.com/2018/07/03/pick-a-hill-worth-dying-on-america/

I realized right away that I knew which “hill” that was for me. Despite the progress of the past decade, the ability of LGBTQ+ people to work, to buy ordinary products and services, to adopt children, to live in a particular building or neighborhood, even just to live at all has been under heavy attack of late.

A couple of weeks ago I watched Hannah Gadsby’s high-impact one-woman show Nanette, which you absolutely should check out. In her native Tasmania, homosexuality was illegal until 1997!!!! I was 37 then, for freak’s sake! That was a sobering reminder of how fragile our situation is. In my relatively open community, it’s easy to forget how difficult things can be in so many parts of the world.

And of course that includes much of the US. The vice-president, may he soon be enlightened, is trying to establish a “religious liberty” office to make sure that anyone whose religion tells them to discriminate against those who are different in their sexual or gender identity can do so with complete freedom, the Constitution and legal precedent be damned. As Cornel West has said, “The fundamentalist Christians want to be fundamental about everything except Love Thy Neighbor!”

I often find myself imagining something like this:

Incredibly, because Americans insist on continuing to use the death penalty and it seemed to be under threat, last fall the US voted AGAINST a UN “resolution condemning the use of the death penalty as punishment for consensual gay relations.” The resolution passed anyway, but the US had sided with a group of countries known for human-rights abuses and against all of Europe and almost all of the rest of the Americas. We could have abstained. We did not.
https://www.cnn.com/2017/10/05/opinions/un-death-penalty-resolution-usa-lgbt-ghitis-opinion/index.html

This feels more and more like a crisis, one building inexorably, one that can’t be ignored. “If you aren’t finding your voice right now, don’t bother worrying about it again,” Pavlovitz wrote. “You won’t have one much longer.” So I am continuing to make whatever sounds I can.

The event that got me started thinking about writing this post was the death of Jeremy Reynalds, who founded the local help for the homeless organization Joy Junction. Friends commented about something I had forgotten: that Reynalds not only forbade LGBTQ+ folk from staying at his shelter, but even refused to take donations from such people. Wow. I wasn’t good enough for him to help me if I needed it, and even my money wasn’t good enough for him. I had a seriously hard time with this. It bugged me for days. It even contributed to some physical symptoms.

But later, I read that Reynalds had changed, which is a great relief and source of hope.  ‘“I’m much less judgmental than I used to be, and that’s made me a much happier person,” Reynalds said in 2016. “My mantra for the last eight or nine years is ‘Let God do the judging, and I will do the loving.’”
https://www.abqjournal.com/1197802/reynalds-leaves-legacy-of-helping-the-less-fortunate.html

Understanding why certain religious people are so set in their anti-LGBTQ stance runs one directly down the infinitely dark rabbit hole of biblical literalism. In researching background for this post, I came across the word “bibliolatry,” which refers to worshiping the written word above all else including real, living people and even the living traditions of one’s faith– not to mention the living Christ in whom one supposedly believes. To that, another kind of Christian might reply:

I understand that we all cherry-pick whatever agrees with our preconceived notions. However— something that has been said so many times, but it bears repeating since they Just Don’t Seem to Get It— if these people are going to insist that same-sex relationships are sinful because of their interpretation of a few words in Leviticus, why is it that they feel free to eat shellfish and wear polyester/cotton clothing and trim their beards?

I haven’t had any recent opportunities to ask this directly of an evangelical. Typical answers might be that this was written a very long time ago and that society has changed a great deal, and/or that Jesus superseded the Old Testament laws with the greater law of “Love one another.” One article, in explaining why we no longer execute disobedient children, simply stated, “The Old Testament Law is not in force today.”** Well, that was easy, wasn’t it.  Except that they’re saying it is.

In addition to this convenient inconsistency, they seem to have decided that the way God constructed nature and humanity is not OK, because they insist that biology is something quite different from what it really is. It probably won’t help to tell a person who believes the Earth is only 6000 years old to objectively observe the natural world, but even a cursory survey would quickly show that sexuality and gender are not binary, but exist along continua. Now, for religious people to question nature and find it lacking is to question and criticize the workings of the mind of God. Isn’t that blasphemy? How can that be acceptable to them?

Well, that’s why it’s so crucial for them to believe that sexual orientation is a choice. If homosexuality does NOT inherently exist in nature, but rather is invented by depraved or confused human minds, then there is no conflict with their chosen biblical interpretation. Likewise, if there is no such thing as an intersex or transgender child and the kids are only imagining it all, there is no need to revise rigidly prescribed gender roles. There are powerful incentives for them to wish reality away.

Somehow I have felt compelled to follow the rabbit downward and better understand the origins of this way of thinking. I hadn’t realized how recent a phenomenon biblical literalism is. Fundamentalists might like to think of themselves as part of an ancient tradition, part of the bedrock of Christianity, as the name implies, but this is not the case. Certainly it is not how most of us brought up in mainstream forms of Christianity were taught to think about the bible. We were taught in Catholic school that biblical stories such as the Adam and Eve myth were to be understood as allegories, and there is nothing at all modern or “liberal” about such an attitude. Very early authorities such as Philo of Alexandria and Origen*** wrote about just that way of understanding scripture, and their teaching was accepted for most of the past two millennia.

Dr. Kevin Lewis went so far as to describe literalism as heresy: ’The heresy of literalism as such is a modern, post-scientific phenomenon. Its beginnings can be traced in seventeenth-century Protestant orthodoxy, but it bloomed with twentieth-century Fundamentalism, when the modern world fully embraced the dynamic power of natural science. Scientific method crucially altered the Western mind. After Descartes we became principled skeptics, doubting in order to find out the truth. The notion stole into the religious mind that biblical narratives make proposals that only appear to compete with testable scientific findings (to test our faith) while ultimately, if miraculously, conforming to scientific truth.’

