Saturday, June 03, 2006


[image source]

I didn't do a Tarot post today -- didn't have the focus for a major intellectual post. The cool part is that I don't feel guilty for not doing it, which is rare for me. I have a subpersonality that pushes me to be responsible and to get things done. Its voice tried to tell me that some people expect a weekly Tarot post and if I don't do it, I'll be letting them down. My observer didn't let voice run the show this time. I am grateful that I am learning to distinguish between what I want to do and what my subs try to tell me I need to do.

I am grateful that Kira and I had a fight tonight and didn't bail out on each other. Our old pattern would have been to retreat into isolation and then stay distant for a while, until things cool off. This time we hung in with the feelings and followed them to a place where they were less intense. It still sucks to fight, but that was much better than our old patterns.

I am grateful for naps. I have no idea what the hell I was thinking as a kid when I hated naps. Silly child was I.

Finally, I am grateful that Pema Chodron's words have taken up residence in my head. They come in handy sometimes.

What are you grateful for?

Technorati Tags: , , , , ,

Exercise: Working with Attachment

[This is cross-posted at the Integral Relationship pod at Zaadz.]

Is it possible to love our partners without being attached to a certain view of who they are? Is it possible to reclaim the projections with which we have imbued our partners?

The following is an exercise adapted from a traditional Buddhist meditation on working with attachment to a person. Those who are currently single can explore the same sense of attachment by substituting a close friend.


- Bring to mind person you feel very attached to, a lover or good friend.
- How does it feel if you think of him or her?
- Is it a feeling of freedom or bondage to think of this person?
- Is he or she as perfect as I want to be?
- Am I sure this person will forever be a good friend/lover of mine? Am I actually such a perfect friend/lover?
- Am I attached to this human being or to a fantasy of the perfect friend/lover?
- Is this person an ordinary human being like me, with some good and some bad qualities?
- In what way is this person really different from any other, with some good and some bad qualities?
- Do I tend to exaggerate this persons good qualities, is he / she always nice, warm, friendly?
- Does exaggeration not always lead to disappointment?
- What is the essence of this person who I like? Is it the mind that I will never fully understand, or the body; a skin, holding blood, flesh and bones together?

What happens when you do this meditation? How do you feel?
Can you separate your partner (or friend) from the attachments you feel to him/her?

Film: The Great New Wonderful

I'm going to take a chance here and post about a film that has not even been reviewed yet. The fact that there's not a lot of information about this film is strange considering the names attached to it. The cast includes Tony Shalhoub, Edie Falco, Maggie Gyllenhaal, Olympia Dukakis, Will Arnett, and Stephen Colbert. The film was directed by Danny Leiner, best known for the teen-oriented comedies Dude, Where's My Car? and Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle. That doesn't bode well, but the trailer looks good (see below).

It opens June 23rd, 2006 (limited). All available details are here.

Here is the plot summary from the New York Times:
A handful of New Yorkers try to make sense of the various emotional traumas in their lives on the anniversary of the city's greatest tragedy in this episodic comedy drama. It's September 11, 2002, and Emme (Maggie Gyllenhaal) is a struggling gourmet pastry chef who is competing for an important job with Safarah Polsky (Edie Falco), an experienced veteran with many prestigious clients. Judy Hillerman (Olympia Dukakis) is an elderly woman who, after many years of marriage, is suddenly tempted to cheat on her husband for the first time. Dr. Trabulous (Tony Shalhoub) is a psychiatrist who meets every day with Sandy (Jim Gaffigan) as they try to sort out the aftermath of a brutal physical attack, though the doctor's approach seems more than a bit misguided. Avi (Naseeruddin Shah) and Satish
Sharat Saxena) are a pair of security men hired to protect a visiting dignitary, an assignment that leaves them with very different feelings. And Allison (Judy Greer) and David (Tom McCarthy) are parents deep in denial about the myriad emotional problems confronting their ten-year-old son. The Great New Wonderful was directed by Danny Leiner, best known for the teen-oriented comedies Dude, Where's My Car? and Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle. ~ Mark Deming, All Movie Guide
Here is the trailer to the film. It's the only real sense of the movie currently available. I'll post a review as soon as I see one.

I'm hoping this will be a good movie. I don't groove with most of the Hollywood stuff, so a good summer film that might actually come to Tucson would be a good thing.

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Poem: Jack Gilbert

[image source]

The Forgotten Dialect Of The Heart

How astonishing it is that language can almost mean,
and frightening that it does not quite. Love, we say,
God, we say, Rome and Michiko, we write, and the words
get it all wrong. We say bread and it means according
to which nation. French has no word for home,
and we have no word for strict pleasure. A people
in northern India is dying out because their ancient
tongue has no words for endearment. I dream of lost
vocabularies that might express some of what
we no longer can. Maybe the Etruscan texts would
finally explain why the couples on their tombs
are smiling. And maybe not. When the thousands
of mysterious Sumerian tablets were translated,
they seemed to be business records. But what if they
are poems or psalms? My joy is the same as twelve
Ethiopian goats standing silent in the morning light.
O Lord, thou art slabs of salt and ingots of copper,
as grand as ripe barley lithe under the wind's labor.
Her breasts are six white oxen loaded with bolts
of long-fibered Egyptian cotton. My love is a hundred
pitchers of honey. Shiploads of thuya are what
my body wants to say to your body. Giraffes are this
desire in the dark. Perhaps the spiral Minoan script
is not laguage but a map. What we feel most has
no name but amber, archers, cinnamon, horses, and birds.

