Monday, July 23, 2007


Whatever happened to being nice? It’s been replaced, hasn’t it, with being real. Being real has come to mean being raw. Being in somebody’s face. Nothing hidden or held back. You can only be gracious if you are genuinely gracious, and nobody ever is these days. If you are in a vicious mood, tear into ’em. Being real is an excuse to indulge our moods, to say what we feel like saying, to do whatever we please. Road rage is realness in the extreme. Spare me. It is really okay to fake it. No kidding.

Deliver me to those who are working to be gracious, and kind, and decent. Give me over to the decent human beings. Whatever happened to “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, take account of these things”? Oh, TRUE, right, “whatever is TRUE.” So, if it’s TRUE we get to say it, do it, act it out. Right? All in the service of the highest value, being real. Anything less is hypocrisy, and hypocrisy is among the lowest of values.

Three things flow from here. One is the idea of the highest (and lowest) value. Thanks to Abraham Maslow, we are convinced there is a “hierarchy of values,” with “self-actualization,” O brother, at the top. Joseph Campbell brings some sanity into the picture when he says that in the grip of a worthy vision everything goes. For example, you don’t care a whet about “self-actualization,” O brother, when you’re in love. You’ll sacrifice all the values in the entire hierarchy of values to be with who, or what, you love. Or, I would add, when we are in fear. (Desire and fear, seem to be the controlling influences which override our values. We do weird things in the grip of desire and fear. Or anger—which arises when something blocks the way to what we desire, or blocks the way from what we fear.)

And, if I am in love with me, then I have to be true to myself at the expense of everyone around me. The family goes, the job goes, the house goes, and I go off chained forever to the truth of my mood of the moment. “Self-actualization,” O brother, feeds our Narcissistic tendency to place ourselves at the top of the hierarchy of values, and justifies our infantile desire to do what we feel like doing when we feel like doing it. When we are being real, we are being Narcissistic.

How does “self-actualization,” O brother, relate to “self-surrender,” and “self-sacrifice”? The most mature people I know spend very little time on themselves, doing what they want to do, like to do, feel like doing. When is the last time you heard Nelson Mandela going off on someone, anyone, in the name of “being real”? Or the Dali Lama? Or Thich Nhat Hanh?

How do “self-actualized,” O brother, individuals orchestrate themselves into community? How does a group of Narcissists create community by “being real” to/about one another? How can vulnerability, and intimacy, and trust exist in an atmosphere in which people are continually exposed to the critique of the heartless and the unmerciful delivered under the guise of “being real”? Realness, in terms of me venting my mood of the moment, is not what it’s “cracked up to be.” Neither is truth. This is the second thing.

Vance Arnold passed along a quote from Jonathan Shay, in his book, Odysseus in America, in which he compares the Odyssey with the experience of combat soldiers suffering from posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Shay says that the Song of the Sirens, which you know was irresistible and enticing, and drew those who listened inescapably to their death, was nothing other that the promise to get to the bottom of things. Or, as Homer has them say, “For we know all that the Achaeans and Trojans sufferer on the broad plain of Troy by the will of the gods, and we have foreknowledge of all that is going to happen on this fruitful earth.” [The SIRENS to Odysseus. Homer, Odyssey 12.184]. “Come to us,” they say, “and we will disclose to you the secrets of the ages, and tell you how it really is!”

Sound familiar? Garden of Eden? Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil? The Original Sin is the search for truth, the desire to know what the deal is, to understand what is going on. The sin is getting to the bottom of the matter. Unveiling the truth. “You shall know the truth,” says the serpent, in a manner of speaking, “and your eyes will be opened and you will be like God.” Interesting, don’t you think, that this is the same thing John says Jesus says in John 8:32: “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.” John puts the serpent’s promise on Jesus’ tongue. In John, Jesus becomes the serpent.

