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Thursday, December 13, 2012

EAST AND WEST

 
brice marden, couplet IV



When the white page appeared to be written upon, these lines came to me from Louise Gluck's poem, THE WINGED HORSE,

     Here is my horse Abstraction,
     silver-white, color of the page,
     of the unwritten.


Yes, I'm getting on the horse Abstraction and heading into the unknown, going with the horse to see where we go. The flow. I like starting on the white page with nothing in mind. In my early years in the mountains I knew a Regular Baptist preacher well enough that over a period of several years he told me his life, one of my great experiences in the mountains. He told me that in his way of preaching, he approaches the pulpit with nothing in mind. He doesn't study for a given topic to preach on, nothing. It's all about being a vessel for the spirit, keeping mind out of it. It's a gift to be able to speak from the heart without interference from the mind. They say it is the Holy Spirit speaking through them. I watched it for years trying to figure out where the "in the spirit" talk came from. Everything I thought about was not it, until I finally saw that it was exactly as they say, from the Holy Spirit. In the case of Millard Pruitt, his only subject in the pulpit was love. Outside the pulpit it was a word he seldom used; it was a four-letter word, making love. Old country beliefs. But outside his mind, love was all that came through. It was ok when the Spirit talked about love, because then it is only one kind of love the Spirit means. Out here in the world, things are carnal. It's different.

I use that principle when I jump on the horse Abstraction, not because I believe the Holy Spirit will speak through me, because I don't. I won't even go so far as to say my Higher Self comes through, because I don't believe it does. Yet, sometimes I have seen it peep through, though not with my intent. I'm not channeling. I'm having fun. Writing these almost daily entries is the ongoing project I started when I wanted to find a way to stimulate me to write something every day that might be worth reading. The ones I feel like are the best are the ones where one sentence comes at a time and I don't know where it's going, what it's about, the why of it, and when it comes to its end I click the orange publish rectangle and am done with it. It was like walking through squishy mud. A couple weeks later I go back and look at it and it is one of the more interesting ones. To my way of seeing. All this is about my way of seeing because I believe the only reality is subjective. There is no real objective that we live with. Objective needs a lab with set conditions that can be repeated and give the same results. We don't live like that. We live as a self swimming in a sea of other selves, each one the center of the universe. The trick is learning how to live with each other.

In the West, Europe and the 2 American continents, we are born bad and learn to become good. In Asia we're born good and learn to become bad. In the West, self is first, all others last. In Asia, others are first and self is last. The difference between Buddhism and Christendom. In myself, in my adult life I have consciously sought how to become in myself a blend of East and West. First, I have the Western way as my own, because it's the world I was born into and have all my experience in. I wanted to ease that off a bit. When I fell in with Meher Baba and began to be able to understand scriptures of the East, Hindu, Buddhist and Muslim, I came to see that Jesus was Eastern too. He didn't ever talk about me-first-everybody-else-last. I'm not a Paulist, but one thing he said I like, Run the race with patience. Hurry slowly. I see Paul pulling the teachings of Jesus back into codes of restrictions and privilege. Anyway, I wanted to become a blend of East and West. My only access to the East was through reading, also my only access to the West. I spent several years reading discourses of Masters from India, Buddhist writings, Buddhist poetry, scriptures, until I felt I had a fair enough understanding that it was familiar as the Western vision.

First reading Meher Baba's discourses and writings about him I discovered he was saying the same things Jesus said. In fact, when I found myself checking Meher Baba's sayings with the sayings of Jesus, I found them the same. Jesus spoke in parables and Shakespearean English, Meher Baba spoke(or signed) in prose. I like about Meher Baba's prose that he explains what certain spiritual principles mean in practical everyday life ways. The part that brought me out of my slumber was when I saw I was reading Baba in relation to Jesus in my mind when I believed I didn't believe Jesus was the God Man. I saw then I had successfully discarded all the unnecessary belief systems built around the words of Jesus by centuries of theologians thinking up as much nonsense as can be thought up, and kept the words of Jesus. Soon afterward, a year later, when I came to the mountains, my nearest neighbor Tom Pruitt turned out to be a Regular Baptist who had left the church several years before. His Bible was a New Testament and he only read the red letters. That was the only part of interest to him. The red letters are also the content of the Thomas Jefferson Bible, which he reduced to the red letter words. I thought it very interesting I had fallen in with someone who saw it as I saw it, each in our own ways, which were very different, though the same. Jesus was every bit as Eastern as Krishna and the Buddha. They all say the same things, just in different words, languages and images for different cultures.

A Jesus who looks like James Brown is no more inconceivable to me than a Jesus who looks like Willem Dafoe. My guessing of how Jesus looked was a dark Middle-Eastern or North African look. The Hebrew slaves in Egypt in Pharoah times came from South of Egypt. Nubia is South of Egypt. Ethiopia is South of Egypt. Isaac Hayes was right: Moses was black. Five thousand years ago, there weren't many white people in that part of Africa. I feel like Andre Gregory's portrayal of John the Baptist in The Last Temptation of Christ was a good portrayal of a fair likelihood. That part of the world in Bible times was very different from portrayed in Bible movies. The parties in King David's time after a battle, I don't even know if they've been attempted on film. Three thousand years ago everything was so different from us conceptually we can't even imagine what those people were like in the part of the world that is now Iraq and around there, and North Africa. They weren't like Americans is all I can start with. Though my guess is to sit in a coffee shop in Cairo today would not be a great deal different from three millennia ago. Conversation would be the same; names would be different. They still use donkeys in parts of the city.

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