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#2104 - Tuesday, April 5, 2005 - Editor: Jerry Katz







An original piece by Vicki Woodyard. A new book and a new movie announcement. Letters received. Myths about gurus. The loss of a surreal comedian.








Vicki Woodyard

Something in me has always wanted to communicate with an audience.  That
led to my writing oneliners for standup comedians for many years.  I got
to speak my piece vicariously.  Along the way I realized that I also had
a need to communicate with people on a spiritual level.  So when my
husband got incurable cancer, I opened up shop on the internet just so I
could share our journey.  One thing led to another and I found my
passion--writing what goes on in my life.

Tonight I watched a story on public television about Steve Smith, also
known as Red Green.  Everything he said resonated with me to an alarming
extent.  I am sure we know each other on some outlandish psychic plane
where everyone is goofy and loveable.  I know I am.

As he spoke about his good marriage I thought, "I had one of those."  Or
when he said that he wanted to be able to act silly and have fun,  I
agreed with that, too.  I had a memory of visiting a friend's house when
I was quite small.  We went upstairs and were able to look downstairs
through some sort of opening.  It gave me an "aha" moment that life is
not that real.  You can run upstairs and watch it happening.  That is
what comedy is about--sticking your head through a fake glass window and

When Bob was dying I forgot that I was only renting him.  If I could
have remembered that, I would have been nicer to him.  Some days I
obviously thought that the IV pole was just a prop and then again, it
would seem very real.  For the most part, I completely forgot that we
were doing schtick, doing time and that in an instant it would be gone.
Comedy comes from the ability to feel deeply and then walk on.  I will
never meet Steve Smith but that's okay; he's not real, either.

Vicki Woodyard

New book!

I Need Your Love -- Is That True?, How to stop seeking love, approval, and appreciation and start finding them instead.

by Byron Katie with Michael Katz   

from press release:


Katie examines a universal, age-old source of anxiety: our relationshps with others. In this groundbreaking book, Katie helps you to question everything you have been taught to do, say, or think in order to secure love, approval, and appreciation from others and shows you how to find genuine, effortless love.


[This book] helps you illuminate every area in your life where you seem to lack what you most long for -- the love of your spouse, the respect of your child, the esteem of your boss, or the admiration of your friends. Through its amazingly penetrating mode of inquiry, you will quickly learn to see the falseness of the accepted ways of seeking love and approval, and you will learn to disentangle love from need. As you use the step-by-step process this book provides, you will inquire into some of the most painful beliefs that you've based your whole life on -- and be delighted to see them evaporate. Katie shows you how understanding the search for love, approval, and appreciation leads naturally to authentic love and puts you in charge of your own happiness.

New movie!!

Inuit film to tell story of last great shaman

Last Updated Tue, 05 Apr 2005 14:47:45 EDT
CBC Arts

IGLOOLIK - The makers of the award-winning film, Atanarjuat, The Fast Runner, kicked off production Monday on their second full-length feature.
Atanarjuat was filmed in the Canadian Arctic and was a ground-breaking piece of filmmaking, winning an award at Cannes and later sweeping the Genies here in Canada

This time around moviemaker Isuma Productions is starting with a lot more money and a distribution deal already in hand.

But the new project, The Journals of Knud Rasmussen, again tackles an Inuit story. It is the tale of Awa, one of the last great shamans, his daughter, and their struggle to survive the changes brought on by Christianity and commerce in the early 1920s.

They're visited during that period by the Danish explorer and ethnographer, Knud Rasmussen, who is part Inuk. Rasmussen spent 30 years exploring the Arctic regions, was the first European to travel the Northwest Passage by dog team, and collected Inuit folk tales, songs and poetry, preserving a fast-disappearing way of life.

While the most detailed records are in Rasmussen's journals, filmmaker Norman Cohn says the script also was based on interviews with elders who remember the period when Christianity arrived and conflicted with shamanism and other traditional beliefs.

Rasmussen, who grew up in Greenland, could communicate with people in their language and had great insight into what they were experiencing.
The film is being shot in the Igloolik area, about 850 kilometres west of Iqaluit. It has a budget of $6.3 million — small by Hollywood standards but four times the size of Atanarjuat. Cohn and Zacharias Kunuk are co-directors.

Many residents of Igloolik, mainly Inuit, are taking part in some aspects of the film's production. "Everybody's busy, from carpenters to igloo builders to ladies sewing costumes to the town making props, people bringing in seal. It's great," Kunuk says.