Or, perhaps, John has become the serpent over the two thousand years from the story of Eden to the Gospel of John. Perhaps, we all have. Believing, as we do, in the truth, in knowing the truth, in possessing the truth, and failing to see the emptiness of it all. We cannot see it. We want the truth! Tell the Truth! Find the Truth! Know the Truth! “Do you promise to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God?” The truth about truth is that it isn’t what it’s cracked up to be. THAT is what sets us free! Free from the burden of having to get to the bottom of things! Shay says, “Complete and final truth is an unachievable, toxic quest, which is different from the quest to create meaning from one’s experience in a coherent narrative.”

We cannot get to the bottom of it. There is no bottom to get to. The search for absolute truth is a black hole, and a waste of time. More than a waste of time, a toxic, poisonous, deadly, preoccupation. We kill the Jews because we are the truly superior race and they are a threat to the gene pool. We kill the witches and the infidel because we have the Truth and they are besmirching it with their unbelieving presence. The myth of absolute truth creates hell. The search for absolute truth is a black hole to hell. And, on that day when all is revealed, what will be revealed is the wonderful convoluted nature of our mixed motives, and miscommunications, and missteps, and poor judgment, and bad guesses. There is no plan. There never was one. It is a complete mess all the way around. And, it is wonderful, just as it is. This is the third thing.

The good does not cancel out the bad. The bad does not cancel out the good. That’s what I like best about life, about my life. The things I love are the things I hate. That’s great. The things I hate are not necessarily the things I love. That’s also great. It’s so great that you can’t draw it up in some neat little formula, and put it in a box, wrap it with paper and ribbon, stick a bow on it and hand it to me with a note that says “The secret to happiness.”

Unhappiness is part of the package! Understanding that is the real secret to happiness! You’re going to be unhappy! It’s no big deal! It’s only a matter of time before you will be happy again. But, that’s no big deal either, because it’s only a matter of time before you are unhappy again. It doesn’t matter how you feel because your feelings are going to change, for no apparent reason.

It’s like this. I love my computer and I hate my computer. Truly. You know I’ve dealt with two complete crashes over the last six months. Had to replace the hard drives the first time and had to replace everything on the hard drives the second time. Well. This past week the power supply went out. Only it took calling the fire department to realize it was the power supply. There was just a significant odor of electrical over-heating in the air. In the air some distance from the computer. But, I cut the computer off when I called the fire department, and, by the time they left shaking their heads because they couldn’t find the source of the odor, and telling me to up-grade our smoke alarms, and asking if there is a window we could get out of in the bedroom if we had to, the odor had diminished considerably. Aha! So, out with the old power supply, in with the new.

I hate doing that kind of thing. Screws and switches and plugs and wires. I hate the mechanical side of computering. And I love it. I know what to do. I can do it. Couple of hours later and I’m back in business. And the business I do, the writing and the photography-ing could not be done without my computer, any more than plowing in the 1850’s could have been done without a horse or a mule. And, the degree to which I hate computers pales in comparison to the degree to which I detest fooling with horses and mules. But, it’s wonderful. It is absolutely wonderful that we can do what we can do with the mechanical side of computering or with the care and feeding and working of horses and mules. And, I hate it.

The truth is that both things are true, at the same time. It doesn’t get any truer than that. But, we think opposite things can’t be true. One has to be truer than the other. “How do you REALLY feel?” “Do you REALLY love me? If you REALLY loved me, you would like Brussels sprouts (or horses, or mules, or the mechanical side of computering).” “No, I wouldn’t!” I can REALLY love you and hate the stuff you REALLY love. I can really love the stuff you really love AND really hate the stuff you really love. So can you.

We’ve spent some time here, back and forth, over the four years we have been together, talking about “the Shadow.” There is the Ego, we say, and the Shadow. The Shadow represents the repressed side of the Ego, the part of us that we wish wasn’t there. We want to present a certain persona to the world, create a particular impression, be seen in a certain way. But, that is never the whole story. There is always more to us than meets the eye. The psychological law at work seems to be that whoever and however we most don’t want to be is who and how we also are. And the more we deny it and pretend it is not so, the more apparent it is to others. This “other side” is the Shadow.

