Guidelines and Inspiration for Submissions to the December issue of “The BeZine,” by John Anstie

Editor’s Note:  The deadline for submissions to the December issue is November 15.  Forward submission to bardogroup@gmail.com.  Submissions via comments or Facebook will not be considered.  Details HERE. / J.D.


“How do you perceive that word, spirit? How do you measure it? What sort of entity is it? What value is it to living things? What value is it to human beings, who are perhaps most responsible for its consequences? The answers appear to be as numerous as its definitions …

Spirit – noun
1. the principle of conscious life; the vital principle in humans, animating the body or mediating between body and soul.
2. the incorporeal part of humans: present in spirit though absent in body.
3. the soul regarded as separating from the body at death.
4. conscious, incorporeal being, as opposed to matter: the world of spirit.
5. a supernatural, incorporeal being, especially one inhabiting a place, object, etc., or having a particular character: evil spirits.
6. a fairy, sprite, or elf.
7. an angel or demon.
8. an attitude or principle that inspires, animates, or pervades thought, feeling, or action: the spirit of reform.
9. (initial capital letter) the divine influence as an agency working in the human heart.
10.a divine, inspiring, or animating being or influence. Num. 11:25; Is. 32:15.
11.(initial capital letter) the third person of the Trinity; Holy Spirit.
12.the soul or heart as the seat of feelings or sentiments, or as prompting to action: a man of broken spirit.
13.spirits, feelings or mood with regard to exaltation or depression: low spirits; good spirits.
14.excellent disposition or attitude in terms of vigor, courage, firmness of intent, etc.; mettle: That’s the spirit!
15.temper or disposition: meek in spirit.
16.an individual as characterized by a given attitude, disposition, character, action, etc.: A few brave spirits remained to face the danger.
17.the dominant tendency or character of anything: the spirit of the age.
18.vigorous sense of membership in a group: college spirit.
19.the general meaning or intent of a statement, document, etc. (opposed to letter ): the spirit of the law.
20.Chemistry. the essence or active principle of a substance as extracted in liquid form, especially by distillation.
21.Often, spirits. a strong distilled alcoholic liquor.
22.Chiefly British, alcohol.
23.Pharmacology. a solution in alcohol of an essential or volatile principle; essence.
24.any of certain subtle fluids formerly supposed to permeate the body.
25.the Spirit, God.

The spirit is incorporeal. It is not bound by mind, body, ‘fact’ and opinion. It is beyond simple definition. can it be beyond commercial value? I do hope so, and is it perhaps beyond measurement. For me, it is part of the individual human ‘heart’, the non-physical heart. It is that part of a human body that echos throughout our universe long after the body is dead and perhaps even long after life on Earth is extinguished.

It is called upon, like the artist’s muse, so often when the mind and body are under stress, under pressure that it cannot sustain for too long; when conflict and threat to livelihoods and even life itself, sharpens the mind. It can come into its own, when ego, pride and prejudice are dispensing their know desires for individual, selfish survival; when individuals begin to fear the loss of their survival and start thrashing about and fighting for their gene pool; when the search for truth is no longer possible by simple logic, ‘reasoning’, science, well articulated, but biased speeches … this is when we have our greatest need to resort to the spirit. Whether that spirit is your God, or an established religious faith and and its set of scriptures, prescriptions for the easement of stress and improvement of self, or whether it is music, poetry or the writings of great minds, or simply great visual art, it is, from my perspective, all very valid. Humans need a spiritual guide, wither it’s external or internal. Without this, the wayward spirit can lead us further from the truth. When our spirit is strong, we can conquer the World.

May we all be able to poem, paint and play until our hearts are healed, to help us further pursue the quest for truth, through the spirit.

P.S. You may like to consider the future of digital technology in art. Can you envisage A.I. (artificial intelligence) being as capable as the human spirit in the part it plays in its creative inspiration for art?

© 2019, John Anstie / Lead for the December 2019 “The BeZine,” Volume 6, Issue 4, themed “A Life of the Spirit”

JOHN ANSTIE (My Poetry Library and 42) ~ is a British writer, poet and musician –  a multi-talented gentleman self-described as a “Family man, Grandfather, Occasional Musician, Singer, Amateur photographer and Film-maker, Apple-MAC user, Implementation Manager, and Engineer”. He has participated in d’Verse Poet’s Pub and is a player in New World Creative Union as well as a being a ‘spoken-voice’ participant in Roger Allen Baut’s excellent ‘Blue Sky Highway‘ radio broadcasts. He’s been blogging since the beginning of 2011. He is also a member of The Poetry Society (UK).

