Thursday, February 20, 2014

The Journey is the Way

                                                           The Journey is the Way
                   Hal Pepinsky,, "peacemaking" at
                                                              February 20, 2014

    Since I first encountered it in my first East Asian studies course the fall of 1962 (when JFK, my first and last living political hero), Laoze's Daodejing has been my bible.  Legend has it that during the most violent, chaotic time in "modern" Chinese history, the Warring States period that "ended" with the rise of the first (Han) dynasty in the 3rd century BCE, many kings among the many warring kingdoms consulted Laoze for expert opinion on how to keep from being overrun by foreigners with the support of "his" people.  Regardless of who all actually wrote the little green book, I always find that the Daodejing is a reliable guide to what we get for how we try to control each other's behavior.
     Classical Chinese had no punctuation.  It was up to the reader to decide where and when to pause.  Compound characters were as rare as they are common in modern Chinese.  In sum, writing was lean, each character rich in connotations.  In a lexicographical sense, "dao" is road.  By connotation, it is how people outside a village got to know and fight with one another.  The first characters of the Daodejing (there was no punctuation, remember) is 3 characters   All the rest is advice to kings on how to build their own roads.
     The first 3 characters are daodaoye.  "Ye" means the first 2 characters are the same.  In light of Laoze's instructions that follow, I believe the literal way to translate daodaoye into English is: the journey is the way, meaning it's what you make of everything you encounter in life (not what you can do to it) that is the way to make peace in your own kingdom.  love and peace, hal

Monday, February 17, 2014

I do not feel "chosen"

                                                             I do not feel "chosen"
                             Hal Pepinsky,, "peacemaking" at
                                                               February 17, 2014

      Someone responded to my miracle this morning, celebrating it in a manner that suggest I might be specially chosen by God.  To me, that would make be blasphemous, as I explained thus:

Jennifer, thank you so much.  I'm sure God appreciates love being appreciated and noticed as a natural guide to making peace where we encounter violence.  I am also aware that even with my privilege as a white man whose parents encouraged him to question even what they did, having gone to a school that believes grading and testing is as absurd as I do, my soul was unafraid to let God show me more, and so I was overcome by healing energy that flows through all of us if only, in the course of our journeys of living and learning for ourselves (in my case a mere 69 years of suffering and hurting others without noticing and all the things that led me to perform to others rather than just, as in "lecture," speaking from the heart without notes, let alone powerpoint.  Which is to say that I know that God did not "choose" me, but that I accepted the sinner that remains in my mortal way of relating with you and with anyone else I meet.  Once I could tell myself that I could accept that in our lives, the violent things we do, the culture that is within us, the one that tells us to shut up, learn the right answers, never do the wrong thing or make the same mistake again.  That any human being can do that is blasphemy, the devil speaking through him or her, to me.

Thank you for your appreciation and for giving me a reason to explain my miracle.  I think I'll make this response into a blog post.  Thanks for that.  I'm always interested in knowing more about anyone who connects with me.  How about you?  I suppose you know that Ed McGarrell and Steve Cermak were my colleagues in Bloomington, friends too.  Say hi to them and tell me more about yourself and your studies if you have a chance.  l&p hal

