Friday, March 30, 2012

SHORT RESUME


In a career spanning over forty years, performance artist Linda Mary Montano (b. 1942) has created works in a variety of forms that explore the possibility of eliminating the distinction between art and life by creating videos, books, Art/Life Counseling, sculptures, pilgrimages, objects from past performances, live performances, workshops/teaching and spiritually deep ways of bringing sacred truths to her own daily life and the lives of others. www.lindamontano.com

RULES FOR A PERFORMANCE ART CLASS


Linda Mary Montano’s: Performance Art Rules for College Students


No blood

No urine

No cutting

No dangerous actions to self or others

No menstrual blood

No self-abuse or other-abuse

No masturbation

No sex

Make it safe, sacred, and short


Thank you!


Advice collected by: Karen Gonzalez Rice

Tuesday, March 27, 2012


HOW I DISCOVERED TERESA OF AVILA,
LINDA MARY MONTANO, 2012


My own Catholic journey began 70 years ago, 1942, in this small village, Saugerties NY, where I was raised traditionally in an Italian-Irish home.The training included Catholic grammar school, Catholic college and a catechetical grade school life inspired by women saints: Bernadette, Joan of Arc, Therese of Lisieux, Claire of Assisi and Rita among many others with the Blessed Mother Mary as the penultimate Everything . Although invitations even back then to be a saint were held out as a vocationally smart choice, I remember now, especially during Mass at St Mary's Church, one minute from here, that I somewhat foolishly wondered why I could not be a priest, regretting that I was not born a man.

Teresa of Avila, I'm so glad that I eventually discovered that you were a multi-faceted saint/ mentor/teacher/reformer/architect/feminist/musician/comedienne/poet/traveler/author/mystic/Doctor of the Church and model for all women; inviting us to pass through the glass ceiling of the Catholic Church's politics and institutional anacronisms; showing us how to travel toward an authentic and genderless path to prayer and bliss, devoid of and actually not needing external position or power; showing us how to travel to the altar of our inner heart.

At the age of 19, I thought that the only way for me to fulfill my desire for deep spiritual connection was to enter the convent and so I joined The MARYKNOLL SISTERS, staying for 2 years but leaving with a need for not only therapeutized emotional maturity but also desiring a life of service, having learned so many beautiful lessons from these women of joy and generosity.

Teresa of Avila, you provide us with many visual maps for our inner journey, using simple metaphors . You taught your nuns that praying is like watering a garden using 4 levels of effort: the first is pulling water up from the well ,the second is using a water wheel, the third is taking water from a stream and the last method is letting go and allowing the garden to receive water from the rain. Eventual effortlessness.


I left the formal practice of Catholicism for a number of years and studied with many teachers from various Eastern traditions who taught and demonstrated their theologies of transcending the vagaries of material mind via silence. My gratitude to them will be forever. My art also began to reflect a new level of introspection, stillness but was often spiced with a humor that cut through aesthetic seriousness.

Teresa of Avila, the general consensus or at least my early thinking was that the spiritual life had to be a dour training in severe penances but in reading your books and manuals for nuns, I am astonished by your ability to cheerlead others via dance, song, joy and a hilarious humor. Teresa of Avila, woman of balance.

In the mid 90's, I returned to the church and now consider myself a practicing Catholic and still a performance artist, a somewhat oxymoronic combination. This time, after having left 40 years ago, my head is not in the sand of secrets, my heart is not avoiding the human challenges of the Catholic Church, and I am inspired by Teresa of Avila's ferocious loyalty to reform and making things better but in my own unique way.
,
Teresa of Avila, you are such a meticulous and masterful technician of the sacred and I trust that in time, if I keep practicing your teachings, I will begin to understand your inner language of prayer with its: consolations, unions, raptures, ecstacies, mystical betrothals and ultimate marriage with divine love. Teresa of Avilaplease lead me into the 7th Mansion. Right now. I hold your hand.
Linda Mary Montano, 2012 Saugerties NY

DEAR ESTEEMED ARTISTS AND LIFEISTS

********************************************************************************

DEAR ESTEEMED COLLEAGUES/ARTISTS AND LIFEISTS:

I WISH TO TALK WITH YOU ABOUT THE BRAIN BECAUSE I SEE MY OWN ART AS MEDICINE AND MY DRUGS OF CHOICE ARE PERFORMANCE/VIDEO/BOOKS/ENDURANCE/PERSONAS/SCULPTURE AND ACCENTS...WITH ALL DUE RESPECT TO MY ITALIAN GRANDPARENTS WHO TALKED WITH AN ACCENT...THESE DRUGS MOVE ME OUT OF LEFT BRAIN FEARS,GUILTS,JUDGMENTS AND ATTACHMENT TO SUFFERING AND ALLOW ME RIGHT BRAIN, ART PLAYTIME.
MY INTEREST IN THE BRAIN IS MEDICALLY PERSONAL AND I HAVE ALSO RESEARCHED ON YOU TUBE, JILL TAYLOR, BRAHMANANDA SARASWATI AND BEDE GRIFFITH...ALL OF WHOM HAD LEFT BRAIN STROKES AND ALL THREE EXPERIENCED A RESULTING ARTIST-LIKE EUPHORIA.
ADMITTEDLY WE LIFEISTS/ARTISTS DONT HAVE TO HAVE A STROKE TO BECOME MORE CREATIVE OR BETTER LOVERS OF BEAUTY. WE MAKE ART WHICH IS A BRAIN GAME AND THAT'S ENOUGH. BUT WE DO NEUROBIOLOGICALLY SHARE OUR JOURNEY WITH OUR MEDICALLY COMPROMISED FRIENDS LISTED ABOVE.

TO ILLUSTRATE; I WILL FURTHER DISCUSS ART AND ANXIETY/ART AND THE BRAIN/ART AND RITUAL/ART AND THE GLANDS.

I'M SURE THAT THERE ARE A FEW UNIVERSALLY APPLICABLE PATTERNS STRUCTURING AND FOUNDATIONING THE ART MAKING PROCESS WHICH WE ALL SHARE.

PATTERN 1: ART AND ANXIETY

WHAT BETTER TIME TO BE AN ARTIST/LIFEIST? ADMITTEDLY WE ARE VOCATIONALLY CALLED TO WONDER ABOUT, BE HAUNTED BY AND SENSITIZED TO VACATED NOTHINGNESS AND CURRENTLY OUR JOB IS EXACERBATED BY HAIR RAISING STORMS, WINDS, WATERS, LIGHTENING, FIRES, EARTHQUAKES, FAMINES AND TOTAL PLANETARY AND POLITICAL COLLAPSE. AUTHOR THOMAS BERRY STATES THAT ANXIETIES ABOUND AND MANIFEST THIS COLLAPSE IN THREE WAYS : COLLAPSE OF THE BODY/COLLAPSE OF THE MIND/COLLAPSE OF THE SOUL

1. WE ARTISTS ARE SENSITIZED TO AND FEAR PHYSICAL COLLAPSE, DEATH AND THE PARALYZING NIGHTMARE THAT WE WILL CEASE TO BE, CEASE TO HAVE A BODY, SHELTER, SUSTENANCE. COLLAPSE OF THE BODY.

2. COLLAPSE OF THE MIND: WE ARE SENSITIZED TO MORAL COLLAPSE AND BECAUSE WE ARE OVERWHELMED WITH DECISION FATIGUE GIVEN THE PLETHORA OF FREE FLOATING WEB INFORMATION, WE FEAR WE WILL NEVER KNOW REAL TRUTH.

3.COLLAPSE OF THE SOUL: WE ARE SENSITIZED TO AND HAUNTED BY THE ANXIETY OF SPIRITUAL COLLAPSE AND FEAR THAT LIFE IS KARDASHIANLY MEANINGLESS, HOPELESS, HELPLESS, FOOLISH AND WITHOUT CONSEQUENCE.

THESE 3 ANXIETIES OF BODY,MIND AND SPIRIT ARE OUR ART MATERIAL, WORDS FOR OUR PRAYER, OUR CLAY, OUR PAINT.....

PATTERN 2: ART AND RITUAL

WITH THESE ART MATERIALS, WE PHOENIX OURSELVES RITUALISTICALLY AND COURAGEOUSLY THROUGH THE FIRES OF DAILY DISASTERS, POLITICAL DISASTERS, SOCIAL DISASTERS TO RETURN WITH NOT ONLY OUR OWN PSYCHES INTACT, TRANSFORMED & BURNT CLEAN BUT WITH FODDER AND BEAUTY FOR OUR CO-PILGRIMS.

I LEARNED EARLY TO BE AN ARTIST VIA THE ROMAN CATHOLIC RITUALS OF MASS, EUCHARIST, CONFESSION, INCENSE, STATUES AND COUNTLESS OTHER LITURGICAL WAYS THAT I WAS CATAPULTED INTO VATICANED MYSTERIOUS AND SYMBOLIC WORLDS. I WANTED TO BE ON THE ALTAR, TO BE A PRIEST, AND COULDNT, SO I IMITATED IN PERFORMANCE WHAT I SAW IN CHURCH BUT MORE EXACTLY WHAT I FELT, WHICH IS TRANSCENDENCE, ECSTASY AND TIMELESS SILENCE. BECUASE I AM A WOMAN, I CANNOT MAKE CHRIST PRESENT ON THE ALTAR BY CONSECRATING THE EUCHARIST BUT I CAN POINT TO THE NEED FOR CHRISTIAN MERCY AND COMPASSION IN MY OWN LIFE SO THAT I CAN ADDRESS MY OWN NEANDERTHALIZED FLIGHT-FIGHT LEFT BRAIN HORRORS.
GENERALLY SPEAKING, WE ARTISTS ARE VOCATIONALLY CALLED TO RITUALLY CREATE ORDER FROM MATTER SO THAT WE CAN RISE UP, FLOAT AND FLY. WHY DO WE DO THIS? BECAUSE WE LIKE AND KNOW HOW TO CREATE CEREMONIES AND RITUAL.

PATTERN 2A: LET'S ADMIT IT, WE ARE

REPETITION REPEATERS
SYSTEM CREATORS
ANXIETY REFRAMERS
O-CDERS
COMMUNITY BONDERS
LIFECRISIS FIXERS
TRUTH KEEPERS
MIGHTY FOCUSERS
SYMBOL SEEKERS
MYSTICAL SCHMOOZERS
SCAM SMELLERS
WORSHIP LOVERS
CHARMING HYPNOTIZERS
TRAUMA RE-ORGANIZERS
PURIFICATION ENACTERS
HOLY HAZERS
CONSCIOUS PERFORMERS
ECSTASY TRANCERS
SPIRITUAL MINISTERS
RIGHT BRAIN ADDICTORS
SECURITY STRUCTURERS
BODY MORPHERS
ENERGY NEUTRALIZERS
DEPRESSION PREVENTERS
ZEALOUS PASTORS
ROBOTIC REPEATERS
SOCIAL BONDERS
COMPULSIVE ENACTERS
MORAL RESTRAINERS
DEMON EVICTORS
DEATH DE-CONFIGURERS


PATTERN 3: ART AND THE BRAIN



ARTISTS BRAINS ARE DIFFERENT. TO PROVE OR DISPROVE MY CLAIM, WE TOOK THIS SCAM, BOGUS, TOTALLY UNSCIENTIFIC AND SIMPLISTICALLY INACCURATE TEST TO DETERMINE OUR BRAINS ORIENTATION. WE CAN AGREE WE HAVE 70 TRILLION CELLS, 230 BONES, 650 MUSCLES AND YET WHEN NEUROBIOLOGIST JILL BOLTE TAYLOR DESCRIBES HER LEFT BRAIN STROKE AND SAYS THAT THE RIGHT BRAIN THINKS IN PICTURES, IS PRESENT MOMENT ORIENTED AND LEARNS KINESTHETICALLY WHILE THE LEFT BRAIN THINKS LINERALLY, METHODICALLY, IS PAST AND FUTURE ORIENTED, HAS A SENSE OF I AND EGO AND FEELS SEPERATE FROM EVERYONE , I BELIEVE HER. DO YOU? I KNOW YOU NEUROSURGEONS, NEUROLOGISTS AND MEDICAL PEOPLE OUT THERE ARE SQUIRMING, PUTTING YOUR FINGERS IN YOUR EARS AND SINGING LA,LA,LA. BUT MY MEDICALLY NON-DOCUMENTED THESIS IS THAT WE ARTISTS ARE VOCATIONALLY CALLED TO MAKE SENSE OF LEFT BRAIN STUFF BY TAKING ALL OF IT...OUR BAGGAGE, WORRIES, GARBAGE AND TRUCK IT OVER TO THE RIGHT BRAIN WHERE COMPASSION, BEAUTY AND AGENDALESS REGARD IS ABLE TO TURN PAIN INTO PAINTINGS, PAIN INTO PAINTINGS, PAIN INTO PAINTINGS.

