Monday, August 05, 2019



To grip the soil with its roots.
To send up a slender stalk or blade worthy of a mouse to shinny up,
Worthy of a bug to slide down.
And at the tip to form a bud
And then a tiny flower
And then a seed
So that the weight at the top sways with the wind
Along with all the other blades.

So when a cow lies down and crushes it
Pretty soon the cow gets up
And then the stalk lifts up the seed
Until some other cow tears if off in her teeth.

But the roots go on gripping the soil
And pretty soon the prairie is covered.
Everything on the prairie is about the grass.

The only institutionalized religion I know of that doesn't insist on a binary or at least a boundary that creates one, is Buddhism.  The "aporia" between individual and community, which is marked by a limit in consciousness as well as inskin/outskin, is not irresolvable so much as unaddressed.  Yet so many people in America try to escape themselves, to merge into a seeming intimacy with others.  They no longer fuss much about the boundary between one soul and that other world that is Heaven where we go on being our individual souls forever, a boundary marked by . . . virtue?  

This boundary idea supports the concepts of ownership, of what is or is not a person, of how we should relate to each other, and of our entitlement to claim for ourselves at the expense of others.  I need a better word than "participation" because I want it to have as much impact and dignity as the word "salvation."  Engagement, contribution, sharing, association, participant, joining in. I want it to suggest continuousness, radical mono-being, total inclusion, and yet a kind of ecology of uniquenesses fitting together.

Considerable discussion persists about the importance of people participating in their own government, which is unrealized today because many don't vote out of disgust or apathy, or others are from systems that never let them vote before, or they are opposed by forces in the government.  This is important, but it's not what I mean.

I'm thinking that if an individual looks at a group of humans or cattle or sees bugs or stalks of grass, they do not think rationally, "I'm a part of all that I meet," but rather FEELS unity with all of it.  What's that?  Why can some feel it when taking certain drugs, but not while going through an ordinary day? Must one be in a certain state to belong to the cosmos?

The two ends of the continuum are the obvious and scientific fact that we are all part of the planet whether we know it or like it or not.  To exist is to "participate".  The other is the tragic and painful fact that we exist and perceive only through our bodies.  Our whole bodies.  The recovery of the physical perception and sorting experience in our guts as well as our brains is very welcome -- but still not as easy as the magical implantation that some of us dream of, like sleeping with a book under one's pillow and in the morning knowing everything in it.  Or being struck with insight as though struck by lightning. 

I just picked a mental fight with Doug Muder, a UU ex-mathematician who writes The Daily Sift, well worth reading.  He was grumbling about the quality of the presidential debates, uninspired and trivial except for Marianne Williamson who is what we used to call a "California Unitarian".  ("How many California UU's does it take to screw in a lightbulb?  None.  They don't screw in lightbulbs, they screw in hot tubs.")  Her theology is Oprah-ized for a certain kind of woman: "Love is all you need!"  She's anti-scientific: against vaccines, for instance.  Katherine Kuhlman without the lingerie.

I didn't send my comment to Muder because I can't remember my password and it's not worth all the fuss to invent a new one.  It's a stupid system.  In fact, the Internet is so riddled with stupidities that it may just crash.  It's also a huge energy user, which everyone forgets.  The "cloud" is a snorting dragon of energy eating, while every little pocket mobile phone needs to be plugged in one way or another.

I just finished reading "Horizon" by Barry Lopez so I'm filled with his consciousness, his willingness to risk going to extreme locations, far from his home on the Oregon Coast.  It's a wonderful book, but so far I've not run across him facing the possibility that the Big Earthquake or renewed volcanism on the Ring of Fire might just eliminate his home base.  As travelers know, the "umbilicus mundi" where one can rest is crucial to roaming.  He knows that he's chosen a safe center for himself, the same as I think Valier is a safe center for me -- ignoring other people, of course, and how invaders find our corners so they can hide, too.

The world forces that endanger Lopez' hideout are at the plate tectonic level where the plate under the Pacific pushes under the plate beneath North America.  Or that's what we thought.  Now there are hints that the plate under North America has broken and is coming apart.  Could that -- in some subliminal and mystical way -- be affecting our politics?  We didn't even know a tectonic plate ever did that, so there's no evidence, no connections.  Is it the reconfiguration of the world because the polar caps are melting, so the weight of ice at the poles is becoming the height of sea water.  Is this the beginning of the complete repatterning of the currents of water and air that control our weather and travel?

Where is a religion, which is always human-based, that can cope with this?  Are we sinners in the hands of an angry planet?  Will we even be sane enough or in communication enough to know what is happening when it comes?  Ask the grass.

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