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Derek Best has contributed to several publications, including Macleans Magazine Canada, and Omni Magazine, USA. He is has also produced many documentary films for Television. For many years, he has been interested in A Course in Miracles, a metaphysical thought system, and maintains the official website for that organization. "ACIM", he says "is central to my personal way of seeing the world." This site is strictly personal however. Derek has an eclectic range of interests, and writes about them here as the mood strikes him.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

No V8.

Diagonal rain beats a tattoo on the windows. The living room breathes in soft shadow. I'm reclined on the sofa listening to the burbles and splatters of a wet afternoon. In a world made up entirely of places and things, there is no place to go and no-thing to do. I am roaming mentally. Decades ago there was a hallway that seemed always defined by the morning sunlight streaming through a transom. Where did the hallway go when it rained? It is nowhere in memory's lost labyrinths. There were sullen afternoons where the clouds welled up like bruises over the poplar trees, and in the dark still before the storm I was afraid and wanted to go home. There was a night when the heavens opened up their canons and shot forth fire and sound that shook the streets. I remember a train station and me huddled under a scalloped canopy, shivering and peering at the slashing rain, trying to choose a time to dash between the lightning bolts. I remember running through the streets of Boston in a blinding downpour, finally succumbing to nature, no longer trying to dodge the drops, but taking a langorous natural bath in all my clothes, feeling the rivers of heaven streaming down my face, my neck, my shirt, my legs, filling my shoes, trying to wash me into the streets along with the dust and debris of the day. I remember a glass frame in a garden, used to grow -- I think -- cucumbers, smashed by the sheer weight of water after its three thousand foot trajectory from the skies above. I remember a mathematics class where the rain outside was so spectacular that all eyes turned to the window to gape, and the teacher was reduced to sarcasm "Haven't you seen rain before?" I remember three soggy days of windless rain on a small sailboat, and we four small boys reduced to sitting in the tiny cabin quoting Coleridge: "water water everywhere" while the tarpaulins flapped and dripped. I remember coming out of the Paris Metro one spring day and being met by a tidal wave of runoff from a sudden storm, crashing down the steps sending commuters screeching back into the tunnels to wring themselves dry and regroup. There was a car my father had which always stalled when driven through any kind of standing water; nevertheless he would venture forth fearlessly in the worst of weather, somehow never dreaming history would repeat itself. There were afternoons in Florida when the palette of the sky turned to black ink and the rain was so intense it was impossible to tell where the sky ended and the ocean began. I had an employee who always hid under the desk till the thunder passed, convinced the day of judgment was nigh. Now he is a priest, presumably telling everyone it really is nigh. I should have been a priest, or "a pair of ragged claws, scuttling across ocean floors." I could have been a priest. I could'a been a contender. I could'a had a V8. I could'a, I would'a, I should'a. Hell - one day I will! But right now I'm too comfortable on my sofa listening to the rain.

9 Comments:

Anonymous marian said...

That was very cinematic. I don't know if I could do that -- if my memory would work that way. I think not. Nice read, Derek.

2:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This was the perfect literary description of pure lazzziiiness! It was so beautiful I forgot that you were doing NOTHING! I cant' wait until the next time it rains. I'm going to conjure up a volume II to match you volume I. Fantastic use of words!

4:25 PM  
Anonymous A friend said...

"No V8" is beautifully written. I agree with anonymous. A very enjoyable read.

9:08 PM  
Anonymous RovingCritic said...

I want to add my voice to this chorus. This was one of the nicest, most appropriate, most unpretentious uses of stream-of-consciousness writing I've found in a long time. Well done Derek. If you are not a writer you should be.

9:48 AM  
Anonymous a friend said...

AMEN!
RIGHT ON!
As Rovingcritic writes "you should be a writer"

6:38 PM  
Anonymous a friend said...

AMEN!
RIGHT ON!
As Rovingcritic writes "you should be a writer"

6:39 PM  
Blogger lu said...

Lovely prose.

After reading I settled back into my chair, when I turned to stare out the window and let it sit for a bit, the sunshine felt a bit disappointing, I expected the downpour to continue.

7:01 PM  
Anonymous derek said...

