Jessica Williams, jazz pianist, composer


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The Golden Path

The Buddhists believe that there are many billions of realities (souls) and that each soul is seeking Buddha-hood. They believe that every action, thought, and word creates the future and that we are linked and yet separated by our different beliefs and learned prejudices. They believe that karma follows us like a trail and opens before us in the form of choices to be made and ways of living to be pursued. Darkness or negativity can easily be chosen as a path and its fruits will be paid for in karma. Not one word or action is "forgiven" by any Prophet. It is indelible, but one's place in the Universe is not fixed but dynamic and changeable. It allows for free will. One can move forward with good works and deeds.

I have been asked about my Golden Path several times recently. To what do I refer to? What does that mean? What is it? A religion? A political position? What?

My answer: "A small pebble, thrown in a peaceful pond. Going outward, a good thing is done."

water ripples

That's it. That's the Golden Path, explained. But this an "Eastern Answer". My Western Answer is below.


My Path was marked by my time in my mother's womb. In her third trimester, events unfolded that contained the seeds of me, a "person of difference". Whether it was growing up near Bethlehem Steel in Baltimore, or the increased pollution, or the cosmic rays, or the pollen count, my brain developed as a female brain My ovaries began to form.

And then I was born a boy child. It is not a cruel joke of this Universe. It is a powerful stimulus to seek identity. I knew it immediately. Most likely shortly after my birth, and certainly in the first two years of my life.

I had a rough childhood!

And when I could have sex reassignment surgery, in 1976 at age 28, I walked the fire and stepped full onto the Golden Path, as a total female. I married almost immediately. I began the journey that would lead me here to my self.

I was also born with high-functioning autism. Autistic. And I was born with synesthesia.

My autism and my transsexuality affected my music on a spiritual level. (They were responsible for it.) On the physical plane, it was a terribly difficult Path to walk, particularly due to homelessness, opponents, violence,and my own naked fear. Plus it was over a half-century ago since transition.

What could I do? There was no home to go home to. I became hardened. I learned some Wing Chun and Shaolin from the Chinese man who owned the liquor store across from the Keystone Korner. Basic moves, really. But a few men beat me up pretty badly. I was never a fighter.

And, amazingly, I never sold my body. Well, just once. To get me off the street and rest for awhile. And it wasn't money. It was for my first husband, so he wouldn't have a heart attack or start foaming or something. Oh, what we women will do for "love".

I survived, and am determining to live at least until I am 88. Deepak Chopra say that without stress, we can live as long as 150-200 years. I intend to try. The mind and body are incredible "things". It is not the brain or the organs. It is the soul, the heart, the engines of our lives. This is why Stephen Hawking is 74.

Spiritually, my core identity is my Source. And music flows like water from that Source. Take away one and the other ceases to exist. I called them the twin rails of my life.

Walking to school on the railroad tracks, I thought “Two rails. One is my music, the other my identity as a female.” And in the far horizon, they joined, as one. I was in the first grade.

By age 10 I was so down into the music that it was my way of escaping a harsh reality. I think it was what attracted me to jazz. Going in the back kitchen door with Philly Joe really opened my eyes to prejudice all around me. I fit right in. We were all slaves of one kind or another. My trans identity never seemed much of an issue until word started to spread. Jazz people in Brooklyn know jazz people in Baltimore. It spread slowly outward from Baltimore like a glacial tsunami.

Here we are, 40 years later, trying to figure why I included my synesthesia. As if I knew.

It feels good to write about truth to friends. I like the feeling. It warms me. I have been alone for many years. It feels good to write to you about The Golden Path. I’m still amazed at how much my life changed in such a short time.

Any path requires purity and a high degree of vigil and commitment. It is balanced, graceful, loving, harmonious movement of mind and body in the service of creativity, in the service of humanity. A seeker's path asks impeccability of spirit. Mistakes are made, but unity with self and consciousness are the bedrock of the well-chosen path. Even if not so well-chosen, the responsibility is on us to perform in a way that, upon death, we are filled with a feeling that we have done well in steering our life-course.

