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~~~~~~~~ In Memoriam: Hilda Matherne Breaux (1915 - 2014) ~~~~
~~~~~~~~ [ Bobby's Aunt in Westwego, Louisiana ] ~~~~~
WELCOME TO DIGESTWORLD ISSUE#145 May, 2014== == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == ==Quote for the Surviving-the-IRS Merry Month of May:
A government can be compared to our lungs. Our lungs are best when we don't realize they are helping us breathe. It is when we are constantly aware of our lungs that we know they have come down with an illness.
— Lao-Tzu, Ancient Chinese Philosopher
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DIGESTWORLDArchived DIGESTWORLD Issues
GOOD MOUNTAIN PRESS Presents ISSUE#145 for May, 2014
Table of Contents
1. May's Violet-n-Joey Cartoon
2. Honored Readers for May
3. On a Personal Note
Flowers of Shanidar Poems
4. Cajun Story
5. Recipe or Household Hint for May, 2014 from Bobby Jeaux: Right-hand, Left-hand threads
6. Poem from Yes, and Even More!:"Questions"
7. Reviews and Articles featured for May:
8. Commentary on the World
- ARJ2: Anam Cara — Book of Celtic Wisdom by John O'Donohue
- ARJ2: Earthly Knowledge and Heavenly Wisdom , GA#221 by Rudolf Steiner
- ARJ2: The New Civilization, Ringing Cedars Series Book 8.1 by Vladimir Megré
- ARJ2: The Dead Are With Us, GA#182 by Rudolf Steiner
1. Padre Filius Cartoon
2. Comments from Readers
3. Freedom on the Half Shell Poem
9. Closing Notes — our mailing list, locating books, subscribing/unsubscribing to DIGESTWORLD
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1. May Violet-n-Joey CARTOON:
== == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == ==This month Violet and Joey learn about A Disarming Thought.
For newcomers to DIGESTWORLD, we have created a webpage of all the Violet-n-Joey cartoons!
"A Disarming Thought" at http://www.doyletics.com/images/140418vj.gif
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2. HONORED READERS FOR May:
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Each month we choose to honor two Good Readers of our DIGESTWORLD from those all over the World. Here are the two worthy Honored Readers for May, 2014:
Dan Richards in North Carolina
Solana Tara in Florida
Congratulations, Dan and Solana!
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3. ON A PERSONAL NOTE:
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Out Our Way:
APRIL BLOOMS AND WILDLIFE BOONS
Our blackberry bush is full of white flowers finally, about two weeks or more behind schedule due to a winter which began in early December and has continued well into mid-April with frigid weather, freezing spells, and lots of rain. When April is frigid here, "tis the cruellest month" for sure. But early April we had potato flowers blooming in our vegetable garden, harbingers of Irish potato harvest in early May. Plus our first ever (1)bloom on our horsetail rushes (equisetum arvense) — which resembles a stacked Oriental Pagoda in yellow and brown, quite amazing. We grow this plant for its living silicon which is a boon to plants whose soil needs help. Made into a tea and sprinkled around the roots of a camellia bush with mottled leaves or St. Augustine grass with black mold on it, the so-called plant disease clears up, proving it was a soil deficiency which needed correction. Rightly understood, there are no plant diseases (sorry about that Dan Gill and other horticultural experts), only soil deficiencies. Early April also brought several Brown Trashers to our re-leafing Bald Cypress trees. I found them during a walk to look at our gardens.I saw a large brown bird in the top of the large cypress in our Meditation Garden and took a photo. It was definitely not a mocking bird. Later an identical bird replaced it, when it flew off I shot photos of it. Also shot one of a mocking bird, which proved useful later as a comparative size measure. Never thought of that consciously, but with the same distance and same telephoto setting, if the new bird and mockingbird are same size on the photos, they must be nearly the same size in real life. I examined the Audubon Field Guide to North American Birds and determined that the birds were Brown Thrashers, identified by their maroon back-covering and the white with dashes of brown on the belly. Guide says they are 9" to 11" which is the same as Mockingbirds. Found out that I had spotted some Brown Trashers at our previous home in 1990 and had marked it in the Guide.
Also the annual flight of Cedar Waxwings which I became familiar with at our previous home paid us a visit here after some four years of missing them. They are a social lot and when I saw a bunch of birds in a tree together I shot photos and got a picture with about 23 waxwings in one shot. They love berries and flying around with a crowd and if they stop for lunch in your tree, you'll quickly spot them with their yellow bellies and burglar masks around their eyes.
Our Chinaball tree which is growing up produced some interesting blooms (Above to the side of Table of Contents), my first time seeing them. Connie and Don, who gave us the transplant to grow, has a large tree and apparently had never noticed the blooms. They are best seen in small trees as they hide in the dense green leaves.
Our bird bath attracted a lot of attention in the Meditation Garden this month, prominently by a female Cardinal which I grabbed a movie clip of while she bathed. After she finished, she was standing on the edge of the bath and I noticed a bird moving along the ground behind her — it was a large Mockingbird who flew up to the bird bath, scaring the Cardinal away. It was Mozart, our favorite bird, who seemed to toss his head around as if to say, "This is my bath!", and having cleared it, flew away to the top of some nearby tree to continue his lifelong serenade. Click Here and scroll up a tad: Bath.
Our pomegranate tree has flourished over the winter and is now so full of flowers, we are sure to get some delicious fruit by Summer. Our peach tree is full of small peaches for the very first time and we expect some luscious peaches in a few weeks time. Our three artichoke plants have kept us waiting like anxious grandparents expecting a first grandchild. The two large plants nearest the house, I had been examining every morning, thinking surely all this luxuriant growth will produce a bounty of artichokes for our table, and yet nothing! Then one morning we discovered that the runt of the litter, a smaller plant in the edge of the veggie garden already had two good-sized artichokes! We missed their birth, but celebrated their graduation to our plates about a week later. By April's end, I was at wit's end, probing the tops of the two remaining plants and sure enough on the 26th, I spread open the labial folds of topmost sprout to find a baby artichoke winking up at me. Quickly moving the other big plant, sure enough, another baby was waiting for me. These artichokes were planted back in November and endured the freezing weather that felled all the sub-tropical plants in our garden, but they thrived all the while, weathering frost, freezing, windstorms, and all sorts of bad weather, and now they were having babies.
A family of warblers made a nest in the top of a column on our West Portico porch. We watched for a month as the Mom and Dad flew in with bugs in their mouth to feed their babies. I moved a ladder bestride the column and tried to have a look at the babies, but they were nested out of my sight, only coming in the open when their parents brought them some freshly caught food. This morning, on the 26th, Del called me and we watched three baby warblers, fledglings, flying for the first time. One of them landed first on a blade of our outdoor fan and was too frightened to move until his mom came to talk to him. Soon all three, their warbler tails not yet long are stuck up in the air like adults, their feathers still a bit fluffy instead of smooth, were flying around the yard, learning to find food for themselves. We will miss them, but expect to see them as adults next year. If you have never heard an adult warbler in full voice sing and reverberate on a covered porch, you have a treat in store for you when you.
Along the bayou-like waterway that runs along behind the bamboo curtain that lines our street, wildlife of various kinds grow, eat, and reproduce. Red-eared slider turtles, orange-toothed nutria, white American ibis, wood ducks, French ducks, Black-bellied Whistling ducks, and Great egrets, among others.One day I noticed a school of fish, likely bass or crappie feeding in that waterway. It was about the time that crappie (our sac-au-lait) spawn along the sides of bayous, so that is most likely what I saw. If I'd had a fishing license and a fishing pole in my trunk, I'd have caught us our supper for that night.
I go into this detail here so that you will realize that the photos I take each month and feature in these Issues are taken locally, most of them around our own estate, across the street, or somewhere in the area, unless I specify differently in the cursor-over description that accompanies each photo.
NEW GADGETS, TECH STUFF, AND REPAIRS
CAMERA: After years of having to drag around my large Canon 35X Zoom on my shoulder while traveling or going on photo shoots and not having a dependable vademecum, a pocket camera that goes everywhere with me, I found a solution: the SONY HX50 which has 30X Zoom and fits into my pocket.It also takes excellent macro close ups (for those tiny wild flowers that most people step on and never notice) and also amazing flashless photographs of indoor events. It's 20 mega-pixels give me excellent resolution. I finally got around to taking the one photograph that I can't take with it: a photo of itself, so you can see it. The new clarity of photographs in this and coming Issues (and the previous Issue) are due to this new camera.
BLU-RAY SURROUND SOUND: Del's PS3 Playstation which is her personal Blu-Ray DVD player upstairs when sports game fill the Screening Room, had not survived the last batch of video game playing grandkids and needed to be sent up for repair. It came back on April 1 and I decided to test it immediately by replacing our slightly older PS3 in the Screening Room with it. I cringed at the thought of doing this, but it was necessary. I got everything working on it but the Blu-Tooth remote would not connect, so it had to go back upstairs since the older one works with its remote and we use it almost every night.I tried everything possible to get the remote to hook up and failed, but along the way, I spotted something amazing that I had been wanting for a long time: Audio Channel Selection. The audio on our everyday PS3 has always come through the HDMI channel and that meant the sound had to come out of the KURO TV's speakers. These are great speakers, but I wanted the sound to be available through Pioneer Elite Amplifier which is connected to our Bose Theater Surround-Sound speakers. I had hooked up the Optical Cable from the PS3 into the Amplifier, but nothing would come out. I found out that the Audio Setup menu allows me to select EITHER the HDMI channel for audio output or Optical channel for output. You can choose one or the other, but you need to go to the Setup Screen to switch! Wow! That unanswered question finally got resolved. All thanks to my having to set up and test Del's PS3, which is now back in place upstairs.The glitch with the remote can be ignored by using the game console to play DVD's. I also found a way to switch the Game-Playing downstairs from the KURO TV to the Upper Right Flat-Screen TV when the grandkids come, protecting the expensive plasma TV which they sometimes forget to turn off after using.
CABLE TV AT DESKTOP: Usually I can watch an LSU Baseball game via the Geaux Zone at my desktop, but one game was broadcast on Fox Sports Network which is on cable. I realized that the cable that comes into my cable modem to provide my broadband could be split with one line going to modem and the other into the large TV I use for my rightmost monitor. With this setup, I could work on placing photos into my upcoming issue while watching the game. Baseball games have long breaks in action between innings, for pitching changes, etc. and I could use those times to get work done. Note: I had tried doing the opposite: splitting off the signal in the distant Screening Room and tapping off the broadband from it with an old cable modem. That won't work without paying an extra monthly fee to Cox to activate the added modem, so I ran a long ethernet cable from the Wireless Router at my desktop to the Screening Room, some 60 feet away, and accomplished the same function.
MOTORIZED BLINDS: The blinds in the Master Bath were beginning to run slow and finally stopped. They need new batteries, but it's not obvious to me how to replace them, so we asked A-Mar to send some guys to show me how to replace batteries in the Motorized shades. The procedure was easy enough: 1) Pull shades up to top with the strings. 2) Remove the remote sensor from cover plate. 3) Slide down the cover plate and remove it. 4) Unbuckle the left end metal cover and slide out the entire blind package. The battery pack holds 4 AA cells which can be replaced. I put in four new Duracell AA batteries and will see how long they last.
After the guys left, the blinds were moving very slowly, so I had a great chance to solo at the battery replacement. But first I checked all four AA Super Lithium Cells that I had removed and found that three of them read higher than the nominal 1.5 volt value, namely 1.555 volts, and the fourth one read only 0.3 volts. So the reason the blinds had stopped working was the abnormal failure of one of the batteries. The other three were still usable. Never seen this happen before. Usually all four batteries in a set will read the same amount, but with that low .3v battery, the three other good cells couldn't power the motor for the blinds.
But why did the new Duracell AA batteries not work? Well, I'm embarrassed to say that I put one of them in the battery pack backwards. Easy to do while I'm talking to the guys while replacing the batteries. By this time, we had purchased new Lithium batteries, in case, they provided extra power, so the new Lithiums went in and the blinds now work perfectly again.
FAUCET DRIPS IN KITCHEN AND LAUNDRY ROOM: The two single-lever faucets are identical and have had almost identical drips since we moved here four years ago. The first year we called a plumber who came and "fixed" the leak, only to have the leak start again within a couple of weeks. A year later we called the plumber back and he "fixed" the leak again, replacing the two spring-loaded washers which contact the ball inside the base of the faucet which directs the mixture selection of hot and cold water. Same thing: water began dripping again two weeks later. This miffed me! I took the two faucets apart and notice that an erosion tunnel had begun on the metal ball in the kitchen which caused the leak, something which neither of the two high-paid and under-performing plumbers ever bothered to inspect, notice, and replace. I switched the two balls and by judicious placement of the uni-lever in both faucets when turning them off, the dripping could be stopped.
Finally the kitchen drip was so hard to stop that I decided to bite the bullet and get new balls for both faucets. I removed one ball and took it with me to Care Plumbing near the Belle Chasse tunnel. For $20 I was able to buy two complete repair packages for the faucets.
Closing the cheap under-sink shutoff valve is often a problem, so when I couldn't get the hot water line closed in kitchen, rather take a chance of breaking it with a wrench, I went upstairs and shut off the hot-water line at the water heater till I was done.
I did the utility room faucet first. But having removed it, it wasn't obvious how to re-assemble it, so I took out the kitchen one to use as a model, and that helped a lot. I decided not to replace the spring/washer set, since the dumb plumbers had done that twice before. The set screw was frozen tight on the kitchen uni-lever, and I was afraid it might break off. Put WD-40 on it and after ten minutes it finally creaked loudly and got loose. I had to line-up the white washer notch with the slot in top part of threaded base, to line-up the long slot in ball with the metal projection on the inside of the faucet base. Next the magic trick of holding the white spacer's V-shaped hole with it apex toward kitchen while pressing down and screwing on top. Why magic? It only takes three hands to do the trick.First time I tested it, it leaked in the kitchen sink faucet from the hot-water line, so I took it off and replaced the hot-water side spring/washer set too. The right side one was obviously smashed, and the white plastic ball had severed in half. How it even worked at all was amazing, with a ball split in half. Job was done in about 3 hours with a trip to parts store, two trips upstairs to close then re-open the hot-water line. No drips anymore. Done the way the plumbers were paid twice to get it done and failed miserably.
XP SOFTWARE ON WINDOWS 7 SOLUTION: One day Del and I went to lunch at Casablanca Restaurant with Andy Lowell and Ruth Ryan to catch up on their news. He eventually went into graphic production using software. Ruth said that she's nearing retirement and that her husband Ted is already there. He's leading a band called Rev. Teddy's All-Stars in Margaritaville's Storyville Café in the French Quarter on Friday and Saturday nights and really enjoying his retirement. Andy was Del's very first secretary and he was a good one. He worked at a different company than the one Del and Ruth first worked together at, but now he and Ruth are working at the same place and eventually discovered their mutual connection with Del.
As I talked to Andy I told him how I had to create a Windows XP Mode window in order to run my favorite photo editor, Picture Publisher 10, which I have used since the early '90s when it was in Version 4. He said there was a way to have Windows adjust settings to run XP software. I said I had tried that and it didn't work, but when I got home, I decided to give it a try again, and this time I was able to locate the problem and fix it. Seems the transparent window edges theme was the source of the difficulty. Windows suggested switching me to solid windows, I accepted, and suddenly the problem with photo-editing in PP10 disappeared! I could edit directly inside PP10 which was a lot faster than going through the XP Mode emulation window! The transparent window edge theme had already caused me problems by its excessive use of RAM resources, so I was glad to get rid of them. Thanks, Andy!
OKLAHOMA! We drove to Alexandria, Louisiana to see our grandson Thomas in Oklahoma, a high school musical on the stage of the downtown auditorium. It's a beautiful venue, the stage sets were well done, and the musical choreography was great, but the air-conditioning made the room frigid. Aunt Ellie was played by a short girl with a tinny voice which was hard to understand. Her short stature made it difficult to pick her out during the crowd scenes, and her voice, which should have been booming, made her invisible during the beginning of some of her monologues. Ali Hakim, and the other characters were well cast and well played, especially Skidmore who was played by Thomas who looked like a sturdy cowboy. It was my first chance to us my new SONY HX50 to shoot indoor photos under low light levels without a flash, and it performed great! I didn't have to wait for cast to hold still, like during a bow, to get a good photo. This was their first public performance and there were very few glitches noticeable. Great work for a high school play! The parents deserve to be proud of their young adults and their school.
