And I Am

I feel like journaling at the moment -something I sometimes do here but have done a bit more prolifically via pen and paper – however, like a young Leonard Cohen taking pictures of himself – aware of his (And their potential significance one day) – I think I might rather write here instead. After all, like Leonard Cohen – a man who also was once a young promising artist – I too will die. 

And death is life’s greatest gift: for what do we have to lose.

I recognize we live in a world of fairly unwavering thought. Even our bright minds in universities are merely cogs in a machine, albeit intelligent cogs. Nonetheless, people do not think for themselves. If they did there is no fucking way they would suffer the mental anguish they live through on a daily basis. Stress alone is it’s own weakness, its own form of insanity; for there is no such thing as stress, merely the belief we don’t have the resources to handle a given situation. And what a fucking waste of my humanity: to live lacking belief in myself. But this is what I was born to; this is what most of us were born to. 

But there are levels. And I know because I have been through so many of them. 

I have grown immensely: perspective, understanding, maturity, love, independence, humility, compassion – all the things that have made my heart stronger and more buoyant. 

And my philosophies are blossoming.

I am 100% free from the weight of religion, which, in the words of Pablo Neruda, is a collective neurosis. 

What I seek is to be free. And I feel I am. This is no doubt due in part to my deep and abiding agnosticism. But it’s not freedom from the collective neurosis of religion alone that elevates me to the level of emotional freedom I feel today. It’s freedom from much of the collective neurosis that comprises life. These automatic, ingrained reactions to life. 

Stoicism gave me much of my resilience, and I am a Stoic, but the Meditations of Marcus Aurelius are not my bible. No book is. But I do stand on the shoulders of giants, carrying forward the intellectual presents from my spiritual grandfathers. 

These persons have had a great influence on my philosophy, character, and disposition:

  • Marcus Aurelius, Epictetus, Seneca
  • Adams, Jefferson, Hamilton
  • Emerson, Thoreau, and the Transcendentalists 
  • Ayn Rand
  • John Steinbeck, Ed Ricketts
  • Victor Hugo, Alexander Dumas
  • Carl Jung, Marie Louis Von-Franz
  • Joseph Campbell 
  • Abraham Maslow
  • Victor Frankl
  • Kazimierz Dabrowski
  • John Gardner

Note: I had made a list of these persons in another draft, and there I wrote that, “If I hadn’t discovered these thinkers, I would be a scared little man.” How apt. 

This list is by no means complete, nor is it in any specific order; although, I would say Jung, Campbell, Emerson, and Aurelius hold key positions in my mental cabinet – but each person on the above list above has contributed immensely to my education, my philosophy. 

It’s important to note here an idea posited by Emerson in his 1837 speech The American Scholar. 

Emerson states:

“Meek young men grow up in libraries believing it their duty to accept the views which Cicero, which Locke, which Bacon have given, forgetful that Cicero, Locke and Bacon were only young men in libraries when they wrote those books.”

The point here being that intellectualism ought not be devoted to the mere worship of ideas, but to their very creation. 

Having lived much of my young life a product of other people’s thinking, I connected deeply to the words of Steve Jobs in his 2005 Stanford commencement address:

“Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of other’s opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.”

I know what it is to have my own inner voice drowned out; I know what it is to live a servant to the ideas of society. Having blossomed mentally – in large part due to the aforementioned thinkers – into something worthy of being called an individual, I can say that I am never going back. 

The lyrics from Childish Gambino’s Not Goin Back echo in my head:

Renaissance man with a Hollywood buzz
I refuse to go back to not likin’ who I was

Because I do like who I am. I am on MY side. And I’ll soon have a buzz bigger than insects in Texas. 

And I am

Sunday Night Thoughts

Time: the great cannabalizer and finisher of all things. 

I say this neither stoically nor nihilisitically, but merely to note that there is no more powerful force in life. 

I never imagined being a man, being mature, and reaching this age in my life – this epoch in time, between possibility and life. 

I know who I am, I know what I want, and, in the game of life, I seek to be the hero. 

My heroes live in the pages of books, and my story in my own. 

I want to write and in writing become the hero I am destined to be: the writer, the man, the romantic – all that I am.

