Friday, December 13, 2013

Who Would Jesus Shoot? Part 3 - Evolution

**This is part 3 of a 4-part series by Jeriah Bowser. Read part 1 here, part 2 here, and part 4 here**

Jeriah Bowser is a wilderness guide who teaches primitive living skills to people. He writes provocative and progressive articles for The Hampton Institute, and has a propensity for challenging not only the status quo, but the avant garde. Anarchist, Satyagrahi, healer, writer, primitivist.

Who Would Jesus Shoot?


What would you do if civilization collapsed tomorrow?

This is one of my favorite questions to ask my friends, as I find that it instantly strikes to the core of how people view the world around them and their role in it. Think about it for a minute.

Would you stockpile food and supplies and weapons and ‘Defend your own’? Or would you try to take in as many people as you can, and freely give away any food or help that you can offer, trying to bring healing and comfort to a shattered world? 

Not that anyone of us can actually know what we would do in that situation, but it is a small picture of our relationship with the universe. I also find it very important to realize that there is no “should” here. There is no right or wrong in how you view the world, it just is. As members of humanity, we have experienced hope and loss, healing and hurt, joy and grief. The world is drastically different for, say, a child born into the civil war in Sudan, who has been forced to kill his family and torch his village in order to receive a promise of food, safety, and survival, or a child born into the average home in America, with a loving family, a good education and hope for the future, and who will never have to experience hunger involuntarily.  

“To become different from what we are, we must have some awareness of what we are” advised the American social writer Eric Hoffer. The simple fact that you have read my blog thus far means that you are somewhat curious about nonviolence and what it looks like in the ‘real world.’ Allow me to make an assumption here - you actually want to learn how to become a nonviolent person and how to implement the power of the Third Way into your life, whether you are a soldier, gang member, or soccer mom. Great! The problem is, almost no-one is inherently a perfectly peaceful person. At least, I haven’t met anyone yet! It is a journey. Thankfully, it is a journey that that many have trod before, and have left us with their words and examples to follow. I will attempt to summarize the evolution of one great poet of peace that I have learned from and attempted to model in my daily life.

Gandhi spinning his own cloth.
Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was born in 1869 in British India. He was educated in London to be a lawyer, and shortly thereafter moved to South Africa to work for a trading company. He was fairly unfamiliar with racism and oppression, as his father was an influential politician and Mohandas had experienced a privileged upbringing, so when he was thrown off of a train for refusing to sit third class when he had a first class ticket, he was shocked and horrified at this treatment. He quickly became involved in social activism in South Africa after he heard about a bill that was being passed that would eliminate the voting rights of Indians, Native South Africans, and other non-European people groups. Although incredibly inexperienced and unfamiliar with either social activism or public leadership, he managed to join South Africa’s marginalized and oppressed people groups together to fight the British government and effectively lay the foundation for the later disintegration of Apartheid, led by another warrior of truth - Nelson Mandela. Returning home to India, Gandhi realized that conditions were no better than he had experienced in South Africa, and set about creating a system of nonviolent social activism that he successfully implemented, eventually culminating in the British peacefully leaving India as a sovereign nation in 1947. 

Gandhi called his system of non-violent resistance “Satyagraha” which can be translated as “Soul force” or “Truth force.” To summarize his philosophy, in order to become a Satyagrahi, there are a few qualities and beliefs that Gandhi recommended we respect and observe:

 We must have a firm commitment to nonviolence, simplicity, honesty, chastity, and self-discipline in thought, word, and deed.
We must hold firmly to and constantly be seekers of truth, most notably the truth that all life is interconnected, rejecting violence in any form, whether physical or verbal, and not engaging in violence towards animals (vegetarianism/veganism).
We must always be ready to sacrifice our material comforts for the greater good of all beings, relying always on soul-force when it is necessary to resist another’s behavior. 
We must always exercise trust of the opponent (that is, trust that they can be awakened to compassion), and cultivate an unwavering faith in the goodness of humanity, constantly separating person from deed.

Obviously, one does not need to have all of these qualities dialed and become a monastic vegan overnight, but Gandhi is putting forth some very challenging lifestyle guidelines that will help increase your awareness of your relation to the universe. Even if we are not the direct victims or perpetrators of oppression or violence, observing these principles will directly help relieve oppression and injustice in the world and make us more prepared to handle it when we are faced with it. 

Another way that we can practice this art in everyday life is through our daily communication and interactions with people. Marshall Rosenberg, a clinical psychologist and education reformist, created a communication process known as Nonviolent Communication in the 1960‘s, which is widely taught today in prisons, classrooms, and conflict-mediation workshops. He has written numerous books and articles on this, and I will briefly outline his model. 

Marshall proposed that most conflicts between individuals or groups arise from miscommunication about basic human needs, due to coercive or manipulative language that aims to induce fear, guilt, shame, etc. These "violent" modes of communication, when used during a conflict, divert the attention of the participants away from clarifying their needs, their feelings, their perceptions, and their requests, thus perpetuating the conflict. He advocates using vulnerable, open, and compassionate language, as well as feeling empathy and understanding for the other parties needs and feelings. In practice, it looks like identifying ones own basic human needs and wants and communicating those. This sounds simple, but is often very scary and foreign to our way of thinking and communicating. 

This can be broken down into four simple steps. 
Making a pure observation without judging. 
Identifying a feeling within yourself.
Finding the human need behind the feeling.
Formulating a request (not a demand).

Lets use an example to illustrate this. Lets say that my wife says something about me not cleaning my dishes (which I know I’m supposed to do). If we could pause my brain in that moment and look inside of it, we would see a couple things. First, my immediate reaction of wanting to defend myself would show up very strongly, as my human need of being seen as responsible and capable would be triggered. However, more often than not, I don’t express this need or hurt. I instead instinctively cover up that wound with an attack, as I lash out at her for something she didn’t do. Very quickly the conversation becomes an argument that has nothing to do with the original source of the conflict - that I didn’t clean my dishes. 