‘So rose up in history a reactionary Christian mind, panicked and defensive, straining to assert scientific proof (thereby establishing absolute certainty) for its Scripture and the articles of belief it wished to communicate. Thus did literalism teach the “letter” to drive out the “spirit” of the biblical writings, effectively misusing the text in order to promote a corrupted theological agenda. The effect is a rigid constriction of the inspiring Word.’
http://people.cas.sc.edu/lewiske/heresy.html

I have often said that if someone wishes to take scripture literally, they had better be able to read and write the ancient languages involved, fluently, and understand exactly how the words were used at the time those passages were written. Only then can they expect to have any idea what it is that they are taking literally. Some scholars try to do that.

A rather arcane article, “The Secret History of Leviticus” by Idan Dershowitz, showed up in the New York Times, interestingly enough. Dershowitz analyzed the text in detail to elucidate likely changes over the long period of time that probably elapsed as the book was rewritten into its present form. He points out that there were generally no known prohibitions against sex between men in earlier times, and that the prohibitions appear to have been absent in the earliest version of Leviticus as well, and to have been added later in the book’s history. 
https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/21/opinion/sunday/bible-prohibit-gay-sex.html?action=click&module=Trending&pgtype=Article&region=Footer&contentCollection=Trending

An interesting case is a website written by Rick Brentlinger, who identifies himself as a gay Christian and an independent Baptist preacher. (I’m a little sorry to identify him by name, since I am about to harshly criticize him.)  I found it while looking for the meaning of the passages about homosexuality in the original languages. He has a rather different take on Leviticus, and on Paul, asserting that in both cases the prohibition is really against temple prostitution rather than same-sex relations in general. I can’t say whether or not he is accurate in his analysis, but it is an interesting perspective. One statement of his with which I wholeheartedly agree: ”Scripture cannot mean NOW/ What it did not mean THEN.”

Unfortunately, Brentlinger goes on to toe the literalist line, even stating in so many words that Adam was a real man and the first human. He rails against common practices like contemplative prayer and meditation, saying that only reading or hearing scripture is acceptable prayer. (It amazes me— how is one supposed to listen to God with all those words chattering in one’s mind all the time?) Yet he even slams Lectio Divina, in which one reads scripture in a mystical manner, intending to let its meaning manifest in a nonverbal awareness. Even the way other people read the Bible is not good enough for him! It seems to me that he is playing along with the game plan of the very people who oppress him and his. I can empathize a little, though. Otherwise he would have to separate entirely from his faith community and his home culture, I suppose, and that might be too much to contemplate. It seems that he is finding a way to be part of the groupthink and be himself at the same time.

At any rate, there is nothing at all that literalists can quote from Jesus’ preaching on homosexuality or other matters of sexual orientation or gender identity, because nothing is there, neither prohibitions nor permissions. There is that one story that can be interpreted as being tolerant of same-sex relationships, the one about the centurion who asked Jesus to heal his servant/companion and shows absolute faith that he can do it. Brentlinger does interpret it that way.

I wonder what the literalists think about the apocryphal books such as the Gospel of Thomas, and how they deal with the idea that some gospels were written through divine inspiration and some weren’t, when it is clear that ordinary humans chose which books to include in the canon. Some of those books were of inferior quality, but others were discarded because they didn’t fit the political power needs of the men who were in charge. And they were all men, of course. In the early days of Christianity, many individuals were preaching and transmitting their own revelations and insights, and some of the most famous were women. The powers that were felt the need to squelch all that, making us all poorer in the process. Some of the early writings have come to light in the past century, of course, and now we have a broader perspective that makes biblical literalism appear all the more ludicrous.

It was decided by some of those august Church Fathers, trying to hold their young organization together, that revelation had stopped at the death of the last apostle, and no one else was going to hear anything worthwhile from God! This connects with the suspicious attitude toward contemplative prayer and meditation— one must simply accept what has already been written, and heaven forbid that one might connect with the divine on one’s own. (Everything there is authoritarian at its core. And that, dear reader, has a lot to do with the love of fundamentalists for our current administration.)

I’ll end by bringing you back to John Pavlovitz, who had to broaden his thinking when he was exposed to people who were different from those he’d been brought up with— and then his brother came out as gay. ‘”It was a gradual deconstruction of my faith,” he says. “You look at one isolated area of the Bible, for example, then realize, Well, if that doesn’t mean what I was taught it meant, what other areas of my spiritual journey was I taking for granted? So you start digging into it, and you find yourself exploring all areas of your belief system.”’

And he claims some of that personal revelation, which doesn’t go over well with the kind of church he moved away from:
‘Some simply know in their gut, he says, that a religion of in-groups and out-groups isn’t what Jesus was preaching.’
https://www.indyweek.com/indyweek/how-raleighs-john-pavlovitz-went-from-fired-megachurch-pastor-to-rising-star-of-the-religious-left/Content?oid=9664688

You know, if you’ve been reading my stuff, where I stand with regard to personal revelation. And so here I am, on my hill, where I intend to stay until it’s no longer necessary.

 

*Pope Francis, Evangelii Gaudium (The Joy of the Gospel), 36-37.
http://w2.vatican.va/content/francesco/en/apost_exhortations/documents/papa-francesco_esortazione-ap_20131124_evangelii-gaudium.html

**https://www.gotquestions.org/stone-rebellious-children.html

*** https://www.newdawnmagazine.com/articles/rescuing-the-bible-from-literalism

This article also takes up archeological questions about the origin of the people of Israel, the supposed conquest of Canaan, and the exodus from Egypt. These are fascinating matters which also feed into our current political situation, but I’ll take them up at another time.

