To Be or Not To Be, That is Not the Question (Warrior Poet Mental Yoga 201)

I would say that the major religious problem today is the systematic liquidation of man’s sensitivity to the challenge of God. Let me try to explain that. We cannot understand man in his own terms. Man is not to be understood in the image of nature, in the image of an animal, or in the image of a machine. He has to be understood in terms of a transcendence, and that transcendence is not a passive thing; it is a challenging transcendence. Man is always being challenged; a question is always being asked of him. The moment man disavows the living transcendence, he is contracted; he is reduced to a level on which his distinction as a human being gradually disappears. What makes a man human is his openness to transcendence, which lifts him to a higher level than himself. Overwhelmed by the power he has achieved, man now has the illusion of sovereignty; he has become blind to his own situation, and deaf to the question being asked of him.

To destroy the illusion that man is his own center cannot be done easily. In order to understand, and to cultivate an openness to transcendence, many prerequisites are necessary, prerequisites of the mind and of the heart. However, our society, our education, all continue to corrode mens’ sensibilities. I am not optimistic; we are getting poorer by the day. To give you an example: Man does not feel a sense of outrage anymore, even in the face of crime. We are getting used to it. We are getting accustomed to evil. We are surrendering to that which we call inevitable. That is fatalism; it is pagan. The message of the Bible is that man is capable of making a choice. Choose life — but instead we choose death, blindness, callousness, helpnessness, despair.

Religion, if taught as religion, has no life. In order to understand what the Bible says, one has to understand life as seen by the Bible, all of life. My understanding of the meaning of God depends on my way of looking at this very table, at this very desk, at everything, at creation. The tragedy of religion is partly due to its isolation from life, as if God could be segregated. God has become an alibi for our conscience, for real faith. He has become a sort of after-life insurance policy.

Just as we are commanded to love man, we are also called upon to be sensitive to the grandeur of God’s creation. We are infatuated with our great technological achievements; we have forgotten the mystery of being, of being alive. We have lost our sense of wonder, our sense of radical amazement at sheer being. We have forgotten the meaning of being human and the deep responsibility involved in just being alive. Shakespeare’s Hamlet said: “To be or not to be, that is the question.” But that is no problem. We all want to be. The real problem, biblically speaking, is how to be and how not to be; that is our challenge, and it is what makes the difference between the human and the animal. The animal also wants to be. For us, it is the problem of how to be and how not to be, on the levels of existence. Now, what is the meaning of God? The meaning of God is precisely the challenge of “how to be.”

Abraham Joshua Heschel          1966

Supernerd Boy and Mr. Robot (Warrior Poet Mental Yoga 196)

During my shared little shit fits and grumblings of frustration over observing people and their disheartening behavior towards themselves and one another, my girlfriend has often asked me if I believe that everyone is unstable and delusional. My answer is always the same; the overwhelming majority by far. Her response to my retort has become set in stone. “If you think everyone else is delusional and unstable, doesn’t that mean that you are the common denominator and suggest that you might be the only one who is delusional and unstable and not everyone else?”

I believe it to be an oversimplified and distractive question, but I still understand and acknowledge its merit. At this point in the dialogue, I have to remind her that I have never really declared my sanity or used it as a pedestal to stand on in front of others. If anything, I have flayed myself wide open in admission and vulnerability for anyone who desires to know the real me. I remind her how much time, how much desire, how much effort, and how much luck has been necessary for me to escape most of my demons and achieve the degree of stability and enlightenment which I have. I further remind her that it is a constant and never ending process for me, just as with anyone else attempting the same, to keep the delusion in check and to perpetuate personal stability.

Maybe it is an exchange and exercise she needs to test me with periodically, a barometer to see if I will continue to remain true to my thoughts in the challenges of time and redundant inquiry. Sometimes, questions and answers need to be repeated to fan the flame of motivation necessary to willingly engage your fear. And I should always re-challenge and reevaluate my perceptions and conclusions. One should never be allowed to become stagnant in the acceptance of such beliefs.