PATTERN 4: FROM CHAKRAS TO GLANDS

IN MY 50'S, MY HOUSE OF CARDS BEGAN TO SLOWLY COLLAPSE.

1. I HAD FINISHED 14 YEARS OF LIVING ART AND STUDY OF THE CHAKRAS

2. I HAD A LEFT BRAIN SILENT STROKE

3. I WAS REFUSED TENURE

4. I WAS CAREGIVER FOR MY DAD FOR 7 YEARS

5. MY TEACHER , DR ARUNA MEHTA ALSO DIED

6. I BECAME SICK WITH DYSTONIA, A PARKINSONIAN-LIKE MOVEMENT DISORDER


I HAD REACHED THE SICKNESS, OLD AGE AND DEATH CHAPTERS OF MY LIFE AND FELT STRIPPED OF CHAKRAS, STRIPPED OF BRAIN NEURONS, STRIPPED OF EASY ANSWERS, STRIPPED OF DREAMS, NOT STRIPPED OF CELLULITE OR OTHER BODY BETRAYS, STRIPPED OF ART, STRIPPED OF CERTAINTY, STRIPPED OF CREATIVITY AND THROWN INTO HELL. GOING THERE HAS BEEN AN AMUSEMENT PARK RIDE OF TERROR INTO SECRETS STORED IN MY LEFT BRAIN ONCE CEMENTED SHUT AND NOW REDUCING ME TO AN ON MY KNEES POSITION OF SURRENDER.MY YOU TUBE VIDEO, STARVED SURVIVORS IS THE RESULT OF THESE YEARS OF RESEARCH INTO THE DARK NIGHT OF THE SOUL. WHILE IN THAT DARKNESS ONE DAY, SPASMING AND TWISTED WITH DYSTONIA, I HEARD AN INNER VOICE THAT SAID, "LINDA,YOU LOOK JUST LIKE MOTHER TERESA." AND AFTER YEARS IN LOCKED DOWN JAIL, I FEEL AS IF I CAN NOW TAKE THIS BODY WITH GLANDS, CLIMB UP OUT OF A DANTE-LIKE PUTRID SLIME, WASH CLEAN MY OILED WINGS AND FLY HOME. MOTHER TERESA THANK YOU FOR LOANING YOUR WINGS. THANK YOU FOR LOANING YOUR WINGS, THANK YOU FOR LOANING YOUR WINGS.

LINDA MARY MONTANO, 2011

Saturday, March 10, 2012

DEAR HANOI JANE(FONDA)
context....this was written after i left ut texas,and servEd as a healing tool, nothing else.

TO BE READ IN AN ACTIVIST'SVOICE:Dear Hanoi Jane,Jane,you were right. Right to say that you were wrong back then.It was wrong of you not to do what everybody else was doing and right now to say that you were wrong then.You are right, you should not have sympathesized with the Viet Cong because many, many Americans thought that you were wrong.You should not have spoken against involvment of American troops in Vietnam because the majority of Americans thought that it was right for them to be there. Majority rules, Jane.You were wrong then and right now.Shame on you ,Jane. You should feel guilty now for having been one of the first Americans to be let into North Vietnam by Ho Chi Minh.You traitor,you.But now that you are almost 60 and wiser and have stopped fighting and joined the rest of the world, you have a chance to feel bad for awhile and then good.Now more and more people can run up to you in airports these days as was reported by the media recently, and throw their arms around you, the prodigal daughter, the good American girl, returning home to group think. We all make mistakes ,Jane, even you and as you age, you will discover even more of them!
TO BE READ IN AN ALCOHOLIC'S VOICE:The reason I'm congratulating you , Jane, is because I feel the same way,Jane. Yes Jane, I'm home now and I feel wrong, not better,just wrong. Actually I'm almost 60 too and I'm very sorry for what I have done just as you are sorry for what you did.I'm sorry Jane that I didall of those scary, awfull,outrageous performances all of these years. Shame on me, Jane, I'm also a traitor.Just like you!
TO BE READ IN A BRITISH CRITIC'S VOICE:Ms Montano, how absurd, how utterly absurd.Your work is revolutionary, important and presents a critical art/life paradigm essential to the historical perspective of the post-modern dialectic. The paradoxes presented in your visionary hermeticism and comedic dramaturgy address not only a performatively brilliant stance but efficaciously interface minimalist conceptualism with Dionisian/autobiographical/tantric excess. As a woman of culture and learning you deserve the applause and endless commendations which accompany your legendary name.
TO BE READ IN AN ALCOHOLIC VOICE:Maybe but shame on you, Jane.I mean shame on me,sorry! I have always been very innocent and naive and idealistic. Really!I was just like you but now I see students imitating the performances art receipe for all of the wrong reasons...for the fame, for tabloid covers, for sit-com spots, for e-commerce sites, for Hugh Hefner spreads, for reality shows. And Jane, I do admit that we weren't angels, not at all. We all wanted those movie contracts, those retrospectives, those broadway shows,but we are still very talented, creative and good artist from the old school, eventhough we are in a bit of a muddle right now.It's just that our good intentions and radical work got twisted by time and now we should really feel shame and sorrow for having glutted the galleries and performance spaces with out creative outrages and eschewed visions. Right, Jane?
TO BE READ IN A BRITISH CRITIC'S VOICE:Poppycock! Ms.Montano, you are a champion of humanity,confideently and optimistically exuding messianic-like depth into you highly sophisticated,elegant and refined iconography.Your philosophic thoughtfullness is culturally available to all and can be studied online or in scholarly journals, those interested can obtain copies of your many paged resume, foundations continue to grant you rewards well deserved and your colleagues all agree that the sacred and profane converge in your original ideations and they garner respect for you,for you are not only one of the primemovers in early performance art of the 70's but are internationally reverenced and renowned in the history of this innovatively challenging art.
TO BE READ IN AN ALCOHOLIC'S VOICE:Jane,you are sorry for Viet Nam, right? I'm sorry too for alot of the things I've done. I'm sorry that I taught performance art because now it is being imitated by young whippersnappers who have taken it totally out of it's sacred context, it is being commodified and money has upstaged our pure spirit and honest approach to matter.These young people joke around and this jocularity is being substituted for what was for us in the 70's a highly concentrated rite of passage wherein we were able to cultivate trance, attentional depths and minds bordering on enlightened. Performance art was different then, Jane.Right? Jane, are you understanding why I feel so guilty, just like you do?TO BE READ IN A BRITISH CRITIC'S VOICE:I will not hear of this. Montano, your teaching style is impeccable and your educational intentionality has inspired thousands, permissioning them to pursue their art practice with a grace, refinement and restraint which skillfully and coherently allows them to aesthetically and financially travel the depths of their creative subconscious, only to return to freely and unabashedly express their visions to audiences who hunger for their innovative voices and visions.If we were to compare your skills, Montano, to those of the average person on the street, we might mention that you,Montano have aesthetic alertness and precesion similar to that of a board certified eye surgeon performing a cataract operation on a well loved relative..You are that carefull with your art and your life.Let the secret enrollers of the Macarthur Grant hear this. Reward this woman, please!Let Guggenheim do the same,Let's buy her extensive archive and produce her DVD! Let's give her anything she wants. We need her voice! We need this champion of culture, this living legend.
TO BE READ IN AN ALCOHOLIC'S VOICE:Let's get back to the truth.You know Jane Fonda, we were the original performance artists, you and I.We were innocently doing our work without backbiting or competetiveness, without greed or the need for fame. These young people now, on TV, are becoming survivors instead of fine artists.It's all backwards Jane and we were never like that, right? We were more interested in conceptual practices, in sculpting form, shape ,color, time and our bodies with our ideas, right Jane? That's what we thought we were teaching when we taught performance art, right? But I was wrong Jane because today I saw a child-girl in a very conservative upstate NY village, walking around as if dazed and half drugged,half dressed, as if performing visibility/mask/body art/endurance/taboo all without an announcement of the show, all there for the public to witness .It's the stuff we did, Jane.It looked so familiar and yet I was shocked when I realized that 4 years ago, I would have applauded her urban neurosis and need to be seen performatively and yet today, Jane,I wanted her to go home to Mom, eat a bowl of home made soup and receive a nurturing/authentic hug.
TO BE READ IN A BRITISH CRITIC'S VOICE:Rediculous Montano, get a grip.You are and always have been a highly principled and morally outstanding exemplar of virtue.You've ennobled performance art with symbolistic/spiritual nourishment, with a severe and austere re-seeing of endurance. You've provided a cyborgian dismissal of outdated physicality, a virtual embracement of technological advances and a cross-cultural remapping of Lacanian discourse.This medicinal interiority, known only to this art form,is one practiced shamanically for centuries by the creative undergroound. Thank you, Ms.Montano .Don't feel shame, feel our thanks.
TO BE READ IN AN ALCOHOLIC VOICE:But Jane,I'm sorry, not bitter. Sorry and sometimes I don't know why I'm sorry! Probably you're sorry that you made all of those sexy movies, right? Including Barbarella.I'm not being litigious or hostile or aggressive here but performance art has become a pie-in-the-face , and is no longer a dignified chapter in the history of art. The parody, dangerous actions, and disregard for the sanctity of the genre,scares me Jane. Do you feel the same way, that directors imitated your style and made many other Barbarella-looking movies and you ended up mentoring young starlets to be indecent and immodest, just like you were? So like you Jane, I apologize and I'm stopping the game, right here and now. No more art for me just like you probably said, no more movies,no more activism for you, right,Jane?
TO BE READ IN A BRITISH CRITIC'S VOICE:For those of us educated to your credentialed greatness and the vagaries of your career as heyoka, trickster,yogi,mystic,Blakeian genius and technician of consciousnes, your argument Montano does not hold water. You must not leave. Don't give up! Your mensa-like brilliance, excellent powers of aesthetic discrimination , your superior reflections on Truth itself, have lifted the art community to heights unknown in the field. With reverence we honor you as a pioneeer of higher consciousness. And with all due respect, I wish many years of contributions to this work of aesthetic evolution.
TO BE READ IN AN ALCOHOLIC VOICE:Jane, I've included in this letter, a 12 step exercise which has helped me alot.Hope you can use it too.The part about finding a Higher Power has been super.
Sincerely,
A fan.