Thank you to all for the very kind words and thoughts. The "rain" piece was not intended to be anything special - just a comma between other thoughts. But commas can take on a life of their own I guess. According to George W. Bush, the entire Iraq war will be seen by future generations as a comma.
Love and kisses... D.

11:17 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you. Reading your thoughts about Days of Heaven was intimately satisfying, and, well, not unlike watching that divine masterpiece of cinema. Dear Sir. You are and artist. The two paths you speak of must be the same.

7:03 PM  

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Thursday, September 21, 2006

The Road less travelled


This post has nothing to do with theology or ACIM. It is just personal. Movie critic Roger Ebert has been having health problems, and has had surgery, so he has not been writing reviews lately. Recently his website http://www.rogerebert.com/ ran a little retrospective of reviews of the greatest movies ever. I was so glad to see Days Of Heaven listed.

No one I know has ever seen this film, or even heard of it ... but it means so much to me. Ebert calls it "one of the most beautiful films ever made."

Days Of Heaven gets its title from Deuteronomy 11:21 ("That your days may be multiplied, and the days of your children, in the land which the Lord swore unto your fathers to give them, as the days of heaven upon the earth.") It is the story of three migrant workers in 1916, who take a job on a Texas farm to escape the law up in Chicago. One of the three, a young adolescent girl, is the voice-over narration of the film. She is old before her time. From her apocalyptic flashes we can glimpse the sweep and scope of the story:


I met this guy named Ding-Dong. He told me the whole Earth is goin' up in flame. Flames will come out of here and there and they'll just rise up. The mountains are gonna go up in big flames, the water's gonna rise in flames. There's gonna be creatures runnin' every which way, some of them burnt, half of their wings burnin'. People are gonna be screamin' and hollerin' for help. See, the people that have been good - they're gonna go to heaven and escape all that fire. But if you've been bad, God don't even hear you. He don't even hear ya talkin'.
You might think this is just the overactive imagination of a lonely deprived girl, but the genius of the filmmakers lies in knowing we will make just that assumption and dismiss her words. But they are prophetic, and at the dramatic climax of the film, everyone's world goes up in flames. Slowly we come to realize that the recurring flippant nihilism of her narrative voice is the descant -- it is the "point" to the "counterpoint" of the visual beauty.


You couldn't sort it out. The Devil just sittin' there laughin'. He's glad when people does bad. Then he sends them to the snake house. He just sits there and laughs and watch, while you're sittin' there all tied up and snakes are eatin' your eyes out. They go down your throat and eat all your systems out.
The film is shot in widescreen 70mm, and rich with the ominous sparse wonder of the praries. Recently I went to an Andrew Wyeth show at the High museum in Atlanta and the whole time I was there I kept thinking of Days Of Heaven. In a way it is like a giant animated Wyeth masterpiece.

Was it a mistake casting "pretty boy" Richard Gere as the central character: an inarticulate trouble-prone drifter, but with a genuine concern for his girlfriend/companion, and her sister? Was it a mistake adopting an oblique episodic style, where the dialog frequently seems improvised and muttered, almost overheard at times? At times there seems to be an intense narrative thread, and we become absorbed in the personal relationships. But always the immediate emotional roller-coaster is smoothed over by the great pastiche of the plains; sunswept, windswept, and quivering under the threat of giant thunderheads, and delicately sprinkled with Saint Saens. It is a disorienting masterpiece and you become clay under its influence. After a while you are just along for the experience, willing to accept any human outcome as long as the eerie beauty is sustained, yet sensing that no outcome is possible save a tragic one.

Credit for the mystical construction is usually given to director Terence Malick, who more recently directed The Thin Red Line, but I think differently. In 1978, shortly after the film was released, I lived for a short time in Greenwich Village in New York. There I met Jacob Brackman, the producer of the film, and had a long conversation with him about it. I was trying to get a handle (from a creative point of view) on exactly how such poignancy came into existence. Exactly what process, or whose decisions led to its disquieting qualities? At that time I had just left CBC Television in Canada where I had been working as a documentary producer in current affairs. My last stint there was a show with a TV host named Robert Cooper, who acted as a kind of roving investigator/trouble- shooter, advocate. It was your basic "Robin Hood" show. Since then, Cooper has made a name for himself as executive producer of "Stargate SG-1" and "Stargate Atlantis".

