It Doesn’t Matter Who You Love

vcxa8286I was saddened to hear of Rod McKuen’s (April 29, 1933 – January 29, 2015) passing a year ago. It was because of his words that I fell in love with poetry. It was because of what his words inspired in me that I am a poet today.

It was New Year’s day when I sat down with a cup of tea and picked up the iPad to see if the planet made it through the celebrations of the new year without a terrorist incident. I am not a big fan of “the best of” essays which seem to overflow at this transitional time from one year to the next. I did however read an article by William McDonald in the New York Times naming some of the people the world lost during 2015. It was through this article that I learned of Rod’s passing.

I became acquainted with Rod McKuen’s poetry from his three record compilation with Anita Kerr and The San Sebastian Strings – The Earth, The Sea, & The Sky. Produced by Warner Bros. Records in 1968. It was almost twenty years later on the first of January, 1986, when my neighbor knocked on the door.

“Hi! Happy New Year,” Katie blurted out. She had just returned from spending Christmas with her parents in Seattle. “I got this great album from my parents. I want you to hear it.”

Katie and I had been neighbors for over a year during which time we would often hang out together as friends. Our musical tastes were very different. She was into Rock and I enjoyed Jazz but we often shared our different tastes regarding music inside my small apartment because she didn’t have a record player.

“Sure, come on in.” I said. As an additional incentive, although none was needed, she pulled out a joint and a bottle of wine.

I knew Rod McKuen was a poet but was not aware he was also a musician and singer. I had low expectations for the entertainment, but it was always great sharing time with Katie. The furnace in the apartment building was broken and Portland was about to experience one of it famous ice storms. So we climbed into my heated water bed, opened the wine, lit the joint, started the record, and listened to some of the most beautiful poetry I ever heard for the remainder of the day.

Thirty years latter on January 01, 2016, his words still have the same affect upon my being, even without Katie, the bottle of wine, or the joint. His words are timeless flowing examples of love. In fact, I learned more about the emotions of love from the poetry of Rod McKuen than I learned from most of my relationships. Rumi is up there too, but Rod was first. So, I offer you, “tickets around the room and back” to some of my favorite lines from this timeless recording. Thank you Rod. You awakened the poetry in me with your words.

If we ourselves to know, we should get to know the sea. (My Friend The Sea)

This is the way it was while I was waiting for your eyes to find me…I cried too sometimes… I loved every face I thought looked pretty and every kindred eye I saw in crowds… I was drifting, before you. (While Drifting)

You see how easily we fit together as if God’s own hands had cradled only us…. I found a twenty dollar bill once. I was rich in those days. For a week I had everything. I wish I had known you then. (Gifts From The Sea)

Save the rain that falls upon the sea tonight. We’ll ride the rain to France and back and see the world through European windows. Wake up, the boat is leaving soon. Hurry or we’ll miss it. Are you warm enough and do you like the rain? (Do You Like The Rain?)

Let’s be different… Never mind the world… Let’s not miss each other… And what was your first name anyway? (The Days of the Dancing)

I am just a man who needs and wants mostly things he’ll never have…looking for that thing that’s hardest to find, himself… Help me… Please. (Pushing The Clouds Away)

How can we be sure of anything? The tide changes… I love the sea but that doesn’t make me any less afraid of it… I love you but, I’m not alway sure of what you are…how you feel. I like to crawl behind your eyes sometimes and see me the way you do… As it is I worry when you laugh too much. (The Ever Constant Sea)

I put a seashell to my ear and it all comes back… You see what loving does… It makes you trust in horoscopes and gypsy wine, fortune tellers and even seashells. I still believe in love… It’s hard these days you know and yet it’s still a great adventure… (Gypsy Camp)

We’ll go naked in the afternoon and then you can see I’m only me. Have you expected more all this time?… (Beyond The Bend Ahead)

If it comes, that time of leaving. The tide came in, the tide went out… I love you, believe that, and if I ever been unfaithful, it’s only with my friend, the sea. (The Sea)

The earth is where I came from and that is where I’ll go back… At times I think, not soon enough… (The Tender Earth)

