Monday, June 30, 2008

Monday Madness [Forgiveness]

¡Hola! Everybody…

Life is good.

* * *

-=[ The Unleashing ]=-

Yesterday, I wrote a little on guilt (and forgiveness). I feel I need to clarify somewhat. The forgiveness I speak of has ho expectations. I don’t extend forgiveness with the expectation of being reciprocated. In fact, the form of forgiveness I am pointing toward shouldn’t be confused with what people often mistake for forgiveness.

Most of us never forgive. We like to intellectualize it’s over with, but we carry resentments like so much baggage. We carry our dis-ease with us and it makes us sick.

I forgive you.


That’s it. There’s no qualifier.

My only interest is that you get better, that you find some way toward integration, some measure of happiness, and health and if I am to be a part of that process, then that too is on the table. If at this time you’re not able to forgive yourself and would rather hide in shame, you’re still forgiven and the door remains open.


I am able to do this because I have forgiven myself. Moreover, in the process of forgiving myself, I came to the realization that there is no “me” or “you.” “You” and “I” are sometimes useful concepts we use to navigate our way around this ball of dirt. In reality, there is no you, no me, just a big We. If you don’t understand this, keep coming around, you’ll get it – sooner or later. On the other hand, maybe not. Perhaps you won’t get it, and you’ll die gripped by the illusion of being alone and separated. The choice is always there.

True love – genuine, empowering love – is the essence of joyful living. This form of love, which is a verb (an action word), is unconditional, and expects nothing in return. It follows that if we expect nothing in return, we will never be disappointed. Many spiritual traditions consider this the highest form of love. I don't like quibbling about Love. Suffice it to say that it is this love from which we were made. Our essence is this Love. I like to quote a favorite line from a salsa song:

Yo soy el hijo del cariño y tambien de la dulzura.

The first part roughly translated means, “I am the son of love… ”

When faced with this essence what in the world can you ever do to throw this shining love into darkness? The answer is simple: there’s nothing you can ever do to cover this light. You might as well try to cover the sky with your hand, as my aunt used to like to say about self-evident truths. In light of this love, your machinations are disrobed for the dysfunctional grab for love that they are and instead of resentment, I feel only compassion for your inability to express Love.

Yes, I am aware that we live in the world of conditions. As the song goes, we are spirits in the material world. Our egos demand payment and we live in the world of conditions. I have to cross the street and pay the rent. I am no fool, nor am I an idealistic dreamer. Believe me, I have seen more hells than even my tired eyes could tell you. Most people have never been to the places I have inhabited and lived to tell about them. I know of this “reality” you speak of and it’s not reality, it’s an elaborate illusion. It’s a movie – a sick form of entertainment. One we have all agreed to buy into. But I refuse to buy into that “reality” because it’s a fool’s gold.

I do know this: without awakening to the power of love, you are doomed to a life of misery.

Genuine love loves the unlovable. Loving and not expect anything in return is genuine love. Why would you give a gift expecting one in return? It’s easy to love the good things. Anyone can do that. One of the most difficult things is to love one who has harmed us. And for those of us ruled by our egos this will never make sense. But once you have had the experience of giving or receiving such love, it becomes a potential in any given moment. It becomes a possibility for a way of life.

It becomes the foundation for your happiness, right now, right here, today… you choose.



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Sunday, June 29, 2008

Sunday Sermon [Guilt]

¡Hola! Everybody…
Today is the Gay Pride Parade here in the Center of the Known Universe. I’ll state it here and offer my support to my Gay and Lesbian brothers and sisters. To my inbred, repressed brethren who are against gay marriage? Well… I would submit that if you’re against gay marriage, the simple thing to do is not marry one…


* * *

-=[ Guilt ]=-
“Love and guilt cannot coexist,
and to accept one is to deny the other.”

-- A Course in Miracles

Feeling guilty is just another way to rationalize behavior that defeats your happiness. Feeling guilty is an indulgence – a selfish and twisted way for you to continue beating yourself into the insanity of committing the same actions and expecting different results.

I once offered forgiveness to an individual who had wronged me and her initial response was to tell me how it cut her to the heart. She went on how nice I was (I’m not), blah blah blah. Her eventual response was silence. Years later, I ran into her by chance on the street and she began to cry. She told me that she had just come from her therapist and that she had been talking about me – about how she squandered what could’ve been something special and beautiful. How she always pushed what was good and decent away. She was so beside herself, all I could do was give her a hug and assure her everything would be all right.

I have a funny feeling I’ve become the subject of too many therapeutic sessions. For the record, I don’t want to be anyone’s therapist. All I want is for you to wrap your legs around my waist in lustful entanglement.

The sacred offering of forgiveness is about allowing someone to take advantage of you. Few people know that forgiveness – true forgiveness – must be first offered to one’s self before it could be given away. Once you forgive yourself, you come to the full realization that there is no “other” to forgive. In a twisted way, forgiveness is probably one of the most selfish of acts.

If you commit a wrong against me, my interest is in helping you grow out of that mode of living. Most people would rather continue to feel guilty than to actually grow. True growth is the process of becoming willing to have defects of character removed. It’s not even about having them removed! It’s about becoming willing to have defects of character removed! When you become willing, you shed the guilt and start doing the work. Lying, cheating, dishonesty, the whole cast of character defects – become fodder for your growth.

Yes, I lied to you, this was why, and I want to stop. And I because I love you, I want to work with you so that we can become truly intimate and loving.

When you feel guilt, you’re in the grips of your ego. Guilt isn’t about anyone else but you because only your ego can experience guilt. Guilt will always disrupt your growth, will always sabotage you, and will always cause you to repeatedly make the same mistakes.

You will be treated like shit, because guilt demands that you’re treated like shit. You will meet assholes who will defile you because your guilt demands it.

The end of your guilt will never come as long as you buy into the notion that there is a reason for it. For you to be released from guilt you must first learn that guilt is insanity; it always is and always has been and will always be. Guilt has neither reason nor rhyme.

And here’s why:

Guilt asks only for punishment and punish you will be – always. You will be punished and be lost in the world of illusions and shadows. The Ex from Boston wants to be punished. She doesn’t understand kindness. She’s not too different from many women (and men) I know. Be nice to them and they will run away. But if you want them to call you, or to fuck them, treat them like shit and they will be blowing up my phone begging to be punished. Of course, my idea of punishment is fucking her in the ass.

I’m kidding!

I can’t do that – I’ve never been able to do that – to manipulate fear and guilt for sexual gratification. It isn’t worth my peace of mind. Like other women I know, the Ex from Boston replays the scene: she disappears for a little while, suffers some more, and then somewhere in her mind, she remembers the light and calls me.

She suffers a lot. As do many of us... Maybe one day she will come to the realization that she does not have to suffer needlessly. I do not know. All I can do is keep an open heart.

A mind without guilt cannot suffer. Your freedom -- indeed, your very salvation -- depends on your escape from the prison of guilt.



Saturday, June 28, 2008

The Dash...

¡Hola! Everybody…
It’s hot and humid today, a good day for the beach! I used the following poem a few years back. It's made a comeback of sorts recently (check out the website click here). Check out the video...

* * *

* * *

The Dash Poem
-- Linda Ellis

I read of a man who stood to speak
at the funeral of a friend.
He referred to the dates on her tombstone
from the beginning… to the end.

He noted that first came the date of her birth
and spoke of the following years with tears,
but he said what mattered most of all

was the dash between the years.

For that dash represents all the time
that spent alive on earth
and now only those who loved her
know what that little line is worth.

For it matters not, how much we own
the cars… the house… the cash.
What matters is how we live and love

and how we spend our dash.

So think about this long and hard:
are there things you like to change?
For you never know how much time is left
that can still be rearranged.

If we could just slow down enough
to consider what is true and real
and always try to understand

the way other people feel.

And be less quick to anger
and show appreciation more
and love the people in our lives

like we’ve never loved before.

If we treat each other with respect
and more often wear a smile…
remembering that this special dash
might only last a little while.

So when your eulogy is being read
with your life’s actions to rehash,
would you be proud of the things they say
about how you spent your dash.

* * *



Friday, June 27, 2008

The TGIF Sex Blog [Sex Wars]

¡Hola! Everybody…
Today is the Ex from Boston’s birthday. I believe she turns 28 today… I have something sweet for her I will be busy with work for most of the day. Have a great weekend.

* * *

Sex Wars

“Confusion is a word we have invented for an order which is not understood.”
-- Henry Miller, Tropic of Capricorn

“We’re all whores.”
-- Edward-Yemíl Rosario

The sexual urge should be the basis for a joyous dance between the sexes, a filter through which we could better each other as men and women, a vehicle through which can understand the masculine and feminine essence within each of us. It could and should be an opportunity to experience a little of that which we are not, an honoring of one another’s differences, a way of seeing the world through the other side of the gender looking glass.

Instead, what we often experience in our erotic connection is more like a war – a battle of the sexual marketplace. Heterosexually speaking, we’re often reduced to men trying to get sex from women and women resenting the male preoccupation with sex. What happens is a lot of anger: Men angry that women have sex and won’t give it to them and women angry that men try to take something from them through sex.

I look at the sexual landscape and it seems to me we’re all embroiled in an elaborate sexual power game, both blatant and on the DL. Sex pioneer Wilhelm Reich pointed out long ago that sex becomes a commodity, whose value is exaggerated by a created and artificial scarcity. As it happens with all commodities, the basic question becomes who gets what from whom and at what price. Sex, in this context, becomes a basis for the exchange of money, financial security, attention, personal favors, and most of all, the illusion of affection. This illusion becomes even more pronounced in the cyber arena. I know of some women who act out sexually solely via cyber space.

If that isn’t whoring, then I don’t know what is…

Welcome to the Thunderdome. Instead of love and appreciation -- instead of an exquisite dance of love and mystery – we too often experience the erotic as an arena of manipulation. And we’re left feeling a profound emptiness from which springs the anger, resentment, confusion, and tears – all of which we then blame on the erotic impulse, as if it were to blame!

A great deal of this sexual confusion and pain comes from the fundamentally different ways men and women are socially conditioned when it comes to sexuality. The erotic training of boys is radically different from that of girls that we might as well have been raised in entirely different cultures. In fact, it would probably more helpful to think the sexual wars in just those terms. If we were to come together with a curiosity to learn about each other’s customs, we might be able to begin to perceive, without blame and judgment, our different perspectives on eros (the sexual impulse). It would be like one person saying, “Among my people, sex is generally a prelude to intimacy, a way of making one emotionally vulnerable.” Another person could respond, "Really? Among my people it’s the opposite – emotional intimacy is required before a person would feel safe enough to allow this vulnerability of being sexual.”

No need to make one right, the other wrong. No need to laugh at or resent our differences.

Almost from birth, adults relate to boys’ bodies differently than they do girls’. Boys are held less, fondled less, and allowed to cry longer before being answered with touch. Later, they learn not to be sensual because sensuality is defined as feminine, and there is a masculine identity to be forged in which rejecting the dominant figure of the mother plays a big part. Boys are taught that it is not cool to want to be held and comforted, not cool to want to be softly stroked. What is cool, even necessary, is to want sex. The entire urge for touch, comfort, care, gentleness, and intimacy is reduced into the single outlet of sex.

At the same time, girls are taught that sex is their enemy. Sex is a monster, a male beast, and it is the task of the female to tame the beast. Sex contains the danger of pregnancy, and also the danger of destroying one’s status among the society of “good girls.” Sex as pleasure is only permitted if it’s essentially an expression of love for a partner, but sex for its own sake – lust, desire – is unfeminine.

So her we are thrown together in this mess. The boys, and later men, try to get all of what they have condensed into sex from the girls and women, who have reduced sexual desire to a romantic detail. Ultimately, the men are left feeling rejected and angry; the women feel pressured, objectified, and angry.

We all bleed.

Sadly, the first casualty in this war is the erotic dance. Lost, along with all of its potential for magic, healing, pleasure, intimacy, and fulfillment.

We need to take back our erotic impulse and begin looking honestly at the different perspectives on eroticism. We need to explore how desire is aroused differently in men and women. We need to take stock of the consequences of teaching men to pursue sex at all costs, while at the same time teaching women to be afraid of sex. Perhaps we can begin by looking at the basic childhood experiences of boys and girls. For example, how does the fear of being subsumed by a dominant mother, versus the fear of being abandoned by an emotionally absent father, affect desire in men and women later life?

While male and female perspectives ion erotic desire and sexual union differ greatly, we can still share a deep appreciation for the depth and wonder of human sexuality that transcends the imposed social limits of gender.



PS: Sex is good for you.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Love Lessons

¡Hola! Everybody…
In a rush today! Prepping for my Thursday Women’s Prison Workshop… I'll be gone all day. Today's blog song is officially my summer song of 2008! Have a great day!

* * *

Love Lessons

“The night has a thousand eyes,
And the day but one;
Yet the light of the bright world dies
With the dying sun.

The mind has a thousand eyes,
And the heart but one;
Yet the light of a whole life dies
When love is done.”

Just to set the record straight I am 53 years-old and for most of my adult life, I have been a committed bachelor. I have had countless relationships, many casual, a few serious, but for most of my life, I have been single by choice. I have no regrets. I like it that I’ve been single for that long and consistently. With the exception of one woman, I have never married, though I’ve lived with women over the years. I am not looking for a long-term relationship – nor have I ever.

Does the above sound like a hopeless romantic?

::blank stare::


I am as far removed from the archetype of the hopeless romantic as you can get. Women -- women looking for serious relationships stay away from me – well at least the smart ones do. LOL!

Yet the fact remains that you will be hard-pressed to find a more romantic man than yours truly. If you’re the object of my heart, you will feel as if you’re the only woman in the world. I will write poems in your honor, make exquisitely and excruciating slow love to you, perform solitary parades to celebrate your returns, and mourn your departures. You will remember our first kiss because the attention to detail devoted to that most anticipated of moments will make you wet with appreciation.

I am not a “good guy.” I’m the man your mother warned you about. In the end, you may hate me when it’s all done, but you will remember me.


I have broken countless hearts and have had mine shattered into a million pieces so many times, I no longer even bother trying to put all the jagged shards together. It’s there, this heart of mine – open.


I share all this in the interest of transparency because the one thing I bring to the table is my honesty – my earnest desire to be as real as I can be. Later you may scandalize me, but you will never be able to say I wasn’t true.

My first girlfriend – real girlfriend – was named Emily (ugh). I was twelve years-old and I can remember that dark winter night when we first kissed and what song was playing over her transistor radio (Mellow Yellow). I remember I closed my eyes (I always close my eyes when I kiss), and I remember we kissed on a dare. We both liked each other, but I was too shy to do anything about it and one of my cousins dared me to kiss her and we did. It was a delicious kiss. My heart thumped. After that first kiss, we would meet every night in the hallway of 704 E. 5th St. and kiss. One day she let me kiss her nubby breasts, which I kissed tenderly, and another night I ventured and felt the moist wetness between her legs. She moaned…

We almost broke up because my cousin, who was jealous, insisted that a blister on Emily’s lip was some kind of sexual disease (it was a fever blister). Eventually, her mother caught us kissing (on the rooftop), we weren’t allowed to see each other, and when the summer recess came, they moved far away. That was my first heartbreak (and hers).

I would fall madly in love again at 14 with a girl named Milva. Milva was intelligent, wrote a lot, and was one of the few people (and certainly the only woman) who could keep up with me intellectually. I was extremely shy and when we made love, it was like a poem the way it unfolded. We made love under the boardwalk in Brighton Beach. I loved Milva with all my heart and we were the most popular couple in our high school. Milva had jet-black hair, large and intelligent cherry-brown eyes and a petite but curvy body.

Dang! We were so hot for one another!

Milva left me one day for an “older guy” (someone in college) and that was a devastating loss. It would be a while before I could love again in that completely open and fearless way. Afraid of rejection, of being hurt, I turned to literature and began reading all the “Great Books” of the Western Canon. Having lost at love, I explored my intellectual side and I drank greedily from the cup of knowledge.

But I always moved between the landscapes of my heart and mind and in many ways, I was in love with love. Towards the end of high school, Milva would return to me, but it was too late. Besides, by then I had Mona, a fierce Milva rival. Mona of the cinnamon colored skin, the insatiable need for sex. God! We spent a torrid summer a coupe of years after high school in each others arms. She even threw out her husband. We made love everywhere and every which way. Mona was the first woman would gave me her ass willingly. Life was good! LOL

Over the years I searched for the ideal way to love, sometimes through the eyes of that 12-year-old and occasionally with the wisdom of a maturing young man.

We all have a 12-year-old inside, that adolescent boy or girl in search of the perfect love. Our stories may be different, but we bring them into all the aspects of adult relating, influencing our styles of communication, our conceptions of intimacy, our degree of sexual openness, our values, our hopes, and our dreams. And because our stories are different, we sometimes collide, confronted with the inevitable conflicts of love. Until we make these internal stories conscious and become fully willing to explore them with our partners – with understanding, patience, and compassion – we will never know true intimacy.

Without intimacy, life withers away. As many great poets have noted, we need each other, deeply, in order to survive. When faced with love, we find ourselves reflected in the eyes of another and, if we’re able, we can grow together through the stormy search for self. In love, our souls can unfold – like a rare and beautiful flower. We embrace, we discover each other, we grow, but still the mystery remains.

I have never found the perfect love of my idealistic adolescence, but I found myself instead. And the voices I’ve encountered along the way – the books I’ve read, the people I have met, and the stories I’ve shared along the way – these are the seeds from which the man who stands before has grown.

Yo soy el hijo del cariño y tambien de la dulzura.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

In the Company of Others

¡Hola! Everybody…
I have to go to work today… though I would like to spend my day tending to my back. I did find sleep last night until a dog started barking at about 3:45 AM. LOL! I finally sleep and a freakin’ dog wakes me up!

The weirdest thing is that the more I deepen my meditation practice, the less sleep I need. Alternatively, maybe I just need to have the taste fucked out of my mouth?

I am currently dealing with two women who prefer to be mistreated (actually, there’s a third, but she’s disappeared on me). I know this sounds cold-hearted, but it is true. No sooner that I do or say something cold, they come running or call me.

I’m not asking for sanity here, people, just a little willingness to some inside work together. Sheesh!

* * *

Making Community

“... for the full flowering of the human spirit we need groups, tribes, community.”
-- Margaret Meade

I was raised within an extended family that included a whole range of what sociologists call kinship relations. My family included biological and non-biological relatives. Later in life, I would discover that people I grew up calling “cousin” or “aunt” or “uncle” weren’t actually blood relatives. They were individuals that either adopted us or vice versa.

I have always been interested in community, but have despaired that real community has gone the same way of extended family relationships. Still, I was heartened to read Marget Meade, who said, 99 percent of the time humans have lived on this planet we’ve lived in groups of 12 to 36 people. Only during times of war, or what we have now, which is the psychological equivalent of war, does the nuclear family prevail, because it’s the most mobile unit that can ensure the survival of the species. But for the full flowering of the human spirit we need groups, tribes, community.”

My extended family and childhood community made for great drama, comedy, and conflict (which I have put together in a book of short stories called 704 E. 5th St.) This sense of kinship and community also gave me a much-needed sense of security knowing that it wasn’t just me and my mother at the helm of a precariously held family unit. To illustrate, I’ll give you an example from my life.

My father had been missing for some days and the family was worried. It wasn’t unusual for him to disappear for a day, but he always let us know his whereabouts. Part of my chores as a young boy was to buy bread and milk early in the morning. It was also expected that I would pick up the daily papers, one of them being the Spanish-language El Diario. That one morning, I went to buy El Diario and there on the front page was a picture of my unconscious father, literally splattered on the sidewalk blood trickling from the corner of his mouth (El Diario was notorious for such photos). I ran home and showed my mother and aunts.

My father shattered both elbows when he fell from a five-story building. He had also lost some memory and didn’t know who he was. The adults told us his fall was an accident, but the fact was he fell while attempting a house burglary -- my father was a brilliant second-story man. Legendary.

About a week or two after that, I was hit by a car during what turned out to be a minor riot in the Lower East Side community we lived in. Someone had escaped from the prison section of the nearby Bellevue Hospital, had stolen a police vehicle and crashed into several cars on our block in the ensuing chase. The police began beating the escapee, a young Latino man, which resulted in a riot. It was on our block and as kids, we thought the whole thing was cool. We noticed that one of the police had lost his badge in the struggle and when I raced across the street to get the badge (how cool!), I was struck by a speeding car and sent flying through the air. I tried to get up and run, but my knee had been blown out.

The event would ensure me childhood celebrity, for I came out on the front page of, yes, El Diario (and the whole slew of New York dailies), as well as a side note to the local evening TV news. From then on, my friends would introduce me to their parents as the kid who came out on the front pages of New York’s daily newspapers: Ma, this was the kid who came out in the news!

About two weeks after that, my mother, who by now had to visit my father everyday as well as myself, her eldest, was preparing oatmeal for my two sister’s and youngest brother, who was about three years-old at the time. Alone and stressed beyond belief, she went to comb my sisters’ hair during which time my youngest brother reached up and spilled boiling oatmeal on his arm. He suffered third degree burns.

My father was supposed to have both arms amputated, which he refused. Instead, they did a series of experimental operations over two years, which saved his arms. I believe my father was one of the first to have tendons taken from one part of his body and put into his arms -- he made medical history. My little brother would recover. He was the only one that didn’t make the front pages. I would have a cast for about 2-3 months. We lived in a 5-story walk-up and my mother, a petite woman, barely five feet tall, would carry me up those five stories.

So, imagine that. Imagine you’re a young mother of four, living in poverty, who now had to visit the hospital everyday to tend to your husband, oldest son ( I was about 7-8 years-old), and toddler. On top of everything else, her parenting skills were being questioned by family and friends.

To this day, I don’t know how my mother kept it together.

Actually, I know part of the reason she didn’t go stark raving mad. We had family. We had our tribe, our community. Immediately, a cousin was sent to our apartment and she would help with caring for my sisters while my mother would visit the three different units at Bellevue. Out aunts and uncles chipped in as they could, and though we lived in a poor community, there was always someone we knew, or who knew someone we knew, that would help if they saw my mother struggling with packages. It wasn’t much, but I have to think that whatever little assistance my mother received had to be a relief for her. So we weren’t really alone. I will never forget those days and everything my mother did.

I would submit that part of the attraction of social networking sites such as this one is that it offers the illusion of such community. This is where you can come and share and vent with your chosen group of friends. In times of stress, sometimes you can come here and get at least some measure of empathy and compassion. I say illusion because ultimately I believe community should have at least some measure of a physical dimension to it. I can’t touch you, kiss your tears, or hug you. Still, cyber space has become a form of community for many people. We lead lives of quiet desperation in sprawling enclaves that make it almost impossible to commune with one another.

It’s a disease, this fracturing of connection.

I would guess that most reading this would not consider themselves “tribal.” Your community, if you have a community at all, is probably defined by friends and family scattered across an extended urban sprawl encompassing most of this country. We tend to live, work and play with people of similar education, income, race, age, physical attributes, and worldview. We rarely, if ever, have to deal with The Other. In fact, this is why there’s such a backlash against immigrants. We don’t see them as humans, as part of community, because we’re socially incestuous.

We don’t even like our own. We put our old people in homes and our younger ones in childcare centers. Lawbreakers are put behind bars (where they become worse) and the physically and mentally challenged are kept out of sight. Through our tax dollars, we ask that trained personnel to handle these Others so that we don’t have to. We can get on with our careers and “personal growth.”

Most of the people I know haven’t a clue as to the social skills necessary to live in a real community. We have a lot to learn. How did our ancestors weave their intricate webs of inclusion? What do they teach us about the community’s need for conversation, especially for listening and speaking from the heart? What do tribal people know about ritual, place, and the invisible world that can help us rebuild a community for our children and ourselves? What would happen if we followed the model of the salons of pre-Revolutionary France?

Today, conservative blowhards are all about exclusion – who doesn’t belong and why. And this myopic mindset serves as a disease of isolation.

We had better learn to live in the company of others or we will surely become the first species to cause our own extinction.



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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Sexual Repression

¡Hola! Everybody…
I’m very busy today and am feeling under the weather. I haven’t slept in over a month, believe it or not. Today, I received my new mattress. I decided that rather than going away for a vacation, I would invest in a top-of-the-line mattress instead. Hopefully, it will save my back and my what little sanity I can claim (by helping me sleep).

Women are welcome to test drive the new mattress.

Today I’m offering a repost.

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The Religious Suppression of Sex

“It is better to be unfaithful than to be faithful without wanting to be.”
-- Brigitte Bardot (1934–)
French star who portrayed sexy, sensual women.

Not long ago, I was having dinner with a close friend. I have found myself distancing myself from my two closest friends, and by chance I ran into one of them and we had dinner. The more we spoke, the more I realized, with the exception of one very important issue, we share very little in common. He has recently gotten into “scripture” and it seems that our rift grows the more he reads. LOL

In any case, he asked me if there were any women in my life and we got into the eternal single guy conversation regarding women. In the span of around thirty minutes, I realized how far apart we are on issues I value very highly. As usual, he thinks my idea that men and women can be friends is wrong-headed. He almost started to use “scripture” as a way of backing this crap up, until I shot him my patented “I-will-tear-your-ass-up-with-cruel-unrelenting-logic-if-you-go-there” look. Actually, he’s convinced it’s effeminate (“homo” was the exact phrase he used) for a man to aspire to such a thing.

The conversation turned to my love life (or lack thereof) when he asked me about a woman I had been seeing briefly. As I related my story of distancing myself because the woman in question is looking for a serious relationship, he asked me, “Well, did you – you know?” I realized he was asking me if we had had sex, and I told him no because I know this particular woman would not have sex unless it was a serious relationship. His response really got to me: “Well, that’s the kind of woman you’re supposed to have relationships with!”


I became somewhat confused as my mind tries to wrap itself around so Neanderthal a view, when I remember who I’m speaking to: a man who revered his ex-wife, but fucked women he considered less than worthy – sluts, ho’s, whatever. And you know what? His thinking, fucked up as it is, is not that different from many men. We want to marry the “good” girls (those who aren’t “easy,” or won’t “put out”), but when it comes to fucking, we want to fuck the “bad” girls. Ahhhh… the wonderful world of sex: mens’ freedom, womens’ love and never the twain shall meet?

I find this form of thinking so wrong-headed it’s hard for me to know where to begin. One good place to start, however, is looking into how our conditioning about sex (at least here in Western world), came about.

Why? Because, though I know the fence needs fixing, I think philosophy is more important right now . Secondly, exploring deeply held assumptions (and we all are culturally conditioned to varying degrees), allows us to begin envisioning more the skillful ways we can relate to one another. Otherwise, don’t complain when he fucks the tramp.

::blank stare::

The history of Christianity’s response to eroticism is like a microcosm of the evolution of Western culture from a sex-affirming attitude, to a sex-negative one. We live immersed in a culture at the same time obsessed and ill at-ease with eroticism, sensuality, passion, and pleasure.

Dualism: The Shame That Binds Us

Let’s go back to about six hundred years before Christ, where we find the earliest images of Eros. These images reveal the Greek God of Love as irrational, uncontrollable, mad, and foolish. Our Greco-Roman foundations adopted a dualistic worldview of constant conflict, with the soul and mind cast as the protagonist seeking to escape the prison of the flesh. This perspective sees the flesh as the source of evil. In Plato’s Utopia, he claims that the world would be better off if all sexual pleasures were starved. His utopia – his ideal society – forbids all sexual relations that are nonprocreative. A society of breeders, as a friend calls fucking just to have babies.

Socrates and Plato viewed all forms of physical expression of sexuality as inferior to abstinence simply because they involve the body. It is interesting to note that though they tolerated homosexual and extramarital heterosexual relations, they agreed that any sexual activity was harmful to the soul. According to Socrates, it takes a year, “to recover from the scorpion’s bite.” (LMAO!!! Too fuckin’ funny!)

Fast forward to three centuries after Jesus, and you find Plotinus popularizing this very view among early Christians. Platonism deeply informs much of St. Augustine’s views of sex ,and through him, most of Christian thought down to the present day.

Early Influences: The Stoics and Gnostics

Stoicism, the dominant philosophy of the Roman Empire at the beginning of the Christian movement, endorsed this same from of Platonic dualism. Seneca the Younger, a contemporary of Jesus and tutor to emperors, was the preeminent Stoic philosopher. His advice? “Do nothing for the sake of pleasure.” “Sexual desire,” he warned, “is friendship gone mad.” (Are we seeing the roots to modern ideas of friendships between the sexes?) “It is also shameful to love one’s own wife immodestly… Nothing is more depraved than to love one’s spouse as if she were an adulteress.” Centuries later, St. Jerome repeated this very same Stoic sensibility: “Anyone who has passionate a love of his wife is an adulterer.” In 1988, in front of a public audience, Pope John Paul II again endorsed this stoic point of view, testifying to its hold on Christian sexual values.

The Stoics believed the ecstasy of sex was dangerous, hard to control, and detrimental to men’s health. Sex was a soulful burden needing purging before it could rise to the divine. Centuries later, Catholics would wage bloody battles to enforce celibacy on the clergy.

Another contemporary of Jesus highly admired by Christians, Musonius Rufus, maintained that “men who are… not immoral are bound to consider sexual intercourse [morally] justified only when it occurs… for the purpose of begetting children.” The essential Christian belief that procreation is the natural purpose of sex and that contraception is unnatural comes from the Platonic and Stoic philosophers. Christian moralists cannot even claim the missionary position, for it was the 2nd century Stoic Artemidorus who claimed that male-superior, face-to-face sexual intercourse was the only morally acceptable position.

If you think the Stoics were a bunch of wet blankets, then you will love the Gnostics. The deeply pessimistic Gnostic worldview probably originated in Persia shortly before the birth of Christ. These guys stressed the worthlessness and baseness of all things! To the Gnostics, the body was a “corpse with senses, the grave you carry around with you.” Demons created this world. The soul is a spark of light from another world captured by demonic powers. This kind of degradation of the body was unknown in the Greco-Roman Christian world before the coming of the Gnostics.

The Gnostics are relevant in that they attempted to synthesize a blend of pagan and Christian values. They interpreted the Christian faith as a special kind of knowledge, gnosis, which the soul/ mind can use to transcend this earth and rise to the heavens. What is interesting is the Gnostics, like the Stoics before them, wavered between extreme sexual deprivation and hedonistic behavior, both motivated by their contempt for the body. Much like the conservative hypocrites of today.

When in the early 4th century Constantine made Christianity the official state religion, outlawing pagan religions in the process, the emphasis on competing with other religions was shifted to sexual abstinence. Sexual abstinence and celibacy became the centerpieces of Christian moral life. Another wave of Gnostic influence, lasting about 100 years, ensued. By this time, you find Manichaeus stating that sexual abstinence was required of true believers. Some churches influenced by Manichaean thought even went so far as to only baptize virgins.

The triumph of anti sex values actually came about from a political movement that backfired. Jesus had included women among his immediate disciples, women who left home and openly traveled with him. This was an affront to the customs of the day and did not sit well with the church leaders who followed the apostles. One scholar, Elizabeth Schussler Fiorenza, suggests that as males tried to reassert male rule, the women rebelled with the only weapon they had – withholding sex (as Prince says, “pussy control!”). This religious war of the sexes ended, Fiorenza believes, with a victory for the male celibates, who used sexual abstinence as a weapon by framing women as dangerous seductresses.

Fast forward to today and my friend’s views and one can better see how gender sex roles are still firmly embedded in this cultural mindset. This cultural mindset has several dire consequences, the least of which is the debasement and destruction of sexual freedom, but that is a discussion for another post.



Monday, June 23, 2008

Monday Madness [Lifetraps]

¡Hola! Everybody…
You see, there were seven words you couldn’t say on television…

So George Carlin said them all at Milwaukee’s Summerfest in 1972 and was arrested and charged with violating obscenity laws.