AUNT HILDA, DEL, CRAWFISH BOIL: This Saturday was a very busy day with three events scheduled.The oldest of my dad's family died this month, Hilda Matherne Breaux. She married Clyde, the brother of Harris Breaux who married my mother's sister Mazel Babin. That made Hilda's children, Evelyn, Deanna, Kathy, Clyde, and Renee, cousins to one set of my Babin cousins. Amongst the Matherne cousins at the visitation and mass were a set of my Babin cousins. Aunt Hilda died just short of her 99th birthday in July. Three of dad's remaining four sisters were there, Lydia, Marie, and Carolyn. When I asked Marie about my Uncle Terry, dad's remaining brother, she said that he had moved into a retirement community in Panama City, Florida with his wife Yvonne, to be near her daughter's home. The mass was in Our Lady of Prompt Succor in Westwego where I spent so many years up front near the pulpit during 9 am Children's Mass where Father Koenig could keep an eye on us boys to maintain order. The girls were across the aisle, presumably because they behaved better during mass.The new church which I watched being built through the windows of Westwego High in the 8th and 9th grades does not have a looming pulpit, but it still has the same ornately carved wooden altar which graces the nave of that earlier wooden church which was razed after the new church was built. The altar is lovely, but seem way too small for the larger church, but clearly the German pastor Koenig could not bear to part with the last remaining structure and insisted on it being used in the new church.
We left from the church to drive home to get the house ready for our kids who were staying overnight. Kim Gralapp, John Hatchett with his two boys were staying with us after Del's birthday celebration, and Stoney Hatchett and wife Sue were coming over for a couple of hours also to help blow out the candles and all. But first Del and I had to go (had to go, hah, nobody has to go to a crawfish boil) at Timberlane Country Club. Del was in charge of the 50-50 Drawing to benefit Les Dames de Timberlane while we also enjoyed the delicious crawfish and chatting with friends in our neighborhood. Our former next-door neighbors of John and Domine Garrity were there, as were Kathy and Carl Orgeron, plus many other friends and a gaggle of kids with baskets ready for the Easter Egg hunt.
John called us from the house about the time we had refilled our plate with boiled crawfish for the third time and we were ready to leave. On to the third celebration of life for the day, this time Del's birthday. Our daughter Kim had bought a large size Chocolate Doberge cake and we lit the candles and Del had trouble blowing out her candles, because John was mischievously trying to blow them out with her and she wanted to blow them out on her own. In the end, we never knew who blew out the candles but it was all fun. We enjoyed a fun visit with everyone, Stoney and Sue drove back home across the lake and the kids played Rummy and Blokus till it was time for bed.
TWO DAYS OF FRENCH QUARTER FEST: The day before and after Del's birthday we went down to the annual French Quarter Fest.It is our favorite, never-miss festival in New Orleans. One can walk down the streets of the French Quarter and every block or so find a small band playing music to a small crowd of standing and sitting in portable chairs filling some or all of the narrow street, filling the narrow street with music, dancing, and just plain easy fun. No admission hassles, no long lines, just stop, stand awhile, listen and move on when you're ready.
So we went to the first day to meet Philip Dituri and his lady, Amanda Giambruno, both in town from New York City for a Mathematics Conference. We heard Don Vappe while waiting for the couple, then walked over Café du Monde, where we introduced them to café au lait and hot beignets (square donuts how out the fryer stacked with powdered sugar), Then we walked along Woldenberg Park along the riverside and said goodbye to Amanda who had an afternoon session at the conference to attend, then walked with Philip over to Dr. John stage in front of a field packed shoulder-to-shoulder with fest goers, and there we said goodbye. On the walk back to our car, I directed our feet along Iberville so we might stop at Felix's Oyster House. There was a long line across the street at Acme Oyster House, but we got admitted to the oyster bar within a minute or two, grabbed a seat, and asked for some big oysters. The oyster shucker, Michael, looked a bit like Samuel Jackson with a colorful fez-type hat and a big smile. He put some oysters still in the shell on the counter, and they were so huge that I placed my flat palm over them and they extended beyond my palm. The oysters on the half shell were big and delicious, and one them had two small pearls in them. The first one I ate in honor of my dad, right from the shell, pouring it into my mouth. Buster opened big oysters like in these in our garage in Westwego, sitting on a bucket.He had brought these oysters home from where he was working in Buras, down near Empire at the mouth of the river, and these Empire oysters were historically the biggest and best-tasting of anywhere. My shoulder barely cleared his knees back then, I must have been about 5, when he first brought an oyster he had just opened to my mouth, it was still in the bottom shell, and decanted the oyster into my mouth, it was delicious then, and remains delicious to this day. Nothing is more delicious than a food which brings along with it a delicious memory.
The next day we were busy with Del's birthday, followed on Sunday by our friend Carol's annual Fest Brunch. We parked at our usual spot and walked to the brunch which was already in full swing at 10 AM, lots food and friends to enjoy before we stepped back out into the narrow streets and sought the small stages. Curious Saturday and Sunday, not Thursday and Friday are the best days for the French Quarter Fest, if you like the small music venues which only show up on the weekend. There are big stages with big names and big lines for food and no place to sit in Jackson Square and along the riverfront on Saturday and Sunday, but the small bands are our favorite and we rarely bother with the crowded places.Carol's kids were in town, Stephen and Laurie, plus Jo Huey and Myra, Lano and Jessica Rareshide, a host of other familiar friends and faces. After we left the brunch, we met some friends, Roger and Georgie Smith, and a new friend, Cubs the Poet, who gave me a poem and his traditional tongue sticking out pose for the camera. He was set up in a chair in front of a manual Royal typewriter much like the one I brought with me to college. We talked and exchanged contact info. See his photo and poem below in the Reader's Section.
LSU BASEBALL: One of my favorite spring time people events is watching my alma mater LSU make a run towards Omaha and the College World Series. They got close last year and with a matured pitcher Aaron Nola and a crop of sharp freshmen hitters and fielders to complement our All-American Alex Bregman, they seem poised to go further this year. They started off badly with a sweep by Vanderbilt in their first SEC series, but have battled back to nearly a tie for best record with a 13-3 record during the SEC-filled month of April. Between Cox Sports TV and the Geaux Zone with occasional fill-in game on some ESPN network, I have been able to watch all of the games, grabbing DVR those which interfered with our other activities during this busy month of outdoor and indoor fun.
SHAKESPEARE ANNUAL DINNER AT ANTOINE'S RESTAURANT: This is an event I look forward to, scheduled to coincidence with the Bard's birthday of April 23.A Black Tie Affair beginning with an elegant dinner of shrimp remoulade, meat or seafood entree, and Baked Alaska for dessert. Usually we eat first, toast the Bard, and then begin our first reading of the play. What I love about the Shakespeare Society of New Orleans is the format we follow for performance. Usually a play involves the cast showing up in jeans and short for the first reading. Then weeks of memorizing lines, going through the movements on stage, culminating in a dress rehearsal at which everyone's in costume and last minute quirks can be ironed out. Then the final performance before a live audience. We truncate all the rigamarole and parse it into two pieces:
First Reading, Dress Rehearsal after an elegant dinner at Antoine's. Our Traditional Performance comes a week later before an audience at a Club on St. Charles Avenue. Two nights, both fun-filled, and delightful, and all the drudgery of usual acting excised away. This year's performance is "A Winter's Tale" and from the fun enjoyed by all the members during the reading, I expect it will also be a hit with the audience.
A personal note: my part is that of Camillo, a Lord and supporter of Leontes, King of Sicilia and that caused me a delicious problem. Because of the extra length of this play, we decided to read while dinner was being served, and I had to look down on my shrimp remoulade but not eat it because my part was amply sprinkled into the first half of the play and I darest not partake of my appetizer because I wouldst have to enunciate Shakespearean prose, trippingly on my tongue, before I couldst masticate my bite of shrimp, sauce, and salad. Twice I had to forestall the outstretched hand of the industrious waiter to keep my plate ready to eat when my lines were over. Thankfully, my last few lines were at the end of the play, so I could enjoy the entree and delicious ice cream, cake, chocolate sauce and meringue dessert.
RIGHTEOUS REUBEN SAMWICH: Alright, I know it's spelled sandwich after the Earl of Sandwich, but we were meeting our grandson, Sam, so I re-spelled it in honor of the Sam of Hatchett. Generally a Re ben sandwich has pastrami or corned beef slices in addition to the sauerkraut and melted cheese, but the Mellow Mushroom where we had lunch with Sam had swapped the meat slices for slices of Portobello mushrooms, and thus the new name for their concoction, a delicious one by the way. We looked for another painting by David Dillard, but the wall was vacant where the painting I wished to buy usually hung. I asked the manager and he said a lady came about a week earlier to retrieve the paintings to place them somewhere else to sell. So I struck out on the painting, but hit a home run on the samwich.
LAST MINUTE EVENTS
ADIEU, CHER' ROSIE: Our good friend Rose Harris died shortly after her 94th birthday. Rosie was known all over South Louisiana. Born along Bayou Lafourche as Rosie Guidry, her father build a store, a post office, a fur-trading place, a movie theater, and a ferry across to the Hwy 1 more-populated side of the large bayou. She went to a Normal College in Natchitoches, Louisiana (a teacher's college), which later morphed into Northwestern University. She was known by CODIFIL chapters and spoke often to CODIFIL teachers coming from Paris to teach in French-immersion classes in South Louisiana. She spoke natural Cajun-french to explain to the newly-arrived teachers how important their work would be in restoring the French-speaking culture of the area that had nearly been wiped out by the coercive legislature with its laws prohibiting French-speaking in schools in the 1920s. My Grandma Babin only spoke French until her children began coming home speaking English. In twenty years, by the time I knew her, she only spoke English to me, having learned the language from her children by then. Rosie was a beloved friend who introduced Del to her two garden clubs exactly at the time Del had more time on her hands and space in her life for more friends, especially ones in Timberlane Estates. Now Del is busier than ever, thanks to Rosie's mentorship. We will miss her lovely smile and wonderful stories of her dad's exploits on the bayou-side in Galiano.
EVERY GOOD THING MUST COME TO A NEW BEGINNINGIMPORTANT MESSAGE:
The past 30 days of April were cool and dry (after a soggy few days left over from March) and after we cleared all the dead leaves and branches from our harshest winter in twenty years, everything is green and flourishing again. Peaches are golf ball size, blackberries are green and in a week or so will be red then black and juicy. Hundreds of pomegranate blooms augurs well for a juicy August for us. We've already eaten two artichokes from our first bush and many more are on the way, including babies just spotted on the other two bushes. Lots of flowers blooming and our spring veggies are in the ground. A nest of warblers has hatched three young birds who are learning to fly and feed themselves off the West Portico as I type these words. Canadian Geese are nesting a few hundred yards away, squirrels and mocking birds are frisky, and a curious beetle was sucking juice from the green onion flowers yesterday. A family of French Ducks swam by in the bayou, newly hatched, while a couple dozen Red-eared Slider Turtles sunned themselves on the banks. A wood duck flew down to the water from its tree house maintained by our friend Tony. We live in a wildlife preserve with birds and animals, both diurnal and nocturnal all around. A possum comes by at night and aerates our lawn by digging out large grub worms. Black-bottom whistling ducks, about a hundred of them wait for Connie and Don to put out new feed for them.
Till we meet again, when the first weekend of Jazz Fest is history and the second weekend is due up. Our air-conditioners are tuning up for their great annual cooling performance, our LSU Tigers gearing up for a run at the College World Series in Omaha, and we're gearing up for a Kentucky Derby event at our Country Club, a grandson graduating, and many other May things. So, God Willing and the Mississippi River stays within its armored levees, Whatever you do, Wherever in the world you and yours Reside, be it May-like summery or Fall-like autumny, rainy or dry, shady or sunshiny,
Remember our earnest wish for this God-given year of 2014:
MAY THE WORLD BECOME PEACEFUL AND SERENE IN TWENTY-FOURTEEN
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Quotes Selected from quotes.htm this month:
You can't see what to do, you can see only what not to do. The total negation of that road is the new beginning, the other road. This other road is not on the map, nor can it ever be put on any map. Every map is a map of the wrong road, the old road.
Krishnamurti [Quoted from final page of Don't Push the River by Barry Stevens]
New Stuff on Website:From Flowers of Shanidar, A 1990 Book of Poetry by Bobby Matherne
In a small dark cave in the hills of Northern Iraq near the Turkish border the excavator Ralph Solecki found in 1960 the bones of a young man placed in the recess between two large boulders. Analysis of the remains from the cave of Shanidar determined that the burial occurred over 60,000 years ago.
Soil samples collected near the bones were only analyzed several years later and produced a quite unexpected result. Ordinarily a small random assortment of pollen grains would be found in funereal soil samples, but the Shanidar soil analysis revealed thousands of pollen grains from wild flowers of the region. Flowers of rose mallow, hollyhocks, hyacinths, and other indigenous varieties of flowers had been systematically collected and transported to the cave of Shanidar as a funerary tribute.
Astonished, the scientists were confronted with the earliest known evidence of a burial ritual. From the very dawn of mankind a message had come down to us, written in pollen grains from the flowers of Shanidar, of the birth of a new consciousness — the consciousness of death.
How far have we progressed in the knowledge of ultimate destinations in the 600 centuries since that funeral celebration? As we stand before the door to the new millennium, do we dare to knock? Are we ready for the new flowers of Shanidar and the birth of consciousness that will surely accompany our passage into that new era?
These poems are from Bobby Matherne’s 1990 book of poetry, Flowers of Shanidar and Rainbows & Shadows, and have never been published on the Internet before. Here since the beginning of the new millennium, we are publishing each month five poems, some from each book. We will finish up Shanidar poems with a long poem called "Wildflowers." It consists of snippets of poems that I liken to wild flowers, each Part like a small bouquet.
1. Long Poem: Wildflowers
Wildflower No. 1
When Jupiter and Saturn are in the ninth house
and Mercury aligns with Mars
Then paradox will rule the heavens
peace will rule the earth.
"10% of everyone who ever lived is alive
I guess that makes everyone alive in the top
10% of the world for all time.
Literalism is the sin
of taking the map
And putting the territory in.
Symbolism is when
you take the map away
And let the territory begin.
Diabolism is the scientist
who makes our mind dizzy
With talk of waves and gravity.
Paradoxism is the shaman
who joins us in our dream
Of waking sleep.
2. Wildflowers (continued)
Wildflower No. 2
I'm willing to take back my projection,
How come you're not willing to take back yours?
Hitch a ride on the consciousness train
round the world and back again
First class coach on a higher plane.
Happening is a warm elephant
knowing a turtle's on its back.
We scan our world with turtle eyes
and munch our hay with elephant jaws.
It's only when the hay's digested
and the elephant's asleep and rested
That the turtle sticks his head right out
and scans the world here about.
Was it the turtle Atlas shrugged
while the elephant snuffled from the fountainhead?
And where was the lord of the rings
when the elephant donned its circus habit?
3. Chapter: RainbowsCollege Life
This month, as we near the completion of Bobby's first book of Poetry, Flowers of Shanidar,
we continue with a poem from the Rainbows Chapter of his second book of Poetry,
Rainbows & Shadows (1995).
This month we read
Life is a college
We're sent here to live
Some kids are serious
and study because they love to study —
They do what the less serious
call study hard.
But it's not hard when it's fun
and it's fun to me —
learning from each new day
each new person I meet
along the way.
4. Chapter: Shadows2. Wildflowers (continued)
This month, as we near the completion of Bobby's first book of Poetry, Flowers of Shanidar,
we continue with a poem from the Shadows Chapter of his second book of Poetry,
Rainbows & Shadows (1995).
This month we read
Art is not nice
Art is not sane
Art is not orderly
Art is not creative
Art is forged in the crucible of destruction
where the split-ends of our ways
and days are fashioned
into architectonic I-beams
of gossamer heather.
Art is the fresh hardware store
that hums our future.
Wildflower No. 3
In the violet light before the dawn
the Sons of the Mist are about
Stuffing shards of fallen stars
into their ditty bags of light.
. . .
Words are sacraments
an outward sign
of an inner grace.
I do not know what a poet does
. . . when he sits down at his desk.
Does he have something to say
. . . or is it something to ask?
I do not know where the words come from
. . . when they pop upon the page
Are they from the tomes of tomorrow
. . . or an earlier age?