Technorati Tags: , , , ,

Natasha Bedingfield: Unwritten

It's not too often that I think a pop song by a pretty young blonde girl is worth mentioning, but I like this song. Not so much the sound, which is standard adult alternative, but I think the lyrics actually have a good message. In pop music, that's kind of rare.

Here is a taste:

Reaching for something in the distance
So close you can almost taste it
Release your innovations
Feel the rain on your skin
No one else can feel it for you
Only you can let it in
No one else, no one else
Can speak the words on your lips
Drench yourself in words unspoken
Live your life with arms wide open
Today is where your book begins
The rest is still unwritten
The message isn't anything profound, but when I'm driving in the 105 degree heat, and trying not to get angry with the woman in front of me who is talking on her cell phone and blocking any attempt to get around her, the song makes me feel better.

You can watch the video here.
You can see an in-store live performance here.
And you can read all of the lyrics here.

Technorati Tags: , , ,

Friday, June 02, 2006


[picture by Kira]

Some days I get to grumbling about having to work evenings and having to miss events that I would like to attend, or simply just having to be at work after 5 pm on a Friday. And then it hits me that I'm doing a job I truly love -- and that I enjoy my clients. Why would I ever grumble about that? So, today I realized just how grateful I am for my job. Again.

In addition, one of my favorite clients expressed her gratitude for the ways in which I make her life a little better that have nothing to do with training. I am so grateful to know that I make even a small difference in the lives of my clients.

Another of my other favorite clients had been away for a while, but was back today. I am grateful for that.

I guess I'm in the gratitude flow today, because there is more.

I'm grateful for the generous readers who provided me with information to help me in deciding that I will, indeed, begin the Dzogchen training program. I missed the first part of it for this year, but there might be a way to catch up. It's a six year program in total, but since my goal is not to become a teacher at this point, I'm not sure how much of it I will complete. I'm extremely grateful for the chance to do it, though.

Finally, I'm grateful for Kira. I'm always grateful for her presence in my life, and I don't say it enough. So today, I declare it publicly.

What are you grateful for?

Technorati Tags: , , ,

Masculine and Feminine Elements of the Path

[image source]

This is from "Enlightenment in Female Form," by Gehlek Rinpoche, in the summer issue of Buddhadharma.
The union of masculine and feminine energies is key to our ultimate spiritual freedom. Without the male or female aspect, there is no enlightenment: there is no union of wisdom and method; there is no union of clear light and illusion body; there is no union of mind and body.
The article is about Tara worship, which is most often limited to the Tibetan forms of Buddhist practice. The author is trying to bring forth an understanding of the feminine element as essential to the path, but some of the language used suggests that the feminine, though necessary, is still lesser. Even so, it's a good article with some good practice ideas.

Later in the article, after suggesting ways in which Tara practice is crucial to the path, he states:
It is important to incorporate the feminine principle into our practice, because we cannot achieve the ultimate attainment of enlightenment without perfecting both the male and female aspects. The ultimate development of the feminine within the individual is called the clear light, which might be described as the direct perception of emptiness. The ultimate development of the masculine is the illusion body. The combination of the two is what we call union. As I said, this is the union of enlightened mind and enlightened body.
I am new to this element of tantra, but it seems that the enlightened body is equated with masculine and enlightened mind with feminine. Is this true?

If so, it's exactly opposite of the Western view of body as feminine and mind as musculine. I find that intriguing. Anyone have any thoughts on this?

Technorati Tags: , , , , , ,

Video: Sunsets to Music

Start your day with some nice music and beautiful sunsets. Some of the photos are spectacular.

Technorati Tags: , ,

Morning Wisdom

[image source]

Let your love flow outward through the universe,
To its height, its depth, its broad extent,
A limitless love, without hatred or enmity.
Then as you stand or walk,
Sit or lie down,
As long as you are awake,
Strive for this with a one-pointed mind;
Your life will bring heaven to earth.

~ Sutta Nipata

Technorati Tags: , , ,

Poem: Pablo Neruda

[image source]

XVII (Thinking, Tangling Shadows...)

Thinking, tangling shadows in the deep solitude.
You are far away too, oh farther than anyone.
Thinking, freeing birds, dissolving images,
burying lamps.

Belfry of fogs, how far away, up there!
Stifling laments, milling shadowy hopes,
taciturn miller,
night falls on you face downward, far from the city.

Your presence is foreign, as strange to me as a thing.
I think, I explore great tracts of my life before you.
My life before anyone, my harsh life.
The shout facing the sea, among the rocks,
running free, mad, in the sea-spray.
The sad rage, the shout, the solitude of the sea.
Headlong, violent, stretched towards the sky.

You, woman, what were you there, what ray, what vane
of that immense fan? You were as far as you are now.
Fire in the forest! Burn in blue crosses.
Burn, burn, flame up, sparkle in trees of light.

It collapses, crackling. Fire. Fire.
And my soul dances, seared with curls of fire.
Who calls? What silence peopled with echoes?
Hour of nostalgia, hour of happiness, hour of solitude.
Hour that is mine from among them all!
Megaphone in which the wind passes singing.
Such a passion of weeping tied to my body.