MY NURSES AIDE JOB, 1986

SHARING A TRANSITIONMouth

Mouth more open now. Twitches,reflexes gone.No more electrolytes. Smell of sweet lactose in the room. Not of cancer. As if I know what that smells like? Just imagining. Relatives only comfortable if they can small talk. They all stay away now.Fear? She wants white sheets , no patterns or colors. Ice water. Eats orange popsicles as if they werre gourmet meals. Apologizes for sucking them so loudly-proper even at the end.Flesh accordions off her bones.The entire skeletal system is unearthed.I walk her skeleton to the bathroom thinking of Alex and Allyson Grey's performance, circumnavigating together a Tibetan prayer wheel with a skeleton strapped to his back. So glad for artists. They give me images that help me get through daily life.The one-half glass of water that she drinks a day gets absorbed quickly and doesn't seem to dump into her stomach with a sound like other things do. A six inch plastic tube in the esophogus inhibits the cancer from closing the pipe off but the disease seems to have been squeezed down into her stomach and up into her throat as if the tube were an extended hour glass, pushing the enemy away from the site into new areas. Last night her features changed in front of my eyes.She andronized, turned grey, became an oldman/woman.Tha pallor was death. Methadon, the drug given to heroin addicts so that they detoxify but get addicted to the cure,is what she takes.She becomes surreal and poetic on it or is it the lack of food that produces poetry? We joke everyday. A comraderie has been established. Her stomach tumor pumps quickly.I wash her bones.She must weigh 60 or less and sometimes acts embarassed for me to see her and then I remind her that I weighed 80. That helps. Equal pitifulness. Her breasts have slipped down her chest and large nipples lie on floating ribs. As she goes, she gives me gifts of towels, red clothes and an orange jumpsuit for my next year color change. Maybe the art interests her?I give her assurance that the way she did her life was just fine.She was the maverick, the loner, had no God and now worries that she missed out. With no authority whatsoever, I assure her that she did just right. Assurance is more powerfull than my shaky truth telling right now because I have no answers myself. My job is to make her comfortable. Touching her brings back my own body-memory.I must have been horrendous too at 80 pounds.I adjust to seeing her atrophied, hairless torso and am fascinated by the way her mouth opens and closes just like a skeletons. Art training as life. Her words are slow and clear having worked professionally for almost 50 years, she still communicates well and her voice is throaty which seems incongruous and strange coming from that shell of a body. Marlena Deitric sounds and sentences come from the void of her memory and she wisdoms,"Life is one big, tall glass of water.", and "My world is simple now; cold water, medicine and peeing."
Being with her is as intense as being tied with an 8 foot rope for a year.Hmmmmmmm my doing? I wished that my whole life would approximate that level of intensity when I got off the rope and my wishes were heard.Should I unwish that one? We have become inseperable, a relationship of two renegade maverick types.I can tell we are alike, eventhough I never really knew her before. We both don't stand on ceremony, we both follow our own drummer, we both deviate when the muse commands, even when it was not fashionable to do so.She has hallucinated light once. I am surprised that she hasn't done these light journeys more often. Said a flashlight was turned on and coming into her window.Hmmmmmmmmmmm even without God, there seems to be the Presence of Light? She is clinical about it, not scared, but it seems that it is happening because her system is breaking down.Is Light a chemical response to death?I tell her to cultivate it, light that is, because my readings and teachers say LIGHT is a good thing and normal thing. I pass along information but not experience.One night she says,"I'm dying." It is late, i'm alone with her. She asks what she should do? Oye what to say? I get in her bed and hold her and ask the Divine for some words.I say,,"Just do it big!" Now where that prophecy came from I will never know but the combo of the closeness and the suggestion catapults her back into her skeleton and she shouts form one to ten loudly and "bigly", mantraing herself into the room again. She doesn't leave that time. Other times when she dies for 5 seconds or so, she calls it a whiteout.
Now won't sit or walk to the bathroom or sleep deeply.Begins to ask for drugs often, admitting shame that she wants them so much. Wish hospice was around then to make this all easier on everyone, but alas,nobody knew about all of that back then. Refuses to take off her turban. Whisps of straw, not hair by now, stick out of it.Still wears rollers and has the same rollers and turban on for four months. Makes me feel like an inept caregiver but you can only do what you can do given the circumstances and wishes of your client,no? Besides, my hair is always a hippie phenomena as well.
Stasis.Condition unchanging.Worse than death? Bed sores on coccyx.Bones scrape against sheets. Atrophy continues. Spinal column slipped out of place. Eyes rimmed and crusty,mucous strings around mouth. Like Job, she is visiteddaily by a new incapacity.
August 12:Still hasn't taken off turban. Last control. Popsicle, pee, pill she says and she is right. That's it now. Four times a day. The same rhythm. I change bed, give bath, over and over.She told me she was a gourmet cook and conoisseur of taste. Now she eats different kinds of popsicles and rates them the way she used to judge and taste one of her cheese cakes. Am pulling back. Necessity. Not there as much. A new person is doing it with us. At first it is difficult letting anyone else take care of her but the transition has been made.I am no longer savior, God or best nurse. She said the other day weighing in at 50 pounds or so, "I don't feel hungry anymore."I bring the radio up so that she can listen to the Sunday concert.The music dislodges feelings and when I go back upstairs she says that it is hard being here all day and having things done for her.I remind her that she told me she took care of both parents at home and she remembers and says that it was easier to give to them than it is to receive now. You got this Linda? I have to start doing receiving performances or I could be in the same boat some day! She sleeps little .I ask her if she is thinking.She says ,no, if she thought she would be morbid because it is frustrating being so dependent. Maybe because ( )is around she is making a new effort to "eat' which means drinking beef juice. She said the other day,"I don't want to starve."
I leave for Californiato teach and do some performances. Before I go she let me change the turban.I also took out a few rollers.She says she wants to be cremated.I am beyond emotion or sentiment. My cool is either shock or exhaustion.___and ___take over, my time is up. She lives with an elegant dignity still, an old world awareness despite pain and drugs and body-morphing.I give up thoughts of being Mother Theresa fulltime and move to my next work. I will send her a postcard. 1986 LINDA MARY MONTANO

PREDICTIONS: DEATH AND THE 90'S

PREDICTIONS:DEATH AND THE 90'S...........1989

1. CPR will be taught in grammar schools.
2.In order to die we will need the permission of a lawyer.
3.Senior citizens willmoveout ofstate and out of country so they can die peacefully ,naturally and meditatively.
4.The gay community will de-taboo death.
5.TV will de-taboo death.
6."Death"will be able to be practiced on the computer using virtual reality as a methodology approximating the way Yogis practice in meditation.
7.A class called Conscious Dying will be offered on TV in place of QVC.
8.Coffins will become living room furniture.
9.The general public will give up fear of buying the least expensive pine box for their loved one's body and will never, ever be coerced by guilt into expensive funerals.
10.Cremations will become mandatory.
11According to their religious beliefs,.every family will house one of the following:a live-in Tibetan Lama,Catholic Priest,Buddhist Monk,Nun,hospice volunteer or Rabbi who will be available on a daily basis and at death to offer teachings on the Sacrament of forgiveness, the Bardo,meditation and other ways of achieving inner peace.
12.Carlos Castaneda's advice that we make death our advisor will be understood and practiced.13. St Francis called death,Sister Death,and was not afraid of her.We will do the same.
14. Your ideas:

2 POEMS

THE FACING LIFE AWARD

Context: At a 1991 faculty show, UT Texas,I had this award engraved over a photo of my face with my eyes closed and included it in my installation.My face was beginning to show signs of menopause and this was my response.

THE FACING LIFE AWARD:1991
If my face is not burned beyond recognition in a fire or shot at by carjackers, it might look like this when I die.
If my face is not smashed by falling rocks in an earthquake or covered by Karposi's sarcoma, it might look like this when I die.If my face is not smashed beyond recognition by a rapist or paralyzed by a stroke, it might look like this when I die.
If my face is not excessively wrinkled by sun overexposure or twisted by Parkinsons, it might look like this when I die.
If my face is not ravaged with pain from cancer of the breast, colon, bone , brain, or infantalized by Alzheimers,it might look like this when I die.
If my face is not vacated by a coma or crushed by an eighteen wheeler, it might look like this when I die.
If my face is not shattered by a terrorist bomb or soured from bitterness, surgical intervention or fear of aging, it might look like this when I die.


PORTRAIT OF SAPPHO

Context: Pauline Oliveros invited me to be on a CD collection of women composers.I recorded myself chanting this poem.

PORTRAIT OF SAPPHO

My name is Sappho of Lesbos.
Once, I had 206 bones in my body.
Once, I had 33 vertebrae in my body.
My intestines were once 22 feet long.
Once, I had 10 billion nerve cells in my spinal chord.
Once, there were 5-9 pints of blood in my body.
Once, my heart pumped 1.5 gallons of blood throughout my body every minute.

Once, I had 12 pairs of ribs in my body.
Once, I had 650 muscles in my body.
Once, I had 33 vertebrae in my body.
Once, there were 3 million sweat glands in my body.
Once, my muscles mad up one-half the weight of my body.
Once, my lungs expanded and contracted 12-20 times in my body.
Once, my brain was composed of more than 12 billion neurons and 50 billion supporting cells.
Once, there were one and a half pounds of skin shed by my body.
Once a month,I replaced my outer skin and in my lifetime, I had 900 new skins.
My heart was a muscle the size of a grapefruit.
Once, my heart pumped 766,600 gallons of blood every year.
Once, my heart.....
Once,my heart.....
My heart.......
My heart.................

