Thursday, January 31, 2008

NOTES on The Power of Myth, Episode 4


These notes start with Chief Seattle's letter to President Johnson... In a previous post.


We have sacred places all over the earth, but for the early societies, the entire earth was a sacred place. The sky, the air, the water were all holy.

What doe sit mean to have a sacred place? You must have a room or a certain hour or day where you do not know who your friends are, what you owe, what the newspaper says that day, but a place where you can simply bring forth and experience what you are and what you might be. A place of creative incubation. At first you may not know what’s happening there. But if you have a sacred place, and you make use of it, something will happen.

Most of our action is economically or socially determined, but does not come out of our LIFE…

WHERE IS YOUR BLISS? Try to find it. There you get the THOU feeling of life. These people had it for the whole world in which they lived.

The effect of the spreading plain… vs. the effect of the life in the jungle…

“The man killed the bird, and with the bird he killed the song, and with the song he killed himself.”

AS we turned from the killing of animals to the planting of seed, what changed?

When you kill an animal, the animal is dead. But when you cut down a plant, new roots come out… pruning. In the forest, out of rot, comes life… (Note - FECUNDITY in Pilgrim at Tinker Creek by Annie Dillard) death as not death, death is required for new life. And the individual is not alone, he is a member of the plant. Jesus –I am the vine you are the branches.

Plant mythology – the idea of the plant you eat being already a part of a dead body… death, planting resurrection. The major theme of mythology in planting societies.

The death and resurrection of the moon… Polynesian legend of Hena… bathing in the pool, with the serpent who turns into a young man. Leaves and comes back, leaves and come back… eventually says next time I come to visit you must kill me and plant my head… she does, and the coconut tree grows… with eyes and a nose…

In all of these stories you have a hero dying and being resurrected to give food and life.

New Guinea – acting out the myth of death and resurrection and cannibalism… rituals are boring. They wear you out and you break through to something else. The maturation ritual of the boys, they go through the ritual, then they bring the girl in, and one at a time the boys have their first sexual experience with her. While the last boy is still with her, they pull out the supports and the roof collapses on them, killing them both. Then they are taken out, roasted and eaten by the tribe that night. That’s the sacrifice of the mass… the Eucharist

The nature of life itself to be realized in the acts of life. When in hunting cultures a sacrifice is made, It’s essentially a bribe – an appeasement to the God. But when in a planting culture a figure is sacrificed, that figure is the god. The person who died was buried and became the food is Christ crucified from who’s body the fruit of the spirit comes.

Jesus is on the tree. He is the tree. The first tree – the tree of the knowledge of good and evil… the place of non-duality, you eat the fruit of duality and you’re on the way out… The tree of coming back to the garden is the tree of eternal life, where you know that I and the father are one. And this is the tree under which the Buddha sits. And the Buddha under his tree and Christ on his tree are the same image. The one who has died to the flesh and been born to the spirit. You identify yourself with a consciousness of which your body is just the vehicle.

The function of art in a way is to reveal the radiance of what exists behind and beyond this existence… that death is life and life is death – being/becoming. There’s balance between them.

The old idea of sacrifice and being sacrificed Is not what we thing of at all… the Mayan ballgame. The captain of the winning team is sacrificed on the field by the captain of the losing team… going to the sacrifice, as the winning stroke of your life is the essence of the early sacrificial idea.

The Jesuit story… young Iroquois boy captured by the Huron to be tortured to death… the boy is brought to it as though to his wedding, and he plays the game with them as though he knows where he’s going. This was not brutish, they were the priests, and this was the sacrifice of the altar. And that by is Jesus by association.

In the acts of John, Jesus dances and celebrates before going to his crucifixion. Joyous as a King as a God.

When you go to your death that way as a God, you go to your eternal life

The God of Death is the lord of life and the lord of sex

- Ghede the death god of Haitian voodoo is the sex god
- Votan (Mayan) one eye covered and one open
- Osiris, lord of death and of the generation of life
that which dies is born – you must have death to have life.

This is the origin of the headhunt. A sacred act. Unless there is death there cannot be birth. A young man must kill before he can be a father. Every generation must die to give birth to the new generation.

The deep psychological association between begetting and dying.

Schopenhauer – The Foundation of Morality – How is it that a person can so participate in the pain of another that without thought he sacrifices himself for the other?

This is the breakthrough of a metaphysical realization that you and the other are ONE and the separateness is only an effect of the temporal forms of time and space. IT is a metaphysical TRUTH that is realized because it’s the truth of your life. The hero is one who has given his life in some way to realization of that truth. Not a concept, but a realization…. not theory, but practice. And in small ways you can see this every day in every time.

“This puts us in touch with the experience of being alive. Life is pain and suffering and horror, but by God your alive, and it’s spectacular!”

Motherhood is a sacrifice. Marriage is sacrifice. When you give in marriage you’re not sacrificing to the other, but to the relationship. The Yin/Yang symbol is this image.. . you’re no longer this – you’re the relationship

Marriage is not a love affair, it’s an ordeal. The ordeal is sacrifice of ego to the relationship of two-ness, which is now the one. Not only biologically, but PRIMARILY spiritually. The procreative aspect is just the biological, but the uniting is the spiritual is the truth of the relationship. Utterly incompatible with the idea of doing one’s own thing. There’s no such thing as one’s own thing. You’re one together. Purely mythological image of the sacrifice of the visible entity for a transcendent unit. By finding the right person we reconstruct the image of the reincarnate God.

