A Letter to the Father

Many of you know the story of how I went to seminary and intended to be a professor; how I felt deeply I was in the wrong place but didn’t know where the right place was. One of my dorm mates was an opera buff who had every opera record under the sun and listened to them morning, noon, and night. I listened with him for the year and a half I was there. Something about those great voices grabbed me down deep somewhere in my psyche and I bought some and began listening to opera while I was studying. Then one evening, a strange thing (for me then) happened. I clearly heard an inner voice say to me “your characters could be your sermons; the stage could be your pulpit; the theatre could be your church; the audience could be your congregation.” Now go put feet to your faith.” This shocked me! Baptists do not hear voices! Maybe Pentecostals do but not us Baptists. You have to understand that I had never had any serious voice lessons. I sang in choirs and sounded no better than anyone else. But just before I heard the voice, I remember praying almost through tears, “Father please tell me what to do. I don’t feel like I belong here.” Maybe that is why I believed it. I took a little step by faith. This was a new kind of ministry. I left seminary and got a job. When I wasn’t working I was listening to opera. This went on about six months until finally one day I opened my mouth to see if I could make a sound like those guys on the records, and out came the operatic voice I have had since! A friend came by and said “Hey, you’ve got quite a voice. You ought to enter the Met Auditions.” I didn’t know what they were but I said sure. I filled out the application, got some music for some hard bass arias and set to learning them by listening to records. I went down to sing the first level of the Met Auditions in Tulsa and had no expectations. I just sang and was named one of the winners. I was even given an apprenticeship with the Santa Fe Opera and the Tulsa Opera sponsored me and gave me grants. I thought to myself, “Gee, this opera business is a snap.” I had absolutely no social preparation to help me deal with this new profession. And I found out that not everybody would like me. I would have real enemies to fight. But I did my best, sang big roles in big houses. I made some mistakes and after singing in this world 11 years I made a personal mistake that took me off the stage. I kept thinking I would find a way to get back on, but I never did. I became a university teacher instead. But all through this era my heart was aching that I had failed in this new ministry that I had been divinely given. Friends were well meaning when they said, “It’s all in the past. Just move on!” But they didn’t understand the miracle I had been given and how deeply it had hurt me to feel I had not fulfilled what I had been given. I was still a minister at heart even when I was an opera singer.

Today, I wrote a letter to God and made a little boat with my recordings in it and my reviews, and I set it on the ocean when the tide was going out. I am going to share with you that letter.

Dearest Father,
I know that you know my thoughts and that you are here now as I type these words, but it is good for me to write to you this way. I love you with all my heart Father even though I scarcely know how to love, even scarcely know what it is. But you know me and knew me since before all time when I was and still am a part of you. I am a thought in your mind. It feels like I have been away from you a long time, but I know that is not true. I have just been dreaming a dream which to me seems long, but it really was over a long time ago. I am not making very much sense am I? I feel your heart in mine, dear Father. I have almost come for the time to leave this body and set sail again within the world of spirit. It is all a part of the dream which you can’t know because you know that I am safely inside your Mind. Thoughts leave not their thinker. But the Holy Spirit came with me into my dream. He witnessed my birth into this imaginary world. He saw how I so often thought of you. He saw as I viewed my part in my dream as a hero who would help people to remember you. He saw our Song awaken in my heart and formalize itself into a singer in this dream world. My career as an opera singer was the most important thing in my life because you gave me the gift to sing. Your Holy Spirit told me in Seminary that “my characters could be my sermons; the stage could be my pulpit; the theatre could be my church; the audience could be my congregation.” Then your Holy Spirit said to me, “Now go put feet to your faith.” I believed it Father. I knew it was True and that it came from you. I went into this strange, cruel, but wonderful world of opera and I sang with all my heart. I was surprised when some people didn’t like me, because my voice was from you. Along the way I sang as best as I could and I thought of you every time before I went on stage. I made some personal mistakes which I know you have forgiven me for. But I had a hard time forgiving myself for them. They took me out of the world of opera and took away my stage where I had my church. I felt like such a failure. I so wanted to use my voice to help others awaken. I thought my tears would never end for the loss of my career as a singer. You could not know my dream, of course, though you knew I was dreaming. But the Holy Spirit saw and felt everything that happened to me. He saw my tears and my broken heart. He saw the way I had to work in a cruel, cruel world of opera where the men who ran it were asleep in their own dreams of indifference, hatred and usury.
But Father, after the dream of opera changed, I learned more and remembered more. A new dream of awakening into love’s Presence came to me. On the shores of Burnaby Lake with beautiful ducks and geese, birds and fish, water and flowers, I remembered us more. That dream of awakening is still playing out in me. Father, I loved singing, but I give it back to you now as my gift to you. Here in this little boat that I have set adrift to the ocean, there is a computer stick, with all my songs, and all my reviews. They are my gift of thanks back to you for the song we share. Now I will finish the work I began at Burnaby Lake. I will fully remember you and see the face of Christ in all my brothers, even the dark ones who dream nightmares, and who will laugh at the silly old man who writes to God. But that is OK. I do not care. We can speak now all the time if you want Father. I have nothing on my mind but you…and my brothers because I keep seeing the face of Christ in them!

