SAINT OLGA

SAINT OLGA
MY GREAT GRANDMOTHER, SAINT OLGA, PATRON SAINT OF CONVERTS

Monday, September 2, 2019

THE JOY OF THINKING WELL OF OTHERS

Saint Therese of Lisieux

Sometime in my life, I resolved to try to put myself in the place of others in my estimation of them. Curbing my natural skepticism and critical nature has proved to be no pic nic, I can assure you, as I have often had to backtrack, review, revise, and then move forward with the current iteration of that plan for kindness and understanding.


"Nothing is sweeter than to think well of others."
Saint Therese of Lisieux


In the current case of Donald Trump, this is particularly difficult, because he is doing and saying evil things. How do I think well of someone who is hurting so many people?


president trump snarling in the oval office

"President Trump's Twitter account has been pure fire lately...
This is the kind of WHITE NATIONALISM we elected him for."
Neo-Nazi Andrew Anglin



Firstly, I am unable to put myself in his position. I don't travel in anything like his circle of business or politics, but most pertinent is that I simply can't imagine myself doing and saying any of the horrible things he does.


Donald Trump Quotes On Not Being A Schmuck
allthatsinteresting.com
"32 Donald Trump Quotes You Have to Read to Believe"


"It is harder for a rich man to enter heaven than
for a camel to pass through the eye of the needle."
Jesus

The pursuit of power has always baffled me and, although I have had plenty of experience with people who deliberately hurt others in order to benefit financially, I never have understood their larcenous hearts. Most disturbing are those who find delight in hurting others.

Fortunately, these types seem to be in the minority. (I have personal experience with only one individual in my life, who exults in damaging people just for the pleasure of it. There has been no period of time in which I was in touch with that toxic character that they weren't enacting some plot to harm me or some other person in her orbit. Nevertheless, I have no insight. The situation is too far outside my ken.)



Jesus and the money changers

So, what do I do about this contradiction? I wish to think well of others, give everyone the benefit of the doubt, and look upon all with the kind regard demanded of us by our faith. How does one do this when faced with evil? I will not pretend that evil is good. So, what is the answer?

My latest resolution is to pray for people who are doing evil at the same time that I lobby against their hurtful actions, which is difficult, but that's the point, isn't it? Jesus knew what he was doing when He told us to pray for our enemies and do good to them. The spiritual exercise it demands is fearsome.


Trump On Women
allthatsinteresting.com
"32 Donald Trump Quotes You Have to Read to Believe"


What occurs to me as the most important aspect of this is that I do not presume to know the inner heart of a person. I do not know what Donald Trump thinks. His words are a clue, but they aren't absolutely definitive. None of us has x-ray vision of the soul and we cannot say with authority exactly what are the motives of another person, even someone who speaks as much as he does.

It is crucial, for me, that I do not label any human being "evil" because I would be eliminating the Lord from the equation thereby. I would be dooming that human being to a life devoid of the possibility of repentance and rehabilitation. Certainly, I myself have benefited from the forgiveness of the Lord in the past. I must give everyone else that same assurance.


Sexist Quotes From Donald Trump
allthatsinteresting.com
"32 Donald Trump Quotes You Have to Read to Believe"


During these difficult times, when Trump's government is ripping children away from their parents and throwing them in cages to sleep on cement floors with paper blankets, crammed in with too many other children, none of whom have proper food or hygiene or anything necessary for mental and emotional health - and deporting all the immigrant children who are getting vital medical treatment not available in their country of origin and who will die without it - I want to scream to the heavens. You bet I have wanted to call Trump the most horrible of names. I have wanted to curse him and damn him to hell. It takes great restraint not to do so.


Backstage At The Miss America Pageant

Drew Angerer / Getty Images
allthatsinteresting.com


Currently, there is a large group of people who are supporting government actions that are obviously evil - things that violate every precept we supposedly hold dear in our country - while at the same time confidently believing they are saving the world. Outsiders tend to presume that the people in that group know they are wrong and are deliberately doing wicked things in order to benefit in some way. That is sometimes the case, but not typically.