The concept of the Shadow is a beautiful rendition of the opposites that are work within us. Dr. Jekyll is Mr. Hyde. Neither is how you REALLY are. BOTH are how you REALLY are. No wonder we are ambivalent, torn, conflicted about nearly, practically, everything! We ARE ambivalent, torn, conflicted! We love what we hate!

The solution, of course, is not psychotherapy wherein we dig down to the real truth and become who we really are. The truth is that there is no truth greater than the truth of our conflict within. We love what we hate. That’s the truth. The solution, of course, is to love it. And hate it.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

07/15/07, Sermon

Where IS that “very present help in time of trouble”? When “the rain falls on the just and the unjust,” what’s the point? Where does that leave us? Are we on our own here, or, as they say, what?

We are very much on our own. It all depends on us. It is up to us. The future is resting squarely on our shoulders, life is in our hands. And. We can’t do it alone.

We like to think we have the division of labor figured out. It works one of two ways. Either we hatch an idea, incubate a plan, cook up a scheme, organize a work crew, buy the materials, pick a day to have a ground breaking ceremony at which time we ask God to bless our endeavor, over-see construction, and bring our dreams happily into being. Or, we pray for God’s will to be revealed to us which generally always means showing us the way to bringing our dreams happily into being. Either way, it’s all about us, and our dreams, and our good fortune, and our future.

As we see it, God is here to help us do our will, or show us God’s will which will be even better for us than our will. But, we don’t have any sense of God’s will for us being different in kind or degree from our will for us, and we don’t have any sense of God needing help in achieving God’s will. It’s all about us needing God’s help in achieving our will. After all, what does Almighty God need from us? As much, it seems, as we need from God.

Think of God as the creative urge for the good. I’m not saying God IS the creative urge for the good. I’m saying think of God AS the creative urge for the good. Just pretend. Just imagine. With compassion and grace. When we put ourselves in the frame of mind, in the mindset, of imagining the possibilities with compassion and grace, God begins to stir within us and we become as God is.

Think of God as the creative will to the good. What is good? Grace is good. Compassion is good. Peace and Justice are good. Democracy for Iraq? Probably not good. A personal annual income in the six figure range? Not even on the table. A new car and cheap gas? Not even in the room.
We pray for the Big Three. Oh, sometimes something of a lesser number slips in, but, mainly our prayers are for one or more of the Big Three for ourselves or someone else. We pray for money, or its equivalent (a job, for instance, a well-paying job, or a career, perhaps, or acceptance into grad school, etc.). We pray for health (or safety and security). And we pray for time. We figure with money, health, and time we will have it made. But, that is not necessarily good. If George Bush, and Dick Chaney, and Carl Rove had more time, well, don’t even think about it.

My point is that we rarely pray for grace and compassion, peace and justice, or any of the other wonderful old values that have characterized the good through time. We think of the good in terms of material goods and services, money (or the things money can buy), health, and time. That’s what we pray for. And, we miss the boat. God is not the dispenser of material goods and services. God is the creative will to the good at work in our lives and in our world and all of creation.

God is the spark that comes to life in us, wakes us up, and gets us going. If you sit imaginatively open to the possibilities of the good with a mindset, a spirit, of compassion and grace, God will begin to stir and whack you a good one in your Idea Haver as if to say, “There you are, now get going!”

But, if we begin to balk, and object, and complain, and say, “Well, what does that have to do with money, health and time? And what’s in it for us? And what are we getting out of it? And why should we do that?”, God will roll over and go back to sleep, and we’ll be no closer to God than we ever were.

And, at this point, you have to remember all you have ever heard me say about ambition, and the profit motive, and striving to gain-have-and-maintain the advantage in all of our undertakings, endeavors, and relationships. You’ll save us a lot of time if I don’t have to cover that ground again. Let’s just say that we will never be as God is with the least hint of personal gain in mind, or the slightest interest in our best interest, or the briefest concern for our advantage.

