Sunday Sermon [Courage]

Hola Everybody,
Yes, I haven’t written in a while and that includes writing that doesn’t usually appear here (my short stories and nonfiction essays). I have to find my niche in this world… somehow.

Here’s a poem by Anne Sexton that inspired me. They are particularly poignant considering the poet’s own life. The last two years have been challenging for me and I can relate to the words that follow Hope it inspires you as well.

Courage

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It is in the small things we see it.
The child’s first step,
as awesome as an earthquake.
The first time you rode a bike,
wallowing up the sidewalk.
The first spanking when your heart
went on a journey all alone.
When they called you crybaby
or poor or fatty or crazy
and made you into an alien,
you drank their acid
and concealed it.

Later,
if you faced the death of bombs and bullets
you did not do it with a banner,
you did it with only a hat to
cover your heart.
You did not fondle the weakness inside you
though it was there.
Your courage was a small coal
that you kept swallowing.
If your buddy saved you
and died himself in so doing,
then his courage was not courage,
it was love; love as simple as shaving soap.

Later,
if you have endured a great despair,
then you did it alone,
getting a transfusion from the fire,
picking the scabs off your heart,
then wringing it out like a sock.
Next, my kinsman, you powdered your sorrow,
you gave it a back rub
and then you covered it with a blanket
and after it had slept a while
it woke to the wings of the roses
and was transformed.

Later,
when you face old age and its natural conclusion
your courage will still be shown in the little ways,
each spring will be a sword you’ll sharpen,
those you love will live in a fever of love,
and you’ll bargain with the calendar
and at the last moment
when death opens the back door
you’ll put on your carpet slippers
and stride out.

— Anne Sexton © provided for educational purposes only

My name is Eddie and I’m in recovery from civilization…

Tags: Poetry, Anne Sexton, Courage, Transformations

Excerpt: Your courage was a small coal/ that you kept swallowing.

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Everything is Everything

Hola mi Gente,
Today is the summer solstice, the longest day of the year. Hope you have an exciting, fun-filled summer!

Dependent origination is not exactly everyone’s cup of tea, I admit, but there’s something to it… or not. LOL

Dependent Origination

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The fear of letting go prevents you from letting go of the fear of letting go.

 

This is the doctrine at the heart Buddhism. You see, my dear reader, it goes this way: you are an unstable collection of coincidences held together by a desperate and irrational clinging. There is no center — no center at all. Everything depends on everything else, your body depends on the ecology, your thoughts depend on whatever conditioned debris floats in from the media, your emotions are mostly from the reptilian end of your DNA.

Your intellect, dear reader, is a chemical computer that can’t add up a zillionth as fast as a pocket calculator. Even your best side is a superficial piece of social conditioning that will fall apart as soon as your significant other leaves after emptying the money in the bank account, the economy fails and you get the sack, or you get conscripted into some village idiot’s war, or they give you the news about your brain tumor. To name this combination of self-pity, vanity, and despair “self” is not only the height of conceit, it is also proof that we’re a deluded species.

We are in a trance from birth to death. Burst the balloon and what are you left with? Emptiness.

It’s not only us — this radical principle applies to the whole sentient world. While dependent origination is somewhat hard to take (or grasp), it does have a compelling point: stop for a moment, still yourself, listen — in other words, pay attention just a little — and you will find yourself on a planet you no longer recognize. Those needs and fears you thought were the very foundation of your existence turn out to be no more than bugs in your software.

My name is Eddie and I’m in recovery from civilization…

If I could…

Hola Everybody,
Spring has sprung here in The Center of the Known Universe. Fuck wherever it is you live! LOL

Now [no. 15]

Wendy Whitelaw, Park Avenue, July 1981

Wendy Whitelaw, Park Avenue, July 1981

If I could
I would guarantee you
bright sunny days
and soft, dry breezes
for all your Summers.

If I could
I would give you
clear cold days
and clean snow
for the Winters you love.

And if I could
I would give you Autumn,
dressed to the teeth,
at that precious moment
when you most need change.

But if I want you
to remember me
as I will always remember you,
I will send you,
naked,
unadorned,
Spring.

Edward-Yemil Rosario ©

Sunday Sermon [Redemption Song]

Hola Everybody,
Today’s blog art is by the great Salvador Dali. There’s another Dali work that’s of importance here. Dalí once made a gift to the men’s jail in lieu of a personal appearance there. He was supposed to give an art class to the inmates in 1965 but canceled due to illness. He donated the then new gouache-ink-and-pencil sketch, specifically “For the dining room of the Prisoners Rikers Island,” as he inscribed it. And he sent some encouraging words for the men: “You are artists. Don’t think of your life as finished for you. With art, you have always to feel free.”

It was stolen by correction guards in 2003 and is believed to have been destroyed.

