Monday, September 9, 2013

"The rain is falling down
Like all the souls you sent here
Coming to this earth
To find healing

Mother earth takes in the rain
Like your heart takes my voice
Let us free each other
With our prayers, with our voice

And I'm coming home

And I'm coming home

And I'm coming home

And I'm coming home..."

Friday, August 2, 2013

And Still I Rise...

I have decided to continue keeping this blog LIVE. It will not be going into dormancy. And it will not disappear for now. I hope to start posting very regularly to it once again in the very near future. The content may change some. I'm not completely sure of that. One thing I know is that I will continue to be very true to myself here in this forum as I am in every forum I express myself in. Working once again full-time as spiritual teacher will not change that. It can't. I don't know how to live my life in a false nor pretentious way anymore.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

EMERGENCY

Share your comments about this photo if you have any and would like to do so. (NOTE: I do not have any identifying nor archival information on this photograph)

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Diary of a Wage Slave

DIARY OF A WAGE SLAVE DAY 2: 

I worked for a non-profit a number of years ago. I've worked for several non-profits. I could say quite a bit about that alone. Perhaps I will at some point. Today however, is not that day. So, this particular day at this particular non-profit was "BENEFITS DAY." This was the one day of the year when that specific and many non-profits decide to let their wage slaves know there are some real benefits that come with working as a wage slave. There were many segments to benefits day and many different presenters. The segment I want to focus on was presented by the financial services corporation that managed things like our retirement (YAY! to retirement from life as a wage slave!!!) packages, retirement package, mutual funds and such. At this point, I had worked at this particular non-profit for a number of years. So I had heard this spiel before. It was always given by the president of the local chapter of the multinational financial services corporation that handled all the employees financial "stuff." I remember always thinking that this guy always seemed like he would be much more at home as a used car salesman than as a financial services president. But then again, both jobs pretty much utilize the same skill set I suppose. Anyway Bob---we'll call him Bob---was talking about how we could take a portion of our biweekly paychecks and invest that in various ways, when his usually quite droll presentation suddenly became exponentially more interesting. For it was this year that Bob decided to use an example culled directly from our staff directory for this part of his talk. He had never done that before. His example went something like this: "You know there's even one woman who works here who contributes her ENTIRE paycheck every two weeks/all year long to her investment portfolio..." Many ears perked up at that and for various different  reasons. Mine had perked up because I was intrigued by the thought that there was someone who worked at this non-profit who was wealthy enough that she could contribute her entire salary to investment opportunities. Who knew?

After the presentation, several us went out to lunch together. We immediately began our repast by trying to figure out who this mystery "rich woman" could be. About 30 seconds into this all of us had independently arrived at the same conclusion. It had to be "Brenda" (not her real name) who headed up the Development Department. We all knew she had come from a very wealthy family. We all knew that was the main reason she had also been made the head of Development; because of her money laden connections. But we were all still amazed by the thought that not even one penny of her six figure salary went to pay for a pair of patent leather work stilettos or not even one tank of unleaded for her Mercedes E Class. Now we all knew what we had always suspected---Brenda was one of the very few at the non-profit who was not a "real" wage slave. This to us, of course, had to mean that she instead, was a very highly paid spy....

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Projection

As Human Beings, I believe, we are inseparably interconnected. 

And when one has achieved a certain degree of awareness, one begins to understand that many of the experiences we have as humans that appear to be bad or negative or otherwise unpleasant or non-beneficial, are in reality, inspired by one of the incredible aspects of the lived experience of being a Sacred Human.

So, in the case of 

projection, projecting onto others, in which, BTW, there has admittedly been much injury inflicted and received, for time immemorial, because of, I am however, able to understand the root cause that is at work here. The root cause is our interconnectedness.


Yes!


When we project onto another Human Being what is really occurring is that the divine emotionality in another has simply triggered a very specific and similarly patterned divine emotionality in us. In other words, from an emotional standpoint, we have truly SEEN ourselves THROUGH another. This is a very human and a very sacred occurrence. However, the unhealed, wounded, injured, immature and/or non-self aware parts of us experience this as an external threat (when a "negative" emotion has been triggered) or as an external wash of goodness (when a "positive" emotion has been triggered).

Given this understanding, the more appropriate response to that which normally triggers projection in us would be a response of acknowledgement of some sort and then a response of GRATITUDE, I believe. Pure and simple gratitude that is then pretty quickly let go of so that we have the emotional space to experience the next emotional exchange which is surely already heading down the pike.



May All Beings Be Free.

Soul Contracts Part 1


What I am about to say here may be difficult for some to read (hear). I understand that. I also understand what is behind that difficulty for most. For many what will make  this difficult to hear or read will be an awareness about what may be known or experienced as "abusive" or other types of relationships that are viewed or experienced as negative or non-productive in some way. I acknowledge the difficulty in hearing what I have to say here for those who have that awareness.  So, with that awareness and with sensitivity, I will continue.

Here we go...

When we look at relationships of any kind that others are engaged in and we are consumed with a thought like--- "How in the name of all that is holy and sacred, can it be that THOSE two people can possibly 

be friends/lovers/significant others/life partners/business partners" etc. Well, here is the answer: You (or me), as the likely judging, external observer with severely limited awareness and deep insight into the matter, most likely cannot even begin to be aware of the specific elements of the "soul contract" that exists between these two or more people. It really is as simple as that. There is likely a soul contact present between the people that you (or me), quite appropriately, in all cases, have not been made privy to. If it were important for you (or me) to have been made privy to it, we would have been.

Additionally, an ancient Chinese proverb says, "an invisible red thread connects those destined to meet, despite the time, the place, and despite the circumstances.the thread can be tightened or tangle but will never be broken."

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Diary of a Wage Slave

DIARY OF A WAGE SLAVE DAY 1: 

Like most American teenagers, I officially became a wage slave at age 16 when my guardians no longer desired to fund all my various male, teenager escapades and fashionable footwear and bell bottoms. And they were blessed in that they had the law, the American culture, and apparently God to back them up. That is because at age 16 I could legally acquire my first wage slave job. 

Unlike most Americans however, my initial wage slave tour of duty was very short lived indeed. That is because at age 18 I entered the Roman Catholic seminary studying for the priesthood. As such, I was not allowed to have a wage slave "job" for the entire duration of the time I was studying to become a catholic priest. For me that meant I entered the wage slave market at age 16, left at age 18, and did not return again until age 26. That puts me in a very small and rarefied group of Americans, I am imagining. These are the ages in which most young people in America are learning many of the skills of the trade of wage slavery. This is when the indoctrination usually wholeheartedly begins. Additionally, I have had the great fortune of having numerous respites from wage slavery throughout my life. These respites, among many other highly valued treasures presented by those respites, afforded me a great deal of time to do deep inner inquiry and investigation and extremely valuable psychological and emotional deepening minus the constant distraction of the deafening background noise of wage slavery.

