My Landlord’s Dog

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My landlord’s dog is a white female American bulldog named Julie. She is 8 years old, and exudes sweetness and love to such an extent that nearly everyone who meets her tells my landlord, whom I’ll call Jim, “If you ever decide to give her up, I’ll take her.” I rent a room in Jim’s house, and when my cat Urdwill was alive, Julie accepted him as one of the pack; if anything, he, not she, was the more aggressive and territorial of the two.

For the past few days I have been caring for Julie. About 4 days ago, Jim was taken to the hospital, where he has been ever since, with a cracked pelvis from a fall, a deep upper leg infection, and urinary difficulties. Jim is a very large man, and it took a four-man team of paramedics and firefighters to transport him from the upper tier of the bunk bed where he sleeps down to the gurney they had waiting for him. When I spoke to him on the telephone yesterday, he sounded disoriented and frightened. In his deep bass voice he said, “I’ve never felt so helpless before.”

I can believe it. Jim is 74, with a lifetime of international sales, business ownership, and professional rugby behind him. When I met him, about 2 years ago, he had been reduced to spending most of his time in a chair in front of his large screen TV, watching sports programs. I learned that some years back he developed a brain embolism that impaired his hearing, eyesight, balance, short term memory, and completely erased his sense of smell, which in turn has reduced considerably his ability to taste anything. A Type Two diabetic, and a heavy nighttime vodka-and-cranberry-juice-cocktail drinker, he is also a hoarder. Nearly every square inch of his house is filled with sports equipment, boxes of books, clothing, heaps of old bills and letters, tools, memorabilia, and trash, and the yards around his house sport several huge, inoperative vehicles, including a chartreuse van and two trucks, one of which has a mobile hot tub attached to it. (In the Seventies, Jim used to drive this rig around Santa Fe, renting it out to partying hippies.)

Despite his brain damage and short term memory loss, Jim notices at once if anything new appears in his vicinity, or if anything is thrown away or moved from one spot to another. “Is that your towel on the washing machine?” he asks. “Did you move that [tiny scarlet] tag from the desk to the side table?” Severely depressed, he goes to bed around midnight and gets up around 1 or 2 in the afternoon. “It just doesn’t seem worth it most days to get out of bed,” he told me.

Jim is on Medicare, and has had a string of caseworkers who come by now and again, disappear, and are replaced by new caseworkers. This is not because Jim is a difficult client to deal with; he is remarkably sweet tempered for a man with his background and in his condition. It’s because New Mexico, one of the poorest states of the Union, does not allocate much money to social services, and typically caseworkers are paid little, overworked, and overscrutinized by middle management longtermers anxious not to lose their jobs. Still, it’s a good thing Jim has Medicare, as he tells me he will be in hospital for at least another week, and in the meantime I am more or less in charge of taking care of Julie. “She misses you a lot, Jim,” I told him. “I miss her a lot, too,” he said, and his voice broke.

I find myself grieving, for Jim’s pain, certainly, but also for my own. My father, pictured above, was a big man, too, with a bass voice, and like Jim had little liking or talent for asking for help. Tonight I miss my father keenly. I was scared of him, much of the time, and angry with him, much of the time, and yearned for his approval and acceptance all of the time. He filled the house I grew up in with his presence just as Bill fills this house with his, and after my father died, of the last in a string of heart attacks back in 1971, the house loomed vast and empty without him in it.

I have no reason to believe that Jim will die, not this time, anyhow, though the events of the past week are clearly a wakeup call for him: change your ways of handling your pain, or make a humiliating, and possibly protracted, exit, stage right. But however long he is in hospital or rehab, and however many changes must take place in his house for it to accommodate his new fragilities, for now, I am here with his dog Julie; and our hearts, both hers and mine, are aching. •

 

 

 

 

A Message From “The Family”: On Prayer

praying_handsMister Rand has asked us to speak to him and you concerning the matter of prayer; i.e., asking Higher Power, or God, or Goddess, or the Universe, or the Greater Self, or the Buddha, or Invisible Sky Friend, to intervene in physical reality in order to bring the one who prays a desired outcome. The issue is more complicated than perhaps it first appears, not because prayer is complicated, but because the reality that permits prayer to be answered takes some explaining.

