October 21, 2018: “Poem” (Alex Sangsuwangul)

TRANSCRIPT:

Good morning. My name is Alex Haden Sangsuwangul, and words can't express how grateful I am to be here with you all. A few years ago I volunteered for a marketing position at City foods co-op and met Rae Schnapp. And Rae and I connected pretty deeply and I showed with her my passion for health and wellness. And RaE said there's somebody you have to meet. And she referred me to Kathy Willowoode, who's here. Hi Kathy. And Kathy and I met for coffee and had a very deep connection as well and Kathy then introduced me to her partner Bill. And Kathy and Bill quickly became elders to me. Elders that could guide me in a time where many of our elders have fallen asleep. Then I came to the church and met a man named Tom Smith. And I shared with Tom that I'm interested in studying primitive skills and Tom lit up and said there's somebody you have to meet! I said sounds great! Who is it? And so Tom sent an email with me carbon copied to a gentleman named Brett Thomas Ladd. Brett and I connected very deeply and now we will be co-facilitating the sacred discussions which will happen today at noon.

I also have to say thank you to my mother always here with us. Without the support and unconditional love and guidance from my mother I don't know where I would be so I start by saying thank you very much. One of the five languages of love is spending quality time together. In this regard we are all expressing love to each other by being here together to share this quality time. Thank you very much for taking the time to be here, pay attention and offer your love. I love spoken word poetry. It allows us to reach deep within and deliver our truth with beauty. Even the not so nice truths that are pretty ugly. By giving the ugly truth rhythm, emotion and feeling we can express our truth with more honesty. The rhythm and rhyme provide the sweetness that allows us to swallow the bitter truth of our reality. A wise woman once told me fantasy is only what we want. Reality is what we need. My mother and father always told me two things: bitter food makes good medicine, and the truth shall set us free.

I have a disclaimer for this short story. There is some anger and cursing if you may be offended by cursing or explicit subjects feel free to leave now. For those that are offended or turned off by explicit language and rage I would like to invite you to consider the following. Tupac Shakur was a cultural icon and hip-hop legend in the black community for many years. In an interview with Tupac in 1994 the interviewer asks Tupac how did we get from the lighter hearted messages with Grandmaster Flash to the current scene of hip-hop, today in the 90s, of increasing intensity, no hope, we don't give a f--- attitude. And I quote Tupac. You have to be logical. If I know in this hotel room they have food every day and I'm knocking on the door every day to eat, and they open the door, let me see the party, let me see them throwin' salami all over the lobby just throwing food around and telling me there is no food in there, you know what I'm saying? Every day I'm staring outside trying to sing my way in. You know I'm saying? We are hungry please let us in. We are hungry please let us in. After about a week that song is gonna change to we hungry, we need some food. After 2 or 3 weeks it's like give me all the food or I'm breaking down the door. After a year it's just like I'm picking the lock coming through the door blastin. You're hungry you reached your level. We asked 10 years ago. We was asking with the Black Panthers. We was asking with them, the civil rights movement, we was asking then. Those people that were asking are all dead and in jail. What do you think we're gonna do? And we shouldn't be angry and my raps when I'm rapping to my community shouldn't be filled with rage? They shouldn't be filled with the same atrocities that they gave to me? In my raps I have to talk about it. It just seems foreign because there is no one else talking about it. End quote.

So let's talk about it. Please have patience because expressing the bitter truth can be complex. To understand reality we need context. The Malians of Africa have a word of for patience in the Bambaran language. The Bambaran word for patience is saballi. Thank you again for your saballi. Let's practice our patience and spend this quality time together. Let's take this opportunity to slow down in order to connect and get intimate. I feel it will be worth it because as the saying goes bitter truth is good medicine and the truth shall set us free. At first the truth will piss us off. However, fantasy is only what we want. Reality is what we need.

