Saturday, May 27, 2006


[image source]

I am grateful today that a couple of regular readers liked the fairy tale I posted this morning. I thank them for their comments.

Today's Friday Five in the holy memes and kosmic blog starters pod at Zaadz this week is on gratitude, so I thought I'd post my response to the questions here, too.
Week 4: Gratitude

1) What are the first things that pop into your mind that you are grateful for?

Kira, cashew butter, life, friends, my computer, my health, books, squats, water, rain, Seattle, and so on.

2) What are some not-so-obvious things that you are grateful for?

My screwed up teen years, my father's death, my mother's death, that I have no family, fear, depression, and so on.

3) How have you shown your gratitude in the past 24 hours? Past week? Your life?

Usually by saying thank you. Gratitude posts, telling KiraI love her, saying “thank you” to people who say or do nice things, prayer, offerings, by doing the best that I can with what I have been given.

4) When people show you gratitude, how do they show it to you? How would you like it to be shown?

Usually by saying thank you.

5) Do you have trouble accepting gifts and favors and showing genuine gratitude? Why or why not?

Yes. I have a hard time with people appreciating me. I have a harsh inner critic that constantly undermines my sense of worth. It's very hard for me to accept favors when they are offered.
One last thing today: I want to send blessings to TA.

For what are you grateful?

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Tarot as Mirror of the Psyche: Wheel of Fortune

[Please see the Introduction to this series for a brief synopsis of my approach to working with the major trumps of the Tarot. I am hoping to post a new meditation each Saturday. I use meditation here in the philosophical sense of the word, meant to denote an open-ended, free-form exploration of an idea.]

Last week the Fool had to turn inward to find the inner Hermit, the wise elder who serves as the archetypal representation of the higher self. Now the journey moves from inner contemplation to the grand principles of the Kosmos as we encounter the Wheel of Fortune.

We are faced with a rather strange card here. For the first time none of the figures are recognizably human or natural. We have two odd-looking creatures revolving helplessly on Fortune's enigmatic wheel, while a third creature presides over the whole scene. What are we to make of these strange creatures wearing human clothes?

According to Sallie Nichols (Jung And Tarot):

The golden creature rising on our right is usually connected with Anubis, the dog-faced god of Egypt who weighed the souls of the dead. He is thought of as a positive, integrative factor. The monkey-like animal on our left is usually associated with Typhon, the god of destruction and disintegration.

Commentators generally think it a good omen in this card that Anubis is rising on the wheel and that Typhon is on his way down. But it is a wheel, after all, and Typhon will be back in the ascension soon enough. Given this truth, what we are dealing with here is the cycle of opposites in the greater scheme of things.

Before we move into deeper interpretation, there is still the matter of the third creature sitting atop the wheel. The winged creature has the body and tail of a lion, while the face is monkey-like. It seems to be naked, though it does wear a gold crown and hold a sword. Strangely enough, this is a sphinx, depicted here in its devouring feminine form (think of Moreau's Oedipus and the Sphinx, at right).

Oedipus succeeded in answering the riddle of the sphinx, but the Gods punished him for his hubris by leaving him at the mercy of his fate as prophesied -- to kill his father and marry his mother. Even though he answered the questions, he failed to reclaim his animal nature, and therefore remained a captive of the feminine realm (owned by his mother, Queen Jocasta).

This is one of the mythical situations where the hero (our young Fool) may slay the monster or learn its lesson. In this case, our Fool must use the inner strength s/he acquired in the last card to liberate the inner animal energies that populate this card. But, as was true for Oedipus, intellect is not the correct approach here. The Fool cannot free the libido energies associated with creativity through mental agility.

The Fool must confront and integrate those animal energies within. If s/he succeeds, Anubis will be her/his fate. If s/he fails, Typhon will be the fate that awaits him/her. But the Fool must not fall prey to the sphinx's riddles if s/he hopes to pass this test. S/he must look within, as s/he learned in the last card, and find the animal nature at the core of all human beings.

If we step back from the detail of the card, we have a wheel, a mandala of the Kosmos. Jung saw the mandala as a symbol of the unconscious self. One is the macro, and the other is the micro. With this particular mandala, we have motion, the turning wheel of fortune. This suggests the cyclical nature of birth and death, becoming and dying, growth and decay, and as the two mythic creatures in our card suggest, integration and disintegration.

These forces are always working within our biology (the growth and decay of cells continues throughout our lifetimes -- the body we have now is completely new from the body we had seven years ago); meanwhile, the same forces are at work on the grand scale of stars and galaxies. The bottom line is that change is the single constant in our world.

The Osho Zen Deck calls this card Change, and that seems to be the core meaning of the Wheel of Fortune. Here is some of the interpretation from the Osho site:
Life repeats itself mindlessly - unless you become mindful, it will go on repeating like a wheel. That's why Buddhists call it the wheel of life and death, the wheel of time. It moves like a wheel: birth is followed by death, death is followed by birth; love is followed by hate, hate is followed by love; success is followed by failure, failure is followed by success.
This is the cycle of life on a large scale. If we cling to things as they are at any given time, we will be disappointed when they change -- and things will always change. So the practice that must arise with this card is nonattachment.

One other point needs to be made, although please keep in mind that these are generalizations. In the West, we value diversity of experience and seek unique influences. In the West, we identify with the outer ring of the wheel with its speed and constant exposure to new things. In the East, stillness is valued over activity, and deeper experience is valued over a wider range of experiences. In the East, the hub of the wheel is sought, much in the same way the center of a mandala is the focus of meditation.

We would do well to integrate these diverse preferences. In the pagan and wiccan traditions, much of the work of ritual is conducted within the circle. This places the individual psyche in the center, the axis mundi, and also creates an experiential boundary with the outer edge of the circle. While remaining centered, the ritualist invites into the circle the forces and experiences s/he seeks. In this way, we are not bombarded by that which we do not seek, but invite that which we seek to come to us.

