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Monthly Archives: December 2008
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MindFreedom News- The Ray ECT Campaign
By David Oaks
23 December 2008
Dear readers of the MindFreedom News Public Alerts:
Ray Sandford phoned the MindFreedom office this morning, as he does
As you probably know, Ray has received about 35 involuntary
electroshocks. MindFreedom’s Ray Campaign has activated hundreds of
people like you to support Ray. This won Ray national publicity and a
new hearing last week.
Ray gave me the bad news that the judge ruled against him. Again.
That means Ray is scheduled for another of his every-other-Wednesday
involuntary electroshocks tomorrow, 24 December 2008.
Ray says, “I’m really disappointed in that.” Ray thought that maybe
his family’s holiday get togethers would delay this week’s forced shock.
But Ray said that instead of the gathering, “I’ll be having tacos
with my aunt tonight to celebrate Christmas.”
So tomorrow morning Ray will be woken up early in his group home, and
escorted to a forced shock.
Ray told me this morning:
“It’s a painful awful experience. Every time. It takes away memory
viciously. It is scary as hell every time I go.”
Ray says he always objects.
“I say, ‘I don’t want to do this, I don’t want to do this,’ which
I’ve known since the first time. Everyone figures I’m totally nuts.”
Ray is not giving up.
So we are not giving up.
We ask that you not give up.
Eye-witnesses at Ray’s hearing, held in a dreary hospital basement,
knew he did not have much of a chance.
Ray’s court-appointed attorney, Jon Duckstad, refused to call any
expert witness to testify for Ray’s side. (See MFI Blog for more on
the hearing.) Mr. Duckstad has refused to respond to any offers of
help from MindFreedom, including a number of skilled attorneys we’ve
found who offered to assist for free.
Ray is keeping his spirits up.
Ray is so grateful to MindFreedom members and supporters for speaking
out. Ray is proud that even a relative in Alaska heard him oppose his
forced shock on National Public Radio (click on http://
www.mindfreedom.org/ray to hear that, and read more about Ray).
I am deeply impacted by Ray’s ongoing psychiatric torture out in the
All abuse is bad, but severe outpatient abuse is traumatizing to all
of us, like me, who have experienced mental health system human
rights violations. It means none of us are safe, even in our homes.
MindFreedom International – please forward
Human Rights in Mental Health – Ray Alert #8
Christmas Eve 2008
What Would Jesus Do About Forced Electroshock?
An Open Letter to the Lutheran Church [ELCA] from MindFreedom
by David W. Oaks, Executive Director, MFI
As we send you this, we understand Ray Sandford of Minnesota is
receiving another involuntary electroshock this Christmas Eve
morning, 24 December 2008.
As you know, your agency Lutheran Social Services of Minnesota
(LSSMN) is charged with being General Guardian for Ray. This is a
reply to your recent misleading public statement about the
MindFreedom Campaign to End Ray Sandford’s Forced Electroshock
(copied at bottom).
Regularly for months — presently every other week — attendants wake
Ray up early in his group home, Victory House. He is escorted the few
miles to a hospital. Under court order and against his repeated and
clear objections, Ray is put under anesthesia, electricity is run
through brain head, and he is given another electroshock, also known
as electroconvulsive therapy or ECT.
Ray has received about 35 so far.
Ray calls our office most days, and it’s always good to hear from
him. He told me yesterday, “It’s a painful, awful experience. Every
time. It takes away memory viciously. It is scary as hell every time
Ray says he always objects. “I say, ‘I don’t want to do this. I don’t
want to do this,’ which I’ve known since the first time. Everyone
figures I’m totally nuts.”
One day Ray asked his local library about groups working on human
rights in mental health, and Ray contacted MindFreedom International.
Ray asked us to start a public campaign to support his right to say
“no” to electroshock.
I had hoped your church would be an ally in Ray’s campaign. Instead,
I have found you to stand by silently with arms folded, or even worse
your spokespeople appear to at times oppose Ray’s campaign.
In my 32 years of human rights activism, Ray is one of the most
focused individuals I’ve ever encountered in his persistent and
reasonable requests to end his forced electroshock. The fact that his
forced shock is outpatient and ongoing is especially outrageous.
Ray’s heroism has moved me and many others. Countless people have
responded to support the Ray Campaign, and Ray reached millions of
people on National Public Radio.
