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Houston Breakthrough, January 1980
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Houston Breakthrough, January 1980 - Pages 14 and 15. January 1980. Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries. University of Houston Digital Library. Web. December 13, 2019. https://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist/item/2148/show/2130.

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(January 1980). Houston Breakthrough, January 1980 - Pages 14 and 15. Houston and Texas Feminist and Lesbian Newsletters. Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries. Retrieved from https://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist/item/2148/show/2130

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

Houston Breakthrough, January 1980 - Pages 14 and 15, January 1980, Houston and Texas Feminist and Lesbian Newsletters, Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries, accessed December 13, 2019, https://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist/item/2148/show/2130.

Disclaimer: This is a general citation for reference purposes. Please consult the most recent edition of your style manual for the proper formatting of the type of source you are citing. If the date given in the citation does not match the date on the digital item, use the more accurate date below the digital item.

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Title Houston Breakthrough, January 1980
Publisher Breakthrough Publishing Co.
Date January 1980
Subject.Topical (LCSH)
  • Women
  • Periodicals
  • Feminism--United States--Periodicals
  • Newsletters
Subject.Geographic (TGN)
  • Houston, Texas
Genre (AAT)
  • periodicals
Language English
Type (DCMI)
  • Text
  • Image
Original Item Location HQ1101 .B74
Original Item URL http://library.uh.edu/record=b2332724~S11
Digital Collection Houston and Texas Feminist and Lesbian Newsletters
Digital Collection URL http://digital.lib.uh.edu/collection/feminist
Repository Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries
Repository URL http://info.lib.uh.edu/about/campus-libraries-collections/special-collections
Use and Reproduction Educational use only, no other permissions given. Copyright to this resource is held by the content creator, author, artist or other entity, and is provided here for educational purposes only. It may not be reproduced or distributed in any format without written permission of the copyright owner. For more information please see UH Digital Library Fair Use policy on the UH Digital Library About page.
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Title Pages 14 and 15
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File Name femin_201109_556an.JPG
Transcript Don Sanders Musician and songwriter Ten years ago I lived in Houston on South Shepherd, next to Leo's Restaurant. It was a four-room apartment in a four-plex, furnished and all bills paid for $135.00 a month. I was very involved in learning to write and spent hours each day at my typewriter. Other hours I spent in libraries or parks because my neighbor, Pete Gorisch, who now plays bass with the Shake Russell Band, was into learning the drums. I had already written a few nice songs, Coffee Song and Third Eye, but I wanted something more than songs. I wanted stories, folktales, fabliaux mixed with song. That's what I was writing on. When I had written several of these musical folktales, it was my intention to move to San Francisco, get a record contract, and become moderately famous. Of course, I didn't care about money—for myself-because it seemed that money and the consumer items tended to entrap/ enslave humans. What was important to me was: doing good art, having my art recognized as good art, ending the war in S. E. Asia, and having good/loving/happy relationships. Houston was marvelous for loving relationships. Many of us worked together to 'end the war'—or to bring 'free radio' into existence. There were common causes which were so important that we could transcend the individual reasons for wanting their realization. That is, there wasn't much worrying about whether or not an individual's motivations were pure. Lots of good feelings. Limitless present. I read New Republic every week and began to be interested in films. * * # What happened? I moved to San Francisco and found the emotional climate much too chilly for my system. Came back to Houston. Put out several records. Attained some momentum but-it was time for me to enter what Erik Erikson calls 'the householder phase.' I backed off from my career, concentrated on friends and lovers, and worked with children as an artist-in-school. Separations: from friends, lovers, ca- reer-from New Republic and all the news of a nation whose elected President was a criminal. Separation from a self that wasn't as clean, pure, devoted, bright and rational as I'd always tried to force it to be. And at the same time, a beginning acceptance of the darker side of myself. * ♦ * What's now? Me back at work. The present much more finite—consequent picking and choosing of projects. Taking my career seriously again—while trying not to take myself too seriously. (In 1970 my passport listed my profession as 'humorist.') I'm writing a musical play and am hoping for a professional future to move towards film. Enjoy singing and playing my guitar more than ever. Enjoying performing. Do a little politics in a quiet quotidian way. And feel many good feelings for my friends and neighbors in Space City/Energy Central. m <m ^m**** i..