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~~~~~~~~ In Memoriam: ~~~~~~~~
< — Andrew Kleamanakis (1930-2018) <—
—> Lydia LeBlanc (1926 - 2018) — >
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WELCOME TO DIGESTWORLD ISSUE#18c December, 2018== == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == ==Quote for the Christmas Season Month of December:
The obvious is that which is never seen until someone expresses it simply.
— Christian Morgenstern (1871-1914), German Poet
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GOOD MOUNTAIN PRESS Presents
ISSUE#18c for December, 2018
Archived DIGESTWORLD Issues
Table of Contents
1. December's Violet-n-Joey Cartoon
2. Honored Readers for December
3. On a Personal Note
4. Cajun Story
5. Recipe or Household Hint for December, 2018 from Bobby Jeaux: Sleep Aid
6. Poem from An American Childhood: "Swept Away"
7. Reviews and Articles featured for December:
8. Commentary on the World
- ARJ2: A Way of Self-Knowlege, GA#17 by Rudolf Steiner
- ARJ2: My Well Balanced Life on a Wooden Leg by Al Capp
- ARJ2: A Course in Miracles, Workbook by Schucman, Helen, [Scribed by]
1. Padre Filius Cartoon
2. Comments from Readers
3. Freedom on the Half Shell Poem
4. Forty Years Later
9. Closing Notes — our mailing list, locating books, subscribing/unsubscribing to DIGESTWORLD
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1. December Violet-n-Joey CARTOON:
== == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == ==This month Violet and Joey learn about Surgery.
For newcomers to DIGESTWORLD, we have created a webpage of early Violet-n-Joey cartoons!
"Surgery" at http://www.doyletics.com/images/181106vj.jpg
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2. HONORED READERS FOR December:
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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 December, 2018:
Stuart-Sinclair Weeks in Concord, MA
Eliah in Cyberspace
Congratulations, Stuart and Eliah!
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3. ON A PERSONAL NOTE:
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Out Our Way:
FROM SUMMER TO WINTER IN ONE DAY
We waited long enough for Fall, but Summer hung around until one night the temperature dropped into the 40s and we woke up freezing. Maybe next year we'll get a Fall to lessen the shock from Summer turning into Winter so fast. Football fans switched to long sleeves and donned winter jackets overnight!
In one week Del and I went to three funerals together. The first funeral was of Andy Kleamenakis who worked for Del at two companies in the 1990s and with whom I went fishing on several occasions. Plus Del and I had the pleasure of spending Greek Easter Sundays with him and his Big Greek family at his home on the western shore of Lake Pontchartrain in Slidell, a two-story home literally which blew away during Hurricane Katrina. I remember enjoying the swing, looking out on the lake's edge only 75 feet away while his brother roasted a whole goat over flames a few feet away. Upstairs the feast was a gorgeous array of Greek food, meats, veggies, and desserts. We missed one Sunday when the Greek Orthodox and Catholic Easter Sundays coincided, but the rest of the time, we celebrated Easter Sunday twice, a week apart. Plus I went to Germany with Andy and his betrothed Tussy for their engagement in the Rhine River region. There I got to meet his children, Maria and Kelley and their children. David Lock, Maria's husband, was there, the guy who begged me to sing the song he couldn't sing as part of a Knight's Quest during the Engagement Party in the thousand-year-old castle, Burg Rheinstein. I sang "Die Lorelei" in German, and it was a big hit. David retired in 2014 and now he and Maria have a place in Michigan and Florida. When I spoke to Kelley, she said she remembered the engagement party in Burg Rheinstein. Maria's daughter Jessica rode the cable car with me down the mountainside from the Germania Statue, gliding over the Johannisberger Riesling vineyards. Jessica said she did not remember doing so, understandable because she was only twelve at the time.
While we were at Andy's funeral we got word that a friend had died in Alexandria, Louisiana, and two days later we were at another funeral, this time 5 hours away. While at that funeral, we heard that our dad's younger sister, Lydia, had passed away.
After the funeral, it was too late to drive all the way home, so we spent the night with my brother Paul and his wife Joyce. We spent a couple of hours talking together in their living room. It was rare to have just the four of us together, without grandkids around. We enjoyed it, this submersion in all things Matherne going on in our worlds. Paul and Joyce will do their best to make the funeral of our Aunt Lydia on Saturday.
Aunt Lydia lived on Avenue E during the fifteen years when I was growing up on Avenue F in Westwego. Both our homes were in the middle of the block, and a short walk through an empty lot was all it took. Aunt Lydia lived next to her sister Aunt Hilda, my dad's sisters. Such a short distance away, but I can't remember ever seeing Aunt Lydia at our home. Well, when I realized that she had eight kids during those fifteen years, no wonder I only saw her briefly at her house — she was too busy having babies and raising small children to go visiting even a half-block away!
I became friends with her as an adult when Del and I moved to Gretna, a short 10 minutes drive away. Lydia loved to work crosswords and when I found we had this in common, I would occasionally call her and ask for help with a tough clue. Or I would drop in for a visit with her for a few minutes. There was always one of her kids dropping by, always seemed to be a different one, but I only knew personally Sandra and Kenny, the two oldest ones, as the rest were in diapers or toddlers before we moved out of Westwego. So it took until reading Lydia's obituary to count her eight kids and learn their names.
I said 3 Funerals, but there was also a Wedding involved. I remember back in 1948 when Lydia and Richard moved their wedding up several months because her mother, my Grandma Nora, was dying of cancer. Lydia wanted her mother to be present for her wedding. All my memories of Nora was of a large woman, but a few years ago I received a photo of Lydia's wedding, and curiously Nora was thin. I asked around and found out about the rushed-up wedding. In the wedding photo, Aunt Lydia is a vision of loveliness in her white wedding dress with a large train, and Richard a dapper bridegroom in his black tuxedo. See photo here. On the left side of the photo are Richard, his mom, and his brother. On the right side are Lydia, her mom Nora, and her dad Clairville, my grandparents. The wedding photo appears to be taken in the backyard of her parents home, and I note a big smile on Grandma Nora's face.
Just a few things needed tending this month. A broken sensor on an upstairs window needed to be replaced and two technicians arrived and took care of the problem quickly.
Our new master bath faucets were squeaking a bit when turned them on or off. I quickly removed the squeak from the faucets, by taking the faucet handles off with an Allen wrench, spraying a bit of WD-40 on them, and replacing them. I marked the smallest Allen wrench (white handle) as the one to use for those faucets in the future. The WD-40 prevented the squeak from coming back. Nine years ago, when we moved in, the doors were squeaking when opened or closed. So I gave each hinge, a spray and that has kept all of our squeaky doors from squeaking again.An unfortunate side-effect was that the doors no longer stayed in place when left open, and I needed to get a door stop to hold the dressing room door open.
On Thanksgiving I noticed when we used the lower oven that its bulb was burnt out. I thought I might have unscrewed the bulb since we rarely used the lower oven, but when I reached in to screw it back in I found a glass covering protecting the bulb. Three screws needed to be undone to remove the cover, but it was hard to see the screws and my left hand could not reach in. Had to remove both oven trays, get a flashlight, and my electric screwdriver. Del had to hold the light for me. I needed a pillow for my knees. When I removed the cover the gasket fell apart. Putting cover back in was a challenge. I finally got one screw holding the metal bracket and the glass cover, rotated it into place to add the other two screws, only to find out the metal bracket was in backwards (it seemed the right way to me) so it wouldn't hold the cover. I took it off and did it all over again, and once more I put it on backwards! Sure looked the right way, again! Third time I got it in and tightened the three screws and the light is now working. Simple bulb replacement, it ain't!
Del and I roasted a 10-lb turkey for Thanksgiving Day, baked Opelousas's Evangeline Sweet Potatoes, Papa Frank's cornbread, and Del's famous green bean casserole to fill out our meal.
I remember buying the turkey at Rouse's Supermarket for 49 cents a pound, then after checking out, looking over the receipt for the groceries and not being able to find the turkey listed because it was under five dollars! Later that day I caught a 1948 radio show of Our Miss Brooks on XM's Classic Radio channel and Miss Brooks' neighbor lady had refused to pay $8 for a 10-lb turkey. Hmmm, I paid the 1948 equivalent of 50 cents for our turkey today. So, if you want an example of how things are cheaper today, turkeys certainly are. Back then, local butchers bought live turkeys and had to clean and prepare them before selling them. $8 dollars was ten percent of the average weekly wage back then. $5 is about half a percent of today's average wage. We have a lot to be thankful for.
November was a great month for both the Saints and LSU. The Saints are 10-1, ten wins and one loss so far. Hope to continue the streak on the Thursday night game. Drew Brees is top candidate for Most Valuable Player in the NFL. Sean Payton has finally got his Super Bowl Express rolling along with the Saints having the edge on Home Field Advantage for all the playoff games. WIN ON WHO DAT NATION!
For example: The Saints came on against the Cincinnati Bengals like gangbusters! Scored five consecutive TDs and led the Bengals at half time 35-7. Final score was 51-14 on a fluke long pass by their backup QB for a meaningless last gasp TD. Terry Bridgewater came in to replace Drew Brees for most of the fourth quarter. Everyone on the Saints bench, sidelines, stands, and home on TV had a great time today. 8-1 and stilling humming. Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara are like Thunder and Lightning, as Tennessee Ernie Ford sang in his popular song "16 Tons": "One fist of iron, the other of steel, if the left one won't get you, then the right one will."
Our LSU Tigers were headed for 10 wins in regular season. Then came the last game against A&M and at the end of the game in regulation, Del and I jumped and cheered in jubilation as they poured Gatorade over Coach Orgeron and the game was over! ! ! Hooray!
Only it wasn't. Some official in Birmingham, 300 miles away from the game, decided on sketchy evidence to over-rule the on-field call and claim that the A&M Quarterbacks knee touched the ground, which made the pass intercepted by the Tigers incomplete and put a second back on the clock! The game went into Over Time. A second time Del and I jumped in jubilation as the Tigers won the game, only to have a referee over turn the win with another egregiously bad call. 18ccolbobA third time, we exultantly celebrated a win only to have another officiall make a bad call overturn the win. And a fourth time, a blocked pass by Greedy Williams ended the game and we celebrated! Only to have a very dubious interference call on Williams who objected and another penalty called on his objection. Here's the bottom line: Del and I got to celebrate an LSU win FOUR TIMES, and A&M only got to celebrate one time.
EVERY SINGLE BAD CALL went against LSU, and not a single BAD CALL went against A&M. We know A&M paid $75 million for their new coach, but one wonders how much the referees got paid for that game.
TWO GRANDKIDS VISIT, MOLLY AND COLLIN
On Friday, November 2, our grand-daughter Molly, a student of Marine Biology at Pomona College, California met me and Del in the French Quarter about 10 AM. Café du Monde was a place I'd taken Molly once or twice and would be easy to find us there in the open seating. Well, usually that would be the case. This particular morning was cool with a misty drizzle filling the air. The place should have been empty, I thought as we drove closer. Parked on the river side of the concrete flood barrier and as we walked toward Café du Monde, a two block long line of people were waiting to get café au lait and beignets (bann-yeahs).Oops, how will Molly ever find us? So I walked past the line, went into the first opening past where the line terminated and found a table for four and waited for Molly to arrive. I spotted her as she crossed Decatur Street and she joined us. Got to meet a bunch of her classmates who found seats elsewhere. We were actually seated at the beginning of the roof covering the sidewalk which was where the loud three-piece band was wailing out some New Orleans jazz. (Usually they'd be in the open area, but with the rain, they needed cover for their instruments.) The noise was too loud, so we finished off the beignets and walked down to Stella's restaurant a block away and ordered some food and visited in quiet until Molly had to leave.It was a great visit. Marked a passage: our second set of grandkids are able to meet us in New Orleans without parental supervision! (First set was Maureen's four who are now in their thirties and upper twenties.) As Del and I walked back to our car the rain came down a little heavier and we had to open our Underbrellas, a name I coined as I opened and got under my Umbrella.
The next week, Collin drove himself to Timberlane, a first time for him in his own car. Del and I took our grandson to our favorite restaurant, Houston's on St. Charles Avenue. Then I drove them to get their Visa photos taken at FedEx for Collin's graduation trip with Del to China. They will be on Viking, a combination of flying, riverboats, and other transportation as they hit all the major sightseeing places, Great Wall, Terra Cotta soldiers, etc. The next day we took Collin to my local eating spot, DiMartino's Deli, a few blocks from Timberlane. We had the veal parmesan and he had the eggplant parmesan. After our meal Collin drove back home to Baton Rouge.
TIMBERLANE WINE DING
The Wined Ding also means a Winding through Timberlane Estates on the Golf Path from one home to another to feted with wines and culinary delights. The winning house this year was the Mouton's at which Del helped decorate and serve the wine and food.
GRETNA GREEN TOURNAMENT & 70's GALAIMPORTANT MESSAGE:
The annual golf tournament celebrating the history of Gretna was postponed till the last day of November due to pouring rain. I plan to have a few photos of the event to add to this Issue before we go to press on December 1.
LAST MINUTE EVENTSMy good friends Burke Fountain from Boston and Candice Reed from Algiers Point took me out to lunch. I chose Tony Mandina's on the West Bank because I hadn't eaten there in several years since my good friend who used to go there with me moved away. Features a great menu and great tasting food. Tony was around, greeting everyone, moving a bit slower, but still a great host for his restaurant patrons.
EVERY GOOD THING MUST COME TO A NEW BEGINNING
The month of November started off like summer and turned into winter overnight. Hope you had a more normal November wherever you live. Del and I fixed our favorites for Thanksgiving dinner and enjoyed a Saints win on that night. Once in a row for Turkey Night is enough for Saints fans. As much fun as it was roasting falcons on Thanksgiving, we all want a separate day for Saints games! Del and I would like to wish you and yours a very Merry Christmas Season wherever you live and worship. Whatever you do, wherever in the world you and yours reside, here's hoping you'll enjoy the beautiful decorations and celebrations of Yuletide.
HERE'S OUR EARNEST WISH FOR THE LAST MONTH OF THIS GOD-GIVEN YEAR OF 2018:
MAY THE WORLD REMAIN PEACEFUL AND SERENE IN TWENTY-EIGHTEEN AND DURING THE UPCOMING NEW YEAR OF TWENTY-NINETEEN
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Quotes Selected from quotes.htm this month:
- Whoever wants to be creative in good and evil must first be an annihilator and destroy values — chaos gives birth to a dancing star.
Nietzsche ( German Philosopher)
- He has never learned anything, and he can do nothing in decent style.
Johann Georg Albrechtsberger (1736-1809), composer/theoretician, music teacher of Hummel and Beethoven, about his student, Ludwig van Beethoven.
- Art demands that we never stand still.
Ludwig van Beethoven ( 18-19th century Pianist and Composer )
- I read your essay (Art is the Process of Destruction) and was moved to tears; an original thought does that to me.Bonnie West, Good Reader (2003)
New Stuff on Website:
~^~ Below are Four of Bobby's Published Books. Click to Read Them.
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."7 Days in Entebbe" (2018) how early PLO hijacks airplane and lands in Uganda guests of Idi Amin with 280 hostages. Israel establishes its policy of "No Negotiation", kills all hijackers, and frees all hostages.
"Neruda" (2016) a Chilean poet hunted down to still his voice but still his voice echoes through the Andes. A DON'T MISS HIT ! !
"The Kominsky Method" (2018) a very funny movie with Michael Douglas and Alan Arkin as two long-time friends dealing with aging issues. Look for a stream of great stars flowing in and out of these 8 episodes. A DON'T MISS HIT ! !
"The Angel" (2018) has one hand on each side of the Israeli-Egyptian conflict brings peace to both sides. A DON'T MISS HIT ! !
"The Leisure Seeker" (2017) is a small Winnebago in which Don Sutherland and Helen Mirren take a long trip from New England to Key West, he progressively losing his memory and she her life as they head into a Thelma and Louise sunset. For eveything, up until the immoral murder-suicide ending, the movie deserves A DON'T MISS HIT ! !
"The Christmas Chronicle" (2018) Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn (wait for her) as Santa and Mrs. Claus in this rollicking fun movie sure to put anyone in the Christmas spirit. A DON'T MISS HIT ! !