And so here it goes. This is a reflection of my life in relationship to Great Spirit. Thank you again for being patient and taking the time to listen. Please know that this is a very personal story. The story is very vulnerable and intimate. I recently heard an interesting definition of intimacy. Into me I see and I share with you. I've spent a lot of quality alone time meditating to see what was inside of me deep within my heart and spirit. This story is my effort to express it. Intimacy. In to me I see and I share that with you. This is a story of my observations along my journey but as I share it and look around more and more I'm beginning to see it's a collective story, an experience that many of us on earth are experiencing. We are all on different steps of a similar path of spirituality. A lazy businessman's journey to find inner peace, path of spirituality. This story is about an epic journey. A great adventure of the spirit. An exploration of great magnitude. Before we proceed I have a warning for you. The story has a lot of anger and pain. Hearing it may cause some disdain. It's a story about a spirit traveling along a path, a path that's treacherous. So we must prepare. We must open our minds and our hearts in order to be ready for this journey. It's a bumpy one with lots of twists and turns, pouting and shouting, fighting and emotions. Can everybody present handle intensity? Any special objections or special conditions? Ok thank you for your bravery. Stay with me it will be a bumpy ride however I promise the story has a happy ending. And so here it goes.

One day a spirit was drifting exploring the universe. The spirit happened upon a planet called earth, Gaia, a beautiful blue sphere. So the spirit wanted to be near the sphere it drifted closer then landed in the body of a human being. A baby human being just conceived in his mother's womb. And so the spirit's physical journey began. A spirit on earth. A troubled child's physical journey to become a man. A lazy business man's mental journey to become emotionally free. A spiritual journey to find inner peace. Fostering deep connection on the path of spirituality. Back to our spirit's journey let's begin with the physical part of it. The spirit landed in the baby who was born to a strange society in the center of civilization. As the boy grew up he always struggled with the fact that he didn't like being contained indoors, in school and inside. He liked to be outdoors outside in nature to explore, express himself and write. Being in nature felt right. His parents and teachers told him put your head down get back to school. However the boys spirit was crying out. The boy was troubled throughout his childhood. Being out in nature was the only time he felt good the boy's mother always had one thing to say, doing her best to guide him on his way. She looked him right in the eye, staring into what was on the inside, speaking from her heart to the spirit she said with great pedigree, the truth shall set us free.

And so the search began. The boy still had a question. How do we find the truth? His mother replied always keep your curiosity and question everything. The boy's father also added, bitter food makes good medicine and sometimes the truth can be bitter to hear. Son, always remember this: fantasy is only what we want. Reality is what we need. The boy then asks how do we become free? His mother replied do what makes you happy. Listen to your heart and follow your passion. If you do this you will find the truth. Then you'll be free. With great excitement the boy went back to exploring outside. He enjoyed the freedom he was feeling but inside he knew this feeling was fleeting, because Monday morning came and it was time. Time to return to the schoolyard where he had to study hard. As the boy grew up the schools taught him that reading writing math science and technology, what seemed to be the gospel words of civilized society, fed his mind the intellectual truth. His teachers sang a song over and over again. Study hard you know the drill, the weekend is a short-lived thrill, make sure that you obey in order to get an A. The song played in the boy's head over and over. Go to school you know the drill, a weekend is a short-lived thrill, study hard to get a job forget your dream forget your art. As the boy struggled to focus he took his mom's advice and he decided to ask his teacher the same question. The boy patiently raised his hand until called upon. Mrs. Jackson how do we become free? His teacher told him study hard get a good-paying job then you'll be free. At home that night the boy still did not understand. The TV was so loud he couldn't help but hear. The TV told him buy more things and you will be more happy more money means more freedom can't you see? However the boy could not see this nothing seemed to make any sense and so the boy put his head down and went back to his studies. After years of grade school there seemed to be only one option. Logically he wanted to get his degree. Then you can make a lot of money and buy his freedom. And so the boy focused on his studies, grew up got his degree and became a man. The man was an image of the American dream. Beautiful home, car, wife and kids, white picket fence. From the outside looked picturesque however inside there was a disconnect. A disconnect from the man's intellect and the man's spirit. The man struggled with the fact that his business plan made him a lot of money, but it lacked a proper solution to the fact that the money only caused more confusion. It made him question his business because you see the function of a business is to make more money. However the money never brought the man more peace. So he thought, I just need a vacation, some time away so then the man took a break, him and the whole fam.