Shaking of all the roots,
attack of all the waves!
My soul wandered, happy, sad, unending.

Thinking, burying lamps in the deep solitude.

Who are you, who are you?

Found this poem at a great poetry site that is new to me: Famous Poets and Poems.

Technorati Tags: , , , , ,

Thursday, June 01, 2006


[image source]

Today I am grateful for Dharmakirti College here in Tucson. Somehow, this place had managed to escape my awareness. The Tucson Shambhala Center is much more public. But then I have been lax in seeking out a sangha due to my work schedule. So it looks like Dzogchen is speaking to me, but there's no need to make a decision tonight.

I'm also grateful that I can get my cardio done in under 30 minutes. I really don't like cardio, but it's my intention to be more consistent in doing it.

Finally, I'm grateful that summer in Tucson only lasts 6 months, so only 5 1/2 more months to go. Oy! 105 degrees today, 107 on Sunday.

What are you grateful for?

Technorati Tags: , , , ,

Dzogchen or Shambhala?

[image source]

I have considered myself a follower of the Shambhala path, as outlined by Chogyam Trungpa, for a couple of years. Due to scheduling conflicts, I have been unable to do formal training. I feel I am at a point where I need formal training to continue progressing.

Strangely enough, I have been drawn to Dzogchen teachers of late, especially Dzigar Kongtrul and Tarthang Tulku. Now there is an opportunity to begin teacher training in the Dzogchen tradition here in Tucson.

There is a great opportunity to do pointing out instruction and bodhichitta instruction next weekend, and I plan to do both as a preparation for the class in case I decide to follow through with that.

I have no intention of being a teacher, but I think I could really benefit from the formal instruction.

Here's my question to the other Buddhists out there: Does anyone have experience with both traditions and maybe have anything you can share that might help in my decision? I'm not opposed to following both paths, but Shambhala is very secular compared to Dzogchen, so I'm not sure how compatible the teachings might be. And I also think there is benefit in choosing a path and giving it all of my attention.

Thanks in advance for info you can share.

Technorati Tags: , , , , ,

Pema Chodron on Tonglen

[image source]

Doing tonglen throughout the day can feel more natural than doing it on the cushion. For one thing, there is never any lack of subject matter. Daily-life practice is never abstract. As soon as uncomfortable emotions come up, we train ourselves in breathing them in and dropping the story line. At the same time, we extend our thoughts and concern to other people who feel the same discomfort, and we breathe in with the wish that all of us could be free of this particular brand of confusion. Then, as we breathe out, we send ourselves and others whatever kind of relief we think would help. We also practice like this when we encounter animals and people who are in pain. We can try to do this whenever difficult situations and feelings arise. Over time it will become more automatic.

It is also helpful to notice anything in our daily life that brings us happiness. As soon as we become aware of it, we can think of sending it out to others, further cultivating the tonglen attitude.

As warrior-bodhisattvas, the more we train in cultivating this attitude, the more we uncover our capacity for joy and equanimity. Because of our bravery and willingness to work with the practice, we are more able to experience the basic goodness of ourselves and others. We're more able to appreciate the potential of all kinds of people: those we find pleasant, those we find unpleasant, and those we don't even know. Thus tonglen begins to ventilate our prejudices and introduce us to a more tender and open-minded world.

~ Pema Chodron, Comfortable with Uncertainty
I've been thinking about how to do this more often. I think I posted a while back about using tonglen during conflict to diffuse the situation, but I haven't had much luck with it. On the other hand, I haven't had much conflict to practice with in daily life as of late.

There's one place, though, where I need something to soften me, and that's when I'm driving. I swear more than a drunken sailor when someone gets in front of me and drives slow. Tucson doesn't have freeways, so the main streets are marked with signs that say, "Slower Traffic Keep Right." I am amazed that so few people know how to read.

So this is how it plays out: someone will be in the "fast" lane and won't get out of the way. So I'm yelling, "Get the hell out of the way, you stupid @#%$^&! *^&$%^#@." And then I immediately feel guilty for raging at some poor (usually old) person, and before the last syllable of my cursing has left the air, I say, "May your heart be eased of suffering." As if that's going to make it better.

The really silly part, as if any of that isn't already incredibly silly, is that when I say the prayer for the end of their suffering, I mean it, and I really feel it.

And, I'm not angry like that in any other part of my life.

So I am going to try to employ tonglen for my own rage (i.e., suffering) when I am driving and see if I can mellow the "Mad Max" that lives in me. I waste an enormous amount of energy being angry when I am driving. Somehow I need to develop an ability to simply accept that most people are not as impatient as I am.

I suspect there is something deeper in this, as well. I talked about it in therapy a couple of times, but we never really got to any kind of insight. Maybe by giving it attention I can get to the heart of it.

Technorati Tags: , , , , ,

Poem: Kabir

[image source]

I have been thinking . . .

I have been thinking of the difference between water
and the waves on it. Rising,
water's still water, falling back,
it is water, will you give me a hint
how to tell them apart?

Because someone has made up the word
"wave," do I have to distinguish it
from water?

There is a Secret One inside us;
the planets in all the galaxies
pass through his hands like beads.

That is a string of beads one should look at with luminous eyes.

