Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for October, 2012

October 12 through October 19, 2012

Soul Warrior 

My wonderful friend and fellow author, Elizabeth Michelle Billeaudeaux (author of An Angel Among Us, We Called Him Michael Jackson: A Spiritual Journey and Michael in My Life, both available from Amazon.com at http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=An+Angel+Among+Us+We+Called+Him+Michael+Jackson ) coined the phrase “Soul Warrior” for her blog website several years ago.

Last week, she sent me an armband that reads: WWMJD – Heal The World – Michael – “Soul Warrior.” For the uninitiated, WWMJD means What Would Michael Jackson Do? Ever since I got that armband, I’ve had the words “Soul Warrior” running through my mind, Beloved.

My first impulse was to reject it because it implies a violent demeanor or a combative nature. My Dear One, that description just does not fit you. You are the least violent, most peace-loving and promoting, least combative human being who ever lived. However, as the week rolled along, I kept getting little insights into the term and becoming more and more accustomed to it.

Well, I love it! I am humbled by the description. God bless her … and you! 

Do you remember in Geraldo’s interview, we talked about my father a little bit?

 Yes, I remember.

 I was seeing more and more of his traits in me as I grew older. I mentioned that he was a warrior and Geraldo asked me if I was a warrior. My response was, “Absolutely … Absolutely.” I think he was confused by my answer, just like you are confused by the term and both of you are confused because of the definition of the term warrior. It, like much of the English language has been bastardized over the centuries. Like you mentioned above, you see a warrior as someone (usually a male someone) who is violent and combative. 

One of the definitions of the term warrior has been lost through the ages. In Japan, the warrior class was called “samurai” and the samurai lived by a code called “bushido” or ‘the way of the warrior.’ Bushido was a moral code that strictly defined the role of the samurai. It was based on frugality, loyalty, martial arts mastery (which also implies spiritual mastery because the two are so intricately linked) and honor … even honor unto death. 

In Arthurian England, the warrior class was called ‘knight,’ the highest ranks of whom were members of the ‘round table’ or general council, advisors to the king. Their moral and ethical codes were solidified under the system of ‘chivalry’ and included fighting in the king’s justly declared wars but that was not their only role. They also dispensed the King’s justice, cared for the needy and destitute, provided shelter for travelers and the homeless, supported the religious houses and churches, defended the oppressed and were originally known for their fairness and their absolute loyalty and honor.

Of course, the term ‘knight’ got corrupted over time just as the kingdom of Camelot was corrupted and destroyed from within, but not before it inspired lasting changes in the political and social structures of its time and place in history. The ‘constitutional monarchy’ as we know it today resulted from the stories of Arthur’s Camelot. Many of the laws by which we are ruled (like jury trials and presumption of innocence) were re-codified (having been originally codified by the ancient Greeks) during Arthur’s reign and continue to be viewed as the fairest way to legislate behavior and enforce justice.

 Even more importantly, it ignited the imaginations of writers and artists and poets and continues to influence artistic expression today, almost thirteen centuries after Arthur’s death. 

The term “warrior” has gotten a bad rap … just like God … and imagination. All are victims of ‘bad press.’

 Yes, Beloved, during one of my nightly meditations with you, the below bolded words came to me … like a shot out of the dark … and I had to write them down to discuss with you in our next conversation.

The warrior isn’t the man standing behind the gun with his finger on the trigger!

The warrior is the man who doesn’t need weapons of war or to buttress his authority by force. His authority comes naturally to him and all men respect his learning and honesty. His weapons are Love and Compassion, Intention and Focus, Loyalty and Honor. And he wields them in defense of the defenseless. He is the ‘voice of the voiceless,’ the provider in times of need, the upholder and promoter of justice, the personification of honor and true nobility.

 Exactly! I consider the term an honor.

 Just for clarification purposes, the man standing behind the gun with his finger on the trigger is a ‘soldier’ … not a warrior. Unfortunately the two words have come to mean the same thing in our modern society, but they are not at all the same.

