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Buddha

Jerome – Cosmology …

In Jain cosmology, the heavens are set up in a multi level system with the lower heavens and the upper heavens.
Jain Cosmology from Religion Facts Online


Jains believe that the universe and everything in it is eternal. Nothing that exists now was ever created, nor will it be destroyed. The universe consists of three realms: the heavens, the earthly realm and the hells.

There are seven levels of heaven in Jain cosmology. The top level, “the Realm of the Jinas” is reserved for liberated souls. The next level down is the realm of the gods.

The earthly realm, or jambudnoa (“Continent of the Rose-Apple Tree”) is divided into seven regions by six mountain ranges. Deliverance and religious merit is possible in three of these regions: India in the south, airavat in the north, and mahavideha in the middle.

The eight hells become progressively colder as they go down.

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I had a visual dream today about the heavens. It was multileveled like Jain cosmology, yet it has a very Buddhist twist. I was standing on this plane, and I was taken up to the next plane of existence. I understood that when you die on one plane, you move to the next in an ever present ever changing world of existence.

Each plane of existence was not so much grander than the one before it, but there were clear differences in them as you moved from one level to the next. I was told that you cannot move between the existence planes or influence what was going on below. I had the ability to see cities and towns, and move from place to place, and space to space. I found myself navigating through apartments and gardens. I was able to move from one level [plane] to the next as if floating between the spiritual levels.

It was a technicolor dream of grand proportions. The colors were vivid the sky was bright blue and the temples were incredibly amazing with their sculptures and decorated statues and gardens. There was life and there was death.

I looked upon a calendar like structure, it was almost as if each life was documented and as the soul moved through each plane, they would come to the time where they would leave [each] plane of existence moving upwards towards the uppermost level. At the end of your time of existence on each plane there were temples to celebrate your life and mourn your death.

I do not know if there was an earthbound soul that corresponded to a spiritual soul making their way up through the many spiritual levels, rising to the top most level of shrines and gardens. I could not see below, I was focused on what was going on around me.

You exist on each level in successive and once you complete your time on each level you die, and that is not a bad thing. Eventually you end up on the final level where you find a huge temple with a gigantic Buddha and lakes and rivers, and temples and places to live.

I am familiar with Jain cosmology and with Buddhist tradition. They do not share the same afterlife cosmology which is strange because what I saw was very Jain, but what was the Buddha doing there? Jain and Buddhist tradition are very similar in many ways as when I studied Jainism, Buddhist writings were consulted.


Silent Joy …

It is silent and humble. It is like water gushing from the earth. All at once we realize we are filled with joy. We don’t know where it came from but it is there.

It could happen that we are going along and all at once we feel serene, the faces we encounter appear beautiful, the way seems easy, and no evil thought darkens our minds. Even more, we feel more good-hearted towards others.

Usually, we cannot precisely determine the origin of such joy. It is very difficult to connect it to something external, because deep down we know that this silent joy depends on nothing outside itself for existence.

It could be awakened by something around us, but it is not dependent on it. What triggers it does not give it birth. Instead, this joy seems to belong to us, to be carried deep within us. It gushes forth unexpectedly and cannot be controlled or commanded. Unpredictably, it makes itself felt.

When we communicate under the influence of this joy, we speak as if we have been entrusted with something precious. Our tone of voice changes as when we are truly praying. We speak with attentiveness so as not to destroy what is so fragile and precious, not to encroach upon the other who is present and to whom we want to give attention.

Silent joy urges us to a greater respect for others and ourselves. Thoughts born of authentic joy are respectful and optimistic.

The philokalic Fathers called this “sobriety”: being sober and vigilant, staying focused on realities that are already tasted and secure moving from there, seeking traces of this joy in whatever we encounter. In a certain sense, this joy can be safeguarded. We do not have to return to precise experiences or special places to feel it. We carry it within ourselves, and it belongs to us.

*****

In my meditation time last night, I tried to focus in on this ‘silent joy’ to attempt to remember what it felt like as if recalling an old friend, a place where I had felt this joy, and what ‘silent joy’ felt like.

There were times in the past when ‘silent joy’ rose within me, and bubbled up from the surface, like water out of the earth. Like walking upon a spring just bursting from the rock, in the middle of the desert or a mountain-scape.

When is it that I feel this ‘silent joy?’ Silent joy is not connected to a ‘place’ but maybe a time. I can separate myself from bubbly joy that is connected to a place. Joy is something that comes to me when I least expect it. But I am not consciously aware of joy all the time, and sometimes it escapes me and I forget to connect with it during my day.

Being ‘sober’ for me is a way of life. As written above:

“The philokalic Fathers called this “sobriety”: being sober and vigilant, staying focused on realities that are already tasted and secure moving from there, seeking traces of this joy in whatever we encounter. In a certain sense, this joy can be safeguarded. We do not have to return to precise experiences or special places to feel it. We carry it within ourselves, and it belongs to us.”

I live in my sober space in my daily life. I work to be vigilant in what I do, what I see and what I say to others. But also I am vigilant of others who cross my path at any given moment.

Each day I have an opportunity to feel joy, but for the most part, I fall short of feeling this joy, in reading these passages I am reminded of it. And I think of times when ‘silent joy’ creeps up on me like water rising from the ground around me…

I return in my mind to times in life when I have felt this joy, like a comfortable blanket wrapped around me, it is familiar and cozy. I can identify those moments and remember them as if they were here in the present moment.

Today, I reflect in my meditation the occurrence of ‘silent joy’ and I can share with you moments of silent joy. My home group is a place of joy, because that is where I give myself most freely to anyone and everyone. To see people come each week, brings joy. To see my friends walking their sober journey brings me joy. To know that in my own little way, I create for them a place to feel joy within themselves, brings me joy.

Sometimes joy rises on my face when I see people in the metro, I feel their life force and see their auras, that brief intermingling of spirits brings a sense of joy. It is infectious at times. And in some instances I can’t help myself but to smile and feel that tingle of presence within my body.

Each journey is different for each of us. We all have our burdens to bear and no one journey can be judged, but understood out of compassion and love. I do not take for granted where I am in my journey, because I have fought long and hard to get where I am today, and within that journey over years and decades, I can tap moments of ‘joy’ as they happened.

That ‘bank of joy’ is available to me at a moments recall. Living soberly reminds me that I must stay in my day and be vigilant at all times, and sometimes I slip into old behavior and old patterns, but not often. I have learned over the years how to stay pretty centered on the present moment. Staying in that moment takes work, and nobody is perfect, yet we work to be mindful of the present moment.

In keeping the mind focused we learn how to remain calm and to breathe, because for the most part, I forget to focus on my breathing. And I return to that moment in my meditation to encounter the sacred, the fount of all life, the breath and the heartbeat.

I walk the path of the Buddha. I work every day to bring peace to my life and peace to the lives of others, taking nothing for granted I do my best at avoiding negativity and doing harm. I have learned how to stay out of negative thoughts and situations that would cause me pain, or cause others pain. I choose not to battle others, I choose not to engage in painful thought or action, because that blocks the ability to feel that ‘silent joy.’

I spend time each night reading sacred texts and I pray to my God and then I get quiet and I steady myself to sit and listen. Prayer is the action of speaking and meditating is the action of listening. If I make time to speak my words to the universe, I should give ample time to listen for the answers, as they would come to me as the universe sees fit to give me.

Answers come when we least expect them, because the universe knows all and sees all. Be careful what you ask from the universe because IF the universe thinks you are ready for the answer you seek, it will be given to you and sometimes the answer is immediate, and appears right in front of you in one form or another. Be aware that an answer might come from someone other than yourself, so be vigilant to those around you, because you never know when something someone might say is directed to you for your benefit.

And sometimes the answer comes simply – NO.

I relate a story about staying in my day…

Once upon a time I was petulant and self centered. I was arrogant and prideful. I took for granted the air in my lungs and the gifts that I had been given. Early sobriety for me is littered with situations and lessons learned, which included the wreckage of who I was then.

I was new to the group, that is now my home group and I had plans. I had plans, I had maintained that so I stayed sober so I was supposed to granted ten wishes [read expectations] from God. Week after week I showed up at the hall with my ready list in hand, not so much as begging God for results but taunting God with my list of things I thought were important at that time.

I was missing some things in my life like patience, willingness and even joy. I wanted what I wanted and I wasn’t going to take NO for an answer. I was prideful and arrogant. Some say that I am still arrogant, and maybe I am, but that is one of my shortcomings.

Each week I presented my list to the universe, waiting for answers and they told me ‘keep coming back’ and to ‘stay in my day.’ I did not know how to do that. Until one day a teacher rose to my challenge and said to me three questions that I have shared about here in previous writings…

1. Do you have a roof over your head?
2. Is there food in your belly?
3. Do you have a warm bed to sleep in?

This was a lesson in patience, willingness and gratitude. I was sure that I needed more than I was given, I even went so far as to think that I was entitled to my life being fulfilled because I was staying sober, and that staying sober was all about ME.

There was no joy in my heart…

It took me a year to learn this lesson. Day after day, I pissed and moaned about not being given what I thought I wanted, but daily, I was being given what I needed. I did not see the forest for the trees. And that was my burden to see past.

Day after day, week after week, month after month people were patient with me and they taught me these lessons, the universe would conspire to help me, and one by one the universe ticked off my little list, No, No, Rethink the question, Maybe tomorrow, Not right now, and finally Definitely NOT…

The universe was speaking to me through the actions of others to help me become a better person. And the more they showed up the more I showed up, and I began to see that showing up was just as important for you as it was for me. It was no longer all about me. I was involved in too much drama, I wasn’t paying attention to the road signs and the universal signs. Over that first year I began to change.

My prayer became words of thanks and gratitude. My needs became less and less because I learned how to be ok with what I had, and I learned not to expect more from the universe than what I was due on a daily basis. As these lessons were learned I found joy. I found peace, I found love.

I began to serve others like they served me. I began to learn the lesson of compassion and I cultivated a heart of mercy and of forgiveness. I learned to “LET GO.” The more I let go, the more joy I was able to feel. Letting Go is not a one off occurrence. It is a continual lesson in willingness to change.