Technorati Tags: , , , , , ,

Wednesday, May 31, 2006


[image source]

Today I'm grateful for humpback whales, and other lifeforms that may be more evolved than often narcissistic humanity.

I'm grateful for some midweek quality time with Kira. Always a nice treat in our busy lives.

And I'm grateful that in the last year I have met so many other people who strive to be whole healthy people. It's very easy to talk myself into feeling alone when there is no obvious support for being my best self. That has changed with this blog.

What are you grateful for?

Technorati Tags: , , ,

The Soul of a Whale

[image source]

Kira found this and forwarded it to me. I was deeply moved by it and decided to post the original story here. This is from the San Francisco Chronicle:
A humpback whale freed by divers from a tangle of crab trap lines near the Farallon Islands nudged its rescuers and flapped around in what marine experts said was a rare and remarkable encounter.

"It felt to me like it was thanking us, knowing that it was free and that we had helped it," James Moskito, one of the rescue divers, said Tuesday. "It stopped about a foot away from me, pushed me around a little bit and had some fun."

Sunday's daring rescue was the first successful attempt on the West Coast to free an entangled humpback, said Shelbi Stoudt, stranding manager for the Marine Mammal Center in Marin County.

The 45- to 50-foot female humpback, estimated to weigh 50 tons, was on the humpbacks' usual migratory route between the Northern California coast and Baja California when it became entangled in the nylon ropes that link crab pots.

It was spotted by a crab fisherman at 8:30 a.m. Sunday in the open water east of the Farallones, about 18 miles off the coast of San Francisco.

Mick Menigoz of Novato, who organizes whale watching and shark diving expeditions on his boat the New Superfish, got a call for help Sunday morning, alerted the Marine Mammal Center and gathered a team of divers.

By 2:30 p.m., the rescuers had reached the whale and evaluated the situation. Team members realized the only way to save the endangered leviathan was to dive into the water and cut the ropes.

It was a very risky maneuver, Stoudt said, because the mere flip of a humpback's massive tail can kill a man.

"I was the first diver in the water, and my heart sank when I saw all the lines wrapped around it," said Moskito, a 40-year-old Pleasanton resident who works with "Great White Adventures," a cage-diving outfit that contracts with Menigoz. "I really didn't think we were going to be able to save it."

Moskito said about 20 crab-pot ropes, which are 240 feet long with weights every 60 feet, were wrapped around the animal. Rope was wrapped at least four times around the tail, the back and the left front flipper, and there was a line in the whale's mouth.

The crab pot lines were cinched so tight, Moskito said, that the rope was digging into the animal's blubber and leaving visible cuts.

At least 12 crab traps, weighing 90 pounds each, hung off the whale, the divers said. The combined weight was pulling the whale downward, forcing it to struggle mightily to keep its blow- hole out of the water.

Moskito and three other divers spent about an hour cutting the ropes with a special curved knife. The whale floated passively in the water the whole time, he said, giving off a strange kind of vibration.

"When I was cutting the line going through the mouth, its eye was there winking at me, watching me," Moskito said. "It was an epic moment of my life."

When the whale realized it was free, it began swimming around in circles, according to the rescuers. Moskito said it swam to each diver, nuzzled him and then swam to the next one.

"It seemed kind of affectionate, like a dog that's happy to see you,'' Moskito said. "I never felt threatened. It was an amazing, unbelievable experience."

Humpback whales are known for their complex vocalizations that sound like singing and for their acrobatic breaching, an apparently playful activity in which they lift almost their entire bodies out of the water and splash down.

Before 1900, an estimated 15,000 humpbacks lived in the North Pacific, but the population was severely reduced by commercial whaling. In the 20th century, their numbers dwindled to fewer than 1,000. An international ban on commercial whaling was instituted in 1964, but humpbacks are still endangered. Between 5,000 and 7,500 humpbacks are left in the world's oceans, and many of those survivors migrate through the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary.

Whale experts say it's nice to think that the whale was thanking its rescuers, but nobody really knows what was on its mind.

"You hate to anthropomorphize too much, but the whale was doing little dives and the guys were rubbing shoulders with it," Menigoz said. "I don't know for sure what it was thinking, but it's something that I will always remember. It was just too cool."
Rhoberto, at Zaadz, ended his original post with this:

May you, and all those you love, be so blessed and fortunate … to be surrounded by people who will help you get untangled from the things that are binding you. And, may you always know the joy of giving and receiving gratitude.
Nice sentiment.

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , ,

Video: Caribbean Reef Fish

Nice music and beautiful tropical fish along the reef off of Nassau, Bahamas.

Technorati Tags: , , , ,

Poem: Robert Creeley

[image source]

The Rain

All night the sound had
come back again,
and again falls
this quiet, persistent rain.

What am I to myself
that must be remembered,
insisted upon
so often? Is it

that never the ease,
even the hardness,
of rain falling
will have for me

something other than this,
something not so insistent--
am I to be locked in this
final uneasiness.

Love, if you love me,
lie next to me.
Be for me, like rain,
the getting out

of the tiredness, the fatuousness, the semi-
lust of intentional indifference.
Be wet
with a decent happiness.

Technorati Tags: , ,

Is the Religious Left as Dangerous as the Religious Right?