"The Ballad of Buster Scruggs" (2018) a series of short zany stories of the old West, the way it never was, but could have been.
"Finding Your Feet" (2018) A group of aging Brits enjoy a dance club and a new member finds that sometime you need to take a leap of faith. A DON'T MISS HIT ! !
"The Sea of Trees" (2015) One can find yellow winter in the Sea of Trees with a little help from a friend. A DON'T MISS HIT ! ! !
"Neruda" (2016) a Chilean poet hunted down to still his voice but still his voice echoes through the Andes. A DON'T MISS HIT ! !
"They'll Love Me When I'm Dead" (2018) a semi-documentary about the life and love of movies by Orson Welles. A DON'T MISS HIT ! ! !
"The Princess Switch" (2018) a Switcheroo in a Christmas Wish Come True Fantasy. A RomCom with baking. A DON'T MISS HIT !
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."The Leisure Seeker" (2017) is a small Winnebago in which Don Sutherland and Helen Mirren take a long trip from New England to Key West, he progressively losing his memory and she her life as they head into a Thelma and Louise sunset. For the immoral ending the movie deserves an AVOID AT ALL COSTS
"The Debt Collector" (2018) Pulp Fiction without any humor or heart. A Bloody, Awful Movie.
"The Lucky Man" (2016) He could heal people, everyone but himself. He was a lucky man, but some of the people he met weren't so lucky.
"On the Beach at Night Alone" (2017) leave this one alone on the beach where hardly anything happens.
"This Is Not A Film" (2011) This is not interesting. This is not worth seeing.
Your call on these — your taste in movies may differ, but I liked them:"First, We Take Brooklyn" (2018) An Israeli ex-con crashes and burns in Brooklyn.
"The Other Side of the Wind" (2017) A cobbled-together Orson Welles' last movie, but it won't last, as Citizen Kane did. We saw both sides of the wind and it still didn't make much sense.
"The Devil is a Woman" (1935) a puerile plot of Marlene Dietrich as a scheming, unfaithful Spanish duchess during an equally silly carnival.
"The Christmas Inheritance" (2017) Spoiled daughter of CEO gets sent to Snow Falls to learn about her inheritance and how to think for herself. She needed a lot of help.
"God's Not Dead" (2017) story of a minister whose church gets bombed and who cannot find a way to forgive the one who did it.
"Fair Game" (2010) the outing of Valerie Plame as CIA agent is rehashed again and just as boring this time.
"Outlaw King" (2018) Chris Pine plays Robert the Bruce who strove to unite Scotland under his banner.
== == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == == ==Le Boudreaux Cajun Cottage, drawn by and Copyright 2011 by Paulette Purser, Used by Permission
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Dugas's father was a rich oil man and after he died left all his money to Dugas. Dugas got married a couple of months later to this beautiful gal he had just met.
A few weeks after the wedding he and Boudreaux met in Mulate's for a drink. Boudreaux raised his Dixie Beer and said, "Here's to a long, happy marriage, Dugas!"
After starting on their second beer, Boudreaux said, "Dugas, Yah ever t'ot dat she married you because yo' Paw left you all dat money?"
"Wahl, yeah, Boo. Ah t'ot dat me, too, so one day Ah axed her 'bout dat."
"And wat she said?"
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5. Household Hint for December, 2018 from Bobby Jeaux:
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Background on Sleep Aid: Back in the 1980s, Del had a series of Jonathan Parker audio tapes that she listened to. One of the things that stuck with me over the years was his suggestion of using the word "CANCEL" to get rid of unwanted thoughts from one's mind. He suggested for visual-oriented people that they envision the now-universal sign for CANCEL: A Red Circle with a Red diagonal slash across the middle. If it's a thought which stuck in your mind that is verbal, say CANCEL to drive it away. If's it's someone or something you have trouble un-seeing, visualize the CANCEL SIGN over it. I found Jonathan Parker's suggestion very effective over the decades, but only recent I pressed it into service as a Sleep Aid. Generally going to sleep is easy for me, but one night after watching late news I had dozens of items buzzing through my head keeping me awake. I decided to do this: As each idea buzzed into my head, I said "CANCEL" and it went away, replaced by the next one and a CANCEL, and so on. When they were all gone, I fell sound asleep.
The Process of Using Sleep Aid
If you're having trouble falling asleep because a plethora of ideas, events, or sounds keep reveberating in your mind, as each new thing appears that's keeping you awake do the following:If it's a sound, say to yourself "CANCEL".Keep doing this until no more sounds or sights arise and you will fall asleep.
If it's a visual thing, VISUALIZE the CANCEL SYMBOL over it.
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6. POETRY by BOBBY from An American Childhood:
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NOTE: On page 85 of An American Childhood, Annie Dillard wrote, "Books swept me away, one after the other, this way and that." Directly below her words I wrote this short note and expanded it into a poem on November 4, 2018:
A book may sweep you away,
carrying you on waves
of surging delight and suspense.
A book may start out swell,
but, like promising waves,
go flat just as your fun begins.
The lasting books sweep you away.
"The interior life expands and fills," Dillard wrote —
when a book, with its words,
takes root and works upon you,
swelling your inner life.
then gradually expanding,
filling an empty space
until swelling to the full,
it releases you into the world.
How wonderful the book
that sweeps you away
to yourself again.
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7. REVIEWS and ARTICLES for December:
= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =For our Good Readers, here are the reviews and articles featured this month. The second and third reviews this month will be ones which were never published in early DIGESTWORLD ISSUES or only as short blurbs and will be of interest to our DIGESTWORLD 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.
1.) ARJ2: A Way of Self-Knowlege, GA#17 by Rudolf Steiner
The human being is a microcosm which contains within each of us the macroscosm of the cosmos in which we live and have our being. One studying Steiner's Outline of Occult Science can come to no other conclusion. While we are in our time between birth and death, we are inside of the cosmos, which is arrayed everywhere outside of us, but yet exists inside of us. In the next phase of human existence, our time between death and a new birth, the cosmos will be inside of us, we see it arrayed inside of us, and we will work to arrange it inside of us for our new body when we are born again on Earth. It was a goal of Rudolf Steiner to help each of us affirm the intimate connection of the spiritual in us with the spiritual in the cosmos.
[page vi] Christopher Bamford, italics added] Coming of age in the last third of the nineteenth century — and faced with the overwhelming evidence that materialism was not only a house built dangerously on sand but also potentially destructive of the entire divine-cosmic human experiment we call "Earth" — Steiner's primary concern from the beginning was to respond to the historical-spiritual call for a new epistemological path that, affirming the spiritual foundations of phenomenal reality, united the spiritual in humanity with the spiritual in the cosmos.
If you read books, you will have a tendency to emphasize content over method(1). If you are continually adding new apps to your Smartphone, but never running them, you are focusing on content over process in this computer age. Steiner was forced to communicate content to people in lectures and books, but he wished for people to concentrate on method, that is, on activating in their lives as process (method) the content he provided them. How one does that is explained in the Introduction.
[page vii] Christopher Bamford] Yet for [Steiner], method was always primary. It was method that gave contents their value and meaning. Contents were nothing unless realized — that is, embodied, enacted, and made real — by those who had heard him and read his works. More than that, viewed from a certain perspective one might say that, in the end, he was not concerned with contents in any sense, because what his lectures and books finally contained are not in fact contents at all, but reports of spiritual research in the form of injunctions or themes for meditation: meditate this and you will discover — experience — for yourself how this is the case.
Thomas doubted Christ Jesus had resurrected, and was told to place his hands in the wounds He had suffered on the Cross. Only then did Thomas believe. Thomas had a process provided by Christ Jesus to go through to overcome his skepticism. Each of us have a process, a method, to go through to overcome our skepticism about the existence of the spiritual world. No amount of content will convince anyone of the existence of the spiritual world, just as no amount of talking to Thomas would have convinced him of Christ Jesus's resurrection. We all have an inborn ability to experience the physical world, but most lack an inborn ability to experience the spiritual world(2). Steiner recognized that he had a unique ability to perceive the spiritual world that most people of his time lacked.
[page viii] Christopher Bamford] From his earliest years, Steiner experienced that the creative presence of the invisible, spiritual world was as real, universal, and certain as the reality of the so-called physical world revealed through the senses, which it permeated. Therefore, almost from the beginning (at least from about his ninth or tenth year), he dedicated himself to the task of providing a path whereby others could experience the certainty of spiritual reality — and all that followed from it — for themselves.
Of what use is a path if one does not physically walk upon it? One can listen to someone talk who has walked on the path, but will garner no life lessons until one actually walks the path. That is what Steiner meant by method: to walk the path. In the following passage, the translator uses the word process as content. It would be better understood as "world content" because a content is some thing one can hold, but a process is a reality one lives, a reality one is present in.
[page viii] Christopher Bamford] As he put it in The Philosophy of Freedom: "In thinking we have hold of a corner of world process." But he adds, "We have to be present if anything is to occur." How, then, to be present in thinking?
My preference would be to state, "In thinking we are on the pathway of the world. We have to actually begin walking if anything is to occur." From a very early age, Steiner was walking that pathway and he sought ways to communicate to others how to learn to do what he came upon naturally. But he found that giving others content on how to do it was not enough because they only learned to talk about the path. He needed a method, a process, for them to perform, which would affirm the existence of the otherwise invisible-to-the-senses(3) spiritual world. That pathway was through thinking.
[page ix] Christopher Bamford] Continuing his philosophical and consciousness experiments, Steiner began to understand that the more he penetrated the experience of thinking, the more spiritual realities came to meet him.
Can anyone learn to experience spiritual realities? The answer is "Yes, anyone who can think." Think of that! Steiner knew humankind had newly left the dark age of Kali Yuga and spiritual consciousness was dawning. His method became obvious to him.
[page xi] Christopher Bamford] Contemplative cognitive transformation meditation became principal focus of his work on all fronts.
My introduction to Rudolf Steiner came from an Occult Bookstore called Golden Leaves, run by Donna France who owned a local motel and would have study groups in her office at night. She would order books for her group and always ordered a few extra copies which ended up on shelves in her office. I met her in 1977 shortly before she moved into her first official bookstore on Phlox Street in Metairie. On one bottom shelf I found several skinny volumes by this German-speaking mystic and bought a copy. Each time I went back, I checked for new issues by Rudolf Steiner, bought one, and read it. Over the course of about 15 years, I had read about 10 of his books and found them interesting, but I was missing something. In the mid-nineties when the Internet came on-line, my first question was, "Who is Rudolf Steiner and What books should I be reading?" Christopher Bamford has made it easy for me to share the answer I received to my what books question by listing the same four books that I was directed to by new friends on the Internet(4).(CW10 -1905), Stages of Higher Knowledge (CW12 - 1908), and An Outline of Occult Science (CW13 -1910).
[page xi, xii] Christopher Bamford] There is the sequence of books, which are wholly, or in part, explicitly concerned with inner development have become have become have become have become have become have become from Theosophy (CW9-1904), How to Know High Worlds
Steiner received a big shock when he encountered Theosophy, a completed body of knowledge that he had to penetrate to connect with the philosophical basis he was familiar with from direct experience. For example, he had already encountered a profound experience of the Christ, for which Theosophy had little use.
[page xi, xii] Christopher Bamford] Entering Theosophy, he was faced with entire and, in a sense, finished traditions of inner work. These he had to penetrate, open, transform, and formalize in the light with the epistemological foundations he knew from experience to be necessary in order to create a "new" esoteric school.
Here we see Steiner moving eventually from the arcane works of theosophical authors to a new more scientifically based anthroposophy or, called simply, spiritual science. With it came his focus on method or walking a path into the spiritual world.
[page xii] Christopher Bamford] Thus, his framework which is to say, his language moved from philosophy to meditation. The process remained the same: the gradual liberation of consciousness from its conditioning to become a true, that is, free organ for the cognition of spiritual realities.
What is the power of an unanswered question? This is a question that I have pondered and meditated upon for decades. We must condition ourselves to avoid accepting easy answers if we are to tap the power of a puzzling sentence or question which arises in our presence. Avoiding easy answers gives power to the unanswered question to work within us until an answer coalesces into an insight. For myself I hold an unanswered question meditating on it and then letting it slip into my unconscious, peacefully confident that an answer will arrive sometime later as an insight.
Steiner had his students do daily meditations, like he did himself, which placed some sentence or image into their consciousness.
[page xiii] Christopher Bamford] For a regular, fixed period, they had to seek to permeate their whole organism with a deep reverence, inner peace, and silence. This was the first stage reverent, peaceful waiting gradually taking the place of the babble of inner and outer sensations in which one usually lives. Then some spiritual "idea" in the form of a sentence or image usually a paradoxical one in the sense that its logic or form could not be thought by the brain or experienced by the organically conditioned feelings was placed in the center of consciousness. The purpose was not to understand the idea (image or feeling), but to let it become alive within one in a special way.
To close out his Introduction, Bamford provides us a concise description of the two books which comprise this volume, A Way of Self Knowledge and The Threshold of the Spiritual World.
He describes the first book, A Way of Self Knowledge, the one we are reviewing here, as "a meditation on death," and goes on to give a brief summary of its contents.
[page xix] Christopher Bamford] Mindfulness of death is, in many ways, the prerequisite for all spiritual work. The approach through thinking is especially interesting, for as Steiner puts it thinking allows "the event of death to arise in the soul in a way that is without desire or personal interest." At the same time, contemplating the autonomy of the physical body within nature allows one to forget oneself and experience one's body as part of the outer world. Such meditation prepares one to move always enhancing and metamorphosing thinking into the elemental or etheric world; and thence to encountering the Guardian of the Threshold. The meditations then lead one into the astral and "I" worlds, and conclude with two more general meditative exercises.
The second book, The Threshold of the Spiritual World(5), picks up where the first book leaves off.
[page xix] Christopher Bamford] It continues the process begun with A Way of Self-Knowledge, but in a freer, less systematic, more aphoristic form as "a few descriptions of spiritual experiences." Though Steiner speaks humbly and self-deprecatingly of this work, it is nevertheless a marvel of richness and insight. Little in size, short in chapters, known (as it were) in content, if read with the meditative, attentive care deserves, it is near infinite in depth and extent and striking in its wisdom and newness. Few works by Steiner give a clearer sense of his being as a Teacher. At the same time, it is an epitome of his teaching.
In his Preface, entitled Ways of Meditative Experience, of the first book, Friedemann Schwarzkopf makes two important points worth emphasizing here.
First, he unifies content and experience,(6) saying "On a meditative level of consciousness, content and experience are one event." (Page xxiv) In other words, one must understand Goethe's Ur-plant, the archetypal or original plant, not as something added onto one's view of the plant but something unified with the plant, something ideal and real, something symbolic and yet identical with our experience of the plant. This is the essence of Steiner's meditative method.
[page xxiv] Friedemann Schwarzkopf] One can apply here what Goethe said about the archetypal phenomenon, that it is simultaneously ideal, real, symbolic, and identical with our very specific experience. The phenomenon is like an "open secret," it utters itself. As Goethe said, "one should not search 'behind' the blueness of the sky," but understand and experience blue in the context in which it manifests.
Second, Schwarzkopf uses a musical metaphor to describe the "I" living in spiritual experience.
[page xxiv-xxv] Friedemann Schwarzkopf] When the "I" experiences the light of witnessing its own activity, it enters a continuous movement of inner attunement. Attunement to what? To the feeling-knowing that guides the how of its seeing, feeling, and inner doing.
When one describes this process in words, it takes hours, or pages; yet it happens as swiftly as an inner dialogue. It is as if we were tuning a violin, where we continuously compare the tones of the physical strings with our feeling-knowing. This tells us precisely whether the right "interval" has been reached.
In Introductory Remarks, Steiner says he is presenting eight meditations, eight processes that people can perform for themselves and receive their deeper meanings directly into their souls.
[page 3] I have tried to provide something of interest even to those readers who are already thoroughly familiar with writing and research in the area of the suprasensory(7). Practitioners of the suprasensory life may find something of value both in the mode of presentation and in the direct connection the material has with the soul's inner experiences. At the same time, I hope those less familiar with the material will also find this kind of meditative presentation useful.
