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A short extract from The Treatise on Being attributed to Ibn ‘Arabi.

No one sees Him, except Himself; no one reaches Him, except Himself; and no one knows Him except Himself. He knows Himself through Himself and He sees Himself by means of Himself. No one but He sees Him. His very Oneness is His veil since nothing veils Him other than He; His own Being veils Him. His Oneness is concealed by His Oneness without any condition.

No one other than He sees Him. No sent prophet, nor perfect saint nor angel brought close knows Him. His prophet is He; His Messenger is He; His message is He and His word is He. He sent Himself, through Himself, from Himself to Himself; there is no intermediary or means other than He. There is no difference between the Sender, that which is sent and the one to whom it is sent. The very existence of the letters of the prophetic message is His existence. There is no other who could cease to be, or have a name or be named.

Because of this, the Prophet (may God bless him and give him peace) said, “He who knows himself, knows his Lord”. He also said, “I knew my Lord through my Lord”. What the Prophet meant by this, is that you are not you but you are He and there is no you; and it is not that He enters into you or comes out of you, or that you enter into Him or come out of Him. He did not mean that you have being and you are qualified by this or that attribute. What he meant was that you never were and that you never will be, whether through yourself, or through Him, or in Him or with Him. You have neither ceased to be nor are you existent. You are Him and He is you, without any of these imperfections. If you know your existence in this way, then you know God; and if not, then not!

Most of those who claim to be knowers (of God) make the knowledge of God dependent on the cessation of being and on the cessation of that cessation. That is an error and a clear oversight; the knowledge of God does not require either the cessation of being nor the cessation of that cessation, because things have no being and whatever has no being cannot cease to be, since cessation implies the prior existence of the thing that ceases to be. If you know yourself as not having being and (consequently) not ceasing to be, then you know God; and if not, then not!

By making the knowledge of God dependent on the cessation of being and the cessation of this cessation, there is an affirmation of polytheism. The Prophet said, “He who knows himself, knows his Lord”. He did not say, “He who ceases to be, knows his Lord”. The assertion of something other than God is incompatible with its cessation; or else this assertion is impossible, and it follows that its cessation is also impossible.

Your being is nothing and whatever is nothing cannot be placed in relationship to anything else, whether it is capable of cessation or not and whether it is existent or non-existent. The Prophet alluded to the fact that you are non-existent now as you were non-existent before creation, because now is Eternity-without-beginning and now is Eternity-without-end and now is Timelessness. God is the very being of Eternity-without-beginning, Eternity-without-end and Timelessness even though (in reality) there is no Eternity-without-beginning, Eternity-without-end nor Timelessness. If it were otherwise, He would not be alone, without anything being associated with Him, and it is necessary for Him to be alone without any associate. His associate would have being through its own essence, and not through the being of God. Then that associate would not need God and would therefore be a second Lord, which is impossible: God has no associate, nor equal, nor like.

For those engaged in The Work as presented on this site, click below for another translation of Ibn ‘Arabi’s text.

Another Translation

No one sees “X,” except “X;” no one reaches “X,” except “X;” and no one knows “X” except “X.” “X” knows “X” through “X” and “X” sees “X” by means of “X.” No one but “X” sees “X.” “X’s” very Oneness is “X” veil since nothing veils “X” other than “X;” “X’s” own Being veils “X.” “X’s” Oneness is concealed by “X’s” Oneness without any condition.

No one other than “X” sees “X.” No sent prophet, nor perfect saint nor angel brought close knows “X.” “X’s” prophet is “X;” “X’s” Messenger is “X;” “X’s” message is “X” and “X’s” word is “X.” “X” sent “X,” through “X,” from “X” to “X;” there is no intermediary or means other than “X.” There is no difference between the Sender, that which is sent and the one to whom it is sent. The very existence of the letters of the prophetic message is “X’s” existence. There is no other who could cease to be, or have a name or be named.

Because of this, the Prophet (may “X” bless him and give him peace) said, “He who knows himself, knows his Lord”. He also said, “I knew my Lord through my Lord”. What the Prophet meant by this, is that you are not you but you are “X” and there is no you; and it is not that “X” enters into you or comes out of you, or that you enter into “X” or come out of “X.” He did not mean that you have being and you are qualified by this or that attribute. What he meant was that you never were and that you never will be, whether through yourself, or through “X,” or in “X” or with “X.” You have neither ceased to be nor are you existent. You are “X” and “X” is you, without any of these imperfections. If you know your existence in this way, then you know “X;” and if not, then not!