-m>*Bj*0w***">_ From late 1970 until early 1975, I studied grace and poise under the tutelage of various Texas prison wardens. - Ray Hill vac* W> Ray Hill Executive Director, Houston Human Rights League I began the 1970's by applying for the prescribed retirement plan for my occupation during much of the 1960's (I had been an antique, art, and jewel thief). The Texas courts would determine that I qualified for maximum benefits (20 each, eight-year sentences, or 160 years in the Texas Department of Corrections for non-violent crimes against corporate property). From late 1970 until early 1975 I studied grace and poise under the tutelage of various Texas prison wardens, through the miracle of concurrent sentencing I completed the assigned term in four years, four months and 24 days. The State of Texas asked me to go forth into a much- changed society and armed me with a $100 check from the state treasury (which I endorsed and gave to KPFT in appreciation for having maintained what I had salvaged of my sanity.) Beyond the $100 and the inherent prejudice and distrust most people have towards ex-convicts, about the only thing I had for sure was the certain knowledge that male-dominated institutions and value systems are inherently insecure and failure prone. I have devoted the last half of the decade to seeking alternatives to business as usual in a classically male- dominated world and evangelizing my discoveries to all that will listen. I have learned in the last decade that there is no justice, only a vast unfeeling machine that would devour any being, permit the corporate entities from which I stole to fill out the appropriate insurance forms and place all burden of any wrong-doing on the tax-payers and premium-payers of the future. Modern Robin Hoods do not steal from the rich and give to the poor. No matter how crafty Robin may get it always works the other way around. This never-lose, no-risk reality favoring the upper reaches of the pecking order is as characteristically male as prison value systems (where all worth is determined by comparative maleness). We, the various members of this society, are arranged vertically like leaves of grass, standing so we might be easily mowed down by the great yazoo forces that cut horizontally across our experiences and growth and over which we are trained to have little or no control. All of the above not withstanding, I am optimistic about the 1980's. Society's leaves of grass bound together can not only be strong enough to check the yazoos, but also remain surprisingly flexible. We, the folk interested in changing society, must come to the realization that we share a common interest in protecting each other's participation in society. And I think many more of us will do that in the next decade. The growth and development of Houston's gay and lesbian rights movement has convinced me that progress can be achieved within our socio-political system if we do not lose sight of where we would like to go. More of us working together can accomplish our goals sooner and easier. However, the most amazing discovery I made in the 1970's is that I am solely responsible for my own freedom. Others have locked me up, tried to destroy my identity, held me incommunicado, and tried to impose every known form of discrimination and exclusion against me, but nothing interfered with my freedom to be the person I wished to be. My experience in the 1970's taught me what Eleanor Roosevelt said in the 1940's is true: "No one can become a second-class citizen without his (or her) specific permission." i usro NVrtfeiMmi Wt&tf Q 14 f.r d tettME'AftMM tfrf*V§W' '* Ingrid Stone Resident, Muktananda Center I spent the sixties in much the usual ways -dropping in and out of college, falling in and out of love. I played the intellectual game. I always did well in school, but couldn't sustain much interest in it. It didn't seem to lead anywhere. I worked in the anti-Vietnam war movement and the radical student movement at Columbia University; then, finally, bone-weary waitress at Max's Kansas City in New York. Max's was a place where, in one evening, Andy Warhol and his gang— Janis Joplin, Jimmy Hendrix, Larry Rivers, Robert Raushenberg, Mel Brooks, Norman Mailer—and other celebrities of the sixties hung out. I was never bored. It was a relief not to have to define myself as an intellectual or an activist anymore. I only thought about making money and having a good time. In early 1970, I was living in a comfortable way with a nice Australian guy a few years younger than myself. Gerard finished law school in Sydney, then left Australia for the states, winding up as a bus boy at Max's. We had very little in common, really, but we enjoyed a sort of thought-free, day-by-day good time together. As far as I knew, I was happy, but I had no idea that a full, deep, and steady happiness, as I now experience, was at all a possibility. I had a lively but somewhat sombre disposition. I lived with a lot of pain after my mother's unexpected death in 1965. I had no intellectual, emotional, or