 A soldier follows orders; he doesn’t think or live by any moral code. In the Holocaust, the soldiers were the ones who carried out the “Final Solution.” Their defense during their trial was, “We just followed orders.” A soldier’s role is to do his superior officer’s bidding regardless of truth or justice or his own honor. Wanton cruelty is his stock-in-trade. He shoots whatever moves … man, woman, child, dog. It doesn’t matter to him. He’s there to pull the trigger.

 A warrior, on the other hand, is answerable to his king, his emperor, his God. But more importantly, he is accountable to a much more stringent taskmaster — his own sense of honor. Therefore, if ordered to kill an innocent, defenseless person, he would consult his code of honor and decide if his honor was served by carrying out that action. If not, he would walk away. The warrior’s stock-in-trade is loyalty, perfection and honor.

 The words represent two completely different things that have been confused in common usage.

 We have become a society without honor.

 We must bring salvation back.

Soul Warrior by Jan – All rights reserved – Graphite, dry brush acrylic paint on sketching paper.

 By the way, I have noticed that you are doing very well on your nightly meditations. See, I told you, you could do this. [Michael giggles.] Um … the morning meditations … hmmm … what happened to those?

 Well … um … I was kinda hoping you wouldn’t notice! Now that I don’t have to get up and go to work … they’ve kinda slipped by the wayside. The nightly meditations have become a habit … a chance to speak to you undisturbed by any other obligations. I look forward to them and to those few moments of silence. But, I am really not a morning person. Do you mind very much?

 It’s not about whether I mind … it’s about whether YOU mind.

 Um, what do you mean?

 Well, do you remember our earlier conversation on this topic?

 Yes, of course.

 We walked about how position isn’t important and even breathing techniques aren’t important. Those ‘outside trappings’ don’t really make any difference. Would you mind putting that part of our conversation here?

 No, I don’t mind. Let me go find it.

 [Michael laughs.] Why are you making it so hard? But,yeah, that is so typical and, believe it or not, you are not alone in feeling defeated by all the distractions you’ve described. We’ve all been told that there is a ‘right’ way (and, therefore, of course, there is a ‘wrong’ way) to do this. There isn’t. It just isn’t true. Period.

 This is the most natural thing in the world … because you are taking a moment from your busy human experience with its cares and demands and worries and trials … and returning your focus to your natural state; we are all spiritual beings having a human experience. It should not be so fraught with irrelevant judgments.

 For hundreds of years, we’ve been told that in order to achieve enlightenment we need to live a monastic life … or isolate ourselves on a mountaintop … or twist ourselves into shapes that the human body was just not designed to assume … or eat only nuts and twigs. It’s just not true. If you do all of those things without love and joy and gratitude, you are just a celibate, lonely, hungry contortionist. [Michael laughs.] What good is that?

The result of that kind of thinking is that people desire to begin a spiritual program and try to [let’s say] sit in a lotus position … and they find that it is not only uncomfortable for them, but it hurts … so, they are concentrating all their mental power on staying in a position that hurts for twenty minutes to half an hour. If they succeed in ignoring the physical pain for that long, they pat themselves on the back for their discipline when they’ve never entered a calm, loving, healing space.  If they don’t succeed they berate themselves for their lack of discipline and toughness … and eventually they give up the entire spiritual practice because they believe that the spiritual practice hinges on the physical position. Who wants to cause themselves pain for fifteen or twenty minutes? Of course, they don’t feel they have had any success in their spiritual practice; so they tell themselves that they’re ‘just not good at it.’ They’ve spent the entire time trying to ignore their pain.

 Or they try to follow any of the thousands of breathing techniques out there and can’t do it past the first five breaths so they give up the entire spiritual practice because they have been told all along that there is a ‘right’ way and a ‘wrong’ way to meditate or pray and they judge their level of spirituality based on non-spiritual minutiae. Of course, their spiritual journey ends right there because they find themselves short of breath, the most basic human need.