We are all a fantastic gems that come into being rough, dirty and sloppy. We have wants and we have needs, and we have expectations of others and of ourselves.

The world teaches us that we must take care of ourselves without taking notice of others around us, that life is a dog eat dog ritual of taking, using and corrupting. But in order to take care of others, we must first take care of ourselves. We cannot teach others, unless we are taught first. And we cannot love another, until we learn to love ourselves first, and finally we cannot offer wisdom to another, until we learn that wisdom for ourselves…

Each day that gem is offered to the universe to be cut, fashioned and polished. The more we resist the gem makers wheel the harder our lives will be. We will exist – but we will not live.

Letting Go under the auspice of sobriety offers the individual the ability to be polished. Life throws us people, places, and situations that for the most part we engaged, we chose to take part in and even situations that were not our making. We grow up in families that might have been toxic and painful, and we carry that baggage around with us for the rest of our lives.

But now, I offer you an out. A way to Let Go of that rock, as Kate has spoken of. The more rocks we collect along the way, the heavier the burden until one day we become immovable. We become stuck where we are unable to move forwards. We then have a choice, to stay where we are and remain hurt, emotional and resentful expecting that what we want is better than what we need or we let go of those rocks, we put them down and we walk way from them and we live as the universe wants us to.

Now, just because we have lain these rocks down and walked away from them, the residual energy still remains. Every memory we carry forward contains residual energy. And even though we desired to let go of that issue, to grow further, we find that the residual energy tends to rise within us that cause us momentary shifts in our breathing, acting and living. It causes us to react again, as if we were in that moment once again, reliving it over and over.

The universal gem polisher turns the gem ever so slightly on that wheel to clean an edge to cut another facet, to give us the opportunity to see that situation and/or pain from a different perspective. The original response to that old issue becomes less painful, we can look at it from another point of view. And we can begin to see the wisdom in the lesson and not the pain it might have once caused.

As we walk through life, issues pop up, and as they do, each time, we look at the memory and we see it for what it is. The residual pain that the memory used to trigger is no more. We learn over the years how to move past the past, and not allow the past to affect us in the present, because the past is the past, it can only affect you if you give it power. The less power you give to the past, the easier your life becomes. And what a powerful lesson this is for the masses.

Over the years as I practice the art of letting go, I have found that the past has become but a memory. I can recall both the good and the bad, and I can take from them new wisdom as I need it, as I grow as a universal being. And when I realized that this was possible I learned what joy was.

Water bubbling up from the earth …

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That universal shift was necessary for me to grow, because the universe conspires to help us grow into precious gems that are constantly being shaped, polished and refined.

Then one day real joy came to me. I remember it as if it were yesterday, a woman I know was getting sober, and she was obstinate and petulant, and she fought the gem makers wheel. She used to come to meetings heavy laden with burdens and pains, and she would cry day after day, “God, I wish this day would end already!!!”

She uttered this prayer for almost a years time.

When one suffers we all suffer, until one day she walked into the meeting and the neon sign above her was dark, her arms fell to her side and I saw it, that silent joy… She was finished suffering, she had come to the end of her trial, and she said it…”Oh God, there are not enough hours in the day, could you please give me a few more hours?”

When one feels joy, we all feel JOY…

Water bubbling up from the earth…


The Art of Living: Vipassana Meditation

Vipassana Site Here: 

Everyone seeks peace and harmony, because these are what we lack in our lives. From time to time we all experience agitation, irritation, disharmony, suffering; and when one suffers from agitation, one does not keep this misery limited to oneself. One keeps distributing it to others as well. The agitation permeates the atmosphere around the miserable person. Everyone who comes into contact with him also becomes irritated, agitated. Certainly this is not the proper way to live.

One ought to live at peace with oneself, and at peace with all others. After all, a human being is a social being. He has to live in society–to live and deal with others. How are we to live peacefully? How are we to remain harmonious with ourselves, and to maintain peace and harmony around us, so that others can also live peacefully and harmoniously?

One is agitated. To come out of the agitation, one has to know the basic reason for it, the cause of the suffering. If one investigates the problem, it will become clear that whenever one starts generating any negativity or defilement in the mind, one is bound to become agitated. A negativity in the mind, a mental defilement or impurity, cannot exist with peace and harmony.

How does one start generating negativity? Again, by investigating, it becomes clear. I become very unhappy when I find someone behaving in a way which I don’t like, when I find something happening which I don’t like. Unwanted things happen and I create tension within myself. Wanted things do not happen, some obstacles come in the way, and again I create tension within myself; I start tying knots within myself. And throughout life, unwanted things keep on happening, wanted things may or may not happen, and this process or reaction, of tying knots–Gordian knots–makes the entire mental and physical structure so tense, so full of negativity, that life becomes miserable.

Now one way to solve the problem is to arrange that nothing unwanted happens in my life and that everything keeps on happening exactly as I desire. i must develop such power, or somebody else must have the power and must come to my aid when I request him, that unwanted things do not happen and that everything I want happens. But this is not possible. There is no one in the world whose desires are always fulfilled, in whose life everything happens according to his wishes, without anything unwanted happening. Things keep on occurring that are contrary to our desires and wishes. So the question arises, how am I not to react blindly in the face of these things which I don’t like? How not to create tension? How to remain peaceful and harmonious?

In India as well as in other countries, wise saintly persons of the past studied this problem–the problem of human suffering–and found a solution: if something unwanted happens and one starts to react by generating anger, fear or any negativity, then as soon as possible one should divert one’s attention to something else. For example, get up, take a glass of water, start drinking–your anger will not multiply and you’ll be coming out of anger. Or start counting: one, two, three, four. Or start repeating a word, or a phrase, or some mantra, perhaps the name of a deity or saintly person in whom you have devotion; the mind is diverted, and to some extent, you’ll be out of the negativity, out of anger.

This solution was helpful: it worked. It still works. Practicing this, the mind feels free from agitation. In fact, however, the solution works only at the conscious level. Actually, by diverting the attention, one pushes the negativity deep into the unconscious, and on this level one continues to generate and multiply the same defilements. At the surface level there is a layer of peace and harmony, but in the depths of the mind there is a sleeping volcano of suppressed negativity which sooner or later will explode in violent eruption.

Other explorers of inner truth went still further in their search; and by experiencing the reality of mind and matter within themselves they recognized that diverting the attention is only running away from the problem. Escape is no solution: one must face the problem. Whenever a negativity arises in the mind, just observe it, face it. As soon as one starts observing any mental defilement, it begins to lose strength. Slowly it withers away and is uprooted.

A good solution: it avoids both extremes–suppression and free license. Keeping the negativity in the unconscious will not eradicate it; and allowing it to manifest in physical or vocal action will only create more problems. But if one just observes, then the defilement passes away, and one has eradicated that negativity, one is freed from the defilement.

This sounds wonderful, but is it really practical? For an average person, is it easy to face the defilement? When anger arises, it overpowers us so quickly that we don’t even notice. Then overpowered by anger, we commit certain actions physically or vocally which are harmful to us and to others. Later, when the anger has passed, we start crying and repenting, begging pardon from this or that person or from God: ‘Oh, I made a mistake, please excuse me!’ But the next time we are in a similar situation, we again react in the same way. All that repenting does not help at all.

The difficulty is that I am not aware when a defilement starts. It begins deep in the unconscious level of the mind, and by the time it reaches the conscious level, it has gained so much strength that it overwhelms me, and I cannot observe it.

Then I must keep a private secretary with me, so that whenever anger starts, he says, ‘Look master, anger is starting!’ Since I cannot know when this anger will start, I must have three private secretaries for three shifts, around the clock! Suppose I can afford that, and the anger starts to arise. At once my secretary tells me, ‘Oh, master, look–anger has started!’ The first thing I will do is slap and abuse him: ‘You fool! Do you think you are paid to teach me?’ I am so overpowered by anger that no good advise will help.

Even supposing wisdom prevails and I do not slap him. Instead I say, ‘Thank you very much. Now I must sit down and observe my anger.’ Yet it is possible? As soon as I close my eyes and try to observe the anger, immediately the object of anger come into my mind–the person or incident because of which I become angry. Then I am not observing the anger itself. I am merely observing the external stimulus of the emotion. This will only serve to multiply the anger; this is no solution. It is very difficult to observe any abstract negativity, abstract emotion, divorced from the external object which aroused it.

However, one who reached the ultimate truth found a real solution. He discovered that whenever any defilement arises in the mind, simultaneously two things start happening at the physical level. One is that the breath loses its normal rhythm. We start breathing hard whenever a negativity comes into the mind. This is easy to observe. At subtler level, some kind of biochemical reaction starts within the body–some sensation. Every defilement will generate one sensation or another inside, in one part of the body or another.

This is a practical solution. An ordinary person cannot observe abstract defilements of the mind–abstract fear, anger, or passion. But with proper training and practice, it is very easy to observe respiration and bodily sensations–both of which are directly related to the mental defilements.

Respiration and sensation will help me in two ways. Firstly, they will be like my private secretaries. As soon as a defilement starts in my mind, my breath will lose its normality; it will start shouting, ‘Look, something has gone wrong!’ I cannot slap my breath; I have to accept the warning. Similarly the sensations tell me that something has gone wrong. Then having been warned, I start observing my respiration, my sensation, and I find very quickly that the defilement passes away.

This mental-physical phenomenon is like a coin with two sides. On the one side are whatever thoughts or emotions are arising in the mind. One the other side are the respiration and sensations in the body. Any thought or emotion, any mental defilement, manifests itself in the breath and the sensation of that moment. Thus, by observing the respiration or the sensation, I am in fact observing the mental defilement. Instead of running away from the problem, I am facing reality as it is. Then I shall find that the defilement loses its strength: it can no longer overpower me as it did in the past. If I persist, the defilement eventually disappears altogether, and I remain peaceful and happy.

In this way, the techniques of self-observation shows us reality in its two aspects, inner and outer. Previously, one always looked with open eyes, missing the inner truth. I always looked outside for the cause of my unhappiness; I always blamed and tried to change the reality outside. Being ignorant of the inner reality, I never understood that the cause of suffering lies within, in my own blind reactions toward pleasant and unpleasant sensations.

