Category Archives: Short Stories

Share, Don’t Prevent, Another’s Suffering

Let me clarify at the beginning that by “suffering” in this post I mean EMOTIONAL suffering, not physical suffering.  It’s an important distinction here, since I believe the roots of emotional suffering are different than the roots of physical suffering.  With that in mind, allow me to continue.

The question is not whether or not you will “stand by me,” but whether or not I will stand by YOU.  I can’t be concerned with your actions, regardless of what my ego says I’d like to have happen.  What I can do, however, is understand my own truth and simply live up to it.

I say “simply” but certainly understand there usually is nothing “simple” about it.  In the battle between ego and awareness our minds often cater to the lowest common denominator.  While it is true we must be at our most aware during these moments, it also seems true that we also must have the very human experience of catering to that low point.  We must suffer, it seems, to have the human experience to its fullest even as we strive to attain a place where no suffering appears.

Is the hand giving or taking? Grasping or patiently waiting? The perception is yours to make...

The question I am asking is whether or not I should I cry with those suffering, hold them, yell with them, fight alongside them, or should I seek the end of those experiences?

What is wrong with those experiences anyway?  What’s wrong with having a good breakdown when your relationship fails?  What is wrong with crumbling to the floor when what is doesn’t jive with what you want to be?  What is wrong with being human?  Why do we hate who we are so much as to always be seeking that which we are NOT?

More importantly, to this thought anyway, why do I feel the need to make someone who is sad smile?  Why do I have to say to them (abstractly of course) “you are suffering, that is wrong, and I will help you change it?”  Why can’t I simply hold their hand and share in the experience as if it is absolutely perfect in the moment?

Sadness doesn’t make a person who is beautiful suddenly ugly.  Not to me anyway.  In fact, it  highlights their beauty to me.  Their suffering doesn’t make them suddenly unappealing to me, if fact it is a common thing we have as human beings.  What the suffering of someone we care about does is fundamentally scare us.  We want to end their suffering because we want someone to magically end our own.  We want to make them smile when they are sad because we want an end to our sadness.  Our actions have as much to do with our own needs as it does with those who we care about.

I’d suggest not trying to end suffering.  Don’t comfort to end sadness, comfort to share it.  Don’t crack a joke to make someone crying suddenly burst out in laughter, just sit and cry with them.  Don’t hold them to say “it’s alright, it will be over soon,” but rather hold them as if to say “I am here with you, in this moment right here and right now, and we will walk through this together.”

If that provides comfort, so be it.  In this way, the one suffering is doing the comforting, and you are simply sharing in the process.  Don’t interfere with the process, simply share in it.  Imagine how close two people SHARING in sadness become in that shared experience?  When you walk through the fires of hell with someone isn’t that something more beneficial than preventing the walk in the first place?  I’d believe so.

Smile, Simply Smile.

Imagine the sun did not rise.  The darkness of night remained and chill of the evening air defined the utter darkness.  Which part of you would be the one that noticed?

We are all stuck in the bleakness of our mind,
Replaying the fantasy of a dream created long ago,
Resistant to the change that reality has forced upon us,
Wondering what we should do when the Earth begins to tremble…
 
Do we cater to the illusion or embrace the truth?
Do we hold tightly to that which used to make us who we were,
Or do we let go and find the truth that makes us who we are?
Ah, the painful decision is one we often run away from.
 
If we love something, do we let it go for its sake?
Or do we let it go for our own, since we don’t own it be begin with?
Do we grasp at it like children grasping for a dandelion seed
Finally freed from its parental grasp?
 

I do not ask to be anonymous, I ask to be special.  I want you to want me, to hold me, to need me and to love me.  I want you to lust for me, desire me, crave me and no other.

Like a caged bird I longed for your reaction.
Trained to be a parody of my Self as I react to your every whim.
I want to be wrapped up in you, so much so that I lost who I am,
“You are lost,” said the Sea to the Fish.
 
“I am drowning,” I replied.
I needed the water so much I forgot how to swim.
I so worried about the inhalation that I forgot how to breathe.
So the Fish drowned in the Sea without even realizing it.
 

