Thursday, February 22, 2007

NO HUMAN POWER

"Great men are they who see that spiritual is stronger than any material force; that thoughts rule the world." – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Today I was walking the dog behind Trader Joe’s and I passed a shady alcove bordering the alley, in the center of which was a large tree. I peeked into the bushes and saw a grocery bag. This seemed like a private place for a homeless person to rest, but just as I was thinking this, I glimpsed a pair of shoes attached to legs in camouflage pants, standing behind the tree, hiding inside the tree — as if they were hoping not to be seen, trying to blend in with the shrubs. I could hear the owner of this pair of legs trying desperately not to breathe. Was it a homeless person, or just someone who was trying to go to the bathroom in the bushes?

As I passed by, I said to the bush: “God Bless you.” I kept walking. Then I realized that I was holding in my hand two sticks of Mozarella string cheese, so I circled back to the bush and offered it to the person hiding. “Would you like a piece of cheese? It’s wrapped in plastic, it has its own wrapper," I said. A woman’s voice, shaking, rang out, “No, no thank you.” Then, the voice said: “You're very sweet.” I could see a pair of glasses and dark hair through the leaves.

I walked away and said, “You are sweet too.”

Then I started crying; I couldn't stop. It has been dawning on me more and more how truly tragic it is to be homeless — and especially to be a homeless child. Can you imagine what it’s like to have no place to rest, no privacy in going to the “bathroom”... no clean, safe, or soft place to lay one’s head. No place without bugs or flies, mosquitos or rats… no place to get dressed, to bathe, or to bring friends home for ice cream. No place to do homework. No place to have dinner or play Monopoly or take piano lessons. No dinner. Imagine being a woman going through the change of life, depression or cancer. God bless these poor lost souls.

Imagine if the human pageant were just a tapestry — and God sees the complete picture on the finished side — but from our vantage point beneath, we only see dangling threads that keep disappearing as they are woven in and out. As people pass on, certain threads disappear because they are part of a grand stitch that completes a beautiful landscape or picture on the other side. We can’t see the whole picture. We don't know the reason for death and suffering; we don't know what's on the other side, but I'm sure there are many mansions and colors -- and the weave creates a majestic tapestry.

I really want to be a virgin again in more ways than one. In this day and age, we’ve seen too much, done too much, been too naked. Mortal life is getting too extreme. There’s too much hard-core violence and porn in the airwaves. But we can become innocent again. There is nothing in the physical world left to want, do or imagine. I don’t want one more luxury gadget to make my life easier except maybe the new ipod phone. Actually nothing in the material world impresses me anymore. Except seeing, actually seeing God, which is love. Imagine if love were a tangible force. What would it look like?

I was thinking about the tragedy of the hurricane and the tsunami – and how many bodies have rotted and evaporated – how quickly human life is snuffed out. It proves to me what I’ve always known: that this mortal life is but a dream, and man is not made of matter. Rotting flesh has no essence in and of itself, no matter how real the illusion seems. Man is spiritual; we are linked to the Divine and to each other by the invisible fabric of love.

One of my favorite books is MANS SEARCH FOR MEANING by Viktor Frankl, who overcame concentration camp torture through the power of his mind. This is a universe of thought. Thought is energy and it is swift (too bad those lying 'Boat Veterans' forever ruined the word 'swift' for me, which just proves I am too much a victim of my thought.) Here's the Catch 22: what you think about all day long, is what you become; what you focus on grows. So if you're thinking about how bad the world is, or how much you lack, you will get more of the same. Or as I wrote in the comedy "Venus Conspiracy", "You can be attractive even if you're not good looking, because if you radiate love, you attract people." I know it's a silly line, but it is true. Beyond "The Secret" the best metaphysical writers who really now the truth are Mary Baker Eddy, Emmet Fox and Wayne Dyer.

Whatsoever things are good, pure, beautiful — if we think on these things we will bring these into our life in proportion to our thoughts. Our thoughts create our reality, and as Shakespeare said, "There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so."