I woke up this morning to discover that comedian George Carlin had passed away. I love Carlin’s work. I loved his passion for pushing the envelope, his passion for free speech. Mostly I loved Carlin’s irreverent look at those things we as a society take far too seriously. He was able to articulate the Grand Cosmic Joke in a way that made us laugh with him and at our terminal self-importance.

You will be missed Mr. Carlin, but the waves you caused while here will continue to affect our lives…

* * *


“In baseball, the object is to go home, and be safe—‘I hope I’ll be safe at home!’”
-- George Carlin

Imagine, if you can, being thrust into a strange world. One moment you’re in the familiar world, the world you have always known and the next, everything and everyone you know has disappeared. You find yourself in a land of strange giants that walk by you without acknowledging you. You begin to cry, it’s so frightening, and when you’re asked, you find that you can’t describe who you are, or where you’re from.

All you can do is cry…

That’s how I remember feeling when I was a little boy and was lost. I was an active child and my when my mother stopped to talk to one of her friends, I walked away and became lost. She would eventually find me at the local supermarket eating an ice cream, but to me that was a terrifying moment. My mother expressed surprise that I could remember the incident. I couldn’t have been more than three years old. But I remember it clearly: it was winter, a cloudy gray day in New York City. I remember the horror of being lost – of thinking I had lost everything I knew of the world.

The thing is that most of my childhood was filled with the feeling of being lost – of the feeling that there was no safety. My parents fought a lot and I was often in the middle of it. My father was an addict and there was violence and abuse in my childhood. In addition, because I was the oldest, I often felt that I had to take care of things. I often acted as a surrogate spouse to a mother who was impulsive and sometimes acted irresponsibly.

I would like to state at this moment that I do not blame my parents for the person I am today. In fact, everything that is good about me is a direct consequence of my parents’ influence on my life. I feel so strongly about this that I honestly feel that even if I were to carry my mother on my back for the rest of her life, I would still fall far short of the debt I owe her.

The point of bringing this up is to illustrate and important factor: We continue to repeat the pain of our childhood. This is one of the core insights of contemporary psychology. Freud called it repetition compulsion. The child of an alcoholic grows up to marry an alcoholic. The abused child grows up to marry an abuser or becomes an abuser herself. The sexually molested child grows up to be a prostitute. The overly controlled child allows others to control him.

You might think this unwise. Why would we re-enact our pain – repeatedly? Why don’t we build better lives and break free of the destructive patterns of our lives? The fact remains that we do re-enact our pain. Almost everyone repeats negative patterns from childhood in self-defeating ways. Healers are constantly confronted with this basic truth in their work. Somehow, we manage to create in adulthood conditions similar to those that were so destructive in childhood.

Life patterns are made from deeply held beliefs about ourselves and the world learned early in life. These patterns, or schemas, are crucial to our sense of self. To give up our belief in a schema would mean to surrender the security of knowing who we are and what we think we know of the world. Therefore, we cling to it, even when it hurts; they are comfortable and familiar. In a very weird way, they make us feel at home.

For a long time, two major lifetraps (schemas) for me were abandonment and emotional deprivation. To be truthful, though I have been able to transcend these two lifetraps to the point where they no longer run my life, both of these lifetraps still hold a powerful attraction for me.

For a long time, this was not the case. For me, my abandonment issues get played out in the arena of romantic relationships. The lifetrap (or schema) of abandonment is the feeling that people you love will leave you, and you will end up emotionally isolated forever. Whether it’s people you love leaving or dying, or preferring someone else, you feel that you will be left alone. For me, this feeling was a lot like my childhood experience of being left utterly alone and vulnerable.

The irony of this lifetrap was that I would often play out my fear of abandonment, causing people to leave me, or becoming attracted only to emotionally unavailable women.

My other major hang-up was the emotional deprivation lifetrap. Emotional deprivation is the belief that your need for love will never be met adequately by other people. You feel that no one truly cares for you or understands how you feel. What would happen is that I often found myself attracted to cold and ungiving people, or I would become cold and ungiving myself. All this would lead me to form relationships that were ultimately profoundly dissatisfying. The emotional deprivation lifetrap creates a huge feeling of emptiness and loneliness, of emotional disconnection.

As I stated before, I no longer play out these patterns (at least not as often), but they still hold a powerful attraction for me because my early childhood experiences wired me for such relationship patterns. Lifetraps are lifelong patterns of relating that are self-destructive. They almost take on a life of their own and struggle for survival. If you were to have known me then, it would’ve broken your heart to see me get abandoned over and over again.

In order for a child to thrive they need their basic needs met. Without these basic needs, children have to develop a defense mechanism that helps us make sense of the world. That’s how these patterns develop. A child that lacks safety, a connection to others, a sense of autonomy, self-esteem, freedom for self-expression, and realistic limits will develop dysfunctional behavior patterns.

Some lifetraps are more core than others. Issues arising from basic safety are the most problematic. People who are abused or abandoned as children are the most fragmented *grin*. There is nowhere they feel safe. There is an underlying sense that at any moment someone they love might hurt them or leave them. There is a deeply felt sense of vulnerability. It takes very little disrupt their balance and their moods are erratic, and they tend to be impulsive and self-destructive.

The first step to stopping the lifetraps (or patterns) is to identify them. Lifetraps work actively to organize our experiences. They operate under cover in subtle ways to influence how we think, feel, and act. Because lifetraps are so hard to change, the fist step is to understand them so that we can recognize them. In naming your patterns, you get a better understanding of them. This insight is only the first step.