However, if I had done my meditation and prayer that morning was feeling ’enlightened’, I might have had the awareness and patience to realize that I was feeling hurt and communicate that. If I chose to do so, it might look something like this: “Angie, I see that I didn‘t do the dishes and that you wish I would have. (validating her experience and making an observation). I want to let you know that when you say things in an exasperated tone, I feel hurt and not respected, (identifying a feeling within myself) and my need to be seen as a responsible, capable adult is not being honored (finding human need behind feeling). In the future, could you please let me know that I didn't do my dishes in a calmer, more respectful way? (formulating a request).

Although that is a little over-dramatic and I probably wouldn't feel that hurt at not doing the dishes (I’d probably just feel guilty), it serves to illustrate the point. Being vulnerable and humble in my communication, it opens the door for her to see me in all my naked humanity, sharing the same fears, needs, and insecurities that have been going around the gene pool since the first humans graced the earth with their dirty little feet. It’s virtually impossible to react aggressively or escalate a situation when someone communicates like this. Because there’s nothing to react to! I highly encourage you to research this communication style and practice it regularly, as it is relevant to every situation in which you will encounter another human being.

There is still the looming question of war and the use of violence in defending others. And although I do have personal beliefs on this issue, I don’t feel the need to share them right now. I believe that anyone who seriously cares about finding truth and creating peace and love in the world will find their answer to that question. For now, I leave you with a quote by our new friend Mohandas, 

“I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary; the evil it does is permanent.”

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Quote of the Week

"You are horrified at our intending to do away with private property. But in your existing society, private property is already done away with for nine-tenths of the population."
 - Karl Marx

Monday, November 25, 2013

Quote of the Week

“What if the point of life has nothing to do with the creation of an ever-expanding region of control? What if the point is not to keep at bay all those people, beings, objects and emotions that we so needlessly fear?

What if the point instead is to let go of that control? What if the point of life, the primary reason for existence, is to lie naked with your lover in a shady grove of trees? What if the point is to taste each other's sweat and feel the delicate pressure of finger on chest, thigh on thigh, lip on cheek? What if the point is to stop, then, in your slow movements together, and listen to the birdsong, to watch the dragonflies hover, to look at your lover's face, then up at the undersides of leaves moving together in the breeze? What if the point is to invite these others into your movement, to bring trees, wind, grass, dragonflies into your family and in so doing abandon any attempt to control them? What if the point all along has been to get along, to relate, to experience things on their own terms? What if the point is to feel joy when joyous, love when loving, anger when angry, thoughtful when full of thought? What if the point from the beginning has been to simply be?”