 This doesn’t have to be that hard! I think it all began when masters felt that they had to keep the ‘secrets’ of their spiritual lives to be shared only with ‘initiates’ or ‘pupils’ who had ‘committed’ their lives to following them … spiritual practices were held aloof from the common man … the peasants and workers who fed those masters from the sweat of their brows. It’s nonsense.

All you are doing is returning to your natural state.

 Okay, Beloved … so, let me see if I’ve got this straight. Position is not important, right?

Nope.

 It is not necessary for my DNA to be half-pretzel?

[Michael laughs out loud.] Nope.

 But breathing is important, isn’t it?

Oh yeah. Deep breaths help you to center yourself and send a message to your body to relax. You can’t be tied in knots when you are practicing deep cleansing breaths. Just taking a few nice deep breaths can defuse whatever tension or worry has you in its grip.

One of the things that a lot of women (especially) need to practice is breathing from the diaphragm … because you have been taught to hold your stomach muscles tight all your life to have a flat stomach and appear thinner and more attractive. When inhaling correctly, your diaphragm should expand first … like a balloon being filled with air or water … and then your lungs … in an ‘out’ and ‘up’ sensation … in other words, your abdomen should inflate outward as you inhale and then your torso should get taller as you fill your lungs. When exhaling, empty the lungs first and then the diaphragm … in other words the sensation is reversed … your torso shrinks and your abdomen contracts.  Men have an easier time with this because they don’t have years and years of conditioning to overcome. But a lot of women have been breathing improperly since the cradle.

 But even that is not the important thing and just complicates the issue. Adults are so good at taking simple, basic, elementary things and making them more complicated than they have to be. Children don’t do this. Approach these exercises ‘with a child’s heart.’ A child attempts something and if he doesn’t succeed, he laughs it off and tries again later. If he is not judged harshly by his significant others and authority figures for his imperfect attempt, he doesn’t judge himself. He doesn’t say ‘I’m not good enough’ or ‘I’m not holy enough’ or ‘I’m not spiritual enough.’ He makes a game of it, learns by playing with a light-hearted, who-cares attitude. This is the openness you need to bring to these exercises. This is the attitude of fun and joy you need to infuse into your practice. Don’t make it so serious … bring laughter and love into the space.

Position isn’t important; breathing technique isn’t important. It’s also not important whether you ‘see’ the image you are trying to visualize in Technicolor … or black and white … or clearly … or at all. The important thing is that by concentrating on whatever image you have chosen to assist you in your efforts with love and joy and healing intent in your heart you are doing two things:

 First, you are changing the environment … your own personal, internal environment … as well as the universal environment (also known in psychological jargon as ‘the collective unconscious’, to which your personal environment is a contributing factor.) By concentrating your thoughts on LOVE instead of on the negative molecules (emotions), you are giving more strength (attention) to … and increasing the number of … the healing molecules. At the same time, you are weakening the negative emotions in your own personal internal atmosphere (by removing your attention) which has to affect the universal environment (collective unconscious).

 That wasn’t very clear, was it? Okay … let’s see if we can fix it.

 Science is discovering some very interesting facts, one of which pertains to quantum physics. Experiments in an atomic collider have shown that atoms appear (become visible) and disappear (become invisible) … wink in and out of ‘reality’ … according to whether or not someone is paying attention to them. In other words, focusing your attention on a thing can move that thing from the invisible, spiritual Field of All Possibilities into the world of physical manifestation.

 This is how I moved all the songs that I left you all from the spiritual, invisible Field of All Possibilities. I focused my attention on hearing those melodies and beats and harmonies, making it an intense laser beam of intention, and plucked them out of the spiritual field that surrounds us all. They were already there! They just needed my attention to become ‘real.’

 Therefore, ‘focus’ is the most powerful of the weapons in your arsenal for creating change in your world!

 One of the reasons that some of the children in the hospitals I visited … or who were my guests at Neverland … were healed of their illnesses illustrates the point I was trying to make. One of the main side effects of any serious illness is the feeling of helplessness … the feeling that there is nothing ‘I can do to change my circumstances.’ Children, especially, are victims of this side effect because they are powerless in so much of their lives. So, I taught them how to visualize the cells that were making them ill as a specific color and used the visual of PacMan (a nearly universally-recognized game with which most children are familiar) going in and eating up all those colored cells.