spiritual context within which to understand her death, or death itself. I felt only incapacitating pain over losing someone for whom I had so much love. I tried psychoanalysis and group therapies of various sorts, but nothing eased the pain of being a motherless child. In the fall of 1970 I was pregnant. It seemed to tie up a lot of loose ends. I'd always wanted to have just one child. I had no particular interest in a career, although I had a nice editorial job on a New York magazine at the t'rme, and I thought that being a wife and mother would fulfill me. So Gerard and I got married, despite our misgivings about marriage. We were right, as it turned out, for despite our love for our son Clement, our marriage ended two years later. A feminist group that I'd joined in June 1972 gave me the moral support, encouragement and love I needed to break up with Gerard. It was a difficult time. Now I had to pay for the apartment with no income and had a year old son who needed me, or someone, full-time. I worried a lot, complained a lot, but, finally, in desperation, forced myself to get a hack license and drove a cab nights and weekends in New York City. I did that for a year. It almost cost me what little sense of humor I had left. There were cabs with no heaters, cabs with no brakes, cabs with no windshield wipers, cabs with no spare tires. Naturally, as a part-time driver and a woman to boot, I got a lot of these. But I also got an education. I learned I was responsible for my own survival. I learned that I could handle anything. I began to believe in myself. So I made some improvements in my life. I got a full-time, good-paying job at a medical school in the Bronx. (I had acquired some laboratory skills along the way.) I patched myself up by the summer of 1974. The worst was over. There was enough money coming in. Clement was cared for by a maternal, middle-aged neighbor. I got a breather, the first one in three years of mothering, when Clement spent two months with our neighbor's family in North Carolina. I finally had some time to slow down and figure out where I was. The place I do that best is by the sea. The clear air blows the fog out of my mind. I took solitary weekends on the beach, driving out in the early morning (with food, FM radio, and current reading) and arriving home after dark. It felt so good just to be alone. In the quiet of that time on the beach, two doors opened for me: one of them, feminism, opened wide. The other, yoga, just a crack. The two—yoga and feminism— were the levers that pried me out of the gummy swamp of my own melodrama. It was Ti-Grace Atkinson's Amazon Odyssey, a collection of her early essays and lectures, that I read on the beach that summer. The precision and clarity and, above all, the courage of her words and her actions moved me greatly. I got the courage to'call her. She was, as she put it, "burnt out"— discouraged, tired, spent. I was full of energy, enthusiasm, optimism. I had some nice ideas, too, about priorities for the women's movement. She said she was recharged by my posi- tiveness^so we talked often on the phone and finally met for lunch and discussion. She told me about the history of the movement and introduced me to her friends. I had entered the movement late, but the first women I met were the very ones who had gotten the whole thing going. I went to a lot of meetings in those days, and I loved them all. I wanted nothing but to work for the benefit of all women. The door to yoga opened for me through a radio program called In the Spirit. I heard a yogi describe his own teacher's death and his last words, "There is absolutely no clinging." Something in my mind just stopped. Without clinging, I reasoned, there could be -no fear, no sorrow, no death, just the experience of the moment in its fullness. I knew I wanted to achieve that state in my own death, and, more importantly, I wanted absolutely no clinging in my life. I was ready to give up the package of pain. I wanted peace at last, but I did not know where to look. In May, 1975, I met my teacher. I was at a weekend feminist retreat in the country. A Hatha Yoga class was offered and I took it. Afterwards, the instructor handed me a little card with a photo of a bearded Indian man—"a Saint," she said-and a mantra (Om Namah Shivaya) which she suggested I use. She didn't say how. I stuffed the mantra card into my pocket, thanked her patronizingly, and left. But I couldn't shake that mantra. I heard it even in my sleep. It kept running through my mind. It wouldn't let me be. The fall of 1975 found me confused, broke and very depressed. I went to a yoga retreat. The teacher took one look at my tear-streaked face and said, "You look like a seeker to me—you should meditate." At first, meditation was just a sweet unconsciousness or a temporary relief from the pain. But gradually, the peace I experienced sitting for meditation spread itself to my daily life. I enjoyed my child, my friends and myself again. When I learned that Baba Muktananda, the "saint" whose picture was on my mantra card, was coming to New York City in March of 1976, I was eager to meet him. The first thing I noticed about Baba was his light. He walked through the gate at Kennedy Airport as radiant as the rising sun, his face beaming. There were hundreds of