Most of those who claim to be knowers (of “X”) make the knowledge of “X” dependent on the cessation of being and on the cessation of that cessation. That is an error and a clear oversight; the knowledge of “X” does not require either the cessation of being nor the cessation of that cessation, because things have no being and whatever has no being cannot cease to be, since cessation implies the prior existence of the thing that ceases to be. If you know yourself as not having being and (consequently) not ceasing to be, then you know “X;” and if not, then not!

By making the knowledge of “X” dependent on the cessation of being and the cessation of this cessation, there is an affirmation of polytheism. The Prophet said, “He who knows himself, knows his Lord”. He did not say, “He who ceases to be, knows his Lord”. The assertion of something other than “X” is incompatible with its cessation; or else this assertion is impossible, and it follows that its cessation is also impossible.

Your being is nothing and whatever is nothing cannot be placed in relationship to anything else, whether it is capable of cessation or not and whether it is existent or non-existent. The Prophet alluded to the fact that you are non-existent now as you were non-existent before creation, because now is Eternity-without-beginning and now is Eternity-without-end and now is Timelessness. “X” is the very being of Eternity-without-beginning, Eternity-without-end and Timelessness even though (in reality) there is no Eternity-without-beginning, Eternity-without-end nor Timelessness. If it were otherwise, “X” would not be alone, without anything being associated with “X,” and it is necessary for “X” to be alone without any associate. “X’s” associate would have being through its own essence, and not through the being of “X.” Then that associate would not need “X” and would therefore be a second Lord, which is impossible: “X” has no associate, nor equal, nor like.

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The Precious Present

The Precious Present

by A Friend

In 1984, Spencer Johnson shared an Xpression in the form of a short book titled “The Precious Present.” The story describes a young man’s journey to adulthood and search for The Present, a mysterious gift he heard about from a wise old man during his childhood.

Like many engaged in spiritual work, it is only after the young man has searched high and low and all but given up his relentless pursuit that he discovers The Present.

The man chose NOW! And now the man was happy. He felt at peace with himself. He agreed to savor each moment in his life…The apparently good and the apparently bad…Even if he didn’t understand. For the first time in his life, it didn’t matter. He accepted each of his precious moments on this planet as a gift.

“I know that some people choose to receive the Precious Present when they are young, others in middle age, and some when they are old. Some people, sadly, never do. I can choose to receive the Precious Present whenever I want.”

As the man sat thinking, he felt fortunate. He was who he was, where he was. And now he knew! He would always be whom he was where he was.

He listened again to his thoughts. “The present is what it is. It is valuable. Even I do not know why. It is already just the way it is supposed to be. When I see the present, accept the present, and experience the present, I am well, and I am happy. Pain is simply the difference between what is and what I want it to be.”

“When I feel guilty over my imperfect past, or I am anxious over my unknown future, I do not live in the present. I experience pain. I make myself ill. And I am unhappy.”

“My past was the present. And my future will be the present. The present moment is the only reality I ever experience.”

Perhaps treat yourself to The Precious Present some time when you’re up for a new read.

Or maybe just choose the Precious Present right Now. 🙂

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Letter to Adam

by Craig

Some time ago, a young man was given a letter as he was departing for college. We’ll just call him “Adam” for purposes of this post.

Adam,

Few moments in a man’s life are as exciting as the day he steps out the door of his parent’s home as an adult. I am sure it’s something you’ve been looking forward to for some time—the freedom, adventure, and opportunity to demonstrate your maturity and capabilities as an independent man. And I realize that step can also be a nervous experience when we recognize the uncertainty of the future and assume personal responsibility for our life.

You’ve been blessed with some remarkable gifts, Adam—not the least of which is an exceptional mind. I have no doubt you will succeed in applying that intellect to mastering any subjects of interest. I was quite like you in that regard when I was your age. If I was interested in a subject, I studied it to the point of expertise. However, as a young man, I didn’t fully appreciate the difference between knowledge and wisdom. It was only after many years that I truly discovered the distinction.

Following are a handful of lessons I learned by the long road. Although my wish in sharing these is to spare you a difficult process of trial and error, I know many of these points only become wisdom when they’re truly discovered for oneself. With that understanding, I hope you will consider these ideas as open hypotheses until proven from personal observation and experience. Perhaps hearing these words at your age will hasten the discovery of their truth.