Friday, March 9, 2012

LETTER TO 14 YEARS OF LIVING ART

A LETTER TO MY PERFORMANCE: 14 YEARS OF LIVING ART

Dear 14 Years of Living Art,
This letter is an apology to you.You, the biggest,longest,most transforming,most encompassing,most generous,and most complex performance of my life.I can't sing your praises here. Why?
Because there are not 34874878 pages in this book, I will not be able to tell the reader about Dr. R.S.Mishra and the way he introduced his students to the chakras, day after day,year after year using color charts,chants,meditations and art practice.
Because there are not 276767673 pages in this book, I will not be able to include the essay Moira Roth wrote which describes 7 Years of Living Art. Everyone who visited me for seven years at The New Museum where I performed Art/Life Counseling, was given a copy of the essay which was printed on paper the color of the clothes I wore that year.
Because there are not 57873877 pages in this book,I will not be able to include the year-end reports I wrote for the first 7 Years of Living Art.
Because there are not 958487875 pages in this book,I cannot include Jennifer Fisher's essay from Parachute magazine.
Because there are not 94885775 pages in this book,I will not be able to describe the Summer Saint Camp I held each year for 2 weeks,or name the participants and first meetings with subsequent friends Annie Sprinkle, Veronica Vera and Barbara Carrelas.
Because there are not 48746746 pages in this book,I will not be able to tell Tehching Hsieh that he is an important influence on my work and has enriched my love of endurance.
Because there are not 485787576 pages in this book,I will not be able to tell the reader about the syncronistical aspects of the performance:that I completed menopause at the end of 7 Years of Living Art(1984-1991), and completed teaching in Texas at the end of Another 7 Years of Living Art(1991-1998).
Because there are not 587857 pages in this book,I cannot tell in detail that I am continuing this performance and it is titled,21 Years of Living Art(1998-2019),asking three people to perform for seven years in any way they wish.
Because there are not 597857875 pages in this book, I won't be able to include a chart created by Caroline Myss(ex-nun), who interfaces the Kabbalah,Catholic Sacraments and Chakras in a brilliant way .Her chart helped ease my return to Catholicism.
Because there are not 8758587 pages in this book,I will not be able to talk about the website the Robert Shiffler Foundationproduced.(WWW.LINDAMONTANO.COM)Peter Huttinger curated the site and it includes many images from 14 Years of Living Art.
Because there are not 45987587587 pages in this book, I will not be able to talk in depth about the courage of Marcia Tucker,director of The New Museum at that time, and her willingness to include a seven year installation-room at the museum where I performed Art/Life Counseling once a month for seven years .The space was painted a different color each year.
Because there are not 549858757 pages in this book,I will not be able to describe in detail the way I drew one image each year and limited myself to one drawing a year for seven years,drawing with my right hand ,year 1-7;and then for the next seven years of the performance I drew the same drawing with my left hand.
Because there are not 98498494 pages in this book, I will not be able to talk in detail about the two retrospectives I had of relics from 14 Years of Living Art. One, was curated by Carolyn Eyler in Maine; the other, by Jennifer Fisher, in Montreal.
Because there are not 948944787 pages in this book, I will not be able to describe the photo images Annie Sprinkle took of me imitating the seven mudras from the seven drawings.
Because there are not 487985787 pages in this book, I will not be able to fully describe Martha Wilson's report of going to "see" me at the United Nations Chagall Chapell , where I had donated my invisible self as a Living Sculpture for seven years during Another 7 Years of Living Art.Seasonally I "appeared"there for seven years,having "really"appeared at The New Museum for the first seven years of 7Years of Living Art.
Because there are not 5489587587587 pages in this book,I willl not be able to talk about the joys of making endurance vows.
In conclusion,14 Years of Living Art,my champion,my secret one, this is the last time I will write about you for seven more years.It is now January 10,2004. My new no-writng vow begins January 18,2004.With more space around you,maybe you will learn to fly by yourself!
Love, thanks, do you best and good luck,Linda.

YOU KNOW YOU ARE A PERFORMANCE ARTIST IF...............

YOU KNOW YOU'RE A PERFORMANCE ARTIST IF...........
1. You dress like an angel, astronaut,nurse etc and sing/dance to Jackie Gleason music at your local mall for no apparent reason.
2. You take your front dental plate out at your 30th class reunion and sing My Funny Valentine with the person you liked in the first grade.
3. You gather 1008 identical toasters, spas, outdoor barbequesof metal garages and place them on your front lawnfor a week and then distribute them to the first 1008 practitioners of Tantra.
4.You take a plane to a city you've never visited, choose a departure gate,wave and cry uncoontrollably as passengers leave for their plane. Crying continues until you exit the building.
5.You bring chocolate syrup ,honey or yogurt to your bathroom and pour it over yourself while trying to straighten out an HMO claim on the phone.
6.You dress your pets , your children and partner in identical clothing every Wednesday.
7.You sleep in a coffin that you have made in order to face your fear of dying.
8.You feign loss of control of limbs, words or bodily functions while watching TV (choose any program)alone on a saturday night.
9.You webcast daily 15 minutes every detail of your finances and after a month of disclosures you take an email poll to determine if you should tithe/adopt/support a church, child,senior citizen,third world country, Hospice,unemployed family, artist, teenager or yourself.
10.You voluntarily retire,give yourself the gift of time and take a vow of inner silence.

TERESA OF AVILA: ONE ACT PLAY DIRECTIONS

TERESA OF AVILA: ONE ACT PLAY DIRECTIONS:

This one act play is performatively composed of inter-media elements which, through their repetition,create an atmosphere of relaible solidity and peace.

ELEMENTS:
VIDEO: Throughout the play,an overhead screen projects video images of "Theresa" lip-syncing the text.And where it says pause, "Theresa" demonstrating what penances not to do."Jesus" uses hand gestures to "explain" or sign the Sacraments.
AUDIO:Audio is a pre-recorded tape of the text, so the "actresses and actors" are free to move meditatively and visually without having to "speak" lines. STAGE: Stage is illuminated theatrically by a circle of votive candles but alsolit to illuminate the seven actions of the actresses and actors.
ACTIONS: Fourteen "Carmelite"nuns,and TERESA, very formally and ornately costumed demonstrate the quality of each of the seven scenes of the play.
SCENE 1:They enter carrying a long table, fruit and chairs.Sit down and eat slowly for scene one. FIRST PAUSE, BAPTISM , : Nuns leave, "Jesus" enters, walks through the audience, blessing all with Holy Water from a long branch. He leaves when Baptism is described.
SCENE 2: Fourteen nuns and Teresa enter,seven on stage left, seven on stage right,coming toward each other,imitating the gestures of the Visitation. SECOND PAUSE, COMMUNION: Nuns leave slowly, Jesus enters and blesses all with Holy Water. SCENE 3:Nuns and Teresa enter with a very large rope.Seven pulling from one side, seven from the other.They play tug of war.Teresa goes from side to side.They make real sounds of exertion. THIRD PAUSE: Nuns leave, Jesus enters and blesses all with Holy Water.
SCENE 4, MATRIMONY: Nuns enter with flowing white veils over their heads walking one by one toward Jesus who is mid-stage but raised on a flower dias.They prostrate to him and then get up to receive a ring on their finger from Jesus. FOURTH PAUSE: Nuns leave and Jesus goes into the audience,blessing all.
SCENE FIVE, PENANCE: Nuns enter, all are talking on blinking cell phones, and change phones with each other, running around the stage, but really calling real people in their lives, sharing the conversation with the other "nuns." The calls are to someone they love or someone they need to give forgiveness to so the reality factor is very high here inthis scene. PAUSE FIVE: Nuns leave and Jesus goes to another part of the audience and blesses all with Holy Water.
SCENE SIX,Holy Orders: Fourteen nuns come into the space with fourteen brooms but each one is wired to glow in the dark as it moves. The nuns"work" the space and the colorform the brooms, illuminates the stage as the nuns "work" their sacred chores. PAUSE SIX: Jesus enters as the nuns leave and he blesses with Holy Water.
SCENE SEVEN, EXTREME UNCTION, SACRAMENT OF THE SICK:Each nun brings a matt to the space, places it in a circular pattern with all of the others,lays down and Jesus enters with fourteen angels who sit next to each nun, laying their "wing" on a different part of the nun's body.Jesus and Teresa stand in the center, walking in a circle,together. ENDING: After the" Let nothing disturb you..." prayer, the audience is invited to come to the stage, in groups of fourteen and lay on the matt for a hands on healing by an "angel"and "nun".
WISHES:I would like the nuns in the play to be actual nuns and the angels, to be brothers or nuns.

STORY OF TERESA OF AVILA FOR VIDEO

THE STORY OF TERESA OF AVILA

During the second orange year of Seven Years of Living Art, Montano was guided by the Spanish saint, author, visionary, mystic, and Doctor of the Church Teresa of Avila. What followed is a video script. Jennie Klein