Below we review the eight meditations of Steiner. He presents us with each meditation as a step to answering this powerful unanswered question: What does it mean to be a human being in the true sense of the word?
MEDITATION 1. THE PHYSICAL BODY
I remember pondering this question as a newly graduated physicist and hit this brick wall: How can the person I am, a physical human being, exist after death? I had stumbled upon the existential question posed by Hamlet: "To be, or not to be?" There seemed no answer to the conundrum that I had posed myself other than: "I exist now, but sometime later I will not exist." As I thought for many years on my question, I began to see human life as a puzzle with an enigma on each end. Life is a puzzle, but what happens before we are born, and what happens after we die? I had successfully sought answers to life's puzzle in the physical sciences, but nowhere could I find answers to life's two enigmas. The Church had an answer to the second enigma, the after-death condition, but their answer was unsatisfactory to me, positing some eternal living-with-angels condition. The Church denied me any answer to the first enigma, the pre-life condition, so how could I trust their kindergarten answer to the second enigma, the after-death condition?
Steiner asks us to ponder the answer to the puzzle of life, to help us understand why we live as a physical human body in the time between life and death.
[page 6] "Why do the matter and forces of the outer world form your body? It comes alive in order to give you an outer appearance. The outer world forms itself as you. You become aware that you need your body because, without your senses, which only your body can create, you could not initially experience anything. Without your body, you would be, as you were in the beginning, empty. The body gives you inner fullness, content."
But, as a body, we would experience the horror of death if we contemplated our pure nothingness. Something is necessary for us to contemplate death without such thoughts in our soul. Steiner gives us a view of the future of our body over long periods of time, during which our body will continue to be subject to the laws of nature, but our inner experience of life will continue without the physical body(8).
[page 7] "This body is alive so that it can be an expression of my soul's experience. Its processes are such that my soul can live and experience itself within them. But that will not be so in the future. The things alive in my body now will be subject to quite different laws in the future. Then, my soul will experience them differently from the way in which I experience them now. Then, my body will be subject to the laws governing the matter and the forces in outer nature, laws that have nothing more to do with my life or me. This body, to which I now owe my soul's experiences, will then be taken into the general course of the world, where its behavior will no longer have anything in common with my inner experience."
Reflecting in this way, we can experience inwardly all the horror of death, without intermingling purely personal feelings normally connected with such thoughts in the soul.
Steiner admits that some people believe the soul dies with the body and some people believe the soul lives continuously. Each side has a prejudice, the first a cool, disinterested detachment towards annihilation, the second a veiled, burning desire for continuation. "Still," he says, "the level of prejudice among the deniers of immortality is not less than it is among believers; it is only different." (Page 8) What his spiritual science offers us is the reality which replaces the two skewed beliefs.
[page 11] To expect that progress in our understanding of nature will lead to our learning more about how physical laws apply to bodily processes as a mediator of soul life is illusion. Although we will learn to understand more clearly what occurs in the body during life, the soul will always feel the processes in question to be outside it in the same way it feels the corresponding processes in the body after death to be foreign to it. For the soul, the body in the outer world must appear to be a collection of forces and substances existing autonomously and explainable as part of that outer world.The soul does not participate in the process of death, but remains separate from it. If a man is riding a horse and it dies, he gets off of the horse and finds a different horse to ride. A soul is in a similar position in regard to the physical body. It may feel a sense of loss at its demise, but the soul finds a way to ride on astride another physical body in the physical world in another time.
Steiner concludes this meditation by leading us to experience ourselves as a physical body
[page 11, 12] Nature lets a plant arise, then dissolves it again. Nature holds sway, too, over the human body. It allows the human body to arise and pass away within its being.
Consider nature in this light and you can forget yourself and everything within you and feel your body as part of the outer world.
If you think in this way about your relationship to yourself and to nature, you will experience for yourself what can be called the physical body.
The physical body is part of what we are as a full human being, but it is not all that we are.
MEDITATION 2. THE ETHERIC BODYWe can observe what happens to the physical body after death, but we have no comparable inner experience of what happens to us after death. If we are unable to create that experience, we will experience death as an empty nothingness. Our body was here and we had inner experiences when it was here and now it's gone and we experience nothing.But we know that if we hold one inner experience before us long enough, we can continue to experience it inwardly even though it has gone from our external experience. I am reminded of a curious experience I had after a long day of mining crystals. I spent six or seven hours crawling over the tailings left from a crystal mine. The dirt was hauled up to ground level and dumped there, and, as I dug through the earthen mass, I would unearth a quartz crystal and add it to my sack. Through my hands passed crystals that had never seen the light of day, had never been seen or touched by a single human being. By the end of the day, I had accumulated a hundred or so crystals. That night after leaving the mine area, my mind was filled with images of crystals whenever I closed my eyes. My directed focus on finding crystals for so long had created inside me visions of crystals, long after the physical impressions I had of crystals were no longer present before me. Steiner suggests that we arbitrarily select one thought and choose to hold that thought, thinking through it repeatedly, much as I did when I dug for crystals for an entire day. This is the meditation he suggests that we perform.[page 14] Each time you do this, you will experience it more intensely. By repeating a thought, you can make that thought the single object of your inner experience while, at the same time, holding at a distance all outer impressions and memories that might arise in your soul. In fact, you can make this complete and exclusive dedication to a thought or feeling a regular inner activity.
This is similar to what I did when I dug for crystals over a long period of time. I thought of crystals to the exclusion of anything else.If you continue this process, you will affirm for yourself the idea of experience separate from your body. This is a key step to recognizing the existence of the etheric body inside yourself.
[page 14] By the activity of focusing on a thought in this way, we can strengthen the forces of inner experience; while inner experience, in turn, as it were, condenses or intensifies. One can recognize the effects of this from the kind of self-observation that sets in after inner activity has continued over a sufficiently long period of time.
[page 17] By means of an experience such as I have described, you can gain the ability to observe what belongs to your own self without using senses and reason. You will then not only know something different about the world than your bodily instruments permit you to know, but you will also know differently.The soul that was able to call a piece of the outer world its physical body, learns to call a piece of the non-sensory (suprasensory) world its etheric body.
[page 18] The soul calls a piece of the sensory, outer world the physical body. A soul able to experience outside the physical body may further consider a part of the non-sensory outer world as also belonging to it. If you push forward and observe that area accessible beyond the sensory world, you will be able to speak of a body that belongs to you that is imperceptible to the senses. We can call that body the "elemental," or "etheric," body.
When we journey into the outer world we encounter the idea of a physical body, and when our soul journeys into areas not-sensible in the outer world, we encounter the idea of our etheric body.
MEDITATION 3. CLAIRVOYANT COGNITION OF THE ELEMENTAL WORLDClairvoyant cognition provides experiences of worlds unknown to our ordinary sense perception and thinking. Instead suprasensory experiences rise up from the soul.If you have the ability to have suprasensory experiences, you will be able to perceive a force-being filling an entire plant. Its presence is especially prominent in the seed of a plant which is relatively simple in the material world, but very complex in the suprasensory world. The seed of a planet, such as the Earth, also has a force-being whose existence preceded its sensory existence.
[page 19] By means of memory images, something that we previously experienced becomes present in our soul. Through suprasensory images, likewise, what exists sometime or somewhere in the suprasensory world becomes inner, soul experience. The very nature of these experiences is such that we can look upon them as communications from a suprasensory world unfolding within us.
[page 20] The suprasensory form "force-form" is strongest in the observation of a plant seed. In a seed, the sensible component is rather simple and inconspicuous, but the suprasensory component is complex, embracing everything that, from the suprasensory world, collaborates in the structure and growth of the plant. Suprasensory observation of the whole Earth likewise reveals a force-being that you can know with certainty existed before anything sensory arose upon the Earth. This enables you to experience the presence of the suprasensory forces that collaborated in the formation of the Earth in ancient times.
In a wonderful metaphor Steiner uses ice floating in water to describe how we observe only the chunks of material comprising our physical world and miss the essential fluid in which they exist. Ice forms out of the water and precedes the existence of the ice which forms from the water and floats in it, much as the suprasensory world precedes the existence of the sensory world which precipitates, as it were, from the suprasensory world(9).
[page 21] Those who are able to observe . . . do not merely experience something added to the sensory world. They experience a world within which the sensory world seems, for example, like pieces of ice floating in water. If you could see only the ice and not the water, you would recognize only the ice, and not the water, as real. That is, if you hold only to what is revealed through your senses, you will deny the suprasensory world, of which the sensory, perceptible world is a part, just as the pieces of ice floating in water are part of the entire mass of water.
Remember in the paragraph before the page 11 passage we spoke of two types of people, those with a burning desire to know the spiritual world and those with a cool, disinterested view of it? Steiner explains that a burning desire is as just ineffectual in having recognizable suprasensory experiences as a disinterested detachment. The burning desire masks an event arising out of the spiritual world with an invisible fog. The disinterested detachment causes the person to miss the arising event completely. I am not able to do a clairvoyant observation at will, up until now. But, I have been able to notice on many occasions events which seem to qualify. Take this otherwise trivial example. I was driving on a four-line boulevard in the right lane when I suddenly decided for no discernible reason to switch to the left lane. Within seconds a truck came to a stop and would have blocked my free passage had I not switched lanes exactly when I did. Lucky coincidences, materialists would call such events as this, but because of their disinterested detachment they would have never noticed when one of these events happened to them. I have begun thanking my Guardian Angel when these unexpected fortunate events happen, which is my way of acknowledging the occurrence in my life of a suprasensory event(10).
[page 23] Burning desire spreads a kind of invisible fog before our body-free gaze. Disinterest means that, though suprasensory things may actually reveal themselves, they are not noticed. This lack of interest sometimes manifests in an odd way. Many people quite honestly wish to experience clairvoyance, but unfortunately they begin with too definite a preconception of how such experiences should appear if they are to be recognized as genuine. When real experiences then happen, they slip past such people, who show no interest in them because they do not fit their preconceptions.Beginning clairvoyants are like children, beings newly arrived in a world which surrounds them who must develop perceptual and reasoning capability to move around and make use of their surroundings.
[page 24] Beginning clairvoyants prepare their apparatus for forming ideas in much the same way as children do, but on a higher level. They allow strengthened and concentrated thoughts to act upon it. In this way, the apparatus is gradually transformed and becomes capable of taking the suprasensory world into the life of representation.
The eye cannot see itself except by reflection. Our eyes are invisible to us in the process of seeing. The clairvoyant strives to have a body that is invisible and imperceptible when seeing into the suprasensory world.
[page 24] You can feel how your soul activity works formatively on your body. At first, your body strongly resists the life of your soul. You experience your soul as a foreign body within you. Then you notice how your body is slowly adjusting to your soul experiences. Finally, just as you are unaware of your eye when looking at the world of color, you cease to feel your body when the suprasensory world appears before you. Before the soul can see into the suprasensory world, the body must become invisible, imperceptible.
Once one is able to recognize involuntary spontaneous perceptions of the suprasensory world, the next step to create these voluntarily, and then to learn to direct them where you wish. Steiner explains how the process evolves.The best advice is calmly waiting for a favorable moment and never forcing anything.
[page 24] As a rule, once you have thus achieved a state of intentional clairvoyance, you will be able to produce the state by concentrating upon a thought that you can experience inwardly with special intensity. You will then find that dedicated concentration upon that thought produces clairvoyant activity.
At first, you will not be in a position to determine exactly what you will see. Suprasensory phenomena and processes that you are quite unprepared for and therefore have no desire to produce, will play into your soul. Nevertheless, with further inner strengthening, you will be able to direct your spiritual gaze to things you intend to see.
[page 25] The human cognitive apparatus requires a calm ripening for particular experiences. Whoever lacks the patience to wait for such a ripening will have flawed or imprecise observations.
MEDITATION 4. THE "GUARDIAN OF THE THRESHOLD"
In the classic work of Alfred Korzybski, Science and Sanity, he describes the time index which means "all things change" so that A at time(1) does not equal A at time(2). If you encounter something at one time, it is not necessarily the same something at another time. Clairvoyants for ages have warned people against approaching the Guardian of the Threshold of the suprasensory world, up until now. Steiner is stepping forward to say that time is past, and our task is to do exactly that. We must learn to know the Guardian of the Threshold from now onTwo questions arise as we undertake this task: 1) What is this task that is so difficult that we have been warned against for so long? And 2) Where shall I find the strength to bear what is being laid upon me? These questions presuppose that we are wishing to enter the suprasensory world and then return to the sensory world. Clearly this will require switching from one way of understanding and judging and back.
[page 32] We now live in a time when we must become increasingly familiar with the nature of the suprasensory world if our soul lives are to be adequate to meet life's demands. The spreading of suprasensory insights, along with knowledge of the Guardian of the Threshold, is one of the tasks humanity must undertake now and in the future.
ANSWERS TO QUESTION 1): Why is it so hard?
We must face in raw truth the unsavory ugliness of our inner self in a way we rarely if ever encounter in the sensory world.We must give up our most precious possession, our 'I'.
[page 28, 29] It may seem like a hard fact to bear, but it is the case: you must learn to face freely the ugliness of your own self. . . . Through true self-knowledge, for example, you experience that, while you thought your feelings toward someone were friendly, in the depths of your soul you were actually nursing a hidden jealousy or hatred. You know that such unexpressed feelings will come to light one day. You know, too, that it would be quite superficial to say to yourself: "Now that I know that this is the case, all I have to do is eradicate my jealousy and hatred." But you will soon discover that such thoughts prove very weak when the urge to satisfy your hatred or express your jealousy breaks from your soul with all the power of a natural force.
[page 30] Your soul must step across a threshold, leaving behind not just this or that treasured possession but its very own being. It must be able to say that it now sees that what it once valued as its most powerful truth may on the other side of the threshold of the suprasensory world appear as the greatest error.
People who are scientists and philosophers may prefer to live only with what the sensory world and what their reasoning ability reveals to them.
[page 30] They therefore avoid approaching the threshold of the suprasensory world. They may cover up that avoidance by saying, for instance, that rational thinking and science cannot support the truth of what is beyond that threshold. The truth, however, is that such people love rational thinking and science as they know them, because this rational thinking and science are so strongly connected to their "I." This is a very common form of self-love something that we cannot take into the suprasensory world.
ANSWER TO QUESTION 2): Where can I find the strength I need?
One must set aside what one believed was truth and must learn a different way of judging.
[page 31] The proper approach is for people to prepare in such a way that, upon entering the suprasensory world, they can set aside what in ordinary life they feel most strongly to be the truth and thus be able to perceive and judge things differently. But one must also understand that, in resuming one's customary relationship to the sensory world, one has to use the feelings and way of reasoning that are valid for that world. One must learn not only to live in two worlds, but also to live in them in two quite different ways. A person must not allow his or her healthy power of judgment in the world of sense and reason to be adversely affected just because a very different way of judging must be used in the other world.
This meditation, the process which Steiner gives us, involves a series of challenges we must face and overcome if we are to enter the suprasensory world and return successfully(11).
MEDITATION 5. THE ASTRAL BODY
Everyone studying Rudolf Steiner's spiritual science learns that human beings have four bodies, the Physical Body, the Etheric Body, the Astral Body, and the I. There it is: content. Somehow we are to imagine that these four bodies exist inside of each other, like nested Russian dolls. This can be challenging for a sensory-oriented human. The value of these meditations is that we can, by following Steiner's suggestion, go through a process by which we experience the individual bodies directly and are able to affirm for ourselves their existence as part of our being. Instead of an abstract conception of each body, we obtain a direct experience of each.
[page 32] When one experiences a suprasensory outer world through the elemental body, one is less closed off from that world than one is from one's physical surroundings when one experiences them through the sensory body. At the same time, just as one bears the matter and forces of the physical outer world in one's physical body, it could be said that one's relationship to this suprasensory outer world is such that one unites with oneself certain substances of the elemental world to form an elemental body.
This experience of the elemental body is what we call the etheric body. By further meditation, we can achieve sufficient soul strength to witness a new world emerge in yourself.
[page 35] This world is different both from the sensory world and the elemental world. Thus, to the first suprasensory world the elemental, or etheric, world we add a second. At first, this second suprasensory world is wholly an inner world. You will feel that you carry it within yourself, and that you are alone with it.