All these motions towards grace and harmony, all are part of reaching toward the final realization of one's deepest goals and desires, of one's longings that bring that 'painful pleasure' to the one who serves, the seeker of Truth. True deep love is (and feels) very like each step on the Path. Each step makes ripples. All steps have meaning for every motion taken towards fulfillment.

Our bodies respond to ripples. There is no "small" event anywhere in systemic chaos. The usual approach to chaos is to seek after order. To quietly suggest — and attain — order takes great skill and courage. Maintaining order in chaos is often impossible, but we try!

And my particular path, that which I call The Golden Path, requires only that I follow it and never fall off of the path. I watch my steps, and remind myself that unforeseen detours or mistakes also teach enormous lessons, and so become inseparable, even necessary, to advance.

Always advance. Never retreat. And aspire to win your right to be different, to be who you are.

One facet, a major facet and goal of my personal path: to follow my music wherever it leads, and follow it to the exclusions of all other's judgments, offers of money, bribes, threats of violence, non-employment, or consensual failure.

If the perception of failure is consensual, and one is seen as lost or mistaken, it is not necessarily failure. It is merely unpopular. Actually, it's a good sign that you're getting warm, going in the right direction. If everyone loves and agrees with you, watch out. It's not a good sign.

Another goal is to fulfill the highest most serene, balanced, and graceful level of person-hood attainable to me. The Universe exists in duality, and I, as a female person, am never far from my feelings. My path and my future longing directs me to deeper awareness of pure self, and that self is singularly and strongly yin. It is the reason my path has become more clearly visible to me within the last few years: I stopped listening to the orders and expectations and directions and productions engineered for me by men. And there is no blame here. I allowed it.


As my true self I am not comfortable when I compete. I am not made to compete with others or with my self. I am here to create, and to communicate, and to cooperate.

I am complete with this path, this life, and this reality. I am happy. The threads of my life hold firm.

My music fills my soul as does my personal love for my dearest one, and my love for this path is as solid as ever. I move in my mind alone, my Universe in which limits are lifted. There are no limits to the truth. It cannot be stopped or tamed or avoided.

Observations . . . not rules, not always full Truths:

"A thing cannot exist without its opposite." (JW)

"Humans are prone to seek sand in the desert." (Frank Herbert)

"Life does not always accommodate our goals — but it often provides the wisdom and the means to achieve other goals, usually better suited to our innermost desires."(JW)

"Through our 'front' we face the Many-fold Path. But it is through our back that we truly know love and fear. If someone 'has your back' you are blessed." (JW)

"Logic is blind and often knows only its own past." (Frank Herbert)

"Since every individual is accountable ultimately to the Self, formation and perfection of that Self demands the utmost care and attention." (JW)

"Spend your energies on those who make you strong. Spending it otherwise will deplete you, waste your Power, and drag you down to doom." (JW)

"Never step back, never back down, feet on the edge, face to the wind" (Old country song)

"If it never gets any better than this, it's still better than it ever was." (JW)

"Never support weakness. Always support strength." (Frank Herbert)

"Choose wisely the myths you carry. They have teeth and they bite." (JW)

"The flesh exists to feel the things that flesh feels." (Frank Herbert)

"A great challenge is to overcome entropy, to break through those barriers which enclose and isolate our lives, those roadblocks that limit our energy for work and fulfillment. We must go up the entropy slope." (JW)

"Logic, belief systems, and politics all stifle the impulse for wild creativity. Beyond these tricks of the mind awaits our Freedom." (JW)

"Any Path contains surprises . . . and wages." (JW)

"Better to fall in a crusade than watch as at a parade." (JW)

"Your self and its limits are largely opinion: your own and other's. Break this habit and you will find that reality is quite different than you had previously imagined." (JW)

"Humanity moves as one beast." (Frank Herbert)

"What senses do we lack that we cannot see the other Universe that exists all around us?"(Frank Herbert)

"A self-serving act often serves no one." (JW)

"Face your Fears or they will climb over your back." (Frank Herbert)

More about the Path here


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