DEATH – If one can identify with the consciousness of which the body is a vehicle, one can let the body go… you know it’s coming, so you expect it. It’s losing its energy… the identification with the plant, which survives pruning, cutting and even eating….

You as you know yourself are not the final term of your being. And you must die to that, one way or another. Giving yourself to something or being annihilated. Life is always on the edge of death. Always. And one should lack fear and have the courage of life, that’s the principal initiation of all the heroic stories.

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight. – the realization of your true bliss comes when you put aside what might be called the passing moment with its terror and its temptations and its statement of requirements of life, that you “should live this way”

Nietzsche – prologue to Thus Spake Zarathustra
The Camel and the Lion and the Dragon the name of the Dragon is “Thou Shalt”

When the dragon is killed, the lion is transformed into an innocent child living out of its own dynamic. A wheel rolling out of its own center.

Learning to use the rules instead of being used by them. Follow your bliss.

Sinclair Lewis ”Babbitt” – “I’ve never done a thing I wanted to in all my life.” The man who never followed his bliss. What good is it?

What happens when you follow your bliss?

The Wheel of Fortune…. the hub and the rim. If you are attached to the rim (fortune) you will either be up or down or going or coming, but if you’re in the hub, you’ll be in the same place all the time. The marriage vow… I take you in richer or poorer, etc. But the point is “I take YOU” not the richer or the poorer.

In Sanskrit – there are three terms that take you to the brink the jumping off place to the ocean
Sat – Being
Chit – Full Consciousness
Ananda – Rapture

I don’t know whether my Being is in a full state, I don’t know whether I have full consciousness, but I do know where my rapture is…. so if I follow my rapture, it will being me Being and Full Consciousness.

We all have the capacity that’s waiting to be awakened to this other place… regardless of what our immediate concerns are. To follow our bliss. How to tap that spring – that fountain of bliss. Learn to recognize it. When you see it, grab it. The sense of, when you are following your bliss, of being helped by “hidden hands” or putting yourself on a kind of track that has been waiting for you all the time. When you can see it you begin to deal with people who are in the field of your bliss. Doors will open and you won’t know where they’ll be.

The waters are life are RIGHT THERE – IF you’re following your bliss.

Chief Seattle's Adress

In 1854, Chief Seattle of the Duwanish tribe in Washington Territory sent this letter to U.S. President Franklin Pierce to mark transfer of ancestral Indian lands to the United States government:

The President in Washington sends word he wishes to buy our land. But how can you buy or sell the sky? The warmth of the land? The idea is strange to us. If we do not own the freshness of the air and the sparkle of the water, how can you buy them?

Every part of the Earth is sacred to my people. Every shining pine needle, every sandy shore, every mist in the dark woods, every meadow, every humming insect. All are holy in the memory and experience of my people. We know the sap which courses through the trees as we know the blood that courses through our veins.

We are part of the Earth and it is part of us. The perfumed flowers are our sisters. The bear, the deer, the great eagle, these are our brothers. The rocky crests, the juices in the meadow, the body heat of the pony, and man, all belong to the same family.

The shining water that moves in the streams and rivers is not just water, but the blood of our ancestors. If we sell you our land, you must remember that it is sacred. Each ghostly reflection in the clear waters of the lakes tells of events and memories in the life of my people. The water's murmur is the voice of my father's father.

The rivers are our brothers. They quench our thirst. They carry our canoes and feed our children. So you must give to the rivers the kindness you would give any brother.

We know the white man does not understand our ways. One portion of the land is the same to him as the next, for he is a stranger who comes in the night and takes from the land whatever he needs. The Earth is not his brother, but his enemy, and when he has conquered it he moves on. He leaves his fathers' graves, and his children's birthplace is forgotten.

There is no quiet place in the white man's cities. No place to hear the leaves of spring or the rustle of insect wings. But perhaps because I am savage and do not understand—the clatter only seems to insult the ears. And what is there to life if a man cannot hear the lovely cry of the whippoorwill, or the arguments of the frog around the pond at night?

If we sell you our land, remember that the air is precious to us, that the air shares its spirit with all the life it supports. The wind that gave our grandfather his first breath also recieves his last sigh. The wind also gives our children the spirit of life. So if we sell you our land, you must keep it apart and sacred, as a place where man can go to taste the wind that is sweetened by the meadow flowers.

This we know. The Earth does not belong to man; man belongs to the Earth. This we know. All things are connected like the blood which unites us all in one family. Will you teach your children what we have taught our children? That the Earth is our mother? Whatever befalls the earth befalls the sons of the earth. Man did not weave the web of life, he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself.

When the last Red Man has vanished with his wilderness and his memory is only the shadow of a cloud moving across the prarie, will these shores and forests still be here? Will there be any of the spirit of my people left?

