The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter

Thursday, May 17, 2007


Threshold Training…

When Nicolay Travkin over at Rmax discovered that the name “The Path” had already been registered by someone else, we searched for a name that would express what we think we’ve found. As Steve Perry so kindly (and sternly) pointed out, everything we’ve put together in that seminar was right in plain sight. Anyone who has searched diligently to see “what is true” (cosmology) and developed a means of separating wheat from chaff (epistemology) across a wide range of cultural knowledge bases would have found the same things—or even more.

The best thing I can say is that Scott and I are quite sincere, and that our struggles and searches can save you a great deal of time. It is relatively difficult to explain what that Body/Mind connection is. It is easier to experience it. If you will walk the Threshold for just 24 hours—one hour a week for 24 weeks, you’ll grasp something that most human beings only flail at. I can’t offer you an easy answer. But I can offer you a perspective on an answer that lies beyond most Western linguistics, yet is the common heritage of all mankind. Click over on the “Path” button, and follow it to the DVD page. I promise you won’t be disappointed.
I think we’ve crossed a cultural threshold, and since cultures arise from human psychological and emotional needs, it suggests that we as a country are yet another step closer to what our Founding Fathers intended. Yes, I love America, completely. No, I don’t always approve of the way she manifests her strengths and weaknesses. We’re really quite human. My own personal wounds make me hyper-sensitive to racial issues, and I like to quantify things so that there are benchmarks to be met or failed.

One of those has to do with black leads in dramatic television shows. The very first black lead (the person whose name comes first in the titles is the lead) in a successful (lasting more than two years) hour-long dramatic series was Avery Brooks in “Deep Space Nine.” It wasn’t one of the Big Three networks, and without the “Star Trek” label it could never have worked, but work it did. And if I have some real problems with Paramount for what happened to the Sisko character at the end, and the price Avery paid for refusing to die as a Sacrificial Negro (seen him lately?), still I honor them for pushing the limits, and creating images of power and intelligence that were quite inspiring. And if Sisko was considerably less powerful and masculine than, say, Hawk, well hell—who isn’t?

When President David Palmer was assassinated in the first episode of last season’s “24” it was heart-breaking. One of the only things that made it palatable was that Dennis Haysbert was getting his own series over on CBS. “The Unit.” And the Unit just got renewed for its third season.

Now, there was a series over on NBC with a black lead that lasted more than two years, something about a group of teachers. Note that the lead was quite overweight. I never watched that series, but acknowledge that it probably wins the award for first Big Three series with Non-Caucasian Lead that lasted more than two years—in other words, that America could and would embrace.

The Unit is a terrific action show. I know people who consider it too jingoistic, and anti-Muslim. It’s certainly possible I have a blind spot because I so enjoy watching Haysbert kick ass. Not certain. So I’m not all that P.C.

But don’t think I didn’t notice that Haysbert got heavy around the middle, and that the actress who played his wife was not only quite large, but dowdy to boot. And this is especially notable when EVERY OTHER ACTOR is lean and mean, and every other actress is toned and frisky. Every one. I can only think that this was a deliberate attempt to keep them from being too “threatening” to white audiences.

The last few weeks, I’d noticed that Haysbert and his co-star were…getting leaner. Interesting. And his wife’s hair was starting to look more attractive, her clothing more becoming and less matronly. Tananarive and I were both picking up on it. Something was happening. And the series has been renewed.

Hmmm. This, I think, is a good thing.
In combination with the excellent poll numbers on Barack Obama, and the existence of Oprah, and Will Smith (who has charted his career more intelligently than almost any other performer I can think of), and what the hell, a lean-bodied black male winning on Survivor, I feel that there is a gate opening. It isn’t open wide yet, but it is open. Not everyone will enter the promised land. Maybe I'm one of those who won't. But clearly, those who can touch the undamaged part of themselves, who don’t take the pain personally, and can zig and zag effectively, can enter. And that’s something I just couldn’t have said ten years ago. America in the 21st Century seems to be evolving in ways my father and grandfather prayed for. I say to every black person reading this: we have to move beyond our pain and anger and resentment, and grasp that the success and inclusion we crave are right there, if we’re strong enough to grasp it. This generation…WE…are the hope and the dream of the slave.
Another Threshold. This morning I meditated after fasting for 30 hours. Hunger at that point is not a growl in the stomach—that sensation is there, but it is a relatively minor annoyance. Real hunger is something deeper. It is feeling your body devouring its own fatty tissues. I believe that the tendency for your body to attack its own muscle tissue is a disease of civilization: what possible evolutionary benefit is there in wasting muscle tissue when your butt is well-marbled? Makes no sense to me. Maybe someone can explain it.

At any rate, I could feel my body eating itself. It’s a little like a horde of tiny ants moving under the skin…not unpleasant, but strange. Ordinary hunger peaks at about 24 hours of empty stomach. This is something else.

And I meditated. Sought the light. Jed McKenna suggests two questions to lead to Enlightenment. One is “What is True?” and the other is “Who am I?” Both are actually different versions of the same question, of course.

I asked the hunger an analogous question: “Who are you?” And this morning it said: “I am Death.” It might as well have said: “I am Shiva, the Destroyer, Death, the devourer of worlds.” It was that fricking serious.

Feed me, it said. Feed me.

I asked it what food it wanted. It said that it wanted my illusions. Ego. Lies. Self-justifications. Pain. Resentments. Fears. Everything I’ve used to withhold my true self from the world, from my family and friends.

Feed Me.

There are aspects of myself I’ve struggled with for decades. Much of that has been discussed here in the blog. Not all. I need a certain amount of privacy. But what I will say is that the entire idea of Balance as core principle arises from the belief that if you admit to a goal but cannot directly achieve it, if you hold fast there and work on the other two arenas, whatever invisible demons plague you in the intractable area are ultimately linked to the other two, and will yield if you work long enough. That the apparent difference between “Body, Mind and Spirit” is an illusion, that illusion existing to protect an ego that desperately wants to live.

When that concept of a life lived separately from the rest of humanity…or the rest of existence…is itself another illusion.

Feed Me, it said. What are you? I asked.

I am the Way, the Truth, and the Light, it replied.

This is terrifying stuff. Intermittent Fasting combined with the clarity of Spiritual Autolysis, right in my face. The limit of ego, right there. Like sailing up to the edge of a flat earth, and watching the water falling off into nothingness.

Terrifying…but only to my ego. There is another part of me that is as calm as a crystal sea about all of this. That sighs “yes.” That knows that everything that I, or for that matter the rest of Humanity, have/has ever sought is right here. The Truth that surpasseth, that cannot be contained in words, but can be experienced by anyone willing to pay the price.

And that price? Everything.
I’m frightened this morning. And happy. And filled with love and gratitude.

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