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Posted By Luminous Jewel, Blake Walton

Myth America #5: The Illusion of Self


Perhaps the biggest myth/illusion we SUFFER from, especially in the rugged individualism culture --Yeehaw!-- of The US of A, is the sense that we are an  INDEPENDENT and SOLID "ME".  Buddhist teachings say that this grasping after the illusion of a solid and independent SELF is the root of all our suffering as human beings. It is based in ignorance of the true nature of reality. After all, each one of US started as two cells. IS THAT WHO WE ARE? Are we still the baby we once were? Are we the the WE that we were yesterday? Or even a moment ago? WE are constantly changing, shifting, never solid but dynamic and as ephemeral as the track that a flying bird leaves in the sky. We grasp at a concept of SELF that is not there. And then fearfully stare at our empty handedness, while reaching for the TV remote.

 

Me  Gazing Ball

                                    ME?                               ME?

 

Birth

ME?

Will the real me please WAKE UP?

 

On the eve of the 4th of July, where residents of the US of America celebrate "INDEPENDENCE & FREEDOM" by getting drunk, making lots of noise, and grilling dead animals (as Dr. Phil says, "How's that working for ya?"), why not consider our INTER-dependence. The Dalai Lama says:

[It] is quite clear to me is that the moment you think only of yourself, the focus of your whole reality narrows, and because of this narrow focus, uncomfortable things can appear huge and bring you fear and discomfort and a sense of feeling overwhelmed by misery. The moment you think of others with a sense of caring, however, your view widens. Within that wider perspective, your own problems appear to be of little significance, and this makes a big difference.

 

Why not further loosen your self-clinging, and become an ANTEVASIN (Sanskrit for "one who lives on the border") like our forefathers.  "You can live on the shimmering line between your old thinking and your new understanding, always in a state of learning. This is a border that is always moving as you advance in your studies and realizations.  That mysterious forest of the unknown always stays a few feet ahead of you, so you have to travel light in order to keep following it." 
--
E. Gilbert from Eat, Pray, Love

 

 

 
Posted By Luminous Jewel, Blake Walton

Myth America #4: ET Phone Home

 

Welcome to the "High Strange" world of New Mexico, the Land of Enchantment, where bumper stickers read "Keep Santa Fe Different" and I recently saw a  green Roswell alien painted on a UHaul truck. Maybe it's the altitude here (a rarified 7,000 feet above sea level), or the vast desert expanses that serve as a blank canvas for the sensory deprived.

 

Roswell Coke      UFO Theatre

 

Maybe it's the proximity to Roswell, New Mexico, where a UFO containing aliens supposedly crashed in 1947, and the government covered it up. You decide: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roswell_UFO_incident

Newspaper

 

 

Maybe it's something more spiritual, if you will, this longing humans have to not be alone in the universe, to be able to reach out and touch. . . creation, eternity, god/goddess/all that is.

 

Creation of Adam

The Creation of Adam (Sistine Chapel; Michaelangelo)

 

ET Phone Home

ET Phone Home

 

Being in Touch

"Being in Touch" (mural in Roswell, NM)

 

Coincidence????? I don't think so.

 

 

 
Posted By Luminous Jewel, Blake Walton

Myth America #3: The Jackalope

 

If we are going to delude ourselves (and we humans seem to LOVE to do that!), we should do it with magical and fun things that make us laugh, not things like WAR or SOCIAL & ECONOMIC  INJUSTICES or RACISM, SEXISIM & HOMOPHOBIA (to name just a few delusions, alas, that we humans indulge in).

 

"The world is full of stories about brave heroes, magical events and fantastic beings.

For thousands of years, humans everywhere —sometimes inspired by living animals or even fossils—have brought mythic creatures to life in stories, songs and works of art. Today these creatures, from the powerful dragon to the soaring phoenix, continue to thrill, terrify, entertain and inspire us.  Some symbolize danger. Others, we think, can bring us luck or joy.