Do you begin to see how difficult is my task of getting you together with God? Or, of getting me together with God, for that matter? God cares not for God, don’t you see? Only for the good. But, with me and you, the good is somewhat farther down on our list of priorities. First me, then you, or those of you I like best, and then those who are most like us, then, maybe, if we don’t have a better idea, the good. So, God spends a lot of time sleeping while you and I spin our schemes, lay our plans, devise our futures to serve our own advantage and arrange for ourselves as much of the Big Three as we can manage, and snores when we sing our hymns and make our offerings and pray “Oh, save us, save us!” from the great mess we make of things trying to make things good for us and those like us, never minding what’s truly good.

Which gets us rather nicely back to the beginning of this little homily. “Where IS that ‘very present help in time of trouble’?” Snoring away, I’m afraid. Sleeping us off. Hoping we prove to be just a really bad dream upon awakening. If you want to wake God up, and merge God with your life, and be as God is, and become one with God, so that when people see you they see God, it’s easy. Open yourself imaginatively and creatively, with compassion and grace, to the possibilities of the good. And, brace yourself for the whack in your Idea Haver. That’s all there is to it. Oh, and you have to enlist yourself in the service of the idea, and go where it takes you, and do what it asks of you, without any thought of your own gain or advantage. God cares naught for God, you know.

The only thing, and you’ve heard me say it before, you know what’s coming, you can say it with me, here it comes, the only thing standing between us and God is us. Don’t you like it, though, when I cut through all the bureaucratic fandangle and get to the heart of the matter? Throw out the doctrines, and the dogma, and the catechisms, and the creeds, and the confessions of faith. It comes down to you and God. And, your idea of God is not God. You know that God you don’t believe in? That’s your idea of God you don’t believe in. Listen to how stupid this sounds: “I don’t believe in my idea of God!” The same thing goes for the God you DO believe in. Get rid of your ideas and there is nothing left but you and God. And you are just along for the ride.

God cares naught for God, you know, or for you, when you get down to it. What do you think the cross is all about? Do you want to be loved the way God loved Jesus? If so, good. That’s exactly how God loves us. That’s exactly how God loves God.

We have business to do together with God, a great work to perform. Our place is to get out of the way so that the work might be done. We can’t be saying, “Oh, there’s a cross! Oh, there’s a burden! Oh, there’s a dark place!”, and waiting for God to clear our path and ply us with the Big Three so that our way might be easy and our joy might be complete. If that’s our game, we have the wrong idea of us and of God.

“Oh,” you say, “but God loves us, the Bible says so!” God loves us the way God loves Jesus, the way God loves God. Don’t think God is in this with us for our benefit, and pleasure, and prosperity, and happiness. There is only one thing with God: The passionate will to good. “Let justice roll down like waters,” says the prophet. “And righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.” “What does the Lord require?”, asks the prophet, “But to do justice, love righteousness, and walk humbly with God?”

The context and circumstances of our lives cry out for those who would serve a good beyond our own good. But, there is no recipe for doing that. There are no black foot prints to The Good. We find our own way to the good of our choosing. The good you serve might not look anything like the good I serve. But, there will be commonalities. Compassion and grace, justice and peace, and all the other old values will come alive in our presence and we will come alive, and be a blessing to all who come our way, becoming, so to speak, that “very present help in time of trouble,” for one another.

We are on our own, and we cannot do it alone. And, we are not alone. We are within easy reach of the passionate will to the good in every moment. We are with each other for our own good, and the other’s good, and a good beyond our good. We don’t have to have a plan for effecting it, or think about how to achieve it. We only have to be open to the possibilities of the good with imagination, grace and compassion, and the good will show itself to us, and ask us to come along for the ride.