We can assert with confidence, based upon the experience of our incarnated selves and the selves of others, that when certain inner and outer circumstances are met, requests for divine intervention inhuman affairs are frequently answered. And the answers, as certain 12th Step Program literature reminds us, can be (1) yes; (2) no; or (3) not yet. Of course, the latter two answers are not the ones desirous to he or she who prays unless he or she who prays has the confidence that their Higher Power is unconditionally loving and supremely wise. Then “not yet” or “no” can be perceived as what they are, which is to say blessings in disguise.

How often has Mister Rand wished sincerely for something and that something has not materialized no matter how hard he has worked for it? Critics often jump to the conclusion, “You have not had your prayer answered because you do not have enough faith;” or, “You have not had your prayer answered because you are not praying to the correct deity;” or, “You have not had your prayer answered because you have not put in the necessary effort to do your part;” or, “You have not had your prayer answered because you have sinned in this life or a past life and your suffering is the result of that sin.” And although in some cases, perhaps, these objections might have some small merit, in most cases we observe that the reasons sincere prayers are not answered immediately is a combination  of factors, chief of which very often is, “The time is not yet right for the experience you are praying for to download from the Dream State into physical reality.”

What, Mister Rand asks, are the optimal conditions for a desired experience to manifest as the result of sincere prayers? We see them as sevenfold:

(1) There must be room in your life for the experience you are requesting. That is, you must be entirely ready to enjoy this path you have chosen. This sounds obvious, but the human heart has many chambers, and in some of those chambers, fear and shame rule. For Mister Rand, it is fear that if something good happens to him, something bad will happen as a way of God punishing him or physical reality exerting itself to bring his good fortune back to a state of nonrealization. For everything is connected. There is also shame: Mister Rand is frequently ashamed that he enjoys so much prosperity compared to the nations of the world. So adding more prosperity to that which he has already seems to him unjust.

(2) There must be sufficient time allotted for the experience to manifest. Another factor that can clutter the space to be occupied by the desired experience is the factor of time. Physical reality is to all intents and purposes linear, that is, it progresses slowly and methodically from one choice to another to ‘final’ outcome. At 64 Mister Rand might wish to be a millionaire stage actor, but most persons do not become millionaires overnight, and success in theater often takes years to develop. In other words, Mister Rand’s wish to be a millionaire stage actor might have been appropriate to pray for when he was in his 30s rather than now, when he is in his 60s.

(3) There must be trust in a Power greater than oneself, and a willingness to turn the results of one’s prayer over to that benevolent Power. It is often said in Mister Rand’s twelve-step group that God answers prayers one of three ways: “yes,” “no, I have something better in mind for you,” or “not yet.” Many individuals assume, when their prayers are not answered, that God is angry with them, or that God does not exist. These conclusions do not take into account the limitations of human understanding of the vast intricate network of potentialities that makes up the web of coincidence and meaning humans call spacetime or physical reality. If one desires the assistance of one’s God—whether one sees that God as a master, parent, consoler-protector, transcendent consciousness, or mythic symbol of the internal creative power of the person praying—then one must be willing to relinquish control of the prayer’s outcome to that God, confident that in time understanding of the desired manifestation or nonmanifestation will come if one is patient. And one of the major things one must trust is that if one’s God says, “No, I have something better in mind for you,” that it is the truth. For often Mister Rand wants something that he thinks will give him a certain experience, but his Higher Power knows that it will not. If Rand trusts that Higher Power, he can ask, “If something else will give me the experience I desire, please show me.”

(4) One must pray for what one truly wants, not what one thinks one deserves or can get. And one must be willing to face, listen to, and soften around any intrusive fears, shame, anger, envy, and catastrophic thinking that may come up when one asks for what one truly wants. As Mister Rand has learned to say, one does not have to be better or worse than anyone else in order to deserve the same amount of care, kindness, health, love, and safety as anyone else.

(5) One must persist in one’s prayers. Mister Rand informs his clients that in the Greek of the New Testament, the quote attributed to Jesus that in English begins, “Ask and ye shall receive” is more literally translated “Ask and keep on asking and ye shall receive.”