 

 

 

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New Beatitudes for a Hurting World

Sometimes social media, for all the trouble it causes and all the time it sucks, can bring real inspiration and even be a transmitter of grace. I am grateful to have encountered Nadia Bolz-Weber, an extraordinary Lutheran minister and founding pastor of the House for All Sinners and Saints church, in a video on Facebook. I hope it’s OK with her that I transcribed her stunning distillation of Christianity:

Blessed are the agnostics.
Blessed are they who doubt,
those who aren’t sure,
those who can still be surprised.
Blessed are those who have nothing to offer.
Blessed are they for whom death is not an abstraction.
Blessed are they who have buried their loved ones,
for whom tears could fill an ocean.
Blessed are they who have loved enough
to know what loss feels like.
Blessed are they who don’t have the luxury
of taking things for granted anymore.
Blessed are they who can’t fall apart,
because they have to keep it together for everyone else.
Blessed are those who still aren’t over it yet.
Blessed are those who mourn.
Blessed are those who no one else notices,
the kids who sit alone at middle school lunch tables,
the laundry guys at the hospital, the sex workers,
and the night-shift street sweepers.
Blessed are the forgotten,
blessed are the closeted,
blessed are the unemployed,
the unimpressive,
the underrepresented.
Blessed are the wrongly accused,
the ones who never catch a break,
the ones for whom life is hard,
for Jesus chose to surround himself
with people like them.
Blessed are those without documentation.
Blessed are the ones without lobbyists.
Blessed are those who make terrible business decisions
for the sake of people.
Blessed are the burned-out social workers
and the overworked teachers
and the pro-bono case takers.
Blessed are the kind-hearted NFL players
and the fundraising trophy wives.
And blessed are the kids who step
between the bullies and the weak.
Blessed is everyone who has ever forgiven me
when I didn’t deserve it.
Blessed are the merciful,
for they totally get it.
You are of heaven, and Jesus blesses you.

(Line breaks and punctuation are my best guesses.)

After the tears ran their course and I could see again, I looked at the comments on her presentation. (You know what a bad idea that usually is.) And yes, there were those who had to let everyone know how much more theological knowledge and biblical scholarship they had at their disposal than this trained and ordained minister, who they instantly labeled as a heretic. There was even a heated argument about some translations of the Bible being valid and others being heretical. Way to totally miss the point, folks.

What I found particularly shocking— even though I rather expected it to come up— was the view that God will not forgive everyone, only some who deserve it. I’ve seen it before, but I’ve never gotten used to it. A God who withholds love is a very weird God for a religion whose adherents like to say “God is love.”

Some even said that it’s incorrect to say that we are not supposed to judge others, that indeed we should and it’s biblical to do so. But one doesn’t need to have a great deal of scriptural knowledge to remember “Judge not lest ye be judged.”

It surprises me to realize that the rather stodgy and ordinary Catholic parish I belonged to as a child somehow didn’t infect me with the controlling, judgmental spirit exhibited by so many folks who claim to be Christians. I might have expected Catholicism to be far to the more rigid side of the spectrum of denominations, but it often seems to be relatively open. Not always, but often. At any rate, I don’t think it’s only in recent years that I got the idea that Jesus’ teaching is more like Pastrix (her term) Nadia’s words and less like judgment and shaming and inflexible rules that no one can really follow.

The Jesus that Nadia allies herself with seems like the one I’ve met, the one you heard about here if you were around to read this a year ago: https://elenedom.wordpress.com/2017/06/21/you-know-my-heart/
Maybe that’s the Jesus you know too. The one who championed the poor and marginalized while criticizing the rich and self-satisfied. How can inclusion and forgiveness be heretical for Christians?

I wrote in that post: “Perhaps the people I am complaining about have tapped into a pervasive field of fear and judgment, just as I connected with a field of love and acceptance. I would suppose that it is absolutely real to them. I know where I would rather live, and I know which is more likely to generate a world that is better for all of us.”

And now I have to go and work on tolerance myself:

Blessed are those who sincerely read their holy books
even when they ignore the parts they don’t like,
for they are trying to make sense of a crazy world.
Blessed are all of us with our preconceived notions.
Blessed are those who hurt so much inside,
believing themselves to be flawed,
that they must constantly point out the flaws of others.
Blessed are the judgmental,
who find themselves to be unworthy.
Blessed are the spiritually immature,
who rely on being told what to think,
for they will grow up eventually.
Blessed are they who see evil everywhere,
because in their way they are trying to be good.

And blessed are all those who love anyway,
no matter what, without question, without ceasing.

 

The Sarcastic Lutheran blog: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/nadiabolzweber/
http://www.nadiabolzweber.com/
She writes books, too. I just preordered her next one, Shameless: A Sexual Reformation.

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I Only Work in Inner Space, Part II

I jotted down the following one evening in Grants, NM, when I was staying over in order to go out to see a patient in a remote location the next day. I didn’t add the date, so I don’t know even what year it was, but it has been quite a while since I worked at that office. I’d estimate that I wrote it around 2010, while thinking about that matter of trying to explore inner space without becoming a “space case.” It came out more or less as advice to people who are starting out as intuitive healers in a world that may not even believe their work exists. I think it’s still worth sharing, so here it is, with some minor editing:

Be open to being wrong. Be open to being right.

Some new intuitives, realizing how often they turn out to be correct, might take off on a power trip of some kind. Especially when frightening or distressing material comes through, it should not be stated as an absolute fact that cannot be avoided. Don’t pretend to have all the answers to anything. And don’t impose your point of view or your system of beliefs on anyone as if it were the ultimate. Don’t judge or act self-righteous.

