Greed to Gratitude

When my life wanes like the slender evening moon

And I’m waiting for darkness to come;

I’m waiting for You to gather my essence

Leaving my spent body behind:

I Will be searching my heart.

Has my anger turned to passion for truth?

Has my hate turned to compassion?

Have my fears turned to reliance on You?

Has my greed turned to gratitude?

Has my lust turned to love?

I don’t want to leave here without bearing fruit.

Like the mango tree pulls mud from the ground and heat from the sun to produce it’s delicious fruit,

I must pull  heat from You to metabolize these vain insecurities of mine into something sweet. 

I will be waiting, years I hope, for Your embrace. It will come.


 I Dared to call Him Father, by Bilquis Sheikh

I attended a Catholic mass Sunday. The scripture aboutJesus and his disciples in a boat during a storm was shared and expounded on. I’m not sure I believe that Jesus literally walked on water and that Peter literally took a few steps on the water before he started to sink, but it is a wonderful metaphor. 

Walking on water, to me, is a metaphor for maintaining emotional equanimity. Both are difficult, perhaps imposible, or nearly so. When I’m in a storm of anger, fear or hurt feelings, like Peter I’m calling out, “Help me Lord I’m sinking!” 

I read a book about a Muslim woman in Pakistan, I Dared to Call Him Father, by Bilquis Sheikh) who, through dreams and an inner voice, came to understand that she was to become a Christian. I don’t understand why she couldn’t have had Muhammad and Jesus too. Don’t Muslims accept the teachings of Jesus the way Christians accept the teachings of Moses? This book told of another formerly Muslim woman, who had accepted the Christian Faith and then had been murdered, most likely by her brother. No arrests were made. In a practice known as “honor killing,” a woman, who is judged by relatives to have brought shame on the family, is murdered by a close male relative such as a father, brother or husband, often with impunity. This is part of the culture in some parts of the world. One can imagine how intimidating that is for the girls and women living in such a culture. I read a book some time ago that discussed the situation for women in Jordan (Honor Lost: Love And Death In Modern Day Jordan, by Norma Khouri). It described the murder of a woman by her father for being in a relationship with a Catholic man. This regimentation of the lives of girls and women, enforced by murders rarely prosecuted, predates Muhammad and Islam. It is a pernicious cultural practice that is changing very slowly with the slowly increasing educational opportunities for girls. 

 According to the book, I Dared to Call Him Father, there are many secret Christians in Pakistan, people who secretly accept the salvation of Christ, while maintaining the appearance of being Muslim. The author, Bilquis Sheikh, was completely open about her conversion to Christianity. She did receive criticism and shunning from some family members, even some threats, but she prayed and lived a life of faith. She left Pakistan for awhile, then returned for the last few years of her life.

Honor killing takes place against people who change their religion, engage in promiscuous. or homosexual behavior, refuse an arranged marriage, seek divorce from even a violently abusive marriage, or became the victim of rape. Although it is a crime primarily against women and girls, being gay can get a man killed within the cultures that practice honor killing. A young man or boy may be coerced into killing his own sister. 

Honor killings happen all over the world, but particularly in Muslim, Hindu and Sikh communities. I read the article on honor killing on Wikipedia, which gives details by country. There are laws against murder everywhere, but honor as an excuse for murder is effective in many locales for the perpetrators to receive lenient sentences or even to avoid prosecution all together.

I admire the courage Bilquis Sheikh, a woman from a well-to-do family in Pakistan, showed when she felt the call from God to change her religion, and did so openly, even in the climate of fear created by the honor killings in her midst. The story, I Dared to Call Him Father, opens in the 1960s when Bilquis was in her 50s. She had been divorced and was the caretaker of a young grandson.

The Quran states that God (Allah) is not our father, that he does not beget. Muhammad was explaining that the figure of speech Jesus used to describe God was only that — a figure of speech. I do not feel that that negates it’s apness as a figure of speech. 