My last wage slave respite began on November 14, 2008 when I was laid off from my wage slave job at The San Francisco AIDS Foundation. Although there were some clearly shady and funky aspects to this lay off and the challenge to keep myself above water financially were daily and arduous, at best. Still, when this respite came to an official end on July 1, 2012, I was a changed man. I no longer had any illusions nor justifications about nor feelings of endearment whatsoever, for my own wage slavery. Interestingly, I now find myself once again in the role of a wage slave. I am relatively certain that this however, will be my last stint as such.


To Be Continued...

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

My Very Own Personal Juneteenth Liberation




In 2008 I was laid off from my job as a program manager for a large non-profit in San Francisco. The non-profit primarily served and continues to serve people living with HIV/AIDS. 


When I was laid off, my salary was approx. $85,000 annually. This figure also included a small remuneration I received for counseling work that was done on the side. Between two and six weeks after this lay off, I was offered a total of 4 different professional jobs. Each job offer came in an unsolicited manner. The job offers were made by friends and associates I had met through over 10 years of professional relationship building and networking. I turned down each of these jobs. The job offer with the highest salary/compensation would have paid me approximately $110,000 annually. Since that time I have been offered three additional professional jobs, all of which were in the same approximate salary range. I have turned these down as well. 


Why did I turn down all these jobs and in "this economy?" 

As soon as I was laid off in 2008, I realized something quite profound and equally frightening. I, with this lay off, realized I was being given what at the time, appeared to me to be a once in a lifetime opportunity. That opportunity was one where it seemed I would finally get a chance to go after my dream of making a major impact on the world, in the very specific ways I then envisioned. 


Although the type of work I had done for over 20 years placed me in a position where I literally had saved dozens of people lives during those years, I knew it was time to move on. It was not debatable that I had made a difference in many people's lives through that work; I helped people in very direct and evidenced based, observed and provable ways. I had not spent all those years working in greed based, avarice laced, self absorbed professional career pursuits that essentially served myself and few others. That was not at all my professional M.O. I lessened people's pain. I directed programs that were designed to make people's lives easier in concrete, tangible, and very real ways. There are many, many people---social workers, case managers, program directors, psychotherapists, drug and addiction counselors, nurses, nurses aids, all kinds of good people working in the "helping professions" who are still making a huge and positive impact in the lives of countless community members through their work. I honor them. I salute them. I know all the stress, long hours, lack of appreciation, corporate inspired bullshit they must endure. I see them. I know who they are. I was one of them for over two decades. However, after my lay off in 2008, I realized my calling in this life was different. In truth, I had been aware of this truth for many years. I had simply become too comfortable and too complacent to take the needed risks necessary, to truly go after what I wanted; my dreams, my deepest desires, to follow my bliss. The lay off gave me the incentive and opportunity to do all of that. And I took it. I may not have initially run with it. Now however, I am in full sprint.


And there are consequences in this out of balance world for making decisions that go directly against the status quo, that are about personal dreams, actions that awaken one from a near universal zombie sleep.

As a result of following my bliss, my annual income in 2008 went from roughly $85,000 a year to less than $22,000 a year in 2010 when I was still receiving unemployment compensation and to less than $3,500 a year (in 2011) when I was no longer eligible for unemployment compensation. 


I have lost the relative assurance that comes with having a home I know I can return to, as my partner and I have moved more than 25 times in the last 2.5 years because of financial constraints and other negative factors. 


I lost my very good, job based medical and health insurance. And as a result, my health has significantly deteriorated. 


The list could become endless if I wanted it to be. I don't. 


And...I am happier, in many ways, than I've been in perhaps my entire life. 


With all these challenges has come the opportunity to direct my life in the ways I desire. I am shaping the life I want. And what much of that looks like is that I am beginning my emergence in the realms of spiritual leadership, community involvement, environmental and housing sustainability work, volunteering for local and state politicians from third party's who are authentically devoted to changing the world in a positive way and doing things on my own terms, initiating the development of my own programs, actions and not abdicating to the terms that some job dictates.


I have found that people take certain elements of all those experiences I've recounted here and focus on them, funnel them through their own limited and other hued filters. Which, of course, is the only funnel most of us have conscious access to. 


People who desire to avoid the painful aspects of life and/or still steadfastly wear their designer prescription rose colored glasses, will focus on the fact that I have survived it all, in tact and with my beautiful spirit continuing to flourish. They don't want to look at the trials, tribulations and intense challenges. They mostly won't acknowledge those aspects. Their glasses would be offended by that.


Others desire to focus on the fact that I have given up what they perceive to be prime opportunities by turning down so many well paying jobs during a time when people with PhDs are working as shift managers at McDonalds in large urban centers. Their emotional inner response is often a down low type of criticism and judgment that silently revels in the belief that I have suffered in ways that I duly deserved. 


Activists will often focus on the trials and tribulations, ignore everything else and simply use my story as another front from which they can fight their numerous anti-establishment battles. Raven/Sage the person gets lost in those battles. I become merely a statistic that serves as another temporary balm for their wounded and agitated souls. I become a projectile in the deepest meaning of that word.


No judgment there, just awareness.


And still I rise.

The very first really tangible action I took in 2010 on my 50th birthday, that indicated my personal liberation, was to claim ownership of the wisdom, pain, lessons, knowledge, mistakes and perseverance I have participated in and earned as a vibrant, incredible, black, same gender loving, spiritually conscious and awake, yes by God, awake, I'm claiming it,  man that I am. I did this in a very specific way. However, a little more needs to be said before I get to that.

I am a black, same gender loving man who has seen huge numbers of my peers and brothers and contemporaries die of AIDS, die of addiction to crack cocaine and other drugs both "illicit" and "legal," become a solid part of the industrial prison complex, succumb to a life of depression and anxiety, participating in a zombie like grasping for a long bygone youth in any way possible, still believing that sex, drugs and rock and roll is the appropriate top and main agenda for men in their 50s and beyond. There is no blame nor judgment in any of that. I am simply stating socially observable truth. I claimed my power and wisdom on my 50th birthday as both a response to and reaction to all of that. 


