Friday, December 31, 2004

The Dance

There is a sacred sequence of life.
An eternal rhythm. A dance of circles.

Planets perpetually spin around their orbits....
Night breaks into day, which falls into night, as the day arrives again...
Life is born, lives, dies, and is reborn into new forms - endlessly...
Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall...

-and yet-

We don't live accordingly. What is modern man's greatest triumph? What is the sickness or our age? With what three words do we proclaim to the world as our trophy of worth?

"I'm so busy."
As a culture that values overwork, striving, driving, pushing, out-of-balance-ness, we assume that being busy means you're somebody. We search for the deepest meaning of Who We Are not in the eternal Present where the beginningless, endless, ever-present Witness resides, but rather in some imagined future date of "betterness." Therefore, we must strive to get there - no matter the havoc it wreaks upon our bodies, our families, our world. And as Brother David Steindl-Rast teaches us, the Chinese pictograph for "busy" is made up of two characters: heart and killing.

remember the sabbath

Work hard while you're at work. But work no more than you need to. Find the sacred rhythm of rest. Don't fill your downtime with tv, computers, and other things that continue to assault you. Turn them off. Remember Gandhi's words on the madness of modern man: "There is more to life than merely increasing its speed."

In that rest, savor. Savor a cup of tea in silence. Talk a walk in the quiet woods. Play on the floor with a child. Cook an equisite meal and eat it alone or with family or friends. Breathe. Nap. Paint. Meditate. Do nothing.

Take nothing for granted. Bring full mindfulness into whatever you're doing so that you're completely "there."

This does not produce laziness. There is no need to feel guilty. Upon fully realizing the rhythm of rest, your work becomes more meaningful and you find mindfulness and strength to apply to your tasks. And yet even while working, find "rest moments." Stop. Breathe 3 deep breaths. Then continue.

Find the sacred rhythm. Rather, tune in to the sacred rhythm, for it is all around and within you. Business, stress, and exhaustion are not medals of your worth - indeed they choke your ability to simply "be."

Yes, tune in to the sacred rhythm. And Dance.

[Most of today's entry was inspired by the book "Sabbath" by Wayne Muller - a very beautiful and important book. Pick one up, you'll be blessed by it.]

Wednesday, December 29, 2004


I just heard this on the news regarding Sunday's Tsunami:

The monetary donation provided by the US Government to the relief in Asia is roughly equal to the cost of 5 HOURS of the War in Iraq.

I am sickened, embarrassed and appalled that the richest country in the world cannot show more mercy than that. Don't wait on your leadership to make a significant effort. Click here to share life giving resources to those on the razor-edge of survival.

Peace...Peace...Peace and love and healing to all who were affected by this horrendous catastrophe.

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

A Radical Shift

I was reading the Beatitudes yesterday and it hit me how radical these teachings are. We've all heard them and thought: "Gee, well that was a nice thing to say. Yup, that sure would be a good way to live."

What would it be like, however, if we took them seriously? In a world that is defined by "Survival of the Fittest" - In a culture that places admiration upon those who strive and drive (no matter the cost!) to succeed - herein lies the radical nature of a teaching that heralds the quiet, peaceful, merciful, and compassionate ones:

Jesus opened His mouth and began to teach them, saying-
Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
Blessed are the gentle, for they shall inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
Blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Big City Plans

So the city of Indianapolis has agreed to an $800 million deal to build a new stadium for the Colts (and other groups) downtown. (Story here)

I realize that I am an idealist. But I cannot help but get sick to my stomach about the misuse of wealth in our country. Yes, the richest 1% of the population now owns as much wealth as the bottom 95% of all Americans combined. And the wealthiest 1% of the population also consumes as much as the bottom 44% combined.

What would it be like for a city to assign $800 million dollars to poverty relief? To feed families? To help the single mom who works 2 shifts a day at minimum wage just so her family can eat and have a place to live?

Justice? Mercy? Nah... Joe CEO needs another boat.

Meanwhile that single mom reads this morning's headlines and grabs her bus ticket as she heads off to work.

Monday, December 20, 2004

A Nice Reminder from the fine folks at Adbusters

If you're unfamiliar with the folks at Adbusters, check them out here. Awesome stuff.

Holiday Melodies

"Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat,
please do put a penny in the old man's hat,
if you haven't got a penny, a half-penny will do,
if you haven't got a half-penny, then God bless you!"

Ah, the immortal words of Miss Piggy on Trev's all-time favorite classic Christmas album:

John Denver and the Muppets - "A Christmas Together"

Do yourself a favor and go find it. It's a beaut, Clark, it's a beaut...

Sunday, December 19, 2004

If we are indeed ONE...

A Challenge to myself during this holiday season:

If we are indeed ONE,
If there is no separation between us,
If "the perception that divides {us from each other} is a lie,"
If there is no YOU or I, but only US,
If the Light of God is within all that IS...

...then I shall make it my goal to make these truths reality for those who feel separated and isolated during this time. The holidays are a joy for many but utter despair for many others.

Oh, what amazing opportunities to gently shatter the false perceptions of separateness. Really being with people - getting in contact with those who feel like outcasts - sharing a listening ear with those who are suffering - helping meet the needs of the least fortunate - becoming a physical manifestation of love ----- these are the hammers that break down these false walls of perception.

If we are indeed ONE...
...may I help the world to know it.
...may you help the world to know it.
...may we help the world to KNOW it.

Friday, December 17, 2004

Light, Darkness, & the Big Picture

The following is a comment from yesterday's entry from blogger Jon. It was so profound and beautiful, I wanted to bring it right out here onto the main page.

When God said "let there be light," the projector switched on, and the movie started playing. We call this show "Creation" or "the Universe." It's a 4-D holo-film playing in the theater of space and time, with an infinitude of characters, and a script of unbelievable complexity.

Instead of suspended disbelief like what we use when we're in a theater so we can take part in the show identifying with the characters and the drama, we've gotten it so backwards, that we can only know our reality as Children of God a few hours at a time, and it's hard for many of us to keep even that when we leave the church parking lot!

So here we are, imagining ourselves as having come from our parents, instead of God (Ps. 100), imagining that we were born in this set, imagining that we will die. These bodies will, but we cannot be harmed. Yet, our bodies feel pain, our minds encounter suffering and misery, and there is no shortage of people who are causing more pain, suffering and misery.

If there is One only, and through the miracle of Creation there are also many wills, there are also two directions, the away-from-God, less loving, dimmer directions, and the towards-God, more loving, brighter direction.

Think in 2-D for a moment. Two characters are actually different areas on the screen, one shines with light, another is dark. The darker one's deeds are, the less of Christ's light there is. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness does not comprehend it or overpower it. The darkness is NOTHING! Only light hits the screen of God's Fiat! (Let there be!)

So there is darkness in this film. And drama. Tragedy. Horror.

If there were no darkness and contrast, the screen would be blazing white, and no story could unfold. If there were no conflict, there would be no story, and no resolution, no redemption, no happy ending. If a roller coaster has only ups but no downs, there is no ride, no scream, no laughter.

God is light, and in such, there is no darkness. There is no story, there is only God. As Paul said, there is no male or female, no American nor Iraqi, no oppressed nor free. There is no time--a day is as a thousand years and vice versa. There is only Now. There is no going or coming, no there or everywhere, but only Here.

So this play of light and dark in Creation is not bad, but... we identify with our characters so completely! We believe this world is the sum of our existence, or we act as if we do even if we say we do not. We do whatever it takes to get pleasure and avoid pain, and in many cases, trample on others to do so. We hurt others willfully, we molest, rape, murder, torture, extort, exploit, insult, and make war.

And so, the play of light and dark becomes the Struggle of Good vs. Evil. "Good" characters react to "bad" characters and often, their own actions have consequences that are equally bad or worse, as the bad guys counter-react. And the beat goes on.

Almost everything considered problem today was once viewed as a solution to something earlier. There is a way out. It's remembering who you really are. The world is God's soundstage. The "you" you thought you were was a character, a constantly changing pattern of light and dark on the screen. (And only the light is real). In waking up to this, the illusion of our character, our birth, race, personal story, feelings, nation, and so forth is blown away. It's dying to self, and being alive to Christ. It's being born of the Spirit. It's "putting off the old man and putting on the new man." It's enlightenment, or fana, or Self-realization.

And then, you find you still have a body, still have a mind and feelings, and you still experience the story and the sets and the conflicts. But you know what you are! And in so knowing, you can act without reacting, without conditioning. You can see that the bad guys are nothing but light, as you are, although there's less of it there. You know that no one, is different from you in kind, only in awareness of truth.

Your heart breaks with compassion for all of those who don't know who they are, who their Father truly is. You can do whatever seems necessary or appropriate. Sometimes that might be with gentle or loving actions. Sometimes it might be acting with force to protect another character. Sometimes it might be by picking up a cross. You act because you love the world and so, as God's child, you go to it, not to condemn it, but to save it. And everything will be driven by one goal only... helping people know who they really are, to be transformed by the saving knowledge of God's light.

Thursday, December 16, 2004


In a comment from yesterday's blog, blogger Dan posed the following questions:

Is God in the child molestations? Is God in the Iraq War? Is God in George Bush?

