Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Joan Borysenko quotes Emmanuel

Gabcast! Stop this noise in my head #2

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Audio Blog, Episode #1: Panic!

Gabcast! Stop this noise in my head #1

Monday, March 19, 2007

Stop the payroll madness!

No accounting for L.A. Unified's payroll fiasco
By Bob Sipchen (Monday's column, March 19, 2007)

Six weeks ago the Los Angeles Unified School District switched on a $95-million computerized system for paying the district's 48,000 teachers and other employees. The soft sproing heard from Pacoima to Palms was the sound of Southern California coming unglued.

Initially, someone in the superintendent's office told my colleague Joel Rubin that only 1,000 or so of the district's employees had run into snafus. The district quickly revised this number up to about 7,000 of the district's 77,000 employees. But by Thursday, A.J. Duffy, the teachers union's charmingly cocky president, was putting the number of paycheck casualties between 20,000 and 25,000.

Oddly enough, I think Duffy (who last week inexplicably ended his many-months-long refusal to speak to me) may be underestimating the mayhem, given the number of teachers who tell me that payroll fiasco rants continue to dominate teacher lounges.

Giselle Meneses, for example, recounted with a gradually intensifying exasperation her story of what happened after bureaucracy and technology mated to spawn the beast known universally as "The System."

On Feb. 5 — the first day of the new approach to payroll — the Loma Vista elementary teacher peeked into her bank account and saw that The System had automatically deposited her usual paycheck. "The next day I got a paper check ….So I called the district to find out what was going on."

Meneses says she was put on hold for more than an hour before finally getting through to a human. She explained her problem. Then the line went dead. After another hour on hold she got through again. She explained her case. Click.

Meneses knew better than to do anything with the paper check. But she had no idea that The System had slurped the direct deposit back out of her account. Then her husband realized that they were inexplicably broke.

More calls went unanswered, she says. She went ahead and deposited the check and it cleared. She figured she was OK.

The next payday her check was for $40.69. A voice at district headquarters asserted that The System had paid her twice the month before. Meneses found herself locked into that circular sumo dance known as: Prove that you're not lying about the alleged foul-up.

"I started calling everybody at the district," Meneses says.

Eventually she reached someone at the district. "Hold on, I'm going to transfer you."

"No, no, no, no, no!" Meneses pleaded. The line went dead.

I'll spare you the additional indignities Meneses says she suffered.

Stress aside, she and her husband were able to weather the financial mishaps. But many teachers live paycheck to paycheck, and I've heard from several who failed to make payments to landlords or child-care providers as a result of the foul-ups.

The System reportedly wrote one teacher a check for $11,000. Another testified that The System paid her 20 cents total for the month. Many say that The System refuses to pay for holidays. Others note that The System charged them five times their usual union dues.

The district has cut emergency checks to help with the hardship. But teachers often have to go to the downtown Beaudry Avenue headquarters to pick them up, sometimes waiting many hours. Principals must assign substitutes. Because The System can't seem to account for the various campuses where a sub might work in a given month, this group of educators has been walloped particularly hard.

For a while, I was hearing almost as much rage against the teachers union's alleged lack of responsiveness as the district's. Now the union has hired a law firm and has given the district 45 days to straighten out the mess or risk a lawsuit. Duffy has threatened to send union members marching in the streets if the problems aren't resolved.

This is exactly the kind of mess a teacher's union should throw fits about. I encourage the teachers to build public stocks in front of the Beaudry Avenue headquarters for any bureaucrat who can be proven to have willfully done anything to keep them from getting paid.

Unfortunately, I can't find a good scapegoat.

"There's really no good time to make a payroll change," says Chuck Burbridge, the district's chief financial officer, the guy upon whose lap the project landed last year when the chief information officer retired.

Critics now ask why the district couldn't have rolled The System out more slowly, but Burbridge says running the old and new software simultaneously would have caused even more problems. And although plenty of teachers are ready to blame the software that's causing payroll conniptions (and hence the fools who selected it), I have only to remember new editing systems introduced here at The Times to know what Burbridge means when he says: "The history of big system implementations is not a happy tale."

The old system, at 40, was a patchwork of databases that were often out of sync, Burbridge says. Staffers, he adds, were making 20,000 adjustments by hand every month. Auditors had been clamoring to change it for more than a decade. No administrator had the stomach to do it, Burbridge says, because "they knew it would be hellish."

I'd love to help my teacher friends find catharsis by recommending that Burbridge be clamped into stocks and publicly pelted with cafeteria yams. But I think he's probably right in predicting that the day will come when people will thank the bureaucrats who pushed this imperfect improvement forward.

Even Meneses might sympathize if she had heard Burbridge's sad little laugh when he added: "Today is not that day."

Friday, March 16, 2007

Sai Baba and the Kaliyuga

A wonderful tapestry of Bhagwan. This is similar to the photo I have on my wall. I still am not sure what the open hand signifies.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Caroline Myss interview re: Teresa, of Avila

A Message From Caroline Myss

An interview with Caroline Myss conducted by Andrew Harvey

Dear All:
It is with great pleasure that I share this interview with my good friend and colleague, Andrew Harvey. ENTERING THE CASTLE, my new book, will be released on March 6th, which is also the day I begin my book tour, opening with a lecture in Chicago. The schedule for the cities and venues is attached to the end of this interview and I warmly invite all of you to join me at the launch of this book.
Thank you so much,

An interview with Caroline Myss conducted by Andrew Harvey


All Caroline Myss's work is characterized by a forensic clarity and pioneering courage and brilliance. In her superb new book, "Entering the Castle," out from Free Press, Simon and Schuster, March 6, 2007 for her calendar of events. Caroline enters new territory that of the divinization of the human through mystic devotion, passion, rigor and illumination. Her guide to this most demanding and complex of territories, is the great Catholic mystic, Teresa of Avila; Caroline does a near-miraculous job of helping the modern reader imagine and enter the seven mansions of Teresa's "Interior Castle" of the soul. In Caroline's hands perhaps the greatest of all Christian mystical classics is reinvented and re-imagined for contemporary seekers of all kinds and paths.

Caroline and I sat together on a luminous day in January 2007, in her dining room in Oak Park, IL, and, as the winter sun danced around us, embarked on the wild, rich, exploratory conversation that follows. I pray that all of you who read this will share the holy joy that flowed between us.

Please read our interview slowly, and with your deepest attention. May it bring you what Teresa of Avila called "the inspiration of the loving soul." May it take you into your own "interior castle" and invite you to become "mystics without monasteries" and "Sacred Activists" beings who fuse sacred wisdom and passion, with clear wise radical action, in an endangered world. In St. Teresa's words:

"The Divine has no body on earth but yours,
no hands but yours,
no feet but yours,
Yours are the eyes through which the Divine compassion is to look out to the world
Yours are the feet with which he is to go about doing good;
Yours are the hands with which he is to bless men now."
Andrew Harvey:
Why at this moment in your great career did you choose to write a book about a 16th century nun and her map of the mystical path?

Caroline Myss:
When I was writing Invisible Acts of Power, I was absolutely broken wide open. I took a look at the nature of service and why people were drawn to be of service after surviving a crisis. Somehow, a "resurrection Force", like a primal light from the soul, gets ignited in people who undergo a life transforming crisis, such as loss or disease. This light is the underlying grace that activates personal transformations and specifically the transformations that I noticed included a fundamental need to be of service. These people no longer wanted to take from life; they wanted to give to life. That fascinated me. Something had shifted their interior compass. A passion was awakened in them that gave them a new appetite for life that was made up of an entirely new interior alchemy that was lying dormant before, combining gratitude for their own survival, an appreciation for the simple things of life, and a genuine awareness that the meaning and purpose they were searching for in life was to be found in improving the lives of others. So, I did a mailing on my website and I asked people, "What does the concept of service mean to you?" and "Who have you served?" and, "Who served you?"

