I am privileged to love. I am beautiful to behold. I love you and want to know what your dreams are; I want to share in how you see and look with you together at the wider world we can see with our sights combined.
I am a heart open to the universe and all that is alive in it.
This is not sustainable. This will destroy me.
Creatures such as we humans are not good, nor bad, but both. Each an expression of uncountable energy interactions. Each of us meeting again and again as energy strangers, struggling to know the other beyond the skin, often unable to know what energies were absorbed by the other since our last encounter. Even closest friends and intimate partners are embedded in the world, and are thus fallible to energy coercion.
It is, I am learning, required of each of us to develop a neutral space to filter out the energies of interaction. Inside of us is an authentic energy of love that will be drowned out unless we make space for it.
After leaving the isolation and intellectualism of graduate school I am feeling a growing conviction that I must form a bridge between spirit and material. In the tradition of a shaman I am seeking. I am unafraid to have no words. I am finally unafraid to leave a wordless, personal and non-falsifiable space in the middle of myself for God.
I write this because today I hit a dying point in my spiritual growth, and thus here before you I am reborn. This post may be controversial to you, I ask that you read this as coming from my experience and thus not the entire picture.
I have been on tour with my musician friends Hippie Sabotage, each night experiencing a glorious stew of vibrant human energy. Love unquantifiable. Now I am in Atlanta, Georgia taking two days off; five days on, two off, it’s a grind being in the circus!
I gave myself the gift of a fancy hotel room with a big bed that overlooks the city and shared it with a beautiful spirit I had met earlier in Athens. The tiny bunks in a tour bus are wreaking havoc on my shoulders! After having a lovely and enlightening date she gave me the opportunity to express my tenderness in holding her in sleep. I awoke the next morning in joy with her, took her back to her car and she went back to her life. I was buzzing. I hope without expectation that I will see her again; I know already I will write her a letter when the tour is over.
Such positivity, I am thinking, my spirit journey is going well! I walk down to the Olympic Park to read a book, one unlike the others I usually read, titled 'You Are the Answer' by Michael J Tamura
Almost nothing in the book is falsifiable, but all of it hits my being with a resonance that suggests that my life’s service to rational skepticism must be re-evaluated. I know a plethora of facts about the world, but I am floundering for meaning. Tamura’s conception of spirit fills me with positive ideas for meaningful living. It makes sense to say that I am spirit, that I am indescribable yet readily perceptible if I quiet my mind and listen to my wider self.
As I am reading the book, buzzing with affirmation and positivity from a restful night’s sleep in a real bed with beautiful femininity to hold beside me, I am approached by a man. He asks to sit down, and I allow, being filled with joy of spirit and body I feel invincible. My heart is out in the open, and it feels strong enough for anything.
He begins to start discussing spirit, telling me things I would not have looked up since they are not falsifiable. I appreciate it. He seems composed and like a potentially helpful spirit friend. What luck, my mind thinks, more opportunity for positive growth in this new domain I am exploring!
My heart is skeptical, but my socially-conscious mind compels me to continue talking with him. It is a good conversation mostly, and I think down to my heart, I am aware of your perception, but let’s hear this guy out. So I listen, while my heart, ever wise, is waiting guardedly for his pitch.
Then it comes: He has a daughter, he claims, and needs $500.
Before I can even react another man appears, visibly disheveled. He also has a suffering daughter, shot in the face in a coma, he claims. This man though is simply sad, not composed. He begins to cry and I feel compelled to rise from my seat and hug him. He cries harder. He has not asked me for money although I know he intended to. The hug seems to take him to a different plane, even just slightly. I am buoyed by the possibility that I could help someone at a human level rather than a material level, for all I really have in the material is debt.
The first man though is seething. He wants the other man gone.
It becomes clear that neither one of these men wants healing, or being more kind to them, none of the men are centered enough to accept it. The second man shambles off and I am aware of my heart’s stronger message: you are a privileged kid and these men want things from you; this has nothing to do with spirit and entirely to do with material needs. Stop being so naive!
The first man is fully angry now. He resists all my urges to get him back to neutral so that we can continue discussing spirit. He has become only resentment of the second man for ruining his pitch, since the second man’s appearance did indeed snap be out of my reverie and back to reality: I am an animal and in nature there are predators and prey, parasites and hosts. I am feeling increasingly like a host and I am guarding up in case I switch to prey.