The first benefit of this visualization was that it took the kid’s mind off (removed his focus from) the feeling ‘there’s nothing I can do’ in his situation … which is a self-perpetuating negative spiral … and gave him hope to focus his attention on. The second thing it did was give him a tool with which he could help himself … he didn’t have to depend on the adults all around him … the doctors and nurses and his parents; this was something he controlled when the rest of his life was out of control. The third thing it did was to allow the child to have fun, even those who were too sick to hold the game console in their hands. They could do this in their minds. Fun is an emotion that brings focus and playfulness and laughter and imagination into any situation … which diverts the child’s attention from his own internally-negative environment and switches the focus into more positive intention.

 But it also has a major bio-chemical effect for the organism which has turned on itself by creating the child’s illness to begin with. These bio-chemical effects are not fully understood by our science at this time. Laughter and fun releases a surge of “happy” chemicals within the brain which filter down through the entire organism, changing the internal atmosphere and surrounding the “unhappy” chemicals produced by the disease, itself. These “happy” chemicals have a calming, soothing, healing impact on the organism. And sometimes, not often enough, but sometimes, the child got better. I would have wanted all of them healed.

 Second you are forming intention … and there is nothing on earth that can stop intention from impacting your own mind and your own soul and, by extension, the world soul. Intention is the steam-roller of creation … the earthmover of reality. It is the work horse that gets the job done.

I’ve told you before in these conversations, when you arrive here on this side of the never-ending stream of life, you will find that you will be creating your own world (as you are on the physical side of life but with much more immediacy), traveling at the speed of thought, being fully present in more than one place at a time, and comforting more than one person at a time. And all of it is done by intention. Intention is not only the name of the game … it’s the only game in town. So, it would be good for all of you to practice before you get here … and that’s what we’re going to be doing in this installment.

 

Thanks. The long and short of this is: how do you feel? Do you think you could use an additional session at the beginning of the day? Would you benefit from a morning meditation enough to make it worth your while to get up a few minutes earlier? I mean, you have to get up anyway. Laura still has to go to school. But ultimately, it’s not up to me or anyone else. It’s up to you to decide if a morning session would be a good idea for you!

 Now, referring to the paragraph that begins: This doesn’t have to be that hard, would you repeat that paragraph here?

This doesn’t have to be that hard! I think it all began when masters felt that they had to keep the ‘secrets’ of their spiritual lives to be shared only with ‘initiates’ or ‘pupils’ who had ‘committed’ their lives to following them … spiritual practices were held aloof from the common man … the peasants and workers who fed those masters from the sweat of their brows. It’s nonsense.

All you are doing is returning to your natural state.

Yeah! There we go! I think that a lot of spiritual teachers and hierarchies didn’t want to share the secrets of their mastery because they didn’t want ‘power’ to fall into the wrong hands. What they didn’t realize is that the only ‘power’ they acquired through their years of sitting in a full lotus position and eating bugs in isolation on a mountaintop … their years of sacrifice and denial of self … is the power of LOVE. That is the beginning and end of all spiritual practice … the alpha and omega of every religion known to man. And love is now … and has always been … free for the taking.

That which is freely and joyously given can’t be stolen or usurped. That’s just plain silly! [Michael laughs.]

 

Jan – October 18, 2012

Read Full Post »

Recently, I was casually surfing my Facebook groups and ran across another painting that I have always just dearly loved. Seeing the that painting brought back memories of the first time I had seen Nate Giorgio’s beautiful art. At the time, I did not know who the artist was. I just knew that the painting spoke to me of Michael Jackson. So, I wrote a piece to go with the painting and published it on my own little website called Fan in the Mirror. It was also published in a magazine that I was involved with at the time, Michael Jackson MAGIC! 