(6) One must take responsibility for being a co-creator with God of the experience one desires. In other words, one will enjoy faster and truer and surer results if one prays, “Higher Power, please show me today what step today to take, the step that will get me one step closer to my goal.” Some may say, “This is blasphemy, to treat God as an equal.” We say, God does not have low self-esteem. God does not need praise. God does not need worship. God does not need sacrifices. These are all human needs projected onto God. God is Love in all parts of God’s self, and thinks nothing of God’s self, but only of God’s creation, and how God can wean it back into God’s loving embrace.

(7) Consider this truth: that only in spacetime can there be the illusion that one is imperfect, incomplete, vulnerable to diminishment, and able to suffer loss. In the great Light reaches, where the core of each entity dwells (including you), there is full awareness that one is completely filled to the brim with Love, and that Love cannot be diminished or removed by enemy, plague, misfortune, or time. When Mister Rand had his vision of the Plane of Superimplicate Order in fall of 2013, he experienced it as a calm, quiet, still place of pure consciousness that felt entirely familiar. And that is because he had briefly awakened from the dream of spacetime to reconnect with the wonderful fact that in the end, no matter what happens to the body or waking mind, one is and will always be safe. •

A Message From “The Family”: On Atheism

celloatSarajevoMister Rand is often disturbed when he encounters advertisements or Internet posts from and about persons espousing atheism as a rational, more balanced approach to understanding and coping with life than theism, religiosity, mysticism, or theomancy. He is disturbed because deep down he himself does not entirely believe that he can be lucky enough for his channelings of unconditional love and light to be accurate and valid. Particularly since his mystical experiences feel so undramatic to him—familiar, almost ordinary in their safeness and familiarity—and never accompanied by UFO sightings, beams of mysterious light breaking through ceilings, angels with outstretched wings, and so forth.

But true mysticism is not always expressed via the melodramatic  memes one encounters in television and film. True mysticism is less likely to be a riotous adventure of alien abduction and much more likely to be turning a corner in one’s day and discoverin g that one is suddenly seeing everything afresh, as though one were awakening from a dream.

Beliefs are not the same things as experiences. One can experience the mystical without believing in it; similarly, one can believe in something without experiencing it. The keynote of whether a belief is core or a superficial adoption lies in whether one takes that belief and builds a world for oneself to inhabit out of it.

Atheism is currently fashionable, particularly among certain classes of intelligentsia in the USA where Mister Rand dwells. As a belief structure, atheism dates back thousands of years in Western civilization, and like religious beliefs, atheism often arises from (1) trauma, (2) acculturation, (3) home rearing, and/or (4) gender role identification.

Traumatic atheism, like traumatic religiosity, arises from unbearable psychological wounds such as those suffered by rape, war, accident, and bereavement victims. Traumatic atheism, however, often can be traced to an individual’s abuse in childhood or another vulnerable life period at the hands of overtly religious persons or institutions. Hence, for the traumatic atheist, atheism can be experienced as a liberation from the manacles of “terror theology”—religiosity rooted in Force, Threat, and Blame, that seeks to expunge the individual self and soul in order to make the self more easily controllable by the religious hierarchy. Where traumatic atheism does not arise from religious abuse, but from unbearable pain due to violence and loss, it can provide liberation from the torment of a sufferer’s wondering whether their suffering is a “punishment” by Deity for some deed or character flaw in a given or former lifetime. Traumatic atheism can also be an expression of rage against a deity one secretly still believes in, the atheist “punishing” that deity (or one’s parents, or one’s pastor) by refusing to worship the deity one has been taught to venerate. In all these cases, therefore, atheism serves the same purpose as other belief systems: protection or liberation of the self from the unbearable weight of pain.

Opportunistic or social atheism is our term for atheism arising from an individual’s desire to fit in with a desireable social group, usually a group that confers upon its members or adherents social, intellectual, [monetary] or political status not afforded to individuals who are theists or religious. Fad atheism, like fad religion, depends upon group pressure for its continuation; when the individual outgrows the need for group authentication, fad atheism—like fad religion—often fades.

