Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Running the Chicago Marathon , October 26, 1978

In the fall of 1977, I returned to Kalamazoo College as an Assistant Professor of Education, having graduated from K in 1963 with an English Major and a career as a track athlete, high and low hurdles and the quarter mile, and football player, defensive end, and my football coach, Rolla, now Athletic Director, asked me to coach the men and women’s cross country teams, and I said, “I have never even seen a cross country race,” and the sly fox said, “OK, why don’t you be Ed Baker’s Assistant Coach ng in track this spring, and I said, “OK,” and I was hooked, I had forgotten how much I knew about running and, I just loved working with the guys, and I went up to Rolla and said, “I want to coach cross country, starting next fall,” and then  I looked in the mirror and realized I was about 30 pounds overweight and I hadn’t done any walking or running for years, and in January, 1978, I was reading the magazine, “Runner’s World,” and saw an article that said if you want to run a marathon, 26.2 miles,  this is the way to train, and I went to the track the next day, telling myself I would run a mile, ran two laps, a half-mile, and said that’s it for today, completely winded,  and so it began, going to the track every day and slowly increasing my distance and in a couple of months I hit the road, running two miles a day, and then over the months I increased it, until I was running about 5 miles a day, 6 days a week, and then in June I began increasing my speed until I was running 8 minute pace per mile, for 6 miles, and day after day I built-up my stamina, my speed and my distance, occasionally, some of the guys from the cross country team would join me on a run, particularly Joel Menges, and kindly run my pace, and I had long ago picked out the Chicago Marathon in October, and in late September, I ran my longest distance, 15 miles at 8 minute pace, and that was the farthest I had ever run, 11 miles shy of a marathon, and on the day of the marathon, it was 89 degrees F, and I began, at 5 miles, 40 minutes, 10 miles, 1 hour 20 minutes, and at 20 miles, it was 2:41.19, that is, 79 seconds off pace, it looked as if I were going to do it, and then….at 24 miles, I hit the wall, suddenly, I could hardly put one foot in front of the other, let alone keep my pace, I had never experienced anything like it, and I said to myself, “Look, you fucker, you are going to finish, even if you crawl in,” and I shuffled to the end, taking 24 minutes to run the final 2 miles, and the reason I hit the wall is because, stupidly, I didn’t drink any water along the way, although it was offered every couple of miles, I was stupidly thinking that if I slowed down for water, I wouldn’t be able to keep my pace….well, I ended up completing it in 3 hours and 36 minutes,  my goal was 3 hours and 30 minutes that would have qualified me to run the Boston Marathon in the spring. . .  and, I did finish what I set out to do.

Friday, May 27, 2016

I Can Never Forgive a Person; I Can Only Forgive a Thought


Defining what true forgiveness is is tricky.  At first, it seems that I am trying to forgive a person.  Someone does something that hurts me, and I ask for help to find the strength to forgive that person.  This is bargaining, and I probably think I am a better person than that person.

The thing is, I can never forgive a person; I can only ask for help to let go of my thought-image that is making up that person, simply a projection. 
I can only forgive a thought.

That’s good because it keeps it all within my mind; obviously, the image I am projecting outside begins inside, and there is where I need to focus.

And, I am up against it because I am dealing with several  thousand thoughts pouring through my mind all day.

Not only that, these thoughts are based on my habitual conditioning, my core beliefs, that were well in place by the time I was five years old.  This automatic conditioning is the basis for the thoughts that are triggered by another person’s behavior.

And, I can let it go because I am placing my finger on my nose, taking full responsibility, looking inside.

What comes to mind is this passage from Luke:

Then said Jesus, Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do. (23/34)

Jesus is acknowledging that those crucifying Him are not aware of their projections.  They completely focused on Jesus, outside of them as a body, completely unaware that He is simply a thought-image, in fact, they all have slightly different thought-images of Him.

Jesus knows full well that they are unaware of their projections and lovingly asks our Father that they be forgiven.

And from Lesson 134, Let me perceive forgiveness as it is:

Forgiveness looks on thoughts with quiet eyes, and merely says to them, “My brother, what you think is not the truth.”

I can never forgive a person; I can only forgive my thoughts projected on a person.

Again, from Lesson 134: 

He has been  gently awakened from his dream by understanding what he THOUGHT he saw was never there. 

#     #     #

On July 4th, I began reading “In The World But Not Of It,” by Jesus, as scribed by Gina Lake.

