The Spilled Cup:
The Universe: His wine cellar;
the atom’s heart: His measuring cup.
Intellect is drunk, earth drunk, sky drunk
heaven perplexed with Him, restlessly seeking,
Love in its heart, hoping at least
for a single whiff of the fragrance
of that wine, that clear wine the angels drank
from that immaterial pot, a sip of the dregs-
the rest poured out upon the dust:
one sip, and the Elements whirl in drunken dance
falling now into water, now in blazing fire.
And from the smell of that spilled cup
man rises from the dust and soars to heaven.
– Mahmud Shabestari
A Brief Introduction:
Well it has been a heck of a month and especially this last week…. We were under orders for possible evacuation for the last five days due to fires in Oregon which thankfully now have been rescinded as the fires are retreating to the south. One of my favorite towns, Estacada is still under threat 16 miles to the east of us. Much of the central Cascades have been burned including a good part of Brietenbush (a warm springs retreat) in the Beachie Fire. The road from Estacada down to Detroit Lake (past Brietenbush) is one of my favorite drives, it’s been reduced to cinders if reports are correct.
Currently we are sheltering at home inside due to abnormally bad air from the smoke. Portland metro last night and this morning had the worst air worldwide according to news reports.
I have been working on this entry for a few weeks (since August 13th) and it is out now only because I’m making an effort to get work done. With all of the health crisis and political mess as of late, I’ve had a hard time concentrating on the creative side of my nature being easily distracted. I am at the present constructing the 11th edition of The Invisible College though, so I have that going for me. 😉
With all of the social unrest, I’ve been researching the movement of Turkish protesters who’ve been using silent nonviolent demonstrations since 2013. I believe this form of protest is solidly grounded in Ahimsa; and maybe a model for going forward to implement the societal changes that are long overdue. It seems to me that there are a lot of great ideas coming from the younger generations; and this of course is not unlike what has transpired for time out of mind. The youth is ever forward thinking as they are going to be living in the world that many of us will soon leave behind. Truly, we must find ways to make the future bearable for our young ones, and those who we will never know.
If I may wax metaphysical for a moment, I believe we’ve possibly incarnated in this period for a reason. Perhaps to be agents of change for the preservation of our families, our friends, our communities and the greater world. If we are to get through the next few years and have the species and planet survive, we are going to have to up our game and involvement with all that is transpiring.
Last week I turned 69 years old which to me is a miracle as I hadn’t expected to live much past 30. I have lived a blessed life in so many ways with great friends, lovers, family and my beloved wife Mary most of all. We had a great weekend, with a social distancing birthday with Rowan, his beloved Suzanne, and her parents, Rick & Dana.
I want to thank you all for sticking with me on this journey over the last couple of decades online, and for those who have known me previous to my online incarnation. I plan to stay for the duration, or at least until I have done all that I have come for, which still looks like a huge list.
May the Bodhisattva be made evident in all of us.
On The Menu:
Tom Beckett: In Memory
The Perfect Face Of The Beloved
Don’t Call Donald Names!
The Secret Under Arthur’s Seat…
Lately, as perhaps some of you as well, I have had an up swelling of dream activity. My nights are filled with activity that I can only hope to mirror in my day time. Some of the dreams stick with me, instead of disappearing with the morning light. This dream, in particular:
First Dream: Printing
A couple of months back, I dreamed I was in my studio, working on a book. I was printing on parchment, or vellum using the serigraph/silkscreen method. The ink was made of platinum, or silver. You had to hold the printed page up to catch it in the right light. In the dream, it was the penultimate art piece of my life… in the dream. This of course is all open to interpretation. Perhaps it reveals the fact that I miss working with serigraphic work, or that there is a piece of art yet to come, or there is a process in motion with my inner life?
The jury is still out on that. It has resurfaced again and again though in my thoughts, so I am saying process at this point.
Second Dream: Salvia
Another dream I had came after I gave my talk on salvia for the Portland Psychedelic Society.
It has been a while since I accessed the salvia space and this dream took me by surprise. She had been on my mind, but it didn’t register just how deeply those thoughts were, and what the thoughts were stirring up.
In preparing for the talk I had recently taken the salvia plants out of their pots and put them into soil. They’ve had a hard time the last couple of years (cold winters, spider mites, and I had a bit of the guilts going on regarding my neglect of an ally that I love. They responded immediately perking up immensely and growing like mad. Talking to them and fussing over them as well seems to grow the bond that I had let slip.
A bit of background: During the last couple of years I had stepped back from coddling and maintaining my teacher plants as family health issues to deal with along with business, art and publishing projects were demanding more of my time. I’d lost touch with getting my hands into the dirt as well as paying deep attention. to my green charges.