I have lived without ever knowing it.  I have been dreaming but now feel awake.  What I thought was light was nothing but darkness disguised by my own desire; my own beliefs of what I thought was “me.”

The little boy huddled in the corner of the room longed for this day.
He suffered, and in some ways died, for this moment of Resurrection.
He could hear his own screams in the night and feel the tears stream down his face,
In most ways he was more awake than the man he gave way to.
 
The man insulted this boy’s suffering, pissed on his endurance and shackled his spirit.
The boy had endured so much for the man, and the man threw away the lessons and trampled on his memory.
He walked about blindly did the man, while the boy screamed “who the fuck do you think you are?”
“I am you my son,” even as the boy replied “you are nothing like me.”
 

I have climbed the tree, and I have set myself.  I am ready to change and to fly.  I am seeking Love rather than the self that once defined me.

I could feel the cocoon restraining me.  
I would cry out in the night and beg for an end to the pain.
I would curse the fucker who beat me, so punish the menace who threatened me, and seek out the Executioner dressed as someone who loved me.
Fuck them all before they fuck me.
 
The cocoon would not give way, the Universe demanded more of me than I ever thought I could give,
Now I see Her, the Future, the Unknown,
And I try to reach out my hand to her in unbridled loving passion
Only to be restrained in the prison of my mind.
 
“You are not ready yet, you still seek to live on bread alone” came the answer.
“When you know the Truth you shall be free, and She will be waiting for you.”
I close my eyes and bow my head, and seek the silence that calms my weary mind.
And find the patience that will see me through the darkness.
 

Alas, my son, a Butterfly will appear.  You will spread your wings and fly and know yourself  as if for the very first time.  You will never seek, but you will find.  You will not want, but will have more than you could have ever imagined.  You will spread a smile by your appearance and give joy just by being who you are.  It will come, you just need to be patient.

Suffering has brought you to a place where survival was not assured.
Love will bring you from it to a place where survival is all but guaranteed.
Be still, and know that it is coming!  
Be silent, and have all that you will ever need.
 
For soon you shall be who you were always,
Before the ideas of the mind crept in.  Then She will come,
And you will know Her, and know that you are there.
The embrace you feel will be unlike any other, the kiss you share will light up the world.
 
So be patient, and rejoice!
For the end is near so that the beginning can be born,
What you knew will disappear and what you know will be all that remains.
Smile…simply smile.
 
 
 

The Idea of Walking Away (or A Way)

AMEN!

I have been suppressing a feeling deep inside me for the last few weeks.  I simply want to pack up a few things and leave.  I want to walk wherever I end up, sleep wherever I must, eat whatever the Universe provides and never look back.

I guess this is the product of a lifetime of suffering; some self-inflicted and some not-so-much.  You know the line from Eddie Vedder’s “Society” that says, “Society, I hope you’re not lonely without me?”  Well, I know that society, at least the one I currently live in, won’t miss me but for a few moments before moving on the brighter and greener pastures.

I have children.  Some would say they would miss me.  I know they would for a time, but they have a tremendous infrastructure to help them get over whatever sense of immediate loss they may feel.  I will, after all, be replaced in their life someday anyway (at least in part), so I see no real need to be here right now.  Besides, as a great guru of mine continues to tell me, “stop thinking, just be.”  Well, the part of me that is “just being” wants away from here, wants to find himself, and wants to end this idiotic notion that anyone truly loves or needs him.

In fact, the only things that have kept me from packing up my bag and walking are my children.  See, I love them with all of my heart and soul.  Yet, in about a week, I am going to be a part of something that turns their life upside down.  I want NO part of it…for every time I will be acting like it is something I want or endorse I will be lying to them.  I have to smile for them when I want to cry with them.  I have to be strong when all I want to do is fall to the floor and be swept away.  I have to pretend all over again that I am something I am not.

Part of me is saying “Bullshit.  You don’t want this (even if you do want the be healed).  You didn’t ask for this (even if you were blind and stupid).  You didn’t want to become hardly a friend in something that was so much more once. You were forced here and now you are being forced to pretend that the world is rosy when, in fact, it smells like the foulest shit ever produced.”