 - Derrick Jensen

Friday, November 15, 2013

Who am I, Why are We? pt 2 Existence and the Art of Living

   Existence, to some the ultimate question. To others the most idiotic. To those that prescribe to the latter it tends to be to the fact that for several generations we are not taught how to think properly. So why do we exist? Does anybody really care? I am at the point in my life where I have accumulated a fare amount of knowledge and a good number of experience and mistakes on which to draw on.
      From when primitive man first found  leisurely time to contemplate life and up until the age in which we live in, mankind has pondered this question. How many philosophers, scientist,and holy men have searched for the answer? To people caught up in the systems of the world, the answer is fed to them courtesy of the machine in which they live. We are told to go to work, follow the rules, respect authority and of course consume! TV, radio, movies and even artist tell us this or express it in their respective fields. The idyllic pink house, the white picket fence, the four wheel drive truck, a six pack of beer and all your wants will be filled. It's so unfortunate that a majority of people in the First World have this mentality. In a similar vein we see another group of people who have fallen into these lies. In that cursive and sad attempt to find happiness, which we are told is one reason we exist, this segment of our society does not have the means to find that grand commercial joy that is sold by the pound, so to fill that desire they find all they can afford one more fix! This goes all the way across the board embracing any kind of addictions that control a persons life and leads them by the nose deeper into the lie. In this category I classify all of the pleasures of the flesh. I'm not saying that they are evil or bad but as nearly all the great moral thinkers believe in and that would be temperance!
      To me it is amazing how many people live in willful ignorance. They choose not to learn and to reside in there little worlds that they find comforting without giving a second thought as to how their brothers and sisters of the world live or think. We are to busy sticking our noses into our mobile devices to give a thought to a stranger and many times ignore friends or loved ones. We choose entertainment over the search and understanding of knowledge. So many are entirely wrapped up in there own self importance with things like updating there status or tyring to be popular with virtual friends that they don't have the desire nor the attention span to probe into the joys that an open mind can embrace, assimilate and then recreate in a meaningful conversation or a piece of writing. It is true that the youth of the world are always going to be self-absorbed which I will not be so hard on them, because unlike most people who are middle-aged or approaching it, I remember o too well what it was like to be a grinning and carefree youth. It is also without a doubt that those who are under-privileged have a very scarce access to information, which by the way is hardly an accident. Those people who are without, one can understand that a day-to-day life of want and oppression, leaves the deeper thoughts to be the least of there worries. 
       On the other end of the spectrum we have those who have attempted to answer this question in one way or another. You have the people of various religions who believe that they live to serve their deity or to spread the message of said deity. Which I would say that is indeed a noble pursuit but we weren't brought about simply to serve. If that were the case then why not make us all the same. Why give us freewill? Why create us at all? We also have an endless parade of what I call neo-religions that  sprang about at the end of the 20th century, claiming they have all the answers. Scientist, psychologist, engineers and statist or nationalist of a dozen stripes coming along with the ludicrous ideas of modern demi-gods whom people bow to like a dog before his master. And of course their are the philosophers with their endless discourses and a mouthful of rigmarole that, by the time they finish their argument, one has forgotten the whole point. Heaven help me if I ever reach that point! So many deep and meaningful thinkers have brooded over this topic and in the end a large portion of them have determined that life is meaningless. That is ridicules! The mere carrying on of existence by these negative and hopeless thinkers shows on its own that there claims of "No meaning" is false. If they actually believed that then why do they not take there own life? The reason is because they are unable or unwilling to embrace life with its joys and hardships or deep inside they know that they are wrong!
        The simplest answer to this riddle of existence is very simple and quite anticlimactic. Existence justifies itself! Life is a gift and a treasure that has been bestowed upon us. Recently I heard an octogenarian say "Live while you are alive". Simple? yes, but true not the less! Only the most hardcore cynic would completely deny this. For it is no accident that you are who you are or that I am who I am. This is the great wheel of the universe spinning in the hands of a loving and kind creator, bringing you right here, right now, at this very moment in time and space to join with my comrades and I on this journey of breathing, smelling, seeing, touching and liberating.
       Now I know that this may be a bit simplistic for many of the brainacs of the world and I myself have played devils advocate on this as well so if more of a  reason is needed then let me proclaim that as sentient beings with freewill, free minds and individual souls, the reason of our existence is to grow! Yes to grow, spiritually, with knowledge, with wisdom and lastly but not the least we must "grow" our temporal shells as well, or rather we must take care of our bodies. By following this three-fold method of growth I believe that we reach the highest state that a human can attain.
        This is an axiom that I live by and I feel it is vital to share. Sijo Bruce Lee once said "I am happy because I am growing and honestly I don't know where my limit lies. To be certain there can be a revelation or a new discovery that I can obtain", true words indeed! We must train our minds so they do not become stagnant. We must not turn into vegetative automatons who allow the TV or social media tell us who and what we are. We must transcend the ignorance and prejudices of our countries, our cultures and even at times what our family members have taught. We must open up the spirit and teach it how to accept and bathe in the light of growth. We must strengthen our souls so we can be at peace with our surroundings and our fellow humans regardless of how annoying they may be. When the world that you live in collapses around you, the strength of the spirit will walk with you and comfort you through any storm that may descend upon you. When that day comes you will face it with courageous prudence and if you don't overcome, you will find peace within your loss or suffering. Finally we cannot become slaves to laziness. If we don't look after our bodies who will. If we fall into slothfulness and let ourselves disintegrate, how will we be able to focus on the other two methods of personal fulfilment. If  our bodies fall apart we may not accumulate the years of joy that await us.
      Combining this trinity of my own personal existentialism we must be sure to maintain a balance. What is the good if you forge your body but let the mind remain in darkness? So many times when I am at gym I see people training their bodies yet as soon as they open their mouths you know they train not their mind nor spirit. So many times they are too busy worshipping their own vanity. What is the sense in feeding the mind while your body deteriorates? A great example of this was when Tamo, the founder of Chan (Zen) came to China and saw that the monks were falling asleep while praying and meditating. To liven them up he gave them a set of yoga exercises to engage in to keep their bodies as strong as the mind and spirit. Is there any justification to hone the body and sharpen the mind while your spirit starves for a light that one refuses to let shine into the heart? To me where I stand, this sounds like foolhardiness, especially when people of good reason refuse to open them selves up to this train of thought. Surly in your own life you have seen this drought of the spirit. If you are one of these people then search deeply into the light of reason, beyond super-science and beyond the secularization of serious thought. I am not telling you what to believe in; just believe! With this balance I have transcended the pit that so many of us fall into. True, I had to fight tooth and nail and cross through fire and water to achieve this but believe me dear friends and comrades it is worth it.
        We must also be sure to remember the brevity of life and to live each day to its fullest. I'm not speaking of the "live fast, die free" mentality but rather embracing everyday as a chance to learn something new; sometimes in the most unlikely places. Our lives are but a blink to the all-seeing eye of the Creator or as Master Mo said "Life is like viewing a carriage and its horses' through a crack in the wall. One moment it is there and the next it is gone." Or as the psalmist says "Mans life is like the lilies of the field, here today and gone the next". There is no doubt that we are all drowning in the river of time but that does not mean we are to waste our days away. We are not put in the universe just to "get by" or "survive", we are hear to flourish and renew ourselves with love, grace, and knowledge. If we deny this then we are giving up on ourselves and throwing to the wind the beautiful genius that is in us. To refuse this it is to give up on your own existence and the world as well and that would be an act that you surely would regret; perhaps not today, nor tomorrow, maybe not even in this life. But you will regret the life-energies that you let slip away! So I say to you my friends let us live, let us be at peace, let us grow. Let us embrace the earth and sky, the sun and moon, the clouds and the stars. Let us make living an art and live a life that will be spoken of for all eternity! May the spirits bless you and long live Anarchy!

by Steven R. Cebula - philosopher, anarchist, student of truth


Monday, November 11, 2013

Who am I, Why are We? pt 1 Who am I?