More often, though, the problem is that we constantly second-guess ourselves and fail to trust valid information when it comes to us. I try to maintain a healthy skepticism about ideas that come into my own head, the same as I would with ideas from any other source, constantly checking any way I can. However, the temptation to edit every thought can stop the flow and make it impossible to accomplish anything.

When I do intuitive healing with patients, I prefer to work in collaboration with the person on my table. So often, I see something that seems totally off the wall and vanishingly unlikely to me, but I screw up my courage and tell the patient about it, and it turns out to be dead on. This gives the patient an opportunity to add her own insights, and we find a path through the jungle together, tossing out ideas and testing them until we find the issues that are most fundamental and clear them. Sometimes the patient is sleeping or otherwise not amenable to joining in on this process, and in that case I can still get a lot done, but it’s all the more powerful when we work together.

My point is that I’m not in the business of proving I can divine all the answers; my job is to aid patients in their journey toward healing, not to impress them with my skills. Not that I never feel a need to prove that I can do what I do, especially with the pseudoskeptic types, but it’s crucial to let go of all such concerns if we want to get clear information.

I feel fortunate that I don’t have to identify myself as a professional psychic. If that were the case, I’d always be expected to come up with revelations of some kind, preferably earth-shattering ones. Sometimes neither I nor the patient can find profound meanings in their illnesses and injuries, and many times there’s no need to. We can just do some needles, bodywork, or herbs, and everything’s fine.

One of the things I admire about my mentor Mendy Lou Blackburn, who does identify herself as a professional psychic, is that she doesn’t tell her clients what they want to hear, unless that’s what they need to hear. It’s pretty easy to figure out what a person is hoping you’ll tell them, even without any great psychic ability. A person could probably make a lot of money just feeding comforting, flattering words to clients, but anyone who’s honest knows that would lead to no good. There is a middle way of using firmness to express hard truths without dictating to, insulting, or unnecessarily frightening the client.

I’ve been writing as if you are doing readings for other people, or planning to do so, but perhaps you intend only to gather intuitive impressions for your own development. We need to be all the more careful in reading or channeling for ourselves because we may be quite blind to our own beliefs and preconceived notions— they are so close we can’t see them clearly.

Be open to greatness.

Betsy Morgan Coffman told our beginning channeling class that we might find ourselves in contact with some very high-level being, Jesus for example, and that often people get upset and refuse to trust that this is happening. “But think about it,” she said. “Why wouldn’t Jesus want to talk to you?”

But what of the Wayne Bents of the world [Bent was an abusive cult leader who was jailed and was much in the news when I originally wrote this], the people who are sure that not only is God talking to them, He is telling them to gather followers who will treat them as His representatives on earth? Bent reported being told that he was the Messiah in so many words, if I remember correctly. I use him as an example because there is general agreement that he’s delusional. That is, he’s been less successful than some, and done more obvious harm, or at least been caught at it. But what’s the essential difference between Bent and, say, Joan of Arc? Perhaps “by their fruits” is still the best way that you will know them.

Some years ago I was part of a Noetic Sciences group that held meetings with inspirational speakers and uplifting activities. Once a young guy showed up and introduced himself, quite matter-of-factly, as the latest incarnation of some great line of spiritual teachers or world leaders, I don’t remember what exactly. This pronouncement was delivered in the same tone as if he’d told us he lived in Bernalillo or had just started college. Totally normal for him. When I looked toward him, I saw a black space in the room where he should have been. He scared the hell out of me, and I hoped he’d never come back. Nobody else had a bad feeling about him— I asked them later. I never saw him again, and I don’t know what fruits, if any, he or his message produced. Every so often I run into someone with claims along the same lines, and am not sure what to think. My own tales of my experiences with famous deceased humans and higher beings may strike someone in a similar way, so I can’t judge. I just know that that particular young man left me feeling extremely uneasy.

You probably will never receive a message that says you’re the Messiah or the incarnation of some other august figure. But never doubt that you are as deserving of enlightenment as anyone.

If, instead, a message you get tears you down, it’s probably coming from you and not Them. Source/Spirit/Higher Powers/the Divine might be applying tough love at times, not letting you get away with laziness or self-deception, but won’t belittle you or discourage your sincere efforts. They typically seem to think better of us than we do of ourselves; They see the reality of the infinite beings we truly are.

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No, I’m From New Mexico. I Only Work in Inner Space.

 

 

 

 

 

I’ve so often thought of this moment in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (yes, the one with the whales):

Dr. Gillian Taylor: Don’t tell me, you’re from outer space.
Admiral Kirk: No, I’m from Iowa. I only work in outer space.

I’m not sure how to clearly describe the space in which I do so much of my own work. It isn’t exactly the “normal” Earth plane, but I don’t think it’s so very far removed, either. Likely it’s a place we all visit at least some of the time.

Staying grounded while working in some of the farther reaches of what one might call inner space can be a challenge. I’ve seen some healer colleagues leave the known galaxy and never return, going so far out that they couldn’t communicate anymore and became of little use to their patients or themselves.

And where do I live when I’m not working? It often feels like I don’t quite inhabit the material world the way I once did. Yet, I make every effort to keep solidly attached to my body and to bring my experience back to consensus reality in a way that’s comprehensible to everyone here. I think of myself as a journalist who goes to exotic lands and brings back the stories.

So from time to time I am criticized for being too intellectual, not letting go of thinking long enough to really fly. I decided some years ago that this is my natural place, to translate, to be a bridge between worlds and worldviews. So far that’s the best I can do. It may limit me as a mystic and psychic, but I won’t get too severely lost this way, and I may have a better chance of telling others where I’ve been.