Anyway I was all ga-ga at meeting Brackman. It was a social meeting, arranged through an old friend. I must have seemed like a dumb teenager to him, but he is a peaceful man who shows respect and concern for everyone. During a long chat in a book-lined living room I learned some surprising facts, such as:

Richard Gere was not first choice for the part. First choice (but unavailable) was John Travolta.

The film was not shot in 70mm. It was shot in conventional 35mm, but was blown up to 70mm as part of a series of experiments to find a way to enhance its visual appeal to make up for perceived inadequacies in other areas.

The episodic, fragmented style was not deliberate. It represented an attempt to recover from failure. The shooting was fraught with problems: nothing worked, and nothing fit together. Sound was poor, continuity was off, key scenes were missing. Brackman's genius was in deciding to put the material together collage-style, and blend it all in with the larger visual panorama - add the girl's deadpan narration then blow it up to 70mm and let Ennio Morricone's music and the visuals carry everything along. It was almost an accident.

Brackman was modest enough about it all, as if he had just been lucky. But the guiding force behind it was his exquisite sensitivity to time and place and pace, and a recognition of the inevitable bittersweet tragedy of love.

I did not know it then, but I know now, that Brackman is a friend of Singer Carly Simon, and actually wrote the lyrics to a number of her greatest hits, including "That's the Way I've Always Heard It Should Be" and "Haven't Got Time for the Pain" Sometime when you have a minute listen to the words of "That's the way I've always heard it should be." Here is a young teenage girl feeling her father's remoteness and unavailability, and lamenting the inseparable gulf between her parents ...


My father sits at night with no lights on
His cigarette glows in the dark
The living room is still
I walk by, no remark
I tiptoe past the master bedroom where
My mother reads her magazines
I hear her call "Sweet dreams"
But I forget how to dream

Ms. Simon's father was Richard Simon, founder of Simon and Schuster, the publishing company. He did indeed stay up all night reading and smoking. Their house was often the setting for fashionable receptions for the literati of the time, and the young girl often felt woefully inadequate and inarticulate. She developed a terrible stutter and it was her mother who suggested she try singing her words.

Ah, my ... why all ths reminiscence? There was a time when these things were important to me and I craved the high-profile creative life. Today what has become of me? Are my dreams shattered and squashed, or have my priorities simply changed? I live on a constant see-saw between love of the arts and disdain for them. Not an aesthetic disdain but a theological one. Two paths diverge in the woods, and sometimes I am sad for the one I did not take.

9 Comments:

Anonymous marian said...

I think your priorities have simply changed. The desire to identify with some role or other is similar to an addiction in that it solidifies a sense of self. And your intermittent disdain for the arts is probably similar to the disdain one feels for people who are still smoking, when one has recently quit.

Once you know you won't start smoking again, you feel neutral and even affectionate towards smokers, and you realize that in truth, it's not such a big deal after all.

10:45 AM  
Anonymous marian said...

Derek, I condensed the above comment from the thousand or so words I had before it so when I now revisit, it looks a bit cold.

Don't mean to sound like an enlightenment nazi.

What I meant to say, among other things, is that I liked this post, a lot.

6:37 PM  
Anonymous Jo-Ann said...

How human you are to remember the past and wonder what things might have been if only….” I had taken the other path”. Be kind to yourself and know that you are on the path that is perfect for you today. Who’s telling you that your dreams are shattered and squashed? A shift in your creative course may surprise you and bring you many blessings of satisfaction. Derek, look at the words above, how interesting you are, how creative you are and how much
pleasure you give to others with your wisdom. It’s okay to ask yourself these questions but do not let the sadness hold you in it’s gripe. You have so much talent and can do most anything, give yourself a break.

When I’m setting on the see-saw, which is often, I just have forgotten whose hand I hold at that time. When I drop the hand of the Holy Spirit’s and pick up the ego’s hand I’m lost in this world. Walk your path Derek holding the hand that will give you Peace and I will take my own advice and do the same.

