What Do You Do?

children-playing

What do I do?

I love.

I love my family. I love my son. I love my momma and my sisters. I love my woman (that’s you Suely, amor de mi vida, reina de mi corazon). I love them and I tell them so every goddamn day. I love them and I do whatever is best for them, whatever I have to do to protect them and provide for them, to give them the things that they need, the things they deserve.

And I love to tell stories around the bonfire. I love to sing. I love to drum and play guitar. I love to make music. I love to dance. Badly, but I still fuckin’ love it.

I love to work and to sweat, to fix what needs fixing, to do what needs doing, and do it as good as I possibly can, to put my whole heart into it, and make an art of it. And then I love to sit in the evening, with my best friends gathered around me dusty and tired, and drink ice cold beer and tell dirty jokes, and laugh and look back on the day we’ve just lived, at the work that we’ve done, at the problems and obstacles overcome, and stand with my shoulders strong and my head held high, and say to the universe,

“Yes. Yes and yes. Come with it. I’ll take it. Give me all that you’ve got.”

I love to spend time in my garden. I love to go camping, to be outside. I love to walk through my neighborhood and look at all the trees and houses, at all the flowers doing their own little colorful living dances. I love to talk to the children playing outside, I love to play catch with them, and remember their nicknames, and tell them how good they are, how awesome and cool. I love to wave and smile at the old women on their front porches, to the old men tending their lawns and gardens and waxing their cars.

I love to admire the splendor of Nature, to shower the cosmos with my adoration. I love to listen to the birds and the angels chirping, to all the cars and the engines humming, to the sirens and the people wailing, to the whole holy Aum of existence existing.

I love to be ripped open by awe and wonder.

I love to write. I love to weave words and emotions and ideals all together, to compose a lasting edifice in the mind of God, a sort of vista in the soul where we can look out at all of our living and dying and loving and fighting and see it all clearly and know what it means. I love to say what needs saying, even when it hurts.

Especially when it hurts.

I love to pray. I love to sit and marinate in the silence, and savor the depth and richness of reality; to be in the presence of the All-In-All, to vibrate like a living harp string in the hands of something truly incomprehensible…

I love to create, to give birth to the most amazing earth-shaking ideas of what this world could be and how we could all just love one another, and help one another, feed and clothe one another and just care for each other and give each and every human being a smile and a hug and the space and the freedom to be what they are deep down, and all that they could possibly be, which is divine and incredible and beautiful.

Period. 

Hare Krishna, Hare Rama, Hallelujah, Amen.

What do I do?

I love.

And I slip and I fall. I forget, and go back to old autopilot. I suffer and hurt; get angry, depressed.

But then I remember; awaken again. I forgive, and I learn, and I blossom anew. And I wake up every morning and face the same choice, the same question, over and over, again and again…

And I love.

I love life. I love you. Thanks for reading.

What do you do?

My Ex is My Guru

rage

I just got off the phone with my ex. Or, more accurately, she just hung up on me.

Now a phone call from my “baby mama” is never a pleasant experience, not by any stretch of the imagination. With all the lies, threats and accusations, there’s not a whole lot of actual communication that goes on. She mostly just yells over the top of everything I say. But more often than not, I am able to let it roll off my shoulders and stay Zen.

Today, not so much.

Today I’m gritting my teeth. Today I take the phone and hurl it across the room (toward the sofa, of course—I’m pissed-off, but not so much that I’m gonna destroy my phone). I feel a roiling in the pit of my stomach; a bitter emotional stew, the primary ingredients of which are frustration, anger, helplessness and hate.

Yeah, I said it. Hate.

The realization of it shocks me. I’m feeling hate right now. I didn’t even know I was capable of that.

In spiritual circles, even the more open-minded ones where we talk about “allowing all of our feelings,” hatred is still pretty taboo. No one talks about it, except of course when they are talking about terrorists, or racists, or religious fanatics. You know, “Them.” The other guys. The bad guys.

Well I’ve discovered hatred in me. And I’m allowing it. I’m accepting it. I’m sitting with it, listening to it, and seeing what it has to teach me…

You may not know it from looking at me, but I’m a “bad guy.”

I’m a bad guy because I walked out of a toxic relationship with the mother of my child. Or, as she puts it, “I abandoned her.” I’m a bad guy because I filed for full-custody as she bounced in and out of jail and rehab, and at least five different homes. “I took her child away from her.”

I have ceased to be a human being in her eyes. I have become an enemy, a villain, a scapegoat; the monster that “ruined her life.”

And as I sit with this hatred that I’m feeling, it becomes clear to me that I have done the exact same thing. I look at her and I see a face twisted with rage. I see a maelstrom of hurt, anger, addiction and violence; I see the pain and turmoil that it has caused my little boy.

What I often fail to see is a human being, a living soul, a child of the universe, just like me.

This is how racism happens. This is how rape happens. This is how hate crimes, gang violence and church bombings happen. As I look at this drama, this dance of pain between my ex and I, I can see the root and the seed of all war, terrorism, slavery and suffering.

There is no “them.” There are no bad guys. There’s just us. All of us together, living, loving and hurting as one. Learning and growing, slipping and falling, and finding our way back home.

Maybe my ex is my guru.

She’s not enlightened. She doesn’t wear monk’s robes or have a Sanskrit name—but nobody attacks my ego so effectively, so relentlessly. She doesn’t study the dharma or practice meditation—but she is a clear and perfect mirror for all of my anger, resentment and frustration.