There is some truth to this.  I have stepped in the foulest smelling pile of shit ever produced and the people I count on the most for support and honesty are trying to tell me how wonderful it smells.  At least they are trying to tell me that it doesn’t smell as repugnant as it does which is, in fact, a lie that only makes it smell worse.  I want to scream “stop lying to me and tell me the fucking TRUTH.”

Of course I realize that to them it may smell quite nice.  After all, a dog loves the smell of his own shit.  They crapped it out, so it probably doesn’t smell bad to them at all.  I am, however, vomiting each and every time I inhale.

Now, before you, the reader, gets all stymied with the “you are depressed” idea, allow me to say that I believe I clearly know my place in the lives of those around me.  I have friends, family, and awesome mentors in my life.  I am sick of being the guy who is not needed and not loved.  I am sick of being the guy who is left, the guy who is treated like he is a demon who needs to be exorcised.  I am sick of guessing what she or they feel about me.  Most of all, I am sick of not feeling good enough to warrant sacrifice and acceptance.

Since this is the season of Valentines Day (the Latin “valens” meaning, in part, “worthwhile“) I have been forced to look at my place in the world with an objectivity created by the reality of the moment.  I am not worthwhile.  In fact, I am being forced today to live my life at the whim of another completely unsure of what tomorrow will bring.  I have no security, no idea, no comfort and absolutely no understanding or acceptance from anyone I need it from.

So, in essence it comes down to this.  Do I continue the torment of being treated like I hardly exist in relationships where I hardly matter or do I walk away?  Do I pack up very few belongings and just set off toward the sunset and see where it takes me?  There is a part of me that smiles at the idea of knowing where I stand for a change and of knowing who I am.  If I am a homeless bum then I am a homeless bum…I need expect or receive anything from anyone that suggests I am anything other than a homeless bum.  I won’t expect acceptance, or love, or compassion or anything.

Yes, there is a certain freedom to that notion.  I won’t need to guess about my place in anyone’s life.  I won’t need to be disappointed in the complete lack of acceptance I seem to experience.  Most of all, I won’t need to be consistently reminded of how I once “caught a bolt of lightning” nor will I have to “curse the day he let it go.” (Name that song for a smile!)  Yes, there is a certain freedom to that notion of being able to decide for yourself that you no longer need to be reminded of the failures, the pain and the fact that you are no longer loved by those you love the most.  I will know where I stand, and yes there is something wonderful about that idea.

I will leave it up to the Universe for now.  I am nervous in the idea for sure…although not for the idea of survival.  I don’t care if I survive actually, I just want a moment in my life where I know where I stand without thinking I know or hoping I am right.  Is that worth dying for?  Yes, in my mind it is even if it is just an experience I get to have for a very short period of time.  Such is my disgust and disdain for my current condition.

I do admit that I am in and out of my disgust.  Sometimes I can feel love from others, and it seems to change the way the room smells.  Sometimes I can see rays of hope peaking through the clouds that brighten the day.  In those moments I see something worth fighting and working for.  Those moments are fleeting however and are usually replaced by the understanding that they probably only exist in MY mind.  I want them to be there so they are there, and once I start seeing reality again they fade and the smell returns.

Well, I am not sure what this afternoon will bring let alone tomorrow.  I can say that I pray for some clarity quite regularly even if I am not sure what version of “reality” is the clear one.  I have little help in determining that and I am on my own.  So…I guess we’ll just have to see where this wave takes me.

Peace.

Love this Picture!

Let the Light Shine In (and Out)

The amazing part about experiencing a deep depression, for me, is what is happening since I survived what seems to be the worst of it.  It is this “afterward” experience that would cause me to not only ask, but literally beg, anyone who is having such an experience with depression to do their best to “get through it.”  Yes, brighter days will be upon you!

I’ve detailed a small part of my recent experience with an absolutely depressing experience.  I’ve been dealing with the waves of fear, anger, sadness, and doubt that come along with the experience I am having, but today I am happy to announce that I have had a wonderful experience of love, understanding and acceptance.  Yes, my friends, this moment – this experience I am having now – was well worth the effort that survival took.