Be kind and loving to yourself, you are a beautiful person

2:03 PM  
Anonymous derek said...

I agree with Marian, it is an addiction, and we can learn to change our habits. In fact, change is relatively easy. We can and do change our obsessions compulsions and pursuits quite frequently. There are industries and institutions built around such change, such as colleges, and 12-step programs, and self-help programs. What we do not do, however, is understand and accept they are ontologically all the same. In our need to structure and layer the world of illusion to keep its problems insoluble, we assign different absolute values to different activities. There is a vague and rather fluid hierarchy. Thus someone who believes peace comes from drugs, or from money and power is regarded with suspicion and distaste. Someone who believes peace comes from arts and beauty is regarded with more respect. Someone who believes peace comes from family life and childbearing is given great admiration, and those who believe in self-sacrifice and helping others are usually given awe and reverence.
Twelve-step programs exist to help people change their habits away from drugs, gambling, even money. I have not heard of any 12 step programs to help people withdraw from pursuit of the arts. Why? It is a "higher" calling. ("Higher" as in "hierarchy" presumably.) But professional help might be called in where such a dedication interferes with, say family life, which is considered a more important activity. There are definitely no self-help programs to help people rid themselves of dedication to family. That would be considered "un-natural" So it goes up the hierarchy. But if the truth be told -- all these activities are the same in the sense they are all "displacement" activities in which we engage to avoid a profound underlying truth. And if we ever did face it we would realise is not "true" at all, and all this activity was unnecessary and foolish.
Much of our energy is wasted deciding which path to take, which activity to "believe" in and hold dear, and which variation of that path to follow. Once committed we tend to fight for the rightness of what we have chosen, and resist any calls for change, unless we can see or think of a suitable substitute. It is difficult or impossible for someone to give up drugs or gambling because they fear the vacuum they believe will result in their life. It is difficult for me to let go of involvement in the arts because I fear the emptiness which I think would ensue. It is difficult for Marian to leave her son at college because of the sense of loss and separation she believes must follow. As a society we find some of these more natural and acceptable than others... but that's the point. We are not a society. We just think we are. We are not many, just one, and all the complex activities we sructure to ward of the pain of alone-ness are completely unnecessary. As Peggy Lee sang: "Is that all there is?"

Anyway, gotta go. Gotta make money. Amen Shalom.

12:03 PM  
Anonymous marian said...

I agree, it's all the same thing, be it an identification of yourself as a parent or an identification of yourself as a doctor or an actor or an artist. It's easy to use the free admission pass that these roles offer you without thinking about the fact that for all of us they will end. The parent and spouse may wind up alone, the doctor may wind up a lonely patient in a nursing home....

It's very humbling to think about the day when your ticket of admission will be gone. Best to do it up front, I think.

9:47 PM  
Anonymous Annie D. said...

Can you really think raising God's perfect little children is not more important than making money or making movies?

12:20 AM  
Anonymous marian said...

Hi Annie,

I'm not saying that one activity is more or less important than another. I'm not able to judge that. There could be a filmmaker who creates something so enlightening for so many people that compared to a particular parent, there's no contest.

I'm saying that the sense of self-importance and solidity one gets from ANY role is identical, impermanent, and because it is temporary, illusionary.

11:50 AM  
Anonymous Annie D. said...

Some people including me think we have a very clear "role" that is given by God and is our reason for being here temporarily. I don't feel any sense of God the creator in this blog. The writer seems to have lost site of Him and become secular.

5:20 PM  
Blogger Political Umpire said...

Thanks for your comment on my post on the film, Derek. And for a most interesting blogsite!

You obviously have more of a connection with the film than me, but having seen The Thin Red Line and The New World, I would be surprised if Malick's role in the film was not of the first importance.

7:06 AM  

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Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Both Sides Now.