As the Fool continues his/her journey, being able to accept change as a constant and being able to discern what is valuable to the process and what isn't will be crucial to her/his success. In the next card we'll see if s/he was able to integrate the animal energies of this card successfully.

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Kallia and the Dragon

Thursday wasn’t special in any way. Kallia woke up around sunrise, as always, and heard her parents working in the yard. There were cows to be milked, eggs to be collected, and other assorted chores. As days go, this was an ordinary day, except for one thing.

Kallia had dreamed she was to become a great ruler. But first she must find her dragon. She didn’t like this dream too much. After all, only men became rulers, only men could slay dragons, and, besides, she was only twelve years old. She was to be married in four years to a man from the next village, a man whom she did not even know.

As the day wore on and Kallia did her chores, mended her brothers’ clothes, and fed the animals, she kept thinking about the dream. She also wondered what it would mean to find a dragon. “I bet no one would want to marry me,” she thought to herself.

Yet, the truth of the dream stuck in her chest. It felt like a new heartbeat that she couldn’t ignore. For three days, she thought about nothing but the dream. The image of the dragon became the most important thing her world. Her life seemed small when compared to the life she might live if the dream came true.

Her mother noticed that Kallia was not very attentive to her chores. “Where are you, young lady?” her mother asked. “You seem possessed by spirits.”

“I’m just thinking, mother. No reason to be worried.” Kallia tried to act as though everything were normal. She even tried extra hard to get her work done.

Her mother was still worried. “Well, stop thinking. That’s work for the men.” Kallia heard these words and wondered how her mother could believe them. She wondered why women were not allowed to think or act without permission.

The dream was too strong. She decided she would go in search of a dragon. She could carry a small sword and shield, perhaps the one her father used to train her brothers to fight. No one had seen a dragon in these parts in several generations, but many stories were told of great leaders having slain a dragon to prove their valor. Kallia had no intention of becoming a leader, but she was sure she must find a dragon.

It took nearly a week to work out a plan, but Kallia finally managed to take the weapons and leave the village without being seen. Traveling at night was difficult, but she chose a night when the moon was round and a faint light shone on her path.

Kallia felt her stomach tighten and her breathing become quick and shallow. She had never been out in the woods at night, and had never traveled alone in her young life. As she walked, she realized she had been denied so much because she was a girl. Her brothers had been trained to fight, hunt, and survive alone in the woods for days at a time. She was taught to sew, feed animals, and cook for the men. It was the life her mother was living, and the life she was expected to live.

She had never questioned her life before. But now, having set out on this adventure, she was filled with questions and feelings she had never known. Even though she was scared and every strange noise made her jump, she felt good. She felt free in a new way, like being alive for the first time.

After three long days and nights, Kallia found a giant cave leading into the base of a rather big mountain. She was tired and hadn’t slept much, just a few hours each afternoon. She had been eating berries and other wild plants her mother had taught her to collect for food. But she had also packed a pouch of dried meat, enough for many days.

It was still light out, so Kallia decided to take a short nap. Her long brown hair, tied up with a bit of rope, had collected leaves and twigs during her journey. She kind of liked being dirty, she thought, as she drifted off to sleep.

When Kallia awoke, the sun was setting. She pulled her cloak over her shoulders and settled her back against a tree. “If there is a dragon anywhere in these woods,” she thought, “he will be in this cave.” She stared at the cave for hours, well into the night. She imagined meeting the dragon and being flamed by its breath or swatted by its scaly tail.

During the dark hours of the night, every possible fear raced through Kallia’s mind. She wondered over and over why she was doing this, why she was seeking a dragon that would surely kill her. Dragons had killed many great warriors. Why should she be able to do what they couldn’t?

Kallia had never before thought about dying. She knew all people died but, at twelve years old, that truth seemed unreal to her. However, dying did not scare her; only the thought of pain was frightening. “At dawn,” she decided, “I will go into the cave and find the dragon.”

The more she thought about the dream, the more she felt she must find this dragon. She didn’t remember actually killing the creature in the dream, but that was the only possible choice. Everyone knows dragons must be killed.

Dawn finally came. Kallia took a deep breath, tried to stop her body from shaking with fear, and walked into the cave. Even with the torch she had made from an old piece of cloth, it was dark. As she walked, the cave kept getting bigger and bigger. Soon she was in a massive cavern. She felt the temperature change -- it was warmer now. If she listened very quietly, she could almost hear the sound of snoring. “Maybe a hermit is living here,” she hoped, feeling a bit safer for a moment.

Kallia took a few cautious steps. The snoring was getting louder. Holding the torch up over her head, she saw a large shape in the far corner. Her breath stuck in her throat, and her heart skipped several beats. She knew at once that she had found a dragon, no matter how much she wished it were just a large bear.

She moved closer, feeling fear in her stomach as she wedged her torch into a crevice in the wall. Kallia readied her weapons, deciding to attack while it slept. No need to give it warning by waking it. She raised her shield and sword and ran at the beast, intending to thrust her sword deep into its ribs.

Before she could get close enough, the dragon woke up and saw her coming. Kallia nearly froze in her tracks but decided to keep charging. The dragon yawned, a lazy kind of yawn, and raised its tail. With just a little swat, Kallia was knocked off her feet, landing on her backside.

She raised her shield, fearing the dragon would eat her. She could feel the heat from its breath. But the dragon just sat there, looking vaguely tired. Even dragons need their sleep.

Kallia lowered her shield and took a peek at the dragon. The dragon was just sitting there, half awake. She felt like a failure. The dream must have been all wrong. Tears rose to her eyes.