I came across theses brilliant passages by Jesus describing our thought-stream, and I am placing them here because they echo my experience of forgiving thoughts, not people. 

Chapter 2
The Clouds
The illusion Spun by Thoughts

The obscurations to Christ Consciousness, to experiencing your divine nature, are simply thoughts.  These thoughts are the ones that flow continually through your mind, speaking to you as if they were you, and authority figure, or a friend.  They are primarily about you and your life, what to do, how to be, what happened, and what will be.  I will be referring to this mental commentary as the thought-stream, the voice in your head, or the egoic mind. 
Imagine that:  Something as flimsy and ephemeral as a stream of thoughts is powerful enough to hide your divine nature from you and, in its place, create a sense of yourself as separate, limited, vulnerable, and lacking.  Thoughts create the illusion of a self that has problems, fears, desires, struggles, emotions, and pain.  They create the false self.  Without thoughts, problems and suffering disappear and so does the false self.   Thoughts perform quite a magic trick!

Thoughts can come and go in the background without affecting you, because you understand they are simply the programming common to all humans and not uniquely yours.  You see that your thoughts actually have nothing to do with your and mean nothing about you—the real you, that is—although they have everything to do with the false self.

You come to see that you are the spacious, silent Presence in which thoughts, feelings, desires, sense impressions, intimations, knowing, insights, inspiration, and motivations come and go.  You share the ground of being out of which everything you experience arises.  You are that which is eternal and untouched by the coming and gong of thoughts, feelings, desires, sense impressions, and the whole world of form.  And there is total love for form and for its coming and going.  What a miracle this world is!  In Christ Consciousness, you are in love with life itself and with every way that life manifests.


Saturday, May 14, 2016

What "Amazing Grace" Means to Me

Judy Collins writes the Introduction to “Amazing Grace:  The Story of America’s Most Beloved Song,” by Steve Turner.  She writes that in the late 60’s she was going through a difficult time in her life, protesting the war in Vietnam, facing difficulties in her marriage and  trying to maintain custody of her son.  For help she joined a support group.

“One night after a particularly argumentative meting I was asked to sing a song that might bring us all back together; a song we could all sing and relate to.  I chose ‘Amazing Grace.’  Instantly, all disquiet faded from the group.  We stood together, singing. Everyone seemed to know at least part of the song.  We were transformed to a lace that was calm and serene, peaceful and loving.
My producer, Mark Abramson, with whom I was working on my current album, was at the meeting that night and called me in the morning to tell me ‘Amazing Grace’ was a song that should be included on the album.  I quickly agreed.

In 1970 I recorded the song at St. Paul’s chapel on the campus of Columbia University in New York.  The chorus singing was comprised of many close personal friends, including Stacy Keach, Harris Yulin, Yafa Lerner, and even one of my brothers, Dinver John.  The recording was truly a coming together of family and friends, kith and kin.

The song swept across the country, becoming an instant hit and for that reason, creating room for other spiritual songs in the poop repertory. 

Amazing Grace

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost, but now I'm found.
'Twas blind, but now I see.

'Twas grace that taught my heart to fear
And grace my fears relieved.
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed.

When we've been there ten thousand years
Bright shining as the sun,
We've no less days to sing God's praise
Then when we first begun.

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost, but now I'm found.
Was blind, but now I see.

 John Newton (1725-1807) was a slave trader for 20 years, and then he became an Anglican Cleric, serving Olney, Buckingham, for 20 years.  For his Sunday sermons, he often wrote hymns to supplement his readings.  During this time he underwent a conversion experience, overcoming the guilt he experienced as a slave trader, and in December of 1772, he wrote “Amazing Grace,” expressing how grace overcame his wretchedness.

“John Fawcett, a Baptist minister, was so impressed when he heard Newton speak of his dramatic conversion that he asked him to write his story so that it could be passed around.  This was done in a series of letters to Fawcett, completing the last letter with this comment, ‘I pray God this little sketch may animate those who shall peruse it to praise the exceeding riches of His goodness to an unworthy wretch.”
#     #     #
I selected this song because I, too, felt like a wretch for a good part of my life.  In time, I came to learn that it was not my effort that saved me, it was God’s Grace, and I know precisely when and where that occurred.  