With your indulgence, I would like to reprise that piece this week here because I still think it speaks unerringly of Michael and the painting is beautiful and still moves me in the same ways. I am placing a photo of that artwork here with full credit to Mr. Nate Giorgio and my thanks. God bless him for his beautiful portraits of Michael Jackson.

 

The Glory of Camelot

As we stand back and survey our world, are we proud of what we have wrought upon the earth, our mother? Have we taken our obligations seriously? Have we given back to this earth that which we have taken in such abundance for so many years? Have we replenished her gifts to us for future generations and their progeny? Have we remembered to thank her for her sustenance of our race and respected her generosity?

As we, likewise, chart our society, have we reason to nod in satisfaction that all is as it should be with us? Have we banished cruelty from our midst? Have we accorded to each his just due without rancor? Have we approached an end to famine and disease and war and pestilence? Are our children free to experience their fullest and deepest potential without boundaries?

Yes, indeed, we are a technologically advanced civilization; our accomplishments in the arts and sciences are beyond compare. We have walked upon the surface of the moon and navigated among the stars. And, yet, have we, somehow, forgotten the real substance of our existence in favor of the external trappings? Have we overlooked the attainment of self-perfection in our haste to acquire that which flashes and glitters and whose beauty fades with years?

Occasionally, when reading a book about past generations, we are reminded of the goals of the human species and we become nostalgic for those virtues and values which once held prominence among us.

In days of old, when knights were bold and Arthur benignly ruled over his Camelot, courtesy and truth, honor and sobriety, chastity and honesty were qualities to live for — and to die for. In our generation, these same qualities have been reduced to little more than material for late night talk show hosts’ monologues. Once upon a time, a lady’s honor was a thing to be guarded and respected; a gentleman’s self-restraint was a thing of value. Today, the former is for sale within the pages of tell-all lurid exposes and the latter is the subject of derision and scorn. Long ago, when chivalry and gallantry were still alive in our world, the ideal of individual human rights for all was worth the lifeblood of the best and brightest. Now, when we have a society based on those rights, they have been corrupted, bought and sold to the highest bidder and trampled beneath the boots of vagrants.

We have come to the point where we don’t even recognize the embodiment of the term “gentleman” anymore — when the words “courtesy,” “honesty,” and “pride” have been relegated to only literary usage. We have become a society without honor. Yet, we are so inflated with pride of accomplishment that we cannot see that which we have lost.

The word “courtesy” stems from a bygone era when “courtly manners” were upheld as ideals for all of society and the practice of chivalry and gallantry were goals to be attained through much struggle and toil. The young aspirant to the rank of “knight” was to be strong and fair, always defending the weak and defenseless among his acquaintances. He was to pursue only the loftiest ideals. His life was to be exemplary in every instance and circumstance. He was taught from infanthood that his honor was paramount. Therefore, he lived with this goal ever in sight. He was taught discipline and restraint; anger was never to be the cause of conflict or confrontation. The knight-in-training was to use his sword only to right the wrongs inflicted upon the hapless victims he encountered in his journeys.

In matters of love, the would-be knight was to remain discreet and circumspect at all times and at all costs. The good character of a fair maiden was not to be compromised under any circumstance. The aspirant was encouraged to pursue his liaisons with the utmost discretion and respect. “Courtly love” was the term used to describe the intricacies of the young aspirant’s innocent forays into intra-sexual communion and “chivalry” was the term given to the code by which he lived. A look was enough to inflame the heart of the object of the aspirant’s affections; a scent on a handkerchief sent the knight-in-training into paroxysms of ecstasy. If the relationship developed into something more, the would-be knight of the realm remained discreet and told nothing of his exploits out of respect for his lady love and a sense of decorum. His society expected nothing less of him.

Nowadays, we live in a society where women entice men with their undulating, nude bodies in clubs on every street corner in our larger cities. There are even clubs which cater to the violent streak which pervades our species, luring that dark side of the human psyche with bestial cruelty towards sexual communion. What have we lost in our race toward technological advancement? Nothing less than our innocence — and much of the mystery and wonder with which our race was endowed by its creator.