The dragon yawned, then looked at Kallia sitting on the floor of his cave. “Well, my child, have you learned anything from your adventure?”

Kallia looked up, startled. She did not know that dragons could speak. Words tumble from her mouth. “Uh, yeah, I have learned that little girls are foolish.”

“Try again, child. Being a girl is not your problem. That can’t stand in your way if you follow your dreams.” The dragon, smiling, didn’t seem so scary.

“Do you know about my dream?” Kallia asked.

“I knew you were coming to kill me, but I did not know why,” the dragon said.

“I dreamed that I must find a dragon,” Kallia began. “The dream said that if I do, I will become a great leader. But women are not warriors, and a woman has never ruled our land. I’m afraid I was wrong and that the dream has no truth. I thought all dragons must be killed.” Kallia felt a wave of disappointment move through her body. She felt like a balloon being deflated.

“Killing me is not your lesson, young lady.” The dragon seemed to know an awful lot for a creature that was supposed to be evil and mean.

Kallia felt confused. She just wanted to go home and sleep on her mat. “I don’t know why I had that dream, Dragon. I think I will just go home now, if you’ll let me.”

The dragon laughed, fire flaring out of his nostrils. “Giving up so soon? You haven’t even learned why your dream sent you here.”

Kallia sat down on the dusty floor of the cave. “Uh, so, why am I here? Am I supposed to learn something from you?” Her voice was shaky and thin.

The dragon smiled. “Very good. Whenever you meet a dragon, always ask it what lesson it has to teach you. That is the purpose of dragons. Do you understand?”

Kallia still felt confused. She felt safer, now, but unsure of what was happening.

The dragon continued, “The lesson I wish to teach you is that confronting a dragon -- not killing it -- is the way to become wise and powerful. Do you know how many people are frightened of us?” The dragon laughed again and more flames shot from his snout. “They see a dragon and try to kill it out of fear. Because we must protect ourselves from harm, people never discover the lesson they were supposed to learn.”

Kallia was beginning to understand. “So, you are my friend? If I learn the lesson you offer, you will not eat me?”

“Yes,” the dragon said, “on one condition. You must truly learn the lesson.”

Kallia smiled. “Yes, I will do that. Thank you. To be honest, I thought you were going to eat me.”
When Kallia arrived back at her village, she told her father of her adventures. He was very happy that she had returned safely, but angry that she went into the woods without telling anyone. Kallia explained the dream and what the dragon had taught her.

“Father,” she began cautiously, “I don’t want to be married in four years. I want to learn things and see the world.” Saying those words felt harder than facing a dragon. “I won’t marry that man.”

Having faced a dragon in its lair, she felt like there was no challenge in life that she could not handle.

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Earthquake in Java

More than 2,700 people have already been confirmed dead in the aftermath of a quake that measured 6.2 on the Richter scale. The quake was centered near the densely populated city of Yogyakarta in Java. Many thousands more are injured and now homeless.

The quake is likely releated to the increased volcanic activity in recent weeks at Mount Merapi. There are some concerns that the volcano may become more active.

Let us please send these people our prayers and whatever little bit we can spare to help in the relief efforts. Many of the small villages appear to have been completely destroyed.

And let us never forget how tenuous is our existence in this vast and amazing world.

Images are from CNN.

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Video: Soothing Images and Music

Start your weekend with some soothing music and images of flowers. Very peaceful and meditative.

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The Man Behind Zaadz

[image from Brian's page at Zaadz]

The recent post by Tom of Blogmandu on his feelings about Zaadz prompted me to do a little more digging into who Brian Johnson is. I found out that I had been one of his eteamz customers when I lived in Seattle. And I found Think Arete, a site he founded before Zaadz.

Think Arete is philosophy and more. Go have a look around. You'll get a sense of who Brian is and what motivates him. Some people may feel that Zaadz is simply a capitalist venture to make money off of "squishy Lefty" folks, but I think that Brian is not motivated simply by money. He has that, and lots of it.

For those who subscribe to Integral Naked, Brian will be in conversation with Ken Wilber on Monday (not sure when it will air). This will be a good opportunity to see where Johnson's heart-mind is as it relates to an integral worldview. If you want to suggest topics for conversation, stop by Brian's blog and leave a comment (soon).

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Friday, May 26, 2006


Today I am grateful for Sam Lightnin' Hopkins. This man had the blues hardwired into his DNA. Alongside Robert Johnson and Blind Willie McTell, he's one of my favorite blues guitarists from the early days. I'm listening to the Complete Aladdin Recordings right now, most of which was recorded after WWII, but the songs were created much earlier, often spontaneously in live performances -- what was called "air music." (John Lee Hooker was the other master of air music.) If you've never heard Hopkins play, you're missing one of the masters of American roots music.

I'm also grateful for humming birds. Amazing creatures.

And life would not be complete without nag champa incense.

For what are you grateful?

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Tom Armstrong (Blogmandu) on Zaadz

Tom, of Blogmandu fame, has apparently decided that Zaadz is an effort by the satanic Brian Johnson to brainwash thousands of people into some kind "yuppie in denial" trance state (Is Zaadz a Den of Rattlesnakes!?).

His argument seems to follow this somewhat strange flow:

1. Having bloggers segregate into interest groups is bad for the web and for blogging in general. This seems to disregard the fact that Buddhist blogs have their own insular niche, as do integral blogs. Both have metablogs, like Blogmandu, that seek to keep like-minded people in community with each other. Zaadz actaully breaks down some of that insularity by bringing diverse people together in small spaces to share differing views.

2. Because EST, The Hunger Project, and The Forum were bad, Zaadz must be bad, too. This is like saying that because George Bush, Dick Cheney, and Rick Santorum are asses, all middle age white male are asses. One cannot legitimately condemn an entire class (groups that want to create change) because some members of that class have been bad. It's faulty logic -- guilt by association.