On 16 December 2008, the “Evangelical Lutheran Church in
America” [ELCA] issued a reply to a number of people who have
expressed concern about Ray as a result of MindFreedom’s human rights
alerts. (See below.)
It is significant for ELCA to issue a public statement about a
MindFreedom International campaign. With more more than four million
baptized members, ELCA is the largest Lutheran denomination and one
of the largest Christian denominations in the USA. We at MindFreedom
are eager for dialogue with ELCA.
Unfortunately, Miriam L. Woolbert of ELCA’s Communication Services
replied to those contacting ELCA that groups like MindFreedom are
“misdirecting you and many other people.”
Ms. Woolbert did not provide any example or quote of such
“misdirecting.” Her main points appear to be that ELCA is not a
“participant” in any involuntary electroshock, and that ELCA cannot
speak about Ray because of confidentiality.
MindFreedom’s alerts never claimed that ELCA is in charge of the
involuntary electroshock of Ray. MindFreedom International encourages
people to contact ELCA to ask you “to stand with Ray.”
Even if ELCA representatives feel you cannot speak specifically about
Ray, we ask ELCA to stand shoulder to shoulder with all their agency
clients, like Ray, who are receiving involuntary electroshock. ELCA
could at least begin by expressing concern or joining in dialogue.
We continue to encourage all people who care to contact ELCA, and
ELCA’s local congregations, with strong but civil messages.
Because of ELCA’s misleading statement about the Ray Campaign this
action is especially urgent, including for those who have already
Most importantly, Ray is asking us all to take this action.
* ACTION * ACTION * ACTION *
People may e-mail ELCA headquarters at firstname.lastname@example.org or use their web
We also encourage all concerned people in the USA to contact local
ELCA congregations, which they can find by entering their postal code
MindFreedom Suggested Message to ELCA and Local Congregations [your
own words from the heart are best]:
I am not being misdirected by MindFreedom International or anyone else.
I am not saying you are in charge of anyone’s forced electroshock.
I am not asking you to break confidentiality of any client.
I am simply asking:
Will you stand now with Ray Sandford, and all those who are oppressed
by extreme psychiatric abuse?
What is ELCA’s position on the forced, outpatient, maintenance
electroshock of clients you and your agencies are charged to guard?
Why isn’t ELCA expressing concern about these human rights
violations, which amount to torture?
How can ELCA use this opportunity to seek dialogue on human right and
alternatives in the mental health system?
[your name & contact]
[Please copy your e-mail to email@example.com; selected e-mails
will be published on the web and/or mailed to Ray.]
For more info the Ray Campaign see:
The MindFreedom Board of Directors includes several individuals who
have personally experienced the unimaginable horror of an involuntary
The board endorses this public statement to ELCA, and asked me to
quote from the famous letter written by Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.
in the Birmingham Jail on 16 April 1963.
Forty-five years ago, Rev. King was responding to church leaders who
discouraged his own activist campaign:
“…I felt we would be supported by the white church. I felt that the
white ministers, priests and rabbis of the South would be among our
strongest allies. Instead, some have been outright opponents,
refusing to understand the freedom movement and misrepresenting its
leaders; and too many others have been more cautious than courageous
and have remained silent behind the anesthetizing security of stained-
“So often the contemporary church is a weak, ineffectual voice with
an uncertain sound. So often it is an archdefender of the status quo.
Far from being disturbed by the presence of the church, the power
structure of the average community is consoled by the church’s silent
and often even vocal sanction of things as they are.”
[More excerpts below.]
For those who would like more detail about this exchange between
MindFreedom and ELCA about the Ray Campaign:
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS about Lutheran Church [ELCA] and Forced
Electroshock of Ray Sandford
*** How does Ray Sandford’s feel about Lutheran Social Services of
Ray has approved this alert, and asks everyone to contact the
Lutheran Church [ELCA]. Ray knows that their agency LSSMN is not
directly in charge of his forced shock. Ray said, “In some ways
Lutheran Social Services is compassionate and helpful. They’ve
visited me and are a support system. They manage my finances my
fairly. But Lutheran Social Services does not listen to me. They
don’t see you. They asked me to not do this campaign. They should
support the person who doesn’t want electroshock. Tell them I don’t
*** Does ELCA oversee Ray’s forced electroshock?
To repeat, ELCA is not directly in charge of Ray’s forced
electroshock. We can understand ELCA being sensitive to this
question. Media are starting to pay attention, and National Public
Radio covered Ray’s story.