There are several other steps involved in breaking the patterns of suffering we all create. I will write about this in some future post. If anything I have written today sounds like something you would like to learn more about, check out one of the best books about change I have ever read, Reinventing Your Life: How to Break Free from Negative Life Patterns. You can also visit a website on Schema therapy (click here) with a presentation and resource page for finding therapists practicing this orientation. In addition, Tara Bennet-Goleman wrote a great book, Emotional Alchemy, fusing Buddhist practices with Schema Therapy. I took some workshops on Schema Therapy and use aspects of it in my own work.

This whole approach changed my life for the better. today, I no longer seek out emotionally unavailable women, nor do my abandonment issues hold the same power they used to.



Sunday, June 22, 2008

Sunday Sermon (Doing Time)

¡Hola! Everybody…
Things are quiet here, which is a good thing. The Ex from Boston, who got in Friday night, played herself and now has been reduced to a conversation with my answering machine. She called several times yesterday, but has apparently found her pride and has ceased.

I haven’t called back. You might think it’s mean, but it isn’t, it’s called self preservation.

Today's blog song was sung to me by my one of the women in my prison workshop. It made me cry...

* * *

Doing Time

Many of my readers know that for most of the past twelve months, I’ve struggled with finding suitable housing. Due to a combination of factors (the insanity of NY real estate, my procrastination, and financial realties), I spent most of the last year without somewhere I could call home. In fact, I was evicted and in the process, I was robbed of property whose worth I stopped counting at $5,000. I was fortunate in that my sister let me stay in her upstairs section of her Riverdale duplex for about four-five months, and eventually I would rent a room. In that sense I couldn’t say I was homeless, but many times I felt I could identify with the utter sense of rootlessness that comes with not having a place to call your own.

One night, I needed to be by myself. I ended up riding the subway train all night. It was then I saw many homeless people also riding the train, and I got a glimpse of what that culture is all about. I rode that train all night; sometimes dozing off, sometimes reading a book I took along with me. I was different from the others only in that I still had more options than they did, but I understood what it felt like. What it felt like not to have a home…

When I rented my room, I laughed that I had inhabited cells larger than my room. After putting in all my books and clothes, I literally had about a 3’x3’ square of room that I could change in.


Not having your own place is hard. It seemed like I could never truly relax, and the simplest things, like taking a crap or shaving/ showering became problematic in the sense that you were in someone else’s home. Sometimes, I would have to hold my pee, because the apartment I had rented the room had only one bathroom that seven other people used.

As most of you know, I have been incarcerated. My last prison stretch was at Sing Sing and my cell was larger than the room I inhabited for about two moths. And I would laugh at that because it was funny. Yet, my worst day as a free man is a million times better than my best day in prison. As I reflect on that, I reflect on how we create our own prisons. I reflect on how, in a very real sense, we’re all doing time.

It was true that my rented room and my having no place to call my own was a hardship. You may not be able to appreciate this, but take my word for it, not having your own place creates a lot of psychological strain that saps you of energy and has a physical consequence. I joke that the past year has aged me more than the previous seven years combined. And I see it. Yet, I was far happier than I ever was in my little comfortable cell at Sing Sing. I often tell people I learned to be free while I was incarcerated and this is true. I learned that you could be comfortable somewhere, in a nice home and well fed and still be unhappy. And I discovered the reason for this unhappiness.

The reason why I was happier in my cramped room was that I wanted to be there. In prison, I didn’t want to be there. That was the difference. And the reason I say I learned of freedom while in prison was because I discovered that secret. I became free the day I stopped fighting the fact of where I was and became present in my life. The day I awoke to the fact of prison, my cell became a sanctuary – a tool for my liberation -- and not a prison.

I became free while in prison.

Any place you do not want t to be, no matter how comfortable, is a prison for you. In effect, this is the real meaning of “prison.” If you are in a job where you do not want to be, you are in a prison. If you are in a relationship where you do not want to be, you are in a prison. If you inhabit a body that you do not want to inhabit, then that too is a prison.

Simply put, a prison is any situation where you do not want to be.

This doesn’t mean that you should go out there and eliminate all these things and situations. I couldn’t escape my physical prison, but I was able to transform my relationship to it and in that way I transformed the experience. I once met a person in prison who will probably never see the light of a free day in this life. By the time I had met him, he had already served twenty-seven years. He had a saying -- a teaching – that I still carry around with me today. It was the only conversation that man allowed me. He said that in prison you still have a choice: you can do the time, or let the time do you. What he meant was that you can allow the years to slip away without having anything to show for it, or you can use (“do”) the time you are given in this life to become an awakened and free human being.

I have since learned we’re all doing time in one way or another. The real question is whether you will use this time, or let time do you…



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Saturday, June 21, 2008


Hola! Everybody...
I work all day to day. Hope you all have a blessed day...

* * *


Before you know what kindness really is you must lose things, feel the future dissolve in a moment like salt in a weakened broth. What you held in your hand, what you counted and carefully saved, all this must go so you know how desolate the landscape can be between the regions of kindness.

How you ride and ride thinking the bus will never stop, the passengers eating maize and chicken will stare out the window forever.

Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness, you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho lies dead by the side of the road. You must see how this could be you, how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.

Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice catches the thread of all sorrows and you see the size of the cloth.

Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore, only kindness that ties your shoes and sends you out into the day to mail letters and
purchase bread,
only kindness that raises its head from the crowd of the world to say it is I you have been looking for, and then goes with you every where like a shadow or a friend.

 -- Naomi Shihab Nye, from The Words Under the Words: Selected Poems

* * *

My name is Eddie and I’m in recovery from civilization… 


[un]Common Sense