3. Brian Johnson, founder and CEO of Zaadz, is bad because in the early days of Zaadz they experienced an influx of new members as a result of something that happened at Tribe that required him to purge the new members pending a slightly more formal application process. Many of the new members did not share Johnson's view for what Zaadz should become. So he took Zaadz back to a Beta version that requires an invitation to join. Zaadz was never meant to be another social networking site like MySpace (owned by Rupert Murdock). I think he had the right to protect his investment and his vision.

4. Those who were removed from Zaadz pending re-approval don't like Zaadz, so it must be bad. Again, poor logic. Of course they have issues, but Tom did not present any poinst of view from Zaadz members or leaders about what really happened from their side. If Tom wants us to take this seriously, and it deserves some consideration (as I had not heard of the purge), then he needs to present a balanced report, not hearsay.

5. The answers to "How are we going to change the world?" don't meet Tom's approval, so Zaadz must be bad. He argues that Buddha has the Zaadz people beat and that Buddha wouldn't be a Zaadster. I should hope that the Buddha is more enlightened than a bunch a regular people who want to see a better world. If he's not, I've chosen the wrong path. Zaadz isn't a path to enlightenment, it's a place for people to share ideas and experiences on how to make the world a better place.

6. Brian Johnson's signature is a B that looks like a 13, which freaks Tom out ("That freaks me."). That is just silly. How can we take him seriously after he says that?

So that's why Tom thinks Zaadz sucks and why I think Tom's arguments are ill-conceived and unfounded.

What say you?

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Flash Fiction: Sitting

[image source]

Inhale. Exhale. Repeat.

He continues to stare at the wall, waiting for something to happen, waiting for . . . anything.

"Maybe I'm doing it wrong," he thinks, then adjusts his posture, tries to sit more upright, more like the pictures he has seen of beautiful bodies floating above lotus flowers.

Inhale. Exhale. Repeat.

The voice in his head examines all the ways he is failing. His breathing is wrong. His posture is bad. His knees ache from sitting for only a few minutes. There is a slight pain developing in his lower back. He is thinking too much. "I must be doing it wrong," repeats over and over in his head.

Inhale. Exhale. Repeat.

The wall is still the wall. He is still sitting.

"Maybe I need to close my eyes," he decides. And his eyes close, first very tight and the muscles twitch. Then he relaxes a bit and the twitching stops. Black. Then images of sitting flow through his mind. Images tied to thoughts. One after the other.

Inhale. Exhale. Repeat.

He is still sitting. Nothing is still happening.

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Cheri Huber on Egocentricity



Egocentricity is the process of wanting something other than what is. Egocentricity means there is an "I" who is separate from everything else and doesn't like it; one thing is happening, but I want a different thing to be happening. Egocentricity is that constant concern with how I feel, what I think, what I'm doing, what I want - looking at what is and seeing it as inadequate. My identity is maintained by the struggle of wanting something other than what is; that is how I continue to know myself.

This practice involves finding a willingness to suffer in order to end our suffering. Instead of spending our time trying to avoid suffering, we just find the willingness to go directly into it. Whenever anything causes us to suffer, we can know two things: suffering is the same as egocentricity, and when it arises, that is our best opportunity to end suffering. As we open to our suffering, as we embrace it, as we accept it, our relationship to it changes. It is no longer something horrible, something to escape from. Suffering becomes just another opportunity, another chance for freedom.

Please find out about that for yourself.
~ Cheri Huber, Trying to be Human

I was involved in a discussion recently in which someone wanted me to define ego needs. This quote from Cheri Huber comes as close anything I have ever seen to defining just what it is our little egos want. It is also clear from this quote that egocentricity creates suffering.

And more importantly, it gives a concise plan for how to work with those needs so that we may decrease the ways in which ego limits our lives. Once we accept the First Noble Truth (life hurts), we have to confront the pain in order to move through it. Some wise person once said, "the only way out is through."

True enough.

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Poem: Anna Akhmatova

[image source]

I Taught Myself to Live Simply

I taught myself to live simply and wisely,
to look at the sky and pray to God,
and to wander long before evening
to tire my superfluous worries.
When the burdocks rustle in the ravine
and the yellow-red rowanberry cluster droops
I compose happy verses
about life's decay, decay and beauty.
I come back. The fluffy cat
licks my palm, purrs so sweetly
and the fire flares bright
on the saw-mill turret by the lake.
Only the cry of a stork landing on the roof
occasionally breaks the silence.
If you knock on my door
I may not even hear.

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Thursday, May 25, 2006


[image source]

Today I am grateful for Seattle's Best Sumatran coffee. Yum. Extra bold, rich, and strong. A tasty jolt of wakefulness.

I'm also grateful for my camera. I don't use it well, yet, but it inspires me to look at the world outside my deck as if it were all new. I see subtleties I have missed for more than four years. It gives me beginner's mind about the world. It's nice to have a childlike curiosity for small things that normally go unnoticed.

I'm grateful that Kai reads and regularly comments on this blog. He's a wise and perceptive man.

For what are you grateful?

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Live Cam: Baby Eagles

Here's a cool link to a baby eagle cam. Found this at Transmillennial.

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Exercise: The Observer Self

I've posted about this before, but no one read this blog back then. Also, I think this is a great preliminary exercise beforw working to identify subpersonalites. I plan to post an exercise or two on how to identify subpersonalities either later today or sometime this weekend.

An Exercise to Identify the Observer Self

The observer self is that aspect of consciousness which can watch us act like fools and stand back at a safe distance, shaking its head in disbelief. It is capable of observing our behaviors with an even, unattached point of view. The observer can help us see our wounded areas, our habitual patterns, and our inner selves more clearly, without the interference of the ego and its desire to maintain the status quo. The observer self is an invaluable ally in personal growth that can lead us into higher levels of consciousness.