The legal jargon can get complicated. On 16 December, television
station WCCO-TV in Minnesota mis-reported that Ray’s “guardian ad
litem” Terri Bradley, who is the court-appointed person specifically
and narrowly in charge of overseeing Ray’s forced electroshock, and
who testified in court for Ray’s forced shock, works for LSSMN. WCCO-
TV has since issued a public retraction.
Legally speaking, LSSMN is “general guardian” for Ray, but not
“guardian ad litem” specifically on the electroshock.
*** What has ELCA said about forced electroshock?
Representatives of Luthern Social Services of Minnesota (LSSMN), an
agency that is sponsored by ELCA, have refused to speak out about the
abuse of their clients like Ray by repeated, “maintenance” forced
On the contrary, LSSMN representatives, including their employee
Tonya Wilhelm, have sought to discourage Ray and advocates such as
myself from speaking out publicly about Ray’s abuse. My first contact
with Ms. Wilhelm ended with her laughing loudly, saying this would be
between our lawyers, and hanging up.
Helpful MindFreedom voluteers in Minnesota are now prohibited from
even visiting Ray. Ray is kept from a follow-up visit to the
Minnesota Center for Independent Living. Ray is not being offered
humane alternatives to electroshock. Mail sent to Ray is re-directed
to LSSMN for screening. LSSMN attorney George Borer wrote MFI on 1
December “emphasizing” that they do not consent to MFI disseminating
info that Ray provided for the campaign that they consider “private.”
In a newspaper report on 18 November, Eric Jonstaard, director of
LSSMN, did speak out about Ray to a reporter. Unfortunately, Mr.
Jonstaard took the opportunity to chastise MindFreedom for using
Ray’s full name in the Ray Campaign, as Ray has specifically and
repeatedly authorized MindFreedom and NPR to do.
For more info on the Ray Campaign see:
*** What is ELCA’s link to LSSMN?
Through his bravery, Ray has offered us all an opportunity to create
dialogue. Instead, Mr. Jonstaard seeks to distance ELCA from the
situation by saying that ELCA is “not related to the situation”
except for a “loose” sponsorship of LSSMN.
ELCA’s sponsorship of LSSMN is official, financial, legal, direct,
public and documented.
LSSMN’s web site states that LSSMN is “owned” by six Minnesota synods
of ELCA, and credits ELCA as one of its “primary” funding sources for
their 2009 budget of $90 million.
Owned? A primary funding source?
How is that “loose”? Perhaps a lack of close oversight is part of the
This dialogue should not be about technical quibbling. ELCA has a
deep moral obligation to address oppression of any of their clients,
or any human being for that matter. ELCA’s agencies receive millions
of dollars in scarce taxpayer funding to guard these clients.
In Minnesota alone, Mr. Jonstaard says that LSSMN is responsible for
800 “vulnerable adults.” How many have experienced involuntary
psychiatric drugging and electroshock? LSSMN’s Tonya Wilhelm told
MindFreedom’s David Oaks that involuntary electroshock of LSSMN
clients like Ray in Minnesota is “not uncommon.”
The moral failure of involuntary electroshock over the expressed
wishes of the individual is not only committed by the individual
flipping the switch, but by all those aware of the torture but who
*** What about Ray’s confidentiality?
First and foremost, Ray has repeatedly, consistently, and
passionately spoken out, as he puts it so clearly, for “No more shock
for Ray.” He has signed a release of information form. He approved
MFI and National Public Radio using his full name in a broadcast that
reached an estimated two million people. LSSMN’s attorney admits the
First Amendment protects the rights of this campaign.
The ELCA statement claims that “confidentiality” keeps them from
addressing Ray specifically. In MindFreedom’s opinion, agencies such
as LSSMN have the legal discretion and moral obligation to speak out
about abuse of their clients to legislators, media, and the public if
they choose. Ray has asked for LSSMN to do this.
At what point does confidentiality become cover-up?
However anyone interprets privacy laws, everyone admits it is
completely legal for ELCA and LSSMN to speak out in general to the
media and legislators about the policy of involuntary electroshock
itself, which can impact a number of their agency’s clients.
ELCA has addressed other tough issues over the years. For instance,
one of ELCA’s predecessor churches ordained female pastors as early
as 1970. ELCA publicly wrestles with other controversial topics
including abortion and homosexual pastors.