I do not know where the rhymes come from
. . . with their stentorian tones
Are they from the music of the spheres
. . . or rings of dinosaur bones?
New Stuff on the Internet:
- Female Cardinal taking a bath in our Meditation Garden at Timberlane. As the video nears an end, an intruder surprises the Cardinal and takes her place. Watch along bottom right of image to spot intruder's approach. Video Copyright 2014 by Bobby Matherne
Movies we watched this past month:Notes about our movies: Many of the movies we watch are foreign movies with subtitles. After years of watching movies in foreign languages, Arabic, French, Swedish, German, British English, Russian, Spanish, Italian, Japanese, Chinese, and many other languages, sometimes two or three languages in the same movie, the subtitles have disappeared for us. If the movie is dubbed in English we go for the subtitles instead because we enjoy the live action and sounds of the real voices so much more than the dubbed. If you wonder where we get all these foreign movies from, the answer is simple: NetFlix. For a fixed price a month they mail us DVD movies from our on-line Queue, we watch them, pop them into a pre-paid mailer, and the postman effectively replaces all our gas-consuming and time-consuming trips to Blockbuster. To sign up for NetFlix, simply go to http://www.netflix.com/ and start adding all your requests for movies into your personal queue. If you've seen some in these movie blurbs, simply copy the name, click open your queue, and paste the name in the Search box on NetFlix and Select Add. Buy some popcorn and you're ready to Go to the Movies, 21st Century Style. You get to see your movies as the Director created them — NOT-edited for TV, in full-screen width, your own choice of subtitles, no commercial interruptions, and all of the original dialogue. Microwave some popcorn and you're ready to Go to the Movies, 21st Century Style. With a plasma TV and Blu-Ray DVD's and a great sound system, you have theater experience without someone next to you talking on a cell phone during a movie plus a Pause button for rest room trips.Hits (Watch as soon as you can. A Don't Miss Hit is one you might otherwise have missed along the way.):
P. S. Ask for Blu-Ray movies from NetFlix, and if it says DVD in your Queue, click and select Blu-Ray version.“Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues” (2013) How can a dumb movie be so much fun? Excellent script, spotlighting key moments in the development of 24/7 News Channels, actually spoofing them and the people who watch them. “Who knew news could be exciting?” Watch the extra features, too, which reveals the problem of being actors and comedians is highlighted. Just for the fun of it, I’m calling this turkey A DON’T MISS HIT ! ! !
"Pirate Radio" (2009) Filled with vintage Rock & Roll about a ship moored off England's coast and providing the only source of pop music to the land. It's motto: 1 boat, 8 DJ's, No Morals. If this movie doesn't get you up dancing in front the TV, check your pulse. A DON'T MISS HIT ! ! ! ! !
“The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest” (2009) Lisbet survives her burial to axe her father and was recovering in hospital down the hall from him. Unable to leave her room, she finds a way to help Mikael destroy the cabal who first placed her in an asylum. A DON’T MISS HIT ! ! !
12 Years a Slave (2013) Businessman from Saratoga NY gets kidnapped while in Antebellum D. C. and sold as a slave. Movie based on his memories of his life as a slave.
"The Book 2" (2013), Liesel, only borrowed books, sheltered Max, loved Rudy Steiner, was loved by Rosa and Hans, and told great stories the rest of her life. A DON'T MISS HIT ! ! ! !
"War Horse" (2011) who buys a thoroughbred horse, puts it behind a plow, and then it sends off to war to pull cannons up a hill? Nobody. Not on purpose. Post-war, can this horse ever find his way back to his home in Devon? Only a miracle horse could do that, and only Stephen Spielberg could film it. A DON'T MISS HIT ! ! ! !
"The Story of Will Rogers" (1952) Will's son plays his famous dad and does some of his rope tricks. Must have been poignant for him to be speaking the same radio shows that he listened to as a young man. Great portrayal of the rope artist turned into humorist by necessity. Eddie Cantor plays himself as a youth but used black-face to hide his age. A DON'T MISS HIT ! !
"Grudge Match" (2013) Rocky vs Raging Bull in the Senior Olympics go 15 rounds to a split decision of pure fun. A DON'T MISS HIT !!!
"Night Train to Lisbon" (2013) Jeremy Irons as aging classics professor in Bern who rescues a girl in red coat from jumping off a bridge and when she leaves, he finds a book of poetry by Portuguese writer Amadeu de Prado, and he travels to Lisbon to find the poet and the girl in red coat and has his eyes opened by an eye doctor. Incredible quote from movie:"We leave something of ourselves behind when we leave a place. We stay there even though we go away. And there are things in us that we can find again only by going back there. We travel to ourselves when we go to a place where we have covered a stretch of our life, no matter how brief it may have been." A DON'T MISS HIT ! ! !
"Saving Mr. Banks" (2013) Walt Disney turned down an offer to buy his Mickey Mouse and now Mrs. Travers is turning down his offer to buy her Mary Poppins. 20 years is a long time to not take no for answer, so the movie project with animation and music proceeds even though she hates both of those as much as Mr. Banks loved pears. A DON'T MISS HIT ! !
"Delivery Man" (2013) Vince Vaughn is super as the Father of 533 kids with one on the way in this paean to pops everywhere. Sure to tug your heartstrings as Vince discovers he's fathered children he was unaware of, 533 of them, to be exact. A DON'T MISS HIT ! ! !
"In Bruges" (2008) Two hit men flub a job and get sent to Bruges, but for what? Sight-seeing? Another job? Fun and games? Mix in a love story, a cast of midgets, er, dwarves, a swan, and a dive, stir well, and get ready for some laughing out loud. A DON'T MISS HIT ! !
"Jennie: Lady Randolph Churchill: Discs 1&2" (1974) played by young Lee Remick, we watch as Randolph courts and weds the woman to become Winston Churchill's mother. Gives birth to Winnie, Randolph becomes Chancellor of the Exchequer, and dies. Winston leads forces in Boer and Great Wars and enters Parliament when his mother dies.
"Twelve Years a Slave: Solomon Northup's Odyssey" (1984) Avery Brooks (Deep Space 9's Captain Cisco) stars as Pratt the slave. Was interesting to watch a more accurate portrayal after watching the thirty-years-later Hollywood-message-filled 2013 remake. Newer one was better quality film and more gritty and gripping.
"John Carter" (2012) John Carter of Earth who wakes up on Mars and helps quell a civil war soon turns into John Carter of Mars in this sci-fi fantasy.
"The Invisible Woman" (2013) was easy to find in the dark, as Charles Dickens discovers when he lures a young girl into being his mistress but manages to keep her existence out of the public eye, up until now.
Misses (Avoid At All Costs): We attempted to watch these this month, but didn't make it all the way through on most of them. Awhile back when three AAAC horrors hit us in one night, I decided to add a sub-category to "Avoid at All Costs", namely, A DVD STOMPER. These are movies so bad, you don't want anyone else to get stuck watching them, so you want to stomp on the disks. That way, if everyone else who gets burnt by the movie does the same, soon no copies of the awful movie will be extant and the world will be better off.
"Philomena" (2013) Judi Dench in a wandering script about the "Sisters of Little Mercy" which starts off slow and goes nowhere.
Your call on these — your taste in movies may differ, but I liked them:“Paranoia” (2013) a movie which tries too hard to be important, but Gary Oldman and Harrison Ford can’t rescue it from mediocrity. Liam looks like young Jeff Bridges without the chops. Always staring at the ceiling instead of inside himself. Interesting and Forgettable.
“London Boulevard” (2010) Colin Farrell and Keira Knightley starred in this con-gets-out and swears he’ll never go back in, so he must die instead.
“Lord of War” (2005) Warlord of African country said I like ‘Lord of War’ better to gun runner Cage(actor) who provided him guns and ammo. Later he advised Cage, “Never go to war, especially with yourself.” This movie was made at a time in Nicolas Cage’s life where he seeming to be done exactly that.
"Somewhere" (2010) starts off nowhere and ends there, but he has a smile on his face. Go figure.
"August: Osage County" (2013) hot weather and hot relatives who are embattled after their dad's funeral and their mother's constant slashing tongue drives them to attack each other until family skeletons rattle out of the closet and everyone leaves their mother to die alone, in the dark.
"Wolf of Wall Street" (2013) how much fun can a guy have ripping off money from everyone, the poor to the rich? How much fun can Scorcese have making a movie full of naked women having sex? Too bad much of this actually happened.
"As I Stand" (2013) Tragedies in several families seem disconnected as people begin to link together and life resumes.
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4. STORY: Le Boudreaux Cajun Cottage, drawn by and Copyright 2011 by Paulette Purser, Used by Permission
Thanks to Tony Celino for sending in story from which this Cajun Joke was Created.
Boudreaux's wife Marie called up Pierre Gaston, her family’s lawyer in Lafayette.
“Pierre, you gots to help me, Cher.”
“Wat’s wrong, Marie?”
“Remember dat operation dat Boudreaux had at Lafayette General last year?”
“Oui, Ah remember dat.”
“Wahl, ever since dat time, Boudreaux has lost all interest in sex.”
“Poor Boudreaux,” Pierre said, “But wat you want me to do about dat, Cherie?”
“Can’t you sue dem or sumpin?” Marie asked plaintively.
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5.Household Hint for May, 2014 from Bobby Jeaux:
Right-hand, Left-hand Threads
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =Right-hand, Left-hand threads
Background on Threads:
"What's the big deal? Righty-Tighty, Lefty-Loosey works for me!" If it does, you may have only dealt with right-hand threads and only when you're in an upright position, isn't that so? Did you know that there are left-handed threads? If not, read on.
Right-Hand Threads Rule
The shorthand phrase "Righty-Tighty, Lefty-Loosey" only works on right-handed threads. If you try to apply it to left-handed threads it will not work! This can be especially bad if you're trying to take a tire off an automobile and the lug nut is already tightened on the bolt. Turning the wrench either way doesn't seem to move the nut, and if you automatically try to remove the lug nut by turning the wrench to the Left, you may strip the nut or even break off the lug nut, which may leave you strayed.
HOW TO IDENTIFY LEFT-HAND THREADS ON A BOLT
Generally you'll find left-hand threads on the left-side lugs of older cars and on the bolts of all bicycle pedals. The reason is that the direction of travel of the wheel on the car or the pedal on the bike will tend to loosen the lug nuts or the pedal's bolt. You'll find other industrial machines which have left-handed threads, but the most common household left-handed threads are on bicycle pedals, and only on the left side. Since most threads are right-handed, you will only find the left-handed threads/bolts marked. See the photo above of the left-side pedal on a Schwinn bicycle. There is a deep imprint of the letter L in the bolt. On an automobile wheel, the lug will have an L stamped into it to indicate Left-hand threads.
USE YOUR HANDS
Most people have two hands, and if you do, you have two ready, on-the-spot reference guides to show you which way you can tighten or loosen either Left- or Right-hand nuts and bolts. Take a look at the photo of my Right-Hand (at right). If I want a nut or a bolt to move in the direction of my thumb, I simply rotate the wrench in the curved direction indicated by my curled fingers. The magic of this technique is that it will work when you are on your backside with your wrench on a bolt you can't see and are trying to remove a nut which will move away from you when you loosen it. [The R-T, L-L phrase will be tricky on that one.] To loosen such a bolt, simply place your Right Hand so that your thumb is aligned (or just parallel) to the bolt. Move the wrench in the direction your fingers are pointing. If you have already confirmed that the bolt has left-hand threads, do the above with your left hand.
Another shorthand technique for right-hand threads is to notice that a Clock's hands always move Clockwise, which matches the direction of your fingers when your right thumb is pointing away from your face. With your right thumb pointing to you, the fingers move Counter-Clockwise (opposite to motion of clock's hands).
So if you want a Right-Hand bolt or nut to come towards you (loosen), you turn the wrench Counter-Clockwise, and turn it Clockwise to Tighten (Close) one. You'll find that rotary knobs that Turn On, Open, or Increase something (e. g. Volume) will move Clockwise and the same knob will move Counter-Clockwise to Turn Off, Close, or Decrease something.
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6. POETRY by BOBBY from Yes, and Even More!:
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I could tell you what you don't know
But it wouldn't help you unless I show
you how to do it
in a way you understand it.
When you ask a question of someone
And they answer with descriptions of what they know
it isn't helpful
because it's you that doesn't know
not them.Questions: WIP: Written January 7, 1996 at Timberlane. This poem was written as a result of an interaction I had with a jazz pianist, Joel Simpson at the Life Source '96 exhibit hall in front of his demo where he was selling his Blues Piano book. Each time I asked him a question, he answered with explanations that raised more questions than he answered and I was more befuddled after he answered than I was before.
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7. REVIEWS and ARTICLES for May:
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For our Good Readers, here are the reviews and articles featured this month. The first review of this month was introduced in an early DIGESTWORLD ISSUE, DW#13, June 1, 2000 with a short blurb. The second review was introduced in DIGESTWORLD ISSUE, DW#072, February 1, 2007 with a longer blurb. Both of these will be of interest to our new Good Readers. The rest of the items will be new additions to the top of A Reader's Journal, Volume 2, Chronological List, new additions to A Reader's Treasury, or Essays previously unpublished.
NOTE: some Blurbs may be condensations of the Full Reviews, lacking footnotes and many quoted passages. For your convenience, if you wish to read the full review or to print it out, simply CLICK on the Book Cover and choose Printer Ready option on the top line of the review page when it opens.
1.) ARJ2: Anam Cara — Book of Celtic Wisdom by John O'Donohue
At a birthday party for our mutual friend, Gail Kelley, I met Len Daley. After we talked for a while, he said he was reading a book entitled Anam Cara. As a member of a small group at the time that we called Anam Caras, which is a Celtic word for "soul friends," I expressed an interest in finding out more about this book. He had his reading copy with him and showed it to me. When he handed it to me, the book flopped open to an ancient Celtic poem about a cat named Pangur Bán and his friend, a writer. This poem I had encountered a reference to seven years earlier in Thomas Gray, Philosopher Cat by Philip J. Davies. Davies had given me the impression the poem was lost forever and that I would never see it, and yet here it was under my eyes. Here's a cat's eye view of the last two stanzas of Pangur Bán as translated from page 55 as the cat stalks mice as assiduously as his friend the writer stalks ideas:
So in peace our tasks we ply,
Pangur Bán, my cat and I;
In our arts we find our bliss,
I have mine and he has his.
Practice every day has made
Pangur perfect in his trade;
I get wisdom day and night
Turning darkness into light.
As soon as I got home, I ordered myself a copy of Anam Cara and tried to find a character with the dot over the "C" in Cara, to no avail. When the book arrived, I read it all the way through without stopping. John O'Donohue is listed in the credits as a Catholic scholar, but not as a priest, which he no doubt is. The best way I can think of to describe his wonderful writing style is that he is a "male Annie Dillard." He lists Dillard's fine book, The Writing Life, in his short list of books that he recommends reading. Reading a few samples of his writing in the review below will illustrate to any fan of Annie's what I mean.
[page xv] It is strange to be here. The mystery never leaves you alone. . . . We take each other's sounds and make patterns, predictions, benedictions, and blasphemies. Each day, our tribe of language holds what we call the world together. Yet the uttering of the word reveals how each of us relentlessly creates. Everyone is an artist. Each person brings sound out of silence and coaxes the invisible to become visible.
"Speaking is an art — it breaks the silence — it destroys the sameness of the still air that it fills with vibrations. In this life we are but a song on a record, a cut on a CD, a single melody on the long-playing record of our immortal spirit." I wrote these words in the margins as I was reading the first pages of the Prologue. Any book that can inspire me so quickly, that can set my thoughts flying lyrically so early, belongs in a special place on my shelf, its words in a special place in my heart. On every page I found more inspiring words to set my thoughts into flight.
Have you, dear Reader, ever considered friendship to be a sacrament? I hadn't, up until now. One almost needs to fasten one's seatbelt while reading O'Donohue's words.
[page xvii] Human presence is a creative and turbulent sacrament, a visible sign of invisible grace. Nowhere is there such intimate and frightening access to the mysterious. Friendship is the sweet grace that liberates us to approach, recognize, and inhabit this adventure.
[page xix] Time is eternity living dangerously.
He points out that the "human heart is never completely born" — that in baptism, from an ancient Jewish tradition, the heart is anointed during the ceremony, as the place "where all feelings will nest." The baptism prayer anoints the heart as the seat of the emotions.
