Written by Rob Cipriano
What star shines bright
of the hearts beat
deeply into the anamorphic frames
of all the days and nights
trimming and slipping bytes
pushing and peeling transitions
finding the pace of the piece
into the silver-screened cauldron
of merchandized and marketed myths
where career-shaped souls
peddled on the ticker tape trade floor
march proudly in the parade
with only the droning street sweepers brush
Only eyes striking bolts
in a picture on an altar
on a mountain of diamonds
gazing three years, three months, and three days
directly into the meaning of the moon
knowing that big names
scroll and fade
leaving the lime light
A Note On Valentine's Day, On Love and an Invitation
I bow down to my Holy Lama, Holy Lord of all Warrior Saints.
For hundreds of years, people all over the world have celebrated St. Valentine’s Day. But very little is known about the man whose life the holiday honors. Much of St. Valentine’s story is a mystery, clouded by centuries of myth and legend. I did a little bit of research on Mister Valentine, a warrior of Love and Compassion.
There have been a few famous Valentines in history of Christianity. The consensus agrees that the Saint celebrated on February 14th was a catholic priest, who died in the year 270 and whose relics can be found in the Church of Saint Prexedes in Rome.
One has to remember that Romans had their own Gods and Christianity introduced the idea of having only one, who sent his son Jesus to teach on earth. However, the government did not have any problems in allowing people praise whomever they wanted. At this time, there lived an emperor named Claudius II. This emperor was a warrior and thus came with the radical idea that unmarried soldiers fought better than married soldiers because married soldiers might be afraid of what might happen to them or their wives or families if they died. So he really didn’t want people getting married and wrote an edict prohibiting young people –potential soldiers- to get married.
Realizing the injustice of this law, and following his religion’s belief that the union between a man and a woman is sacred, Valentine continued secretly marrying couples. When he became more and more popular amongst those in love, Claudius got furious about Valentine disobeying his edict, and Valentine was sent to jail. There are legends surrounding Valentine's actions while in prison. Some stories say he prayed and healed the daughter of one of the roman judges, who converted to Christianity after the miracle. But he fell in love with a girl he met while he was in jail. It is not clear whom it was but apparently he wrote to her the most exquisite love poems.
In the year 269 AD, Valentine was sentenced to a three part execution of a beating, stoning, and finally decapitation all because of his stand for Christian marriage. When the date was set for his execution, he penned one last epistle to his sweetheart, which he signed: “From Your Valentine.”
There are many great love stories. We can find them in books, in movies, or we can just notice it in people holding hands or in an intense look. Love is hard to describe in words and yet we know when we feel it. It is when we are in love that we are willing to share it all, to even put our lives at risk; we cry and we laugh more intensely. The colors are even more vivid.
But what “really” is love? One can meditate on love, for example, trying to detect where this “love” is coming from, where does it start? Where does it end? Is it physical? Or emotional? Could it be both at the same time?
Love, as our Holy teachers have told us, is not self existent; for if it was, then we would not have to spend our teenage years trying to discover it in different ways and different people, we would know how to generate it, or where to get it.
Still, love can be selfish or selfless. I could think of how lovable I am, and how I love myself so much that I am just going to take care of myself to make myself more lovable. This position is very dangerous, and really one can never be satisfied. We have spent probably lifetimes trying to take care of ourselves because we are so adorable, and we get really frustrated when others don’t treat us the way we want them to, because, “I am so lovely, can’t you see?”
After trying to love ourselves for so long and getting to be experts at it (did you buy yourself a chocolate last Valentine’s day?) We find no satisfaction. We can never be satiated and there is a certain feeling that something is missing.
Then, one day, we turn the mirror away from us and we start noticing that there are others out there who are also looking for happiness, for love. So we try to help them, and gosh! It feels so good! And then we think again “now I took care of you for 10 minutes, I can go back to taking care of myself for the rest of the day”
And it is not that it’s wrong to take care of ourselves. But when we do, it does not bring sparkles of joy as when we look into helping others. We are going to die making love to ourselves, and then what?
And then there are those who do hospice work, for example, and they seem to be doing a very good job at taking care of others, but they don’t necessarily do it out of love. Perhaps they do it with anger and they just wish they had another job.
So, we try taking care of others for 10 minutes a day, and we know it feels good, but then we lose interest or we don’t know how to.
This is when it is really good to search for our perfect Saint Valentine, our source of all inspiration: a Holy Lama.
We have to look around us and find someone who takes care of others better than us; and then we just have to watch them and copy what they do; ask them to help us to get good at taking care of others, and to open our heart. One day I was in retreat and a little bird crashed into my window and lay there. I did not know how to take care of it, and so I ran to get help; and this beautiful woman came, grabbed a towel, skillfully picked up the bird, and held it in her lap until it was good to fly away. She had mastered how to take care of those around her, and it seemed so natural to her to hold a bird in her hands, whereas I had no idea what to do!
And then there is the Dharma. We are all blessed to have found the teachings of Lord Buddha in this lifetime. They provide us with a great armor to become the warriors of Love, the Bodhisattvas who will rescue all mother beings from the ocean of their mental afflictions.
Particularly in Los Angeles, we have fantastic teachers who give us their time every week; they teach us how to meditate or a formal ACI course. But the most I have learned from them is out of the classroom: they just know how to take care of others and they just do things without thinking: “oh! I have no time” or “Oh! How am I going to open my house to strangers!” or “I don’t have time to catch you up on that coursework”. They fly into town to teach us, they don’t charge a penny for it; they even give us course materials and beverages for free… They just do it; out of love they lead us into liberation from suffering.
To conclude this article I would like to open an invitation to all who read this newsletter. I believe we all can be both great Roman Soldiers and a Christian Valentine priest fighting for love. We have the tools to do it and we just have to determine ourselves and wish really hard that this can happen.
If you want to be a warrior of love, imagine now you are in a Roman Amphitheatre. You are wearing a laurel crown, which smells exquisitely. You are surrounded by all your teachers, all are wearing white and smile at you.
Now that special person who teaches you how to take care of others grants you the teaching on what a warrior needs:
They give you a helmet which represents your Holy Lama, who gives you teachings on opening the heart to others; Your sword is that one which cuts through ignorance and your insight into how things really exist; Your armor are all the good karmic seeds you have dedicated for your enlightenment, and all the unselfish thoughts aimed at opening your heart. Your horse is your daily practice; we sit on our cushions and we explore, we ride our minds just like we ride our horse.
And then you are transformed into a Perfect Warrior of Love, a Saint Valentine who goes around Los Angeles, or Sacramento, Tucson or New York, secretly marrying people into a happiness that has no end, divorcing them forever from this suffering world.
If you want to take the Perfect Warrior of Love Pledge, in the form of a wish, or in action, please step forward!
To all of you, Saint Valentines across the planet, I salute!
Happy Valentine’s day!
From Your Valentine
Irma Gomés Danel