Daily Writing March 26,2023

I missed writing yesterday and broke a seven day streak. The Cura that we sang with Padrinho Paulo started early and finished late, and there just was not an opportunity to write. When I got home, I saw the above picture of my grandson Noah eating Açaí in Madrinha Rita’s kitchen with his Mom, Simone. I remember the last time I was in Mapia in the summer of 2019. An old friend, Severinho, was making the açaí in the kitchen. He brought the long stalks of berries from the açaí palms and blanched them in boiling water and then separated the pits from the thick purple meat of the berries. From there it went straight into a plastic pitcher and from there into our bowls. I always liked a little farinha and honey in mine. There in Mapia, the açai is thick and heavy–a completely different food from the watered down frozen packets that we buy in the grocery store here.

I also received a really cool video of Wylie doing a flip off the bridge into the stream in the middle of town with a bunch of other young people. He executed a perfect flip, but without rolling into a ball. He looks like a pencil flipping through the air. The bridge is about 15 feet over the surface of the river, so one has to commit or suffer a horrendous belly flop. I would be terrified to leap like that into that coffee brown and opaque water. I hit my face into a log without seeing it one time. I was lucky not to be seriously injured.

The work was very strong. We had about 35 people with visitors from all around the country. Several people came from the much larger Church near Austin Texas. We had several from upstate New York, Maryland, Hawaii, and Los Angeles Churches too. These are all places Padrinho stopped on his tour, and Miami is the final stop, so we had a lot of people who wanted to be there for our works.

The work was extremely challenging for me. Padrinho likes to arrange the salão so that he can see everyone during the work. This is different from the traditional Santo Daime set up where the table is in the center and everyone is in a hexagon or square shape around the center table. Here we set up what looked like a banquet table with the women going down the right side and the men on the left. As the “daime guardian” I was seated next to Padrinho’s left hand, and so when I looked down at the hymn book on the table in front on me, the line of men were in my upper left visual field, which of course is blind since my stroke. So this gave me the weird effect of not being able to see the entire line of fifteen or so men extending out to the left.

The force of the sacrament was very strong. It was enough to open the healing but not so much as to create a carnage. It’s a very fine balance to push the force strong enough to really open the doors for healing without over serving the sacrament. Fortunately the divine intelligence guides the serving process. We hit that edge perfectly.

The music was particularly beautiful as well. We had the guitar players at the opposite end of the room, so they did not interfere too much with connecting the voices of the singers. Sometimes with a guitar in the center, the voices cannot connect over the amplifier in the center. This set up was much better.

The leader of the Santo Daime worldwide is Padrinho Alfredo, the son of Padrinho Sebastião. He is a master of leading works without having to be the loudest voice in the room. No matter what is happening in the salão, and it can get pretty intense, Padrinho Alfredo is the picture of calm. He was giving me guidance in keeping myself calm and patient when I felt frustrated that other people were not following my guidance. Padrinho trust me to lead the work when he is up taking care of something, and I am willing and capable of doing so, but it’s hard when we have so many people, especially leaders from other churches. Everyone means well, and everyone wants to contribute what they have to offer. And so a lot of time when I’m wanting to influence the work, I don’t have the space or the attention I need to be effective.

One way to deal with this is to get loud and start bossing everyone around. This works not at all. In the force people are so sensitive that even a minor correction can make someone feel really bad. And they were all having fun and trying to share their gifts. Padrinho Alfredo handles this situation so well. He just stays calm and carries on, and forgives the offenses as soon as they happen.

We were singing the Cura II, which is a 17 hymn selection of healing hymns, in the force of strong sacrament. People were excited and we were blowing through it way to fast. At the rate it was going, we were going to run out of hymns in about 35 minutes with an hour and a half of strong force present. I wanted to sing all the hymns in English and Portuguese, and I had to overcome some resistance to this. I confirmed with Padrinho that was what he wanted. My challenge was to make this happen without making anyone feel that I was strong arming the work.

I had to go outside and sit for a minute, in the middle of this force, to see how to handle it, and Padrinho Alfredo was there for me. I saw how he sits at the table and controls everything with gentle indications from his maracá. I returned to the salão and the women leading the singing were finishing this one hymn in English and when they were done and the guitars were doing the playout, I started softly to sing in Portuguese, and it took a bit for people to catch on, but they did, and then from there we sang them all in both languages. It was such a subtle input in the middle of so much force with so many personalities in play. It was a very special moment.