Even the white man cannot be exempt from the common destiny. One thing we know, which the white man may one day discover—our God is the same God. You may think now that you own him as you wish to own our land; but you cannot. He is the God of man, and his compassion is equal for the red man and the white. This Earth is precious to Him, and to harm the Earth is to heap contempt on its Creator.

The whites, too, shall pass—perhaps sooner than the tribes. Continue to contaminate your bed, and you will one night suffocate in your own waste. Your destiny is a mystery to us.

What will happen when the buffalo are all slaughtered? The wild horses all tamed? What will happen when the secret corners of the forest are heavy with the scent of many men, and the view of the ripe hills is blotted by talking wires? Where will the thicket be? Gone! Where will the eagle be? Gone! And what is it to say goodbye to the swift pony and the hunt? The end of living and the beginning of survival.

We love this Earth as a newborn loves its mother's heartbeat. So, if we sell you our land, love it as we have loved it. Care for it as we've cared for it. Hold in your mind the memory of the land as it is when you recieve it. And with all your strength, with all your mind, with all your heart, preserve the land for all your children, and love it, as God loves us all.

As we are a part of the land, you too are part of the land. This Earth is precious to us. It is also precious to you. One thing we know: there is only one God. No man, be he Red Man or White Man, can be apart. We are brothers after all.

Memoir Writing - Part 2 - My Stories

Yesterday I spoke to my mother on the phone. She’s in Idaho; I’m currently living with my family in Ohio. We haven’t seen each other in over a year, but we talk on the phone maybe once every month or two. I asked her about my Grandmother, Grandma Gray. She was Mormon, and as is popular within that culture, she spent a good part of her last years working on genealogy research. Mormons believe that you can pray for, and possibly achieve redemption for, the dead. So they study genealogy furiously, in order to pray for the salvation of their ancestors. I was curious to know whether her research had turned up any confirmation of the anecdotal notion that there was Native American ancestry in our family.

My mother said that yes, she had done extensive genealogical research, but that it had only involved her (my grandmother’s) side of the family. She had done no research into her ex-husband’s side, the Pemberton side. This makes sense, because it’s not something they would want to dwell on. Apparently her husband, Earl Pemberton, was a drinker, a rancher, who mistreated her, and whom she apparently left when my mother was 5. Quite a step for a woman to take in 1948, with seven children. She moved from Riggins, off the family ranch and into the unknown, ending up in Emmett, Idaho to be near her cousins Herschel and Gloria, with whom she remained close for the rest of her life, and near whom she is now buried.

I was curious about the question of Native American heritage primarily because of story. I’ve been reading about Myth, Joseph Campbell’s work on the Power of Myth, and it’s answered a lot of questions about how to communicate complex ideas and difficult subjects to my son. Kids ask great questions, like: What happens when you die? Who is God? What’s inside the earth? How come we don’t just fly into space? And my wife and I have been working since he was born to come up with answers to these questions that neither skirt the issue, nor give him more information than he can really process at his age. I’ve come to the realization that for the Native Americans, their stories served exactly this purpose. Education for the real events of life, without demystifying the world we live in.

I’m thinking specifically of the Blackfoot legend of Minnehaha and the Buffalo Shaman, where she marries the buffalo shaman, and is taken from her family. Her father, upon coming to rescue her, is trampled and killed by the buffalo. Seeing her grief, the shaman tells her that her grief is no greater than theirs every time her people kill a buffalo; but if she can resurrect her father she can go free. She does. Dancing the Buffalo Dance, she brings him back to life. And the Shaman says to her, “Great! Now whenever you kill a buffalo, do this dance, and you’ll bring us back to life.” It’s a legend that acknowledges death, and the sorrow that comes with it, not just for us, but also for all creatures and all creation. And it’s one that infuses life with hope and mystery. The buffalo becomes a willing participant in the ritual, not avoiding death, but recognizing that he is part of the cycle, and simply asking man to honor him in the process.

These legends are beautiful, and I feel compelled to investigate them as ways to communicate these complex and beautiful ideas to my son.

My mother said in the end that no one in our family really knows the truth about our heritage. When they were kids they were told that there was Cherokee blood in their line back a few generations. As my mom puts it, “We’re probably no more than 1/32 or 1/64, if at all.” I’ve done a little research on my own, and can find no records at all. Ranchers in Riggins, Idaho in the early part of the last century didn’t have much use for census takers or birth and death certificates.

But I’m still interested, and I still feel driven to answer the question. My cousins are Mormon, and continue to pursue my grandmother’s work of completing the family genealogy. I want to know where I come from. I want to know why, when I lived in Hawaii and would get tanned deeply, my skin would turn deep dark red. I love that mystery in myself and I want to find more about it. What are my stories? Where do they come from? And can they help me understand myself better now? Can they help my son understand himself and his world better as he grows? Dr. Seuss is great, but he’s not likely to give my son a direct sense of relationship with the mystery of the universe and himself. He's not likely to gain knowledge of the sacredness of nature and all creation by reading There’s a Wocket In My Pocket.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

NOTES on The Power of Myth - Episode 3

The POWER OF MYTH episode 3 – The First Storytellers

What do our souls owe to ancient myths?

they were designed to put the mind in accord with the body and with the universe. The mind can want what the body does not want. to put the mind in accord with the body and the way of life in accord with what nature dictates.

Myths help us to go what and accept natures way and not resist it… birth life death. Childhood to adulthood to old age...

In India, changing your dress and maybe even your name… your whole way of life as you go from one stage of life to the next.

the problem in middle life, when the body has reached its climax of power and begins to lose it is to identify yourself not with the body which is falling away but with the consciousness of which the body is a vehicle…

Identifying with the Christ or the Shiva in you. The Christ does not die. it lives on and resurrects.

“The Image of Death is the beginning of mythology”
Grave burials. – Something was there that isn’t there, and where is it?
the notion is of a plane of being behind the visible plane, which is supportive and which we must acknowledge. This is behind ALL mythology. What we don’t know supports what we do know.

The basic hunting myth. the animal is a willing victim… with the understanding that their life, which transcends their physical entity, will be returned to the soil or the mother through some ritual of restoration.

The hunt IS a ritual… the animal is food, is life. Respect for the animal that is killed. and more than respect, that animal becomes a messenger of divine power… and the hunter winds up killing the messenger, killing the god. Guilt is wiped out by the myth. it is not a personal act, you are fulfilling nature.

When we sit down to eat we thank god, or our idea of god. These people thanked the animal. We see animals as a lower form of lie, Early hunting people didn’t have that relationship. the animal is in many ways superior… having powers that the hunter didn’t have.

The buffalo dance. The Blackfoot tribe, stampeding the buffalo off the cliff. Minnehaha… marries the buffalo. The shaman. her father goes after her. Sits to rest.. the magpie comes along… shamanic bird. He asks the magpie where his daughter is… at the buffalo wallow. the magpie flies to the girl. She’s knitting while the buffalo sleep. the buffalo trample the father to dust. he disappears. She cries, and the buffalo says why are you crying? these are our children, or wives… if you can put your father back together I’ll let you go. she puts a piece of vertebrae on the grown and puts her blanket over it. She sings a song, and he stands up… the buffalo are amazed. they say why don’t you do this for us? We’ll teach you our buffalo dance, and when you’ve killed us you do the dance, and we’ll come back to life again.

Death Burial and Resurrection…

the white man’s slaughter of the buffalo was a sacramental violation. they shoot the animal, leave the body to rot and take the pelts. Turned the buffalo from a god to a

“you can address anything as a “thou” and you can feel a change in your psychology as you do it.”

can you imagine, within 10 years to lose your environment, to lose your food supply, to lose the object of your spiritual life.

The cave – this world is primary, and the world out there is secondary…

What were they used for? The prevailing wisdom is that they were to prepare boys for the hunt. The boys learn not only to hunt, but to protect the animals, but what rituals to perform, and in their own lives, to behave no longer as boys (their mother’s sons) but as me (their fathers’ sons).

ritual is the enactment of myth. By participating in a ritual, you are participating in a myth.

the female initiation. to sit in a hut for a number of days and realize that she is a WOMAN. A vehicle of life. Life has overtaken her. Woman’s what it’s all about – giving birth, giving nourishment. She is identical with the goddess an d her powers. To the woman, it happens. To the boy it’s a different process. he has to be turned into a man, and voluntarily become a servant of something greater than himself.

‘The woman becomes the vehicle of nature, the man becomes the vehicle of society.

What happens when society no longer embraces mythology, and ritual… people don’t know how to behave in a civilized society. behaving like barbarians. no rituals by which they become members of society…

the function of a ritual is to pitch you OUT not wrap you back in where you’ve been all the time. with respect to ritual, it must be kept alive. So much of our ritual is dead.

Folk tales, are transforming all the time. they mythology transforms with the people. It stays alive. the environment shapes the story. The story responds to the environment. But we have a story that comes from the first century BC and has not changed. The only people that can keep it alive are artists. His function is the mythologization of the culture and the world. revealing the mysteries of growing up and becoming a human being. Artists are the mythmakers of our day.

Klee – Picasso – mythmakers in our day.

The mythmakers in earlier days were the counterparts of our artists.

In the early cultures, the shaman would be the equivalent of the poet or artist today. The shaman experience is a kind of schizophrenic crack up… Dreams. Dying and resurrecting. Mystical encounters. The shaman is drawn from the normal experience into the role of the gifted.

Shaman vs. priest. The priest is a functionary in a social order. The deity to whom he’s devoted is one who was there before he came along. The shaman’s deity is a familiar, from his own personal experience, and his authority comes from a psychological experience, not a social order.

Black Elk Speaks – 9 year old Sioux boy - I saw myself on the central mountain of the world and I had a vision of the sacred world. and the central mountain was his peak in South Dakota, but the central peak was everywhere. Stillness and movement are together. The central polestar of the universe. The experience ofhte eternal aspect of your action in the temporal.

god is an intelligible sphere, known to the mind, and his center is everywhere, and his circumference is nowhere. And each of us is a manifestation of that mystery.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

NOTES on The Power of Myth, Episode 2

Joseph Campbell & The Message of Myth, Episode 2 - DVD with Bill Moyers.