So, with all of this forever branded into my mind, I found it quite intriguing last night when watching a brilliantly written television show, to observe an imaginary character from the subconscious of a paranoid schizophrenic empathic genius, deliver an eloquent and comprehensive monologue, defining and illustrating how despite his existence as a delusional construct of a psyche, his inherent awareness still defined him as being more real, specifically far more real, than what the rest of the world had become and was systematically continuing to be with its collective awareness, perceptions, and behavior for over at least the last fifty years.

Bravo Mr. Robot, bravo.

Cribb          2017

But Not (Warrior Poet Mental Yoga 194)

Pretext Comment: This passage is the most succinct yet comprehensive statement I believe that I have ever come across which explains the overwhelming majority of ongoing mental illness in any of its various forms.

I knew

what had been done to me,

but not

what I had done to myself.

thoughts without a thinker

Mark Epstein          1995

Looking in the Light (Warrior Poet Mental Yoga 192)

One night some of Nasruddin’s friends came upon him crawling around on his hands and knees searching for something beneath a lamppost. When they asked him what he was looking for, he told them that he had lost the key to his house. They all got down to help him look, but without any success. Finally, one of them asked Nasruddin where exactly he had lost the key. Nasruddin replied, “In the house.”

“Then why,” his friends asked, “are you looking under the lamppost?”

Nasruddin replied, “Because there’s more light here.”

Seeking the Heart of Wisdom: The Path of Insight Meditation

Goldstein and Kornfield          1987

And Under the Gaze of God? (Warrior Poet Mental Yoga 189)

It was a life of order and strict service, an unending sacrifice, a constantly renewed striving for clarity and justice. It was much purer, much better than the life of an artist, vagrant, and seducer of women. But seen from above, with God’s eyes — was this exemplary life of order and discipline, of renunciation of the world and of the joys of the senses, of remoteness from dirt and blood, of withdrawal into philosophy and meditation any better than Goldmund’s life? Had man really been created to live a regulated life, with hours and duties indicated by prayer bells? Had man really been created to study Aristotle and Saint Thomas, to know Greek, to extinguish his senses, to flee the world? Had God not created him with senses and instincts, with blood-colored darknesses, with the capacity for sin, lust, and despair? These were the questions around which the Abbot’s thoughts circled when they dwelt upon his friend.

Yes, and was it not perhaps more childlike and human to lead a Goldmund-life, more courageous, more noble perhaps in the end to abandon oneself to the cruel stream of reality, to chaos, to commit sins and accept their bitter consequences rather than live a clean life with washed hands outside the world, laying out a lonely harmonious thought-garden, strolling sinlessly among one’s sheltered flower beds. Perhaps it was harder, braver and nobler to wander through the forests and along the highways with torn shoes, to suffer sun and rain, hunger and need, to play with the joys of the senses and pay for them with suffering.

Narcissus and Goldmund

Hermann Hesse          1930

The Veterinarian – My Rattlesnake Encounters in the Great Outdoors

This gave me a little jolt of excitement over the Labor Day holiday weekend. I apologize for the redundancy of my words (I was still jittery when trying to film the video) and the ineptitude of my editing skills. I haven’t figured out how to zoom in the video except on my phone. This is the fourth Timber Rattlesnake I have encountered in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park out of a total of six that I have come across in the wild. The other two were encountered while hiking on Springer Mountain, in North Georgia. In two of the cases I stepped well within strike distance of the snakes. Thankfully, every rattlesnake remained very stable during the encounter and at most, simply produced a peaceful warning that was easy to hear and identify. If you turn up the volume, the rattling can be heard for the first 10-15 secs of the video. The rattle movement is also easy to see during this time frame.

I do not support the needless killing of snakes and I would ask anyone predisposed to such a reflex to thoughtfully reconsider their approach. I understand that sometimes such action may be necessary, but most often it is just an irrational fear response.

Sincerely,

Dr. Cribb

I did not know (Love vs Sex 247)

And I felt that I never wanted to leave that room, I did not want dawn to come, I did not want the atmosphere that enfolded me to be dissolved. I felt that my dreams and thoughts and prayers were living things, living there in the darkness with me, hovering about my bed and standing over me. And every thought I had was his thought, and every feeling his feeling. I did not know then that this was love — I thought that it was something that often happened, a feeling to be enjoyed and taken for granted.

Happily Ever After

Leo Tolstoy          1859