Racist Quotes By Donald Trump
allthatsinteresting.com
"32 Donald Trump Quotes You Have to Read to Believe"

For whatever reason, whether through some brain washing, exotic fascination, or religious fanaticism, this group will support damnable atrocities of this administration, while at the same time asserting righteousness. I am frequently reminded of the Nazi era in Germany where Hitler rose to power, not through force, but through the support of ordinary Germans who somehow did not realize they were cooperating with evil. What is happening in our country is very similar to that time period. Trump's words are very similar, such as calling the news media "the enemy of the people," and "fake news."  Hitler called the press "lugenpresse," ("lying press') and likewise demonized vulnerable groups of people, i.e., the Jews, the gays, the disabled, the elderly, and the immigrant.


Image

The term "lugenpresse" has started to be heard in Trump rallies, yelled out by the "alt right" supporters of Trump. It isn't surprising, since the Nazi Party and various white supremacist figures have lauded Trump. You can read more about it:

HERE - IN AN ARTICLE IN BUZZ FEE NEWS; and,

HERE - IN BREITBART

It is quite clear to me, and no doubt to all my readers, that this adoption of a Nazi propaganda tool by the American right wing is the antithesis of American democracy, in which respect for and support of journalists is enshrined in the First Amendment to our Constitution. It seems incredible to us that Trump sycophants aren't bothered by it.


Image result for "first amendment"


Prior to his election, Trump talked about demolishing the First Amendment so that he could sue journalists who write unflattering things about him:


"We're going to open up those libel laws so when the 
New York Times writes a hit piece, which is a total 
disgrace, or when the Washington Post, which is 
there for other reasons, writes a hit piece, we can 
sue them and win money instead of having no 
chance of winning because they're totally protected. 
We're going to open up libel laws and we're going 
to have people sue you like you've never got sued 
before." Donald Trump


The First Amendment protects free speech for a very important reason. It is the bedrock of our democracy. We are a country in which our citizens are free to speak their minds. Any attempt to quash that freedom is a sure sign of a dictatorship or fascist movement attempting to assert itself. I am free to say anything I like about Donald Trump and his cohorts. My spiritual orientation is what makes me want to keep an appropriate "lid" on what I say about his spiritual condition, but if I were to be compelled by law to conform to a rule of only saying flattering things about him and his policies, I would definitely be in the resistance on that score.

Some day, the mist may clear from the psychic eyes of the die-hard Trump supporters in government, and they may recognize their error and thereafter change the way they operate. I need to leave a space open for those folks to have the time to transcend their current condition, while at the same time, I fight to protect vulnerable people who are Trump's targets. It isn't easy!

Every day, I fight this battle. I try very hard not to succumb to the natural human impulse to say that he is evil personified, or the anti-Christ or whatever other slur that comes to mind. I keep thinking about former president Jimmy Carter and how he was always extremely respectful of his colleagues and his competitors alike. In the debates, he always used to say "my esteemed opponent."

Image result for jimmy carter quotes

Instead of reacting against the personality of Trump, I am trying to focus on the really excellent example of the dignified, respectable, truly Christian Jimmy Carter, who has a gravitas that Trump will likely never have. Once again, it is a matter of where one puts one's attention, right?

Hate the sin. Love the sinner. Repeat.

God save us all, including Donald Trump

Silver Rose







Friday, August 30, 2019

WATCH WHAT YOU WATCH



"Satan knows that he has lost the soul that
perseveringly practices mental prayer"
~Saint Teresa of Avila~

The news is full of very distressing occurrences, both natural and artificial. Wide spread and uncontrolled Fires in the Amazon that threaten "the lungs" of our planet; copious bits and filaments of plastic found deep within the ice caps which we'd hoped to find pristine; torturous conditions for wee little children at the border in facilities likened to concentration camps; sudden, previously unannounced deportations of children receiving life-saving medical care at several of our hospitals; the reversal of ecological measures meant to save the planet; and a president whose lawlessness, moral and ethical bankruptcy, erratic behavior and cruel policies have given rise to a credible concern that, in addition to being a scofflaw and con man, he may also be suffering from some sort of dementia or insanity: these are all matters that provoke anxiety, and it is natural that our attention would be drawn to them.