Environmental atheism, like environmental religiosity, is atheism arising from family or bonding-group indoctrination. It is cultural in origin, with powerful emotional triggers and anchorings. For such atheists, theism can seem like a betrayal of intensely intimate familial and cultural values and kinship ties.

Gender-based atheism arises, usually amongst boys and men, when they are exposed to the notion that religiosity is somehow effeminizing, something that “real” men do not believe in—the province of moral, intellectual, or sexual “weaklings.” The statement, “Religion is the opium of the people” is [in our view] an expression largely of gender [role] based atheism.

Then there is a kind of atheism that arises from a genuine, heartfelt examination of one’s observations of the world and experiences therein. This kind of atheism, which we may term “true” atheism, is a true reflection of the internal process whereby an individual seeks to make emotional, intellectual, and philosophical sense of a frequently violent, apparently heartless, and often random and impersonal world. Just as “true” religiosity may be said to arise from an openhearted examination of evidences for universal consciousness, “true” atheism may represent a “high” and transfiguring awakening within the individual to a broader sense of reality. As such, true atheism can be a powerful tool for healing, acceptance, resourcefulness, and balance within the individual. And we thank you for sharing. •

— Channeled by Rand B. Lee on 7 September 2015 6:40 AM MT.

Aftermaths

MAJORTRUMPS.XXI.DeathOne of the most painful things about the death of a beloved is not how much difference it makes in one’s days afterwards, but how little. My sweet 14-year-old cat, Urdwill (a.k.a. Burd), was as much part of my day and night as any close family member might have been; but I still have to get up in the morning as usual; shower as usual; make my basic three daily meals as usual; go to my Twelve Step meeting, counseling sessions, and supermarket as usual. I spent part of this week repotting sweet peppers and tomatoes I am raising from seed; shmoozing with my landlord’s sweet American bulldog, Julie; accessing and returning my friend Lee’s car, all as usual. How, I ask myself, could I have gotten over my pet’s demise so quickly? “You never really loved him, that’s how,” the Accuser whispers.

Of course that is not true. The mourning that began with wails of grief has simply shifted, that’s all, downsized itself, gone largely underground. My rented room feels empty, now, without him. When I am out chatting with a friend I think, “Oh, I had better get home now, Burd will need his dinner,” then remember that Burd’s dinner is no longer my concern. When I come back to my landlord’s house and unlock the outer door, I automatically check the area around my feet to see if Urdwill is crouching there, ready to spring past me into the street. At night, whenever I would wake (and I wake up several times a night), Urdwill would be there, ready for affection, action, food; I sometimes nearly tripped over his black-furred body, invisible as it was in the darkened room. The relaxation of my hypervigilance concerning him—the relaxation issuing directly from his death—has been a relief. But it has also been a source of enormous feelings of guilt. How, I ask myself, could I be so heartless as to feel relief over Urdwill’s passing? “You never really loved him, that’s how,” the Accuser whispers again.

Such accusations would have no power to affect me were there not a long, old history behind them. In Ireland, where they had lived for six or seven years, my mother died of alcoholism in 1991, a year after my younger brother Jeffrey, her caretaker, died of AIDS. I hated my mother for having emotionally and sexually abused me, and I felt as liberated by her death as I had felt devastated by my brother’s. It took years before I could acknowledge my love for the part of her that was good and kind, and feel any  grief over her passing. “You could have saved her from drinking herself to death,” the Accusers whispered at the time, but this was a lie easier to shrug off; I knew by this time that alcoholism is a progressive illness, and that she had not been willing to do the 12 Step work that could have helped her find relief from it. The Accuser’s other whisper, “You could have saved Jeffrey from dying of AIDS by insisting he return to the USA for treatment,” was harder to shrug off. At the time in Ireland, so strong were the laws against birth control that one needed a doctor’s prescription even to buy condoms in Ireland; AIDS treatment was even more primitive and limited by public prejudice than it was in the US, where our present cocktail of meds had not yet become available.

