Friday, February 26, 2010

Basic Blessedness

May holy angels dip their fingers in your soup.
> DB - The Vagabond
> *********************
> I once read a play written by a Catholic priest turned playwright. In it
> was a conversation between two priests who had gone out for a drink together
> one evening. One of them says that with all the robes and other
> paraphernalia that they wear when they are up there in front of the
> congregation his favorite garment is his ordinary t-shirt because it shows
> that underneath he's just a regular slob like everybody else.
> I knew an Episcopal priest who one Sunday morning took off all the
> various vestments he was wearing and threw them on the floor. Some of
> the people got up and left but the ones who remained he invited downstairs
> to sit around and share communion. Every Sunday after that a loyal
> congregation joined him for bread and wine at the table downstairs and they
> talked about things.
> I have and I read from books on many different religious topics. I have
> three Bibles, also the Koran, the Zohar, Oahspe (what's that?), Lao Tzu,
> books on Buddhism, Hinduism, Martinism, (what's that?), Shintoism, Christian
> Science, New Age, Wicca, I've read Saint Augustine, Saint Thomas Aquinas,
> the Dalai Lama. and Moses Maimonides, studied Tarot and the I Ching, I have
> a Daily Missal, The Book of Mormon and The Book Of Common Prayer and I could
> go on.
> So what do I think of religion? Two very important and related things.
> First: give me religion that is willing to get its hands and face dirty, to
> turn over the rocks, to plow the fields, to peer into the corners and walk
> down the dark alleys. Prayer for those who need it, like sex, is never
> safe. Compassion in a vigorous, effective practice has a boomerang attached
> to it. Cowards may go to church but they don't belong in religion. The
> healing of the multiplying ills of the world is the task of religion and
> anything less is hypocrisy.
> Second: I think, as do many of those I've read, that the destiny of mankind
> is to ultimately go beyond what it seems capable of. To achieve
> perfection. And the only road leading to that end is through spirituality,
> holiness and the overcoming of all binding limitations of the mortal world.
> I think you can see how these two thoughts are related. The classic chalice
> of the Eucharistic sacrifice has a base, a stem and a cup. Starting from the
> lowest level of human life, right down to the t-shirt, benevolent energies
> must spread out to embrace the world in every place. and in every
> condition. No lines can be drawn. No exclusions can be made. From there
> the feeding and the healing must proceed, Healing not preaching. There may
> be time enough to talk after the soup is poured and drunk. If not, then
> not. Leave the doctrine behind, the work is not done.
> With every spoonful of soup, with every bandaging of a wound, with every
> nail hammered into a dwelling place the religionist must never lose sight of
> the supreme goal: freedom from the bondage of limitation. loss, despair and
> ignorance, the attainment of celestial realities, the true perfection of
> spiritual life. No self-conngratulations are in order. He must be brought,
> and bring all, up through the stem to the place where they are ready to
> receive the wine of wisdom, the gracious soup of peace and liberation from
> all harm, hazard, danger and mortality.
> Am I ready for that kind of religion? I don't know. But I know I wouldn't
> settle for anything less. The proof is in the soup.
> DB

Monday, February 8, 2010

The Ten


Let me never mar the beauty of creation with the ugliness of destruction.

Let me never hold or cherish in my mind images of fear, hate, anger, cruelty, pain, poverty, suffering, injustice and revenge.

Let me never use my gifts of intelligence, talent and creative imagination for any harmful or ignorant purpose so that I may avoid the punishment of regret.

Let me never forget the source of the goodness in my life and the processes which have brought about the blessings I enjoy.

Let me never lose respect for or attention to the great geniuses of the past who nurture me, lead me and influence me in all positive ways and enable me to be the person I am.

Let me never be responsible for the discouragement, abatement or destruction of any worthy thing that exists.

Let me never take another man's ideas and accomplishments and claim them as my own.

Let me never misrepresent the knowledge, wisdom and truth of all things as I understand them.

Let me never show disrespect or lack of compassion for my fellow creatures to the extent they are deserving of it.

Let me never desire to own another man's life or any of its accompaniments.


A Letter to a Friend


Dear Friend

As one who always wanted to sleep late I find myself rising before the sunshine these days, much to my puzzlement. And so at 6:45 of a Friday morning I find myself confronted by your amazing letter. I say amazing because I find most of it pertinent, important, insightful and needing to be addressed.

Acting is an interpretive art form. And so I suppose that is my habit. Without realizing it, or gaining any personal perspective about it, I seem to need the ideas of others to unlatch my own thinking. I have about 110 pages of quotations from various sources, single spaced, small font. I still collect them.

Another habit I have is to be continually overcoming limitations. One view of retirement is that I am like a bush the world has finally stopped pruning. But since the world doesn't cut me back any more I have to do it myself. It's a bad habit of creating impassible situations for myself and then fighting my way out of them. There is an ancient reason for that. From an early age until I established myself in show business I was continually made to feel unimportant, by family and teachers. When I emerged enough from that shell to look around I realized I was unimportant in the eyes of others because I was different. I didn't fit in my family and I was a poor student because I didn't conform to the processes some really poor teachers wanted me to. And frankly I wasn't much interested in getting an education. That all changed one day. Then I went about sopping up the wisdom of the ages. I still do that. Which is why I have so many quotations on my desk.

What really struck me about your letter was the idea of emerging as a writer without the need to interpret the words of others. It relates back to having been an actor, of course, but also to the misleading influence that whatever I had to say wasn't important. I developed a blindness to any sort of encouragement or praise. I felt that people were just being nice if they said they appreciated and approved of what I did. That was a self imposed limitation as well.

I knew Norman Mailer, had frequent discussions with him and was invited to his home. The public Mailer was a belligerent, He seemed to be always looking for a fight. But the private Mailer was different. He enjoyed and approved of my acting and he told me so. Why didn't I believe him?

I will take to heart what you have written. My mentor and teacher, Edward, once said that to be an actor one has to have poetry in his heart. I have never considered myself a poet, but I have felt that Vagabond Journeys needs to be reorganized and freed up in some significant way. In fact, I was pondering that this morning even before I read your letter.

The girl who is sailing her boat solo through the ocean got over 200 comments on Wednesday. I got 6. No doubt there is a lesson to be learned there. Though I am known as a generous person and one who will tax himself to the limit to accomplish something he really wants to do, I am also known as one who peers out from his hibernating cave to interpret what he sees. Not a coward, just cautious.

I don't know if I will ever be any different or even if I can be, old dogs and new tricks, you know. But I'm certainly going to keep typing for as long as I can and maybe the writer will emerge someday.