   "Who am I, who am I?" Well I'm not exactly JeanValjean but with all respect to those incarcerated, I do know what it is to live in a prison for twenty years of ones own making, Forsaking all semblance of learning and holding in contempt all those who purveyed thoughts of wisdom and of faith; finding solace only in vice and hedonism. Growing up in the last third of the cold war lent itself to a self -destructive and fatalistic attitude in which the thought as "Why bother we're all going to get nuked anyway?" was the mantra of many of my contemporaries especially of those who fell in the category of rockers or metal-heads. Gone were the days of my tranquil pre-teen days of growing up on State Park and spending the days with my foster Dad, who was a park ranger, meandering through nature. Instead I lived in a housing project in the burbs, witnessing all the of absurdities of the impoverished as well as the injustices of the current systems of "law and order". Growing up there in hindsight was a real blessing for it was quiet eye opening, but at the time it didn't help my state of mind.
        Even after the birth of my children in the 90's I still walked down the wrong path though after holding my premature children in my arms, I actually started to think of something other than myself. Through twist and turns and boredom, I found my way to History and Philosophy; for once I wasn't afraid to think! In prior times my idea of depths of thought was Rock poets and tidbits of Zen that I had received from martial arts instructors. Talk about a paradigm shift. I had no idea how ignorant to knowledge that I had allowed myself to be. I have no clue as to how I graduated High School but I guess public schools aren't exactly known as places where education was a priority. I was more like an assembly line. Heaven forbid it be a place where free thought actually came into being.
        Yet I still had my priorities all wrong. Yes I loved my family but I still loved myself more! I thought I had the game all figured out. I had money, women, knowledge, weed , a good spinning-back kick and oh yeah my family. But sometimes when I was alone I knew that there was something missing. I could feel there was a hole in myself that needed filling. A gaping wound that I was born with that the powers of darkness had tried to fill with everything from booze to arrogance. I realized that that space was actually the absence of the spirit of the Eternal in my life. Aided by primitive Christianity, the deeds of saints, Theravada Buddhism and Chan(Zen), I grabbed revelation and never let it go, though on many occasions I have looked back. This was the final piece of the puzzle that I had been missing and had long searched for. For once I had an indubitable grasp as to who I was and who I was created to be! This is key for if we don't know who we are, how can we ever find out why we are? Hence who we are, I believe is the easy question the more difficult one is why we are.......

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Ode to the Dormouse and Those Who Mourn His Passing

My how the bundle of twigs and the yarn of your burrow will miss you tonight, as they spend their first night alone. 
“How will I sleep without the warmth of your soft tawny fur or without the rhythmic lullaby of your tiny heart?” the burrow cries. 
And how the small foot path which leads to the spring will miss the delight of your paws, as she sleeps untraveled.
 The river beyond your burrow and past the foot path weeps “Where has the delight of your tongue gone? Whose thirst can I now quench?”
The crumbs left by the satisfied sparrows lay in anxious wait for the dormouse.
“Oh, our dormouse how we long to meet you! To fulfill our worth by satisfying your hunger!  Has the streams thirst for you blinded her and extinguished the spark within your tiny heart? How we long to meet our dormouse! I pray your passing not true.
Yet more anxious is the one who sent the wind to carry the yarn and commanded the twigs to fall on the dormouse path, who called the rain to fall and the banks to swell. If only the crumbs knew the Father’s delight at the dormouse’s joy as he now eats the crumbs of the masters table. 
Even the burrow could hear the cries of the Father as he mourned the banks swelling that plucked you from the delight of the footpath and burrow and led you to the feast.  As did the river mourn and weep as she had to take you friend. 
“Take comfort burrow for your dweller’s soft tawny body lay in sand of a soft new burrow. And do not become lonely foot path, yet be comforted that his paws joyously travel the paths of hereafter. To the crumbs I say, rest in joyful longing for the next creature to be satisfied by you. And though the river took you, may her weeping be consumed with laughter and may she be comforted that her friends thirst will be eternally satisfied by the wine from my feasting table.”

-Katelyn Brown
Mystic, Hippie, Anarchist, Revolutionary

Thursday, October 31, 2013

The Lion Roared

My dearest sisters                                     
My dearest brothers
Scales on the eyes
Darkly disguised
How I must implore
This can be no more
Wicked nation state

Innocence splinters
Sublime aggressor
Waves of attrition
Slaves, television
Creates new vices
In mobile devices
The fast-food clones
Mindless drones

Lo, the direst weather
The withering tether
The unwinding cord
Empirical discord
A Lion Roared.
The bleeding sky
The melting eyes
Unending violence
Spiritual defiance

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

A Soul So Much Older

Earth, my Lover, let me lie on your breast
Let me know your deepest depths
Whisper your melodies to my soul
Your glories may my spirit behold

Oh, we of the soil
In the image of God
Bow to kiss the glorious lips
Of a soul so much older
And a heart so much purer
Thou hast given us all that we are

Earth, our sister, pray for us now
Help us remember who we are

Friday, October 18, 2013

Quote of the Week

The force that drives the water through rocks
Drives my red blood.

— Dylan Thomas

Sunday, October 13, 2013

The Red Hawk

It was an unsuspecting Sunday, much like any other I don't know If I needed fresh air or a refreshing view I walked out of guarded white doors into a temple far more vast In my line of site a shallow tree line, wind swayed the branches There landed a Hawk, his majesty showed in the many season Silently we gazed, the crawling moments were composed of years Me, my manufactured clothes and artful artificial eyes I'm but an ignorant immigrant so far from my ancestoral hall Where he was clothed in the magnificence of his nature This remnant of an age that passed two-hundred years ago Panther, wolf and bear all gone, as are the men of this forest The endless sky, High Powers, kept him from the evil ones sight Their deconstruction rules the day, physical and spiritual Overgrown by techno-spaghetti, plugged in from birth till death The electric pulses keeping us alive yet stealing our souls A ruffle of wings, the dream-spell broken, bright blue sky his glory Seeking his place among the heavens where he is ever free Leaving me a lifetime of questions, these mysteries unsolved Progress or destruction? for once the middle ground I could not hold Once high ground, continants drift, the central terrain a killing feild A fateful shore, a gray landscape, colors in flight flee our world,
hopefully this is not ......
                        ...... the end

by Steven R. Cebula

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Quote of the Week

"We are all in the gutter but some of us are looking at the stars." 
- Oscar Wilde

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Quote of the Week

"The only people on earth who don't see Jesus's teachings as non violent are Christians." 