In the end I have been forced to the conclusion that my brother, my mother, and my beloved cat Urdwill had their own paths to follow, their own stories, and their own Higher Powers. I have been asked by Spirit to accept that I, like they, am a student of Love rather than a master; and that no matter what the Accuser says, I could no more have rescued my little brother from AIDS than I could have cured my cat’s cancer. The only power I have is in the here and now: the power to choose Love right now, today. •

A Message From “The Family”: On Pets

Rand.UrdwillMister Rand is today facing the possibility that his pet feline, Urdwill, may have more cancerous tumors growing upon his body. They may be malignant or they may be nonmalignant, but in any event Mister Rand’s cat is not eating, although he is drinking water. Mister Rand is remembering all the pets, and all the humans, he has lost to death over the decades, and has been showing great signs of anxiety, guilt, and shame, because part of himself feels (1) that males should not feel such feelings, (2) that he ought to have “saved” his transformed loved ones from death; and (3) that his future spiritual belongingness–whether “God” accepts him after death or not–depends upon his being perfect in all his thoughts, words, and deeds. He even believes that we may be fictions, or worse still, Satanic messengers sent to draw him and those who read his blogs away from the One True God. Mister Rand does not believe any of these things consciously. But all selves exist within the Self, including younger versions of the self, and all their voices sometimes sound within Mister Rand’s heart at once, contradicting the quieter voices of his reason and spiritual insight.

Mister Rand has vowed, when ever it is Urdwill the cat’s true time of leave taking the body, never to have another pet, because he says he “cannot bear” the thought of watching another pet die, or worse still, causing their death by having them euthenased by injection at a vet’s office. Mister Rand says that his grief is too great to bear, since (as he is aware) his grief over losing a pet is also grief over his losses of all the animals and humans in his life (and other lives as well, though he may not know this consciously). There are times when he even feels guilty over having a pet at all, both because of the impact pet-rearing can have on the environment and because he wonders whether it is good for an animal to be shoehorned into a human’s life rather than be permitted to live out its lifespan in a natural environment. Yet even in these things he knows the truth: that there are no natural environments, for your world has been made and remade by Humans repeatedly over the millennia; that in the “wild,” animals live a much shorter time than in “captivity;” and that humans can bring enormous comfort and fun into a domesticated animal’s life.

Mr. Urdwill has lived a reasonably long life for a cat of his size and genetic makeup: 14 years by Mister Rand’s present count. For all but 8 months of those years, Mister Urdwill has roamed free within his territory, Mister Rand’s backyard. He has enjoyed much fresh air, sleeping under datura leaves, chasing toads, terrorizing Mister Rand’s dogs (<-this is a joke>).

[Broken off because of need to take Urdwill to vet; resumed early next morning]

The purpose of the communion between “pets” and humans varies from pet to pet and human to human. Why did Mr. Urdwill choose Mr. Rand as his human companion that day at the pound in 2002, when Mister Rand, following an image of a black cat that had persisted in coming to him, visited the pound and experienced the black Abyssinian mix cat open the door of its cage, walk out, and sit upon Mister Rand’s foot? Mr. Urdwill wished freedom from enclosure. And freedom from enclosure is what Mister Rand gave him, for most of the years of their time together. Both cat and human also wished love, for all beings wish love, even rodents, which humans frequently despise because they closely resemble humans in some of their habits; and lizards, which being “cold blooded” are thought to have no need for love, only sex and food. It is just that Love takes different forms amongst different beings.

What Mister Rand really wants to know is, did he love Urdwill and his family and friends who have passed, truly love them “enough” for God to forgive him for not having been perfect? For having resented and quarreled with his beloved younger brother who died of AIDS in 1990? For having hated his abusive-seductive mother, who nonetheless had loved him in her way and he had loved her in his? For having heeded his lover Alex’s psychic command not to enter Alex’s room the evening of Alex’s suicide, when Mister Rand had returned from a gig the both of them had been scheduled to lead? We say, Yes, you have loved truly. Yes, you have expressed this love at times imperfectly. That is because one purpose for incarnation, the great task of incarnating in physical reality, is to learn to integrate the Divine Love at one’s core with one’s physical self and circumstances. And all students perform imperfectly—they are learning.