Be free to be you and don’t measure yourself by the approval of others.

From the time we’re born, we’re continuously subjected to suggestion by society, family, school, and others how we should act, what to believe, and ultimately “what we, as men, should be.” And the way we interpret, assimilate, or reject these suggestions ultimately defines the personality we arrive with in manhood. Some rebel against those expectations in adolescence to assert a sense of autonomy or individuality. Others often find themselves struggling to fulfill those ideals, believing their success as a man is measured by the approval of others.

Despite the implied messages of society, there is no such thing as standards for being a human. Some are tall. Other’s short. Some are black. Others white. And as diverse as our physiology, so it is also true for our personalities and the seamless chain of experiences that brought us to the present moment. And that diversity also extends to the expectations and standards we often use to judge others and ourselves.

No human being will ever comply with the expectations of all others, nor all expectations of any one person. To even try is futile.

You have responsibility for one human on this planet—you. Embrace the true uniqueness of being Adam and let the approval or disapproval of others fall where it does. That’s their responsibility.

Money can buy temporary happiness, but it can’t buy joy.

Many years ago your Dad and I provided protection for a billionaire businessman. By all standards of society, this guy had it all…A beautiful wife, fame and adoration from thousands of people, pride of achievement, and enough money to buy anything he ever wanted. And at the age of 44, that man died depressed and lonely from an overdose of alcohol and pills in the bathtub of his luxurious LA home.

As a tragic irony, some of the most wealthy and accomplished people in the world are the most miserable and depressed individuals on the planet. For some, ambition becomes an insatiable addiction for which specific achievements only provide a temporary fix. For others, boredom becomes a lonely hell when they’ve exhausted all desires.

By contrast, I recently visited Ghana and was completely amazed by the people. Despite an impoverished standard of living and persistent challenge for survival, they are some of the warmest and most joyful people I have ever met. They seem to understand a simple secret to life that escapes so many of us “advanced folks” in the West—Love costs absolutely nothing and offers a richness of fulfillment that can’t be measured. That may sound cliché, but it’s resolutely one of the greatest truths in life.

Bear in mind, I’m not suggesting there’s anything “wrong” or “bad” about ambition or material wealth. Everyone enjoys a new iPhone or better car. Yet when we make fulfillment in life conditional to those things, we set ourselves up for a persistent cycle of frustration and emptiness between temporary episodes of satisfaction—and often at the sacrifice of life’s greatest treasure.

Joy is found in loving others. Not in how others love us.

As part of a recent threat assessment your Dad and I were involved with, we read an autobiographical essay written by a guy who spent most of his youth obsessed with feelings of perceived rejection because he thought others didn’t love him. Watch reality TV on any night and you’ll hear similar complaints from people who feel hurt, rejected, or betrayed because they aren’t loved by their spouse, parents, or others whom they hold in expectation.

It’s a common belief of society that “being loved” is somehow related to our experience of joy and fulfillment. Similarly, many people hold reciprocation as a conditional aspect of love in relationship.

As an experiment, reflect on a time when someone expressed love to you when you, Adam, felt indifferent or upset in the moment. What did you feel? Did you suddenly feel your heart light up with joy because someone stated they loved you? Now reflect on times when you’ve felt genuine love in your experience with others. What was the emotional quality of that moment?

Discover the significance of this point and you may unlock an opportunity to experience a richness of life that’s invulnerable to circumstance.

Trust the River.

An eastern philosopher once described life as a mighty river. And we, as people, often struggle against the river’s flow, getting thrashed against rocks, exhausting ourselves, and sinking as we tense in our insecurity. But if we can learn to relax and trust it, we may find its current naturally takes us around the big obstacles with our energy preserved. We may get skinned occasionally as we brush by a rock, but our head stays above water and we can navigate with its movement.

Your future is going to bring wonderful opportunities you can’t even imagine right now. It’s also going to bring many unforeseen challenges and resistance. Whenever you find yourself frustrated or struggling in opposition to what is, pause for a brief moment and ask yourself if you’re navigating with the river or against it. That won’t make the challenge go away, but perhaps that question can open a new direction that wasn’t apparent before.

Wishing you all the best on your new adventure at school! Never hesitate to reach out if you ever need anything from us. We’re always here.