Thinking perhaps of boat rides… If we only had a boat?.. You worry yourself with something that doesn’t even have a name. My name, let’s just say I’ll be good to you… I’ll try anyway. (The Butterfly Is Drunk On Sunshine)

How many color of blue make up the sky… Seven, ten maybe… Funny thing to think about while lying here next to you… But I was wondering about the sky… Blue on blue. (How Many Colors of Blue)

Don’t worry me with your conventions. I’ve spent a long time overcoming my own… Take off your coat, take off your conventions… Don’t knock apples if you never bitten into one… (My Dog Likes Oranges)

If I do anything you didn’t expect… Let me know and I’d be more careful next time. (The Forehead of the Morning)

I talk of dying because then I’ll be sure enough to see your eyes darting in the streets, going from face to face seeking my replacement… Stake me out a patch of sky far from everyone and away from everything… (A Patch of Sky, Away From Everything)

There were so many words I wanted to use last night… Words I’m afraid of, like tomorrow and together… And love. If I say I love you, I want it to mean more than I love peanut butter… I want it to mean I’m letting go… Once you say you love somebody, you can’t take it back… I love you. (Sunday)

Sometimes we want so much, we never stop to think… There must have been some goodness there for you as well… An Earthquake? No, tremor maybe… But there are earthquakes in your arms to come… (Earthquakes)

Buy for me the wind and put it in a jar… So That I might take it out and smell it when I’m in stale rooms or unfriendly places… Gather up some sun for me and save it in a little box so in winter time I’ve but to hold your hand and feel the sun… I given you what I have. All I have… In return, buy for me the wind… (Buy For Me The Wind)

What can I say in summing up, that I am a man waiting… That I am some of the sea, part of the earth, and much of the sky… That I used people and let myself be used because it is a means to touch… I am not alone, even if it’s only my own words which keep me company… (In Summing Up)

Day One

C3482B64-09B3-4437-ADE0-89DDA7D214FAAfter a flight delay in Nadi, I safely arrived in Savusavu. I love my new home. It was made for me to continue this life. It is a simple design about 300 square feet with a screened in porch that wraps around the front and right side of the house. I am planning to hang my hammock on the side porch rather than under the coconut trees. I don’t want to expire from a falling coconut. Although in a Billy Collins poem his character expires weighing a cloud while in his hammock living the life of Riley, whoever he is. The yard is full of coconut, papaya and breadfruit trees, although the papaya is not ripe yet, the coconuts and breadfruit are. If I could only crack those coconuts.

A brief shower awakened me this morning allowing me the opportunity to dance in the rain before heading across the street to my first baptism in the South Pacific. A double rainbow welcomed me as the local fisher men and women spread their nets across the inlet. I feel as if I am a part of a Hemingway novel. I believe life is meant to be experienced and lived this way.

I don’t have internet yet but my new cousins (landlords) and I are working on it. Don’t forget everything here is on Fiji Time so nothing happens over night. The pace is slow which is perfect with me. The people are welcoming and friendly. If it were not for the internet and tourism I would easily believe I traveled back in time about fifty years.

A pair of young mongoose played in the yard, chasing each other. At least I know there are no cobras around but the wasps are huge! I mean huge! The locals refer to them as pee and they pack a mean bite so I am told. The geckoes chirped me to sleep last night as the almost full moon rose to welcome me. The time difference obviously has an affect as I went to bed shortly after sunset, 6:00 PM. It’s winter here. The days are short but the temperature is still around 80 degrees. So June 21 will be the longest day for you and the shortest for me. Except I’m in Fiji and you’re not. Sorry about that.

The ocean I waded in this morning has now receded. I’m going treasure hunting, soon as I figure out how to open this damn coconut!

The Gate Keeper Of Inspiration: Book II Chapter Five — Seneca

9A53275B-B02E-446A-BC2C-4594D7C32780“Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.” These were Seneca’s parting words to me the first time we met here at the Inn Of Inspiration. I have pondered them oven in my head often since then. 