The key to answering this question lies in the last few lines from yesterday's post:

& We're going to keep coming to know one another more & more free of being identified with any veils

So is God in the child molester? Absolutely. Within that man or woman is an eternal presence which has never been created, will never die, and whose essence is undiffentiated love and joy. However, for all of us what happens is that instead of indentifying ourselves with that part of us, many of us identify ourselves with our bodies, our minds, our drama. This is living in ignorance and is the cause of all kinds of troubles, violence, and evils. If this body and mind is all we've got, then we'll do anything to fight for it, please it, and make sure it survives. This is certainly the case for the child molester who is doing unmentionable destruction because he has not identified himself with the Presence that gave rise to his body, sustains his every breath, and will exist after his feeble existence ceases to be.

The goal, then, is to "know one another more and more free of being identified with any veils." When we see someone, do we immediately label them with some temporal label or do we see them as the Light of God? True, their flame may currently be covered by a bushel basket, but beneath the self-imposed covering they still radiate the glory of God. Do we see the world that way? When we observe wheat blowing in the wind, do we just see twigs swaying in the breeze or do we see it as a manifestation of God in many forms in the world. Can we hear the sound of God that is beneath the racket? The presence that is behind the Cosmos?

This does not excuse the behavior that is born out of ignorance nor relieve our responsibility to prevent or ease suffering when we see it. Do I believe justice will be served in one way or another and that ignorance and evil will and must be dealt with? You bet. But it is a shift of consciousness that chooses FIRST to see God behind, beneath, above, within and without all that IS.

YOUR TURN: Fellow Bloggers, feel free to give your response to the questions posed above. I look forward to hearing your responses.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

Excerpt from "Be Here Now"

At this moment if you set the alarm to get up at 3:47 this morning and when the alarm rings and you get up and turn it off and say: what time is it? You'd say:

NOW where am I? HERE!

Then go back to sleep
Get up at 9:00 Tomorrow. Where am I??

Here! What time is it? NOW!
Try 4:32 three weeks from next Thurs.
It is _ There's no getting away from it-
That's the way it is
that's the

You finally figure out that it's only the clock that's going around... It's doing its thing but you - you're sitting


There is nowhere to go and There is nothing to do

& We're going to keep coming
to know one another
more & more free of being identified with any veils
less identified with their veils
as you find the light in you, you begin to see the
light in everyone else
as you find God in yourself there is God everywhere

Excerpt from the book Be Here Now by Ram Dass

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Creation Spirituality: The Balanced Path

Through all my explorations and investigations in spirituality and world religions, perhaps the "Way" that has most resonated with me is the path of Creation Spirituality.

Why? One word: Balance.

Creation Spirituality, a term coined by priest and theologian Matthew Fox, is really a new way of catagorization of various traditions. It is indeed a Way of balance. The reason that I have struggled with certain "ways" in the past is because they have seemed incomplete and one-sided. (If you want to read a primer on Creation Spirituality... pick up "Original Blessing" by Fox)

Creation Spirituality is a way of looking at and living the spiritual life through FOUR PATHS. They are as follows:

VIA POSITIVA - Celebration, Joy, Wonder, Play, Gratitude, Curiosity, the Human Body, God in Creation, Ecstacy, Love...
VIA NEGATIVA - Meditation, Silence, Mysticsm, Letting Go, Emptying, Living through suffering, Centerdness, Solitude, Grief...
VIA CREATIVA - The Arts, Expression, Creativity, New Life, Beauty, Passion, Talents, being Co-Creators with God...
VIA TRANSFORMATIVA - Compassion, Justice, Healing, Peace, Service, Moral Outrage, Unity in Diversity, Ecology...

Indeed! Why can it ALL not be a part of the spiritual life? Can you not find Spirit in both emptying meditation AND in a playful dance? Is God not in both a beautiful painting and in the Void that is beyond all forms?

Saturday, December 11, 2004


There is nothing to say.

You are already what you are searching for. Stop searching and striving.

Dissolve the past. Stop anticipating the future. And all you have is NOW.

That's all you ever have.

And it is bliss.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

An Old Story

There is an old Hebrew story of a Rabbi taking a stroll at night. Lost in his thoughts, questioning his life's call and not paying much attention, he takes the left fork instead of the right fork and finds himself on some sort of military base.

Suddenly a voice booms out from nowhere: "Who are you? What are you doing here?"

The Rabbi is startled. "What?" he inquires.

A soldier appears from behind a bunker. "Who are you and what are you doing here?" he shouts back.

The Rabbi ponders for a moment and finally says "How much do you get paid for your work?"

"Four shekles a day."

The Rabbi responds: "I'll pay you twice that amount if you come to my house and ask me those same two questions every morning."

Responses to Responses

I'd like to stay on this topic one more time before I move on. Thank you to each of you who commented on my previous post. Your insights have been the words of God to me and to each person viewing this site. Blessings and Namaste to each of you.

Let me take a moment and make a few comments based upon each of your responses.

MEREDITH... I think you understand the heart of where I was coming from. Many teachers, like the one you mentioned (Akilesh), ask us to seek acceptance of the way things are. Doing otherwise means we have internal resistance to WHAT IS, and that is what many of the eastern texts and philosophies are trying to get us to overcome. This is the heart of my quandary, but perhaps it can be reconciled for as Akilesh also said as he concluded, once you get beyond your self and attachments you will "as a immensely helpful to others."

DARRELL...Thank you for the reminder of the work of Thich Nhat Hanh. He is indeed an example of one who seeks the nonattachment reached through mystical reality and yet is full of compassion and action. And as you said: "The link between detachment and activism is certainly a paradox!" Yes, Yes, and Yes!

ALLISON...I love your comment that once you know about suffering, you cannot forget it, and there is a definite feeling of responsibility in that. And you have perhaps summed up nonattachment in a very real way when you say it means that "you are motivated and pulled solely by love, and you are not concerned with impressing others by your actions, but you trust that God will take the seed that you have sown, and put it to good use." You're not only NOT "way off base" - you're right on top of it!

DAVE... Your comment "If our motivation is love then we are not focused on the results so much as the doing an expression of love" resonates well with the quote from Allison above. And you made me chuckle when you so graciously reminded us that Christianity was originally Eastern Thought! As an example, Jesus is indeed one who has gone beyond and experienced Unity Consciousness (and therefore must have "accepted What Is") and yet his sole mission was that of the Bodhisattva - enlightened yet living to ease others' pain.

ISAIAH...I hope you all can hear what Isaiah has said here: "Why are we encouraged to act without attachment, expectation, and concern? I believe it is because to act in any other manner is to act from a selfish viewpoint of ego, which is not our true nature. Ego attaches itself unrealistically, expects certain results, and when the results do not come about, must go through a process known as suffering. " Excellent, Isaiah. I also realize that my passage from the Gita did not suggest that the world will always have suffering (it was a bad selection to make my point, by the by) but there are many teachers and scriptures that will say just that (though I'm not saying that I agree with them). Thank you also for for the reminder that "All mankind's suffering is brought about through the thought process."

JON... You have said so much here that I find myself blissfully whirling. Your comments themselves WERE the love that you spoke of. Thank you for again directing us away from egoic mind and back to The Witness. Om Mani Padme Hum...


What are words? Sometimes I struggle with philosophies, debates, and discussions about the spiritual life, because they are only symbols that can point us to reality ... and they are not - in themselves - what we are seeking. It is indeed easy to get stuck simply TALKING and not living or practicing or experiencing.

And so my hope for you is that in some way through reading these posts, the truth that is already inside of you has RISEN UP and that your heart centers have bursted open with a divine love for all that IS. As your peers and fellow beacons of Light have shared with you through this conversation, act in this world not from a place of pride, unrealistic expectations, or with a belief that YOU are the one acting. Know that it is God acting through you - nay, AS you - to ease the suffering you experience in the world. Live it. Know it. Take no man's words for it, for until you experience it you are falling short of your divine inheritance. If we are indeed all One, how can we not act when we see suffering around us? And through the struggle that is often required to bring about change in the world and in ourselves, "may the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, guard your hearts and your minds" completely and forever.

"Love people. Feed people. Serve people. Remember God." (Neem Karoli Baba - 'Maharaji)

"Be the change you wish to see in the world." (Gandhi)

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Social Justice, Karma Yoga, and Expectation

Here's my recent spiritual quandary.

Over and over again in ancient texts from the East, we are encouraged to act without attatchment, without expectation, and without being concerned about the results (or fruits) of our actions. Take this text as an example:

"He who does the task dictated by duty, caring nothing for the fruit of the action, He is a yogi...Nobody can practice the yoga of action (Karma Yoga) who is anxious about his future, or the results of his actions." (Bhagavad-Gita)

The basis of such says that the world will always have suffering, and so we are to act simply because we are full of love, not because we are expecting some sort of outcome.

I find this a paradox of sorts, because I then find myself asking: what would have happened had the Civil Rights movement acted without determination, resilience, or expectations of results? Or women fighting for the right to vote? Or those pushing the abolishment of slavery? What if they would've have "acted" - done their duty - and then said: "Well, we've given it a valiant effort, and yet our actions have not gotten us our desired outcome. But that is ok, because we are to act without any expectation of what will come out in the end."