So what about joining a discussion about issues impacting people
diagnosed with psychiatric disabilities? Isn’t it time? Isn’t it past
*** Isn’t ELCA right that this is a matter entirely up to the courts?
According to eye witnesses, and Ray himself, his most recent court
hearing on 16 December, held in a hospital basement, was a mockery of
justice. Ray was not able to secure a better attorney. His court-
appointed attorney, Jon Duckstad, who Ray says has barely
communicated with him, did not call one independent expert witness to
defend Ray, and has refused offers of free help from other attorneys.
Social justice requires not just courts, but a sense of individual
and group moral responsibility.
Washing ones hands as Ray is escorted to a forced shock on Christmas
Eve is not acceptable.
*** Where else can people raise concerns with the ELCA community?
You may choose to bring this matter up with your own faith community,
and ask them to begin to address these topics themselves and contact
local ELCA congregations.
Also, by coincidence, the next ELCA Churchwide Assembly will take
place 17 to 23 August 2009 in Minneapolis, the very region where Ray
is receiving his regular, outpatient, forced electroshock.
It is time for all religious organizations to dialogue about the
human rights and dignity of some of society’s most oppressed
citizens, people who experience psychiatric atrocities.
One would expect many of ELCA’s participants would want to lead the
faith community on the neglected social justice issue of human rights
in mental health, rather than silence public discussion.
To quote ELCA’s web site about their church:
“It’s a story of a powerful and patient God who has boundless love
for all people of the world, who brings justice for the oppressed.”
*** Why do you quote a civil rights leader such as Martin Luther
King, Jr. about psychiatric oppression?
The civil rights movement was the inspiration for many social change
movements, including the movement led by survivors of psychiatric
abuse that began in the USA in 1970.
Other relevant quotes by MLK from his letter from a Birminham Jail
include the following:
“I am cognizant of the interrelatedness of all communities and
states. I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about
what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice
everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality,
tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly,
affects all indirectly….
“An unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal law and
natural law. Any law that uplifts human personality is just. Any law
that degrades human personality is unjust. All segregation statues
are unjust because segregation distorts the soul and damages the
“You may well ask, ‘Why direct action? Why sit-ins, marches, and so
forth? Isn’t negotiation a better path?’ You are quite right in
calling for negotiation. Indeed, this is the very purpose of direct
action. Nonviolent direct action seeks to create such a crisis and
foster such a tension that a community which has constantly refused
to negotiate is forced to confront the issue…
“I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s
great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White
Citizen’s Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate,
who is more devoted to ‘order’ than to justice; who prefers a
negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace
which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: ‘I agree with
you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of
direct action’; who paternalistically believes he can set the
timetable for another man’s freedom; who lives by a mythical concept
of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a ‘more
convenient season.’ Shallow understanding from people of good will is
more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill
will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright
Here is the reply ELCA has been sending to many people who have
expressed concern about Ray:
Statement from Evangelical Lutheran Church in America [ELCA] About
Campaign Against Forced Electroshock of Ray Sandford
Date: December 16, 2008 7:36:03 AM PST
Thank you for writing concerning a story you have heard or seen in
the public media. The ELCA is not related to the situation, except as
a sponsor of Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota, one of 280 such
organizations in the Lutheran Services in America network.
Sponsorship is a fairly loose term from a churchwide perspective, and
usually means that people in the area of the affiliated agency
represent the church on the agency’s board, and individuals and
congregations may also contribute some funding to the agency.
Here is a response from Lutheran Services in America which explains
the situation about which you are concerned:
To respond to your inquiry and comments regarding a recent story
about the medical situation of a vulnerable adult under a civil
commitment proceeding, who also has a court appointed guardian:
As a guardian, Lutheran Social Service has both a legal and ethical
duty to keep the specific details of clients’ care and treatment
confidential. While we can’t discuss the client specifically, we can
speak in general about how we carry out our work.
Lutheran Social Service is appointed by the court to serve as a
guardian or conservator to over 800 vulnerable adults in Minnesota.
We are court-appointed to take on this role when individuals lack the
capacity to make decisions about their affairs and there are no
family members who are either able or willing to take on that
A civil commitment is a separate proceeding in the State of
Minnesota. When a person is civilly committed, a decision to impose
electroconvulsive therapy (“ECT”) is a decision made by a commitment
court and not the court appointed Guardian. In the commitment process
someone, normally a health care professional, brings a petition for
ECT treatment for the individual. The individual is assigned an
attorney and a guardian ad litem (not Lutheran Social Service) who
act as advocates either to oppose or to consent to the petition. The
commitment court hears evidence from medical professionals and then
makes a decision on whether to impose the ECT treatment. The court
decision is then appealable by the client and the client’s attorney.