My Mom’s Toe

Hi Toni,

Once while visiting Mom at the facility she was in, she had her pedicure while I was there. This was, I believe, almost a year prior to her passing. I noticed a bruised area that included one of her toes and her foot above the toe. She did complain a little when that foot, and especially that toe, was being handled.

I have seen feet that have been injured by being run over by a wheel chair before. Although they did try to be gentle and apologized to Mom for hurting her, neither the doctor nor the nurse offered me any explaination about the trauma that had caused the injury, nor did I ask, knowing I would be told it was confidential information. I hoped that you, as the go-to person for medical information concerning our mother, would have made a report to the family about this injury. I never saw it.

I know you are always right about everything as far as anybody knows and if any information comes up to reveal an error on your part, you will supress, twist or deny that information. So I am not surpriised at your response to my request for information about the injury to Mom’s toe. Is the reason that I want to know because I am concerned the “condition” might be hereditary? I suppose some day I may be helpless in a wheelchair being pushed around by others. My reason for wanting to know something about the trauma that injured my mom’s toe couldn’t possibly be so that I can empathize with her and pray for her more effectively. There must be some selfish motivation to it. It must be because I am afraid that I too will suffer her fate.

Your nastiness makes me appreciate my children’s love all the more! Yes, it is possible for family members to love each other, sadly something you and I never learned. I don’t believe the deficiency lies in me because my children and I learned it just fine. Also one of your children loves me and I love her. You succeeded in teaching the other one to hate. That’s okay, it is pretty clear cut to me where to go for love and where to venture only when I have put on the full armor of God.

Colonizers In California and Palestine

​I attended a tribal gathering this past Saturday with my husband in Mesa Grande, California. We were each given a large reusable shopping bag, a raffle ticket, a $7 food ticket and a tee shirt. The event was free. This worked out well with our empty pockets. No doubt the casino in Mesa Grande helps enable this generosity at the tribe’s annual gathering, which also included cash prizes for the winners of as assortment of games, including all-night Peon. 

Tracy Lee Nelson played the guitar and sang, but I couldn’t hear him very well. The outdoor PA system was not delivering, and to get closer would have meant standing in the hot sun. I liked where we were sitting under a large shade canopy with a nice breeze blowing toward our backs.

The food we got was a piece of Indian fry bread with a generous scoop of beans, lettuce and tomato on top and a bottle of spring water. I ate the beans and salad off the top of my fry bread like it was a plate and was satisfied. My love ate all his food and then ate my fry bread too, and he didn’t feel well the next day. I felt great.

My husband enjoys his cultural singing and dancing, known as Bird Singing and Bird Dancing. We both enjoy walking around the various booths and talking to the promoters of various products and information. But there really is a lot of sitting time in which I am glad to have an ebook on my phone. I was reading, My Promised Land, the Triumph and Tragedy of Israel by Ari Shavit. 

The natives of California have been colonized, exploited, abused and murdered for several centuries. 1848, the California gold rush,  was a time of particular horror for them. In the brand new US state of California, settlers were actually paid to murder natives. 

One of the biggest years of horror for the Palestinians was 1948, 100 years later. At first the Jews settling Palestine bought land legally and got along with the natives, trading with them and hiring them in their businesses (which were, at that time, mostly agricultural, such as orange groves). Then Islamic terror struck in the form of the murders of Jewish civilians by displaced Palestinians or Arabs who sympathized with them. The Jews, severely traumatized by the recent holocaust in Europe, panicked. Innocent Palestinians were driven from their homes along with the guilty. Many more Palestinians died than did the settling Jews.

Over the nearly 170 years since the mostly white gold panners rushed California, the California natives have gradually been endowed with human rights. They no longer grace the cross-hairs of bounty-hunters’ rifles. They are allowed into public parks and museums. During the 1920s they received the right to vote. 

