December 9th, 2011
If I am to know God directly, I must become completely God, and God I, so that this God and this I become one I.
Wandering the Earth as I do, I eventually run into everybody. And almost everybody I meet seems to be on a spiritual quest, or if not, they have a growing hunger for it. The hound of heaven woofs at their heels urging them to wake up to their spiritual possibilities.
The thing about everybody is that they try everything. For sheer creativity and inventiveness, nothing beats spiritual adventuring.
People meditate or fast or pray in search of Divine connection. They make outlandish promises–giving up sex, calories, comfort. They go mad or go manic, become zealots, hush their minds into quiescence and empty themselves of thought hoping to tempt God to fill the void.
They walk on burning coals, sit in the snow, count their breaths, twirl into ecstasy, make pilgrimages to places where God or His/Her local incarnations are reputed to have placed their feet. They try out religions as different as possible from the ones in which they were raised, go on spiritual shopping sprees, twist their bodies into uncomfortable positions, change their names.
Mostly, they shout at God, begging the Great One to finally show up in their lives.
I’m not criticizing these practices; I’ve tried them all. And don’t laugh–so have you, in other ways, perhaps.
There are many signs that point to your being on a spiritual quest, even if you have not named it as such:
Do you wonder every time you pass a book counter if truth is to be found on its shelves today?
How many books have you bought this year that have “soul” in the title?
Are you always heading off to a seminar or a church retreat?
Is your house filled with angel images–cards, statues, books, candles?
Do you have an acupuncturist, a massage therapist, a medicine cabinet full of supplements?
When you get the flu, do you take vitamins and echinecea instead of standard brand antibiotics?
Do you frequent health food stores?
Have you thought about trying to be a vegetarian?
Have you quit the softball league and signed up for a class in yoga or Tai Chi?
Are you surfing the Internet?
Do you find yourself hiding what you’re reading when your relatives enter the room, even though it’s not the least bit sexy?
Have you divorced a spouse because he or she just wasn’t on the same wave length?
Do your kids think you are weird?
Do your CD’s thrum with chants and drums and Celtic harps?
Are you a fan of TV shows about mythic heroes, outer space, immortals, parapsychology?
Are you sometimes unaccountably surprised by joy?
Are you reading this book?
If you have answered “yes” to any of the above, chances are you’re hooked! As well you might be, for the complexity of the present time seems to demand a deepening of our nature if we are going to survive. Deepening requires exploration. And for all its byways, exploration leads ultimately to the spiritual source of our existence.
Not since the days of Plato and Buddha and Confucius, some 2500 years ago, has their been such an uprising of spiritual yearning. But instead of being a Mediterranean and Asian phenomenon, as it was then, the explosion of spirituality is now happening worldwide.
September 29th, 2011
Have you ever gone oystering? It is a cold, clammy business. I once had the great pleasure and pain to go oystering in Maine. I was given a set of tongs to scoop oysters off the bottom of the sand. These tongs were formidable, resembling two rakes attached to two long poles tht work like scissors to scoop up the oyster. In the freezing air I looked at the hands of the master Oysterer, his hands like giant red claws, more lobster than oyster. I looked at my own hands and saw that they too were fair on the way to becoming like his. I valiantly worked the tongs, even in spite of the Oysterman’s rude sallies, “Yer as slow as molasses running uphill in January.” Fnally, after what seemed an age of trying, I managed to clutch an oyster in my tongs. The Oyster man opened the bivalve creature and there, mirabile dictuu, was a dinky, misshapen… something. “You got yerself a pearl, “ he muttered in his broad Maine accent. “Not too bad for a first timer.”
“But why is it so small” I asked.
“Cause it’s a young one,” he explained. Only after much prodding, the dour gent was persuaded to tell me how the Oyster went about making pearls. It begins with an irritation—a piece of sand, grit, shell, which serves as an irritating parasite to the tender flesh of the oyster. In response, the oyster builds up layers of calcium carbonate around the alien element, gradually growing the pearl. A small pearl takes around 3 to 3 years to grow, a large one, closer to ten. Thus from irritating circumstances a think of beauty can be made. What an analogy for our own lives! For how many years have you been engaged in transforming your irritants, thought invaders, miseries into a masterpiece?
