19 January 2011

The Function of Religion

Ken Wilber says that he believes the function of religion is to grease the wheels of history so that we can move toward nondual consciousness, or what I would call the contemplative mind. Quite simply, we are supposed to move toward love. Mature religion’s function is to make us capable of compassion, mercy, forgiveness, nonviolence, and care for others. When religion is not creating people who can reconcile things, heal things, and absorb contradictions—then religion isn’t doing its job.

When we stopped teaching the contemplative mind in a systematic way about 400 to 500 years ago, we lost the capacity to deal with paradox, inconsistency, and human imperfection. Instead, it became “winners take all” and losers lose all.  Despite all our universities and churches in Western Christianity, we learned to choose one side over the other and if possible, exclude, punish, or even kill the other side. That’s dualistic thinking at its worst; and it’s the normal mind that has taken over our world. It creates very angry and, often, violent people. Peace and happiness are no longer possible, because there is always a crusade to be waged and won. That is ego at work and surely not soul.
—Richard Rohr

18 January 2011


By teaching “do not judge,” the great teachers are saying that you cannot start seeing or understanding anything if you start with no.  You have to start with a yes of basic acceptance, which means not too-quickly labeling, analyzing, or categorizing things as “in” or “out,” “good” or “bad,” “up” or “down.”  You have to leave the field open, a field in which God and grace can move.  Ego leads with no, whereas soul leads with yes.

The ego seems to strengthen itself by constriction, by being against things; and it feels loss or fear when it opens up.  No always comes easier than yes, and a deep, conscious yes is the work of freedom and grace.  Spiritual teachers want you to live by positive action, open field, and studied understanding and not by resistance, knee-jerk reactions, or defensiveness.

Words and thoughts are invariably dualistic, but pure experience is always nondualistic.  You cannot really experience reality with the judgmental mind, because you are dividing the moment before you give yourself to it.  The judgmental mind prevents you from being present to the full moment by trying to “divide and conquer.”  Instead, you end up dividing and being conquered.

—Richard Rohr

25 November 2010

Today, I'm grateful for


(who use vacation days to spend time with me.)

(who teach me yoga.)

(who teach me fun.)

(who put up with my clumsiness.)

(who cuddle me.)

(who gather around my table.)

(who let me hold their children.)

(who help me to celebrate.)

(who help me to cry.)

(who help me to love myself.)

(who trust me enough to tell me their secrets.)

(who are gentle with my secrets.)

(who think a quick hug from and 15 minutes with me is worth a trip out of the way.)

(who make me tea.)

(who drink my wine.)

(who listen to my story.)

(who let me hold them.)

(who read my blog.)

(who wonder what's up when I leave my blog mostly untouched for 5 months.)

(who are willing to work things out with me.)

(who cook me dinner when I'm sick or sad or there.)

(who keep in touch.)

(who keep me grounded.)

(who keep me.)

I'm grateful for friends, whose love is an experience of the divine. Thank you, friends. Blessed be.

Hard Times; Not End Times

So Kevin and I went to this thing a few weeks ago. It was this big thing. BIG. A-zillion-and-a-half-people big. And it was loud, and hilarious, and inspiring, and fun. Fun!!

And sane.

I'd love to write something profound about the experience, and I've been trying for weeks to come up with something, all the while depriving you all of our awesome pictures. So I'm just going to post pictures.

Rockin' literary references abounded.

So did Waldos.

And gay terrorists.

And beautiful, beautiful people.

(I couldn't keep my eyes off this woman. There was just something about her.)

And peace, and love.

Here I am, looking oh-so-sane.

And here's my handsome husband, putting on his most rational of airs.

This is Shag, our excellent rallying companion, from whose shoulders I took most of these pictures. Shout out to Shag! Thanks man!

The Roots (from Philly, yo) performed this, and it was incredible. Sorry, YouTube didn't have a video of the performance.

And this makes me cry.

Oh, yeah. Cat Stevens was there and did perform "Peace Train." Sort of.

And I love this man. I love him.

It was good, friends. Crazy good.

17 November 2010

One Ugly and Two Beautifuls

I'm thinking of reviving my advent-season Beautiful Things series, beginning this morning (yes, I know, Advent starts on the 28th). This afternoon, I'll be sitting in a courtroom, looking on as a privileged white man passes judgment on a broken, wounded woman for making an unwise choice when she thought she had no other.

And my job is really hard right now, and I have some Stuff coming up.

So I'm trying to cling to the beautiful. This morning, a friend made it easy.

First, there was this. You can't not swell with joy.

And then there was this.
Let us all partake.

16 November 2010

Please, oh please, read


And then, please, let's all try.

What would your sign say?

10 November 2010

Holy Mother of All Coolness, I JUST GOT TO PLAY WITH A MONKEY!!!!!

So, I stop at Menard's to pick up a full-spectrum bulb for my office lamp. I'm standing in front of rack of batteries because I need one for my ... nevermind ... when I look up and I see one of these

sitting in a cart, drinking from a bottle, reaching his bitty gray hand toward me and chirping.

And I reached back, and he took my hand and started talking to me. And his owners let me play with him for like, five solid minutes. With their monkey. I just had a five-minute-long conversation with a monkey. He fiddled with my fingers and kissed my hand, hugged my arm and tickled me with his tail.

A monkey. A monkey at Menards on a Wednesday night in Warsaw, Indiana.

Holy Mother of All Coolness.