A generation or two after atrocities occur we whites really do want to make amends. We favored affirmative action to our own detriment because it was the right thing to do. In California and many other states, gambling casinos are illegal except on sovereign Indian land. This is a mixed blessing for the tribes. It is raising their standard of living, but very unevenly, and is also benefiting the tribes’ nontribal business partners perhaps even more. Casinos are full of slick, seductive machines designed to separate gamblers from their money. Casino income is the reason for tribal members being kicked off the rolls, so there is more of the money for those who remain on the tribal rolls, resulting in disappointment, hurt and sometimes litigation. Members of non-federally recognized tribes, such as the Tonva of the Los Angeles basin and the Ahashemen of Orange County, historically two of what were once the most populous tribes in Califirnia, were never granted tribal land, nor are they able to benefit from owning casinos. The claim was made that these tribes had gone extinct, they were all killed off. Many were, but many survived by disguising themselves as a different ethnicity or hiding in the hills.  Still in an uneven, crude way, natives are benefiting from the casinos. They are helping to finance the cultural renewal that natives are experiencing. Native languages are being taught in tribal centers throughout the US and Canada. Basketry, archery, flute, rattle and drum making, tribal songs and dances are all making a comeback after generations of supression. Natives are no longer forced into boarding schools or forced to attend mass. They are free to learn what they like and worship as they see fit, but after generations of suppression they may not know a lot about the religion of their ancestors. 

Ari Shavit’s book dealt with the modern  history of the Jews in Palestine, now called Israel. I admired the way Shavit seemed to sympathize with the plight of the Palestinians who suffered loss so that the Jews could have a country. Though his point of view seems more liberal than some, I didn’t like his emphasis on the supposed need of Jews to hang on to their culture. Does a people have the need for aspects of a culture that contain bigotry toward others? Does my culture, right or wrong, take precedence over someone else’s? Everyone should have a right to their culture, insofar as their culture is not a culture of murder, and Islam is probably at least as culpable as Judaism in that regard. The Christian culture has a murderous history as well. Perhaps it is time to leave that behind and root out aspects of all our cultures that are intolerant of others. The Jews may want to do that, but how can they do so without being themselves destroyed? That is probably the question asked by the book. 

Although I enjoyed the Shavit book, I did not enjoy learning that he may be a pervert in a web search on him I did after I had finished the book. He apparently sexually harrassed a beautiful, much younger, female reporter who met with him in order to interview him for the publication she works for. Then he resigned from his job because he was asked to, because other accusers had also come forward. I was disappointed that such a lucid, enjoyable writer as Ari Shavit appears to have such feet of clay.

Jesus in India

Jesus in India

I watched a fascinating documentary, Jesus Was a Buddhist Monk. The theme was that Jesus did not die on the cross. The film speculated on where he might have gone afterwards in order to avoid being captured and re-executed. It ended with Jesus having returned to the Kashmir providence of India which was represented a return to the place he had gone to in his youth between the ages  of 12 to 29, a time frame was not covered in the history of Jesus’ life given in the Bible. The film showed the tomb of Jesus in Kashmir and his footprints showing the marks of the cross. Jesus adoped the name Yuz Asaf during his later decades when he lived as a wandering holy man in the environs of Kashmir.

Intrigued by the film, I read two books for more information on the life of Jesus: The Unknown Life of Jesus Christ by Nicolas Notovich and Jesus Lived in India, his unknown life before and after the crucifixion, by Holger Kersten. The Notovich book was published in 1897, and the Kersten book was published in 1983. Also diring my web research I discovered this related post on wordpress. 

The Notovich book introduces a manuscript kept in a Buddhist monastery in Kashmir. Unfortunately the manuscript had disappeared by the time Kersten retraced Notovich’s steps 100 years later, although he did find evidence to support its existence.