Saturday, February 15, 2014

the miracle of healing

Hal Pepinsky,, “peacemaking” at
February 15, 2014

                On NPR Thursday, I happened to hear a church historian report that all the 400 folks, including a Spanish married Jew, who were canonized saints from the 17th-20th centuries had one miracle in common:  Out of the blue, commonly at their own versions of moments of prayer abruptly became healty, attempts of the most skilled doctors at the time to cure their disabling or life-threatening ailments.
                I had just had my own miracle at the Laurels of Worthington nursing home, singing on the sun porch, the sun behind me, facing the door to my late mom’s bed.  I described it in yesterday’s blog post.  Gradually, my whole body is falling into place.  I struggled to adjust the angle of my head to make out the numbers to pass the vision test when I renewed my driver’s license January 17.  I only do vision tests at license renewal time, and for twenty years I have gone in apprehensive that I would come out required to get corrective lenses.  I would estimate my vision now (I have also tested myself on vision charts in doctors’ offices while waiting, and can gauge pretty well) to be roughly 20/50.  Without elaborating, my entire insides have suddenly become “normal” with two exceptions: The skin on the back of my right hand and from the bridge of my nose from where my sinuses emerge (I got out of the military draft in 1970 for chronic, incurable hayfever), down around my mouth to my chin.  I believe the injury that my spine down the line has been compensating for until Thursday was to that my first cervical vertebra got twisted when I began wrestling (I practiced bridging constantly, even down in my room, as my defense against my specialty—holding out nonviolently without getting pinned before the round ended.  The vertebra tilted and lodged against my skull on the right back corner.  The major compensation was the lumber vertebra parallel to my liver, and I had chronic colitis from mid-teenage.
                Slowly, in widening circles radiating from that lumbar vertebra, manifestations of my spine’s bends and twists began to disappear.  The first accumulated waste to go left my bowels.  The major trauma holding the whole crooked house of vertebrae was the shoulder joint, which explains why my right hand, which is almost completely healed, and my face, which is making progress, together with the mildest head cold I can remember that is clearing itself out of my sinuses and bronchiae leaving clearer than ever as well.
                I’m healing from chronic rather than acute illnesses, but otherwise, it seems to me that my communion with my mom last Thursday has the same qualities and results as the folks who were canonized.  The difference between the church and me is that I think miracles like ours are perfectly natural, fitting the latest “scientific” discoveries perfectly.  It is because the God I believe to be the force of love, connection and material form is invited that we ALLOW these miracles to occur at unforeseen moments that make them all the more miraculous.  I have long supposed that the more the side of me that listens rather than talks becomes flexible with use and appreciation, the more freely flowing the force that seeks to be with us becomes, the higher the voltage that flows (I\in my case, I just felt stunned as though my body were a huge electric capacitor storing and storing and storing it and building the wattage contained within me), so that when cascades of happy coincidences kept happening to me, I’d go out in the back yard, look up at the sky and say out loud, “Come on God, give me a break.”
                The fact that I am given bundles of opportunities to try to make peace with and among others doesn’t make me know enough to tell anyone but myself what to do about “it.”  Navajo culture, not the Bible, teaches me it is God’s will that I know my humanity well enough never to preserve I know what anyone but myself ought to do about a social problem.  It is God’s will that the rest be left up to discussion by those whose own butts are most on the line.  I believe it to be God’s will that I do not seek to determine or assign responsibility, let alone guilt about what anyone has done.  I don’t want defensiveness getting in the way when I ask an “offender,” let alone a victim to look the other party straight out and to be honest and open about what really is first and foremost on her or his mind, let alone anyone talking about me to think I’ll retaliate if I find out what s/he said.
                I postulate that God is perfectly practical about the results we get when we try to gain control of our relations, which is why for instance why stock markets crash harder the harder stockbrokers work (for God’s greater glory? Max Weber called the spirit of capitalism) to “grow” the economy.  I’m no prophet of what people want to do, let alone what they do as a consequence.  It is God’s will that we try to enable one another freely to ASSUME responsibility for using what skills, experience and interests they have to bring toward one another themselves and others who are estranged, from couples to US officials and “terrorists.”  The kind of humility I believe the God of love calls for is not to presume that I know what is good for anyone but myself.  On the other hand, I think God is pleased when I speak out freely, sometimes even loudly, in defense of myself and others.  I believe God wants me to have my say, knowing I am never entitled to get my way.  My belief in God rests on what my mother assured me when she sent me off to Sunday school: God is love (Corinthians 13:4).
                It is the power of the love I share with my mother and everyone present when I am singing at the laurels that accounts for my miracles.  If that accounts for me, why not for the saints as well?  Love and peace--hal

Thursday, February 13, 2014

My communion with Mama

Just after I wrote this blog, I lifted my right arm, felt/heard 2 pops in my shoulder, and bouts of neuropathic tingling I've had from my right eyeball to my right little toe disappeared:

Hal Pepinsky,, “peacemaking” at
February 13, 2014

My Buddhist friend Mike DeValve asked me how my revelation that life has no beginning nor end came about.  My reply:

All I can do empirically is tell honest stories of moment upon moment in which seemingly scattered pieces of a puzzle (see my first book), which of course is a unique journey, an account that in retrospect has enough pieces that in a God-given moment, it falls together.  I've just gotten home from singing solo (today) just outside the door where I kissed my mom's body goodbye.  Abby, the social director, remarked on what I knew inside, that I was singing and improvising soft and loud, expressing each word in every song.  After singing oldies I used to sing to my mom (my dad taught me music, my mom listened), I got to singing "girl of my dreams," the love song my Mama taught me.  Then, given my mood, I picked out a song I had learned to sing on the ukulele out of the Fireside book of folk songs, Molly Malone.  By the second verse, my voice was cracking.  I barely finished in a whisper.  I didn't shake, but I knew I couldn't speak in a steady voice, and tears began to stream down my face.  I relaxed.  Abby moved to get up and come comfort me.  I managed to get out, "I'm okay.  Students often broke down and cried in my classes.  I welcomed it, tears are healing.  I'm okay."  And they sat silently while I silently sobbed, occasionally bursting out with a loudly projected whisper, "wow!"...and then let the intensity of what was happening just flow through me.  It took me till therapy began in 1996 to try crying openly.  But until this moment, in my entire life, I have never sobbed uncontrollably.  I didn't notice the passage of time.  By chronological experience, I would say that I started Molly Malone at about 11:45.  When my communion (as I see it) had passed, Abby looked at me as I readied to play and said, "Thanks Hal, see you next week."  I told I need to close, with Kristine's closing that I close with her when she is there: He's got the whole world in His hands.