And yes, that survival took more effort than I ever thought I could manage.

Today I was fortunate enough to look at someone I have loved for a huge chunk of my life differently.  I am not saying that I squinted my eyes, or put rose-colored glasses on, or changed the lighting in the room.  I am saying that I had an experience that caused me to see her differently.  I won’t get into detail here (the details will be reserved for her at the appropriate time), but let me say that every moment of pain and suffering came into view as if I was looking at the “Big Bang” in reverse.  All of the outward doubt, fear, anger and suppressed resentment came rushing at her as if a shock wave was being played backwards.  It then disappeared into her somewhere, and all that was left was a radiant light and a knowledge that light itself was all that mattered.

Of course my ego suggested I was crazy, and that the nights of failed sleep and the constant barrage of thoughts had finally caught up with me.  In fact, it tried to prove I was crazy by saying something completely stupid to ruin that moment.  Yet, there I stood for what must have been a millisecond to the outside world for what was an eternity to me.  I was basking in the glow of something much different than what I had seen before.  I felt intensely focused and completely ready to heal.  The bandages were not only removed, but forgiveness and love immediately poured into the exposed wound, making it barely noticeable.

“This is Love,” came the Light.  “It banished everything else.”

Yes, I feel fucking crazy.  Yes, I hesitate to write this because I realize that you will think I am crazy too.  The irony of that amazes me.  Here it was not but a few days ago I was writing about a moment in which I nearly ended this life and that hardly made me crazy.  Seeing another human being in the Light of Love and knowing it, well that makes me not only a bit unusual, but also a bit crazy.  Or is it the fact that the Light spoke to me?
First, I never said it spoke to me, I said it “came.”  In other words, I had an understanding without speaking a word or hearing a word.  It was just there like the hair on my toe knuckle except, of course, it was much more attractive.

Ok, I am projecting.  Yes, I believe I am a bit crazy.  Given what I have experienced in my life I will take  THIS crazy over the OTHER crazy any day.  I got up from the chair I was sitting on and went outside without even remembering the action.  I left the room and can’t even remember how.  I just remember how tremendously awesome I felt and how absolutely bright the world around me looked.  Most of all, I remember that she was there for it, as she has been there for so many remarkable and not-so-remarkable moments in my life.  It seemed perfect, it seemed appropriate, and it seemed very fitting given the complications of it all.

It’s important to note that she is not the important part here except in the appropriateness of her place in the experience.  This experience may actually be a  burden to her.  I am not suggesting that it is, I am suggesting that I have no idea if it is or isn’t.  It wasn’t her experience, it was mine.  She just happened to be the Mona Lisa at the very moment I discovered that I loved art.  I believe this is important because I often want to burden someone else with the experience I am having.  It’s like forcing a homeless man who wants to sleep to stay wide awake to eat a meal because it makes me feel good to give it to him.  I don’t want to do this here, I simply want to explain the experience in total as it happened.  She just happened to be the focal point of it (which may, or may not, be a coincidence).

So I have felt like I am on that proverbial Cloud 9 ever since.  My sense of humor has returned in force.  I am not so worried about the future, nor am I so concerned about the past.  I have THIS moment, and what could be better?  I am not worried about the status of any relationship (even this one).  I am not all wrapped up in the debate my mind has had constantly with itself.  I simply am dedicated in this moment and am “focused intently and with loving intensity on healing and progress….” (to quote my Facebook status I barely remember typing).

I am not suggesting that this feeling will last.  I am suggesting that I don’t care if it does.  Right now is good enough for me.  I BELIEVE is the appropriate affirmation of this moment.  I believe in Love.  I believe in Light.  I believe in Now.