Caroline Myss:
As a result of that inquiry, I received over 1,200 responses within ten days. I did not expect that the responses of these people would have the soul-opening affect on me that they did, but I have to say that these responses broke my heart wide open. To this day, I'm not sure that I can communicate exactly how or why the stories of those wonderful people had that effect on me. Maybe it's because I read all 1,300 in such a short period of time, although I don't think so. I think it's because I had the realization for the first time of how profoundly powerful the force of love, generosity, compassion, kindness, and the nonjudging heart truly is. These letters were filled with accounts of people who literally decided to not commit suicide or pulled themselves out of the despair and broken-spirited crisis of being homeless because one human being smiled at them with respect or held a door open for them. That single act was enough to breathe life back into the soul of another human being. I was stunned by how little it took on the part of one human being to do so much for another.

Caroline Myss:
The more I read these stories, the more I thought, "Do human beings have any idea what power they have at all?" I thought they don't go anywhere near this power because they can't see it, and I thought what is it they can't see? Why isn't that power even seen? And then I realized that that is the soul, and we don't see that power because it is so profoundly humble, it's such a sweetly humble light.

Caroline Myss:
I decided that these stories had to be shared, which is why I wrote, INVISIBLE ACTS OF POWER. In gathering all these stories of how a human being resurrects another human being through such simple means, I turned to sacred literature, thinking that I would weave the teachings of all great sacred traditions in between these wonderful accounts as they were living, breathing, proof of the miracles of grace that the great saints and mystics and the greatest holy beings like Jesus and Buddha, said occurred when human actions were blended with the power of Divine grace. But, as I was saturating myself in the sacred literature again, just thinking I was on an academic mission to find the right pieces of sacred literature to put into my book, I thought, "Uh, oh I've put myself on a retreat." My spiritual instincts were awakened immediately with that realization as I knew I had in the language of Teresa of Avila, crossed over the drawbridge and entered into my Castle, only at the time, I had no idea what that meant in terms of the profound depth of the journey that had just begun. I sat in my office one day and thought, "This peace I¹m feeling, this rich delicious peace where am I?" I realized I'd crossed something and I'd gone into a deep, deep retreat space, and I felt for the first time in my life that I had become soft in the sacred. I can't say it any other way.

Andrew Harvey:
Melted into the sacred?

Caroline Myss:
Melted, yes, I guess that would be a better way to say it. I had melted into God. I began to merge into the meaning of Divine language instead of the definition of it. The light from the language of the Divine felt but only for the briefest second as if it was coming right through me. I felt a mystical fire enter into my entire body. Shortly after that, I had a grand mal seizure. And when I came to, I realized that I had drifted into a space of hell, I knew that my wiring - my interior wiring was different - I knew that. I also knew my interior life was different. A passageway had opened up within me that I could sense vibrationally, energetically, spiritually. I could feel it through silence, through prayer. The seizure had blown open the door to my Castle.

Andrew Harvey:
I would love you to talk about the timeless relationship with Teresa that began after the grand mal seizure. This is an extraordinary story, Caroline, and you must share it.

Caroline Myss:
You know you cannot return to your base of power from which you feel safe once you¹ve had a mystical crisis, and it is a crisis. And, what I mean by that is I have an Institute and I was teaching a class and I very much wanted to teach my course on how intuition inevitably evolves to the mystical bridge. And I was going about it mind you as a scholar. It's all I knew but I approached this subject with great reverence because I deeply believe in what I teach. And, so there I was, prepared to teach how we naturally progress from creatures of instinct to a yearning for self-awareness to a desire for consciousness guidance to a passion for a mystical connection. I intended to show on this day the archetypal evolution of the soul through all the great traditions. I was actually going to begin with St. John of the Cross but I grabbed THE INTERIOR CASTLE by Teresa of Avila accidentally and didn't feel like looking through my stack of books to find THE DARK NIGHT OF THE SOUL. And I thought, "What difference does it make anyway?"

Caroline Myss:
Earlier that day, someone in the audience had asked about my personal spiritual history and my spiritual life, which I had always kept private. And perhaps opening up to this wonderful group of individuals created the atmosphere for my encounter with Teresa of Avila, I really can't say for sure. But that morning, after I shared my history with this group more openly than I have ever discussed with any group of people, I returned to the class after break prepared to plunge right into a lecture. No more personal stuff. Suddenly, instantly, I felt something near me, someone near me. And I paused for a moment as I could feel something in my field and that something had an exquisite field of grace. I thought, "Who's with me?" and then I heard, "Follow me, daughter." And I knew it was Teresa. I knew it was her.

Andrew Harvey:
I want to suggest something and that is that one of the things that you discover on this journey into the soul is that you are capable of having the most passionate and powerful and exquisitely empowering relationships with divine human beings from another epoch. Rumi wrote in one of his poems that the relationships between the divine beings of the past and the divine human beings who are trying and struggling to realize themselves are part of the mystery of the godhead and one of the most exquisite of those mysteries.

Andrew Harvey:
I myself have had a very profound soul friendship with Rumi who is more vivid and more alive to me than any other person in my life, and with Jesus. And what I've discovered in my relationship with Rumi and Jesus is that there are definite aspects of my own all to human nature that are fulfilled divinely in their nature, and in a way that constantly works to transform me. I want to suggest to you that there are three aspects of the person I know as you which are close to the personality, divine and human, of Teresa.

Andrew Harvey:
The first is that Teresa is both sublime and extremely practical, and your nature has that wonderful marriage of great elevation and very keen, sometimes fierce, down-home truthfulness.

Andrew Harvey:
The second element that I think links you and her is your extraordinary gift for honest self-revelation. Both Teresa and you are people who are faithful and rigorous to the truth of your own experience and very naked about the realities of that experience, what it costs, what it demands, what it means, what it entails.

Andrew Harvey:
The third aspect that I think links you is that you both have a genius for synthesis and clarifying very complex information into luminous and simple diagrams. What I'm suggesting Caroline is that Teresa knew who she was choosing and she chose you because of these resonances between your nature and hers - so that her divine nature could communicate its essence to yours because yours was - in such remarkable ways - so prepared to mirror hers.

Andrew Harvey:
The other thing that I think is essential in this extraordinary relationship that you've had with Teresa is that your very extensive Catholic education, including your graduate work in theology, prepared you from the earliest part of your life for this mystical experience.

Andrew Harvey:
I would like you to talk about what you feel you derived from that education, and how you feel it has influenced you and sustained you in this mystical partnership that you've had with Teresa.

Caroline Myss:
First, I would like to clarify in great detail exactly what my very delicate and subtle relationship with Teresa was like during the writing of ENTERING THE CASTLE, lest I give the wrong impression. Working with Teresa did not involve episodes of her grabbing my hand and writing through me, as if she or some other secondary spirit had possessed me. It was none of that kind of nonsense. Working with her also did not involve hearing her every day as in that very extraordinary first encounter. Rather, it was subtle, what she would call intellectual revelation and that¹s her name for it - as described in the 6th mansion of her great classic, THE INTERIOR CASTLE.

Caroline Myss:
I experienced a dialogue of intellectual revelation and it required that I, myself become a vessel that required a great deal of preparation. I had to attain a certain state of tranquility, a certain height of interior clarity. This required prayer and silence, which I had to maintain as much as possible within me as well as within my home. My office space became a sanctuary that began to feel like an embodiment of the sacred. This was the only way I could attain the altitude necessary to perceive or receive perceptions that I knew were not mine. The way that I would explain that is that any parent who knows his or her child recognizes when the thinking of someone else has influenced that child. The parent then asks the child, "Who have you been talking to?" They know how that child thinks, and the parameters of that child's perceptual systems, so they recognize immediately when their child has been exposed to a new way of thinking.

Caroline Myss:
And in that same way, you know the way you think and you know the parameters of your thinking, and when you have been given an idea or infused with a perception that is outside your realm of thought. Then you observe how that single perception reorders an entire cluster of thoughts and perceptions that are familiar to you or that are in the formative stages within your sensory system. That is, they are perceptions that you have sensed but not yet given language or structure to, yet these perceptions incarnate into clear form almost instantly as the result of being given one core truth. Teresa¹s guidance was one truth at a time and each one ordered an entire chapter in the book, for example.