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Life's Word PDF by Anonymous

Life’s Word

by A Friend

Visiting the Middle East is always a wondrous experience. Few places offer such a unique and rich combination of warm and hospitable people, delicious cuisine, and beautiful cultural customs. And one of those many customs is use of the Arabic expression, “En Shallah,” when speaking about the future. In English, “En Shallah” translates as: “If it is Allah’s Will.”

The following book, “Life’s Word,” expresses this understanding with absolute clarity.

This short book has quietly circulated through spiritual work communities for many years. The hand that penned the book is anonymous. The author is declared in the opening sentence.

As a tip, read this one slowly and without distraction. Aside from the archaic English style of writing, there’s a lot said in this book. Perhaps few texts have ever said so much in only 9,000 words.

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What is Black Magic?

by A Friend

Spiritual teacher G.I. Gurdjieff once described ‘Black Magic’ as “…to use people for some, even the best of aims, without their knowledge and understanding, either by producing in them faith and infatuation or by acting upon them through fear.

In essence, black magic is the the artful, covert manipulation of human beings for purposes of control.

The following video explores the dynamics of black magic and offers some tools for Fourth Way students engaged in the work of self-observation.

For those viewing this video who have not engaged in the lessons on this web site, we encourage you to complete lessons 1-4 to derive best understanding from the ideas presented in this discussion.

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Gnothi Seauton

by A Friend

An Xpression by Ralph Waldo Emerson. –

I

If thou canst bear
Strong meat of simple truth
If thou durst my words compare
With what thou thinkest in my soul’s free youth,
Then take this fact unto thy soul,—–
God dwells in thee.
It is no metaphor nor parable,
It is unknown to thousands, and to thee;
Yet there is God.

II

He is in thy world,
But thy world knows him not.
He is the mighty Heart
From which life’s varied pulses part.
Clouded and shrouded there doth sit
The Infinite
Embosomed in a man;
And thou art stranger to thy guest
And know’st not what thou doth invest.
The clouds that veil his life within
Are thy thick woven webs of sin,
Which his glory struggling through
Darkens to thine evil hue.

III

Then bear thyself, O man!
Up to the scale and compass of thy guest;
Soul of thy soul.
Be great as doth beseem
The ambassador who bears
The royal presence where he goes.

IV

Give up to thy soul—–
Let it have its way—–
It is, I tell thee, God himself,
The selfsame One that rules the Whole,
Tho’ he speaks thro’ thee with a stifled voice,
And looks through thee, shorn of his beams.
But if thou listen to his voice,
If thou obey the royal thought,
It will grow clearer to thine ear,
More glorious to thine eye.
The clouds will burst that veil him now
And thou shalt see the Lord.

V

Therefore be great,
Not proud,—–too great to be proud.
Let not thine eyes rove,
Peep not in corners; let thine eyes
Look straight before thee, as befits
The simplicity of Power.
And in thy closet carry state;
Filled with light, walk therein;
And, as a king
Would do no treason to his own empire,
So do not thou to thine.

VI

This is the reason why thou dost recognize
Things now first revealed,
Because in thee resides
The Spirit that lives in all;
And thou canst learn the laws of nature
Because its author is latent in thy breast.

VII

Therefore, O happy youth,
Happy if thou dost know and love this truth,
Thou art unto thyself a law,
And since the soul of things is in thee,
Thou needest nothing out of thee.
The law, the gospel, and the Providence,
Heaven, Hell, the Judgement, and the stores
Immeasurable of Truth and Good,
All these thou must find
Within thy single mind,
Or never find.

VIII

Thou art the law;
The gospel has no revelation
Of peace and hope until there is response
From the deep chambers of thy mind thereto,—–
The rest is straw.
It can reveal no truth unknown before.
The Providence
Thou art thyself that doth dispense
Wealth to thy work, want to thy sloth,
Glory to goodness, to neglect, the moth.
Thou sow’st the wind, the whirlwind reapest,
Thou payest the wages
Of thy own work, through all ages.
The almighty energy within
Crowneth virtue, curseth sin.
Virtue sees by its own light;
Stumbleth sin in self-made night.

IX

Who approves thee doing right?
God in thee.
Who condemns thee doing wrong?
God in thee.
Who punishes thine evil deed?
God in thee.
What is thine evil meed?
Thy worse mind, with error blind
And more prone to evil
That is, the greater hiding of the God within:
The loss of peace
The terrible displeasure of this inmate
And next the consequence
More faintly as more distant wro’t
Upon our outward fortunes
Which decay with vice
With Virtue rise.