I've always advocated for peace and justice and fought against evil. Even when I was a child of 11 or so, I was marching in anti-war demonstrations. I still believe that it is important to promote the values around the themes of peace and justice. My lifelong devotion to these ideals dovetail perfectly with the commandments of Christ, so much so that when I read the words and life stories of the mystics and the rest of the saints, I felt I had come home at last. For me, Jesus embodies the perfect combination of contemplation and peaceful action.


Saint Hildegard of Bingen
Spiritual enlightenment in action

My personal mental hygiene also entails paying close attention to the balance between staying informed about the day-to-day events, on the one hand, and attending to the Lord, on the other. Ideally, we should all be like Brother Lawrence, keeping company with God while managing the material world in an holistic action of body and soul.

Saint Joan of Arc
She brought her Lord onto the battlefield.

In this age of distressing political events, with a background of scary ecological consequences of our selfishness and what it means for future generations, I remind myself constantly to view all of it with the eyes of the Divine and to stay established in the peace of the Lord. For those of us with PTSD or anxiety or other similar issues, it can be a challenge, but it is very much possible.

Saint Margaret of Scotland
Queen and Saint
Beloved of her people.
My 29th Great Grandmother


Tending the inner garden with one's mind on the Divine can be done, and I want to encourage all of you to join me in that space where we are all one, and where we can work together for peace and justice and the enlightenment and sanctification of souls.

While you are coping with each new horror that is announced, don't forget to connect with the rest of us who are likewise inclined to the Divine. We can draw strength and courage from one another in that transcendent space.

God bless us all.

Silver Rose
Sannyasini Kaliprana



Thursday, August 22, 2019

YOU ARE ENOUGH



It occurs to me that I should leave a message on the occasion of this auspicious birthday.

I want to encourage spiritual seekers of all paths. Spiritual disciplines challenge us and we sometimes feel we are not up to it. Sometimes we might judge ourselves harshly. Put that aside. Remember that, regardless of what others see in us and interpret as 'defects' cannot keep us from experiencing the "kingdom of heaven" among us, provided we actually want that experience. Do you want it?

As you know, I have practiced several traditions of meditation, prayer, and disciplines. I have found a harmony of purpose and practice among most of them. If I were to synthesize the most significant idea of practice, it would be this: Train your attention on the Divine. Call it God or Ultimate Truth or Divine Love, or whatever you like. Throughout your daily life, in practice and outside of practice, rest your mind with the Divine.

When you wash the dishes, wash them in concert with Divine Love. Just be aware that the Lord is with you, and you are washing the dishes together. Simple. When your mind wanders, bring your attention back quietly, without the fanfare of frustration. We will never have perfect practice, so it is not helpful to pretend that we "should" and to then get mad at ourselves for our shortcomings. Your method of bringing the mind back is as important as the serenity experienced when the mind is where you intend it to be.

It will help you in meditation and prayer if you maintain this mindfulness practice throughout your waking hours. Catholics who pray the rosary, for instance, may find greater ease in attending to the meanings of the prayers recited on each bead, and they may experience an increase in the perception of the Divine Presence. (Keep in mind that God is not more with us at this time than at any other. It is only our awareness that has changed. We are not bringing God to ourselves. We are opening our consciousness to what is already "right in front of our noses," so to speak.)

You could credibly spend a lifetime on this practice alone, so I will leave you with the two ideas. (1) You are enough. That is, if you want the experience of God, you have everything you need to do that; and (2) rest your mind on the Divine gently, with serenity and confidence.

Silver Rose
"Sannyasini Kaliprana"



Wednesday, August 21, 2019

A BIG BIRTHDAY APPROACHES


In this photo, I am obviously a little toddler.
I used to love talking on the phone - for many
years, actually - but in my old age, I would
rather pray.

I am turning 65 years old this week, and my thoughts naturally turn to a review of my life and of life in general, which is looking much more fraught with difficulties than I'd imagined for my golden years.