I am walking to the far shore of the lake where my cave abode waits. I still have the cubicle behind the front desk, under the stairway where I say for late arrivals but I seldom use it these days. I am spending much more time in the place our guests call Socrates’s Cave, most often alone, and sometimes with invited guests. Today, my dear friend Seneca is joining me for a hot tub and his special blackberry wine. As I continue the climb to my cave, my senses are blessed with the arousing scent of rosemary coming from the garden. I see Henry, June and Anaïs brushing themselves and each other with rosemary branches, playing and laughing like children. I reflect back to my last conversation with Henry. 

We were speaking of his reality with the two women when he said, ‘“But what a reality to be in Socrates. I am the happiest man alive.”’

Yes, here, this moment, I would agree with you Henry.

I arrive at the entrance to my space and pass through the veil. There is something special about returning to a place of one’s own and finding it the same as I left it the last time I was here. It is a peacefulness, for sure. The hum, the sound of this personal space is familiar and speaks to me each time I enter. The sunlight breaking through the thriving plant life. The rushing of the stream. The still, warmth of the hot tub patiently waiting our tired bodies as I hear Seneca coming up the path.

“Good morning my dear friend Seneca. Welcome.”

“Good morning to you my dear friend Socrates. Time has kept us apart for too long. O’ I know time does not exist here but I am from a time when it did, as are you. Who else can I blame for us not seeing each other for what seems too long a time?”

“Well, Seneca. There are three things I know about time. (1) It cannot be stored or saved. (2) It is finite for all living creatures. (3) It can be remembered but you cannot go back or ahead in time to change or direct it. Perhaps today you might broaden my perception on time and other subjects but first let’s pour some wine and retire to the awaiting tub.”

“Sounds like an excellent idea.” Seneca continues talking as the two men remove their robes and slide into the healing warm water. “What man can you show me, excluding those of us here, who places any value on his time, who reckons the worth of each day, who understands that he is dying daily? For we are mistaken when we look forward to death; the major portion of death has already passed. Whatever years lie behind us are in death’s hands.

Therefore… hold every hour in your grasp. Lay hold of to-day’s task, and you will not need to depend so much upon tomorrow’s. While we are postponing, life speeds by. Nothing… is ours, except time. We were entrusted by nature with the ownership of this single thing, so fleeting and slippery that anyone who will can oust us from possession.”

“But even those of us chosen to have continuation here still look back on life as being much too short.” I interject…

“It is not that we have a short time to live, but that we waste a lot of it. Life is long enough, and a sufficiently generous amount has been given to us for the highest achievements if it were all well invested. But when it is wasted in heedless luxury and spent on no good activity, we are forced at last by death’s final constraint to realize that it has passed away before we knew it was passing. So it is: we are not given a short life but we make it short, and we are not ill-supplied but wasteful of it… Life is long if you know how to use it.”

“I still occasionally have this sensation of time and life speeding up.”

“You must match time’s swiftness with your speed in using it, and you must drink quickly as though from a rapid stream that will not always flow… Just as travelers are beguiled by conversation or reading or some profound meditation, and find they have arrived at their destination before they knew they were approaching it; so it is with this unceasing and extremely fast-moving journey of life, which waking or sleeping we make at the same pace — the preoccupied become aware of it only when it is over.”

“The preoccupied miss so much of the feeling of thou with everything.” I say.

“Living is the least important activity of the preoccupied man; yet there is nothing which is harder to learn… Learning how to live takes a whole life, and, which may surprise you more, it takes a whole life to learn how to die.”

“That statement does not surprise me, Seneca. I believe the same from my experiences. Perhaps this is true for you also. I have become more stingy with my time as I live more of it. I realize it’s finiteness.”

“People are frugal in guarding their personal property Socrates; but as soon as it comes to squandering time they are most wasteful of the one thing in which it is right to be stingy.”

“How does one respond to your earlier statement making time the villain in keeping us apart then Seneca?”

“My dear Socrates forever the antagonist, but in a good way. Set yourself free for your own sake; gather and save your time, which till lately has been forced from you, or filched away, or has merely slipped from your hands… Certain moments are torn from us… some are gently removed… others glide beyond our reach. The most disgraceful kind of loss, however, is that due to carelessness.”

“By the term carelessness, do you mean the same as unawareness?” I ask.