And, if this sounds Polly-Anna-ish to you, you only have to give it a shot to see if it is so. But, when God whacks you in your Idea Haver, and you are jolted awake with a vision of the good that needs doing, you have to do it. That’s the deal.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

07/08/07, Sermon

Silence is a general directive, not an actual destination. You can’t actually “Be Silent!” You can’t experience silence. There is always something making noise. I have a pair of hearing protectors guaranteed to seal out sound. I hear my heart beat. And my breathing. And the crickets—there is a term for it—that are to the ears as floaters are to the eyes. Which is to say that you can’t take “Be silent!” as a literal command. You can’t “Be silent!” You can only “Quieten down in there!” That’s the best you can hope for.

We’re all Southern Baptists at heart. We look for a literal world. We yearn for truth to be actual, tangible, concrete, constant, consistent, and dependable. We call ourselves “open-minded” and “inclusive,” and like to say that “All questions are welcome and everything is always on the table,” and we are continually coming up with examples of our closed-minded-ness and exclusive-ness, times when some questions are not allowed and some things are not put up on the table for discussion. Well. Yeah.

We aren’t going to talk about a lot of things. Like turning the clock back to a time when women were not allowed to hold office in the church. Or treating black people and gay people like they aren’t people at all. Or holding old time tent revivals on one of the parking lots. There are tons of subjects we aren’t going to waste our time discussing. But the literal-minded among us go “Hrumph!” and scowl.

The literalization of religion, and of the spiritual quest, is their end. When we try to do it like the saints and the gurus did it, or do it, or tell us to do it, we substitute form for essence. But, we want to know if we are doing it right. If we are being mindful correctly. Once we become mindful of Correct Mindfulness we lose the way. Willful mindfulness is exertion where there can only be grace. Once you begin trying, you’re trying. And, any variety of trying is “trying too hard.” “Easy does it,” you know.

We’re just along for the ride. That realization is religion at its best. The meaning of life is to be alive. What is the meaning of “to be alive”? That’s the question. That’s YOUR question, and MINE. We answer it for ourselves. You can’t tell me what it means for me to be alive. I can’t tell you. If you are going to be mindful of anything, be mindful of what it means for you to “be alive”! And, spend as much time as you can arrange with it, doing it, being it. Don’t worry that someone thinks you aren’t praying enough, or meditating enough, or reading the Bible enough, or walking the labyrinth enough. If those things bring you to life, if doing them overwhelms you with the goodness of being alive, fine. If not, well. Go with the life. Sniff out life. Spend your life being alive, and let those who come alive reading the Bible or walking the labyrinth read the Bible and walk the labyrinth. But, don’t let them tell you how to be alive. You have to sniff that out on your own!

Where do you go to be fully alive? How long has it been since you’ve been there? Don’t think you are going to find something here that will replace what you find there. Don’t think you are going to find a substitute here, or anywhere, for there. Don’t think sitting zazen is going to do it for you, unless that does it for you. Or praying. Or doing good.

You can’t take direction from someone else about where to go to be alive. You can’t be instructed in the matter of living fully. You have to figure that out yourself. By living. With your eyes open. Being mindful. Aware. Of where the life is, and what you are doing when you are most alive. And, doing it often, because that’s it.

Too many people don’t have a life because they are living someone else’s life. Living as someone else thinks they ought to live. They have never done anything they have enjoyed doing, or wanted to do, or liked to do all their lives long. They spend their lives doing it like it’s supposed to be done according to somebody else’s idea of what is supposed to be. They have followed orders, done their duty, been responsible, endeavored to please their mothers and make their fathers proud. But, they had the wrong kind of mother and father. They didn’t have the kind of mother or father who knew about life, and living, and being alive.

Many of us, perhaps most of us, did not, and have had to learn as we live the basic skills of life. We grow up thinking it’s about money, but learn, if we are lucky, that it’s about passion. We grow up thinking it’s about approval, but learn, if we are lucky, that it is about awareness, and attentiveness, and being awake. We grow up thinking that it’s about getting our ducks in a row, and our duties all done, before we allow ourselves a break, but learn, if we are lucky, that it is about the care and feeding of our own souls before we get lost in making production and meeting quotas.