But I was very tired. My ribs from the fracture were painful and the breathing while singing was hard for me. Also the visual distortions were disorienting, so I had to keep my eyes closed a lot. I felt rather alone, like I was in a capsule or something. I had to let go of some hurt feelings I had to when something I had proposed for the work today was rejected in a way that felt very unkind to me. I am learning this balance of self sufficiency with caring for others. It’s easy for me to isolate myself with the thought that I’m fine by myself, but this is a cold and lonely way to be. At the same time, I am learning that I cannot let my internal sense of well being and happiness be controlled by the reactions other people have to me. Sometimes they love me, sometimes they are angry at me, sometimes they understand me, sometimes they don’t. If my happiness depends on the reactions other people have to me, then what happiness can I possibly have?

So I was sitting with this a lot during the work, and Padrinho Alfredo was sitting there with me. He showed me how to meditate, in a buddhist sort of way, accepting everything that is going on around, and looking out upon it with love in my own eyes, while having my internal peace and happiness coming to me from my divine connection, instead of from my little approval seeking ego self. It was a way of being, impeccability Padrinho was calling it, that I could sustain for a minute or two at a time, before some negative thought or hurt feeling would bubble back up.

We have another work today. The last one of the tour this year. It’s a little hard to get up the energy to do another seven hours with the sacrament, but once we get started, it always takes on a life of its. Sometimes I hope for it to be easy. Usually it isn’t easy. But even if it is not easy, it certainly can be beautiful.

There are a lot of ways that people experience Ayahausca. The Daime is like none other, because we all share in creating the work. It’s not like the shamanic traditions where people come to have a shaman minister to them. Here we have no shaman, we have no guru, we just have the doctrine, and the Daime leads the work. That’s why for us, it is a sacrament, and for most others, it is a medicine.

Wish me luck today.


Daily Writing March 21, 2023

Here it is the second day of spring. I walked for coffee with the dogs today and enjoyed the cool temperature that might mark the last time I wear jeans and a hoodie in Miami until next November. Here in Coconut Grove along the shores of Biscayne Bay, we do enjoy beautiful weather from now until about mid May when the heat of summer really starts to set in.

I had so much fun shooting my scene in the movie yesterday. I played the part of a “White Male Host” of a News Show interviewing the girlfriend of a naked man who was shot 37 times by police while eating the face off of another person. This actually happened in Miami in 2012. The media picked up the story that the man was “high on bath salts,” but actually it was a psychotic break. The toxicology of the autopsy came back negative for drugs. And so I played the role of a television news magazine host that was trying to stick the the narrative that scary drugs caused the whole thing.

I was impressed with how professional the other actors were. They had all been in several movies, and so of course I felt like an imposter. But I think I actually did a pretty good job. Stephanie, who has a Masters of Fine Arts in Theater Directing from Columbia University, was my coach. She said “you don’t have to learn to be an actor, you just have to be a news anchor, and you can do that already. Just remember that its your show and its your desk.” It really worked, because I felt myself feeling frustration when the actress playing the former girlfriend refused to endorse the narrative that drugs were the cause of the event. It reminds me of the studies of athletes when they put a brain scanner on them and then have them imagine their event. All the same areas of the brain light up, right? The same thing happened to me playing my small roll.

They will wrap up the shooting in the next week or ten days, and then it’s on to post production. I am learning so much about the art of making films. It’s incredible how much has to be managed and organized. I was so impressed with the professionalism of everyone involved. What an honor to have the opportunity to participate in this. I am quite certain that I would like to do this again.

It was a little late when I got home yesterday. Stephanie was exhausted and she asked me to go and walk the dogs. Tata came with me, and they played with the neighbors pupply in the big yard by the marina. Cleo, the little baby girl puppy, is so tough. She weighs about 18 pounds soaking wet. Frankie is 30 pounds and pure muscle and he knocks her ass over tea cups running at full speed. Cleo does not seem to understand that Frankie is 66% larger than she is, so she keeps trying to come out on top. By the end of a half an hour, they are all exhausted.