Andrew Harvey:
You could only really receive her divine instruction and be receptive to the images of perceptions of her divine instruction if you become like a mirror, cleansed of all your false self impressions.

Caroline Myss:
Exactly. I had to know where I stopped and where she began.

Andrew Harvey:
So, your job was to stay in that state of radiant nothingness so that the everything could flash messages on to the screen of your mirror mind, mirror heart that's the truest meaning of humility, isn't it? To stay in that silent receptivity, that silent, grounded, divinely tender, divinely prayerful receptivity so that into that ground the divine can pour it¹s truth and its brilliance.

Caroline Myss:
First, Andrew, let me say that no one can describe the experience I had more exquisitely than you. Just the phrase, "radiant nothingness" is something I would never have thought to say. On a more grounded level, I had to maintain my inner tranquility, to the best of my ability, given the daily struggles with my own life. But the effort is so worth the rewards. I think it is appropriate to ask about the relevance of the teachings of this Carmelite nun from the 1600's in today's society whose great work was a treatise on mystical illumination through prayer. At first glance, the ordinary mind would be inclined perhaps to dismiss her work as too Catholic or just for Catholics or just for nuns or monastics. But nothing could be further from the truth. We are living in a world gone mad, but not just mad in terms of war and chaos. There is a madness in this world that is the result of living too fast, forcing yourself to function without time to reflect upon the cause and effect of your choices and the quality of your relationships and the consequences of your actions. People live so scheduled, so pressured, so bound up in this nonsensical adoration of doing things faster and faster and faster among other superficial values that this adoration of speed has transferred to what they expect from their spiritual life, if you want to call what they have a spiritual life at all. A yoga class and a vegetarian diet is not a spiritual life, nor is therapy and learning about self-empowerment and how to get what you want in three easy lessons. What on earth does that have to do with the soul?

Caroline Myss:
Small comments are great indicators of what people really believe as opposed to what they say they believe and the following example, which is among the most common that I hear, positions the matter of faith as the last empowered option that people turn to. When a crisis occurs and everything "humanly possible" has been done to rectify or treat the problem or illness, people will always say, "All we can do now is pray". Prayer is seen as a last option or the tactic one turns to when the really effective things that they were counting on have failed. The statement is really a symbolic admission that says prayer is the caboose on the train of life for people and not the engine. If people truly understood the power of prayer and the power of grace, they would pray as their first step in every thing that they did and not as a last resort because everything else on the human level failed. But that is not how most people truly and authentically relate to the power of prayer it is not a real power for them, at least it is not as real as a power they can touch.

Caroline Myss:
It's more than appropriate at this critical stage in our spiritual, social, and political climate, that the work of Teresa of Avila be re-introduced into the mainstream of our culture. People need to discover the profound power of their soul. We need to discover the power that the mystics uncovered when they fell in love with God. We need to discover that more than needing to be healed, that we have the capacity to heal others and that our deepest calling in life is to move beyond needing to have more and more and more. We need to step beyond ourselves and discover what it means to be of service, beyond the experience of taking care of others in such a way that it leads to self-exhaustion, resentment, and burn-out. That's not spiritual service; that's self-pity and working from the motivation of the ego. The soul doesn't exhaust from serving others, regardless of the arena, but one has to learn how to merge service with wisdom, self-reflection, and the management of grace.

Caroline Myss:
As odd as this may strike the reader upon first glance, the fact is that the call to be a "mystic out of a monastery" and to serve humanity through acts of the soul is now falling upon the shoulders of the ordinary human being. Mystics have long been associated with being recluses, running away to monasteries in order to keep their own company. But they were wild, strong, stubborn, powerful, and rebellious personalities who lead rebellions and wrote great books and turned their worlds up-side-down. They became the healers of their day and the educators and the ones who withdrew into prayer in order to receive Divine revelation about what the society should do next in times of great change. The last thing Teresa of Avila or Francis of Assisi or John of the Cross or Eastern mystics such as Rumi or Rabindranath Tagore were recluses. They were profound and powerful leaders of eras of transformation, not unlike the times we face right now.

Caroline Myss:
What they knew is what many people are now discovering in their own way: the more the outside world spins out of control, the more your interior world must assume full control. Acquiring material goods will not help you to make sense of the massive changes occurring in this world and you have to be blind to think that America or the rest of the world is headed toward peace. We are headed toward more and more chaotic change and we must rise to face that change with courage and not denial. That is why I feel compelled to lead people across cross the drawbridge and into their inner Castle. Each person is born with a passion to connect with the sacred. We have a yearning for that. We have an absolutely passion to be brought to our knees before the Divine, to witness a miracle, to see the waters part, to see the blind recover their eyesight, to see people healed from incurable diseases. We long to see the presence of God among us in these ways, which is why people make pilgrimages to sacred spots or even go on nature outings and swoon over a sunset. They will reach to anything to be near God, or as close to a version of God as they will allow themselves to go near. Teresa's teachings are perfect for this time. They are perfect for the modern sojourner. I know because I have worked with people for twenty-five years and I have come to the conclusion that this search for highest potential that drives the contemporary spiritual seeker is really a search for the drawbridge into the Castle. It's really a search to find a way not to be afraid of your own life, or to hear guidance that tells you to help a homeless person. It's tragic to live in fear of your own life. Tragic.

Andrew Harvey:
Lets get back to the influence that your Catholic background had on you. I thinks it's crucial.

Caroline Myss:
Well, I'm no devotee of the Vatican, so let's just say there¹s a difference between religion and the soul path. And the religion, any religion, is an expression of the politics of God, so all religions have that in common therein lies the politics of God, so whether your dealing with Judaism or Islam or Catholicism, all of them are a manifestation of the power of God reduced to tribalism and tribal masks and tribal myths. But, Catholic mysticism absolutely intrigues me, the tradition of the saints, the tradition of the mystical experience, the tradition of being passionately drawn to the soul's journey. I believe I would be a mystic no matter what tradition I had been born in because that is the nature of my soul. I happen to have been born a Catholic, which is the most mystical tradition of the Christians. So, the ground rules were set for me to walk this path within the Christian tradition.

Caroline Myss:
So I have this tradition in my bones that says, "Heaven walks next to you." Not above you, within and next to. It breathes with you. The Madonna is not some imaginative force she's not some goddess, I can't use that word very comfortably, actually, as it's not natural to me. But she is very much a Divine Mother and she appears when this Earth is in trouble. And you know what, she does, like her famous apparitions at Lourdes, Fatima, and now Medjugorje. Her messages are consistent in all apparitions, messages calling for prayers, conversion not to Catholicism, by the way, but to prayer and to peace. In return, places of profound miracles are left behind, such as the healing water of Lourdes. In none of her apparitions has she urged people to convert to Catholicism. She urges conversion to acts of love, prayer, and compassion so that all of humanity can cease its unnecessary suffering.

Caroline Myss:
Now, the concept of what mysticism is very much a mystery. It is a deep and profoundly conscious mystery that beckons one to tamper with the very structure of his or her cosmic compass. A person that says I don¹t think I want heaven to be way up above me. Rather, I think I want it next to me, indeed, I want heaven to exist within me. What would happen, for example, if I shifted the location of my idea of God and decided that the Divine did not exist in some sort of cosmic distance above or beyond the celestial bodies of light. What if I lowered that equation and breathed the Divine next to me and within me, surrounding myself with the presence and power of God. That shift in compass would mean the end of all boundaries between this physical world and a Divine world as the two would merge into one.²

Caroline Myss:
Our five senses want immediate gratification. We want to see the cause and effect of our actions right now, and it¹s very hard to compete with the speed at which our five senses want a cause and effect. Like money, we want to see a cause and effect on the interest of our investments immediately. It¹s very difficult to compete with that reality. So, when you say to someone that prayer is far more powerful than any force in the physical world, I realize that to the five sensory driven individual, that remains incomprehensible. People often ask, "Well, which prayers work?" They treat prayers as magical spells.