I only work in inner space. I don’t want to become a space case.
********************************************************************

Back in the Star Trek universe, there have been some striking new developments. At the time of the first episode of Star Trek: Discovery, last fall, I was most displeased, and didn’t see much hope for the new series. There are still a number of aspects of it that don’t work, if you ask me (Spock has an adopted sister we never knew about?  Seriously?), plus a few moments that have been just plain idiotic (everyone has panned Landry’s suicide-by-tardigrade), and I still cannot approve of this latest iteration of the Klingons! But they’ve worked their brow-ridges off on this story, and now I’m behind them all the way. OK, most of the way. All the way when it concerns their willingness to take on Big Questions in the way that Star Trek always has. What are we? Who are we, and how do we know? How do we deal with those who are different from us, and are they really so different at all? And what happens if we fall in love with our worst enemy?

[!SPOILERS FOLLOW!]

It feels like after all these years that I’ve followed Star Trek, it has now caught up to me. In this case, I was there first. The Discovery story arc, thus far, depends on a concept that I think is a lovely metaphor for the way things really are: all life throughout the universe is connected by a web of mycelia generated by a spacefaring species of fungi, and one can access this network and use it to travel anywhere and anywhen instantly. Space fungi? Sounds like something Stanisław Lem would come up with (not so different from his killer space potatoes!). And the animal they imagined as having a natural ability to traverse the network was something utterly ridiculous— a gigantic version of an actual Earth creature, the microscopic tardigrade or water bear (which to be fair has some science-fiction-like properties in real life). But the image of the network is beautiful, compelling, and evocative of the way everything in the universe really is entangled and in communication with everything else.

Although for a while I was still suspicious of the new series, I soon found myself intensely pulled into this “magic mushroom” paradigm of space travel, and I began to identify with its inventor, Paul Stamets (named for the quirky present-day mycologist). It all seemed so familiar. Why was that happening? It took me a little while to remember this:

“So I held the intention of looking at Orion, and I began to have quite a vivid vision.  First, against an image of space with stars, there was a huge burst of white light coming through what looked like a wormhole in a science-fiction movie.  I could see a round tunnel behind it, and on the other side, an equally huge, bright mass of light.  This seemed to describe where Orion was coming from.”

Oh. Kind of like:

 

 

 

 

 

“Then I felt myself flying or being pulled through the hole, and found myself on the other side, in the other universe.  I had only had the intention of looking at all this, but suddenly it was like actually being there, though I was still quite aware of the usual room around me.  I could feel tingling, like little sparks, and warmth all over my body.  As I more or less adjusted to my surroundings, I began to see the sparks as small, twinkling points of light all around me.  Somehow the points of light seemed excited and happy, as if they were glad I was there.  It felt like the entire space was filled with love and joy—and fun, a sense of lightness, as if I had walked into some wonderful celebration.  Mendy was observing all this, and she could see the same little lights and feel the sensation of love.  There was absolutely no seriousness or gravity about any of this.”
https://elenedom.wordpress.com/2010/03/17/orions-net/

(Discovery and her crew do in fact end up in another universe in the middle of the season, but their experience is far darker than mine.)

The spores are depicted as, guess what, little points of light that sometimes act as if they are conscious beings. At the end of one sequence of using the drive, one of the sparks flies with apparent intention onto the shoulder of Cadet Tilly and disappears into her body, leaving us with a mystery to look forward to in the next season. Perhaps we are meant to understand that, rather than being made of physical protoplasm like fungi on Earth, the magic mycelia exist as purely energetic beings in the mold of some other space-native creatures that have cropped up on Star Trek from time to time. That would be a bit easier to swallow, since otherwise one must explain how physical fungi could get sustenance out in the void.

Whatever sort of biology it is supposed to have, the mycelial network contains fascinating possibilities. Within it, one can communicate with others who have entered, even those who exist in alternate universes, and reconnect with the dead. Linear time seems irrelevant. For a while Stamets becomes understandably confused and unstuck in time, unmoored from the usual limited consensus reality and not yet able to find his way through the infinitely complex patterns beyond it. I found myself identifying with that too.

It’s music that allows Stamets to get oriented again, and later to bring the ship home. “Follow the music,” his deceased partner tells him, from within the mycelia. Discovery and her crew are saved by a gay man’s love of opera. Perfectly plausible, right?

As with the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “Sub Rosa,” which I wrote about a few months ago, I began to wonder whether someone had seen what I had seen, and had packaged it as science fiction to make it more acceptable. Or maybe these ideas have shown up because there are truths that we all know about subconsciously, and they find their way to the surface when we let ourselves wander freely in search of stories.

Star Trek: Discovery wrapped up its first season tonight, and afterward one of the showrunners, Aaron Harberts, said that something they are really interested in for the next year is “the collision between science and spirituality.” We’ll have a long wait to see what they do with that, but even the fact that they have it in mind feels like light-years of progress to me.

 

The idea that everything is conscious, or “panpsychism”:
https://qz.com/1184574/the-idea-that-everything-from-spoons-to-stones-are-conscious-is-gaining-academic-credibility/

Human hearts are connected to geomagnetic and solar activity:
https://www.chi.is/resource/geomagnetic/?utm_source=CHI+COMMUNITY&utm_campaign=3d22c57494-September-2017-Community&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_a80f47d270-3d22c57494-122790253&mc_cid=3d22c57494&mc_eid=16c170fb9a

Related post: 
https://elenedom.wordpress.com/2015/04/01/vulcan-ancestry/

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Medicine Buddha

My patient and friend Dawn studied Buddhism in Nepal many years ago and has practiced diligently ever since. One of her teachers from there, Lama Zopa Rinpoche, does a great deal of traveling and was recently in Santa Fe, where she was able to see him. At her next appointment, she brought me a card depicting the Medicine Buddha, which he had blessed. She said that she knew it was supposed to be for me.

