Within a Single Cigarette

Shorts


My body was feeling uncomfortably tight after sitting on an uncomfortable couch inside an uncomfortable stagnant heat trapped in my house. I stepped outside to enjoy a cigarette and the cool night breeze.

An added bonus were the clear starry skies and my friendly black house cat who sat perched on the ledge of the stone steps leading up to the house. I sat beside her, lit the embers of tobacco and sucked in the smooth soothing smoke.

I looked down at that black cat who looked out down the street at all of the world that she could see. I followed her gaze and peered into her small world she roams at night and day, wondering at the simplicity of her thought, before arching my neck back to stare upon the stars.

Those stars. Those stars I know to be millions of light years away. Some billions. Those stars I know to be massive incandescent gases, some wobbling by effect of much smaller  planets orbiting them. I stared up at those stars and realized I could look at them from so far away, but did not have to live in a world where I wondered what they were.

I knew.

I could imagine with great accuracy what each of those stars actually looked like, because my species, human kind, dared to look beyond our own small world. We dared to look beyond the perseverance of our domain.

We dared to know more than was necessary just to survive.

But at what cost?

Every culture has looked up at the stars. Every person has looked up at the sun and wondered how its light shines upon our form and we are made in its image. Every parent has observed their children grow into their own, separate from them, internalized into the understanding of eternity at last.

Every culture has formed elaborate stories around their findings of the world; of the universe, of their own understanding for our existence – how we came to be, and where are we going.

The society is the father, bringing support and stability to the people. Structure, the backbone to the mechanisms of life. And the mother, she nurtures that life with constant love. And so we observe the grandest phenomenons of our universe take part in all aspects of life. Certain universal truths discovered independently and in different ways from culture to culture.

These truths become encoded into our stories, recordings of our existence; and thus our continued existence is testimony to our pursuit of immortality…. not as individuals, but as a species, as a creature of the earth, and since we cannot survive without the continued existence of our fellow creatures, then it no longer is just a pursuit of one single species.

No.

We are merely the ambassadors of the collective life of this planet. We have been selected (naturally mind you) to be “awakened” to our own self-realization of life, through the very complex and rare evolutionary and physical leap of certain random yet precise DNA mutations to persuade the advantage for a correct patterning of coding that allows our body’s to do what they do today:

observe beyond our present world and wander within the realms of past and future with ease and fluency.

And each culture that has come and gone and united and ripped apart, left behind memories of their greatest humanitarian accomplishments and saddest tragedies, searching for a sign of why we are the way we are.

Why we have been “chosen”.

And every collective identity of culture has struggled with this special feeling, this strange power. And every culture has constructed laws and morals and taboos to help contain this struggle as we, from one generation to the next, one era to the next, unravel the deep mysterious answer to our question: that in someway, this answer, this source for our existence, will somehow reveal to us our purpose and reason to continue on this path, an answer to why we should persevere through the pain and suffering all around us. That it is happening for a reason, that it is only a phase in our efforts to detangle from the confusion we were born into.

Humanity was born, and we were left on our own to find out why.

And now. Now, all these stories, these social codes upheld in every culture, these ways of living based on the necessity for survival, but also based on the pursuit for immortality – to transcend the primal realm of survival, to find a way out, into the bliss of eternity. That we will cheat death, not as an individual, not as a species, but as a representative of Earth.

A hero is born. The Gods await.

My cigarette ends in one last spindle of smoke rising to the heavens and swept away in the strengthening winds and I travel back down from the stars and see my cat still staring down the long road, caught and suspended in the present moment.

“we’re in this together” I say aloud to her as I reach to pet her warm, bony back.

she sinks into my touch and begins to purr as if to say, “Well then don’t fuck it up.”

 

 

 

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Tuesday: I Was Raised an Atheist (but grew up Christian).

Opinion, Running in Circles

We went to church a handful of times. I recall the the usual holiday traditions involving scattered visits to that indoor space where organs blare holy tunes and voices echo in chambered ceilings. I remember talks of Jesus, palms and candles, crackers and grape juice, a book of hymns, and always that man standing in front speaking about god knows what.