Mister Urdwill’s life is drawing to a close due to cancer and complications therefrom. Grief is difficult for many humans to express and bear, for it makes them feel weak and vulnerable and foolish in the eyes of other adults. We ask for all who experience grief over the loss of a companion animal or human relative or friend that you pray for Divine Love to help you forgive yourselves for being students of Love rather than masters thereof. And we thank you for sharing. •

— Channeled April 14-15, 2015, Santa Fe, New Mexico

A Love Letter To Alex, On the Anniversary of His Suicide

Dear  Alex,

Today, January 27th, is the anniversary of the day I found you dead on your bed in 1988. My elderly cat has been sick, and though I love him dearly and will miss him terribly when it is his time to pass, my weeping was so intense today, and my feelings of guilt and shame so pronounced, that I knew what I was feeling had to be about earlier losses, too. Hence this letter.

It’s not the only letter I’ve written to you, by any means; for years I struggled with the persistent notion that I could have saved you from your suicide; that somehow you had killed yourself because I had failed as a partner and lover. Now, so many years, therapies, 12 Step programs, and heart-openings later, I know that your story was not my story. Had I opened the door that night at 10pm when I returned from work to find the light on under your door, I might have delayed your death, for the coroner told me you had died around midnight that night. But in the end, if death is what you wished for (and your ex-wife told me over the phone you had attempted it before, during your marriage to her), you would have found a way to hasten it. After all, a month before you died you warned me what was going to happen.

We were in the car going somewhere, you driving, me in the front passenger seat. You said, “I had a funny dream last night. I dreamed we were in a hospital room. I was lying in bed in a coma, and you were sitting on the chair next to the bed. And I knew that you were all right with my condition, because I’d told you many times that the place where I go when I do deep trance is so beautiful that some day I may not want to come back.” Maybe it was that dream (if it was a dream and not your way of hinting what was to come) that prompted me on some level to realize our time together remaining would be curtailed, for it was in mid-January that I sprung on you that surprise birthday party, where all our friends gathered, and we played a game, and you had cake, and laughed, and said, “No one has ever had a birthday party for me before.” Less than two weeks later you were dead.

My inner child has always been terrified of death. Death, in fact, is my Life Theme, the greatest truth this incarnation of mine has been learning to accept, assimilate, and adapt to. Maybe that’s one reason I was attracted to metaphysics after my rationalist upbringing and my ensuing 7 years as a Fundamentalist Christian—I sought to find evidence that the body is not all of us; that physical death is not the death of something deeper and more core in us; and that somehow Tarot, trancework, channeling and so forth would console me in ways that conventional religion failed to do. And it has helped. After my little brother Jeff, you were the greatest spiritual inspiration in my life. Your deep-trance channelings, which I (suspiciously at first, then more and more credulously) helped you attain with my guided meditations, changed my life completely. My entire spiritual world view has evolved from the talks you gave in your spirit-persona of  “Alexandra”, and I’m not the only one you helped by any means.

I can still recall clearly the sense of peace and nurture that flowed through your Alexandra persona to me and everyone else who attended our meetings in Key West, Florida, Ireland, and later Santa Fe, New Mexico, where you died. And I can recall vividly that the morning I found you, the moment I put my hand on your doorknob at 10am to rouse you for a meeting with a client we had scheduled for 11, I knew you were dead. I opened the door, saw you on the bed, and felt you and Alexandra—not the same person, but two personas—”floating” near the ceiling, witnessing me. I’ve had spiritual experiences since then, several in which I caught a glimpse of that Heaven of Light and Sound which made you so blissful whenever you tranced. But the experience I had that morning was my Lightning-Struck Tower.

Thank you for all you gave me. Thank you for my sense of your continuing presence in my life. I have loved other men since I met you, but you remain uniquely precious.

P.S. Please watch over my cat, and help me release him to the arms of Love when it comes his time to rise. •

Alex_with_Christmas_tree.IMG

Blog Topics For 2015

Welcome to the New Year! I thought I’d run by you my first-ever poll on which topics you’d like to see explored on this blog during the next year. Vote for as many as you like! There’s even a space at the end for you to suggest a topic not covered above. When you’re done, just click on the VOTE button on the bottom right of the poll. Here goes….