On my 50th birthday, in 2010, I took on the name Sage as a chosen name. I've earned it. Yes. And I'm still earning it. Raven, the trickster, is still around and present. I'm not concerned with what you call me. 


I know who I AM.



Wednesday, June 13, 2012

And The Church Said YES!

Tony Bradford receives his masters in Consciousness Studies on Saturday June, 9, 2012 and also in preparation to formally becoming a Religious Science Minister. With Rev. Elouise Oliver (R) Senior minister at East Bay Church of Religious Science and Rev. Dr. John B. Waterhouse (L). 

This past Saturday, June 9, 2012, I attended my friend Tony Bradford's ministerial school graduation. Additionally, it was also a little bit more than just a symbolic precursor to his formal ordination into the Religious Science ministry. I, in this essay, am going to focus on the ministry/ordination part even though the ceremony this past Saturday was not the formal ordination.

Tony and I had already known each other when his calling began to be consciously birthed and recognized by him. So I am fortunate to have witnessed the entire evolution and process of awareness that occurred in him that led him to the auspicious event that occurred in the afternoon of June 9, 2012 in Oakland, California at Heart and Soul Center of Light. I have witnessed his entire process. And this witness is what I have been both thinking intensely about for the pat several days and it is also what I desire to focus on here in this writing.

I have been to more ordinations than most people, I am imagining. I myself studied for the Roman Catholic priesthood for many years. I attended the ordinations of many seminarians who were one or more years ahead of me in our collective study for Catholic ministry. I have attended many other ordinations of many others; men and women, who have been ordained in various other denominations, other religions, other spiritual traditions, other wisdom traditions, including American Indian, pagan and Maori ceremonies.

It is always the same. The ordination, the ceremony, at root is always an occasion, where the one who is being ordained is publicly acknowledging his or her commitment, in front of the members of the community, specifically and with deliberate intention, in front of the members of the community, to being of service to the entire community, to the best of their ability. Those from the community, in turn, who actually physically witness the ordination/ceremony in person are the representatives of the entire community, who usually cannot all attend, to bare witness to the fact that this person has indeed showed up and has essentially said, "Yes, I am here for you---each and every one of you. My life is now officially no longer my own. It belongs to each and every one of you, both those of you who are in this very room as well as those who for whatever reasons, could not be present here today." This is the core essence of an ordination service.

That is extraordinarily powerful. It is one of the handful of activities that we know literally occurs in every single culture on the planet; among every single tribe of people in the world. It is universal and so it is also extremely tied to who we are as a people.

Breathe in, breathe out.

The people who planned this particular graduation ceremony were absolutely and completely and totally aware and marvelously conscious of everything I have said here up to this point. They understood what was symbolically happening as well--a preparation for formal introduction into the ministry. And they proved with unabashed splendor their awareness of all of this by including in the service a musical selection entitled deceptively simply---"Yes." And it was performed, by Queen Michelle Jordan, of The East Bay Church of Religious Science in Oakland, California, in a way that left no doubt...no doubt whatsoever, why we had each both individually and collectively been gathered in that space. We were there to witness Tony and his co-graduates, Willa Barber Johnson, Molly Cate, Toni Lynn Cormier and Elizabeth Rowley, symbolically say YES!

Hallelujah!

Life, I believe, does not get more meaningful than this. And So It Is...


Monday, June 11, 2012

A Critical Analysis of Mia McKenzie's Essay, "Desirability: Or, Why That White Ally Who Dates All the Brown Queers Needs To Stop It"



I enjoy reading essays, articles and anything really, that attempts to view the world, to some degree or another, through the prism of critical race theory and also attempts to apply it to our everyday lives in a way that appears to be worthy of intelligent consideration.

I had anticipation then when a friend brought a recent essay by Mia McKenzie to my attention. The essay he recommended I read was a recent one by the author entitled, Desirability: Or Why That White Ally Who Dates All The Brown Queers Needs To Stop It.

My friend had a positive reaction to the piece. So once again  my anticipation was raised. And at the same time a certain amount of trepidation accompanied my anticipation. This was not only because of that title, which I found to be somewhat ominous and foreboding. It was that. And it was also because I had read other pieces by Ms. McKenzie. I had found those previous essays to be problematic in the same ways I find the writings of many people to be problematic. All of these problematic writings betray a certain type of woundedness in the author that is apparent to me. That perception I have tends to bring to my mind those two great, classic Taoist questions: Do you have the patience to wait until your mud settles and the water is clear?And Can you remain unmoving until the right action arises by itself?

And so, these two questions came to my consciousness once again while reading, Desirability: Or Why That White Ally Who Dates All The Brown Queers Needs To Stop It. They are the questions I am symbolically asking Mia McKenzie, even as I compose this response to the words she chose to include in it.

Do you have the patience to wait until your mud settles and the water is clear? Can you remain unmoving until the right action arises by itself?

Over the decades of my life, I have discovered there are generally two principal ways those questions tend to be worked out by people who also have been wounded by life while also having some writing, singing or oratory skills. On the one hand there are those whose wounds are burnished in the fires of  pain, loss, and redemption. Their raw emotions become the clouds that lift them to the heights of wisdom and spiritual awakening. These are people like Toni Morrison, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Maya Angelou, Nina Simone and Gil Scott-Heron, to name only a few. On the other hand there are those whose wounds reflect a different aspect of the clouds. Their thinking becomes clouded by bitterness, anger and injury, which too can ultimately all be great transformative coals in the fire. While their skills and talents may be equal to some of the giants I just listed by name, the burnishing of these latter individuals wounds however, often remain too incomplete or too superficial to truly inspire profound transformation in those who are also struggling to find their voice in the fire as well.

Ms. McKenzie is still a relatively young woman. Presumably she has time for further burnishing. In the meantime she is still writing and making her opinions known and presumably also trying to figure it all out in an authentic and beneficial way for herself. People however, are reading what she writes. She is having some degree of impact. Therefore, some critical analysis of her work and words is appropriate.

Here is the opening paragraph in Desirability: Or Why That White Ally Who Dates All The Brown Queers Needs To Stop It.

I have been thinking and talking a lot lately about the politics of desirability. In particular, the way that some white queer allies move through QPOC spaces, dating every brown queer they can get their hands on, almost always going unchecked, and never really understanding or acknowledging why this behavior might be problematic.