 Here is a similar depiction:

When Dawn put the card into my hands, it seemed to be vibrating, as if it were alive. Lama Zopa’s blessing and intentions seemed to be totally, intensely present still. I had been having an extremely hard time that day, and nearly burst into tears at the generosity and kindness of this gift, which came to me precisely when I needed it most.

But strangely, despite having heard of him many times, and despite the obvious connection to my line of work, I knew nothing of the Medicine Buddha. Those of you who are familiar with my business name or have been to my office know of my love for the image of Kuan Yin and my aspiration to bring some particle of her vast compassion to my work with my patients. I had been content with her, and perhaps it hadn’t yet been time for me to confront this colleague of hers in the cosmic healing arts. Yet it feels now as if he may have always been there in the background.

As soon as I got home, I began reading about this Buddha, Bhaisajya in Sanskrit. I learned that he is the original doctor, the archetype of doctors I would say, though Buddhism does not use that term. I saw that in his left hand he holds a bowl like those used to mix medicines since ancient times, containing the healing he offers to all those who need it.

The article that made the most connection for me was this, though it unfortunately contains a tangle of confused symbols where diacritical marks didn’t make it onto the website properly:
https://www.wildmind.org/mantras/figures/bhaishajyaguru-medicine-buddha-mantra
An essay included in this article touched me profoundly. The author, Srivandana, has struggled all her life with poor health, but she perseveres in her practice and her faith that she can transcend the ills of her body. “I have raged against the certain knowledge that there is no physical healing for me in this lifetime,” she wrote, bringing me again to tears.

Srivandana wrote about the myrobalan fruit that Medicine Buddha holds in his right hand. Used commonly in Ayurvedic and Tibetan medicine, it is called He Zi in the Chinese pharmacopeia, where I learned it as a relatively minor herb. Bitter and sour, it can stop dysentery and cough and restore the voice. What Srivandana described was a terrible tasting medicine, so bitter that one recoils from swallowing it. Yet once one faces the need for it and gulps it down, it brings ease, joy and understanding.

This is the medicine, as Srivandana experiences it:
  “The law of impermanence is the most beautiful thing I can possibly imagine. I have made a practice of contemplating impermanence and recognizing that everything is insubstantial and therefore painful and unsatisfactory. Reflecting on impermanence, allowing it to permeate every pore, every particle of my consciousness, rocks me to the core of my being. I feel as though I have been turned inside-out. Yet the law of impermanence is full of potential and is permeated by the beauty of change. The knowledge that this change lies in my hands, and that I can take responsibility for its coming into being, is hugely empowering.

“The medicine of the Dharma has to be drunk by the gallon, bathed in, fully absorbed. The vast sea of Dharma stretches into the distance, but a single drop can go a long way. Bhaisajyaguru also points out the danger of finding oneself in a void of impermanence, without beauty and without sustenance. I need the beauty that I touch through making art and listening to music, through communicating with spiritual friends; as well as the sustenance gained from meditation, in particular meditation on the sublime abodes of positive emotion, or brahmaviharas.”

Soon I had my own experience of this medicine and the challenge of drinking it. It was the morning after I had a lengthy late-night counseling session with my mentor Mendy Lou Blackburn, the day after a day of unusual depression and anxiety. As I came to consciousness, still half-dreaming, I was contemplating a mental image of Bhaisajyaguru, thinking about what I had read and heard. The image seemed to come alive, and the kindly being held out the bowl toward me, asking me to drink. I took the bowl into my own hands and put it to my lips, but could not make myself take the liquid. After some struggle and some encouragement from him, at last I drank.

I felt a rush through my body and wondered if it was the transformation I was asking for. Something did feel different and better. I asked exactly what the medicine was, what it was meant to do, and I received an answer that was broad and deep. I was planning to write about it right away, as it seemed clear at the time, but I can’t remember what I was told. I know something got into my head that made perfect sense, but then it sank out of my conscious sight. I’ve been told that Medicine Buddha’s teaching is like that, that it acts at a deeper level than the objective mind and can be hard to describe. As far as I can recall it was along the lines of what Srivandana wrote, about change lying in my hands and taking responsibility for my reality coming into being, and the wondrous knowledge that this is possible.

Mendy Lou said that the illness is resistance and the cure is letting go, knowing that all is provided. Or something like that. Part of the little I recall had to do with acceptance of what is, at the same time that one realizes the power to create and transform.

And on so many levels I have been needing a medicine to restore my voice, so greatly needing that.  At the time I didn’t realize that this is a major function of the herb Bhaisajya carries.

I didn’t “believe in” the Medicine Buddha any more than before. I didn’t feel that I had been in contact with a “real” entity in real time, but rather that I was in a dream sort of state and my own mind entirely constructed the encounter with Bhaisajya. But a couple of weeks later I was treating another patient who keeps up her Buddhist practice, and I put on the recording of the Medicine Buddha mantra in Tibetan that I’ve linked below. Mendy Lou came in near the end of the treatment and was sitting in the waiting room, also listening to the chanting. When she and I are in the same space, it seems, it’s easy for all sorts of things to manifest, and I suspect her influence had something to do with what I saw. As I sat with my hands near my patient’s head, lapis blue arms appeared just outside mine, cradling me and adding their own nurturing energy. I felt Bhaisajya’s strength and gentleness, and he seemed at least as real as I.

As usual, I don’t know what this means, but I accept it gratefully.