So, in particular, I'm suppose I'm wondering what this philosophy of acting without expectations or attatchments means in the arena of Social Justice (and how determination can co-exist with the concept of 'not expecting a certain result'). To answer that question myself, the following bullet-points are as far as I can get:

Non-attatchment and the cessation of expectation means...

  • You no longer WORRY or have ANXIETY about the results.
  • In the end you realize that somehow in this web of existence everything eventually works out for the good despite our personal efforts (Or does it? Are we co-creators with God, or not?)
  • When you act without attatchment, you're acting not for selfish purposes (such as praise from others or for good feelings of accomplishment and righteousness) but rather from a TOTALLY unselfish and non-egocentric vantage that says: I am simply a conduit of God to ease suffering and promote justice in the world. I suppose that in such a scenario, there is still a place for determination???
  • Or is this a philosophy that needs challenged? Is this a place where East Meets West yields greater results and completes the total picture: East provides the Mysticism, West provides the Social Justice.

I'm looking for some feedback and wisdom here. Anyone is certainly invited to respond, but I'm specifically looking for responses from those of you who are familiar with Eastern Philosophies (Jon, Meredith, Isaiah, Jaxun, etc.)

The Supreme Virtue

Can you coax your mind from its wandering
and keep to the original oneness?
Can you let your body become
supple as a newborn child's?
Can you cleanse your inner visioin
until you see nothing but the light?
Can you love people and lead them
without imposing your will?
Can you deal with the most vital matters
by letting events take their course?
Can you step back from your own mind
and thus understand all things?

Giving birth and nourishing,
having without possessing,
acting with no expectations,
leading and not trying to control:
this is the supreme virtue.

(Tao te Ching #10, translation by Stephen Mitchell)

Friday, December 03, 2004

Groove Is in the Heart

Thought I'd share some of my music with you today. I am still working on a semi-professional cd, but the following tracks are Demo Tracks I've had for a couple years. Pay no mind to the quality and "goof-ups"... I was playing all the instruments and doing all vocals myself (except for bass on Parachute and When I Die) so therefore errors were bound to occur. (All files are .mp3)

  • Parachute (Acoustic) - Seems to be everyone's favorite... A Phish-esque ditty with a catchy chorus.
  • Even Still - My wife really dislikes this song, but for some reason I still dig it. For those of you who know classical music, there's a brief melodious reference to "Pictures at an Exhibition" after the first chorus.
  • When I Die (Acoustic) - Jazzy tune. The chorus is directly uplifted (but slightly reworded) from the pen of the Sufi poet Rumi - "When I die I shall soar with the angels/And when I die to the angels/what I shall become/You cannot imagine."
  • Been Thinking About A Solution - definitely the most sloppy of the recordings. This song's redeemable quality is the instrumental bridge (interlude) about 2/3 of the way through.

Thursday, December 02, 2004

By his grace, By his grace

Just a few short days ago I spoke of The Witness and how it is the true reality beyond the "melodrama" of life.

And yet I've been STUCK in mine for the past few days.

Then, once again I am drawn up out of dispair and illusion. This time it was through the words of a Blogger named Isaiah. His poem When Shiva Dances helped me to open up to the reality beyond my current funk. Thank you, Isaiah.

And now just a little bit of inspiration:

"I go to the Imperishable Treaure:
by his grace, by his grace, by his grace.
I go to the Spirit of life:
by his grace, by his grace, by his grace.
I go to the Spirit of the earth:
by his grace, by his grace, by his grace.
I go to the Spirit of the air:
by his grace, by his grace, by his grace.
I go to the Spirit of the heavens:
by his grace, by his grace, by his grace."

Chandogya Upanishad 3.15.3

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

Baby-O, now born

If you're not a regular viewer of my daughter's Blog, swing by and check out her most recent photos. She's such an angel.

The title of this blog is a reference to a poem by Diane DiPrima. Before Kalli was born I painted a canvas for her wall using that poem. Here it is:

"Song for Baby-O, Unborn"

when you beark thru
you'll find
a poet here
not quite what one would choose.

I won't promise
you'll never go hungry
or that you won't be sad
on this gutted

But I can show you
enough to love
to break your heart

Shortest Yoga Joke Ever

A yogi walks into a pizza parlor and says, "Make me one with everything."

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

The Witness

One aspect of my spiritual practice that is becoming very real to me as of late is that of "The Witness."

As I sit here and try to put this experience to words, I find it very difficult. I will, however, do my best to capture this experience with language... although I'm sure that the text will fall short of the complete reality.

The Witness, in contemporary American language, might best be described as "The Soul." It is who I really am. It is the part of me that never dies, was never born, cannot be hurt or harmed. It is Light - and Peace - and Love. It is that which merges with God. It is my Spirit, my Soul, my Atman, my Buddha-consciousness, my Christ-consciousness ("It is not I, but Christ that lives in me."). It is I AM. Direct knowledge of this Witness is the experience that saints and sages have had throughout all of history.

The ramifications of this are astounding!

Most of us identify with our bodies or our minds - "I am Trevor Harden, born May 6th, 1979... I prefer this and am repelled by that." And what is the state of our bodies and minds? It is like choppy water - never completely at peace - a restless, drunk monkey. To make things worse, when we get angry, we become our anger. When we are suffering, it overwhelms us and we identify ourselves as: SUFFERER. If only we knew! Behind the scenes of our life - our Drama - is the Witness. Silent and Quiet. Experiencing life. Watching the whole sha-bang play itself out. Wow! Yes! When we identify ourselves as The Witness, life becomes a kind of Film or Movie. We watch the drama unfold. And when our "self" suffers, we observe. And when our "self" enjoys pleasure, we observe. This doesn't mean that there is not a place for pleasure or pain, but rather that we can be free of it if we so desire! We know that this body, this story, this drama will someday end, and yet "I" will go on!!

This means that in all times and all situations, under any circumstance, there is a part of us that is always at peace - always still - always in perfect joy. The question is: Will we turn inward and find that place? This is what meditation is for. What contemplative prayer is for. What yoga is for. What a spiritual practice is for. And those that have "mastered" their practice, identify completely with the Witness to the point where their internal water or lake is always perfectly still so that you can see straight through to the bottom. They are free from the constant feeling of restlessness and disconent that each of us are troubled by in life. Their personality/ego ceases to exist and they become basically a servant of God in the world - acting only from a place of love, peace, and purity. Most of us will never reach that place completely, but we head in that direction - using the examples of those who have gone before us as our inspiration.

I've got a long way to go, no doubt. But that's partly what life is for - the act of Becoming. And when things get screwy along that path, I know I have a place to turn: Om Mani Padme Hum (Loose Translation: "God, who is like the most precious jewel, lives in the center of my heart.")

Sunday, November 28, 2004

Hell on Earth

There's a place on this planet where I get the opportunity to practice patience and acceptance unlike any other place on earth.

That place is the mall.

The place simply drives me batty - especially this time of year. Let me count the ways:

1.) I very much dislike crowds. Standing shoulder to shoulder with pushy and "gotta-get-it" obsessed people for hours on end is not my idea of fun.
2.) People always walk down the "wrong" side of the aisles. It's just like the road, people: Stick to the right side as you walk and no collisions occur.
3.) It reminds me of humanity's apparent "need" of exterior things to make us happy.
4.) Maybe I'm getting old, but 12 year old girls shouldn't feel the need to dress like 22-year old college chicks going to a house party.
5.) I walk by Abercrombie yesterday, and what to my wandering eyes did appear: A man... actually an Abercrombie model... standing in the doorway to the store, greeting people WITH HIS DAMN SHIRT OFF! It was like they were saying: "Buy our shirts and trousers and you too will have rippling, tanned abs." Haha, it was so ... funny. And sad. And it made me think of sausage.

I know I should work on my attitude. I know that whatever I dislike in my mall experiences is probably a reaction to something I dislike in myself. But until I figure out what that is, I think I'll stick with Goodwill.

Saturday, November 27, 2004

4 Lessons Learned from the Past Few Days

1.) Do not attempt to make nationally authentic food for a person who is authentically from that country. Case in point: I had my friend Srinivas over Wednesday Night. Srini is from Bangalore, India and he is now doing his extended studies at Purdue University. Anyway, I attempted to make Bhaji, an indian dish which is basically a potato-cauliflower-pea stew with a myriad of spices. About halfway through the process, he graciously took over my cooking job and spent an extended period of time getting the mixture of spices (turmeric, cayenne pepper, cinnamon, mustard seeds, fennel seeds, salt, etc.) and the consistency JUST RIGHT. He even taught me that his family added a bit of sugar to the mix to enhance the taste. He was super cool about it and had a lot of fun cooking (and I, a lot of fun learning...). It was just kind of funny, that's all. It'd be like me living in Tibet and having people invite ME over to their house where they graciously cook me a gourmet pizza without having a damn clue how to do it.

2.) Babies who consistently sleep through the night apparently also have the capability of waking up 4 times in one evening. Maybe it was the Indian food?

