Defiantly Hopeful

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In the face of a world in crisis, I dare to care. In the face of materialism, consumerism, and me me me – ism, I recognize that I am because you are, that without you and you and you – plant animal mineral macro micro organism human- I would not exist. That we are all part of a brilliant multi hued tapestry, that we all add to the warp and weave and woof, that we all have a fierce light.

In the face of irony, cynicism, jadedness and despair, I choose hope. In the face of narrow empiricism, the confining corridors of quantification, of dogma of any stripe-rational, political, spiritual or religious, I choose to light a match to the fuse of possibility, and blow up all boxes, sending the church of reason, the church of ideology, the church of churchiness, into the air, with a deep and satisfying boooooom, so that emptied of their arrogance, these churches might offer us freedom, not more walls, love, not more hate, understanding, not more separation.

In the face of hatred, anger and fear, I choose love, compassion, and celebration. If I can’t party in your revolution, don’t put me on the guest list.

In the face of my own vulnerabilities and limitations, I choose to go easy on myself. I am not perfect, I am human, and that is a wonderful thing. My stumblings and fumblings make me real. I am simply doing my best.

In the face of my ego, which is always feeling either smalled or bigged, I smile gently and give it a little pat on the head, a kick in the butt, a nudge in the ribs and say,”hey we’re doing fine, we’re doing just fine. Get up off the ground, get down off of your pedestal and stand in the place of the real, neither inflated, nor deflated, just be yourself. That’s good enough.”

In the face of a sunny day, I cry out,”thank you! Thank you for this amazing world, thank you for 14 billion years of hard joyous miraculous work to get us to the point where we can really appreciate this magnificence. I’m going to stop pissing in my own pool and start truly loving this incredulous place, from the bottom of my toes to the tip of my tongue, gonna celebrate this one precious life, this next precious breath, this precious precious moment. To hell with the nay sayers and doomsdayers, the cynics and the pisspots, I will blow up the gates of the gatekeepers and storm the citadels of the power brokers with pure, unadulterated Love. Nothing-not anything- will stand in my way, not even myself. It’s the least I can do to say, thank you, thank you, thank you for the wondrous wonder of creative creation. And in case no one has told you this today, Universe: you rock!”

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THE FIERCE LIGHT TRAILER

Please share this far and wide – click on the video, go to youtube and choose “share”. Help spread the Fierce Light.

IN THE THEATRES ACROSS CANADA STARTING MAY 15TH!!

FIERCE LIGHT: WHEN SPIRIT MEETS ACTION

From the Director of Scared Sacred & The Producer of The Corporation

A Feature Documentary award winning filmmaker Velcrow Ripper

“A SPIRITUAL KALEIDOSCOPE OF HOPE AND JOY. UPLIFTING!” ~ Green Muze Magazine

“HUGELY ENGAGING AND VISUALLY DELIGHTFUL.” ~ Toronto Sun

“A POETIC CALL TO HEARTFELT ACTION.” ~ Common Ground

IN THEATRES ACROSS CANADA MAY 15!!!

Please spread this trailer, along with this note, far and wide, and help us fill the theatres May 15!!!

At the Cumberland in Toronto, The AMC Forum in Montreal and Fifth Avenue Cinema’s in Vancouver, Canada.

FOR MORE INFO GO TO:

http://www.fiercelight.org

“ACHINGLY BEAUTIFUL.” ~ NewCityFIlm, Chicago

“INTENSE AND INSPIRING.” ~ Examiner National

“RAW, HONEST AND COMPELLING.” ~ CJSF Radio

“Fierce Light” is a feature documentary that captures the exciting movement of Spiritual Activism that is exploding around the planet, and the powerful personalities that are igniting it.

Acclaimed filmmaker Velcrow Ripper (Scared Sacred) takes an insightful look at change motivated by love, featuring interviews with spiritual activists Thich Nhat Hanh, Desmond Tutu, Daryl Hannah, Julia Butterfly Hill, and more.

“COURAGEOUS …. POTENT … AUTHENTIC.” ~ Enlightennext Magazine

“INCREDIBLY MOVING! A SPIRITUAL EXPERIENCE IN ITSELF!” ~Vancouver International Film Festival

“A TOUCHING PORTRAIT OF THE POWER OF
RIGHTEOUSNESS AND LOVE…” -New Orleans Times-Picayune
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The Scared Sacred Journey Part 2

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1999 – France

It isn’t long before I enter the city of Marseilles. A second wave of sadness hits me, the memory of another loss, just two weeks earlier. It was here that my girlfriend, Angela, had made the decision to leave the project, to return home. I remember the train station, the pictures in the photo booth, kissing away our final moments together. “Am I making a mistake?” she asked. I had said no, because the decision was already made. The plane ticket was bought.