Now, with training, I can see the other side of the coin. I can be aware of my breathing and also of what is happening inside me. Whatever it is, breath or sensation, I learn just to observe it, without losing the balance of the mind. I stop reacting, stop multiplying my misery. Instead, I allow the defilement to manifest and pass away.

The more one practices this technique, the more quickly one will find one will come out of negativity. Gradually the mind becomes freed of the defilements; it becomes pure. A pure mind is always full of love–selfless love for all others; full of compassion for the failings and sufferings of others; full of joy at their success and happiness; full of equanimity in the face of any situation.

When one reaches this stage, the entire pattern of one’s life starts changing. It is no longer possible to do anything vocally or physically which will disturb the peace and happiness of others. Instead, the balanced mind not only becomes peaceful in itself, but it helps others also to become peaceful. The atmosphere surrounding such a person will become permeated with peace and harmony, and this will start affecting others too.

By learning to remain balanced in the face of everything one experiences inside, one develops detachment towards all that one encounters in external situations as well. However, this detachment is not escapism or indifference to the problems of the world. A Vipassana meditator becomes more sensitive to the sufferings of others, and does his utmost to relieve their suffering in whatever way he can–not with any agitation but with a mind full of love, compassion and equanimity. He learns holy indifference–how to be fully committed, fully involved in helping others, while at the same time maintaining the balance of his mind. In this way he remains peaceful and happy, while working for the peace and happiness of others.

This is what the Buddha taught; an art of living. He never established or taught any religion, any ‘ism’. He never instructed his followers to practice any rites or rituals, any blind or empty formalities. Instead, he taught just to observe nature as it is, by observing reality inside. Out of ignorance, one keeps reacting in a way which is harmful to oneself and to others. But when wisdom arises–the wisdom of observing the reality as it is–one come out of this habit of reaction. When one ceases to react blindly, then one is capable of real action–action proceeding from a balanced mind, a mind which sees and understands the truth. Such action can only be positive, creative, helpful to oneself and to others.

What is necessary, then, is to ‘know thyself’–advice which every wise person has given. One must know oneself not just at the intellectual level, the level of ideas and theories. Nor does this mean to know just at the emotional or devotional level, simply accepting blindly what one has heard or read. Such knowledge is not enough. Rather one must know realty at the actual level. One must experience directly the reality of this mental-physical phenomenon. This alone is what will help us to come out of defilements, out of suffering.

This direct experience of one’s own reality, this techniques of self-observation, is what is called ‘Vipassana’ meditation. In the language of India in the time of the Buddha, passana meant seeing with open eyes, in the ordinary way; but Vipassana is observing things as they really are, not just as they seem to be. Apparent truth has to be penetrated, until one reaches the ultimate truth of the entire mental and physical structure. When one experiences this truth, then one learns to stop reacting blindly, to stop creating defilements–and naturally the old defilements gradually are eradicated. One come out of all the misery and experiences happiness.

There are three steps to the training which is given in a Vipassana meditation course Firstly, one must abstain from any action, physical or vocal, which disturbs the peace and harmony of others. One cannot work to liberate oneself from defilements in the mind while at the same time one continues to perform deeds of body and speech which only multiply those defilements. Therefore, a code of morality is the essential first step of the practice. One undertakes not to kill, not to steal, not to commit sexual misconduct, not to tell lies, and not to use intoxicants. By abstaining from such action, one allows the mind to quiet down sufficiently so that it can proceed with the task at hand.

The next step is to develop some mastery over this wild mind, by training it to remain fixed on a single object: the breath. One tries to keep one’s attention for as long as possible on the respiration. This is not a breathing exercise: one does not regulate the breath. Instead one observes natural respiration as it is, as it comes in, as it goes out. In this way one further calms the mind so that it is no longer overpowered by violent negativities. At the same time, one is concentrating the mind, making it sharp and penetrating, capable of the work of insight.

These first two steps of living a moral life and controlling the mind are very necessary and beneficial in themselves; but they will lead to self-repression, unless one takes the third step – purifying the mind of defilements by developing insight into one’s own nature. This is Vipassana: experiencing one’s own reality, by the systematic and dispassionate observation of the ever-changing mind-matter phenomenon manifesting itself as sensation within oneself. This is the culmination of the teaching of the Buddha: self-purification by self-observation.

This can be practiced by one and all. Everyone faces the problem of suffering. it is a universal disease which requires a universal remedy–not a sectarian one. When one suffers from anger, it is not a Buddhist anger, Hindu anger, or Christian anger. Anger is anger. When one become agitated as a result of this anger, this agitation is not Christian, or Hindu, or Buddhist. The malady is universal. The remedy must also be universal.

Vipassana is such a remedy. No one will object to a code of living which respects the peace and harmony of others. No one will object to developing control over the mind. No one will object to developing insight into one’s own reality, by which it is possible to free the mind of negativities. Vipassana is a universal path.

Observing reality as it is by observing the truth inside–this is knowing oneself at the actual, experiential level. As one practices, one keeps coming out of the misery of defilements. From the gross, external, apparent truth, one penetrates to the ultimate truth of mind and matter. Then one transcends that, and experiences a truth which is beyond mind and matter, beyond time and space, beyond the conditioned field of relativity: the truth of total liberation from all defilements, all impurities, all suffering. Whatever name one gives this ultimate truth, is irrelevant; it is the final goal of everyone.

May you all experience this ultimate truth. May all people come out of their defilements, their misery. May they enjoy real happiness, real peace, real harmony.

MAY ALL BEINGS BE HAPPY


Om ami padme om

dalai-lama-01.jpg

I want to be creative tonight, I really do! But what can I write that would be inspiring and honest? Help me Dan…

Today is my “day for me” the day that I take care of me, I sleep in, I eat well, and I do service at my home group, like I do every week, week after week, month after month and year after year. Because my life revolves around my sobriety.

I live each day with simple abandon. I have great friends who tell the truth and they call me on my shit. I want to write like Dan, but fiction isn’t my strong suit. And my short stories are the stuff of dreams.

I have a head full of knowledge and a page void of words. Where do I find moments to use what I invested so much time and money into, this degree in religion?

One of my fellows is exploring Buddhism and at a meeting he started to spout off teaching. Now we aren’t supposed to cross talk, but I had to say something so that others would ‘get it.’ Buddhist teaching, the ending of suffering, and the getting off the samsaric wheel of rebirth, and the four noble truths.

1. True suffering
2. True sources of suffering
3. True cessation of suffering and its sources
4. True paths for actualizing true cessations

The Buddah taught the four noble truths in the order given. However, this order does not reflect how these truths come into being. In temporal sequence the second truth – precedes the first. Similarly the fourth truth must precede the attainment of the third. However, the Buddha taught the four truths in the order of practice, not in the order in which they are produced. *the Dalai Lama* on practicing morality.

Similarly we have the path…
Visualize the road in front of you.
Walk the middle line as life goes on to the right and the left.
You have a choice, in which to engage and which to ignore.
Do no harm, and live life as it comes to you.

The world is in such turmoil. 2012 is coming and some say a spiritual awakening will come to pass. Will we be here to witness a rebirth or a changing? Will I be here to see this happen, I pray that I am.

The Bombay Palace is leaving West end downtown Montreal. We have lost the last tenant to the Forum area. An entire city block is now vacant. West end Montreal is in serious circumstances. The angry and abusive addicted homeless have seriously affected our neighborhood. We are angry and it seems nobody in local government gives a shit.

Give me a religious topic to write on and I could write for hours. Neil writes about the church, hey I can do that too. Religious practice, that’s right up my alley. I can tell you about papal history or my belief about killing monks in the streets of Myanmar …

Killing Holy Men is Abhorrent…

And their killers are going to hell or better yet be reborn to be treated as they treated humanity in the past life.

Do the Next Right Thing…

Sometimes I just have to stop, and get out of my own way and listen to that still small voice inside me, that connection with my higher power. I did my best today. I lived in the moment. I stood in my day.   What more can I say about sobriety that I haven’t said already.

Maybe a story will come, and maybe it won’t, at least I wrote something tonight.

Om Ami Padme Om…


Baghdad Burning … (Is Safe)

god-warriors-islam-2-mohammad-ali-mosque-cairo-egypt.jpg

Baghdad Burning… 

Leaving Home…


Two months ago, the suitcases were packed. My lone, large suitcase sat in my bedroom for nearly six weeks, so full of clothes and personal items, that it took me, E. and our six year old neighbor to zip it closed.

Packing that suitcase was one of the more difficult things I’ve had to do. It was Mission Impossible: Your mission, R., should you choose to accept it is to go through the items you’ve accumulated over nearly three decades and decide which ones you cannot do without. The difficulty of your mission, R., is that you must contain these items in a space totaling 1 m by 0.7 m by 0.4 m. This, of course, includes the clothes you will be wearing for the next months, as well as any personal memorabilia- photos, diaries, stuffed animals, CDs and the like.

I packed and unpacked it four times. Each time I unpacked it, I swore I’d eliminate some of the items that were not absolutely necessary. Each time I packed it again, I would add more ‘stuff’ than the time before. E. finally came in a month and a half later and insisted we zip up the bag so I wouldn’t be tempted to update its contents constantly.

The decision that we would each take one suitcase was made by my father. He took one look at the box of assorted memories we were beginning to prepare and it was final: Four large identical suitcases were purchased- one for each member of the family and a fifth smaller one was dug out of a closet for the documentation we’d collectively need- graduation certificates, personal identification papers, etc.

We waited… and waited… and waited. It was decided we would leave mid to late June- examinations would be over and as we were planning to leave with my aunt and her two children- that was the time considered most convenient for all involved. The day we finally appointed as THE DAY, we woke up to an explosion not 2 km away and a curfew. The trip was postponed a week. The night before we were scheduled to travel, the driver who owned the GMC that would take us to the border excused himself from the trip- his brother had been killed in a shooting. Once again, it was postponed.