She is showing me my attachments, my defenses, my illusions. She is teaching me to let go of my stories, my self-image. You know, stuff like I am wise, I am peaceful, I am “spiritual,” I am a good person, a good father, all that jazz.

Looking into the inner darkness takes me beyond good and bad, right and wrong; beyond the concept of self to the reality of Self. I Am That I Am.

My ex is my guru. So is my son, and my beloved. So are my friends and family, my neighbors, and all the people I work with, worship with, drink with, laugh with, talk with and cross paths with. As are the authors I have read, many long dead. And you, my readers and friends. And everyone who has touched my life in any way.

You have taught me. You have molded me. You are a part of me.

I’m sorry if I’ve hurt you. Please forgive me.

Thank you for being the doorway through which I come to know the whole spectrum of love, sadness, fear, ecstasy, and yes—even hate. My experience of human life would not be complete without you.

I love you.

Namaste.

~ Ben

The elephant journal and other new things…

Greetings, dear readers and friends!

I’ve been neglecting my precious little blog here, yet again. With good reason, I assure you. So this post is another one of those ‘check in and update’ types, for those of you who care, who have been reading awhile. I have a few things to share…

  1. I have been working with the good folks over at elephant journal. Check them out, if you haven’t already; they have fabulous content on everything from yoga & spirituality to green living to sex and relationships – you name it. I have been learning alot from them, and it has inspired some changes in this blog. Which brings us to number 2…
  2. I am giving “The Sacred Art of Language” an overhaul (as you may have noticed). It has had pretty much the same layout, look and feel since day one, but I think I can do better. So, new theme, new look, adding pictures and color, should be an overall improvement. Let me know what you think.
  3. I just posted my first article on the elephant, and I’d like to share it with you. You’ll love it – especially if you are a gardener, conspiracy theorist, dooms day prep-er, rebel, dissident, or all of the above… Click on the pic below, and enjoy. And, if you really REALLY like it, you’ll leave me a comment at the bottom of the article, share this on your Facebook page, that kind of stuff. Maybe even ‘Like’ the elephant’s Facebook page so you can stay informed when I post more brilliant articles in the days to come. Show some love! I appreciate it.

A Quiet Revolution. ~ Ben Neal

A Quiet Revolution. ~ Ben Neal

On a more personal note, I have a court hearing tomorrow to determine the outcome of my custody case. I’m hoping to have my son come live with me full time. So, tomorrow is one of those days which will profoundly impact nearly every area of my life for months or years to come. Stay tuned…

To all of you who have been a part of this blogging experience, I am infinitely grateful. Your likes, your comments, your feedback, your friendship, your own brilliant and inspiring writing, has made a difference in my life. Without you, I may have gone to the grave without ever having the courage to write from my soul, to put it all out there, to speak and be heard.

Thank you. I love you.

~ Ben

Update

Hello again, dear friends. It has been another long break for me from the world of WordPress. I hope that the time has been kind to you, that you all are happy and well and that your writing is flowing freer than ever, on fire with Spirit, Truth and Love.

The winds of change are blowing within and all around me these days…

I have moved in to a new place, with my beloved; so she and I are going through the somewhat chaotic process of cleaning and fixing up our lovely old house and unpacking, organizing and combining our belongings (and our lives).

I am preparing for full-time fatherhood, as the American judicial machine is processing my custody case in its slow and painstaking way. I am doing everything in my power to get my son out of some unstable circumstances and provide him with a peaceful and loving home.

I have been intensely focused on music for some time now; studying, practicing, playing, exploring, learning and growing… Music has been my therapy, my meditation, my joy and inspiration, my friend and counselor. But I feel myself emerging from one phase and entering another, and part of that shift involves placing my primary focus once more on my writing.

I have an opportunity to write for an exciting new online magazine, set to launch next month (more details to come). Embracing this opportunity has guided my studies, my contemplations and my writings in a very specific direction, a field rich with possibilities for personal and collective transformation. There are profound shifts happening within me as I ride this wave and allow it all to unfold.

I am frequently reminded of these words of wisdom from Thoreau: “What you get by achieving your goals is not as important as what you become by achieving your goals.”

While I am devoting more time and energy to writing, but I’m not sure how much of that material will make it to this blog. I will continue to share my poetry here on ‘The Sacred Art of Language,’ and I have a few new pieces from recent weeks to share with you. I hope that you receive them in the Spirit with which they were written.

And I will keep you posted as things unfold, and let you know where you can find my newer writings – I hope that you will follow me on that journey.

Much Love to One & All!

~ Ben

Hiatus

stand by

Hello readers and friends!

I’ve been away from the keyboard for the last month or so… I have had a busy summer, and it was necessary for me to put the blog on the back burner. Changes rolling in one after another here lately, abundant opportunities to learn and grow. But over all,  all is well.

I did have a wonderful chance to get away – I hit the road and took a tour of some of the beautiful state parks here in the Midwest, seeking out remote places where the moonlight and the starshine is not dimmed by city lights… Immersed in the sights and sounds of smells of Mother Nature, a soul can breathe deep and be refreshed! My experiences during that time have given me some new inspiration and material, and I’m sure you will be seeing some of that appear here on the blog in the days to come…

To all my Wordpress friends out there – you know who you are – I have sincerely missed connecting with you! I have missed your writings, your comments, your wisdom, your insights, your humor. I look forward in the weeks to come to browsing through your recent posts and catching up on all I’ve missed. You’ll be hearing from me soon!

Thank you all so much for reading, and for being alive, awake and beautiful!

With Love,

~ Ben