For the last two weeks I’ve been asking myself, again and again: why didn’t I say yes. You are. Don’t go. But I didn’t. Instead, I walked out of the station into the noisy city of Marseilles, searched out a café and ordered a Croque Monsieur. It was horrible. White bread with cheese on top and an ugly slice of ham inside, done in a microwave. Sounded better in French. I forced myself to eat it, then trudged down a long stone staircase, into the little red car and out onto the highway. Alone. A primal moan emerged, wracking my body. My Inner Voice offered it’s usual level minded take on the matter, which irritated me immensely at the time, but eventually I’ve come to realize it’s true: she did have to go. This is my mad journey. We’d failed to make it ours.

Now I’m alone, racing towards the Italian border, the project at risk. I plunge into the darkness of a long tunnel cutting through the French Alps, self-torturing loops of regret orbiting through my brain. My gear’s been stolen. I’m alone. I don’t have enough money. I’m alone. I can’t replace the gear. And did I mention? I’m alone. As I approach the Italian border, a new tension strikes: I’m afraid of customs. I couldn’t afford insurance for the Polo, and I’ve heard that to be caught uninsured in Italy means a large fine, or even imprisonment. I anxiously peer through the wavering headlights, expecting to have to face a customs officer at any moment: “Your papers please?” But I burst out of yet another tunnel, pass by a small sign surrounded by EU stars that reads, ‘Italy,’ and that’s it. I’m in a new country. I pull over at a money changer’s to get some Italian cash. I say, “Bonjour.” The teller replies, “Bonjiorno.”

Tunnel after tunnel through the Italian night. The toll is steep, ten dollars to go about twenty kilometers. But the road is hugging the coast and there are no alternative routes. Eventually I find an exit, readying myself to pay close to one hundred dollars in tolls, only to discover that there’s an open gate. My pulse stutters as I think of my uninsured state of being, but poverty forces me to be daring. I braze on by. Just past the gates, a number of motorcycle policemen in black with baggy pants are at the side of the road, writing up tickets for cars they have pulled over, perhaps for doing what I have just done. I keep glancing at the rear view mirror, anticipating wailing sirens and flashing lights. But no. I’m through and have just saved a hundred bucks that I don’t have. Excellent.

I find myself in Imperia, a groddy town on the Italian Riviera. It’s a bit whorish, a little seedy, not all cleaned up like the French Riveria. I like it already. I pull over to take a break. As I step out of the car I notice a pair of Italian loafers sitting on the curb. They have holes in the bottom, but fit perfectly. I walk down to the seaside, feeling all Italian in my new shoes, the beginnings of a replacement wardrobe. I wish they hadn’t of taken my razor though: my beard is getting itchy.

A meditative statue of Mary faces the ocean, arms outstretched, blessing the sailors. I pause in front of her, breathing deeply, allowing this icon of Mother Love to calm my mind. Out on the pier, men cast fishing lines into the sea with a soothing whizzz.

A young couple are pushing their child along in a wheel chair. His mouth is frozen open, his body paralyzed. Their son. I study his still features as they wheel him along the boardwalk. He probably likes it down here, by the ocean, even if he can’t show it. It puts my problems into perspective. What do I know about suffering? Nothing.

When I come back to the car, there’s a cop writing up a parking ticket. It must be a ‘No Parking Zone.’ I didn’t understand the Italian signage. I watch him from a distance, waiting for him to finish writing up the ticket and leave. He begins meticulously writing notes while talking on a mobile phone. Oh God: he’s probably calling a tow truck. And I can’t stop him, because of my insurance problem. He moves down the street, but remains within sight of the car. I contemplate leaping in and making a getaway, if he would just turn his back for a few minutes. But that would be crazy.

A few minutes later a tow truck arrives. I stand watching as the men get out, lower the jaws from the back of the truck, open them wide, and clamp down viciously onto my innocent vehicle.