[page 6] The prayer intends that the new child will never become trapped, caught, or entangled in false inner networks of negativity, resentment, or destruction toward itself. The blessings also intend that the child will have a fluency of feelings in its life, that its feelings may flow freely and carry its soul out to the world and gather from the world delight and peace.
How does a child become trapped in false networks of negativity? Rightly understood, children absorb the true feelings of their parents and care-givers as those feelings are portrayed in front of the children. How can they be false except that the feelings are not those of the child, but the feelings of those who raised the child. The child is filled with those feelings, and, as a maturing adult, must sort through those feelings, weeding out those that are unworthy or false to its nature and those are true and worthy of keeping. In a world in which one absorbs and stores every physical body state until they reach five years old, and then has those physical substrates of their feelings recapitulated for the remainder of their life, one needs a way of removing those unwanted states before one becomes so enured of them as to accept them as one's true identity.
There is no better short definition of negative doyles(1) than O'Donohue gives above, namely, "false inner networks of negativity, resentment, or destruction" towards oneself. With the advent of the science of doyletics, I'm pleased to say that those false inner networks are endangered species from now on. A simple thirty second speed trace is enough to disable the unwanted networks of negativity permanently.
In his chapter called "The Mystery of Friendship" we find some amazing thoughts on friendship. He explains the concept of anam cara in detail as "soul friend" or someone to whom we can confess our deepest intimacies. Here are a few quotes from that chapter:
[page 18] . . . "the hand of the stranger is the hand of God."
[page 19] a friend is a loved one who awakens your life in order to free the wild possibilities within you.
[page 23] Love opens the door of ancient recognition.
[page 26] The one you love, your anam cara, your soul friend, is the truest mirror to reflect your soul.
[page 33] When two people come together, an ancient circle closes between them. . . . When you really love someone, you shine the light of your soul on the beloved.
[page 41] The human person is a threshold where many infinities meet. There is the infinity of space that reaches out into the depths of the cosmos and the infinity of time reaching back over billions of years.
[page 47] A sacrament is a visible sign of invisible grace. In that definition there is a fine acknowledgment of how the unseen world comes to expression in the visible world.
In that last quote, O'Donohue gives us his understanding of how the physical and spiritual worlds intermesh. In the next quotation, he shares a poem filled with a magnificent meshing of the spiritual and physical worlds, the reality of the Christ Spirit in the Sun, but deals with it as if it were simply a metaphor.
[page 56] In this Gaelic poem, the sun is worshiped as the eye and face of God. The rich vitalism of the Celtic sensibility finds lyrical expression here. . . "Glory to thee/Thou glorious sun./Glory to thee, thou son/Face of the God of life."
O'Donohue's discussion in the section, "The Eye is Like the Dawn," where he tells that the "eye is the mother of distance" and the "eye is also the mother of intimacy" prompted me to write this short poem:
The Eye is the Mother of Distance
The Eye is the Mother of Closeness
The "I" is the Mother of Distance
The "I" is the Mother of Closeness
The phonological ambiguity of the English word for our organ of vision with the word for our individuality is deeply meaningful, as anyone can tell by replacing the one for the other in many contexts. Here, O'Donohue tells us about the materialistic or scientific eye (or "I") that must judge everything it sees:
[page 63] The judgmental eye harvests the reflected surface and calls it truth.
Below I have compiled a litany of "eyes" or "I's" that he lists for the reader spread over pages 62, 62, and 64:
To the fearful eye, all is threatening.
To the greedy eye, everything can be possessed.
To the judgmental eye, everything is closed in definitive frames.
To the resentful eye, everything is begrudged.
To the indifferent eye, nothing calls or awakens.
To the inferior eye, every else is greater.
To the loving eye, everything is real.
During a time when loud obnoxious music seems to pervade some people's lives, it is well to remember the words of the Irish writer Sean O'Faolain that John O'Donohue quotes below and to wonder about the lives of those who shun the great for the mundane:
[page 73] In the presence of great music we have no alternative but to live nobly.
There is a lovely Greek word temenos, which originally referred to the grounds surrounding a temple. It means the sacred place or section of holy ground that we must cross to enter into the temple. Rightly understood, our senses are a temenos that separates us from the spiritual world. Our senses function as a moat does to protect a castle from those that would enter without permission.
In the section called "The Danger of Neon Vision," O'Donohue cautions us about the harsh light of modern consciousness that, in its spiritual hunger, "wants to unriddle and control the unknown." This explains the tendency of modern office environments to be so sterile and bright that the unknown and mysterious must disappear. I was inspired to write these lines.
In white-washed, tube-lit corridors & antiseptic cubicles,
Where does the mystery lie?
Under overheating, buzzing ballasts,
How can serenity arise?
To paraphrase Eleanor Roosevelt, "it is better to light a candle than to curse the harshness of the artificial light." And that is exactly what O'Donohue suggests.
[page 81] Candlelight perception has the finesse and reverence appropriate to the mystery and autonomy of soul. Such perception is at home at the threshold. It neither needs nor desires to invade the temenos where the divine lives.
In the course of a long marriage familiarity can paradoxically lead away from intimacy. O'Donohue, who wrote his dissertation on Hegel, quotes him as saying, "Generally, the familiar, precisely because it is familiar, is not known." This powerful sentence bears careful consideration. Where in our lives have we allowed the close presence and familiarity of some loved one to deaden our relationship?
[page 91] Familiarity can be quiet death, an arrangement that permits the routine to continue without offering any new challenges or nourishment.
One of the fallacies of modern life is the concept of art. Anyone who can mix and spread colors assumes the name of artist and our familiarity with the work of these shopping mall artists breeds a deep misunderstanding of the process of art. Replication of another's work is not art, but rather it is rightly called kitsch, the imitation of art. Beauty, as true art, is uniqueness; it is the destruction of sameness, the destruction of the familiar, and out of that destruction arises the wild and amazing possibilities revealed by a Picasso, a Rembrandt, a Georgia O'Keefe. Every true artist dares to reveal her soul. See my essay, Art is the Process of Destruction.
[page 104] Beauty is standardized; it has become another product for sale. In its real sense, beauty is the illumination of your soul. There is a lantern in your soul, which makes your solitude luminous.
When things seems to be going awry in my life, I have a pet phrase that I toss off to remind me of a deep truth. It's EAT-O-TWIST, which is an acronym for Everything Allways Turns Out The Way It's Supposed To. By 'supposed to' I mean the way that we expect things to turn out, the way we spend our time 'supposing' things will turn out, matches the way they will turn out. That 'supposing' is pure creative energy, rightly understood, but it is seldom rightly understood. If we apply such a creative force over time to destroy the things we would else treasure, who can we blame but ourselves?
[page 105] Our life in the world comes to us in the shape of time. Consequently, our expectation is both a creative and constructive force. If you expect to find nothing within yourself but the repressed, abandoned, and shameful elements of your past or a haunted hunger, all you will find is emptiness and desperation. . . The way you look at things is the most powerful force in shaping your life. In a vital sense, perception is reality.
The longer I write, the more appreciation I develop for the importance of words, and I especially take note of their origin. The words we use today are flattened metaphors whose life has been drained from them by familiarity to the point that all mystery and meaning have vaporized. O'Donohue recognizes the importance of re-connecting words with their underlying reality.
[page 110] Fundamentally, there is the great silence that meets language; all words come out of silence. Words that have a depth, resonance, healing, and challenge to them are words loaded with ascetic silence. Language that does not recognize its kinship with reality is banal, denotative, and purely discursive. The language of poetry issues from and returns to silence.
Everywhere you look these days, you see people watching television: in homes, in airport lobbies, in restaurants. If they're not watching television, they're driving their cars listening to their radios or talking on cell phones. By filling up their hours and minutes with chatter, they further distance themselves from the spiritual world.
[page 111] There is so little patience for the silence from which words emerge or for the silence that is between words and within them. When we forget or neglect this silence, we empty our world of its secret and subtle presences. We can no longer converse with the dead or the absent.
"The word authority signifies your authorship of your ideas and actions." With these words, O'Donohue cuts through a lot of foolishness that we are led to believe about authority as young adults. During that time of my life, I thought authority was something that someone gave to you, and once they did, you acted with authority. To understand that the root of "author-ity" is in the word "author" is to have made a gigantic leap in understanding of what it means to have authority. You have it when you are the author of your ideas and actions. The Order of St. Theresa is a special medal given to army officers in Austria who disobeyed their commands, but won the battle nevertheless. In other words, the medal is given to officers who showed true authority by their authorship of a battle to a successful conclusion.
O'Donohue had a problem getting started on his research work on Hegel. Finally a mentor from India told him to discover a few questions about Hegel that no one had thought of asking. With this novel approach, O'Donohue was able to conceive of his work in a completely new way.
One thing that can stultify a person's life is to become identified with a role, a career. The author illustrates this aptly with a humorous epitaph from a London graveyard, "Here lies Jeremy Brown born a man and died a grocer." When one becomes so lodged in an occupation that all the wildness of one's soul shrinks to the size of one role, then only a very serious event can dislodge their spirit from its place of captivity. In this society that often takes the form of a nervous breakdown. A nervous breakdown is a psychic breakthrough. The walls imprisoning the psyche are blown open and the soul goes out for a walk in the fresh air of wild possibilities.
[page 151] A breakdown is often a desperate attempt by the soul to break through the weary facade of role politics. There is a profundity to the human soul that the linear surface of the work world cannot accommodate.
In sighting a mortar, the first thing you learn is to over shoot the target on the first try and undershoot on the second try. The reason why you don't try to hit the target on the first try is that you have a forward observer and you use the reports back from the forward observer about how far you overshot on the first try and undershot on the second try to bracket in closer on the next round, each time coming closer to the target. If you did not purposely overshoot and undershoot the target, you would be lost as to how to move closer to the target. It is similar with life — those who make few or no mistakes are never really sure whether they're approaching or moving away from their targets.
[page 183] Frequently, in a journey of the soul, the most precious moments are the mistakes. They have brought you to a place that you would otherwise have always avoided.
In the last section "The Dead Bless Us" O'Donohue tells us that the evolution of human consciousness is bringing us back into a relationship with the invisible spiritual world in which we are immersed.
[page 228] I believe that our friends among the dead really mind us and look out for us. Often there might be a big boulder of misery over your path about to fall on you, but your friends among the dead hold it back until you have passed by. One of the exciting developments that may happen in evolution and in human consciousness in the next several hundred years is a whole new relationship with the invisible, eternal world. We might begin to link up in a very creative way with our friends in the invisible world.
If we do not believe that there is a spiritual world to link up with our friends in, then we will have effectively shut ourselves off from them, completely confirming that EAT-O-TWIST never breaks — what we supposed, what we expected, what we greatly feared for so long has come upon us. How wonderful might it have been had we supposed otherwise? How wonderful might our futures be if we choose now to begin supposing otherwise.
Reading this book is a great way to begin your journey into the wild possibilities of your eternal being, your true anam cara, your soul friend.
1 To define a doyle is easy. Simply put, doyles are "physical body states stored before one was five years old." For more detailed information on doyles and doylic memory, see http://www.doyletics.com/doyletic.htm#N_3_ .
2.) ARJ2: Earthly Knowledge and Heavenly Wisdom , GA#221 by Rudolf Steiner
To understand the cycles of human life, it is helpful to compare human life to the insect’s life, but one must always keep in mind that human life cycles are much longer. Whereas insects repeat the same life cycle over and over, humans evolve over long periods of time, so that the cycle of egg, caterpillar, chrysalis, and butterfly in humankind corresponds to cultural epochs. (A list of cultural epochs and dates can be found in this table.) Around 750 B.C. we entered the cultural epoch of the sentient soul in which we were directly connected to our senses and what constituted thinking for humans was a kind of instinctive clairvoyance or picture-consciousness. During that Greco-Roman epoch, the processes of intellectual or conceptual consciousness developed until about 1413 A. D. when humans entered the intellectual soul epoch with fully developed intellectual capabilities and a free self-awareness. The scholastic thinkers of thirteenth through fifteenth centuries helped enormously to bring this about. Since then we have entered the consciousness soul age where we are learning how to deal with our freedom and consciousness. As insects go through various stages of life during the course of one year, humans over thousands of years have gone through the stages of sentient soul, intellectual soul, and have now reached about the midpoint of the consciousness soul age. In each age we build upon and continue to use the abilities of the previous ages; as we wend our way through this consciousness soul age, we have full use of our learnings from the sentient soul and intellectual soul ages. Our primary focus will be on human consciousness as we progress through this age, and learning about how we got here over the stepping stones of the previous ages is one of the most important things we have to learn.
Steiner helps us understand where we are in an evolutionary sense. Remember Louis Reed's haunting lyrics of "September Song"? "It's a long, long while from May to December, but the days grow short when we reach September." It can be considered to be September in human evolution on Earth.
[page 3] As members of the human race, we have to find this inner sense of direction in the awareness that we belong to this or that century, which, in turn, has a special place in the total evolution of our planet, just as the month of September has a special place in the course of the year. In other words, we have to become aware of how our soul life will enter into our particular historical epoch.
This is something we still have to work on by entering more and more deeply into the development of the consciousness soul. We have to be conscious that we live in this or that epoch and are not fully human if we leave our life to chance, or karma(1), which has placed us into our earthly existence at birth. We are fully human, in the true sense of the word, only if we take into account what the historical evolution of humanity demands of our soul life in the epoch in which we live. Animals live in accordance with the course of the year. Human beings, on the other hand, have to learn to live in accordance with a historical epoch.
When we study the epochs of human history, we must be aware of changes in human beings as dramatic as the egg, caterpillar, chrysalis, and butterfly stages of certain insects. Otherwise we will err as a butterfly-historian who might speculate about how high butterflies flew when they were caterpillars! Yet, that is, in effect, what historians do who are ignorant of the tremendous changes that human processes, such as thinking and consciousness, have undergone in historical times.
[page 4] What is usually called history these days cannot help us develop such an awareness for any given epoch. A mere account of how the Persian, Babylonian, Egyptian, Greek, or Roman culture developed does not tell us anything about how to integrate ourselves harmoniously into the historical development of our planet — the way animals are integrated into the course of the year.
How do historians show their ignorance of the stages of human development? Take the way that they treat ancient myths, for one thing.
[page 5, 6] People in ancient times saw something true to reality where people now see only strange and fantastic myths. In ancient times, people knew that when they looked at an animal in the physical, sensory world, it had a clearly defined outline. However, they were not interested in such definite outlines; rather, they wanted to understand the life that moved everywhere in a flowing stream. They felt this was not possible in sharply defined pictures or concepts but only in liquid, changing, metamorphosing images. This is how things were presented to them in the Mysteries.
The Temple of Apollo carried two saying over its entrance: "Nothing in Excess" and "Know Yourself". Early humans attempted to know themselves by looking inside themselves where they found images of the three lower kingdoms of mineral, plant, and animal, but these pictures were insufficient to what they experienced as a human being, and they developed a conviction.
[page 7] This conviction is the realization of truly enlightened people that here on earth, where minerals, plants, and animals fulfill their intended purpose and reveal their true being in the pictures people have of them, human beings do not reveal their true being.
These ancient humans were like butterflies trying to know their real selves while they are still crawling around the ground in the caterpillar stage of their existence. The butterfly does not exist to crawl upon the ground as a caterpillar for its entire existence, any more than human beings exist to live in physical bodies and remain forever on Earth in the caterpillar stage of human evolution.
[page 7] The philosophy of life fundamental to all ancient civilizations was that human beings do not belong to the earth in the same way as the creatures of the other kingdoms of nature. The real home of our true essence is not on earth but elsewhere, in the supersensible world. This conviction was not unfounded; people arrived at it through a crisis in their soul lives after they had learned everything about nonhuman life on earth that was appropriate for their times. In fact, this inner crisis could be resolved only because people in ancient times were still able to look at pre-earthly life and also at post-earthly life, at life after death.
To continue our analogy, a butterfly who could see its pre-butterfly life as a caterpillar or a caterpillar who could see its post-caterpillar life as a butterfly could know its true identity. Now we come to an amazing revelation by Steiner: that during the ancient picture-consciousness phase of our evolution, intellectual life was only possible after death. Since that time, humans have moved to having an intellectual life on Earth.
[page 9] It is indeed true that even though in earlier times people were challenged to know themselves, the answer they found was that self-knowledge is impossible during life on earth because the true human essence does not fully unfold in this life. They had to realize that they were not truly human beings until they entered the supersensible world after death.