I am about 3 or 4 in this picture. I LOVED my rocking horse,
and I later became an expert horse woman.

~~~

At the same time, I have been watching an Amazon miniseries, The Man in the High Castle, and throughout this dystopian vision of an America that LOST World War II and became subservient to both the Germans and the Japanese, there are references to the casual, matter-of-fact incarceration and euthanasia of disabled people, which hits far too close to home for comfort, as you can imagine. In one scene, a surprisingly sympathetic Nazi chief is faced with his teenage son's sudden diagnosis of some wasting disease and the prescribed euthanasia he is expected to perform himself. The doctor is matter-of-fact about the whole thing. This is what one does to the disabled when the prejudices against people become institutionalized. It is a fearsome warning of the future.


I am 6  years old in this picture, hunting for Easter
Eggs at my Grandmother's house in Auburn. I think
we were staying with her while our parents fought
over their divorce.

~~~



You know why, of course! I was reminded of Donald Trump's very vocal prejudices and how he mocked the jerky motions of a disabled journalist, as well as the fat body of one of his supporters. Unattractive women are regularly disparaged and maligned with his filthy language. You will remember the clerk at Smith's Grocery Store on Constitution and Carlisle telling me that he "believes in Trump's law" and that, because I didn't have two arms cut off or two legs cut off, I wasn't really disabled and did not deserve to use my handicap placard. I had hoped that by the time I reached this distinguished old age, the world would have improved, but in Trump's transactional world view, America is a land where very few of us have any value.




I am somewhere between 7 and 9 in this photo.

~~~



Earlier this week, I saw a special edition of "Carpool Karaoke" with James Corden and special guest Paul McCartney, and I was struck, once again, by the love and positivity that radiated from all those old Beatles songs, and which characterized my world view when young. I had anticipated a better world, a kinder world. I thought that by the time I reached this age, the arc of the moral universe that Martin Luther King Jr. referenced would have bent a little bit closer to justice than it has. I remember when he was assassinated. It was an omen of times to come, apparently. Anyone who preaches radical love and forgiveness is the enemy of the powerful and wealthy.



My graduation picture. I was only 16, but
graduated high school a year early.
Note the peace sign around my neck!
I have always been committed to peace.

~~~


Just yesterday, an old man in a giant red truck deliberately smashed into the bumper of my car in a shocking display of parking lot rage. I had gotten into the drive-through line before he was even in the parking lot, but he evidently had his eye on that spot in line, so he rammed my car with his giant bumper and kept ramming it until I called the police. Here I was, a single old woman in a battered 23 year-old car with one window missing, and all kinds of religious bumper stickers on the back end. I was obviously harmless, which is likely the point. When the police officer asked me what the man looked like, I turned to see a short old man whose head barely came up over the dash board.



This was my prom picture. I think it was the junior
prom. I took my junior and senior classes in one year.
That was Chris, with his arm around my waist. (He
was a very nice young man. I always wondered what
happened to him.)



Yes, I had hoped for more progress on the peace front, but, instead, the monetization of people has gotten worse. Prejudice, bigotry, xenophobia and misogyny have grown worse. Cruelty abounds. Free floating rage is endemic.




My son was about 2 or 3 in this picture.
He died when he was 40 from a combination of things.
Diabetes, alcoholism, drug addiction.
Very sad.

~~~


Of course, Trump didn't start the monetization of people as commodities. He is just coarser and more blatant about it than others.  Human beings have long looked down on poor people, people of color, old people, the fat, the disabled and the frail. I have experienced considerable discrimination and cruelty as a large woman with big feet and eyeglasses. There was a continual drumbeat of insistence that I conform to the visual image that others wanted me to present so that I would please them. During my fat years I was tormented horribly. I was a bit thin between the ages of 16 and 24, but I STILL got comments from people that I would be pretty if I lost even more weight. Did they want me to disappear altogether? Maybe that is the point.

We like our women to waste away. We hobble them with high heels and ridiculous tight fashions that keep them bound up. In personality also, I noticed that the weak, passive,  female voice was preferred. No loud mouths, please! We want our women to be subservient. In movies, no matter how smart the woman, she always ends up weeping when the going gets tough - needing to be rescued because she is just so frail and tender. Then, when one is old and is REALLY frail and tender, the world has no use for us.

After the whole Nixon debacle, I was under the mistaken impression that our government was fine enough and good enough to eliminate any bad egg that might come along. I mistakenly thought that we were safe and that no president would dare to be so corrupt. The current occupant of the Oval Office is far worse than Nixon. Not only that, but the Republican Party has become infected with his love of power and is making his reign even worse. They enable him. It is horrifying. And I really didn't expect it.




This as taken about 1975 in San Francisco. I was with my
grandmother, and we were eating at my favorite restaurant.