Under Minnesota Statute §524.5-313, a general guardian such as
Lutheran Social Service has no authority to impose ECT treatment
against the known conscientious, religious or moral beliefs of the
individual. The general guardian is not a participant in the civil
commitment process regarding the forced imposition of ECT treatment.
Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota has a long tradition of serving
vulnerable children and adults, and careful systems are in place to
ensure that decisions are made with the person’s best interest in mind.
Eric Jonsgaard, Senior Director
LSS Guardianship Options
I hope this helps you understand the situation, and that you will
tell whoever suggested that writing to the Evangelical Lutheran
Church in America might help make a difference that they are
misdirecting you and many other people.
Miriam L. Woolbert
ELCA Communication Services
The above was sent by ELCA to a number of people in response to Ray
Alert #7 about National Public Radio coverage of Ray’s campaign,
which you can hear or read here:
For more information on the Ray Campaign see:
Oregon Consumer/ Survivor Coalition
Health and disability forum
WowDHEC (Women with Disabilities Health Equity Coalition, www.wowdhec.org) is a dynamic non-hierarchical group that I belong to and we are gathering information for the Obama-Biden Team. Please join us on 1/30/08 in Portland for the forum. Men are welcome too!
If you can’t make it, please fill out the survey at
Are you a person with a disability or know someone who is?
Is it hard for you to be healthy, because of conditions in society and the health care system?
Well, here?s your chance to do something about it!
(For those that can?t attend, please fill out a short Health and Disability survey at http://www.surveymonkey.com/s.aspx?sm=Qh2E4sc3d9ffNEp7CHyt9A_3d_3d)??
We would love to hear your opinions!
WowDHEC (Women with Disabilities Health Equity Coalition) http://www.wowdhec.org
is hosting a Health and Disability Forum to talk about the negative effects
of our health system on people with disabilities and to brainstorm solutions.?
We want to hear from as many voices within the disability community as
possible! We are a cross-disability group that includes people with visible and ?invisible? disabilities (mental health issues, cognitive disabilities, etc.)? Our aim is to be as inclusive as possible.?
This is urgent!?
Right now President-elect Obama is asking for feedback about how to improve our health system — and the Obama Transition Team is asking people around the country to hold community discussions through Dec. 31st.
What we learn from you will be shared with the Obama Transition Team and used to advocate for policy change locally and statewide.
Please join us and pass this along to others in the disability community.? To get a head count, an RSVP is appreciated, but not required.
To RSVP or if you have any other accommodation needs, questions or concerns,
Muench at firstname.lastname@example.org
1. What conditions in your life do you believe affect your health? (for example, support from friends and family, your economic status, how you are treated by others, etc.)
2. What conditions make it harder or easier for you to protect your health?
3. What needs to change in your life conditions in order for you to be healthier?
4. What do you perceive is the biggest problem in the health system?
5. How do you choose a doctor or hospital? What are your sources of information? How should public policy promote quality health care providers?
6. Have you or your family members ever experienced difficulty paying medical bills? What do you think policy makers can do to address this problem?
7. In addition to employer-based coverage, would you like the option to purchase a private plan through an insurance-exchange or a public plan like Medicare?
8. Do you know how much you or your employer pays for health insurance? What should an employer’s role be in a reformed health care system?
9. Have you gotten the prevention health services you should have? If not, how can public policy help?
10. How can public policy promote healthier lifestyles?
Marjorie McGee, M.S., L.P.C.
EFT and Trauma
Emotional Freedom Technique
Studies show that up to 97% of those of us who carry a diagnosis of mental illness are trauma survivors. I asked 100 people who have been so labeled and all of them had significant trauma history with most being traumatized over and over again through the agencies and hospitals that are supposed to help them. I also asked each one:
“Have you ever received treatment for trauma as part of your mental health treatment?”
Out of 100 people I had 3 who told me they had formal treatment for trauma. Two said they had experienced EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitizing Reprocessing) and one said they had both EMDR and EFT (see below). I myself had very good results from EMDR but I have found EFT to be a much more useful tool because I don’t need a therapist to use it. I don’t even have to buy (another) self-help book.