Since the true human essence did not fully unfold for them in this life, writers of ancient times, such as Homer, needed assistance to write of human essence and deeds. In beginning his epic work, The Iliad, Homer called upon the gods to reveal this essence to him, "Speak to me, O Muse, of the wrath of Achilles," and he recorded what they said to him. The Muse's words came from the voice of the intellect streaming in from the supersensible world to Homer's mind.
[page 10] According to the point of view prevailing in ancient Greece, individual persons did not represent the full unfolding of the human essence, but they made visible, so to speak, the work of the stream from the supersensible. People then saw the streaming in of the supra-earthly into the earthly realm in a person's whole physiognomy, way of acting, and overall figure, and they revered it.
Since the Mystery of Golgotha we can say along with St. Paul, "Not I, but Christ who lives in me." When we do this, we begin to feel "something livening up and bursting forth within us."
[page 13] We come to know something during our earthly life that arises from our humanness.
When we feel this rising light and life and the love rising up within us, and identify them as Christ living and working in us, then we become inwardly strengthened to understand in our free soul the life after death as the fully human one. Thus, the Mystery of Golgotha and the Christ-Impulse are intimately connected with our attainment of a consciousness of freedom, a consciousness that can also fill our thinking with inner life and inner warmth, thus keeping it from becoming abstract and dead. This shows clearly the full significance and importance of Christ within us. We need to see this in connection with the demand made on all people at all times, even today: "Know yourself. Fructify your inner being to become fully human."
People in ancient times were unable to experience full humanness until they had passed through the portal of death. We living humans today are able to experience full humanness and it behooves us to do so or we will become like a butterfly sans wings who is doomed to crawl about the Earth as a caterpillar because it repudiated the very essence of its evolutionary growth, its future as a butterfly.
[page 14] In those ancient times, human beings had the task of being candidates for becoming fully human while here on earth. We now have the task of becoming fully human already here on earth so that we can reach higher stages of development after death. If people in ancient times did not live their lives on earth properly, they were in danger of not attaining full humanity. We modern people face a different problem. If we do not achieve full humanity here on earth, we, in fact, repudiate it and condemn ourselves to descending further into the subhuman realm after death. If people in ancient times did not become candidates for full humanity, they simply had left something undone. However, if we do not strive to become fully human on earth, we destroy something for all of humanity, because we then repudiate humanness; people in ancient times merely missed it.
It is a salient fact of the evolution of humanity and consciousness in historical times that the meanings of words change over time, but the words do not (or only cosmetically so). It is both an advantage and disadvantage that English is a relatively new language. On the one hand, classics are translated into English using the most recent definitions of the words of the ancient languages. On the other hand, those new definitions are shaped by our current evolution of consciousness which will skew the original meanings as they are translated into English. In any case, one should be clear that people have not always perceived, thought, or felt the way we do now. Imagine a world in which the ancient myths represented a daily reality and you can get a sense of how far we have progressed as human beings.
[page 16] As I have often emphasized, people nowadays are convince that human being have always thought, felt, and perceived the same way we do now. Any differences corresponded to the childlike level of development in earlier times; of course, our thinking has now reached the level of maturity. To arrive at real insight into the human being we must be able to understand how people thought in former times. Then we will not feel so proud of what fills our souls. When we realize how completely the ideas and thoughts of educated people have changed in the course of just a few decades, we will get an idea of the radical change that has taken place in human soul life over long periods of time.
Not many people today remember the early antiseptic used by mothers on skinned knees of their children called, "Tincture of Iodine." It was a dark purple liquid which was liberally dabbed over broken skin in a violet-colored wash to prevent any infection from starting there. The word "tincture" has an ancient meaning based on the then prevalent clairvoyant or picture-vision of human beings.
[page 21] The ancients gave the name "tincture" to what was revealed when the clairvoyant felt the whole world bathed in a violet light and himself living in a violet cloud in this light, and felt at one with himself. Clairvoyants felt this tincture as their own, as connected to their organism. They felt it as their very own astrum. (RJM: "constellation")
To live in the pure tincture of their astrum required rejecting anything which came to them from the outside world. Any disturbing thing was felt to have a spiritual influence in it which the ancients called turba(2). The astrum was their heavenly or starry constellations.
[page 22] You see, here we can get a glimpse of the soul life of a very ancient time, a soul life that existed still in the . . . middle of the nineteenth century though it was already in decline and fading away. But this soul life had once been an inner participation in the divine-spiritual world through dream-like, clairvoyant pictures that made people feel more as heavenly beings than earthly ones.
But we humans have changed from the ancients and when we awaken from sleep now we feel a sharp demarcation between sleeping and waking. Nothing from the sleep state continues to live in us as it did with the ancients. Since 1413 A. D. we have moved on to pure intellectual thinking when we are awake and we sleep in a state of "nothingness." (Page 25) We sleep, in effect, in a world of the future which we cannot perceive, the world in which the Earth will be transformed into the phases of Jupiter, Venus, and Vulcan that Steiner describes in his Outline of Occult Science. (Page 26) Here is his summary of modern humanity:
[page 27] First, when we are awake, we live in thoughts that are purely thoughts and nothing else. These thoughts no longer contain pictures in the old sense (which, in any case, people now regard as myths). Second, when we are asleep, we live in nothingness, and in that way we free ourselves from the world and become conscious of our freedom. The images in our thoughts can no longer compel us because they are mere pictures.
Where do most people's thoughts come from today? From their study of nature or historical documents or from the concepts fed them by teachers in school. They take these things and mirror them and call them ideas. This creates a passive way of thinking which has replaced creative thinking. But there is a still a way of infusing our thought with inner reality. It requires "enough will to push our night being into our waking life." Steiner devoted his book, The Philosophy of Freedom to enlightening people how to accomplish this.
[page 29] At the time, I could not express it in the same words I do now, but it really is true that when we are asleep, we free our I-being(3), and then we can insert it into our pure thinking. We become aware of our I-being in pure thinking when we live actively in our thoughts.
Since Bacon's time, science has been taught passively. Steiner was well aware of the dangers of teaching or learning anthroposophy (his spiritual science) in a passive manner: those who learned it passively would be unable to stand up for it.
[page 30] However, as soon as people decide to create in themselves the thoughts anthroposophical research give to them, they will become able to defend the truth of these thoughts with their whole personality for, in the process they will have experienced the first stage of truth.
My first contact with the works of Rudolf Steiner came from my study Owen Barfield's works on the evolution of consciousness. As I learned from Steiner in Lecture 3, it was my first step to being a true human being.
[page 33] As we have discussed before, we must understand the evolution of humanity in order to be imbued with the consciousness we need to be human beings in the true sense of the word.
In the ancient days, humans could only find life in death, but nowadays we can find life in life. Steiner illuminates this paradox for us here:
[page 34] In our recent talks we have seen the reason for this. In those ancient times, human beings had no other way to gain self-knowledge than to think of what would happen to them immediately after death. Back then, people were free thinking beings like us only after death. Only after death did people in ancient times consider themselves independent beings, autonomous individualities. The ancient sages told their students to look beyond death if they wanted to know what a true human being is. They had to experience a reflection of death in the Mysteries to become convinced of their eternal life and immortal being. Essentially, then, to seek the Mysteries was to seek death in order to find life.
Things have changed; people are different nowadays. What people in ancient times experienced after death, namely, becoming thinking and free beings in their own right, we now have to achieve in the time between birth and death. But how can we do this? As we gain more and more self-knowledge, we first of all must get to know our thoughts.
One of the things we must know about our thoughts is that they are like the corpses or dead bodies of the living spiritualness which lived in us in our previous spiritual life before we were born. Some of that aliveness remained in us as children, but soon disappeared at the behest of the adults around us for whom such thoughts and visions as we had during our pre-five years no longer existed and had been long forgotten(4).
[page 34] However, our thoughts, particularly those developed since the first third of the fifteenth century, since the time of Nicholas of Cusa, are actually dead thoughts; they are corpses. What lived in them was alive in our pre-earthly existence. Before we descended to earth as soul-spiritual beings, we lived a spiritual life. With the beginning of our earthly life, this spiritual life died, and we now experience this dead spiritual life in us as our thinking.
The nothingness of our sleep holds our will and our job is to use our will to harness our dead thoughts and bring them to life. In Steiner's words (page 36) we "have to bring our dead thoughts to life through inner, creative will."
[page 35] The first thing we must realize is that while we can arrive at true self-knowledge in our age — that is, we can know ourselves as soul-spiritual beings — the object of our self-knowledge is dead; it is a spiritual corpse. Something coming from the will, which is actually in nothingness during our sleep and yet anchored in the astral body and the I, must flow into this dead element. The I must stream into the dead thoughts and bring them to life.
Steiner exhorts us to wake up and describes what waking up constitutes:
[page 37] We develop the right attitude only when we feel ourselves awakening in the process of becoming anthroposophists. We are actually waking up when we realize that the concepts and ideas the world has given us are dead, mere corpses of thoughts and ideas, but that anthroposophy will awaken them for us.
It is as if we have been living in a large mansion since 1413 A. D. when materialistic science began to direct our focus solely to our sensory inputs and away from the windows. In successive centuries since then, science has progressively boarded up more and more of the windows until the great majority of us have forgotten that the windows ever existed and either find puzzling or make fun of old texts inked by those writers who could still see through those windows into the spiritual world.
This is the state of most people in the modern world — they live in a boarded-up house and are not aware of it. Steiner wrote about this in the first part of Riddles of the Soul and mentions it in Lecture 3 in this book:
[page 37, 38] When you read the first chapter of Riddles of the Soul, regardless of how imperfectly it may be written, you will see my intention in writing it. I wanted to help people realize that if they remain stuck at the level of our present civilization, the world will be boarded up for them, so to speak. With the natural sciences we can progress only so far, then we come to where the world is as though boarded up. That chapter was my attempt to clear away the boards. If you have the feeling that you are pulling away the boards that have enclosed the world for centuries now, when you can regard the words in my book as tools for this pulling away, then you really approach the soul-spiritual. Most people have only an unconscious feeling that chapters such as this are written with pen and ink. Indeed, they are not written with a pen, but with soul tools intended to tear away those boards, that is, to clear away the limits of natural science through inner soul work. When you read such a chapter, you must work too and be active in your soul.
Steiner’s words, rightly understood, are to be used as crowbars by us, Good Readers, to pry away the boards of materiality with which natural science has covered the windows of our reality, up until now. With my own background in natural science (physics) I would often include tables and diagrams to illustrate various points in Steiner's reviews. I am chastened by what Steiner writes in this next passage, and, picking up earlier hints by him, for some time now I have avoided any tables or diagrams in my reviews which might re-cover the windows of the world with the boards which Steiner strives to tear away with his words and living thoughts.
[page 39] Sometimes people get strange ideas from reading anthroposophical books. I can understand these ideas, and usually do not refute them because they are of a certain value for the individual having them. For example, concerning my book An Outline of Occult Science, some people have had the idea to illustrate it so that it could be presented in pictures, and they thought they would be doing the book a favor with this. In fact, people have even shown me samples of such pictures. I have nothing against that; if the sample pictures are good, we can admire them, and it is certainly nice to paint such pictures. But what is the longing that gave rise to this idea? It is the longing to take away the most important thing that can be developed through reading An Outline of Occult Science, and instead to present people with pictures that once again board up the world for them.
All I can say now is if pictures are useful to you for understanding Steiner's words, build the pictures for yourself and then discard them as the next person will need to build their own pictures if they require them for understanding. I will make an exception for the colored diagrams which Steiner drew on his blackboard whenever I find one drawn during the lecture I am reviewing. Two of those can be found below.
[page 40] The more unique and individual pictures each reader is able to create in his or her mind, the better. However, if somebody else draws these pictures for the readers, he boards up the world for them, so to speak. Of course, I do not want to deliver a lecture against painting what is presented in imaginations in my An Outline of Occult Science, but I do want to point out that everybody needs to have the experience of taking it in actively.
Near the end of the marvelous book by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince, we are given an image of the stars in the sky overhead laughing. Most readers are affected deeply by that image and few know why it is moving. Perhaps they would understand if they knew how carefully natural science has boarded up the living reality of the stars soon after the time of the scholastics of the twelfth through fourteenth centuries.
[page 42] The scholastics spoke of the inhabitants of the stars who belong to hierarchies above ours in the evolution of beings. People at that time looked out into the universe, to the planets of our planetary system and to the other stars, and were aware that more than etheric-material light was streaming down. They knew that when they looked up to the stars, the spiritual beings embodied there were looking down into their souls.
Steiner says (Page 43) that "People in those times felt themselves to be citizens of the earth and at the same time felt themselves to be citizens of the universe." Where do we see people portrayed with that feeling of being a citizen of the universe today? Only in science fiction dramas such as Star Trek. The feeling never leaves us as human beings, but if we board up the reality, it returns to us as myth. It is insightful to notice that we have boarded up ancient myths while, at the same time, we have created new myths such as Star Trek to reveal the same truths that infused the boarded up myths. One can even imagine St. Exupéry hearing the next words of Rudolf Steiner in 1924 and using them as inspiration for his story about the Little Prince who lived on one of the smallest heavenly bodies in the universe, an asteroid(5).
[page 44] Imagine what it must feel like to live on one of the smallest of the heavenly bodies in a universe devoid of soul and spirit!
The Little Prince represents each of us who must squeeze an "I" out of our own being because the forces we once received flowing into us from the universe no longer arrive. It is as if we have become hermits on an isolated desert isle where no mail, phone, or other signals reach us. We live on a lonely speck of dust alone and desolate. Everything we can investigate with our senses tells us about the mineral kingdom, the plant kingdom, and the animal kingdom, but nothing about the human kingdom — nothing about our soul and spirit.
[page 46] Out of the frame of mind accompanying the realization that human beings are hermits on the earth, living on a speck of dust in the universe, had to come the impulse to develop true humanness in free inner development, In fact, human being had to confront the big question: "is there really nothing in the environment our senses can see, hear, and feel and our intellect can understand that goes beyond what our senses tell us?"
We have become Baconian hermits living in Plato's Cave staring at the shadows on the wall and wondering what is really there that those shadows are giving us hints about. Those shadows are the abstract laws with which Bacon and his followers have shaped their explanations of how the natural world around us works, but they tell us nothing about soul and spirit.It took the natural scientist Goethe to envision the Earth as a spiritual being who fashions us into the clothing of God. Here are the words spoken by the Earth Spirit in Goethe's Faust which Steiner quotes:
[page 47, 48]
In the tides of life, in action's storm,
I surge and ebb,
As cradle and grave,
as unending sea,
as constant change,
as life's incandescence,
I work at the whirling loom of time
and fashion the living garment of God.
If Goethe sounds like a scientist working on religion, it should not be a surprise to you because there was an earlier time when there was no distinction between religious and scientific knowledge.
[page 59] In ancient times it would have been unthinkable to see religion and scientific knowledge as two different things. When people in those days arrived at a scientific insight, it immediately also gave them a religious feeling, showing them the way to the gods. In fact, they could not help being religious in the true sense of the word once they had gained knowledge. Nowadays people can learn the whole spectrum of current knowledge, and yet it will not make them religious. I would like to know whether anyone has become religious these days through having become a botanist, zoologist, or chemist!
People who want to be religious look for religion in addition to knowledge. That is why we have separate institutions for the cultivation of religious life besides those for learning and knowledge. In fact, many people think that knowledge diverts us from the path of religion and that, therefore, we must look for other ways to lead us back to religion. Nevertheless, in our lectures we have had to stress again and again the importance of modern knowledge. We have had to point out that recent insights and findings are indeed essential for modern humanity and its further development.
In olden times, people needed as a spiritual infusion from their muses what we today have as a circadian human ability, namely our intellectual world view. The freedom we experience today while living, the ancients could only experience after death.
[page 60] In other words, what people in ancient times experienced only after death in looking back on their earthly life, namely intellectualism and a consciousness of freedom, modern people have crammed already into their life between birth and death. They have become intellectual beings endowed with a consciousness of freedom while still on earth.
Those of you, Good Readers, who have read many of my Steiner reviews know that often his works have inspired me to write a poem which I often include in my review of his book or lectures. My poems are like the hymns to pure thoughts which Steiner suggests are more important that any analysis of his words and thoughts.