Dear Sisters and Brothers in the Spirit; Let me begin this letter to you with a prayer: Lord, you came to heal the wounded heart, the troubled heart, and the anxious heart. I beg you to come and heal all of us including our psychological self and our mental memories so that we can walk fearlessly, compassionately and wisely in your light-filled grace. Amen. Pause: Now, let me tell you how I will structure this letter: First I will relate my life story. Second: I will show you how to proceed spiritually as I have done, using the seven sacraments as a template and guide. Third, I will show you what not to do, by using my mistakes as an example. In all humility, I ask, why do you want me to write to you again since I have written so many times before? Is it my advancing age and ill health that cause you to seek my final counsel? Of course my confessor has demanded that I answer your request for a letter and in obedience to him, I send this, but believe me, all of you are already as holy, as spiritually articulate, as mystically advanced and as enamored of the divine life as am I. Your sentiments and mine are equal but I do in all humility offer this advice in my final letter that includes my personal life story. I hope that it may inspire your already blessed and Holy Journey. My life began March 28, 1515. Now 67 years later, I am about to leave this mortal coil, this worn out flesh, this tormented physical body, to be with my Divine Lover in eternal Silence and Peace. Oh this never-ending Silence will be so refreshing--but back to my story.I was born of saintly parents in Spain and had a spiritually rich and privileged beginning. Piety was our food, piety was our example, piety was our goal, so it was no surprise that I wanted to be a saint, even at 7 years of age. In fact, my younger brother and I secretly left home, praying that we would die for the Catholic faith. This is not the place to tell you about my grandfather who was Jewish and converted to Roman Catholicism as a result of the Inquisition, but I see now that my ardent need for endurance, my desire to reform the lax practice of the faith and my strict interpretation of the desert fathers' monastic rules might have originated from my rather religiously complicated roots. As a child, my main interest was always religion. Before I was 10 years old, I had already built a hermitage and hut on my parents’ property so you see the need to have a structured and strict religious life was with me always. Praying after I saw a picture of Jesus talking with the Samaritan woman at the well, I said to my Lord,"Lord, give me only Living Water that I might drink.">>I knew even then that precious earthly water was inferior to spiritual water and grace that gives true life. Dear ones, you too must ask for what you want, state your spiritual desires and don’t give up until you get what you want. It's that simple, but you have to know what to ask for and persevere in your request until you and Jesus are in harmony and deep communication.
Pause Dear mystics do not make the mistakes that I made of mortifying yourself with too many penances. Instead be true to your Baptismal vows. Baptism: Baptism is the sacrament of re-birth through which Jesus Christ gives us the divine life and joins us to his mystical body.
Pause Losing my mama to an illness at age 14 deepened my need for an even more intense inner life. Soon after she died I went before an image of Our Blessed Lady and asked Mary to be my mother now that my own mother would never feed me again, would never soothe my hurts again, would never brush my hair again, would never smile her beautiful smile at me again, would never support my dreams or comfort me through my life traumas again. Please blessed ones do not force your beloved parents to be perfect. Maybe they will not be always there for you emotionally or physically. Instead, ask Our Blessed Mother to be your mother and St Joseph to be your father. Then you don’t have unreasonable expectations placed on your human parents. You have made mistakes haven't you? Let your parents be human also and forgive their shortcomings. I guess I became a little unruly after Mama died although I always had a code of honor and purity that was common to Spanish girls at that time. But flirting and dancing and gossiping and frivolity with my friends and cousins filled the gap that was in my heart. Luckily these teenage habits were cut short because Papa realized that he needed help to raise me and put me in a convent when I was 15. Although I loved being there, I got sick and as was common then, was sent home to convalesce. I went to be with my uncle and older sister at their homes. What a suffering it was to be away from the convent! And then another suffering came because Papa didn't want me to go back to the convent when I felt better so I had to secretly return and was professed a Carmelite sister when I was 21.
Pause:Dear ones: do not make the mistake that I did of mortifying yourself inappropriately with too many penances so that you can feel special. Instead live the sacramental life and use the sacrament of Communion to attain to an inner health and peace. Communion: The Holy Eucharist, Communion, is the sacrament and the sacrifice in which Jesus Christ under the appearance of bread and wine is contained, offered and received.
Pause: Now, back to my story. Although my personality is extremely strong, I have fragile health so it is not surprising that I got sick once again in the convent and left for home to recover. Was God telling me not to be a nun? My health always bothered me and the unskilled medical treatment that I was given really impaired and weakened me my entire life. Once they thought that I had malaria, then cancer. I contracted oh so many illnesses...and even with physicians’ treatments I got sicker and sicker. What saved me? A few things actually...but one was a book by St Jerome that taught me mental prayer. Mental prayer is so wonderful because it gives interior freedom, detachment, humility and determination but dear ones you must have solitude and a specific time for prayer, fellowship with other saints, and to Holy Communion daily plus say the Rosary. The path is a disciplined one, as you can see.I began this practice of mental prayer and in three years I was well and back in the convent again although when I left my family this last time to go to the convent, I felt a pain like death itself. Why did I go, you ask? The convent offered me a place where I could practice even deeper silence, a place where I could fast, a place where I could be supported in my vocal prayers, a place where I could counsel the needy and nurse the sick. I am truly surprised that more young women and men don’t become nuns and priests and brothers. It is an extraordinarily exquisite life.
Pause: Dear ones, mortification is not the way. Do not make the mistake that I did of punishing yourself too much by performing self-centered penances. Instead follow the sacramental life and be true to your confirmation.Confirmation: Confirmation is the sacrament in which Jesus Christ confers upon us spiritual adulthood through the graces of the Holy Spirit especially those that enable us to profess and spread our faith courageously. Through Confirmation, Christ confers on us the Holy Spirit making us full-fledged and responsible members of the Mystical Body.
Pause:Back to my story. This early convent life was spiritually efficacious and wonderful but remember we needed money to feed all of us, to clothe all of the sisters, to take care of the simple essentials and that means that we had to entertain benefactors and donors and patrons and the wealthy. So little time was left for silence, prayer and meditation. Prayer is what saved me when I was sick and yet now I had no time for it. Maybe that's why I got sick over and over again for 15 years. The pattern was that I would get sick and then they would send me home, sick/home, sick/home. What saved me from the stress of illness. What saved me from a scrupulous and delicate conscience. What saved me from feelings of unworthiness and worldly distractions? Prayer! Prayer! Prayer! I admit that it was maintenance prayer but still I did pray because my confessors (there were many) advised me to hold fast to prayer and to do so with great zeal. Have you tried that my friends in Christ? How hard that is to do when we are feeling out of touch with the Divine and must proceed solely by faith and self-discipline and devotion. Like a married woman with nine children I was pulled between so many obligations: obligations to my prayer life, obligations to people, obligations to possessions, obligations to a friendship with the Divine.
Pause: Dear Readers of this letter: Do not make the mistakes I made of creating egocentric penances and mortifications. Instead be true to your Marriage vows and follow your vocation with joy and loyalty and compassion for your partner. Marriage: Marriage is the sacrament in which Christ unites a Christian man and woman in a life-long union, making them two in one flesh.
Pause: Speaking of obligations, a clear conscience makes life joyful and I can only applaud the married Catholics who are able to be disciplined, sinless, devout and loyal to their partner and to God and their families. Plus do all of the work that is necessary when you run a household. Can you imagine doing all of that with guilty consciences? Eventually all of my own endurances, good intentions, clear inner mind and devotions to God flowered and suddenly, I stopped feeling as if I was doing anything at all. Suddenly, God lived in me. Somewhat the way Paul says, "It is no longer I that live but God that lives in me." That's exactly what happened and I experienced a conversion--a conversion from petty sinfulness, a conversion from living for luxury and gifts, a conversion from dissipating my time and spiritual talents.You must be curious about how that specifically happened? Of course it happened because I performed many spiritual practices but also it happened because I was ready. The time was right. Plus things I read in two books were the final pieces of the>puzzle. The first book I read was titled The Confessions of St. Augustine; the second was the story of Mary Magdalene. St. Augustine's admission of his own sinfulness and Mary Magdalene’s turning away from prostitution to celibacy moved me toward my own holiness. And what happened to me when I gave my entire will to the Divine was overwhelming. Extremely powerful spiritual visions and inner voices became commonplace, plus levitations and locutions. Please don’t envy me these happening because your path is unique to you, in fact they happened to me because I needed big fireworks to wake me up to my Inner Lover. Can I tell you another event that happened to me? This, the most powerful, happened when an angel from God, pierced my heart and entrails with an arrow. This is called transverberation and you can see how Bernini sculpted this occasion in his majestic statue, years later. Believe me, it is only a statue and none of the intense feeling that lived within me for the rest of my life can ever be portrayed by this sculpture because art cannot approximate the depth of the spiritual life. I tried hiding these manifestations from the nuns in the convent but it is impossible to hide levitation because they would come into the chapel and I would be there alone, floating four feet in the air. Isn’t Profound Love wonderful! Many thought that I was a neurotic, or satanic worshipper, or medically compromised or insane, or a paranoid schizophrenic but others considered me a saint. You see, it is not easy to have these things happening to you and I remained at the mercy of the Divine Will and steadfastly refused to budge from this position of 24 hour a day devotion to LOVE.
Pause: My dear followers of the rule do not make the mistakes that I made and mortify your flesh with so much pride and arrogance. Instead, live the sacramental life and go to confession daily if you can, cleaning your heart and soul of all obscurations, bondages and stains from sin. Penance: Penance is the sacrament in which Jesus Christ through the absolution of the priest forgives sins committed after baptism. We must be sorry for our sins, detest them because they offend God and separate us from God, and we must make amends for our sins promising not to sin again.For a penance, we say prayers or perform good works.
Pause: I was speaking about my commitment to the Divine Will. Let me tell you more about this important process. How did I do that? I sat in silence and I listened to the silence until it spoke in Divine ways. I was present. I didn’t follow my own inclinations. That's how I knew what to do. Instructions came from the Holy Spirit. Of course I checked everything out of with my confessors unless it was an everyday kind of suggestion, like be especially kind to Sr. Rose of the Sacred Heart today even though she drives you crazy! But one day, a very powerful voice came and that day, the Spirit told me to break away from the convent that I was living in and create a new one. What a challenge! I knew it would cause trouble but in 1562, I obeyed and founded The Convent of Discalced Nuns of the Primitive Rule of St Joseph of Avila. Oh what joy! Now I could live the way that I needed to live so that my soul could blossom. And for five years a few sisters who followed me from our other convent helped me with my new dream, a dream to live simply and humbly, despite political jealousies, despite persecutions from clergy, despite all of the negatives, which come from having a vision and new way of practicing one's faith! I was so maligned but it was because we were not only strict but because we were so successful. Our rules were: perpetual silence, extreme poverty, we wore coarse robes, wore sandals instead of sturdy and warm shoes and lived in small spaces conducive to prayer, not to company. These reformed convents were more popular than the rich ones. Truly we were austere but let me assure you that we also had fun. In fact I insisted that my followers didn’t become sullen and sour by giving them each a pair of castanets so that we could dance and sing and celebrate life on feast days. I think that my sense of humor saved us from a lot of suffering because I was able to remain light hearted throughout my illnesses, throughout my arduous journeys in extremely uncomfortable bullock carts, throughout satanic attacks to me in my cell at night, throughout my battles with civil and religious authorities, and throughout my extreme spiritual manifestations. Remember I told you about the times that I was lifted up four feet high in the air while in prayer, levitating in ecstasy? This was no laughing matter but I remained humorous about it so that when my sisters would find me floating around in the chapel, all alone, I laughed it off, otherwise they would be terribly jealous of God's spiritual gifts to me. Humor does cut through the awesome sacredness of the sacred and made it more digestible .I wanted them to think less about my own specialness and more about the Divine Mystery. I guess that I would be considered a feminist in these modern days because I was strong, a diplomat, and a visionary and certainly never afraid to follow my bliss, no matter the consequences. Fearless was my name.
Pause:Dear obedient ones do not make the mistakes that I did of mortifying yourself too much with too many external penances. Instead live the sacramental life and if you are a male, discern whether you are called to Holy Orders. Don’t fret, dear sisters, the church does not allow us women to say mass or dispense the sacraments, but our inner life is rich with rewards too beautiful to compare with this other privilege. Never mind worrying about being left out! Actually we are left out so we can go IN for comfort beyond the external.Holy Orders: Holy Orders is the sacrament through which Christ gives to men the power and the grace to perform the sacred duties of bishops, priests and other ministers of the Church. After changing bread and wine into His holy body and blood, Jesus told the apostles, "Do this in memory of me." With these words he conferred the priesthood on the apostles.
Pause: After those first five years in my new convent, I was again nailed to the cross by well meaning clerics who told me to do this and that, to write this book and that one, but despite those difficulties and roadblocks, I founded and opened 17 convents for women of this strict order and with my collaborator and friend, John of the Cross, we opened some for men also. You see I was married to the church that speaks through the laws and spiritual direction of the priests. We must all be obedient and married to something or someone and must maintain that same obedience that is relegated to a man and a woman who have taken marriage vows. Obedience is the highway to freedom.
In conclusion, dear Sisters and Brothers, it is time for this letter to come to an end. For more information about me, please read all of my books. The Interior Castle will teach you how to unite with Divine Presence while encountering all of the temptations, distractions and discouragements on this spiritually dangerous path. If you desire Marriage with the Divine this book will teach you the way. If there is nothing more that you want from material life, and you wish to faint with continuous ecstasy, deep rapture and an enlightened mind, then this book will be a treasure and guide to the Interior castle, the dwelling place of LOVE. But on the other hand, if you need rules to follow, then read the book I wrote for nuns titled The Way of Perfection. It gives practical suggestions and advice about prayer, advice about attachment and the traps of familiarity, advice about food intake and fasting, advice about confession, advice about clothing, advice about maintaining the right attitude while in the convent, advice about gossiping, advice about human loneliness, advice about hysteria and generally will help clear up all questions that you might have. We all need rules until we graduate to that state of unity where it is not I that lives but Christ that lives in us. Then we need only the air we breathe and we live beyond rules. The third book you can read is my autobiography that my confessors also told me to write. You see I had so many people guiding my soul and each one wanted me to put my unique experiences on paper, that's why I wrote so many books. Do you believe that I could sound so smart on paper and was literally uneducated? That is a gift of the Holy Spirit.
Now you know it all, you have every piece of information and all of the secrets necessary to follow my path or create one of your own. Death will soon come to me. In fact, it will happen in October 1582, to be exact. Then my soul will be finally ripped out of my body by the force of God's love, and this body will remain uncorrupt and life-like even until this day. Come to Spain and see this soulless but still soulful-looking body for yourself.I leave you now with all of my titles and accomplishments: a doctor of the church, an author of 6 books, a foundress of 17 convents but most importantly, a Beloved Lover of the Divine. Everything I did and wrote will be forgotten. My soul in vibration with the Divine is Eternal and my only success.
Pause: Do not make the mistakes I made of designing your own penances and mortifications. God and life do very well without our input and shape us with Divine Hands. Instead, stay loyal to the sacraments and when sick or dying, ask for the sacrament of Extreme Unction. Extreme Unction: The Last Anointing is the sacrament in which Christ through the anointing and prayers of the priest, gives health and strength to the soul and sometimes to the body, when we are in danger of death through sickness.
Pause: My sisters it is so hard to leave you, so I sing this prayer for you as my final gift: Let nothing disturb you; nothing frighten you. All things are passing. God never changes. Patience obtains all things. Nothing is wanting to him who possesses God. God alone suffices. 2003 LINDA MARY MONTANO

MITCHELL'S DEATH

Mitchell’s Death
This is the text taken from the third and final performance trilogy that Montano did in response to the accidental death of her former husband and close friend Mitchell Payne. In 1980 Montano made a video of this piece. Mitchell’s Death was first published in Moira Roth, “Mitchell’s Death,” New Performance. 1 no.3 (1978): 35-40; reprinted in Moira Roth, “Matters of Life and Death: Linda Montano Interviewed by Moira Roth.” High Performance 1 no.4 (December 1978): 2-7 and Art in Everyday Life.Jennie Klein.