3.) If the heater in your car isn't working, maybe there's something wrong with your radiator. Yeah, I got stranded on a "long stretch of nowhere" about 2.5 hours from home last week. Sure, I saw that the meter was pegged on HOT for a few miles, but I'm car ignorant, and thought something was wrong with my dash. When the radiator hose finally blew, it was like something out of Nascar... at least that's what they tell me (I dunno... I don't watch the stuff). Luckily, a man behind us knew about cars, knew what to do, and spend an hour out of his day to get us back on the road. Apparently God drives a pickup.

4.) Tonic Water, Gin, Limes, and Ice mixed together make a really dee-lish beverage. Enough said.

Tuesday, November 23, 2004

What I needed to hear...

"Praise and blame,
gain and loss,
pleasure and sorrow
come and go like the wind.

To be happy, rest like a giant tree,
in the midst of them all."

(The Buddha)

Monday, November 22, 2004

"Fierce Grace"

Have you ever seen a film that leaps off the screen into your heart and truly means something?

This has happened to me. First some background.

In the '60s, a Harvard Professor named Richard Alpert - along with the infamous Tim Leary - were part of the original guys experimenting with LSD in a professional setting to see what the effects of psychedelics were on the mind and/or in relation to one's spiritual self (soul). The experiences he had while under the influence of the drug were conscious-expanding and spiritually enlightening. There was one catch, however. He always "came down."

With that in mind, Richard went to India to be a part of a culture that understood and were experiencing the same kind of euphoric spiritual experiences that he was having - without the aid of a substance. There, he found his spiritual path and he found God. And there Richard Alpert became Baba Ram Dass.

Ram Dass then went on to be one of the forerunners of the spiritual angle of the hippie movement of the '60s and was and has been a very influential soul. He has since written the best-selling classic (and my favorite book of all time) "Be Here Now" and has been a part of many great causes including the SEVA Foundation.

Fast forward to today. Now, in the last stages of his life and the victim of stroke, he continues to touch the heart of many and to be an example of a man who loves God and loves people. His reflections on elderly living and on being "stroked" (as he puts it) - as well as a brief documentary of his life - is documented in a film entitled "Fierce Grace: Ram Dass."

Being that "Be Here Now" is indeed my favorite book, I was delighted to run across a film about Ram Dass. The stories in this beautifully woven work speak of love and truth and grace in a way that cuts straight to my heart. Hearing the testimonies of the lives that God has touched through him, seeing his servant heart, and experiencing a man who is stuggling with - and embracing - his aging body is inspiring.

I rented the VHS tape from the library and have already watched it three times this week. Beautiful film. Beautiful man. Hare Rama!

Saturday, November 20, 2004


I'm not a sports fan, but I did see the video of the Pacers BRAWL Friday night. If you have not seen the footage, CLICK HERE and about half way down the page there's a link for the "Free Video" (Click the LAUNCH button).

I've never seen anything like this!!!!

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Dream Job

I've recently asked myself the question: "If I could do anything for a job regardless of what it would cost or entail, what would it be?" And after thinking quite a while, I think this is what I would choose:

I would love to run a retreat center. People would pay for a weekend stay to get away from the rigors of modern life - to have time to reflect, recreate, and relax. The center would be situated on a very large wooded lot, with 5-6 buildings spread out across the acerage for different purposes. Perhaps the people would even sleep in yurts (dome-shaped tents with a see-through roof).

On the Friday-night-through-Sunday-afternoon retreat, participants would be lead through various experiences based on the "style" of the retreat. Some weekends would be yoga retreats, some art retreats, some general relaxation retreats, spiritual/contemplative retreats, etc. All meals would be provided by us, so all of their needs are taken care of. Some of the amenities could be a fire ring, hottub(s), indoor and outdoor lounges, yoga rooms, meditation rooms, a chapel... and of course the natural surroundings.

I can just imagine the reward of seeing people after a 3-day retreat... fully de-stressed, refreshed, perhaps even more spiritually aware. How incredible would that be...

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Coming Soon...

Seeing that I'm a musician and I work in a church, I've written a few "worship songs" throughout the years. After a recent bout of inspiration, I've decided to record those songs. My buddy Dave and myself have been working on the first track this past week and things are sounding great. The song should be available for download sometime within the week... details to come.

Friday, November 12, 2004

What I'm Reading Now (Nov. 12)

I just got home from the Library with my daughter and while I was there I picked up a few books including Ray Kurzweil's "Age of Spiritual Machines."

This looks to be quite the challenging and potentially frightening read. Here is the summary:

In (Kurzweil's) utopian vision of the 21st century, our lives will change not merely incrementally but fundamentally....Along the way, he makes some bizarre predictions. If Kurzweil has it right, in the next few decades humans will download books directly into their brains, run off with virtual secretaries and exist "as software," as we become more like computers and computers become more like us. Other projections--e.g., that most diseases will be reversible or preventable--are less strange but seem similarly Panglossian. Still others are more realizable: human-embedded computers will track the location of practically anyone, at any time. More problematic is Kurzweil's self-congratulatory tone. Still, by addressing (if not quite satisfactorily) the overpowering distinction between intelligence and consciousness, and by addressing the difference between a giant database and an intuitive machine, this book serves as a very provocative, if not very persuasive, view of the future from a man who has studied and shaped it.

A Salute to Sam

Let's just take a moment to pause and give thanks for Samuel Adams OCTOBERFEST beer.

Sam, I salute you for making such a yummy blend of Autumny goodness. I thank you for making it a "seasonal" beer and making me wait for it. It's so worth the wait. And finally, thank you to Kevin for introducing me to the bottled glory that is OCTOBERFEST.

My autumnal equinox is complete.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Why I Do Yoga - Pt. I

The reasons I do yoga are legion. Some are lofty and spiritual, others physical or mental. Here's an initial list in no particular order:

  1. Pantanjali defines yoga as "the intentional stilling of the mind-stuff." In other words, it's "turning off your mind" for a while. Try to sit in stillness or hold your concentration on one point for an extended period and see how your hyperactive, ticker-tape Monkey Mind jumps from one subject to another, to and fro, all the live-long-day. Yoga is a "breather" from the madness.
  2. To allow prana - or life energy - to come awake and move in my body. Like a closed-shut, overgrown jungle are our unused and atrophied joints, muscles, sinews, and inner-squishy-parts. Yoga helps clear away the build-up like a machete through that jungle, leaving your body absolutely revitalized and refreshed post-yoga.
  3. It's a time of centering and stillness from the modern, break-neck, always-on-the-go world.
  4. Builds muscle
  5. Improves flexibility
  6. In the silence, I find the silence of God. In the stillness, I experience the stillness of God. Turned inward, I feel the presence of God within. Yoga literally means "to yoke" - or to bind oneself... to God.
  7. To stay present in the Now. To fully experience the moment. To not wish things were different. To not wish things would speed along and end sooner. To fully grasp the beauty of the present.
  8. To awaken myself to the subtleties of life. To notice small sensations in my body. To notice the quietness of my breath. To perceive that which normal goes unnoticed. All this in turn helps me to do the same in day-to-day living.
  9. It's practical and real. Yoga is a "spiritual science" that is experienced... not just talked about.

YOUR TURN: a.) What do you do to stay centered? b.) How do you connect with something bigger than yourself? c.) What do you do to "turn off" for a while? (answer one or all three)

Dog? or Crocodile?

My pup Paige doing her best Croc impression.

I've got a new look!

Pardon my lack of posting... I'm remodeling.

I needed a more streamlined look. So deal with it.

YOUR TURN: What do you think about the slick new appearance?

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Pulled the Post

For the time being, I have pulled the Post that I posted yesterday regarding a cousin of mine and mishaps that ensued. For those of you who got to read it yesterday, congratulations. For those of you who did not get to read it, maybe that's all for the better.

'Twas simply a story that I told my wife while we were dating, and although we find it rather funny, I'm not sure the world is ready to hear it. Perhaps I will repost it soon....

(devilish grin)

If you'd really like to read it and aren't offended by Butt Humor, shoot me an email to and I'll send it to ya - no problemo.

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Last Post on Politics

This will be my last post on our political situation.... due in part to my wife's very wise and mature words HERE.

I simply wanted to say that after a 2 hour conversation with my mother - an enthusiastic Bush supporter - I am beginning to see where such people are coming from. I do not agree with them on many, many levels, but it is no longer as inconcevable as I once arrogantly thought.

Perhaps as in the wisdom of my wife's blog post, we can indeed cease the belief that we've got it all figured out. Each side needs to loosen its grip just enough to have conversation. I know I most certainly benefited from it tonight.

This article helped as well. Read it any time you get worked up about the state of affairs in politics.

Consider the subject exhausted on "The Sound of Diesel Musing."

An Apology to the World

Dear Citizens of the Global Community,

I cannot express enough to you how sorry I am that we failed you.

I'm ashamed that our country is becoming the textbook example of Empire and that we have willingly reelected the Emperor. I apologize that our leadership feels that they don't need to listen to you and has the unapologetic right to bully you when they see fit. It is regretful that those who are supposed to represent us have put agenda over allies and ostentation over unity.

