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?

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They Call it Poetry

blood ink

They call it poetry,

this tracing the shape of old wounds

with a pen.

When the voice cracks,

the tears start to flow

and the soul comes pouring out.

Everyone feels that hurt like it’s their own.

Because it is.

They call it poetry,

when your brain is on fire with an idea;

when it must be written,

when you have no choice.

When writing it makes you feel more alive

than ever before.

When reading it makes you feel

“Oh yes! This is it. This is it!

I’m not alone.”

They call it poetry,

when a human voice becomes a vessel,

swift and strong,

to carry you across some stormy sea;

when a verse becomes a hand

held out to all mankind, beckoning;

Come, this way. Follow me,

I have something to show you.

They call it poetry,

when the syllables are woven together

with a rhythm and cadence

that turns speech into music;

a lyrical symphony that ebbs and flows

and swells into ecstatic crescendos

and you are entranced, transported,

swept away…

They call it poetry,

when words can cut through the fabric

of time and space

and carve out a quiet place

in the center of the universe

where we can sit together

with the dreamers and mystics from every generation

and pass around the sacred wine.

They call it poetry,

these wildflowers that bloom upon the tongue.

This bountiful garden in the heart,

where grief and sorrow, hope and love,

tears and laughter, tenderness and courage

are all blossoming and bearing fruit.

Come with me, my friends.

Come inside.

I have something incredible to show you…

~ Ben

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

Abide in the Question

question

Schrodinger, Kierkegaard, Gandhi, Tagore; Jesus and Buddha, Whitman and Rumi; philosophers, poets and prophets through the ages… what are they driving at?

What is the common theme, the unifying Truth espoused by the greatest minds of every time culture, embraced by an ever-increasing number of people today, in an unprecedented techno-spiritual Renaissance?

Wait a second—don’t offer up some quick and easy answer. Sit with the question. Take it in.

It’s tempting to respond with “We are one,” or “God is Love,” or some other catchy little gem of wisdom. But I’m not fishing for words or slogans. I want to go deeper.

What weaves us together?

I don’t care whether you call it God or Buddha nature. Call it Spirit; call it Consciousness or Love, or ‘the quantum source field’ or whatever. It doesn’t matter. Don’t be content with a label.

Forget the names—what are they pointing at?

Whatever it is, we’re immersed in it. Touch it, taste it, breathe it in.

Don’t refer back to the books you’ve read, or what some wise man may have told you. Forget what Patanjali said, and Oprah and Chopra too. Don’t let anyone tell you what is real. See for yourself.

Who are you? What is “I” made of? Where does thought come from? Is there anything you can really know for sure?

The questions are a doorway into the mystery—dive in.

Feel after God.

Seek out the elusive edge between “self” and “other.” Is it really there?

Seek out the essence, the core of your being, the source of your awareness and your will to choose. No more second-hand descriptions—experience it directly. Or does it experience you?

Abide in the question, not knowing… Go deeper.

No more words.

~ Ben

Prayer

prayer

All loving Father

Who dwells in the innermost place

Nothing is hidden, or secret from you.

Here I am, and you well know

What is on my heart –

I will be silent on these things.

For it is in silence that I feel your Presence

In silence you speak to me

And guide my understanding.

In silence I come before you,

In silence we meet.

In silence I am one with you

And there I rest

Complete.

~ 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

A Child’s Laughter

laughing girl

The scriptures are a priceless gift,

But sometimes we need a break from our studies.

 

Discipline, fasting and meditation

Can take you very far indeed,

But life isn’t all about solemn routine.

 

God isn’t confined to dusty tomes

And silent temples…

 

Free and formless like the wind;

Wild as a dancing flame;

Like buds in Springtime bursting

Here and there and everywhere;

With spontaneous joy and magic

Spirit blossoms!

Like a child’s laughter.

~ Ben

Welcoming the Spirits

angels

Hush…

Be still, and listen.

Not just to my voice,

Not just to these words…

Listen to the myriad voices of this moment,

To the many subtle sounds and movements.

The space around us is seething

With energy and vibration…

Can you feel it?

The very air we breathe is teeming with life!

Who can fathom the tapestry of the multiverse,

The layers upon layers?

Who can know the infinite ways

The One Creator moves and breathes?

Who can say what unseen forces

Are gathered here among us?

So hush… be still, and listen.

Do you hear the music of the spheres?

Can you hear the angels singing?

Mother Earth is waking up

And the whole Cosmos is rejoicing,

Like birds announce the rising sun!

Welcome, Spirits!

If you come in peace, if you come in Love,

We are One.

Welcome home.

~ Ben

Back to Basics

stillbluewater

Empty your boat, bhikku!

Forget your history,

Forget all you’ve learned and studied –

Do you think you can reach the mountaintop

With that library strapped to your back?

There is nothing that you need to carry –

You are being carried.

You can never grasp the Dharma

With all your reason and cleverness.

The cosmic laws are written

So that a child could understand.

Quit trying so hard.

Go back to basics.

Be simple. Be silent.

Be empty.

Embrace each moment from your inner stillness.

Lay down your plans and expectations

And remove the mind from the equation.

Feel these currents of energy

Shifting and surging;

Just flow with it.

Dance with Tao.

Ride the razor’s edge of Now 

You are already home.

~ Ben

Redemption

redemption

I have felt the most ordinary moment

Suddenly swell and expand

With cosmic significance;

I sense that somehow

The whole balance of Fate

Can be swayed by

A casual choice…

I have seen a common man

Take on a halo of golden Light,

And with a single selfless act

Shake the Earth to its foundation!

Sometimes destiny comes to us

Disguised as routine;

Often we’re too busy to notice.

Every day,

In countless different ways

That seem so small and insignificant,

Life offers us the same old choice:

Fear or Love?

And in that moment of Truth

The gears of time grind to a halt,

And all the heavens watch

With bated breath;

As though the Gods themselves

Are somehow counting on us

For redemption…

~ Ben