He slowed down to rethink his business, making him question the purpose of it. When he said the words slower the meaning became clearer. Busyness. He realized he was just being busy without considering the consequence to his own psyche. Slowing down he began to hear his inner voice, the one that was whispering softly. Fuck the business. Find inner peace. He tried to push the voice away because what else would he do? If he wasn't busy? Now quickly the fear and doubt rushed to him. Thou should have a nice car, thou should have a nice home, thou should have nice things. How do we pay the bills? What about the kids? What about the mortgage and the rent? Fear and doubt was too great! No more time for breaks. Vacation over. Back to work. Back to business. And yet the man still craved that moment to slow down and question his busyness. One more vacation but now the whisper in his heart started to become a shout. Fuck the busyness find inner peace. Back to work, back to business although now the fear and insecurities are starting to shout too. Put your head down do what you have to do. Provide for your family. Get back to work. Don't be lazy. Hurry up rent's due next month. Back to work back to business and yet: the man still craved to slow down now the shouts of his business plan and inner peace were so loud he couldn't even think. Only ways he knows to quiet the noise to drown it out to the living room he goes turn up the volume on the TV keeps it on from the time he gets home until falling asleep telling him again and again you will be happy if you buy more things and yet the man still craved to slow down. To use his real eyes to realize the real lives on the TV. But still the shouting didn't stop. To the mall he goes looking for something to buy to take his mind off the noise. New TV speaker clothes cars and toys, iPhone iPad iWatch, all of this insanity knowing inside the real cost of consumer culture and vanity. And yet none of the things he buys makes him feel any better on the inside. Even in the man's dreams the showman comes back to the kitchen he goes searching for a midnight snack. A delicious treat occupies his mind as the fat clings to his waistline, feeling sick a bit nauseous time to throw up and yet man still craved to down. Now feeling a bit of a headache to the medicine cabinet he goes ibuprofen Tylenol drugs to numb the pain. And yet the shouting comes back to his brain.

To the liquor store he goes searching for anything to drown out the noise within. Staring at the bottle the guilt begins. The man buys lottery tickets instead. Maybe few wins it will clear his head. He could quit his job and run away and yet the shouting is louder than before, so loud he cannot ignore. So to the bar he goes trying to find solace in the bottom of a bottle. Beer vodka rum gin or wine it's all fine as long as I don't have to hear the shouting anymore. He finds a woman just as lost and drunk as him, the meaningless sexual affair begins. Sex void of any real intimacy or connection and yet a man fell asleep until the next day. The man sobered up in his inner voice still had something to say fuck the business man. Find inner peace no time back to work a vicious cycle of drowning out the noise. So to the doctor he goes expressing his deep depression and anxiety. The doctor scratches his head and writes the prescription Prozac it is. It's a pharmaceutical to numb the pain providing only temporary relief to his brain. Quickly the side effects of the chemical experiment flood in. The man decides to throw the pills into the trash bin. To the street corner he goes seeking out the street pharmacist. The drug dealer he finds offers him a suite of options. The man decides to buy the sampler to try them all. The man begins practicing self prescription and medication. Marijuana to get high, adderall to come back low. Cocaine for a rush, to the hooker for a blow. Heroin for a hit of dopamine, no longer feeling anything with the drugs. The man finds meth, the ultimate high of highs. The man did not realize with his real eyes the reality of damage he was doing. Fantasy's only what we want. Reality is what we need. He was numbing his senses burying his consciousness and poisoning his body without ever reaching the root cause of his depression and anxiety. After almost dying, cheating on his wife, and harming his family, the man gave up on the doctors, the drug dealers, the gambling, and the meaningless sex. He turned to what he thought would be his salvation.