~~~


My son was about 6 in the above picture. He and
I were meeting my father at a favorite restaurant
on Melrose Avenue in Hollywood.

~~~


The class structure that displaces so many categories of people is taken for granted by the privileged. For instance, when your birthday approaches, Facebook asks you what charity you would like your friends to support instead of sending you a present. People who don't have difficulty stocking the refrigerator probably welcome the opportunity to deflect unnecessary monies to those poor wretched people over there somewhere. It makes them feel good.




My friend, Richard Desiato, took a series of photos
for an anticipated foray into acting. I decided against
it, but the photos were grand.

~~~

The media and social platforms never speak to poor people. Forty million Americans are routinely ignored, not from some deliberate effort to exclude them but because the subconscious, underlying assumption is that they are not part of the audience. Only people with money constitute the audience. Why? Everything is monetized: poor people have no worth because all worth is determined by personal resources that may be useful to other people. Youth, beauty, wealth, power, connections - all have their perceived value. If you possess something that someone else may want, then you have value.





I was about 32 in this picture, enjoying the company of
my guru, Swami Swahananda. This was when I became
very serious about my spiritual journey and joined
the Vedanta Convent in Hollywood.

~~~





This picture was taken just before I joined the Hollywood
Vedanta Convent. My father was in the background, but
he is cut out of the photo.

~~~


Americans find many ways to discount the plight of the poor by claiming they are not poor at all. Either we have too much stuff, or we are not poor unless we are the poorest on the planet. We are required to appear to be poor to the casual observer, but since we live in an affluent culture, American poor people are often the recipients of castoffs from those who are better off. Consequently, we do not fit the mental image of what poor people are "supposed" to look like. My pink leather couch is a perfect example.

This was about 1994, when I moved back to Northern California
for a while. My health wasn't great, and I was having trouble
supporting myself. Salaries being offered were much lower
than in years past.

~~~




These are my sannyas pictures from 2003. My knees had
given out on me, exercise wasn't possible, and I packed on
the weight really fast. Later, I took much of it off.

~~~


I have a 40 year-old pink leather couch that was given to me by a fellow parishioner. A leather couch is considered to be a luxury item, but it is not even possible to sell the damn thing, even if I wanted to. I can not safely invite strangers to come into the apartment of a disabled, single senior lady and risk being robbed or killed. In the alternative, where should I sell it and how could I transport it there? And, after paying for transport, when I get my $100 for the darn thing, will I be able to buy a couch to replace it? No, of course not. I would have to buy someone else's old couch, and it won't be as suitable as the hand-me-down 35 year-old pink one that I have and that I love.


The famous pink couch.
This was in about 2015

~~~


But that pink couch that some may cite as proof of my fabulous wealth doesn't pay for dental work, which Medicare does not cover and costs thousands of dollars. All of your grandmas and grandpas are worried about their teeth because the average monthly income for each of us is about $1,000 a month! When dental work will cost three times a person's monthly income, what are they supposed to do? 3/4 of seniors have serious dental needs by the time they retire. Only the bottom third of poor people qualify for Medicaid, which pays for certain TYPES of dental work. Basically, it will pay to have your teeth removed. That is it. They may help with dentures after all your teeth have been lost.





This was about 2014, 2015.
The weight is starting to come off, bit by bit.