Costume designer Micheline Ammaq says she had to be extra careful to get the costumes right because many local people remember what they wore in the 1900s.

It took almost a decade for Kunuk and Cohn to research and prepare for the making of this second movie.

Like Atanarjuat, the Fast Runner, the story unfolds in Inuktitut with some Danish and English. About a dozen Greenlandic and Danish actors join Nunavut Inuit on the set.

"We're all more experienced, a little bit more competent and we have more money. Actually it's much more relaxed this time. The pressure is off. We're just going to do our best and we'll see how it comes out," Cohn says.

The international recognition Isuma won for Atanarjuat has helped win federal film financing from Telefilm Canada, the Canadian Television fund, SODEC, and a Danish co-producer, Barok Film. There is also a distribution deal with Alliance Atlantis.

Principal photography is expected to take two months. The world premiere of The Journals of Knud Rasmussen will be held in Igloolik and Qaanaq, Greenland, in late 2006, with worldwide distribution after that.

Michael Christopher responds to Janaka's article in

Janaka says:
For the teacher's sake, as well as for the student,
worshipping the teacher/guru can be dangerous and lead

to emotional dependence and abuse. However, seeing
every teacher as just a friend or an equal does
not promote humility, something that is generally
lacking in this country.

--It's no longer possible to create stable
authoritarian groups where there are clear "leaders"
and "followers". Other models must be explored. If you
promote the authoritarian model, you may inspire
temporary obedience, but the urge in students to
imitate the teacher and play authority with others
will be impossible to resist. However you treat them,
they will treat others. Therefore, show the humility
you wish them to show, allow everyone to take turns
playing the teacher/student role, and avoid using the
primate signals of alpha dominance, unless the student
attempts to imitate some other authoritarian role
model, in which case you can ask, "Whose face are you
wearing right now?"

It's tempting to think that "unruly people" need more
control, more authority to push them in line. But the
energy of authoritarian masculinity spills over and
becomes toxic to the entire community when it is
overused. The goal is to promote a structure, a set of
rules that keep order, it is not to keep one person on
top and others beneath him. There are better ways to
promote structure, without relying on the illusion of
separation between teacher and student.


~ ~ ~

Jeff Belyea responds to articles in

Nice to see
both sides of The Coin. I
enjoyed Janaka's grounded clarity
and later enjoyed much laughter;
oops, what was meant was that..
clarity and later much laughter
was enjoyed, at the impossible
yoga pretzeling and pounding
of the square nondual rhetoric
into the round hole of the
necessarily dualistic language
of "rediscovered..liberation..
and realization"(by no-one, of course)
in Tony Parsons wrap up comment:

"When it is suddenly and directly
rediscovered by no-one that liberation
brings with it the realisation that
there is nothing to seek and no-one
to become liberated, then there is much
laughter . . ."

Who's laughing?



~ ~ ~

Julian Noyce, who sent the Waite/Parsons piece in :

Dear Jerry

I am pleased you felt this was worth including, it could be just seen
as a petty squabble but both articles raise interesting questions.

I am inclined towards Tony's view perhaps because I have seen so many
people now who, ironically, have come from a more traditional
background have found a genuine freedom with Tony.

Although they don't coexist very comfortably, there is obviously room
for both approaches.

All the best





Monday, April 04, 2005
Top Ten Myths About Gurus


File under: Hagiographic Circus and The Great White Botherhood


The pursuit of the truth has brought us to many strange and wonderful places, some of which were in the presence of persons considered divine because they are gurus. Around such people constellate clouds of occluding ideology about self-realization, despite the efforts of the guru, or because of them. We've compiled a list of the ten top occluding ideas people hold about their gurus or gurus in general, for your perusal:


10. Guruji knows what's best for you
While we acknowledge the possibility that a real true guru could know what's best for you, s/he'd also know it's best to let you decide for yourself. Gurus who pretend to know what's best for all their devotees are fooling themselves as much as they are their disciples.


9. Guruji can read your mind
Did you ever wonder why people seem so sanctimonious while in the presence of their guru, besides kissing ass by acting joyous or serious. They probably believe that their guru is reading their mind, and all the minds of the devotees in their presence. Or even those not in their presence. The fact is that self-realization confers no special power to read minds, despite the assertions of Patanjali and the Theosophists. There may be some gurus who seem to have a knack for coincidental occurrence, but no more than other people with the same knack.