There was one point, during the final days of June, where I simply sat on my packed suitcase and cried. By early July, I was convinced we would never leave. I was sure the Iraqi border was as far away, for me, as the borders of Alaska. It had taken us well over two months to decide to leave by car instead of by plane. It had taken us yet another month to settle on Syria as opposed to Jordan. How long would it take us to reschedule leaving?

It happened almost overnight. My aunt called with the exciting news that one of her neighbors was going to leave for Syria in 48 hours because their son was being threatened and they wanted another family on the road with them in another car- like gazelles in the jungle, it’s safer to travel in groups. It was a flurry of activity for two days. We checked to make sure everything we could possibly need was prepared and packed. We arranged for a distant cousin of my moms who was to stay in our house with his family to come the night before we left (we can’t leave the house empty because someone might take it).

It was a tearful farewell as we left the house. One of my other aunts and an uncle came to say goodbye the morning of the trip. It was a solemn morning and I’d been preparing myself for the last two days not to cry. You won’t cry, I kept saying, because you’re coming back. You won’t cry because it’s just a little trip like the ones you used to take to Mosul or Basrah before the war. In spite of my assurances to myself of a safe and happy return, I spent several hours before leaving with a huge lump lodged firmly in my throat. My eyes burned and my nose ran in spite of me. I told myself it was an allergy.

We didn’t sleep the night before we had to leave because there seemed to be so many little things to do… It helped that there was no electricity at all- the area generator wasn’t working and ‘national electricity’ was hopeless. There just wasn’t time to sleep.

The last few hours in the house were a blur. It was time to go and I went from room to room saying goodbye to everything. I said goodbye to my desk- the one I’d used all through high school and college. I said goodbye to the curtains and the bed and the couch. I said goodbye to the armchair E. and I broke when we were younger. I said goodbye to the big table over which we’d gathered for meals and to do homework. I said goodbye to the ghosts of the framed pictures that once hung on the walls, because the pictures have long since been taken down and stored away- but I knew just what hung where. I said goodbye to the silly board games we inevitably fought over- the Arabic Monopoly with the missing cards and money that no one had the heart to throw away.

I knew then as I know now that these were all just items- people are so much more important. Still, a house is like a museum in that it tells a certain history. You look at a cup or stuffed toy and a chapter of memories opens up before your very eyes. It suddenly hit me that I wanted to leave so much less than I thought I did.

Six AM finally came. The GMC waited outside while we gathered the necessities- a thermos of hot tea, biscuits, juice, olives (olives?!) which my dad insisted we take with us in the car, etc. My aunt and uncle watched us sorrowfully. There’s no other word to describe it. It was the same look I got in my eyes when I watched other relatives and friends prepare to leave. It was a feeling of helplessness and hopelessness, tinged with anger. Why did the good people have to go?

I cried as we left- in spite of promises not to. The aunt cried… the uncle cried. My parents tried to be stoic but there were tears in their voices as they said their goodbyes. The worst part is saying goodbye and wondering if you’re ever going to see these people again. My uncle tightened the shawl I’d thrown over my hair and advised me firmly to ‘keep it on until you get to the border’. The aunt rushed out behind us as the car pulled out of the garage and dumped a bowl of water on the ground, which is a tradition- its to wish the travelers a safe return… eventually.

The trip was long and uneventful, other than two checkpoints being run by masked men. They asked to see identification, took a cursory glance at the passports and asked where we were going. The same was done for the car behind us. Those checkpoints are terrifying but I’ve learned that the best technique is to avoid eye-contact, answer questions politely and pray under your breath. My mother and I had been careful not to wear any apparent jewelry, just in case, and we were both in long skirts and head scarves.

The trip was long and uneventful, other than two checkpoints being run by masked men. They asked to see identification, took a cursory glance at the passports and asked where we were going. The same was done for the car behind us. Those checkpoints are terrifying but I’ve learned that the best technique is to avoid eye-contact, answer questions politely and pray under your breath. My mother and I had been careful not to wear any apparent jewelry, just in case, and we were both in long skirts and head scarves.

Syria is the only country, other than Jordan, that was allowing people in without a visa. The Jordanians are being horrible with refugees. Families risk being turned back at the Jordanian border, or denied entry at Amman Airport. It’s too high a risk for most families.

We waited for hours, in spite of the fact that the driver we were with had ‘connections’, which meant he’d been to Syria and back so many times, he knew all the right people to bribe for a safe passage through the borders. I sat nervously at the border. The tears had stopped about an hour after we’d left Baghdad. Just seeing the dirty streets, the ruins of buildings and houses, the smoke-filled horizon all helped me realize how fortunate I was to have a chance for something safer.

By the time we were out of Baghdad, my heart was no longer aching as it had been while we were still leaving it. The cars around us on the border were making me nervous. I hated being in the middle of so many possibly explosive vehicles. A part of me wanted to study the faces of the people around me, mostly families, and the other part of me, the one that’s been trained to stay out of trouble the last four years, told me to keep my eyes to myself- it was almost over.

It was finally our turn. I sat stiffly in the car and waited as money passed hands; our passports were looked over and finally stamped. We were ushered along and the driver smiled with satisfaction, “It’s been an easy trip, Alhamdulillah,” he said cheerfully.

As we crossed the border and saw the last of the Iraqi flags, the tears began again. The car was silent except for the prattling of the driver who was telling us stories of escapades he had while crossing the border. I sneaked a look at my mother sitting beside me and her tears were flowing as well. There was simply nothing to say as we left Iraq. I wanted to sob, but I didn’t want to seem like a baby. I didn’t want the driver to think I was ungrateful for the chance to leave what had become a hellish place over the last four and a half years.

The Syrian border was almost equally packed, but the environment was more relaxed. People were getting out of their cars and stretching. Some of them recognized each other and waved or shared woeful stories or comments through the windows of the cars. Most importantly, we were all equal. Sunnis and Shia, Arabs and Kurds… we were all equal in front of the Syrian border personnel.

We were all refugees- rich or poor. And refugees all look the same- there’s a unique expression you’ll find on their faces- relief, mixed with sorrow, tinged with apprehension. The faces almost all look the same.

The first minutes after passing the border were overwhelming. Overwhelming relief and overwhelming sadness… How is it that only a stretch of several kilometers and maybe twenty minutes, so firmly segregates life from death?

How is it that a border no one can see or touch stands between car bombs, militias, death squads and… peace, safety? It’s difficult to believe- even now. I sit here and write this and wonder why I can’t hear the explosions.

I wonder at how the windows don’t rattle as the planes pass overhead. I’m trying to rid myself of the expectation that armed people in black will break through the door and into our lives. I’m trying to let my eyes grow accustomed to streets free of road blocks, hummers and pictures of Muqtada and the rest…

How is it that all of this lies a short car ride away?


God’s Warriors Part 2 – Islam

god-warriors-islam-2-mohammad-ali-mosque-cairo-egypt.jpg

Tonight’s offering comes via CNN’s presentation of God’s Warriors, Part 2 and the discussion of Islam, with Christiane Amanpour. Tonight’s presentation was truly eye opening. My area of study is not Islam, so I will share with you my observances from the documentary and tell you about my experience in my own community.

I have nothing against my Muslim community. I have never had issues with the Muslim community here in Montreal – let’s state that from the outset. I have no issues with the living of Muslim life and the practice of Islam as a religion. In fact, I have once written that Islam is truly a remarkable religious tradition because One Must LIVE Islam every day, every moment and every minute. You must observe the laws of the Qu’ ran and you must be a good Muslim and you must pray five times a day. Muslim life is very labor intensive but it is a way of life for millions of people around the world. Hence, I do not intend to make issue with the Muslim community.

If you learn anything about Islam, it is unlike Judaism and Christianity in its practice and requirements. Something I think Christians take for granted for Christianity is a one day a week observance. Unless of course you are a die hard Bible Thumping, Arrogant, Homosexual Hating, Abortion Abhorring, Judgmental 24/7 Evangelical Christian, I am sure you won’t be putting in hours of religious observance as a Muslim person does daily.

Many Muslims, like many people around the world, they “abhor violence.” it is said that militant Islamic violence is but a symptom of a greater problem. That this violence stems from the rage and anger of Muslims around the world.

“That for the extremist, it is an “Us versus Them mentality, that Christians and Jews are expendable.”

The split between the Shia and Sunni Muslim populations fuels the fire that burns in the Middle East and within Muslim countries like Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan. We know as fact today that in Iraq, ethnic cleansing of occurring. The split between Shia and Sunni Muslims is a raging problem, and the split between the two factions occurred when Imam Husayn was martyred: from Wikipedia

The Day of Ashura (عاشوراء transliteration: ‘Āshūrā’, Ashura, Ashoura, and other spellings) is on the 10th day of Muharram in the Islamic calendar and marks the climax of the Remembrance of Muharram but not the Islamic month.

This day is well-known because of mourning for the martyrdom of Husayn ibn Ali, the grandson of the Islamic prophet Muhammad at the Battle of Karbala in the year 61 AH (AD 680). Furthermore Sunni Muslims believe that Moses fasted on that day to express gratitude to God for liberation of Israelites from Egypt. According to Sunni Muslim tradition, Muhammad fasted on this day and asked other people to fast.[1][2]

The word ashura means simply tenth in Arabic; hence the name of the remembrance, literally translated, means “the tenth day”. Islamic scholars, however, give various explanations as to why it is thus called.

god-warriors-islam-1.jpg

“It is also said that the conflict between the Christians and the Muslims will not end until one annihilates the other.”

It is with inflammatory statements like this one that gets the hair on the back of my neck to stand up. It is words like these that remind me that my world has changed. I am no longer insulated from World Issues in Montreal. I know who all of my neighbors are. I have Muslim friends and Muslim teachers. I for one, don’t want to see the world come to a conflict of annihilistic proportions.

For the extremist like Bin Laden and his followers and all those Muslims who fight against the infidel [insert here the U.S.] that the presence of American soldiers on Muslim holy ground is a “Sacrilege.”

Pictured above, Egypt. The beating heart of the Arab – Muslim world. What happens in Egypt trickles down to all the Muslim states in the Middle East. In a country that is oppressed and under rule – “Religion is the antidote to the secular government.” Islam is the cure for the secular government. It is the one thing that the people turn to. It is the energy that fuels the Muslim man and woman.