Why myths? What do they have to do with my life?

If you don’t know what the guide signs of life are, you have to work it out yourself. But these stories are stories of the search for meaning through the ages. To touch the eternal, to find out who we are.

We’re not looking for meaning for life, we’re looking for an experience of being alive. So that our experiences on the physical plane resonate with those of our innermost being and reality so we actually feel the rapture of being alive.

Myths are clues to the spiritual potentialities of the human life. Mot so much about meaning as about the experience of life.

What’s the meaning of the universe? What’s the meaning of a flea? You’re there. Simply there.

GOD. Is a thought, a name, but ultimately a reference to something that transcends thinking. Myths are metaphors referring to that which is transcendent. Which can’t be known. The ultimate word for which is God.

Everything in the field of time is dual. Death and life. Is and isn’t. right and wrong. But transcendence is the center. Between the to poles. Put your mind in the middle. Heraclitus – “For God all things are good and just. But for man, some things are good.” Know the center, and know that good and evil are only temporal apparitions

Here’s a whole mythology based on the insight that transcends duality. Ours is a mythology that’s based on the insight OF duality, so our religion tends to be ethical. Sin and atonement, right and wrong… Our religion started with a sin. It’s dualistic. Moving out of the mythological zone… where there is no time, and no gender. Where God and man are largely the same. But then there’s sin, and now we’re all different…
god and man, man and nature, man and woman.

“God vs. Man, Man vs. God, Man vs. Nature, Nature vs. Man, God vs. Nature, Nature vs. God… What a funny religion!”

In the other mythologies, one puts one self in accord with the world. If the world is a mixture of good and evil, you fight against the world… Christianity and Islam are about NOT being in accord with nature. Nature is corrupt. Fallen. Every spontaneous act is sinful. Nature is corrupt and must be corrected. it must not be yielded to. You get a totally different civilization and a totally different way of living according to your myth about whether nature is fallen, or whether it’s a manifestation of divinity and the spirit being a revelation of the divinity inherent in nature.

This distinction between God and the world is not in Buddhism or Hinduism. Oh, to be in a place that has never heard of the fall in the garden, to be in a place where nature is not in opposition to man or God!

The significance of the forbidden fruit. “The One Forbidden Thing” – in many traditions. But it’s by eating the fruit that man becomes the initiator if his life. God knows they will eat that fruit. They can't avoid it. But also the tradition of finding someone to blame. Snake in both stories is the symbol of life throwing off the past and continuing to live. IN MOST CULTURES THE SNAKE IS POSITIVE. The serpent is the next thing to the Buddha. The snake represents the power of life in the field of time to throw off death. To be eternally alive. What naming the snake as the accuser amounts to is the refusal to affirm life. Life is evil in this view. Every natural impulse is sinful unless you’ve been baptized, or circumcised.

Woman also represents life. She brings us into this life. That’s why she’s represented in Christian tradition as a temptress… She is life.

The affirmation of the world. Who are we to judge? Eternity is not a long time, eternity has nothing to do with time. Eternity is that dimension of here and now which thinking in time cuts out. This is it. If you don’t get it here you won’t get it anywhere. The experience of eternity here and now is the function of life.

Bodhisattva – the one who’s being (satva) is illumination (bodi) The attitude is not to withdraw from the world when you experience horror in it, but to realize that this horror is the foreground of a wonder. Come back and participate. “All life is sorrowful” is the first Buddhist saying. Temporality, sorrow, loss.

Joyce, “History is a nightmare from which I’m trying to awake”

All of this as it is, is as it has to be, and is a manifestation of the eternal presence in the world.

Is Nihilism the conclusion?

No, I will participate in the game. It does hurt, but it is wonderful. The Irish saying, “Is this a private fight, or can anyone get into it?” I will join in and not allow it to go without my influence and participation. This is the glory of life.

The hero is the one who can participate in it decently in the way of nature, not in the way of personal rancor, revenge or anything of the kind.

(Samurai story)

To see life as a poem, to see yourself participating in a poem is what mythology does for you… acts and adventures which connote something transcendent, so you always feel in accord with the universal being.

Every mythology, every religion is true in this sense, it is true as metaphor of the human and cosmic mystery, but when it gets stuck to the metaphor then you’re in trouble.

Heaven and hell are within us, and all the gods are within us.

My note – this is science… the DNA hologram of all life inside of us.

Myths serve four services to us, or purposes:
- the Basic one: opening the world to the dimension of mystery
- Cosmological - seeing that mystery as manifest through all things
- Sociological function of validating and maintaining a society (this has taken over in our world)… Ethical laws. etc.
- Pedagogical – how to life a human lifetime under any circumstances (this is the one we MUST live today)

Sunday, January 27, 2008

NOTES on The Power of Myth, Episode 1

The Power of Myth – Episode 1: The Hero’s Adventure

All myth is about transformation of consciousness. You’re thinking this way, and now you must think this way.

Serendipity from the Isle of Silk, Serendripa… a serendipitous adventure. The achievement of the hero is one that he is ready for. It’s a manifestation of his character… the adventure that he’s ready for is the one that he gets.