Your Loving Son,
Joseph

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Be Not Dismayed

There are times when the horror of this world almost outplays the wonder of it. Cheaters win; Crooks get away with crime; all that is good seems to be threatened. It comes to us in every generation, this great dilemma of the world. We look for goodness. We look so hard to find meaning, and we look even harder to find love. But we can’t find it in the world and its systems. Through tears we look from catastrophe to catastrophe and find no consolation, until another soul sees us bound up in our agony and says, “Yes, I feel it too! Where is there justice? How can we find our way?” And in that moment of common empathy love makes its existence known. The world knows it not, but the human spirit knows the love it seeks. We are the love the world needs! We are the truth we are looking for. Yes, the world is a crooked place all too often where abusers get away with their crimes, where the needy are sold for the price of shoes, where a man or woman of God seems so hard to find!! The evil one seems to win and laugh at truth and right and all that is good. We have these days where the Brett Kavanaughs of the world are exalted and truth and decency are mocked. But they will not endure. They will not endure for the moral arch of the universe bends long but it bends exactly towards justice. Nothing but Love is Real and Nothing Real can be threatened. Nothing unreal exists! It may appear to exist as a nightmare does but it will end!!! IT WILL END my dear brothers. We will awaken from this nightmare into Love’s Presence. I love therefore I am. Descartes was wrong. He didn’t see the way. But I have seen the way and when I love I am real. I rise about the dream of the world and share my thoughts with God!! So now is our time dear brothers and sisters to rise above this contemptible world and find the Love that is in us as our natural inheritance and share it with every needy one who has lost hope, who fears that evil may triumph, that ignorance is all that we can expect and that God is dead!! S/He is NOT dead! S/He lives within the love that is deep in your heart. S/he shares every moment of Love’s experience. S/he know that His/Her Son is asleep, dreaming a terrible dream of good and evil where the evil too often seems to win. But S/He has given us the ability to awaken from the dream, a little at a time or a lot at a time–it is all our choice. But the end is not in doubt. The world was over a long time ago and the Oneness of Heaven is Reality that has not been disturbed by this silly little dream of good and evil that we are playing out right now. Love is all there is. Love is all there is. Be not dismayed. Love is all there is. Be not afraid of Republicans or Brett Kavanaugh. Love is all there is!!!!!!!!!!!!

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The Body was made as a place God could not Enter.

You who made the body made it as a little temple for illusions. Believing it a place where God could enter not, you created it to house all your illusions. Every little pain and thought of separateness you hid within its tissues. Every horrible thought of a world without love you poured into the mold of the body, and thinking each thought safe from investigation you left it there and denied it. Every thought of fear and attack found its home within this sickly little temple you made to pain. This sickly little temple to pain cannot abide Love’s Presence. It would move through each sad tissue of the body with loving touch and release those illusions that you believe in so dearly. Every memory of abuse you suffered and the image of your abuser would have to go with the entry of Love’s Presence. And so you have gone through the years, holding your illusions and their painful presence, wrapped tightly within the tissues of this little temple, almost forgetting them, except when they escape from a Loving touch, a sweet smile, a caring thought from others, the touch of a cat that loves you so much this little brother has chosen to live his life with you. At their release the body for the moment feels weakened, so accustomed to being the bearer of sadness, and so sure that it is a victim come here to this life to stagger and die. Now do you see how deeply you have been misled by illusions of pain and evil. They have lived within the sinews and muscles of this body temple, asking for release, and you denied them. Letting them go seems too much to you. You fear that the body could not live without them. And yet there is a welcome little touch that would allow them to quietly leave and make room for Truth. You have not yet felt the Truth for which you seek, that you are still as God created you. “The body was not made by love. Yet love does not condemn it and can use it lovingly, respecting what the son of God has made and using it to save him from illusions.” Touch someone today with Love, a little pat, a touch of the hand, or maybe more. God’s son is waiting for someone to touch him and begin the flood of release that will save him, and you with him.
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Practical Mysticism

