Ti walked silently through the forest. The Great Light shown his face upon the forest floor, dappling Ti’s surroundings with brilliant light. Everywhere Ti looked, he saw the Spirits of the Real World. He knew the world he touched, hunted and moved in was merely a Shadow World. The Spirit World, that was the Reality. He greeted the Great Rock Spirit as he moved past the diving cliff. He looked down upon the River Spirit, which was one of his best friends: River provided him and his village with the blessings of fish and water. He knew that his village would be hurting right now without the gifts of the River Spirit. The Winter Spirit was upon the Shadow World, and food was scarce. Although it was eternal spring in the Real World, the evil Winter Spirit came and waged war against the forest. Only the Spring Spirit could defeat Winter. He longed for Spring to come again and bring life back to the Shadow World.

He thought about Chana, and his love for her. He wanted her again, although he knew that The Gift was still inside her. He hoped that she would conceive this time. Although only 13 summers had touched her dark skin, he knew that she would bear him many sons. Since the day that he had first touched her, his love for her had grown. It was a powerful thing: This love. It touched him deeply, and he knew that it was a gift of The Goddess.

His entire life was flooded and pregnant with spiritual power: Everything he touched, saw, smelled, tasted and heard spoke to him of one absolute reality. He was as sure of this as anything else in his life. He knew that the Real World was a more powerful reality than the Shadow World. He knew that his True Self lived within the Real World, and that he could feel the presence of his True Self, even if he could not always see him. He could sometimes actually speak to his True Self when he went on his vision quests.

His Spirit Guide could help him to contact his True Self. His Spirit Guide was a wolf named Allepo. Sometimes when he drank the juice that Lopo provided him, he would enter into Allepo, and for a time he could run and hunt with the wolf’s swift, fleet legs. How good it felt to run with the Air Spirit through the forest! Lopo was old and bleary with his eyes dark from the years. Yet he was a powerful shaman, and his potions were strong. Ti knew that Lopo was crazy: Who wouldn’t be? After all, Lopo was always dwelling with the Real World. As his eyes dimmed to this World of Shadow, the Real World became stronger to him. Now he was always talking and muttering to the spirits. He could be frightening! Yet Ti longed to run again as the wolf.

As Ti approached the village he heard the sounds of laughter. His entire life was bound up in this village: He had never seen another person other than those who dwelt in the village. Everyone he knew, everyone he had ever known, was a member of his own family. He did not think of himself as One. No. Rather, he thought of himself as The Village. It was the gift from The Goddess to his family.

His friend and brother Rox approached him, and told him excitedly: “You need to come now. We are going on a hunt!”

More later.


Chana stooped down at the pool and looked into the eyes of her True Self. Softly, her True Self touched her cheek just as she did so. She wondered how her True Self knew everything that she did before she did it. She knew that her True Self was a prisoner of the Air Spirit, because when the Air Spirit stirred the water, her True Self stirred as well. If only the Air Spirit would set her True Self free! Then they would play and be friends forever, and her True Self would help her find food. Playfully, although she knew she shouldn’t, she reached down into the pool and splashed the water so that her True Self would disappear. Her Other had told her that if her True Self decided not to come back, that she would die. But she didn’t care. The True Self had always come back. She believed that her True Self loved her, and she could see the love in her eyes as the True Self returned.

He was near. She could feel his heat and smell his scent. He was possessed by the Male Spirit. The Male Spirit had traveled from the Real World and was now living inside her Other.

His name was Ti. She knew this well, but she always called him her Other. He was also part of the Shadow World, but when the Male Spirit came upon him, he was fierce. He frightened her, but she also loved him. She knew that the Male Spirit within him would awaken her Womb Spirit. She feared this, but she knew she could never merge with her True Self unless she received The Gift from him.

