350 Chapters
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Medium 9780253205667

Eleven: Celebrations

Felicitas D. Goodman Indiana University Press ePub

For the 1985 spring workshop at the Buddhist Center in Scheibbs, our friend Franz announced that we were going to have a masked dance. “Dear Friends,” he wrote in his flyer,

you have all taken part in an introductory course on trance and the religious altered state of consciousness with Felicitas Goodman. For this year, we are planning a more intensive project with Felicitas, to deepen our knowledge about trance and ecstasy and to practice integrating it into our daily lives. This project is not to be as serious as it sounds, however. We want to make it a celebration as it used to be in ancient cultures, a celebration of joy. It is to be a game between the dimensions of the world, a sacred event demonstrating our connectedness with everything that surrounds us.

I arrived late on the first day from another assignment. I had not seen the flyer; we had discussed the matter only in the most general terms, but in no detail, and I knew only that Franz had engaged Rudl, a trained Viennese maskmaker, as an instructor for our project. So I was understandably startled when after greeting the fourteen participants in the upstairs meditation room of the center, Franz turned to me with a confident smile, saying, “All right, Felicitas, so why don’t you just describe some native ritual to us, and we’ll proceed from there.”

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Medium 9781609949198

6 The Path of Animals

Foundation, Anasazi Berrett-Koehler Publishers ePub

Animals sense our walking.

I don’t mean merely that they know our presence. I mean
that, in moments, they sense the intentions of our hearts—
whether our hearts are walking forward or backward.

You may wonder at my saying this. There was a time
when I wouldn’t have believed it myself.

But then I met a badger with a stone.

It happened not long after I escaped
the land of winding cliffs.

My moccasins had disintegrated from my feet, and with
them some of my confidence among the hills. Red ants
and stickers bade me turn around at each step. Finally,
I collapsed to rest in the pungent shade of a sagebrush.

After a few minutes, I heard from the other side
of the brush a muffled growl and spitting noise.
I turned my head to look.

Less than five feet away was a freshly dug hole.
From the hole a furry rump emerged—the rump of
a massive badger backing its way up the dirt ramp.
He held loosely in his front claws a fist-sized stone,
dragging and rolling it along up the ramp.

I forgot my troubles as I watched the scene.
As the badger’s body topped the ramp, he pitched
awkwardly down the other side and lost hold of the stone.
He growled and went back after it. Time and time again
he attempted the same, only to lose hold at the top.
When finally he succeeded and was about to go back—
perhaps for another rock or for a rest—he saw me.

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Medium 9780253204677

Chapter 6: The Multiple Personality Experience and Demonic Possession

Felicitas D. Goodman Indiana University Press ePub

The multiple personality experience or “disorder” is not usually covered in discussions of demonic possession. That is regrettable, for as we saw in chapter 1, there is a lot that it can teach us about possession, and it also offers some insights into its demonic variant. Perhaps because the multiple personality syndrome is relatively rare, authors of texts on comparative religion are usually not even aware of its existence and would disregard it anyhow, because of the prevailing view that it is exclusively a psychiatric problem.1

Briefly, as will be remembered from chapter 1 and the case of Eve White, patients suffering from this condition experience themselves as having several discrete personalities called alternates that do not share consciousness or memories with their host. That means that the host does not know or is not able to recall what the various alternate personalities do, and extended periods of amnesia, often starting during childhood, are characteristically reported by these patients. Each one of the alternates has its own complex social patterns and behavior. When a given personality is dominant, it will control the individual’s behavior. As should be obvious by now, this description could just as well be cited in any discussion of the experience of possession. There are, however, in the main two differences between this disorder and possession as a religious experience. One of these concerns how the phenomenon is located culturally, that is, what society, especially those charged with treating the patient, thinks is going on. The other is the nature of the beings involved in the possession.

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Medium 9780971435223

The New World

Jed McKenna Wisefool Press PDF

I thought it would be no problem to settle in to such a beautifully appointed and technologically sophisticated room for a week or two and just watch movies and musical performances, but it got old in the first hour...........