When I got home Stephanie had potatoes in the oven and beans in the pressure cooker. I made my “famous” shrimp soup. It is “famous” because when Stephanie calls it so, it motivates me to cook it. It’s usually up to me to add the protein to a meal, and I thought the soup would go well over the potatoes. Here is the recipe:

  • Avocado oil
  • Colorão, ground ginger, coriander, cayenne pepper
  • 1 large shallot, sliced thin
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced thin
  • 8 oz coarsely chopped mushrooms
  • 8 oz organic chopped kale
  • 2 packages of Freak Flag Coconut Chicken Bone Broth,
  • 1 16oz can Thai Coconut Milk
  • 1 lb large (15 count) shrimp with shells on
  • 1/2 Lemon

Sauté the spices in the avocado oil on medium high heat until well combined, and then add the shallot, garlic, and mushrooms and cook until the mushooms are tender. Add the two packages of bone broth and the coconut milk and the kale and then simmer for about half an hour until the kale is tender. (You can leave it on the stove at low heat at this stage until ready to serve). Five minutes before serving, add the shrimp and turn heat to high until a strong boil, and then turn off the heat. Let stand, covered, for about two minutes, and then add the juice of the 1/2 lemon and serve immediately. Serve over rice or potatoes or just eat it as it is.

I made the soup while Stephanie did her writing, and then we ate dinner together with Tata. After dinner, Tata and I went to South Miami to Whip and Dip for Ice Cream. This is a neighborhood shop that I’ve been going to since the 1980s. Stephanie stayed home and Tata and I had a fun father daughter time.

Today I have some work to do in the morning and then I am taking Stephanie to the ear doctor to schedule her surgery. She has had a hole in her ear drum since she was about 26 years old. When she plugs her nose to clear her ears, you can hear the air whistle out through the hole in her ear drum. She hasn’t been able to submerge her head for the last 25 years. This is not an ideal condition for her, because between Miami, Brazil and Hawaii, we spend a lot of time in the water.

After the doctor, I have my workout. This time it is at 5:30 in the afternoon again, but this time, that’s good news, because it leaves my afternoon free to take Stephanie to her appointment. It really is nice having the middle of the day free and finishing with my workout.

I heard the most beautiful meditation yesterday–The Waterfall” Soul Dreaming With Christina Conti. I tried to share it or mark it somehow so it would not get lost in the scrolling feed of the reader. I’m afraid I was a little ham handed with the technology, but hopefully the above link works. I listen to a lot of guided meditations, and this one was particularly good. What resonated most for me was the idea of having the power to choose the emotional vibrational frequency that we carry with us as we go through our days.

I can think of all the activities of yesterday and today. From shooting a scene in a movie, to walking the dogs, to cooking dinner, and taking Tata for Ice Cream. Then again this morning taking a walk in the cool weather and sitting down with my coffee to write. These are the little scenes of the movie of life, and the way I experience them is largely a matter of my interior way of being. Christina points out in her meditation that we have a place of security deep inside of ourselves where we can select our vibrational way of being.

My favorite way of being is simply described as inner peace. This basic state allows curiosity, compassion, humor, and good will all to exist together. I am so enjoying taking the time to realign with this vibration as I start each day, and the above meditation is a great tool to help. Let me know if you have a listen. And Christina, if you read this, thanks for the meditation, and I apologize if I didn’t do the referencing of your site correctly.

Peace everyone

Daily Writing for March 19,2023

Here I am back in my office on Sunday morning. The forecast was for rain overnight last night, but it looks like the little cold front that was bringing in the weather won’t be coming through Miami until late this afternoon.

I have not written much about financial matters in a long time. Warren Buffett is still my most favorite luminary in the investment world. He has been saying and doing the same thing for about forty years and it never fails as investment advice. Of course, it does not make any money for traders or professionals in an industry that is largely designed to strip wealth from clients in fancy shell games. The basic advice is to invest in stocks based on the intrinsic value and then hold the stock for a long time while the underlying company earns money on your investment and shares it through capital appreciation and dividends. The most basic question in this type of investing is how much do I have to pay for the underlying revenue stream that the investment will yield.

I wrote before, when Bitcoin was at about $60,000 and all the Meme’s and Covid darlings were enjoying huge price rallies as new traders swapped them like baseball cards. Of course, some reckoning has come as these assets have deflated. None of them ever had any real value as an investment, but that does not mean some trader won’t pay you a lot for them if they think they can sell them to a greater fool for more.