Kiri had received The Gift from her Other, and had conceived. At the time, Kiri had been happy. Yet when The Pains came upon her, she could not bear them and she died. Chana knew she could die as well. The Death was a thing to be feared. It haunted her, the look on Kiri’s eyes when her True Self left her and she returned to the Real World. Although she knew that Kiri was happier, she could not help but wonder what fate awaited her in the Real World. Was she ready to look The Goddess in the face, eye to eye?

She ran. He pursued. She knew that he would catch her. He was swifter than she was, no matter how hard she tried. When he caught her, she fought him. She scratched and she bit. Yet he held her close. She felt the gentleness of his touch. It softened her, and she relaxed. At that moment, she felt the Womb Spirit enter her, and her frenzy began.

As he gave her The Gift, she entered the Real World, if only for a moment. She knew it would not last. It never did. Yet, when they were Together as One, the Womb Spirit transported her, and she saw The Goddess.

As she looked deeply into the eyes of The Goddess, she knew. The Goddess called her name. She blessed her and her Other with a new name. At that moment, she knew that her daughter would come.

Move later.

The Way of Assisi

I have found a way. This way is working for me. Perhaps it can work for you too.

It is the way of Saint Francis of Assisi, one of the Christians whom I most admire. It seems very simple to me now. Strange that I did not see this for so long.

The essence is:~

  • Focus on this present moment. This, after all, all I have.
  • Forgive yourself and everyone in your life. Live in a state of continuous forgiveness. This is harder than it sounds. You cannot fake this one. My good friend Les Floyd is good for this stuff.`
  • Perform many small, simple tasks with a loving heart.
    • Give myself over to taking care of someone other than myself.

    That’s it. This is certainly the way Assisi lived. He washed the lesions of lepers. He supported the poor, but he did so in a very direct way: He did not write a check to an institutional ministry. No. He handed a loaf of bread to a hungry person.

    I have now looked deeply into the eyes of a person who needs my help, and found myself caring about her. This person is my wife. My love for her is palpably strong now. I find myself moved to tears frequently by the power of it. Right now, as I sit in the cariologist’s office, watching my wife’s echo cardiogram, I am struck again by how much I love her, and how connecte I am to her.

    You see, my wife is ill. She has been having some strange symptoms for a long time now, and we are trying to get a handle on it. In the process, I have become responsible for her care. I am with her all the time. I make her food. I get her a pillow.

    This has led to me become her servant. I do this gladly. In the process, I have found this way.

    Right now, my wife is the only person that I love in this manner. But, I can see that this compassionate, active and devoted love could spread to others. My children come to mind.

    More later.


I made an interesting shift today. It started with my Yorkie Diogee. Diogee is now 10. That means, in dog years, Diogee is 70. I realized that Diogee is now older than I am.

Actually, this has been true for a while. However, I did not realize it until today.

You see, I really, really love Diogee. Although he is strange, and a little crazy, he is still a wonderful animal, and I have actually learned a great deal from him spiritually. I honor him as a fellow traveller on this tiny world of ours.

Anyway, I was processing all of this, and I found myself, as usual, balling. Yeah. I cry pretty much all of the time now, including as I write this. I cry for Diogee because I know his time is near, and he is probably closer to the Great Divide than I am. I will grieve for him when he goes, although it will very likely be by my own hand. Not a chore I look forward to, that’s for sure. I will probably be pretty broken up that day. But we will cross that bridge when we come to it.

I petted Diogee for several hours, bathed him, as well as our other Yorkie, Napoleon, all the time crying off an on. It was then that I realized that an important shift had taken place, like I said earlier.

All of the internal work I have been doing recently has been about processing the events of the past. As I have said many times, I have suffered at least as much as any human I have known, and far more than most. At times, I have found myself actually glorying in my own suffering. I had nothing else left, I suppose. Anyway, all of that trauma and all of that pain apparently needed to be released. So I wept. I wept for Debbie. I wept for my brother Jim. I wept for my mother. And, finally, once forgiveness came, I wept for my father. Oh yes, Howard J. Browning. I weep for you as well.