For the Fundamentalist Muslim, the “Secular state is one without moral purpose.”

Here once again, is another phrase that gets me uppity. I don’t think that I live a life without moral purpose, even if I am a homosexual and that is taboo is Muslim society. But I also understand the “why” behind the moral view of the West, where materialism and arrogance is something that they see from the West. Our lives are so different from those who are Muslim. These broad sweeping statements of conditional extremes would get any society up in arms about just how far the West is going to allow Islam and Muslim people to grow to a number that might facilitate the growth of Islam in a Western location.

Statistically, Islam is the fastest growing religion around the world, spread across the face of the earth. Islam, we know is a peaceful religion, save for the factions that are hell bent on creating chaos, destruction and death in massive proportions. The Iranian expectation of the coming of the Messiah is an apparent fact. The Iranian president is on a holy mission, so he thinks.

We have Iran, and the belief of the hidden Imam. Who is said to be kept alive by God and is hiding like the sun on a cloudy day. The Iranian president has also called for the destruction of Israel so that a Muslim state can be built on that land. I have my reservations about fanatical – Islamic speak and propaganda. Anyone who calls for the destruction of Israel is not someone who I’d support or give any credence to. Speak like this is terrifying and just plain insensitive and fanatical. And we should be wary of anyone who calls for the destruction of Israel. The world should be paying attention to this as they are today.

The Shiite belief that the hidden Imam will return and all will follow him:

“When the hidden Imam comes, Christians and Jews will be told to follow him and if they do not there will be problems. Then Jesus will be asked to come down and mediate and force us all to convert.”

Do we need to fear Islam as a religion? No, I do not think so. Do we need to fear Islamic religious extremism, Yes of course we do. We need to consider where we fit in the dynamic religious universe. Where do we fit on the scale of religious belief? And what can we do to change the hearts of the disenfranchised and those who are fed up with the West’s incursion into/onto Muslim land?

This is where I state my case against the Iraq war. The Mission has not been accomplished and millions of people have been killed, displaced and affected by a Western nation that went to war based on flawed intelligence and wrong ideas. I have never supported the war. Yet I support many of the Muslim writers who have shown us what this war has done to their lives as well the lives of so many others. The arrogance of the United States has put them in this situation, and now they are paying the price for occupation. I can understand why the Muslim world is so at odds with the West. They brought this on themselves. And the world watches this war continue and genocide is occurring as we speak in many places, but especially in Iraq.

And the world does nothing!! Are we responsible stewards of the people of the earth? The longer this continues the more death will occur, until someone comes along and says “ENOUGH!”

There are Iraqi bloggers on my sidebar, go read them. I know the truth about the killing of innocents, the sectarian violence and the ethnic cleansing going on inside the war that rages still.

“There are populations of God Warriors all over the world who see the world through a religious prism and they believe that modern society is trampling on their beliefs.”

What can we do to stop this trend of violence and hatred? Like I said last night the three monotheistic religions of the world are warring with their own and each other, and there is plenty of land to go around. There is always a solution if ENLIGHTENED” political leaders would rise up and come to the table and negotiate a peaceful coexistent settlement.

Fundamental Islam tells us there are no solutions – that there is no negotiating. They they will conquer the infidel and change the face of the earth, the Caliphate must be installed and the world must bow and fall under the authority of Islamic rule and Sharia Law.

The killing needs to stop – and stop today! Or the world is headed for total collapse and do we want that to happen? Where do we draw the line in the sand and limit Muslim encroachment on all that the West respects as tradition and dogma?

Canada the True North standing free welcomes all, but even in Montreal we have issues of convenient accommodation for different religions. Canada is a very religious country, Quebec is very French – Catholic [Christian] yet people of all faiths live within our borders. We will not back down from our sovereign status and we will not bow to religious extremism. I will not bow to religious extremism be that Islam, or Christianity…

Tomorrow night will prove to be very exciting, because I will be writing on my major, Christianity. So look forward to that… I am sharpening my pen!!!


God's Warriors Part 2 – Islam

god-warriors-islam-2-mohammad-ali-mosque-cairo-egypt.jpg

Tonight’s offering comes via CNN’s presentation of God’s Warriors, Part 2 and the discussion of Islam, with Christiane Amanpour. Tonight’s presentation was truly eye opening. My area of study is not Islam, so I will share with you my observances from the documentary and tell you about my experience in my own community.

I have nothing against my Muslim community. I have never had issues with the Muslim community here in Montreal – let’s state that from the outset. I have no issues with the living of Muslim life and the practice of Islam as a religion. In fact, I have once written that Islam is truly a remarkable religious tradition because One Must LIVE Islam every day, every moment and every minute. You must observe the laws of the Qu’ ran and you must be a good Muslim and you must pray five times a day. Muslim life is very labor intensive but it is a way of life for millions of people around the world. Hence, I do not intend to make issue with the Muslim community.

If you learn anything about Islam, it is unlike Judaism and Christianity in its practice and requirements. Something I think Christians take for granted for Christianity is a one day a week observance. Unless of course you are a die hard Bible Thumping, Arrogant, Homosexual Hating, Abortion Abhorring, Judgmental 24/7 Evangelical Christian, I am sure you won’t be putting in hours of religious observance as a Muslim person does daily.

Many Muslims, like many people around the world, they “abhor violence.” it is said that militant Islamic violence is but a symptom of a greater problem. That this violence stems from the rage and anger of Muslims around the world.

“That for the extremist, it is an “Us versus Them mentality, that Christians and Jews are expendable.”

The split between the Shia and Sunni Muslim populations fuels the fire that burns in the Middle East and within Muslim countries like Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan. We know as fact today that in Iraq, ethnic cleansing of occurring. The split between Shia and Sunni Muslims is a raging problem, and the split between the two factions occurred when Imam Husayn was martyred: from Wikipedia

The Day of Ashura (عاشوراء transliteration: ‘Āshūrā’, Ashura, Ashoura, and other spellings) is on the 10th day of Muharram in the Islamic calendar and marks the climax of the Remembrance of Muharram but not the Islamic month.

This day is well-known because of mourning for the martyrdom of Husayn ibn Ali, the grandson of the Islamic prophet Muhammad at the Battle of Karbala in the year 61 AH (AD 680). Furthermore Sunni Muslims believe that Moses fasted on that day to express gratitude to God for liberation of Israelites from Egypt. According to Sunni Muslim tradition, Muhammad fasted on this day and asked other people to fast.[1][2]

The word ashura means simply tenth in Arabic; hence the name of the remembrance, literally translated, means “the tenth day”. Islamic scholars, however, give various explanations as to why it is thus called.

god-warriors-islam-1.jpg

“It is also said that the conflict between the Christians and the Muslims will not end until one annihilates the other.”

It is with inflammatory statements like this one that gets the hair on the back of my neck to stand up. It is words like these that remind me that my world has changed. I am no longer insulated from World Issues in Montreal. I know who all of my neighbors are. I have Muslim friends and Muslim teachers. I for one, don’t want to see the world come to a conflict of annihilistic proportions.

For the extremist like Bin Laden and his followers and all those Muslims who fight against the infidel [insert here the U.S.] that the presence of American soldiers on Muslim holy ground is a “Sacrilege.”

Pictured above, Egypt. The beating heart of the Arab – Muslim world. What happens in Egypt trickles down to all the Muslim states in the Middle East. In a country that is oppressed and under rule – “Religion is the antidote to the secular government.” Islam is the cure for the secular government. It is the one thing that the people turn to. It is the energy that fuels the Muslim man and woman.

For the Fundamentalist Muslim, the “Secular state is one without moral purpose.”

Here once again, is another phrase that gets me uppity. I don’t think that I live a life without moral purpose, even if I am a homosexual and that is taboo is Muslim society. But I also understand the “why” behind the moral view of the West, where materialism and arrogance is something that they see from the West. Our lives are so different from those who are Muslim. These broad sweeping statements of conditional extremes would get any society up in arms about just how far the West is going to allow Islam and Muslim people to grow to a number that might facilitate the growth of Islam in a Western location.

Statistically, Islam is the fastest growing religion around the world, spread across the face of the earth. Islam, we know is a peaceful religion, save for the factions that are hell bent on creating chaos, destruction and death in massive proportions. The Iranian expectation of the coming of the Messiah is an apparent fact. The Iranian president is on a holy mission, so he thinks.

We have Iran, and the belief of the hidden Imam. Who is said to be kept alive by God and is hiding like the sun on a cloudy day. The Iranian president has also called for the destruction of Israel so that a Muslim state can be built on that land. I have my reservations about fanatical – Islamic speak and propaganda. Anyone who calls for the destruction of Israel is not someone who I’d support or give any credence to. Speak like this is terrifying and just plain insensitive and fanatical. And we should be wary of anyone who calls for the destruction of Israel. The world should be paying attention to this as they are today.

The Shiite belief that the hidden Imam will return and all will follow him:

“When the hidden Imam comes, Christians and Jews will be told to follow him and if they do not there will be problems. Then Jesus will be asked to come down and mediate and force us all to convert.”

Do we need to fear Islam as a religion? No, I do not think so. Do we need to fear Islamic religious extremism, Yes of course we do. We need to consider where we fit in the dynamic religious universe. Where do we fit on the scale of religious belief? And what can we do to change the hearts of the disenfranchised and those who are fed up with the West’s incursion into/onto Muslim land?

This is where I state my case against the Iraq war. The Mission has not been accomplished and millions of people have been killed, displaced and affected by a Western nation that went to war based on flawed intelligence and wrong ideas. I have never supported the war. Yet I support many of the Muslim writers who have shown us what this war has done to their lives as well the lives of so many others. The arrogance of the United States has put them in this situation, and now they are paying the price for occupation. I can understand why the Muslim world is so at odds with the West. They brought this on themselves. And the world watches this war continue and genocide is occurring as we speak in many places, but especially in Iraq.

And the world does nothing!! Are we responsible stewards of the people of the earth? The longer this continues the more death will occur, until someone comes along and says “ENOUGH!”

