Plenty of Path for Everyone
[printable version - adobe pdf]

the path is the goal

the path is not prescriptable
the path is not predictable
the path is not presentable
the path is not preventable

The 12/8 Path has been my religion for a few decades by now. I keep preaching “The Path” to myself and even practicing a little of what I preach, all in the hopes that The Path will become clearer to me and I can tell people what beliefs and practices are on it and off it. If anyone should ask.

The main assumption all along has been participation, praxis, staying in the groove, in flow, in focus, in the present, more and more of the time, finding ways to diminish the alienations (from body, nature, work/play, society) and to keep alive the idea or goal of eliminating alienation entirely. For you, being in a path band may be enough. You may not need a local version of Buddhism. You may not need a 12 step program to drop your addictions or a post-colonial theory of punctuation to help your poetry along. Grooving On Diversity does it? Let go, and let GOD. Take what you need from the following beliefs and practices, leave the rest. If it stops being fun, drop it.

Musicking, and especially musicking for dancers, has been at the center of The Path from the beginning. When the Polka Party, the Salsa Party, the Bembe, the Samba Parade, the Jam Session, the Balkan Wedding, the New Orleans Brass Band, are at their best, everyone is participating, dancing, joking, jiving, having the time of their lives. “Soloing” and “group cohesion” are not necessarily in conflict; many “voices” can be heard, many “gestures” can be seen, simultaneously; in fact, the groove tends to get better. I want more of that. I want it for children to grow up with and into, NOW. I want it for more communities, for happier, healthier communities. We need The Path more and more of the time, filling more and more space with these healing rites until alienation is eliminated. Once and for all. “More and more” plus “once and for all” sounds greedy, even a bit totalitarian, but it’s all in the moment folks, moment by moment, good feelings accumulating; “spiritual capital” and “always for pleasure” can’t be hoarded or monopolized or coerced. It’s not greedy to want more “Participatory Discrepancies” and “Cohering Consequences;” it’s not selfish to be in a groove safely cradled by PDs and CCs. So let’s kick back locality by locality, watershed by watershed, neighborhood by neighborhood, block by block, home by home, person by person, to gain or reclaim our full, sweet, humanness.

I believe that every human is born from the womb drum onto The 12/8 Path and would stay on it if it weren’t for the obstacles, diversions, detours, imposed by schools and more recently, as well as ever earlier in life, by “the media.” The many civilized addictions and fixations delivered to us by corporations, media, “drug dealers” of all kinds, urging passivity, celebrity worship and constant consumption upon us are killing the planet, killing us, and putting our children on this passive trip at very tender ages. You add up the hours each day children spend in front of TV sets, the hours spent looking into computer or video game screens, looking at books (yep, visuals and reading rot the mind too if the mind is not echologically integrated with a grooving body/society/nature), the hours spent in stultifying schools and the total time spent out of rhythm, out of synch and off the path in the formative years is staggering, dulling, deadening, sure to cause bad health, both mental and physical. In sum, children are born onto the Path, eagerly seek the center of it during their first few years, but most wind up “pathetic” or off the Path and having “problems” by age 6 or 7, problems that can only be solved by “normal” alienations, “normal” limpness and sullenness, “normal” goodness, developing a “normal” tolerance for boredom, losing many forms of expressivity, becoming resignedly “untalented,” taking doses of legit and illigit drugs, accepting apathy (a-path-y, literally anti-Path or off the Path) and labels like “attention deficit,” or “special ed” as something to live with or work out for the rest of one’s unnatural life.

Here are some of the processes and ideas that are in the center of my 12/8 Path, some of which couldn’t possibly be at the center of anyone else’s 12/8 Path, but I’m making believe that someone has asked me, “What exactly is happening on this 12/8 Path of yours, Chuck?”