Recent publications are anthologies resulting from online collaborations among two international groups of amateur and professional poets. One of these is The Grass Roots Poetry Group (Petrichor* Rising. The other group is d’Verse Poet Pub, in which John’s poetry also appears The d’Verse Anthology: Voices of Contemporary World Poetry, produced and edited by Frank Watson.

Petrichor – from the Greek pɛtrɨkər, the scent of rain on the dry earth.

PLEASE CALL ME BY MY TRUE NAMES, Thích Nhất Hạnh’s most famous poem

Nhất Hạnh at Phu Bai International Airport on his 2007 trip to Vietnam (aged 80) Public domain photograph courtesy of Lưu Ly

 I have arrived

I am home

in the here

in the now

I am solid

I am free

in the ultimate

I dwell

Thích Nhất Hạnh , excerpt from The Long Road Turns to Joy, A Guide to Walking Meditation



Thích Nhất Hạnh is a world renown poet, peace activist and Vietnamese Zen Buddhist Monk. He is one of our heroes and this is a favorite poem. He was nominated for the Nobel Prize by Martin Luther King, Jr., in 1967, and is the author of many books , including the best-selling The Miracle of Mindfulness, An Introduction to the Practice of Mindfulness. His Amazon page is HERE.

PLEASE CALL ME BY MY TRUE NAMES

May all sentient beings find peace.

Link here to Plum Village International Sanga, France.

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Link here to Deer Park Monastery, Escondido, CA


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Poet and writer, I was once columnist and associate editor of a regional employment publication. I currently run this site, The Poet by Day, an information hub for poets and writers. I am the managing editor of The BeZine published by The Bardo Group Beguines (originally The Bardo Group), a virtual arts collective I founded.  I am a weekly contributor to Beguine Again, a site showcasing spiritual writers. My work is featured in a variety of publications and on sites, including: Levure littéraure, Ramingo’s PorchVita Brevis Literature,Compass Rose, Connotation PressThe Bar None GroupSalamander CoveSecond LightI Am Not a Silent PoetMeta / Phor(e) /Play, and California Woman. My poetry was recently read by Northern California actor Richard Lingua for Poetry Woodshed, Belfast Community Radio. I was featured in a lengthy interview on the Creative Nexus Radio Show where I was dubbed “Poetry Champion.”


The BeZine: Waging the Peace, An Interfaith Exploration featuring Fr. Daniel Sormani, Rev. Benjamin Meyers, and the Venerable Bhikkhu Bodhi among others

“What if our religion was each other. If our practice was our life. If prayer, our words. What if the temple was the Earth. If forests were our church. If holy water–the rivers, lakes, and ocean. What if meditation was our relationships. If the teacher was life. If wisdom was self-knowledge. If love was the center of our being.” Ganga White, teacher and exponent of Yoga and founder of White Lotus, a Yoga center and retreat house in Santa Barbara, CA

“Every pair of eyes facing you has probably experienced something you could not endure.” Lucille Clifton

December poems ~ “Look to the Light” (Hanukkah), “The Magnificat” (Advent and Christmas) & Mevlûd-i Peygamberi (the Birth of the Prophet)

My soul magnifies the Lord ...


Look to the light, the light in the window,
The simple lit candles that shimmer and shine.
The message is clear as simple lit candles,
The passion for freedom is yours and is mine.
– Rabbi Dan Grossman

December is a month rich in the holy days of the Abrahamic traditions. Jews celebrate Hanukkah, a commemoration of the Jewish reclamation of The Temple of Jerusalem in 164 B.C.E. Christians celebrate Advent – a period of waiting for the birth of Christ – followed by His birth, Christmas.  Muslims celebrate the birth of the Prophet in November or December depending on the lunar calendar. We do not need faith to appreciate the beautiful poems, music and artwork inspired by our religions, Abrahamic or others.