There are Iraqi bloggers on my sidebar, go read them. I know the truth about the killing of innocents, the sectarian violence and the ethnic cleansing going on inside the war that rages still.

“There are populations of God Warriors all over the world who see the world through a religious prism and they believe that modern society is trampling on their beliefs.”

What can we do to stop this trend of violence and hatred? Like I said last night the three monotheistic religions of the world are warring with their own and each other, and there is plenty of land to go around. There is always a solution if ENLIGHTENED” political leaders would rise up and come to the table and negotiate a peaceful coexistent settlement.

Fundamental Islam tells us there are no solutions – that there is no negotiating. They they will conquer the infidel and change the face of the earth, the Caliphate must be installed and the world must bow and fall under the authority of Islamic rule and Sharia Law.

The killing needs to stop – and stop today! Or the world is headed for total collapse and do we want that to happen? Where do we draw the line in the sand and limit Muslim encroachment on all that the West respects as tradition and dogma?

Canada the True North standing free welcomes all, but even in Montreal we have issues of convenient accommodation for different religions. Canada is a very religious country, Quebec is very French – Catholic [Christian] yet people of all faiths live within our borders. We will not back down from our sovereign status and we will not bow to religious extremism. I will not bow to religious extremism be that Islam, or Christianity…

Tomorrow night will prove to be very exciting, because I will be writing on my major, Christianity. So look forward to that… I am sharpening my pen!!!


Italy probe unearths huge Iraq arms deal

By CHARLES J. HANLEY and ARIEL DAVID, Associated Press Writers 

PERUGIA, Italy – In a hidden corner of Rome‘s busy Fiumicino Airport, police dug quietly through a traveler’s checked baggage, looking for smuggled drugs. What they found instead was a catalog of weapons, a clue to something bigger.

Their discovery led anti-Mafia investigators down a monthslong trail of telephone and e-mail intercepts, into the midst of a huge black-market transaction, as Iraqi and Italian partners haggled over shipping more than 100,000 Russian-made automatic weapons into the bloodbath of Iraq.

As the secretive, $40 million deal neared completion, Italian authorities moved in, making arrests and breaking it up. But key questions remain unanswered.

For one thing, The Associated Press has learned that Iraqi government officials were involved in the deal, apparently without the knowledge of the U.S. Baghdad command — a departure from the usual pattern of U.S.-overseen arms purchases.

Why these officials resorted to “black” channels and where the weapons were headed is unclear.

The purchase would merely have been the most spectacular example of how Iraq has become a magnet for arms traffickers and a place of vanishing weapons stockpiles and uncontrolled gun markets since the 2003 U.S. invasion and the onset of civil war.

Some guns the U.S. bought for Iraq’s police and army are unaccounted for, possibly fallen into the hands of insurgents or sectarian militias. Meanwhile, the planned replacement of the army’s AK-47s with U.S.-made M-16s may throw more assault rifles onto the black market. And the weapons free-for-all apparently is spilling over borders: Turkey and Iran complain U.S.-supplied guns are flowing from Iraq to anti-government militants on their soil.

Iraqi middlemen in the Italian deal, in intercepted e-mails, claimed the arrangement had official American approval. A U.S. spokesman in Baghdad denied that.

“Iraqi officials did not make MNSTC-I aware that they were making purchases,” Lt. Col. Daniel Williams of the Multi-National Security Transition Command-Iraq (MNSTC-I), which oversees arming and training of the Iraqi police and army, told the AP.

Operation Parabellum, the investigation led by Dario Razzi, anti-Mafia prosecutor in this central Italian city, began in 2005 as a routine investigation into drug trafficking by organized-crime figures, branched out into an inquiry into arms dealing with Libya, and then widened to Iraq.

Court documents obtained by the AP show that Razzi’s break came early last year when police monitoring one of the drug suspects covertly opened his luggage as he left on a flight to Libya. Instead of the expected drugs, they found helmets, bulletproof vests and the weapons catalog.

Tapping telephones, monitoring e-mails, Razzi’s investigators followed the trail to a group of Italian businessmen, otherwise unrelated to the drug probe, who were working to sell arms to Libya and, by late 2006, to Iraq as well, through offshore companies they set up in Malta and Cyprus.

Four Italians have been arrested and are awaiting court indictment for allegedly creating a criminal association and alleged arms trafficking — trading in weapons without a government license. A fifth Italian is being sought in Africa. In addition, 13 other Italians were arrested on drug charges.

In the documents, Razzi describes it as “strange” that the U.S.-supported Iraqi government would seek such weapons via the black market.

Investigators say the prospect of an Iraq deal was raised last November, when an Iraqi-owned trading firm e-mailed Massimo Bettinotti, 39, owner of the Malta-based MIR Ltd., about whether MIR could supply 100,000 AK-47 assault rifles and 10,000 machine guns “to the Iraqi Interior Ministry,” adding that “this deal is approved by America and Iraq.”

The go-between — the Al-Handal General Trading Co. in Dubai — apparently had communicated with Bettinotti earlier about buying night visors and had been told MIR could also procure weapons.

Al-Handal has figured in questionable dealings before, having been identified by U.S. investigators three years ago as a “front company” in Iraq’s Oil-for-Food scandal.

The Interior Ministry’s need at that point for such a massive weapons shipment is unclear. The U.S. training command had already reported it would arm all Interior Ministry police by the end of 2006 through its own three-year-old program, which as of July 26 has bought 701,000 weapons for the Iraqi army and police with $237 million in U.S. government funds.

Negotiations on the deal progressed quickly in e-mail exchanges between the Italians and Iraqi middlemen of the al-Handal company and its parent al-Thuraya Group. But at times the discussion turned murky and nervous.

The Iraqis alternately indicated the Interior Ministry or “security ministries” would be the end users. At one point, a worried Bettinotti e-mailed, “We prefer to speak about this deal face to face and not by e-mail.”

The Italians sent several offers of various types and quantities of rifles, with photos included. The negotiating focused on the source of the weapons: The Iraqi middlemen said their buyer insisted they be Russian-made, but the Italians wanted to sell AK-47s made in China, where they had better contacts.

“We are in a hurry with this deal,” an impatient Waleed Noori al-Handal, Jordan-based general manager of the Iraqi firm, wrote the Italians on Nov. 13 in one of the e-mails seen by AP.

He added, in apparent allusion to the shipment’s clandestine nature, “You mustn’t worry if it’s a problem to import these goods directly into Iraq. We can bring the product to another country and then transfer it to Iraq.”

By December, the Italians, having found a Bulgarian broker, were offering Russian-made goods: 50,000 AKM rifles, an improved version of the AK-47; 50,000 AKMS rifles, the same gun with folding stock; and 5,000 PKM machine guns.

The Iraqis quibbled over the asking price, $39.7 million, but seemed satisfied. The Italians were set for a $6.6 million profit, the court documents show, and were already discussing air transport for the weapons. At this point prosecutor Razzi acted, seeking an arrest warrant from a Perugia court.

“The negotiation with Iraq is developing very quickly,” he wrote the judge.

On Feb. 12, in seven locations across Italy, police arrested the 17 men, including the four alleged arms traffickers: Bettinotti; Gianluca Squarzolo, 39, the man whose luggage had yielded the original clue; Ermete Moretti, 55, and Serafino Rossi, 64. If convicted, they could be sentenced to up to 12 years in prison.

The at-large fifth man, Vittorio Dordi, 42, was believed to be in the Democratic Republic of Congo, where he apparently is involved in the diamond trade. Italian authorities were seeking information on him from the African country.

In the parallel Libya case, the Italians allegedly paid two Libyan Defense Ministry officials about $500,000 in kickbacks to speed that transaction for Chinese-made assault rifles. It isn’t known whether such bribes were a factor in the Iraq deal. No Libyans or Iraqis are known to have been detained in connection with the cases.

Al-Handal’s operations have caught investigators’ notice before. In 1996-2003, the company was involved as a broker in the kickback scandal known as Oil for Food, the CIA says.

In that program, Iraq under U.N. economic sanctions bought food and other necessities with U.N.-supervised oil revenues. Foreign companies, often through intermediaries, surreptitiously kicked back payments to officials of Saddam Hussein‘s Iraqi government in exchange for such supply contracts.

Those Iraqi middlemen also engaged in “misrepresenting the origin or final destination of goods,” said the 2004 report of the CIA’s Iraq Survey Group, which investigated both Iraq’s defunct advanced weapons programs and Oil for Food.

That report also alleged that during this period Al-Handal General Trading, from its bases in Dubai and Jordan, secretly moved unspecified “equipment” into Iraq that was forbidden by the U.N. sanctions.

Reached at his office in Amman, Jordan, Waleed Noori al-Handal denied the family firm had done anything wrong in the Italian arms case.

“We don’t have anything to hide,” he told the AP.

Citing the names of “friends” in top U.S. military ranks in Iraq, al-Handal said his company has fulfilled scores of supply and service contracts for the U.S. occupation. Asked why he claimed U.S. approval for the abortive Italian weapons purchase, he said he had a document from the U.S. Army “that says, ‘We allow al-Thuraya Group to do all kinds of business.'”

In Baghdad, the Interior Ministry wouldn’t discuss the AK-47 transaction on the record. But a senior ministry official, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the matter’s sensitivity, acknowledged it had sought the weapons through al-Handal.

Asked about the irregular channels used, he said the ministry “doesn’t ask the supplier how these weapons are obtained.”

Although this official refused to discuss details, he said “most” of the 105,000 weapons were meant for police in Iraq’s western province of Anbar. That statement raised questions, however, since Pentagon reports list only 161,000 trained police across all 18 of Iraq’s provinces, and say the ministry has been issued 169,280 AK-47s, 167,789 pistols and 16,398 machine guns for them and 28,000 border police.

A July 26 Pentagon report said 20,847 other AK-47s purchased for the Interior Ministry have not yet been delivered. Iraqi officials complain that the U.S. supply of equipment, from bullets to uniforms, has been slow.