The following exercise, adapted from Roberto Assagioli’s disidentification process in Psychosynthesis and Ken Wilber’s meditations in One Taste, can help us detach from ego-consciousness and step back into the observer self. For each of the steps there is a mantra that some people find quite useful in detaching from each element of the ego-self.

Practicing Detachment

Get into a comfortable position, either sitting or lying down. Take a few deep, centering breaths, allowing the body to relax. Closing the eyes can help focus attention. Feel the air moving in an out of your lungs as you breathe. Become aware of your body, its position, how your limbs feel, where you are holding tension. Become aware of your whole body and all the sensations it experiences. If you are comfortable with mantras, the one for this step is, "I have a body, but I am not my body." Repeat aloud or in your thoughts.

Take three deep cleansing breaths. Now leave your body and move to your emotions. What feelings do you notice? Are you bored, anxious, happy? Notice your current feelings, and then think about the most common feelings in your life. Do not dwell on those feelings -- just recall them and then release them. Mantra: "I have feelings, but I am not my feelings." This mantra works well as a reminder when you are angry or afraid that you are frozen in an emotion.

Take three deep cleansing breaths. Move from your feelings to your desires. Desires are those things that motivate us. We all have many things that motivate our behaviors, such as simplicity, comfort, quiet, money, health, or others. Observe the things that motivate you, but do not judge them. Simply call them up and notice them. Mantra: "I have desires, but I am not my desires."

Take three deep cleansing breaths. Now move to your thoughts. As each thought rises to consciousness, observe it but do not dwell on it. Then watch as the next one rises to replace it, over and over again. This is the state of consciousness most of us experience. However, we often get stuck on a handful of thoughts that return over and over again in our lives. Notice the pattern, but do not hold on to it. Notice the flotsam and jetsam of consciousness, the memories, the ideas, the fears, the opinions, and the ways you tell yourself who you are as a person. Mantra: "I have thoughts, but I am not my thoughts." This mantra works in meditation to return a wandering mind to the breath.

Take three deep cleansing breaths. Finally, become aware of that part of you that has been observing your body, your feelings, your desires, and your thoughts. Having detached from the basic elements of consciousness, repeat the mantras: I have a body, but I am not my body; I have feelings, but I am not my feelings; I have desires, but I am not my desires; I have thoughts, but I am not my thoughts.

What is the source of your awareness? Who is that self behind all these realms of ego? The self is not an image or a thought, but a deeper essence. The self is at the core of our humanity.

The one who has been watching your sensations, feelings, desires, and thoughts is not the same as the object it observes. WHO IS IT THAT HAS BEEN OBSERVING ALL THESE REALMS? It is your SELF. The Self is not an image or a thought; it is that ESSENCE which has been observing all these realms and yet is distinct from all of them. Mantra: "I am the self, a center of pure consciousness."

Whatever comes into awareness is fine. You are none of those things, so just watch them pass like clouds across a blue sky. "And this witnessing awareness is not itself anything specific you can see. It is just a vast, background sense of Freedom – or pure Emptiness – and in that pure Emptiness, which you are, the entire manifest world arises. You are that Freedom, Openness, Emptiness – and not any itty bitty thing that arises in it" (Ken Wilber, One Taste, 88).
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Video: Nirvana: Jesus Doesn't Want Me ...

Kurt Cobain was my age. When he died, I was rocked. This live performance from MTV shows his talent, and the choice of song also shows a lot about how he felt about himself.

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Andrew Cohen Has Said Wise Things

[from Ashes and Snow]

I don't like Andrew Cohen. I tend to think he is an ego-bound ass -- too narcissistic for me. But he has written some wise things, and here is an example.

What happened to turn this man into the one debated over Zaadz? Fame? Broken Heart? Enlightenment? A marketing director? Who knows.

There is a place in all of us that has remained innocent, uncorrupted and untouched by the world. We have to locate that most delicate place. It is a very sensitive place, it's where we feel love - where tenderness and compassion arise, free from self-interest.

This place is the hole we have to fall into - and disappear in forever.

~ from "Enlightenment is a Secret" By Andrew Cohen

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Lama Surya Das: Daily Necessities


Here is a little list of things we might want to try to include in our lives each day, originally posted at Allspirit.

*Tips and Pointers for Building a Spiritual Life from Scratch*

Be aware/ Stay awake
Practice yoga
Chant and sing
Breathe and smile
Relax / Enjoy /Laugh / Play
Create / Envision
Let go / Forgive / Accept
Walk / Exercise / Move
Work / Serve / Contribute
Listen / Learn / Inquire
Consider / Reflect
Cultivate oneself / Enhance competencies
Cultivate contentment
Cultivate flexibility
Cultivate friendship and collaboration
Open up / Expand / Include
Lighten up
Celebrate and appreciate
Give thanks
Share / Give / Receive
Walk softly / Live gently
Expand / Radiate / Dissolve
Surrender / Trust
Be born anew

from: Awakening the Buddha Within

Nice list. We call could do well to try to get more of these things into our lives. I have been focused on gratitude for a couple of months now and it has had a pwerful effect on me.

Now I want to work on Open up / Expand / Include. This seems like an area where I could do some serious growth in my life. So my new mission will be to seek out ways to be more open, more expansive and more inclusive.

As someone who is often closed, contracted, and exclusive, this should be some interesting work. If anyone has any suggestions for a natural introvert, please leave me a comment.