Many liberals and progressives are pleased to see a resurgence of the religious left, a liberal, socially engaged form of Christianity led by figures such as Jim Wallis, editor of Sojourners Magazine. But can any faith based in the Abrahamic traditions be free of the authoritarian and violent elements found in the Christain right, the Islamic right, and the Jewish right in Israel?

Barry Seidman, writing for Truthdig (A Critique of the New Religious Left), says the answer is no, and he bases his argument on the book by Hector Avalos, “Fighting Words: The Origin of Religious Violence” (2005). Avalos argues that the history of religious violence is rooted in a perceived lack of resources (this could easily be seen as the root of all violence, not just religious), and that Christianity has this perceived lack just as much as the old Hebrew faith and the hardline Islamic faith.

Avalos’ main argument is that violence stems from real or perceived scarcities of resources. When we look at the Bush administration’s invasion of Iraq, we see the very real concern with the dwindling oil reserves on Earth, and how the oil-made members of the administration would risk personal economic disaster if Iraqi oil were to actually serve the Iraqi people. But in addition to real resources, “perceived resources” can also become the focus of violence—and all too often these resources have been created by our religious books.

According to Avalos, one of these perceived resources stems from what he calls “group privileging.” For example, the Jewish belief that Israel is the chosen land—and that Jews are a chosen people—necessarily elevates Jews in their own eyes above all other people on Earth. This perceived scarcity—the scarcity of being God’s “favorite”—can be seen in Israel’s current policy toward the Palestinians.

Many Christians, I have found, will not argue against the notion of the angry, retributive God of the Hebrews. In fact, they often point out this truth in order to distinguish themselves from the Jews. This is where Wallis and other liberal religionists begin their arguments for the so-called Prince of Peace.

But Avalos finds plenty of perceived scarcities directly in the New Testament. One such scarcity is the idea of “sacred space.” In John 2:14-17 we find an account where Jesus whips people in a temple for selling animals and then goes on to wreck the place. Christian apologists have argued that this violence was justified because of blasphemy committed in a house of God. Avalos argues then that “since Jesus is a paradigm of Christian conduct, his actions came to influence some of the violence linked to sacred places we see in later Christian history.” (8) Avalos here is referring to the Crusades, among other historical Christian atrocities.

But Jesus did much more than this to ensure the cult-like following he would soon receive. Proclaiming himself the voice of God, he prepared the needy and fearful for future battles they were to endure while spreading Christianity. One such method is most probably the same sort used by Islamic fundamentalists when recruiting suicide terrorists. In Luke 14:26-27, Jesus says, “Whoever comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brother and sister, yes, and even life itself, cannot be my disciple.” Mighty strong words no doubt meant to dedicate his followers to developing an artificial kinship with non-family members who would then fight as blood kin to the death for their perceived resource—God him/her/itself.

Even apart from his discussion of religious-created scarcities, Avalos uses a close reading of the Bible to reject the view that Christianity essentially espouses love and peace. He argues that in Romans 12:14 we do not really see an example of Christians loving their enemies at all, though this section is often cited by Christians for this very reason. The section begins, sure enough, “Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them.” But what most liberal Christians then ignore is the rest of the section, “If your enemies are hungry, feed them; if they are thirsty, give them something to drink; for by doing this you will heap burning coals on their heads” (Romans 12:20). Heaping burning coals on their heads? Avalos suggests that read as a whole, the commandment to be nice is a way to build up the potential for violence against an enemy. The nicer one is to one’s enemies, the more they will deserve the violence done to them in the end.

I've included quite a bit of Seidman's restatement of Avalos' argument so as to demonstrate how elevated teachings can be terribly misunderstood by those who see the world through more limited viewpoints.

This last section is the easiest to dismantle. The heaping of burning coals is not meant as a literal image, as Avalos argues. Jesus is making a point about the suffering of guilt and wrongdoing. If you love thy enemy you are purifying your own heart, but the enemy will feel ashamed and guilty for his actions, which to Jesus is equivalent to burning in hell. There is no intent to inflict physical pain in Jesus' words.

Further up, Avalos talks about Jesus telling his followers they must hate their families to truly be his desciples. He is not preparing them to sacrifice their lives for the cause (and here Avalos sounds like one of the Islamic Imans he seems to oppose), but rather is advocating nonattachment as the only way to approach the nonduality with God the Father that Jesus himself experienced.

Based on what little is cited here by Seidman, I have to think that Avalos' book is deeply flawed in that he is incapable of anything other than a literalist reading of the Bible. Even Jesus' followers 2,000 years ago were capable of undertsanding allegory.

Truthdig promotes Seidman as being in the tradtion of Sam Harris, and I guess by that they mean that he is a scientific humanist. However, he seems, like Harris, to also be a flatlander -- someone who views the world only through the exterior reality lens, specifically the exterior individual (science). Both men reject much of the interior individual (self and consciousness) as nothing more than subjective experience that cannot be validated, and they reject the interior collective (culture and worldview) as dangerous and superstitious. Both men also reject any form of developmental progression of worldviews, and therefore feel safe in a wholesale rejection of religion as dangerous and unnecessary.

We should be supporting liberal Christians. Theirs is a much healthier version of the religion than is found on the religious right. When Christianity moves beyond authoritarianism and becomes more liberal and progressive, it sheds much of its violent baggage. This is the healthier version of Christianity that I have repeatedly suggested is an antidote to Sam Harris' view that all of Christianity is dangerous.

