Jesus, Alcoholic. . .

(Bill Wilson, AA’s  co-founder was born November 26, 1895 . I’m reposting this in his memory. Forever grateful, friend!)

 

That’s what I say most Sundays. I say it in a church basement, as my turn comes up to identify myself to the group of alcoholics gathered there to “share our experience, strength and hope” with one another.

It’s an act of trust and of humility. But more than anything, though, is an act of self-acceptance.

When my father died at the age of forty seven in a car accident in 1979, the impact of that tragedy affected me more than I understood, or was able to accept, at the time. It happened while on a return trip to Cuba, a decade after we had gone into exile. Suddenly a joyful event turned dark, it’s devastating shadow following me back to the States where I would only deal with it in the only way I found worked: I self-medicated, using drugs and alcohol, for the next few years to ease the pain and also to cope with a life that suddenly had stopped making sense.

There are many men and women that lose a loved one in an equally arbitrary and horrific way. Some in even worse conditions. Most of these folks learn to live with the pain and can carry on with their lives without resorting to the method I used. I reacted that way simply because I am an alcoholic, and as my late sponsor used to say “alcoholics drink.” I had used alcohol before to numb the pain, to celebrate an occasion — sometimes a very trivial one — or to cope with uncomfortable situations. I was mostly unaware that this was going on. But I certainly developed a relationship with booze from an early (and awkward) age that served and protected me. Continue reading

Running With The Buddha

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I started running regularly the day after my last birthday, the fifty sixth. The track where I run is a few miles from home, next to the Hudson, across from the magnificent New York City skyline. It’s a place I’ve come to love since I discovered it a few months ago.

Most times when I run, I listen to music. I now carry my entire collection on my phone, a miracle of modern-day electronics. There are songs in it, that, even though I’ve owned my whole adult life and I’ve listened to hundreds of times, I’ve rediscovered and come to more deeply appreciate as I run and sweat and breathe around this cushioned quarter mile. Music mixes well with just about everything.

Recently, however, I’ve begun listening to podcasts by Tara Brach while I run. Ms. Brach is teacher of Buddhist meditation, “with an emphasis on vipassana (mindfulness or insight) meditation.” Her soothing voice and insightful talks have been a pleasant companion on the last couple of weeks. I get the sense that the mind and the heart open up when the body is pushed to it’s limits. Healing, insightful words seem most welcomed. Continue reading

Healing And Enlightment Via Podcasts

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I had never heard of Tara Brach until today. She’s a “leading western teacher of Buddhist meditation, emotional healing and spiritual awakening. She has practiced and taught meditation for over 35 years, with an emphasis on vipassana (mindfulness or insight) meditation.”

I have a feeling this is the beginning of a long term relationship. You can never have too many teachers.

I listened to this podcast — instead of my usual musical soundtrack — while running today, and felt it was a healing balm washing over me. It’s titled Alchemy of Wise Effort. Namaste.

A Poem (And A Drawing)

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Grace


I entered the cathedral
of the sungod, slash sungodess
—their mythological names
escape me now— barefoot and
weary, under branched arches
of ash, maple and oak.
On a bell tower of tall clouds,
birds of color clang in unison,
the scattered flock called
to worship in the lit afternoon.

We gather, silently,
under the celestial dome
emptied of all need for repentance
because we did not sin,
in confidence, I’ve been told.
A priestess of sincere smiles,
like ripe fruits, blesses herself
and tells us to bless each other,
before yielding the altar
to a choir of youth.
A spiritual joins our voices
in joyous exuberance, clapping
to unrehearsed notes, clapping
bodies swaying in the wind,
tasting the certainty of heaven
in scales flavored with honey and milk.

The celebration winds down,
the service will soon fade
–as dew by early morning rays.
I sit in quiet reverence, breathing
ecstasy, eating truth. On this day,
in the majestic simplicity of nature,
on fiery wings, I saw grace descend
onto the shoulders of earth.

Jung’s Red Book at The Rubin Museum

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October 7, 2009 through January 25, 2010

The Red Book of C.G. Jung marks the first public presentation of what may be considered psychology’s most influential unpublished work. Jung’s fascination with mandalas—Tibetan Buddhist representations of the cosmos used to help reach enlightenment—is evident in these books where mandala structures figure prominently in many sketches and paintings.

A very cool part of the exhibit: “Turning the Pages of the Red Book. Every Wednesday. Two new pages from Carl Jung’s historic Red Book will be revealed each week of its exhibition.”

The Museum is also offering other programs in conjunction with The Red Book Exhibition:

The Red Book Dialogues

In the spirit of RMA’s exhibition The Red Book of C.G. Jung, personalities from many different walks of life will be paired on stage with a psychoanalyst and invited to respond to and interpret a folio from Jung’s Red Book as a starting point for a wide ranging conversation. The guests include composer John Adams, performance artist Marina Abramovic, director John Boorman, musician/artist David Byrne, actress Kathleen Chalfant, Zipcar entrepreneur Robin Chase, Smashing Pumpkins lead Billy Corgan, film director Jonathan Demme, director Andre Gregory, New Yorker writer Adam Gopnik, author Andrew Harvey, screenwriter Charlie Kaufman, documentarian Albert Maysles, graphic designer Stefan Sagmeister, Pulitzer Prize-winning dramatist of Doubt, John Patrick Shanley; poets Linda Gregg and Tracy K. Smith, painter Philip Taaffe, novelists Gloria Vanderbilt and Alice Walker, and philosopher Cornel West.

The Rubin Museum of Art is located at 150 West 17th Street in beautiful New York City. You can reach them at 212.620.5000 or by visiting their website