The Notovich book did not contain the assertion that Jesus survived the crucifixion. The book describes the author’s exploration of India,  Nepal and Tibet, in the late 1800s, by horse-drawn carriage and horseback. One of the members of his party was attacked and killed by a panther while they camped in a lonely place. Notovich heard about, and eventually tracked down, while recovering from a broken leg, written histories of and quotations from Issa, the Arabic name for Jesus. At last two volumes were brought, read and translated into Russian. Notovich wrote down the translations. They told the history of the Israelites, the birth of Jesus, his early interest in the word of God, his departure from his parents home around the age of 13, his travels through India, Nepal, Tibet his instructions there, and his preaching during that time, his return to Israel via Persia at about the age of 29, where the Notovich manuscript takes up the same history as the gospels, albeit refreshingly different.

I love Jesus. When I was young I went to both Lutheran Sunday School and Seventh Day Adventist Sabbath School. They both took place in the same building. During that time I learned to pray and had one of my first mystical experiences at about the age of 7. Up until that time I had recurring nightmares where my tongue and hands felt thick and I experienced a terrifying feeling of bondage. The nightmares still occurred after that, but they were no longer terrifying, because now I knew what to do. I thought about Jesus and prayed to Him for help. I saw a purple form as he came to me. I felt energized in his love, comforted and in peace. 

Later on, my father stopped attending church and my mother, siblings and I attended the Methodist Church. She also took me to the Unitarian Church a few times, although it was a 30 minute drive away. The summer after I graduated from high school she took me to Unitarian Summer Camp for a week. I left home a year later and took a job where I worked Sundays, although I had wanted to fellowship with the Jesus People. 

Back to my young years, around the age of 10, thanks to rides there from a neighbor, I attended Sunday School 10 Sundays in a row at the Assembly of God Church, for which I was awarded my own red letter edition King James Bible. The more liberal churches I attended with my mother were using more modern translations, but I loved that Bible! I loved reading the words of Jesus set apart by the red ink. I read them over and over.

It didn’t take very long to read everything Jesus ever said that had been recorded that I knew about. It can be done in less than an hour, and I usually read a good chunk of it every night before I went to sleep. Before long I knew all of Jesus’ words by heart.

How wonderful to have an additional treasury of the precious words of Jesus included in The Unknown Life of Jesus Christ by Nicolas Notovich! Here is a small sample from Chsoter 7:

5.  But Issa [Jesus] then said: “The miracles of our God began when the universe was created; they occur each day, each instant; whosoever does not see them is deprived of one of the most beautiful gifts of life.” …

13. And Issa also taught the pagans not to strive to see the Eternal Spirit with their own eyes, but to endeavor to feel it in their hearts, and, by a truly pure soul, to make themselves worthy of its favors. 

14. “Not only must you desist from offering human sacrifices,” said he, “but you must immolate no animal to which life has been given, for all things have been created for the benefit of man.”

15. “Do not take what belongs to others, for it would be robbing your neighbor of the goods he has acquired by the sweat of his brow.” 

16. “Deceive no one, that you may not yourself be deceived; strive to justify yourself before the last judgment, for it will then be too late.” 

18. “Do not give yourself up to debauchery, for it is a violation of the laws of God.”

18. “You shall attain supreme beatitude, not only by purifying yourself, but also by leading others into the path that shall permit them to regain primitive perfection.”

The Notovich book created a furor among Christians. Some detractors traveled to the Hemis Monastery in northern India in order to destroy the original documents. As a result the abbotts there refused to show them or even to admit their existence.

In 1922, after the furor had subsided, Swami Abhedananda, a disciple of Ramakrishna, having read the Notovich book, traveled to the monastery where he was shone the documents, and was assured that Notovich’s account of his visit there, and his rendering of the documents, were accurate.

While not exalting him extravagantly, Buddhism seems willing enough to accept Jesus as one of it’s saints. Christian theologians, on the other hand, seem to want to draw a hedge around Christianity and create a schism between it and Buddhism. None need exist. The two religions are very similar. But this hedge drawing has been going on for nearly two millennia, which is probably why the material, discovered by Notovich, was left out of the Bible in the first place! Clergy tends to divide, emphasizing differences rather than commonality.