So to the church he goes looking for salvation from Christianity. Confessing his sins to the priest, he began to realize with his real eyes that real lies was telling. Fantasy is what we want. Reality is what we need. Even though he was confessing he knew that he would go to sleep only to wake up to more shouting and continue committing the same exact sins. The man was realizing the madness and something had to give. The man decided to again follow his mother's advice and started questioning again. As he stood back and looked at his life he began to realize with his real eyes the madness of society that he was born into. Then the questions began to come through. How can we end this madness? Who has a solution? How about my ancestry? What can we learn from the ancestors and founders of this great American nation? What can we learn from the ancestors and founders of this great civilized society? As the man's search for truth continued the man began to realize with his real eyes the reality you see, bitter truth is good medicine and the truth shall set us free. At first the truth will piss us off, however, fantasy is only what we want. Reality is what we need. The ancestors and founders of this great civilized society are the ones that set up this system of domestication, captivity, and oppression. They're the ones that crack the whip. They're the ones that set up the system of oppression. They're the ones that raped and killed the Native Americans. They're the ones that enslaved the Africans. They're the ones that have raped and take all of the resources from the land only leaving chemical and environmental toxicity. How can we escape this captivity? How can we escape this nine to five wage slave money machine? This consumer society that trades happiness and love for money and material things? This oppressive system that only benefits 1% of society, the ones with 99% of the wealth? This consumptive materialistic society that claims land and natural life as sources of selfish financial profit? This oppressive force that promotes greed, vanity, lust and discrimination, preventing true love and compassion? This environmental disaster called civilized society?

The man's anger began to rise, an emotional outpour from what was on the inside. He began an inner dialogue if you will, because he could no longer live with this insanity. You see the meaning of insanity is doing the exact same thing and expecting something different. The businessman's voice was strong but now the man's spirit became strong as well, and so the dialogue began. The dialogue between the cultural conditioning of busyness and the spirit of the man. When will this madness end? The man's spirit asked. Just 40 more years of business then you can retire. By that time I might expire! What about this pain now? How can I enjoy this moment? This moment? Focus on your future. That's where your salvation is. As for your pain now, ignore it. Be tough. Push it down. I'm tired of working for this destructive machine! Quit being lazy. Put your head down and work. The more you work the more you will have. I already have everything I need. Why aren't I happy with all my nice things? Stop questioning things. You just need more so work harder. But why work more when I met all my needs? Because more money means more happiness can't you see? No I can't see anything anymore because I've made more money and I was way happier before. But wait that's it. I was happier back then. Before the busyness. And so the man's spirit came fully to the surface. The businessman's voice started to fade away. The man gained more courage to express what he felt in his spirit. The man runs outside and shouts out loud: fuck the busyness man I quit. Time to find inner peace. And so the search for inner peace began, right in that moment. Once the businessman's voice was quiet the man finally had a moment of silence. His mind became calm and still. Quiet enough to hear his heart's will. Quiet enough to be able to express himself fully, honestly. The ability to express what he felt in his heart, his spirit speaking to the man reminded him of his humanity. Of his sanity. Of his memory. The man began to remember the memories of his childhood, the ones that made him feel good. He used to love to hike, fish, and write. Being connected to nature felt right. And so he thought, I don't need a lot of money to write, hike, and fish. All I need is free time for this.