X

The selfsame God
By the same law
Makes the souls of angels glad
And the souls of devils sad
See
There is nothing else but God
Where e’er I look
All things hasten back to him
Light is but his shadow dim.

XI

Shall I ask wealth or power of God, who gave
An image of himself to be my soul?
As well might swilling ocean ask a wave,
Or the starred firmament a dying coal,—–
For that which is in me lives in the whole.

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swimming lessons

Swim Lessons

by Craig

For a boy living in Pennsylvania, summertime life centered around the Macungie swimming pool. Each year as school ended, a ten-week festival commenced recalled now in slices of memory as cannonball plunges, skin burn, hot concrete, concession stand hot dogs, and frolicking with girls.

As fun as that may sound, the boy’s first summer at the pool wasn’t quite so exciting. Having grown up in New York City, the boy didn’t know how to swim when his family moved to Pennsylvania. And the first summer at the pool was largely spent wading in the shallow water and crafting excuses to conceal his embarrassment. Eventually his parents took notice and decided it was time for swim lessons.

Few childhood memories are associated with dread as much as that week of swim classes.

On the first day, he was told by the swim teacher that all people were born with natural ability to float. And learning to float required surrendering fear and all notions of effort. Just trust the water and it will keep you afloat. Although simple in concept and natural once discovered, learning to swim that week was like an extended visit to the dentist’s office.

Trust the water? Was he nuts? People drown in water! It gets in your face and stings your eyes! How the hell can anyone trust the water?

Yet, the boy had no choice in the decision to be there. His parents had made that decision for him. And so the swim lessons carried on.

Each day the boy wrestled with the teacher’s advice. Maybe he wasn’t trying hard enough. So he put ambition to work and tried to float with all of his might, only to find himself sinking like a rock. After his face plunged repeatedly underwater, ambition was quickly extinguished by reinforced fear. Naturally, the sinking continued and this whole hellish affair perpetuated through repeated cycles of effort and failure.

Then on Saturday that week, he caught a break.

With swim lessons on pause for the weekend, he was able to hang out with friends at the pool with no expectations or pressure.

While having fun, the other boys encouraged him to join them in a game of ‘how long can you hold your breath underwater.’ The idea was a little intimidating at first, but he felt somewhat safe. He was standing in the shallow end and all he needed to do was close his eyes, pinch his nose, and hold his breath. It seemed harmless enough. And after a little hesitation, he gave it a shot and quickly discovered that he could submerge his head underwater and return to the surface alive. What a moment of epiphany! And within a matter of days, he was swimming from one end of the pool to another.

He didn’t return to swim class the next week. A teacher was no longer necessary.

That boy, now a man, hadn’t thought about the summer of swim lessons for some time. The memory only recently returned while coaching his daughter on swimming.

As he was encouraging her to float by supporting her back with his hand, he felt rigidity in her body and observed tension on her face. Fear and force of effort had turned her into a block of stone. No amount of reassuring words or advice made a difference. So he decided to drop the lesson and just let her play. The pointers he gave her were enough for now and there was no value in pressing her or offering further instruction. It would only contribute more to frustration.

Several days later, he glanced at the pool and caught a surprise. She was floating with her hands behind her back, gracefully drifting in a circle, silent and still. Similar to a leaf gently resting on the surface of a pond.

It appeared so natural. So effortless. It appeared as if she had always known how to float, yet only now was remembering a capability that was always there.

Perhaps the previous difficulty she had learning to swim was simply suppression of primordial memory. A kind of amnesia resulting from fear cultivated by the discomfort of getting water in her face and repeated warnings from trusted adults about the dangers of the pool.

And by just playing around without worry about “learning to swim,” the kid discovered trust in the water all on her own.

And shortly later, she was swimming like a fish.

Isn’t it interesting what kids can do when they absorb some tips, ditch the teacher, forget about technique and intention, and just simply play?

A Message for Advocates of Swimming Schools

It is not the intention of this essay to criticize swimming lessons, swim teachers, or students trying earnestly to learn to swim.

Swimming lessons are quite useful. Swim teachers offer valuable advice and encouragement. And getting past a lifetime of accumulated fear of the water and discovering why one keeps sinking often requires some experienced coaching.

Yet at a certain point of learning, the value of a teacher’s words are exhausted and it rests with the swimmer to remember their intuitive capability.

Trust in the water cannot be taught or learned from words.