~~~


Another popular idea is most of the 40 million poor people are crooks with larcenous hearts and drug and alcohol addictions. This is a lie. There are no more drug addictions among the poor than among the middle class and wealthy.  The wealthy do a better job of hiding it.

If you have inherited a smart phone and if you have been given a computer, then you are likewise told you are not poor - but neither of those things would pay for that $3,000 dental work.








Facebook became my friend in my years at home after disability.
Being an artist at heart, I loved playing with the photo frames!

~~~


Compare this situation with what happens in all the other industrialized countries, and one has to wonder WHY, exactly, the richest country in the world cannot do what all the other industrialized countries do, despite those countries having far less wealth overall. Our corporations make gigantic profits. American corporate executives make 400 times what the average worker makes. Our entire system is designed to keep millions of us poor and a few people at the very top rich beyond the wildest dreams.




As I approach my 65th birthday this week, my sympathy for my brothers and sisters who belong to this HUGE class of people has been increased. I have a depth of understanding for what seniors, the disabled and the working poor are enduring because I am experiencing it myself.


This is me at age 60. Disabled for 10 years, but still
SMILING.

~~~

As a nation, we need some honesty and integrity to return to the political and social discourse. Prejudice against the poor and vulnerable is just one of the popular lies that is being employed by the wealthy to justify their own criminal, selfish intentions. If we do not turn this trend around, we will end up in a very bad place. Those of us with a serious spiritual life must remember that the bulk of Jesus' message was in favor of the poor. It is harder for the rich man to enter heaven than for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle. Our value structure must be based on His criteria - not Donald Trump and men like him. Not the transactional attitude of big business and corporations.








With regard to this issue in general, I would ask you to consider supporting government programs that give health care to everyone. It is shameful that Americans are sometimes actually DYING from an inability to get dental care. Ignoring dental issues can and sometimes does result in heart problems and death. This does not happen in the other industrialized countries, even though they have far less wealth than the Americans do. Haven't you ever wondered WHY this is? If you do not believe what I have written here, please do yourself and all of us the favor of investigating and researching original sources and legitimate journalists.






For myself personally, I ask that you consider donating to my Paypal account so I can get some dental work. The eyeglasses for which I went through such agony to find the money six months ago have now fallen apart and need repair. My service dog himself needs dental surgery, amounting to between $500 and $800, otherwise he will have to be euthanized much sooner than otherwise. My personal papers and projects are in boxes all over my house because I need storage furniture, a writing desk, some filing cabinets, in addition to the aforementioned electric bed.







See the link to the right, above. I also have a BIRTHDAY WISH LIST on Amazon that includes a bed. Amazon has my address and will ship to me direct.





During the 33 years that I worked and supported myself, I never dreamed I would have to ask for help, but I do it regularly now because I am both disabled, senior, and without resources. What little family I had stole the inheritance my father arranged for me by changing his will after he got Alzheimers and after I became completely disabled. The man who signed his death certificate was a quack who went to jail for giving prescriptions to people he had never met and in amounts that would kill. My father's death was suspicious, but by the time I knew he was dead, those closest to him had quickly disposed of his body by cremation. These few facts tell you all you need to know about my little family. I leave them to their fate - in God's hands. In the meantime, what can I do? Just as others around the world, I must ask for help from the world at large. If help comes, I praise God. If help does not come, I praise God.






If you are able to help, I thank you in advance. If not, you may be one of the 40 million poor people who are struggling to make ends meet, and I will continue to pray for you. Or, you may be one of those people who disparages the poor and blames them. I pray for you also. I pray for everyone.

One day, I hope all Americans learn to treat others as if they were made in the likeness and image of God, instead of just mouthing that biblical platitude.

In the meantime, despite the multiple difficulties, I find meaning, joy and lessons in all of it and I still maintain an overriding sense of gratitude for my long life, which I hope continues for some time. Life is still good, and I still feel blessed. I hope you do likewise.

May all people have peace and happiness. As the Indian sages chant;

Shanti, Shanti, Shanti. Peace, Peace, Peace. May Peace be unto all people.


Silver "Rose"
Sannyasini Kaliprana