Good-bye car. Just let it go. Goodbye the last of my belongings. My small library: ‘God in all Worlds,’ ‘Call of the Dervish,’ ‘Fire Under the Snow’ and ‘Kundalini Yoga for Beginners.’ Gone. A box of special objects collected in each of the Scared and Sacred places that I’ve been to so far. Let it go. Too much collecting, too much attachment. My shoes. Oh. These Italian things are falling apart and no good for hiking. Need shoes. Tent. No more camping. Stove. No more cooking. Oh no: my journal, stored inside my palmtop. I search frantically through my handbag. I have it! And my passport, and my bank card. I even have a pocket-sized I Ching. So it could be much worse.

The drivers climb into the cab of the tow truck, raise my car up into the air, and drag it away. My brain numbs as I watch my little red VW evaporating into the depths of the Italian legal system.

Gone.

I feel light headed, surreal. Estranged in a strange country with little more than the shirt on my back and a pair of shoes with holes in the soles. Which aren’t even mine. Now what?

Fierce Light Talk (Part One)

Here’s part one of a talk I gave in Nelson a few weeks back, the day after a screening of my feature documentary on spiritual activism, “Fierce Light: When Spirit Meets Action”.

NEW YEARS EVOLUTION

 

 

Kay, it’s that time of year when we all are thinking about how we’re supposed to be making a bunch of stinking New Years resolutions that we’re never going to keep and that are just going to make us feel bad about ourselves for the next year.   

Well my first New Years Evolution is to stop feeling bad about myself for any of my shortcomings – just let that go.   But first I have to do a very un-male thing and accept that I actually have a shortcoming or two.  Let me have a peek….yikes!  I do.  I gots some. Damn.  So much for that mask of rigid perfection I thought I had to wear.  

Hey – its actually kind of relaxing to drop that.  Let’s you breathe a little easier.  So- I herby accept my weak spots, I hereby see my blind spots, I hereby love my broken bits.  I  accept them, love them, and love myself.   It’s okay male ego – you aren’t perfect.  You got spots.  You got dots.  You got some work to do.

So my next New Years Evolution is to shine a light into my shadows, light a torch into my unconscious,  and see all of me, the dark and the light, the good, the bad and the ugly, and allow myself the room to grow.   I hereby renew my fierce commitment to evolution.   Spiritual evolution.   

I hereby commit myself to energetic integrity…to being aware of not just my speech, and my thought and actions, but to how my energy moves in the world.  I renew my committment to moving from a place of Love – and letting that Love come from the deepest well of my being, from a place of absolute freedom – freedom for myself, and freedom for everyone who comes into my path.   I commit to becoming aware of when, even on the subtlest levels, my energy shifts from one of power with, to power over.   This is something we men have to really learn, and work on, cause the patriarchy has dug deep into our souls, and carved out a swampy sludge that needs constant clearing. But women get snared by  the inner patriarch too.

I invite the Divine She in, with awe and gratitude, to help clear away every last vestige of oily patriarchal residue from within me, and those around me – men and women both – free us from the hypnotizing lies of domination and destruction, of fear and manipulation,  so we can reclaim our souls, our selves, our lives and our planet and walk again in creativity and wonder, in collaboration and delight, in hope and inspiration,  thank you, thank you, thank you for this incredible world.

I invite the Divine He in, to re-ignite in me an understanding of what the true masculine is, the loving masculine, the giving masculine, the healing masculine, the empowering, powerful, free and spacious masculine.

 

 

This Space Free.

 

 

I commit to clearing, and re-clearing, to calling the divine in, moment by moment, day by day, to serving with all my power, from a place of loving power, helping to be a source of radiance in this world, and not a force of depletion.  To inspire and awaken in me the highest truth, to be a solar powered bio fueled love bug in this world of turmoil and transformation.  

I commit to stop using the phrase “in this world of turmoil and transformation” all the time.

I commit to loosening up, to laughing a lot more, to not making so many commitments all the time, especially on New Years, when it’s such an obvious thing to do, instead to cover it all in one foul swoop and say:  I commit to coming from the deepest place of authenicity I possibly can, at all times, and when I forget and my ego takes over, to bouncing back as soon as I notice, or until someone I love tells me to wake the fuck up.  I commit to saying, “thank you” when they do, unless it gets over the top and too damn much in which case, in the interests of self love, I commit to walking away, with my heart full of love, from any situation, relationship or scenario which is just not good for me.

