The Way “It Touched My Heart” Helps Me Feel

I try to avoid using the phrase “makes me feel,” because people and events don’t make you feel anything. I prefer “helps me feel” or “allows me to feel.” The use of the phrase “touches my heart” by people reacting to my love songs helps me feel good. But not for the first time, I find the words of others express feelings I have which I have been unable to find the words for. Firesign Theater member and voice actor Phil Proctor’s regular newsletter Planet Proctor is worth subscribing to. In a recent issue, he quoted David Ackert of the LA Times discussing acting. I reprint it here, because it is how I feel about having written the words to two songs that touched several people’s hearts.

He was talking about actors, but I think it is true of writers too: they are “willing to give their entire lives to a moment - to that line, that laugh, that gesture, or that interpretation that will stir the audience's soul. Actors are beings who have tasted life's nectar in that crystal moment when they poured out their creative spirit and touched another's heart. In that instant, they were as close to magic, God, and perfection as anyone could ever be. And in their own hearts, they know that to dedicate oneself to that moment is worth a thousand lifetimes.”

I am astounded to have “tasted life's nectar in that crystal moment” at my age, but if my heart-felt words have touched your heart, I am happy about what I did for you and grateful for what you did for me. I’ve been close to magic, God and perfection, and it is quite a feeling.

Or, to put it another way, as I read recently on Angel’s Daily Message: “To be the active expression of God’s Good through word or action or prayer or creativity, to even one other person, one other idea of Life thought up by God, is to Be exactly what you need to Be.”

I know I have done that for at least one person with the musical settings I commissioned for my love poems, so I am exactly what I need to be.

And, Mahatma Gandhi probably once said, “Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.” As it happens, I am in that place, and I believe I have achieved happiness.

Rumi On The Meaning Of Life

Moses questions God about death

Moses asks God the most basic question, "You create us; then you kill us. "Why"
God says, I understand the purpose within your question; therefore I'll answer.
You want to know the meaning of phenomenal duration, so you can teach others
and help their souls unfold. Anyone who asks this question has some of the answer.
Sow seed corn, Moses, and you will experience the purpose of taking a form. Moses
plants and tends the crop; when the ears have ripened to the shape of their beauty,
he brings out to the field his blade and sharpening stone. The unseen voice comes,
Why did you work to bring the corn to perfection only now to chop it down? "Lord,
it is the winnowing time when we separate the corn grains we use for food from the straw
we use for bedding and fodder. They must be stored in different cribs in the barn."
Where did you learn this threshing-floor work? "You gave me discernment." Do you
not feel that I should have a similar discernment in the planting and harvesting
of forms that I do? So creation has a purpose. God has said, I was
a hidden treasure, and I desired to be known. That desire is part of manifestation.”
― Rumi, The Soul of Rumi: A New Collection of Ecstatic Poems


Amma came for a short visit to the ashram in San Ramon. I did communications seva on Tuesday, one of only two days she held public programs on this abbreviated visit. She left San Ramon Sunday for Detroit. Then she is off to Rome to meet with Pope Francis). Communications seva consists of monitoring the walkie talkies and answering the phones. It beats sweeping rat shit out of the garage in the house in which Amma stays while visiting. I mention that because it was my seva for several years before I switched to communications. I didn't go to the retreat this visit, so I don't have any new Amma stories to tell.

Do Animals have Souls?

I am put in mind of this question by the imminent death of my second cat, Jaegermeister. Like his brother, an orange tabby, he has been my daily companion since February of 1998. I have liked every cat I have ever shared my life with; I loved this one and his brother. Christian theologians are firm: animals do not have souls. The Hindu and Buddhist faiths both offer some hope in the form of reincarnation. I am no expert on karma (I don't think anyone who isn't enlightened is), but if loving and caring for other creatures moves you up the ladder, then Jaeger will come back as President of the United States (assuming you think that is a move up from orange tabby cat). Heck, I'm not even sure people have a soul or an afterlife, although I am convinced that all living beings are connected and that people are more than the some of their chemicals and their electricity.

I can't answer the question, "Do Animals have souls." But I hope when Jaeger is gone (possibly as soon as Tuesday), he will reap some kind of reward for a life well lived.

You Didn't Build It

There was quite a dustup last summer, as you'll recall, when President Obama (and, more forcefully, Elizabeth Warren) made some relatively anodyne remarks, reminding the nations greedier business owners that they did not build the schools that educated their workers, the roads and airports that distribute their goods, or the police and fire departments which protect them. I am surprised that any evangelical took part in that discussion, given the words of Deuteronomy, which were read out at St. Stephens church during the Thanksgiving Eve service last week. Let me note that I am not in the habit of citing God, or for that matter, the Old Testament, in support of my political views. But I believe people who do cite God and the Bible might be well advised to read the whole thing.

When you have eaten your fill and have built fine houses and live in them, and when your herds and flocks have multiplied, and your silver and gold is multiplied, and all that you have is multiplied, then do not exalt yourself, forgetting the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery, who led you through the great and terrible wilderness, an arid wasteland with poisonous snakes and scorpions.
 He made water flow for you from flint rock, and fed you in the wilderness with manna that your ancestors did not know, to humble you and to test you, and in the end to do you good.

 Do not say to yourself, "My power and the might of my own hand have gotten me this wealth."

About Newspapers

In her column of December 30, Adair Lara included this great newspaper quote:

THE DAILY FISH wrap. A 19th century Irish immigrant named O'Reilly called the newspaper ``a biography of something greater than a man. It is the biography of a DAY. It is a photograph, of twenty four hours' length, of the mysterious river of time that is sweeping past us forever. And yet we take our year's newspapers -- which contain more tales of sorrow and suffering, and joy and success, and ambition and defeat, and villainy and virtue, than the greatest book ever written -- and we use them to light the fire.''