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Tuesday, December 11, 2012

HEART AND MIND

       robert indiana


Since I have fallen into a relaxed way of living my life, it's been smoother, nearly no anxieties, no concerns about anything that I don't want to be concerned over. Nobody paying me to do their work for them, expecting of me, expecting, expecting. I don't honor expectation anymore. Anybody who takes an interest in expecting one thing or another of me that I haven't agreed to will be disappointed. Like when somebody expects you to stand up straight and is pist off all the time because you have a relaxed semi-slouch. They don't tell you, so you can't put on a show for them, like stand up straight when they're around if you care enough. The middle class belief that it is essential to sell self at all times, present a smiling, happy product that never says "no" and never lets slip a dirty word, performs in everyday life like in a sitcom on tv, commercials (for self) included, indicates to me absence of culture. Unless denial can be called culture. In this time when two working class people, both working full time, can't afford to live any way but in poverty, it's redundant to say something is wrong with this picture. Over 30+ years of wages frozen in place and inflation running wild all those 30 years, the working people are up against it. The people who take all the money to themselves, the 1%, don't give a shit, and if somebody in the working class rebels, he's thrown in prison. Prison has become a rite of passage in the world of black men, whose only collective heritage in America is bottomed out self-esteem.

Some several years ago I was reading in discourses by Sri Upasani Maharaj and paused when I saw a sentence recommending against ambition. He said have no ambition. Sri Shirdi Sai Baba recommended letting money flow through my fingers. Meher Baba recommended following the religion of the culture I grew up in. All Maharaj did was affirm for me that I was doing all right having naturally no ambition. Sai Baba affirmed for me that it was ok to go on letting money flow through my fingers, not be grasping. I already had both those virtues. Following the religion of my culture was quite another thang (Southern for thing). It was Christendom that made an atheist of me. Why would I go back to a religion that spit me out and I spit it out simultaneously? All I was able to see of Christendom was the negative, the false. Onward Christian soldiers marching as to war! With the cross of Jesus going on before! On Meher Baba's recommendation I spent 14 years in a mountain Regular Baptist church, loved it (the people) very much, but there came a time I couldn't go any more with a Christendom that hates the poor, hates black people, hates criminals, hates queers, hates foreigners, and ultimately hates all but self. And alas, unbeknownst to the hater, hates self most of all. In the name of JEE-ZUS!

I cannot turn my back to an old black man in his dementia whose land surrounded the church, who grew up in the church back when it was a black church, who wandered into a church meeting in his dementia. I cannot turn my back to him. I could not turn away from him and everyone else in the church did. I saw Jesus himself (the least of these). I didn't realize it at the time, but that gesture stood for all of Christendom in my heart. It was so symbolic it was metaphor. Basically, I lost respect. I couldn't talk about it. It nailed me to the cross. I never knew what to say or do after that. The people around me in the church turned hollow. My feelings for them dried up. Everything was different after that day, it just took a long time to see that was the kick-off moment. By the time I stopped going, I couldn't push the screen door open to leave the house for the car on Sunday morning. My parting was not particularly gracious, nor was it ungracious, but clumsy, not well thought out, hurt a lot of feelings. But I had to be honest. I told when I started the church there'd come a day I would leave. It was acceptable as a way to get me in, but not as a way to let me go. I saw the church something I would be growing through on my spiritual path and to see why Baba recommended going with the religion of my culture. I think I got a fair enough understanding. And I'm satisfied I gave it my all and remained true to who I am. It was of my own volition. Didn't have to. It was incredibly interesting until it died. It was a good foundation for understanding the culture I live in.

All through those years the preacher and I had an ongoing in-fun argument going that was never resolved. He told me it was my duty to go to church. I told him I don't do duty. I am not here about duty. I go to the church because I want to. When I stop wanting to, I'll stop going. That was not acceptable. It was my duty. No it's not. All through childhood I went to church by duty. I know what that means and I know what it's like. I don't do anything that's around God by duty. God is the life spirit itself. The spirit is not about duty. Mind is about duty. And duty for what? Put money in the collection plate? But Regular Baptists don't pass the plate. The point is, I can't accept duty in matters of the spirit. Of course, that goes against how many centuries of monastic tradition. I still maintain duty is of the mind, not the heart. The Old Baptist word for my way of thinking is Bold. Before the Age of Electricity I would have been heretical. I would not have spoken these thoughts. One more thing Meher Baba recommended that I fell in with automatically was to be unconventional, go your own way. How can one be in the world, not of the world conventionally? I don't need a preacher telling me what I'm doing wrong, disapproving. That kind of independence is not just bold, it's how it is. The most overlooked verse in the Bible: God is love.

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