Sometimes it’s best discovered by heeding the useful advice of a teacher, then just playing around in the water.

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Grigori's Diary - A Fourth Way Spy Story

Grigori’s Diary

by Craig

So what do spies, cigars, and Sufi’s share in common? Welcome to Grigori’s Diary—a story about a disenchanted CIA officer who discovers an unexpected secret during his pursuit to recruit a mysterious Russian professor.

The story concept originated from a humorous thought about what an uninitiated person might think if they read someone’s spiritual work journal with its catalogue of self-observations, intimations, third-person references to identity, etc. In the role of vocation, the author works occasionally in locations were national security services are known for invasive curiosity of foreigners working in security capacities.

Just some fun expressing spiritual work ideas in the form of a screenplay.

For those new to reading screenplays, here’s a key to some terms:

  • INT. – Interior (e.g., building, room ,etc.)
  • EXT. – Exterior (i.e., outdoors)
  • (V.O.) – Voice over. Used to indicate dialogue spoken by someone not currently seen on screen.
  • (BEAT) – Indicates a pause in speaking.
  • (45) – Age of the character. Only used when a new character is introduced in the story.
  • SUPER: – Text superimposed on the screen.

An invitation for your input...

An idea recently emerged about converting the screenplay story into a graphic novel format. After experimenting with illustration techniques, I’ve arrived at a stage where feedback from others regarding the illustration style would be very helpful. Following are some concept images from locations depicted in the story (with no characters or extra treatments yet).

The images are illustrated with three levels of detail (No Extra Detail, Minor Extra Detail, and Extra Detail). Which level of detail in the examples do you prefer?

Your input is most appreciated! If you wish to comment, please send a message through our contact form.

The three levels of detail side-by-side. Click an image to view full-size.

A quick test example with a character and text bubbles.

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A few days ago, a man spoke with a friend who was distressed about an interview he watched on CNN prophesizing a disturbing number of COVID-19 fatalities expected in Florida if the state pursued herd immunity through its current policies. Now the man is no expert on COVID-19 or epidemiology, but he suspected the number of deaths claimed in the interview was inflated given the context of the interview. Suggestion is quite amplified and very much abound these days. And the news media are particularly active players in that game.

Out of interest, the man decided to take a look at the numbers and see what such a scenario might look like based on data reported in the state. And the resulting estimates were between 89,000-170,000 deaths and 516,000-707,000 hospitalizations. Although a breakdown was provided to the friend, how those numbers were derived isn’t really relevant to this article. Don’t invest much credibility in those estimates. It was largely an indulgent experiment in armchair analysis.

Now although those estimates are staggering in the eyes of most, it was not quite the apocalypse as presented by CNN. And that recognition popped a cork open on a bottleful of “Not-I’s” that have been quietly incubating. And here’s some of the inner chatter he observed:

“Those of the left-leaning, alarmist bent who imply it’s impossible to have a functioning economy while responsibly keeping cases under the curve, or who try to earn attention and support by crafting fearful headlines, seem disingenuous at best and often promote a course of direction that risks social and economic collapse—potentially with consequences much greater in loss of life than COVID-19.”

“It seems today’s American left will say nearly anything at the moment to advantage the next election, frequently misrepresenting facts and impulsively rejecting any ideas that emerge from the perceived “MAGA-side” of the political spectrum, regardless of the potential consequences to society. Even liberal friends acknowledge this truth, yet remain glued to CNN like injecting heroin addicts aware their addiction is killing them.”

“Conversely, those in the right-wing spectrum who disregard any personal role in reducing transmission seem to have lost  regard for the rest of society, endanger the integrity of the healthcare system, and consequently, court greater fatalities that could be avoided if we keep the curve under control. Not to mention a potential economic disaster from future shut downs.”

“Fueling belligerence on the right is a president who can easily be viewed as embracing pseudoscience, scoffing at the advice of experts, intentionally divisive, and encouraging disregard for transmission control through his behavior and statements.”

“This matter, the politicization of COVID-19 and polarization of ideological opinions is perhaps the most avoidable tragedy we face right now as Americans. Few people in the public eye seem to be viewing COVID-19 with any degree of objectivity. Even fewer seem to appreciate that COVID-19’s features present a unique opportunity to address both concerns—keep a working economy afloat and avoid healthcare system overload.”

“Perhaps mental inflexibility is America’s greatest disease at the moment.”