September 26th, 2011
When I was five years old, we moved from Hollywood, California where my comedy writer Dad had just been kicked off of the Bob Hope show for an excess of high spirits. We ended up in Brooklyn, New York for the next eight months to live with my mother’s Sicilian family, the Todaros. My Dad, Jack Houston and I felt like strangers in a strange land, what with the different language, food, music, and the ebullient, Italianate life in the streets. The Catholic Church was a mystery as were all the Saint’s festivals and the rowdy street fairs that accompanied the mystic parades down the avenues as burly men carried the huge Saint of the week. Invariably she (the saints were mostly “shes”) was dressed in gorgeous satins which could barely be seen, covered as they were by a massive number of dollar bills offered by the faithful. As Dad was a Southern-spawned, agnostic Baptist brought up on grits and chicken fried steak, his stomach was naturally adverse to the vendors offers of spicy sausages stuffed into a roll with onions and pepper, cannoli, (the fried cake tubes bursting with marsala custard), Zeppole (golf ball sized rounds of fried dough filled with jam) and other joys of Sicilian festival cooking. He would give me a sickly look and proclaim in words from a Texas and Louisiana childhood, “Jeanie-pot, I feel knee –walking, commode-hugging sick.”
Just then my Grandmother, Vita Todaro who I called “Nana” noted my poor father’s greening complexion, and taking him by the arm, announced, “Aspetta! Veni ca Giaco, Andiamo a la Casa.”
Back at the house, Nana placed a picture of the Madonna in Dad’s hand, while she brewed him a potion made of the juice of a few flowers and other secret ingredients. Either the Madonna or the potion worked as he soon felt better.
As I went to the window to watch the exuberant festival passing by our house, my Nana came over, and with a broad smile, grandly swept her hand over the proceedings and said, “Abbondanza!”
She did not speak much English, not needing it, living in the Sicilian enclave of “Brookalina”. But that one word took on a great significance between us.
At her great family Sunday dinners she would wink at me when I looked shocked at the vast array of Sicilian foods, the groaning table no mere metaphor.
“Abbondanza,” she would chirrup in delight.
And then when La Famiglia, all the sons and daughters and cousins and remote kin and their spouses and friends, all 30 of them would argue and sing, and offer many toasts with the homemade red wine, she would smile in deep satisfaction and exclaim over the noise, “Abbondanza”
She would take me on walks through Prospect Park to look at the latest plantings, the trees, bushes, ponds, meadows of grass. “Abbondanza” If she saw a baby carriage, she would peek in at the newborn and murmur her favorite word.
One night she took me outside when the stars were bright and raising both her hands to the heavens, she affirmed the generosity of the cosmos. “Abbondanza!” Then, turning to me, she placed her hand on her heart and then on mine and together, we understood, and together
That was a long time ago, but my Nana’s celebration of life has stayed with me in all corners of my life. It has turned heartbreak into understanding, and allowed the appreciation and gratitude for the little things of life; the happy wag of a dog’s tail, the smile on the face of the clerk at the checkout counter when she looks me right in the eye and says, Have a nice day,” and really means it; the gruff agreement of the bear in my apple tree when I congratulated him on consuming so many apples, wished him well and suggested that he come back later when the dogs were asleep; the memory of my father’s wild humor and fascinating eccentricities; my mother’s fey, almost fairy-like qualities and ability to do almost anything she set her mind to; the lost term papers I recently found garnered with a great red C; the Autumn fall with colors that stain the eyes with glory; reading a great novel in a hot bath on a cold night. And then I think of the time in which we live, and for those, reading this book, the good fortune of having access to the sheer abbondanza of this era of access to education, knowledge of many cultures, multiple disciplines. Why you can mine the depths of human possibility, hangout at the furthest reaches of psychological functioning, have both means and time to explore what in the past was impossible. The cosmos in its macrocosm and microcosm dimensions is in our mental back yard, as is the history of the planet, its species and the story of the human journey. The world’s art, literature, music—all there to be experienced for the asking. And farther, to have the relative comfort, security, and opportunity to live life in ways that to your ancestors would have seemed to be that of legends, a truly mythic life. As my friend Andrew Cohen has put it, “…we enjoy a degree of freedom that is unparalleled—personal, political, religious and philosophical. There have never been human beings who have had the extraordinary liberty we have to experiment with our own lives—to think in whatever way we want, to do almost anything we want, to say anything we want, to go anywhere we want, to be whatever we want.” (Andrew Cohen, Evolutionary Enlightenment. New York: Select Books, 2011, p. 78)
Now you would think this prodigious a wealth of opportunity would have everyone shouting “Abbondanza”. But sadly, too often this is not so. Most moan and regret the pains and losses of their lives, pay little heed to the blessings, focus only on the hot spots, oblivious to the grand journey that is their birthright. Along with Cohen, I see this journey as the gift of evolution, all the millennia of development and discovery that have led up to you and me. We each carry the impulse of the evolutionary agenda; our minds are star gates, our bodies are celled of mysteries containing the memories of the past and the unfolding of the future; our spirits remain conscious that we are in the forefront of a 14 billion year experiment that has resulted in your life. We are evolution in action, in beauty, in abundance and in the consciousness that this is so. And this miracle is occurring while living on the most beautiful planet in the galaxy. And yet, too often, we keep our eyes and other senses focused on the ground of our misery. What a waste.
“Discrazia!” my Nana would have said.
September 23rd, 2011
Notice: Anything under the name of Admin is actually Jean Houston writing
September 23rd, 2011
Katzanzakis once said that we in our time will become the Saviors of God. No longer great dependencies, they are ready to be incarnated. Before, they were there as archetypal forms, probably having their own ontological existence, be it as historical persona like Jesus in whom a great amount of psychic energy was invested, or as trans-historical and purely mythic beings like Isis to whom also an immense amount of psychological energy was given. These energies constellated in the depths of human psyches, institutions, and cultures, creating a morphogenetic field which gave remarkable feedback and sustenance to the believer. Of course people saw saints floating in trees, feathered serpents, numinous ladies in grottos, showers of gold. In a field of belief which is strong enough, almost anything can constellate to be experienced, and almost anything does. To merely label it “hallucination” is like calling uproarious and joyous laughter the product of fifteen muscles interacting with altered breathing.
And now we are in the time of incarnation, the time of the crossing of the threshold into the metamorphosis of the Gods into co-creative agents. Thus we have access to a deeper strata of psychogenetic material to be woven into human form and function, material which could not be received by many until we had the global village, the rise of women to full partnership with men, the miniaturization of technology and the paradigms of a science that gives us the universe in a grain of sand, and finally, the re-evolution of human capacities and human aspiration. Now that we can take on the depth and complexity of the larger psyche the old gods are thrusting up their faces to be re-grown as well — Athena, Zeus, Krishna, Kali, Inanna, Kundalini. Or DNA, RNA, the power of the atom, intergalactic nebula.
September 13th, 2011
The Devil was walking down the street with a friend, and they saw a man pick something up, look at it carefully and put it in his pocket. The friend said to the Devil, “What’s that?” The Devil said, “He has found a bit of the truth.” The friend said, “Isn’t that bad for your business?” The Devil said, “No, I am going arrange to have him organize it.”–John C. Lilly, God as Consciousness-Without-An-Object, 1975
June 7th, 2011
Part of my work has been to study, collect, and apply a portion of the inventory of human capacities as they have developed around the world under different environmental and social conditions. How Africans walk and think and celebrate spirit, how the Chinese teach and study and paint, how Inuit people experience vivid three dimensional inner imagery, how the Balinese learn to perform any manner of artistic endeavor so rapidly and with such high craft, how a tribe along the Amazon raises happy and non-neurotic children, why certain children in India raised amidst traditional music develop extraordinary skill in mathematics–these are capacities no longer limited to place and culture. In this new world of hybrid vigor, all these potentials once nurtured in separate societies are now available to the entire family of humankind.
June 1st, 2011
In the beginning there were and continue to be the Great Gardeners who live in the Metaverse, a vast farm fertile with energy, creativity, intelligence, and love. The Gardeners decide to plant a new garden in a field of the farm’s limitless, nested universes. They begin with a infinitesimally tiny seed, a microcosm coded with the energy resources to flower into a richly varied cosmos. So potent is the ground, so ready is the seed, that once planted, it bursts its pod with an explosion of light and energy.
May 27th, 2011
It is fascinating to note that the incidence of human greatness increases during one or another of the cusps of social change–during a renaissance, for example, when the culture is being so newly reimagined that it necessitates a rebirth of the self. However, the reverse is also true. A renaissance, with its accompanying rise of images and archetypal symbols, happens because the human soul has been breached, the psyche unlocked, and a flood of new questions released as to who we are and what we contain.
May 26th, 2011
As many of you know this year will be the final one for the mystery school, so anyone interested should look into attending one or more of the remaining sessions. It is designed to help people everywhere to be creative and active stewards at this time of extraordinary change and challenge. The Mystery School offers methods and trainings that extend body, mind, and soul in essential ways for those committed to making a profound difference in self, society, and the world.