Welcome to my Wilderness Journal

You may enjoy my September 2012 blog: Sharing Experiences of Great Mystery, which describes the purpose of this wilderness log, photo-art gallery, and poetry corner. In Peace, Bob

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Sharing Experiences of Great Mystery

Cathedral Peak © Bob Hare 2012

What this Blog is About 

My intent is to create a space, a forum, for exploring that which is so hard to put into words--our shared inner life. The adventure in "Wilderness Adventures with Bob Hare" refers to exploring this soul territory by sharing some of my most moving experiences with nature and culture and by offering the opportunity for others to share their peak experiences and creative expressions. The art, photographs, poems, and journal entries I will be posting are my efforts to express the transforming experiences I've had using the best vocabulary I have to communicate the ineffable. 

Though I will at times reference an insight, quote or story from a religious text, individual, or wisdom tradition, I will avoid religious doctrines or taking right-wrong positions. This forum is for sharing experience rather than beliefs and theories.That said, I do have an agenda behind this blog: I want to support my own and others' direct experience of the Spirit living within us all and moving through all things. When enough of us have opened this spiritual vision we will envision and create a sane and sustainable world.

Lower Cathedral Lake © Bob Hare 2012

Cultivating and sharing our Inner Life is key to healing ourselves and our Planet

The wonder and joy of being alive on Planet Earth is mixed with the terrors and sorrows of being alive in this time of confusion and change. We all grieve the natural losses that come with life but our instant media shocks us with a daily stream of images  showing our intentional inhumanity to each other, to other sentient life, and to our Earth. Our self-destructive assault against the vulnerable vital parts of our Earth-Home--our children, women, and native peoples; our rivers; our air; and our non-human lifeforms--are the direct result of our ignoring our inner life, the experience of which reveals our fundamental unity. We will heal our selves, our societies, and our planet only when enough of us break through the delusion of our individual ego-isolation and the absolutely insane idea that we are isolated from our environment and the consequences of abusing it. This shift is not an intellectual transformation--many of us already know we live in a complex living ecosystem. The needed shift is an experiential one--to literally feel from the inside out that there are no rigid boundaries between me and the universe and to experience myself and my environment as co-evolving interdependent processes (not independent entities struggling for ultimate dominance and survival). The experience of unity is awakening to the reality that the mystery that birthed me, supports me, moves me, and receives me at death is the same consciousness-energy that moves through everything.

Lower Cathedral Lake © Bob Hare 2012


Naming the Mystery moving through Everything

In our culture we use the word "God" to stand for this mystery "in whom we live and move and have our being." But I won't be using the word God in this blog because it means so many different things to different people--from a personal anthropomorphic Being to an abstract principle. To avoid such confusion and to prevent getting drawn into religious debate, I will use the more neutral term used by some American Indian tribes, "Great Mystery." Looking around the world today we can clearly see the problem of defining "God" and "God's Will" with too much certainty. While honoring others' beliefs (as long as they are not used to justify violence), I choose to say absolutely nothing about the nature and intent of Great Mystery. What could I possibly say? I can't say where I came from, what's really going to happen next, or where I might go, if anywhere, after my death. It is quite natural for me to declare that I move and have my being in Great Mystery. Great Mystery is mysterious simply because It transcends our human limitations in time, space, power, and knowledge. Since every concept has its opposite, we know that eternity, infinity, and limitless energy and knowledge exist, but we also know they are beyond our intellectual comprehension. But though we can't describe Great Mystery with our concepts (Moses was not permitted by the Lord to see the Lord's face) we can nevertheless have direct experience of Great Mystery (Moses was permitted to see the Lord's back). Where dualistic words and empirical science find only paradox, spiritual intuition and human love unify opposites and reveal the divine in the commonplace, infinity in the smallest thing, and eternity in the briefest moment. How did William Blake put it?.....
To see a world in a grain of sand, 
And a heaven in a wild flower, 
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand, 
And eternity in an hour.  ---William Blake

Kayla-Rose with Bob

The Experience of Mystery

The reality of the divine revealing Itself in the soul and life of a human is the most amazing mystery of all. It is the example and ideal of many religions-- that Christ can be born in the human heart, that anyone can realize their Buddha-nature, that Great Spirit touches someone and they become wakan or holy and "walk in beauty." 