I then read Jesus’s lived in India, his unknown life before and after the crucifixion by Hoger Kersten. 

The Kersten book discusses the Shroud of Turin extensively, giving convincing arguments for it’s authenticity. The shroud is like a detailed document of what Jesus experienced before and during the crucifixion. This meter and a half of linen in which Jesus was wrapped after the crucifixion bears the imprint of his visage. Perhaps the aloe and myrrh that his body was slathered in provided the pigment for the imprint of his frace and body which became impregnated in the linen shroud. In any case, according to Kersten, some body heat would have been necessary. The little balls in the whip Jesus was whipped with left marks all over his body that were imprinted into the shroud. The crown of thorns was like a hood that left wounds all over his head, forehead and the sides of his face. The nail wounds were in the wrists, not the palms, and also behind the toes, in a little different place on each foot. The wound in his side from the sword was also visible in the shroud.

What Kersten found remarkable was that Jesus was still bleeding when he was wrapped in the shroud. All his wounds were bleeding even one in his forehead from the crown of thorns, which had been removed before the herbs and shroud were applied and he was laid in the tomb. His head was raised, making the forehead the most elevated part of the body. That this wound continued to bleed would indicate a beating heart. 

Jesus respirations and heart rate had slowed down and were imperceptable, his body temperature had fallen. He was presumed dead. He may have been clinically dead for awhile and then recovered like one who has what is now known as a near death experience.

We do know that, according to the gospels, Jesus left the tomb and appeared to many, not as a spirit or ghost, but as a man in the flesh, and there was no body left in the tomb. 

That he managed to escape a government intent on putting him to death was a miracle, and in that he must have been aided by the Essenes. They must have known intuitively that he needed rescuing from the sealed tomb, brought him a garment, and concealed him until he had recovered enough to make the trip to India. 

The Kersten book gives a background of Israelites being in Kashmir, making the case that the lost tribes ended up there after being dispersed. It was even hinted that Kashmir was the original promised land for the Israelites, rather than Palestine.

According to the Qur’an, Jesus did not die on the cross, but it appeared that he did:

And their saying: Surely we have killed the Messiah, Isa son of Marium, the apostle of Allah; and they did not kill him nor did they crucify him [to death], but it appeared to them so…, and most surely those who differ therein are only in doubt about it; they have no knowledge respecting it, but only follow conjecture, and they killed him not for sure”. Surah  4:157 M.H. Shakir 

Christian dogma often require that a modern, scientifically literate human being suspend the rational thought process and accept unscientific points of dogma without question. 

Luke 6:39 King James Bible: And he spake a parable unto them, Can the blind lead the blind? shall they not both fall into the ditch?

Jesus is saying, open your eyes! Don’t be led around blindly! Investigate for yourself! Don’t just take someone else’s word for it! I can believe in Jesus, the man of God, the holy one, the teacher of spiritual truths, even the perfect examplar, without burdening myself with unlikely mythology. Even of that, I can believe something miraculous if it is revealed to me personally.

Flute Circle Cake

Flute Circle Cake

The organizers of the Native American Flute Circle were celebrating five years of it’s existence. They meet on the afternoon of the third Sunday at San Luis Rey Restaurant and Bakery, where wonderful Mexican food is served free to the participants in the flute circle. Jim and I had salads with nopal cactus and beans. I forgot to request no cheese when I ordered and our food, and it arrived with a light sprinkling of cheese which I scrapped off of mine. The restaurant is a great venue for recovery events as the food is excellent, the pastries are popular (although they don’t meet my standards), and no alcohol is served.