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Wednesday, May 24, 2006

A Creative Spirituality Exercise: Writing from Clear Mind (again)

Here is another attempt at this exercise. Warning, this is raw and I'm not sure why it came up today, but it did.
Already the jar is filled with rain, water keeps falling from the sky the way tears won't stop when he has died suddenly, leaving a young boy without a father and a mother who doesn't know the answers, that tomorrow is a word with no meaning that keeps coming and coming even when we wish it wouldn't and the dog just hides under the table because he knows there has been a change and he fears the rain anyway, especially this rain, this mythic, symbolic, fucking rain that spills over the top of the jar and now the rug is wet because I don't know how to patch the roof or even where the tools are and besides I'm only thirteen years old and I'm supposed to be out playing in the rain and not watching over my mother to make sure the depression doesn't make her do anything I've been wanting to do to myself for days, endless days since the box rolled into the furnace and it was final, the final act of betrayal, the final fuck you to a world he never liked, a family he never wanted, but he did what was expected and I hate him for it, I hate everything, especially this god-damned rain that threatens to drown me in sorrow.

Not much to say about this. It has probably needed to come out for about 26 years or so. Jay's exercise unlocked the door. For that I am grateful.

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[image source]

I am grateful today that I finally got a couple of crowns taken care of on my teeth. I hate the dentist, and I put things off too long and then have to get crowns, but they're done and I can eat hard things again.

I'm grateful that I finally bought my own ab wheel today. I've had several in-home clients buy one, but I haven't bought my own for the gym (and myself). These things are simple and they've been around forever, but they work the abs in a way nothing else can. Fun!

Finally, I'm grateful that when people ask me what's new in the world (a question that used to trigger a 30 minute monologue on the idiots in power), I can honestly say I have no idea. Ignorance really is bliss.

For what are you grateful?

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Create Your Own Religion in 10 Easy Steps

Found a link to this at J-Walk Blog. The original site is Pagan Wisdom, and they seem to be having a bit of fun with creating a new religion (in 10 easy steps). Blogger doesn't allow strikethrough letters, so the red words should be strikethrough.

A properly created religion can give you personal control influence guidance over the wallets minds hearts of those who feel that being a Free-Thinking Individual is way too much work.

Here we provide you with our simple format to take you through the basic steps, from creating your own Gods and Goddesses to creating a simple yet ambiguous framework for your followers to try to conform to.

With our humble guidance, you'll be able to start up your own cult sect denominiation religion in no time and have all the power money control faith you need to get you through this mortal coil.

Here's how simple God-creation can be:

1) Create a God. One with a catchy name is best. Should be simple and out of the ordinary, but not too far out that people can't remember it.

In our example we will create "The Great God Lardicus". It has "Lard" in the name which people already associate with fast food. It has "-icus" at the end of it, which sounds Greek, so it must be old and have centuries of tradition behind it.

2) Make it in charge of something people already focus on, but don't have a target for that focus.

In this case, eating too much fast food and poor dietary practices. Poof! Millions of people are now in your target audience.

3) Make it something that people will be reminded of frequently.

In this case, whenever they think of fast food, they will think of Lardicus after reading this (at least for a while).

In fact, the next time you drive down the road I bet you will think of The Great God Lardicus at least once. And the second time, you'll think of it because you'll remember thinking of it the first time. And so on. See how easy that was!

4) Make it easy for them to "buy into" the worship of your New God.

In this case, whenever you eat fast food, you are honoring The Great God Lardicus.
Whenever you pay at the drive-in window, you are tithing to The Great God Lardicus.

5) Make it ambiguous. Let both sides of an argument claim it as their own.

Read the rest.

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Video: Blue Man Group on Global Warming

Just watch the video -- it's short.

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The Five Buddha Families and Personality Types

[image source]

I found this cool, old article on the Shambhala Sun mainpage (it's from 2002). The article is The Five Buddha Families by Irini Rockwell, and it's based on the teachings of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche.

These energies [the five Buddha families] are most easily identified by their colors, which hold the essence of their qualities. Just as light radiates, so does energy. The color of energy is like colored light. We can now look at the buddha families described in traditional terms above in terms of how they manifest themselves in our experience of ourselves and those around us, capturing both our wisdom and our confusion.

The buddha family radiates a white energy, spacious and peaceful. Buddha energy is an all-pervasive, peaceful space. When people manifest the wisdom aspect of Buddha energy, they are receptive, accommodating, easygoing and content with just being. Buddha can also be solidly immobile with the density of ignoring or denying. When people manifest the confused quality of buddha, they can be dull, lazy, stubborn and insensitive.

The vajra family reflects a blue energy like a crystal-clear mirror. Vajra energy reflects what it sees without bias. When people manifest the wisdom aspect of vajra, they are clear-minded with an intellectual brilliance, sharp and precise. They maintain a perspective and are full of integrity. Vajra also has a self-righteousness that can harden into cold or hot anger. When people manifest the confused quality of vajra, they can be overly analytical, critical, opinionated, authoritarian and demanding of perfection.

The ratna family exudes a golden yellow energy that encompasses and enriches everything. Ratna energy displays equanimity and satisfaction. When people manifest the wisdom aspect of ratna, they are expansive, resourceful, hospitable and appreciative. But ratna can also turn into greedy territoriality and puffed-up pride. When people manifest the neurotic quality of ratna, they can be arrogant, ostentatious, oppressive and emotionally needy.

The padma family glows with the vitality of red energy. Padma sanity is a finely-tuned intuition that discriminates subtle experiences without bias. When people manifest the wisdom aspect of padma, they are engaging, magnetizing and charming. This energy listens deeply and speaks from the heart. Padma also can have an obsessive desire to magnetize and grasp the most pleasurable and ideal situations. When people manifest its confused quality, they can cling to what gives pleasure, are overly emotional, and perpetually seek confirmation

The karma family emits a green energy, swift and energetic like the wind. Karma sanity is all-accomplishing action for the benefit of others. When people exhibit the sanity of karma, they can be efficient, effective and practical. Full of confident energy, they act in timely and appropriate ways in synchronicity with the world. Karma can also be restless and speedy, and when people manifest its neurotic side, they can be power-hungry, competitive, manipulative, controlling and dominating. They fear failure, so they are paranoid and jealous.

