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They say that gardening cleanses the soul. If this is the case, then my soul is sparkling. Because this past Saturday I spent not one but three hours trimming the three big jacaranda trees that grace the yard. These trees are lovely, especially in the summer and spring, when their large fan-like leaves sway in tune with the breeze and give the surroundings a gentle, tropical feel. But come winter their pretty green turns urine brown and they shed profusely, sending tear-dropped shaped shavings everywhere. I've had to go on the roof not one but three times this rainy season, cleaning out the gutters of jacaranda debris. And all the times I've had to rake the lawn, and sweep the tiles! As I said, my soul must be spotless. 

The process involves not one but three steps, which are in order: cutting the big branches, stuffing them into garbage bins (I used not one but six) and then raking the debris. My soul is not only debris free but I also have enough firewood to last until spring, unless I routinely burn as much of it as I did last night when I entertained my late mom's friends, Gail and Susan. In high school my friend Autumn called me "just one of the girls." Last night I was just that, chatting about plastic surgery and life in retail and the challenges of being married to a man with a high-maintenance daughter and anything else these lovely women cared to broach. 

But back to the soul, and its cleanliness. And why should the soul, made in the image of the Divine, require any cleansing at all? If God is all there is, and God is good, how can there be any evil, not to mention grime or grit or leaves that shed?

The ancients say that the human mind has evolved so that the cosmic Force that pervades everything may know Itself. I accept the statement on faith, since I wasn't there some 40,000 years ago when we as a species came into our own. And would you believe that the huge leap homo sapiens made, in impressionist art and language and culture, may have largely been due to the consumption of DMT? This molecule, present in all animals and in many plants, began to be cultivated by civilizations the world over, from Amazon to Peru and Egypt and our humble continent in more recent times. And it also is produced by the our own brains - location the pineal gland, which the ancients call the third eye -  at birth and at death and occasionally in between, but usually before late teens, at which point the pineal gland calcifies. The molecule is the gateway between the individual self and the Self, source of all that is. Its territory is where spirit meets matter. And the high is supposedly out of this world, accelerating evolution, allowing us to connect with our purpose in life often through contact with interdimensional beings. DMT is present in brews including ayahuasca as well as magic mushrooms and other plants. So give it a try (although check your local laws since it may be illegal). And give me some if you can spare it. Heck, maybe we can do it together. Among the many purported perks is sexual ecstasy, which is not as fun when you're alone.

Anyhow, it seems that when simple life forms arose, awareness on its own was not enough. How do we know? Because awareness alone was not the end of the road. Then came us. And we may be just the latest model in a work in progress. We who are aware that we are aware. But with the self-aware, self-referential, self-absorbed and sometimes selfish mind arises the ego, and with identification that you are your body (rather than your body being merely a vehicle for experience to convey you through life which is just a blip on the radar of eternal cosmic experience), as you identify with your body you feel separateness from others, and vices such as greed and gluttony take hold, and we get Donald Trump for president and nuclear proliferation and the brink of World War III. 

I recently learned that a friend's house had been burglarized. Before you go getting your panties in a bind, the thieves were caught on camera and apprehended a few hours later. The alarm went off ten minutes after the two hood-wearing hoodlums entered the place and so they didn't get away with anything of value but their lives, which they already had and which is worth more than any of the paintings and furnishings my friend owns, who is rich. So it really wasn't worth it for our street urchins, their life of crime didn't pay and now they have a lifetime of prison in which to mull over the matter. Leisure time is pretty valuable too. The cops say they found coins and jewels in the getaway car, so it was likely not the robbers' first offense. Maybe they deserve such strict punishment. A momentary lapse of judgement and boom, life over. I don't know these guys, but I can't help feeling sorry for them.

My father didn't feel sad, however. Hearing of the attempted theft, this card-carrying member of the NRA suggested my friend buy a gun first thing in the morning and take it to the shooting range. He even offered to go with my friend, since he doesn't often get the opportunity to discharge his multiple firearms. Waiting to be burglarized, I guess. I'm kidding. But the truth is that I was silently outraged with my father's remark. This is a man who calls himself spiritual. Vegetarian. Been to "the feet of the Lord" (an Indian guru) several times. And he certainly knows how to spout the rhetoric. Throughout childhood he pontificated at the dinner table on an almost nightly basis. I love that word, pontificate. Is my precious daddy-o an embodiment of the phrase Do as I say not as I do? I love that one, too. 

I couldn't help but think of one Indian guru, Ramana Maharshi. He wasn't my father's guru but my dad does admire the man and has read his books. Once when the Maharshi's dwelling was besieged by thieves, he calmly told the intruders to take what they needed and go in peace. Now that's how a spiritual somebody should act. That's how a spiritual person does act. Spiritual is as spiritual does. Like stupid. And it's stupid as in ignorant to claim an eye for an eye when the evolution of this idea is to turn the other cheek. There is no good and evil, only knowledge and ignorance. Those are the words of my dad's spiritual guide. So act on 'em. These thugs didn't know any better, or are bent by crippling poverty, etc. Rather than punish them we should understand them and help them out of their unfortunate situation. We are one family, the human race, one divine entity. Those may be just words, unless you bring them to life in your own life.

One day we will live in a world governed by the laws of karma. We already do, though authorities and trembling home owners have no faith in the fact that every action has a reaction. That nobody acts with impunity, even when there are no cameras around and cops to slap on the cuffs (a rare occurrence in today's surveillance age). Thieves eventually get their comeuppance without the heavy hand of the law weighing in. But until we let the natural order assume its rightful place in the governance of things, you will be imprisoned for drunk driving if you get caught. But I predict that one day the mere thought of yourself being hit by a tipsy motorist will sufficiently deter you from getting behind the wheel after one too many libations (or three, sticking with the theme) yourself. 

Until then we have our laws and cops and breathalyzers and penitentiaries. And they are necessary for now, for many is the person, and me too on occasion, who would happily drive to the market after a six-pack for another round, were it not for the thought of getting caught along the way. Maybe I need to take DMT. Maybe my dad should too. Then he'd know that we're all one and notions like vengeance and prosecution of so called "others" are as ridiculous in the grand scheme as cutting out your front teeth when they accidentally bite your tongue. Maybe we should make like Brazil and give the substance to our thieves to help them see the error of their ways. But life is perfect, so there is no evil! Lest we forget.

Even though we live in utopia as in everything happens for our ultimate good, I'm still holding out for the brand of utopia featuring no haves vs. have nots, and no prison terms. If nothing else than for the tax dollars we'd save. Imagine! Will I see this breed of paradise in my lifetime. Yes, if I see it in my own life. And I often do, by watching my actions and living with forethought and discretion and practicing kindness virtually every step of the way. 

And really, often to always is merely a hop skip and a jump away. I can make it with you by my side, friend.


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