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An Eraser Also



You don’t need to pay any attention

to anything I say …

unless it’s true.

                              –    A’J
                                   (my ‘standard disclaimer’)





I think that Cat Stevens did a tremendous amount of good in this world.  His songs have (immeasurably) enriched our lives.


However … when he said –    (in “If You Want To Sing Out, Sing Out”)


And if you want to be me, be me

And if you want to be you, be you


that scared me.


It’s an overstep.


Our (human) capacity for arrogance, after all, is something we need to remember; we need to keep it in mind.

(Let us NOT FORGET … the Titanic … or the Great Dust Bowl … or the great economic meltdown of 2008)


A (very) excellent children’s book is William Stieg’s – “The Amazing Bone”.

Pearl (the story’s main character, who is a sweet young female pig) happens across a talking bone one day in the forest.  


“But you’re a bone”, says Pearl.  “How come you can talk?”

“I don’t know”, says the bone.  “I didn’t make the world.”


This is wise.


It helps us clarify our “place” in the universe …

that we are the recipient of life … and NOT the author.


(whether we believe in God … OR NOT)


That’s why I regard those lines (from the Cat Stevens song) … as an overstep.


To be in right relationship with ourself … is no small challenge.

(being the most intimate of all our relationships … it is also the most challenging

of all of them)


I would vigorously defend any person’s right … to change & grow;

but what we are given to start with … is much more than just some amorphous thing

like a never-before-opened can of playdough!


What we were given to start with … is, in fact, so deep … and so mysterious

that it is altogether appropriate … that we accept the challenge

and take it on … as a lifelong task –

to find out … our true nature.


Doing this is part of being in right relationship with the self.


The intro to a Star Trek show says – “Space … the Final Frontier”


the true nature of the Self

is really … (more than ‘Space’) … the Final Frontier.


As St. Francis of Assisi said –


                      “What I am searching for … is the one who is searching.”


~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~


One’s own self is well hidden from one’s own self:

of all mines of treasure, one’s own is the last to be dug up.

                                                                          –    Friedrich Nietzsche

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~


Now … here I am (yet again) recommending to you  –

the film – “Bella” (2006, written & directed by Alejandro Monteverde)


in it is a scene wherein José (the main character) is driving his car through a crowded suburb, when a young girl (chasing a ball) jumps into his path from between parked cars … and he hits her … and kills her.

And this happens on the veritable ‘eve’ of Jose’s new career as a professional soccer player.  His friend and agent (who is riding in the car with him) immediately says – “We have to get out of here!” … but José will not do that.  

He stays.  He meets the (bereft) mother.  He goes to prison.

(nor does he play soccer again … or drive his car)


He may have been speeding slightly … but it was an accident which could have happened to anyone.


But here’s the question _


What is the difference between these two people? –  José … and his friend (& agent)?


José refuses to run away from what he has done … while

his friend says – “We’ve got to get out of here!”


(that’s a BIG DIFFERENCE !)


Here’s how I make sense of it –


José is anchored in the Truth.  He lives in the Real World …

whereas – his friend is unmoored from the Dock of the Truth / (Reality)

and (imagines that) the Primary Reality he lives in

is the one of Appearances.


He is (in other words) a Casualty to Relativism.


Abraham Lincoln said –


           “How many legs does a dog have

               if we count the tail as a leg?



            Because saying that the tail is a leg

                 does not make it a leg.”

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

To the speaker at the forum he (Jesus) said: “Your eloquence is pleasing, your logic is admirable, your voice is pleasant, but your teaching is hardly true. If you could only enjoy the inspiring satisfaction of knowing God as your spiritual Father, then you might employ your powers of speech to liberate your fellows from the bondage of darkness and from the slavery of ignorance.”

[This was the Marcus who heard Peter preach in Rome and became his successor. When they crucified Simon Peter, it was this man who defied the Roman persecutors and boldly continued to preach the new gospel.]

                                                                                                                                                                                                      – The Urantia Book, p. 1461.5

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

It is possible to be (very) wrong about who we think we are.


More than 40 years ago I came to understand the ‘basics’ of why (by what means) our perceptions and ideas are powerful.

It’s because our ideas and perceptions bear a resemblance … to what they are ideas or perceptions of.  The greater the resemblance, the greater the power.

