Monthly Archives: August 2013

As Is Clarity, Timing Is Divine

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1338389798-lord-shiva-wallpaper4Though I was living in Ocala at the time, I had one of the most profound experiences of my life. Of course, one might argue that there is nothing divine about Ocala, but I was not in Ocala when this happened. I was at a small Temple in a small town outside of Ocala. There was this unpretentious family-run Temple way out there, way out there, but it was beautiful, and the Murti were lovely and adored. Though I think I was found to be an amusing curiosity, the Indian women took me in and accepted me into their circle. I have found Hindu’s, particularly the women, to be quite warm and open. And I will tell you with no hesitation that the homemade Indian food cooked at this Temple was easily the best Indian food I have ever eaten.

I do not remember the particulars of the event, but they were having a series of ceremonies and celebrations in devotion to Lord Shiva. A year or so before it was Lord Shiva who had called me, quite unexpectedly, into my spiritual life, so I was eager to attend. In nothing more or less than classic Indian fashion, we were all seated tight to one another on the floor without so much as a footstep between us to spare. This night the Temple was full of devotees who were not terribly devoted… lots and lots of special occasion devotees. As is almost always the case, I was the only white girl in attendance.

The Pundit entered to no shortage of fanfare, and he spoke passionately about Lord Shiva and told lengthy stories about him. Keep in mind that a day or so earlier I had come in and volunteered to help set up for this event, and I will say that I worked as hard or harder than anyone. beautiful as it was, I felt uncomfortable, cramped, the atmosphere was stuffy and heavy, so about all I had on my mind was leaving. To make matters worse the room was filled with Indians who evidently had little respect or involvement in their beautiful religion. Though a few actually did so, it seemed that at any moment everyone in the room was a hair’s breadth away from slipping their cellphones out of their pockets. Some, of course, were inspired and involved, but many, it seemed, were missing an “important” football game for this. A religious experience was the last thing on my mind. In fact as I looked about the crowd I began to worry that they may run out of the fabulous food and it may be wise for me to make my way towards the back so I could get in line early.

The Pundit played a powerful version of one of the most significant chants in the tradition, “Om Namah Shivaya.” I closed my eyes and chanted along. The Pundit scolded the devotees for being so undevoted and uninspired in their singing, chanting, lives, and in the Temple. I was surprised how strongly he chastised them. But the lacklustre singing went on while the chant played loudly overhead. Eyes closed, I chanted, and soon forgot about the stuffiness, the cellphones, the food, the uninspired devotees.

All at once I had no weight, and felt my consciousness like a feather, a thing separate from my worldly concerns and physical limitations. And then a thing that has never happened to me before, a thing I had no idea of or experience of happened. Tears streamed down my cheeks. What was this?

I could not explain it, had no frame of reference for it, but I had become most unexpectedly ecstatic in my blissful chanting. The Pundit, not at all aware of me, at that very moment… AT THAT VERY MOMENT, said to the devotees, “When a devotee cries tears for Lord Shiva, Shiva is rendered helpless and must come to their aid.”

I needed aid. I needed Lord Shiva, and I had NO idea that crying tears for him had such meaning. The timing was simply profound, as divine as clarity.

And here again is why I am practicing Hindusim… because I am so obviously meant to be doing so. Such timing and ecstatic experiences give me an experience of God that I found so lacking when I was a Christian. I am sorry, but I cannot simply believe in a cold God that demands blind faith. I and others who adore the Hindu ways know that it is better to experience God than to believe in God.

(There is an addendum to this. I have found it very difficult to maintain my spirituality here in Gainesville where there is NO access to a Hindu Temple. Without Temple life I get lazy in my practices, but lately I have been doing a lot of spiritual work to eliminate a painful attachment in my life, and it has been so gratifying and revelatory that not only have I returned to regular worship and meditation, but I am going to start working on a list of attachments. This recent work is what reminded me of this moment in my life.)