But on the intrinsic value side, I finally broke on Thursday and sold some Bonds with a two year term and invested the money in PNC Stock. The price of PNC has been creamed with the collapse of SVB and Signature Bank. PNC stock was trading at about 8 times earnings and a price of $121.9 when I purchased it last Thursday. The dividend yield at the time was 4.8% or so, which was higher than the short term bond fund, plus I think the upside is about 50%. I think the market is going to take a couple swings before everything shakes out, but let’s see what happens with this investment. PNC on March 16 at 10:00 or so in the morning for 121.9.

Lots of people talk about the stock market and what they would have or should have done, but it is important to look back and see what we actually do. Are you trading or investing? I invested in that PNC stock because it’s paying a sweet dividend yield and the price of the stock was too cheap to pass up. Let’s see where it goes.

I did not have many plans yesterday except to rest. I did manage to make it over to my Mom’s house with Stephanie and Tata and the puppies for tea and a visit. I was walking through her kitchen and I saw the little cross, pictured above, in her kitchen. This is the Santo Daime cross that I had placed in her hospital room while she was going through her passage in the Surgical ICU after her heart attack.

The Santo Daime is a difficult religion for American mothers to embrace. It is a doctrine that originated in the “poorest” communities on the earth, from the depths of the Brazilian rain forest were communities of escaped slaves joined with previously uncontacted Indigenous. The humble and loving “Caboclos” as they are called made their way in agriculture and as rubber tappers along the banks of the Amazon’s many water ways. They did not have alcohol, but they did know how to mix together plants, and two in particular make a powerful brew that is now known as Ayahuasca.

They would brew this tea and then sing together, and they would sing about the beauty of nature and healing and God and faith. Now this doctrine is growing like a vine, and a tendril of this vine has enwrapped me in its embrace. I am not the only one, for sure. But we American practitioners bring a new dimension to the doctrine. So anyway, we placed this “cruzeiro” at the end of my Mom’s bed when she was going through her passage, and she did receive a miraculous healing. Only 1% of the people that have the “widow maker” blockage of the primary Coronary Artery survive, and yet there she is watering her orchids. When I went to collect the cross as she was leaving the hospital, she asked if she could keep it. And there it is in the kitchen by the dog biscuits. A spot of honor in my Mom’s household. I was happy to see it there, and so I snapped this picture.

I went later with Stephanie over to the Church to organize some of the hymn books for the big event that is coming next weekend. We have a busy week this week, and so we wanted to take care of some of these last minute preparations yesterday. The first visitors will be arriving Wednesday or Thursday, and we want to have everything ready. We got home later than we expected, and I walked the dogs while Stephanie made dinner. Tata did not join us, but she was pleasantly present throughout the evening.

I was talking with Stephanie the other day about the process of writing and opening our channel so that the words can flow through us and onto the page. Self doubt is the largest impediment to this process. Sometimes when I write this way, it seems to me that the information is not really that new or original. It seems like kind of a patchwork of spiritual ideas that I have picked up over the years and then regurgitated onto the page. This often stops me from wanting to write at all.

But then I am reminded that the words that we channel are not lessons for other people, but lessons for ourselves. And that sometimes when we share these nuggets of wisdom that we receive to help ourselves, they help other people too. As I was pondering this, it occurred to me that we share a common human experience that makes this sharing possible. We all have the same sorts of struggles in relationships and in life, and we all have a pretty similar set of tools for dealing with these struggles, and we all have personality defects and challenges to our abilities. How we put all these pieces together is unique for each individual, but at the same time, they are made from common elements.

This is how we are so adept at experiencing understanding and empathy for others. Because we share a common human experience, we can imagine ourselves in the shoes of another. We can see ourselves in another person. And so sometimes, a little bit of wisdom that we receive for ourselves can be useful for someone else too.

I remember something one of my spiritual teachers said when asked about the messages he channeled during guided meditations. “It always sounds like you are talking directly to me personally. How is this possible.” “Oh not at all” he said “I am talking to myself!” The common human experience makes it seem like all of the shared wisdom is for us personally, and so it is. That’s why we love each other and that’s why we want to be together. We share a common experience.