“Yes, humans are living as if destined to live for ever; your own frailty never occurs to you; you don’t notice how much time has already passed, but squander it as though you had a full and overflowing supply – though all the while that very day which you are devoting to somebody or something may be your last. You act like mortals in all that you fear, and like immortals in all that you desire… How late it is to begin really to live just when life must end! How stupid to forget our mortality, and put off sensible plans to our fiftieth and sixtieth years, aiming to begin life from a point at which few have arrived!”

“And we cannot forget the role of procrastination.”

 “Putting things off is the biggest waste of life: it snatches away each day as it comes, and denies us the present by promising the future. The greatest obstacle to living is expectancy, which hangs upon tomorrow and loses today. You are arranging what lies in Fortune’s control, and abandoning what lies in yours. What are you looking at? To what goal are you straining? The whole future lies in uncertainty: live immediately.”

“It can sometimes take a lifetime to learn that also. What do you think is the role of immortality in relationship to time?”

“We are in the habit of saying that it was not in our power to choose the parents who were allotted to us, that they were given to us by chance. But we can choose whose children we would like to be. There are households of the noblest intellects: choose the one into which you wish to be adopted, and you will inherit not only their name but their property too. Nor will this property need to be guarded meanly or grudgingly: the more it is shared out, the greater it will become. These will offer you a path to immortality and raise you to a point from which no one is cast down. This is the only way to prolong mortality — even to convert it to immortality.”

“I am very grateful for my teachers, my families. You are one Seneca. I am grateful for you.”

“Well, thank you Socrates and I am grateful for you also. We should try by all means to be as grateful as possible. For gratitude is a good thing for ourselves, in a sense in which justice, that is commonly supposed to concern other persons, is not; gratitude returns in large measure unto itself. There is not a man who, when he has benefited his neighbour, has not benefited himself, — the reward for all the virtues lies in the virtues themselves. For they are not practised with a view to recompense; the wages of a good deed is to have done it. I am grateful, not in order that my neighbour, provoked by the earlier act of kindness, may be more ready to benefit me, but simply in order that I may perform a most pleasant and beautiful act; I feel grateful, not because it profits me, but because it pleases me.”

“The giving and sharing of gratitude?” I ask.

“Yes Socrates. The wise man… enjoys the giving more than the recipient enjoys the receiving.”

“Is it possible that human kind could become a slave to life?” I ask.

“Honors bind one man, wealth another; nobility oppresses some, humility others; some are held in subjection by an external power, while others obey the tyrant within; banishments keep some in one place, the priesthood others. All life is slavery Socrates. Therefore each one must accustom himself to his own condition and complain about it as little as possible, and lay hold of whatever good is to be found near him.”

“To the determent of any hope, dreams and aspirations?” I ask.

“It was nature’s intention that there should be no need of great equipment for a good life: every individual can make himself happy. External goods are of trivial importance and without much influence in either direction: prosperity does not elevate the sage and adversity does not depress him. For he has always made the effort to rely as much as possible on himself and to derive all delight from himself.”

“For you and I that may be true Seneca, but man is a social animal, ruled by other men and no longer nature. Today he either controls or destroys nature, the planet and himself.”

“If nature should demand of us that which she has previously entrusted to us, we will must say to her: “Take back a better mind than you gave: I seek no way of escape nor flee: take it away.” What hardship is there in returning to the place whence one has come? That man lives badly who does not know how to die well.”

“Then you also feel the earth’s dying?

“I do, but before we continue, I saw a platter of fruit, cheese and bread on your table. I could use a bit to eat and another glass of wine. I could stay here and flitter away all my time with you Socrates.”

“It will be my pleasure Seneca, my friend. ‘“Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.”’

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Colorized black and white photo of Albert EinstienThe Gate Keeper Of Inspiration: Book II Chapter Six —  Albert Einstein will be published on Sunday, August 05, 2019.