Friday A.M., August 19, I wake at 7 or so. Look at the clock. I wish that chicken would stop crowing. Preacher Man running around the yard, echoing himself into the adjacent meadow. Pauline goes out to find him, comes back. I tell her my dream. A new one. Instead of being bothered by the baby, I throw sand at it when it throws sand at me. Pauline says something about her dream…a dead foetus and bloody clothes. She then goes outside and tries to catch the chicken.At 10:30 I ask Pauline’s advice about selling a tape recorder, which belonged to Mitchell and me. Things from my past. Then the phone rings. It’s 11 a.m. It’s J. Hello Linda, this is J. I have some very shocking news for you. Mitchell is dead. From a gun accident. I scream, start to faint, call Pauline. Pauline, Mitchell is dead! I then ask J, why did he have the gun? Who was he going hunting with? Becoming very accusative and angry. Blaming. J said we were going skeet shooting. I said when? Wanting to place blame. Covering over my sorrow with blame and anger. I thank J. He says if you need anything let me know. We hang up. Not much information about anything. Pauline is holding me. I collapse in her arms. Jillene is there and looks on. Pauline carries me to the bed. I am shaking. Eyes open. Won’t close. Shock. Covers me with a fake velvet red cover with tassels. Pauline’s visitors are at the door. She leaves. Is open and effusive with them. Then tells them about Mitchell. Comes back into the bedroom pulled between two emotions, joy at seeing her friends and sorrow. Sweat is pouring from her face, which is filled with disbelief and pain. She looks down at me and I say what shall I do? She says I feel like calling my mother. Then I begin a series of phone calls which don’t end. Which go on and on and on. I call everyone. First Mildred. Not home. Then Henry. The phone rings for about five minutes in the shoe store which means that they’re busy. Dad, I have some bad news. Mitchell is dead. He died from a gun accident. Henry in his inimitable Zen style said, he should know better than to fool around with guns. He doesn’t know anything about them. Whatever he said released a whole big lump… it presented the other side. Laughter. Honesty. No emotion in his voice. Another perspective. I call K. Don’t want to hang up. We talk and talk and talk. Won’t hang up. She cries. We repeat it over and over so we can both believe it. Then B in Alaska. S, I think of everyone. M is in Greece. T is in the Children’s Hospital. M calls back. Again talking about it. Repeating. Wanting her here. Somehow the words make it real and not real. Make it credible. Mitchell‘s image in my mind. Pictures begin. I try to picture where he was shot. Was it the face, heart? Did he suffer? Died instantly? Did his face get blown off? Images. I see the room where it happened. See clearly. Talking. Pauline brings in some tuna salad and brown bread. Can’t eat, then eat. So hungry, yet not hungry at all. Feels paradoxical. Eating and mourning. Tears and tuna fish. Pauline’s friends visit. We all drink champagne. His brother committed suicide in a closet in Canada. Did Mitchell? Guilt. Did I do it? My fault? Was he despondent? Lonely? Miss me too much? I remember my feelings when he moved to Kansas City. I was very apprehensive. Pre-knowledge? I felt his trip across country. Saw him in Kansas City. Living in his grandmother’s house. Nobody living there now. Dark. Going from San Francisco to that life style. But his insistence on the move, on that pilgrimage lasted three or more years. He had to move back. Why? Then our last phone call two week before. I called, needed to talk. My life had large questions in it. I wanted his help. Mitchell, all I want to do is meditate. Meditate, he said, you know how you like to do that. No, Rose, your life seems right now, don’t worry, you’re not being selfish. Don’t worry, Rose.Last words. He tells me about his new house. One hundred years old. Asked the people living there if they wanted to sell. Mitchell so impetuous. What he wanted he somehow managed to get. Energy to make things happen. Always that way. Then he would be upset because he had too many wants, too many needs. His friend L, 76 years old. A Bromoil photographer. I am relieved. He’s found someone to work with. There was always a very old person in Mitchell’s life...his grandmother, Mr. Delpapa. Mitchell’s charm and grace attracted almost everyone. Then his trip to the Art Institute that day. He hesitates to tell me about changing his clothes there at the office, and then coming back to work, changing his clothes, going to work. Is it because I made him shop at thrift stores and now he’s buying expensive suits and shirts? Mitchell we’re friends, tell me. We don’t live in the same house but there is love. You can tell me about your new life style. Rose there’s an old woman here in Kansas who writes country western music and she’s ninety or so and I’m going to see her. She has a small toy piano and she gets up in the night because it’s real quiet then and she writes songs. I ask are you going to record her? I don’t know what he answered. He’s eager to go to lunch and the Art Institute. I have your Christmas present here from last year. I’ll send it. Good and put some food in it. Bye, Mitch. Bye, Rose. I love you. We hang up.Images. His face then. Does he have a face now? Is it blown off? Is he dead? I should go to Kansas immediately. I call Kansas. L answers. Informative. Mitch was getting a serial number from one of Fa's guns. He was in the kitchen. J came over to put some crabmeat in their icebox. Then Mitch invited J for breakfast. I wonder was he really lonely needing some friends around? J said no he had to go and be with his new baby. (That brought up the thought, Mitch really wanted children and I didn’t.) J put together a shotgun and they were to go skeet shooting on Saturday. Then he warned Mitchell, don’t put any bullets in it or be careful or something like that, it’s an old gun.And then one half hour later, Alice, the maid, who was Mitchell’s friend and nourisher, warm, generous Alice, found Mitchell with a towel around his waist, lying between the kitchen and dining room, dead. She screamed, ran out across the street. They were supposed to have lunch that day. He drove her to the bus stop the night before, and then went to Safeway. Probably his last act before going home. The doctor from across the street came over. Then two ambulances, police, detectives, people to clean up. I want to come to Kansas but I have this feeling that I have to be invited first. Mitchell’s parents are in Chicago on their way home. But call later if you want to speak with them. Intuition. Am I really wanted there? But I have to go there. I must see him. I have to go.Pauline in and out. Comforting and caring. Feeling everything with me. Vitamins every few hours. Then food, sleep, vitamins, foot massage. Pauline, lighting candles. I lie in bed with phone books, phone numbers, memories. His recent throat infection, sick for two weeks. Thought that he had his father’s throat cancer and would die. Called me that day and talked with Pauline. Then cut his mound of Venus on his hand. Stitches, distressed. Was he depressed? He died by the phone. Was that a metaphor for wanting to call somebody? But L said that he had made popcorn that morning. He always made it when he was happy.Family question. Clues. Little sleep. Up at 5 am. Phone Dr. Mishra, Ellen Swartz, Giotto. Giotto calls back. You’ve had a hard year haven’t you? I cry more for myself than for Mitchell. Don’t feel guilty Linda. That’s like telling a fish not to swim. But Pauline, Giotto, and friends say, don’t feel guilty. Guilt is one of the first emotions to come with death…then anger, shock, disbelief…not in that order. Finally acceptance. But being the ex-wife and Mitchell’s death possibly being suicide…accentuated and accelerated the natural grief.Pauline continued to counsel and prepare me. Reading from books, talking about her grandmother’s death experience. That first night Moira came over and we all drank. Do whatever you want…shout, scream, cry. Moira giving permission and advice. Go to the funeral. Yes, you must complete that cycle. You must do that ritual.Saturday, I call Kansas. Are M and N there? I still want to talk with them. To be invited. They aren’t there. Mitchell’s brother is. Do you think that Mitch was depressed he asks. I tell him about our phone call and about his optimism and new house. He wonders. You know, Mitch once hurt himself with a firecracker. Both of us trying to explain away any possibility of suicide. He was careless in some ways and always wanted me to examine something on his body. He tells me that he saw his body in the morgue today. “It was my brother.” N, the neurosurgeon, knows.I am sick from drinking, from shock. Sleep in Paul’s room with the phone. Pauline ministering and talking. Sunday a.m. I fly to Kansas. August 21. Where is Mitchell’s body? I hadn’t asked anyone. M and B call on Saturday and say I can stay with them. Feel welcome. We want you Linda, come ahead. Pauline drives Jillene and me to the airport at 6:30 a.m. and then waits in line with me. I am sinking fast. She had packed a food package for me, high protein bars, fruit. She steers me to the plane. My body shakes. I’m weak. She seems to get stronger than she already is. Is it the adrenalin that comes at the time of crisis? The plane ride to Dallas seems interminable, long, without end. Dallas. I call Sue Thornley. Good call. Supportive. Come and see me and spend time in San Francisco. I feel bolstered. Hang up. Eat two bananas. Get on the plane. Sit next to a man who looks exactly like Mitchell. I also see him all over the Dallas airport, Sue. What’s happening to me? I saw you all over San Francisco when you left Rose. O.K. It’s just loss I guess. I sneak looks at the man next to me. Can he see me looking at him? I’m spying. Mitchell’s neck, hair, eyes, face. But older. I talk with him. Want him to be Mitchell. Read Elizabeth K├╝bler-Ross. It’s not the quantity of life but the quality that we’re interested in. That helps. The quality of Mitchell’s life was incredible. He loved light. Pups, look at the light on this face. Lying in bed for hours surrounded with photo books. Looking at light, people in light, rooms in light. My eyes are open very wide and have been ever since Friday at eleven when I heard the news. I arrive in Kansas. L meets me. We drive to M and B’s. I talk and am hoarse. Can’t talk loudly. We go to M and N’s for supper. Then walk into the house that I was sure that I would never enter again. He died there at home. He died there. I walk in shaking, no life left in me. I walk past the phone. Stand on the spot where he died. I’m glued and can’t move. People pour out of rooms, doors. It looks like a party but we all have the same thought, Mitchell is dead. We’re from different classes, races, backgrounds, countries but unified in death. I hug Mitchell’s mom who walks woodenly around the kitchen, using the phone, greeting me on the spot here he died. I walk into the front room. N and I hug. P and I cry. Warmth coming out of him. N seems tired. Everyone there. I go upstairs. Where’s grandmother Alice? She’s on her way down. No words. We’re gripping each other’s hands. I have no words. The vulnerability of grief is already a language. It was an honor knowing you, Linda. I’m surprised at her words. You have contributed to my life. Dinner a party atmosphere. M talks about donating Mitchell’s eyes so now two people can see out of them. I’m surprised at her bravery. His corneas. His kidneys were not able to be used but they tried giving them away also. No talk of where he is…the funeral. He should be here. I pace between rooms and stand on the spot where he died. Monday I wake up wanting to see Mitchell’s body. Wanting to see Mitchell. Where is he? Nobody mentions him. He is missed. It’s as if he’s there but he isn’t. Or is he? I want to see him. Am desperate. Must see him. I must tell B. She calls the funeral home immediately and we make plans to go. I start pacing. Restless. Not able to believe it. Wanting it, not wanting it. The drive interminable. We arrive. I run in and ask where he is. A somber, sad man says, you’ve just missed the body. The casket is closed anyway by request of the family. The body is at the crematorium. We go away. I can hardly walk yet adrenalin is high. Paradox. Drive back again, I must see him. Call the crematorium. Go over. I expect to see smoke stacks but it’s just like another funeral home. Large. I run in. Wait one half hour. I am breathing with difficulty. Internal combustion. Insides searing. Eyes wide open. Like a drug experience…seeing hearing all…At high intensity. Highly motivated. A man of about thirty, Midwestern coloring and hair comes into the room. Signals. I charge out of the room. Energy propelling me. I hear him say that he is lying on a table, sheets over him. Warning. I run in. The room is 20 X 40 feet. Mitchell’s body is lying on a hospital table which is chrome, silver, antiseptic, institutional. Not in a slick coffin. Not in a suit. But is lying on a table with a sheet. He is so available. Not dressed. I can get close. I can’t believe what I’m seeing. His face bloated a bit, certainly distorted. A hole the size of a silver dollar on his right cheek. His face intact but so changed. A pink putty fills the hole. Little pieces of it in his hair. His eyebrows ruffled. Not neat. Everything impassive. Not mobile. Like sleep but too still for sleep. Are you asleep, Mitchell? I touch his arm. Feel it cold and hard through the sheet. Must touch him. Eyes not there but donated so two people have his corneas. Somehow I’d like to meet them. Lips tight, nose funny. Left ear destroyed. The bullet still in his head? I pull the sheet down. Shocked by black stitches. Autopsy. Reminded of his hospital pictures in Rochester. Preparation for his death. Remember days when he would come home from the hospital pale and silent…talking about corpses and Sears clippers used to cut ribs. I remember the description and see it mirrored in his body. I talk with him in whispers, wanting more time with him alone. Ask him how he is. How did it happen, Pups? Why? What happened? Shock, disbelief. Wanting to stay with him. Hold him. No repulsion, no fear. His nipples erect. Feet cold and non responsive, even when I massage them. Blood stains on his toes. I arrange his hair. It’s clean but needs fluffing. Then remember the Tibetan Book of the Dead, and whisper in his ear. Don’t be afraid Mitchell. It’s okay. Go on. Don’t be scared. Surrender. Whatever fears you are experiencing are only illusions. Go on. Don’t fear. Don’t worry. No more worry. I whisper and tears fall on the sheet. I blow my nose on it, not caring about the smell, the decay setting in. A strange smell…not his. Hard to identify. Wanting to lift the whole sheet…I can’t get my eyes off of him…a blend of curiosity and love. Wanting to be close. Wanting to participate in some way so that it can be tactile and real to me. I know best by touch, by contact, by closeness. M and I stand there. So glad for M. Right there. He and B were responsive and kind. M leaves. More time alone. Then T says we’re leaving. I go reluctantly, unwillingly. After that there began a whole series of events.
1977