The man cannot show me a picture of his daughter because his phone is dead. My rational skepticism is buzzing.
What am I to do?, my heart and mind connection asks from the middle of itself.
Despite my growing skepticism and psychic duress under his angry energy, I still feel for this man. I know intellectually how broken material society is, since I went into meaty debt in order to go to graduate school to study the exact specifics of the brokenness of the world that I may help fix it. I want desperately to help him, but I do not have the money to spare.
I am not rich, only privileged. I have money to live and some lines on possibilities for more, but not enough to give to every stranger’s story. I am privileged but not lazy, I earned the money I have. Despite the immense gift of my social placement allowing me to get money, my work is still my work. I owe it to my family and myself to move forward in the social class I was gifted in birth. To slide back would be to dishonor my parents’ and my grandparents’ hard work. It would remove me from my ability to meaningfully help society. I have met too many souls who have been ejected from the Elysium we call "developed society" and they are unseen. Elysium is brutal and I must be realistic for I seek to improve its design.
As I am trying to rationalize, the man’s growing anger answers for me. The man invokes Jesus to guilt me. I am not Christian, but I know that using Jesus as a lance is not the intention of that series of stories. To use love as a lance seems to me to be succumbing to the seductive power of evil.
Then the final straw comes when he threatens my future directly: if I do not give, I will be punished. Like a bad chain mailer but in the power of flesh before me.
That is my compassion’s death.
I say “do not threaten my future, sir,” and make my exit. I say it not in anger, but with conviction. After all, I would never threaten his future. Is my not giving a threat? No, it is a denial of a request. I did not create the conditions of his predicament. As I leave I still feel compelled to give him $20 and feel his continued disdain for me despite getting from me what is a lot of money for me. I am not rich despite being privileged. Elysium has many levels higher and I am only just within it.
I see now as I write that I am lucky. I could have completed this brewing revelation through bodily harm, instead I learned it through temporary psychic suffering. The man dumped huge piles of negative energy on me just before I took leave of him.
It took time, and this post, to clear out all the negativity that I had let in with my wide open heart. I felt betrayed: he came to me on terms of spirit but was forced by whatever unseen circumstances to be confined in truth to the material. I felt duped, by him and the world itself.
But now, writing this I am reborn in new knowledge:
Empathy does not grant omniscience, it only creates a door for compassion.
Today I finally took the lesson: without awareness compassion can become destructive.
I knew this before, but had not connected it fully to my life. My first job when I was 16 was as a California State beach lifeguard. In training they teach us that the rescuer’s safety must come first, always. If you rush headlong to save a victim but become a victim yourself you have made things worse; another rescuer will have to get both of you! In training we are instructed to hand the buoy over first since a drowning person will, under their animal duress, seek to clamber over you using you as a floatation device even though you have come to save them with a neutral flotation device! Their primal fear does not know compassion in that moment, so you must guard yourself.
The training was good and I have prevented dangerous situations through early intervention and even saved a handful of lives directly through getting in the water. I have even accepted my death, held under the un-fightable force of large swells running low on breath. It was so much more peaceful to surrender than I had imagined. I surrendered and made peace only to find the bottom and burst to the surface, saving my victim.
But only today does the fullness of that training cement for me. It’s not just about physical harm, but psychic harm, even monetary draining. If I become another victim then I have not improved the world, I have only added to its suffering
In this connected series of encounters in Atlanta, both beautiful and disappointing, I feel I finally see with clarity a continuum of Godliness. That it is neither good, nor bad, but rather is a substrate for choices. How I choose is how God is in part. Same with you. And all of us.
It makes so much more sense to me that we are making God’s will together, rather than God's will being some external force. This is a responsibility that I find many religions disappointingly do not accept fully. The monotheistic faiths keep focusing on God as external rather than emergent. This is, to me, a deep illusion. External God is not just unfalsifiable, it is dangerous in practice.
I feel with conviction that God’s will expressed on Earth is made by the people who live here. I feel that those who say God works in “mysterious ways” have given their power away, as they are unwilling to actually embrace the power of their will to manifest material reality.