But I had no relation with God. Or Jesus. I never read the Bible. My mother never shoved verses down my throat.Sometimes there was chocolate involved usually around the same time as my birthday in April. Church didn’t make sense to me, but then again at the age of 5 there’s a whole world out there that doesn’t make sense yet. It’s all new, and you’re sort of just going along with it.
I was okay with it. I was a polite kid, I knew my manners. I knew how to behave well and  behaving well pleased my Mom, and there was nothing better in the world than pleasing Mom. I guess she was my God. But why did she take us to church 2 or 3 times a year if we weren’t Christian? It was like we were vicarious spectators of christians. Traditions die hard. All of us want a sense of our past, something to anchor us during hard, tumultuous times. Maybe it reminded her of her childhood. Maybe she felt connected to her deceased parents. Maybe she secretly believed in God. Maybe she just liked the peaceful atmosphere. I’d like to think it was because she was deficient in spirit and christian churches were the only spiritual supplements she knew of.

I was raised Atheist, but I’m missing that flab of skin on the tip of my penis. Old traditions die hard. I can remember in the 1st grade at school peeing in one of those elongated sink urinals and my friend was peeing right along side me. I looked over and saw his penis. It looked totally different than mine. I  thought after that penis’s were different on everyone. I had one kind, he had another. I don’t remember when I asked my parents about this, or when I found out about circumcision, but whatever I was told was explained as a hygienic thing; it was a convenience my mom or dad or whoever decided so I didn’t have to worry about infection. It wasn’t until much later I learned about the religious rite behind the practice, and then it wasn’t until maybe a year ago I first heard about psychological trauma instilled by cutting off the foreskin of an infant’s penis. Religious acts often justify violent acts.

Old traditions die hard. The effects of religious doctrine created over a thousand years ago is now inherent in our moral codes and beliefs today, no matter what your affiliation with the church is. These moral codes we live by today aren’t our own free thoughts. It’s programmed, passed down generation after generation. The semitic doctrine has had a hold on western societies for over an era and a half, and in recent history spread like wildfire through colonial missionaries. It’s a human program. And I’ve been trying to free myself from this program, and I’m discovering just how incredibly deep the program runs, and how bloody hard it is to rip it out. We see it in our politics, our government, the way we sacrifice our personality to the appeasement and conformity of education standards or servitude in employment. Our very patriarchal-structured society is none less than the works of religious teachings. Even our science has a somewhat christian agenda; the idea that we are outsiders; objective observers of nature separate from it just as god is somewhere separate from us in his own all-powerful realm looking down on his experimental creations.

Programs aren’t evil. They’re not bad. Without them, there would be no organization in life, and organization is key to the cooperation between life forms so that we may all life. There is a code between the deer and the wolves and beavers and rivers and the mice and the trees and the microbes. Programs are important and vital. It’s what ecology is; that in which life participates with one another.

The people of a culture, as Joseph campbell puts it, “gets their messages from their priests and visionaries and the priest and visionaries may manipulate the myths to their own political advantage.” When our program is manipulated by those in power for their own self-interest, well then we have evil.  And with evil comes pathology. And currently we live under two pathologies instituted by our very own religious predecessors – the first being that we are to direct and control nature instead of placing ourselves in accord with nature and – the second being the political interpretation of myths to the advantage of one group within a society, or one society within a group of nations.

Here I am, 25 years old, feeling that myself and nearly every person around is me living a lonely and unfulfilling life because we might just be living a pathological lie, that is, we are being guided by a deeply engrained program in our behavioral thought patterns of our psyche that says: “worry about yourself and the self-interest of your group and seek to control and manipulate your life by controlling and manipulating all aspects of life around you.”

I’ve got my own issues. We all have our own issues. But it hasn’t been until recently that I’ve even discovered what my issues are, that I’m learning to accept them and invite them to the table of conversation. That I’m learning my issues are in essence what has been called sin, but that sin is not synonymous with evil. That sin is what makes me unique and special and gifted. That my sin is my gateway into the realm that exists outside of the confinements of a society. That I must leave the tiny itty bitty realm of society through the exploration of my sins venturing into the greater realm of the wild and nature, find my connection to it, and return to society fully grown into my self and ready to serve that society in my own way in my own time and in accordance with nature. For so many years I have been trying be a well-behaved human being. I’ve perfected the art of pleasing others so much so that the only way I really know how to receive gratification in life is to please others. And so I get people to like me not because I am being my genuine self, but because I learn what others like and give them that. I was totally out of touch with my own self to serve the pleasure of others, whether they asked for it or not. Good Christian doctrine.