Scientific humanism is as dangerous to humanity as fundamentalism, and is, in fact, a kind of fundamentalism. It is as extreme in its hatred of religion as the religious fundamentalists are in their hatred of the scientific and the secular.

If we were to do away with religion as the scientific humanists propose, the results would be far more catastropic than anything a bunch of religious fundamentalists could ever accomplish. Let me try to explain.

When liberals decided that religion was an oppressive institution back in the sixties, they worked to remove faith-based community centers and to reduce the influence of churches in our inner cities. The result was the breakdown of authoritarian structure and the unleashing of ego-driven power drives (the rise of urban gangs). Don Beck has documented this in a few articles (based on Graves' work as far as I know) and talks about it during SDi trainings.

Now imagine the same loss of religious control and structure on a global scale. Imagine the African continent without Islam or Catholicism. Imagine the Middle East and India/Pakistan without solid religious structures to maintain some semblance of order.

Now Seidman and Harris might argue that the same control could be maintained with a secular system. Maybe, but the only variations we've ever seen on a wide scale were fascism and communism. They weren't so pretty.

The truth is that we need religion. Rather than doing away with it, we should be trying to find ways to help it express itself in a more balanced and healthy way. The progressive version of Christianity promoted by Jim Wallis and others like him is the healthiest solution I have seen so far. We should be grateful for its presence and help it become even healthier and more widespread.

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Tuesday, May 30, 2006


[image source]

I'm grateful for silver cardinals, sunrise, Sumatran coffee, new issues of magazines I subscribe to, and about a hundred other things.

I'm grateful for a good session today with a new client. I never know how personalities are going to click or not click, and this one went well.

And I'm grateful that I've made nice friends at Zaadz.

For what are you grateful?

Technorati Tags: , , , ,

Are You Into LOHAS? Are You LOHASIAN?

This is a new one to me, and I thought I was pretty plugged-in to silly marketing stuff. Here is an article from BeliefNet, to be followed by a list of what's groovy with the LOHAS crowd.
It's a Lohasian moment. The term for these 21st-century New Agers derives from an acronym created by marketers on the West Coast—LOHAS, as in Lifestyles of Health and Sustainability. The movie "The Celestine Prophecy" is opening, based on the 1993 book that may be the most popular alternative-spirituality book of the last few decades. Next comes the film version of Dan Millman's book "Way of the Peaceful Warrior," about a lost young gymnast who is guided through a mystical transformation by a wise mentor. And Al Gore's movie on global warming, "An Inconvenient Truth," is bound to be popular with the ecologically minded Lohasians.

LOHAS consumers (or Lohasians, as they're called at Beliefnet), represent 17 percent of the U.S. population, according to a report released by the Natural Marketing Institute at a LOHAS conference last month in Santa Monica, Calif. The study said Lohasians are "dedicated to personal and planetary health." Seventy-three percent bought recycled paper goods, and 71 percent bought natural or organic "personal care" products. They pay more to get foods without pesticides and want their cars fuel-efficient.

Among the products and services offered at the conference this year were detoxifying pine oil, organic body lotion, ecofriendly spas, and recycled-cashmere sweaters. A decade ago, one attendee said, the conference vendor room offered only "broccoli and tomatoes." Lohasians shop just as widely for spiritual practices. From Buddhism: meditation and admiration of "nothingness." From Hinduism: yoga, gurus, color and chanting. From paganism: an emphasis on honoring nature. From Asian cultures: feng shui and acupuncture. Lohasians devour heaping doses of Western psychotherapy, plus the ideas of the recovery movement ("one day at a time"). They identify as "spiritual, not religious," and many believe in "synchronicity" or "meaningful coincidences" that might be guided by a spirit world.

Does this sound like someone you know? If you have a yoga mat and "singing bowls," if you chant or do polarity therapy or energy healing, if you consume goji berries or biodynamic organic wines, you just might be a Lohasian.
So, are you LOHASIAN? Leave it to markerters to create false categories so as to pigeonhole people and reduce them to types. Many of the things on the list are admirable choices (environmentalism, recycling, organic foods, spiritual practices, and so on.

So here are some things LOHASIANS purchase or support:

A chunk of
amethyst to clear negative energy.
Yoga mat
Exercise ball
Essential oils
Non-toxic cleaning supplies
Natural cosmetics and bodycare
Neti pot
Mini trampoline
Skin brush

Solar-power--not just for houses anymore.
Green building
Violence on TV
The rainforest
Solar energy
Sweatshop-free labor
Organics—cotton, flowers, food

Floating massage at Harbin Hot Springs
Tai Chi
Chi Kung
Feng Shui
Thai Massage
Polarity therapy/Energy healing
Stress reduction

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle: a fundamental Lohasian mantra.
"You create your own reality."
"Everything happens for a reason."
"My religion is kindness." (-the Dalai Lama)
"God is everywhere."
"We're all one."
"Reduce, reuse, recycle."
Read the rest of the list here, including gurus, celebrities, films, book, and foods.

It pains me to say this, but I am part of their target group. I have a zafu, an exercise ball, and I meditate; I get acupuncture sometimes; I recycle; I like peace, the rain forests, solar energy, biodiesel, and organics; I breathe, I read Lama Surya Das and Ken Wilber, and on and on.