Today, a person who displays lofty ideals and conducts himself according to principles is derided as emasculate, effeminate, weak, or homosexual. If a gentleman refuses to disclose his sexual exploits, or guards his private inclinations jealously, especially a gentleman who is well-known due to his talent or his fame, that gentleman is endlessly ridiculed within our newspapers and television broadcasts. His apparent abstinence is called “unnatural,” his discretion is labeled “secretiveness,” his motivations are presumed to be “criminal,” his strength of character is proclaimed “weakness,” his honor and pride are belittled with such terms as eccentricities and weirdness.

Michael Jackson is a man who embodies the very best of the code of chivalry, so often extolled within our historical fictions and archetypal models. He typifies the young knight errant, defending the weak and helpless and innocent in our society. He clings to a code of conduct which has long since atrophied, a code which demands much of its adherents. His honor is paramount and he lives his life remaining true to his ideals, regardless of the derision of less enlightened men. Though he is often referred to by lesser men in base and vulgar terms, he clings to that which he believes to be right. He aims ceaselessly toward perfection — in his art, in his conduct, in his life. He devotes himself to discipline and self-restraint, rarely displaying anger towards those who deserve his ire. He withstands the criticisms of others with good nature, forgiving them their trespasses as a matter of course, smiling through his pain-filled tears. This self-restraint has been stamped “weakness” rather than being recognized as requiring great strength and tenacity. Jackson is a man who in bygone eras would have been marked a “Renaissance Man,” a patron of the arts, a connoisseur — self-educated, perhaps, but far from ignorant. He pursues his own line of inquiry, follows his own passions, adheres to his own morals and marches to the beat of a different drummer. But Jackson’s nonconformity, rather than being cause for criticism and disdain, should be seen for what it is — the nonconformity of creative genius.

He is a far more stringent task-master than any society could impose by force. Jackson expects more of himself than it is reasonable for a man to expect — perfection, pure and simple. In his work, he drives himself nearly to the brink of mania. If the sound he wants is not able to be produced with the instruments at his disposal, he manufactures those sounds within his own frame and injects them stealthily into the musical background, seamlessly blending his own man-made rhythms with those made by instruments. In his performances, he drives himself to the point of physical distress and beyond — always stretching the envelope of possibility — frequently requiring hospitalization as a result of his devotion to an ideal that only he can envision.

A man so driven towards perfection in his art would be no less driven toward it in his life.

Jackson’s reticence to disclose detailed descriptions of each sexual encounter in which he has participated, his concern and respect for his partners’, has been ridiculed as “timidity.” Although it is undeniable that Michael Jackson is shy and extremely introverted, he cannot by any stretch of the imagination, be called fearful. His is the stance of that knight errant, to whom a fair maiden’s good name and character was a commodity to be valued, respected and protected at all costs. His gallantry has been a magnet which has attracted many detractors, his courtesy in the face of impudence and rudeness has been accosted as “weakness” or “effeminate,” when it takes a very strong man, who is sure of his identity, who is comfortable within himself to adhere to such principles against such adversity.

Indeed, it may be said in truth, that Michael Jackson is a throw-back to a much earlier age, an age when a gentleman’s gentleness and forthright honesty were not qualities worthy of ridicule, but were the scaffolding upon which he based his life — an age in which discretion truly was the better part of valor and a gentlemen’s firm control over his passions was a matter of inestimable pride and an intangible badge of honor conducive to his station.

Michael would have been the perfect Galahad, questing for his grail, thirsting and yearning for his ideals to be made manifest in his reality. He would be able to play Lancelot to perfection, the gallant lover of Guinivere, who loved from afar and molded himself after nothing short of perfection of spirit, mind and body because he would not be acting the part, but living it. He is Arthur, the Pendragon, whose earthly dynasty based on equality and faith in the potential of each individual was felled by corruption of spirit from within rather than by external malignancy.

Let us all accord such strength and tenacity the respect they deserve rather than adding to the malevolent forces of cynicism and doubt battering the foundations of this contemporary vestige of the glory of utopian Camelot.

Jan – Mid 1990’s

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: