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#2298 - Wednesday, October 26, 2005 - Editor: Gloria Lee
Slowly, slowly, I tended
the bellows of my throat,
and the light inside grew
and filtered out through
the dark, so that within
even it, I saw the truth.
14th Century North Indian mystic
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From "Naked Song"
Versions by Coleman Barks
posted to Along the Way
We all live with the
objective of being happy;
our lives are all different and yet the same.
- Anne Frank
A Letter to the Editors
I haven't taken the time to say "thanks" recently for the contributions of you editors. There are days when I'm just "holding on" (you know what I mean) and your words and images touch exactly the right moment in me. In the West we are taught that "holding on" is an opportunity to reach back from the edge and seek a safer place to be. But that's just like pushing the cosmic snooze alarm. We can't go back. Never could. If we go back to sleep the buzzer will sound again in a few minutes. "Letting go" is all there is. It's the only game in town. But my body forgets it.
Gentle poetry and soft images remind me.
The violent screeching and preaching of my childhood melt away in the presence of artful writing, editing and beautiful images.
Thank you! It has been a long time since anyone wrote such a kind, insightful letter of appreciation. It helps keep us all doing whatever we do, to know that someone finds it meaningful. I in turn, am grateful for all those who originally post the selections we find, including our good photographers.
Does "BigShowRev" mean you are a reverend of some sort? (David's email ID)
Yeah, sort of. I'm a early-retired Episcopal priest (professional musician now) who, for 11 years, has been one of two chaplains to Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey, known in the biz as the Big Show.
Does that help?
On the side I started scribbling books, one of which is nearing completion.
Now that sounds interesting! I would love to put something about you in the highlights, if you have the time to write a little something about what you do. Do you travel around with them? Really, it can be as much or as little as you want. Please consider, OK? Or maybe a preview of your book?
Don't travel with them. Both of us meet the shows on the road and spend several days at a time. The
Ringling circuses (there are three of them) travel for extended periods of time with few breaks.
They are owned by Feld Entertainment in Vienna, VA, a huge entertainment company that also puts
together the Disney on ice shows and other productions.
The two railroad shows go out for two years at a time and do nearly a thousand performances. A
third unit, a truck show patterned after the way the ice shows travel, has been out for about 18
months and will close its season in KY in early December. They play smaller venues where the
cumbersome train wouldn't be helpful.
The so-called Blue Unit will close a two year tour in November in St. Louis and the Red is in
Chicago and will end its first year in mid-December. The two shows follow one another a year apart.
The Blue will go into rehearsals at winter quarter in Tampa shortly after closing in St. Louis.
That's more than you wanted to know about logistics, I guess.
The total population of the three shows is over 800 people. Each, because it travels all the time,
is a world unto itself. The chaplains are there as the community's trusted listeners and ritual
makers. Because we've been there so long, 11 years, we are a part of the entertainment family. In
fact, after I retired from Bruton Parish in Williamsburg, VA, I went to work at Busch Gardens for
eight years as a musician/entertainer. The performers recognize me as an equal.
One of the reasons I love being there is because circus is an important part of my ritual life. It
speaks to something deep in me that needs again and again to experience stories of human excellence
and the facing of life's deepest fears. I was talking about this once with a group of military
chaplains at a meeting. One of them, an Air Force priest, said it was similar to being with fighter
pilots. There is always the chance that someone will be hurt or killed during a show. But that's
some of the energy that drives it.
Ritualistically, it is just about the only place in the culture where audiences can experience
public spectacle where there aren't wins and losses. And the circus has always been for me a symbol
of Life's inclusiveness. Everything has a place on a circus track where the dwarf is holding hands
with the beautiful dancer who is holding an animal of some kind. It is subversive: look at how
diverse the relationships are and, with enough lighting and sequins, how glorious it all really is.
I believe that's how the Universe sees us.
My writing has the title of The Restless Gospel and attempts to articulate the experience of those
whose traditional religious models are hold them back. But they're afraid to let go and reframe
their spirituality in a "restless" way because no one has ever allowed them to think for
themselves. Those inclined to a more conservative frame of mind are finding homes and communities
of belief. Others on the leading edge have no one to mirror their experience nor, in some cases, to
bless their departure from that religious framework. I try to offer other mirrors where folk might
see themselves and their own divine nature reflected.
Hope this is clear and helpful. After all the hours you've given me in your editing and
presentation of valuable insights, the least I can do is offer this tiny payback.
The emergence and blossoming of
understanding, love and intelligence has nothing to do with any
tradition, no matter how ancient or impressive - it has nothing
to do with time. It happens completely on its own when a human
being questions, wonders, listens and looks without getting stuck
in fear, pleasure and pain. When self concern is quiet, in
abeyance, heaven and earth are open. The mystery, the essence of
all life is not separate from the silent openness of simple
posted by Ben Hassine
In the moment of looking into
we immediately see that it is empty.
That there is no thing to see.
There is no center and no circumference.
It is wide open.
A moment of being totally wide open.
It is totally clear.
Without even a single speck of dust.
There is nothing to fix the attention on.
This is called empty essence of mind.
But we have not become vacant;
Neither absent-minded nor spaced out;
Experience or perception is not blocked.
This is the cognizant nature.
Don't get caught up in perceiving.
Yet experience is present.
While still being empty, we perceive;
While perceiving, this perceiving is empty in essence.
It is not confined to one or the other.
Totally unimpeded, totally open.
This is the unconfined capacity.
This is how it really is already.
- Tsoknyi Rinpoche, "Carefree Dignity" - Dzogchen teachings
posted by Xan to Million Paths
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