Steiner says (Page 36) that one can best reach the suprasensory beings connected with plants if you love plants in the sensory world. I take a lot of photos of plants and especially their flowers. In particular I look for the tiniest flowers that most people walk by or trod upon without ever noticing them and I give them love by taking a flattering photo of them. I had never thought of my taking these photos as concealing an inclination toward the plant world, up until now.
[page 36] A person may pass by plants in the sensory world quite without love, and yet that person's soul may conceal an unconscious inclination toward the plant world. In that case, this love can awaken when he or she enters the suprasensory world.
In addition my close observation and taking photos of these tiny flowers indicate not only a love of them, but also a respect and awe of them. These are two other important soul qualities.
[page 36, 37] We must always include respect and awe among the inner soul qualities. Such soul qualities open the door so you can come to know beings of the suprasensory world. A sure way of coming to know the suprasensory world opens when we free up the access to suprasensory beings by relating to their reflections within us. In the sensory world, you love a being after you have come to know it. In the second suprasensory world, you learn to love a being's image before encountering that being's reality, because the image appears before the meeting with the being.
What we come to know in this way is the awakener of the elemental world, a being within us which we feel to be the awakener. This is how one comes to really know the astral body by experiencing it directly.
[page 37] Thus, the soul learns of the presence of a third nature within it that is apart from the physical and elemental bodies. We call this third nature the astral body, meaning by this for the moment nothing more than what lives within the soul's being as we have described above.
MEDITATION 6. THE "I"-BODY or THOUGHT-BODY
As you progress further outside your sensory body into the etheric body, you feel an expansion of your being; as you move into your astral body, you feel as if you have moved into another being where spiritual beings are working into your "I"-being. You will meet the time spirits who determine the progress of human evolution, and the spirits of form whose thoughts are real forces of nature. For example, one comes to understand a tornado as a "hand movement" of a spiritual being.
[page 38] You will recognize then that it is only to our normal sensory perception that the forces of nature appear as our senses normally believe them to be. You will realize that, in reality, wherever a force of nature is active, it is the thought of a being that is expressed, just as the human soul expresses itself through hand movements.
Next you will experience all in your soul as a kind of memory, a reflection of what you were. This will lead you to experience the second "I" which experiences your previous "I" as something within you.181117 Wine Ding Zack and Rhonda's stop Adele
[page 39, 40] As, in your previous everyday life, your "I" felt independent in relation to its memories, so now your newly acquired "I" feels independent of that earlier "I". It feels it belongs to the world of purely spiritual beings. And from this experience — and not some theory — you recognize what your "I"-being (as you viewed it before) really is.
You will have reached the experience St. Paul talks of Corinthians 13:12, "For now we see through a glass darkly; but then face to face." In Paul's time, there were no back-silvered mirrors so any glass used as a mirror reflected only dark images.
[page 40] It [your first I-being] now appears as a fabric of memory ideas that are produced by the physical, elemental, and astral bodies, just as mirror images are produced by a mirror. No more than one considers oneself to be one with one's reflection in a mirror, does a soul that has experienced itself in the spiritual world consider itself the same being that experienced itself in the sensory world.
Even though the mirror is only an analogy, this reflected image is necessary for your self-revelation and ascent into the spiritual world. You begin to realize that your I-being (or I-body) is something you have, not something you are, as Steiner emphasizes below:
[page 40] The fabric of memories, which you now look on as your former "I",we may call the "'I'-body" or "thought-body." In this context, the word body must be understood in a broader sense than usual. Body, here, means all that you experience as having to do with you, of which you say, not that you are that, but that you have that, that it's yours.
This leads us to the next stage of a being which can retain not just the fabric of memories, but all that was experienced in sensory experience, namely, an "I" higher than our ordinary "I".
[page 40] For to continue its existence, what has been experienced in sensory existence requires a being in whom it can be retained, just as memories of sensory being are retained in the ordinary "I".
When this happens, you will exist in a world of spiritual beings who hold their sensory existence as a memory.
[page 40, 41] Suprasensory cognition reveals that human beings exist in the world of spiritual beings where they hold their sensory existence within themselves like a memory. Therefore, to the question, What will become of all that I am now when I die? the clairvoyant researcher replies, You will be what you can retain of yourself by the strength of your existence as a spiritual being among other spiritual beings.
You can cognize the nature of these spiritual beings, including your own. This knowledge is immediate experience. In this way, you will come to know that spiritual beings, including your own soul, have an existence for which sensory existence is a passing revelation.
Perhaps you are wondering if you will see in the spiritual world the people you had known during your earthly life.
[page 41] Thus, in its primitive form, the vital question enters ordinary consciousness, After death, will I see the people I know and am connected to in earthly life? Genuine research, based on experience, enables you to answer this question with a resounding Yes.
The strengthening of your soul life leads you to recognize within you your second "I"-being.
[page 43] We have here an indication of the direction in which the strengthening of the soul life through the power that lives in thinking must lead. You learn to recognize something in yourself that appears to your soul as a second being within it.
Once you have undertaken a review of your life, all the way back into your earliest memories of childhood, you will come to understand how you paved the way for your own destiny.
[page 44] You can then push through to the following realization: "Just as I have worked on myself since I awakened to consciousness, so I was already working on myself before my present consciousness awoke."
You will have then moved to discovering your superordinate or higher second-"I" which created the lower or ordinary first-"I".
[page 44] Working your way through to a superordinate "I"-being within the ordinary "I" leads not only to the recognition that your thoughts bring a theoretical understanding of such a higher, superordinate "I". It also leads to the experience of the living being of this "I" in its reality as power in you and to the sense that the ordinary "I" is a creation of the superordinate "I". This feeling marks the true beginning of seeing the spiritual nature of the soul.
THE NATURE OF EXPERIENCE IN SUPRASENSORY WORLDSPerhaps proceeding upon these meditations, these processes, seems too daunting for you, and you would prefer to allow your soul to continue, unaided, its natural development. Isn't it better to wait and see how your spiritual life will unfold upon its own? Steiner says, emphatically, No.[page 45] Such a thought will always be rejected when one realizes that we human beings, by nature, must help ourselves and that, if we fail in our duty and do nothing about the forces waiting to unfold in our souls, those forces will spoil. Forces of self-development exist in every human soul. When these forces and their meanings are experienced, there is no one who would not wish to obey the call to unfold them.I must point out the bootstrap effect here. How can one wish to unfold these forces if one has never experienced them? It's like lifting yourself from your own bootstraps. In a new computer you cannot run a program until a program loader can load it. The program loader is also a program, so how can it get into a new computer? Called a bootstrap loader, this small initial program loader must be loaded by hand by a human being in a factory. So how can you wish to obey the call to unfold these important forces and their meanings? You must load this desire yourself and create a small experience of them (like a bootstrap loader) and then you will find it worthy and important to continue to unfold the forces of self-development you first started on your own. If you fear that by doing these meditations, you may experience loneliness such as being lost above some endless pit, Relax. You will, Steiner says, but adds, "Such feelings are seeds that produce the fruit of suprasensory cognition."[page 46] In a sense, all these experiences carry deep within them something hidden. When we have these experiences, these hidden qualities are brought to their maximum tension. "Something" then bursts the feeling of loneliness, which is like a shell surrounding this something. This "something" then enters one's soul life to become a means of knowing.I recall a drawing of a man walking on stepping stones across a large stream and stopping in the middle where there were no more stones, only a sign saying, "Coming soon: another stone." That stuck with me over the past forty years as a metaphor for life, of how to handle the various challenges of life which seem unsurmountable when we first encounter them. Go as far as you can, then wait, thinking, "Have patience, another stepping stone will surely appear." I am also reminded of how Milton Erickson liked to finish a healing story to a patient with this phrase, "A cool breeze will come."[page 46] You must always remember that, when you travel the right path, behind each experience another awaits you. If the first experience is there, the other cannot fail to appear. This means that, whatever you have to endure, you will find that a new power enters immediately. If you reflect on it calmly and peacefully, and give yourself the time to notice what is trying to reveal itself in your soul, this power will allow you to bear what has happened.The main thing is concentration over time, which will strengthen your soul with these meditations as you absorb the content and follow the process assiduously.[page 47] Through such absorption which can become a habit, and even a necessity of soul life, just as breathing is a necessity of the body you can draw together, concentrate, and thereby strengthen the powers of your soul. But you must succeed in maintaining during the period of inner absorption a state in which no sensory impressions or any memories of them intrude upon the life of the soul. All memories of what you have experienced in daily life, of what gave joy or pain to the soul, must be silenced. The soul must devote itself completely and solely to what you have determined shall exist in it.The suprasensory world is moral we are told, but how can that be? Does not evil exist there as it does in the sensory? Is there no envy or hatred there? Yes, there is envy and hatred but they quickly cancel each other out. Steiner explains:[page 49] When in ordinary life we say that an evil deed burns in someone's soul, we know we are speaking colloquially. We know that real burning is something quite different. This distinction does not exist in the suprasensory worlds. Hatred and envy are both forces whose corresponding effects we may call the natural processes of those worlds. In the suprasensory world, hatred or envy result in the being who is hated or envied devouring, even annihilating, the hater or envier. Destructive processes that work adversely in the spiritual world are thereby formed.The opposite is love which is always welcome and warming.[page 50] In the suprasensory world we may call only those beings "beautiful" who reveal their inner experiences, what lives in them, to other beings so that these can also participate in their experience. In the higher worlds, the capacity to reveal everything within you, without hiding anything, is called "beautiful." This notion of beauty is identical to what we might call naked honesty, the sincere expression of what one carries within oneself.On the other hand, dishonest self-revelation, lying, is ugly, and is the opposite of beauty. As I stated this years ago in Matherne's Rule #45, "No ugliness comes armed with truth." When I was a freshman in college, I had a chance to learn chess for the first time. I had a desire to learn chess and wanted to be able to beat anyone. I heard that this guy down the hall beat everyone he played. I was drawn to him and played him every spare minute I could, always losing. I lacked the ability to beat him in chess. He had complete mastery over me. Over time, I eventually beat him, once, and then several more times, till I felt I had learned all I wanted from him and felt no need to play him anymore. Desires are similar in the spiritual world: one is drawn by one's lack to someone who is complete in that regard.[page 49, 50] What we could call desires in the spiritual world flame forth from what a being sees outside itself. A being there who lacks some quality that, according to its nature it feels it should have, will see another being who has that quality then it cannot help but see that other being before it continually. In the sensory world, the eye naturally sees what is visible. In the suprasensory world, a being is always guided by the lack of a quality into the vicinity of one who is complete in that regard. The sight of that being is a constant reproach. It acts as a genuine force to impel the being who is burdened by the lack to wish to correct its defect.Steiner indicated that dishonest self-revelation such as lying is ugly, the opposite of beauty. But he adds that the lie we feel to be ugly need not be ugly in its outward appearance. Deceptions are possible in the sensory world and one must be on guard for people who mask their true intentions.[page 51, 52] For instance, a being may come before you in the suprasensory world whom you can quite correctly call evil, even though — if your sense of beauty derives from sensory life — it reveals itself to you as beautiful. In this case, you will see correctly only if you can penetrate to the being's inner foundation. You will then experience how the "beautiful" manifestation is only a deceptive mask. What you thought to be beautiful, based on your sense-based understanding of that idea, will then become the object of your hate. At that moment, the evil being ceases to be able to create the illusion of beauty but must reveal its true form to you — a form that can only be an incomplete expression of what lives within it.Among the primitive Senoi people of Malaysia, they share dreams with each other in their communal residence hut each morning. They encourage the dreamer to relive their dream and when some ugly or menacing entity approaches the dreamer, they tell the dreamer to ask the menace to remove its mask to reveal its inner self. By the progressive removal of deceptive masks, the dreamer learns — the true intention of the entity and asks it to become a friend, even to present a token of its esteem to the dreamer as a gift. The primitive Senoi people have brought a process from the suprasensory world into their community which helps troubled dreamers to find peace in their lives. This unmasking technique is a process that Steiner says can be valuable when we enter the suprasensory world(12).
BEHOLDING YOUR PREVIOUS EARTHLY L IVES
Among the Senoi people, there is really no danger from the dreamwork through which they lead even their children. If during dreamwork, a child sees a deadly tiger approaching, the child, by asking it to remove its mask successively, will end with the tiger revealing a face to the child that wipes away any sense of danger and this process strengthens the child's ability to deal with its life in the waking world. Steiner says something similar about a journey into the suprasensory world.
[page 53] When the soul' s journey into suprasensory worlds is undertaken properly, one cannot really speak of dangers. If the instructions given to the soul were dangerous to human beings, such a journey would not serve its purpose. This purpose is always to strengthen the soul, to gather its powers, so that we can bear the experiences we must undergo if we wish to behold and understand worlds other than the sensory world.
One of my journeys into the suprasensory world enabled me to see into the future. I was newly unemployed and had taken the time away from work to study various techniques of psychotherapy, one of which was Senoi Dreamwork. Jack Johnston led me through a frightening dream, asking me to re-enter the dream and re-live it. I saw myself in this automobile junkyard with a strong dark storm coming, so I got into this old Buick for safety. A huge tornado suddenly appeared, coming directly towards me. Jack instructed me to make friends with the tornado, which I did. Then he said, "Ask it for a token of its friendship." I did, and amazingly a hand appeared from out of the tornado with a spinning gyroscope which it gave to me. Jack said, "Hold this gift and begin a quest to find it in your world." I didn't have long to wait because in a few days my first unemployment check arrived in the mail, and there, on the cover of the envelope, was stamped a gyroscope! It was a symbol of the energy I had stored by my payments into the Unemployment Insurance System which was now being returned to me and providing me stability in my life.
[page 54] Beginning in our own time, more and more people will wish to understand the suprasensory worlds. True observation of human life shows that, starting in our time, human souls have entered a condition in which they cannot enter into the necessary relationship to life without understanding the suprasensory worlds.
If you understand that you live in the suprasensory world before your existence in the sensory world, it will become clear that the answer to the two enigmas I had posed earlier is that we exist between lifetimes in the suprasensory world. Steiner explains how we can behold our life's course beyond our earthly existence.
[page 54, 55] Once your soul's journey has progressed so far that you carry within you as memory all that you call "yourself " — that is, your being in the sensory world and you experience yourself in a newly attained higher "I", you will be able to behold your life's course beyond earthly existence. The reality will then arise before your spiritual gaze that existence in the spiritual world precedes existence in the sensory world and that the true causes of the formation of sensory existence lie in that spiritual existence. You will learn that before you received a sensory, perceptible body and entered this earthly life, you already lived a purely spiritual life. You will see how the person you are now, with your capacities and instincts, was prepared in a previous existence in a purely spiritual world. You will see yourself living as a spiritual being before you entered the sensory, perceptible world.
Where is the evidence that all of what Steiner claims is true? The answer is "Put your hands into the wound in My side" which Christ Jesus told Thomas the doubter. But it is not as simple for people today to believe this as it was for Thomas who was provided sensory data. People today still require sensory data and those who do not wish to do the work in the realm of the spirit to acquire the evidence will never be convinced Steiner's veracity.
[page 57]There is nothing in spiritual science that cannot be supported by evidence similar to that used in natural science. I must admit, however, that it is quite obviously much more difficult for spiritual scientific proofs to achieve recognition than it is for proofs in the natural sciences. This happens not because spiritual science lacks rigor, but because the people to whom its proofs are presented do not feel the basis in sensory facts that makes it easy for them to agree with natural scientific proofs. But that has nothing to do with the strength of the proofs. Anyone who is in a position to compare natural scientific proofs with spiritual scientific proofs, in an objective, impartial manner, will be easily convinced that the latter have the same value as the former.
Afterword to the 1918 Edition
Why do so many people deny the existence of the suprasensory world? I have found in my own experience, as Steiner claims, "Suprasensory experience is really much more widespread than people usually think." In my list of Matherne's Rules, you can find multiple examples of the efficacy of the rules often come from a brief thinking trip into the suprasensory world(13).
[page 61] Interaction with the spiritual world is actually something quite common and universal. But the ability to follow this interaction cognitively, with one's power of consciousness working swiftly, is won only with difficulty.