It is therefore not really surprising that we hear the same themes from so many sources. Another teacher said one time that the lessons are very simple, it is the students who are complicated. This is very true. So many of the challenges of our lives have simple solutions. Love, Humility, Integrity, Meditation, Compassion. These are the answers to all the questions, but the questions themselves can seem very complicated.

Today is the last day of rest for a while. Tomorrow things start to happen. It’s going to be quite an adventure. But not today. Today is just about the gathering of energy for the upcoming journey. It will be fun to write as the story unfolds.


Daily Writing March 17

Stephanie helped me with the title block. It’s funny because WordPress’s editor calls the different sections of a blog post “Blocks” and the first “Block” is the title. How many times do I want to write and then when I sit down to do it, how many times does the title BLOCK stop me from moving forward. Stephanie gave me the idea of simply giving these daily writings a sequential title so I can get on with the writing part.

The same with the picture. I like to take pictures, and so now I should take one picture, at least, per day, and use it for the post. The idea behind the picture is that it will capture some aspect of where I am. In this case, I am home, and someone has returned the broken birds to the hands of Saint Francis who is blessing the Jagube (Ayahuasca) vine that entangles him. What an alien transplant is that vine from the forest.

I have a couple of exciting weeks coming up, and I thought it would be fun to talk about the activities of each day, without leading on to what will come tomorrow. It will be fun to see the story unfold.

Today is a simple day. I am home enjoying my “core” life. This is my home, my wife, my daughter, the puppies, and the simple things we enjoy every day. Dani is here to take Tata shopping for her graduation. Stephanie is at the office working, which is a blessing, because it’s good for her to warm up to her office. She prefers her “SheCave” at home, but it is all torn up because the leaking windows were replaced, and that required the wall paper to be replaced, and that job is only part way done. Now her SheCave is an inhospitable environment of dust and wet plaster smell. So she’s at the office happily working in the silence of solitude.

I am in my ManCave, which also went through the same leaky window process. But it does not bother me so much. The dogs like it too. They are sleeping on the couch. Cleo has an elk antler bone (“elky bone”) and one of my shoes. Frankie is just sleeping with a foot curled under his chin. They both love Colorado and the snow, but they love home too. They just like to be around us.

Stephanie and I had a really pleasant conversation last night. We have been really enjoying each other’s company in the evening, and I think that’s in large part because the Television is in the ManCave and it was behind a wall of blue masking tape and plastic shielding while the walls were re-plastered and sanded. She was telling me about a television series she has been enjoying where people express their experience as spirit channels. Stephanie was explaining how we all channel divine brilliance. Some through words, some through painting, some through music, some through cooking. My mom does so through her love of raising orchids.

For me, my channel is my throat chakra, which is also connected to writing. Stephanie was talking about a book she is writing, and we have another friend who is writing a book, and then I am writing this blog. Stephanie is a big proponent of daily writing. I said to her that I get stumped because I am worried that what I have to write is not worth writing about.

She helps me through this by sharing that it’s not about the product, but the process. So here I am. I am in Miami. I have a very relaxed day planned with little on the schedule. I am home in Miami. My CORE life is here. I feel content. This is the first day of this exercise.

What is the CORE of your life that makes you happy? For me it’s pretty simple. Love.

the momentary end of busy

I read a thought provoking blog the other day about whether anybody cares about what bloggers write about, and whether that should matter. The author pointed out that he often receives several likes within the span of a minute or two, or receives likes without having the page actually opened. He pointed out that these people are just clicking like and that the article could be about planning a wedding for a cat and people who like without reading would happily click away.

But he also pointed out that if one writes enough, eventually there will be some people who actually do look forward to reading the content. And it is for these people that we should write. And think about.

So here I am, writing about my experience after having a stroke, and that’s pretty much just therapy for myself. So to this I can add the dimension of thinking that there are a few friends out their in the world who give the gift of their time and attention, and so it is in appreciation of that energy that I must write.

And so what can I share that was of benefit, that someone can read quickly, and enjoy?

I had two cool experiences over the weekend. The first was Sunday morning when my friend who is also my executive assistant picked me up to go to the beach. She regularly meets a friend out by the lighthouse on Key Biscayne on Sunday mornings if the weather is good. She invited me into this little window of her personal life just to brighten my day. And it was really fun.