This realization is usually termed in mystical and spiritual terms, such as an epiphany or revelation, that suggest such experiences are rare and reserved for holy prophets, saints, sages, and shamans of some other age. But I think most of us have intimations of, if not outright immersions in, Unity at some point in our lives if not regularly. I think most of us can relate to the poet William Wordsworth who described his childhood experiences of wonder immersed in Great Beauty in Ode on Intimations of Immortality:

There was a time when meadow, grove, and stream, 
The earth, and every common sight 
To me did seem 
Apparelled in celestial light, 
The glory and the freshness of a dream.  

Spiritual-mental-emotional-physical integration is the potential of all humanity and everyday experience can open up at any time into Great Beauty. I had a moving "parting of the veil" for a few moments two nights ago when I saw our little Maltese, Kayla-Rose, feeling playful on the living room rug. In people years she is 98 years-old and is struggling with many ailments. Tricia-Rose and I know her time to leave us is nearing. So I seized the precious moment by lying down with her and letting her lick me on the face. Through my closed eyes I could see her shoe-button eyes and nose and felt her enthusiasm for life through my hands. For a minute or so my world collapsed into a timeless moment and the the world fell away. There was nothing but Great Beauty in the Great Mystery we co-inhabit. Tears ran out the corners of my eyes as I embraced Great Love showing up as this little being with big soul while also releasing her to leave us. The usual distinction between sorrow and joy dissolved into something much more powerful. She's now in her bed under my computer desk as I write this and as I just reached down to pet her a vagrant tear dropped on the floor. This is the experience of Great Mystery--we're just talking about Love...the world-stopping openness, present-centeredness, heart-expanding joyful-sorrowful that we feel when a child is born, graduates, marries, or when a loved one is dying and their feet are growing cold. Imagine the world we could create if we lived more often in this vulnerability and compassion! In this sense, Life is no mystery at all if we own how big this Love is that moves us and gives us our being.  

Touching Mystery © Bob Hare 2012


Sharing Great Mystery

Though this Great Mystery of Life is our common central inner experience we don't often talk about it because there is an unspoken cultural taboo against doing so. Our culture tells us to look tough and cool if we want to fit in and be admired. It is a measure of how dissociated our culture is from our inner life and ultimate reality that we fear appearing strange or grandiose if we were to talk about a spiritual experience of Unity. When we add in how very difficult it is to suggest the Ineffable with words or art it is no wonder that we think spiritual epiphanies occurred only in Biblical times. 

The positive message that lives at the heart of all the world's spiritual traditions: "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you" is a direct recognition that we, and all life, share a common, yet mysterious, inner life...that we share the same human needs, longings, and fears. 

My life continues to be an adventure exploring this Great Mystery that we share. I'm creating this blog to provide a safe and respectful forum to explore Great Mystery through our spiritual experiences and creativity. I invite you to join me and others in this adventure.

"May all Beings everywhere be well, happy, and free!" 

Yours In Peace, Bob Hare


Note: Unless attributed to other sources all text, poems, photographs and artwork in this blog and other blogs entitled "Wilderness Adventures with Bob Hare" are copyrighted © 2012 by Bob Hare. The phrase "Wilderness Adventures with Bob Hare" is a trademark of Bob Hare.   

Thursday, September 27, 2012

My First Blog

I'm entering new territory here with this simple Blog. Who knows where it will lead. My intent is to share rather than hoard the portion of talents and the truly rich blessings that I've been given. My life has been and continues to be blessed with wonderful and creative people and I've had jobs and lived in freedom and abundance in truly magnificent places.