And so the man gave up all of his fancy things, a material sacrifice if you will. He let go of all the things he didn't need to free up his time to slow down. Be lazy again. Hike up to the mountains. Fish to provide for his family. Writing a bit of poetry. Appreciating each moment, a quiet moment on earth, completely present. Coming back home, he gave his wife the fish, she thanked him and prepared it. No TV anymore only time with the family the man told his children the story of hiking up to the mountain. The kids were inspired by his bravery. Just as his wife finished cooking, the man decided to share his poetry. The story brought his wife to tears. She hadn't seen her husband's smile in years. The kids, their mother, and the man embraced, wiping away the tears from her face. Then they sat down at the table. The man gave thanks to God to finally be able to enjoy a quiet and peaceful meal with his family, a state of calm he hadn't felt for years. Years of cultural conditioning. His mind still had a song to sing. However now his heart had new vision. Go to school. You know the drill. The weekend is a short lived thrill. Sad to see the old schoolyard. Crushing dreams and crushing hearts. What men won't and what they will. Working for a dollar bill. Sad to see the old slave mill. Grinding slow but grinding still. Nine-to-five you know the drill. The weekend is a short-lived thrill. Sad to see the old slave mill is grinding slow but grinding still. After his spirit sang the song he felt something that did not belong. Pain of 500 years of slavery surfaced. The oppressor, the whip, the plantation. They only went through a transformation. The oppressor transformed the banks in big business the whips to bills and accruing debt traps the plantation to the corporation. The man heard the song again. Sad to see the old slave mill is grinding slow but grinding still.

Slavery of a different form now embedded in our institutions, embedded in our traditions. Embedded in our economy. Embedded in our culture of privilege and oppression. Our obsession with material possession leading to natural resource destruction. Leading to new bombs being dropped on our everyday existence. Gas bombs, nuclear bombs, atom bombs, racist bombs, sexist bombs, ageist bombs. As the man was able to realize with his real eyes these realities he realized that he is just as guilty. The participation in the rat race called business only for the sake of selfish financial profit is what kept him and those around him captive. Busyness for the sake of selfish financial profit is what killed and displaced the Native Americans. It's what enslaved the Africans. It's what deports and rejects Latins. It's what causes work and study to death by the Asians. It's what causes guilt and anxiety for the Caucasians. Busyness for the sake of selfish financial profit is what wipes our plant and animal life diversity. It's what spews toxicity onto the common land and water. It's what has created this cycle of domestication and captivity of a large majority of the species called Homo sapiens. As the man realized the spiritual cost of selfish financial profit he turned back to universal values for guidance. We are motivated by freedom, justice, equality, and love. We want to stand up for justice, but many of us have lost our strength and vitality to stand our ground. We want to stand up for equality but many of us have lost our emotional stability to hold mature dialogue to develop equity. We want to stand up for freedom, but many of us have lost our resilience and agency to stand on our own two feet, dependent on the comfort and convenience of modern society. We want to stand up for love, but many of us have lost our sense of deep connection. Many of us have lost our deep connection to our body, to our family, our local community, our common native lands, the local ecology, earth, and all living beings that inhabit it, the elements, the galaxies, the cosmos and God. Great Spirit.