Onto the dream: The dream that I had regarding salvia started around 12:30. I know this as I had woken up just at the beginning and realized what I was dreaming about or with I might say (salvia). In the dream salvia was growing through me around me in my mind and spirit. The dialog went back and forth. It was highly ecstatic with a great sense of reconnection and joy. The dream came in waves all night and when I woke up at 6:30 the next morning I was still in that space. As I awoke I could feel Salvia’s tendrils still around me, in my head, my body, my mind.
It was like spending a long night with a friend talking about all kinds of subjects and sharing the news with each other. This is a pretty inadequate vision of what transpired, as the whole experience was transformative on multiple layers.
Tom Beckett – In Memory
“No self is of itself alone.” – Erwin Schrödinger
Tom, with his sons Dylan & Stryder At DaVinci Middle School.
This is a memorial for my friend Tom who took his life in May. He was in his early 50’s, a Gulf War Veteran, an amazing man, teacher (who taught my son in Middle School), someone I counseled over the years. His passing has left a huge hole in our community. I have been mulling this over for a couple of months, and it is not an easy one…
I first met Tom at DaVinci Middle School (which was an art’s magnet School) where Rowan was attending. Tom became the theater teacher for DaVinci middle School in Rowan’s 2nd year there.
Tom was perhaps one of the most enthusiastic educators’ I ever had the chance to communicate with. All of the students seemed enthralled with him. His teaching methods were incredibly engaging and effective. I would often come to the rehearsals as I volunteered for construction on scrims and various aspects of the sets.
Tom touched the hearts and minds of his students making each one of them understand that they were an important part of theatre production no matter what their role was. He didn’t play favorites like one would see in the usual theatre department.
He would draw out the innate talent of the cast and crew and each of the productions I witnessed over the years. There was never a dull moment in plays or rehearsals. He actively sought out youngsters opinions, and listened carefully and respectively never dismissing anyone’s input. He had a rare and wonderful talent being present with his students.
(He was also an avid dungeons & dragons player a great dungeon master as well which was right up the alley of Rowan and his friends.)
Tom transferred to Rowan’s High School after Rowan graduated. Rowan helped Tom on projects there, as he had at DaVinci after he moved on to High School. Their collaboration went on for several years.
Tom’s popularity did not extend to the administration of Cleveland HS, or to the district. He pushed for greater funding for his department as well as safety and other upgrades to the theater facilities.
About 8 years ago, he came to me and talked about wanting change… at that point he said he wanted out from the public school system. We had many talks along this line, and I urged him to make a leap, but he held back. This was one of many conversations that we had, and not the only one on the subject of him leaving traditional teaching.
On occasion people do come to talk with me on a variety of subjects and ideas. Tom felt comfortable with me, and talking with him was never a burden. Quite the opposite, we would laugh often and frequently. He was so engaging.
As I mentioned previously, Tom was a veteran of the Gulf War. From what I could tell, he was dealing with PTSD; from a rough upbringing to a rough little war, to losing a job he loved and more. Even with his troubles his thoughts were about others, and the community of Portland that we both shared a love of…. Frequently we talked about the fascist marching in our streets, and discussed how we as older guys could help protect our town from what we both knew was/is coming.
All the different elements that compose our life stories add up to make us who we are and how we react to the world for good or ill. Tom was no different.
In my memories, we still run into each other at demonstrations, he with his veteran group, me with the raggle-taggle family of friends and anarchist. He came to our Solstice Gatherings, bringing a huge bundle of happiness and energy. His former students would all flock to him, and they would talk for hours. It was a joy to see.
The last time I saw Tom was 3 days before he walked into the ocean and didn’t come back. He and I sat outside talking for 4 hours about his future plans… he gave me a hint of what he was thinking of doing in his conversation with me but I didn’t pick up on it. It was a what if statement… We made plans for the coming month to prep him for his new plans of moving up to Alaska to teach. I missed his hint. Jesus. He left behind a widow and 2 sons.
As I mentioned, he left a wide community gutted and grieving for the loss of him. We all still feel it.
These are hard times, and I have come to believe we need hard times to hone, and sharpen our minds. I sure wish he had stayed. I have been trying to free my friend in my mind. It is harder for my son and his friends. This is the first suicide for them all.
Tom, we miss you.
Mahmud Shabestari -The Perfect Face Of The Beloved
The Eye and The Lip
What is the nature of the eye and the lip?
Let us consider.
Coquettish and intoxicating glances shine from His eye.
The essence of existence issues from His ruby lip.
Hearts burn with desire because of His eye,
And are healed again by the smile of His lip.