Religion is supposed to be how nature speaks to society; through the shamans or priests or holy ones. Those priests are the members of humanity who sit on the outside edge of society; One foot in the human world, the other foot in the wild natural word. Religion popped up as soon as humans became conscious, as soon as we stepped out of the wild and into our own conscious minds. We have always needed religion to keep us connected as participants to the nature in which we still live inside of and always will. It’s where our morals and values and ethics are derived from.

Nothing has changed since then. The only thing that has changed is that religions popped up that now serve only themselves, and have manipulated whole groups of people to serve them. It’s a pathology. It’s a misinterpretation. It’s a massive psychological brainwashing. It’s slavery. It’s the grandest form of slavery that has ever existed. And many many people saw this, and still see it and then want nothing to do with religion and so they become atheists, and sever themselves from spirituality. But the unintended consequence of this is now we are a nation of people who are still servants to the religious doctrine, but no longer serves the spirit of our planet and our universe.

HOW FUCKED UP IS THAT?

Friday: Ah Christ, You’re telling me God IS real?

Running in Circles, Uncategorized

The wind had calmed down since the hours before when I drifted asleep in my swaying hammock underneath a bustling tarp. I could just hear the grinding and rolling of large smooth stones being pushed and pulled by the constant turbulence of waves mingling with the shore. A rhythmic constant penetrating my ear drums and reverberating in the cavities of my body. The stars were brilliant speckles piercing through the Ironwood and Kamani canopy cover. The dark loom of the steep valley walls enveloped my peripherals. Two words dripped from my lips in a steady repeat, “Remember Brahma. Remember Brahma. Remember Brahma.” I caught myself uttering this strange chant coming into full consciousness, shaken awake by the verbal resonance.  And in that moment a vivid memory of my dream came flowing through the ether, passing through my vision like light projecting through rolling film.

I’m standing in the middle of some bazaar. There is business and commerce happening all around me. I feel like a passive observer. Not quite “there”. Like its just a hologram. I’m trying to see if I recognize anyone in the crowd, my curiosity about this unfamiliar place is growing. It doesn’t take long before I spot my father standing out in the open, and next to him is my stepfather. I cock my head. Huh, that’s strange. I never see them together. But it feels good, seeing them standing next to each other, my two fathers. They smile warmly and beckon me to join them, I do, and soon it’s apparent I am to follow them. They are taking me somewhere.

My fathers lead me down into some underground passage. It’s dark and damp, but it doesn’t feel scary. Water is dripping from the tunnel’s ceiling. We come out into a basement. On the other side of the room are two old women with white hair and gowns standing in front of some stairs leading up from the basement. It looks like they are guarding it. I look to my fathers. They nod their heads and the guardians step aside with grace. We head up the stairs into a well-lit room. It looks like some kind of workshop, unfinished projects lying everywhere covered in saw dust. A very old and ancient man with the widest smile and deep rosy cheeks is present. He turns to me and says, “Now,  you must meditate on Brahma.”

Mid life crisis. The little Death. Initiation. Rites of Passage. The Belly of the whale. The Night Seas. The abyss. Cocooned. Metamorphosis. Mythology. Dreams. Symbology. Meaningful suffering. The significance of life. Participation in the sorrows of the world. When I dreamt that deeply symbolic dream in the Valley of Waimanu, I knew I was being sent a message. And I was excited, for messages are signs, a direct communication, a guidance, from nature; from the soul, the subconscious, to the cognitive prefrontal cortex in which I measly go about living out my limited days.

The soul communicates through our dreams in the form of images, an expression of visual dram images of the energies that inform the body and when our conscious self is particularly open and aware of the deeper existence of our whole being, those dreams become powerful messengers of divinity.

Yeah. You bet I was stoked. I did a little fist pump slumped back down in my hammock fell back down into sleep muttering the words remember Brahma…

The morning came, the wind was back, and my companion friend was already up, meditating on the rocky beach. I waited for him to finish, like a dog on it’s best behavior. I was eager to tell him about my dream. Especially because I knew nothing about the word Brahma, except that it sounded familiar, yet foreign. It reeked of spirituality. Daniel would know. He is well versed in spiritual thought.