A Pentagon report in June may have touched on another possible destination for weapons obtained via secretive channels, noting that “militia infiltration of local police remains a significant problem.” Shiite Muslim militias in Iraq’s civil war have long been known to find cover and weapons within the Interior Ministry.

In fact, in a further sign of poor controls on the flow of arms into Iraq, a July 31 audit report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office said the U.S. command’s books don’t contain records on 190,000 AK-47s and other weapons, more than half those issued in 2004-2005 to Iraqi forces. This makes it difficult to trace weapons that may be passed on to militias or insurgents.

The Pentagon, meanwhile, has described the Interior Ministry’s accounting of police equipment as unreliable.

Here in Italy, Razzi expressed puzzlement at the Iraqi officials’ circumvention of U.S. supply routes.

“It seems strange that a pro-Western government, supported by the U.S. Army and other NATO countries on its own territory, would seek Russian or Chinese weapons through questionable channels,” the anti-Mafia prosecutor wrote in seeking the arrest warrant that short-circuited the complex deal.


As close to Canadian Idol – as I will ever get!!

This is Sass Jordan Performing LIVE here in Montreal at the Street Festival going on today in the downtown core. Ste. Catherines street is shut down and an immense stage was erected outside the HMV. We happened upon this concert and I took these photos. I think I am a good photographer, don’t you agree??? I guess you’ll be the judge of that! There are 41 photos in this set, which are all going to be put in my Flickr account so you can go see them soon. Click on the Flickr box and go to my photo stream, there are 140 photos up now. I’ve also added 11 photos of the city from the Penthouse Pool area views that you haven’t seen yet of the South Shore and of Downtown Montreal.

So here they are:

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Photo Essay #2: When the Moon is in the 7th House …

And Jupiter aligns with Mars
Then peace will guide the planets
And love will steer the stars…

The Moon was Full over Montreal, and I sat on my Lanai and took pictures for over an hour. This is my second photo essay of the night. These photos are colorized and just some hue and saturation adjustments to bring out the clouds in the sky were made. They aren’t the best photos – but I think they are good for a novice. It was quite a meditation as one waited for the clouds to pass by to get the right shot. Amazing… Enjoy!!!

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Intentioned Dream States

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It seems WordPress is having issues today, so bear with me as we find out if this writing makes it to the editor correctly…

Like I said in earlier posts that I’ve been feeling a little ‘out of sync’ as of late. This Lunar cycle has me at a disadvantage – I feel a lot lower than usual, and my daily and nightly rituals have stopped because it feels like I’ve lost my mojo. So in order to stop this cycle, I’ve spent a greater amount of time in prayer and meditation. It seems that if my outward being is under the ‘pall’ so to speak, then that must mean I need to pay attention to my inner voice and being.

I haven’t been sleeping well, as of late, so I am taking care of me in the meantime. More on this later…

Yesterday I met someone I’ve begun to minister to at the behest of a friend. A responsibility that I take very seriously. So before I take on any new projects or I am going to begin working with someone in a more professional capacity, I pray. Because I cannot do the work of God or the Spirit, unless I am ‘right’ with God. I believe that when someone is put on the path with me – at any given point, that the first order of business is kindness. Last night I received an email from a friend who shared with me some thoughts on the days events. I was truly moved.

“In the words of Clara Mayfield, How difficult can it be to be kind?”

I went to class this morning and afterwards I took care of my renewing my Carte l’assurance Maladie at the local CLSC – which took all of 5 minutes. So that’s done for another year.

I am enjoying my Anthropology class, we are now on the Huichol Indians of Mexico and their ways of life and rituals. I really enjoy my prof’s sense of humor. I actually laughed out loud, so here is the story…

“An anthropologist is out in the field studying a certain group of indigenous peoples. They are on an excursion to a sacred site they have traveled in a large vehicle, which on the return stops amid journey.

The anthropologist gets out of the truck and they survey the problem and he says to the indians, “well, this is going to take some time, and we surely aren’t going to get home in this truck! Meanwhile, there is a tribal elder traveling with them. The anthropologist is very wary of their customs and traditions.
so the elder man gets out of the truck with his feather wand and begs the man to step aside, who was certain that the truck was not fixable…

“How are we going to get out of this with a feather wand, he remarks…”

*Insert chuckle here*

The elder goes over to the engine and waves his feather wand and wouldn’t you know it, the truck starts…” Needless to say the anthropologist was confused and stymied by what just happened. Never discount the traditions or rituals of any peoples…

I laughed out loud when she told us this little story…

After running my errands I came home and checked the mail and ate some lunch. After which we both set down for a mid afternoon nap. Now usually if I go down for a nap, it is a foregone conclusion that I am going to lay there for at least two hours until I find my way into sleep. I was prepared today. Before I shut my eyes, I put out a clear intention to the universe that I wanted a dream to occur. I spoke it when I shut my eyes, and I went right to sleep.

The dream came. Fast and Furious. When I dream of family and the past, the dream usually comes in black and white,  and I cannot speak to anyone and I can’t open any doors in the houses I end up in. It is always the same house, my paternal grandparents house. This time today, all that changed. I went back in time, and it was alive, and in color. I saw my family, my grandmothers and grandfathers. I spoke to them and I was reliving certain periods of my childhood through my eyes.

The first vignette was of a Christmas long ago. It was cold outside and there was snow on the ground. I was able to see and speak to my grandparents. They are both long since dead. They were as they were, in that period of my life.

The second vignette was a birth! Was it my brother’s? I don’t know, but it was a birth of some sorts because afterwards there was a shower of baby items and gifts from the family.

The third vignette was once again a Winter scene. This last scene came at the end of my three hour nap, and it was ending quickly, as I was being pulled out of the scene from the back of my pants, like I was being lifted out of the scene by someone standing behind me, and I came out of the dream with the words “no red, no red…” then it ended. I was talking to my grandmother, Jeannie. I don’t know what I was referring to. I got up, I had a banging headache, and so I took some advil, reset my alarm clock and went back down for a further 35 minutes, which went by like a blur… I set down again and all of a sudden the alarm clock was ringing again… I was like WTF!!!

I have heard it said that we can intention our dreams before we even get to them, that we can call forth images into our minds eyes and we can intention specific visuals that we want to have in dream state. I don’t know why I was moved to intention this specific dream, but it happened. It is 10:30 p.m. and the dream is still visible in my minds eye…

That’s about all I want to write at the moment. Maybe more later…

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1. I had a great day
2. A friend said that I was kind to him and that moved me
3. I had rest, a wonderful dream experience
4. I have great friends who trust me  and care about me
5. I have work to do for God and my fellows
6. There is food in the fridge
7. Fear of people and of financial insecurities will leave us
8. That we are all blessed by the God of our own understandings
9. If you believe in miracles and dreams then they too shall come to pass
10. in 21 days I will graduate from University!!!
Goodnight from Montreal.


The Trip …

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I had another one of those dreams. It seemed to last a long time. I was on a train journey around North America, starting in the South taking the train across the southern route to California and on up to Vancouver, where I took the Via Rail across Canada traveling Eastward. I think that you can complete a full circuit of North America if you connect in certain cities, but that is neither here nor there.

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The fact is that I was on this trip with particular people. There was a very certain sense that I was traveling with a group of people I was familiar with. Some of them were native peoples that lived in a particular region (I am not sure where that region was) but at the end of the trip as it played out, I ended up in a city that was very familiar, but it was an amalgamation of different technologies and transportation systems that are specific to specific cities I am familiar with. Similar to Vancouver’s sky train, this city had a complete monorail transportation system across the entire cityscape. The journey ended from the rail and transferred to a bus system that took me down gravel roads to a gated community.

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This wasn’t some rich community that had walls to keep people out, but it was gated to keep ‘others’ off of the land. I have to say here that I was allowed on the land by friends I was traveling with. I walked through the gates and into a community. The forest separated this community from the rest of the local area. It was as if one walked through a portal into another ‘place’. The forest was the noticeable difference. Was it the Boreal forest, I can’t be sure.

The only reference that I have is what I learned in my Race and Ethnicity class last year. As one walked into the community down a main road that had houses in small neighborhoods we were on a high plain that had an expansive view into a valley green with trees as far as the eye could see and a pristine lake was amid the trees. I have never seen such a beautiful location. I also make a visual observation in this area that there is a huge cemetery that is located to one side of the community and stretches down an expansive tract of land down into the valley behind the community. I get a sense that this community has been here for generations seeing that the cemetery has so many grave stones and burial locations.

We are told to take notes on things that grab ones attention. Colors, visuals, people, buildings, or feelings. I know this is a spiritual place because I get a sense that there is great power –  is it the land, or a spiritual force or the spirits of ancestors that protect this land? I am not sure…

I am not sure of the topography of the entire Boreal Forest but I do know that there are many native reserves on the borders of and within the Boreal Forest which spreads across the whole of Canada. I have added photos in this post to try and illustrate what I am trying to write about. It’s quite beautiful isn’t it.

The dream ends with me visiting a friend who lives in this community, I see and visit a home but the people in the home are not visual to me – but I know they are there. I can’t see their faces either. After a short visit there I depart the forest and walk back through the fence and into the real world as we know it. The two communities are unique unto themselves. This walking across the divide is akin to my Fern Gully writing some time ago. (The Stories of Jerome in ‘Pages’)


Are you for real (Revisited)

 

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The day that Memere presented me to God in that church in my early childhood, little did I know how much that would make a difference in my life today. Hindsight is our best teacher. I have always been open to anything and everything. I have never put blinders on my brain or my senses. I guess you could say that I am multi-talented.

Early in my childhood I was predisposed to the paranormal. I would become the medium of my family and my parents thought that I was insane and stupid so I will relate to you some stories to illustrate.

I was in Junior High when my Uncle Paul died in Connecticut and a blue jay appeared at my cousin’s house where her father (my uncle) as I had always believed, he was my father’s cousin, but he was uncle John to the rest of us. Uncle John would be the go between for my father and his parents final resting places. anyways, I digress…

The bird… yes, blue jays are not known for interpersonal skills, yet this bird was different. He followed my uncle around the house (outside) he pecked at the windows for months, and answered to the name Paul when shooed away or invoked after his death. This went on for months until my grandfather died in Florida.