Is this a good thing? Is it better than there are now enough of us that marketers are trying to target us as consumers? Will this result in more options for organic foods and clothing, more renewable energy sources, more corporate support of "LOHAS" causes, or even more vacation resorts deigned for people who aren't interested in tanning, drinking, and other pointless activities?

Here is an article on the LOHAS conference, held in Santa Monica, CA. We're supposed to be a market worth $230 billion a year. Here is a link to a site that identifies LOHAS as opposed to three other marketing segments tracked by the natural foods industry.

What do you folks think?

Technorati Tags: , , , ,

Rituals Before Writing

Mike at Unknowing Mind directed me to this article from The Daily Om. It kind of relates to my post the other day about rituals before writing.
Protecting Your Flow
How Fear Blocks Creativity

To understand how fear blocks creativity, take a moment to imagine yourself telling a story. First, imagine telling the story to someone you love and who loves you. You probably feel warmth and energy as you fill in the details of your tale to your friend's delight. Now, imagine telling the same story to someone who, for whatever reason, makes you uncomfortable. The wonderful twists and turns, the fine points and colorful images that unfolded in your mind for your friend probably won't present themselves. Instead of warmth, energy, and creativity, you will probably feel opposite sensations and a desire to close down. When we feel unsafe, whether we fear being judged, disliked, or misunderstood, our creative flow stops. Alternately, when we feel safe, our creativity unfolds like a beautiful flower, without conscious effort.

Knowing this, we can maximize our creative potential by creating the conditions that inspire our creativity. In order to really be in the flow, we need to feel safe and unrestricted. However, achieving this is not as simple as avoiding people who make us feel uncomfortable. Sometimes we can be alone in a room and still feel totally blocked. When this happens, we know we have come up against elements in our own psyches that are making us feel fearful. Perhaps we are afraid that in expressing ourselves we will discover something we don't want to know, or unleash emotions or ideas that we don't want to be responsible for. Or maybe we're afraid we'll fail to produce something worthy.

When you're up against fear, internal or external, ritual can be a powerful-and creative-antidote. Before you sit down to be creative, try casting a circle of protection around yourself. Visualize yourself inside a ring of light, protective fire, or angels. Imagine that this protective energy emanates unconditional love for you and wants to hear, see, and feel everything you have to express. Take a moment to bathe in the warmth of this feeling and then fearlessly surrender yourself to the power that flows through you.
I don't have a problem with writer's block (although I did think for years that I had no poetry left in me, which still remains to be seen). For those who do feel blocked and don't know why, these approaches might work.

I would also suggest simply creating an open receptive space in the psyche through meditation, breathing, or whatever process works for you and inviting whatever wants to come to make its presence known. Even prayer can create an opening if we are asking for alignment with Spirit and not asking for the perfect poem/story/essay.

Finally, one of the things I love to do when I feel an urge to write but don't have anything that feels like it must get out is to sit down with an author I like -- Ann Lauterbach works well for me -- and read with a receptive mind, waiting for a word or an image that triggers something in me. Many of my best works have come this way.

Technorati Tags: , , , ,

Nonattachment in Relationships

[image source]

From The Joy Hidden in Sorrow, by Ayya Medhanandi:
Through knowing the transcendent, knowing the reality of things as they are – knowing the body as body – we come to the realization that we are ever-changing. We learn to rest in pure awareness and we touch that which is deathless.

In our relationships with each other, with our families, we can begin to use wisdom as our refuge. That doesn’t mean that we don’t love, that we don’t grieve for our loved ones. It means that we’re not dependent on our perceptions of our mother and father, children or close friends. We’re not dependent on them being who we think they are, we no longer believe that our happiness depends on their love for us, or their not leaving, not dying. We’re able to surrender to the rhythm of life and death, to the natural law, the Dhamma of birth, ageing, sickness, and death.
A little food for for thought this morning on attachment and relationships. This is kind of out of context for the whole article, but I liked what she was saying here. We must give up our attachment to people being what we want them to be, or who we want them to be. We will always be disappointed when the reality of the person does not match our expectation. We will be crushed when they leave or pass away.

When we love someone, or even simply know someone, is it not more honest and pure to simply allow the person to be whoever s/he is, and not to define the person by our expectations and needs?

If we can allow the person to be exactly who s/he is, without our colorings or shadings getting in the way, it seems we might then be able to truly love this other, and not simply love our version of who s/he is.

Getting to this place of freedom for ourselves and those we love requires practice, the giving up of illusions. We must see through our illusions to the essence of reality -- that we are all one, that self (both ours and theirs) simply vanishes when we try to find it. The insight is crucial.

Learning to live with that insight is the true work. We must navigate conditional reality, but the more we can bring our experience of conditional reality into alignment with our insights of absolute reality, the more we will be able to see our partners, our friends, and our family as who they are and not who we want or need them to be.

I work at this more and more in my own life. I try as best I can to honor those I know -- and her that I love most -- for themselves, and not for who I want or need them to be. This is much easier with friends and coworkers, much harder with Kira.

The more I meditate and know my own mind, the easier it becomes. But it is far from easy. It may be the greatest task in my relationship with Kira -- to love her as purely as I can, without attachments, without expectations. To do so will free me, and it will give her freedom within our relationship.