This, I believe, accurately sets the tone for the rest of the essay. It does not however, for me, set the appropriate tone for an essay that is honestly looking at "The politics of desirability"

Both the title of the essay and the opening paragraph present the reader with a fair amount of evidence that Ms. McKenzie is going to lead us on a journey into the admittedly treacherous and sometimes shark infested waters of the politics of desirability. I don't however, believe that is what happens here. I have no doubt that McKenzie believes she has written an essay about desirability. The key foundational ingredient, I believe however, in writing an honest essay about the politics of desirability within the context of dating between people of color and whites is to look at this from both perspectives, with an analysis of how, more or less, both groups of people participate in the phenomenon and with some effort being put forth to come to some enlightened potential solutions, preferably, under the rubric of intersectionality. Here is how McKenzie addresses these important elements:

None of this is to suggest that the brown queers who date these allies aren’t making those choices themselves. It’s not as if these white queers are forcing them into romance. But I have dated white allies without even knowing that they only dated POC. When I became aware of it, I definitely felt some type of way. (And, of course, some POC date white queers knowing that said white queers tend to date only POC, and they don’t have a problem with it—that’s a whole other blog post.) The point is, the politics of desirability are at play in these situations.

No, it is not a "whole other blog post" if one desires the current blog post/essay to have any real legitimacy. In order to add that legitimacy to the blog post at hand, some exploration of that very issue needs to be delved into further. Every LGBT person of color I know is very aware there are many LGBT people of color who exclusively date white folks; they exclusively desire white folks. It would not even be too extreme to say that such people are legion. There are many diverse reasons for that. The politics of desirability being one big reason along with its first cousins white privilege and white supremacy. There are others though that do not reflect so well on LGBT people of color ourselves such as internalized racism and self hatred. Dating can be an extremely complex and complicated bag of worms. And desirability itself is never a one way street. All of these aspects needed to be at least touched upon in a more in-depth way in order to add legitimacy and an appropriate balance to this essay.

In that quoted paragraph above, which is paragraph #12 in a 13 paragraph essay, McKenzie, for me, confirms that the framing for her essay as being one about the politics of desirability is more or less a ruse. It may have been an unconscious or unplanned ruse. However, for me, it is a ruse nonetheless. It is apparent to me she is not wanting to have an honest, open, and transparent discussion about the politics of desirability. So that of course begs these questions: What is this essay really about? What is it really trying to accomplish? What is its true objective? I believe McKenzie answers those questions rather eloquently if unintentionally or unknowingly, when she asserts this.

 If you’re a white person, especially an ally, whose last five dates were brown people, maybe consider this: if you know yet another brown queer you think you might want to date, introduce them to one of your sweet brown friends instead! There’s a great way to be an ally.

That is the concluding paragraph of the essay. And that is fitting. Because in that last paragraph, just like any other evangelist, McKenzie leaves her flock with her central commandment, as it were, before them. And what is that central commandment?  It appears to be a commandment for white gay and lesbian people, who truly view themselves as allies to people of color, to opt out of continued dating of people of color and in doing so maybe also help facilitate the potential coupling of someone the white ally him or herself may even be strongly attracted to, to another person of color, instead. And all that appears to be in the name of supposed allyship and the greater good of us all. Of course McKenzie would likely balk at the suggestion that this is a commandment. She would most likely prefer we all see it as merely something to think about and consider. That to me is a version of smoke and mirrors that is well used by those who throw rocks into a crowd at night and then hide their hands behind their backs while copping a facial expression that bemoans, "What!?!" However, there is usually someone, somewhere, guided by some remnant of light, that enables him/her to observe it all; one who is willing to tell the truth about what they've witnessed in the shadows. In this critique, I have cast myself in that role. And I'll take the good and the bad that may come with the assuming of that role. Remember, I am being guided by the light.

And with that commandment (or something to think about or something to consider), Ms McKenzie is also giving all the power in this dynamic over to the white folks whom she also lets us know she has some "funky" feelings about.

Not once in the essay does McKenzie suggest anything for people of color ourselves to think about or consider. That presumably may (or may not) come at some later date in some other essay/blog post. However, for the essay at hand, empowerment is not given to us. The impression one gets is that it is only white allies who are the power brokers here. That's ironic. In the meantime, responsibility translates into acknowledged power here for some and completely unacknowledged power for others. It is white allies this essay is directed at (and not too far behind them it is also obviously being directed at whatever amen chorus Ms. McKenzie may have to her credit). And it is white allies who are being called into action, albeit an action that may be completely against their own interests and desires. Still, I suspect McKenzie might be more than a little horrified to realize that by directing her attention exclusively at white allies here, she has also given over all the decision making power in the exercise to those same allies whether they choose to accept and embrace her considerations or not.

And who, in the broad and current discourses around topics like freedom to marry whomever we want and choose to and equality for all, does Ms. McKenzie appear to be more in alignment with? Millions of people across America and across the globe are working for these rights to be extended to all members of the LGBT communities. In the exact same week that Mia McKenzie's essay made its debut on the internet, Richard Noble completed his historic walk across America from southern California to Florida for LGBT Rights. Do McKenzie's words seem to be in alignment with and to support him and his very ambitious and auspicious and laudable achievement in defense of LGBT Rights and freedom of choice? Or do her words find a more comfortable cohabitation with the pastors and politicians who use their bigoted pulpits and legislative authority to implore their congregants and constituents to support ever more oppressive, restrictive, and hate inspired limitations on LGBT couplings? These, I believe, are important questions and appropriate contexts in which to evaluate this essay Ms McKenzie has birthed into the world and put out there for this same world to digest.

Finally, what about intersectionality? If we are to take the words of Audre Lorde to heart, in her work, There Is No Hierarchy of Oppressions and to also take those words of hers to the next level, we are then provided with a beautiful template and important further instructions for an even more critical analysis of the words of Ms. McKenzie in her essay, Desirability: Or, Why That White Ally Who Dates All the Brown Queers Needs To Stop It" The two essays begin, for me at least, to stand at stark odds with one another. We see with intense clarity the true designs and intentions of them both. We see what stage of the sacred burnished fire each one resides in; and we see whether or not that fire is a relatively new one with much more to consume through its burning. Or if it is a very old fire, well prepared to teach and inspire through the many experiences that have been consumed and transformed by its flames, and its years of wisdom and learning.