EFT is a self-therapy that I have found especially useful in dealing with my own trauma history- Emotional Freedom Technique is available free, there is a free download-able manual, free ongoing information and forums. Download the manual here.
Pictures of Macaques:
or, haven’t you always wanted a monkey (click for full size)
bye for now
Free e-book (this work is in the public domain, download at will)
But first know these things:
- This is huge- I mean really huge. 1260 pages huge. It has not been easy.
- I have not found the complete book available anywhere and so compiled it section by section. This could have led to some errors but hopefully only small ones. Teeny, insignificant in relative terms, I’m sure.
- I have included the original preface, introduction and other notes (a forward by Aldous Huxley, not in the original printing).
- I have taken the liberty of adding some photos/ pictures that were never in the original book.
Here are some excerpts, followed by the download, in doc format because that’s what the uploader will take.
HAZRA: “Does God listen to our prayer for bhakti?”
MASTER: “Surely. I can assure you of that a hundred times. But the prayer must be genuine and earnest. Do worldly-minded people weep for God as they do for wife and children? At Kamarpukur the wife of a certain man fell ill. The man thought she would not recover; he began to tremble and was about to faint. Who feels that way for God?”
Hazra was about to take the dust of the Master’s feet.
MASTER (shrinking): “What is this?”
HAZRA: “Why should I not take the dust of his feet who has so kindly kept me with him?”
MASTER: “Satisfy God and everyone will be satisfied. ‘If He is pleased the world is pleased.’ Once the Lord ate a few greens from Draupadi’s cooking-pot and said, ‘Ah, I am satisfied.’ Immediately the whole world and all its living beings were satisfied; they felt as if they had eaten their fill. But was the world satisfied or did it feel that way when the rishis ate their food?
(To Hazra) “A perfect soul, even after attaining Knowledge, practises devotions or observes religious ceremonies to set an example to others. I go to the Kali temple and I bow before the holy pictures in my room; therefore others do the same. Further, if a man has become habituated to such ceremonies, he feels restless if he does not observe them.
“One day I saw a sannyasi under the banyan-tree. He had put the salagram on the same carpet with his guru’s sandals. He was worshipping them. I said to him, ‘If you have attained Knowledge to that extent,* then why such formal worship at all?’ He replied: ‘What difference does it make? Since I do everything else, why not this too? Sometimes I offer the flowers at the guru’s feet and sometimes to God.’
“One cannot renounce work as long as one has a body. As long as there is mud at the bottom of the lake, bubbles will be produced.
(To Hazra) “If there is knowledge of one, there is also knowledge of many. What will you achieve by mere study of the scriptures? The scriptures contain a mixture of sand and sugar, as it were. It is extremely difficult to separate the sugar from the sand. Therefore one should learn the essence of the scriptures from the teacher or from a sadhu. Afterwards what does one care for books?
(To the devotees) “Gather all the information and then plunge in. Suppose a pot has dropped in a certain part of a lake. Locate the spot and dive there.
“One should learn the essence of the scriptures from the guru and then practise sadhana. If one rightly follows spiritual discipline, then one directly sees God. The discipline is said to be rightly followed only when one plunges in. What will a man gain by merely reasoning about the words of the scriptures? Ah, the fools! They reason themselves to death over information about the path. They never take the plunge. What a pity!
“You may say, even though you dive deep you are still in danger of sharks and crocodiles, of lust and anger. But dive after rubbing your bodv with turmeric powder; then sharks and crocodiles will not come near you. The turmeric, is discrimination and renunciation.
(To the devotees) “God made me pass through the disciplines of various paths. First according to the Purana, then according to the Tantra. I also followed the disciplines of the Vedas. At first I practised sadhana in the Panchavati. I made a grove of tulsi-plants and used to sit inside it and meditate. Sometimes I cried with a longing heart, ‘Mother! Mother!’ Or again, ‘Rama! Rama!’
“While repeating the name of Rama, I sometimes assumed the attitude of Hanuman and fixed a tail to the lower end of my backbone. I was in a God-intoxicated state. At that time I used to put on a silk robe and worship the Deity. What joy I experienced in that worship!
“I practised the discipline of the Tantra under the bel-tree. At that time I could see no distinction between the sacred tulsi and any other plant. In that state I sometimes ate the leavings from a jackal’s meal,* food that had been exposed the whole night, part of which might have been eaten by snakes or other creatures. Yes, I ate that stuff.