“It’s sanskrit. From the Vedic texts. Brahma. Brahma is God, the creator, the destroyer. He is sort of the source of everything, and everything is an expression of Brahma.” We sat down to break our fast. “Here this might help. This is a prayer I say silently before every meal I eat. I’ll say it aloud this time…

Brahmarpanam Brahma Havir 

Brahmagnau Barhmanaahutam

Brahmaiva Tena Ghantavyam

Brahmakarma Samadhina…

“It translates to this, ‘The act of offering is God, the oblation is God. By God it is offered into the Fire of God. God is That which is to be attained by him who performs action pertaining to God….’ It’s a powerful concept. It’s said to believe that the very cosmos evolved out of his being, Brahma, and that atma, your soul, is the expression of Brahma…” He drifts off, as if he’s not sure how much more he can really say about this Brahma deity, diving into his own contemplation on the matter of Brahma.

“I see,” I said, wrinkling my forehead, trying to grasp what Daniel just shared.

“You said you dreamt this?”

“yea… I was told by an old man to meditate on Brahma.” I related the rest of my dream to Daniel. Afterwards we continued on with our morning routine in silence, cleaning our camping dishes, packing up our hammocks, scraping the fungus out from between our toes. 

“That’s a powerful dream, whatever it means.” Daniel finally said.
“yea,” I replied. “I think I’ll let it sit for a while.”

1 year and 4 months later, I’m sitting up late into the night, wide awake and I can’t stop thinking about the dream. Tomorrow I plan to wake up at 5am and bike 20 miles to a 7-mile running race. But right now, at this moment, there’s a symbolic dude with rosy cheeks smiling in my head telling me to meditate on some personification of the entirety of the universe. Well fine. Lets do this.

Time to research.

I type in “Brahma” on Google, and read the subsequent Wikipedia article.  I write some notes down:
Brahma… gender specific…masculine…emerged as a deity, the conceptual personification of Brahman, a visible icon of the impersonal universe… Brahman is the ultimate formless metaphysical reality and cosmic soul in hinduism… from the Bhagavata Purana: Brahma is drowsy, errs and is temporarily incompetent as he puts together the universe… he becomes aware of his confusion and drowsiness, meditates as an ascetic, then realizes Hari (vishnu) in his heart, sees the beginning and end of the universe, and then his creative powers are revealed… Brahma thereafter combines Prakrit (nature, matter) and Purusha (spirit, soul) to create a dazzling variety of living creatures and tempest of casual nexus… he is attributed with the creation of Maya…wherein he creates for the sake of creating…perpetual cycle…on going… imbuing all things with good and evil… the material and spiritual…a beginning and end…Barhma is depicted with four heads looking in the four directions…creator of the four vedas…mounted on a swan… is of the Hindu trinity; Brahma, Vishnu, Shiva.

Pause. Pen taps the notepad. I bite my lip in contemplation.

Contextual information. Nothing more. This isn’t mediation on Brahma. This is meditating on thoughts and ideas representing the concept of Brahma. I’m just researching Brahma. This can’t be what my dream message means me to do. I’m supposed to be Searching, not researching. But researching is what I know how to do. It’s a good skill, it’s just…limiting. But it’s all I have to go by. My intellect. My supple, yolky, tangental intellect. Oh Intellect, how thee connects dots and organizes patterns. How thee extracts reason from rhyme. Lets see what sense you make from all this. Lets see what conclusions you come to. I bet, my sweet sultry Intellect, that you’re going to arrive on the other side of analytical attempt dissatisfied with the answer you find. Here it goes.

Time to process.

I hope you’re ready for this. It’s a special invitation into the greased mechanics of my mind.

To start, the masculinity aspect seems significant here. Connection with my two fathers in my dream and Brahma being associated with the masculine energies. For me it seems masculine energy is a invitation into the descent. Okay let’s put that aside for now.

Moving on, what’s this Brahma/Brahman relationship? Gotta zoom out and do some theological/metaphysical didactics. Might get stuck on this thread for a while. Bear with me…. So Brahma is a God… ok what is a god? Well if we look at the majority of religions (not including Christianity, Islam, Judiasm, they’re the exceptions, funny enough), the commonality is that a god is some kind of personification of an energy form. Essentially, god is the collectively agreed upon imagery of a culture for the individual mind to grasp. It’s a metaphor to describe something actual. It’s not the actual, because the actual transcends our mind and the thoughts stored within. It’s just a model to help explain this transcendental thing we cannot apparently see or sense.

If God is human’s interpretive tool to help perceive different kinds of energies, then what are these energies and why create these allusive and mysterious mythologies surrounding them?

