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#3767 - Tuesday, January 5, 2010 - Editor: Jerry Katz

The Nonduality Highlights

Radical Feminism, Gardening, and Prayer are featured.

In a way, especially with separatist Feminism, they each give a sense of separatism. That seems strange in a culture of nonduality or nonseparation. But it's not. Everything, when it is truly seen, is like a rare mushroom that's been at your feet all the while, but now you see it, and ... aha ... there it is.

Look upon anything, it is consciousness in a costume.

The following is from the Radical Profeminist blog

"This blog exists to challenge white heterosexual male supremacy as an institutionalized ideology and a systematized set of practices which are misogynistic, heterosexist, genocidal, and ecocidal."

In Memory of the Great Mary Daly, Radical Elemental Feminist (October 16, 1928 – January 3, 2010)

[this photograph of Mary Daly is from her website, linked to below.]

I just found this out. I am shocked. This is where I found out the news of Mary Daly's death.
Here's a link to her website:

What follows is from here.
Jan. 4th, 2010 at 12:11 PM

So, I have been away from eljay not because of impending birth, but because I have my daughter's cold and it sucks, and I don't have anything much of note to say.

But today I found out that Mary Daly died yesterday, and that makes me sad.

"There are and will be those who think I have gone overboard. Let them rest assured that this assessment is correct, probably beyond their wildest imagination, and that I will continue to do so. "
- Mary Daly, Outercourse

From the crop of radical feminists of the 1970s, she was definitely my favorite. Her book Gyn/Ecology struck me as delightfully witty, verbose, and angry when I was in high school; she was the sort of feminist one would name-drop in conversations about "man-hating" along with Andrea Dworkin, Catherine MacKinnon, et al - she was not the politically correct wishy-washy feminist of today. She was a separatist, she did not hold truck with ideas like "unpacking privilege" (to her a feminist was a feminist was a feminist, regardless of color or income), and she held a lot of views that would get you soundly booted from feminist these days. She was one of my favorite non-fiction authors, thinkers, and someone I aspired to one day meet. I did not get the chance.

While I don't know that she will be missed, she should be. We lost one of our most lively female thinkers yesterday.

Monday, January 4, 2010
Gardening is Budo

Karate, as you know, originated in Okinawa and spread to Japan. Both countries noted for their farms and beautiful gardens. We can learn a lot from gardening just like we can from Budo, or the Martial Way.

In fact, there is an old saying on how Farming is Budo. Many of the old karate-ka were farmers and knew the earth well. I don't have a farm, but I do like to garden. This time of year I miss being out in the dirt, pulling weeds, watering and, yes, I even talk to my vegetables. Once, I swore a tomatoe talked to me...but that was back in the 70's.

Well, to stay on track. Gardening is Budo. It is about discovery, calming the spirit and seeing directly into our true nature. Our mind is like a garden. Stuff grows in it...even when we aren't trying. If you just dug up the earth and left it, in a few days the grass and weeds will begin to grow. When you plant vegetables or flowers, they begin to grow.

No matter what, stuff grows in your garden. Just like your mind. When you pay attention to it or not, stuff grows. Thoughts are always growing in the mind. Some are intentional, some are just random. Some are vegetables and flowers...some are weeds. Regardless, your mind is always growing thoughts....and just like a real garden it needs to be tended.

As I mentioned earlier, an untended garden grows weeds and grass. An untended mind grows suffering, delusion, ignorance and anger. Tend your garden by pulling the weeds and your vegetables will grow strong and tall. Tend your mind by pulling the suffering at its root and your bliss will grow. It is a matter of taking care of your garden and your mind.

For myself, tending the mind is accomplished via Zazen and mindfulness of everyday activity. Just being here. Zazen is the weeding of the garden of my mind so my vegies (bliss, happiness, compassion) can grow and give me food and life. Yes, we can learn a lot from gardening. In many ways, Gardening is Budo. I miss my garden...It's there, just waiting till the snow melts and the ground thaws.

Hands palm to palm,

Monday, January 04, 2010

To Whom Do I Pray?

Jay Michaelson’s article, “Prayer and Nonduality” (Tikkun Nov/Dec 2009) prompts me to share a little of my own wrestling with this topic.

When I was 16 and a beginning student of Zen, I sat on the shore of Cape Cod and disappeared. No body, no mind, no “me” at all. When I returned I knew that whatever Reality is, it has nothing to do with the isms that seek to define it. It is what is: Ehyeh asher Ehyeh (to quote God in Exodus), the ceaseless Is’ing of birth, death, and rebirth. To speak of God and Creation was to speak of Ocean and Wave, the former greater than but not other than the latter. Can the wave pray to the Ocean? I didn’t think so. I stopped praying.

Then, decades later, I began to experience Shekhinah, the presence of God as Divine Mother. I resisted the experience as best I could, but I could not do so for long. So I began to speak to Her and to hear Her speak to me. The trouble was that this clearly dualistic encounter with the Divine violated everything I knew to be true about the nondual nature of Reality.
I was no less Her; She was no less me; and yet we spoke. What She taught me is that if God is All, God must be Other as well. Nonduality when juxtaposed with duality is simply part of a larger duality. True nonduality embraces the Other as well as the One in a greater Reality for which there are no words.

So now I pray. What do I pray? There is little in Jewish liturgy that speaks to me, but what little there is I use as mantra. I chant single lines of Hebrew, the core wisdom of the liturgy, and then I wait. What emerges from this waiting is a conversation: me pouring my heart out to Her, and She mirroring my self back to me in a way that allows me to see through the madness and move beyond it. These are moments of ecstasy unmediated by ritual and decorum. No rising or sitting; no responsive readings; no moments of mumbled pseudo-silence. Just raw, uncensored speech; just saying “Thou;” just hearing echoes of “I.” In time the speech gives way to silence, the wave returns to the Ocean. I am gone. God is all.

Unlike Jay I don’t pray to be transformed. There is no static “me” at all. There is no transformation from one fixed state to another, just ceaseless teshuvah, endless turning from self to Self to self again and again and again. And with each turning there is expansion: not a going round like a planet in orbit around a sun, but a spiraling out like a galaxy. And with each turn and return my heart of opened wider; I am (I think) more loved and loving. I pray for nothing. The turning is its own reward.

Can this happen in a formal synagogue service? Of course, but for me it happens when I walk outside, the rhythm of my steps matching the rhythm of my breath, dancing with the rhythm of Life. Can it happen with our heads buried in a siddur (prayer book), our mouths reciting ancient scripts? Of course, but for me it happens in the far simpler chanting of single lines, the uncensored wildness of unscripted speech, and the greater silence that ultimately engulfs them both.

My thanks to Tikkun magazine for giving us yet another opportunity to hear Jay’s wisdom.

[Tikkun is a wonderful magazine and I urge you all to subscribe/support it. Jay also writes a column for The Forward, another great publication. The magazine business is tough. Subscriptions are its life-blood. Support those magazines you cherish. And check out my column in Spirituality & Health, another important publication worthy of your support.]

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