I'm embarrassed we let moral fear dictate our decisions... fear of homosexuals... fear of Muslims... fear of being wrong. I'm remorseful that the people of our country think that "being moral" means 'no gay marriage' and 'being pro-life' rather than heralding the eternal moral truths of justice, mercy, compassion, love and peace. I'm also deeply regretful that you have been led to believe that our nation's recent actions in the global community are the extensions of Christian values from a Christian nation. Please don't judge the path of Jesus by our deeds.

Today, I'm telling you "I'm sorry" because apparently no one in our administration is willing to do so. Perhaps the occasional apology or admittance of error from the US leadership would ease the tension, open channels of dialogue, and promote unity between our countries... but they unfortunately don't see the need to do so.

Please forgive us. Know that the administration does not represent our citizens as a whole. Try your best to be patient with us until we learn the values of humility and restraint.

May God show mercy to your countries and to ours.

Trevor Harden

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

I'm moving to Canada

I am so completely disappointed with our Country.

I can generally see the "other side" in life. I'm usually pretty good at knowing where other people are coming from. But how the citizens of the United States can overlook the loss of allies, the unapologetic and bullheaded arrogance of this administration, and the calamity overseas absolutely astonishes me.

I'm dumbfounded.

One of the most beautiful things I've ever read...

"Friend, hope for the Guest while you're alive.
Jump into experience while you are alive!
Think... and think... while you are alive.
What you call "salvation" belongs to the time before death.

If you don't break your ropes while you are alive,
do you think
ghosts will do it after?

The idea that the soul will join with the ecstatic
just because the body is rotten-
that is all fantasy.
What is found now is found then.
If you find nothing now,
you will simply end up with an apartment in the City of Death.
If you make love with the divine now, in the next life
you will have the face of satisfied desire."


Sunday, October 31, 2004

Dipped in Glory

I began a new blog post tonight about the Ego... seems its been on my mind as of late after reading such articles as THIS. But, as I reread my dissertation, I realized that I really didn't know what I was talking about and the article was line after line of jibberish. It seems as though it is true that there is so much in spirituality, consciousness, and psychology that cannot be put into language... things that are truly beyond words and can only be experienced.

I found myself spouting off like an incoherant boob and so I decided to spare you all the trainwreck. In the meantime, challenge yourself by reading the article that I spoke of above.

On a side note: We began a new series at the church today entitled "Dipped in Glory." This is a very cool subject about being submerged in God's Spirit or Presence - like an apple dipped in caramel - or more strikingly - like the cosmos being the "womb" of God in which we find ourselves completely inside of "her." It's about being so overwhelmed with God that one is almost afraid - so astonished and full of wonder that you almost feel ready to burst. It is the "abundant life" that John's Jesus speaks of. It is drowning in the splendor of the Creation. It is tuning in to the Spirit of God... to the Ground of Being... to the I AM and finding pure delight and ecstacy in the process.

It makes me glad to be alive.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

I'm not... wait, I am

I'm not as Blog as you Drunk I am.

Really. Tonight I stand proudly alongside those who belong to the immortal tradition of "Drunk Blogging." Yup. (See also my GOOD buddy Jaxun)

Half bottle of wine. 'Homemade Vanilla Vodka' and Coke.

Why? It's Thursday Night, don't I have something better to do? Nope. The kid's in bed and I had 'the urge.' And of course, like always, you never plan on letting it progress this far. It started with a glass of wine with dinner. And now I find myself in "Wheee" Land.


The Bacon Brothers are on the "80's Cover Song" station of my Internet Radio broadcast. There's only one thing better than Kevin Bacon. That's Kevin Bacon and his brother - singing folk music. Sweet Lord, that's some good crap.

Check Out this Post, El Conquistador

I realize I haven't had much original thought lately (last week's blogs kind of wore me out), but once again, I must point you elsewhere:

This post on my wife's blog is absolutely hilarious. Enjoy:

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

3 Books, 3 Quick Reviews

Over the weekend I finished THREE books that I have been working on... here is a short review of each:

1.) In Praise of Slowness by Honore - Excellent book that goes chapter by chapter through different areas of our lives and encourages us to SLOW DOWN. To Savor. To Appreciate. To be Mindful. Fast has its place, for sure. But our culture is REDICULOUSLY out of balance. To help bring us back to balance, this book speaks of slow, well-cooked meals, working less hours, spending more time with kids or being outdoors, walking or biking instead of driving, living in "slow" cities... In essence, everything that America needs to re-learn how to do.

1.) The Marriage of Sense and Soul by Ken Wilber - Ken Wilber, one of the forerunners of consciousness in our day, shares how to best integrate Science and Religion. There is much that is excellent here, especially the call for religion to be (or become) more of a Yoga... or a spiritual science. In other words, heady theology that is complete speculation is dogmatic and is no longer of use in a postmodern setting... rather, we should do as the Zen Buddhists who when asked a question such as "Who are you?" or "What is the meaning of life?" would not provide an intellectual answer, but would rather sit in stillness and EXPERIENCE the answer.

1.) Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut - One of the most creative and fun novels ever written. This is a wonderful and joyous read and speaks about humanity's capacity for evil, the balance of morality, and the fictional religion of "Bokonism" in an "A.D.D-friendly" format... where most chapters last between 1-2 pages - - or less. Genious book.

Saturday, October 23, 2004

The Yin to My Yang

I'm not sure how many of you have been checking out my wife's blog - but, seriously, she's one of the most hilarious and creative bloggers I've read. Check her out. Give her comments. She loves that sh*t.

Friday, October 22, 2004

The Discussion Part III - Trev's Final Post

I was sitting on my deck last evening, watching a small insect dodge and duck through the grass when it hit me. Out of the silence of the moment I realized that my original post - "Thoughts on What It Means to be Christian" - was headed by an incomplete title. I would like to share with you a more appropriate title to the article, but let me first preface that by two preliminary thoughts: one regarding the culture and one personal.

No one would deny that humanity's short history has been framed by a series of stages. One of the many series of social stages has been: Tribal to National to Global. Our ancestors first had community and identity in tribes which shared a common worldview, ethos, and religion. As time progressed and history unfolded, tribes banned together and became nations. And now, in the past couple hundred years through trade, travel, technology and communication we are slowly but surely moving into the "Global" arena. Yes, we have moved into a period of our history where LIKE NEVER BEFORE we are able to communicate and travel between (literally) the entire planet.

In the tribal and even national setting, a group's worldview, ethos, and religion were very highly guarded and enforced. Neighboring tribes and nations were often a threat and so honest discussion and dialogue regarding these topics were rarely welcomed. And yet as we as a people began to move into a global culture and began honest discussion between differing groups, we soon realized something VERY disturbing and disconcerting: Other people from other cultures not only had differing views from our own, but were just as convinced that their way was the right way.

To speak personally, this first came to a head for me when I was in a comparative religion class in college. Suddenly, I realized - for example - that the Buddhist philosophy was just as intricate and had as deeply convinced and committed followers as my then-current Evangelical Christian faith. I saw that millions of Muslims too wholeheartedly believed that they were "right." I examined the passion and conviction of the Native American spirituality. I came to understand that many, many Hindus believed the Bhagavad-Gita and Vedas to be the literal Word of God.

There is no doubt that, like many of you who have posted have said, there are many differing and disagreeing points between religions and therefore they cannot all be equally completely true. One's initial reactive response is to deem everyone wrong but themselves. It is at this point, though, that I believe that if one adapts an attitude of humility and wonder then you begin to ask the important question: "Is there a possibililty... MIGHT there be a chance... that I may not be 100% correct?"

When this happened personally for me, I had a major crisis of faith. After a pretty major breakdown, I decided that the whole Christian thing was bunk and threw it out entirely. I began dabbling in other religions, but existed in a mostly agnostic state for about a year before God began to open my eyes ... little by little. You see, what I had done was throw the baby out with the bathwater. Ok, so perhaps my Christian theology - in light of all of these other religions and worldviews - may not be 100% true - but that doesn't mean its not a valid path nor does it mean it's not 80% true, or 50% true.

Many of you may know the (overused) story of the three blindfolded men sent in a dark room to investigate and describe an elephant. The first one comes out and says: "An elephant is thin and wiry and flips about, to and fro." The second one comes out and says: "An elephant is thick and round like a tree trunk." The third: "An elephant is like a fat hose with two big holes in the end." Of course the three men each got an incomplete picture of the elephant by only focusing on one attribute, namely the tail, leg, and trunk respectively. Are each of these descriptions "conflicting"? YOU BET! Are each of them true? SOMEWHAT!

I'm not trying to be profound or original here... I realize that this is a very old argument, but in light of the myriad of theologies and philosophies around the world, perhaps each of our groups are like the blindfolded men. We each focus on different aspects and characteristics of God, of religion, of living out a faith-life. Each somewhat conflicting, each somewhat true, but none grasping the totality and infinity that is the great I AM, the GOD beyond duality, the HOLY and NAMELESS Mystery to which we all owe our lives.

So, yes, I am aware that I have "glossed over" the differences in religions in my past posts. And yes, I realize that my "bent" on Christian theology is far, far different than the standard American Evangelical view and that in light of where many of you are coming from I am very, very "wrong."