I seem to clearly fall into the vajra category, although I think I probably exhibit as much as the negative stuff as I do the positive stuff. And of course, we're all a mix of these various traits, anyway. But it's another way to look at who we are and where we might need to grow more healthy, or "sane," as Trungpa Rinpoche would say.

For a more in-depth and traditional look at the Five Buddha Families, check out this pdf.

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Poem: Rilke

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Buddha In Glory

Center of all centers, core of cores,
almond self-enclosed, and growing sweet--
all this universe, to the furthest stars
all beyond them, is your flesh, your fruit.

Now you feel how nothing clings to you;
your vast shell reaches into endless space,
and there the rich, thick fluids rise and flow.
Illuminated in your infinite peace,

a billion stars go spinning through the night,
blazing high above your head.
But in you is the presence that
will be, when all the stars are dead.

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Tuesday, May 23, 2006


A cool image for a warm day.

Today I am grateful for diet coke. I drink too much of it, but it makes me happy.

I'm also grateful that several times today I felt grateful to be alive. Seems kind of normal, or at least it should be. But for
me, it's a new feeling that has largely come as a result of this gratitude practice.

Finally, I'm grateful for spicy curry, the really hot stuff. A can of tuna almost tastes good with some non-fat Miracle Whip and a teaspoon of hot curry.

What are you grateful for?

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Experiment: Writing from Clear Mind

Here was the experiment, offered by Jay at the Zaadz Creative Spirituality pod:

Let's all try this and see how we fair at it…

Sit down for five minutes or so and meditate. Do your best to clear your mind. If you have a Deity practice, establish a connection to that Deity beforehand with prayer. If not, you may use a technique like Genpo Roshi's Big Mind to invoke an awareness of your Higher Self. Let all ideas and images float past your mind for a while like trains in the station; you watch the trains, but never climb on board.

After five minutes, stop and WRITE.

Write what? Whatever the situation demands. A short essay. A poem. A short piece of fiction. A dialogue. It should be unstructured enough that you can write for several minutes without stopping, without correcting yourself. It should be un-premeditated. If you find yourself writing something you had started to script in your head, stop, resume meditation and try again.

What did you produce?
And here is the result that I posted in the pod:
I tried the experiment. It's a bit hard to still my mind when it's charged with caffiene, so that may have something to do with the jibberish that came out of it. Or it could be that my mind just doesn't work like other minds.

Anyway, here it is:

some days
the sand
on the page
tastes like candy

some days
the page
is sand
through god

I am candy
in sand
on a page
called god

So there ya go. Not sure if this is anything, maybe a poem. But it's what wanted to come out, so it did.

Good experiment. The product is fairly surreal, but I think that might be a result of the coffee I had been drinking. What I liked was that my mind was uncritical as to whether or not what came out made sense or followed the rules of language. I suspect I could go way into non-sensical language poetry using this method.

On the other hand, because it was unfiltered, it might reveal some symbolic aspect of my psyche, much the same way that dreams do. Feel free to psychoanalyze me -- it's cheaper this way.

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Video: Oregon Coast

With all the heat here, I miss the ocean. So here is a slideshow of the beautiful Oregon coast with some nice music.

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Poem: Rumi on Love

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Reason Says, Love Says

Reason says, "I will beguile him with the tongue;"
Love says, "Be silent. I will beguile him with the soul."
The soul says to the heart, "Go, do not laugh at me and yourself.
What is there that is not his, that I may beguile him thereby?"

He is not sorrowful and anxious and seeking oblivion
that I may beguile him with wine and a heavy measure.
The arrow of his glance needs not a bow that I should
beguile the shaft of his gaze with a bow.

He is not prisoner of the world, fettered to this world
of earth, that I should beguile him with gold of the kingdom of the world.
He is an angel, though in form he is a man; he is not
lustful that I should beguile him with women.

Angels start away from the house wherein this form
is, so how should I beguile him with such a form and likeness?
He does not take a flock of horses, since he flies on wings;
his food is light, so how should I beguile him with bread?

He is not a merchant and trafficker in the market of the
world that I should beguile him with enchantment of gain and loss.
He is not veiled that I should make myself out sick and
utter sighs, to beguile him with lamentation.

I will bind my head and bow my head, for I have got out
of hand; I will not beguile his compassion with sickness or fluttering.
Hair by hair he sees my crookedness and feigning; what's
hidden from him that I should beguile him with anything hidden.

He is not a seeker of fame, a prince addicted to poets,
that I should beguile him with verses and lyrics and flowing poetry.
The glory of the unseen form is too great for me to
beguile it with blessing or Paradise.

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Meditation and Guilt

[image source]

Found this on Quoting Buddha this morning and it seemed a good reminder for all of us:
Even after many years, many of us continue to practice harshly. We practice with guilt, as if we're going to be excommunicated if we don't do it right. We practice so we won't be ashamed of ourselves and with fear that someone will discover what a "bad" meditator we really are. The old joke is that a Buddhist is someone who is either meditating or feeling guilty about not meditating. There's not much joy in that.
~ Pema Chodron, When Things Fall Apart

I used to often feel guilty that I was not sitting enough, reading enough, compassionate enough, detached enough, and a whole lot of other things enough. But that has softened a lot in the last few months.

I think I know why. This may seem strange at first, but if you think about it a little, it will begin to make more sense: The less we have access to the vulnerable child within us, the harder we are on ourselves. It's easy to be self-critical when we see ourselves ONLY as functional adults with adult feelings and adult thoughts.