But most people slough off the idea of a suprasensory world, and few people are willing, open-mindedly, to hold the simple unanswered question, "Is there a suprasensory world?" If they did, an answer will come to them over some time, and soon they will become convinced of such a world and of their existence in it between lifetimes. The pathway to this understanding lies before you, but it is up to you to take the first step.
------- Footnotes -------
Footnote 1.Return to text directly before Footnote 1.
Steiner calls method what I prefer to call process. Information is content; what we do with information is process. In my Essay Art is the Process of Destruction I elaborate on the important distinction between content and process. In the twenty-first century, everyone knows what software is, but while many may use software (in process), few write software (as content). Process is what a software app does when it runs inside a Smartphone or PC.
Footnote 2.Return to text directly before Footnote 2.
This is true of adults, but every adult was once a child who retained for several years after birth the ability to see the spiritual world full of elementals, fairies, elves, angels, etal. A child's imaginary friend is a real being the child is still able to see.
Footnote 3.Return to text directly before Footnote 3.
Meaning invisible-to-the-material-senses. Note: when one walks the pathway Steiner describes, the spiritual world will eventually appear to one's newly-developed-senses.
Footnote 4.Return to text directly before Footnote 4.
These friends later formed a group called Steiner98 and we enjoyed lively conversations on-line together. I have met about a half-dozen of this group in person, and we have become fast-friends at a new level. NOTE: My earliest reviews were very short, but my reviews expanded as my knowledge of spiritual science grew.
Footnote 5.Return to text directly before Footnote 5.
This second book, The Threshold of the Spiritual World, GA#17, was reviewed in 2005 here. It appeared in a separate volume by itself, with a different translation and with page numbers which do not match this combined GA#16 and #17 volume.
Footnote 6.Return to text directly before Footnote 6.
Note: Friedemann Schwarzkopf uses content and experience to delineate the two areas I call content and process in this review and describe fully in my Essay, Art Is the Process of Destruction
Footnote 7.Return to text directly before Footnote 7.
The translator of this volume uses the word suprasensory in place of supersensible. While the two words have the same definition, this novel word usage took me aback for awhile until I realized there was no intended difference between the two words. It was a difference without a difference.
Footnote 8.Return to text directly before Footnote 8.
This transformation of our body over long periods of time requires that we each serially reincarnate in a changing body in each new lifetime, and, rightly understood, that gives us the answer to my first enigma of what happens before we are born.
Footnote 9.Return to text directly before Footnote 9.
Too often people view spiritual worlds, such as they call Heaven, as existing in some far away place. Not so. Rightly understood, our physical world floats like ice cubes in the water of the spiritual world. It is everywhere around us all the time.
Footnote 10.Return to text directly before Footnote 10.
Consider how we are related to our Guardian Angel as, e.g., our pet dog is to us. We feed, care, and give it loving attention. What does it give back to us? A wagging tail, companionship, and loving acknowledgment of our presence. Does not our personal Guardian Angel deserve a loving acknowledgment from us of their presence? A suggestion: give your Guardian Angel a name and thank it personally when something good happens to you.
Footnote 11.Return to text directly before Footnote 11.
In the 1960s people entered the suprasensory world without adequate preparation by taking LSD and some of the results were disastrous. Most prominent example was the suicide of Art Linkletter's daughter.
Footnote 12.Return to text directly before Footnote 12.
I am indebted to Jack L. Johnston for his development of the Senoi Dream Technique and the workshops in which he shared those techniques with me back in the 1970s.
Footnote 13.Return to text directly before Footnote 13.
Examples are #36 Remember the future. It hums in the present, #25 What is the power of an unanswered question?, #10 EAT-O-TWIST!, #9 The Limitation Eraser, #5 There's allways even more. And there are even more examples.
2.) ARJ2: My Well Balanced Life on a Wooden Leg by Al Capp
I grew up with Li'l Abner — well, that's not exactly true. He started out as a grown-up to the six-year-old me, and all too soon he became a large kid who never grew up and almost never got married. In the late 1940's and early 1950's, B.P. (Before Playboy), Daisy Mae was the closest to pornography on the market and every day there she was in her voluptuous glory: short shorts of frayed blue jeans, years before any decent women, or any women at all, so far as I know, wore them. Topped off by low-cut polka dot blouse loosely tied in a handy knot in the front. Obviously she wore no panties and no bra under all this lascivious accessibility. And how did Li'l Abner respond to her loving attentions? He ignored her almost completely — as long as she was around to keep looking at him and chasing him. And when she chased him, well, his long muscular legs were no match for her barefoot dashing, and he always got away.
One might expect that Li'l Abner told the story of Al Capp's romantic endeavors and one would be dead wrong! Al Capp dearly would have loved to be able to run at any time after he was nine-years-old, but he lost his leg in an accident. He was given fifty cents to get a haircut at the local barber, but discovered that the distant barber college would cut his hair for fifteen cents. Even with the ten cents cost for the trolley ride, he'd be rich with a quarter left over. In those days a quarter could buy what takes a five dollar bill today. Then he found he could hop a ride on the back of a truck and save even the ten cents for the trolley ride. When he jumped off the truck, the trolley was coming behind him, he did see it, and the trolley rode over his leg, severing it at the thigh. In those days, that was a permanent amputation.
He walked around on crutches with his empty pants leg pinned up, and after the celebrity at school wore off, he was treated with pity. Soon he was fitted with a wooden leg that squeaked when he walked. His ability to chase, much less run away from, pretty gals was nipped in the bud. But he was very resourceful and began standing on corners where pretty girls passed and making eyes at them. If one did look back, he would look away. He knew that if he took even one step, the girl's look would change to pity when he dragged his wooden leg and it squeaked aloud.
Once he managed to get into a limousine with a rich girl whose mother was shopping inside the ritzy department store because a group of wild teenagers ran their automobile into an old lady and killed her, thus giving him the distraction necessary to move to the car at exactly the right time. He got her address and managed to leave without her noticing his leg. Later he called on her. Seems like taking a girl out meant having a car and a lot of money, but a porch on a cold evening cost nothing and was perfect for making out. Being very poor, he maneuvered her onto the porch, all 300 pounds of her, as it turned out — a fact that had escaped his notice in the limo earlier.His strategy to avoid kissing her was to attempt the kiss too soon, be turned down, and not try again. It worked. Somehow he managed to leave unscathed, un-kissed, and with his self-esteem intact, only to have his leg squeak one last time and fall out of his pants on the way to the street. He fell with a crash into the driveway, short of the street. The living room lights came back on, and he dragged himself to the street where a kind soul, thinking he'd been in an accident, picked him up and drove him home. He got fitted for a new leg, and he had to replace the sock and the shoe on the lost leg with a new pair of socks and shoes.
Some time during his late teens he got to make a trip he had dreamed of and planned as a child, a trip into the deep south. He and his buddy made the trip together and Al got to catch his only glimpses of hillbilly living, but it was enough to spur his later creation of the mythical town of Dogpatch, USA. While he was drawing Joe Palooka as an assistant, he created his first comic hillbilly characters that were later to mature into those of the Li'l Abner strip.
Not exactly an autobiography, this book is a collection of memoirs and sketches, including Al Capp's life drawn by Li'l Abner in an Escherian move by Capp that few comic artists have ever matched. The comic creation draws a comic strip of the comic strip creator's life. The various sketches are hilarious, witty, poignant, and always interesting. This was an interesting man that graced our daily newspapers for forty-three years.
An example from one of the sketches: Al Capp confessed to being a lifelong non-alcoholic and told the tales of woe of children that grew up with such a non-addicted Dad as he.
[page 108] Children of normal — or drinking — parents learn quickly to stay out of Dad's sight when he comes home from the office at five-thirty, tired and irritable. They know that not until seven, after he has put away two or three, is it safe to emerge. Then the old man will be at his mellow, manageable best, and putty in their hands.
The non-alcoholic's children listen to such accounts of normal home life with bewilderment and envy. It is then that they realize their Dad is no more fun at seven o'clock than he is at five-thirty. In fact, he is never any fun, not in the ripe, glassy-eyed way drinking dads are.
Well, in a world of non-alcoholic Dads, that all too many of us had to endure, thank God there was Li'l Abner and Daisy Mae to brighten our day.
3.) ARJ2: A Course in Miracles, Volume II Workbook Scribed by Helen Schucman
What is a miracle? To read the thousand plus pages of this three volume set without finding out what this means would seem a little strange, wouldn't it? After reading the set of books, and this workbook of 500 pages, I am finally able to express what a miracle is in just these few words:A miracle is a change of attitude.
A miracle is a shift in perception which leads to a change of attitude in the person who holds the attitude. This is so simple, one wonders why it's such a big deal as to require three volumes totaling over 1,000 pages. My hope is to share with you my thoughts as I worked through the exercises in this workbook over the past twenty years on three occasions and to review the book so that you will come to have an inkling of what miracles are.
This is a workbook that is organized into 365 lessons or exercises, one for every day of a year. I began my first year of exercises on May 7, 1981 and reached the Epilogue on May 8, 1983, taking two years to complete the exercises with gaps in between. Later I began a new reading on New Year's Day of 1991 and finished up the book on December 31, 1991, managing to read one exercise a day in my car as I drove back and forth to work for the year.
When the Introduction to a book gives two general rules to be followed as one reads it, one would do well to heed those rules.
[page 1] The only general rules to be observed throughout, then, are: First, that the exercises be practiced with great specificity, as will be indicated. This will help you to generalize the ideas involved to every situation in which you find yourself, and to everyone and everything in it. Second, be sure that you do not decide for yourself that there are some people, situations or things to which the ideas are applicable. This will interfere with transfer of training. The very nature of true perception is that it has no limits. It is the opposite of the way you see now.
The very first lesson begins with "Nothing I see in this room (on this street, from this window, in this place) means anything." That led me to scribble in the margin that "The meaning of things is in ourselves," which presaged the next lesson which says "I have given everything I see in this room all the meaning it has for me." If you have followed this so far, you may already begin to glimpse that a miracle is what occurs when you change the meaning you have given things. The next lesson says, "I do not understand anything I see in this room." and it offers us the freedom to experience our current surroundings with the fresh eyes of a little child. We were all little children once, and that childlike way of viewing the world as a great and mysterious place full of wonder which we would like to understand can be re-enlivened by following just the first three lessons and applying them to everything you see in the room, on the street, in everyone you meet. And as you move to Lesson 7 you read, "I see only the past" and are asked to apply this to everything around you, "I see only the past in this keyboard," "I see only the past in this room," and so forth. Then you realize that your mind is preoccupied with past thoughts (Lesson 8) and realize that you seem to be thinking about this room, this person, etc., but your mind is really preoccupied with past thoughts — that you see nothing as it is now (Lesson 9), and that your thoughts do not mean anything (Lesson 10).
[page 16] The emphasis is now on the lack of reality of what you think you think.
This aspect of the correction process began with the idea that the thoughts of which you are aware are meaningless, outside rather than within; and then stressed their past rather than their present status. Now we are emphasizing that the presence of these "thoughts" means that you are not thinking.
Jane Roberts once asked this question, "From what tree does the fruit drop which appear in mind's basket?" To understand this fully one needs to understand that our past thoughts, our thoughts which do not mean anything, can keep mind's basket full so that no thoughts can fall from that tree into our basket. Only when we recognize the true nature of our mind as an open basket can we perceive the fruit which drops into it, and then we come to really see.
[page 16] This is merely another way of repeating our earlier statement that your mind is really a blank. To recognize this is to recognize nothingness when you think you see it. As such, it is the prerequisite for vision.
Lesson 11 says, "My meaningless thoughts are showing me a meaningless world." This is the concept for which I penned an acronym to help me remember to apply it to every aspect of my world some five yeas before I read the Course in Miracles: EAT-O-TWIST, which stands for Everything Allways Turns Out The Way It's Supposed To. If you are supposing something that is basically meaningless, then the world will turn out to seem meaningless to you. But it is not the function of the world to be meaningless, only your supposing that creates that in you. The Course in Miracles, rightly understood, is devoted to helping one change one's habitual method of supposing and thereby reversing one's way of thinking of the world. Therein lies the miracle. Below is the first paragraph of Lesson 11:
[page 18] This is the first idea we have had that is related to a major phase of the correction process; the reversal of the thinking of the world. It seems as if the world determines what you perceive. Today's idea introduces the concept that your thoughts determine the world you see. Be glad indeed to practice the idea in its initial form, for in this idea is your release made sure. The key to forgiveness lies in it.
As I write these words, the world is in the middle of the first war of the 21st Century, the War on Terrorism, and forces are massing for a possible offensive to overturn Iraq's dictator. The words I hear people speaking today are reflected by the sentiment of Lesson 12, in which we are asked to look about us and say to ourselves, "I think I see a fearful world, a dangerous world, a hostile world, a sad world, a wicked world, a crazy world." whereas what we are really doing is getting "upset because we see a meaningless world" as the exercise for this lesson tells us to say. What does all this mean?
[page 19, 20] What is meaningless is neither good or bad. Why, then, should a meaningless world upset you? If you could accept the world as meaningless and let the truth be written upon it for you, it would make you indescribably happy. But because it is meaningless, you are impelled to write upon it what you would have it be. It is this you see in it. It is this that is meaningless in truth. Beneath your words is written the Word of God. The truth upsets you now, but when your words have been erased, you will see His. That is the ultimate purpose of these exercises.
"A meaningless world engenders fear."Why does it engender fear? Because "I think I am in competition with God." [Lesson 13] And yet, as Lesson 14 tells us, "God did not create a meaningless world." We are to let go of the thoughts we have been supposing, the thoughts that we "have written on the world, and see the Word of God in their place." Now for an exercise for you, dear Reader:
[page 23] With eyes closed, think of all the horrors in the world that cross your mind. Name each one as it occurs to you, and then deny its reality. God did not create it, and so it is not real. Say, for example:"God did not create that war, and so it is not real."
"God did not create that airplane crash, and so it is not real."
"God did not create that disaster [specify], and so it is not real."
This is your personal repertory of horrors at which you are looking. These things are part of the world you see. Some of them are shared illusions, and others are part of your personal hell. It does not matter.
Why does it not matter? Because "God did not create a meaningless world." [Lesson 14] Your thoughts are images you have made. [Lesson 15]
[page 25] It is because the thoughts you think you think appear as images that you do not recognize them as nothing. You think you think them, and so you think you see them. This is how your "seeing" was made. This is the function you have given your body's eyes. It is not seeing. It is image-making. It takes the place of seeing, replacing vision with illusions.
Here is an important point — you replace real inner vision with your own version of reality that is essentially meaningless and this gets mistaken with real vision and frightens you, up until now. As Lesson 16 says, "Every thought you have contributes to truth or to illusion; either it extends the truth or it multiplies illusions."Lesson 19, page 30, says, "Thinking and its results are really simultaneous, for cause and effect are never separate." A study of this course will definitely convince you of the deep meaningfulness of Matherne's Rule#4, "It all happens at the same time." In Lesson 20 we are told, "The exercises for today consist in reminding yourself throughout the day that you want to see" -- that you want to see differently. It urges us to apply this thought repeatedly throughout the day, a thought that I succinctly summed up in the acronym EAT-O-TWIST. To apply this thought, one only has to say or think, EAT-O-TWIST! [italics added below]
[page 31] The extra repetitions should be applied to any situation, person or event that upsets you. You can see them differently, and you will. What you desire you will see. Such is the real law of cause and effect as it operates in the world.
Lesson 23 tells us, "I can escape from the world I see by giving up attack thoughts." Now this seems a bit silly, but remember Lesson 19 above, "cause and effect are never separate." "Every thought you have makes up some segment of the world you see." Given that is so, you must give up trying to change the world or lamenting about how bad the world is, you must instead give up your attack thoughts. The world, rightly understood, is an amplifier that increases whatever you put into it. What would you say to someone who played raucous music on a stereo and complained about the noise it made? The nature of an amplifier is to amplify — to reduce the output you must reduce or eliminate the input.
[page 34] There is no point in trying to change the world. It is incapable of change because it is merely an effect. But there is indeed a point in changing your thoughts about the world. Here you are changing the cause. The effect will change automatically.