Barefoot Justine Is a BAD Influence

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Barefoot Justine's bare feet overlooking the backyard

Barefoot Justine’s bare feet overlooking the backyard

Oh, am I ever a bad influence. Is it good or bad that I’m not even trying to be one? So, I’ve spent the summer teaching at an art camp at the Doris (Gainesville’s community arts center), and each week a new crop of kids. Of course there are tons of questions and lots of disbelief that I don’t own shoes and live barefoot. Yes, and many times the kids are, through me, stripped of their silly inhibitions about going barefoot, and along with those, their shoes. It doesn’t take much. One week I had a crop of girls, lovely girls, so sweet, so creative… how I miss them. Adorable. What a rotten influence I was on them.

I had written about them earlier in a post about bare feet and teaching. There was a boy in the group, but the poor boy, surrounded by estrogen as he was, he didn’t stand a chance. Anyhow, I won’t repeat the story of that week, those kids, and our bare feet, look back for that entry. But that post of mine about them all going barefoot on account of me has an addendum.

Today I was talking with one of the other women at the Doris, and she said she had visited the parent’s of one of the girls I had corrupted with my wild barefoot ways. I assume it was one of the kids from my precious class, but it could have been one of the darling daughters of one of the others in the Doris clan. Anyhow, the mother had said to the kids, “OK, get your shoes on, we’re going out.” To which one of the girls said, “Uh uh, no, I want to go like Justine.”

I do wonder if she got her way or not. Hang on little girl, one day you can go barefoot all you want!

Barefoot Justine and the backyard

Barefoot Justine and the backyard

(While being vaguely off-topic, I’m gonna go ahead and post the other pic of my feet I took that kinda goes with the one above. My big nails are still a little orange from the iron oxide stain I got from wearing nail polish all the time… been letting them return to their original glory. Watch it with the nail polish girls! Gotta let those nails breathe!)

Why Bardot?

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IMAG0340I’ve always loved Brigitte Bardot. I’ve watched as many of her movies as I could find, and have read several books on her, and I knew I loved her ’cause I could relate to her and understand her (similarly de Sade and Hans Christian Andersen). I mean isn’t it obvious how much we are alike, Bardot and I? Apart of course from her being rich, powerful, influential, successful, social, and sexy… I mean apart from all that we’re a lot alike. Yeah… uhm… we both wear heavy black eyeliner… that’s something, isn’t it?

I know she was neurotic, temperamental, highly emotional, had a propensity for going barefoot in public… oh and was bat-shit crazy, too. So I guess we do have more in common than black eyeliner. All joking aside about our obvious (and unfairly in her favor) differences, I do relate to her, and I think primarily in that the things she says that many people find annoying, silly or incomprehensible, are the very things I relate to most and understand all too well.

But before I get specific, let’s take a moment to put her into perspective. Keep this in mind when considering Bardot, prior to Bardot sex symbols were in large part artifice, almost character actors, see Mansfield and Monroe. Bardot was different, she was raw, real, uncompromisingly herself. If she was the fantasy of every man and the envy of every woman, it was not an act people were relating to, but something far more powerful, it was BARDOT people were fascinated by, the real deal. It was even said, and somewhat often, that she didn’t act, she existed (though I believe Vadim coined that phrase). Keep in mind also that she was the sexual predator, NOT the prey, and THIS was revolutionary, so much so that even Simone De Beauvoir wrote about her. So with her revolutionary status in perspective, let’s get personal.

I’ve had this unread biography of hers (“Bardot – Eternal Sex Goddess” by Peter Evans) sitting about in my collection for years. The other day I realized that I would finally like to read it. It’s been great, surprisingly understanding and full of insights rather than judgments. More importantly there are tons of great quotes. And it was in these quotes that I’ve started to really see why I relate to her on so many levels, and I’d like to share a few of them.

For example, Brigitte Bardot had this to say when discussing fear of being dead and forgotten:

“Being forgotten I don’t worry about, everybody is forgotten eventually, the grandest moments are dust in the end. But dying is horrible. There should be another way to end something as beautiful as life. I don’t know what is going to happen to me next week, tomorrow, not even tonight. But I do know for certain that I must die some day and the future is death. That frightens me a lot.”