Timothy Leary used to call it the "five and dime" syndrome. In the first half of the 20th century America saw a proliferation of stores selling cheap little toys, candies and knick-knacks for five-cents or ten cents, giving rise to the name "five and dime." Due to inflation, today's equivalent would be the "dollar" stores. Enough of the history lesson: the point is - the inside of a five and dime store is a very depressing environment (unless you are in love with cultural icons). Here everything is crass and cardboard and plastic and shrinkwrapped. All items are low-quality, stamped-out, second-rate, bare-bones, gaudy, tasteless, and -- well -- cheap! Lighting is bare-bulb vulgar, decor is non-existent, and the aisles seem filled with sallow haunted faces, picking through worthless bric-a-brac.

Leary, the self appointed guru of the psychedelic drug culture noted that certain aspects of the LSD experience are a lot like being trapped inside a five and dime store. All perception seems to take on a pallid meaningless hue. Everything seems cheap and tawdry, and the universe becomes a place of brittle plastic junk, devoid of meaning. That phrase "devoid of meaning" holds the key. In such a universe, all objects are reduced to pure form, and revealed to us as they really are: without purpose. It has been a long time since I read Dr. Leary but I recall he had the insight not to say that this aspect of altered perception was wrong or invalid, or any less real than any other. It was just the flip-side of beauty. Most people of course indulged in mind-altering drugs hoping for the beauty, and were frequently shocked by revelations of its tawdry underbelly. But one without the other is impossible. To perceive beauty entails the idolizing of form. Not to perceive it involves an inability to idolize form. The form itself is still perceived, but it becomes flat and meaningless. It conveys nothing. It is an empty shell, a hoax, an illusion, where once there was a world that seemed to have purpose and promise.

Depression often involves a sense of "flatness". Life holds no joy. Nothing gives pleasure. Have you been there? Of course we say that is not normal or natural, and we medicate it pretty damn quick! Can't have people walking the streets questioning the meaning of consumerism! It's bad for the economy. In a sense, today's pharmaceuticals are a more sophisticated version of Leary's. They are custom designed to lead us away from a particular type of "mis"-perception. The irony is of course that there is no correct type of perception: all perception is false knowledge. Even "vision" (as experienced by "visionaries") is a form of perception, thus a form of illusion. A Course in Miracles (as you may know) distinguishes most profoundly between perception and knowledge, telling us the two are mutually incompatible. Perception is of form, while knowledge is of purpose. Of "visions" the Course says:

The fact that perception is involved at all removes the experience from the realm of knowledge. That is why visions, however holy, do not last.

The implication of course is that knowledge is eternal, and whatever is not eternal is not knowledge. Thus the shifting sands of perception, whether drug-induced, or drug-reduced, or "normal" or "visionary" are all just temporary. Some are more useful and productive in a world of form, but none is right and none is wrong. All are false because none are knowledge.

I've looked at clouds from both sides now
From up and down and still somehow
It's cloud's illusions I recall
I really don't know clouds at all
-- (Joni Mitchell)

For the last few weeks I've been struggling with cars, people, and pigs. It began one day when I saw a picture of a pig on a TV farming show. I suppose I don't normally pay that much attention to pigs, but this one caught my attention. I knew what it was of course (i.e. it's label or symbol was "pig") but what I saw was - a self-propelled alimentary canal. At one end was a snuffling nose and mouth, and at the other end: an anus. The entire "pig" thing was just an elaborate explosion of form around this ugly pink tube, designed to enable locomotion and other bodily necessities for perpetuating the eternal foraging and excretion. But this was circular, for the foraging and excretion had no purpose other than to support the locomotive mechanisms, and the locomotive mechanisms had no purpose other than .... well you understand.

"No purpose" Now there was a five and dime theme to stick in the mind. It was ugly just becuse it lacked purpose. It was pure pointless form. There may be beautiful pigs and ugly pigs, but in their self-serving pointlessness, they are all obscene. Look at a pig sometime and explain to me "what is the point?"

Now look at a human being and answer the same question. We are not horizontal and we don't snuffle (mostly) but those are simple variations of form. Fundamentally we are self-propelled alimentary canals. We are ludicrus manifestations of form around a long tube, designed to support a bunch of corollary subsystems that make continued existence of the tube possible - for a few years. This is creation in all its glory??