I commit to opening my heart wide, to being truly spacious, to letting go, to not holding on, to not taking, to not grasping, to not clinging, to allowing what is to be, and what isn’t to not be, to allowing what wants to be to manifest without trying to outthink, double think, or triple think the divine, to getting out of my own way so the universe can do it’s part, to doing my part, to loving the process, to seeing it all as a process, to not obsessing on the goal, to lighting my bonfire and burning down the house, till there’s nothing left but love and ashes, and building it all up, over and over again, each beautiful castle nothing more than a glittering wedding cake to the divine, offered with love to the whole party, no guest list needed, with fearless surrender and profound willfulness, secure in the knowledge that all is good, all is good, all is good.   

I swear I’m not just making idle promises here, but really laying it on the line – the time has come to let loose the full potential that I was gifted with here on this earth, this one precious and wild life as they say, to really live it, seize it by the cojones and dare to stare into the sun with my eyes glowing fierce and uninhibited and reverently irreverent, fearless and truthful, joyous and mournful, tasting the agonizing ecstasy that is life on earth with every pore of my body, mind and spirit sizzling, sizzling, sizzling.   Let nothing stop me, not even the cynics and the killjoys who would piss on my parade, not the gatekeepers who have locked their own  gates, not the gates I myself have locked, let me blow up them all to smithereens with divine inspiration, smash down the old altars, tear down the walls, gleefully, lovingly, unstoppable.  Sizzling, sizzling, sizzling.

The Fierce Fire of Radical Authenticity

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“All of those for whom authentic transformation has deeply unseated their souls must, I believe, wrestle with the profound moral obligation to shout from the heart—perhaps quietly and gently, with tears of reluctance; perhaps with fierce fire and angry wisdom; perhaps with slow and careful analysis; perhaps by unshakable public example—but authenticity always and absolutely carries a demand and duty: you must speak out, to the best of your ability, and shake the spiritual tree, and shine your headlights into the eyes of the complacent. You must let that radical realization rumble through your veins and rattle those around you.” – Ken Wilber

Radical authenticity – isn’t it time?   Last night at the Fierce Light workshop I led in Toronto, there was a buzzing in the air.  Change is afoot, magic is alive, in the midst of the tremendous uncertainty of this era, in the wake of the Obama phenomena, we are experiencing a downpour of possibility.   This is a time when things are getting better and better, and worse and worse, faster and faster. The change we need, as Obama repeatedly says, is not going to come from one leader. It’s going to come from us all. And it starts inside the human heart, not in the head.  We of course want to utilize these great weighty brains evolution has given us, but as an adjunct to our true source of wisdom, a soul level wisdom.  We stand on the threshold of a new era, an era in which each and everyone of us is called to our highest Self, our True Self.  Why settle for less?

Andrew Cohen teaches that if we can get to a place where we operate from what he calls the “Authentic Self” for 51% of the time, we no longer need to apply will power. It will just maintain itself, without continual effort.  Awakening is tangible, real and possible. Not a pie in sky ideal.  It happens right now, this very moment.  You don’t need to wait until you have succeeded in annihalating the ego.  For most of us, that ain’t gonna happen anyways.  So more realistically, all you have to do is choose to align yourself with your highest impulses, and disobey the cavetching fear mongering smalling of the ego.   Not that this is an easy thing to do – in fact, it’s nothing less than heroic.  But I believe we can do it – we can all become what Redvolution co-director Sera Beak calls a  “Spiritual Super Hero.”

I asked the room last night if people were familiar with the difference between the ego and the true self, if they noticed a distinction, if they were aware of this fracture.  Most said yes.  Then I asked, what percentage of the time are you operating from that True Self.  100 % of the time?  No one raised their hands.  70%?  50%?  40%?  20%? 5%?   The numbers were pretty low.  Not surprsing, given our enculturation, the teachings that the media and society instill in us of  fear, contraction, and a sense of lack.   We’re always lacking something.  The answers the corporations offer is – fill that lack with stuff.   

In the wake of economic uncertainty, those materialistic solutions are less and less appealing.  So where to do you turn?  Where do you find meaning?   What gets you out of bed in the morning?

A Ferocious Yes!