I have evolved a long way since my Southern Baptist ministerial days! I began my theological life as a liberal Southern Baptist theologian! There is a contradiction for you to ponder!! I moved to a Bultmannian, Tillichian liberal Protestant theologian, and then to an adherent of the Primordial Tradition in the school of   Rene GuenonFrithjof SchuonJulius EvolaHarvey Spencer LewisAnanda CoomaraswamyElémire ZollaAlain DanielouJean-Louis MichonGottfried LeibnizAldous Huxley, and Plato. While Plato came the closest to satisfying me, in the end he did not! That satisfaction was reserved for the modern scripture, A Course in Miracles, when it came into my contact.  It brought together the truths of Hinduism, Buddhism, Gnosticism, Perennialism and modern psychology in a unique way. It remains the most satisfying theological system I have come in contact with! Therefore, my past decade or more has been devoted to an experiment in practical application of the metaphysics of A Course in Miracles. The system is very close to Platonic and Neo-Platonic thought, yet also provides the ultimate Advaita of the Hindu Vedanta. I am an  Advaita Vedantin following the Metaphysical path of A Course in Miracles. At the practical level it has been my intention to see if I can live in the perspective and awareness of Oneness rather than the duality that is the common perception in this world. When I first approached this I spoke with my friend, Dr. Ken Wapnick, if it were possible to live a non-dualistic life in a dualistic world! He responded, “Of course! That is the purpose of A Course in Miracles. It takes a lot of hard work but it can be done.” He should know. He did it. Now that he has left his body, he has left us with an example of one who did just this in his life!

I have had some limited success in living out an awareness that is Advaita. I say “limited” because the longest I have maintained that awareness was six weeks. Yet those six weeks were the culmination to me of my theological quest. Other ACIM students have made similar attempts. The students of Tara Singh have, since his “death”, been meeting together to hold practical sessions on “Objective Thought.” That is essentially Advaita. Objective thought would not project the opposite!!! “Objective thought” would be impersonal, loving thought, shared with God! What would it be like to experience our thoughts shared with God? To me, the practical application of that would be an awareness of “not two.”  Writing about this is extremely difficult! It would take, myth, prose and poetry to approach it. I attempted to do that in a connected series of writings I called “The Beloved and I are One,” in which I used my experiences at a nearby lake to serve as an artistic attempt to convey this experience in practical mysticism. It was good enough to get me my Doctor of Theology degree, but the experiment continues, the quest goes on until I can steadily hold the thought that “the eye with which I see God is the same eye with which God sees me!” Then Peace shall reign over the storm and in stillness shall the voice of God be heard!

 

Not Two!

Love is the Home we seek for. In everyone and everything there is this memory of Home that we seek for. We have almost forgotten it but not quite. We cannot forget it. It calls to us like a whisp of a melody almost forgotten and yet too dear and too close to us to forget it. It is the certitude that we seek. It is the perfect lover and companion that we search for. It is the almost forgotten country from which we all came. Consciousness obscures it and makes us think there is a great distance between us. If there are two–I, as a consciousness, and Home as a place, then there is distance and time. Then there is journey and the perception of need. All of this perception of two is false. There is only “Advaita,” not two. The Home that we all remember is unconscious love, perfectly unconditional because it is impersonal, and full of Truth and Knowledge, an impersonal universe of spirit which is our only True Self. Lots of people go around preaching that “consciousness is god.” Well if it is dear ones, it is a pitiful god because it would mean that forever there is duality, that nothing exists without an opposite. There is no Ground of all Being! Being would exist only to be threatened by the other! Were this the nature of Truth, this would indeed be madness. We must awaken to see that “Nothing real can be threatened. Nothing unreal exists. Herein lies the peace of God.” That Peace is the Home we seek and the love that fills it. Consciousness is the land of dreams, the land of separation. In this dream “I” proclaim I exist as an observer and the universe is outside of me to be observed. In consciousness I am separate from God and every other sentient being. “I” as a consciousness am dreaming and in the dream I search for Home and love. How do I awaken from consciousness? You see I do not want to promote more consciousness! That just puts me into deeper dream states which are all illusions!! God is not consciousness. Consciousness is the dream that “I” can separate from God and stand apart from Him and observe Him! Consciousness is the original madness!! There is no original sin apart from this original madness In God’s world, there is only unconscious, impersonal, Love which is also Truth and Knowledge. As long as you believe your little body self is real you will not be able to find this Home that you long for. The first phase of awakening comes when the fabricated little “I” can say, “I am not a body. I am free, for I am just as God created me; spirit, not physical, a part of Him, not separate, connected to all things that think they are separate and feel themselves in need. While I seem to be in this body I will serve them by forgiveness, love and kindness. I will awaken because the great time has come!!!!!” 