Andrew Harvey:
I think that is true. I think you were saved from what I call "the marzipan mysticism of our time" by being schooled in this clean, clear, fierce, rigorous school of Catholic mysticism. There are five aspects of this schooling that have actually been penetrating your work from the beginning, and that are now coming to fruition in Entering the Castle.

Andrew Harvey:
The first thing that you got, I believe, from this amazing education that you had was what you describe as the feeling that heaven is walking in you and beside you - a profound sense of the sacred and of the cosmos as sacred, which is the essence of the great Catholic mystics from Eckhart to St. Francis to Teresa, herself.

Andrew Harvey:
The second thing I believe that you have derived from the Catholic mystical tradition is a profound sense that the core of the relationship between the soul and the Beloved is a great passion, a great holy, divine passion. You have this in your personal life, in the way you teach and in the way you speak about Teresa but, it¹s one of the things that has deeply intoxicated you when you speak about Teresa, you speak about her with a great holy passion of the soul and it¹s this holy passion of the Christian mystics, for Jesus or for the Madonna that has actually ignited the great stream of Christian mysticism, and it¹s something that you share and transmit.

Andrew Harvey:
The third thing that I believe you derive from your Catholic schooling is a very deep discipline of devotion. All of the great mystics of the Catholic tradition speak again and again in different ways of the necessity for a daily, down-home practice of deep contemplative devotion as a profound means of uncovering the inner life of the soul. And, one of the things I love deeply about your book is your constant emphasis on the unending need for this sacred discipline.

Andrew Harvey:
The fourth thing that I believe that you have inherited from this tradition is one of it¹s greatest contributions to world mysticism - an absolutely no-nonsense psychological realism.

Andrew Harvey:
And one of the great strengths of the book that you¹ve created is how again and again you help people see how their fears, fantasies and illusions are blocking them.

Andrew Harvey:
Finally you have inherited, I believe from the Catholic mystical tradition, a deep belief in sanctity. You deeply believe in the divinization of the human through the disciplines of mystical rigor. You truly believe that through these exercises, through this discipline, through this devotion, through following this rigorous road map of the soul that all of the Catholic mystics have and Teresa, of course is the supreme teacher of it that the human being can go to a completely new level of self-empowerment, radiance, humility and unconditional compassionate action in this world. This is a very powerful transmission that's come through to you from your tradition.

Andrew Harvey:
What is going to make this book so helpful is that you have separated the essential jewels of the tradition from the dogma and the authoritarian aspects of the tradition, which are clearly destructive. Now, these jewels - of a profound sense of cosmic sacredness, of a deep sense of holy passion, of an absolute commitment to true discipline, of a profound psychological realism that is absolutely unsentimental and of a vision of the potential sanctification of the human can now through Teresa and your work together be given to any seeker on any path of any religion to be used in the core of modern life.

Andrew Harvey:
I am so moved by the way in which you have been able to universalize and rescue these truths from all of the excretions of the tradition, which you nevertheless celebrate with such profound humility and gratitude.

Andrew Harvey:
What you're looking at in our world, is an overwhelming, even demonic triumph of the false self, in all the different aspects of human endeavor. This is why your enterprise in this book is so important. Through Teresa's grace and with her help, you are bringing back an authentic mysticism which is deeply rigorous, which shines a divine, clear, fierce light on all illusions, all agendas, all fantasies and helps people enter the truth and the peace and the real self-empowerment of the soul.

Andrew Harvey:
What is especially exiting to me about what you¹re saying is your insistence that the demands of this time have ended the privileged vision of the mystic as a person who withdraws into a monastery or an ashram. I agree deeply with you that our time of vast and challenging change is inviting all of us to become what you call mystics without monasteries, and to act from the deepest spiritual wisdom in all the arenas of our burning world.

Andrew Harvey:
Am I characterizing your thought?

Caroline Myss:
Yes, absolutely. And within that context of transformation that you described, again the question needs to be posed, "Why would someone want to enter his or her Castle?" I bring this up again because the fact is this journey is one of great power. No one makes this journey and continues to live an ordinary life. The Castle is the deep metaphor for the soul. Why would someone want to enter the journey of illumination? What's in it for them? When a mystic speaks about how painful the journey into the soul could be, for example, what are they talking about? And that is an appropriate question, among the many we could bring up, because as I have discovered in my work, most people are terrified of an intimate experience with God. They fear that they will lose their worldly goods and suffer illness, loss, and poverty an image that we can thank Catholic history for fostering.

Caroline Myss:
But what I explain to people again and again is that a mystics¹ pain is not ordinary pain, not at all. It¹s the pain of seeing clearly, a pain that comes from waking up and seeing that life could be other than the way it is. It's the pain of recognizing that humanity does not have to struggle the way it's struggling or to see clearly, that there is a cost to seeing truth and living within a culture of deception.

Andrew Harvey:
T. S. Elliott puts it beautifully when he says that the choice is between fire or fire. The fire of being destroyed by a culture of negation, irony, desolation, cynicism and a total addiction to lies; or the fire that is the divine fire that purifies and that can sometimes feel like agony and death.

Caroline Myss:
Rightly so. A person should say, "What do I want this for?" What do I want this for? And it's like what you face when you motivate people in sacred activism. Why do I want to become active with the sacred? Why? When in fact I could indulge myself and continue to indulge myself. What do I care about the next generation I'm not going to be here?

Andrew Harvey:
The chaos and deceit that is occurring all around us today can be so overwhelming as to lead to complete denial like in ancient Rome, where they turned to a culture of bread and circuses.

Andrew Harvey:
The thing that does motivate people, I've discovered -and this I believe is what all mystics discover- is that the radiance and power and joy and ecstasy and deep health of the heart that come to those who undertake the mystical journey, intoxicates them with a real promise that their life can be a transfigured life.

Caroline Myss:
What ultimately I have hope in, as I talk to people about this mystical renaissance that we are in the midst of right now, is that people are being called, just like they were in the old days of the classic mystics who were called into monasteries. They difference is these individuals are not meant to be recluses mystics without monasteries. They are being called to fall in love with God in an impassioned way wherever they are and they are given a ferocious appetite to discover that power of prayer, to discover that force to hold a door open and watch that simple act of respect give a man back his will to live. Nothing is more profound than to awaken your power to channel grace at a distance and know that the grace that flows through you is a source of healing. That they can access what the mystics did, that they can become a vessel of transformation through the power of their soul that is what the journey of illumination within one¹s Castle is all about. That's when a person discovers for the first time what the real meaning is of knowing he or she was truly born for a higher purpose. That higher purpose has to do with a Divine calling and not an earthly occupation. Therein lies the seduction of God.

Andrew Harvey:
I believe that this book represents your own transformation as well as a transmission from Teresa to your heart. I believe that you¹ve been taken into the profound and fiery crucible of a mystical transformation. I believe too that the process of the writing of the book and getting all the different mansions of the soul clear for other people, have also been a tremendous process of self-reflection and self-transformation for yourself.

Andrew Harvey:
And I wonder on this morning, as we sit with the winter sun streaming through into your dining room - where are you in your journey now? Where has this sublime and harrowing journey with Teresa taken you?

Caroline Myss:
Where I once felt that I didn¹t have any active spiritual life, I feel completely alive spiritually. I feel alive, whereas before I felt like an outsider, looking in. That¹s the best way I could put it.
"May God let you taste
the incredible joy of complete union.
Nothing the world can give us
Not possessions, not riches, not delights or honors, not great feasts or
Can match the happiness of a single moment
Spent by a soul totally united to God."