“Sometimes I rode on a dog and fed him with luchi, also eating part of the bread myself. I realized that the whole world was filled with God alone. One cannot have spiritual realization without destroying ignorance; so I would assume the attitude of a tiger and devour ignorance.
“While practising the disciplines of the Vedas, I became a sannyasi. I used to lie down in the chandni and say to Hriday: ‘I am a sannyasi. I shall take my meals here.’*
“I vowed to the Divine Mother that I would kill myself if I did not see God. I said to Her: ‘O Mother, I am a fool. Please teach me what is contained in the Vedas, the Puranas, the Tantras, and the other scriptures.’ The Mother said to me, ‘The essence of the Vedanta is that Brahman alone is real and the world illusory.’ The Satchidananda Brahman described in the Vedas is the Satchidananda Siva of the Tantra and the Satchidananda Krishna of the Purana. The essence of the Gita is what you get by repeating the word ten times. It is reversed into ‘tagi’, which indicates renunciation.
“After the realization of God, how far below lie the Vedas, the Vedanta, the Purana, the Tantra! (To Hazra) I cannot utter the word ‘Om’ in samadhi. Why is that? I cannot say ‘Om’ unless I come down very far from the state of samadhi.
“I had all the experiences that one should have, according to the scriptures, after one’s direct perception of God. I behaved like a child, like a madman, like a ghoul, and like an inert thing.
“I saw the visions described in the scriptures. Sometimes I saw the universe filled with sparks of fire. Sometimes I saw all the quarters glittering with light, as if the world were a lake of mercury. Sometimes I saw the world as if made of liquid silver. Sometimes, again, I saw all the quarters illumined as if with the light of Roman candles. So you see my experiences tally with those described in the scriptures.
“It was revealed to me further that God Himself has become the universe and all its living beings and the twenty-four cosmic principles. It is like the process of evolution and involution.*
“Oh, what a state God kept me in at that time! One experience would hardly be over before another overcame me. It was like the movement of the husking-machine: no sooner is one end down than the other goes up.
“I would see God in meditation, in the state of samadhi, and I would see the same God when my mind came back to the outer world. When looking at this side of the mirror I would see Him alone, and when looking on the reverse side I saw the same God.”
The devotees listened to these words with rapt attention.
All pictures, no theme today.
Click for full size-
Martian sunrise from various angles.
Mostly from Mars Orbiter (poorly aligned- the probe is supposed to face the planet surface) and some other probe shots, color enhanced or false color to reveal geology (the Mars Orbiter shots are often released in false color to highlight mineral or water-created features), mostly, to make it more cool I suppose. But a beautiful series nonetheless.
Just to warn you, I’m compiling the complete Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna by M (in public domain, but I haven’t found a single source with all sections/ volumes). Sometime this week I’ll be offering the complete ebook download.
Definitely click for full size. Got this from a website that doesn’t exist, so don’t ask. If I tell you I’d have to kill you.
Actually yesterday- bad quality from camera pictures. We celebrated our family Christmas on Saturday, 12/20 because my son Andrew is in town (was in town). Now we’re done. Feels good.
Kind of stupid, but why not?
Important legal information for everyone. Must click!
What, Me Blurry?
Pics from phone, from top of Larch Mountain. Better at full size (click).
Baby Sacrificed to Robot (Tabloid headline)
Guinea Pogs (collage by my son)
I’ve added a radio archive for Mad Liberation by Moonlight, starting for this last show (1 am 12/13/08, to be technical).
During the 19th century Friends in the United States suffered a number of separations. These separations have resulted in the formation of different branches of the Society of Friends. Despite the separations, Friends remain united in their commitment to discover truth and promote it. There are perhaps 400,000 Quakers in the world today, the overwhelming majority of them Evangelicals in Africa and Latin America.
How about this George Fox character? What’s his deal? The following excerpt is from William Penn’s preface to the Autobiography of George Fox (the full preface is included with this e-book):
The blessed instrument of and in this day of God, and of whom I am now about to write, was George Fox, distinguished from another of that name, by that other’s addition of younger to his name in all his writings; not that he was so in years, but that he was so in the truth; but he was also a worthy man, witness and servant of God in his time.
but, in general, when he was somewhat above twenty, he left his friends, and visited the most retired and religious people, and some there were at that time in this nation, especially in those parts, who waited for the consolation of Israel night and day, as Zacharias, Anna, and good old Simeon did of old time. To these he was sent, and these he sought out in the neighboring countries, and among them he sojourned till his more ample ministry came upon him.