Alright, I hear you saying I need to increase my medications. You are right. Modern medications have as their goal the selective tuning of perception so we don't perceive things this "incorrect" way. Instead we perceive in a way that makes us unquestioning productive members of society. We see roses and sunsets and rainbows, and birthdays, and graduations, promotions, inventions, engagements, bar-mitzvahs, weddings, mexican-food, italian-food, football, baseball, water ski-ing, bike-week, art-collecting, ebay selling, cable-TV, interior-decorating, kittens, puppies, babies, little piggies, "this little piggy went to market", and Santa. In short, all things to keep us busy and mindless. But the Course teaches differently ...

In all these diversionary tactics, however, the one question that is never asked by those who pursue them is "What for?" This is the question that you must learn to ask in connection with everything. What is the purpose?

It does seem to me that a car has more purpose than either a pig or a person. Both the mammals are just self-serving self-propelled feeding-excreting, warm-blooded blobs, one horizontal, one vertical. A car is very similar: it is certainly "auto-mobile" or self-propelled, and it is certainly largely concerned with ingesting fuel and belching out waste-products, but at least it serves the slightly greater purpose of carrying more than its own mass, thus being useful for transporting other pigs and humans around in search of food. Relax! I am joking of course - a car is not more important or valuable than a person. If it were, then our cities would be given over to cars, streets would be eight-lanes of traffic with no sidewalks for people. Stores, churches, schools, and office buildings would be accessible only by automobile, far beyond any reasonable walking distance, and would have to be surrounded by giant parking lots. Giant car dealerships would sprawl over hundreds of acres, and entire industries would develop around the manufacturing, selling, leasing, renting, insuring, and repairing of these four-wheeled demi-gods. People would install stereos and TV's and air-conditioners in their cars, and spend half their day in them, talking on little squawking gadgets to people elsewhere in other cars. What a sad world that would be. :-)

The point is of course that "purpose" cannot ever be expressed in terms of usefulness to the overall illusion. In that sense a doctor has far more purpose than a rock, and a cell-phone has more purpose than a cigarette butt. But in a larger sense all these components of form are equal and all have the same ultimate meaning, which is -- none. This places us firmly in Leary's five and dime store, in a universe where all form is without meaning: just hideous random brownian motion, bubbling and roiling out of the void like Joni Mitchell's clouds, and back into nothing. This I think is the quintessential dilemna of the existentialists. Their despair is justified. All aspects of existence are equally without meaning, so we fill our lives with idols that we worship as a substitute for meaning. Where the Course differs in this regard is in teaching us not to deny our despair and disgust, but to see it with forgiveness. It turns the ego's weapons on itself, gently deflating the meaning of all those idols and opening us up to true knowledge.

8 Comments:

Anonymous Toyotaman. said...

A doctor not more important than a rock? Don't you think your a bit out of touch with raelity? What else? A young child not more imporant than a pedophile? A tall building full of people not more important than a terrorist? Mother Theresa not more importsnt than Hitler? What kind of thought system is it that gives psychopaths equal rights with victims? If you were hurt badly in a car accident how would you feel if someone said the doctor can't come to you because theres a rock in the way and we dont want to move it. ?

12:00 PM  
Anonymous Jo-Ann said...

Pigs, ugly or beautiful. It’s all in how you want to perceive them or for that matter everything else in this world of illusion of form. Some like you Derek find pigs ugly and that’s okay, some want them as pets and then others for food or the blue ribbon they might win at the county fair. What you wrote…All aspects of existence are equally without meaning, so we fill our lives with idols that we worship as a substitute for meaning.

What does anyone of us want??? What is the meaning of anything here??? I would like to think that most of us are the same and truly want the same things in life, and that is Peace. Peace of mind. Peace of mind in a world of madness. How do we do that?? It’s a decision we make when we have had enough of this world. And… I don’t know what the right thing for anyone is but we all have a choice here in this world of the ego. We can identify with our bodies, (the ego) listening to it madness, questioning our self worth, wanting that special person to love us, judging and defending that judgment…or we can identify with the right mind and see things differently. When we do that we learn to forgive ourselves for thinking and perceiving wrongly. We learn to forgive ourselves for choosing the ego. This brings knowledge of Truth. When this happens we can join with like-minded individuals and this is the oneness that the Course of Miracles teaches us.