Teresa of Avila

(copyright myss/CMED 2007)
Andrew Harvey is an internationally acclaimed poet, novelist, mystical scholar, spiritual teacher and a pioneering architect of Sacred Activism. He is the author of more than 30 books, including "Son of Man"; "The Mystical Path to Christ" (Tarcher 1999) which sets out in detail his vision of Jesus's revolutionary mission and the Christian mystical tradition, and The "Way of Passion: A Celebration of Rumi" (Tarcher paperback 2000) which explores his long love for Rumi and Rumi's message for our time. Andrew Harvey is now dedicating his life to what he has called "Sacred Activism" that fusion of sacred knowledge, passion, and energy with clear wise radical action in all arena's that he believes essential both to the transformation of humanity and it's survival. His DVD Sacred Activism is available fromthe Hartley Foundation at 800-937-1819 info at Information about his biography, schedule and workshops can be obtained from his website:

Link to: Caroline Myss (BOOK TOUR) Entering The Castle
Chicago, IL 3/6/07
New York, NY 3/8/07
Boston, MA 3/10/07
Washington, DC 3/12/07
Phoenix, AZ 3/19/07
Los Angeles, CA 3/21/07
San Francisco, CA 3/23/07
Seattle, WA 3/25/07
Denver, CO 3/27/07
Phladelphia,PA 3/29/07
Tulsa 3/31/07

Free Audio/Video Streams
Andrew Harvey - July 2005 CMED Guest

Andrew Harvey - Nov 2005 CMED Guest

The gift of not being paid

"I experienced a dialogue of intellectual revelation and it required that I, myself become a vessel that required a great deal of preparation. I had to attain a certain state of tranquility, a certain height of interior clarity. This required prayer and silence, which I had to maintain as much as possible with me as well as within my home".
-Caroline Myss

In the two months since my Inky died, Sai Baba revealed himself to me, a new relationship crippled me, and LAUSD decided not to pay me, I finally lost my center this morning. After deconstructing my loss of self, I bottomed out and flew through a prism of awareness that made me laugh myself silly. Everything has happened for a very specific reason. That reason is a fundamental, feeling level understanding that virtually nothing in the material or mental realm is worth losing my serenity and peace of mind, which is the real wealth of the universe. Everything in my life is well but my ego still throbs with the seduction of "my way". As I have said in the past, "I would rather have nothing work out at all if at least it didn't work out my way". This is the definition of insanity.
This is Sai Baba's newest gift today.
What a crazy guru!

Monday, March 12, 2007

The Black Madonna: interview with China Galland

China Galland discusses the Black Madonna -- a mysterious image of divinity -- throughout many cultures and the ages, the goddesses' sublimation among white Western culture, and current traditions which still venerate the female Buddha in the modern world.

Capen: Well, China, your dream.......

Galland: The dream that I had recently about the Black Madonna: I woke up, I woke myself up, giving a lecture on the Black Madonna. My husband was still up in bed reading and he actually took notes and handed them to me after I woke up. (Laughs.) Because what I was saying in my dream was that now's the time to bring the Black Madonna forward, because she can hep us heal our tortured racial history with one another and give us a spiritual context in which we can be reconciled.

Capen: Now this is something that has been going on for years with you, this image is recurring. We talk about recurring dreams; here's an image in dreams that keeps coming back, so you made it your work and it has to do with unlocking something in you, too.

Galland: It has to do with unlocking something in me but I think it also has to do with something that's being unlocked in many people during this time. Because since the early 1980's there have been more and more books appearing about the Black Madonna. I've interviewed Jungian analysts like Marion Woodman in Canada, Dora Kalff in Switzerland, people like this who are saying that the Black Madonna is appearing in people's dreams, men and women. And signaling a transformation of consciousness. A very positive, powerful transformation of consciousness that's going on. And you know, a lot of people don't necessarily talk to others about their dreams or pay attention to them -- maybe they only tell someone like a therapist or an analyst -- but more and more people are reporting this phenomena, but always it's a positive image of transformation when she appears.



Capen: So we'll get to the racial aspect of it in the mundane world. But is there something that preceeds that, that's unlocked? What is this Black Madonna? What does it hold for people?

Galland: It holds many things, Stephen, for many people and it means something different in different cultures. Before there was a Black Madonna, and in many cultures around the World for my research I found there is this very powerful figure of a dark mother. She is the Earth Mother. So, in my opinion, one of the things that the Black Madonna is, is the contemporary manifestation of the ancient Earth Mother.

In pre Indo-European Europe -- I'm the European in terms of background. In pre Indo-European Europe, black meant life and fertility, white meant death. Which is the symbolism of the colors in China for example or in India. White is the color of mourning but black meant life. So this was the Earth Mother of what's called "old Europe" in archeological terms -- pre Indo-European Europe.

That's one supposition and one theory and given the number of cultures where there is a dark Earth Mother, whether it's the Pacho Mama in South America, or in Tibet, we have Tara who is most commonly depicted as Green Tara, or White Tara but she has multiple forms some of which are black.

And the Tibetan Buddhism arose out of bringing Buddhism in from India, and combining it with the earlier Bunpro tradition which again is an Earth-based tradition. In India you have the figure of Kali who is really a village diety, unlike Durga who is more Brumonic deity, who is the warrior queen. And Kali springs from Durga in the great Devi Mahatmia [possible spelling error -- WG] the myth of the female diety who comes when all the male gods have been defeated, and saves the World which is on the verge of destruction. And Kali, again another dark female figure comes from Durga, but actually has a very ancient history again coming out of Dravidian sources and Earth-based cultures. So I think this is the Earth Mother arising in this time. It's almost as though the Earth is speaking to us, dreaming through us, saying "come back to me, connect with me, be attentive to me, see yourself in relationship with me and as part of me. "



Capen: There was a book a few years ago it was entitled in fact, The Return of the Feminine. What does this mean to you? What does it mean for the World? We've come a long way since the matriarchal societies, many thousands of years, so a return to that means...

Galland: I think it probably means whatever it means to you. In different cultures we've assigned different behaviors to "the feminine" and what we might call the "masculine." So it is simply in my opinion a way of talking about, and it is very important not to confuse the subject and the object here, but it is a way of talking about reclaiming or intergrating or including that which has been left out. That which has been marginalized, that which has been trivialized, ignored and debased. And that might be something different in one culture than it might be in another.

So I don't, I don't want to get too rigid about it. I think it is extremely important to remember especially in our contemporary times of identity politics and division and all the fractionalizing that is happening, that masculine and feminine are simply descriptive terms. They're not things in an of themeselves, they are aspects of being. and my favorite story actually comes from Tara, who is the female Buddha in the Tibetan tradition, who at one time was actually an historical personage. And was noted and famous for her compassion, her generosity, her wisdom, her patience, her concentration. And everbody in that day and time traditionally believed that in order to be fully and completely enlightened you had to have a man's body.

And so this woman, who before her name was Tara, before she bacame enlightened, her name was Yeshi Dawa, which means wisdom moon. And Wisdom Moon was being encouraged to pray that she could be somehow magically transformed and receive a man's body, or that upon her next rebirth, she would receive a man's body, because that was the only thing missing, she was told, between herself and enlightenment. Her spiritual accomplishment was so great, all she needed was the male form. And she said to all the monks and holymens who were encouraging her in this direction 'Thank you very much, but I've long thought about this. Nowhere can I find what is male, nowhere can I find what is female. Worldy beings are always confused about this matter. These items, these aspects are simply aspects of being, masculine and feminine. No more seperate from one another than a wave is from water. Since most Buddhas have chosen to come in the form of a man, perhaps it would be more helpful if I chose,' and then she took a vow, 'to only be enlightened in a woman's body for all times until all suffering is ended in all worlds for all beings.' And so she was.

So this story in which Tara very clearly says, and this preceeds by thousands of years, any kind of feminism, or idea about masculine, feminine, and women's liberation. she simply, to me, this is really what the Buddha taught. Which is that one must be grounded in the truth of one's own experience. No matter what other people say. So this woman, against all received tradition, stood up to all the elevated personages of her day and said 'Thank you very much, I'm perfectly capable of being completely and fully enlightened myself, in this form as a woman.' And so she has been continually reincarnated since that time as a female.