[page 61] For several centuries now, people have been receiving in their earthly life what they received only after death in ancient times, namely, intellectual understanding of the world and a consciousness of freedom. Yet, they have hardly noticed this; their world of feelings, the elemental part of their world, has hardly been touched. In fact, we could say that all this is more likely to have a bitter taste for people. After all, they do not consider pure thoughts the way I have tried to do in The Philosophy of Freedom, that is, they do not respond by wanting to sing hymns to them rather than analyze them.
Steiner points out that Novalis felt that solving a differential equation was equivalent to him to the act of praying. (Page 62) But he also notes that most graduate students today are "glad when they have their exams behind them and do have to go through any more." Like people taking a trip who focus ever on the destination, these student are apt to miss the joy of the journey itself in their eagerness for it to be over. We yearn for earthly knowledge, but want to have it already and get on with our lives. Is not the seeking process itself intended to be joyful?
[page 62] The joy of having passed through the stages of the Mysteries is hardly to be found in modern exam candidates. At least it is extremely rare nowadays that students talk with the full seriousness of the ancient Mysteries about the profoundly divine deed a professor has done in giving them a dissertation topic and enabling them to go through the water of holiness while they work on their topic. Yet that would be the normal, self-evident thing to do.
We are in a constant battle between our physical body (which seeks to die and return to the Earth from which it came) and our etheric body (which strives to keep the physical body alive and healthy). When we get ill and go to a medical doctor, all we can expect for the doctor to provide assistance for our etheric body in its goal of returning us to health. The etheric body always works within the guidelines provided by our own destiny which doctors are only able to assist and not overcome. Rightly understood, modern medicine can only act as assistant, a midwife, if you will, to our recovery. If that recovery is not pregnant within our destiny or karma, like a unborn child in its mother's womb, not even the mightiest efforts of modern medicine with all its diagnostic tools, such as blood tests, Cat Scans, PET Scans, or MRI's, can deliver the baby. To become aware of this heavenly wisdom is to become fully human beings.
[page 68] That is the awareness with which we must permeate ourselves. That is how we can come to know the cosmic significance of the human being. We will understand our cosmic significance that leads us to study first the physical body and then the body of formative forces or etheric body.
I want to mention here only one example. When we study our physical body in the right way, that is, by illuminating this body with anthroposophy, we will learn that it is subject to its own forces. When our body subjects itself to its own forces, it continuously tends to become ill. Indeed, our lower part, our physical body, always has a tendency to become ill.And when we then study the etheric body, we find there the totality of the forces that constantly work to make the sick human being well again. The pendulum swings between physical body and etheric body aiming to keep the balance between the pathological and the therapeutical. In other words, our etheric body is the cosmic therapist, and our physical body the cosmic pathogenic agent.
We can say the same about other areas of human knowledge. We have to ask ourselves what we have to do when we are confronted with an illness. Well, we have to manage somehow, through some combination of remedies, to call upon the etheric body for healing. Basically, this is what all of medicine is doing: it somehow calls upon the patient's etheric body for healing. We are on the right path toward healing a patient who can be cured when we appeal to their etheric body in the right way, that is, when we seek the healing forces that can flow into the patient from their etheric body in accordance with the individual's destiny.
Part of knowing the wisdom of the body is to understand that the breathing process is a destructive process, especially an excess of oxygen. We see people taking oxygen as a way of extending their lives, but are they aware that this excess oxygen must be complemented by carbon dioxide formation in the blood at all times if our life is to be extended?
[page 74] Our life is lengthened to the extent that the intake of oxygen is compensated for by carbon dioxide formation in the blood.
The key to understanding healing in the human body is to distinguish between the anabolic processes which happen during the assimilation of nutrition with the subsequent storage of energy and the catabolic processes during which complex organic compounds break up into simpler ones. Everyone has heard the old wives tale which goes, "Feed a fever, starve a cold." Steiner reveals the truth behind this advice and show us how it originates in the anabolic and catabolic forces which lead to fevers and colds.
[page 81] For example, you know that when the inflammatory forces are strong, we also often have a fever. Basically, this is caused by overly strong, excessive anabolic processes in the blood. Indeed, the forces we often develop during a fever would almost be sufficient to supply energy for another person if they could be conducted there.
On the other hand, when the catabolic forces predominate, we have cold symptoms, which are not as easy to diagnose as a fever. Of course, sometimes the two conditions alternate, and so, in practice, we often have to deal with an intermingling of what we really need to keep separate to fully understand the matter.
There is much more information on the healing processes of the human body in its fourth parts: physical form, etheric, astral, and I-Body, which will reward your study in Lecture 6, but we will move on to the remaining three lectures on "Moral Impulses and their Physical Manifestations."
Nietzsche is best known for his atheism, but Steiner shows us how Nietzsche led philosophy into an absurdity. What led Nietzsche into his notorious position as an atheist was his honesty, rightly understood. Here's how Steiner identifies what he calls two elements which run as "red threads" through Nietzsche's life:
[page 91] The first of these factors is that, beginning with the turning point in his second year at the university until the end of his life, Nietzsche basically had an atheistic outlook, which remained unchanged though all the transformations of his philosophy. The second factor is that in regard to the moral, intellectual, and practical impulses of his time, he asserted that one virtue was the most important, namely, honesty — honesty with oneself, with others, and with the world as a whole.
After Nietzsche took up the scientific positivism of his time which believed that the "whole world is built up exclusively from what is directly perceptible to the senses", he was determined no one with such an attitude could continue to believe in God. To Nietzsche to be honest was to be atheist.
[page 92, 93] It seemed to him dishonest to look at the world from the prevailing point of view at that time and, at the same time to assume the existence of deity. . . . If we adhere to this knowledge of nature, we must reject God.
[page 103] Nietzsche was faced with the necessity of entering the supersensible world with his moral problems, but he was unable to do so. That was his inner tragedy, and that is also what makes him a representative of the late nineteenth century. As a representative soul of that age, he indicated that human beings have to enter into the supersensible world if they want to remain honest and not declare moral ideals mere lies. Nietzsche became insane because he was faced with the need to enter the supersensible world but could not do so. . . . Still we can see one thing clearly from Nietzsche's life: Modern people can be honest with themselves and others only if they enter the supersensible world. . . . If morality, in a certain sense, belongs to the "superman," then it demands that we look for this "superman" not in the sensory world but in the supersensible one.
Steiner next undertakes to answer the question of "whether the moral impulses we have remain abstract or can actually intervene in our physical organization." He make it clear that no mechanical device can have any moral impulses. This includes modern day computers which are all mechanical devices by Steiner's definition as they utilize only physical components.
[page 106] As I said yesterday, we can be sure that no moral impulse intervenes in the mechanism of a machine. There is no direct connection between the moral world order and machines. Consequently, when the human organism is presented as a kind of machine, as happens more and more often in the modern scientific outlook, the same then applies to us, and moral impulses are only an illusion. At best, we can hope that some being, made known to us through revelation, will intervene in the moral world order, reward the good, and punish the evil people. But we cannot see a connection between moral impulses and physical processes inherent in the order of the world.
Anyone who ever had a dog knows that when one arrives home, the dog wags its tail joyfully. Just the sight of the energetically waving tail is enough to instill a feeling of joy in the master of the dog. What the dog sees through its head and smells through its nose flows in a wave to its extremity or tail and sets it into wagging. We learn what a dog is feeling by looking at its tail.
[page 107] When we now look at the overall organization of animals and see that the opposite pole to the head organism is the tail end, then in terms of the animals' physical, etheric, and astral organization, we can say that their astral mobility flows from the back to the front. The streams of their astral body are continuously flowing from the back to the front and meet the sensory impressions received through the sense organs in the head. Thus, the two streams merge. I can draw you a rough sketch(6) of this [See above blackboard drawing in Steiner's hand]; here the astral streams, flowing from the back to the front (red arrows), are met by the sensory impressions flowing from the head toward the tail end (yellow arrows). These two currents merge and work together throughout the animals' organism.
Steiner says if you want to know the attitude of the dog, you should not look so much at its face but at its tail. But human beings are not animals and our astral and etheric currents do not flow from our head to/from our tail bone. Instead we are erect beings so that our head is lifted out of the astral current which flows from back to front. (Page 109) This has a dramatic effect on our physiognomy or facial and bodily expressions.
[page 111] The shape of animal heads develops out of the rest of their organization. However, our head in a sense lifts itself with a certain amount of independence out of our organization. Now, the rest of our organization pushes its way into our head in our changing gestures and facial expressions. For example, if you are inwardly agitated because you are frightened, then what is in your metabolism and blood circulation is expressed through the forces of your organism in your changing expressions and the sudden paling of your face. Other emotions affect us similarly. In other words, what lives in the rest of our organism pours soul-spiritually, that is, astrally, into our head. What lives astrally in the rest of our organism becomes manifest in our complexion and, above all, in our changing expressions, in our physiognomy, in the physiognomy and mobility of our head.
Here is another diagram drawn by Steiner on a black piece of paper during this lecture. When he talks about "an ugly physiognomy" one can replace those words with the common phrase "a nasty look." We all know intuitively that a nasty look is a sign of an evil disposition or immoral intent in a person.
[page 113] I would like to explain this with a diagram (see drawing above). Here we have a human being; there is the astral body (red) that causes the facial expressions visible on the outside, and here is another part of that same astral body (yellow). In the astral body up here (see drawing, top part), our physiognomy is visible on the outside, but down here in the other part (see drawing, bottom part), we have a physiognomy manifesting entirely on the inside. The latter part of the astral body faces toward the inside. We are usually not aware of this, but it is nevertheless true. Children continuously turn this physiognomy of the lower part of the astral body toward their inside; by the time they become adults, the expressions or features become more or less permanently turned to the inside.
Now let me tell you what is behind all this. When we have an impulse to do what is rightly called a good or moral deed, our inner physiognomy is different from what it would be if we had an impulse to do something evil. We have, in a sense, an ugly physiognomy on the inside when we carry out a selfish deed. After all, all moral deeds are basically unselfish, and all immoral ones egotistic. However, in everyday life this moral difference is masked by the fact that people can be very immoral, that is, full of selfish motives, but still follow what they were taught since childhood, or in doing things because they are worried about what others will say.
Villains are generally portrayed as having nasty looks (an ugly physiognomy) in melodramas, but in real life — well, if only it were so simple to recognize villainous or immoral persons. They can have angelic looks or expressions on their faces which hide their inner nasty looks. But they cannot escape the stunting created by their villainy in their next life. To lead an immoral life is to lead a wasted life as far one's spiritual evolution is concerned.
[page 118] In other words, by being moral or immoral we actively work on the future of the earth. Immoral people present the forces surrounding the earth with what drizzles down onto the earth etherically and reunites with it, or what lives in the orbit around the earth. These surrounding forces are important for all earth activity because the physical of the earth develops eventually out of the etheric. On the other hand, moral people have taken into their head the forces that develop especially through moral impulses, and they therefore give to the cosmos what they have achieved on earth.
It should be clear why it is that if we use only our sensory apparatus as natural science does, we will not be able to discern how moral and immoral impulses work. Moral impulses flow into the cosmos and immoral impulses scatter themselves upon the Earth. (Page 119)
[page 119] Thus, even a moral philosopher with the inner force of Nietzsche is at loose ends with his moral principles; he can only solidify them in the way I described yesterday. However, that would still not be a true solidity. In spite of all his explanations in Beyond Good and Evil, he had to trace everything to the physical body. That is why he failed. Thus, to understand the effectiveness of the moral we have to go beyond the merely physical order of the world and enter the supersensible realm. We have to realize that while morality radiates into the physical in an abstract way, we can understand and assess its activity only in the realm of the supersensible.
Goethe was one scientist of the natural world who had concepts which were not dead abstract things, but were full of life. He could look at a plant and seeing it transforming from seed into its fruiting stage — he could see how its terminal leaves at some point morphed into flowers. But most scientists today like their concepts fixed, with sharp contours, and easily explained in a few words. While recognizing the value of Goethe's fluid concepts, Steiner acknowledges that our dead concepts have resulted in an awareness of freedom and an advanced technology.
[page 123, 124] Nevertheless, living in rigid concepts that ignore everything living has given us the opportunity to attain an inner awareness of freedom, as I have often explained.
Two developments have come about a result of our concepts having become dead: first the awareness of freedom, and second, the possibility to apply the rigid concepts, which have been developed out of what is dead and can be used only for what is dead, in our magnificent, triumphant technology, which is nothing more than the putting into practice of a rigid system of ideas.
Along with this technological progress, we have lost our ability to connect to the living spirit around us, up until now. Steiner says, "we must find this living element on our own" from now on. (Page 124) He describes how humans used to be before we lost this ability.
[page 124] In very ancient times, people saw life in every cloud formation, every flash of lightning, every roll of thunder, in every living plant, and so on. In a sense, they breathed in life and thus understood it, and without any effort they were in the midst of life. They only had to take in life from the outside. In contrast, in our evolutionary stage our concepts can grasp only what is dead, and the outer environment can no longer give us what is alive. Therefore, we must bring forth this living element out of the innermost core of our being.
During the early cultural epochs of ancient Persia and Egypt people knew that they had descended from a pre-earthly life and that they were like a vessel on Earth which was filled with the gifts of the gods. They felt like light-filled vessels. They considered themselves as the tenth hierarchy of the spiritual beings, the ones descended to Earth.
[page 125] The divine element then was manifold. To the ancient consciousness, the lowest gods in the divine hierarchy that extended all the way down to the earth were the human beings themselves.
By the time of the Greco-Roman cultural epoch, humans came to see themselves as representatives of the gods, not as vessels.
[page 127] This basic feeling is expressed in Greek art, where the gods are represented as idealized human begins in accordance with that fundamental feeling. In a sense, then, the ancient Greeks kept their relationship to the divine in the purity of their heart and feelings.
By the year 1413 A. D., people lost this view of themselves and what replaced it was a natural science view of humans as being formed from the lower animals. It was as though a Frankensteinian ethos had taken over humankind. Humans could be now built from parts of other humans as machines are, as Dr. Frankenstein built his monster. This ethos is yet with us in the twenty-first century and the new Dr. Frankensteins are using computers and software in their attempts to build replacements for human beings. The implications of such attempts are clear: the human is simply a machine which evolved out of simpler components and earlier forms of lower animal life. As such we are no longer part of the tenth hierarchy of spiritual beings — we have the feeling now that we can only look up and worship a God, but no longer have the essence of divine spirituality within us. This feeling of being separated from the divine accompanies our natural sciences.
[page 128] The natural sciences of modern times are based on this fundamental feeling, but we have not yet been able to understand how these sciences are related to ourselves. It is the task of anthroposophy to help us find once again this relationship to ourselves and to the divine.
In their artworks Greeks tried to represent God as a human being upon Earth and the God sent down a divine human shortly thereafter as if in response to the question posed by Greek art.
[page 129, 130] From human historical development we get the feeling that with their human representations of the gods the ancient Greeks were asking the cosmos whether God could become human. And the cosmos answered that God could become human by letting the Mystery of Golgotha take place.
The Mystery of Golgotha changed the way humans thought of the divine. The divine Father principle had never before been thought of in human form, and the appearance of Christ Jesus upon Earth changed all that.
[page 129] Christ, the Son of God, was conceived of as divine and human at the same time. Basically, what the ancient Greeks longed for or realized in their art was fulfilled for all of humanity in the Mystery of Golgotha in its entirety. We must . . . concentrate on the essentials, namely, the fact that a divine being has entered human beings here on earth.
Steiner exhorts us to "advance beyond dead and abstract concepts to a spirituality that will fill us with ideas." (Page 130) Nietzsche could not do this and remained with his cold ideas — perhaps if he had lived to absorb the ideas of Rudolf Steiner, he would have found some warming of his glacial ideas.
[page 131] Clairvoyance in true spirituality, however, can bring both soul warmth and soul light into intellectuality; as a result we can achieve the purity in our concepts I have described in The Philosophy of Freedom. This purity in our concepts makes us not into inwardly dried-up but rather inwardly enthusiastic human beings. We become able to feel the sun warmth of the cosmos through the cold regions of intellectualism as we leave behind the earthly warmth of the sensory world. We become able to receive the cosmic light through carrying our living soul impulses into the darkness that grows within us as we leave behind the shining earthly objects and enter the world of intellectual concepts — in other words, we become human beings who have overcome the earthly darkness.