The only black woman in the room was about 6 ft in front of me with her back to the table I sat away from at an angle.  I could see she was truly in church.  As I passed Abby and approached the black woman, Abby saw me looking at her and asked if she were okay.  I replied that she was, and as I had planned, gently laid my right hand on her shoulder, when she looked up, let her gaze into my smiling eyes, and then I said, "I love you."  She smiled and softly told me she loved me too.  I said "amen" in my head and came home for lunch.  I decided to check email first.  Now I'll have my usual banana, blueberries, raspberries, traditional Greek yogurt, and honey.  Richard, you and Solveig are the most healthfully eating family I've stayed with.  How am I doing?  l&p
"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres."  Corinthians, chapter 13, verse 4, the verse Jill selected for our wedding vows.

Hal Pepinsky,, skype name halpep, "Peacemaking" at
 519 Evergreen Circle, Worthington, OH 43085-3667, 1-614-885-6341

Please note:  My mind isn't big enough to handle social networking.  I do not respond to requests to befriend on Facebook or to become Linked In.  That leaves me free to take time to respond to email on this one account, and to answer home phone calls, which I very much enjoy receiving.  Thanks for your understanding.  love and peace--hal

From: DeValve, Michael []
Sent: Thursday, February 13, 2014 11:16 AM
To: Pepinsky, Harold E.
Subject: Re: Apologies: here IS Ted van Fossen's vision

I had to process a bit before I responded to this gift.  Would you see all you offered as a - your - special experience of Interbeing?  Obviously, though we have individualized versions of our perception of Oneness, sharing them helps others see their own Oneness through parallels.

Michael J. DeValve, Ph.D.,
Associate Professor
Department of Criminal Justice
Fayetteville State University

"Love is the voice under all silences, the hope which has no opposite in fear; the strength so strong mere force is feebleness...."
                    - e. e. cummings

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

What I think God wants me to know

This is an exchange with my beloved cousin, Fr. Nick Nichols, Catholic parish priest in Albuquerque, in response to a message from him about God's will:

From: Pepinsky, Harold E.
Sent: Wednesday, February 12, 2014 2:11 PM
To: Fr. Nichols
Cc: Jill Bystydzienski;;
Subject: RE: Apologies: here IS Ted van Fossen's vision
and now you see why every time Jill gets the message below.  I no longer have to reassure her of my love in any other way.  Given the timing that our wedding process came into view unbidden, now that I see in every cosmology to the most advanced discoveries and theories from astrophysics to microbiology to ecology to geology to oceanography to creation myths including Genesis, implies that God's reality consists of parallel universes from sperm and eggs to the evolution of religious-based warfare and gender relations on an earth and under an air our lives depend, all this is God's will as it has unfolded to me, where scientists now tell us that every particular in our bodies was in the stuff that blew out of the big bang, and that as black holes do in microcosm, then blow out dust that includes masses large enough to begin to heat up as they expand into suns, as in its lifetime our own universe will someday cool and contract into another black hole.  In sum, my life and all that experience God has offered me to learn from, God hopes and helps if I'm willing, to lose all doubt that my life never began and never end.  It further via Einstein's hypothesis of parallel universes in past, present, and future, that if I truly pay attention to what God is trying so hard, through a series of life-course-changing moments, to know that my mother has not died, and is more alive in me at the moment of her "death," among all those of us who loved and admired her, to appreciate what a precious gift God gave me as a birthright with the world of understanding of success and failure my mother gave in every egg she spawned, and my dad's in the first sperm that happened to have the key that fit the lock on my mother's eggs, at the moment that Japanese air/naval supreme commander Isoroku Yawamoto (google him) was assassinated on orders from FDR--born to a pacifist mother who chose to marry a guy too nearsighted and short ever to fight her with anything at words, at which she was better than he, who in turn was a musically-raised superbly trained, iconoclastic psychoanalyst who became my mother's disciplinarian for me.  Iconoclastically, testing the bullshit they had faith enough to test in me, my parents both assumed that if they used words I understood and defined those I didn't, I could even full my mother's faith that if properly supplied with awareness of social graces and science like our math grandfather, when I'd be home in the mid-sixties and she'd get up from lying awake about the Vietnam war, I was raised by my dad to consider it my filial duty to make my mother happy...and I tried so hard to tell her how I would bring peace to the world, to show her that I understood what she wanted most by sending me to Sunday school, to find a way to show the world that what God knows is that there's no such dying.  That's just the cultural myth that makes us figure we have to make war on criminals and drugs.  God has shown me what a silly, self-destructive personal addiction that is to those all around us still trying to figure out what life there is after death, when it's so in our face that there is no death.  Lo, the kingdom of heaven is at hand, and Jesus's resurrection, oft repeated to me by feeling, hearing and seeing the returned presences of loved ones reflected what "science" tells me, that he. like my mom, has ascended, gone to dust, a soul that somewhere, no doubt, has found the key to unlock a union its own, as Yawamoto's soul came upon the combined wisdom of my parents.
   May sound weird to anyone else, but it's become, in a highly privileged 69 years, to believe I finally have indeed beheld and understand God's plan, where as my mother told me when I asked her what she believed about the things they were saying at the Methodist church two blocks away, "God is love."  She (for God is relational, man and woman together, not individual, as the word "she" connotes in our mythologies) is right here in frame of the present that freezes in my consciousness in the movie of God's love and information that flows through me, counterposed by the weight of the reality of the past that determines what to do next in my future to connect or separate further from anyone, and my choices when and where, ultimately, to take the time to take in what someone wants me to hear in full, or focus my present attention on responding to something else in that movie.