DAS: THE STORY VERSION

Das (Servant)
Das is a dream that Montano had while in India.

I. PREM I have always lived a life of 100% dependence having been born premature at the Kerala Christian Hospital, surviving tubes, incubators, respirators, eye drop feedings and months of medical interventions; coming home to a life of seizures, medications, total bed care and of course, caretakers. In India they are called servants and my current, main servant is Das whose name actually means servant. We never feel uncomfortable with people around helping us and are always surrounded by family, friends and yes, servants who are easily incorporated into our lives. Privacy is never an issue, we talk freely unless the subject is intimate. Servants do our cleaning, our laundry, raise our children, wash our dishes and do thousands of other tasks and because my father is a wealthy industrialist, we have two and sometimes three servants doing absolutely everything. In fact, whole families live with us; the father drives and maintains our 6 cars, sons serve us meals, do laundry, wash dishes and shop, mothers and daughters give massages, help with cooking and do chores for my brothers and sisters. Of course, I have many servants throughout the day because of my sickness but I must admit that Das is my favorite; we play checkers for hours and listen to movie music tapes, singing along. I guess you could say that even though he is from the servant caste, we are really fast friends. And I need friends because my life is difficult. I'm the second born, the first was a girl. They wanted me and hoped I was a boy and then I was born sickly. What a disappointment. Although Mummy and Bapuji didn't show their pain I know they feel sad when they see me. The first-born son has many duties. For example, what am I to do at Bapuji's cremation? I can't even hold a stick in case I have to break his skull if it hasn't burst in the fire. That way his soul can leave from the top of his head. That is our belief. But I'm not well enough or strong enough to do even that. Kamalakant will have to do it as the second son and possibly Krishna will assist him. Maybe I can sit in my wheelchair and help but then again, the way karma works, I might go before Bapuji. Sorry, I have to meet with my tutor who is coming into the courtyard. He is very old, very strict and makes me chant Sanskrit, telling me it will heal me either in body, mind or spirit. That's wonderful and I hope my body gets better, so I listen to Vish, who is a Brahmin too. We Brahmins have a special bond. It's about things past, and ancient rituals and a secret language of caste recognizable by the sacred thread tied to our chest. A glance and last name tells us who's who. India runs on the system of categories and separation of duties and hierarchies. We are happy with it. We tolerate each other and we need each other to survive. Here comes Vish now, see you later.

II. MUMMIE I love Prem probably the best, because he is so emotional. All of my other children are self sufficient and strong and confident and outspoken. Prem is different. His soulful eyes and sweetness endear him to me. I go into deep meditative states when I'm with him and experience the same ecstasy I feel in early morning pujas before the statues of Ram and Sita. I don't have to scold him or correct him or steer him in the right direction because he's already there. My dear, sweet Prem. How I love our afternoons together, watching the peacocks on the lawn, both of us silent, holding hands, happy to be. Ghandhiji says, "Silence is a great help to a seeker after Truth," and I experience that with Prem. Deep, inner silence. What a rest that is. My other children have dreams and ambitions that keep them busy and connected to the world of me, mine, and I. The girls always need a new, expensive sari for this or that event or money for a weekend in Bombay and the boys want the latest computer or scooter. It's endless. With Prem there are no worldly demands. He is my saint, my darling, and my best friend. Thank God I have enough servants who can do all of my work and that leaves me time with Prem. Of course running this compound isn't easy and I coordinate everything including the cars (we have 6), the gardens (two front side, two backside), the servants (we have 15), the food (I plan all meals and cook for special guests and all Saints that visit), the money (I pay all of the bills), and the buildings (there are 14 including the family temple). Oh Prem, how lucky you are, not worrying about anything, enjoying your time and playing checkers with Das. Your busy brothers and sisters are karmically linked to the world of money and changes/impermanence. You on the other hand sit on your bed like a monk, free of it all-fed, bathed, dressed and beatific. Prem you are my monk, my sunyasin, my muni, and you don't even wear orange clothes! Our family Guru, Shantiananda, who lives at our temple, feels the same way about you. In fact, she comes here, dear Prem, to have darshan with YOU! Usually we go to our Guru for blessings but it's the opposite in your case, Prem. She said the other day, "Bhakti, your other children will always be questioning if they are happy or unhappy. Dear Prem IS happiness. Ram has blessed your family with a saint." Prem, my saint, I'm so sorry, I have to go now to give the menu to the servants for our supper. Bapuji is back from Japan so tonight we celebrate with ras gula.

III. BAPUJI As head of this large family which includes my gorgeous wife, Bhakti, my children, servants, a huge and demanding compound including buildings, gardens, cars and even peacocks which need feeding, I'm often overwhelmed. Trips to Japan are my escape, my meditation, my nurturing. Although I was raised a strict Brahmin with a Guru as tutor at the ashram which my father financially supported, I have not been able to find solace in meditation, japa, fasting, devotions or the rituals which are the foundation of our belief. I leave all of that to my dear and darling wife, Bhakti and also to Prem who is quite peaceful and touches my soul. It's not that I've become western, although I do study professional magazines from Germany, but I guess you can say that I'm more Asian because my trips to Japan have opened my eyes to another methodology and way of being in the world. Emotionally I am cool, scientific and resonate with the evenness of Buddhism. Cool-headedness is essential to my career because negotiating multi-million dollar contracts, faxing, emailing, meeting with Japanese and American industrialists and video conferencing day after day, can be strenuous unless I practice strict mental focus. After working all day at the office, business continues at bathhouses, teahouses, at geisha parties and at 2 am I retire to my small tatami-floor hotel room and sleep to begin again next day. Being sociable is part of the game here. I've learned how to play quite well. Believe it or not, I even sing karaoke. My specialty is country western cowboy songs! Speaking of cheating; there are numerous opportunities to do so. Culturally it is encouraged and acceptable for men to do this expected behavior that is very foreign to Hindu culture and me. Here it is not seen as aberrant or sinful or unfair or unwise but this is changing in the last 10 years since feminist theory has reached this island. Now the wives do not tolerate infidelity as in the past. I'm glad because it is impossible to be integrated or effective when one is divided or guilty. Although the delicacy of Asian women and their passionate politeness is attractive to me, I am absolutely loyal to my wife who delights me even after 33 years of marriage. You see when one partner in a union meditates and prays, there is something so deeply spiritual and transcendent that happens when they are intimate. No dalliance could match the ecstasy of my life with Bhakti. Tantra and all of the Kama Sutra teachings are genetically natural to all Hindus, I think, although I'm not sure if other men experience this same level of transcendence with their wives because I never discuss my personal life with them. All I know is that I will never disturb my marital commitment in any way. Having a clear conscience and high morals gives me the energy to be a multi-tasking family man and enjoyer of good health and strong life force. Now that I think about it, I guess you could say that I'm lucky and maybe even heroic! The plane's boarding in a few minutes. Soon I'll be home again to my wife, family and a feast. Three weeks of deep breathing and jasmine nights will help me feel again.

IV. SHANTIANANDA At an early age I knew that I wanted to live a sacred life, probably because of an auspicious birth on Ram's jayanti which pleased my devoted parents very much. Tragedy struck our family and this distress formed me, the same way local jewelers hit silver over and over, shaping it into bangles. As you know, India is devastatingly beautiful and spiritually extraordinary but it is also a powerfully dangerous land. Monsoons, landslides, earthquakes, disease, typhoid, snakebites and all problems associated with the third world keep us company. We are used to it. But when my mummie died before my eyes, this was too much for a 12 year old and I changed forever. I went from a playful child-woman to a recluse. Mummie had just finished cooking kicheree, I was washing our talees, when she fell over, barely missing the open fire. After the cremation, Bapuji tried keeping all four of us together but couldn't so we were sent to different relatives all over India. I went to our Massie in Calcutta and that's where my spiritual life began. Massie was a social worker and on her compound she had donated a large parcel of land to her Guru who used one of the buildings for an ashram. I lived there, learning asanas, chanting, sutras, and advanced meditation. Samadhi was a daily joy. All of that came easily to me because my heart, having been broken by those early happenings, was eager to be filled with divine knowledge, a sense of community and inner peace. The call to the inner life was so deep that by the time I was 16, it was obvious that I was my teacher's favorite. I sat to her left, was given food from her hand, did all of her secretarial work, greeted her students and spent all of my time in her presence. That was where she groomed me, so to speak, for the transmission of her shakti into my soul. Powers of clairvoyance allowed her to work on all of the unfinished business and rough edges of my subconscious. That work was painless for me and I hope my karma did not pain her! She would enter my soul, root out obscurations and I would feel a palpable relief and not know why. All of this was done in Silence which is her path and her way and her sadhdana. It was the simplicity of nothingness. We sat for hours in an atmosphere of almost visible love, perfumed with the sweetness of non-anxiety, vibrating with the neurobiological qualities associated with divine rapture. One hot evening, we were sitting in her small meditation room. Incense and tropical temperatures intermingled intoxicatingly, allowing us to release into the joy of non-doing. Divinity was palpable. I know that it is hard to define the experience but you must trust me and try to feel this fainting into love for yourself. After midnight, she motioned to me, whispering with a graveled and hoarse voice, the voice of not having spoken for days, the voice of deep samadhi. But this was different. This was the voice of fragility and when I heard it, the second most earth shattering attack to my heart happened as my guru lay down in a fetal position and barely mumbled, "Go home to your father now. Go." And even though my Guruji was still young I knew that she was preparing to leave her body-temple and that when I left that room, I would not see her again. She brought her hand to my forehead. It was shaking. In a simple gesture, she imparted her lineage to me. Basically I was to become HER, become IT, carry on and I could literally feel spiritual energy enter my being and with it I had the transmission of her teachings, her teacher's teachings and her teacher's teacher's teachings....all the way back to Padmavati, Kali and LIGHT ITSELF. That happened 20 years ago and I cannot tell you how I then went to my village, took care of my own Bapuji for years until he died and from that care taking seva, I was given the grace and merit to use this inner light and my teacher's blessings in a profoundly powerful and new way. Even though I am now a Guru and teacher for many and carry on my Guru's Truth, these memories of physical loss cause tears to silence my pen, washing away words from the page. Gurus cry also.