But today, for the first time, I did not weep about the past. Today, I wept for something that is happening right now. I wept for the present.

I am finally, once and for all, emotionally present. I am experiencing what is happening right now, including my own emotions. I am not saying I do not have more to process concerning the past. Far from it. That work is happening and it will continue. But nonetheless, my focus has shifted.

Thanks to many for this. Most of all to my loving and beautiful wife, Elizabeth (most know her as Ruth, but she will recognize this as her new name). Of course, to my family, about whom I now weep daily. And my best friend Ray. May your God be with you, my friend!

More later.


Human compassion is a funny thing. I have tremendous compassion and empathy for folks that I know. Strangers or people who are far away do not touch me in the same way. I do not think I am unusual in this respect.

The “Baby Jessica” phenomenon is a good example of what I am talking about. In 1987, 18 month old Jessica McClure fell down a well in her home’s yard, and was stuck 22 feet below the ground. For 56 hours, the entire world was convulsed with sympathy for this one small, helpless baby girl. The 24-hour media circus, led by then-fledgling cable network CNN, was avidly watched by millions.

How many other innocent babies died during that two day period? Many, I would guess. According to World Hunger, approximately 40,000 people were dying per day from starvation alone in 1992, 5 years after the Baby Jessica events. That number is probably fairly close. Why then did we respond so much to Jessica, and we can turn our faces away from the 40,000 others who are dying as well?

Because we knew her name. Once we heard about Jessica’s plight, she was real to us. Our hearts went out to her. We felt her pain, loneliness, fear and grief when she was lost in that well.

The others are simply nameless, faceless strangers.

It would seem that our capacity for empathy and compassion is limited. Perhaps in the process of evolving as a species we can learn to have compassion and empathy for everyone. But perhaps as well, it is enough for us to simply practice compassion for those in our own lives.


More later.


I have made a discovery. Tears are powerful.

I have been crying a lot lately. I am not sure what to attribute this to, although I am not really complaining. Suffice it to say, I am getting in touch with my emotions. My wife and I sat in our bedroom today and wept together about how much we love each other, and how grateful we are for our marriage. That sort of thing.

I do not just weep tears of joy, though. Sometimes I weep tears of grief, longing, and regret. I have been doing some deep spiritual work, and the pain of that work is often accompanied by tears. My point: I have been around folks a lot lately while I was crying, and frequently communicating with them my deepest thoughts and feelings, including my feelings about religion.

Here is the thing: Tears are powerful. I said that before, I realize, but it bears repeating. What I find in my own life is that if I state a message, no matter what that message is, and I accompany that message with tears, the message will then be believed. And it will be believed powerfully by whoever is receiving it. That is the power of tears.

Your sincerity is never in question if you are crying. It is impossible (at least very difficult) to fake tears, and it never really works anyway. You simply have to be genuine. And if you are genuine, then tears will flow. And when they flow, you will be believed.

I have had personal experience on the receiving end on this one, actually. I have previously told the story on this blog about how my father gave my sister a gun and told her to go home and kill herself. Which she did. Oddly, my father had a rather strange reaction to this event: He wept. Although she had done exactly what he told her to do, he in some twisted way thought that he was giving her a wake up call. So when she actually did commit suicide, then he was devastated with grief, and he wept for days, pretty much 24 hours a day.

In that case, the effect of tears was lost on me. It did not work. I did not receive my father’s message. Although I had no doubt that he was sincere, I was so enraged with him that his message was lost on me. I was not sympathetic to say the least. I was dry eyed and stoic through the entire experience of Debbie’s funeral.

I suppose this is the exception that proves the rule: If you truly hate the person who is crying and want him to die, then, no, tears do not suffice. I did have hatred in my heart for my father at that moment, and later, when I failed him and abandoned him on his deathbed I wrecked my vengeance.

Did it make me feel any better that I made my father’s passing more difficult? Did I benefit in any way? Would it have been so difficult for me to go down to that hospital and sit with him there in those last few moments of his life? (Tears are flowing again.)