There is a famous Zen story about a Western professor who visited a Zen master in China to learn from him and was invited to a Tea Ceremony. The two are seated and the learned professor watched impatiently as the roshi performed the detailed processes of preparing the water, the tea, and the cups. Finally the professor held his cup while the roshi poured the tea into his cup. When the tea reached the brim of the cup the roshi kept pouring and finally hot tea poured over the side, scalding the professor's hand and forcing him to drop his cup. "What?" the professor exclaimed in exasperation, "Could you not see that the cup was already full and couldn't hold any more tea?"
"Yes," replied the roshi, "a full tea cup cannot hold more tea. Could you not see that you brought a full cup of knowledge to this meeting into which you expected me to pour more knowledge?" Did the professor perceive what was in his own best interests? Lesson 24 gives us this exercise to say, "I do not perceive my own best interests."
[page 36] If you realized that you do not perceive your own best interests, you could be taught what they are. But in the presence of your conviction that you do know what they are, you cannot learn. The idea for today is a step toward opening your mind so that learning can begin.
Everything in your world has a good intention for you. But, as Lesson 25 tells you to practice saying, "I do not know what anything is for." Your ego is not you, but you accept your ego's goals as your own goals. As a result these goals have nothing to do with your own best interests. This confusion makes you incapable of understanding what anything is for.
[page 38] Another way of describing the goals you now perceive is to say that they are all concerned with "personal" interests. Since you have no personal interests, your goals are really concerned with nothing. In cherishing them, therefore, you have no goals at all. And thus you do not know what anything is for.
"Purpose is meaning." These words begin Lesson 25, but we only understand purpose at a level that is superficial, up until now. It is as though we know that a telephone is for the purpose of talking to someone at a distance, but we cannot contact him meaningfully because we don't know what would be the purpose of our contact with him. There is the level of the purpose of a phone versus the deeper level of the purpose of a phone call. When you apply Lesson 25, it is this deeper level of purpose you are referring to when you say, "I do not know what anything is for."
Lesson 27 comes with a couple of booster shots. The main exercise is to say, "Above all else I want to see." In case you fear some sacrifice is required by that unconditional statement, you are given these two boosters, "Vision has no cost to anyone." and "It can only bless." It is suggested that you repeat this short sentence once every 15 minutes throughout the day.
[page 42] The real question is, how often will you remember? How much do you want today's idea to be true? Answer one of these questions and you have answered the other.
These are two great questions to ask about any process "X" that you decide will be beneficial to you. "How often will you X?" will directly depend upon "How much do you want to enjoy the benefits of X?"
As we go through the next several exercises, we come to see God is in everything, God is in our minds, we are not the victim of the world we see, and we have invented the world that we see. [Lessons 29-32] Then we are enabled to discover that there is another way of looking at the world, namely, we could see peace instead of this. [Lessons 33, 34] The repetition of this next statement is recommended especially as a way of bringing peace to yourself.
[page 52] "I can replace my feelings of depression, anxiety or worry [ or my thoughts about his situation, personality or event] with peace."
The next set of lessons seem like a litany in which we discover our holiness, so I will list them as such:
Lesson 35: "My mind is part of God's. I am very holy."
Lesson 36: "My holiness envelops everything I see."
Lesson 37: "My holiness blesses the world."
Lesson 38: "There is nothing my holiness cannot do."
Lesson 39: "My holiness is my salvation."
Lesson 39 begins with this amazing question, "If guilt is hell, what is its opposite?" The point is that if we believe guilt is hell, we would not need the workbook because, as the text tells us, "No one needs practice to gain what is already his."
Lesson 40: "I am blessed as a Son of God."
Lesson 41: "God goes with me wherever I go."
Lesson 42: "God is my Strength. Vision is His gift."
Lesson 43: "God is my Source. I cannot see apart from Him."
Lesson 44: "God is the Light in which I see."
Lesson 45: "God is the Mind with which I think."
Lesson 46: "God is the Love in which I forgive."
Lesson 47: "God is the Strength in which I trust."
Lesson 48: "There is nothing to fear."
Take time to absorb Lesson 48 and inspect your reaction to the statement, "There is nothing to fear." It is a simple statement that you can agree with or be appalled by. Which is it for you? What does it mean if you have so much fear in your life that you cannot make or accept this simple statement as a possibility for you or anyone else? It means that the world you see supports the fearful nature of the self-image you have sustained, up until now.
[page 77] The presence of fear is a sure sign that you are trusting in your own strength. The awareness that there is nothing to fear shows that somewhere in your mind, though not necessarily in a place you recognize as yet, you have remembered God, and let His strength take the place of your weakness. The instant you are willing to do this there is indeed nothing to fear.
A series of review exercises take us up to Lesson 61's dramatic pronouncement that seems blasphemous at first and the height of egoistic self-glorification, "I am the Light of the world." Yet it is with true humility that we accept this idea and repeat it during the day.
[page 101] Who is the Light of the world except God's Son? This, then, is merely a statement of the truth about yourself. It is the opposite of a statement of pride, of arrogance, or of self-deception.
True humility requires that you accept today's idea because it is God's Voice Which tells you it is true. This is a beginning step in accepting your true function on earth.
Lesson 62: "Forgiveness is my function as the light of the world." This is our true function on the earth by which we bring light to the world of darkness.
[page 103] It is your forgiveness that lets you recognize the light in which you see. Forgiveness is the demonstration that you are the light of the world. Through your forgiveness does the truth about yourself return to your memory. Therefore, in your forgiveness lies your salvation.
Remember that in every attack you call upon your own weakness, while each time you forgive you call upon the strength of Christ in you. Do you not then begin to understand what forgiveness will do for you? It will remove all sense of weakness, strain and fatigue from your mind. It will take away all fear and guilt and pain. It will restore the invulnerability and power God gave His Son to your awareness.
A litany of this thought proceeds until we arrive at Lesson 67: "Love created me like Itself." But that means you or I cannot hold a grievance because "to hold a grievance is to see yourself as a body." "To hold a grievance is to let the ego rule your mind and to condemn the body to death." And as Lesson 69 continues: "My grievances hide the light of the world in me." Your grievance is like a dark cloud hiding a brilliant light, but all you can see is cloud.
[page 116, 117] Determine to go past the clouds. Reach out and touch them in your mind. Brush them aside with your hand; feel them resting on your cheeks and forehead and eyelids as you go through them. Go on; clouds cannot stop you.
What can stop you? The ego's plan for salvation, which depends upon holding grievances, can stop you. The ego holds the idea that if only someone else had spoken or acted differently, or some external event had gone differently, you would have been saved. You are certain that a change is required for everything and everyone but you, up until now.
The ego is like Nasruddin in the old Sufi story who is crawling on the ground outside of his house searching for something. A friend comes up and asks if he can help. Nasruddin says, "Yes, I lost my key." And the two of them continue to search around on the ground. Finally his friend says, "Nasruddin, exactly where did you drop your key?"
"In the house," Nasruddin says.
"If you dropped your key in the house, why are we looking for it out here on the ground?" his friend asked.
"Because here there is more light," Nasruddin replied.
If you laughed when you first heard this story, it was because you recognized a deep truth about the folly of your own ego, which seeks in the wrong places and is upset when it does not find. Such is the folly of the ego's plan for our salvation, as Lesson 71 explains to us:
[page 120] Surely you can see how it is in strict accord with the ego's basic doctrine, "Seek but do not find." For what could more surely guarantee that you will not find salvation than to channelize all your efforts in searching for it where it is not?
Lesson 72 says, "Holding grievances is an attack on God's plan for salvation." And that attack is led by the ego whose main goal is to replace God. How better for the ego to argue against God than for it to project all its undesirable characteristics on Him? This is a curious idea at first, but read on as this lesson expands on the theme.
[page 122] While we have recognized that the ego's plan for salvation is the opposite of God's, we have not yet emphasized that it is an active attack on His plan, and a deliberate attempt to destroy it. In the attack, God is assigned the attributes which are actually associated with the ego, while the ego appears to take on the attributes of God.
The ego's fundamental wish is to replace God. In fact, the ego is the physical embodiment of that wish. For it is that wish that seems to surround the mind with a body, keeping it separate and alone and unable to reach other minds except through the body that was made to imprison it. The limit on communication cannot be the best means to expand communication. Yet the ego would have you believe it is.
With Lesson 73, we move in the direction of using the will we share with God, not the "ego's idle wishes, out of which darkness and nothingness arise."
[page 125] The will you share with God has all the power of creation in it. The ego's idle wishes are unshared, and therefore have no power at all. Its wishes are not idle in the sense that they can make a world of illusions in which your belief can be very strong. But they are idle indeed in terms of creation. They make nothing that is real.
With Lesson 75 we receive a powerful exercise to perform, "The light has come." We have finally moved out of the darkness of the ego and its artificial illusions and grievances and have moved into the light.
[page 130] The light has come. You are healed and you can heal. The light has come. You are saved and you can save. You are at peace, and you bring peace with you wherever you go. Darkness and turmoil and death have disappeared. The light has come.
Because the light has come, we can say with confidence the words of Lesson 76, "I am under no laws but God's." This may seem a strange thing to say when we live in a world of laws — laws of the State, of medicine, of economics, of health. But this lesson tells us it is insanity to think that these laws will protect us.
[page 132] These are not laws, but madness. The body is endangered by the mind that hurts itself. The body suffers just in order that the mind will fail to see it is the victim of itself. The body's suffering is a mask the mind holds up to hide what really suffers. It would not understand it is its own enemy; that it attacks itself and wants to die. It is from this your "laws" would save the body. It is for this you think you are a body.
At last we have emerged from the dark clouds into the light and can say confidently the words of Lesson 77, "I am entitled to miracles." We know that the laws of God do not take but only give, and one of the things His laws give us is endless joy in the form of miracles. As we lift the clouds that blocked our sight we can see the Son of God standing in the light. Lesson 78, "Let miracles replace all grievances," gives us specific instructions on how to proceed:
[page 137] Today we will attempt to see God's Son. We will not let ourselves be blind to him; we will not look upon our grievances. So is the seeing of the world reversed, as we look out toward truth, away from fear. We will select one person you have used as target for your grievances, and lay the grievances aside and look at him. Someone, perhaps, you fear and even hate; someone you think you love who angered you; someone you call a friend, but whom you see as difficult at times or hard to please, demanding, irritating or untrue to the ideal he should accept as his, according to the role you set for him.
You know the one to choose; his name has crossed your mind already. He will be the one of whom we ask God's Son be shown to you. Through seeing him behind the grievances that you have held against him, you will learn that what lay hidden while you saw him not is there in everyone, and can be seen. He who was enemy is more than friend when he is freed to take the holy role the Holy Spirit has assigned to him. Let him be savior unto you today. Such is his role in God your Father's plan.
This section ends before the next Review with acknowledgments that our problems have been solved. Lesson 79: "Let me recognize the problem so it can be solved." and 80: "Let me recognize my problems have been solved."
[page 153] Today I would remember the simplicity of salvation by reinforcing the lesson that there is one problem and one solution. The problem is a grievance; the solution is a miracle. And I invite the solution to come through my forgiveness of the grievance, and my welcome of the miracle that takes its place.
When the next Lesson after the Review lessons, No. 91, picks up, we are asked to practice saying and thinking, "Miracles are seen in light." This is to be the central idea of our "new thought system."
On page 156 I made a note in 1991 that The Course in Miracles moves us from particles (bodies) to participation (spirit). That takes us from being "apart from" to being "apart of" of the real world of spirit. If you move from particles to participation, then you will be able to say with conviction:
"I am not weak, but strong."
"I am not helpless, but all powerful."
"I am not limited, but unlimited."
"I am not doubtful, but certain."
"I am not an illusion, but a reality."
"I cannot see in darkness, but in light."
The next set of Lessons 91-96 I have incorporated into this poem, this hymn whose title and first line comes from Lesson 110, "I am as God created me":
I am as God created me
All that I have is given me
Today I see God's will for me:
My salvation comes from me
Refrain: Miracles are seen in light
All is blessed in my sight
I see the true reality
I see not doubt, but certainty
There is no will but God's, I see
I live in His reality.
Salvation is my function here
I play the part that God holds dear
I listen for those far and near
Who hear the Holy Word I hear.
God's Will for me is happiness
And errors healed by truthfulness
He fills me with His holiness
To recognize my sinlessness.
Light and Joy abide in me
His Holy Grace is given me
I am His Son eternally
I am as God created me.
I change my mind on what I see
And change the world accordingly.
I loose the world from all I see
And choose my own reality.
When I worked in the Foxboro Co. Software Research Department back in 1975, my supervisor was a Norwegian named Per Holst. He told me that in the Norwegian Boy Scout Handbook in the section on map reading it said, "When the terrain differs from the map, believe the terrain." I have always remembered that, and when I encountered the writings of the Alfred O. Korzybski where he said, time and again, "The map is not the territory," I was reminded of Per's words to me. In Lesson 96 of this book: "Salvation comes from my true Self," terrain and map are equated to truth and illusion in the following statement, "The fact that truth and illusion cannot be reconciled, no matter how hard you try, what means you use and where you see the problem, must be accepted if you would be saved." To confuse terrain and map would leave you open to the same kind of error as a man who went to dine at Antoine's Restaurant in New Orleans, ate the menu, and then complained about the food at this famous gourmet restaurant. Rightly understood, this is the kind of error that the ego makes when it confuses truth with the ego's own manufactured illusions. The man spoiled one dinner, but the ego can spoil one's entire lifetime unless one learns to distinguish truth from illusion, one's true Self from one's ego. When one can make that distinction, one will no longer try to solve the problems created by one's ego, problems which, in truth, do not exist.
[page 167, 168] Spirit makes use of mind as means to find its Self-expression. . . . mind apart from spirit cannot think. It has denied its Source of strength, and sees itself as helpless, limited and weak. Dissociated from its function now, it thinks it is alone and separate, attacked by armies massed against itself and hiding in the body's frail support. Now must it reconcile unlike with like, for this is what it thinks that it is for.
Waste no more time on this. Who can resolve the senseless conflicts which a dream [RJM: map or ego production] presents? What could the resolution mean in truth? What purpose could it serve? What is it for? Salvation cannot make illusions real, nor solve a problem that does not exist.
The words of Lesson 97, "I am spirit" leads off a litany of exercises in which we accept our part in God's plan for salvation and recognize that plan involves peace and joy for us. When we reach Lesson 106, we learn the power of meditation, the power of the empty basket, the power of the empty tea cup, the power of our mind purified of the ego's mad productions, as we work our way through this simple and powerful exercise: "Let me be still and listen to the truth."
[page 187] Listen today, and you will hear a Voice Which will resound throughout the world through you.
But first, we are told to pose this unanswered question, "What does it mean to give and receive?" and to "Ask and expect an answer."
[page 188] Your request is one whose answer has been waiting long to be received by you. It will begin the ministry for which you came, and which will free the world from thinking giving is a way to lose. And so the world becomes ready to understand and to receive.
"How boring to sit there doing nothing!" the ego whispers in one's ear if one imagines sitting in meditation. Haven't you already heard that voice? It is the voice of illusion, but a very familiar and convincing voice. A voice that would dearly love to keep you outside looking fruitlessly for a key that, rightly understood, is inside. What is one to do?
[page 188] Be still and listen to the truth today. For each five minutes spent in listening, a thousand minds are opened to the truth and they will hear the holy Word you hear."Let me be still and listen to the truth,
I am the messenger of God today,
My voice is His, to give what I receive."
Lesson 109 tells us, "I rest in God." And as you rest in God, call your brothers to their rest along with you, forgetting no one.
[page 194] Open the temple doors and let them come from far across the world, and near as well; your distant brothers and your closest friends; bid them all enter here and rest with you. . . . give to those unborn and those passed by, to every Thought of God, and to the Mind in which these Thoughts were born and where they rest. And we remind them of their resting place each time we tell ourselves, "I rest in God."
By the time we reach Lesson 122 "Forgiveness offers everything I want" we might wonder how much further have we to go. The news we receive is heartening.
[page 214] Begin in hopefulness, for we have reached the turning point at which the road becomes far easier. . . . Today it will given to you to feel the peace forgiveness offers, and the joy the lifting of the veil holds out to you.