And all I need is time, this most precious of assets; for I intend to use mine as wisely as I can. 

I have, thankfully, gained an immense amount of perspective on my life this past year. 

With the passing of my dad I have grabbed hold of my mortality, owning up to the fact I too will go the way of all flesh. 

This is no light fact; it is indeed nothing short of realizing life’s true value. 

Life is not something to simply be endured, something that must merely come to pass. Yes, I recongnize life entails suffering. But there’s something purposeful to life, if you can awake to it. 

It’s that thing that makes you tick. And no, this is not a motivational thing; I desire only to communicate the importance of living a life with meaning. Because, when you do that, when you have a meaningful life, you start to connect the dots, and – for lack of a better phrase – everything becomes spiritual; meaning, synchronicity, and growth become constant, and inner-voice comes through clearly and resolutely. 

Why were you born? Seriously, fucking ask yourself. You know. You know why. You know what your dream is. 

But maybe you’re afraid. Afraid of life. Afraid to admit to yourself the things you truly want. Afraid to even try. 

I know I was. 

 

Six Years in Exile

Six years in exile
Six years from new to new textiles

Back then we used BBM,
Different text-style
But life is mos def weird, X-Files

I smile inside,
Happy in my eventide,
Halfway to dead but never happier to be alive
Even happier than you and I that 4th of July
And thats a lot of happy, I’m happy to say,
And I hope like me, youre happy today

Cause Lord knows I been to the moon and back since back then
Been so broke I couldn’t afford an aspirin –
Now I’m fresh in the mountains,
Aspen

And they thought I was a fuckin has-been?
Well I has-been low as a fuckin ants been,
But now im laughing, chillin in my cabin,
Cause I mever quit, addict
Had to level up, attic
But now im back, randy savage
I wrested my demons;
Didnt want to be average
I wanted to be fly, Mavrick
But I fell off the top like a loose-brick
Lived eyes wide shut, Stanley Kubrick
Had complicated problems, rubix
Bore the weight of the world, crucifix
I couldnt even afford to get a tooth fixed
Hurt so bad, I almost tried to remove it
Drunk as I was tho, I couldn’t do it
Thank my soul tho, we made it through it
Now i can take my baby out to Ruths Chris
Same as me she likes em a little thick

Yes I smile, Yes I do
I finally found my way through

Six years in the wilderness,
Every fear came to pass
Six years a servant to fear,
Beneath the lash, and on the rack

Till the day now I 

from 24601 in 90210

Get Thee Up

“I wake up every morning and check if I am in a state of grace,” a 31 year-old Leonard Cohen told an interviewer in 1965.

Every morning of your life, you choose whether your soul is in a state of grace or not. Now, whether or not this is a conscious choice is up to you.

For me, the grace of my soul requires no more than that I choose to live consciously: choosing to be happy – choosing to be excited about MY life – choosing to affirm the gratitude I have for the opportunities that are mine to seize TODAY.

In the words of a young Leonard Cohen: “There are dreams of glory whispering through the wires of my spine.”

I want this everyday. 

This is called “a can’t lose attitude”. 

Put simply: your wellbeing is your choice; you can have it everyday.

Happiness isn’t the result of a good life but the cause of one.

And while we live in a world of thermometers – people who reflect their environment – YOU CAN be a thermostat – controlling your own; for we are either kings or pawns in this life (Alexander Dumas).

As the ancient proverb reminds us: “The mind is a wonderful servant but a terrible master.”

Remember this; wrap your mind around it; marinate on it.

As I have reinterpreted it: happiness isn’t the result of a good life but the cause of one.

And whether I know all this stuff already or not – and no matter how much I have written it – I will never stop reminding myself of the core tenets that comprise the bedrock of my life and my wellbeing.

Choice.

Choice.

Choice.

If you don’t choose your beliefs about yourself – if you aren’t consciously choosing your beliefs about your relationship to today – they will exist independently of your own power.

And trust me, if you are relying on anything outside of yourself for your wellbeing, you are playing a risky game.

Last time I checked, this world was not exactly in a state of grace. And while that’s unfortunate, it is not in my power nor in my duty to control (Footnote 1/1). 