Look to the Light

Menorah

Menorah

In 164 B.C.E., the Syrians who ruled Israel took away the Jews’ right to practice their religion. Led by Judah Maccabee the Jews rebelled and succeeded in reclaiming their sovereignty and they rededicated The Temple of Jerusalem. The history of the celebration of Hanukkah has had some interesting turns in more recent times.

There’s a story of a young Polish soldier in then General George Washington’s army who held a solitary Hanukkah celebration on a cold night in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania.  The soldier gently placed his family’s menorah in the snow and lighted the first of eight candles for the first night of Hanukkah. The man was perhaps a bit homesick and missing his family. He must have thought about how much they’d suffered over time from religious persecution. There were tears in his eyes when General Washington found him. Washington wondered what the young man was doing and why he was crying. The soldier told his general the story of Maccabee and the other Jews. It is said that Washington was heartened by the telling and moved on to battle and victory. That menorah is now on display at the Smithsonian Museum.

Yet another story surfaces in 1993 Billings, Montana where a family was lighting their menorah one night. As is custom, they placed the lighted menorah in the front window of their home where it was stoned by anti-Semites, as were the homes of other Jewish families that same evening. The town newspaper printed dozens of menorahs.  Rev. Keith Torney, a minister of the First Congregational Church, United Church of Christ, distributed them to all the Christians and the paper menorahs were placed in windows all over Billings as a sign of solidarity and of respect for the freedom to practice religion as one’s conscience dictates.

Look to the Light is a commemorative poem written by Rabbi Daniel Grossman and set to music by Meira Warshauer. Enjoy!  … but if you are viewing this from an email subscription, you’ll have to link through to the web/zine to view and hear it.


The Magnificat

The Ode of Theotokos (Song of the God Bearer)

It is only in the Gospel of Luke that we read of Mary’s recitation of this poem that harkens back to Jewish prophecy and is constructed in the traditional verse style of the times with mirroring and synonymous parallelism.

From the Book of Common Prayer

My soul doth magnify the Lord: and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.
For he hath regardeded: the lowliness of his handmaiden.
For behold, from henceforth : all generations shall call me blessed.
For he that is mighty hath magnified me : and holy is his Name.
And his mercy is on them that respect him : throughout all generations.
He hath shewed strength with his arm : he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
He hath put down the mighty from their seat : and hath exalted the humble and meek.
He hath filled the hungry with good things : and the rich he hath sent empty away.
He remembering his mercy hath holden his servant Israel : as he promised to our forefathers, Abraham and his seed for ever.


The Prophet’s Nativity

A book explaining the meaning of the term Jashan e Eid Milad un Nabi

A book explaining the meaning of the phrase Jashan e Eid Milad un Nabi

One poem that celebrates Mawlid, the birth of the Prophet, is exceptionally sweet. It was written by the Turkish Süleyman Çelebi (also known as Süleyman Of Bursa) who died in 1429. You’ll note that in addition to honoring the Prophet Mohammad,  it honors three mothers: Asiya the mother of Moses, Mary the mother of Jesus, and Amina the mother of the Prophet.

Mevlûd-i Peygamberi, Hymn of the Prophet’s Nativity

Some have said that of these charming three
One was Asiya of moonlike face,
One was Lady Mary without doubt,
And the third a houri beautiful.

Then these moonfaced three drew gently near
And they greeted me with kindness here;
Then they sat around me, and they gave
The good tidings of Muhammad’s birth;
Said to me: “A son like this your son
Has not come since God has made this world,
And the Mighty One did never grant
Such a lovely son as will be yours.

You have found great happiness,
O dear, 
For from you that virtuous one is born!
He that comes is King of Knowledge high,
Is the mine of gnosis and tawhid*
For the love of him the sky revolves,
Men and jinn are longing for his face.

This night is the night that he, so pure
Will suffuse the worlds with radiant light!
This night, earth becomes a Paradise,
This night God shows mercy to the world.
This night those with heart are filled with joy,
This night gives the lovers a new life.

Mercy for the worlds is Mustafa,
Sinners’ intercessors: Mustafa!

– Süleyman Of Bursa 

* monotheism

Photocredits: (1) © Jamie Dedes,The first illustration was created using a public domain photograph of The Magnificat (Le magnificat) by James Tissot; (2)Hanukkah Lamp, Lemberg (Lviv, Ukraine), 1867–72 from the collection of The Jewish Museum of New York under CC BY-SA 3.0; (3) Photograph of a book explaining the meaning of the phrase Jashan e Eid Milad un Nabi by Saudmujadid under CC BY-SA 4.0

“Survivance” … the task of refusing erasure

SurvivanceMichael Watson ~ After a couple of days of warmth and rain, today is seasonably cold. Next week is forecast to be very warm again, an unnerving scenario as we rely on the snow pack for our summer water supply.