But I did not do that. And now I wish I could take back that decision. I wish, more than anything, that I could look into my father’s beautiful flinty blue eyes, those sea captain eyes, and admit that I truly love him, and that he has had a more powerful impact on me (both for good and for bad) than any other single human, with the exception of my loving wife.

More later.

Bug Poop

I have made an amazing discovery. I have discovered soil.

I bought a composter. The one I use is from Lowe’s. I had the opportunity to purchase a simple, box-like affair, but as usual, I went for the gusto. I bought a self-turning composter. Very cool!

I started composting my family’s vegetative waste. Since my wife and I are now juicing heavily (more on this later), we are generating vast amounts of pulp from juicing. Thus, composting was really the only reasonable solution. So I started putting stuff into the composter, and then made regular trips to the composter to add material, and check on the progress. In the process of doing this, I discovered what soil is.

It’s mostly bug poop.

Technically, bug poop in soil is called frass. Compost is almost entirely made up of frass eventually (as well as the waste products of various other critters like fungus, mold, etc.). Soil is a mixture of compost and fine rocky material, basically sand or clay.

It’s really interesting (although rather gross) to watch waste material from human food production turn into compost. Eventually, all of the green, orange and other colors turn to a deep brown, almost black. There is a lot of fiber in my compost. This makes it a bit stringy. But it works extremely well at growing plants. Wow! Do plants ever like bug poop.

Which gets to my point of discovering soil: Every human on the planet has the responsibility to create and nurture a certain amount of soil. There is no escaping from this requirement: We must all eat. In the process of consuming food, we are effectively (either directly or indirectly) using soil. There is no other place (other than hydroponics of course) where food can come from.

The problem with soil is that it must be maintained. There are only two ways to keep soil fertile: Either use compost (or manure with is just another form of poop) to enrich the soil, or else use chemical fertilizers. We all know where that leads.

In the end, the conclusion is clear: Either we are all going to eat food grown in dead soil with a chemical fertilizer keeping it alive, or else we are going to have to make a lot of bug poop. We either hire someone else (a farmer) to do this for us, or we do it ourselves. Historically, in my life, I have been a soil hirer: I have bought my tomatoes at the grocery store. Now, I am going to grow them.

I actually have to. What else can I possibly do with all of that compost?

More later.


What is faith? The bible describes it as:

Faith is the now the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1 KJV)

I will actually accept that definition with no problem. It says exactly what I believe faith to be, what it has been in my own life: Believing passionately things for which there is no physical evidence, and which may actually violate the laws of the physical universe. These things we believe are not provably untrue, mind you. They are simply profoundly unlikely.

Now, how is it that really, really, really believing stuff which is really, really, really¬†improbable makes you a better person? I just don’t get it. Does it, like, spruce up the old brain cells somehow?

Please help me out here.

Stephen Hawking

My wife just posted this exceptional quote by Stephen Hawking:

The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance, it is the illusion of knowledge.

In the context of religion, this statement is very compelling, at least to me. I have been awash in knowledge about doctrine, theology, and all the rest, for much of my life, and all of it seems to be illusion to me now. I thought I was so intelligent and well educated, when actually I knew nothing. Now that I know that I know nothing, I am much happier, oddly.

I asked my wife an interesting set of questions last night:

What if you could simply decide that the things that happen in church buildings on Sunday morning are precisely the same thing as going to the Durham Performing Arts Center to see the Nutcracker Ballet? What if you could simply decide that it is all simply a human invention, and nothing more? What would that mean? Wouldn’t you then be able to stop believing what another person (generally a religious authority figure) told you, and instead start believing whatever seemed real, meaningful, and comfortable for you?

Hawking is famously an atheist. I have read several books by Hawking, and he has been instrumental in my understanding of modern physics, a subject about which I am very passionate. While I respect his position as an atheist, I do not share it. I may blog more on why I am not an atheist at a later time.