The next passage, coming immediately after the one above, is a powerful passage, one that spoke loudly to me and asked to be incorporated with minor modifications in my marriage ceremony. In all the marriages that I have performed in the past two decades this passage has appeared, and no one has ever asked me what it means. They simply know.
[page 214] Before the light you will receive today the world will fade until it disappears and you will see another world arise you have no words to picture. Now we walk directly into light, and we receive the gifts that have been held in store for us since time began, kept waiting for today.
These Lessons, these verses, are like shining footprints in the sands of time for us to follow and we no longer feel lost as we step into these footprints. Lesson 124 tells you to keep this in your mind today, "Let me remember I am one with God."
[page 218] Our shining footprints point the way to truth, for God is our Companion as we walk the world a little while. And those who come to follow us will recognize the way because the light we carry stays behind, yet still remains with us as we walk on.
In Matherne's Rule #9 we find a recursive rule, "This is the first time you have read Matherne's Rules, up until now." It refers to itself so that there can be no mistake of the nature of the statement — it expresses a definite fact for the person who is reading it for the first time. It is a deed that is happening as one reads the statement. It is expressing a limitation in one's life, namely, that one has not previously read MR#9 — a seemingly trivial limitation, but a limitation nevertheless. What happens after the statement of the limitation? By the time one reaches the comma, one's limitation is in one's past, and one can never return to the state of not having read MR#9. As one pauses at the comma, a release from the limitation stated thus far is accomplished and one acknowledges that release by a breath of life before continuing with the denouement: "up until now." In MR#9 we have a demonstration of stating a limitation followed by an erasure of the limitation stated, and thus the name "limitation eraser" was given to its final clause <, up until now>. When you apply the limitation eraser to the end of a sentence in which you state something that is now and has always been true for you in your life or in the world, as you experience it, the 'world in infancy is newly born' for you.
[page 226] Today the legion of the future years of waiting for salvation disappears before the timelessness of what you learn. Let us give thanks today that we are spared a future like the past. Today we leave the past behind us, nevermore to be remembered. And we raise our eyes upon a different present, where a future dawns unlike the past in every attribute.
The world in infancy is newly born.
With every evocation of the limitation eraser, you are spared a future like the past. The world in infancy is newly born, and a new world awaits you have no words to picture. It is a new world that will greet you from now on. The only thing you have to lose is loss itself, to paraphrase Lesson 129.
When I was doing psychotherapy twenty-five years ago, I had a sign in my office which said, "I don't avoid Confusion, I create it." I suspect few understood the purpose of the sign. Why should a therapist try to create confusion? Isn't there enough confusion already in the world? What I had learned to do was to raise to question the source of what those who came to me seeking help thought was their real world, which world was but an illusion they had created for themselves, not truth.
[page 236] A madman thinks the world he sees is real, and does not doubt it. Nor can he be swayed by questioning his thoughts' effects. It is but when their source is raised to question that the hope of freedom comes to him at last.
Those who came to me were convinced that the world was a given, not something they had created. They merely arrived in a world and found that they didn't like it, and because it was already that way when they arrived, they felt helpless to change it. Ah, there's the rub! They felt helpless and they felt helpless to change the way they felt. They themselves were part of the world they felt helpless to change. What they needed was a good dose, not of a psychotropic drug, but of the exercise provided by Lesson 132, "I loose the world from all I thought it was." It is a deep explication of the insight provided by the simple acronym, EAT-O-TWIST. When you change how you suppose the world to be, the world will turn out to be the new way you suppose. Remember, EAT-O-TWIST never breaks.
[page 236] Perhaps you think you did not make the world, but came unwillingly to what was made already, hardly waiting for your thoughts to give it meaning. Yet in truth you found exactly what you looked for when you came.
There is no world apart from what you wish, and herein lies your ultimate release. Change but your mind on what you want to see, and all the world must change accordingly.
Lesson 134 exhorts us to exercise this thought in ourselves, "Let me perceive forgiveness as it is." Ah yes, we already think we know what forgiveness is, don't we? Does this describe the way you think of forgiveness or pardon?
[page 242] You conceive of pardon as a vain attempt to look past what is there; to overlook the truth, in an unfounded effort to deceive yourself by making an illusion true.
But what then is pardon? What is the forgiveness that the Lord's Prayer tells we are to apply to others as we wish it applied to ourselves? It is not pardon.
[page 242] Pardon . . . is merely a further sign that sin is unforgivable, at best to be concealed, denied or called another name, for pardon is a treachery to truth. Guilt cannot be forgiven. If you sin, your guilt is everlasting. Those who are forgiven from the view their sins are real are pitifully mocked and twice condemned; first, by themselves for what they think they did, and once again by those who pardon them.
What can we say to someone insane with guilt? We can heed the words of Lesson 134, and look upon them with quiet eyes and say, "My brother, what you think is not the truth." Why is it not the truth? Because the sin of which they feel guilty is an illusion, it is not real.
[page 242, 243] It is sin's unreality that makes forgiveness natural and wholly sane, a deep relief to those who offer it; a quiet blessing where it is received. It does not countenance illusions, but collects them lightly, with a little laugh, and gently lays them at the feet of truth. And there they disappear entirely.
The forgiveness we wish for is our own acceptance of the unreality of sin. The unreality of sin is but the illusory reality of sin that is created by the ego.
[page 243] Forgiveness stands between illusions and the truth; between the world you see and that which lies beyond; between the hell of guilt and Heaven's gate.
Across this bridge, as powerful as Love which laid its blessing on it, are all dreams of evil and of hatred and attack brought silently to truth.
Lesson 135 explains how to free oneself from attacks by switching the usual order of things as set by the ego. The ego would say, "If I am attacked I defend myself." This lesson has us practice this thought, "If I defend myself I am attacked." Defense is a folly, it tells us, it turns the illusion of being attacked into a reality, "thus making correction doubly difficult." Consider how difficult this would be to explain to someone else and then be glad that it is only yourself that needs convincing, an easier job for you who have done the exercises suggested so far in this book. You know that "A sense of threat is an acknowledgment of an inherent weakness."
[page 245] The world is based on this insane belief. And all its structures, all its thoughts and doubts, its penalties and heavy armaments, its legal definitions and its codes, its ethics and its leaders and its gods, all serve but to preserve its sense of threat. For no one walks the world in armature but must have terror striking at his heart.
I first encountered this idea in Carlos Castaneda's work A Separate Reality where don Juan admonishes Carlos, "What you call accidents are, most of the time, very easy to avoid, except for fools who are living helter-skelter." Carlos, an anthropologist who is accustomed to codes, ethics, and defense against threat, tosses don Juan this challenge, "Imagine that someone is waiting for you with a powerful rifle with a telescopic sight; he could spot you accurately five hundred yards away. What would you do?" Don Juan laughs and says in effect, "I would not be walking down that street." Can you understand that "living helter-skelter" was don Juan's way of talking about living in the illusory world of the ego where there is no real protection, only a bouncing around from one illusion of protection to another?
Lesson 135 tells us, "it is not the body that can fear, nor be a thing of fear." Our body has no needs but those we give it.
[page 245] It needs no complicated health structures of defense, no health-inducing medicine, no care and no concern at all. Defend its life, or give it gifts to make it beautiful or walls to make it safe, and you but say your home is open to the thief of time, corruptible and crumbling, so unsafe it must be guarded with your very life.
If we consider the natural processes of aging as something we must defend ourselves against, we have allowed the ego to mistake our body for our life and have caused the very things to happen that we most wanted to avoid. "Don't think of a pink elephant" Now, what was the color of that elephant? If you remember pink, you know from this simple demonstration that what you seek to avoid you create more of. Create a defense for the body and it will cease to be healthy — that is the lesson for us.
[page 246] The body is in need of no defense. This cannot be too often emphasized. It will be strong and healthy if the mind does not abuse it by assigning it to roles it cannot fill, to purposes beyond its scope, and to exalted aims which it cannot accomplish. Such attempts, ridiculous yet deeply cherished, are the sources for the many mad attacks you make upon it. For it seems to fail your hopes, your need, your values and your dreams.
What are we to do if not plan? The answer is simple. "Let go and let God." is one way of thinking about it. "Not my will, but Thy Will be done" is another.
[page 246] A healed mind does not plan. It carries out the plans that it receives through listening to Wisdom that is not its own. It waits until it has been taught what should be done, and then proceeds to do it. It does not depend upon itself for anything except its adequacy to fulfill the plans assigned to it. It is secure in certainty that obstacles can not impede its progress to accomplishment of any goal that serves the greater plan established for the good of everyone.
Lesson 135 tells us, "The mind that plans is thus refusing to allow for change." It builds those plans on what has come before and thus its plans are built on the sand of past experience, which provides no stability in the long-term because the first flood will wash away its foundation.
[page 247] And it does not see that here and now is everything it needs to guarantee a future quite unlike the past, without a continuity of any old ideas and sick beliefs. Anticipation plays no part at all, for present confidence directs the way. . . . What could you not accept if you but knew that everything that happens, all events, past, present and to come, are gently planned by One Whose only purpose is your good?
The last sentence of the previous passage is concisely expressed in the acronym and healing anthem, EAT-O-TWIST, rightly understood. Another thing to remember is this: Defenses Darken Delight. While you make plans for death, He leads you gently to eternal life. Accept His lead today, now, in this time, in this place, and receive the gifts kept waiting for you. Are you ready to accept joy into your life?
[page 248] Your present trust in Him is the defense that promises a future undisturbed, without a trace of sorrow, and with joy that constantly increases, as this life becomes a holy instant, set in time, but heeding only immortality. . . . Without defenses, you become a light which Heaven gratefully acknowledges to be its own. And it will lead you on in ways appointed for your happiness according to the ancient plan, begun when time was born. Your followers will join their light with yours, and it will be increased until the world is lighted up with joy. And gladly will our brothers lay aside their cumbersome defenses, which availed them nothing and could only terrify.
That Lesson 135 is powerful should be obvious to you. What might not be obvious is that I have applied this lesson in my life since I first encountered it in 1981 for some 22 years now in my own life and I can attest that every promise has been kept. I laid aside my cumbersome defenses back then and find myself now defenseless in a life full of unceasing and increasing joy and delight. Here is my prayer for you as I scribbled notes for it twenty years ago on pages 248 and 249:
Today is the Eastertime of your salvation.
Lay aside your cumbersome defenses.
Your present trust directs a future, confident,
Alive with unceasing and increasing Joy
As your life becomes a Holy instant,
Set in time,
And this next prayer which I first wrote on page 253 on April 1, 1982 in response to Lessons 135 and 136 urging that today "we will give a quarter of an hour twice to ask the truth to come to us and set us free." Those two fifteen minute breaks corresponded to the breaks I had during my work days at a nuclear power plant and I used those breaks to help me through those trying days.
Give yourself a break today
In the middle of a Sea o'Lies.
Islands of Truth
Breakers on the Shore
Foam on the white caps
Sand on the Strand.
Synchronicity is when two or more events converge in your life at one time and you notice the relationship between the events. Lesson 137 says, "When I am healed I am not healed alone." On April 21, 1986, in the spirit of this lesson, I read it aloud to my wife, Del. I was reading the italicized words in this next passage when chimes rang out the hour at 7 am according to my marginal notes (italics added):
[pages 255, 256] We will remember, as the hour strikes, our function is to let our minds be healed, that we may carry healing to the world, exchanging curse for blessing, pain for joy, and separation for the peace of God.
"Are you saying, Bobby, that you reject the cures that medicine provides?" No, I'm not saying that, but that is exactly what this course is saying and it can't be any clearer that Lesson 140, "Only salvation can be said to cure." Often what happens when one gets sick, one begins taking medications and during the course of the illness, one has a change of mind and a miracle occurs — one gets better and one attributes the cure to the medications prescribed by the doctor, completely ignoring the effect of the salvation that came to one as triggered by the illness.
[page 263] "Cure" is a word that cannot be applied to any remedy the world accepts as beneficial. What the world perceives as therapeutic is but what will make the body "better." When it tries to heal the mind, it sees no separation from the body, where it thinks the mind exists. Its forms of healing thus must substitute illusion for illusion. One belief in sickness takes another form, and so the patient now perceives himself as well.
He is not healed. He merely had a dream that he was sick, and in the dream he found a magic formula to make him well. . . . The dreams forgiveness lets the mind perceive do not induce another form of sleep, so that the dreamer dreams another dream. His happy dreams are heralds of the dawn of truth upon the mind. They lead from sleep to gentle waking, so that dreams are gone. And thus they cure for all eternity.
In several places in Rudolf Steiner's lectures he indicates that when you awaken from a dream feeling happy, it is a strong indication that everything is right in your world. Another way of saying right is that guilt is absent from your life. Sickness is but another form of guilt. When you accept atonement for yourself as Lesson 139 urges, "I will accept Atonement for myself," you enter a state of at-one-ment with your Self and remain as God created you — without guilt and therefore without sickness.
This next exhortation or reminder of atonement I wrote April 15, 1982 on page 262 using material from pages 263 and 265 of Lesson 140. I have incorporated this in my wedding and ordination ceremonies. [Note my use of capital letters for the words that are Participation (Spirit) and lowercase for words that are particles.]
Hear these Heralds of the dawn of Truth upon the Mind!
Take the lead from sleep into gentle Awakening
So that dreams are gone — replaced by Truth.
This is the day when Healing comes,
This is the day separation ends
And We remember Who
We really are.
After a review we come up to Lesson 151, "All things are echoes of the Voice for God." We are reminded that the ego uses reports from the senses to judge others: what we see with our eyes, what we touch with our fingers, hear with our ears. The Voice for God ignores such illusions of the ego.
[page 272] He passes by such idle witnesses, which merely bear false witness to God's Son. He recognizes only what God loves, and in the holy light to what He sees do all the ego's dreams of what you are vanish before the splendor He beholds.
He does not hear the urgent whispers of the ego which insists that its illusions are real, for He can only laugh at guilt, and has no interest of playing with the toys of sin. "His lessons will enable you to bridge the gap between illusions and the truth."
[page 272] He will remove all faith that you have placed in pain, disaster, suffering and loss. He gives you vision which can look beyond these grim appearances, and can behold the gentle face of Christ in all of them. You will no longer doubt that only good can come to you who are beloved of God, for He will judge all happenings, and teach the single lesson that they all contain.
Have you ever met a young child who was not defenseless? They walk about the world with complete defenselessness and there is where their safety lies. Lesson 153 has this for us, "In my defenselessness my safety lies." In the 1970s a form of play called New Games arose in which the traditional mode of play as competition was replaced by play as fun. I remember going to a Radical Therapy Conference in 1977 and playing volleyball with a group of people who didn't wish to keep score. I was amazed at how much fun it was for both sides. There was the thrill when your side scored each point, but no one kept score and both sides felt great at every step of the way. It was also very easy for people to move from one side to the other when some imbalance occurred due to people leaving or arriving in the game. Let's see how that way of playing a New Game is similar to salvation. [italics added]
[page 278] Salvation can be thought of as a game that happy children play. It was designed by One Who loves His children, and Who would replace their fearful toys with joyous games, which teach them that the game of fear is gone. His game instructs in happiness because there is no loser. Everyone who plays must win, and in his winning is the gain to everyone ensured. The game of fear is gladly laid aside, when children come to see the benefits salvation brings.
With Lesson 154, "I am among the ministers of God," we are urged to deepen our exercises each by "giving our attention to the daily thought as long as possible." We are reminded in this lesson that we are messengers of God and that we can only understand what we receive as messages by giving them to others. This is one of the deep meanings of "Thus a Teacher, so also a Learner." A teacher, rightly understood, learns by teaching. In every teaching situation there must be a teacher and a learner on both ends of the communication for the teaching and learning to proceed. From the end of this lesson on page 283:"I am among the ministers of God.
And I am grateful that I have the means
By which to recognize that I am free."
The world recedes as we light up our minds, and realize these holy words are true. They are the message sent to us today from our Creator. Now we demonstrate how they have changed our minds about ourselves, and what our function is. For as we prove that we accept no will we do not share, our many gifts from our Creator will spring to our sight and leap into our hands, and we will recognize what we received.