Climate change is a complex issue, not so much because there is doubt that it is human caused and accelerating, but because it affects people unevenly. Here in Vermont folks are divided about the issue. Many are appreciative of our much briefer and milder winters. Others lament the loss of tourism jobs, the declining maple forests, and the increasing number of failed drinking water wells.

Much of the divide in opinion can be linked to whether a person lives their life inside or outside. City folk tend to lament cold, snowy, inconvenient weather. Those who spend most of their days outside are more likely to have a keen sense of the problems and losses that come with global climate change.

Those about to assume leadership of the United States deny climate change. They also reject ideas of diversity,  stewardship, and mutual responsibility and community. But you already know this. What you may not know is that many idolize Andrew Jackson. Jackson defied the Supreme Court and stole the lands and farms of Naive people in the Southeast, sending The People on a Trail of Tears. He is so hated in Indian Country that many Native people refuse to use twenty-dollar bills.

Somehow, a few families managed to avoid deportation. I like to imagine they lived up in distant hollows or in the dense forested swamps of the river bottoms.

My father’s family identified as Native, although they refused to tell us younger ones what tribes we hail from. (They did instill in us a deep sense that governments can’t be trusted.) They grew up in Indiana at a time when being Native could cost you your farm, or your life. My understanding is that after my grandfather left the family, my grandmother moved the farm to a rocky, inhospitable, spectacularly beautiful location overlooking the Ohio River. She correctly assumed they would be safe there. My dad and his siblings walked downhill to school, then back up to home. Once, dad took me to see the homestead, in what is now a state park. It took us almost two hours to hike up. (No doubt my Polio body slowed us down.)

A few years ago I was introduce to the idea of “survivance.” The term was apparently a legal term in the Eighteenth Century,  but was adapted for Native use by Jerald Vizenor, a much venerated Native Studies scholar who is no longer here in physical form. The term refers to active survival, a continued presence even as we are supposed to have been erased from the land.

I like to think of survivance as the task of refusing erasure. Beyond that, it is the art of living well in the face of hatred and genocide. I imagine the concept of continuing to live well while under threat might be applicable to the situation of many of us in 2017. (My wife, Jennie, a Jewess, contends that the term applies perfectly to folks who resisted the Holocaust, and I suspect she is right.) Survivance implies asking important questions and making difficult choices. When does one openly resist? When does one hide or, if possible, pass? How do we find and nurture joy, family, and community in the face of hatred?

For me, there is an even more fundamental definition of survivance: the task of nurturing and protecting the soul in the face of those who would obliterate it. We need to save our souls, (individual, cultural, and collective) from those who would destroy them, for soul loss is excruciatingly painful and may impact many generations. (Make no mistake, Jackson and his ilk wanted nothing less than the destruction of the Native soul; those who idealize him now want nothing less than the destruction of all that is “Other”.)

Perhaps we can learn something about survivance from those who came before us. There is much to be said for living on land no one else desires, holding ceremony in the deep night, and pretending to be one of the majority. There is much to gain from building coalitions, going to court, and telling our stories to a larger audience. There is much to be won from making, and sharing, art, music, and literature. My guess is that we will need to draw from all these, and more, during the years to come.

© Michael Watson
Excerpt from the January issue of The BeZine and published here with Michael’s permission.

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If you have time enough to follow only one blog, make it Michael’s:

MICHAEL WATSON, M.A., Ph.D., LCMHC (Dreaming the World and Journey Works)  is a contributing editor to The BeZine, an essayist and a practitioner of the Shamanic arts, a psychotherapist, educator, and an artist of Native American and European descent.

Michael lives and works in Burlington, Vermont, where he recently retired from his teaching position in undergraduate and graduate programs at Burlington College,. He was once Dean of Students there.  He also had wonderful experiences teaching in India and Hong Kong, which are documented on his blog, Dreaming the World. In childhood Michael had polio, an event that taught him much about challenge, struggle, isolation, and healing.