Strange, I know.  I can still get scared.  I still want to connect in life rather than, for instance, to blow myself away from my wife and child by drinking.  I never fully understand the true and real choices between responding to what anyone does next by antagonizing and defending myself on one hand, or demonstrating that they have made their point while I was listening before I go on to make a point of my own.  As referee in victim-offender mediation, for instance, this is the process I try to turn confrontation into.  My ability to put what I can now in words depends on my readiness to recognize the favor anyone does by showing me my mistakes, the only way consciously not to repeat them.  The Enlightenment tells us to worship "rationality."  In itself, conscious rationality is nothing greater than a rationale, a justification, an excuse, a denial, whatever perjorative terms we use.  To me in the care of my parents from birth, rationality rather than "aggression begets aggression" is the only thing that works, and as far as anything I can do about my lifetime, that's God's true rationality, just waiting for any human being to note it and stop worrying about death, from which all lesser anxieties, neuroses and tragedies flow.

But my built-in urge not to let go of the body I inhabit, my urge to be truly of value as a precious, loved, trusted, economically and socially secure human being, predominates.  It is the yang in all of us.  What I described in the last paragraph is our yin, archetypically for us, our female side.  Our struggle as men in particular is to break the bonds of performing "like men."  I understand the struggle of women to break the bond of performing like caring, always-there, never complaining, always providing what's at home.  In real life where none of ever quite fits any label, but if we don't perform like good men, we fall into the sissy genre, and we let people run over us; and if women don't perform like good, strong, nurturing, caring, decent women, I don't have to fill in the gap.  It is God's will that stable friendships and family are those in which as moments in which we feel like we're worth less than nothing, we all find those with whom we can share tears with on one hand and complain freely to on the other, openly, honestly, unconditionally, if for no other reason than to have someone to cry with, no matter our gender identity, just to respect that the love of God and the reality that any of God's evolving mass forms germinates, and at its more environmentally fed best, reaches maturity as it converts the force of God's love into a plan we know as homeostasis to keep molding our molecular form to a harmonious form that passes the force along unemcumbered by fear and trepidation.  Over time, in the balance of yin and yang that is every creature as we know it reaches a point where the balance of physical entropy overcomes the gravity of holding our bodies together around our souls, and in our case, eventually the heart stops and we can't detect any brainwaves and we more or less ritually dispose of each other's bodies.  The moral I draw:  I can get mad, I can always not get anything I really really want in the moment, but nobody can take my eternal life and its progeny away from me.  As "rationality" is to European Enlightenment, so enlightenment is to Buddha.

Now that I've said it all in one breath, at least what I understand about myself and my place in my body during my lifetime, I'll copy it to family and paste it into a document, probably headed "my belief in God."  Meanwhile, I'm not looking for debate, but from you dear cousin especially, one theologian to another, how does my understanding compare with yours?  l&p

"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres."  Corinthians, chapter 13, verse 4, the verse Jill selected for our wedding vows.

Hal Pepinsky,, skype name halpep,
"Peacemaking" at
 519 Evergreen Circle, Worthington, OH 43085-3667, 1-614-885-6341

Please note:  My mind isn't big enough to handle social networking.  I do not respond to requests to befriend on Facebook or to become Linked In.  That leaves me free to take time to respond to email on this one account, and to answer home phone calls, which I very much enjoy receiving.  Thanks for your understanding.  love and peace--hal