Capen: Now the move into this area of prejudice. Having to do with black and white.

Galland: You're talking about racial prejudice.

Capen: Yes. You see an awakening going on. I think a number of people see this, but it seems to be part of your explorations. That there is an awakening at this point that is connected somehow on a symbolic plane with the Black Madonna.

Galland: For me it is. Because that is what's coming to me in my dreams. But ever since I saw the photograph of a cold Black Madonna in an enormous Benedictine monastery in Switzerland, Catholic monastery, and discovered that she was a Madonna especially revered in one of the main pilgrimage sites in Europe, I thought what in the world is this Black Madonna about? I grew up Catholoic and I never heard of a Black Madonna. When I went from India, from interviewing the Dali Lama, to Switzerland to see this Black Madonna, I first got into this material very innocently and naively.

I thought this is something very Jungian, Jung had seen this Madonna, went and visited it many times. She's outside of Zurich, near where Jung had lived. I thought oh, this is something about reclaiming the darkness within. People talk about the psyches and the shadow. This is about integration of personality, it has to do with wholeness, it couldn't have anything to do with race, it's in Switzerland, Switzerland is lily white. But Jung also maintained that this particular goddess was a manifestation of the goddess Isis. Now when I began to do my research for my last book, Longing For Darkness: Tara and the Black Madonna, I discovered that Isis was in fact worshiped all throughout the Roman Empire whihc had extended as far north as Switzerland and Germany. Isis was an Egyptian deity, an African Egyptian deity. Whose main shrine and temple was at Philo, in southern Egypt, which is now in the area of the Kush [possible spelling error -- WG], which is Black Africa.

So Isis, too, like many of the female deities, many deities, had several forms, but some of which were black. And, as I said, she was worshiped throughout southern France and throughout the Roman Empire, and Italy. So there are, I began to understand that perhaps there was a racial connection. That the Black Madonna even in Switzerland, might be connected,and symbolize the race of the people who originally this image had come from. That is one possiblilty. I do not know for a fact. There is a great deal more research that needs to be done. I couldn't find any specific archeological evidence, but I didn't spend more than a month there. And I didn't know German. I would have to have done a lot more research to be able to make that explicit connection between the site at Einsiedeln, Switzerland, and Isis.



When I began to do the research and tried to find out why would Jung have said that, and discovered that Isis had been worshiped there, I began to do more research on Isis and how that figure was Helenized, and also worshiped by the Greeks, and translated in that time in the mesopotamian region into Artemis as well. And there was a black Artemis who was carried into France, and there are Black Madonna sites in France often found along the ancient tin routes of the Greeks, who brought with them a black Artemis. So this figure has many, many sources. As I said, Maria gim Buddist [possible spelling error -- WG] told me herself that she thought there was no necessity to look to the mesopotamian region or even to Egyptian Africa as a source for the Black Madonna in Europe. It could also be the pre Indo-European Earth Mother. I think we have to really talk about individual sites. Why is the Madonna black in Laredo, Italy Why is there a Black Madonna at Chartres Why is there a Black Madonna at Recommodore, Switzerland, Germany, Austria?

There are many Black Madonnas. Poland, the main patron of Poland is a Black Madonna. So I know of at least forty or fifty in Europe, myself, and some people would say that there are more. I would be more conservative, but there are many. Other people would say, that, one scholar I know, Lucia Bernbaum, whose written on the Black Madonnas in Italy, I think her position might be that she might take the lineage back further and say that they're black because originally all people were black. This is what the peleantologists are saying and showing us through the various migration routes, all coming from Africa. I think it would be difficult to prove something like that. I don't know that you need to go back to that argument.

But what it has brought up, and what I'm aware of now is that recently there is a work that has been published that I've not had the good fortune to see yet, but it is an atlas of human geneology, and the migration routes that was done by two professors at Stanford, was the result of 12 years of research of tracking the DNA, and the migration routes as part of the human genum project, an enormous scholarly project. And part of what they found in their research is that the white race is actually quite a newcomer on the scene that in fact what we think of as caucasian is actually a mixture of African, Asian, and, I'm sorry I'm blanking on the third aspect. I can look this article up for you. But in other words, what we call white is actually a mixture of other races. Primarily Asian and African.



So there is no such thing as white people. The whole idea of racial purity is a myth, in any case, and that is something else I discovered about the Black Madonna. For me as I began to understand the possible connections with Africa and with Egypt and migration routes and who we all come from in terms of all of us, initially, perhaps having come from Africa, in terms of the human family. And the book Longing For Darkness that was published in 1990, the Viking, and then the Penguin paperback came out a year later, and I began speaking more often and showing slides of these Black Madonnas. My consciousness began to shift, and I began to realize isn't it a little strange to be a white woman talking about these Black Madonnas? Why aren't there more black people in the audience? How is it to be a black person, what do they think about what I'm saying? And so I began to reach out and get to know people in other communities, whether it's the African-American community or the Latino community, or the Afro-Brazilian community. I've discovered the main patron of Brazil is a Black Madonna. Our lady of Aparasita[possible spelling error -- WG] -- who is called the mother of the excluded.

So this figure is found in many places around the world. I started developing friends in more diverse communities and having dialogues with people, and understanding more and more the racial implications. I don't believe the Black Madonna is black only because of Egyptian Africa or race. I think that is one factor. At some sites she is also black because what was worshiped there prior to Christianity was black meteorite stones that were called the diopodes that means fallen out of the sky, for example, in ephasis I know that that's the case in one of the great temples there. That eventually became a site for Madonna. So there are many reasons why they are black. But, today, I feel like she gives us a way to begin to speak to one another around the positive image of darkness. The Black Madonnas are all very powerful, they are miracle workers, they are healers.

When I show slides, which generally turns out to be primarily a white audience, there's often a few, a handful of African-Americans or peopel from other races that might be there, and its a wonderful way to open the door and acknowledge our diversity. This is a very positive image of darkness and in this culture, anybody of color has been so denegrated, I think it's very exciting and empowering to see this dark, feminine as an object of veneration, an object of devotion, and as a miracle worker, and a healer. And I think that is what her potential is for us. She has a great potential for being a healer. My experience of talking about her, and showing slides of her in mixed audiences and then inviting friends of mine, I have one African-American friend, a writer, Evelyn White, who herself was raised protestant, didn't have any particlular connection with the Madonna, didn't think anything about the Madonna, didn't know about Black Madonnas and found herself in Spain, being taken to see the Balck Madonna at Mont Serat. With no more thought than being taken to see a museum. O.K. your in Barcelona, one of the sights here to see is Our Lady of Mont Serat, who happens to be again, a Black Madonna.

Evelyn's experience was phenomenal, she said, she went in to see it and it was profoundly moving for her as an African American woman to see white people venerating this black woman. And she said she felt like people even treated her differently with a kind of curiosity and friendliness, but a kind of respect that she sometimes does not experience as an African-American woman. She said that she thinks every African-American should have the experience of seeing this madonna. I've talked to others who because in Protestantism, the madonna was thrown out with the reformation, and there was no image of the feminine in Protestantism, that was rejected altogether, it is not a figure that people relate to, necessarily. I think it is a rich vein that can be explored, and again it's this positive image of an aspect of the divine that we have to work with.



Capen: How will or how does the Catholic church receive ideas like this. the Catholic church is based on a trinity, a holy trininty, the quaternity was tossed out when this religion came into its own. And now your work is on behalf of the feminine aspect of this quaternity that's now missing in a huge religion that has a virtual stranglehold on many, many hundreds of millions of people. Do you work with people within the Catholic church, do you talk to people in the course of your research and how are you received?