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I got a speeding ticket on my way to a spiritual retreat. Now, if this was a buddhist retreat I was heading to, the fact that I was going 80 miles an hour in a 55 mile per hour zone would seem very unpeaceful – counter buddhistic you might say. But since I was heading to a retreat with evolutionary spirituality guru Andrew Cohen, it was somehow fitting. Peace? Forget peace! Cohen teaches that the evolutionary impulse wants creative friction, it wants to burn. Be a human bonfire, make trouble, get out and change the world. So the fact that I had a sense of urgency, that I was in a big hurry to get to the retreat, is very appropriate. Even if I have to pay a price…

I’ve read Cohen’s magazine, What is Enlightenment? (now EnlightenNEXT), listened to audio recordings of his teachings, and befriended some of his students, teachers in their own right like Carter Phipps, and I’ve always been inspired. I feel a natural and deep resonance with these teachings. They are contemporary, fiery and liberating in a way that few other teachings are. But coming here to Foxhollow in Massachusetts and listening to Andrew in person took it to a whole new level. It was a direct transmission.

By the end of the weekend retreat, called “Changing the World from the Inside Out”, I had the sense that my spiritual bonfire had a barrel of jet fuel poured onto it. Andrew teaches that all of us have, at the deepest level, an Authentic Self. This is our original face, and it is the evolutionary impulse which began some 14 billion years ago with the Big Bang, and continues to unfold to this day, in each and every one of us. We just need to wake up to this fact, and own it, and the tremendous responsibility it leaves us with – the responsibility to transcend the confines of our limiting ego, that seperate self sense, and step into the drivers seat, and start consciously evolving, co-creating the universe. When you really get this, that you are one of the many faces of God – yes You – at a deep, deep level, it is nothing less than awe inspiring. Inside you is a fiery force, a creative force, an emerging urgency to unfold, to blossom, to move through this world with uncompromising authenticity. Everything changes from this perspective. You have a limited amount of time here in the manifest realm, and there is no more time for procrastination, no more time for playing the victim, for licking your ego wounds, for whining your life away- your extraordinary life begins today.

Andrew doesn’t coddle his students, he urges us to step on the gas and go for it. One of the excercises he asked us to do was to imagine the ego from the perspective of the authentic self. What does it look like, what does it feel like? This simple exercise is quite profound when you really give it a go. First of all, it requires that you take the perspective of the authentic self. Far too often (for many of us, all of the time), we identify our “I” as the ego. Flip this around, and realize that your true “I” is your authentic self, your God self. Your original face. Then, from this perspective, have a look at your ego. What do you see?

I saw my ego as a huge, over inflated hot air balloon. Distended, taut and puffed up. And then it just popped – kaboom! – shrivelled up to it’s true size, a wrinkled little piece of rubber. A bit like a used condom. Not that it was gone – it’s still there, and most likely it will always still be there. The ego has a purpose, it emerged for a reason- that sense of seperation from the One, allows Us to step back, and see Ourselves, to celebrate creation, and to engage in a way that singularity can’t. One of the unique gifts of human consciousness, is that we “know that we know.” We are G-d seeing Herself. The ego helps to make this possible. But it isn’t the be all and end all – it’s just a small slice of who We are, a tool, and we’ve over inflated it, made it into our everything. Instead of allowing it to drive, what if you were to (as spiritual cowgirl Sera Beak suggests) give it one of those little toy steering wheels and a baby rattle, and put it in the back seat, where it belongs. Don’t let it drive!

Tommorrow producer Cher Hawrysh and I are going to interview Andrew for Fierce Light Films new feature documentary project, in the early stages of development, called “Evolve Dissolve: Another World is Here.” This is the very first shoot of the film, and a fitting launching pad as we set off on a new journey.

“Evolutionary enlightenment calls for egoless participation in the life-process for the sake of the evolution of consciousness itself. We are all desperately needed right now. For what? To truly awaken, to become enlightened, so that we can consciously participate, as liberated souls, in the life-process. What is the point of the experience of incarnation? To finally be able to give ourselves wholeheartedly to the life-process—to EVOLUTION—to conscious evolution, so that we can make a real difference in this crazy, divided, suffering world. Yes, enlightenment for the twenty-first century calls us all to participate wholeheartedly—that means with everything we’ve got—for everyone else’s sake, for the upliftment of all of life, RIGHT NOW, as liberated beings. Yes, we are all needed, by our very own Self. Desperately.” –Andrew Cohen

It’s an incredibly positive vision, in which the Big Bang, and everything that’s come since, including human consciousness, is seen a great big Yes!

So what about you? Are you ready to start living an extraordinary life? What does your authentic self look like, taste like, feel like? How about your ego? Who would you rather have in the drivers seat?