Mia McKenzie's essay in its entirety may be found HERE
BTW, this above link to the original essay is now correct. Since I initially published this piece, Ms. McKenzie has changed and revamped her blog complete with a new URL and for a time the link I provided was a bad link.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Strengthening Your Heart's Path



By Rev. Kelly Rivera Hart
Cross posted from Radical Spirit

When starting on a journey, a hiker packs necessary items into his or her backpack that will make for a successful trip.
There is the needed food supplies, whether it’s crunchy granola or health bars, this must be light but full of nutrition to sustain him or her. A big juicy hamburger might sound appetizing but will lead to early exhaustion and not survive the trip. It can also get grease all over the other contents. The hiker must also carry an adequate amount of water. Dehydration will put an early end to the most pleasant of adventures. And, it can’t be substituted for tasty, sugary sodas that will give a sugar high followed up with a sugar crash. Fainting in the middle of nowhere is never pleasant. There is also the need for bug repellant, a pick and rope if he or she is to do any climbing, sunblock, a sleeping bag if it’s a long trip, basic hygenic necessities, a compass and a good map to always have an idea where he or she is at. 
 Just like that hiker, a person on The Heart's Path needs certain ‘supplies’ to assist him or her on  this journey. Here is a brief overview about those supplies and how to attain them for our personal journey on The Heart's Path.
 1) Acceptance of A God/Goddess/Higher Power who created all things and in whom all things exist.
2) Acknowledgement of both our divine perfection and our imperfect flesh. We are perfect beings with imperfect abilities.
3) Daily practice of prayer, meditation, surrendering our will to our Higher Power, bringing our own perfection in alignment with the Divine.
4) Opening up to regular service to humanity and all of creation, being God/Goddess/Higher Power’s hands and feet and, therefore, His/Her expression of love for one another.
5) Knowledge of our personal purpose for being here, now for the world.
6) Constant development of Compassion, Integrity and Love for all living things through daily study of Sacred Texts and constant reflection of one’s own actions and attitudes.
7) Open up to fellowship so the journey is not a lone one. We are social beings and need community to learn from, share with and grow alongside. 
8) With patience and sensitivity to others, shine your light in your words and deeds whenever possible.
These are basic tools, recommendations to strengthen your Heart's Path. They are culled from traditions and Spiritual Paths from around the world. I hope they can aide you along the way.  I would be happy to be a 'guide' for you as you pursue your personal exciting and profound Heart's Path. Contact me directly if I can be of assistance.

thank you
Rev. Kelly Rivera Hart

Thursday, May 31, 2012

In the Light of Oakland (A Series)

Mushim

Mushim Patricia Ikeda is a Buddhist meditation teacher, socially engaged Buddhist activist, diversity facilitator, and author, who teaches meditation retreats for people of color, women, and social justice activists nationally. She is one of three women featured in Acting on Faith: Women's New Religious Activism in America, a documentary available from the Pluralism Project at Harvard University.

Mushim was originally trained in the Korean Zen monastic tradition, and has had broad exposure to Buddhist practices and teachings within the Mahayana and Theravada lineages since 1981. Her writing has been published in Tricycle: The Buddhist Review, ColorLines magazine, the Poets Against the War anthology, Turning Wheel: The Journal of Socially Engaged Buddhism, seminal anthologies of Asian North American poetry, and other books and journals. She is the first recipient of the Ragdale Foundation's Alice Hayes Fellowship supporting a writing project having to do with social justice issues.

Mushim is also a core teacher at East Bay Meditation Center (http://www.eastbaymeditation.org/index.php?s=1
) as well as a member of the Leadership Sangha at EBMC (the equivalent of the Board of Directors).

Mushim’s Dharma teachings are supported by the practice of generous giving (Dana). She lives simply in order to share the practices of Buddhist meditation and mindfulness with others in a fully accessible manner. However, people are welcome to donate to EBMC teachers at any time. If you wish to do so outside of the context of a class, you might (1) Donate through the teachers Website (http://mushim.wordpress.com/
) if that Website has a donate button (IT DOES!); (2) Or you can go to EBMC's Website and click on the "Donate Now/Network for Good donation" button and donate online using a credit card and specify that the donation is intended to go to a particular teacher; or (3) Write a check to the teacher and send it to EBMC. EBMC's bookkeeper will ensure that these donations get to the teacher.

Mushim is a Light of Oakland shining brightly so that the rest of us may also and equally brightly shine.

Keep Pressing On For Justice



By Rev. Kelly Rivera Hart
Cross-posted from HERE.
Recently, there have been an upsurge in pastors that have used their position as spiritual leaders to denegrate another people. This is nothing new except that now these pastors are calling for not only social but physical harm to a whole group of people. They are not only saying that God will condemn them or that God will punish them. They are calling on their congregation to punish them. They are using their pulpits to call for internment camps and discrimination and all sorts of harm for people that do not look, walk, talk or smell like them. This is hypocrisy at it's highest form. And this is unacceptable.
When someone is called to be a minister, that person is given a direction to live a life of service to humanity. A minister is one who is called upon to share words and actions of encouragement, inspiration, hope and freedom. A minister is called to be a minister to share the Gospel of Love and not the ignorance of hate. We are not in it for the attention, which should be kept to a minimum. We are not in it for the riches, which there shouldn't be. We are not in it for the personal agenda, which should not even exist in a life that has been dedicated to a life of service. Our lives are no longer our own. 
When I was in high school, there was a lot of speculation as to how I was going to make my mark on the world. I was somewhat involved in activism but not consistently. My eyes and other's hopes for me were that I would pursue a career in the musical world or as a journalist. I was firmly entrenched in both communities and I was headed in that direction. But then, I saw another calling for me, a deeper calling for me. After hosting a radio show, having numerous articles published in various magazines and being onstage as a backup singer, dancer, percussionist, voice actor and radio host, I found my heart sing in response to a spiritual calling. I walked away from it and lost contact with many, many dear friends but I knew that I would not be happy until the focus of my life was on the Love of God and the service to humanity. 
Today, many years later, I see so many individuals taking to the pulpit and not using it to uplift and do service to the world but instead, spreading their hate, their UNchristian, pseudo-spiritual ignorance and deceit to tear down the world. And it makes my soul greive. This is not the message of Jesus, or Buddha, or Allah. This is not the way of spiritual service. This is not what the world needs now. 
How can we dare call ourselves ministers or even spiritual people when we spread the destructive force of hate and discrimination? I am a minister in all the major faith traditions and quite familiar with all the Sacred Texts and none of them, NONE of them, encourage hating our neighbor. We are all called to love our neighbor and to treat all beings as we wish ourselves to be treated; not take away the few rights that we do have, not lock us up in internment camps. Not give us shock treatment. And not to pray the gay away. 
As my heart grieves over the hatred from some of these hypocrites pulpits, I can only think it is a miniscule fraction of the grief that my Higher Power has over the bastardization of the words that are of love and hope and inclusion. And as my heart grieves over the hatred from these hypocrites in minster's clothing, I am given more direction, further encouragement, a higher calling to continue pressing on for justice for all people; black, white, latin, asian, gay, straight, bi, trans, rich, poor, across the street and around the world. 