It was a comfort to read of Bardot’s very real and very honest fear of death, as I too, for a long time now, have had an unnatural, consuming, and haunting fear of death. Though it seems to have lessened for me now as I am finally living my life. All the same, her articulation of the fear chilled me, especially “That frightens me a lot.” Me too. See, I didn’t always fear death, no, I was a fundamentalist Christian and just knew I was gonna go to heaven. Well, when I was realizing that Christianity was causing me far more pain than comfort, I was also entirely losing faith, and this left me with a hollow fear of death that could sometimes paralyze me. Trouble is, I just couldn’t fake that I believed in the Bible no matter how much easier it would have been. Fortunately, after years of soullessness I found Lord Shiva.

But wait, there’s more! Though I spend so much time alone, her thoughts on being alone moved me, and while I think I prefer being alone, the substance of her thoughts around it hit home.

“I hate to be alone. I get very anxious when I’m alone. Solitude scares me. It makes me think very strangely. I get anxious about life and death and war… I don’t want to think so much. That’s why I am always with good friends. I need distraction from the anxious thoughts, the black thoughts.”

Black thoughts indeed.

The quote below is not from Bardot, but from the author. Listen to this lovely description of her life:

“Brigitte had managed to close down her social life to almost hermetical proportions by film star standards. When not working she lived mostly within the walls of La Madrague, or on her remote and rambling farm near Bazoches forty-five miles outside Paris, going barefoot, in jeans, listening to records (including interminable Bach), reading, playing the guitar, swimming, fussing over her pets for hours. Even the most intimate houseguests–and she was never without someone close by she could completely rely on–couldn’t be sure of their welcome from day to day, even from hour to hour.”

Much of this I find very familiar, other parts of it not so much, but a solid chunk of it hits home very directly: Barefoot, jeans, playing guitar, and for me, having one person I rely on in my life and very close by. And though I do not live in La Madrague, I do live a solitary life down a dirt road in a lovely room on a lake with a beautiful view of the forest and animals that I truly love to have as neighbors. Though I don’t swim in the nude, as Bardot did on her lake, I do spend a lot of time floating around topless on a kayak napping and listening to the birds.

Moreso, Roger Vadim (her first husband and director of “And God Created Woman”) had this to say about Brigitte:

“Brigitte’s real trouble is that she doesn’t really like people. She is like a selfish child living in a nursery world of her own creation. She cannot accept she is part of a larger society.”

Dear God.

Does that ever sound familiar.

I suppose if I have learned anything from Bardot and her remarkable candor (and I have learned many things), it’s that this is my nursery world, and I may want what I want, and and I may feel what I feel.

When I grow up, I want to be Brigitte Bardot, though it would seem neither of us are in a hurry to grow up. And in that way, I can most definitely relate to her.

Brigitte Bardot On Death

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eyelash_bardot_2Brigitte Bardot had this to say when discussing fear of being dead and forgotten:

“Being forgotten I don’t worry about, everybody is forgotten eventually, the grandest moments are dust in the end. But dying is horrible. There should be another way to end something as beautiful as life. I don’t know what is going to happen to me next week, tomorrow, not even tonight. But I do know for certain that I must die some day and the future is death. That frightens me a lot.”

It was a comfort to read of Bardot’s very real and very honest fear of death, as I too, for a long time now, have had an unnatural, consuming, and haunting fear of death. Though it seems to have lessened for me now as I am finally living.

The Demon “I Want”

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I’m not so good at meditating, and not so sure I’m all that great as a Western version of a Hindu. See, I have no desire to renounce. No, this is, quite annoyingly, the first time I have ever been comfortable in the Material World, sensually content. I am not ready to let go of my ego.

See, this is why I don’t meditate much and why I wonder about my so-called Hinduism. But tonight I decided to meditate and not try and be good at it. Meditation is not as quiet as it should be for me, my ego chatters away, endlessly wanting things or being frustrated by things I wanted before but didn’t get… which makes me bitter. Want. Want. Want.

As I meditated, with no expectation that I be good at it, I realized that if I could stop wanting things I could be at peace. Now, of course, this concept is no revelation, and is in fact quite tired, right? Sure is, at least as words, but it’s not so tired when the light fills you and you actually get it, when you actually suddenly know and feel what it means. What is trite then become profound in a moment of clarity.

Clarity is divine, I always say. See, that’s what I get out of meditation. I don’t get silence, I get a single truth ringing clear, uncluttered by the noise of my ego, my wants, my Western thinking. Yes, clarity is divine, and THAT seems to be the gift I get from meditation, not silence, but silence around a single truth, as for me, truths are usually lost in a jumble of conflicting thoughts and feelings. Not so when the truth is shown through divine clarity.