Galland: I'm also a practicing Catholic. I'm a practicing Buddhist, a practicing Catholic, I , actually you could say I'm promiscuous with God. (laughs) I think the divine comes in many forms and that we make the differences, we make the problems, but I don't think the powers of love in the universe do that. I think that's our pettiness and need to try to puff ourselves up and make ourselves different and better and special. An I frankly ignore that. Yes, I talk about this to other Catholics. Many Catholics are like myself, they've never heard of a Black Madonna, much less seen one. I've thought, wouldn't it be amazing if all Catholic churches in this country had Black Madonnas, had Our Lady of Guadalupe, had other figures besides the usual syrupy white passive image of Mary that's often promulgated by the orthadoxy. The Black Madoonna for me is like, in Tibetan Buddhism they have this wonderful concept called a Terma.

A Terma is a teaching that was planted by a Buddha thousands of years ago, perhaps. It was hidden in a lake, in a cloud, in a rock, in the mind. It is found when it is needed, in the time in which it is needed. And for me the Black Madonna is an ancient figure. The Black Madonna Mont Serat is hundreds and hundreds of years old, the one in Poland goes back to some say the 8th century, it's probably more 13th or 14th century. There is a Black Madoona at Chartes, Einsiedeln dates back to the 9th century. These are ancient images of veneration, and some of them are at main pilgrimmage sites in Europe. It is main stream Catholicism, this is not some obscure, this is nothing occult obscure about this. So why are we suddenly becomming aware of her now? Noticing , this has been a common source of veneration in Europe and pilgrimmage for hundreds of years. I think it is because she has a teaching for us in this time. Part of the teaching is that we are to value diversity, value difference. She is showing us that that which is dark is also luminous, radiant, fertile, fecund, alive, earthy, flowering. And bringing us a completely different view of the darkness and showing us that it is something that need to be venerated, and not rejected or marginalized, but valued deeply.



Capen: So your research, this quest of yours, has taken you from Nepal in years past to Chile recently?

Galland: Brazil.

Capen: To Brazil, in just the recent times. Where will you go from here to follow this, track this story down?

Galland: Into my study, (laughs), into my cave (laughs), to digest and to try to continue to understand this and formulate it and to finish another book. It is due out next year, tentatively entitled The Sacred Feminine. I'm thinking of calling it "Bringing Heaven To Earth," or "I Will Build An Alter With The Pieces Of My Broken Heart." I don't know what it will be entitled, but once again you'll find the figures of Tara, the female Buddha in the Tibetan tradition, the Black Madonna, though this time in Latin America. But also women activists. Because what good is it to have all these ideals and stories in the religious systems if we don't live the values, that they embody. In this new work, I'm looking at women activists as well, who are living.

Capen: And a quick word on your own mentors. I hear a lot of your work echoing the words of Joseph Campbell, for example, who regards the modern day Catholic rituals as very hollow, that the religion has lost its power, and maybe, for this very reason we are discussing today in part. But your mentors, who have you looked to for your own guidance, whether living or not?



Galland: That's a hard question. I want to back up a second before I even begin to try to answer that. Maybe the rituals might be hollow now, but I think it is waht we bring to it. Any ritual can become hollow. Is the devotion alive in one's heart? That's where the ritual and the power really resides. My own experience in letting myself look again, I've been away from the Church for nearly thirty years, so by the time I had spent time in India and Nepal studying Buddhism, and really coming to know the stories of Tara and Durga and the various female dieties in that world, I had a much larger system in which to hold and view Mary, in the Catholic church. And to see her coming for example, in Yugoslavia in the appearances at Medjugorje as well, of course she would come in a form that would be recognized and familiar, in that world. For me, one of the things that has endeared Tara to me is that her compassion is so great, she will appear to us in whatever form we need to see her as. This is what I think the divine does.

Mary is simply a form within a culture that I am familiar with. But perhaps because of what I've studied, I have reimagined her. I was given a gift one day in a meditation, in which I wrote about in Longing For Darkness, I one time simply thought is was a meditation, I didn't realize that it was a gift, that it was a vision. It has haunted me and stayed with me and in fact has inspires this new work. It was a vision of seeing Mary, realizing that of course, the Mary that I grew up with or that I knew, or thought I knew was passive, because that would serve the social order. But that didn't mean that that's who Mary, the Mother of God was, or Mary God the Mother, or Mother God. I began to imagine from my own experience as a mother of three children, that no mother in her right mind stood there passively while her son was being crucified. I imagine that Mary, while Christ was on his way to Golgotha tried to take off the crown of thorns, tried to stop the soldiers from beating him. She did not stand passively by, Mothers don't do that. Of course we wouldn't have seen her as a fierce, ferocious, courageous, brave woman, who was not afraid, but who was outnumbered.



Capen: More in tune with the Goddesses such as Hecate or Kali.

Galland: Or Durga, who's fierce. And I know about this idea of fierceness because at least in the stories in India and Nepal, there are the fierce goddesses, the warrior goddesses that are alive and celebrated in those cultures. It occured to me that I could see Mary in another way, I could imagine her differently. I have, and that has completely reinvigorrated my whole relationship with this Mary. But I have come to her a new person, and she in turn has returned to me a new person. It has completely changed my relationship and I've begun to see how I limit myself in my own mind. The Catholic church is the Catholic church. It is a human insititution, it is fatally flawed. The Pope is an environmental disaster. That doesn't mean that there is nothing of value there, there are things of tremendous value there, and there are things that are terrible there. Absolutely dispicable. The role of the Church for example in Latin America in conjunction with the military juntas during dictatorships is to be despised and castigated. There were some lone priests and bishops and cardinals who were fabulous, and stood against the military juntas. But some were co-opted, and a great tragedy has resulted. But, again, it is a human institution.

There is also great hope and great energy there. I think that each religion has perhaps a different lesson that it has to give us and none of them have the whole picture. I know for myself the emphasis in my understanding of Christianity on forgiveness has been enormously helpful in my own life. In Buddhism the emphasis on compassion has taught me something else. The image of the fully enlightened female Buddha was extremely empowering. In Christianity, if you even had an image of the feminine it was this disempowered, passive idea we were given about Mary. See it's all in our own minds. We can reimagine that, we don't have to accept that. That's again, a gift for me, from the Buddha, who taught that we have to test everything like a goldsmith. To test gold against our own experience, you have to heat it up and pound it and chew it and taste it and smell it, before you decide this is a genuine article, and you accept it. For me, I've needed both these systems to be my companions on my journey. I draw from many, whatever works. To me this is really what the Buddha taught. That all of these systems are simply boats to get us to the other side and when you take a boat across the river you row a raft across the river, when you get out, as the Buddha said you leave the raft there, you don't carry it around on your back once you cross the river. We forget that these enormous systems are all tools to help us and we turn them into our opressors, but we should be able to put them down, like the boat, once we cross the river.

In terms of who my mentors are? Hmmm. The only one that comes to mind at the moment, and I'll probably think of fifty the minute we stop talking, but the one perhaps that's freshest in my mind at the moment is Laura Bonaparte, one of the founders of the Mothers of the Disappeared in Buenes Aries, where thirty thousand people were missing during the military junta. Now eighteen years later, they're still missing, and the Mothers of the Disappeared are still demonstrating every week in the Plaza del Mayo. Laura lost three of her four children, she lost all their spouses, she lost the father of her children and she lost the unborn child of her daughter, one of her two daughters who was murdered. This is a woman who somehow has not become embittered or broken or crazed. She's become larger, she's been transformed by embracing this whole ordeal, and phenomena, and understanding and naming the terrible sin of silence and the culture of complicity that allows this kind of tragedy to happen in a society. When I went to Auschwitz in 1987 in Poland, what was so striking, was not how terrible Hitler was, but how many people cooperated or turned their head, or didn't want to know. Because I rode the trains to Auschwitz, I was realizing as I was riding on the tracks going into Krakov that these were the same lines that people were brought in cattle cars in. And then when I went to Auschwitz and saw how large the area was, and saw the villages nearby that we passed though on the trains, I realized how many people didn't know what to do, didn't want to know, or cooperated. I realized that is the great terror, is the silence, is our own complicity, that we are all capable of. What in our society in America are we being complicit about? What is it that we turn away from? Is it the homeless? Is it our racism that is so endemic in American culture? There are many things that we shy away from, myself included. It is a constant process I think of coming to greater consciousness of what is it I'm not facing.