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Some Thoughts and "Rules" of Engagement for the Internet


Here is (I believe) one very beneficial framing and question you can ask yourself that may help you determine which people to engage in controversial, potentially antagonistic, polarizing conversations with and who clearly not to do that with. 

Here is the question: Are they committed? 

In other words, are they committed to their seeming racism, their seeming sexism, their seeming homophobia, etc. Also, are they committed to being right, to having the last word, to insulting you, to projecting their stuff onto others (you), etc.

I have found that there are lots of people who make what may appear to be bigoted, insensitive, mean-spirited comments, especially on the internet, where they are assured at least some degree of anonymity. However, at the same time, they are not really *committed* to reflecting those things. In some ways, not being committed in the way I am using that word here is the same thing as being open. However, it is not entirely the same as being open. Similarly there are those who make make some harsh comments here and there but they are not *committed* to being harsh.

Here is what I have also found, if you determine the person to be committed, in the way I'm using that word here, it is probably best to run, not walk away from the discourse ASAP, unless you are similarly committed and/or are a glutton for punishment.

Here are some indicators that a person is most likely "committed in the way I'm speaking of here:" If their first interaction with you on a facebook or blog thread involves them calling you one or more derogatory names; if they quickly move into belittling language; if they point blank say you somehow have no business being in the discourse in the first place (this one means you are being supremely otherized and the person otherizing you knows enough about the owner of the page to know that soon others will join in also stating that you don't belong in the discourse and you will be well on your way to being ostracized); if a posse of people on the thread quickly assembles around the most insulting, mean spirited, foul mouthed and projecting person on the thread and you have been a target of this person; if someone is repeatedly dismissive of you on the thread; if a person actively enlists others to join in denigrating you on the thread; if a person makes the types of comments directed at you that the average person would deem really rude and they are completely unapologetic about it and/or openly revels in it...

Also, the supreme rule of engagement on the internet: You do not have to attend every argument you are invited to.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

THE BEST OF MOYO AFLAME 2011: OAKLAND Part I

Downtown Oakland, Roman Catholic Diocese of Oakland, Cathedral of Christ the Light in the foreground


This piece originally appeared in Moyo Aflame on July 17, 2011

Many American cities that have historically had a disproportionately large African American population are maligned and dissed by many of those who live in or in immediate proximity to the city.    They are often maligned by those throughout the entire state in which the city is located. They are often dissed throughout the entire country as well. Among other things, this is one of the less than subtle ways racism and internalized racism reveal themselves as continuing elements of the American ethos and landscape. 

Oakland, California is such a city. 

When I first told friends, back in late 1999 that I was going to be moving to Oakland, the response I received from most was swift and filled with angst and hyperbole,"O God no. You're going to be killed if you move there!" Now admittedly, I have no idea how death will eventually kiss me and take me beyond the beyond of this mortal coil. Perhaps I will end up being murdered in Oakland. At this juncture however, I have lived 10 of my 51 years in Oakland and have lived to talk about it. I have never even be mugged in Oakland. Not once.

My journey to Oakland is a long and somewhat convoluted one with many quite interesting twists and turns of fate along the way. If you want that story, if you haven't already heard it, you'll likely have to wait until my book comes out. In the book the convoluted, twisty turning story reveals itself as playing an important role in both the book and my life as well. For now, suffice it to say I  moved to Oakland in order to join a then recently birthed residential meditation community in The Grand Lake district, which is in fact the truth. However, it is nowhere near the whole truth and nothing but the truth. There's a whole lot of back story behind that basic truth.

I love Oakland. I truly do. I deeply appreciate its history, its neighborhoods, its diversity, its large and active lesbian community, its shrinking yet still significant, vibrant and relevant African American community, its extremely progressive religious and spiritual institutions and its artistic, anarchistic-political, in your face, fuck San Francisco vibe. But it wasn't always so for me. I know, crazy, I know. I have since however, seen the light. Literally. Hallelujah.

When I first moved to Oakland and for several years afterward, I was somewhat ashamed of and embarrassed by Oakland. I realize I must have believed at least some of the crazy stories I had heard about Oakland. I must have also internalized the very racism that underpins much of local, regional and national conversation around Oakland. Additionally, I had succumbed to the intoxicating yet somewhat artificial glitter of the famed "jewel in the crown" of The San Francisco Bay Area--San Francisco. I quickly fell under its haunting, alluring and over-the-top gay male-Castro Street Fair-Folsom Street Fair-Dore Alley-Lone Star Saloon, here dick, there dick, everywhere a dick dick absolutely orgasmic, oh yeah and it's got good restaurants too--hypnotic spell.

And it continued.

When I joined facebook in 2008 I didn't hesitate to join "the San Francisco network." I didn't even consider joining the Oakland network or some other network. I must have wanted people to believe I lived in the jewel in the crown. I must have wanted to be connected to "the crown and all its jewels." I immediately received friend requests from sexy men and others from all over the world saying they just couldn't have enough friends from the f-a-b-u-l-o-u-s city by the Bay-- San Francisco. I eventually told many of these people I really lived in Oakland and I'm not lying, several responded by saying, "where's Oakland?"

Lord have Mercy.

That's one of the first clues I had that let me know I needed to do some serious Oakland attitude adjusting. So I joined a few Oakland-based activist groups. I started taking self directed walking and motorcycle tours all over the city. I met a lot of good people and got to know the city quite well. At the time I was living in East Oakland, Fruitvale specifically. This is one of the various parts of the city that gets a bad rap. It's the part of the city where Oscar Grant was murdered, just a few blocks from where I lived, at the Fruitvale BART station. I however have learned throughout my life that most bad raps, where cities are concerned, are overwhelmingly undeserved. Bad rap cities always need a deeper investigative exploration. I later moved to the Temescal neighborhood. I continued my walking tours. I continued to grow in my love of and for Oakland.

I am currently living in Tucson, Arizona. I like Tucson and have several close friends here and a history here as well. Oakland however, as I have discovered in the eighteen months I've lived away from it, (I spent my last three months in California, before moving to Tucson, living in the Hayes Valley neighborhood of San Francisco) is my home. I regret it taking me being a thousand miles away from Oaktown to finally realize just how deeply the city runs in my veins and in my heart. I am excited however, about moving back which I believe, universe wiling, will occur before the end of the year. I consider Oakland to be my hometown even though I was not born there. Sometimes, for some of us, where we were born and what our hometown is are not the same things. I am one of those people and Lexington, Kentucky and Oakland, California are part of that reality for me.