excited people waiting for him. He greeted each of us the way a mother greets a child after a long separation. It was obvious what was holy about Baba—it was his love. Six months later, I walked into the candle-lit marble courtyard of Baba's ashram in India as the evening prayers were sung. I was home. What happened to me in my 10 weeks in Baba's ashram was so powerful that I could not take up my old life in New York again. Everything I'd left behind remained the same, but I was irreversibly different. Clement was not quite six years old, but he sized up my state right away (I was very quiet inside) when he said: "Mom, I think it's time I lived with my Dad, now." He was so matter-of-fact about it. There was no remorse or sentimentality at all. He just knew that he needed to be "a regular kid," as he put it, and that he needed to have a parent who was functioning cheerfully and successfully in "regular life," rather than one who wanted no part of it. I had completely lost my interest for everything but meditation and the community of meditators that I had found in India. All I wanted was to return and stay for a long, long time. My father taught me, and I believed it, that nobody does something for nothing. So I think of what happened next as a miracle. A friend and benefactor offered to pay my fare to India and sustain me there for a year. Our relationship had been uncannily easy and natural. We seemed to have one mind—one consciousness between the two of us. So our understanding about my return to India was that I was going for both of us. I left for India, grateful and happy, in the fall of 1977, and didn't return for two years. In Sanskrit, ashram means a place free from cares and worries, a peaceful place. The ashram is structured to facilitate the pursuit of sadhana, personal spiritual exploration. Everything extraneous is eliminated from the environment, so the mind can focus on the task at hand. That "one-pointing" of mind is itself the goal of spiritual practice, because as the mind grows quiet (in meditation, for example), an extraordinary sense of well-being arises. We call it bliss, but that word can't convey the sweetness, the fullness of that state. I focused as intensely as I could on Baba. This is meditation, too. I felt an inner sweetness. The mind grew still. I knew that the apparent distinctions which separate, alienate, distance us from one another, all reside in the mind and are manifested through language. In silence, these distinctions dissolve and what wells up instead is love for all others as for one's own self. I began to taste what is meant by liberation. There was nothing I had any desire for, nothing I needed, nothing I missed. I experienced the meaning of well-being—simply being well. Now, what I felt was, "I'm all right." Period. I felt profoundly grateful to Baba for giving me this experience. I had a vivid vision in meditation on my last day in the ashram. I saw an infant sitting on a soft blanket just in front of Baba's seat in the courtyard. Amma and Malti, Baba's two closest women disciples, were standing near the baby. A light shawl covered its face. Amma bent over and very tenderly drew back the shawl. I saw a radiant, pure little girl, her eyes wide open, clear and full of joy. It was me. The two years spent in Baba's home marked the gradual growing up of that child. I spent eight months of the first year in silence. Baba fussed over me quite a lot during that period, although I detected his amusement at my earnestness—the intensity and seriousness with which I conducted my sadhana. I was always rushing off to meditate somewhere. I still didn't suspect that natural meditation was just being fully present, not doing something special. One day in the ashram coffee shop, Dada Yende, one of Baba's earliest devotees, threw a fatherly arm over my shoulder and said, "Ganges, be natural." Oh, what a relief! I'd always known how to just be myself. I found that my interest in and love for other people was as full as ever, but cleansed now of any personal agenda. I felt warmly toward everyone regardless of their responses to me. My mind still took an occasional excursion down its old dusty roads, but my still center just waited calmly for it to return. One is not expected to stay in the ashram forever. In August of this year, I left Ganeshpuri for New York, then Houston, knowing that I had to be able to maintain the same understanding in the world that I had enjoyed so fully in the ashram. , When I look back over the years in the } women's movement, I see clearly that the desire to be of real service to other women was always with me. It never occured to me that I had to work on myself first-that would have been seeking an "individual solution." But I've learned that you can't write a check for $100, no matter how badly you want to, when all you have in the bank is $10. I came to see that / had been the one constant ingredient in those situations which I defined as problems. As I now experience my life, there are never any problems, I may go through changes, and I do sometimes, but I just watch my own soap opera with detachment, affection and compassion. The libera tion from anxiety, from worry of any kind, that this detachment yields is sweet indeed. H0tUi5T;aW^BEA.KT«iipAU6H 15 v DECEMB€l=l/JANUARiY 1980