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Medium 9780971435223


Jed McKenna Wisefool Press PDF

Perhaps the deepest reason why we are afraid of death is because we do not know who we are. We believe in a personal, unique, and separate identity – but if we dare to examine it, we find that this identity depends entirely on an endless collection of things to prop it up: our name, our “biography,” our partners, family, home, job, friends, credit cards… 

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Medium 9780253205667

Two: Getting in Touch with the Spirits: The First Discoveries

Felicitas D. Goodman Indiana University Press ePub

In the Protestant Christian tradition in which I was raised, it was held that the only way in which a human could communicate with the beings inhabiting the alternate reality was by prayer. But in the view of the vast majority of other traditions, speech, as the mode of communication of ordinary reality, is singularly unsuited for this purpose. It is but a hardly audible knock on the very thick wall separating humans from the spirit realm. In fact, humans have to make a truly heroic effort to be noticed on the other side. Merely talking, falling into a worshipful mood, feeling “transcendent,” “numinous,” or “oceanic,” or whatever other pompous words are listed in the dictionary, simply will not do. Instead humans, if they have the urgent necessity or desire to squeeze through the chinks in that wall, need to change the very functioning of their bodies in the most radical way. The term summarizing these changes is religious trance, one of a large group of altered states of consciousness of which humans are capable. It is termed religious because observation shows that it is the one occurring in religious context, that is, when contact is made with the alternate, the sacred, reality. (For the problem of defining “religion,” see Goodman 1988.)

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Medium 9780989175913

25. The Veil of Perception

Jed McKenna Wisefool Press PDF

My response to that, as always, is revisit your assumptions. In this case, the assumption that we experience the world directly is false. No one has ever experienced this alleged world directly, and no one ever will. Weird, huh?..........

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Medium 9781771870801


Forrie, Allan Thistledown Press ePub
In “Phantom Limb” Theresa Kishkan remembers Lily, a dog who was adopted from a nearby reservation and quickly became a member of the family: protecting the yard from deer, raccoons, and bears; training the new puppy Tiger; and sharing family picnics and walks before the end of her too-short life.
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Medium 9781771870801


Forrie, Allan Thistledown Press ePub
In his two part essay “The Beachcomber” Stephen Reid draws the reader into life in William Head Institution, a prison on the Southern tip of Vancouver Island where prisoners scavenge the beachfront for items to barter and treasure. As Reid wanders along the beach that serves as one of the prison’s four walls, watching the “hammered pewter surface of the sea”, he remembers the escape attempts of some of his fellow prisoners.
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Medium 9780253000958

The Singular First Person

Scott Russell Sanders Indiana University Press ePub

The first soapbox orator I ever saw was haranguing a crowd beside the Greyhound station in Providence, Rhode Island, about the evils of fluoridated water. What the man stood on was actually an up-turned milk crate, all the genuine soapboxes presumably having been snapped up by antique dealers. He wore an orange plaid sport coat and matching bow tie and held aloft a bottle filled with mossy green liquid. I don’t remember the details of his spiel, except his warning that fluoride was an invention of the Communists designed to weaken our bones and thereby make us pushovers for a Red invasion. What amazed me, as a tongue-tied kid of seventeen newly arrived in the city from the boondocks, was not his message but his courage in delivering it to a mob of strangers. I figured it would have been easier for me to jump straight over the Greyhound station than to stand there on that milk crate and utter my thoughts.

To this day, when I read or when I compose one of those curious monologues we call the personal essay, I often think of that soapbox orator. Nobody had asked him for his two cents’ worth, but there he was declaring it with all the eloquence he could muster. The essay, although enacted in private, is no less arrogant a performance. Unlike novelists and playwrights, who lurk behind the scenes while distracting our attention with the puppet show of imaginary characters; unlike scholars and journalists, who quote the opinions of others and shelter behind the hedges of neutrality, the essayist has nowhere to hide. While the poet can lean back on a several-thousand-year-old legacy of ecstatic speech, the essayist inherits a much briefer and skimpier tradition. The poet is allowed to quit after a few lines, but the essayist must hold our attention for pages and pages. It is a brash and foolhardy form, this one-man or one-woman circus, which relies on the tricks of anecdote, conjecture, memory, and wit to enthrall us.

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Medium 9780980184839

Fish Story

Jed McKenna Wisefool Press PDF

After a while the phrase Baptism of Solitude appeared in my thoughts and quickly turned into a mellow yearning, so I figured what the hell, I asked for it; a deal’s a deal. I took a cab to Kennedy and booked a flight for Rabat by way of Madrid. I stayed in Essaouira where I read Paul Bowles, Cormac McCarthy, some Faulkner, and a book of Civil War letters aloud to myself. When I’d had enough of that,I went to Marrakech where I read Pullman, Rowling and Tolkien silently to myself. I avoided people and news and did less than I thought possible while time reshaped itself around me. After a few months I didn’t feel like being there anymore, I flew back to New York and got a reservation on the Friday afternoon Hamptons Reserve train, the Cannonball. Three hours later I was in Montauk and two months later it’s now...........