The question becomes: what do the religions have in common? What kinds of things can we agree on? Might these similarities be "most true"? Or at least consider what "attributes" of God does another faith focus on that is different but congruent with your own. If you were to say at this point that God has called ONE PEOPLE to be his holy people, ONE PEOPLE to unveil the truth, and to hell with the rest, I urge you to reconsider the logic and the heart behind such a stance. Instead of closing up and building a fortress around our own faiths and worldviews, we are at a unique crossroad of opportunity to begin to truly share and learn from one another. Having said this, what I don't believe is that one's faith or worldview should be entirely personal. If one cannot find a valid community that shares his/her views, these views should probably be rejected as they will most likely be born of egotism. I believe that morality, ethics, and religion should be viewed and implemented through a "we" lens rather than an "I" lens.

Some of you have challenged me to accept a more fully complete and orthodox Christian theology. I am now challenging you all to step out of your faith ghettos and truly converse with people that have differing views. I may be guilty of "glossing over" the differences in religions too much, but many of us are instead guilty of reinforcing the segregation by believing oneself to be unapologetically "right." And there is no way you can make any steps into the right direction with heady, theological assumptions. You must make friends and have conversations with a Hindu. You must sit down for coffee with a Muslim.

It is with this mindset that I wrote that initial article: "Thoughts on What It Means to Be Christian." But looking back now, perhaps a more appropriate title would be: "Thoughts on What It Means to Be Christian in 2004: Not Throwing the Baby Out with the Bath Water in a Global Age." (Haha, kindof a ridiculous title... the first definitely had more "ring" to it)

That article was an attempt to look at and discover what truths in my faith still hold true in light of the many conflicting theologies and philosophies. What appears to be the most universally true? How can one be a follower of Christ in way that realizes that it is not the only way? This isn't a wishy-washy, politically correct, don't-want-to-hurt-anyone's-feelings view of acceptance and openness. It's a real and humble attitude that says: "What can other people teach ME about loving and following God?"

A final note - I have also been accused in my past posts of presenting a moral code - a "way" - that must be followed to either find favor with God or to get into heaven. That definitely was not my intent. I have not "substituted God's grace towards sinners" for a set of moral standards that one must keep up. When have I even once said that one MUST follow "the way" to find favor with God or to get into heaven? Rather, what I proposed is a lifestyle CHOICE that is born out of a desire to live a God-life after the example of Jesus. It is indeed a choice that like Dan said on his blog: "[is] because we love God and want to be more than just 'saved' we want to be followers of Christ." The "way" I proposed spoke nothing of God's favor or of heaven. It is indeed purist Christian theology that proposes a requirement for God's grace... if even that means "accepting" it, saying a prayer, intellectually believing a certain thing, or otherwise.

Thank you again to all who have followed this discussion. I welcome all comments, but please understand that there is a 90% chance that I won't respond. I will let you have the last word. I will love to read your responses, but I can't keep this dialogue up for ever (these long posts take multiple hours to write!!). God bless... may we continue to seek God as God continues to seek us. May we each strive for truth and beauty and love and may peace and happiness be found every step of the way. "Be the change you wish to see in the world." - Ghandi

Thursday, October 21, 2004


I don't have the time to post a formal entry today to the ongoing inter-blog, inter-comment discussion. Tomorrow (Friday) I will give my next and final post on the subject. Of course, we can all go 'round and 'round until we're blue in the face but I just simply don't have the time or desire to keep this up ad infinitum. Plus my wife is on my case to stop being so serious and heady and to return to blogging about (quote): "cigarettes and beer."

That being said, I have enjoyed the discussion and I respect each and every one of you that has offered your insights. I'll post up tomorrow! Namaste....

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

The Discussion - Part II

This is the continuation of an inter-blog discussion. Haven't caught up? Here are the previous posts:

  • Trev's first post and comments HERE
  • Tim's first response and comments HERE
  • Tim's second response and comments HERE


To Tim, Travis and others who have jumped into this discussion: Thank you! I appreciate where each of you are coming from and your comments and posts have helped round out and shape the way I'm thinking about such things.

Let me be the first to say that my original post - "Thoughts on What It Means to Be Christian" - is a flawed discourse. The fact that I submitted it for publication on a website is somewhat ridiculous as it was originally written for myself and has sundry problems that I will be free to admit.

That being said, while I enjoy this conversation and I think it is allowing all of us to learn and more fully listen to one another, I'm not sure we will ever reach any sort of conclusion besides that of mutual respect. The reason for this is that we are beginning in different places.

The following statements made by Tim...

  1. Quoting John 14:6 as de facto justification for an argument
  2. "humanistic compassion will not get anyone to heaven"
  3. (humanity's image of God) "was shattered in the fall"

...very clearly elucidate that he believes the Christian Bible to be the only inspired, perfect, God-breathed text in existence. I have lived with that view for many years but can no longer rationally or mystically make that claim. I found that all of my "evidence" for such a claim to be a defensive rationalization. How do I, then, see the Bible? Let's start there.

The stories, legends, poetry, songs, and myths that we've come to know as the Bible - in a phrase - is one certain culture during one certain period of human history trying to understand God. Based on their cultural experience and short history, their image of God (the tribal God "YHWH") looked and behaved a certain way. Here is where most "liberal" Christians (who discount or play down the Bible) fall short. What I DON'T think this means is that we should throw out our Book. It's our story. It tells of God's love and power and mercy and forgiveness and blessing and truth. But my shift is that it is not God talking to us word-for-word, it is man talking about, testifying to, and trying to understand the God that can be known yet ultimately in which all words fall short. Does that mean that the stories, myths, testimonies, songs, etc. aren't true? By no means! A story does not have to be historically accurate to obtain truth. This is the curse of modernity - that science/reason trumped the other two: art and morality. Truth is not a measurable quantity - it is immaterial - and can exist apart from scientific data. The Bible tells us mounds of truth about God and as Christians is our primary book!

One might interject here and claim that the Bible was (in its original form anyway) handed down (or breathed through) writers FROM GOD and all of what I'm saying is rubbish. While I do not intend to offer a streamlined evidential reasoning on why you should think how I think, I ask you: Why do you not believe that the Bhagavad-Gita is the perfect word of God (as do Hindus)? Or why do you not believe the Tao te Ching is inerrent and inspired by the Almighty? You might even be so bold as to say that they DO contain truth, but not the truth direct from God's mouth. In other words, for every reason you can give to discount another faith's book (which don't even get me started on how we overly emphasize text in religion to the point where it's Father, Son and Holy Bible) that is also the reason why I cannot fully accept the Bible en masse.

The phrase that most beautifully explains where I am coming from is "One River, Many Wells" (Matthew Fox). Here is a line from the introduction to the book with the same name:

"There is one underground river - but there are many wells into that river: an African well, a Taoist well, a Buddhist well, a Jewish well, a Muslim well, a goddess well, a Christian well, and aboriginal wells. Many wells but one river. To go down a well is to practice a tradition, but we make a grave mistake (an idolatrous one) if we confused the well itself with the flowing waters of the underground river. Many wells, one river. That is Deep Ecumenism."

I do not quote this passage to validate my claim rather to run alongside it (for I know that Matthew Fox is as errant a man as any ... of this I am sure).

Just two more things, then I will discuss a few of Tim's points. First, where am I with Jesus then? Is he the one, unique Son of God and did the cross wipe out the sins of mankind? To be blatenly honest, I don't know. I don't have any reason to say so, except that's what some people say is true and its what someone (namely Paul) wrote down in a few letters a few century ago. In actuality I find in Jesus an example - a goal - a life which one should seek to emulate. One of many who figured out what it meant to fully live. To be filled with God's spirit. To heal and love and teach and all the things that made up my initial post: "Thoughts on What It Means to Be Christian." Therefore following Jesus is following the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

Secondly, as I said in the post on Dan's website, I am not a proponent of extreme postmodernism where there is no truth and everything is equally true. That is completely ridiculous. (Afterall, we have differing views about these various topics, no?) I am not a Universalist in this regard because I believe that evil will not go unpunished (even if by natural processes) and that Love, Truth and Beauty are always victorious in the end. As far as how heaven and hell fit into this picture, I surrender to the mystery and allow God to be God in this regard.