At this time he taught and was an example of silence, endeavouring to bring people from self-performances, testifying and turning to the light of Christ within them, and encouraging them to wait in patience to feel the power of it to stir in their hearts, that their knowledge and worship of God might stand in the power of an endless life, which was to be found in the Light, as it was obeyed in the manifestation of it in man. “For in the Word was life, and that life was the light of men.” Life in the Word, light in men, and life too, as the light is obeyed; the children of the light living by the life of the Word, by which the Word begets them again to God, which is the regeneration and new birth, without which there is no coming unto the kingdom of God; and which, whoever comes to, is greater than John, that is, than John’s ministry which was not that of the kingdom, but the consummation of the legal, and opening of the gospel-dispensation. Accordingly, several meetings were gathered in those parts; and thus his time was employed for some years.
In 1652, he being in his usual retirement to the Lord upon a very high mountain, in some of the hither parts of Yorkshire, as I take it, his mind exercised towards the Lord, he had a vision of the great work of God in the earth, and of the way that he was to go forth to begin it. He saw people as thick as motes in the sun, that should in time be brought home to the Lord, that there might be but one Shepherd and one sheepfold in all the earth. There his eye was directed northward, beholding a great people that should receive him and his message in those parts. Upon this mountain he was moved of the Lord to sound out his great and notable day, as if he had been in a great auditory, and from thence went north, as the Lord had shewn him: and in every place where he came, if not before he came to it, he had his particular exercise and service shewn to him, so that the Lord was his leader indeed; for it was not in vain that he travelled, God in most places sealing his commission with the convincement of some of all sorts, as well publicans as sober professors of religion.
Again from Wikipedia:
Quaker meetings (called Meeting for Worship) are unprogrammed, last about an hour and consist primarily of silence, interupted only when an individual is “moved to speak”. Here’s a quote about Meeting for Worship:
“A Friend’s meeting, however silent, is at the very lowest a witness that worship is something other and deeper than words, and that it is to the unseen and eternal things that we desire to give the first place in our lives. And when the meeting…is awake and looking upwards, there is much more in it than this. In the united stillness of a truly ‘gathered’ meeting, there is a power known only by experience, and mysterious even when most familiar.” Caroline Stephen, (1908).
Today on route to work (riding in the vanpool with seven other long-distance
commuters) I was listening on my mp3 player to a talk by the Dalai Lama on the
Heart Sutra. My mind wandered into some thoughts that arose during meeting for
worship at the Friends Meetinghouse on Sunday. These are some of the thoughts
that drifted through:
Stillness (or emptiness or balance) is the source of all things. Movement (or
content or imbalance) arises from stillness. The world of seperate things
arises from relative motion. Beauty, suffering and gladness are all produced by
the arising motion from the field of stillness.
The appearance of things is that the world is always in motion. Motion arises
from imbalance. For example: solar energy makes some parts of the atmosphere warmer,
creating an imbalance in pressure that creates wind, the engine of weather and
Using the same analogy (the living motion of the processes that support life on earth), water finds it’s level, seeks balance. Outside forces (e.g. the radiation produced by the sun or by the earth’s core) moves water from the bottom of the gravity well to the upper atmosphere where it eventually loses that energy, falling to the earth to make streams, waterfalls, rivers and springs on it’s journey back to the bottom of the gravity well. During this process water feeds and sustains life.
I have often thought about how it is imbalance/ imperfection that gives rise to
beauty. If things are in balance, there is no motion, no beauty and no
gladness. Through imbalance and the seeking of balance, come birth and death.
When the seeking ends, stillness reigns and emptiness replaces content. In
perfect balance motion does not arise and all things lose there seperateness.
Sometimes I feel like I’m in the middle of a stumble- like my imbalance is
propelling me forward into something unknown. I have the sensation of falling
into mystery. Sometimes it feels as though the world is a thin movie screen and
I am about to walk through it. It is as though balance, emptiness, stillness lies
just beyond the veil of appearances and any minute I will fall into it.
Sometimes when I close my eyes, I can feel the rush of time like a wind. I
sense that just behind that wind is timelessness, the flash of this moment in
perfect peace, the wholeness of myself and the world.