- Gandhi

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Turn Back

I returned to the forest of my youth Verdant prism of flourishing greens Those lovely airs were reposed in my sleep I paused and pondered the civilized dreams Summer, Spring, and Fall - even bleak winter Entered my being and released my spirit A quiet breeze brushed me, I felt complete I waxed and wondered - Why do we forget? Let us Turn Back - She cries Turn Back Eyes with vision is what we lack This life giver is raped and sacked Spewing smoke-stacks, those spires of black Upon dark thrones - dark lords cough and hack Willful ignorance, deeds and acts My feet tread upon an ancient pathway Little known worlds beneath streets and concrete At the center of this long lost culture My conscious pricked, I followed a drumbeat I found and egalitarian folk Clansmen, freemen - tribe by affiliation Seminomadic - embracing earth and sky Bound only by geometric constructions* Let us Turn Back or fade to black Reality, it fissures and cracks Despoiled Mother counter-attacks Vengence black - skyscrapers to shacks Woe to us - too late to Turn Back? Woe to hands that brandish the axe I stretched out my arms to the bright blue The naked sun burned, my heart overwhelmed Vines entangled - a creative design I confessed evils we moderns have done Turn from evil, turn from our wilted way To the Garden before serpents found us Our dark desires we cast on the earth We bind nature as evil has bound us
by Steven R Cebula
anarchist, poet, student of Truth
* The Hopewell Native Americans (circa 100 bc - 500 ad) constructed geometric earthworks that exist to this day.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

I Shall Sing On Night's Decay

The author, Saw Jack on the left, and some of his classmates
on the school soccer field
Give me the day that was taken away;

Lengthen the night and shorten the day.

Every birdy speaks bliss to me,

And I desire to live peacefully.

I shall smile when wreaths of snow

Anywhere, tell me where I should go;

I shall sing when night's decay

Ushers in a drearier day.

Saw Jack, grade 11B has been studying English for only a few years, 
but is one of the 
brightest students in his class. 

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Ask the Right Questions

If only one could be found who could clearly see the world around him. If he would but open his eyes for but a moment, he would begin to clearly understand that the so-called necessary effects of our society, nearly every single tradition we hold as our own in this modern society, was procured not from some necessity or poetic tradition, but from some man or institution's insatiable appetite for an increase in capital. If one would only take a single material possession of his and trace back it's lineage, he would soon find it's grandfather to be no more than a profit motive. If one were to analyze the necessity of such items, he would find their defenses and justifications quickly breaking down. But will these questions ever be asked?

I am all too often asked my reason for not wearing shoes. Each time, i furrow my brow, unsure as to why i need a justification for walking in my natural state. I typically reply by asking the inquisitor why they are wearing shoes. They stumble for an answer, but usually come out with "To protect my feet" or "To keep my feet clean." I am usually too polite, but on a few occasions i have retorted "Which one of us has fungus growing on our feet right now, and which one's feet are naturally exfoliated and cleaned with every step?" In complete disclosure, I have no reason for walking barefoot other than that i was born that way. You, my shod friend, are the one who should be providing some reasonable justification for morphing your spine, feeding fungi, and spending your money and time on such funny looking foot-cages. Earth longs to again have contact with her child, your body. And your flesh, unbeknownst to you, longs again to rest upon the breast of it's mother.

Am i also to give a reason for my refusal to pay rent, live in a house, and exchange my precious hours for some meaningless green paper? Indeed, it is true that this lifestyle affords me to have great encounters with numbers of Beautiful people - vagabonds, missionaries, time-travellers, magicians (more commonly known as musicians), and even runaway soccer moms - all of whom are searching for Truth and therefore have let down the fearful defenses that are inherent in the common man. This lifestyle has many secondary benefits, all of which are merely bonuses, but the American Dream has not been rejected for any of these reasons. Indeed, if you were to ask me why i've rejected the pleasures and comforts of civilized life, i would ask you why you've rejected the mystical, poetical, and liberating pleasures of your childhood. Again, why must i give a justification for refusing to add ill-suited and destructive practices to my natural human state? First, please explain to me exactly what benefits you reap from heaping such exoteric and ostentatious practices upon your true Self, which is now cowering unfed, naked, and hungry in some dark and undiscovered corner of your long-forgotten heart. 

When a member of modern society sees a homeless man walking down the road, barefoot and barebacked, with no possessions in this world other than Truth, i would recommend that they stop encouraging him to "Get a job!" These fools don't recognize that this homeless man is already employed in the most ancient and noble of all professions. They would be embarrassed to learn that his salary is not only significantly larger than theirs, but that his paycheck is Freedom, a legitimate currency; while, the currency they work for was illegitimately procured from a game not much unlike the game of Monopoly they used to play as children (a game they have yet to graduate from). When a more compassionate citizen stops for only a moment to give a few dollars to the street minstrel, yet does not stay to listen to his magic nor his philosophy, she only robs herself. Indeed, the sages of our time - the few who remember what it is to be human - are most often found in the streets and in the wilderness, under bridges and under the crescent moon, far from oaken desks, electronics stores, and the suburbs.

The nonparticipants of society are routinely interrogated for their supposed counterculturalism. I'd like to suggest that the counterculturalists aren't instigating anything new or counter-anything at all, and thus have nothing to be interrogated for. The answers to all the inquiries are inherent in the questions themselves. I'd like to suggest that members of society start asking themselves some reasonable questions, and successively begin discarding that which is found to be parasitic or extraneous. 