 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yUJucA-mrgE
Medicine Buddha Mantra:
 I came across this accidentally, but at just the right time, and I have drunk it in as if it were critically needed nourishment, listening over and over, singing and playing it. I don’t know why it has such a deep effect. When I’ve played it during treatments my patients have reported a profound experience.

Here is a rather technical article about Medicine Buddha and his relationship to other celestial beings: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bhaisajyaguru


Myrobalan/He Zi: http://www.chineseherbshealing.com/terminalia-chebula/

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Filed under channeling, health and healing, mythology and metaphor, spirit communication, spirituality

“You know my heart.”

About a week ago I heard that the pastor of one of our local megachurches, Steve Smothermon, had referred to my city councilor as a “militant homosexual.” The exact quote was: “Pat Davis, I think that’s his name, City Councilor Davis on the city council, he come out and said it’s the greatest thing, ‘cause he’s a militant homosexual.”

It kept popping back up in my mind, especially since I have friends who go to that church, and they wouldn’t say such a thing. The issue, if I understand it, was that Councilor Davis was trying to defend LGBTQ kids against some school board members who were trying to remove protections that had previously been put in place.

I must be more sheltered than I think, because I didn’t realize that the term “militant homosexual” is used all the time by a faction of religious extremists who believe that gay people are trying to destroy Christianity, indoctrinate their children, and take over the whole country and perhaps the world. As I write this, the image that is running in my mind is that of my kind, gentle lesbian colleagues and their wives, doing their gardening and puttering around the house. It’s pretty hard to square with the fire-breathing monsters these folks are warning everyone against.

This same pastor has gotten notoriously entangled in politics a number of times. He spoke out against Gov. Susana Martinez a few years ago when she appointed an openly gay man to the PRC. ‘Smothermon told NMPolitics.net last month that Martinez “looked me in the eye personally and said she’s socially conservative… she wouldn’t espouse the homosexual agenda.” He said Howe’s appointment “goes against that.”’ http://nmpolitics.net/index/2012/02/pastors-comments-spark-protest-online-debate/

Ah, now we are on familiar ground— “the homosexual agenda.” Hiring the most qualified candidate, who happens to be gay, is “espousing the homosexual agenda.” Because apparently gay people shouldn’t be allowed to work and therefore have food and a place to live. Or maybe they just shouldn’t be paid with tax dollars? The pastor continued: ‘”These aren’t the people we voted for you to appoint. We voted for you to appoint people who think like we do,” he said, adding that he is “not against the human being, but the lifestyle and the political power that the homosexual agenda has today, as a lobbying agenda, that’s what I begin to come against.”’

“We voted for you to appoint people who think like we do.” Separation of church and state does not seem to mean much to such pastors (and indeed, I have heard a few voices on the right say that it should not exist).

If wanting to avoid being killed or beaten in the street, wanting to be able to work and survive economically, and expecting the fundamental respect accorded to any other member of society— just wanting to live— makes us “militant,” I will be happy to count myself as militant and stand up for that “agenda.” In fact, this crap is making me feel more militant by the day. I fly under my bisexual cloak of invisibility most of the time, for good or ill, so these guys don’t see me. If they did take notice of me, though, they would probably be just as happy to attack me as they would my gay friends. I am taking all this extremely personally.

I could go on with a lot more obvious points, such as the propensity of so many religious folk to harp on their favorite few lines taken out of context, and in translation, from the huge literary tradition that constitutes the Bible. But you know all that. I do want to add a word from someone who comments at liberal pastor John Pavlovitz’ blog, a religious person herself, who stated this at least as well as I could: “If we believe God doesn’t make mistakes and that God it is love and that God made humanity in God’s image, then it stands to reason that if God created someone to be homosexual, then it must have been because it delighted God to do so.”

I will not even engage with the contention that people “choose” to be gay. Everyone should know better by now.

And I should know better than to give all this garbage any space in my brain, but it’s amazing what can worm in there and take up residence. I’m going to tell you about an experience I had nearly three years ago and wrote about then but never dared to share with you because it seems an order of magnitude farther out than anything else I’ve posted. It isn’t, really— that’s probably just my inner insecurity talking. As intense spiritual experiences go, it may even be fairly mainstream. Anyway, it changed everything for me. Here goes:

 

*************************************************************************
Events of 9/30/14

A friend told me with great excitement about a channeler she had discovered, who was giving messages from Jesus, as many do. She felt that his work was what she had been trying to find for a very long time, and said that she had at last discovered real peace. The messages she described sounded very much like what I had heard from Hania Stromberg’s channeling [see my old post “An Appointment with Jesus”] and what I had picked up myself, a real antidote to the controlling, limiting, shaming version of Christianity my friend and so many of us had grown up with.

I went to the channeler’s website to find out more. There were a number of messages that seemed worthwhile and helpful. I was a little put off by the fact that the channeler had been associated with the I AM Movement, which has a number of problematic aspects and was founded by questionable and deceptive leaders. He still uses much of their terminology. But I don’t care about the channeler’s background so much as the content of the messages themselves.

I scanned the sidebar of the home page for subjects. One entry was “Teachings on Homosexuality.” My heart sank. “Oh, crap,” I thought. “Here it comes.” I had a pretty good idea what I was going to find— and what I found was even worse than I expected. Not only was it judgmental in the most insidious and damaging manner I had ever seen, it was couched in language that insisted the speaker wasn’t being judgmental at all. The effect was, “I would never judge anyone, but you’re horrible beyond redemption.” It also came off as “I’m only telling you this for your own good.” I will not repeat what I saw there, because it doesn’t need to be given any validation, and my readers don’t need the trauma. The sanctimoniousness was thick and sticky, and so very familiar.