Because of His eye hearts are aching and drunken.
His ruby lip gives soul-garments to men.
His eye does not perceive this visible world,
Yet often His lip quivers with compassion.
Sometimes He charms us with a touch of humanity,
And gives help to the despairing.
It is His smile that gives life to man’s water and clay;
It is His breath that opens heaven’s gate for us.
A corn-baited snare is each glance of that eye,
And a wine-shop lurks in each corner.
When He frowns the wide world is laid waste,
But is restored every moment by His kiss.
Our blood is at fever point because of His eye,
Our souls demented because of His lip.
How He has despoiled our hearts by a frown!
How He has uplifted our souls by a smile!
If you ask of Him an embrace,
His eye will say “Yea,” His lip “Nay.”
He finished the creation of the world by a frown,
Now and then the soul is revived by a kiss.
We would give up our lives with despair at His frown,
But would rise from the dead at his kiss.
. . . When the world meditates on His eye and His lip,
It yields itself to the intoxication of wine.
The single point of the mole in His cheek
Is a centre from which circles
The two worlds circle round that centre.
The heart and soul of Adam evolved from there.
. . . Hearts bleed because they are a reflection
Of the point of that black mole,
And both are stagnant; for there is no escape
Of the reflection from the reflect.
Unity will not embrace Plurality,
For the point of Unity has one root only.
. . . I wonder if His mole is the reflection of my heart,
Or my heart the reflection of His mole.
Was my heart created from His mole’s reflection?
Or may it be seen shining in His mole?
I wonder if my heart is in His face,
Or if His mole abides in my heart.
But this is a deep secret hidden, alas! from me.
. . . If my heart is a reflection,
Why is it ever so changing?
Sometimes tired like His brilliant eye,
Sometimes waving to and fro as His curl waves,
Sometimes a shining moonbeam like His face,
Sometimes a dark shadow like His mole,
Sometimes it is a mosque, sometimes a synagogue,
Sometimes a hell, sometimes a heaven,
Sometimes soaring above the seventh heaven,
Sometimes buried far below this earth.
. . . After a spell the devotee and ascetic
Turns again to wine, lamp, and beauty.
IF you ask of me the long story
Of the Beloved’s curl,
I cannot answer, for it contains a mystery
Which only true lovers understand,
And they, maddened by its beauty,
Are held captive as by a golden chain.
I spoke too openly of that graceful form,
But the end of the curl told me to hide its glory,
So that the path to it should be twisted
And crooked and difficult.
That curl enchains lovers’ hearts,
And bears their souls to and fro
In the sea of desire. A hundred thousand hearts
Are tightly bound, not one escapes, alas!
No single infidel would remain in the world
If he could see the shaking aside
Of those black curls,
And on the earth there would not remain a faithful soul
If they were always in their place.
Suppose they were shorn. . . . No matter,
Day would increase and the night disappear.
As a spider spreads its nets to ensnare,
So does the Beloved in wantonness
Shake His locks from off His face.
Behold His hands plundering Reason’s caravan
And with knots binding it tight.
Never at rest is that curl,
Ever moving to and fro
Making now night, making now morning,
Playing with the seasons in wonder.
Adam was created when the perfume of that
Was blown by the wind on his clay.
And I too possess an ensample;
I cannot wait for a moment,
But breathlessly start working anew
To tear my heart out of my breast.
. . . Sore troubled am I by that curl
Which veils my longing soul from His face.
The Cheek and the Down
The theatre of Divine beauty is the cheek,
And the down is the entrance to His holy presence.
Beauty is erased by His cheek, who says,
“Without my presence you are non-existent.”
In the unseen world the down is as green meadows
Leading to the mansion of Eternal Life.
The blackness of His curl turns day into night,
The down of His cheek holds the secret of life.
If only you can glimpse His face and its down,
You will understand the meaning of plurality and unity.
His curl will teach you the knowledge of this world,
His down will reveal hidden paths.
Imagine seven verses in which each letter
Contains oceans of mysteries;
Such is His cheek.
And imagine, hidden beneath each hair of His cheek,
Thousands of oceans of mysteries;
Such is His down.
As the heart is God’s throne in the water,
So is the down the ornament of the soul.
The Chamber of Your Heart
Go sweep out the chamber of your heart.
Make it ready to be the dwelling place of the Beloved.
When you depart out,
He will enter it.
void of yourself,
will He display His beauties.
The tavern-haunter wanders alone in a desolate place,
seeing the whole world as a mirage.
The tavern-haunter is a seeker of Unity,
a soul freed from the shackles of himself.
Through the chamber of the heart is small,
it’s large enough for the Lord of both worlds
to gladly make His home there.