Rollo Del Tomebamba XVII — Sacrifice

One of the activities I engage in everyday when possible is a walk along the Tomebamba River near my home in Cuenca, Ecuador. During this walking meditation my mind wonders along with that of the river. I love the sound of water. When the river is high, it blocks out the sounds of the city and my mind transcends to other worlds while my feet remain firmly in contact with the cobblestoned path. This path for a little while becomes a Yellow Brick Road into my own thoughts and life.

d6ad4d51-30a4-4ae6-a93a-f2c61125a3f6Sacrifice

I was deeply saddened when I came across the photograph below. A father and daughter dead because the family was willing to sacrifice their own possible death for a an unguaranteed better life in America. I watched the interview with Nayib Bukele President of El Salvador where he said:

“They fled El Salvador, they fled our country. It is our fault. I think migration is a right, but it should be an option, not an obligation. And right now it’s an obligation for a lot of people… Why? Because they don’t have a job, because they are being threatened by gangs, because they don’t have basic things like water, education, health… People don’t flee their homes because they want to, people flee their homes because they feel they have to.”

I am partially here in Ecuador because of its belief as a nation in internationally open borders. It was one of the determining factors. I experienced a sense of pride for President Bukele, only in office one month and having to face his first international crises. He has taken responsibility. I cannot think of one US president in my life time who ever said, “It is our fault.” Death should not be a political blame issue.

To me that young man is the hero of his own and his daughter’s life. He sacrificed himself and his young daughter whom he had safely carried across the river once before she followed him back into the river in a panic when he went back to get his wife. They did not make it the second time. I had never had to make a sacrifice of such magnitude. I sacrificed my marriage for independence, my corporate job for a freer life, and stuff for nothing, but never have I had to sacrifice my life. I love this life so much.

For years and years I struggled
just to love my life. And then
the butterfly
rose, weightless, in the wind.
“Don’t love your life
too much,” it said,
and vanished
into the world.

One or Two Things – Mary Oliver

Death is a sacrifice to life. They both must coexist no matter how horrible or painful. A bit of me dies each time I see or read of death. Bendito seas mi amiga y mi hija.

Óscar Alberto Martínez Ramírez, 25, and his daughter Valeria, 23 months, drowned on Sunday, June 23, 2019 while trying to cross from Matamoros, in the northern Mexican state of Tamaulipas, into Texas.

C0965AD4-27EB-4C8B-AF4E-BD760453CB60

Random thoughts and experiences while I walk and live to The Roll of the Rio Tomebamba. 

If You’re Not Outraged…

vcxa8286You’re Not Paying Attention To What Is Going On Around You!

Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter. — Martin L. King Jr.

The movie Network was made over thirty years ago. I remember seeing the out take of Peter Finch’s character, Howard Beale, leaning out a window and yelling at the top of his lungs, “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore.” His words perfectly describe my feeling concerning the political situation in America today.

First of all, I am not a political writer. There are more qualified political commentators on the web who can explain our political, economic, and social conditions better than I. I am just fed up with what this current administration is pulling off almost totally uncontested by either their own Republican party, the Democratic party, or the American public. The checks and balances of our government have been tossed aside by a corrupt and secretive executive branch. The only thing the oval office seems committed to is the increases in corporate profits and the top 1% at whatever cost.

I came of age during the sixties. In those days filled with racial tension, the war in Viet Nam, young men burning their draft cards and women burning their bras, I knew the enemy. It was anyone over thirty who supported institutionalized racism and the systematic destruction of any form of government which questioned the spread of democracy and capitalism. It was during the Cold War, one of the wars designed to keep us afraid, which ended with the destruction of the Berlin Wall and started up again under the Trump administration. We also had the War on Poverty, the War on Crime, and the War on Drugs which fed the coffers of the Wall Street investors but didn’t really end anything. These wars were never won because to do so would be a loss for corporate America on the bottom line and that was unacceptable.

Today, the enemy is the same only its spread is greater. From Washington’s oval office to the corporate boardroom. From the lies and deceit which led us into the unnecessary and unwindable wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to the lies and deceit leading to the billions in profits by the Oil industry, Enron, World Com and others. Previous administration and its band of robbers lied to us about the electrical shortages in the early summers of the new century as they told power plant executives to shut down their generators in order to raise the price of electricity. The employees of Enron and World Com lost all of their investments while their executives stashed millions in offshore numbered accounts. And, where O’ where are those Weapons of Mass Destruction?