(many concepts and terms I used here come from ACIM)

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We are on the bottom rung now on the ladder that leads back to our Home. As we came down the ladder by first becoming lost in the dream of consciousness, we go back up that ladder by rising higher in awareness. As we do we may catch glimpses or have experiences of a foretaste of our True character. Truth may break in on us, a little at a time. These little periods of enlightenment cannot yet stay but as long as they last they give us a propulsion upwards.
In the early fall of 2012, as I was preparing to go to Brazil to see John of God, I was visited by a change in consciousness which can only be described as a foretaste of enlightenment. It felt like Heaven right here.  I wrote about it this way then:

“A stillness has come to me which is unlike anything I have experienced before. The Love of God has come into my mind to take up abode. I am not alone, nor lonely, nor do I ever feel bored. I am actively experiencing the Love of God in my mind. I need no TV. The thought of it is humorous. I need nothing. I eat my meals while looking happily out my window at the beautiful clouds and mountains. I walk to the grocery store, talk to the street beggars with a smile and love in my heart while I pull out the change in my pocket and give it to them. I come back home and look at the clouds and the mountains and am more than content. Songs play in my mind of peace and the love of God. I write on Facebook, email friends, and pet the cat. What more need there be? I am still inside and need no entertainment. I know that I am a part of God and share his holiness and glory. I am at the gates of heaven. This is a stillness which I have not had before. This is not the stillness from nature, as beautiful as that is. This is the Love of God which has taken up abode in my heart and I want for nothing more; not fame, nor riches, not wife, nor position. I have found peace and happiness within the Love of God. And I am not alone here in my mind. You are here too. We are all one Mind and we are almost home. We are the Glory of God.
Pray for the Glory of God to fall, as we awaken to Self, One with God. In the Glory cloud will all our lessons be reviewed. In the Glory cloud will we climb up the ladder. In the Glory cloud will we see Jesus. In the Glory cloud we will know our Home. Soon we will be done with the troubles of the world. Soon we will just be what we are. We are the Glory cloud of God.

“The Glory of God is all I need.
The Glory of God is my Home.
The Glory of God is my peace.
The Glory of God removes all illusions,
None can stand in The Glory of God.
The Glory of God is all I want.
The Glory of God is all I seek.
The Glory of God is the will of my spirit.
The Glory of God is the answer to my deepest question:
“Who am I?”
I am the Glory of God,
As rays from the sun,
I am His Glory.
I am The Glory of God.

“I eat my food and pass my water. I pet the cat and watch the clouds, gather in the twilight and welcome the night.

“I teach my students and just stay in this Love which I never, ever, want to leave. It is my Home. It is my Highest Self. I am where I belong, and I am far from alone. You are here with me, and you, and you, and you, and you. “We are all here, Father. The Mind which you created as One has come Home to you. And you know we never really left. We travelled only in dreams while safely in your embrace. Our Love, Our Light will shine forever with You. And the Love you have for your Son is returned back to you as pure as it was when you created Him. Our song, in praise to You, is all that will be heard.”

“I thought that, for me, the most difficult part of staying in right-mindedness, and continuing my experience of the Love of God in my daily life would be to control reactions. Reactions can send you right back to wrong mindedness. But I have found that the Love of God actually gently protects me from reactions. I mean, there is just so much space and timelessness! I stood in a long line at the IGA today, without any temptation to lose patience. I just listened to the people’s thoughts and feelings as I waited. That’s another thing about the real Love of God…It is not evangelistic! I had no urge to try to persuade people! The Love of God honors our sleeping brothers! It is like Tara Singh said, “Some of our brothers are deeply asleep. That’s alright. Let them sleep. They will awaken.” The Love of God knows no pressure.