I've heard it said that humans are the only creatures on this earth who pay rent to live here. Consider that long and hard. Then start asking questions. 

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

There Is No Tree

The author Eh Htoo Say on the right, and classmate
K'Baw Wah on the left.
      Two boys sit on a field. One of their names is Jack, and the other is Zoe. They are very poor, but they are satisfied to be farmers. They are very helpful to each other. There is a mountain around them and a hut made by bamboo beside the mountain. There is a tree covering the hut. As Jack and Zoe sit on the field, they are talking about their future. Jack says, "One day if I'm a rich man, I will marry with a nurse. After that, if I had children, I would take them to school. I want them to take book and pencil to earn money to survive. I don't want their lives to be like mine. I want them to get enough affection from me. So i will start to try my best. I won't give up." 
     Zoe said, "I don't want to marry because nowadays most of the girls are not modest, hospitable, and patient. Most girls are only playful and don't take life seriously. 
      "Jack! Do you know what kind of thing I want to do?" I want to be a useful person for everyone who lives all over the world. Not only for people, but also for animals. You know Jack, there are no trees around us, so we must do something. I will plant trees and protect the Earth. My thoughts are not for myself... They are for my generation.
     "Okay! Get married and birth your children, Jack! Then I will teach them how to protect the world." Zoe was exhausted when he thought about that. He shouted and wept.
     When he shouted, he saw there were many birds flying in the sky, trying to find the place to relax. He thought, "I am also like them, there is no situation for me. The birds are looking for the trees to relax in, but there is no tree around us."
     The birds were singing a song...
               Ji... Ji... Ji... 
               Where we have to live
               There is no tree 
               To relax and eat
               We are hopeless and we are weak
               No one can plant the trees
               So we are hungry

Eh Htoo Say is a Karen migrant studying in Thoo Mweh Khee Senior College. She first ran away from home at six years old because although her parents wanted her to stay to work on the farm, she felt she had to follow her dreams, and believed she would need an education to be able to help her people in the ways that she aspired to. She has left her family's Buddhist faith, but remains deeply spiritual. She hopes to return to her village as the first nurse in the area and/or become an activist for the protection of the Earth. 

Saturday, August 24, 2013

Jesus and Yeshua: An Examination of Cultural Icons

His long, well-conditioned, light-brown hair glistens softly in the sun. His deep blue, penetrating eyes betray his Anglo-Saxon heritage. His well-manicured facial hair parts to reveal a gleaming set of perfectly straight, white teeth. His soft white skin and delicate fingers hint at a life free of manual labor and toil. The long, flowing white robe that wraps around his body must have been recently washed and bleached, as it radiates purity and divine goodness. The child in his lap and the crowds that have gathered around him with admiration and awe written all over their faces communicate that this man must be saying something incredibly important and inspirational.

He teaches such divine truths as "Blessed are those who make lots of money, for God loves money" and "For God so loved the world, he made a special place for you to burn and suffer forever if you don't follow his moral boundaries" as well as "When someone slaps you on the cheek, turn to him the other also; unless your government decides that a group of people is a threat to your country, then go ahead and slaughter them." He is the patron saint of Capitalism... [For more, click here]

----- This article was originally published by The Hampton Institute, and written by Jeriah Bowser.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Quote of the Week

If I have one message to give to the secular American people, it’s that the world is not divided into countries. The world is not divided between East and West. You are American, I am Iranian, we don’t know each other, but we talk together and we understand each other perfectly. The difference between you and your government is much bigger than the difference between you and me. And the difference between me and my government is much bigger than the difference between me and you. And our governments are very much the same.. 
                                  -- Marjane Satrapi

Save the Life of an Eel

In my hunger, i'd temporarily forgotten the number one rule of Mae Sot - don't go out at night on foot. Especially alone. The dogs aren't vegetarians. Unfortunately, it wasn't until after i'd climbed over my first gate and established a firm resolve to get some food, that i remembered this rule.

While eagerly searching for a stick to ward off canines, i was a bit taken aback to instead find a pink, writhing eel lying in the middle of the road. After puzzling for nearly a minute, I moved him on top of a sewer grate where all thirty inches of him wriggled and finally plopped into the rushing water below. I stood up and asked myself if i was the only of my friends to ever have an opportunity to rescue an eel from a city street.

I kept walking, keeping an eye out for carnivorous fiends, when i heard the mystical dong of the Buddhist monastery's morning bell, pulsating through the alleyways. Apparently the Mae Sot dogs enjoyed the sound even more than i did, as within moments, hundreds of eerie howls accompanied the bell. The sounds mingled together to produce a great horror film soundtrack which was kind enough to accompany me as i hurried my pace and kept my head down. I hadn't seen any dogs yet, and i still didn't know what i'd do if i saw them - but the absence of dogs on this street along with the ghostly howling coming from all around me haunted me even more. Are all the dogs finishing up a committee meeting and about to come marching down the street to me en masse?

Without any more mishaps, i arrived at the 7/11 (probably the only recognizable chain in town), where i bought a small sandwich and a strawberry yogurt. I paused to mentally prepare before embarking on my return journey.

As i rounded the first corner, and started walking back down the main street, something in one of the parked cars caught my eye. Was it...? Yes, a human. A crazed madman waiting to attack the first passerby. A murder victim, lying dead in the driver's seat to be found by the police. Wait, no, it was just the seat cover. My eyes and my mind had conspired to deceive me. Although i now knew that it was nothing, my heart had started to thump harder, and my adrenaline was already pumping. And after being jolted in fear, everything starts to seem menacing.