The enemy hasn’t changed much, but taking over the oval office is a bit more involved than occupying the provost’s office at the University during my college days. I had very little faith in our electoral process before the 2016 election but now I have none. I no longer believe my vote matters nor will it make a difference. I don’t see change coming from the inside. Corruption cannot police itself. And I don’t see any knights in shinning armor coming to our rescue. It’s time for a revolution. I’m not sure how to go about it, but I got out of my chair. “I’m mad as hell and I’m getting madder.”

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34106152-5ECE-4B82-970F-D7B4D451D5D8Peter Finch’s character, Howard Beale’s Monologue:

I don’t have to tell you things are bad. Everybody knows things are bad. It’s a depression. Everybody’s out of work or scared of losing their job. The dollar buys a nickel’s worth. Banks are going bust. Shopkeepers keep a gun under the counter. Punks are running wild in the street and there’s no one anywhere that seems to know what to do with us. Now into it. We know the air is unfit to breathe, our food is unfit to eat, and we sit watching our TVs while some local newscaster tells us that today we had 15 homicides and 63 violent crimes as if that’s the way it’s supposed to be. We know things are bad. Worse than bad. They’re crazy. It’s like everything everywhere is going crazy so we don’t go out anymore. We sit in a house as slowly the world we’re living in is getting smaller and all we say is, “Please, at least leave us alone in our living rooms. Let me have my toaster, and TV, and my steel belted radials and I won’t say anything.” Well I’m not going to leave you alone. I want you to get mad. I don’t want you to protest. I don’t want you to riot. I don’t want you to write to your congressman because I wouldn’t know what to tell you to write. I don’t know what to do about the depression and the inflation and the Russians and the crying in the streets. All I know is first you’ve got to get mad. You’ve got to say, “I’m a human being. God Dammit, my life has value.” So, I want you to get up now. I want all of you to get up out of your chairs. I want you to get up right now and go to the window, open it, and stick your head out, and yell, “I’m as mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!” I want you to get up right now. Get up. Go to your windows, open your windows, and stick your head out, and yell, “I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore!” Things have got to change my friends. You’ve got to get mad. You’ve got to say, “I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore!”

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Rollo Del Tomebamba XVI — Time

One of the activities I engage in everyday when possible is a walk along the Tomebamba River near my home in Cuenca, Ecuador. During this walking meditation my mind wonders along with that of the river. I love the sound of water. When the river is high, it blocks out the sounds of the city and my mind transcends to other worlds while my feet remain firmly in contact with the cobblestoned path. This path for a little while becomes a Yellow Brick Road into my own thoughts and life.

d6ad4d51-30a4-4ae6-a93a-f2c61125a3f6Time

“I have no where to be and no particular time to be there.” 

Wow! What a life I live. For much of my life on this floating orb, my time has been in the service of other. Corporations, relationships, people… immediately come to mind. Now my time is in service to me. Life is different when I am not responsible to or for others, nor their possessions. Time becomes more of the gift it is. It is the same body, heart and mind only aged with experience, chance and destiny. It has taken time. Seventy one years. Twenty six thousand days give or take a rotation or two of the planet. There is a particular freedom that comes with control of one’s time. Time no longer controls me.

D7067960-6393-4A3C-8364-BBC6C3899801

Random thoughts and experiences while I walk and live to The Roll of the Rio Tomebamba. 

Acceptance—What The World Needs Now

vcxa8286With the senseless killing of Black men by white police officers in the United States, at a rate which has not been seen since the racial unrest of the sixties, to the ISIS bombings in France, Yemen, Turkey, Afghanistan, Algeria, Tunisia, Syria, and Brussels, etc., to the endless bloodshed between Palestinians and Israelis, (this war has been going on my entire life, I am 71), to the kidnapping of 200 young women in Nigeria and murder of 45 schoolchildren in Mexico, to the harassment and murder of men and women because of their sexual preferences in Florida and Brazil, to the shooting of white police officers by a crazed Black gunman in Dallas, we are a world in turmoil.

This turmoil has existed since the beginning of civilization because we have failed as citizens of this planet to accept the differences in our fellow human beings and ourselves. We make one way the “right” way, one belief the “true” belief. One government, the only government. Who are we to deny any human on this planet the right to his/her own choice to believe what they choose to believe, to engage life on their own terms, and to express those beliefs however they choose within the framework of doing no harm to others? We all want the same thing – to be free to live our own life. We must learn to accept our differences rather than use them as wedges to divide us.

