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Lions Roar : March 2009
SHAMBHALA SUN MARCH 2009 70 certainly didn’t know any teachers whom I could have consulted at Columbia University at the time, although d.T. Suzuki was there. My first experience with Blake was quite heavenly, but the second experience, about a week later, was just the opposite. At the Columbia bookstore looking around and thinking about this and that, suddenly a sense of sea change of my conscious- ness overtook me again, and I got scared because everyone in the bookstore looked like some sort of wounded, neurotic, pained animal with the “marks of weakness and marks of woe” on their faces that Blake speaks of in “London.” A night later, wandering around the Columbia campus, it hap- pened again with a poem called “The Sick Rose,” which goes: O Rose, thou art sick! / The invisible worm / That flies in the night, / In the howling storm, / Has found out thy bed / Of crim- son joy: / And his dark secret love / Does thy life destroy. And I had a sense of the black sky coming down to eat me. It was like meeting Yamantaka without preparation, meeting one of the horrific or wrathful deities without any realization that it was a projection of myself, or my nature, and I tried to shut off the experience because it was too frightening. By 1950 or 1951, because of those experiences, I was curi- ous about the Tibetan thangka paintings that had the wrathful deities, but I had no idea what their functions were. I also began experimenting more with peyote and other psychedelics—mes- caline and later LSd—to see if I could approximate the natural experience I’d had. My experience with them was very similar, although the natural experience was much more ample and left a deeper imprint on my nature, and it certainly turned me around at the age of twenty-two. —NOVeMBeR, 1994 Love’s Got Everything to Do with It by bell hooks WHeN I WAS AWAY at college, I would call home. If daddy answered, I would hang up. Back in those days I felt that I had nothing to say to him—the stern, silent patriarch who provided and punished. That’s all changed. Through writing letters and talking, shar- ing the pain and pleasure of the past, we found each other again. We returned to love—a deep and abiding love that was there when I was a baby girl but was gone too soon. Now, when I hear the sound of my father’s voice cracking like that first moment when kindling catches fire, tender like tobacco leaves pressed be- tween fingers, soothing like a shot of Kentucky’s finest—smooth and straight—delight rushes through me. I cherish the sound and feel of his voice; it’s as though that voice speaks not to my ear by directly to my heart. This is what love can do: bind that which has been broken, grant us always the possibility of return and reconciliation. In my child- hood, daddy was always too obsessed with power to love for long. That’s one of the profound ways patriarchy betrays men: it makes men think and act as though power is everything, encouraging them to make lives in which they deny the place of love. It makes them believe that at the end of the day power will suffice. No won- der then that so many men in patriarchal culture open their hearts to love when sickness comes, when death threatens: in old age. A culture of domination can never truly embrace and cele- brate love. When love is something some folks seek and other folks deny, the stage is set for conflict. It’s no wonder that “inti- mate terrorism” replaces love. Jung gave us the insight, “Where love reigns, there is no will to power, and where the will to power is paramount, love is lacking.” I do not believe that women love more or better than men, but we are certainly allowed to articulate both publicly and privately our need to love and be loved in ways that remain alien to many, if not most, men. This is the way patriarchal culture wounds both genders. We cannot find our way to love if we remain ob- sessed with the issue of power and are unable to define a vision of liberation that will seduce us to move past forms of competi- tive individualism that nurture the will to dominate, allowing us to believe that jockeying to be on top is the only way to confront difference and inequality. When an ethic of love is a foundation of movements for radi- cal cultural transformation (ending patriarchy, anti-racist strug- gle, eradicating homophobia, etc.), it is this connection that en- ables us to not get trapped in identity politics, remaining aware that we’re always more than our race, class, gender. The more I speak publicly about the necessity to love, the more I confront the contemptuous attitude toward love that prevails in our culture right now. To focus on love is just not the hip thing to do. When I was completing my collection of essays, Outlaw Cul- ture, the big issue was whether or not the final chapter, “Love Is the Practice of Freedom,” had a place in any meaningful discussion of culture. That chapter ended with the declaration: “The moment PHOTOBYLIzAMATTHeWS