Now about a few of Tim's points:

  • Again, comments like secular "compassion will not get anyone to heaven" can only stand on an inerrant Christian Bible as the only truth of God. Apart from the text, such thinking is ludicrous. Of course simple compassion (yes, even divorced from Christianity) is living up to God's Best (we need no 'text' to prove this, it is in our guts) and as far as the requirements to heaven, even the inerrant text that would back such a claim is divided and provides no clear picture.
  • Tim said: "Just as Buddhism negates aspects of Hinduism, it is indelibly true that Christianity does, and at times must negate other forms of religiosity; and even if it does not negate, it will entail addition." Of this, I agree. It is silly to say that all ways are "the same thing" and do not contradict each other. A man cannot commit horrendous and unnatural crimes and claim to be reaching for God. But even while Taoism, Islam, and Christianity are different in many ways, their aim is the same (though their methods are different) and they are each flawed and each full of truth.
  • Regarding Tim's comments about the Fall - again - we cannot fully have a conversation about this issue because we both begin in different places. I think it is a travesty to see people "already in debt," fallen, and born into sin. The concept of Namaste ("God in me recognizes God in you") from Hinduism resonates better with my soul and provides the fertile ground for love, healing, and compassion.
  • Tim said that if I am providing a Universalist philosophy then "it is quite likely that following "the way" doesn't even matter...Belief and action become meaningless." Again, I am not trying to provide a religious or philosophical "theory of everything" that has all the answers. And this is one area that I - again - allow the mystery to remain. I do not believe that truth, love, compassion, and beauty go "unanswered." These are the highest aims of life and provide total meaning and purpose both for the individual and society. But regarding those who have no spiritual life - no arms outstretched to God - and no heart for love - I am not sure what becomes of them. I simply do not have the answers and can only speak and act for myself.
  • Finally, regarding Travis' comment about "evening the social playing field." He argues, with truth no less, that the Bible does talk about "slaves obeying your masters" and uses the example of the story of the woman pouring expensive perfume onto Jesus. These are indeed two examples that show that oftentimes we are supposed to "render to Caesar..." and to give God/Jesus our best even when that requires us to be lavish. However, time and time again... story after story... we see the small, simple God-community abolishing the Empire (the Jews with God over Egypt, the call of the prophets to cease living in ivory towers while your neighbor starves, the voice of Jesus commanding us to give to the least, the last, the lost - even to the book of Revelation - which in some circles is about the fall of the Roman empire). To see much more about the entire Bible being a book about the "underdog" rocking the Empire, see Marcus Borg's "Reading the Bible Again for the First Time."

Thanks again to everyone who is following this discussion. I welcome any and all comments. God bless and Namaste! ;)

Friday, October 15, 2004

I've been critiqued!

I've been critiqued! Apparently my blog entry "Thoughts on what it means to be Christian" has stirred up some discussion. I've got a very occupied weekend as my sister is in from Colorado, however look for a response posted here sometime on Monday or (more likely) Tuesday.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Southern Indiana in Fall

I know everyone blogs about how beauitful it is in the fall and so on and so forth. Nothing real original here. I just snapped these photos last weekend and thought I'd share them. It's interesting that this is literally "the look of death." These trees are basically going out with an explosion of color - one last big hurrah before returning part of itself into the earth. Kinda hope I go out like that.

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Completely Cool Website... and When I Say Cool, I Mean Totally Sweet

This is the single greatest website I've seen in ages:

Thoughts on What it Means to be "Christian"

This is a brief article I wrote last June (for no particualar reason other than to get it off my chest). I have submitted it for publication at but - I'm not sure - it might be a little to "liberal" for the site. I guess we'll wait and see....

Thoughts on What it Means to be "Christian"
by Trevor Andrew Harden, June 2004

Day by day, I become increasingly aware that following Christ has little to do with what one believes. More specifically, I'm convinced that being a Christian has nothing to do with agreeing with a bullet-point list of doctrines or belief statements (such as the Apostles Creed or any individual church's statement of beliefs). I am aware that our beliefs inform our actions and therefore nothing can be done without a "belief" behind it, but Christians for ages have argued (with good scriptural reference) that being a Christian simply means believing in Jesus or the contents of the Bible (so that one might "go to heaven").

I am now convinced that being a Christian is all about following "the Way" of Jesus. This verb - following - is an active verb. Sitting in church, doing Sunday School, being a moral person does not a Christian make. What, then, is this Way? It is an alternative lifestyle choice that informs all of life. It isn't about personal purity, holiness, or morality - though oftentimes that is the result (or fruit) of walking "the Way." It is not about being good. It is not about getting into heaven after death.

Being a follower of Jesus is a radical, spiritually enlightened way of living on this earth that flows from love, thereby creating a "force" in the world. Many people follow the Way of Jesus their whole lives and don't even know it. Being a Christian is doing so intentionally. The Way of Jesus, then, is not an exclusive path - negating other modes of life or religiosity. People in other religions and lifestyles very often follow this Way better than we Christians do.

Some of the characteristics of this "Way" are thus:

  • Death and Resurrection - Dying to an old way (usually a destructive way) of living and being born into a new way. This happens not only once, but like the cycles of nature is a constant process. It understands that we are not punished FOR sin (by God), but BY sin and therefore as Marcus Borg puts it: "is a path of liberation from existential, psychological, and spiritual bondage to the lords of convention and culture."
  • Evening out the social playing field - Vigilantly raising up the poor and oppressed. Bringing down unjust systems, empires, and structures. Finding worth in all people and seeing the God-Light in every human (and even non-human). I am convinced that Jesus was (among other things) birthing a social movement and that his egalitarian message was truly the "good news." The individual Christian and the Church should be ALL OVER compassion and justice.
  • Community Life - Sharing and giving. This does not mean tithing to a church building or giving to church programming in an already affluent community. It is about real communal living where people share with each other and with the less fortunate in such a way that one goes without that others may have.
  • Healing -The Christ way as the bodhisattva way. Living to love. Living to serve. Living to relieve suffering wherever one sees it.
  • Returning sight to the Blind -Helping people "wake up" and see the Kingdom of God that is already "spread out upon the earth although people don't see it."
  • Fullness of Life -Jesus was a joy to be around because he truly lived. Social activism is often plagued by cynicism, whereas the Jesus way is teeming with excitement and life.
  • Led by the Spirit of God -This entails tuning into the Spirit of God that is present in every human being and in Creation (consider a suggestion that the Holy Spirit may not have been sent on Pentecost, rather recognized on Pentecost). This Spirit is endowed with Wisdom and always suggests "the highest good."
  • Although the list could certainly go on, finally the Jesus way is rooted in the "Jewish Way" which shares these same characteristics and adds a few subtleties of its own. One of the more important attributes of this Jewish Way is a reverence for and sacredness of Creation and the Cosmos - helping us to understand that humanity is not the center of the Universe and that we should therefore respect the earth, the skies, the plants and animals, and everything that is bound together in the web of life.

Evangelism, then, as Tony Campolo would say is "signing people up for the revolution." Notice the contrast between this and the standard notion of saving people's souls from hell and/or helping people become better or more moral in life. One way is "me" based, the other is cosmically altruistic. One makes people more comfortable, the other calls for change.

What the world does NOT need is more radical fundamentalism. The revolution that the Jesus Way calls us into is not inclusive, closed, or violent in any way. As silly as it may sound, this uprising is a "love revolution" that looks beyond oneself with radical and embarrassing levels of charity and acceptance. It sees the knowable, yet mysterious God not as the means to some personal end, but as an end in himself - thereby freeing us up to be a people who are radically and joyously about the Way of Jesus.

Props to the Wifey

I just wanted to take a brief pause from blogging about eco-hippie topics, spiritual issues, and other random musings to say how much I love and enjoy my wife. Marriage has been good lately and we've been having a lot of fun together. In particular, apart from being a major hottie, I've come to a new understanding of my wife's humor... turns out she's one of the funniest people I know (as you can attest to by clicking here). Anyway, "props" sweetheart - and if you're reading this, then enjoy today!

Sunday, October 10, 2004

That's Me in the Corner. That's me... Losing All My Coolness

First things first:

It's like signing people up for the revolution, really.

Yes, it's true: I've converted my wife to BLOGianity. Check out her shiz at Besides, she's way funnier than I am and has a great rack to boot. (She made me say that).

And now...

Seriously, how hardcore am I?

Nah, I'm not a regular smoker. Sure, I enjoy the occasional cig, but I just made my wife take this picture to ratify any James Deanness I may have left in me after I had just changed 4 mustardy-seedy diapers and made up a song about baby toes.

I need a tattoo STAT.

Friday, October 08, 2004

I, We, and It

Currently reading Ken Wilber's "The Marriage of Sense and Soul." The book's aim is to integrate science and religion into one worldview that makes proponents from each parties equally satisfied. While I'm not through with the book and cannot make any complete resolutions or reviews because of that, the concept of the "Great Nest of Being" is fascinating.

Wilber says that throughout all philosophies and worldviews (except in Modernity) there is a heirarchy that looks like a set of concentric circles - each senior enveloping and including its juniors. Something like this...

The content of the circles, then, is thus:

Matter to Life to Mind to Soul to Spirit
Physics to Biology to Psychology to Theology to Mysticism

So where Matter is A, Life is A+B, Mind A+B+C, Soul A+B+C+D, and Spirit A+B+C+D+E. Each level transcends and includes the previous level.

What does all this have to do with anything? In modernity (the past 300 years or so), the dominant worldview (particuarly of the West) has been STUCK on "the innermost circle." Of the "Big 3" (science, morals, and art), science has overtaken and overshadowed to the point where if it cannot be measured on a microscope it is not real (and therefore "matter" - or the innermost circle - is all that exists).

But then the question must be asked: Are not your thoughts "real"? Is compassion real? How about love, is it real?

See we've been using the wrong language to discuss spirituality. It cannot be talked about in scientific terms. We cannot rule out the idea of God just because God cannot be measured in a laboratory. There are very "real" things that "exist" OUTSIDE of that innermost circle and can be seen through different lenses:

Art provides the "I" lens. Morals provides the "We" lens. Science provides the "It" lens.

The world is not simply made up of meaningless and cold "Its." While "It" most certainly has its place, the "I" and the "We" provide the meaning, the depths, the outer rings of the circles.