Anthroposophy can be a jolt to some people who have bought into cold, dead, and abstract concepts, but they mostly avoid the jolts by discounting Steiner's spiritual science off-handedly or upon cursory inspection. (Page 134) Those who are willing and are seeking for spiritual knowledge will certainly find it in Steiner's works. He simply lays out the facts as he knows them by direct perception. He does not attack scientists who show disdain for the spiritual world, he only points out where their error lies and how each one of them might uncover their error and correct it. Invariably Steiner expresses admiration for scientists and engineers who have brought us what he calls "magnificent technology." He exhorts anthroposophists to avoid discussing anthroposophy with its opponents. These opponents do not wish to know the truth and explaining the truth to them will only make them more angry at those they hear expressing it. (Page 136)
[page 136, 137] Of course, this cannot stop us from standing up for the truth. But it can keep us from holding on to the naive belief that we will accomplish anything through discussions. The only thing that will help us make headway is positive work. We will make headway if we keep standing up for the truth as forcefully as we can, so that as many predestined souls as possible — there are many more in our time than one usually thinks — find their way to us and find there the spiritual nourishment they need if something constructive is to be done for the future evolution of humanity, if our future is to be an upward development rather than a regression.
Steiner has shared in these nine lectures ample "earthly knowledge" of how the human being works in body, soul, and spirit, and he has given us "heavenly wisdom" in his description of how the evolution of humanity progressed from ancient Persian times up to our modern age. In the eighty plus years since Steiner gave these lectures in 1924, our technology has progressed to the point where Artificial Intelligence claims to be able to duplicate human thinking. The 2001 movie A. I. gives us a cold, dark, but accurate look at the ultimate end to such materialistic thinking and concepts. But some help has come from an unlikely source: the world of physics. That world was once the bastion of materialistic thinking with its billiard balls of atoms bouncing off each other in the post-Newtonian centuries. What has changed is that the materialistic approach has completely failed to account for the realities of the quantum mechanical world we currently live in. What was once just a particle, the simple electron, is now considered to have an infinite extent in the universe and to be enfolded into an implicate reality with every other electron and particle in the universe. This nascent view of reality can restore the vision of the living world within which we humans are enfolded and bring life back into every cloud formation, every bolt of lightning, every clap of thunder, into every living plant, animal, and human being. The future is here now, and if physicists can see it, it will not be long before they are able to communicate the new spiritual realities which are just now beginning to appear in their equations and speculations.
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Footnote 1. Karma, in effect, says in the words of the song by ABBA, "Take a Chance on Me." But karma only sets the table of chance and it is up to us to act on the chances it provides us.Return to text directly before Footnote 1.
Footnote 2. Note that turba is the root of "disturb" and "turbulence".Return to text directly before Footnote 2.
Footnote 3. The "I-being" is variously translated a "Ego body", "I am", or "I" and refers to our spiritual self which has appeared in human beings only during the Earth phase of evolution.Return to text directly before Footnote 3.
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3.) ARJ2: The New Civilization, Ringing Cedars Series Book 8.1 by Vladimir MegréAfter encountering a lot of superfluous material in The Energy of Life, Book 7, as I explain in my review, I stopped reading the Ringing Cedars Series. Recently two Good Readers contacted me about the Series after reading my first seven reviews and wondered if I would ever get around to the two latest Books, 8.1 and 8.2. It was all the impetus I needed to pick up again where I left off with the adventures of Anastasia, the Russian girl, now woman, living in the taiga forests of Siberia, whose thoughts have inspired so many millions by the books written at her direction by Vladimir Megré, a Russian entrepreneur who had never written a book before. Here I am, back on the Ringing Cedars Roller Coaster with Anastasia's ideas for the evolving world bringing my heart up into my throat with each new dive into utterly novel concepts for life as a full human being. Grab a seat alongside me in the front car and hold on tight.
For folks who skip all the prefatory comments and leap right to the first page: there's a revealing comment which appears on the Main Title page's facing page, a revealing disclaimer. If you trust everything the federal bureaucracy does, you should probably not proceed in reading any of the Ringing Cedars books and stop reading this review.
[page ii] DISCLAIMER: The USA Food and Drug Administration has not evaluated any of the information and advice contained in this book. This book is for informational purposes only and is not provided or intended to diagnose, treat, prevent or cure any disease, nor does the Publisher make any claim as to the accuracy or appropriateness of any particular course of action described.What fun! If we read this book and our life improves by following some of Anastasia's advice, we can not thank the FDA for endorsing and approving the material. One cannot help but think of the hundreds of drugs which appear in Lawyer-sponsored TV ads only years after they have been FDA- approved, gone into general use, and have destroyed the health or lives of thousands of people, so much so that class-action lawsuits have been filed against the manufacturer of unsatisfactory drugs that had been approved, released for consumption, and promoted on TV only a few years earlier.
Shall we coast down to a spot in the text where non-FDA-endorsed advice is proffered to readers of this book?[page 66, 67] This method by which any Man can compile his own dietary regime or recipe for healthful nutrition seemed to me to be most original and logical. The body's needs - in term of quantity and variety of produce - will naturally differ from one individual to the next. Consequently, there cannot be a single recipe or dietary regime which is the same for all. But through the aid of the method proposed by Anastasia, every Man can make up his own individual regime which will be as accurate and useful as possible for him.
It appears as though man-made recipes and prescriptions are not always beneficial to one's health. Instead, they tend to be technology-based and more convenient for the manufacturers and organizers of our modern nutrition industry. Take McDonald's, for example - one of the most powerful and influential corporations, known around the globe - inculcating in the whole world a taste for uniform hamburgers and cheeseburgers along with packages of fried potatoes, roping in everybody under a single unitary norm. Such a system undoubtedly works very well to the manufacturer's advantage - uniform products, uniform equipment and preparation technology. How far removed such uniformity is from the natural method of nutrition, and how harmful!What is the method proposed by Anastasia? One can read the first seven books in the Ringing Cedars Series and decide for oneself, but, since I have done that, let me offer to you my condensation of her advice together with some scientific, Nobel-Prize-approved backup for its validity.
When you follow Anastasia's advice, you will begin selecting, sowing, weeding, and harvesting your own fruits and vegetables in a garden on your own soil, a garden where you and your own family are the cultivators and consumers of the produce. Yes, such advice would cause large agricultural firms and fast-food restaurants around the world to tremble in fear, but does this advice cause you to tremble in fear, dear Reader? If you agree that this is a healthy way to consume fruits and vegetables, read on.
Let's take a break to consider the life of Barbara McClintock(1). She toiled for thirty years studying color patterns in maize (corn). Then she wrote up her findings and she was ridiculed by her professional colleagues in the field of genetics. They laughed at what they called facetiously, "jumping genes", and the laughing turned to silence when she stepped on the stage to receive her Nobel Prize. What are genes and why should their jumping be important to me and you?
The exact type of proteins produced inside of a plant is controlled by genes in the DNA strand in a plant. These genes act as cookie cutters for shaping proteins. Genes which jump from one portion of the DNA of a given plant to another portion of the DNA of the same plant will invariably produce slightly different proteins. One cannot see the difference in the plant, but one may taste the difference for reasons I will explain below.
What causes genes to jump? Stimuli from the environment of the plant, such as the chemicals in the breath or sweat of the gardener tilling the soil, planting the seeds, pulling away weeds, harvesting the plants. (Any toxin exuded in perspiration provides a stimulus.) In every step of the plant's life, genes jump in response to these stimuli and modify the proteins they produce. What if the modified proteins are designed to overcome the lack identified by the plant in the stimuli it receives from the gardener? If this were so, we could say the following:These ordinary fruits and vegetables are diagnosing what is deficient in the body of the human planting them and these plants modify their own vegetable proteins in order to overcome the deficiency in human planter's body.This sentence states the leap of insight which led Anastasia to suggest that people create small gardens (in their domains) which they tend, and that they and their family living with them consume the plants which they harvest in the family domain's garden. Amazingly, the feasibility of her suggestions are backed up by the detailed scientific findings of the Nobelist Barbara McClintock.
To sum up what this all means, in a nutshell: Plants can heal human beings who grow them. Yes, wheat grown in a great mechanized farm in Kansas can provide nutrients to a dock worker in New Orleans, a thousand plus miles away, but only fruits and vegetables grown in Boudreaux's own backyard in the Ninth Ward of New Orleans will modify their genes to provide exactly the proteins Boudreaux's body is deficient in. Food grown a block away in a garden that Boudreux does not visit will not provide this custom-made genes for his body, but only for the people who tend that garden.Plants grown by one's own hand act as:What evidence can I cite that this way of growing and eating one's own plants is healthy? My father grew his own vegetables and he lived to 93. His older sister, whose husband grew vegetables for him and her, lived to 99.
1: Diagnosing Physician to pinpoint protein imbalances
2: Prescribing Physician to prescribe the offsetting proteins to bring the body into balance
3: Pharmacist to concoct the offsetting proteins, and
4: Dispensing Druggist to place the proteins into a good-tasting concoction to be consumed.
What about the good-tasting claim? Long before I ever heard of Anastasia or Barbara McClintock, I had observed how much better my father's produce tasted compared to the supermarket produce. And I wondered why. My wife and I helped him in his garden for many years and always brought home tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers, potatoes, eggplants, etc, for our own use. But it was watermelon that gave me the clue as to how our body makes food which contains substances our bodies need taste better.
A few years ago I was eating watermelon with our good friend Rosie, an octagenarian, and noticed that she was sprinkling salt on her slice of watermelon. I recalled that when I was growing up in the 1940s that we almost always sprinkled salt on our watermelon, on each slice, before we ate it. But I had not done that for many decades. Why? Yes, I would try a little salt just as a test every decade or so, and it did not make the watermelon taste better. It remained an unanswered question(2) which I had pondered until that day sitting there with Rosie. I tried sprinkling a little salt that day, and no change. I liked the watermelon better without the salt, in fact. What had changed between 1950 and 2010? And it came to me in a flash! Air-Conditioning appeared! In the 1940s and 1950s, our south Louisiana home was cooled by window fans. As a result in the summer-time we spent a lot of time outside, working and playing and sweating a lot. When you sweat, your body loses salt, does it not? When your body needs salt, anything you eat that adds a little salt to your body will taste better. Makes sense? When we came inside or sat outside on the porch to eat watermelon, if we sprinkled salt on each slice, that tiny amount of salt was important to our salt-depleted body and our body let us know that it was important by modifying the taste of the watermelon to make us enjoy eating it more when we added the salt!
Given, this is a trivial example, but it clearly demonstrates that our body lets us know when food that contains even the simplest nutrient of all, NaCl or salt, is needed by making it taste better. What about all the complex proteins whose chemical structure would take pages of chemical formulae to delineate, but which are vital to our health? Yes, our bodies would let us know if the plants we are eating have those healthy ingredients by making them taste better. After decades, that afternoon with Rosie, an answer to my 30-years-held unanswered question of why my dad's harvest tasted better than that of the supermarket had arrived. And that answer led me eventually to understand the Plant as Doctor thesis that I have expounded here.
Consider the power of this concept of Plant as Doctor(3). It means that no amount of money can allow you to acquire food which is custom-designed for your health. Only your own time spent in your own garden, tilling the soil, planting the seeds, weeding the growing plants, harvesting the plants, and eating them can provide such life-giving nourishment. Any other way of eating will provide you only with empty calories and less tasty food.
Anastasia offers a view of a life driven by money - how it usually drives one into an all- encompassing striving that ends up with one feeling only emptiness.[page 77] Judge for yourself, Vladimir: people who control the world today through money believe that only power and money can bring happiness to Man. And all the people out there striving to earn a few coins have convinced them that they are right. But often - very often, in fact - the winners in this senseless rat- race are the ones who suffer the most. They reach illusory heights and feel, more acutely than others, the whole senselessness of their life.
There is a different option available to people, Anastasia tells us, striving after wealth is just one kind of image. She tells us a fairy tale of the future in a long story called "The Billionaire" which follows and fills Chapter 7. The key is the positive energy that the image, the goal which absorbs a person's life. Think of what goal consumes a person's life when you meet someone whose life is filled with negative thoughts and destructive actions.[page 86] What's important are the true attitudes, the true feelings one person harbors towards another. The more positive emotions people express towards a particular individual, the more positive energy is concentrated in him. On the other hand, if negative emotions predominate in the atmosphere surrounding a person, he will experience an accumulation of negative and destructive energy.Such a concentration of negative energy on someone is what Anastasia calls a spell. For myself, a spell is clearly a case of post-hypnotic suggestions made by ordinary people who have not studied official hypnosis, but are master hypnotists and not aware of their powers and prowess. I came to this understanding of hypnosis after an intensive week-long workshop with Richard Bandler, a founder of Neurolinguistic Programmingtm(4). We were studying to become hypnotists and he led us to discover that the real hypnotists are the people on the street we have to deal with every day who are unaware of their masterful hypnosis techniques.[page 86] Among the common folk this is called a spell, and folk-healers base their actions on this phenomenon. By no means all folk-healers are charlatans. The whole point is that a person who has been the target of too much negative energy from those around him is himself capable of neutralizing it or, in other words, compensating for it. By telling the patient that he has removed the spell by certain types of actions, the healer helps him believe that he is cleansed. If the patient believes the healer, he is really evening out the balance within himself between the positive and the negative. If he doesn't believe, it won't happen. You don't believe in folk-healers and consequently, they won't be of any help to you.What's a person to do who doesn't believe in folk-healers? There are psychotherapists who can overcome the various spells a person is under. There are psychiatrists who will prescribe drugs for similar conditions. But the best way and the cheapest way does not require help from the outside. Can you imagine what that might be?[page 87] Now an individual human being is capable of producing positive energy — and in sufficient quantity — within himself, all on his own. But for this he needs to set his heart on some kind of dream or goal, and the step-by-step realization of this goal will bring about positive emotions.In the mid-1960s, I lived through Hurricane Camille near Lake Pontchartrain in a subdivision with homes under construction. Those homes that were framed and roofed, but had no siding on the walls, collapsed in the high winds and one of these was across the street from us. From the debris as it was being hauled away I was able to salvage a window and a couple of door frames, and got the idea of building myself a small house to use as a garden shed in back of our property.I laid out the foundation including a strip of concrete sidewalk to the main house. I ordered a concrete truck and poured the slab (with embedded bolts for anchoring) and the sidewalk following the process I had seen my dad do when I was a small boy.. Then I bought roofing materials, 2X4 framing lumber, and framed up the building using my own design. My son was about two at the time, but I imagine he was watching me as I built the little house completely on my own, because he later built a large home on his property in Bloomington. My dad built two complete houses by himself, one in 1940, my childhood home, and the second in 1955, my teenage home. I mention this because I experienced exactly the kind of satisfaction that Anastasia talks about in her future fairy tale, and I have no doubt my father and son experienced it as well.[page 91] For some quite inexplicable reason all children yearn to create their own little house, their own space. That yearning is there, no matter whether the child has his own room in his parents' house or lives in the same room with his parents. With almost all children there comes a time when they start building their own little cubby-hole. In every Man, apparently, there is a gene that preserves some kind of ancient memory, telling him he ought to set up his own space. Whereupon any adult or child heeding this call, which arises from the depths of eternity, goes about setting it up at once. Never mind how amateurish it turns out by comparison with modern apartments, a Man who has built this for himself derives much more satisfaction from it than he would from the most chic and stylish apartment.The middle portion of this book is devoted to a letter Megré wrote to the Russian President, the same one who is marshaling troops on the Ukraine borders after taking over Crimea illegally. I doubt much will come of that letter and Megré's loyalty to his namesake President. But much will come of Anastasia's work for the people of Russia which has inspired so many people all over the world to build their own domains and grow nourishing fruit and vegetables, with designer genes to keep themselves and their families living long, healthy lives. Megré sums up:[page 197] It is hard to tell who has performed the most significant service - Anastasia, with her impassioned sayings, the book: themselves, or all those who have seized upon the idea and carried the torch forward?Anastasia speaks about eternity, about the need for people to be aware of eternity in a new way, one which coincides with my recent views on eternity. If one is alive today, one is living in the middle of eternity. Eternity is not something out there that we get to experience after we die, perhaps, but rather it is what we experience right now! To me as I type these words, to you as you read them. Stop for a few seconds and experience what eternity feels like. . . . It will always feel this way. You will live in this physical body until you have no further need for it, then you will live in the spirit world until you feel a need for another physical body, and you will continue this cycle until the Earth itself dissolves and you will no longer have a need for any physical body. This will continue in a series of moments exactly as you experience this now moment, on and on without end. At each now moment you will be experiencing eternity. Experience each now moment given to you to the fullest and you can help bring the new civilization of Anastasia's image into reality.