V. BHARATI I guess that you could call me the family rebel. I'm the first daughter, born into this rich and powerful family that extends geographically and socially back in time. On Divali, (Festival of Lights), engagement parties and all major celebrations, 3-400 of us attend parties that take months to plan, go on for days, and keep us connected to one another. We Hindus exchange gifts lavishly, we network with each other, help solve life and family problems and sometimes, after a large event, we continue our visit by traveling in a rented bus to one of our religious shrines or to a summer resort....50 of us might go all together. Family is wealth in India and everything is shared freely and lovingly among us. No distinctions, no favoritism. Sure, I am part of all of this, but somebody has to think about and take care of other issues. Somebody has to worry about politics, the government, and India's future as a functioning contributor to this planet's well being. Somebody has to worry about ecological sustainability and social justice. Somebody has to think about non-exclusion. Somebody has to take on the role of activist, for things must change. Philosophic and political causes have always been my interest. As a child I was immersed in everything Ghandian. When 13, Bapuji took three of us to Ghandhi's ashram. I felt at home there, more so than in the luxury of my family's palace. There I observed Satygara----a peaceful, non-violent, non-cooperation with unjust laws. That's one translation. Ghandhiji’s ashram vibrated with this teaching. Non-violence, ahimsa became satygara when Gandhi worked with ahimsa practically and on a political and national scale. Isn't that brilliant? It is the ability to say no without fighting back, to say no and be willing to die for TRUTH, to say no and to mobilize a country to non-violent protest and freedom. At the ashram his spirit is palpable and I saw his small quarters, his spinning wheel. I met elders who not only knew him, but also served as his "stick," walking with him and holding him up as he recovered from fasting and protests. At 20, I met my second Guru, when I attended a lecture by philosopher, feminist and physicist, Shri Vandana Shiva of Delhi. This powerful woman changed my world although I was not formally her student but a reader of all of her books and a frequenter of her lectures. Eventually I learned to think like her, incorporating her beautiful and concerned mind into mine. I began worrying about the same things she addressed as problems and began in earnest my life as a non-violent protestor with a small group of activists in Delhi. Daily we not only lived together but struggled with issues that were hers but became ours. Some are: 1. Drinking water/shared tank systems/availability.2. Value of human life in 3rd world countries.3. Protection of natural resources vs. big business monopolies.4. Shared rights vs. privatization.5. U.S. pirating our inventions/stealing intellectual property, hijacking it for their corporate gains.6. Deforestation, clear cutting, reckless logging.7. How the commons can be maintained. All of these are Vandana Shiva's causes and now I am passionately angered by the injustice that greed births. Admittedly I could pray, meditate, do Hatha Yoga and wipe my mind clean and clear of all of my upsets but I feel a calling to ecological and social justice. My prayers are not mantras but righteous cries of outrage. Justice is my life partner. Justice is my child. Justice is my food. Wealth is shared peace and I will die to uphold this treasured jewel. Thank you Vandana Shiva and Gandhi for telling me the truth. I promise I will not stop this work until our colonized, eroded and polluted India is gorgeous and shining again. WATCH! My fist is raised and it does not strike, but holds tight in my palm the hope of SHANTI, SHANTI, SHANTI.

VI. SITA If there is a black sheep in this proud family it is I, Sita, the gorgeous third daughter spoiled by all. I'm the maverick, the problem child, and the difficult one. Of course, Prem gets a lot of attention but that's because he's so sick. Maybe I'm jealous because he has extra servants, Das' 24-hour service, the best food, saffron milk daily, and instant coffee for breakfast instead of the chai that we all are expected to drink. He's physically sick. I'm internally troubled and outrageous...at least that's what my seventh standard report stated. “Sita’s soul is in the jungle She is too like the jungle!" Just look into my frightened eyes, you will see for yourself. But no, you can't know because I will distract you with my colorful silk saris, perfect skin, pearl white teeth, and an elaborately complicated vocabulary that masks a quivering self-image. Or maybe the expensive tikas covering my third eye will keep you away? Ornaments and perfect grooming camouflage pain. Don't think that I was always this way. I had a choice. As a child our family Guru, Shantiananda, tried taming me with breathing techniques and pujas to Ram, Ghanesh and all of our deities. These rituals held me captive and absorbed my intensity until the age of 15 when I left the path for reasons unmentionable, to walk life's razor edge. I won't bore you and tell you why I'm so tortured. · Is it because I have a psychological imbalance and a bipolar medical condition?· Is it because my planets are malefic?· Is it because I had a taboo affair with a married Muslim?· Is it because of my eating disorder?· Is it because I alone know all of my family's sins and hypocrisies?· Is it because of childhood trauma and severe punishment by care taking servants?· Is it because of past life karma?· Too many sweets? As I mentioned before, I am teasing you with possibilities. Maybe all the things I listed are causes of my inner battle with life. Maybe not. Sorry to play games but I have hidden my story well. In fact, nobody will know the following: · Why I live a life of opposition to Hindu family traditions and Brahmin values.· Why I am haunted.· Why I mistrust.· Why I harbor a sadness that is untouched by beauty or newborns. Nobody will know how to fit the pieces of my life-puzzle together so they can: · Heal me.· Hold me still.· Console me.· Massage essential oils into my shame.· Invite my talents to shine. Remember, I am Sita and in exile. The 14 years in the forest waiting for the love of Rama has extended into a lifetime. Don't talk to my parents. That will not help. Don't ask too many questions. My heart is on fire and has already burst.

VII. KRISHNA As the third eldest son, I've been groomed to share prominence and leadership with Kamalakant, second born son. Prem would have had this honor but he can't perform in this way, so KK and I do all of the right things but I think that I do more than he does. · I go to engineering school in America full time.· I date only Hindu girls.· I go home every December for family reunions.· I live a life that is conversant with the best of both east and west culture.· I put away savings so that I can bring my family to America someday. All of this takes courage. It takes courage to leave a safe and home life in India to go to America to study. It takes courage to live without servants and do my own cooking, laundry, cleaning and shopping. It takes courage to eat bland western food devoid of our delicious spices. It takes courage to travel thousands of miles in airplanes that might harbor terrorists or exploding shoes so that I can get a good education in America. But, no problem, I have tons of courage. I'm a pro soccer player, karate black belt and my IQ is 185. And even though I'm the most western in my family, KK and I still have the prime duty of providing for my sisters, brothers and elderly parents later on. That is called seva and it is richly rewarded with merit and spiritual goodies. America did not change that pattern in me although I do drink coffee now instead of tea. That's western. But otherwise, I'm strictly Brahmin. Strictly devoted to Mother India and willing to help my family, sacrificing for them in any way that I can. This is a gift that we Hindus have and we hope that westerners learn it from us. It is so precious, so important. For example, right now, Bapuji's father is dying in the other room. Our hospitals send elders home to die and we don't have nursing homes. We feed, bathe, visit and make sure our sick are spiritually nourished as well. The sunyasin visits every other day and gives lectures and comfort to grandpa. We are so close, so close, grandpa and I. I sit with him for hours, hold his hand, sing to him, feel his life force come and go, listen to his babbling in Sanskrit, observe his hallucinations of dead relatives in the room and help him prepare for his next incarnation by keeping him focused on the divine. Four months ago after his stroke, he was walking, talking, trying to be as independent as he was before. But he knew deep down that he couldn't cook for himself, balance his checkbook, or even enjoy the nightly news. Watching him detach from the world has been a teaching for us all and we help him when he gets too frustrated by the process...singing bhajans to him, massaging him with almond oil, bringing neighborhood children to visit, filling the room with flowers, feeding him mango juice fresh from the trees outside his window and resting silently in the room with him. Sometimes I lay on a mat next to his so I can be peaceful and give him that gift. But it is not all cozy. Yama the god of death visits some days and the thick dark hair on my arms raises with fright. I ask him to leave, give me more time with grandpa who now eats only a little rice gruel. As he goes slowly, my heart feels ripped from my chest, my throat tightens and squeezes my already infected tonsils, my body shakes. I have lost 15 pounds. My hair is thinning. I am taking this very hard even though Vedanta teaches we are not the body or mind. Grandpa is the core and strength of this family and he is leaving us orphaned. Hold me tight or I will lay my face in grandpa's shawl and if Yama isn't careful he might take me by mistake. Be careful Yama, here I am. Come on Yama, come on. Yama, come.

VIII. DAS The life of a servant in India can be quite wonderful or a tragedy. It depends on the family and it also depends on the servant. Good family equals good life. Bad family, bad life. I'm good and this family is great, which translates as tolerant and generous and inclusive. These are the best Hindu traits. Germans are good at details, we are good nurturers. To feed all, love all, and include all is our manifesto. Yes, you Christians say, “love one another as Christ has loved you." That's why you love. We love because next life I might be the king and you might be the servant and if you treated me well then I would karmically have to treat you very well too. So our actions, yours and mine are the same, motives differ. I love working for Bharat and Bhakti. They are extremely wealthy, their home is a palace compared to my village one room house that I share with my wife, her parents and our 3 children. I have privacy here, delicious food, luxurious living and my own 3-inch TV. My main work is making sure that Prem is comfortable, changed, fed and has my company. After evening meal I have two hours for myself, take a round, talk with friends and then go back to sleep in Prem's room on a mat near his bed. I guess you would say that we are brothers, roommates, and best friends. Six years together day and night with only a few weeks off each year, has made me feel like a member of Prem's family. My wife understands; we need the little money that I make. Today we will eat masala dosa for lunch. I can't wait. I feel hungry although I will feed him first. Then I will eat in the kitchen with the other servants. We laugh a lot. I hope they saved me a few ras gula. Basically, life is good, delicious, and I have rupees to send home. Prem is calling. I have to go.

Footnotes: An Update Seven Years Later.
PREM: Prem attended a Kumbha Mela on a stretcher and experienced a miraculous healing from a naked sadhu. He now attends college and is studying computer programming.
MATAJI: Mataji ran for the office of assistant to the district administrator and won. She attends weekly meetings in Delhi, flying home weekends.
BAPUJI: Bapuji retired at 60 and is living 4 months of every year in Japan where he is practicing horticulture.
SHANTIANANDA: Shantiananda took a vow of silence for 14 years, lives with her chela in Rishikesh and gives silent darshans once a month, writing on a slate board. BHARATI: Bharati is an ecology professor at Benares Hindu University, married and has 6 children. SITA: Sita was found dead at home of natural causes.
KRISHNA: Krishna changed his major to become a licensed practical nurse and opened a hospice in Sri Lanka, based on the western model of nurturing terminal care.
DAS: Das was caught stealing a sizable sum of rupees from Bapuji's office and is currently incarcerated for life in Masore.

LINDA MARY MONTANO

2002

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