8. Guruji doesn't feel pain
We were going to suggest cutting off a guru's arm to see if s/he feels pain, but then we realized the shock of the trauma would probably shut off the pain response. Believe us, gurus feel pain. They may know varying levels of emotional pain as well.


7. Guruji knows all your past lives
More theosophical nonsense. Not that there aren't past lives, and not that they can't be known, but they can't be watched like a movie by a person with the right siddhi. They may see something they believe are your past lives, but it's much more likely to be something made up in their head in the moment, whether they believe it to be the truth or know that it isn't.


6. Guruji knows your future
See number 1. No special powers outside of knowing the truth of self-realization are conferred by self-realization.


5. Guruji knows everything
One of the major occluding expectations about self-realization is the idea that knowing yourself as the whole entails access to all the information in the whole. In truth, self-realization confers just one kind of special knowledge that only knows itself. There is no content there. That's why they call it emptiness. So anything your guru knows s/he knows because they heard it or read it.


4. Guruji has no desires
This is based in the most pervasive of the occluding expectations, that desire somehow prevents self-realization. Desire is merely the way the body responds to conditions. The guru may (or may not) be over sex, but when they want a Twinkie, they go get a Twinkie.


3. Guruji is the avatar
A guru proclaiming themselves to be the living avatar is like the Mission Impossible tape proclaiming it will self-destruct in ten seconds.


2. Guruji is divine
Sure, and so is every other person on the planet, regardless of their spiritual status. Knowing who you really are doesn't change who you've always been in this life. It just adds the knowledge that we are all of the same, one being. Anything else is just someone else's hype.


1. Guruji can enlighten with a touch
You can have enlightenment in the presence of your guru, but it wasn't because s/he touched you. Transmission or shaktipat gurus merely tap into the power of mind by way of a ruse, the idea that they are God and can do such things. That ruse sometimes captures the mind of the guru just as much as that of the devotees, so they aren't all to be blamed for the subterfuge.






"My theory is not to stop and smell the roses. My theory is to find the roses and then go find more roses in another city."


posted to NondualNow:


Mitch Hedberg, a Comedian Who Performed Surreal Routines, Dies at 37



Published: April 1, 2005


Mitch Hedberg, the lackadaisical, longhaired comedian whose surreal routines made him a cult figure on the national comedy circuit, died on Wednesday in Livingston, N.J., said his father, Arnold. He was 37.


The cause was not immediately known, said Michael O'Brien, his publicist. The Pioneer Press of St. Paul, Minn., his hometown, reported that Mr. Hedberg had a heart attack.


A shy, self-styled outsider, Mr. Hedberg carved a career out of casual observations delivered in a mumbling drawl. "I'm against picketing," he would say with a sly smile. "But I don't know how to show it."


Comedy was not a natural choice for Mr. Hedberg, who battled stage fright, and sometimes closed his eyes as he performed. Alcohol and drugs, however, played a large role in his on- and offstage routines. According to a profile in The Los Angeles Times, he was arrested in 2002 for possession of heroin. "I used to do drugs," went one of his most quoted jokes. "I still do drugs. But I used to, too."


In recent years Mr. Hedberg had shown signs of breaking into the mainstream, thanks to appearances on "The Late Show With David Letterman" and Howard Stern's radio show. Mr. Hedberg started performing comedy in 1989. His first gigs were at open-mike nights, but within two years he was touring comedy outposts across the United States, sometimes sleeping in his car. In 1996 he earned rave reviews for a performance at a comedy festival in Montreal, which led to appearances on Mr. Letterman's show, MTV and several sitcoms. The next year Mr. Hedberg wrote, directed and starred in a film called "Los Enchiladas!," about unhappy employees at a Mexican restaurant in Minnesota. The
film played at the 1999 Sundance Film Festival. He also released two CD's of his comedy.


Despite his personal struggles, Mr. Hedberg worked regularly, recently as part of a tour for Comedy Central. According to his Web site, he was to have performed last night at the Improv in Baltimore.


In addition to his parents, Arnold and Mary Hedberg of South Maplewood, Minn., Mr. Hedberg is survived by his sisters, Wendy Brown of Woodbury, Minn., and Angie Anderson, of South St. Paul, Minn.; and his wife, the comedian Lynn Shawcroft.


Mr. Hedberg spoke often of his love for the road, on which he lived for nearly half his life. "My theory is not to stop and smell the roses," he told the Wisconsin State Journal in September. "My theory is to find the roses and then go find more roses in another city."


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