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Great Song

The Life and Teachings of Joe Miller
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Paperback Book
December, 1993
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Banyen's Description: 

Joe Miller was an authentic American revolutionary of the spirit who taught in many ways, the most famous being the Thursday morning walks through Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. Joe never charged for anything. On the contrary, he treated everyone to ice cream at the Ocean Safeway near the beach. This is the exploding love story of Joe and Guin, with a generous helping of his deep-hearted harangues.

There is a great song, a great music

happening in life at all times.

So be the true note you are.

Joe Miller was a true eccentric who understood, deep within himself, the fundamental absurdity and even laughability of life. Like a Zen master, a Sioux heyoka or a latter-day Lao Tzu, Joe lived in the Now and got a big kick out of the process. When he died, Stephanie Salter wrote in the San Francisco Chronicle: “My friend Joe Miller got tired of his body this past Wednesday morning, and he left it. Joe was 88 years old, you see, and, as an ex-vaudevillian and a believer in reincarnation, he understood that it was time to get on with his next act.”

With loving authenticity, Richard Power has caught the essence of Joe and his legacy, which marbled Sufism, Zen and Open-Hearted Trickster Christianity like coloured caramel in the ice cream of the dharma. As Coleman Barks, famous Rumi aficionado, writes in his preface,

There are many names given to wisdom. In the middle, where the elephant stands, is “the essence of vacuity of mind,” Padma Sambhava’s “common intelligence,” what we have together with our candles lit. Joe Miller liked to call it common sense. To feel connected with each other, and with the JUICE that flows through existence, was Joe’s great joy.

Power’s marvelous intro, called Burning the Furniture: An Introduction to the Life and Teachings of Joe Miller, says:

“Joe was never at a loss for words. The material from which this collection of talks is condensed is voluminous.... Joe Miller qualified everything he said with a disclaimer: “If you pay any attention to what I’m saying, you’re nuts. But if you feel what I’m trying to radiate as I talk, then you’re cookin’ on the big burner.”

Here’s a few of Joe’s exhortations, the ones he would say over and over, “beating on skulls” and “shaking cages”

Be still, be very still!

Just BE!

Truth can’t be bought or sold.

You’ve got to do it for you. No one else can do it for you!

You are, and all you have to do is be.

Take a gentle in-drawn breath into the heart, and feel unselfish love flowing out.

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