On August 7, 1997, Christine and I crossed the threshold of Endeavor Academy.
Looking back, I see that moment as an apex:
Everything I had experienced in my life, came to a point here, and then opened up, and is till opening.
Always looking ahead in my life, I thought if anything were to get done, I would have to do it.  Looking back, I realize that all along I was being guided, and the way was constantly narrowing.
The sports, he degrees, the studying, the reading, the writing, the failed marriage, the failed jobs, drinking and smoking pot and partying, even the apparent successes in teaching and coaching and writing, and the clear-cut crossings, meeting Christine in the fall of 1985,coming across the Course in the fall of 1986, sitting in the closet of my classroom in the late 90’s during my Free Period, meditating, pleading, “God, please get me out of here,” encountering brothers on the 4th of July Weekend, 1997, and finally crossing the threshold of Endeavor Academy, “just for 30 days,” and meeting Master Teacher.

Amazing grace, how sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost, but now I'm found.
'Twas blind, but now I see.

Salvation’s time has come.  Today is set by Heaven itself to be a time of GRACE for you and for the world. (Lesson 131, No one can fail who seeks to reach the truth.)

The power that this song has held for 250 years is because it is the perfect blending of sound and sense, medium and message, form and content.

First, the sheer poetry of it;  its rhythm is iambic.

a MAZ/ ing GRACE,/ how SWEET/ the SOUND
that SAVED/ a WRETCH/ like ME./
i ONCE/ was LOST,/ but NOW/ i'm FOUND/
'Twas BLIND,/ but NOW/ i SEE./

As far as sound and sense, listen to the assonance, the repetition of vowel sounds:

amAzing, grAce, sAved
swEEt, mE, sEE
hOW,sOUnd, nOW, fOUnd, nOW
lIke, I’m,blInd, I

Listen to the consonance, the repetition of consonant sounds:

amAZing, grACe, SWeet, SOund, SAved, wretCH, onCE, wAS, loST, T’wAS, SEEE

Whenever Christine and I did Session, the last song we played before we began talking was Ronnie Earl’s, “Amazing Grace.”

Monday, March 14, 2016

I Was Struck

The other morning, reading the Lesson for the day, 71, Only God’s plan for salvation will work, ideas started pouring in about how thoughts come to mind that lead to creative expression.  I grabbed my notebook and recorded in thoughts as they came in.

I Was Struck

 “One winter morning I was struck by the beautiful graphic quality of our oak trees and bare branches.  I set up my easel in front of the window, which framed this composition, Winter Morning Trees.”  Nancy Cox.
. . .I was STRUCK by. . . 

Turning a phrase into blank verse

Father, please help me see
how You are manifesting through me.

Fa ther, please help me see
how You are man i fest ing through me.

FA ther,/ please HELP/ me SEE/
how YOU/ are MAN/ i FEST ing/ through ME./

It came to me to say.

Give us this day our holy bread.

Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace.

Insertion of light






The issue here is to discuss what it means to be aligned to a Christ vibration in a body that walks around and encounters other bodies in frequency.  “(I Am Word”, channeled by Paul Selig.)


Lesson 49, God’s Voice speaks to me all through the day.

from today’s Lesson 71, Only God’s plan for salvation will work:

What would You have e do?
Where would You have me go?
What would you have me say, and to whom? (11)

Give Him full CHARGE of the rest of the practice period, and let Him tell you what needs to be done by you in His plan for your salvation.  He will answer you in proportion to your willingness to hear His Voice. (Lesson 71.12)

The world is CHARGED with the grandeur of God.

God’s Grandeur
Gerar Manley Hopkins (1844.1889)

The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
    It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
    It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
    And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
    And wears man's smudge and shares man's smell: the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.

And for all this, nature is never spent;
    There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went
    Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs —
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
    World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.

from “The Impersonal Life,” channeled by Joseph Brenner.

I have been with you always, but you did not know it.

I have purposely led you through the Wilderness of books and teachings, of religious and philosophies, keeping ever before your Soul’s eyes the vision of the Promised Land; feeding you with the mana of the Desert, that you might remember and value and long for the Bread of the Spirit.

Now I have brought you to the river Jordan that separates you from your Divine heritage.

Now the time has come for you consciously to know Me; the time has come for you to cross over into Canaan, the land of Milk and Honey.
Are you ready?

Do you want to go?

Then follow this My Word, which is the Ark of My Covenant, and you shall go over dry shod. 


For me, when I am struck, I grab a notebook and a pen, not an easel and a brush, sit before the window and compose a Haiku:

A gray evening sky
latticed with dark black branches
a bird lands, branch bobs