Menacing. Like those two dogs lying in front of Siam Bank ahead, on the right. They were both big and ugly. They hadn't seen me yet, but i was going to have to walk by them - there was no other way around. I kept walking, keeping as silent as possible. Still hadn't seen me. I realized that one was sleeping. The other was scandalously licking himself and thus hadn't seen me yet, but if i walked in front of him, surely he would see me. I held my breath and kept walking, keeping my head down and ducking behind cars when possible. Finally, i looked back and determined that he would no longer see me, i had made it past.

Only a few minutes later, i got back to the guest house where i'm sleeping on the floor of a friend's room for the night. As i didn't have his key, i had to climb the gate to get in - the gate which is right next to the room where the manager is sleeping. I had to climb very quietly. The gate was cleared with relative ease and utmost silence. I entered the room, plopped down on the floor, and judged whether the strawberry yogurt was really worth the effort. It wasn't.

But the adventure was definitely worth the journey.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Beneath the Fiery Sky

From our perch at the top of an elm
Beneath the fiery red sky
The world stirs below
As we sit idly by

Earth rumbles a sigh of relief
Ready once again to trust
We smile knowingly at her
And she, back at us

The heavens flood with bright white light
Around the soaring birds
Our indigenous humanity coerced to return
And we watch
As society burns

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Spider Blue

A flea caught in the spider's trap,
Pleaded with his captor that
His pardon plea would be approved.
By the flea's plea was the spider moved.

"Flea, you're part of one big plan.
You've lived before, you'll live again.
Say goodbye to pain and strife,
No need to fear the jaws that bite."

For a spider, for a mouse
For a spider, for a mouse
For a spider, for a mouse
Guests uninvited in the human's house

*This poem is a summary of the first several chapters of the ancient Hindu scripture, the Bhagavad Gita (literally, "The Song of The Divine"). If you haven't read it, read it! It's Beautiful.

**The melody and verse structure for the poem is adapted from the 'spider songs' by the musical group mewithoutYou. Have a listen! 

Friday, June 21, 2013

It's Good to be Home

At a tea shop in Mae Sot with my Aussie sister Maddie
and the Beautiful Eh Soe Paw
It's already becoming hard to comprehend that i spent half of the past year back in America. Somehow the
two worlds don't seem to mesh. When i'm in America, Thailand seems like a distant dream. Yet when i come back here, it feels like i never left. Cruising on my motorbike along the Moei river, marveling at Myanmar's mystical mountains and attempting to dodge as many potholes as possible, this is where i feel at home. Pulling into my small village where the dogs chase me and the villagers smile at me, i feel as though this is where i grew up. Teaching English is as challenging and fun as it ever was, and i'm finding my teaching skills have already greatly improved over last year. Teaching "Oppression and Liberation History" to displaced, oppressed, yet impassioned youth in the middle of finding their own liberation is a brand new challenge, requiring countless hours of studying, conglomerating, and rewriting history in simple English. The Love and forgiveness these young refugees have for their oppressors, their Peaceful tendencies, and their status as the first educated generation of their people, overwhelms me as i have the honor to serve them in this historical time.
Jamming some Bob Dylan with Star, who will never be a good
harpist unless he can learn to suppress his laughter for
longer than ten seconds

Dancing like a maniac in the youth-led worship services never gets old. Singing old folk songs with a guitar, blues harp, and a bunch of friends late into the night every night is the stuff of legends. I'm teaching guitar to several different friends, and engaging in good conversations with many of them who will come to the 'Teacher House' just to hang out. I'm currently staying and teaching at a different school, Thoo Mweh Khee, than i was teaching at last year, although i still consider Klee Thoo Klo to be my home, and visit there a few times per week. There are other foreigners staying here at Thoo Mweh Khee as well, which, along with the students here having much better English, allows me to engage in real conversations with little difficulty! In addition, the house i'm staying in is made of real wood, we rarely run out of water, and there's even a small kitchen. There are rarely snakes or thousands of bugs in the house, and there's even electricity. Several steps up from my living situation at Klee Thoo Klo - which isn't necessarily a good thing. I'm praying and hoping that i'll be living and teaching at Klee Thoo Klo again next semester, but until then, i'm ecstatic to be here at Thoo Mweh Khee.

Tremendous thanks to all who've helped me get here, and all who are praying for me. I Love and miss all my family in America and around the world. I miss my adventures and inspiring talks with the Beautiful hippies and vagabonds of Manitou and downtown Denver. I miss the family who share my last name (and/or the Htoo last name) - Mom, +Dad, +Jeriah, +Marea, +Johanna, Catherine, Say Doe, Mahsa, Hai Ku, Poe Lee Yeh, Eh D'Mwi. I miss the Christian community i found at our house church, The Mill, Ekklessia, and other random worship nights. I miss the community of refugees and friends in Denver. I miss the traveling kids and homeless bums of Miami Beach. I miss the wonderful families who gave me shelter and welcomed me into their families in both Colorado and Florida. I miss my Aussie sisters in Brisbane and Melbourne. I miss my Karen and Chin friends in Texas, Australia, Yangon, and scattered across the world. Warmest hugs and sloppiest kisses to all. I look forward to seeing you all again, and i hope some of you will even come visit me here soon. Shalom.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Quote of the Week

'Persons in power should be very careful how they deal with a man who cares nothing for sensual pleasure, nothing for riches, nothing for comfort or praise, or promotion, but is simply determined to do what he believes to be right. He is a dangerous and uncomfortable enemy, because his body which you can always conquer gives you so little purchase upon his soul.'