“Viewing it from outside any specific political narrative, I observe sadness when I watch the clowns these days. Not anger. Not disgust. Just simply, sadness.”

“By clowns I mean the ideologues of both the left and the right wing circuses who appear to be sleep-walking while swinging chainsaws. It’s maybe a powerful example of what Gurdjieff meant when he wrote, “The terror of the situation,” to describe a world of ‘sleeping humans’ staking prideful beliefs and ambitions against the fate of humanity. “

“Yet I also realize, most people don’t have a choice. Our words and actions are largely scripted by conditioning accumulated through a lifetime of experience, with all sharing a common yearning for security through confidence of belief and sense of order and control.”

And that last string of thoughts flips on a light switch illuminating the room. And the man catches a glimpse in the mirror of a familiar face wearing a clown nose.

And the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil now appears before him, adorned with his words of inner complaint like ornaments on a Christmas Tree.

Story. Story. Story…The man realizes he’s standing on stage holding a script in his hand.

And the actor breaks from character, sets the script down, and recalls an old tale about a farmer and a horse…

A farmer was working in a field one day when a wild, but docile horse appeared. He approached the horse and brought it into his stable.

When he shared the news with his neighbors, everyone was delighted and said how good that was. As a simple man, the farmer shrugged his shoulders and stated he didn’t know much about ‘good and bad,’ but was thankful for the new horse.

A few weeks later, the horse escaped the farmer’s field and ran off. When the news broke out, everyone was dismayed and said how unfortunate that was. Again, the farmer said he didn’t know much about ‘fortune or misfortune,’ and quietly went back to work in the field.

Then, a few days later, the horse returned grazing with a group of horses, and the man’s stable multiplied. Surprised by this turn of events, everyone remarked at how great that was.

As the man’s son was riding later that week, he was thrown from the horse and broke his leg. Everyone was upset and said how terrible that was. The farmer just shrugged his shoulders and went home to tend his son.

Shortly later, the King’s army came through conscripting all able young men for a war. But seeing the man’s son limping on a splinted leg, they passed him over and moved onto the next village.

And so the story continues…

There are so many unforeseeable events that can influence the outcome of our experience with COVID-19. The arrival of a vaccine, new treatments, politics and policy measures, and public cooperation are only a handful of factors which may contribute.

If there’s one remarkable lesson we can all learn from the novel coronavirus, we can often infer probability, but no one can predict the future. Yet we all believe we’re fortune tellers. We do it every time we blame…Every time we complain…Every time we curse at the TV. We do it every time we think a thought or make a statement that starts with the words, “If only…If they…If he…They should…He should…” and so many similar variations.

So where does that leave us actors on stage while in the middle of an act featuring Coronavirus?

Referring back to the farmer story, it seems all the horses have run off and left the farmer’s son with a broken leg. And while the townspeople are lamenting about how terrible that is and what the farmer should do, the farmer shrugs his shoulders and tills the soil not knowing what will happen in the future. Only that it’s not the end of the story.

If you look up at some point and catch yourself standing on stage reading a script with fearful lines about COVID-19, or peek in a mirror and see a red ball on your nose, maybe turn off Fox News and CNN for a while and give farming a try.

It’s not easy work, but you just may find a miraculous Present waiting in the field.

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Last Toast to Bassmi

by Craig

On October 26, 2019, Bassmi Ibrahim departed the party.

The art world knew Bassmi as an abstract expressionist with a painting method and vision that often strips people of words. Although art critics often focus on his talent and technique, I suspect Bassmi’s popularity stemmed from the way his paintings convey a mysterious, yet familiar understanding we all share as human beings.

The author knew Bassmi as a friend and fellow companion on The Way.

Cultural tradition says today is a day to wear black as proper expression of grief and sorrow.

But I can’t wear black today. For black was never a dominant color in Bassmi’s palette.

As reflected in his art, Bassmi was a man of true light–bright, dynamic, loving, and joyful!

And beyond the veil of his quiet humility, lay deep wisdom and insight into the mysteries of life.

And one of the mysteries Bassmi knew well is that life and death are inseparable parts of the creative act…the process of form emerging into and out of being, the abstruse dance of God’s hand, which Bassmi expressed so beautifully through his work.

And with his passing, a humble artist brushed the final stroke of his greatest masterpiece.

That being the life of Bassmi Ibrahim, himself.

A friend and mentor.

A most beautiful man.

If you’d like to see more of Bassmi’s Xpression, visit: www.bassmi.com.

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