UPDATE 5/22/12: My partner John and I moved back to Oakland on January 3, 2012 and are committed to making a life for ourselves here for as many years as we are given.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Bipolar Disorder in the African American Community: Actress Jenifer Lewis

As someone who was trained as a psychotherapist, spent over 20 years working in the helping professions and has been exposed to the labeling and over pathologizing that often occurs both in and around the helping professions, I have learned to be wary and suspicious and critical of all the mental health diagnoses that are out there and all the ways we can marginalize and otherize people through the application of mental health diagnostics. I am very conscious of all of this. I work hard to combat it even though I am no longer a practicing psychotherapist. That all being said, I found this clip to be informative, funny, and educational on some important levels.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

African/African American/African Descended Spiritual Masters and Teachers in Eastern Spiritual Traditions: A Photo Essay Part II


Lama Ani Pelma: Lama Ani Pelma (Venerable Debra Ballier) is an American Tibetan Buddhist nun who for the past 15 years has wholeheartedly dedicated her life to serving her teachers and leading students on the path to freedom. She founded the Three Jewels in NYC, which is a popular center for serious Dharma practitioners as well as spiritual seekers; since then five Three Jewels centers have been founded around the world.

For the past ten years Lama Pelma has been a student of the masters at Sera Mey Monastery, in southern India. In 2003 she completed a silent three-year retreat in the high desert of Arizona. She currently resides at Diamond Mountain University where she serves as the Retreat Master. She is also a qualified yoga instructor, certified by Dharma Mittra.

Lama Pelma is the author of The Ultimate Offering, and Children of the Universe coloring book; she works to translate and preserve traditional Tibetan scriptures; she studies the ancient practices of yoga, and when she has a moment to herself writes poetry and spends times with her Shih Tzu puppy named Tsering.




Lama Choyin Rangdrol: Before entering the dharma stream, Lama Rangdrol worked as a licensed psychiatric technician for thirty years and Drama Therapist in departments of psychiatry including UCLA Neuropsychiatric Hospital, USC University Hospital, and numerous acute psychiatric hospitals and outpatient clinics serving severely mentally ill, developmentally disabled, and homeless populations.

His academic studies also include the University of Redlands School of Music (B.A.), graduate work in Ethnic Theater at Sacramento State University, and certificates of study from the National Shakespeare Company (New York), and the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (London).

In 1995 he entered retreat at Pema Osel Ling under the tutelage of Dzogchen lineage holder Lama Tharchin Rinpoche where he remained immersed in the Dudjom Tersar lineage for two years. During this time he also received teachings from Khenpo Orgyen Tinly Rinpoche (Khenpo Chozod), Tulku Thubten, Lama Nawang, Lama Gyaltsen, Lama Namkhar, Lama Yeshe Wangmo, Thinley Norbu, and Khenpo Yurmed Tinly. He became Khenpo Yurmed Tinly's private student in 1998 and remained with him until the Khenpo's death in 2005. Known for his clarity of insight, Lama Rangdrol has taught Buddhism to Tibetan, Zen, Vipassana, SGI, ecumenical, non-sectarian, Christian, Interfaith, and secular communities. He has authored five books, two music albums, is a signed music artist with BMI and his recent documentary, Festival Canceled Due to Heavy Rain has been accepted at five film festivals and is the winner of the Aloha Accolade Award from the Honolulu International Film Festival.

Lama Rangdrol is the father of a multiracial family including four children and three grandchildren. He maintains international headquarters in the Hawaiian Islands, USA.




Rev. angel kyodo williams: Rev. angel Kyodo williams is the founder of Center for Transformative Change and the author of the critically acclaimed book, Being Black: Zen and the Art of Living with Fearlessness and Grace. williams is a social visionary that sees Transformative Social Change: applying inner awareness practice to broad-based social change, as America’s next great movement. Calling for a paradigm shift that “changes the way change is done,” angel envisions the building of a presence-centered social justice movement as the foundation for personal freedom, a just society and the healing of divisions of race, class, faith and politic. She notes, “Without inner change, there can be no outer change. Without collective change, no change matters.”

Her work engages at the root, field and resource levels of social transformation. angel sits on the boards of organizations that are deeply invested in applying socially transformative theories of change including: Social Justice Leadership; Forest Ethics; and Seasons Fund for Social Transformation, and previously YES! and Seeds of Justice.



Dr. Jan Willis: Willis grew up in Docena, Ala., a small mining town just outside of Birmingham, which she described as the most segregated city in America at the time. Her father, a steelworker, was deacon at a Baptist church the family attended. “Racism was palpable” during her childhood, she said, and hate crimes against blacks — including children — were common. Willis experienced this firsthand when a burning cross was 
 planted on the lawn of her family’s home.

 One of the earliest American scholar-practitioners of Tibetan Buddhism, Willis has published numerous essays and articles on Buddhist meditation, hagiography, women and Buddhism, and Buddhism and race. Her latest book was Dreaming Me: An African American Woman’s Spiritual Journey (2001). Willis also is the author of The Diamond Light: An Introduction to Tibetan Buddhist Meditation (1972), On Knowing Reality: The Tattvartha Chapter of Asanga’s Bodhisattvabhumi (1979), Enlightened Beings: Life Stories from the Ganden Oral Tradition (1995); and the editor of Feminine Ground: Essays on Women and Tibet (1989). She has studied with Tibetan Buddhists in India, Nepal, Switzerland and the U.S. for four decades, and has taught courses in Buddhism for 32 years. In December 2000, Time magazine named Willis one of six “spiritual innovators for the new millennium.” In 2003, she was a recipient of Wesleyan University’s Binswanger Prize for Excellence in Teaching, and she was profiled in a 2005 Newsweek article about “Spirituality in America.” Her memoir: Dreaming Me: An African American Woman's Spiritual Journey.


Lawrence Ellis: Lawrence comes from peoples of Africa and Turtle Island (North America). He is a mix of African (several Southern and Western African peoples, with spiritual affinities with the Dagara and Yoruba peoples), African American and Tsalagi (Cherokee) peoples. Raised away from his ancestral homelands and from many (though not all) of his ancestral traditions, much of his life has focused on returning to those traditions, and on bridging the best of ancient wisdom and contemporary innovations.

Lawrence is a complexity-science organizational consultant (one who applies insights from the study of complex systems in nature, society and science to human organizations) & spiritual activist, whose initial training in both fields was at Oxford University on a Rhodes Scholarship, where he studied the application of Gandhian nonviolence to individual & large-scale change.