I began to think about all the things I want, wanted, and will yet want, and I started to let them go, Poof… piff… like that they evaporated in my consciousness and I was free.

That was when I saw Shiva’s smile.

How I wish I could carry this clarity on to tomorrow…

To Whom I Turn

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To Whom I Turn

99l/11/huty/13289/38To barefoot Brigitte Bardot I turn for slinky sensuality, eccentricity, and all things feminine,

To Serge Gainsbourg I turn for romance and filth in equal measures,

To Mother Maybelle Carter I turn for music and technique of such deceptive simplicity,

To Alphonse Mucha I turn for grace and elegance, inspiration and humility,

To Jack Benny I turn for timing and loving laughter,

To Wally Wood I turn for paternity, lineage and erotic whimsy,

??????????????????To Paul McCartney I turn for pure creative spirit, craft, and more hope and optimism than I have within, and to Wings I turn for Prog Rock power Pop and joy,

To Joey Molland, Pete Ham and Badfinger I turn for more of the same,

To George Harrison I turn for spirit and finesse,

To Ravi Shankar I turn for mastery,

To Joseph Blue Sky I turn for comfort and equality,

To Lake Newnan I turn for peace and sky,

To the wise I turn for leadership, towards leaders I never turn,

arthur-rackham-cinderellaTo Arthur Rackham I turn for lines and awe,

To Townes van Zandt I turn for vulnerability and pain,

To Andy Griffith I turn for morality,

To Tom Hart I turn for forgiveness and openness,

To Hans Christian Andersen I turn for flights of fancy,

To Joe Courter I turn for family in my Gainesville home,

To my grandfather I turn for fatherhood and an easy going nature I envy still, and to grandma for love,

To Universal I turn for horror,

hoo-hist18cutTo Hoolihan and Big Chuck I turn for my youth and innocence,

To the Marquis de Sade I turn for madness, my own dark heart, wicked eroticism, and far more cynicism than I care to bear,

To dark chocolate I turn for bliss,

To Jess Franco I turn for groovy sleaze,

To Chuck Jones I turn for insightful laughter,

To the Beatles I turn for perfection,

To Kahlil Gibran I turn for truth,

1338389798-lord-shiva-wallpaper4To Lord Shiva I turn for spiritual power,

To Lord Ganesha I turn for success,

To dear Goddess Durga I turn for a woman’s strength,

To myself I turn for questions,

To the past I turn for hope, peace, and the future,

From the present, I turn.

Justine’s Unpopular Opinion #995

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Oh God! Dear God! I try, I try so hard to NOT be a loner, to try and “get” this culture, this time, to get along, to find a place to fit in. In that spirit I decided to forgo my contempt for tattoos and join the SAW gang in getting a little discreet SAW tattoo. I just wanted to be “in” for a change. For once I did not want to be on the outside of an activity because of my standards, standards that keep me home alone most of the time. I just wanted to be “in”

No.

No.

No, I went to the tattoo “parlor” and sat in the the waiting room, mired in ugly death metal, ugly people, ugly badass testosterone bullshit, ugly skulls with ugly flames and ugly daggers on hairy ugly legs. Sleazy, the whole place was sleazy, and NOT in a fun Jess Franco sorta way, but in a way that is reductive. The whole place was wallowing in darkness, aggression, hostility, and the loss of hope that these times have instilled in people. I felt miserably uncomfortable, in fact, sick to my stomach. In fact, as I sat in that tattoo “parlor” I realized that every single thing I hated was in evidence in that room. Every single thing. It was as if I was being shown a sneak preview of a hell that has been designed especially for me if I’m a bad girl.

I got the hell out of that dreadful negative environment and got home as quickly as I could and am now baptizing my ears in “Hope Of Deliverance,” and still feeling (45 minutes later) my lip curled in disgust, my stomach still knotted… STILL!

So, I guess as it turns out, I hate tattoos, and I HATED that place, that horrid horrid place so full of ugliness.

No more, Justine, no more. Be true to yourself, your standards, and let them have it. And if that means spending your life alone… so be it.