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Poem: Wang Wei

[image source]

Deer Park Hermitage

Empty mountains:
no one to be seen.

Yet - hear -
human sounds and echoes.

Returning sunlight
enters the dark woods;

Again shining
on the green moss, above.

~ Translated by Gary Snyder, 1978

Technorati Tags: , , , ,

Monday, May 29, 2006



I saw Travellers and Magicians today, and I am grateful for this small, wise, beautiful film. Simply amazing. Bhutan is in the top two or three places I really want to visit in this lifetime.

I am particularly grateful that I got to watch this film with Kira. I love being able to share things with her that I am passionate about.

I am grateful for an observer self who helps me learn lessons.

I am grateful for Cherry Vanilla Diet Coke, and for chocolate protein powder in my morning coffee; mmmm . . . . cafe mocha!

For what are you grateful?

Technorati Tags: , , , ,

Memorial Day, 2006

[Very little has changed since I posted a variation of this article in 2005. Sad, that.]

[image source]

It's Memorial Day again in America -- a day in which we pay our respects to the brave men and women who have died in service to our country. It used to be that if someone died in uniform on America's behalf, we could rest in the knowledge that he or she died for a good cause: freedom. That changed with Viet Nam and has been completely gutted by the Bush administration's unjust war in Iraq.

Nearly 2,500 men and women in uniform have died in Iraq, more than 18,000 have been wounded, and an unreported number of civilian contractors have also been killed. However, some estimates place the number of Iraqi civilian deaths at 250,000 or more (the Washington Post estimated 100,000 in 2004). It's hard to know if any number is accurate since the US military doesn't report civilian deaths, but the "official" count is around 40,000.

Memorial Day is always a somber day for Americans who have lost family members in war. It seems even more somber this year in the face of so many reports of our military treating its prisoners inhumanely and slaughtering innocent civilians. America used to stand for something good, something lofty, an ideal of freedom and human dignity that we were proud to export to the rest of the world. No more.

When did we become the bully on the international scene? How is it that we have become known for our disregard for human rights, for refusing to work with other nations on a common goal, and for a willingness to sacrifice innocent lives in our need to feel safe from terrorists?

My father and grandfather both served in the military (Navy and Marines), and two of my cousins (Marines) never came back from Viet Nam. All four of these men felt it an honor to serve their nation. I wonder how they would feel today if they could see what our military -- what our nation -- has become.

As we pay our respects to Americans who have fallen in battle, let us also remember all the other lives that have been lost to war: the innocent women and children killed in foreign lands, the family members whose lives have been forever altered by their loss, the human beings killed as they fought for something they believed in as strongly as we believe in our goals -- and all who have died in so many battles throughout history.

War is no longer a viable option for solving our problems. On this Memorial Day, let us begin to seek new leaders who will not so willingly and joyfully resort to warfare in pursuit of imperialist goals. Let us today stand together as a force for peace, compassion, and empathy. Let us today resolve that no more lives will be lost on foreign battlefields in wars waged on behalf of madmen.

To all who lost family, friends, neighbors, coworkers, or simply fellow citizens in this war -- or any war -- my heart feels your loss, we all feel your loss. Let us strive to create a world where our first response is compassion and not revenge, understanding and not hatred, help and not violence.

It's our world to make of what we will. What do you want your world to be?

Technorati Tags: , , , , , ,

Exercise: Discovering Subpersonalities

Here is the first exercise I have posted over in the Integral Relationships pod at Zaadz. The exercise is set up for those in relationship, but as I note at one point, you can also use friends, family, coworkers, even people you don't like much -- maybe especially people you don't like much.

Have fun and please post your observations in the comments. You can be anonymous if you want.
One of the ways that we relate with each other is through our subpersonalities or selves (please see my post on this topic – it explains the difference between primary selves and disowned selves).

In our relationships, we tend to be drawn to people who carry our disowned selves (meaning that we project those selves onto our partners because they have traits that we unconsciously associate with our disowned selves). Recognizing these disowned selves is a way to reclaim those projections and in doing so become more whole. This is one of the ways that relationship can act as a teacher for us.

This is the first of two exercises I want to post in helping those who have never worked with subpersonalites (selves) to identify some of those subs. I believe that knowing our subs is an important part of integral relationship. This exercise is from Partnering, by Hal and Sidra Stone. I have modified it slightly for our use.

Judging Your Disowned Self

Think of your current partner (or a previous partner if you are currently single), and think about the ways that person was able to push your buttons. The longer the relationship the better for this exercise. Really identify the ways this person just annoys/annoyed you to no end. What is it about this person that you judge? In which area do you feel superior? Be specifc as you write down the most irritating or reprehensible attribute of this person. When you discover what it is, you have learned about one of your own disowned selves. Flesh it out a bit by looking at how it operates and what motivates it – maybe even have a dialogue with it.

Now look for the oppsite quality in yourself and see how you contrast with your partner. What kind of person are you? What are the qualities that you are proud of having? Write down these qualities. You have just identified one of your primary selves. Again, try to get to know it a little more, give it a name or notice how it feels in your body.

You now have a picture of one of your primary selves and one of your disowned selves. Repeat this exercise as many times as you like. You can also use family members, coworkers, and friends to help you identify disowned selves. The more a person annoys you, the more likely s/he is carrying a disowned self.

Who did you find living inside you?

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , ,