Monthly Archives: March 2009

a couple of random quotes

this first quote i saw yesterday morning at starbucks (don’t tell anyone i was there!). it had no attribution so i asked the barista about it and he said he didn’t know where it came from. i then googled some keywords from it and found that it had originated at a new york starbucks (still no attribution). this quote resonates with me so because i feel like i have one feet headed towards the life i want to lead, and the other foot in a life that would be practical and ‘make sense’. running across this quote is the universe’s way of telling me that i need to make a commitment one way or the other.

also, on the webpage with the first quote, i found the second quote, which i think is simultaneously a description of my own mind and a description of the type of people i want (and already have, to some extent) in my life.

‘The irony of commitment is that it’s deeply liberating – in work, in play, in love. The act frees you from the tyranny of your internal critic, from the fear that likse to dress itself up and parade around as rational hesitation. To commit is to remove your head as the barrier to your life.’ -Starbucks, City Center Square, Kansas City 3/18/2009

‘The mind I love must have wild places, a tangled orchard where dark damsons drop in the heavy grass, an overgrown little wood, the chance of a snake or two, a pool nobody’s fathomed the depths of, and paths threaded with flowers planted by the mind.’ -Katherine Mansfield

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the bag of flesh known as gail

where to begin, where to begin… i’ve been reading jed mckenna and his first two books (spiritual enlightenment: the damnedest thing and spiritually incorrect enlightenment) have proven to be nothing less than a major mindfuck. i’m anxiously waiting for the third (spiritual warfare) to arrive, which is supposed to be about waking up within what mckenna calls ‘the dream’.

before reading his books, i had already been realizing that life is pretty much a dream and trying to figure out how to be a more active participant within the dream instead of just letting it ‘happen’, or to live more lucidly, as it were. and then i come across mckenna’s words and now realize that the only thing that matters about the dream is that i wake up from it. however, the hard part about this realization is that this thing called *i* is also a dream. i’ve come to terms with life being a dream, but *me* being a dream? that means i don’t exist. there is no me. it’s all a construct: my thoughts, dreams, memories, preferences, opinions, the books on my bookshelf, the clothes i wear, all meant to make me seem *special*, *unique*, *important*, and i’m none of those things. i’m not. the only thing i am is full of shit. just like the rest of humanity. but humanity is not my concern at this moment, or maybe it is in that i can’t deal with most members of it right now. even friends and family are hard for me to spend large chunks of time with. i think i probably have one friend, and an online acquaintance, who would be most likely to understand what i’m getting at here, that i can talk to somewhat about what this is like. otherwise, most everyone else i know (and don’t know, for that matter) is thoroughly ensconced in the dream and think it’s absolutely real and they and their thoughts and beliefs are absolutely real and that even i, the bag of flesh known as gail, am absolutely real. and they are wrong.
so, at this point, *i* am still just a part of the dream. and if i figure out who the fuck this *i* is, i wake up. (i feel like i should have the who playing in the background: ‘tell me, who the fuck are you?’) so who am i? i don’t know anymore. i mean, i was born in 1965 under circumstances i’m not even fully aware of. my supposed father, the man whose name is on my birth certificate, was in bed with another woman the night i was born because he was so upset about his wife giving birth to another man’s child. growing up, i knew something was wrong because he and i never bonded (or rarely even spoke to one another) and i had no physical resemblance to him or anyone on his side of the family. still, i spent most of my life up until my 30s, believing that he was my biological father, because i had no tangible reason to believe any differently. i was told otherwise by my mother’s two best and oldest friends only because my mother was thought to be on her deathbed at the time. however, she did get better, then passed away a little more than a year later, but never did ‘fess up; even when talking to her through my psychic last year, she still didn’t confess to it on the other side of the grave. so i don’t know anything about my biological father, other than his name and what he did for a living. this means that even on the most basic, rudimentary level, i have no way of knowing fully what this bag of flesh descended from. and it just doesn’t seem fair, but it is what it is. however, if i don’t know this, what else don’t i know???
what i do know (or thought i knew), on this plane anyway, is that i was considered a highly intelligent child, having skipped a grade in school; i have an addiction to carbohydrates and sugar that i fight daily; i get a lot of compliments about my hair; i think certain forms of anarchy would be ideal; i’m bisexual; i’ve traveled to some interesting places, but have only been outside the united states for something less than 18 hours; i’m lonely but prefer being alone most of the time although physical companionship would be nice at times; i think i’m pretty smart but also feel like a fraud much of the time… i could go on and on with the trivia, but is any of it true? i, i, i…. who is this *i* that has interesting hair, who is bisexual, who has done some limited travel? fuck. i’m… can i even write a sentence without using *i*???
whatever. i’m trying to write something that i know absolutely without a doubt to be true, and i am finding that damn near impossible to do. to me, whatever is true is that which is not fleeting and cannot be destroyed. everything about me, everything in my life is fleeting; hell, life itself is fleeting. let’s say i live to 80; that’s a mere drop of mist in the bucket of time. my thoughts only last moment to moment; my body will eventually stop functioning and be turned to ash which i hope will be used as compost on flowers with a limited lifespan themselves; all this crap here in my apartment will be given to goodwill or stashed in the back of some relative’s closet or end up in a landfill or maybe burn in a fire or in some other way be dispersed amidst the dream when I’m gone (?!); my beliefs – well we have seen how my beliefs have changed radically over the past decade. ten years ago i was a wage slave in a christian bookstore, and now look at me, derisively denouncing pretty much any form of religion or belief. (wonderful, and imho, true piece of writing by julie, mckenna’s ‘student’ in spiritually incorrect enlightenment, page 256: ‘What is Christianity but a two-bit protection racket? Good cop/bad cop. The son, our blessed savior, saving us from what? From his psychotic freakshow father who’s hellbent on burning us alive forever. What kind of twisted fuck thinks this stuff up? What kind of pathetic slob falls for it? My kind. Me. I did.’ me too, julie. who woulda thunk it?) there is nothing about me that is real, yet i have this attachment to it all as if my life depends on it. maybe that’s because my life, at least as a part of the dream, does depend on me hanging on to the fantasy. and, while it’s had its moments, it hasn’t even been a very pleasant fantasy overall. wouldn’t i have chosen things differently if i knew early on that this was just a dream? maybe, maybe not, who the fuck knows?
what i know to be true at the moment of this writing is the only thing about me that is true, that cannot be destroyed, is my awareness, which i’ve had from before i was born until now; which, in reality i had before i was conceived and will continue to have long after this body stops working. everything else is just part of the construct. and i guess my job in all this is to rid myself of my emotional attachment to the construct and embrace the only thing i know to be true. my ego must destroy itself. if i choose to accept this mission, this is going to be sooo hard. being at this point so very much sucks, because right now i feel like i can’t go back to the way i was even a month ago, but going forward will be a nightmare, if i choose to detach from all this nonreality and pursue ‘enlightenment’. but it only makes sense that i do so, how can i knowingly hang onto a delusion??? i mean, detaching to this degree is a scary thing. how am i supposed to maintain relationships? what about being a part of a healthy, loving romantic relationship, which I still have hopes for (talk about a fantasy!)? how is this even possible if i’m on this quest to weed out falsehood from my life, falsehood being defined as anything that is not 100% true? how am i supposed to show up at work every morning, let alone move to california and continue my education, if everything and everyone i see rubs me the wrong way even on a good day because of ignorance? how can i listen to the dramas my family and friends role play in daily, when i know they are not real, it’s all just a big fucking sometimes tedious play? similarly with politics, it’s all just more drama that affects a larger cross-section of participants in the play. maybe one day i’ll be detached enough to look on it all with a sense of amusement, but right now it’s just painful, because it all seems so meaningless and a waste of time, and yet i’ve got 44 years invested in it.
so, this is going to be ugly, but i have to work it out somehow. i don’t even know why it has to be worked out, but it’s something like a compulsion, i suppose. and let’s say that, okay, eventually i am face to face with reality and have weeded out all that is not true – i am this enlightened creature with the interesting hair. what does that even matter, as opposed to me living out my life the way it is now, like everyone else is doing? one key notion in spiritually incorrect enlightenment is that the point of enlightenment is to realize that there really is no point. geez, talk about meaningless and a waste of time. yet deliberately allowing myself to be a part of a delusional world is not really an option. and i realize that, should all go well physically, i’ll be on this planet another 40 or so years moving around amidst the dream, but i hope to develop the ability not to take it seriously and not to look askance at those who do. (please hurry up and get here, spiritual warfare, for some suggestions on how this might happen…) in the meantime, well, here we go… …don’t take anything personally that i might write from here on out; it’s really not you, it’s me… and i know that most people who have read this far are probably thinking i’ve gone off the deep end. maybe i have.

truth in fiction

the short story ‘revelation’ by haven kimmel (from the anthology killing the buddha: a heretic’s bible by peter manseau and jeff sharlet) is the most brilliant piece of fiction writing i’ve come across. ever. period. it’s even better than the writing of tom robbins, and robbins is the gold standard as far as i’m concerned.

‘revelation’ is written from the point of view of a multitudinous godhead as it attempts to explain how the book of revelation ended up so convoluted. this story so inspires me that i once spent a weekend typing out the entire story, just so i could attempt to inhabit it a bit more deeply. i decided to revisit it over this past weekend and as always honed in on something timely:

Stay inside your skin and figure it out. We urge this upon you in your sleep. Be radically negative: not this, not this, not this. The Kingdom is not your clan, your country, your meetinghouse. The Conflict is not your government, your enemies, your struggle with entropy and degeneration. Use your history only as metaphor, koan, or parable. (page 275)

wow. this portion of the story really hit me, because the day before i had just finished spiritual enlightenment: the damnedest thing by jed mckenna, which really rocked my world (to use a stupid cliché). mckenna basically says that enlightenment has nothing to do with spirituality or bliss or nondual consciousness, it only has to do with knowing what is really true, and asking yourself the tough questions until you get the answer for yourself. i’ve been chewing on his words since i began the book a few days ago, asking myself about the nature of reality and what i can absolutely, without a doubt, know to be true, which i have no doubt i’ll be writing about in the future. right now, i’ll just say that i feel similarly to way i felt right after reading why christianity must change or die by john shelby spong a few years ago, which was a tumultuous time for me spiritually. however, this time i’m not angry or anything like that. (i think i got that brand of anger out of my system while reading not in his image by john lamb lash a couple of years ago.) it’s more that mckenna’s writing in some ways confirmed for me things i’ve already figured out for myself about religion and belief in general. but i don’t want to go into all that right now…

…i just want to tell y’all to go out and buy this killing the buddha anthology or check it out from the library or borrow it from me :). kimmel’s story alone would be worth it, but there are other wonderful pieces of writing within as well: travel essays written by manseau and sharlet as they meander through the spiritual backwoods of america, interspersed with other writers’ individual takes on individual books of the bible. however, mainstream christians, please take note: it is subtitled a heretic’s bible, so there are writings that some may consider offensive or, more hopefully, thought-provoking. if a piece of writing causes you to think every once in awhile on why you believe what you believe, what harm can come from that?