Reflecting on friendships is such a door to gratitude. If we have a few people in our lives who show up for us we are so lucky. I’ve had a couple go arounds with loneliness over the last ten days with Stephanie being still down in Brazil. One loneliness episode struck right after Dani dropped me off around noon on Sunday. I went out to the patio with the dogs to let them run around, and my friend the parrot that you see pictured above was hanging in the tree.

I started to feel that sort of anxious energy of “what do i do now” coming up in me. Who should I call, where should I go, what should I do? How can I fill these minutes and hours remaining on this Sunday afternoon. My parrot friend’s intractable gaze reminded me. This time where no one and nothing depends on me is a gift of the gift. Here I am, in my home, which is beautiful and peaceful and comfortable, on a balmy Sunday, with nothing to account for.

My parrot friend reminded me that it is in these times that I can write, or paint, or work with photographs, or play guitar, or just sit an be. Just sit and be. Sit and be. sit and be. sb.

So today, if anyone actually reads this far, please comment! If you liked this page and never opened it, please go singing on your happy journey. And for everyone, whether you read this or not, I invite you to breathe in and breathe out, with no extra achievement or goal except to nurture yourself lovingly with oxygen. And sit. And be. And sit and be happy to be here.

Love to all and everything

Schmarya Space Shalom

Be Here NOW – Ram Dass and The Gift of Being Stroked

My dear friend Lynn met Ram Dass after he was very powerfully stroked. Ram Dass lost a lot of his mobility on the right side, he lost the ability to spell, and he lost some ability to find words when speaking. Lynn suggested that I should listen to some of the talks he gave after he was stroked, and so I did. I watched a couple videos on YouTube. In one in particular Oprah Winfrey interviewed him.

She asked him if he had ever felt sorry for himself after the event. Ram Dass laughed and said no. He also said that he embraced his faith and felt gratitude for being here. He said that people in the hospital treated it like a sad event, “oh that’s terrible that you suffered a stroke,” but he was not resonate with that feeling. He was really just grateful to be here at all.

As I listened to him speaking and laughing about his condition, I really connected with him. The spirit came to me immediately after the event and presented me with the question of Faith or Fear. I immediately chose Faith and have continued to do so, and this has really kept my spirits up. Sure I have some challenges that I have to deal with now that I dealt with easily before, but everything from moment to moment is actually just fine.

Ram Dass said the same thing. He said being stroked was a gift because it has forced him to slow down, and by slowing down, he remains more connected to the present moment, and it is in the present moment that we find GOD. This is so true. Like he says, the past and the future are just thoughts. God exists here in the present. An event like this that brings me more to the present, brings me more in touch with God.

One of my dearest teacher, Alex Polari, once said the purpose of meditation and concentration is to fully incorporate our divine self here in this material existence. It is not, as many people think, a means of escaping our present reality. Quite the opposite. The purpose is to truly arrive here and be present here in this material experience. When we do this, we manifest the divine within its creation.

Think of this. Imagine that you created this reality with its infinite and perfectly balanced possibilities, like a virtual reality from a super powerful quantum computer. Would you not want to then experience your creation first hand? How would you do this? Well you would have to manifest your consciousness into the experience, and to make this feel real, you would have to set it up so you did not know how you got there. Then you could go and materialize in every possible situation. Sometimes the prisoner, sometimes the guard. Sometimes the powerful, sometimes the oppressed. You cannot have one without the other.

When I had this disruption, I never felt sorry for myself either. I really went straight to gratitude that I am fully here in my body. After seeing how much more challenging Ram Dass’s experience is, I am left grateful that my inconveniences are so minor.

But that really is the gift I am seeing. This is the chance to know God in the present moment. This is a chance to be fully present in my now slightly wonky material being.

I read Be Here Now back in 2005 when a friend introduced me to it. I was not much of a spiritual seeker back then. But it struck me, and continues to do so. I was so happy to find that this happened to such a gifted communicator because through his experience, I can come to more fully appreciate my own experience.

Miracles happening every day.

Love Shmarya

Christmas Letter from the Warrior Spirt

I remember checking the mailbox everyday at boarding school. We did not have easy access to a telephone, and there were no cell phones or emails or social media, and so we treasured letters when they would arrive. I remember receiving a letter from a girl, Susan, from my home town that she sent me in a box of cookies. The paper had absorbed the oil from the cookies, and the oil made the paper translucent. She had written on both sides, and so the writing on one side completely obscured the writing on the other side. I tried everything I could think of to make the words legible, but to no avail. The words were forever lost, and I felt acutely the pain of their absence.