Many of us have lost connection to our divinity. Many of us have lost our connection to Great Spirit that flows through all beings. Many of us have become lost from the path of spirituality. The pain and guilt of the man's privilege and self-captivity began surfacing. His traumas of the past brought the man to tears, feeling and fully embracing all of his fears, a question of guilt arose in his mind Who am I to deserve this inner peace? The man began breaking down emotionally releasing all the fear and hate and began forgiving. He forgave the school system that put him into debt. The teachers that discouraged his questioning. He released and forgave the resentment towards his family. The times he felt he was treated unfairly. He forgave the oppressors, the light-skinned invaders that came to the west, the slave owners and traders of the Africans, the light-skinned race for their killing and stealing. He forgave the big bank owners and oil companies, the greedy CEOs that gained a profit while spewing environmental toxicity. He forgave the taxman for funding the profit-driven war machine. He released and forgave the soldiers that committed atrocities and the leaders that gave the orders. He released and forgave his own selfishness and narcissism, his own racist, sexist, and religious beliefs, his dependency and addictions to comfort, convenience, and material things. He forgave his blindness to his own self-captivity, his own self-hatred and anxiety. He released and forgave his addiction to alcohol, drugs, and mind-numbing distractions. His addiction to technology and distracting media outlets. His addiction to shallow social media connections. His addiction to meaningless sexual pleasure void of real love, understanding, and intimacy. His addiction to gambling with his money, his time, and his energy. He released and forgave his habits of disease, stress, and self-indulgence, his habits of being codependent, habits of leaning on others as a crutch at their expense, his habit of irresponsible and frivolous spending and buying material things, his habit of unconscious eating and consumption, his habit of waiting for approval from others to be proactive, his habit of treating other people as commodities or clients as sources of profit, his habit of avoiding uncomfortable conversations and conflict transformation, his habit of living in the past as a victim of circumstance, his habit of living in the future as an escape from his real problems in the moment. He released and forgave the pattern of pursuit of material things leading to endless cycles of debt.

He released and forgave his parents at the time and today are still doing their best. He released and forgave his siblings for any judgment. They saw him from a different perspective. The pattern of disconnection from his family, society and local community; the pattern of disconnection from his local ecology and all of humanity; the pattern of disconnection from the elements: earth air water and fire; his elders and ancestors for strength courage and guidance; the children and the next seven generations of grandchildren to come; the green growing plants of life; the animals, two-legged, four-legged, the swimmers, the crawlers and the winged; the natural web of life the seven directions of guidance north east south west down to the earth up to the cosmos and within to spirit. The man released and forgave the pattern of disconnection from himself, others, the web of life and the Great Spirit that courses through all beings. As he forgave and released emotions and tears were flowing. After the emotions and tears flowed out the man felt a sense of clarity. As though the tears were the guilt shame and hatred leaving his body. They evaporated back into the air to return the atmosphere to rain back down and land on the ground providing water for a new seed to grow and sprout. His pain and guilt and hatred transformed into water for plant. A flower squeezed tightly in a bud growing. The pain it took for the plant to remain tight in a bud surpassed the pain it took to open. The man just happened to be there in a spot as the flower blooms. The man took his chance to slow down, be lazy again. He was fully present in the moment. The past was now clear and in front of him the future non-existent. The man felt grateful for every breath of life in and out. He thanked the air, Sun, water and earth for providing him sustenance in a home. He thanked the earth for his new feeling of belonging, the flower he was sitting next to for its beauty. The beauty of the flower was nature's thank you, a reflection of the gratitude. As he observes the flower's beauty he realized with his real eyes the reality of his parents guidance. Bitter truth is good medicine and the truth shall set us free. At first it will piss us off however fantasy's only what we want. Reality is what we need.

The truth is all living beings deserve inner peace. The green growing plants, the trees, the sentient beings, the four-legged, the wings, the crawlers, the swimmers, the two-legged human beings of all races, white, brown, black, red, and yellow, all belong here on earth and all deserve inner peace. The man took his time to slow down and began writing his story in the form of poetry no longer feeling guilty, no longer in captivity. No longer hating. In his mind a newfound clarity and sense of connection. A calm and quiet mind, connected to Great Spirit. The human connected to spirit is free. The man felt gratitude compassion and love for all beings. The man thanked his his mother and father for their guidance. He remembered embodied what his mother and father had told him. Bitter truth is good medicine and the truth shall set us free. At first the truth will piss us off. However fantasy's only what we want. Reality is what we need. After all the years of running, the man had finally arrived in the present moment. Using the past and ancestry for guidance, being mindful of the next seven generations, the man continues walking on the path of spirituality. The man was one with Great Spirit. The man found inner peace. The man was finally free. The man found divinity. May we be unified, free, and loving. Love and blessing to all living beings. Namaste, and thank you for listening.

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