The rest, well that will take care of itself in perfect harmony even if it happens to sound like finger nails on a blackboard as life sings it into my ear.  Life will sing and I will be forced to listen even if I am left kicking and screaming in the corner of the room.  I could, however, decide to dance to the tune when acting like a baby doesn’t seem to jive with the moment.  Maybe I am simply dancing…

Enough.  Many of you are probably saying (to quote a rather intellectual and wise sage) “shut the fuck up and let me suffer!”  I am responding “go to it but please, whatever you do, live through it.  The tunnel is very dark and lonely, but the light on the other end is absolutely brilliant.”  Of course I am not sure I am on the other end, I may just be rounding a turn for all I know.  The light right here, however, is absolutely brilliant and was worth the pain that brought me here.  I’ll take it.

Right now, well the buzzer on my clothes dryer keeps going off and I want to take a baseball bat to it.  Ah it feels good to be BACK, even if I am not so sure I was ever here to begin with.  That, however, is another story!

Peace!

Why I Write – Honestly

Writing for me is therapeutic.  It has also been one of the purest and most honest methods by which I communicate.  It is impossible for me to be dishonest when I write, and it is impossible for me to give anything less that 100% of myself when I offer my heart in written form.  I am grateful that my Creator has seen fit to give me such a vehicle with which to share parts of myself with others, and in some small way perhaps help someone in the process.

I have been told that when I write it’s “just words” as if words themselves are what I write.  It’s like telling an artist that their creations are “just paint” or a sculptor that their masterpiece is “just marble.”  I am sure the process I use to share bits and pieces of myself are similar to that used by many creative types.  I have a moment of inspiration and simply sit down and create it in written form.  This usually occurs without thought or editing but with a tremendous amount of openness and honesty.

Over the last year, I have made great strides in using that openness in my everyday relationships.  I was once a closed person emotionally.  I kept my feelings private until they reared their ugly head in the form of anger.  When I was sad, I expressed anger.  When I was wrought with fear, I got pissed.  When I felt wasn’t sure of how I felt, a temper tantrum usually erupted.  Anger gave me a bit of an edge and acted something like a security blanket for me.  I felt safe and powerful when angry, so by creating anger from every other emotion it provided me with a “buffer” where I would not find myself in a “weak position” emotionally.

That was, of course, unless I was writing.  There, I could express my fears, pain, instabilities and doubts honestly and openly.  Writing has always been that type of release for me.

Needless to say, my emotional disconnect was not something that led to wonderful and long-lasting relationships unless those relationships were built predominately on the physical.  It took a remarkable woman to convince me to open up and be more honest about my feelings, and although it took years to finally “get it” I find myself completely open and honest about my feelings, sometimes to the point of being told I am nearly TOO honest and open.  I simply can’t help myself though, I have become an honest man and an honest man has trouble lying about anything.

My hope is that as an open book I can share something that can help someone prevent the type of pain I have experienced.  Now while I don’t have any need or want to continue to discuss my past or the suffering I have experienced in it, I do have a need to share the finer points of honesty.  We need to be honest not only with those in our lives, but with ourselves.

(Excuse me, but my dog just farted and I need to tell her how she utterly stinks.)

Ok, back.  I am still gagging a bit, but the dog must surely understand how much she has stunk up this room.  Ok, the truth is that she obviously has no idea what I am talking about, because she just did it again and, yes, I am gagging once more.  Too bad she doesn’t have a dog to blame…

Now back to the subject.   I write mostly for me.  If someone likes what I have written, that’s awesome.  It means they’ve taken the time to read it, and that somehow somewhere I have effected them with my experience.  The appreciation of others, however, is not mandatory for me to sit down and share a moment of inspiration with the world.  I do it for me and for some chosen few that inspire me.  I believe that when I write something with someone in mind, I am sharing with them the most honest and most pure part of me.  There is no question in my mind that when I am done that what I have written is the best part of me.  It’s what makes each article, essay, poem and thought I write “special” to me.

Period.

So, I have shared this in the hopes that if you have ever wondered about the integrity of what I have written you can stop.  To those who have questioned my honesty, you may now go back to questioning WHY you doubt the veracity of my creation.  I’ll simply just continue sharing until the moment the Creator decides to end such ability.