BUT, we have a soft, tender core within us that can't always think like an adult and feel like an adult. It's our inner child, and s/he never goes away. If we befriend that part of ourselves, it becomes much harder to be overly critical on those days when we don't measure up to whatever ideals we have set for ourselves.

Recognizing this doesn't give us the right to just goof off all the time and ignore our practice. But it does give us the right to be gentle with ourselves when our inner child has needs that run counter to our adult needs. Sometimes, if we can, we just need to let the child have our attention for a little bit. Maybe we need to take a sick day and go to the zoo, or watch cartoons instead of sitting, or play pinball instead of posting a blog entry.

If we give some attention to our children, they won't act up as much. This is the lesson I am learning after years and years of pretending I was born fully formed in some Olympian act of divine intervention. I tried to kill off my child, but he survived. Now that I am regaining some relationship with him, I am benefiting from his wisdom.

And I am learning to be less critical of those times when I don't measure up to my adult ideals. Pema Chodron reminds us endlessly to be more compassionate with ourselves. I don't know if she would see it the same way that I do, but this is how I am following her injunction.

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Monday, May 22, 2006


Lots to be grateful for today, not least of which is a new effort to spread the gratitude meme. Give it a try for a month and I promise you'll feel the difference.

I'm also grateful that so many people have joined a new pod at Zaadz on integral relationship. There is already a good group of people, so why not stop in and join us.

I'm also grateful for a quiet day at work so that I could blog some, read some, nap some, sit some, and generally not have to earn a living. Quite nice.

And I'm grateful that it was only 90 degrees today. It will be 103 degrees later this week.

What are you grateful for?

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Keep This Man Walking!

Found this at Dharma Vision. He's circling the Earth for peace. Let's keep him traveling by putting him on our blogs.

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Open Source Wiki Books

Wikibooks is a collection of free, open-content textbooks that you can edit.

Nice resource. They have a lot of books done, but many more are only in the development stage. I have already downloaded a PDF on Consciousness Studies.

If you like open source and Wiki, check it out.

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Integral Relationships at Zaadz

I have opened a new pod at Zaadz, along with my partner Kira, on integral relationships. Here is the text that introduces the pod:

What is an integral relationship? What does it look like? How does it function? How does it feel? Can we transform any relationship into one that is integral?

Let’s all share our ideas and experiences as we look at how to make our primary romantic relationship as integral/second tier as humanly possible.

Everyone is welcome, whether you are currently in a long-term relationship, are in a new relationship, or are single. We all have experience in what works and what doesn’t that can add to our understanding of how to create a loving, growing, soulful relationship.

I enjoy theory and I think a little bit of theory is helpful in establishing a framework. But the true test of any theory is experience. So I hope to see a good balance of the two approaches.

And to keep things even more balanced, my partner Kira will be working with me in trying to grow this pod into a vibrant community.

However, I welcome each member to take the lead as desired in presenting topics and questions for discussion.

Let’s build a working model for integral relationship, test the theories in our real lives, and share the results – good and bad.

If you belong to Zaadz, please stop by for a visit and join us as we try to take our relationships to the next level. If you don't already belong to Zaadz, why not? -- it's free.

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Growing the Gratitude Meme

What follows is from a conversation at Zaadz on the nature of memes. Here is the original post:

A joke is a meme. The alphabet is a meme. Religion itself is a meme. A “meme” is simply ideas that get passed down from person to person.

The word (rhymes with “deem”) is related to the word “gene.” And like genes, as an idea is passed around, the “meme pool” gets bigger. The ideas that spring from the first idea may be different, but still in the same lineage.

In internet contexts, however, a meme is simply a short way of describing those quizzes you see everywhere, the MySpace bulletins you see posted fifty thousand times, that same forward about the king in Nigeria who needs your investment…

How about instead of sending useless crap around the internet, we start some memes with a higher intention?

I found this really insightful webpage: here.

It brings up an interesting point. “[Memes] remove the element of conscious choice,
making the process purely mechanical.”

Is this what we're supposed to be breaking free from? The “groupthink” so to speak? But aren't memes helpful? They give us language, history, knowledge passed down from generation to generation…

To what degree are memes in control of us, and are we in control of memes?

This was my reply:

Memes can be thought of as viruses for the mind. But let me clarify one thing: there are memes, like fashion trends, or hip hop, or a phrase, or whatever, and then there are MEMES, like the developmental levels of Spiral Dynamics, or religions, which are collections of inter-connected memes.

Memes, either little or big, are only as "automatic" as we choose to let them be. If we are mindful people, then we choose whether or not to infect our consciousness with a given meme. And if we get infected against our will, we choose whether or not to get rid of it.

Many MEMES have built in virus protection to prevent them from being replaced by a different MEME or to keep those infected as carriers. For example, Christianity has one of the best virus protections ever devised: eternal damnation. Buddhism has a pretty good protection too: endless rebirths in samsara.

The original post hit the nail on the head: why not “start some memes with a higher intention”? Thus we have Zaadz, which is as much a meme – an idea – as it is a sorta-physical space in the cyber world and an actual physical piece of software and hardware.

On my blog, I have been doing gratitude posts for a couple of months, posting something I am grateful for every day. In that time, some other bloggers have begun doing something similar, even if only once a week. I want to make gratitude a meme.

So here is the challenge: let's put the technology of memes to work doing something good in the world. Let's become more grateful people. Life really is amazing and joyful, even when we are hurting or sad. Let's all put a daily gratitude post on our home blogs and/or on our Zaadz blogs. At least for a while. If you are not a blogger, add a comment to your favorite blog's gratitude post.

Give it a chance for a few weeks and see if it changes your outlook. It sure has changed mine.

Are you in?

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