We think it’s about taking care of business and putting first things first, and learn, if we are lucky, that the business is nurturing our spirits, and the first things are the things that bring us to life and nourish us spiritually, psychically, emotionally. Ah, but. Here is the dilemma of the embodied soul: How do we nourish our spirits without making production and meeting quotas? What comes first, body or soul?

We would not think of giving hungry people art lessons, or handing those suffering from the ravages of poverty and oppression a guitar, and telling them to feed their souls. In the hovels and the ghettos of the world, the opportunity to make production and meet quotas would be seen as a gift from God. It takes a certain standard of living, a certain arrogance of opulence and wealth, to scorn the struggle for money and the things money can buy. And, yet, and yet…

Robert Johnson’s guitar in Itta Bena, Mississippi, and Cleveland, Mississippi, and the juke joints of Highway 61, gave soulful sustenance to those languishing in the absence of money and the things money can buy. The Blues and Jazz and the mournful, spiritual, acknowledgment that “nobody knows the trouble I’ve seen,” kept generations of people going, through a destitution and hopeless we cannot imagine. And yet, and yet…

We would never think that a guitar could be a substitute for employment, or that soulful singing could compensate for living hand to mouth and being unable to make ends meet or come up with the balance due the company store at the end of the month, every month. Living in the midst of a spiritual wonderland, the Grand Tetons, say, or in the shadow of Chartres Cathedral, means nothing if you have no means of meeting your physical needs, or those of your family. That is the rock solid truth of life in this world. First the body, then the soul. And yet, and yet…

It is in the exact face of the assertion, “First the body, then the soul,” that Jesus says, “Blessed are the poor,” and “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst,” and “People do not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God,” and “Do not be afraid of those who can kill the body but cannot kill the soul.” Do you feel the tension here, the tug of opposites? Do you see the impossibility of taking things literally in the sphere of body-soul connection?

There are no black footprints here! No “one size fits all” explanations, directives, instructions. We find our own way to life as embodied souls. We take care of business and put first things first, and sometimes the “business” is feeding the body, and sometimes the “business” is feeding the soul, and “first things” shift and move as particles in suspension do, and nothing is etched in stone, nailed down, unalterably and inevitably fixed in time and space forever and ever, world without end, amen.

The spiritual journey is a life-long quest for the proper relationship, the harmony, the balance, the interplay, between body and soul. We have to follow our bliss and pay the bills. That is the task of life. Work that out without neglecting one for the sake of the other, and you have it made. Ah, but. It is the hardest thing in the entire book of things. The Cosmic Jokester put one over on us. We live well on one level only at the expense of living well, or, even, at all, on the other level. And so, the challenge: To live on the border between yin and yang, on the cusp between despair and denial, laughing at the impossibility of being so finely tuned and refusing to take seriously our ineptitude at getting it right for long.

Monday, July 02, 2007

07/01/07, Sermon

There is an element of truth in everything. Everything is true up to a point. Every statement we hold to be true, IS true, as far as it goes. And, no statement is without it’s stopping place. This is to say that there is merit in every position, and that all positions are enlarged and improved by all other positions. No one point of view can see everything. Every point of view is limited to, and by, its particular perspective, and we have to be able to walk among the various view points if we hope to be able to see.

Let’s take something completely absurd to give you an idea of what I’m talking about. “You are a dinner fork.” How’s that for a sentence with not a shred of truth in it? Well. Grant me the benefit of the doubt here, and play along. It all depends, you know, on your playing along. If you hold yourself back, you’ll never get to the heart of the matter. Any matter. You actually have to ride a horse to know what horse riding is like. So, saddle up. Here we go. Heidi-ho!