But resemblance is (always) a matter of degree, or ‘extent’ … it is never perfect.


And this means that – Any Idea can be Wrong.

(and this is partly because it already IS wrong … just because of its nature … and how it functions)


And I remember the day (in the late 1970’s … I was busing my lunch dishes back to the kitchen) … I realized that this ‘law’ also applies to our ‘self-concept’ (who we think we are) … and it dropped my jaw.

It was a shocking realization … that we could be wrong   even about “who we are”!


In high school I had a friend … who had been adopted by our Track Coach.  He was a great kid (and was our best pole vaulter); but he had grown up in the local (Allen County, Ohio) Children’s Home.

And this friend had a ‘permanent expression’ on his face.  You might think (to look at him) that he was perhaps a little cross.  But I am able to realize now … that he was not. It’s just that he had not been well treated … and had built a ‘shell’ around himself for protection.

And maybe HE thought that that shell was HIM  (or was part of him) … but it was NOT SO.

He was wrong about that.


That was just his shell.


We Americans are a ‘tough lot’ … able to tolerate homelessness, poverty, and corruption.

But – by ‘tough’, I really mean ‘hard’;  we have become hardened … encrusted.


But this ‘crust’ is NOT who we are.  It’s just our shell.


We have been brainwashed.



A First on TV

For Walter Cronkite


This is the twentieth century,

you are there, preparing to skin

a human being alive.  Your part

will be to remain calm

and to participate with the flayer

in his work as you follow his hand,

the slow, delicate way with the knife

between the skin and the flesh,

and see the red meat emerge.

Tiny rivulets of blood will flow

from the naked flesh and over the hands

of the flayer.  Your eyes will waver

and turn away but turn back to witness

the unprecedented, the incredible,

for you are there

and your part will be to remain calm.


You will smash at the screen

with your fist and try to reach

this program on the phone, like a madman

gripping it by the neck

as if it were the neck of the flayer

and you will scream into the receiver,

“Get me station ZXY at once, at once,

do you hear!”  But your part

will be to remain calm.

                                –    David Ignatow



Have we not been systematically ‘trained’ to think that it’s ‘normal’

to be told about some terrible tragedy … and then (three seconds later)

told about some beer (or something) ?


Do you suppose that this has no effect on our psyche?


And does not our ‘daily news’ teach us

to feel powerless?


Or, perhaps when YOU finish watching the news

you feel full of ideas & solutions …

and energized  and excited about solving all these problems?

Mmm?   Is that what happens?



It so happens that I spent 17 years in a Religious Order


Some people said that we were a cult; but here’s how I make sense of it –

If GCCA is a dangerous cult, it’s because the people there take seriously

the idea that ‘we really ARE our brother’s keeper’ …

THAT’S  what made us a dangerous cult.

(because that fundamental idea is a threat to the core ideas of the BIG CULT –

the American Culture which spends twice as much on Entertainment

as on Education & Healthcare COMBINED … which (apparently) considers the many deaths due to anorexia & bulimia

as acceptable collateral damage.

The ‘bottom line’ is that we make a profit!  Mmm?)

No ‘brainwashing’ going on THERE, right?


Between 1976 and 1980 I attended MIU –

(a liberal arts college in southeast Iowa … at which school everyone …

staff, students, faculty … practice the Transcendental Meditation technique)


In those days there was a Math Genius / Math Teacher there by the name of Michael Weinless.

(I can still remember him … pacing back & forth in the front of the classroom

and saying – “W-we really should cover all of Mathematics in this course.”)

Well, one day (in my senior year, in the dining hall lunch line)

Michael said to me – “You know the difference between mathematicians and philosophers?”

(even though I was NOT in the Philosophy Major, Michael must have known that I had an interest in philosophy)

He says, “Well … mathematicians have pencil, and paper, and erasers … and philosophers only have pencil and paper.”


He was teasing me … by saying that in math … you might make a mistake … but you can find out that it’s a mistake

and correct it.

Whereas, in philosophy (he was suggesting) that one may say ANYTHING … and then – who is to say whether it is wrong … or where?


Well … I am hoping that I can ‘earn’ my eraser.

1 thought on “An Eraser Also

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