What I know is that I can choose to live in a state of grace REGARDLESS of what happens or has happened in my life; for I rely on that impenetrable thing Emerson referred to as “self-reliance”.

And while it requires a bit more courage, life is far better lived from the saddle than in the carriage.

So giddyup and exercise your will, for that is what you are here to do.

Giddyup Etymology:

From get up or get ye/thee up.


Footnote 1: There is absolutley nothing wrong with knowing in your heart of hearts that you are a bit better than this savage world you were born into: for it’s a Trump America and the inmates are officially running the asylum.

What’s Left is Simply To Live

I’ve admittedly been fairly reticent here as of late. And now, like one revisiting a letter from an unrequited love, I return to the page to assuage the alluring ache of a melancholy muse, which compels me to write as a lover or sweet digestif compels one to bed after dinner. 

For in the breatheless, magical realm of writing, I experience the passing of my personal woes – a victory arising from the increase in self-awareness that I gain through the practice of my craft, which, ironically, allows me to forget myself, or at least forget my self-pity.

Tonight my craft has me sitting up in bed writing a reply to the question that the muse always asks of me, which is simply: How am I doing?

Perhaps Stoically, I want to reply that I am grateful to be about as happy and peaceful as a human can be, given, just, you know, like life to deal with, which is one heck of a factor – one I used to deny in fact; however, I have come to see that we all have our shit to deal with in life. No one has a shit free life. My shit is simply my shit, and I have to deal with it, to overcome it. And furthermore, the shit in your life is a factor best confronted: the changes and challenges of life either faced or accepted rather than denied or repressed. 

People die, and you will go through periods of discontent. Don’t withdraw. Don’t numb. Take care of your shit instead. That simple. 

I, as all living things, can only grow or decay; knowing I will always be evolving – changing as much as my life and my life as much as I – I choose growth. I want to confront my shit in life because I know I am capable of overcoming it. This is what it means to be the hero of your story. And it’s going to require that you grow and evolve. 

Reflecting on my most recent evolution, mountain living seems to have nurtured a quiet masculinity within me that manifests itself in action rather than words, and I’m finding myself more inclined to silence than discourse; I simply no longer feel such an anxiety fueled need for constant thought or speech. In short, I am confronting my shit and as a result I am at peace with myself: past present and future. And that’s really something. 

It’s a good place to be: I rather like myself and my life, and blimey to you if you don’t.

What more can I say: I am bravely facing life head on. My dreams, my stories, La Vie Boheme – all are mine. What’s left is simply to live, to continue being brave. 


And now that the school bell has rung:
Class is out:
And here I am –
Ready to live.

Needle in The Hay

It comes and goes in waves,
But it never goes away
That boyish feeling:
Helpless and mad;
Only now I dont cry,
Don’t try to find why;
I just put on headphones and die,
Pretending my ghosts miss me
Listening to Elliot Smith, and avoiding Miss Misery
Oh how you feel like a Needle in The Hay,
When none but you knows you are lost.

Now

I awoke shortly after two
To hollow belly and full heart,
Safe in the warm comfort
Of the cool autumn dark

A mile high and miles away
From painful, ugly things,
When I was but a boy,
And all I had were my dreams –

But this is no ode to pain;
For I yearn not nor cry for the past;
I’m merely trying to remember
The only thing that ever lasts

Aphorisms, Invitations, and Provocations IX

It is a rare pleasure to find writers whom I enjoy reading in the way I enjoy my small cadre of “spiritual grandfathers” (Sorry Ayn Rand, but I don’t think you’d be bothered by the gender exclusive title anyway). Anyhow, I am looking forward to reading more from this author, as this entry quenched my thirst for the real, the true, and the beatiful.

– LB

P.s. If, like me, you want to read more of the author’s Aphorisims, Invitations, and Provocations, you may find the category archive for them here

Paul's Bench

241. Several times I have had the mental image of a man and woman, both of whom are overshadowed by two non-human, giant figures – like deities – who are channeling through the man and woman. The “possessed” human couple experiences a dramatic intensification of experience on a variety of levels, simultaneously. Both the man and the woman mistakenly assume that the source of all this intense, dramatic emotion and desire, fear, and insecurity arises from the human all too human level, when in fact – all along – it is coming from the impersonal, godlike creatures behind them. It is only with our acceptance and understanding of these daimonic or transpersonal “background” factors that we are able to let ourselves and others “off the hook” for words and deeds over which they frequently have little or no authorship or control.