Imagine, if you will, a dinner fork. Allow it to take clear shape in your mind, so that you see a very particular dinner fork. Zoom in. Get to know it personally. Are there any dishwasher dings on it? Any bent parts? Is it shiny sterling? Picnic plastic? Camp fire aluminum? Everyday stainless steel? Is it brand new right out of the box? Does it come with a history of working experience? Perhaps from your grandmother’s dory? Has it survived fires? Being lost? Being sold to an antique dealer? A flea market rounder? Was it a yard sale find? What kind of background does this fork have? Where has it been? What does it know? Let’s find out.

Take a deep breath, and settle into the saddle. The ride takes an interesting turn at this point. Imagine, now, that you ARE the fork. From this point on, I am going to ask you questions that I want you to answer AS the fork. Forget for the moment that you once were a human being. Become the fork. Be the fork. I am now talking to you, the fork.

As the fork, now, what is your name? Let it be the first name that comes to mind. Sit with the name for a second. Get a feel for you as a fork with this name.

As this fork with this name, what do you like best about yourself? Of what are you most proud? Don’t try to think something up, just let it come to mind, and accept what comes. Suspend judgment for the duration of this experience, and allow the horse to take you where it will. Just go along for the ride.

As this fork, with this name, what do you enjoy doing? Where do you like to spend your time? What do you look forward to? What thrills you most? What are some of your happiest memories?

What would you list as particular advantages to being a fork? What are the gifts? The joys? For what are you most thankful?

What are the disadvantages? What handicaps have you had to deal with, adjust to, work to overcome? What hurtles, or barriers, exist for you as a dinner fork?

What has happened to you that has been most helpful? What sadness do you carry?

What do you aspire to? Dream of? Wish to have, or do, or become, or accomplish and achieve? What are your hopes for the future?

What threatens you? Troubles you? What do you worry about? What are you afraid of? What concerns you most?

As this dinner fork with this name, where do you seek your consolation? Where do you find your peace? Where do you go to regroup, recover? To be nourished and nurtured? To be grounded and centered, and, well, fed?

Who are your friends? What do you think they would like to tell you? What would you like to tell them?

What motto do you live by?

In what do you trust?

What strengths do you have as a fork that your human side could use? What insights or experience do you have as a fork that your human side might find to be helpful? What would you like to tell your human side?

Take a moment to appreciate fully your fork-ness. Now, begin the process of dissociation. Imagine yourself as the particular human being that you also are parting from yourself as the fork. If you would like, you may promise yourself as this fork with this name, that you will make meditative visits from time to time to view your life from a fork’s point of view, enlarge your perspective, deepen your understanding, and become more of who you need to be, which is also who you are. But, for now, prepare to leave that place and come back to this place, as I count to three. One. Two. Three. Here you are, now, you as you have always known you to be, except somewhat better for your contact with you as a fork. If you have not already done so, open your eyes, and be well.

So, now what to you have to say? What similarities did you find between your life as a flesh-and-blood human being and your life as a fork? What can you use from this experience with your fork-ness in your life as a human being?

The fork exercise is a projective technique that is useful for getting past our normal ego-defenses in order to get at the heart of how it is with us. We can see things as a fork, say things as a fork, that we might not allow ourselves to see, or say, as the self we know ourselves to be. Our mind can show us ourselves if we don’t try to take it by force, pry it open, and see ourselves “as we really are.”

We can only see what we are capable of seeing at any moment in our lives. That’s how dreams work. They show us a little of ourselves at particular points in our lives. Dreams don’t “mean” anything, and they never show us all there is to see. The meaning of a dream is like the meaning of the fork. The power of a dream is the power of the fork. We get into the dream when we awaken, and begin to consciously make associations, “seeing,” so to speak, how we are like a flying refrigerator with camp stove inside with eggs frying in a skillet.

The power of projection as perspective expander is how horoscopes work, and palm reading, and bone casting, and Ouija boards, and religion. We find the patterns, make the associations, “see” the truth, and “know” the way. But, the “truth” of the “way” is as much about us as it is about anything, “out there.” When we see, we see ourselves, don’t you see?