The cantina in Star Wars… on the edge of the adventure… with people who’ve been out there, but you haven’t.

The trash compactor is the belly of the whale. Thy mythological significance is the descent into the dark. the hero must do that because the whale personifies all that is the unconscious. Water is the unconscious. The creator in the water is the dynamism of the unconscious. Dangerous, powerful… leaving the light (known) and moving toward the darkness (unknown) with one of several results
- Either being cut to pieces and
- Siegfried kills the dragon and tastes the blood, he assimilates the

the point is removing our mind from hindering the process. The mind is a secondary organ that must submit and serve the humanity of the body. When it does put itself in control you get Darth Vader. The dark side. he isn’t thinking in terms of humanity, he’s thinking in terms of a system. WE all face this threat. is the system going to eat you up and take your humanity, or are you going to be able t use the system to human purposes.

The hero myth helps you to live as a human within the system. Not necessarily change the system, but to resist its impersonal claims.

This is true for all of us. People who align with the system and stop listening to themselves. But the body the whole person is not interested in aligning itself with a system.

The hero lurks in each of us. It’s good to put yourself in situations that will invoke your higher nature and not your lower. Iroquois story – the refusal of suitors.

these stories are the interface bewteen what can be known and what can never be discovered…. the source of life.

“It’s important to live life with a knowledge of its mystery.” What is it that life is?

Dragons represent greed. He guards heaps of gold and virgins. He can’t use either of them he just guards, hoards. Psychologically the dragon is one’s binding of the self to one’s ego. The goal is to break that dragon, open yourself up.

Killing the dragon is killing our fears… (European dragon)

Chinese dragon is different… he’s the one that yields the bounty and the waters…

The real dragon is in you. Your ego holding you in. What I want, what I believe, what I think I love or can do… what I regard as the aim of my life. It might be too small. That which pins you down. Whatever holds you back.

How do you slay the dragon? “A Soul’s High Adventure” – follow your bliss. Don’t be afraid to follow it.

We set about the journey to save ourselves, but by doing so, we save the world. A Vital person vitalizes. The way to bring the world to life is to be alive yourself.

You can take someone with you on the journey if you like, but “the last trick has to be done by you”

A quiet place. From which the action comes. The athlete has a center rout of which you act. In Dance, in Athletics. The quiet center. Unless this center is found, tension comes and you’re torn apart. The Buddha’s word is Nirvana. A State of mind, here in the middle of the turmoil. The condition that comes when you are not compelled by desire or fear or social commitments. When you hold your center and act out of there.


Heliotropism. Turning toward the sun. Plant consciousness

Animal Consciousness… The whole world is conscious. Different consciousnesses which relate to them. The Gaia principle. Mother earth. We are the earth. The consciousness of the earth. The eyes of the earth, the voice of the earth. How do we raise our consciousness… all of life is a meditation. Most of it unintentional.

The myths are there to bring us into a level of consciousness which is spiritual. Walk out of NYC into a cathedral… everything about me is mystery. My consciousness has been brought into another level. Then I walk out and I’m back in this one. But can I hold something with me… Mantras – little meditation themes that hold your consciousness here.

The cathedral at Chartres. ringing the bell. You can tell what informs a society by what the tallest building is in the place. The cathedral, the palace, the office building. Salt Lake City – the temple in the center of the city. Then the capital was built bigger, then the office building bigger yet.

Myths and dreams come from the same place, realization finding expression in symbolic form. The only one that’s going to be worth thinking about in the future is one that talks about the planet. Not the city, not the people, but the planet.

Memoir Writing - Part 1 - My Father

"Nothing has a stronger influence psychologically on their environment and especially on their children than the unlived life of the parent.” – C.G. Jung

“Whether I shall be the hero of my life, or whether that station shall be held by someone else. These pages will tell.” - David Copperfield – Charles Dickens

During the summers while he was in college at Utah State University, my father worked as a forest ranger. Hi loved the outdoors and all he really wanted to be was a forest ranger or a marine biologist. Born in 1934, on the heels of the great Depression, he was a child of World War II. Raised during the time of war rations and a rising military industrial complex, he learned well the lessons of his father: that the dollar had meaning. That work was important, and that following your dreams was second to making a secure living. So this man who lived for the out doors and the freedom it afforded him, who spent winters as a ski instructor, traveling the world training with the best; taking mountaineering courses in Chamonix, France; skydiving in the spring and summer, setting records and defining the sport… This man went to school, and got a degree in chemical and mechanical engineering. He spent the next forty years as a nuclear engineer, and he regretted every day of it.

My parents divorced when I was three. My earliest memory is of dim shadows and heat in out small apartment in Idaho Falls, Idaho. I know it was at that apartment on St. Clair street, and although I don’t remember any specifics, I know I was hiding, and that my parents were fighting. I feel the heat in the air and the tension. I know there has been yelling.