“Today I awakened from sleep rather early for me. I thought, ‘Jesus why am I up so early.’ I soon found out there was work he wanted me to do. This is life in the Spirit. We listen to an inner Voice that always speaks for truth, and we happily do as the Voice tells us. We have learned over the years, that those who obey the inner Voice will know the Love of God! May you know it today!! Peace.

That was my sharing with you. For six weeks the Christ Mind was almost totally me. It was the culmination of my life. Eventually, though, I faded back into Joe Shore, more loving, of course, and with higher gifting, but Joe Shore nonetheless.”

At first, I agonized over losing this state, but then it came to me that it had been a precious gift which I could not fully hold yet. But one day I shall be able to go into that

state and remain there…with all of you, my brothers! ❤

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What is truth in art?

I have previously written about the relationship of art, form and meaning. The article is in this blog. I hope you will refer to it.  Let us take as an example Schubert’s great song cycle Die Winterreise. These poems by Wilhelm Mueller take us past representationalism in poetry to a true existential meaning regarding the feelings within unrequited love. It is not enough to sing the notes Schubert has written and the words Mueller has written. That was the old way. Great voices sang these songs with individual word coloring and that was supposed to be art. It was art in a way, but far from all that the song cycle requires. The greater the work the more it draws from the performer the need to put existential truth into it. The singer must become this man who has been so hurt in love, and all without stage movement or costumes. He must use his mind to connect with the character who is saying these words that Mueller and Schubert have put into his mouth. The Stanislavsky method is perfect for just this demand. Just so, let me offer a few methods to help the singer bring Truth to this great work and deliver it to the people.

If you don’t speak German you will need to translate each word and write the meaning of it in your language. In my case that would be English. Then you take 3X5 cards and make flash cards. On one side you put the German word, and on the other side the English meaning. You then drill yourself so that when you sing the German words the English meaning will register in your mind. After a while, your brain will start to think in the German words. Next you read the poems and try to give a meaning to each phrase. This is called oral interpretation of literature. Only when you can deliver the poem with meaning do you begin to sing. Now you have the abstract meaning of the notes and rhythms to suggest to your mind how the character’s mind might insinuate each phrase. You make a choice before each phrase what your insinuation is. After doing a couple of songs in this way, it will come to you that you need to use your imagination to create a back story for this person who is undergoing this Die Winterreise. You write out a biography for him: his name, what happened to him in his early life; all of the psychological information that would make him come to this winterreise. Now you have a back story in your mind. We call these virtual imaginings “internal objects.” Your mind is filled with them as you begin to choose how you will intend each phrase. These intentions are called “the dramatic beat,” and they have to happen BEFORE the musical beat. Your mind must be working faster than the musical beat. If you let the music hypnotize you into its beat you will become a robot and sing without dramatic beats, choices, insinuations. That is what we normally see today.  It will surely come to you that the character is undergoing severe feelings from experiences you have never had. Therefore you must find a way of identifying within yourself the essence of these feelings. That is what Stanislavsky meant by “substitutions.” You may have never been so desperately in love and hurt so deeply as this person but just as surely there are things that have happened to you which are of the same essence. Can you remember your first girl friend and how awful you felt when she broke off with you in grade school? Bring up that experience emotionally. Relive it and then sing a phrase thinking of that. It will bring life to it. Each song contains many such needs for substitutions. You rehearse them until you experience the essence of the substitution without having to think about “Peggy” rebuffing your advances in the second grade!!! The substitution doesn’t have to be of the same strength as the character’s, although the stronger the better, it must simple convey the essence of the emotion.

The essence of the method is to STAY CONSCIOUS within the events of the breath, the dramatic choice and the experience the words convey. Don’t let the music hypnotize you into just a singing machine! Let your mind be filled with internal objects before you begin to sing and while you are singing. It will help you to keep the mind moving faster than the music and give you the ability to chose a meaning for each phrase. When the audience experiences performance this way, it is far more gripping and moving than just the experience of hearing a nice voice sing words with a little bit of word coloring!!!!!!!