- Gilbert Murray, on the Mahatma Gandhi

Gandhi leading the Salt Satyagraha of 1930

Saturday, June 15, 2013


With a darting glance of your marbled oaken eye
Poetry's pen is vandalized
All sorrow is fleeting
And eye wish to live a thousand lives

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Quote of the Week

"Think lightly of yourself   

 and deeply of the world"  

 - Miyamoto Musashi  

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Look to the Fowls of the Heaven

Every time i hear someone talk about how we're so blessed to have all the freedoms and the wealth we have in America, i can't help but cringe. I appreciate that in one sense, people express gratitude for the gifts they've been given, but i can't help but wonder if the gratitude truly continues beyond the spoken words.

Surrounded by, and engaged in a culture that is built on the incessant expansion of wealth and possessions, it's no wonder that books like The Prayer of Jabez, which are all about "enlarging my territory" are so prevalent, and books such as Rich Christians in an Age of Hunger are never mentioned in the halls of the cathedrals. While the expression of gratitude can be often heard, the capitalist consumerist machine makes me wonder if we're actually content with what we've been given.

I write this however, not to tear down the current order of things as much as to shed light on a more Beautiful way. Imagine a world where all our needs and all of our desires were generously provided by Earth. Imagine a world where humans, just like every other creature on Earth, didn't have to pay rent to live here. Dream with me of a world where medicines and foods grew in abundance, and adventures were around every corner. Imagine that GOD Himself even came to walk among us to try to help us understand by telling us things like "Look at the flowers! Look at the birds! They don't waste their lives working, yet all their needs are met. Look at the splendor which they are clothed in! Their natural Beauty is something money can't buy, and products can't reproduce."

Unfortunately, most of us were raised to believe in an artificial world where sickness and hunger could only be cured in exchange for large sums of money. Where we have to pay for the soil we walk on and for the clothes we wear. We even have a host of artificial needs which can only be met by our artificial world. We need cell phones, tv, makeup, cars, houses, vacations, jobs. All of which cost us something. But the greatest cost of all these things is that we have to sacrifice the Beautiful world we imagined just moments ago. The two are antithetical and incompatible.

This being said, i cringe when i hear the gratitude for these "blessings" because i think that we, not GOD, created all these needs and the "blessings" to satisfy them. I can only assume that we created them because we weren't truly grateful for what He provided for us.

You give your child a meal, and he sells it to buy some candy... and then thanks you. I guess it's nice that he said thank you, but it hurts to see that he didn't appreciate or even recognize what the real gift was. I think it hurts the Earth when she gives us gifts, and we immediately go and sell them. If she wanted to give us money, she could just do that. If she gives us herself, may we not castrate and commercialize those gifts.

Let us thank YHWH for the gifts that He's given us, not those which we've given ourselves.

"Thou oh Earth hast met more than the needs of our flesh.
 Oh Great Mystery, Ye tire not from granting our desires.
Yet Ye are the source of our breath, and Ye, the song of our lyres.
Our Lover, our Sustainer, let us not stifle our inner fires.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Quote of the Week

"I am no more than the bond between us.

I am only so Beautiful as the character of my relationships,

only so rich as I enrich those around me, 

only so alive as I enliven those I greet."

- Derrick Jensen, A Language Older Than Words (Life-changing book!)

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Oh golden eye, rising from the East

Imparting serenity and wisdom
Your yellow breath is more than fire
It is life for our terrestrial kingdom

In mystery you shroud yourself
Among atmospheric seas
Your prismic skies are more than color
They are fire for our fearless kingdom

In twilight as you turn your face
And blow your evening breath
Your cold blue aura brings more than peace
She is color for our mystical kingdom

Yea crystal star o'er astral seas
Humble among celestial masses
Your sustenants are more than gods
They bring peace to our heavenly kingdom

spray-paint art by johanna, marea, and jordan bowser.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Quote of the Week

"There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy. "

- Hamlet to Horatio (Hamlet, William Shakespeare)

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Quote of the Week

"This is the truth, if a monk regards contempt as praise, poverty as riches, and hunger as a feast, he will never die."

The Desert Fathers

Monday, April 22, 2013

Happy Earth Day!

Here's a little poem I wrote while sitting in a little grove, admiring the Beauty of nature this week. The poem is happily accompanied by a few of my favorite nature shots of the Thai-Burma Border. 

Sunday, April 21, 2013

The Parable of the Fisherman

A boat docked in a tiny Mexican village. An American tourist complimented the Mexican fisherman on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took him to catch them. 
"Not very long," answered the Mexican. 
"But then, why didn't you stay out longer and catch more?" asked the American. The Mexican explained that his small catch was sufficient to meet his needs and those of his family. 
The American asked, "But what do you do with the rest of your time?" 
"I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, and take a siesta with my wife. In the evenings, I go into the village to see my friends, have a few drinks, play the guitar, and sing a few songs ... I have a full life." 

The American interrupted, "I have an MBA from Harvard and I can help you!  You should start by fishing longer every day.  You can then sell the extra fish you catch. With the extra revenue, you can buy a bigger boat. 
"And after that?" asked the Mexican. With the extra money the larger boat will bring, you can buy a second one and a third one and so on until you have an entire fleet of trawlers.  Instead of selling your fish to a middle man, you can then negotiate directly with the processing plants and maybe even open your own plant. You can then leave this little village and move to Mexico City, Los Angeles, or even New York City!  From there you can direct your huge new enterprise." 
"How long would that take?" asked the Mexican. 
"Twenty, perhaps 25 years," replied the American. 

"And after that?" the Mexican asked. 
"Afterwards? That's when it gets really interesting," answered the American, laughing.  "When your business gets really big, you can start selling stocks and make millions!" 
"Millions?  Really?  And after that?" 

"After that you'll be able to retire, live in a tiny village near the coast, sleep late, play with your children, catch a few fish, take a siesta with your wife and spend your evenings drinking and enjoying your friends."