Ahhhhhhhhh. This is a good question is not! No this is really good. I think I’m starting to get somewhere. But before we move on, let’s distill this down just a little more. We’ve now learned the distinction between Brahma and Brahman. It’s the same distinction as Metaphor and Actual; A representation of a thing and the actual thing. Take that cup of coffee in front of you. The cup itself, on it’s own, is a just that: a cup. That’s Brahman. But the word “cup” that you attach to the actual object, that’s Brahma. Okay now let’s synthesize that with what Daniel told me a year and half ago. He said atma/soul is the expression of Brahma in each of us. The cup in front of you is the object. The concept attached to the object is the subject. That subject doesn’t exist in any means that we can see, it exists in our mind, a.k.a the ether. But it’s very significant. Just like you yourself are significant, right? Your body is the object; matter existing in nature, but you, well you are the subject. You are the soul. That’s Brahma. Your body belongs to Brahman, your soul belongs to Brahma…. you are the creative expression of Brahma, in your own way, an unraveling unique story with your very own plot; your own life.

Now here is where things start to get real interesting. Brahma was a concept created much later in the whole history of the Vedics; the ancient texts explaining the universe and how it came to be. The sanskrit verb root is Brih: to expand, conveying the Vedic concept of divine power of spontaneous growth bursting forth into creative activity. What this boils down to is that the universe continues to exist only by means of lifeforms appropriating energy to further create life. That’s why we’re god’s children. Think of your kids, or future kids, as an example. You create them, and thus their existence is the continuing evolutionary cycle of perpetuating life! It’s why phallic  and vaginal symbols are prolific in many cultures, because fertility as regeneration is the only thing that keeps our temporal universe in eternal existence. 

But none of that matters. None of that means diddly squat to hear nor to understand because get this – the essence of who we are, what we are, does not want to be handed the answers. This extinguishes the flame of life. It removes us from the Maya. Life is a mystery for a very important and vital reason: to keep us alive, to keep us living. And this so called God wants us alive because without us, God has no means in which to express itself. And religion and mythology and stories and songs and art and poetry, all these things that represent the truth behind the curtain, behind the illusion, that realm beyond the enclosure of maya, that’s all here to motivate us to keep on living, to keep searching, to keep creating. Whether you’re a monkey or a human or a polyp.

Just look at a good story. A well told story does not tell you straight up what the story is about. It doesn’t sit you down and spell out what the character’s qualities are, their flaws and faults and gifts and strengths. No. As the viewer, you have to go on a journey and discover it for yourself. You have to earn it through the guidance of the telling of the story by means of its structure and form. The structure and form are the symbology; the secret hidden meaning only to be revealed as it is expressed through the telling of the story. We hunger for these stories because it gives us flashes of insight into our own story, our own life. For a moment we see a greater truth, and we’re tricked into thinking we found it ourselves, and it is that moment of gratification from watching or listening to a well told story that parallels our own puzzling life. Our life tiny lives are placed in a  greater realm of existence, one not bound by the physical confinements of a body in space and time. That experience is healing. It motivates us to continue to pursue our own life; our hopes, our dreams, our purpose.

So my psyche told me a story. I don’t know where my psyche got it from. I don’t know where it extracted the symbology of Brahma, or why it decided that would be a good symbol to use for me in particular. That understanding is beyond my intellect’s computational powers (Sorry old pal). I don’t know what all the parts mean, but I’m starting to grasp the overall message. It’s something like this:

It’s time to become a man. It’s time to come into my full being. To do this, I have to jump into the void of life, the underground. All I have to do is face all that I fear, all the pain and suffering and sorrow, I must use my creative energy to see past the guardians of the gate to the tree of life; the workshop; and embrace it with a rosy cheeks and joy and wonder and a cosmic desire to be closer with God – those tiny invisible particles and waves of energy informing my life of its nature and purpose. Now I just have to do it. I must participate in the sorrows of the world, as Buddha eloquently puts it. I must sacrifice the safety of my nest and go out and create a life for myself. And by doing that, I will be enacting the divinity in which our very universe is comprised of. Brahma. Not to shabby yea?

May I rest soundly, indubitably knowing that no matter how much I crave the truth, I will not find it by meditating on the concept of Brahma… only by meditating on Brahma himself… not the idea of god, but God itself.


And in the wise words of Yoda, I bid you good night

Premonitions, Premonitions… these visions you have…Careful you must be when sensing the future… the fear of loss is a path to the dark side… death is a natural part of life. Rejoice for those around you who transform into the Force. Mourn them, do not. Miss them, do not. Attachment leads to jealousy. The shadow of greed, that is… Train yourself to let go of everything you fear to lose.