I also remember writing letters with strong emotion, and then walking down to the mailbox to retrieve them. Ricky don’t lose that number, send it off in a letter to yourself. I am reminded of those times when it took a week or more to send a letter and receive a reply. Now communications are instant, and irretrievable, and part of a permanent record. It seems that we communicate our reactions instead of our responses.

I remember also how we used to share the news of our lives in letters. News did not travel so fast, and so in a letter, from Camp or school between home or a loved one, communicated the salient details of our lives. Sometimes the treasure of a photograph would come inside the envelope, and I would pin it on my cork board in my room. I remember taking pictures on film, 24 exposures per roll, and winding the roll onto a wire wheel in the dark and then working in anticipation to develop the negatives and then make prints. The faces of my friends and family, the events of the day revealed one shot at a time.

Today is Christmas, cold and dreary in Miami. We spent the morning at my Mom’s with lots of family and a couple of friends. We exchanged gifts, all wrapped in bags with tissue, and enjoyed company and coffee and food. Then back to the house for a lazy Christmas afternoon. And so now is the time, the week, to start thinking of the New Year. I like to make a prayer for the New Year, and so now is the time to start thinking of it.

Last night, we got together with our Church friends and sang the hinario of Mestre Irineu. At one point during the night I felt a strong prayer come to me. I felt the spirit say to me, “I am here, what do you want” And the answer came to me. “I want my love for my wife to be more resilient.” And in meditation I received a beautiful understanding.

I saw how when someone I love is upset with me, there is a part of me that gets wounded, like a child, and as a result, I behave childishly. I can feel inside of me where this wounded part is, and from this part bubble up stories about the “others” motivations and intentions. These are the stories of a wounded child. When I speak or act from that energy, it is transmitted to the other person, and a cycle of painful communications starts, and this takes me out of the love vibration that is always available to all of us.

In my meditation, with everything perfect, I was able to see a better, more mature way to respond. I was shown a small example of something that had disappointed me, and how I had gone on to create stories about why that had happened. The stories were far more upsetting than the event itself. My first thought was that these stories I tell myself are “all bullshit,” but then I saw that I can tell myself true stories or at least better stories instead, and instead of reacting with defensiveness or bitterness, I can act with compassion toward myself and toward the other person.

I realize that this is the same lesson that I am learning over and over, but this time it seemed to penetrate a little more deeply. There is a hymn that says “smooth out my heart, so that I can love, and the offenses of my brothers, I may know how to pardon”. (“Aplanai meu coração, para eu poder amar, e as ofensas dos irmaos, eu saber perdoar”). I was able to see how spiritual mastery, the buddha, the Christ, the Warrior Spirit, has a heart smooth like the stones of a river. I saw how my heart is full of old wounds and jagged edges that catch and stick and cut.

So as I create my prayer for the new year, it starts with this. My prayer is to smooth out my heart so that I can love. So that love can be more resilient, and I can be happier.

Merry Christmas.

Warrior Spirit – Guarding the Gateway to your Consciousness

I am sitting here on the sofa with my laptop with a vague desire to write an essay, and not much is coming up, and so I am just writing what comes naturally to me. My dog Frankie is sleeping just to my right, and the rain ins falling in a steady downpour. It’s that heavy tropical rain that causes the pool to overflow. It is unrelenting. I have had quite a journey over the last couple of weeks. It feel surreal that so much has happened while so little has changed.

I have long held faith that it is the expansion of the consciousness that will be able to save the Earth, but really it is not the earth that needs saving, it is we who need saving. The Earth will continue its journey around the Sun for another 4 billion years regardless of whether we blow ourselves up. We may bring about a mass extinction as part of the process of our own demise, but look how many fabulous creatures rushed in to fill the void that the dinosaurs left after their time had passed. The void we leave will not last any longer.

The true battle we are waging right now is a battle of consciousness. There are so many forces that drive us through fear to see each other as separate from ourselves. In my experience, the news is a primary entry point into my mind. I am constantly being thrown off my center by the news. For others maybe it is social media, or maybe television. But for me it’s the news. Will Bolsanaro dispute the election results in Brazil? Did Qatar ban beer sales at the world cup? Is Zelensky going to draw us into World War III? What’s going to happen to our civil rights now that Roe v. Wade is in the trash bin of history? What is Elon Musk doing with Twitter? What is Bitcoin doing today?