Thursday, October 07, 2004

The City in Slow Gear

Things I've experienced today:

-A fresh, fall breeze on my face
-A rush of energy and a feeling of well-being
-Tiny weeds towering between sidewalk cracks
-A gentle wave to a man on his front porch
-The enjoyment of freedom
-The expansion of consciousness

...WHY you ask?

Because I have decided to go car-less as much as is convienent and possible and have taken to the streets on BICYCLE all day. I've biked quite a few miles today commuting to work, to a haircut, to a video shoot for work...

There's a thousand reasons why I've decided to make this switch TWO of which are:

-The emissions from personal automobiles is the #1 contributor to Global Warming and sundry other enivronmental problems. I think it'd be really great if my daughter's kids would have an earth to live on (Don't think it's that bad? It IS that bad, people just choose to ignore it).

-Most of us are worshippers at the altar of speed. Fast food. Fast relationships. Fast cars. Fast internet. Leading to: Stress, ulcers, dissatisfaction, incompleteness.... So, I've decided to SLOW DOWN in many arenas and this is a very practical one. Sure it adds 5-10 minutes to most of my trips, but I get to spend that time "smelling the roses" (so to speak), thinking about things, or simply enjoying a "meditative" state (something about being outdoors tunes one into Spirit).

So, I know that winter is approaching and one would think that winter biking would be difficult, but I've heard it's both do-able and enjoyable (!

Much love, sleep well - another Entry tomorrow morning!

Sunday, September 26, 2004

It's Grrrrrreat!

A conversation I had with a six-year old girl today:

(I spot that she has a quarter and so I hand her another quarter from my pocket.)

ME: "Boy, you sure do have a lot of money."
HER: "Yup."
ME: "What are you going to buy with all that money? A pony?
HER: "Nope."
ME: ... a tiger?"
HER: "A tiger AND a lion. And, boy, is my house sure going to be crazy...(long pause)...when they have babies."

I'm pretty sure there's a Zen koan in there somewhere, but I've been knocked into too many new levels of enlightenment (just from hearing it) to know for sure. Roar...

Friday, September 24, 2004

Just Survival?

It's interesting that since my daughter was born, I have been whisked into what I have been referring to (in my thoughts) as Survival Consciousness. It seems as though "living from the level of Spirit" and concerning myself with God, the mystical, etc. has fallen wayside to the urgency of "just getting by". Whereas before I found myself blessed with the time to spend in solitude, pursuing spiritual paths, and reading, I now am engulfed in dirty diapers and "onesies."

Not to say that the two are mutally exclusive - quite the opposite. Ram Das, in "Be Here Now," titles a page: "Drop Out / Cop Out." In other words, if you feel like you need to drop out of everyday living (moving into a monistary, or even just leaving the world behind) in order to pursue Spirit, you're missing the boat and "copping out."

And now as I reconsider, perhaps this is a gentle and gracious reminder that I both (1) have yet far to go and (2) am missing it right underneath my nose.

Thursday, September 23, 2004

about the night

there's something about the night -
when headlights and stoplights
- from a limited perspective -
become North Stars
and gravitational accents
that pull gently on the weight of my
automobile : magnetically
as the moon beckons the tide
and as warm sleepy exhaustion
draws me to a final destination
of enveloped long awaited sleep
and dusty night shadows
of splendor and slumber

Composed that one while taking a movie back at 11:30 pm last week. Probably should start focusing on driving.

Have been gone for a bit. Babies, it appears, are quite dependent. Hmmm...

Updated my Profile - you may want to scope that--->

Sunday, September 05, 2004

Friday, August 27, 2004

Countdown to D-Day

Tommorrow is Amy's Due Date. Doctor says she's been ripe for a few weeks... can literally be any time.

In the meantime, poor Amy is growing uncomfortable, impatient, and ready to get this going. It's a strange situation indeed, literally just sitting around waiting for this to happen.

Doctor says that she could possibly induce at the start of the week if it doesn't happen this weekend, so I guess there's definately an end (or beginning) in sight.


Wednesday, August 25, 2004


Trev's Reflections of Eckhart Tolle's "The Power of Now":

The cause of all unhappiness and suffering in life is wishing things were different than the way they currently are.

In all situations you basically have two options. Change the situation. Or accept it as it is. What is NOT an option is being in a situation but mentally "not accepting" it by internally resisting it, grumbling, wishing things were different, being fearful that something might change ... all of which is internal "mind-stuff" that is ONLY real in your head.

Don't like the feelings of worry, anger, regret ... ? You don't have to deal with them. Simply accept your current reality as it is.

In the present moment, if you strip away your negative thinking, you have no problems. You are at peace - living in joy and with a "lightness." All of one's "problems" are basically false situations brought on by one's mind. You're either imagining and rehearsing some future event that is not reality or reliving something from the past that cannot be changed.

Right now is all you have. Enjoy the privledge of experience and Being.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

Romancing the Grove

In my lack of originality this morning I present an "Archived Journal Entry" from years past:


I took a walk in the woods. I could not sit anywhere - it was as if nature was against me - my enemy. She had the power to terrify my soul with one buzz of the horsefly. It swooped my ear - and my insides trembled with a fear and an urge to run - far away from the woods.


As I returned to nature today, I suddenly felt the reason she (nature) was so angry with me was that I was not married to her, and yet I was romancing her.

But today - so now - I expressed my intent - and now I sit alone, smiling within - surrounded by her long-legged trees, her perfectly choreographed "dance of the leaves," her delicious, melodious wind song.

And the insects' presence are beautiful accents instead of terrifying soul hunters.

And they say that she is cursed! Bah! She is my beauty, my bride, my sister.

And the eyes of my eyes are opening.

My God - how beautiful - a magnificent 'call and answer!' Just now, a plane flew overhead - man's triumph of the skies - a marvel of his creation. Then, shortly after, the symphony continued as, once the plane's vibrations were out of ear-shot, 2 geese took flight from the east, screaming and honking across the horizon to match man's cry.

Friday, August 13, 2004

Drained and Uninspired

I'm beginning to realize that a large part of my personal suffering is the fact that I put too much of an emphasis on DOING and not enough on BEING.

I think this is what the majority of the world's sacred writings mean when they say (in essence): "Just do your duty. Don't worry about the results. Don't fret over what fruit may bear. Just do your duty."

In other words: Do your work and do it well. But don't put so much stock in it and by all means don't identify yourself with what you "do." Then, when your duty is complete, put your "doing" aside and don't dwell on it or let it roll around in your mind. You then have the time and energy to simply "BE." "Being" is about enjoyment of life (no matter what present circumstances prevail), character development, identification with the eternal, and serenity.

Yeah. I need that.

Wednesday, August 11, 2004

Two Worlds

In Joseph Campbell's "Myths To Live By" he discusses the difference between religious worldviews of the Orient and Occident. I don't have the book in front of me to give exact references, but I'll do my best to summarize:

ORIENT - All of life is a divine manifestation. There is one Godhead beyond all forms that drives the cosmos, is within all of Creation, perhaps even IS all of Creation. Individual lives are as the seasons of nature - they come and go in cycles. There is no real "ego" of the individual, in fact, one tries to separate oneself from any traces of "personal identity" or "ego" so that one can be simply a piece in the beautiful, organic, living organism of God called this Universe. Personal choice isn't what it's all about - which is detrimental to our Western ears. When making decisions, one would think in a much more holistic manner - not "What do I want?" but "What is my duty?," "What is good for the world?", or "What is the Way of Nature?" There is therefore no need for attatchment to any forms (your things, your relationships, even your life) in this world. All of it will end in a very brief time - or rather will RENEW in a very brief time. One may certainly enjoy those things (relationships and life), but only with the realization that one must enjoy them in the NOW, because the way of nature is change and soon those things will end. Constant cycles... all of which diminish the role of the personal self but exalt the idea of an interconnected, powerful, beautiful Intellegence behind the whole show. ALL of our names for "God" (God, Vishnu, Allah, Christ, Spirit, Tao, Shiva) are symbols that point to the undefinable Godhead. They are not "wrong" names, all are partially right, they just hold a fraction of the whole truth (like one personality trait of an infinite being).

OCCIDENT - All of life is separate from God. God is up there. We are down here. God can send his spirit to live within those whom he chooses (or those who choose him) but the rest are utterly separate. Creation is broken. Man vs. God. God vs. Nature. Man vs. Nature. All in all a very conflict-heavy situation. Individual lives are what its all about. We work our whole lives to secure and enhance our ego. We try very hard to distinguish ourselves from others as we build upon our personal identity. We spend our time competing with separate others at the job we've chosen so that we can buy the toys that we desire to have. The end of one's life then is very tragic as one has spent 80 years as a separate personal identity and now it is all slipping through ones fingers. Of course there's the afterlife in this view, but because man is separate from God, there's only a fraction of a chance that it will be a favorable outcome. Finally: Our God is the only God. There is no other way. All other ways are wrong.

Wow. Utterly and completely opposite sides of the spectrum. I stand in awe at the mystery of the whole thing. Perhaps in the end it is not "either-or" it is "both-and." Both are right... somehow. Or both are partially right. Or one is wrong...