Here’s a photo of the work being presented to then commissioner Anne Kross (seems like she doesn’t  get it):

04-16-17_ Dali-Rikers_ 001

Redemption Song

04-16-17_ Redemption Song

Woman, why are you weeping?
— Jesus to Mary Magdalene (John 20:15)

 

For a long time I refused to go to funerals. I simply wouldn’t go. On one level, I didn’t want to see my loved ones garishly made up lying in some casket. I have seen many, many people leave this existence. Most of the people I was raised with are dead or dying. I grew up in a violent world and quite a few were taken in the prime of their lives — victims of violence, disease, or addiction. On another level, I didn’t want to come face-to-face with death. Especially death warmed over as I used to call funerals in mainstream US culture.

I didn’t like funerals. Didn’t like death… So I never went.

Then one day, I was shopping with a lover and she picked out a dress she loved so much she said, “This is the dress I want to be buried in!” We laughed about it. We, she, was young and beautiful, full of life. She was the Bonnie to my Clyde, committing crimes of life in that devil-may-care way only the foolish and young can justify. We didn’t last long together, less than two months, but we created so much drama in one another lives that we would become forever attached. Years later, after all had been done between us, she died in my presence.

People have a fucked up knack of dying around me.

When it came time to make preparations, her sister confided in me that she knew what dress to bury her in and when I saw it, it cut me deep because it was that very same dress we picked out that day so many years before. When I told her sister, she smiled because my former partner in crime had told her sister the same thing. I wasn’t planning on attending her funeral, but her sister insisted.

I am not a practicing Christian. I don’t accept Jesus, or anyone else, as my savior, nor do I believe in a literal translation of the Bible, Old or New. However, I do think that some of the teachings attributed to the person called Jesus of Nazareth are sublime. My personal belief, borne of personal experience, is that the core teachings of Jesus were corrupted for personal and political gain. Thomas Jefferson held similar views and he wrote a version of the Gospels, now known as the Jeffersonian Bible. In it, he excised the parts he felt were contradictory to the core message of hope and love of the Nazarene. And believe me, there’s lots of contradiction in the Gospels.

According to people who wrote the story hundreds of years after the fact, when Jesus finds Mary Magdalene crying at the door of the tomb, he says to her, “Woman, why are you weeping?” As I see it, Jesus wasn’t asking a rhetorical question. He wanted to know why we worry and sob and fret when hope is always present, if we could just tap into it.

For me, Easter is about liberation, and it’s especially meaningful for a person like me who sometimes feels chained to moodiness and negativity too much of the time. The celebration of the resurrection is a chance for us to acknowledge Jesus’ message of hope and in so doing, grab the hope that is already there.

Anyone else notice that of all the people he showed himself to, it was the women first? In fact, of all the women, it wasn’t his mother, but Mary Magdalene to whom Jesus appeared first. I don’t take Jesus’ resurrection literally, but there is a message there that resonates with my own life. Jesus’ life, like mine, was a redemption song. And like Jesus, it was the women in my life who tended to me — tended to me through my own passage to a new life. Maybe this is saying something about the Feminine Principle and how far we have moved away from that healing force. For me, this was no accident of the Gospels. Jesus appeared to Mary Magdalene because she, more than any other disciple, believed in him. All those other bums, betrayed and denied him, didn’t they? LOL

When I cried at my ex-lover’s funeral, it seems as if I cried for all the loved ones I had never said good-bye to — the one’s whose funerals I didn’t attend. It was as if all that loss I was holding on to came out like a river. It was at once one of the saddest and most liberating experiences in my life. I read somewhere the other day that the opposite of loss is finding. It’s a deceptively profound statement.

Grief is what we add on to loss. It is a learned behavior, specific only to some cultures. It is neither unavoidable nor universal. In some cultures, for example, you will never see someone cry at a cremation. Their cultural perspective on death is one of acceptance in a way foreign to Western theories of grief and loss.

Similarly, when Jesus appeared to the disciples he asked, “Why are you troubled?” Jesus says to the disciples in Luke’s gospel when he appears to them after his “resurrection.”

My Buddhist practice has slowly transformed my view of grief — has actually opened the door for me to see that there’s an alternative to grief. It’s not that grief is wrong, only that there’s another possibility. Loss of a loved one can be viewed in another way, a way that avoids the long days of aching, oftentimes crippling grief.

Over the years since my ex-lover’s death, I have attended many funerals and have had two others die in my arms. I sometimes cry at funerals but I understand death differently today. A teacher once explained it to me in simple terms. “Have you ever been to a concert and experience the shouts of ‘more!’ coming from the audience when it came time to end?” he asked. “Usually, the musicians will play one or two encores, but eventually they have to pack up their gear and leave. I’ve experienced this many times and when I’m going home, I usually reflect on how great the music was and how lucky I was to have been there. I never felt grief at the end of a concert.”

And that is exactly how I experience life and death today. I see it as if a magnificent concert had come to an end. I revel in the wonderful performance. I was there shouting loudly, “More!” when it came to end the performance. My loved ones struggled to stay alive a little longer, but eventually they had to let go — they had to pack up their instruments and “go home.” Today, I choose to see instead what magnificent lives my friends and loved ones led. What powerful inspirations they were in my life. Their shining power of example. I reflect mostly how fortunate I was to have been in their lives to witness their glorious and beautiful power. Today, I walk away from funerals feeling a lot like I do after watching a great performance: exhilaration. I wouldn’t miss it for the world.