Be well, all of you, and please accept this piece of me with an open heart, open mind and with open arms.  I have to now go back and proofread my article and figure out exactly what it is I have written.  Up until now I truly have no idea.  🙂

Peace.

A Journey Anew

Today I feel as if I want to start my journey anew.  I want to shed the burden of the past, end the silly roles and games that have been played far too long.  I want to explore this life, feel its beauty and know its Love.  I want to embrace it all.

Through the suffering of great pain I am finding my Self.  Through the stripping away of the “me” I thought was there I am finding the me that was always there.  Through the haze of a life lived in fear I have found the beauty of Love.  I have discovered and rediscovered friendships that have shown me the power of acceptance and Love.  I may feel rejected by some, but the embraces I have experienced in their stead have shown me a new kind of Light and for that I am grateful.

I will Love, and be that highest vision I have always sought.  I will be who I am, and in that perfection know the touch of love as if for the very first time.  I make no excuses, I seek nothing but that which I am, and trust that will be good enough for those who will do the same.

One day I may see you across a stream, and we both can smile in the knowledge that even though we are on different paths, each one is the perfect one for us.  If our paths do cross again someday, we can know that such a crossing is, too, perfect.

Sister Assumpta – The Story of the Monk and the Scorpion

When I was but a wee lad (that’s the Irish in me) there were many difficulties facing me.  Those difficulties translated themselves in tough times both behaviorally and socially.  This was, of course, no more evident than in my school life.

Needless to say, the fact that I was having a very tough time was an understatement.  Yet, through it all, there remained this tough old nun (I went to Catholic school) who was there for me in some of the darkest moments of my young life.  Her name was Sister Assumpta, and although she was tough I have yet to meet a person who offered such unconditional love to me as she had.  In some ways she was a savior to me, and although it took many more years for my savior to arrive, she was there to do her best in guiding me through a time when I was utterly alone.

So, in this post, I wish to honor her, and you, with a story and explanation.  The story is one that she told me during one moment when I felt an intense anger and was suffering horribly from it.  This moment was a harbinger of things to come, but in this instance she was there to try to light a different, truer, path for me.  It is with tears in my eyes with love in my open heart that I offer you this memory in honor of a loving woman who will live eternally in my Soul.

A monk was walking besides a river swollen with torrential rains looking to see if there was anyone he could help.  As he scanned the raging river, he noticed a scorpion struggling to stay atop a boulder.  It was surely going to be swept away as the river rose.

The monk noticed a tree near the river’s bank that offered a sturdy branch reaching out directly over the scorpion.  Without hesitation, the monk climbed the tree, shimmied across the branch, and reached out to grab the scorpion as a large crowd gathered to watch.

Each time the monk reached out, the scorpion would sting him.  Still, the monk persisted until finally, after many, many tries, he successfully grabbed the scorpion and carried him safely to the shore.  The amazed crowd watched as the monk let the scorpion go, staggered, and fell at the base of the tree surely to die.

“Why would you kill yourself to save a scorpion?” someone in the crowd asked.  “Surely you would know he would sting you and you would die!”

“Of course I did,” said the monk.  “Yet just as it is the scorpion’s true nature is to sting in fear, it is my true nature to serve in love.  We were just being true to Who We Are.”

And with that the monk died, a free man true to his Self.

Now, I altered the end a little to more fit my current understanding.  I simply added those seven words that, to me, sum up the moral of the story.  What Sister Assumpta was trying to tell a young boy losing himself in sadness, anger and chaos was to not lose sight of the true Self.  Even then I understood what she was trying to say, but at that stage of my life I wasn’t sure who my true Self was.  It seemed my true Self was the one getting me beat at home, teased at school, and in trouble everywhere.  I simply did not have the tools or the experience to take that understanding and do something with it.  Frankly, those few moments with Sister Assumpta just were not enough to stem the tide of the raging river within me.  I eventually changed from being the monk to the scorpion and back to the monk again.