 I had brought a song sheet with a composition I had composed and written out called, All My Relations, inspired by the Sioux Prayer. I brought it up to the front encased in a clear zip lock bag. At the last flute circle the previous month, I had won a pair of silver and turquoise earrings in the raffle. I had asked myself, how can I contribute? I don’t seem do  crafts anymore, but I still compose music.

Me playing my American Indian Flute at the flute circle

A husband and wife team, Rob and Marge, have been doing an excellent job of keeping the flute circle going for five years. They both lead White Bison Wellbriety Recovery groups as well. When I made my offering for the raffle, Rob and pointed to something brown on a platter saying, “Look at our five-year cake!” I was thinking something along the lines of, what asshole did that shit come out of? But I tried to keep my expression pleasant and not reveal my deep aversion for cake. I probably didn’t quite succeed.

I love recovery people! They are not going to put liquor or dope in your face, and of that I am deeply grateful. But cake? How sad to switch one addiction for another.

I got seduced into eating cake for the last time twenty something years ago. I was hanging out with a mother and daughter from Romania, I think it was. They were really sweet people. I was telling them a little about the religion I had recently discovered, the Baha’i Faith. They made an elaborately decorated cake and urged me to have a piece. I had cleaned up my diet quite a bit and was fairly sensitive to some of the ingredients in cake, such as wheat and sugar, but I didn’t want to be viewed as a food snob.

Oh did I get sick! I spent several miserable days in bed. I never get sick unless I eat something that has been refined, adulterated, or sourced from a factory farmed animal. I had already known that, and I learned it again. But that was the last time for me for cake, unless I have reason to believe it was whole foods and vegan — or the dairy component was grass-fed and humanely cared for.

The cake was cut and practically everyone in the restaurant had a piece. Even my husband accepted a piece and stirred it up with his fork but didn’t eat it. A woman later told me she regretted missing out when she had gone out temporarily during the time the cake was cut.

My song sheet was the last raffle gift chosen. Why would a person want to struggle ro learn to read and play composed notes when you can improvise something just as good or better? 

Kangaroo Court Revisited

Dear Toni

More painful even, than the abuse I suffered as a child at the hands of my parents, was the subsequent denial, on their parts, that any abuse happened to me while under their care.

Fourteen years ago, right after Mom got out of the hospital, no longer lucid, never again independent, you arranged an ambush for me, right before I was to leave for a water park with my children and grandchildren. You directed the seating in what was, at the time, my residence, for what you called a “visit”.

Why didn’t you inform me that you wanted to discuss Mom’s estate with me and find a time that would have worked for me? Because you wanted to stun me, hurt me and humiliate me. Why? 

These kinds of wounds don’t heal. The nonrelationship you and I still have is your doing. I realize you don’t care, but if you were to care, this hateful bullying on your part would need to be addressed. Telling me it was all Mom is a lie that I am not buying. 

Mom’s mouth was still crooked from the brain accident she had just had. She walked unsteadily, she said nothing, except when you handed her something and asked her to read it, which she did without expression. Telling me Mom is the one who wanted to hurt and humiliate me is preposterous. Even if that were true, why did you, not only go along with it, but take the initiative to set it up, and why did you lie to me that this was to be a “visit”?

This little kangaroo court, set up and presided over by you, was about my need for some acknowledgement from my parents that I had been physically and emotionally abused by them during my childhood, and for some empathy for that. It was also about what an affront it was to my parents for me to have such a need. Toni, have you no knowlege of what your older siblings endured, and have you no empathy for those childhood scars?

I know things were playing out real well as far as you were concerned. You obviously value money and property over relationships. Is your lack of ability to show empathy a problem in other situations, or am I the only one who notices?

Toni, I am going to wait to send you this letter. For now, I’ll just post it on my blog, using names for you and me that you won’t recognize, should you happen to run across it. There is still a deal in the works that I don’t want to ruin, although I am not holding my breath.

Oh and by the way, Happy 59th Birthday! (I’ll be celebrating my 69th later this year.)

Your sister,