Grief is seeing only what has been taken away from you. The celebration of a life is recognizing all that we were blessed with, and expressing that gratitude. When I die (and we all will die sooner or later) I hope this is what people will feel for my own performance and that people will celebrate life and not just mourn my death.

Whatever your belief, this has to be part of the message of the resurrection, whether you understand it as literal or not. That the concerts of our lives continue reverberating and in that way create more life. That our lives are never ended, but live in our deeds and actions… and our memories.

My name is Eddie and I’m in recovery from civilization…

You have a fine line of style…

Hola mi gente,
I haven’t written anything for public consumption in over a month. A part of that is that I’ve been busy at my new gig. However, the main reason is that I’m living like a gypsy — I have no place to call my own… yet. Hopefully, that will change soon.

Today… a poem…

Nows [no. 13]

Vannia Lara_ 001

The lovely Vannia Lara personifying El Sexy

You are not
More perfect than anyone.

But you have a
fine line of style.

A sharpened sense
of your outer edge:
the changing purposes
and possibilities for
your eyes and your ass.

A master of the passive assault,
you caress me
with your passing glances,
and lure me to adventure
with a smile
I can never be sure I saw.

— Edward-Yemil Rosario © 2003

Your Horrible-scope

Hola mi gente,
I’m looking for a man (or woman) with a van to help me move a few things (really: a bicycle, a couple of small boxes, and some luggage) from a location in the Bronx to my storage in Brooklyn this Saturday. You will not have to carry anything.

Today: Let’s have a little fun. LOL

Your Horror-scope

03-02-16_ Your Horrible-scope

 

Create a new bedtime story for someone you love and imagine you have a guardian angel that looks like me. Teach your pet goldfish to dance. Recreate your life-story using sock puppets and some five-year-old as your director. Make believe you’re an ancient Thunder King or Woman-Warrior Queen. Go to the mall and sing New York, New York at the top of your lungs while scratching your genitals. Be sure to watch Reality TV with your third eye. Drink holy water blessed by a really smart teen-aged girl. Always remember that you are The Chosen One (and so is everyone else).

My name is Eddie and I’m in recovery from civilization…

The Practice of Freedom

Hola mi Gente,
I was sick as a dog last weekend I missed the third lecture of four I was supposed to give this month. Tomorrow, I will do the last lecture. I have really enjoyed engaging the good people of All Souls Church – all of whom are so open-minded and inclusive. I only hope I have met the challenge.

Last chance:

Sunday, February 26th, 10 AM, at All Souls Church at Lexington Ave. and E. 80th St.

Engaged Spirituality:
Moral Development and the Practice of Freedom

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Simply “practicing meditation” or any set of mechanics isn’t enough. I have come to realize that we create our world according to our level of consciousness/ awareness. It’s the same with love. For some people, love’s reason is the satisfaction of the individual. Love is something that you go “out there” to get in order to satisfy a hunger for connection. Similarly, religion and everything else is filtered — distilled — according to one’s level of moral reasoning.

Let’s assume that moral development has three distinct stages. At birth an infant hasn’t been socialized into its culture’s ethics, standards, and conventions; let’s call this the preconventional stage. It’s also known as the egocentric, in that the infant’s awareness is largely consumed with self — self-absorbed. But as the young child begins to learn its culture’s rules and norms, it grows into the conventional stage. This stage is also known as ethnocentric, in that it’s focused on the child’s particular group, tribe, clan, or nation, and therefore tends to exclude those not of its group. But at the next major stage of moral development, the post-conventional stage, the individual’s identity expands to include care and concern for all peoples, regardless of race, color, sexual orientation, or creed, which is why this stage is also known as worldcentric.

Using this consciousness map as a framework to understand reality one can see how religion (or love) will manifest itself differently in a person who’s at the egocentric stage than a person who’s at a worldcentric stage. Both people can be just as devout (or “in love”), but spiritual practice will evolve according to any one individual’s level of moral development.

To illustrate further, imagine love from an egocentric perspective. Love at this stage resembles a yearning — something like an addict’s need for a fix — an ego boost. Same thing with almost anything you look at in life: perception and meaning changes according to the level from which you are engaging the world. Religion from an egocentric perspective resembles the global wave of fundamentalism currently threatening our existence. And I mention fundamentalism in all its manifestations — including our own home-grown Christian fundamentalism.

During this last lecture I will attempt to answer some of the questions in the previous section (namely how personal and collective liberation are interdependent) and discuss if the Dharma (Buddhism) can facilitate the development of moral reasoning. And if so, I would like to lead a discussion on what our national or geopolitical dialog resemble as people moved up the ladder of the stages of moral reasoning.

My name is Eddie and I’m in recovery from civilization…