His life mission focuses on supporting what has been called “The Great Turning” (Joanna Macy) / The Prophecy of the Eagle and the Condor (many Indigenous peoples of the Americas) / ”The Great Work” (Thomas Berry) / ”The Shift”, among other names – shifting our planetary culture from ecological destruction, global violence on unprecedented scales and other ills, to a life-sustaining civilization. He is especially focused on combining the best of ancient wisdom traditions with contemporary innovations that promote systemic change – from personal to political to planetary – in the footsteps of luminaries like Mahatma Gandhi, Wangari Maathai, Joanna Macy, Nelson Mandela and others. His particular niche centers on similarities between several ancient worldviews (especially Buddhist & many Indigenous), and contemporary complexity science – all of which view the world as radically interconnected. Perhaps the greatest revolution of our time is in the way that we see the world, and live in it from that vantage point – a reemphasis for many ancient cultures, and a shift for many modern cultures – of seeing the world as holistic, ecological, and deeply interconnected. Much of Lawrence’s work centers on highlighting this worldview of interconnectedness, and on cultivating practices and forms of social organization that embody it.

Lawrence has developed a range of ways to bring his work into the world, including consulting and activism. A former director with one of the world’s oldest change-consulting firms, Interaction Associates, and later as an owner of his own consulting firm, for more than twenty years Lawrence has worked with community-based, corporate, non-profit and public service organizations using complexity-science and conventional approaches – from leading highly successful redesigns of divisions of progressive multibillion dollar corporations and designing & facilitating a conference at Princeton University on complexity-science approaches to combating HIV/AIDS globally, to extensive work with numerous human rights & environmental organizations. Most recently, he has been involved in an exciting California-wide initiative designed to improve access to healthcare for key populations. Lawrence is the Founder & President of Paths to Change, a 15-year old consulting & training company.




Spring Washam: Spring Washam is a meditation and dharma teacher based in Oakland, California. She has studied meditation and Buddhist philosophy since 1997 in various traditions. After many years of teacher training with Dr. Jack Kornfield, trained as a Spirit Rock Community Dharma Leader and continues to train with Jack Kornfield at Spirit Rock Meditation Center in Woodacre, California. Spring is one of the founding members and core teachers at the East Bay Meditation Center and leads the weekly sitting group for people of color. Spring is considered a pioneer in bringing mindfulness based healing practices into diverse communities. Also considered a curandera, Spring studies indigenous healing practices and works with students individually from around the world. She currently leads healing and meditation retreats throughout the United States. 


Ralph Steele: Ralph Steele is the founder of Life Transition Institute in Santa Fe, New Mexico where he serves as the guiding meditation teacher. He has practiced Theravadin Buddhist meditation for over three decades and taught since 1987, including at such venues as Spirit Rock Meditation Center and Insight Meditation Society. He completed a year of intensive practice as a monk in Burma and in Thailand. Along with his interest in preserving the Theravada tradition, he is dedicated to making the dharma available to culturally diverse populations. He has also worked with youth around the country.

 Ralph received his M.A. degree from the University of Santa Clara in Marriage, Family, and Child Therapy in 1979. He holds BA degrees in Humanistic Psychology, and Religious Studies with board honors. Ralph is also the Founder of the Elisabeth Kubler-Ross Hospice Training Program at Northern New Mexico Community College. During his tenure as the Chair of the Board of Trustees of Southwestern College in Santa Fe, New Mexico, he was instrumental in transitioning the EKR Hospice Program, from a two year Associate Degree program to a Master’s Degree program in Grief, Bereavement and Counseling.


Dolores Watson: Dolores Watson, Founder of Flowering Lotus Meditation and Retreat Center, has been involved with healing modalities of mind, body and spirit for many years. Her vision for Flowering Lotus is to provide a peaceful place where people of all backgrounds can come to experience healing through meditation, gentle movement and wholesome vegetarian food.

Certified to teach hatha yoga and meditation by Integral Yoga over 35 years ago, she has continued expanding her knowledge of healing through meditation, visualizations and affirmations. She has also been rigorously engaged with two transformational groups for more than 20 years: Landmark Education and Insight. Having completed her first 10 day Vipassana meditation course led by S.N. Goenka in 2003, she has committed herself to the practice of Vipassana meditation and the sharing of this process with others.

Dolores founded Radiance, a wholistic healing center, in New York City in 1984. The center focused on a strictly vegetarian diet of raw foods, vegetable juice fasting and internal cleansing. Dolores guided her students through a 4 week process that resulted in self-healing of many diseases such as high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, abnormal lumps, joint and muscular pain just to name a few. Besides intestinal cleansing products, she engaged them in meditation, chanting and visualizations. Prior to Radiance, Dolores taught elementary, junior high, adult education and junior college in New York City.



John W. Ellis IV: Master John W. Ellis IV is a martial artist with more than 25 years of experience in helping people strengthen the connections between the mind, body and spirit.

He teaches a variety of people, including toddlers, youth, adults senior citizens, athletes, the physically challenged, teen mothers and autistic children.

He has more than 20 years of meditation practice in Christian, Zen, Vipassana and New Thought traditions. John teaches the Five Realms of Life, a Meditative Movement practice that explores the properties of Fire, Water, Earth Air and Space.



Rev. Zenju Earthlyn Marselean Manuel: Rev. Zenju is an author, visual artist, poet, drummer and ordained Zen Buddhist priest in which she includes African and Native American indigenous healing, was born in Los Angeles, California to parents who migrated from Creole Louisiana. She is the gatekeeper and spiritual conduit for a divination system called the Black Angel Cards: Wisdom from an African Dreambody www.blackangelcards.com.She is also the author of Tell Me Something About Buddhism with a foreword written by Thich Nhat Hanh www.zenjuearthlynmanuel.com


Zenju Earthlyn’s spiritual work is steeped in ancient memories of her ancestors and therefore explores the deep inner spiritual journey of our human existence. Her wisdom is rich with insights into birth and death, transformation, and the exploration of other worlds. In essence, she offers the riches of her internal discoveries.

PART I of this series may be found HERE
____________________________________________________________________
DISCLAIMER: I cannot personally vouch for the level of competency, skill, ethical nor moral standards of all these teachers. Inclusion in this post should not be viewed as a blanket endorsement of the teacher nor of his or her abilities. Before studying with any teacher it is wise to check with the Beloved Community (local Sangha) in order to discover how the teacher is regarded in the local community and all other relevant communities.