Well, let’s start with Gypsy Fullstop, aka R.G.T. Above (that’s Royal Government Tyrannical Above), aka Lord Rollingstone [not to be confused with Livingstone the famous African explorer, excuse me, explorer of Africa]. Gypsy Fullstop may have put me on The Path way back in 1965 if it takes an Avatar of Literacy to push one forward into the oral/aural tradition. I encountered Gypsy Fullstop in a Makurdi, Nigeria marketplace and he quickly explained to me that He was Fullstop, the period at the end of every sentence. He would point to a period and say, “I conquer.” It took me a while to realize just how absurd it is for God to insist on ending every single sentence and conquering all that came before, but we literates all play at being God this way -- look at any page in any book -- each of us keeps right on finalizing, controlling the telos, not just stopping but fullstopping the groove, the flow, the force
Don’t you want to correct that “mistake” in punctuation I just made? Put a period in there and then a circle around the period? Make a bullseye? Shoot me dead? Conquer? Admit it.
According to R.G.T.Above, all Europeans are commas. God is Fullstop. Jesus Christ is a comma. Question mark is a branch of comma. Quotation marks are a branch of comma. A Gypsy is “neither European nor African.” A semi-colon is “Adamant Eve.” A colon is a “dark dictum.” (Parentheses are sun and moon). In Gypsy Fullstop’s theory of punctuation as empire and cosmology, you, dear readers, are all subalterned, post-colonized. I conquer.
(Better to sing and drum and dance, no? Ready to join your local pathband?)
He brought me a heavy wooden statue of Himself, “cruciferous,” wrapped in a blanket, and called me his “stepchild.” Been stepping childishly along the path ever since

12 of 12 Alcoholics Anonymous steps and the many step programs that flow from it
(see “The Twelve Steps for Everyone. . . who really wants them” from Hazelden)

8 steps of the lizard day
our inner lizard brain is a complete brain and is broadly responsible for our movement, coordination, stepping through the world:
1) waking; 2) basking; 3) defecating at the spot; 4) local foraging; 5) nap; 6) forage further afield;
7) come home; 8) sleep (see Paul MacLean’s book, The Triune Brain, but Paul doesn’t love his inyrd lyzyrd)

8 of 8 noble Buddhist truths (Thich Nhat Hahn, Pema Chodron, Cheri Huber, etc)

(12/8 is Buddha’s enlightenment day; easy to remember, day after Pearl Harbor day)

8 points of Eknath Easwaran’s “Your Life is Your Message” (pg 124): 1) meditation, 2) repetition of mantram, 3) slowing down,
4) one-pointed attention, 5) training the senses, 6) putting others first, 7) spiritual companionship, 8) reading the mystics

4 unprincipled praxes of paganism, politics, poetry and pedagogy (see below)

4 fold vision of Blake
4th fold = EdenEternityEqualityEssence = present time in groove/focus/flow
3rd fold = Beulah’s dream world = Bateson’s 4 levels of necessary unconscious
(see pg. 128 following, in Bateson's Steps to an Ecology of Mind, key Path scripture)
two fold = resonating emotionally with reality, full participation in body/nature/society/work-as-play/whatever else we are currently alienated from
“may God us (sounds like Goddess said fast) keep, from single vision and Newton’s sleep”

3 vs. 2 in all that you dugh (pronounced something like “dew”, as in “let’s do it” that’s Tiv for slow addition and quick subtraction as in removing honey from hive, harvesting yams, pulling fish from trap, creating new songs)
3 of integrated triune brain (lizard motions + old mammal feelings thru musicking)
2 of deadly mind/body dualism
3 of both/and vs 2 of either/or

the 1 of Ommmmmmn Originating Mystery or Open Mind or Old Mother Nature

that’s Plenty of Path for anyone who needs more than just lots of movin and groovin to stay on it

but here are a few queries and notes on each of the four praxes, a provisional and rather unprincipled mandala of community building since these processes have to be played out group by group

each praxis exists without much theory, might be thought of as exercises in constant curiosity, constant exploration, constant humility and awareness of limitations, continual acknowledgment of ignorance, steady group process

pedagogy: beyond groove/focus/flow do we know anymore what will work for children? can we teach “go with the flow” in a world gone crazy with arrogance, greed, conspicuous and inconspicuous consumption, arms dealers, cleansings, wars, etc.? can we protect play areas in space and extend them in time so that “the ecology of imagination in childhood” (Edith Cobb) can flourish?

politics: what feels life affirming in the light of public space? where can we gather to demonstrate for diversity of species and cultures?

poetry: the poet’s work is done in the pulsation of an artery
(or 6000 years, whichever comes first)
it’s all the same in eden/eternity/equality/essence
Beulah will help you
the watchfiends are actually powerless and easily ignored
third phase in the lizard day
unload your poems the same way
slow down

paganism: get in synch with Old Mother Nature’s cycles in your locality

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