Another early memory, certainly within a year of that one, is of spending the night with my dad at his apartment after he had moved out. I have no way of knowing whether they had yet divorced, but I have a dim remembrance of that apartment. It was a small one-bedroom place on Lomax, near downtown. I had no consciousness of these things at the time but I suspect it was what might be termed an “efficiency.” By that I mean it was sparse. I seem to remember two rooms. A living room/kitchenette… even as a child it seemed tiny and cluttered. And a bedroom, either with sink and toilet in the room itself, or adjoining. I remember chaos. Messiness. And specifically I remember my father trying to feed me breakfast. Asking me what I liked. Buying me cereal. In his blue truck we went to the store and bought Cocoa Puffs and milk. I remember he had nearly nothing in the place in the way of food. I don’t know why I remember that, but I do. And I have recalled that dim memory every time I see that cereal on the shelf.

I can only guess that this was shortly after the divorce, and that this was the first time I had ever gone to stay with my dad. I don’t remember why my sister, three years older than myself, was not there, but I know she wasn’t. In the family we referred to that apartment (and still do) as “The Hovel.” When I am in Idaho Falls now, which is rare, I drive by that building and try to remember what it was like inside. It’s white, two-story building. One, or maybe two tiny apartments over a shop of some sort. Maybe a camera shop or a printer. A parking lot shared with another business that can hold maybe five cars. Dim and dreary. And I have to guess one of my father’s lowest points.

I think occasionally what that must have been like. My father was not a nurturing man. He was not taught to nurture. My parents were in their thirties when they married. Both independent, successful in their way. This was the late sixties. My mother was a stewardess. This was before they were called “Flight Attendants.” And she was every bit of a “Stewardess.” Beautiful in her eight by ten photo. Her midnight blue Delta Airlines uniform. Short, dark hair pinned neatly up and with the stewardess cap [find the name for those hats]. She was very good at what she did. Entertaining passengers. Making them feel at home. As I think back, that must have been something of a pioneering profession for a single girl from Hermiston, Oregon. Seeing the world. Traveling. She came from the farm. The fifth (?) of seven siblings. She was really the first one to break out. And she met a dashing, exciting man from Utah, who liked to ski, and hike and camp and told great stories and had scores of friends. They dated and she became a part of that circle. With Woody, and “Shitty Smitty” and the rest of the gang. Most of these people I never met, but I’ve heard the names repeated over and over. The played hard. They cut the first runs at Kelley Canyon outside of Idaho Falls themselves. When they weren’t jumping or skiing, they were either having shovel races down the face of Kelley Canyon, or celebrating the winner at Heise Hot Springs or the Glass Lantern. To this day, when I meet someone in Eastern Idaho who finds out that I’m Kirby Dawson’s son, I invariably get one of two responses. The first is, “Your dad taught me to ski thirty years ago!” Or, some version of “I saw your dad streak through The Tiki Room in 1971!” He was a legend in his circle. She was an exotic beauty for that time and place, and they cut quite a figure.

But, as I said, he was not a nurturer. His father was distant. His mother was strong and independent. My Granny Dawson started the Wasatch Mountain Club in Salt Lake City. She golfed her whole life, including after her stroke into her eighties, when she lost the use of her left arm temporarily and, golfing one-handed, still beat the pants off all the local challengers. Grandpa Dawson moved out to Utah with his family when he was a baby. There are photos of them on the wagon, rolling into Bountiful in the late 1800’s. He had a hard life, and he worked for what he got. They raised two girls and a boy, and instilled in them a sense of hard work and value. But there was not a lot of nurturing. And as a result, when my father’s son was born, he was off on a skydiving trip.

My dad was not an emotional man. He could get the whole bar singing with him, or silence the room with a recitation of the Pinto Buffalo, but he was not a man who intuitively understood his emotions, not to mention those of the people around him. My mother once told me a story that illustrates my father’s emotional range, and mine by association:

One of my dad’s favorite outdoor activities was to go huckleberry picking. He LOVES huckleberries. And there are few things he enjoys more than driving up into the hills East of Idaho Falls, parking the truck for an afternoon in the woods, and filling four or five large buckets full to the brim with perfect plump purple huckleberries. Then, he’ll can them, or have them in a pie. They are his singular favorite.

One year, after a successfully picking season, my dad brought them home, washed them, and put them in mason jars in the bottom of the refrigerator to await my mother preparing them in some fashion. When they got married, my mom gave up her job and gladly set about making a home for this dashing character with the mustache and the dark wavy hair. I know she would have gotten the drift right away that the huckleberries were important, and that they were now her responsibility. One night, late, probably around midnight, my mother heard a loud crashing sound in the kitchen. I think my sister was a baby, and I not yet born. As my mom entered the kitchen, she watched my father, slowly, calmly and with no outward show of emotion, take a quart jar of huckleberries out of the refrigerator. They had been in there too long. They were surely spoiled by now. He gripped the full jar in his right hand, and then with all his might heaved it at the kitchen wall. It exploded in a purple stain. Glass shards, bloody huckleberries, the bent and mangled lids… one at a time, slowly and calmly, he shattered them all. Then, he turned to face her, and quietly said, “You ruined my huckleberries.” He walked past her to the bedroom, and went to sleep. As far as I know, they never spoke of it again.

This is my emotional heritage. My legacy. Don’t say he never left me anything.