Here, for me, the Black Madonna has been a tremendously powerful figure because it also came to me during the writing of that book, Mary is dark. When I was in Poland, I spoke to the curator of this painting this priest who is a friend of the Popes who is appointed to take care of the icon at Chence de Hoven [possible spelling error -- WG]the patron of Poland, the Black Madonna of Poland. Who is actually not black the way the Swiss Madonna is, or Mont Serat, or some of the others, she is a very dark, earthy red-brown. But the Poles call her the Black Madonna, Charna Madonna. But this priest told me it is not really correct to call her the Black Madonna, she is actually cosmic red. The painter's intuition was that as this being decended to us she burned through the atmosphere and she darkened. It occurs to me that this Mary that I know and love is a Mary who is dark from entering lives on fire. That is why she is darkened, and the amount of suffering that I think she can hold and absorb has allowed me and helped me be able to be a witness to more and more suffering, both my own and others.

It is main stream Catholicism. This is not some obscure -- this is nothing occult -- The Catholic Church is the Catholic Church. It is a human insititution.

Capen: Thank you, China.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Help me Sai Baba!

Help me Sai Baba, oh great master, to let go of the rage and resentments I feel each moment of the day. Help me, oh all loving god, to let go of this suffocating impulse to get revenge on all the people who I perceive as hurting me. Help me, Sri Sathya Sai Baba, to move past an eye for an eye field of energy, to a loving and sympathetic heart. Bring me kindness where there is only blind fury. Let me rest, my beloved, so that I can join with you in the fullness of Amrita, the nectar of immortality. Save me from the fear of darkness, not the darkness itself. Lift me up from the mud of death to the exalted eternal light/color/archetype of the Black Madonna. Change my heart from the personal to the impersonal. Help me to know what is another's journey from my own. Help me, Siddhi Sai Baba, to remove the ego from my life, to cast it back into the fires of Mount Doom, where it will melt forever into a shadow that casts its ash on my psyche, revealing to me the fullness of my soul. Help me to "mean" love in my heart, not merely to act with restraint. The acting of restraint is merely violence turned inward. Bless me with the grace of empathy, sympathy, pardon and pure love. I am too wilfull, Sai Baba, to release these impulses alone. I choose to hold onto them for they make me feel a sense of power, even though it be false. You are the real power. I need you to guide me from my destruction to the beauty of liberation and compassion.
More compassion.
More compassion.
More compassion.

Save me from myself my sadguru. Before it is too late.

1947 letter from fourteen year old Sri Sathya Sai Baba to his brother

(Dated) 25 May 1947

To all who are devoted to me:

My Dear One! I received the communication that you wrote and sent; I found in it the surging floods of your devotion and affection, with the undercurrents of doubts and anxiety. Let me tell you that it is impossible to plumb the hearts and discover the natures of Jnanis (those who have acquired spiritual wisdom), yogis, ascetics, saints, sages, and the like. People are endowed with a variety of characteristics and mental attitudes; so each one judges according to his own angle, talks and argues in the lights of his own nature.

But we have to stick to our own right path, our own wisdom, our own resolution, without getting affected by popular appraisal. As the proverb says, it is only the fruit-laden tree that receives the showers of stones from passers-by. The good always provoke the bad into calumny; the bad always provoke the good into derision. This is the nature of this world. One must be surprised if such things do not happen.

The people too have to be pitied, rather than condemned. They do not know. They have no patience to judge a right. They are too full of lust, anger and conceit to see clearly and know fully. So, they write all manner of things. If they only knew, they would not talk or write like that. We, too, should not attached any value to such comments and take them to heart, as you seem to do. Truth will certainly triumph some day; untruth can never win. Untruth might appear to overpower truth, but its victory will fade away and truth will establish itself.

It is not the way of the great to swell when people offer worship and shrink when people scoff. As a matter of fact, no sacred text lays down rules to regulate the lives of the great, prescribing the habits and attitudes that they must adopt. They themselves know the path they must thread; their wisdom regulates and makes their acts holy. Self-reliance, beneficial activity—these two are their special marks. They may also be engaged in the promotion of the welfare of devotees and in allotting them the fruits of their actions. Why should you be affected by tangle and worry, as long as I am adhering to these two? After all, the praise and blame of the populace do not touch the Atma, the reality; they can touch only the outer physical frame.

I have a task: to foster all mankind and ensure for all of them lives full of Ananda (bliss). I have a vow: to lead all who stray away from the straight path back again into goodness and save them. I am attached to a "work" that I love: to remove the sufferings of the poor and grant them what they lack. I have a 'reason to be proud' for I rescue all who worship and adore me, aright. I have my definition of the 'devotion' I expect: those devoted to me to have to treat joy and grief, gain and loss, with equal fortitude.

This means that I will never give up those who attach themselves to me. When I am thus engaged in my beneficial tasks, how can my name ever be tarnished, as you apprehend? I would advise you not to heed such absurd talk. Mahatmas (great souls) do not acquire greatness through some one calling them so; they do not become small when someone call them small. Only those low ones who revel in opium and ganja but claim to be unexcelled yogis, only those who quote scriptural texts to justify their gourmandry and pride, only those who are dry-as-dust scholars exulting in their casuistry and argumentative skills, will be moved by praise or blame.

You must have read life-stories of saints and divine personages; in those books you must have read even worse falsehood and more heinous imputations cast against them. This is the lot of mahatmas everywhere, at all times. Why then do you take these things so much to heart? Have you not heard of dogs that howl at the stars? How long can they go on? Authenticity will soon win.

I will not give up my mission, nor my determination. I know I will carry them out; I treat the honor and dishonor, the fame and blame that may be the consequence, with equal equanimity. Internally, I am unconcerned. I act but in the outer world; I talk and move about for the sake of the outer world and for announcing my coming to the people, else I have no concern even with these.

I do not belong to any place, I am not attached to any name. I have no "mine" or "thine." I answer, whatever the name you use. I go, wherever I am taken. This is my very first vow. I have not disclosed this to anyone so far. For me the world is something afar, apart. I act and move only for the sake of mankind. No one can comprehend my glory, whoever he is, whatever his method of inquiry, however long his attempt.

You can yourself see the full glory in the coming years. Devotees must have patience and forbearance.

I am not concerned nor am I anxious that these facts should be made known; I have no need to write these words, I wrote them because I felt you will be pained if I do not reply.


your Baba

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Tranquil(ized) birthday

Today I turn 46. I have been on this planet for 46 earthly turns around the sun. As I sit here meditating about the present, I am strangely magnetized to the past. My past still beckons to me, albeit with very long fingers and sharp nails. What does a 46 year old man feel like, I wonder? When do I begin to feel that "man" feeling, as opposed to the ten year old that still want his mommy? It is a strange birthday feeling.

I am trying to be grateful for my life. Uh oh! Maybe that's not such a good idea. If I follow the "New Paradigm", there is a strong suggestion that in "trying" to be grateful I essentially echo the sentiments of my ungrateful condition. This magnetically "attracts" the ungrateful circumstances that my life continues to attract, including ungrateful thoughts. So I need to change the vernacular to "I am immensely grateful for my life today". To say these words is one thing, to mean them is altogether different.

And what about the difference between being tranquil and being tranquilized? Today, on this my 46th birthday, I am shuttling between both states. I am tranquil due to my new found spiritual connection with my Sadguru Sri Sathya Sai Baba, and I am tranquilized due to 2mg's a day of Lorazapam. The tranquility allows me to love and forgive, the tranquilizer allows me to function in society at large. As a sober person, the use of "outside sources" is a private matter between me and my sponsor. This temporary condition allows me to take care of myself as long as I am forthcoming and open about it. The disease of the ism is ever deviant however. It is always looking for an in. But I would like to report that on this day, the day of my 46th birthday, I am unashamed of my sat-chit-ananda (being/consciousness/bliss) and my medically assisted/big book approved mama's little helper.