People of the monothesitic faiths give their power away, to institutions or pronouns in the sky. They have a sense for spirit, but lack the conviction in their freedom necessary to seize back their God-given power.
Today I died. John the Giver has become John the Warrior Giver. I have to finally face the reality: the world is not tender, it is the world.
As a child I was all mind and patterns, lost in my imagination. I still am to a degree, but I am working to lessen. Once social interactions were awkward and terrifying for me, I always feared making a “mistake.” So I have been putting myself way outside of my comfort zone the last few years, really out of most people’s comfort zone if I’m being frank. Offering rides to strange hippies I meet in Seattle. Listening to the ravings of the homeless, affirming their existences. Trying to talk spirit with a stranger sitting next to me on a bench.
Each time is a deep risk to my wellbeing, but I did it each time to prove to myself and the world that tenderness can win.
I must finally admit a degree of defeat.
Tenderness needs nurturing space. Tenderness is the delicate bloom in the cool moonlight. Tenderness is not the default mode of the world, as much as I have always wished it was so, my wishes do not make the world.
Today I died and am reborn. Now my heart is still tender but protected. I have carried a shield, but was once given advice to drop my sword. This was bad advice.
I am a creature and I need claws. The world of tender Burning Man and bedsheets is not the whole world.
I inhale and feel the urge to hate the world for making me become that which I thought I was sent here to alleviate. I exhale and let this urge go out into the imperfect universe. I feel for my holstered sword, heft my shield and send a loop of self-love to my heart. I embrace the truth: good and evil are both of God. They are the polarities that define the edges of the possibilities in this world.
I am a creature; I did not design the world. I weep for the last time today as the tender reality I have dreamt of is finally destroyed. Now I am in darkness, but open to spirit. Now I am without a clear dream, but open to discovery. I throw my visions into fictional writings and remove them from my world model.
I become a universal truth detector rather than a personal truth projector. I pledge to myself that I will be more aware and more attentive to my intuition. I pledge to myself that any being whom will be tender with me deserves the full strength of my animal intelligence, perception and ferocity to protect. I pledge to be a lifeguard not just on the beach, not just of the body, but also of my soul, and any others who are with me in tenderness.
Today I lose the absent-minded professor aesthetic, the open-hearted lover desires, and I become of this world as it is, not as I wish it to be. I pick up my shield and sword and stand to face the blistering enormity of the real present.
But I fear not, for my heart is still in the middle. I am of the world but I am also beyond it, just as you are. That ineffable edge that we all feel and that many material houses of worship try to describe with the frailty of words. That godliness, that spirit. The sacred feelings unique to each of us.
I still dream of more tender worlds. Except now I know that tenderness is stuck in game theory. Tenderness is the ideal outcome but it must be an agreement.
I start each game now not as an open banner, but rather with shield raised and hand near sword.
I am a creature and my purpose in life is first and foremost to survive.
God asks less of us than we do of ourselves through our stories. God only asks that we exist. The world is broken for many and beautiful for others. This was done by human intention.
I believe that God is the substrate for choice. If anyone threatens you with God's will or wrath they are threatening you directly, since their intention is the instrument of God.
Never let anyone threaten your future, no matter what material injustices they may have suffered, you too are of God and thus deserve to live. I did not design the world, and today I let go of all attachment to stories as guides and instead embrace my feelings. Intuition is the compass of the present, and present is the only reality.
I did not design the world; I relinquish open-heartedness for real-heartedness. If you choose coercion with me you will be deflected, or if necessary destroyed. If you choose tenderness with me I will give you all I have bursting to give.
I am now officially a warrior of the heart. I now trust my intuition completely. I will not rationalize my feelings with fragile slow words, I will be my truth embodied in my response to energies of the world. still pray for a better world, but now, I am fully alive in this one. I finally admit, with no defeat only acceptance, that the world is a battleground of intentions. If you are a warrior of the heart, if you wish to spread tenderness, I pray you fight beside me. If you seek to sow more coercion I have no time for you. If you force yourself upon me still, if shield cannot deflect, then I must use my sword.
I am a creature and my purpose is to live. I am not good, nor bad; I am.