Al was a bitter, sick, demented and sad man – my father’s father died unceremoniously and we did not mourn him for the abuse he heaped upon all of us in this family. But he came back to me. I had a bedroom in the back of the house against my favorite climbing trees and a view of the backyard and patio. After grampy died the bird appeared at my window one day and he pecked and he pecked.

He followed me to the bus stop and back home, he knew when I was home and when we all were in which room. The red headed woodpecker answered to the name of Al when we got tired of his pecking we could open the window and say “get lost Al!” and he would come whenever I called him. This went on for about six months. At one point the bird disappeared…

My uncle shared with us his adventures on his end. 1500 miles away. And then one day he called and said a second bird appeared on the back porch – it was a red headed wood pecker with the blue jay. They visited for a while and then they both disappeared. They were never seen again.

When my paternal grandmother died, it crushed my father emotionally, not to mention me as well. She was a great woman, who loved me and protected me from my abusive father over the years. When she died, I was living out of the house at that point. I came home for the funeral and had to take care of the final send off to the crematorium for my father because he couldn’t handle it.

That afternoon I had brought flowers from her funeral home with me – and that is when she appeared to me. She still appears to me today, many years later. Jeannie stands at the foot of my bed, she never says anything, but she brings with her a scent that only she could bring – and I know the scent. She scared the shit out of me the first night she came to stand vigil at my bedside. She has followed me all over the world as I have moved.

After I was diagnosed HIV positive in 1994, I started seeing a “reader” who taught me the art of divination and card reading, because you know, I am gonna die, I wanna know what’s on the other side, right? I had a small apartment in Ft. Lauderdale that was given to me by some friends when my family decided that I was “untouchable.” My bedroom had a wall unit A/C and I would sleep with my door closed each night. I did not make the connection here until certain things happened. The pictures on the wall would be crooked in the morning. Magazines on the coffee table would be tossed about my apartment, which wasn’t very big at all. I had no pets and I lived alone.

Miguel came over one afternoon and drew a circle and confronted the spirit in the room. Jeannie had not appeared as she had in the past. He told me that a red headed woman was in the apartment and that she did not know how to get through the bedroom door. That I should sleep with the door open from now on, which I did. He described Jeannie to a “t” and so I knew she was still watching me.

Many years later – and I had lived, my maternal grandmother, the lifeblood of all that I am and the maker of faith for me as a man, died. She was in Connecticut and I was in Florida. I had pulled all of the cash I had to buy a plane ticket for the funeral and my mother informed me that I was not to attend the funeral for God Forbid her family find out that I had AIDS. You can imagine my horror and revulsion at her insistance that I comply with her wishes. I had…

Soon after the funeral had passed, I started to commune with Camille in my sleep. She would talk to me and I wrote letters to my mother in her pen and in her handwriting, I am sure my mother kept all these letters, but she never admitted to anyone what they were or who they came from.

She once told me that she had saved my rant letters in a safety deposit box to prove that I was insane. I was an unlucky bastard to my family and nothing I did or said to them ever changed the way they saw me. Camille and I still commune to this very day.

My parents – once said that if I had died that I would have no funeral and be buried somewhere off on my own, which led me to do something seriously drastic to keep them from ever having any control, or ability to touch me in life or in death…

Jeremiah came to be…

The prophet is never welcome in his own town or listened to, but Jeremiah Preached his sermon to deaf ears. Years would pass and insanity would rule and the family resentment would carry out to this very day.

Camille once gave me a scapular that I carried in my wallet for decades until I moved to Montreal in 2002, and realized what that key to faith that would play into my life, with the finding of Sister Georgette soon after and the stories she would tell me about my past and of Camille’s life and the room she stayed in AT the Mother House when she lived here in Montreal.

It so happened that one day I was at the Mother House standing in Camille’s cell and she appeared to me and I told sister Georgette that she was in visitation, Sister G never denied that that was possible. Over the last five years Camille has visited us at the Mother House and here at home. She brings with her a scent as well. That I would recognize.

Jeannie still comes in visitation to the house here and she stands at the foot of my bed and watches over us now. Hubby knows of this and he welcomed her into his home when we started living together, because she used to freak him out in the beginning.

So this little innocent Catholic boy practices the Wiccan circle and read his cards for certain people and never for personal gain. My bedroom is a shrine – the bookcase holds all the sacred objects given to me by sister G, and it holds the gifts given to me by the nuns upon her death in August.

I believe that there is an ever after, because when I went across on my NDE the last time I was in the hospital in 1997, I was told so. My family that surrounded me and protected me from my parents and their abuse, surround me today and have been here, because unlike some of you, I have no blood kin that will participate in my life today. Blood is not thicker than water in my family and resentments and anger rules the hearts of the adults in my family.

I study religion and the ever after because when I die, all those folks whom I honor in my life today will be there to welcome me into the kingdom when my card comes up. I am not the same man I was a mere 10 years ago. I am much older and wiser and I grew up and I forgave and I moved on.

I pray that sad prayer every day, God if it is in your power to grant me one miracle – this is the one that I would wish for. God has yet to respond. Sobriety has taught me a lot about prayer and expectations from God. Eesh, I know that all too well…

On the eve of my first wedding anniversary in 2005, my mother came to me here in Montreal. She appeared in my bedroom on the 19th of November. We were married on the 20th, her birthday. She told me that she came to say goodbye and that she was going to die. Then she departed and I never saw her again.

I have only a memory of my mother from that day in 2001. I have no pictures nor has she attempted to maintain contact with me since I moved here, because she is fiercely loyal to my abusive father. I never called to confirm her death, because I have said that if she had died and my father kept it from me, I would no doubt go insane and drink!

Last year, on the eve of my second wedding anniversary she appeared again to me in my bedroom, but she did not speak. I have practiced the art of scrying her in my sleep and that has failed to give me results. I have begged her to join me in dream space because that is where we could find each other – alas, I never dream about my mother or see her like I see others, for some reason. I don’t have that answer.

All I know is that when I had my near death experience and met that man afterwards who spoke to me because I was incensed that I asked all my questions on the other side and came back with no answers, this man looked at me and said…

“Why wait till you are dead to ask your questions, at that point it is too late to do anything about them, ask them now while you are alive and be ready for answers.”

Ghosts, a good thing or a bad thing, for me its a good thing. I am somewhat empathic to a degree which is a gift and a curse, however you look at it, on any given full moon cycle, which I think we are in at the moment. We are at 62% of full tonight, which is why I am feeling the way I do, I am speeding and writing like a mad man about the paranormal!!

I believe – you don’t have to believe one word that I wrote here, but that’s my story and I am sticking to it…

David

I tell the story of David, my best friend. He died in the Spring of 1987. I had spoken to him prior to his death and I knew he loved me. On the night of his wake, at the funeral home, the priest had a seizure and I had to finish the prayer service for the attendees. Upon my arrival back at the seminary, it was stormy outside. I was bereft in my sadness and grief. It was really not pretty. I was kneeling in the front (right) pew in front of the altar. It was late, and dark outside.

I heard one of the confessional doors open and close in the right of the transept. I heard footsteps come around the altar stones, the floor is stone and marble. The foot steps stopped in the center of the main aisle in front of the altar. The Altar Candle exploded and lit up the mural you see behind it, it was a most glorious vision. David was standing there before me, and told me not to weep, that he was ok, and that he would watch over me. To this day, I have his Glorious Mary Medallion which I never leave the house without. It hangs on a chain I wear with my other medallions.

Every time I look at this picture, I am reminded of this story…

So in his memory, I share it with you…

I love you David…


Bhaddekaratta Sutta

Buddha with a view

‘Do not pursue the past.
Do not lose yourself in the future.
The past no longer is.
The future has not yet come.
Looking deeply at life as it is
in the very here and now,
the practitioner dwells
in stability and freedom.
We must be diligent today.
To wait until tomorrow is too late.
Death comes unexpectedly.
How can we bargain with it?
The sage calls a person who knows
how to dwell in mindfulness
night and day
‘one who knows
the better way to live alone.’

Text: Adapted from the Bhaddekaratta Sutta,
translated by Thich Nhat Hanh
Seen over at: All Things But None 


I dream of "Other Dimensions"

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My dreams are usually some of the best television money can buy, with sets and characters that are so believable that they are truly “Real.” This afternoons edition of dream reality came as a trip across the universe into a world, that has yet to be seen by anyone on earth. I can tell you that it was real to me.

I don’t know how I ended up here, but astral travel is something I can do freely and regularly, and I often do. I traveled across a divide I guess into a world that can only be described as “other worldly.”

The planet I ended up on, was in a 12 planet system. There were 12 planets circling this world with two suns in the sky. That would be a 14 planet/star system actually.  It was dark when I arrived. I took a flight over the continents which was the most incredible flight I have made so far. There were buildings all over the continental area and the waters were dark and brooding. There were many tall glass structures (i.e. sky scrapers) on the coasts and huge power generating plants located around the areas. I am sure that atmospheric generating plants were also present. Terra-formers.

I found my way into a city system filled with millions of people traveling from one place to another in tramway vehicles and in the city center was a “planetary passport control” where I had to declare myself and I was interviewed by some men at a special office, because I told them that I wanted to stay there. This afforded me a universal translator and a guide. The language there was a simple variation of the theme of “Latin.”

I ended up in a colony bloc with my guide finding a place to stay for the meantime. I was given a place to stay and introduced to some people who lived there – from there I traveled around the city complex underground. Not much was “outside” it seemed that everthing was contained in a closed system on the planets surface, although we had an incredible view of the planetary system and the suns that lit the system. We were in darkness at this time.

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I met some very interesting folk in the colony bloc that took me on a ride that was extremely interesting and gratifying. In the end I ended back in the “passport-control” office where the dream ended. This dream is still in my brain so I thought I would write it down. This is one location that I would not mind revisiting in the future.

The dream was so real, like I said, that it had to exist. There was no way I could have built this dream location on my own. It was too complex and the visuals that I saw were just amazing. I do believe in the parallel universe and “other dimension” theories. And since I can astral project, and have before, why not think that this place is real and reachable.