Acceptance is difficult. Our nature is to pass judgement on our fellow humans, to convert, or to conquer. We see things in the dualities of good/evil, black/white, right/wrong, or love/hate. We pass judgement not only upon philosophical concepts but also with color, people, and religions. Black people are…Italians are…Mexicans are…Jews are…Christians are…Muslims are…. According to the Bible stories I grew up with, no duality existed before Eve bit into the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge. She and Adam were unaware of their nakedness, unaware of opposites because no knowledge of duality existed in the garden. Everything was one. Our mythology of Heaven is based upon what we were told about Eden. We want to get back to the one.

I am not blaming Eve for the problems of mankind. I simply use this story as a metaphor to illustrate the nature of duality and why it has created this mountainous barrier to acceptance. An accepting individual sees beyond the duality to the singularity and unity of all things as they are. Eve did not eat the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge, from a philosophical point of view. She and Adam, you and I are the fruit of the tree. Only the tree in this instance is the Earth. Just an an apple tree apples, the Earth peoples, and fishes, and birds. We all come from the same mother but we have never in the history of this planet accepted our kin as brothers and sisters. Instead we see them as Black, white, yellow, red, Catholic, Jewish, Moslems, straight or gay, Russians, Swiss, and or Chinese. However we see them, we see them as different from ourselves and as a threat to my way of life.

Siddhartha in the book of the same name by Herman Hesse uses these words to describe acceptance of the nature of duality to his friend Govinda.

The world is not imperfect or slowly evolving along a long path to perfection. No, it is perfect at every moment: every sin already carries grace within it, all small children are potential old men, all sucklings have death within them, all dying people — eternal life. It is not possible for one person to see how far another is on the way: the Buddha exists in the robber and dice player; the robber exists in the Brahmin. Therefore, it seems to me that everything that exists is good, death as well as life, sin as well as holiness, wisdom as well as folly. Everything is necessary, everything needs only my agreement, my assent, my loving understanding; then all is well with me and nothing can harm me.

In following the doctrine of acceptance one doesn’t manipulate or interfere with another’s way of life or another’s beliefs even if he believes his motivation is from his own higher spirit (A justification used by the Catholic church to convert many of the worlds indigenous people to Catholicism and by Hitler to conquer most of Europe.) A person who practices acceptance refrains from giving advice unless asked but is not indifferent to providing aid when needed or requested. He eliminates the fanatic in himself. He kills the one in himself who must change others to his beliefs, his way of life. He accepts the differences in the world without judgement and without the need to convert anyone or anything for any reason.

The words attributed to Voltaire,

I do not agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it

are very appropriate for this day and time. I do not agree with many of the words and practices used by most of the various social, political, religious, and economic organizations in the world today. I do not condone the murder, imprisonment, torture, or social rejection and isolation of any group or individual by another individual or organization because of their beliefs, race, culture, religion, or sexual preferences. Yet, I will defend the acceptance of any group or individual having different beliefs as long as I am free to choose and to follow my own beliefs in return. When one’s beliefs, religion, race or culture are attacked it becomes an inhibitor to one’s existence. This in its essence is the doctrine of acceptance.

Maybe this is all a dream in the mind of a philosopher, but I believe it is worth thinking about.

** Note: Within the last decade, the Pope has apologized to the cultures and religions of the world that were destroyed or eliminated because of the acts of Catholic church in the attempted conversion of these cultures to Christianity. The governments of Australia and Germany have apologized for their treatment of the Aborigines and the Jews respectively for their government’s genocide and attempts at cultural cleansing. The United States however has never issued an apology or any acknowledgement of wrongdoing to the Native Americans for the ravage destruction and rape of their lands or to the Negro slaves for their brutal mistreatment, repeated lies of equality, or utter failure to incorporate people of color into mainstream white American society. I still have not received the twenty acres and a mule promised my forefathers after the so called emancipation of slavery. I believe we need more acceptance of differences, but must admit, I am not yet at a place where I can accept America for the daily acts of violence, racism, and lies upon its own people and around the world. This is the difficulty of acceptance.