Actually, in my current understanding, I have always been the monk, the scorpion and the crowd.  Those experiences are “who I am” in this lifetime.  Today, however, I understand I have a choice.  I have no need to protect myself.  I have no need to cater to fear.  I have no need to worship the ideas of who you are or who I am; I simply have the understanding that we are truly no different except in those meaningless ideas.  In those moments when my ego rears up I try to go back to that scared and angry little boy.  I see the smiling face of Sister Assumpta as she grabs my cheeks in love to share some light.  This time, however, I smile back and tell her, “thank you, I understand, and I love you too.”  Those moments of focus are coming quicker to me now as the hold anger has over me evaporates with the ideas that spawns it.

See, the scorpion allowed the monk to be who he was in shining glory.  “No greater love is there than when a person dies for his friend.”  In return, the monk allowed the scorpion to be who it was.  Both allowed the crowd to be who it was.  All accepted and none suffered.

I love you.  I can’t help it.  Even when the scorpion decides to sting (both when I am the stinger and the stingee) I love.  As my mind conjures up ideas about you and yours about me, we both love each other in ways we simply have yet to recognize.  I have to find ways to recognize that love in myself and express it to you.  That’s the light that needs to shine.  If Sister Assumpta tried to do anything it was to shine a light for all to see, and I will be eternally grateful to a woman who can still inspire a warm feeling of love within me.

Anyway, I hope this foray into memory and love had some meaning to you.  I look forward to seeing your light shortly.  Peace!

The Parable of the Moving Ball

“There is no way to be truly great in this world. We are all impaled on the crook of conditioning. “ ~James Dean

There’s a certain magic in that quote.  It tells an entire story in two sentences.  Even those few we cherish as “great” are only so because we allow a certain perspective to dictate to us who and what they are.  Change your perspective and they cease to become “great”.  George Washington and Gandhi were not “great” people to the British of their time.  Mother Theresa was not “great” to the starving hordes in Northern Africa.  Jesus was not “great” to the Sanhedrin or the Romans.  Republicans are not great to Democrats and vice versa.  It simply is a matter of how you choose to see something.

I often use the Hawking example of the “ping pong ball on a train” applied to my spiritual practice to understand perspective (a view by which we cast all judgment) so that I can extrapolate the effects of perspective, conditioning and attachment on our reality. Here’s

My Sacral Chakra Ball...(Source: http://www.assistedseniorliving.net/)

this analogy in all of its glory:

There is a ping pong ball sitting on a table on a train in a way that causes it to sit perfectly still. The train, however, is moving at 65 miles per hour.

To some people conditioned to be ON the train, the ball is not moving, never moves, and remains perfectly still.

To others conditioned to be on the side of the tracks, the ball is moving at 65 mph as it whizzes by.

Each has its own perspective because of its own conditioning. The ball is still a ball, but when we add ideas of conditioning to it we create a “moving ball” or a “ball sitting still”. If each is unwilling to waver from its perspective we have the conditions for war, violence or, at the very least, anger and fear.

Yet, each is right in their observation. Where they make a fundamental mistake is when they attach themselves to their idea of what they see or have learned and not what is REAL. The reality of this example is that there is a ball and an Observer, plain and simple. If they could agree that there is a ball then the BELIEF about the ball becomes MEANINGLESS!   After all, all one has to do to change the way you see the ball is to change the view.  (Change the world by changing the way you see the world.)

They would not have to add phrases from a book (in this case any religious text) that

Who is doing wrong here in the picture and why?

proves they are right and the other is wrong.  They would not have to create “wickedness” in others who see things differently.  They could simply “allow” the description by simply not needing one in the first place.  (Those who know do not speak and those who speak do not know.)

In this analogy, no one has actually seen the ball.  These people have READ about the ball and what it is doing.  For the purposes of this post, the book says that the ball is moving.

Now because these people (we will call them Xtians) have never seen the ball but only have a book to rely on describing what the ball is doing (or was doing), they have created “faith” to ensure that the countless generations of conditioning that taught about the moving ball remains intact.  They can’t prove the ball is moving, or that the ball even exists, yet this faith allows them to not only believe in the ball and what it is doing, but also condemn those who either don’t believe in the ball’s existence or have different conditioned ideas about what the ball is (or was) doing.  After all, their parents taught them it was moving because they themselves were handed down the countless generations of conditioning that have gone into creating this “faith”.