242. Sex and Spirit: I have often suspected that the…

View original post 4,243 more words

Posted in All

Ranting on Those Bastard Collective Neurosis: Religion and Spirituality

I’m not going to lie: I have spent fifteen minutes attempting to open this entry. 

Here goes nothing world, Lawrence Black now contributes his metaphysical phislosophies to the pithy sum of all religious and spiritual thought. Godspeed, Sir Black. 

That, unfortunately, was the best I could do. It is difficult to write about your spirituality: in a sense, it is akin to explaining your very philosophy of life – like who can do that; I view both spirituality and religion to be a kind of neurotic thing best kept to oneself. 

It was Pablo Neruda who described religion as a “collective neurosis”, which I just loved, because, to me, religion is essentially a complex like any on this list. Perhaps even the most complex of all complexes; I mean, we aren’t just talking mere narccicism or incestual fantasy – to cite two common complexes – no, we are talking imaginary being in the sky who sees you masturbate.

Now, just calm the fuck down Murica – we know you love your Jesus and your Trump – I’m just saying, in my opinion, that religion shit is fucked up. 

How – I don’t know – try this: try and imagine you care about things like equality, reason, free will, and science. And if you don’t, well, then religion is perfect for you. 

Not that I don’t find moral, intellectual, and literary value in various world religions – I have a good two feet of bookcase occupied by them – they just aren’t valid philosophies of life for me; in short, the collective neurosis of religion is not my cuppa. This, however, does not mean I don’t think man has a soul, or that there isn’t more that just the physical universe;  I have, after all, smoked me some fucking DMT. 

#thatshitkray

Point being, there is definitely a spiritual aspect to my life – and by spiritual, I refer to pantheism, synchronicity, psychedelics, intuition, the unconscious, love, dreams, the imagination, mythology, and the bigger workings of my sense of destiny, which guides me; however, I try to stay as far from spirituality as possible, and by spirituality I mean that other collective neurosis that we call “New age”. 

You’ve know them: those annoying suburban-troglodytes who seem to live by the mantra of “See no evil. Hear no evil. Speak no evil”; unless of course, the topic is GMOs or The Ego, which they, of course, themselves, do not have – on account of, you know, being so spiritual and shit. I am satirizing, but I really seriously hate these fuckers. Okay maybe not really, but I don’t like that spirituality has, in a sense, become just another religion, full of it’s own dogma, only, it’s not Jesus and God but consciousness and the divine.

Now, I realize that the entire point of spirituality is having your own experience; however, I see a lot of “spiritual people” having what seemingly amounts to the same experience. Hell, go to any Whole Foods and you’ll see many of those spiritual types practically have the same lives. 

I’m ranting; but, for me, what it boils down to, is that religion and spirituality ultimately provide limiting paradigms for my model of consciousness; for that is the only point of these things: models for life. Sure, Jesus is one – if you want to worship your Dad’s favorite son who died nailed to a cross because you are a born in sin piece of shit who wants to live in guilt before you burn forever or go to heaven, who knows. 

I’m entertaining myself, still ranting, but I have written this far because I want and deserve my own model, where I can live from my spirit and my soul without saying all is one, or even believing in an afterlife. 

I forgot who said it, but the quote goes something like, there ought to be as many religions as there are people. 

And I agree. Because if my God doesn’t exist, he should. 

What, you didn’t really think I was actually going to tell you what I believe, did you? Maybe in a part 2. 

Postscript:

I recognize I made a bit of a semantic argument about spirituality, without outlaying any actual ontological views, which is fine; however, I am really hoping after my next slumber, I awake inspired to map out something akin to my own spirituality – even if only as a record for myself as thirty-one years old. After all, my spiritually has evolved for as long as it has existed, and it will continue to for as long as I do. Just remember: the moment someone else has all the answers, you are the sucker. And I, for one, would rather risk manufacturing my own illusions, than to blindly follow another’s.