I can't keep seeing George Bush as the antichrist, which is how I often thought of him. I have to see him as misguided, off track. He is a spiritually sick child of God. If I slip back into hating him as I have all year, I almost can't survive my anger; my view of him as evil actually perpetuates his evil in my mind, and nothing changes. Of course It's just so hard not to be horrified by this administration, the lies they told, the Machiavellian way they operate -- and the way they aligned themselves with truly good people in order to make liberals seem like heathens. To me the worst thing Bush did was proclaim himself a Christian without having an inkling of what the Great Peacemaker stood for. This is a travesty. I never mix religion with politics, but for Christ's sake, don't they know that Jesus was a Democrat -- I mean a bleeding heart liberal? (Sorry I couldn't resist; I know this offends people, but it's a comedy line I wrote in an Ann Coulter article.) Anyway, Liberal is not a dirty word: it's a great word. It means lover of freedom, equality and charity. Good conservatives are liberals at heart.

I have the profound sense that we can touch God everyday when we are loving to others, especially those who offend us and disturb us, and especially those less fortunate. Have you seen someone's face light up with just one kind word?

My sister went through open-heart surgery to replace a valve a few months after our brother’s death. Through the past few years, with the help of a pacemaker, she has gradually improved her heartbeat as she has became more spiritually attuned.

In December she started writing songs again. She wrote a song that was so beautiful, it had to come from the Source of love; it was pure inspiration. Her heart suddenly went into "sinus" or normal rhythm. The connection was clear.

When the troubles with her downstairs neighbor began to escalate, my sister developed debilitating pain in her feet, a form of arthritis. She could hardly walk. She was told not to hike anymore with her dog.

I believe her feet hurt because she was walking on eggshells. She was angry and hurt and unable to live freely in her own apartment because the downstairs neighbor kept harrrassing her about the noise upstairs with her dog.

The neighbor also harassed her because she was gay. This woman seemed completely malicious at times. What was more astounding was that she actually received mail from Trinity Broadcasting Network, the Christian evangelical station! We saw it in the mailbox. My sister tried to talk to her, but she refused. My sister tried to move, but couldn't find an apartment that took dogs and would double as a music studio.

She had to to work on this spiritually – seeing her neighbor through God’s eyes, as a child of love. She had to send love to her neighbor. This took a while, but she continued to return love for hate. Everytime the woman would rave and rant, or pound on the ceiling with a broom when my sister played music she was composing (in the daytime!) my sister would refrain from screaming back.

The situation turned around. My sister persisted in seeing the woman as a good person, and the woman became willing to talk. Now they actually wave to each other. This is nothing short of a miracle considering my sister was actually in fear of a hate crime at one point. She also thought her dog was going to be poisoned.

I was reading the list of Sundance films purchased for sale and was shocked to see that Adrienne Shelly, my favorite indie actress-turned-filmmaker, who directed "Waitress" had been murdered in November. She was murdered by a downstairs neighbor for complaining constantly about the noise he made. He finally marched upstairs and killed her. This was devastating, surreal.

I then thought of my sister and was grateful she had learned the spiritual lesson of getting along with her neighbor.

So what is the code? Is there a formula one can plug in here for all problems in life? Yes.

What I've discovered is that the solution to any material problem is never at the level of the problem. It is always above the problem or challenge. It is always by “letting go” and looking away from the problem, never by fighting it on its level. It is always a spiritual solution.

No human power could relieve my alcoholism. It was not healed by dissecting the brain.

No military power can solve this conflict in Iraq. We can’t fight fire with fire; we need to go above the problem and approach it from a diplomatic or spiritual solution.

This is what Bush doesn’t understand. Fighting ones enemies never resolves anything, as the Great Peacemaker said. One can never solve anything by force or fighting. More military might only escalates the conflict.

All great spiritual leaders know that you must "keep your friends close, but your enemies closer." And "a soft answer turns away wrath." Withdraw our energy from the situation and the situation will solve itself. We must withdraw and take care of our own side of the street.