In this example, the Xtians not only have created an idea of right and wrong, but are using someone else’s idea to do so.  They are taking someone else’s experience or inspiration and making it necessary for everyone to have it.  It isn’t real, it’s an imagined idea of an experience someone else had thousands of years earlier MADE real in order to support their own conditioned thoughts.

They could point to verses in that book that allowed for the conclusion that “I am right, you are wrong, the ball is moving,” and “I will be saved and you won’t be because I believe the ball is moving”. I mean something supreme told them that the ball was moving (or is), right? The book said that anyone who said the ball was still was a false prophet!!! BEWARE but remain hopeful because a savior is coming to prove to everyone that the ball was, in fact, MOVING.

The faith in the book itself would keep you from experiencing the TRUTH about the ball. You would not be able to experience the ball as still because, frankly, you could not get out of your box long enough to have the experience. So, you could not say for sure if the ball was moving or not, you’d just have to have faith that it was.  Experience would be secondary to the conditioning and the belief in you it created.

Silly, huh? When you achieve a level of consciousness that allows you to experience the ball as moving and still, either idea becomes equally meaningless and equally valid.  Ultimately though, it is not as important as the experience itself.  You die when you stop having the experience of existing, and strict adherence to any religion, dogma or belief (religious or otherwise) is a death experienced by those who have forgotten their own breath.  Once we start honoring experience as the basis for our purpose, we not only live for the experience but also find a deep desire to let go or it in order to see the sunrise as if for the very first time.  Experience is dynamic and ever-changing, religion is not.

The New Experience of Religion (Source: http://www.canyonridge.org)

There is MUCH value in religion.  It removes people from horrible darkness and debilitating despair as well as providing the impetus for humans to come to a deeper understanding of who we are.  However, religion seems to be the “puberty of spirituality”, that stage of development that allows us to learn about ourselves in tremendously unique ways while still only being one stage of many.  Unfortunately, it has been our history that we stop developing at this pubescent stage.  We find comfort in religion, particularly if our parents are the ones who indoctrinated us into it or if it has pulled us out of some deep abyss, and remain in this stage rather than mature beyond it.

Religion is nothing more than an experience.  You have it, and then you should let it go.  Or else you begin to have the experience of stagnation as you live like a veal-calf in a box.  You soon forget how to walk, and become so soft as to be desired by wolves.  It would be like finding comfort on the seat of a roller coaster and never getting off to experience the rest of the rides.

Now, before you decide that I am judging religion while demonizing judgment let me just suggest to you that I am offering a unique way to describe my experience of religion not only from the inside looking out but from the outside looking in.  I am not JUDGING, I am DESCRIBING.  I am describing the ball while I was standing by the tracks and now as I stand on the train.  I am not saying I am right to you, I am simply describing what I have experienced which, of course, makes me right to me.

In my experience, religion gave me a grounded understanding of my society’s morality, or at least a rosy picture of it. It also seemed to create a lot of society’s inner turmoil.  Because of that, it remained for me just a step toward higher levels of consciousness.  There was no comfort in the religious stage, only questions that would force me upward and beyond the confines of a book that taught me that ball was moving.  I needed to experience it, to know it, to feel it and to understand it and then fortunate was able to let it go.  In doing so, I stepped out of its confines into an experience that hasn’t stopped pushing me into deeper and more meaningful levels of understanding.  Religion was a gift for me, it got me to a point where I wanted something it could not offer.  It has also been a curse because it has cost me friendships and countless hours of guilt and fear as I began growing away from it.

So when someone says to me “you are wrong, the ball is moving” while unfriending me on Facebook because of what I see (or how I describe what I see), I can simply say “yeah, I saw that once too and this is what I saw once I stepped onto the train.”  I now focus only on the ball, and keep my “eyes” firmly fixed on it as I let go of all the ideas I have created about what it is, what it does and how it does it.  I simply experience the entirety of the ball, and have found something very powerful in this focus.

The ball does not exist.  But that’s for another story…