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Frank Ferrante 2021

My friend Betsy Chasse recently asked me to write an article about what it means to be a conscious man. My first reaction was to laugh.

“You’re kidding me right?“

“No“, she said, you’re one of the most conscious guys I know.“

“Well Betsy, you obviously need to get out more.”

I never thought of myself as a “conscious“ man. Maybe because of my occasional bouts with depression. Then there are those attack thoughts that assault me around 2AM. The ones that mercilessly spread broken glass around my brain reminding me of my fears, doubts, regrets and especially those I hurt or disappointed.

These days all manner of high minded “spiritual“ terms are bandied about. Today we have, conscious capitalism, conscious films, conscious eating, conscious coupling, conscious uncoupling etc. All of these concepts are rooted in what I believe is a beautiful and well-meaning place. However, their interpretation and practical application is often a departure from the original intent. Kind of like the whole Jesus thing. I believe the words spiritual and conscious have become diluted and subjective. Take films for example, “Finding Joe” is a beautiful film about Joseph Campbell’s work. It was informative, inspiring, entertaining and meaningful. On the other hand, New Age spiritual materialists consider “The Secret“ to be the “Greatest Story Ever Told” of movies. In my opinion, The Secret is The National Enquirer of conscious films.

I live in Sedona, smack dab in the middle of the vortex and crisscrossing ley lines. Spirituality is big business here. There is a parallel between Sedona and Los Angeles. Whatever restaurant you choose in LA, your server is more than likely an actor. In Sedona your server at a restaurant, the driver next to you at a red light, the person you bump into at hot yoga or the guy selling miracle cures at the CBD shop is more than likely a life coach. Sedona has become a place where you may run into someone on his way to a vegan restaurant while reintegrating from an ayahuasca journey, visiting his past life therapist before attending a kirtan on his way to voting for Trump. The first casualty of people taking themselves too seriously is irony. Take for example the horned shaman traipsing through the capital on January 6. When he went to jail, this guy said he needed organic vegan food because anything else was against his religion and made him sick. Apparently, no one noticed the irony of the organic vegan wizard shaman wearing a dead animal on his head. 

This year I will be 70 years old. My parents came here from Sicily in 1947 after WWII. They brought the war with them to Brooklyn. I spent the first third of my life in terror of the Catholic nuns, gangs, the police and my parents. The second third I spent either cooking heroin or staring at the bottom of a tumbler full of vodka with a nose full of cocaine. The last third I’ve spent recovering from the first two.

Now, According to Betsy, I’m a conscious man! Yesterday, bringing me my turmeric tea at our local vegan eatery, the resident shaman server white guy with dreadlocks and hemp woven tunic casually asked me, “Where are you in your spiritual journey?“ I closed my eyes and rolled them deeply backward. After a deep cleansing breath I said, “I am less of an asshole for a shorter period of time. In my world that’s a big fucking deal.“ He looked at me with what I interpreted as distain but clearly from a lofty spiritual frequency.

What does it mean to be a conscious person? Be conscious. Pay attention. What does it mean to be mindful? Avoid being mindless. What does it mean to be spiritual? I don’t really care about that anymore. The word spiritual is vague and meaningless. I am more concerned with the humane. The word spiritual requires a tedious explanation. The word humane does not. Being humane is how the goodness in one’s heart is revealed. Being humane not only opens hearts; it just may help someone get through a really bad day.

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