Anastasia has said:
"I give the whole of my soul to people. In people I shall prevail through my soul. Prepare yourself, all wickedness and evil-mindedness, to leave the Earth...." I thought these were just simple words. However, life has shown me that they are not simple at all.
Anastasia's dream has been lit with tiny sparks in the hearts of millions of people scattered across the globe - people of many different nationalities and faiths. This dream is no longer just her dream. It belongs to many people and will not fade. It is now the dream of the ages and of eternity!
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4.) ARJ2: The Dead Are With Us, GA#182 by Rudolf Steiner
In this one lecture, Rudolf Steiner tells us that the spiritual world is closer than most people realize. What things might that be which are closer to us than we think? Our dearly departed who disappeared from our view, for example: they seem to us impossible to reach. We cannot talk to them, see them, and we often mourn in our hopelessness for them. In our misery, we are like the Sufi trickster Nasruddin who was searching out under the street light for his keys and a friend joined him. After an hour, his friend said, "Nasruddin, where were you when you dropped your keys?" "In the house." "In the house? Then why are you looking for them out here?" "Because there is more light here than inside." We are looking outside for something which exists inside of us but, unaware of that reality, we search where there is more light to our way of thinking, up until now.[page 1] In our study of spiritual science there is a great deal that we cannot, perhaps, directly apply in everyday life, and we may at times feel that it is all rather remote. But the remoteness is only apparent. The knowledge we gain about the secrets of the spiritual world is at every hour, at every moment, of vital and profound significance for our souls; what seems to be remote from us personally is often what the soul inwardly needs. In order to know the physical world we must make ourselves acquainted with it. But to know the spiritual world it is essential that we ourselves shall think through and master the thoughts and conceptions imparted by that world. These thoughts then often work quite unconsciously within the soul. Many things may seem to be remote, whereas in reality they are very near to the higher realms of the soul's life.
The concept of eternity presents us with something which seems so remote, an existence spreading endlessly into the future. Who can comprehend such a concept? Change your way of thinking and eternity becomes simple to grasp and understand: "We are each living in the middle of eternity at this very moment." Our soul inwardly needs to feel the reality of eternity, but our dead abstract concepts of eternity lead us astray, and we wander outside under the streetlight of science, rather than inside our soul where the key can be found. Similarly our concepts of where souls go in their time between death and a new birth needs updating to spiritual science realities which reveal that the souls of our loved ones are within us at the very moment we think of them. The deepest truths are often the simplest truths, but they take a spiritual joker like Nasruddin or a spiritual scientist like Steiner to reveal them to us.
"If they are within us, how can we communicate with them?" — that would be logical question to ask and Steiner answers the question in the course of this lecture. Here is a hint to the answer he provides. Have you ever held the unanswered question, "Why is it so helpful to sleep on an important decision?" So many people do this; they respond to an important question with, "I'd like to sleep on it." What happens during sleep that makes this such a good thing to do that almost everyone does it?[page 4] We must assimilate the thought that life between death and a new birth is so constituted that everything [souls] do awakens an echo in the environment.
In the material world we stand upon the soil of physical matter, but souls in the spiritual soil are two levels higher and neither matter nor plants have any reality to them; their soil begins with animal nature and upon it they find "solid ground". The animal world we know from the outside now, we then know intimately from the inside.[page 5] The most external activity of the life between death and a new birth consists in acquiring a more and more intimate and exact knowledge of the animal world. For in this life between death and a new birth we must prepare all those forces which, working in from the cosmos, organize our own body.
We organize our body using the forces of the cosmos and plan our own birth in detail as to our choice of parents and the time and place of our birth. By harmonizing the arrangement of the cosmos with our plan for our new life on Earth, we have provided ourselves a guidebook to our life mapped out in the heavens. This is the spiritual reality of astrology, rightly understood.
Scientists, who understand that a compass needle points to north because of the cosmic influence of the Earth upon the needle, laugh at the idea that a human egg or a chicken egg experiences a cosmic influence, an influence which can be deciphered in the arrangement of stars and planets at the moment of its birth. A human soul chooses to descend into a physical body at a time when the positions of stars and planets in the cosmos correspond to its plan for its new life on Earth. Similarly to the way a compass needle corresponds with the position of the Earth's magnetic poles, a human life works itself out according to the plan laid down by the soul before birth, plan which is necessarily written in the heavens at the moment of birth. This is the spiritual reality behind astrology, a science which is scoffed at today because so few understand its spiritual underpinnings.
In the time between death and a new birth, a human soul can make contact with all of animal nature, but it is restricted in its connection with other human souls. To make contact, it must have already established some contact with those souls in a previous incarnation. Since a soul lives through a succession of incarnations, the number of contacts can be quite large, even for someone who was a solitary hermit in an immediately previous incarnation.[page 8, 9] Other souls pass him by; they do not come within his ken. He becomes aware of the animal realm as a totality; only those human souls come within his ken with whom he has had some karmic connection here on earth, and with these he becomes more and more closely acquainted.
When we say we have rapport with someone, we mean that we feel as though we are inside of them, feeling what they are feeling. In the time between death and a new birth, the process of rapport becomes literally true.[page 10] When the deceased becomes acquainted with a soul, he gets to know this soul as if he himself were within it. After death, knowledge of another soul is as intimate as knowledge here on earth of our own finger, head or ear — we feel ourselves within the other soul. The connection is much more intimate than it can ever be on earth.
We also maintain a relationship with other hierarchies, especially the angelic ones.[page 11] The higher the kingdoms, the more intensely does the human being feel bound to them after death; he feels as though they were bearing him, sustaining him, with great power. The Archangeloi are a mightier support than the Angeloi, the Archai again mightier than the Archangeloi, and so on.
Is communication with the souls of those who are in their time between death and a new birth possible? Isn't communication with the dead forbidden?
The answer is yes to both questions. In Moses I. Ch 18 and in Samuel I. Ch 28 we are warned against such communication. Steiner explains that this prohibition was necessary because such communication is via the blood and nervous system and will arouse lower passions.[page 14] Naturally, there is only danger for those who have not purified their natures through discipline and control. . . . It is not the dead who arouse these passions but the element in which the dead live. For consider this: what we feel here as 'animal' in quality and nature is the basic element in which the dead live. The kingdom in which the dead live can easily be changed when it enters into us; what is higher life in yonder world can become lower impulses when it is within us on earth.
When communicating with a living person, we know when we are asking a question and know when they are replying to our question. When communicating with the dead, the question we think we are asking is in fact provided by a dead soul, and then the answer seems to come out of our own soul. This curious reverse way of communicating is why we do perceive the dead around us. The dead are with us, as the title of this book proclaims, but we are clueless as to their presence, up until now.[page 19] The phenomena I have described to you are going on all the time. All of you sitting here now are in constant communication with the dead, only ordinary consciousness knows nothing of it because it lies in the subconscious. Clairvoyant consciousness does not initiate anything new but merely brings to consciousness what is present all the time in the spiritual world. All of you are in constant communication with the dead.
In all the places we have lived during this lifetime, we have interacted with people, and many of those people are now dead. When we return to such a place, we are reminded of those people we interacted with there, our grandparents, uncles and aunts, schoolmates, teachers, employers, etc, and by that reminding we call those souls into us. We feel the way we felt back then with them, in other words, we recover a part of ourselves.
In a wonderful movie, "Night Train to Lisbon" (2013) there is a marvelous quote which expresses this process, "We leave something of ourselves behind when we leave a place. We stay there even though we go away. And there are things in us that we can find again only by going back there. We travel to ourselves when we go to a place where we have covered a stretch of our life, no matter how brief it may have been." If we allow ourselves to feel when we return to a place, this will happen. If instead, we focus on what has changed in the place and have judgmental reactions to the changes, we will not feel good, we will not "recover a part of ourselves" there; we will only feel bad about the changes to the place. Things change, but if you focus only on the changes, you will not feel the parts of your experience in a place which remain the same.
If you wish to communicate with the spiritual world, there are two times each day when this is best done, during the morning when awakening, and at night before going to sleep. If you have noticed how restful it is to wake up in the country where there is no city noise, no sirens, no clanging trolleys, no horns blowing, etc? In those rural settings, the people there had a custom of remaining in bed for awhile in the dark after awakening; they would never rush to open the curtains to let the bright light of day in. They knew that this was a time to maintain contact with the spiritual world which "sweeps with such power through the human soul at the moment of waking." (Page 22)
When we say "Let me sleep on this" we are in effect putting the question to spiritual world while we are asleep, and the next morning an answer will arrive to us if we slowly awaken in a receptive mood.[page 25, 26] The moment of going to sleep is especially favorable for us to turn to the dead. Suppose we want to ask the dead something. We can carry it in our soul, holding it until the moment of going to sleep, for that is the time to bring our questions to the dead. . . . On the other hand, the moment of waking is the most favorable for what the dead have to communicate to us. And again there is no one — did people but know it — who at the moment of waking does not bring with him countless tidings from the dead. . . . At the moment of waking the dead speak with us, give us the answers.
It is important that the question we pose be in the form of feeling and not posed as some abstract logical problem.[page 27] You must remind yourself of your love for the person when he was alive and address yourself to him with real warmth of heart, not abstractly. This feeling can take such firm root in the soul that in the evening, at the moment of going to sleep, it becomes a question to the dead without your knowing it.
Steiner wants us to eschew any thoughts of our dead as being far away, to avoid thinking that when a person "has passed through the gate of death, his activity ceases as far as the physical world is concerned. But indeed it is not so!" (Page 38) That communication between us and the dead goes on endlessly, and it is important for us to realize it.[page 38] There is nothing more important for life, even for material life, than the strong realization of communication with the spiritual world.
If we understand Steiner rightly, we should always say of the dead whom we have loved, "They are with us, they are in our midst." (Page 39) They are alive and can understand our innermost feelings. They can accept our feeling-based questions when we drop off to sleep and provide answers to us when we awaken, if we but remain receptive as we slowly awaken.
Read/Print the Review at:
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I hear often from my Good Readers that they have bought books after reading my book reviews. Keep reading, folks! As I like to remind you, to obtain more information on what's in these books, buy and read the books — for less information, read the reviews.
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= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =In this section I like to comment on events in the world, in my life, and in my readings which have come up during the month. These are things I might have shared with you in person, if we had had the opportunity to coverse during the month. If we did, then you may recognize my words. If I say some things here which upset you, rest assured that you may skip over these for the very reason that I would likely have not brought up the subject to spoil our time together in person.1. The good Padre gets his Haircut for Easter Sunday Mass this Month:
Padre Filius, the cartoon character created by your intrepid editor and would-be cartoonist, will appear from time to time in this Section of the Digest to share with us some amusing or enlightening aspect of the world he observes during his peregrinations.
This month Padre Filius Goes to his Favorite Barber on North Broad Street in New Orleans, knowing that he's in Good Hands with the God Barber:
2. Comments from Readers:
NOTE: I love hearing from all my Good Readers and including your missives here (slightly edited).
If you prefer any comments or photos you send to be private, simply say so and they will not be published.
- EMAIL from our son Robie in San Anselmo, California:
Great article on Walden's mtn bike team in this Sports Illustrated Article.It was written by the dude who lives next door... gives you an idea of why we like it here :)
- EMAIL from Carolina Aiex:
Replying to my email in which I wrote: "About Building Great Sentences, it's an amazing book on writing, showing me how to build compound sentences, ones which just run on and on, carrying the reader to increased comprehension and fun at the same time, coasting finally to a breathless roller-coaster stop. I decided that life is too short to write dull sentences."
I was searching for a photo of Robert Sapolsky but I ended up clicking on a photo of a little child, who happened to be a member of your family, that illustrated an article (Here in DW#079) about your thoughts on one of Prof. Sapolsky's courses. In fact, I started watching that course on YouTube but eventually dropped it. Your article was very enlightening and made me learn new information about a subject that I had never come in contact with before while studying the natural sciences.
Thank you for mentioning that book! I am very fond of the human sciences and am in fact studying Literature and Linguistics in college. I am certain that book will be very useful throughout my course.
I hadn't understood how your website worked, I thought the articles were put there without having been properly organized so that their access could be made easier. I finally realized it is set as a sort of magazine, with issues that are built in a way which makes the reader enjoy it continuously! I used to have a website in which I reviewed some artworks that functioned sort of like that.
I would appreciate it if you put my name on on your DIGESTWORLD Reminder list!
- EMAIL from Marion Giardino re: Dixie Swim Club event:
Hi Bobby and Del!
Great stories and pictures in the Digest this month!!!! Lloyd and I enjoyed the evening with you and Del.
Marion & LloydI am looking to connect with Bobby Matherne, the author of the Reader's Journal of the book series. I read all the books awhile back and was recently trying to revisit some of the primary themes from the books. I found this website and was delighted by the concise but poignant reviews of the first 7 books. THANK YOU! My question is. did Bobby read the last two books? Was there a journal review done on these two, or will there be one?EMAIL from Cubs the Poet:
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Thanks to your impetus, I have bought both books. Just finished 8.1. Look for reviews in future DIGESTWORLD Issues.
EMAIL from Tess re Ringing Cedars Series:
Thanks for this news! I was thinking of you and also this series just yesterday. I look forward to reading your review of Books 8.1. Also, just to let you know.much of my life is reorienting to reflect my new awareness of freedom. I so appreciate your impact on my daily life, Bobby.
Tess[NOTE: Met Cubs during French Quarter Fest. He was in the middle of Royal Street sitting in front of a Royal Typewriter much like my first typewriter when I started college. He types out poems on demand for his readers. At right is an image of the one he gave me. I later emailed him the last three stanzas of Wildflower No. 3 above, about what a poet does. Here's his reply.]Hello, finally back to the regular flow of things down here in New Orleans, rain!
Thank you for the poem! It was fantastic! In addition to the pictures, I would love to read issues of your DIGESTWORLD,
and I hope we can keep in touch, also I will like to share with you my latest piece of work, check it out on this website,
EMAIL from New Grandma in Charlotte, N.C., Karen Richards:
Here's photo of Annabelle. During her visit to doctor, she weighed 7lb. 8oz and was 20 inches.
She shares her Greataunt Del's birthday so we hope she will be as beautiful!
3. Poem from Freedom on the Half Shell:"Oyster" by Samuel Hoffenstein, 1933
Give me your poor, huddled masses yearning to breathe free and I will give them taxes, regulations, restrictions, and every manner of unfairness ever created by persons saddled with the illusion that they can decide what is best for someone else's welfare. The individual, like the business professional, knows what's best in a given situation and, given the freedom, will take that action. Oysters are alive until the Shucker pries open the oyster's shell, thereby severing the muscle of the oyster and killing it. The forces of coercion are prying open the shell that contains the living muscle and spirit of the American people like the Shucker does to the oyster. Will we resist those forces and keep our muscles and spirit alive, free to open at will, or will we give up like the oyster and settle for "freedom on the half shell?" This is why I wrote a series of poems titled Freedom on the Half Halfshell. But my favorite poet got there before me:
The oyster never leaves his shell,
And does, therein, exceeding well;
He does not have to sweat and brood
To know the joys of oysterhood;
He deems the treasured pearl a fault,
And takes his world with ample salt.
Samuel Hoffenstein from
The Complete Poetry of Samuel Hoffenstein
Samuel Hoffenstein said it for me in his poem written in 1933. As you enter this book of poems before you, keep your salt shaker handy. "Taking something with a grain of salt" is an old fashioned idiom for "not believing everything you hear." In the realm of freedom with its polar opposite of coercion, one should take things with "ample salt" as Sam suggests in his poem.
In the D. C. Mole Station (the Plantation Master's home on the hill, as I call Washington, D. C. in some of the poems to follow in succeeding months) one hears a lot about freedom and hardly anything about coercion. Remove the "salt" and you find in reality the exact opposite in practice: a lot of coercion made into law and the last bastion of freedom, the Bill of Rights, being undermined, saboteged, and extirpated, clause by clause, by each new law passed by the Supreme Court in its finite wisdom. (Doesn't the Constitution charge them with interpreting the Constitution, not modifying it for the sake of some fashionable cause? Doesn't anybody keep track of these things?)
How can freedom ever prove itself when it is treated as a fault, an irritant, and is systematically removed by the Plantation Master before it can improve itself by fashioning a pearl?
Please pass the salt and let's open a few oysters, whatdya say?
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9. CLOSING NOTES:
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