Lesson 155 is powerful as it tells us to practice this thought, "I will step back and let Him lead the way." Where are we heading? "We walk to God," the lesson tells us. We are admonished to "walk safely now, yet carefully" avoiding the temptation to "walk ahead of truth, and let illusions be our guide." And as we walk to the truth our holy brothers follow in our footsteps.
[page 286] Your feet are safely set upon the road that leads the world to God. Look not to ways that seem to lead you elsewhere. Dreams are not a worthy guide for you who are God's Son. Forget not He has placed His hand in yours, and given you your brothers in His Trust that you are worthy of His Trust in you. He cannot be deceived. His Trust has made your pathway certain and your goal secure. You will not fail your brothers nor your Self.
And now He asks but that you think of Him a while each day, that He may speak to you and tell of His Love, reminding you how great His Trust; how limitless His Love. In your name and His Own, which are the same, we practice gladly with this thought today:"I will step back and let Him lead the way,
For I would walk along the road to Him."On page 287 of this Workbook I found this lyrically beautiful passage which I have read to others as a poem and it has been much appreciated. The poem testifies to the beauty of the prose which fills this volume. I have given it the title using the words which begin the second stanza: "All Things That Live."
All Things That LiveThere is a light in you which cannot die;
Whose presence is so holy
that the world is sanctified because of you.All things that live bring gifts to you
and offer them in gratitude and gladness
at your feet -The scent of flowers
is their gift to youThe waves bow
Down before youAnd the trees extend their arms
to shield you from the heat
and lay their leaves
before you on the ground
so that you may walk in softnessWhile the wind sinks to a whisper
around your holy head.
One can read this book, but one can only properly benefit from this book if one participates in the exercises. Has there been someone in your life who has angered you, betrayed you, belittled you, snubbed you, or let you down in some way that you remember to this very moment, perhaps decades later? Select one person, one someone now and do this exercise:
[page 298, 299] Select one brother, symbol of the rest, and ask salvation of him. See him first as clearly as you can, in that same form to which you are accustomed. See his face, his hands and feet, his clothing. Watch him smile, and see familiar gestures which he makes so frequently. Then think of this: What you are seeing now conceals from you the sight of one who can forgive you all your sins; whose sacred hands can take away the nails which pierce your own, and lift the crown of thorns which you have placed upon your bleeding head. Ask this of him, that he may set you free:"Give me your blessing, holy Son of God,
I would behold you with the eyes of Christ,
And see my perfect sinlessness in you."
And He will answer Whom you called upon. For He will hear the Voice for God in you, and answer in your own. Behold him now, whom you have seen as merely flesh and bone, and recognize that Christ has come to you. Today's idea is your safe escape from anger and from fear. Be sure you use it instantly, should you be tempted to attack a brother and perceive him the symbol of your fear. And you will see him suddenly transformed from enemy to savior; from the devil into Christ.
And if you should ever falter in your conviction, remember this, The Light that is in you is greater than the darkness that is around you. The next review section from 171 through 179 reprises 151 through 170 and adds this remember after each reviewed lesson, "God is but Love, and therefore so am I."
Lessons 181-200 aim to shore up your weak commitments and blend your scattered goals into one intent. What could impede our progress at this point but our own defensiveness? And what could pierce to the heart of the problem better than this undeniable truth:
[page 328] Experience of what exists beyond defensiveness remains beyond achievement while it is denied.
If you feel a stab of anger, you are defensive. Admit it. Try the simple exercise below:
[page 356] The way is simple. Every time you feel a stab of anger, realize you hold a sword above your head. And it will fall or be averted as you choose to be condemned or free. Thus does each one who seems to tempt you to be angry represent your savior from the prison house of death. And so you owe him thanks instead of pain.
As we come toward the end of our review of the Course in Miracles the question may yet arise, "What is a miracle?" Between Lessons 340 and 341 is a page devoted to answering that question.
[page 463] A miracle is a correction.
A miracle contains the gift of grace, for it is given and received as one.
Forgiveness is the home of miracles.
The miracle is taken first on faith. [EAT-O-TWIST]
Miracles fall like drops of healing rain from Heaven on a dry and dusty world, where staved and thirsty creatures come to die. Now they have water. Now the world is green. And everywhere the signs of life spring up, to show that what is born can never die, for what has life has immortality.
We have reached the end of our review of the Workbook of the Course in Miracles, but it is really the beginning of a glimpse of what is possible for you. The choice is yours. Do you have a question? Remember that a question mark is simply an incomplete exclamation mark. Completion is the task that you can choose in freedom to begin from now on.
Here are three items that I have rescued from the marginalia of this book to share with you. They didn't fit within the body of the review, so I offer them here for you. Go in peace.
[page 212 Marginalia]
Our life is like a movie
We just now came in on in the middle of.
We get to figure out the beginning
by watching through to the ending
And there's no ending
just a beginning
[page 215 Marginalia]
I could have a mansion
that is higher than the trees
I could fly to Paris
on the wings of a breeze
I could find delight
in elephant's knees
and Joy in a
[page 408 - 423 Marginalia]
Truth is what is true for me
Truth is what is true for some
Truth is what is true for you
Truth is what is true for all
Truth is what is true for one
Truth is, what is true for?
Truth is what is, true?
Truth is what?
Truth is what is.
Truth is what?
This Review is WORKBOOK, VOLUME TWO of "A Course in Miracles" - Click to read TEXT, VOLUME ONE
Read/Print Workbook at:
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I hear often from my Good Readers that they have bought books after reading my book reviews. Remember: A book is like a 3-D kindle. 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 converse 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. Padre Filius Finds a Solution in Georgia 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 DIGESTWORLD to share with us some amusing or enlightening aspect of the world he observes during his peregrinations.
This month the good Padre raises a Toast to Savannah for Allowing Drinking in Public:
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 the Chef-Doctor:
RE: Heart is Not a Pump
Hope you had a pleasant Thanksgiving.
I've enjoyed reading your book review of Steiner's The Redemption of Thinking.
Do you have a new "link" for: "Footnote 1. October 22, 2013 Update: I received a link to this enlightening article ..."?
Thank you for considering my inquiry.
Looking forward to the possibility of hearing from you! Have a most fabulous rest of your week!
"The Chef-Doctor" at LinkedIn
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Reply from Bobby ~~~~~~~~~~~
Thanks for pointing out the missing link to the Heart is Not a Pump article in this footnote. I will delete it. Unfortunately, I have no new link for you.
I had an amazing confirmation to the structure of the heart when I had a 2D ultrasound done of my own heart last week. At one point the tech put the sound of my heart on a loudspeaker and I was amazed. It sounded like a washing machine on the agitate cycle! High fidelity sound of my blood being thrust into motion in a vortex by the hydraulic rams of my heart valve. The vortex created by the agitators of the washer mixes soapy water with dirt-filled clothes to clean them. This is similar to the vortex which mixes oxygen-filled blood from the lung with oxygen-depleted blood from the veins and refills the arteries with oxygen as it leaves for the body. (Also nutrients in blood from below the diaphragm on other side of heart mixes into and refills that artery with nutrients.)
I had read about this happening from Steiner, but here I was listening to it happening in my own heart! (Heart proved to be normal, by the way.)
- EMAIL to/from Dr. Kevin Dann:
RE: Heart is Not a Pump
I remember you as young Kevin. When I first met you in Woodstock, Vermont decades ago. I remember a frail young Kevin with dark, sunken eye sockets — you have come a long way to being the robust Kevin you are today.
~~~~~~~~ Reply from Kevin ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Long live the vortex! And long live that capacious, intelligent heart of yours dear Bobby!
And thanks for that sweet affirmation — on this day when I am launching my new tour business!
Dr. Kevin Dann
Magic Rides NYC
1 Grand Army Plaza, 12C
Brooklyn, NY 11238
- EMAIL from Morgan Vierheller of Oregon:
First, let me express my gratitude for your ability to illuminate the work of Rudolf Steiner. In my 19 years of teaching in two Waldorf high schools, I went to your site often to help puzzle through question I had regarding Steiner's work.
In addition to subscribing to your newsletter, I am hoping that you might help with a recently translated pair of lectures known as "The Workman Lectures" entitled Color and the Human Race. These are now available on the RS Archive site.
Accusations in the past of racist statements in the past seemed largely unfounded. These lectures bring questions I feel I cannot answer alone. Our study group is taking a break from Man and the World of Stars (regrettably) to look at the aforementioned lectures.
I welcome your reflections.
Morgan Vierheller Eugene Waldorf School
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ REPLY from Bobby ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
I finished Lecture 2 on Color and Human Race.
I wanted to share this with you right away since an international event has just happened which validates Steiner's hundred-year-old insight about Americans and Europeans. Here's the pertinent Steiner text:But at the same time something very peculiar comes about in the American. Now the European lives entirely in his inner being, does he not — especially if he is a thinker. If he is no thinker, he barely reflects at all, but that produces a life which is not quite filled up. But as soon as the European settles in America he no longer is such a brooder. So the following arises: When you read a European book, things are always proved. One cannot get away from the proving. One reads through a whole book, reads through 400 pages, only proofs. Even if it is a novel there is always proving. For the most part, nothing is proved at the end on the 400th page.During the International Meeting a couple of days ago: The American president affirmed, that is, firmly stated his position. The French president proved, that is, argued for a distinction between nationalism and patriotism. Such a distinction requires a definition of each and a way of proving a point. The American president merely affirmed the US's position, thereby asserting that no proof needed to be provided.
The American does not do that. When you read an American book everything is put forward as a statement. There again it is a going-back, nourished by the instinct. The animal proves nothing; the lion does not prove that he will devour another animal, he will devour it. If the European wants to do anything, it must first be proved. Today that is the great difference between the European and the American. Europeans prove, Americans affirm.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ REPLY from Morgan ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
I am always impressed by how you make connections and explain them with such clarity. It is an important distinction, indeed. It does make me wonder about reliability and veracity of "American" affirmations (including my own).
One fellow anthroposophist also made a distinction between Europe and the U.S. within the movement that in Europe meetings were led by those distinguished as experts and authorities on Steiner while in the U.S. there was more of a discussion among peers.
Warm regards, Morgan
3. Poem from Freedom on the Half Shell:"Politics — the Social Umbilical Cord"
Give me your poor, huddled masses, your deplorables 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. The forces of coercion are prying open the shell that contains the living muscle and spirit of our oyster — the American people — 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?" Here is another poem from Freedom on the Half Shell:
4. Forty Years Later
Politics — the Social Umbilical Cord
Life begins with two,
Adam and Eve, sperm and egg,
A foetal growth in paradise.
In the womb of Mother God
The King rules over all.
Teeming races, one and all,
Bursting over the waters of life.
In the womb of Mother Earth
The King rules over all.
Arms and legs are free
Supply lines umbilical
A government political.
In inspired democracy
The State rules over all.
Yearning to breathe free
The umbilical cord dries up
We stand on our own two feet.
In freedom, rightly understood,
the government of all rules over none.
~^~Below is a short article I wrote in 1998 about walking through the LSU Campus forty years after my Freshman Year. Bobby Matherne
Walking through the parallel arches siding the Quadrangle forty years since I first walked through these same arches as a freshman, I notice a difference — this time I am Citizen Kane walking through the parallel arches of his stately palace, Xanadu. We can go home again, but we take along new concepts and new eyes for viewing the world.
My physics building has a musty smell now — redolent perhaps of the many students who were told by advisors that they must take physics. The sign on the bulletin board wails this existential lament, "How come you can never find a good Quantum Mechanic when you need one?"
My library is here — those stacks I haunted as I rolled my cart of books squeaking down the aisles like the Chinese laundry-lady in Thoroughly Modern Millie — and hidden in my cart were contents, equally lifeless as the drugged young ladies under the cover of the laundry-lady's cart, but with a difference: when I opened the cover of mine its contents instantly sprang to life in front of my eyes. In my mind I am lost in these aisles re-stacking books as I write this: the old lucid coding of the Dewey Decimal has been supplanted by a new LC number system that I have no desire to learn. I do not frequent libraries other than my own these days, but I would like to revisit the 351-357 shelves where I lingered much longer than required and received thirty-five cents an hour for my early sex education as I quickly glanced over titillating titles and contents. My plans to return to inspect such and such a book in more detail seemed to vaporize at the end of my book-shelving shift, besides there was always tomorrow.
There is an expectant air on campus. A senior quarterback of the football team, so firmly entrenched that the big news is the selection of the back-up quarterback. A pre-season ranking in the top ten and distant hopes for a national championship murmurs in the back of everyone's mind. A bona fide Heismann candidate to run the football and a seasoned quarterback to pass it to keep opponents from stacking the line to stop the runner. 1998 and 1958 are resonating in synchrony as I sit in this study carrel in the stacks studying, not physics but Rudolf Steiner, and communing with the ghost of my youth who is right now rolling a cart of Dewey Decimal corpses down a nearby aisle.
"Hello, young Bob!" I want to say. "I am what you will become. With the omniscience of age I can tell you about your life-to-be. Are you listening? Walk to Tiger Town when your shift is over and buy a book of Ralph Waldo Emerson's essays, and read them, especially the one entitled Self-Reliance — it will hold you to a goal that will bring you home to me some forty years hence."
"Hence?" Bob says to no one in particular, "who uses that word anymore? This is 1958, not the Middle Ages."
I wipe at a tear, a wetness in my left eye, and continue writing, for that is what Bob has become — not a physicist, but a writer — what might he have done differently had he known the goal in the beginning of the game. Football is an easy game because the goal stands clearly before you during the game: a large H — either Heaven or Hell, depending on how well you execute your progress towards the end zone. Life offers no such clearly defined goals, young Bob, but it does have an end zone. How do you understand the end zone? The promised land where six points are added to your score when you touch down? A place to visit as many times as possible before the stadium clock runs out? To tally as big a score as possible? To humble your opponents and elevate yourself to the heights? Or is it to enjoy the play on the field — the rush of the deftly executed hip fake on an end run — the elation of the spiraling pigskin nestling gently into your outstretched hands as you run under it?
What is a metaphor, young Bob, but a way of sharing your thinking so as to enliven thoughts in the minds of others? "What does that have to do with physics?" you ask. Good question — surely mass, inertia, energy, and momentum are not metaphors, huh, Bob? "Oh, I suppose they are, or once were." Yes, every word was once a living, breathing metaphor — pulsating with life, umbilical cord still attached to its mother reality. With usage ossification sets in and the word becomes a solid building block, a brick, a keystone for new meanings and metaphors yet to be.
As I walk towards the Student Union, which young Bob had to work forty-five hours shelving books to pay the $15 fee to build when he registered each semester and never got to enjoy till after he graduated, I stop, my attention grabbed by a ribbon of orange tape wrapped around the branches of a live oak tree on the edge of the parade grounds that I walked under once, that young Bob walks under as I write these words, branches that now rest on the acorn-peppered ground, having found their goal: a resting place upon the earth from which the live oak sprang decades before. As I turn back towards the Union entrance a young female's eyes find mine, and, looking curiously at me, asks tentatively, "Mr. Crubok?" Young Bob laughs aloud nearby — "I never got mistaken for a professor!" I explain to her, "Oh, I believe you're waiting for someone else," and I continue walking into the Student Union.
Cold air again. Same cold air I had buttoned my sleeves and collar against in the Troy Middleton Library. "What cold?" young Bob asks. "Feels good to me." Ah, Bob! The passions of youth, the heat of blood coursing through your sinews, quickened by every bare leg and curve that catches your eye. The human heat of your youth, heat that is siphoned from the air of the Student Union by air conditioning compressors, heated and pumped into the waiting subterranean coolness of the earth.
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9. CLOSING NOTES:
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Doyletics — A Memory Technique To Improve the Quality of Your Life
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My reviews are not intended to replace the purchasing and reading of the reviewed books, but rather to supplant a previous reading or to spur a new reading of your own copy. What I endeavor to do in most of my reviews is to impart a sufficient amount of information to get the reader comfortable with the book so that they will want to read it for themselves. My Rudolf Steiner Reviews are more detailed and my intention is to bring his work to a new century of readers by converting his amazing insights into modern language and concepts.
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