Together mythic creatures give shape to humankind's greatest hopes, fears and most passionate dreams."

www.bbc.co.uk/dna/h2g2/A13199484
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_legendary_creatures

 

Woman on Jackalope

Unidentified Female riding the only known Domestic Jackalope

http://www2.lafayette.edu/~hollidac/jackalope.html

 

So, why not put all our seemingly innate and insatiable need to wallow in delusion into my personal favorite mythical creature-- THE JACKALOPE!!  There is so much for us humans to love, admire, respect and mimic about the Western Jackalope:

*Jackalopes possess an uncanny ability to mimic human sounds. In the old West, when cowboys would gather by their campfires to sing at night, jackalopes would frequently be heard singing back, mimicking the voices of the cowboys.

*When chased, the jackalope will use its vocal abilities to elude capture. For instance, when chased by people it will call out phrases such as, "There he goes, over there," in order to throw pursuers off its track.

*The jackalope is an aggressive species, willing to use its antlers to fight. Thus, it is also sometimes called the "warrior rabbit."  To avoid injury, quickly fall to the ground, remain calm and still while humming the Roy Rogers song, "Happy Trails to You."

*The best way to catch a jackalope is to lure it with whiskey, as they have a particular fondness for this drink, as well as beanie weenies and s'mores.

 

*Jumping Jackalope

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
Posted By Luminous Jewel, Blake Walton

Myth America #2: Stuckey's

 

Pecan Log

"A little magic, a lot of hard work,

and an American tradition is born."

While it's not exactly known who created the very first pecan log roll, many would argue that it was Mrs. Stuckey who actually perfected it. The signature item within all Stuckey's stores and the "must have" purchase during family travel stops from the 1950's through today, the candy was first made in the candy kitchen attached to each store. In eight Stuckey's stores in the years after World War II, employees faithfully followed Mrs. Stuckey's original southern recipe. The maraschino cherry-laced nougat was hand dipped in hot, creamy melted caramel, then before cooling, freshly shelled pecan halves would be liberally sprinkled onto the caramel. Each pecan log roll was hand wrapped and delivered straight to the customer.                                                                                                       

 

Ok, I have to admit it-- I always succumb to the siren call of Stuckey's when I'm on the road. Having grown up back and forth between Texas and California in the '50s, I was practically weaned on Stuckey's sugary treats. Now, as a somewhat politically correct veteran of the vegetarian and natural food movements, I am appalled at the ingredients in a pecan log roll: sugar, of course, and corn syrup, OK. But marischino cherries and trans fats? Egads!

 

And yet, I always stop. Now I pretend that I will send the pecan log roll to my Southern friend, Kenley, who can appreciate my kitschy, road trip souvenir. More often than not, however and sadly, the pecan log never reaches Kenley! And why would I want to send a carcinogen log to a FRIEND anyway? Better to send a case to George W.

 

We are such creatures of habit, even when our current experiences and knowledge let us know in NO UNCERTAIN TERMS that a Stuckey's pecan log roll will at the very least give us wicked diarrhea.  Still, my five- or eight- or even 12-year old self, yearning for that illusion of safety and the sweetness of life, longs for a Stuckey's. And my 59-year old self says yes. What can it hurt?

Chick-O

 

 


 

 
Posted By Luminous Jewel, Blake Walton

Myth America #1: Route 66

 

My road trip from Massachusetts to New Mexico eventually intersected with historic Route 66, as announced with much nostalgic-tinged ado and souvenir-fueled seduction on every highway billboard. My internal adventure-meter started buzzing, fueled by my 11-year olds half-remembered 1960s TV viewing. For those of you who don't remember, according to Wikipedia,

 

"Route 66 debuted on October 7, 1960. The premise was simple: earnest, privileged and sheltered Tod Stiles' (Martin Milner) father dies and leaves him a shiny new Corvette but little money; he and his buddy Buzz Murdock (George Maharis), who grew up in Hell's Kitchen, take off in the car to discover America, in search of adventure and enlightenment."

                       TV

        "You see, were sorta looking for a place where we really fit,"

        Buzz explained. "A kind of niche for ourselves. You know?

        But, until then, we'll just sorta keep looking and moving."

 

Hmmmmmm?? Somehow from my 2008 vantage point (with a lot more life experience, meditation, critical and political thinking, and just plain reality checks under my belt than in 1960), this Route 66 thing feels a lot less romantic and adventurous and a lot more like mindless (and let's face it, immature) American existential privileged bullshit.  Especially in light of the soaring price of non-renewable, ozone-depleting fossil fuel, global warming, environmental degradation, and the level of world-wide human suffering.  Sure, we all want to "sorta kinda fit" and I'm all for ENLIGHTENMENT.  But hold the Corvette, the attitude, and the ennui, please.

 

Rather than getting their Hollywood-glamorized "kicks on Route 66" an estimated 210,000 people migrated to California to escape the despair of the Dust Bowl during the 1930's. Certainly in the minds of those who endured that particularly painful experience, and in the view of generations of children to whom they recounted their story, Route 66 symbolized the "road to opportunity." In his famous social commentary, The Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck proclaimed U. S. Highway 66 the "Mother Road." 

 

History & the truth can be gritty and hard to bear. But if we turn away and forget, we may become lost.

 

Dust Bowl

 
Posted By Luminous Jewel, Blake Walton

Fearless Puppy on American Road

 

"Actual horrors notwithstanding, life on Earth is a lot friendlier than we have been led to believe, and can be made friendlier still. Many of us regular folks have realized this and chosen to do something about it."

-- Doug "Ten" Rose (www.fearlesspuppy.org)

 

FP Cover

 

June 1, 2008

I serendipitously found this book in my local coffee shop the day before my dog and I headed out on our summer road trip. I felt it was an auspicious theme for our journey to adventures unknown in the wild blue yonder of New Mexico.

The actual "puppy" (my dog Shadow) is pretty fearless, the exception being loud noises like thunder.  I, despite my bravado and seeming love of "adventure", am the more chicken-hearted and prone to worrying type. I all too often allow my imagination to be influenced by the insidious negativity of the mass media that seeps in despite my best efforts. This coupled with my tendency to indulge in existential doubts (why? why me? what now?) can tip me over into the fear zone. And tip I did! What if my car breaks down? What if I have an accident and die? What am I-- nuts!-- to leave friends and a job for adventure? What if I lose my wallet? (This actually happened to me once on a road trip. The responding state trooper gave me $20 and my wallet was eventually found and returned intact!)

I was humbled by how much suffering my mind was creating!

Meanwhile, the beauty of the American landscape boldly but unassumingly unfurled itself outside my car windows. The scents of dew-laden earth, trumpeting honeysuckle and the bursting glory of spring green life flooded my senses. Beauty started winning out over fear. Pleasure and curiosity opened me to the moment. And the next. And the next. Five days and 2000 miles on the American road with no air "conditioning" to blunt the experience, no radio or music to distract the mind.  Mile after mile of mind looking at mind, moment after moment of restful alertness in the "what is-ness" instead of the "what next". I felt humbled AND overjoyed by the preciousness of this Earth and our innate ability to experience its beauty.

 

In Buddhist teachings, fear is foremost among the reactive emotions that produce the Three Poisons (aversion, attachment, ignorance) that are the root of our suffering. Fear can make us AVERSE to the "other" (people, experiences, emotions) and lead to separation and oppression. Fear of loss, of death, of what meaning our lives may have can lead to an addictive ATTACHMENT to material things and experiences to fill our emptiness. And fear can overwhelm us into head-in-the-sand IGNORANCE.

 

Meanwhile, the beauty of life on Earth unfolds moment after moment. Why not be a fearless puppy? YOU CAN CHOSE.