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Medium 9780980184822


Jed McKenna Wisefool Press PDF
Medium 9781608682652

12. Warriors for Ecological and Economic Justice: Meister Eckhart Meets Dorothy Stang, Karl Marx, David Korten, Serge Latouche, Anita Roddick, and Howard Thurman

Matthew Fox New World Library ePub

Meister Eckhart Meets Dorothy Stang, Karl Marx, David Korten, Serge Latouche, Anita Roddick, and Howard Thurman

The person who understands what I say about justice and the just person understands everything I have to say.


The old economy of greed and domination is dying. A new economy of life and partnership is struggling to be born. The outcome is ours to choose.


Why not improve life for the world’s poorest first? Is it so impossible to move business from private greed to public good?


Christianity as it was born in the mind of this Jewish teacher and thinker [Jesus] appears as a technique of survival for the oppressed.


When Eckhart declares that justice is at the heart of his spirituality, he means it. Why else would he say, “The person who understands what I say about justice and the just person understands everything I have to say”? After all, he, like Jesus and the Buddha, calls us to compassion, and then he declares: “compassion is the same as justice.” Studying Eckhart’s spirituality — as we have done so far through the varied lenses of other thinkers and spiritual traditions — does not suffice. Eckhart did not pursue spirituality in an armchair. He did not speak from a safe and comfortable position of tenure in an academic ivory tower. In fact, as we have seen, he abandoned academia in Paris to work among the people in Germany and elsewhere.

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Medium 9780253000958

House and Home

Scott Russell Sanders Indiana University Press ePub

When our first child was born, a rosy wriggle of a girl we named Eva, my wife and I were living in a second-floor apartment on the noisiest avenue leading east and west through Bloomington, Indiana. Trucks grinding their gears, belching buses, howling ambulances and squad cars, unmufflered pickups and juiced-up jalopies roared past our windows, morning, noon, and night. What little dirt we could find between pavement and weeds in our tiny yard was slimed with engine oil.

To begin with, Eva weighed only six and a half pounds, all of them fidgety. Like any newborn she was pure appetite. With a stomach so small, she hardly seemed to close her eyes between feedings. Even when those brown eyes did fitfully close, they would snap open again at the least sound. Ruth nursed her to sleep, or I rocked her to sleep, and we’d lay her in the crib as gingerly as a bomb. Then some loud machine would come blaring down the street and Eva would twitch and wail.

Once an engine had frightened her, mere milk would not soothe this child, nor would a cradle endlessly rocking. Only songs would do, a rivery murmur while she snuggled against a warm chest, and the chest had to be swaying in rhythm to a steady walk. Fall silent or stop moving and you had a ruckus on your hands. Night after night, I worked my way through The Folk Songs of North America, cover to cover and back again, while carrying Eva in circles over the crickety floorboards. It took hours of singing and miles of walking to lull her to stillness in my arms, and then a siren or diesel could undo the spell in seconds.

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Medium 9780253318992

Chapter 7. The Agriculturalists

Felicitas D. Goodman Indiana University Press ePub

The Agriculturalists as State Societies

The agriculturalist has assured subsistence. All good things come to him, as we read in the Popol Vub, as a blessing from the “House on the Pyramids,” from agencies “on high.” But in order to have them, he has to work hard, earning his daily bread “by the sweat of his brow.” To pay for those good things, all members of the group have to be drafted into a continued and sustained effort. There is no room anymore, as the Popol Vuh tells it, for the venturesome and the proud. What the tillers need to inculcate in their young is conscientiousness, compliance, humility, and obedience.

With permanent settlements, agriculturalists can no longer avoid the problems of conflict by picking up and leaving: Conflict resolution, in other words, cannot be brought about by fissioning. Chiefly, authority comes into being as one avenue of solution. There is more personal property, and the concept also intrudes into the position of women. A man wants exclusive rights to his spouse, and his elevated status leads not only to her eventual disenfranchisement, but also to her ritual inferiority.

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