If this had been written by any typical yahoo wingnut preacher, I would have shaken my head sadly, closed the page, and moved on. But my friend’s reaction to the channeler, and her typical level of depth and thoughtfulness, gave it far more impact in my mind. I felt deeply ill, sick to my stomach. The idea that people, especially young people, would read this and let it get into their systems was horrifying. I knew this wasn’t the Jesus I had met, not remotely, but I couldn’t just leave it alone.

This was one of my piano lesson/lunch and writing/walk on the ditchbank days, and as I strolled under the cottonwoods that afternoon, I quizzed myself very rigorously, just in case, on whether I might be rejecting an actual truth because it wasn’t what I wanted to hear. (That sounds silly now, that I could consider accepting anything so insane even for a nanosecond.) No. Every molecule of my being told me it was utterly, evilly wrong. I sent out distress calls. Normally I don’t have conversations with Him, and don’t have a clear “phone connection,” but I hoped to get a reply. After all, he had told me years earlier that I could always come to him for comfort if I needed to.

A little later, when I got home, I felt his presence. As soon as the contact began, I knew there was really nothing I needed to ask. The answers were in the presence itself. A fountain of love and acceptance rushed down through the top of my head and filled me everywhere. Being me, though, I had to ask for clarification in words.

He did not say that he had nothing to do with this man or that the messages were wrong; he said that the channeler was getting only the surface of what he was trying to say. He showed me a view of an ocean full of creatures, and explained that while there were a great many fish living in the water, this man saw only the few fish that swam toward him and presented themselves to his vision. This image formed clearly in my mind, one fish after another swimming forward, turning, and moving away into the darkness beyond. It was an odd metaphor, it seemed to me, but the meaning was easy to understand.

At the end of that sequence, I heard, “I am the ocean.”

I realized that the reason I had been so upset by the channeler’s presentations was that some part of me believed he might be right. “I need reassurance,” I went on, chattering nervously, along these lines: “I, and people I know, do feel in a way that we are broken or unbalanced or wrong. I don’t really think it’s true, but I feel it. You know that I feel something’s wrong with me because I fall in love too much. I guess you probably think that’s silly, and it is, but I feel it. Anyway, I need a hug!” I was getting seriously teary by this time.

I’d been getting a lovely cosmic hug the whole time already. He said something that surprised me: “You know my heart.” Yes, I did. “And I know yours,” he continued. I was both feeling much better about everything and dissolving further into weepy, overwhelmed jelly.

And then he said something even less expected, something so large that it doesn’t fit in these words: “My heart is yours.”

I felt the meaning, far beyond the words. He had told me Tat tvam asi, Thou art that. We are one. I already partake of Christ Consciousness and I am in my rightful place in the universe of humanity. I am not unacceptable, not wrong, not broken. I am loved, and I always will be. (You are too.)

 

In the weeks that followed this experience, my friend kept sending me more material from that website. None of it was particularly problematic or offensive. I wondered if she had even seen the part that had upset me so, and was afraid to ask. She wanted to know my reaction to what she sent, and I couldn’t figure out how to talk about any of it without bringing up what I saw as a central issue that invalidated the whole body of work. At last I couldn’t avoid it any longer, and I found a way to discuss it with her. She didn’t like that section any better than I did, but she wasn’t worried about the validity of the channeling overall. She reminded me that even the channeler himself had written about the difficulties of getting messages through without having them colored by our own biases and expectations. That was good enough for her. It wasn’t for me.

I was left feeling that I would rather listen to Source Itself than to what anyone else says. To whatever small extent my antennae can receive it, that is. All I can tell you, as usual, is, “This is what I heard. Make of it what you will.”

So what’s the difference between me and others, like the wingnut preachers or this channeler, who claim they know what Jesus is saying? Maybe not much. But I can truthfully state that I am not trying to get any power over others.
****************************************************************

Perhaps the people I am complaining about have tapped into a pervasive field of fear and judgment, just as I connected with a field of love and acceptance. I would suppose that it is absolutely real to them. I know where I would rather live, and I know which is more likely to generate a world that is better for all of us.

More recently, I found myself in a lengthy and eye-opening discussion with a Catholic priest who reminded me that a traditionally religious viewpoint does not necessarily require a narrow, judgmental attitude. I think I’ll save that story for another day.

 

While looking for background about Pastor Smothermon’s comments, I found a couple of other articles of interest:

http://www.paulholtministries.com/2012/02/10/homosexuality-steve-smotherman-and-the-torah-observant-jesus/
This is an argument against those who point out that Jesus didn’t say anything about homosexuality one way or another. Holt writes that Jesus didn’t need to say anything about matters that were already covered in the Torah because he was an observant Jew and so must have agreed with everything in it. Pastor Holt apparently believes that not only does he understand everything Jesus said, he understands everything Jesus did not say as well.


http://nmpolitics.net/index/2012/02/forgiving-smothermon-praying-for-those-his-words-affect/

“Pastor Smothermon does not need to apologize. I have already forgiven him. I pray for him, but more importantly I pray for those his words affect.
“The kids that are bullied on the playground because Pastor Smothermon says being gay is wrong. The individual that continues to seek God’s love but can’t find it because Pastor Smothermon says there is no love, and in essence gays should not hold any job.”

For some perspective on the centrality of the fight against “militant homosexuals” among members of the religious right, check this out:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Gf4jN1xoSo
“True Origins of the Religious Right”
  The emphasis on homosexuality and abortion, issues not brought up in the gospels, turns out to be surprisingly recent. In contrast, although the gospels say that Jesus did speak against divorce, repeatedly, most evangelicals seem happy to let divorce go on. They would like to keep it available for themselves, so it’s perfectly fine. It’s those other people who are doing all the evil.

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Filed under channeling, human rights, spirituality