Remember back in COVID when the Federal Government printed out checks for $1,900,000,000,000 and mailed them out to people? They did not actually create anything real in the world when they did this. Not so much as a single apple was created when those checks were signed and sent. Suddenly legions of “Bored Apes” had spending money and time on their hands, and so they invested the new money in Crypto and NFT’s and Meme Stocks, and then they lost all of that money when the whole thing turned out to be a Ponzi scheme, and so the money went back into the hands of the Wall Street Fat Cats, which is exactly where it was when the whole thing started. Next thing you know, it’s easy come, easy go, and we have to watch the big Orange loser dominate the News cycle for another two years. Those checks did not create anything, they simply captured our attention for a while.

Our attention shifted from COVID to the war in Ukraine to the overturning of Roe v. Wade. No doubt our attention will shift to the next cycle in short order. It does not really matter so much what the object of our attention is, as long as we feel anxious and divided. It does not really matter so much what we believe, as long as we divide ourselves into two roughly equal camps and hate the other side. We live in a world modeled after the Super Bowl. Think about it. Does Fox Television care whether you like the Patriots or the 49ers? Not so much, as long as you pick one side or the other and care a lot, then they have your attention for the Super Bowl.

There is such a battle going on for the control and occupation of our minds that we often lose touch with the simple truths that make us who we are and that give us our true peace and happiness. When we feel lost in the waves of the world of illusion, we can firm ourselves in the divine eternal presence that surrounds us all the time. We can anchor ourselves in what is real and in what matters. The Earth has been traveling for billions of years with our sister planets as our Sun streaks around the center of our galaxy. The next news cycle is nothing more than the brownian motion of our existence.

We had a beautiful Concentration the other day, and I shared a reading from the Gospel of Padrinho Sebastião in the middle of it. The basic theme of the reading was a reminder to stay centered on what is real in the divine truth and to not get carried away with the dramas and concerns of the world of illusion. “In the Sun, in the Moon, in the Earth, and in the Sea. I sought this truth and I know where it is….” that was the line from the hymn that was quoted in the reading. The divine truth is there for all of us to see, yet we get caught up in the world of illusion and forget our divine nature.

I have long admired how my wife Stephanie starts her day. She goes into her “she cave” and does a series of movements synchronized with prayers, then she draws a spread of tarot cards and writes in her journal and then she meditates for a little while. She starts just about every day with her ritual, and it sets up her frame of reference for the whole day.

I have been working with my coach and trainer to develop a similar practice based on the breath to center myself and restore my connection to what is real and divine in the world. The breath is where our spirit attaches to our material body. Think of this literally. You can manipulate your breathing, but you cannot stop it. Even if you manage to hold your breath long enough to lose consciousness, it will start up again automatically. This is the place where we have a choice, but also have no choice. Just like we are here alive and incorporated in our body. Most of us do not have the ability to decide to disincorporate from out bodies as a voluntary act. We are stuck here in that sense. But we do have a lot of free will about how we will conduct ourselves while we are here.

The same it is with the breath, isn’t it? We don’t have a choice about whether to breathe, but we have a lot free will about how we will breathe. And it is here that I have found a path to regaining my center.

For me the pattern that works the best is to breathe in for eight beats of my heart, hold for four beats, and then breathe out for eight more beats, being sure to expel the last bit of stale air on every exhalation. This comfortable rhythm of about three breaths per minute brings me back to my body and to my center.

And then I let my thoughts go to the Sun and the Moon and the Stars and to the Earth and the Wind and the Sea. I feel connected to the clockwork of the planets… Jupiter has passed its opposition, and the opposition of Mars is upon us. I love looking at the planets in the night sky, and it is Mars that is taking center stage right now. Just go outside in the evening and look to the east. Soon it will be straight over head at midnight.

In this practice of breathing and centering myself with these forces of divine nature, I can feel my parasympathetic nervous system taking over. I feel hope instead of anxiety. I feel that life is long instead of feeling that life is short. I feel that love comes from the divine and radiates through us to everything we gaze upon. And from this point, I can be the gate keeper to my own consciousness.

What are you going to let into your mind today?