The Course is not for everyone and that’s okay. However you find your Peace is your purpose in your life.

Thanks for this subject, your humor and your Truth.

11:45 PM  
Anonymous Toyotaman said...

Humor, truth, love, peace ??? I think Ive stumbled on a hippie commune. Joanne seems to be saying if life sucks just see it differently and its beautiful. Your not taking any responsibiltiy for social change, just being passive and accepting. So if Sadam Hussein wants to kill a few thousand kurds we shouldnt complai we should just look at it differently.? Hey - the kurds should just look at it differently too. It has no meaning you say. I dont' get it, this isn't even pacifism. At least pacifism recognises what it choose to ignore. It does not see everything through rose colored glasses.

10:40 AM  
Anonymous Annie D. said...

If purpose is related to weight-carrying ability then how about a horse or an elephant, or even an ant which I hear can carry a thousand times its own weight? This makes an ant much more important than a car. I don't know much about this course of miracles but I can't see anything "miraculous" about a car. It is just metal and has no place in the creation except to show the creative power of the human mind.
The greater "purpose" of humankind is spiritual and is God-given. To learn and grow and follow in Christ's footsteps and strive to become more perfect and love Him. In my opinion the bible leaves no doubt about this.

11:28 PM  
Anonymous marian said...

Interesting discussion. My experience with psychedelics, back in the day, was to see form as poignant. The whole tragic human 'experiment' as very poignant. There was a sweetness underlying the form, a beauty independent of all the tawdry uselessness. It shone through everything and made all of the cheap, useless crap quite beautiful.

But I get where you're coming from. I just think you might be making distinctions that are not necessarily helpful, and that may hurt you.

7:54 AM  
Anonymous marian said...

I guess what I'm trying to say is that the five and dime store has no inherent qualities other than what you project upon it, because in essence it does not exist.

So what you see is yourself.

8:04 AM  
Anonymous Brian said...

Derek,
I just read your post "Both Sides Now". Unfortunately, it was wonderfully astute, insightful and clearly written. I got a lot from reading it. I say unfortunately because I have been increasingly frustrated with my own seemingly endless diversionary tactics. In fact I was following the link to your blog for just such a diversion. The message awaiting me there is the same one, in many ways, that's been coming to me from listening to and reading J. Krishnamurti. I can no longer even question the "fact" of my constant running away and trying to escape from I don't really know what. But that that is my purpose these days, and it seems likely has always been, is indisputable to me now.

I listen to Ken a whole lot too, and what I get from all these wonderful and enlightened/enlightening sources (yourself included now) is to just watch, observe, be aware, don't judge, have compassion, respect the fear and its need for denial, resistance and projection, and (as my many 12 Step Programs advise) take it one day at a time.
I understand this completely, though it's nearly entirely an intellectual understanding. I'm also not saying I haven't "grown tremendously" over the years. But I feel these days like I can't punch my way out of a paper bag with this stuff. I'm watching everything I do seem to be another escape hatch and I'm powerless to do any differently. All I can do is choose somewhat less socially unacceptable (whatever that really means) escape routes. I am very uncomfortable being me these days. I don't have all the shenanigans I used to have to look at and condemn in myself and feel shame and guilt about. But I still feel that way. I almost want to go back to the old destructive days so I would feel justified in feeling this way. So I keep a few ways to act out, like caffiene, sugar, spending, politics, etc. But I know what they are.

So, if you ever feel like writing a blog about a day or week or year that you felt similarly I would love to read it. Maybe you have already and I tuned in to your blog too late. I'm sure I've read or heard the answer already but just wasn't ready (read that as willing) to let it in.

10:54 AM  
Blogger Derek said...

Brian,
Thanks for your message. If I were you, I would not worry about having only an "intellectual understanding." I've found that the ego loves to make us beat ourselves up over this. There are many paths up the mountain, and yours may be right for you. Others may suggest your understanding is not complete - but anyone who suggests that is certainly not wholly concerned with healing, so perhaps they too are still looking for the right way.

10:58 AM  

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