I can’t be too hard, because he was an intensely caring man. He was simply never given the tools to demonstrate it. Years later when he realized that I was growing up distant from him and that he was about to watch his relationship with his father repeated, he began to change. He sent me letters and reached out to me. We eventually kindled what remains a somewhat muted, but nonetheless close, relationship. But this was before then. For most of my formative years, he was a man who I knew more by the stories about his past than I did by his presence. As the years went on, we increasingly spent weekends or parts of the summer with my dad and the woman who became his second wife (consummating the affair that ruined his marriage).

The two of them joined a fledgling Christian house church when I was about 8, and their lives were changed. The soon got married, and over the next two decades (and counting) devoted themselves to their religion above all else. My father went from the life of the party to a quiet, emotional, and regretful man. I mourn the fact that by the time I was old enough to share my father’s laughter, it was largely gone. He is still a charismatic figure, and is still well liked. He can still spin a yarn with them best when the time is right, but I think he was haunted by the failure of his first marriage, and he resolved to sustain his second at all costs, especially once he became a Christian. Whether that second marriage has actually been healthy for him, that’s another story.

Saturday, January 26, 2008

1/26/08 - The Trip Home

9:00am 1/26/08 – Montpelier, VT

And so it begins. I board the Greyhound in Montpelier, on a beautiful, bright, snowy Saturday morning. Annabel drives off as the bus pulls out. In my pockets are my ticket, gloves, $20 and a packet of instant miso soup. Zara left me the soup & a pear this morning outside my door with a little note that said, “I thank whatever fellow, breeze or star that brought you to this program. – (heart) Z.

I don’t know how I have been touched so deeply in so short a time. As I sit on this lumbering beast, rolling south through Vermont’s winter wonderland, I see cars fender-deep in snow in the median. Windows down, driver at the wheel… trying in the morning light to figure out “What Next?” Busses off the road, traffic backed up ½ mile, and one peaceful stopped commuter walks his dog among the cars that make up the parking lot that is I-89 South.

I am deeply melancholy. Bittersweet. I text Zara a goodbye, and a warning about the roads. She replies, “The wheels of the bus gonna take him home, Love gonna follow wherever he roam. I will pass on the slippery message.” And again, I am touched.

So many small kindnesses. So much Connection. Synchronicity. It’s amazing how alive you can feel when you share yourself with people.

And these people… So remarkable.


1pm and it already seems too far away. It’s growing distant and the pang of close connection lost is fading. I look at Zara’s note now and try to remember how it felt when I first read it. Like someone had taken my very heart in their hands, gently held it, and planted a kiss like a breeze on its most tender part. It was a sweet and tender pain. I don’t know why I have been so acutely aware on this trip of consideration. The kindness & thoughtfulness of others. But I have several times been touched in this way. Made mindful that my life has connected with, and affected another, and that that life was responding to me. This is good.

And Now I Ride. Leaving New Britain, Connecticut. It’s a hazy, sunny day in new England. I can’t stop listening to Ray Lamontagne’s “Till the Sun Turns Black.” BE. BE HERE NOW. BE HERE NOW. In Massachusetts we passed people out ice fishing and skating on a frozen pond. The bus was quiet and contemplative. Morning. Outside the frosty morning cold felt reverent, even from the highway. But now, as we slowly make our way toward New York City, the bus fills up. The silence is broken. In Northampton, MA about 10 people get on. That still morning peacefulness fades into the tension of people and space and confinement. People are on their phones now. The noise floor rises. With the sun rises the temperature on the bus. Along with the new travelers come new smells. Fast Food. Colognes. Body Odors.

And with all this, my memories slowly, imperceptibly, slide into the background. And when I try to remember Zara’s sweetness, it’s faint to me. When I try to recall Jai’s ebullient laughter, or Megan’s wide eyed innocence, or Annabel’s luminous intensity…. they are all ghosts now. I see them only from the corners of my eyes. And the precious, acute sadness of leaving is replaced by a malaise. A film of self-protection. The bus is no place for that kind of openness.

I want to write about my friends, but I can’t. I wish I had done so four hours ago when her the text messages were fresh and I could remember sad & tender hugs goodbye from new and dear friends. Somehow over a week or so, a few apples to apples games, a couple of walks downtown, rehearsing & performing Charlene’s “Elsewhere Blues” at graduation, and “Love me Like A Man” at Ragu… somewhere we connected.

I’m suddenly struck by a sense of melodrama. That I’m making too much of it all. And a fear that the same is inescapable in the memoirs that I’m to write for my study. Ray Lamontagne sings “Yesterday is gone, yesterday is dead, get it through your head” as I write. But there is life in this. It is not dead, and it remains meaningful. It was and is a “Quality Event” in my life. A bright light casting the dreary days of Just Getting By into sharp relief. And it is good. For at least two reasons: 1 – these friendships are real, and these people wonderful and worth knowing and loving. And 2 – it reminds me how I should feel every day toward those I love, and how valuable – essential – that feeling of consideration is. On both sides the awareness that your small acts of kindness can deeply affect another; pull them from the depths. And that it’s circular. Cultivating awareness and appreciation for those acts of kindness helps me act out my own more. These are valuable lessons for me.