I've spent many years honing my creative skills and works to get them ready for sharing and at 63 it dawns on me it's time to give what I have and speak what I know just as they are--imperfect works in progress (just like me). So with a mixture of humility and gratitude and with the hope that doing so will touch at least one person, I'm setting out to share my thoughts, photos, poems and experiences now (rather than waiting for the coffee table book of my work to get miraculously published).

The Portal © Bob Hare 2012

So here's an image I created in 2007. Only a few friends have seen this photomontage of mine of a stained glass rosette window above a door in France's Reims Cathedral merged with the Goliath erratic boulder in what I call Boulder Boulevard in Yosemite. This work is clearly inspired by Ansel Adam's creative student Jerry Uelsmann but I'm not going to let that keep me from sharing it with you. After all, every artist is inspired by those who came before and I honor Mr. Uelsmann by showing how his work moves me to experiment on my own.

Here's a poem I wrote last August by the dome light of my 1994 Dodge Grand Caravan after climbing down from my favorite spot in the world, a juniper-speckled glacial ridge in Yosemite's High Country.

Tending Bonsai Ridge  © Bob Hare 2012

I lie down by the wind- blown juniper
With a still mind
And a heart opened by beauty

Shadows climb the peaks above the darkened lake
Raven flies over giant boulders dropped by the last glacier
As alarm chirps of ground squirrel rise up in the thin air

I am tending my garden
Of twisted junipers and espaliered pinemat manzanita
Rooted deeply in polished granite slopes and slabs

Except for the lone beer bottle I picked up
I make no improvements
My tending is simply being Here

Like Adam in his Eden
I talk to the trees and give them names
I touch their cinnamon bark and verdant foliage

Each tree tells me its story
Of nighttime ice storms and enduring drought
Of pelting hail and thundering lightning strikes

As the falling sun leaves each treetop
I move down to the next lit one
And watch its light fade until they all blink out

I carefully walk down the granite ramp
As Earth’s shadow rises to meet the fading pink
Of alpenglow on Cathedral and Tenaya Peaks

In the deep stillness of twilight under awakening stars
I study glacial polish and chatter marks in my granite path
Each step and hop a meditation on beauty and time

Back on Boulder Boulevard I follow the aplite dike that branches
Like the afternoon lightning that sent me scurrying down from the Garden
Until the rainbow arcing over Cathedral Peak sent me running back up again

Double Rainbow over Cathedral Peak © Bob Hare 2012

Here's a photograph from Bonsai Ridge of Cathedral Peak emerging from a rainbow-strewn raincloud as the sun was setting. Like Galen Rowell chasing that rainbow in Lhasa Tibet to get it to end at the Dalai Lama's Potala Palace, I ran breathlessly up Bonsai Ridge to get the junipers and lake under my rainbow.

Here's a brush and ink drawing I did as a wedding gift for my brother-in-law Andy and his wife Laura. I included Andy's wonderful Bernese Mountain Dog Cassidy who has since left us missing her and remembering how she could clear a coffee table with one brush of her tail.

My Heart is lifted as the Clouds on High © 2005 Bob Hare

As you can see my creative energies revolve around the glories of Yosemite which has been my spiritual home since I first laid eyes on Half Dome from Glacier Point in November of 1968 as a 19-year-old army private just graduated from the Defense Language Institute in Monterey. On that memorable day the first snow of the season was falling in muffled clumps from the red fir boughs as the sun broke out and a double rainbow grew up out of the Valley to tower over the shining panorama of peaks lining the eastern horizon. For a young lad from the Gulf Coast of Mississippi this was a true epiphany and I keep coming back for more such glories.

So this ends my first Blog. But it is a good start. I end with a Buddhist Blessing: 

"May all Beings everywhere be well, happy, and free!"

Note: Unless attributed to other sources all text, poems, photographs and artwork in this blog and other blogs entitled "Wilderness Adventures with Bob Hare" are copyrighted © 2012 by Bob Hare. The phrase "Wilderness Adventures with Bob Hare" is a trademark of Bob Hare.