Saturday, June 24, 2006


[fierce compassion - The Green Tara]

Among other things today, I am grateful for Jay and ~C4 (it was Cranky earlier today -- why do I think that giving ~C4 Red Bull is like pouring gasoline on a fire?) -- both of these guys are fierce in what they believe to be true. I admire the hell out of that, even when they both (compassionately) think I'm nuts.

I'm grateful for extra spicy sag chicken at my favorite Indian restaurant. Hmmmm . . . chicken.

And I'm grateful that some of the tough stuff I've been through in my life allows me to be supportive of other people going through tough stuff. At times it feels like a gift to have have made it through some of the things I've experienced and to have picked up a little learning along the way.

For what be you grateful?

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Sacred Sex: Marriage or Tantra?

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A while back, Jay posted an entry inspired by a discussion at Integral Naked around the John Ince interview. You can read Jay's post here. Ince basically suggests professional sex workers and non-monogamy to counter the loss of sexual fire so many married couples experience. Jay takes the notion a step further, to sacred sex outside of marriage. He is not advocating for this, just looking at the possibility, and skeptically, I might add.

This was my response, posted in the Integral Relationship pod at Zaadz:

When Jay posted this on his blog, I pretty much took a Hell No point of view on this. It seemed/seems incomprehensible to me that anyone could be in a place where knowing one's partner is getting lit up during sex with someone else would be tolerable.

The biggest obstacle I can see would be the trust/intimacy that allows truly mind-blowing sex (meaning: ego left lying on the floor with the clothes) takes time and emotional intimacy to generate. I don't see this happening with a consort without destroying the intimacy of the primary relationship.

All this assumes there are NO problems in the primary relationship – how many of us can say that?

On the other hand, assuming both partners are down with it and emotionally mature enough to handle it, there are variations of tantra that rely on manipulation of breath and meditation to alter consciousness. People swear by it, and it has along tradition supporting it. But let's remember that this practice was developed in an authoritarian culture and reflects those values – it was mostly for men, who used women as tools (although envisioning them as sacred consorts) to achieve higher states of consciousness.

I've tried the tantra thing when I was younger and, yeah, it sure can get the kundalini flowing. Certainly that has an impact on consciousness, but it felt more like a state experience and less likely to provide on ongoing impetus for growth. I just wanted more and more, like a drug.

On the other hand, I've experienced deeply intimate sex with a partner whom I trust and feel a deep connection with. This is the check-your-ego-at-the-door stuff that leaves you craving that egoless state, both with your partner and in the rest of your life. To me, this is more likely to produce a lasting change than the tantra route. But that may just be a personal preference.

What I'm saying here is that we are no longer living in the axial age. We have evolved two or three steps up the ladder. With that comes a different perspective on sacred sexuality. While before it may have been okay to seek it outside of the primary relationship (most marriages were business deals between families, or even villages), this no longer seems like a valid approach.

My guess is that the primary relationship can be a better method for achieving the ego-transcendence that the tantrists sought in the previous eras. True emotional intimacy in sexuality can align us with the Eros of the Kosmos in a way purely meditative sex never will.

So not only is sacred sex ouside of marriage (or the primary relationship, for those of us who are not married) a bad idea logistically and emotionally, I think it is spiritually inferior to the alternative.
Anyone have any thoughts on this? Can sacred sex outside of the primary relationshop ever work? Why or why not?

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Zaadz Friday Five: Inspiration

:: Friday Five :: Week 8 :: Inspiration ::

How to participate: 1) Join holy memes and kosmic blog starters and check it out every Friday for a different set of five questions. 2) Copy and paste those questions (and this message!) into your blog. 3) Tag your entry with the words “Friday Five” and post it. 4) Come back to the pod and tell us about your post. 5) Message suzanne with ideas for next week. Let's get started!

1) Who/what/where inspires you?

Kira inspires me, Jay inspires me, Erica inspires me, Mary inspires me, and lots of people doing very ordinary things inspire me.

Love inspires me, compassion inspires me, kindness inspires me, fierceness inspires me, passion inspires me, tenderness inspires me.

Seattle (WA) inspires me, Greyback Mountain (OR) inspires me, Brookings (OR) inspires me, Boulder (CO) inspires me, Alaska inspires me – any place with mountains, rivers, ocean, trees inspires me.

2) Why are there moments we feel completely inspired and moments where that inspiration is gone?

Inspiration is FLOW. It's always there, the question is whether or not we are aligned with it. The world and all it contains is the source of most inspiration, and it's always there – so are we open to being inspired? Are we open to the world? Is my heart open and receptive? If so, inspiration is easy, like breathing. If not, then inspiration may seem impossible.

3) How do you seek inspiration? How do you (and should you) cope on days where inspiration is lackluster?

I don't seek inspiration. It seeks me. Am I open to being found by inspiration? Are you? Even on days when we feel like inspiration is just a fantasy, we can sit down, breathe a little, open our hearts and feel all the life in us, in those around us, in our friends and family, in our pets, in our plants, in the life outside our homes, in the moutains and rivers and trees and wildlife, in the cities and people and all the other homes and families, in the whole nation and all the nations around us, in the diversity of people, places, animals, plants, insects, fish, and birds, in the clouds and the sky, in all the life on this small planet in a tiny solar system on one arm of a minor galaxy in the vast expanse that is the KOSMOS. We can feel all of the that and breathe that mystery and breathe that magic and breathe that magnificence and DAMN! What a miracle to be alive!

4) Go to your profile and look at the list of your heroes, teachers, books, movies and music. (if you haven't created your list, do it now!) Pick out a few that you wish everyone could know about. Why does these inspire you? What makes them so great?

There is nothing in my list that I think everyone should know about. Each person is different and will be inspired by different things, people, places. The things in my list inspire me because they open me up in some way (body, heart, mind, soul) and make me more receptive to SPIRIT.
5) Go to Zaadz quotes and find at least five quotes that inspire you, and post them here.

Our task must be to free ourselves … by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature and its beauty. ~ Albert Einstein

Like a solid rock is not shaken by the wind, so the wise are not moved by praise or blame. ~ Buddha

The foundations of a person are not in matter but in spirit. ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

Inspiration never arrived when you were searching for it. ~ Lisa Alther

It's said that when we die, the four elements - earth, air, fire and water - dissolve one by one, each into the other, and finally just dissolve into space. But while we're living, we share the energy that makes everything, from a blade of grass to an elephant, grow and live and then inevitably wear out and die. This energy, this life force, creates the whole world. ~ Pema Chodron

Eagles may soar, but weasels don't get sucked into jet engines. ~ Steven Wright

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Joseph Campbell On Buddhism

Campbell gives a brief story to distinguish between Hinayana and Mahayana Buddhism. This six minute video captures Campbell's style of teaching very well. Nice pictures and music, too.

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Being in Nature

[Mount Rainier]

This is my Daily Om horoscope for the day, but it seems like good advice in general.

Indulge In Nature
Taurus Daily Horoscope

You could feel like indulging yourself today. You may find yourself tempted by material goods which may leave you with the urge to acquire things impulsively. Perhaps these feelings are due to your desire to escape the ordinary and add beauty to your life. If so, you could consider redirecting your energy by seeking beauty in your natural surroundings. You might want to spend some time exploring a mountain stream or running barefoot across a grassy lawn. Take a few deep breaths and drink in the wonders of the natural world as it energizes you and fills you with the joy of simplicity. You might realize that spending time outdoors is the best way to pamper yourself and that your indulgent impulses can soon be quenched through the extravagance of nature.

Setting aside time to be in nature is a wonderful way to satisfy our temptations. We often overlook the beauty in the natural world around us and instead search for beautiful things through more material pursuits. Nature provides us, however, with the ultimate means of pleasure. By feeling the breeze against our cheeks, the sun on our faces, and the ground under our feet, we give our bodies and minds the most nourishing and healing treatment we can imagine. Nature’s decadence soaks in through the center of our being, and we realize that at the core of our search is the desire to find beauty by keeping life simple. Indulge yourself today by being in nature, and your appetite for beautiful things will be completely satisfied.

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More Nature Wisdom

[image source]

I'm sensing a theme this morning. This is from yesterday's Zen page-a-day calendar.

Know that the voices of frogs and worms, the sound of wind and raindrops, all speak the wonderful language of the dharma, and that birds in flight, fish in the water and floating clouds all turn the dharma wheel.

~ Bassui
Nothing wrong with a little meta-mind nature mysticism.

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Friday, June 23, 2006


[image source]

I am grateful that my clients Amber and Faisal had a healthy 7 pound, 13 ounce, 20 inch baby boy named Liam today. Amber trained with me up until the beginning of her ninth month, then kept walking after that. She had a perfect delivery.

I am grateful for a new writing gig from a company that I haven't worked for before. Not a huge amount of work, but it's a foot in the door that could turn into much more.

I am grateful for a dialogue between friends.

I am grateful for the weekend.

For what are you grateful?

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Poem: DH Lawrence

[image source]

Dolor of Autumn

The acrid scents of autumn,
Reminiscent of slinking beasts, make me fear
Everything, tear-trembling stars of autumn
And the snore of the night in my ear.

For suddenly, flush-fallen,
All my life, in a rush
Of shedding away, has left me
Naked, exposed on the bush.

I, on the bush of the globe,
Like a newly-naked berry, shrink
Disclosed: but I also am prowling
As well in the scents that slink

Abroad: I in this naked berry
Of flesh that stands dismayed on the bush;
And I in the stealthy, brindled odours
Prowling about the lush

And acrid night of autumn;
My soul, along with the rout,
Rank and treacherous, prowling,
Disseminated out.

For the night, with a great breath intaken,
Has taken my spirit outside
Me, till I reel with disseminated consciousness,
Like a man who has died.

At the same time I stand exposed
Here on the bush of the globe,
A newly-naked berry of flesh
For the stars to probe.

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Respecting the Flow of Growth

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Yesterday's Daily Om had a nice article on respecting the flow of growth and giving ourselves permission to simply be.

Permission To Simply Be
Working Through Transitions

The elation we feel when we have learned an important lesson, achieved a goal, or had a big breakthrough can sometimes be met with a period of downtime afterward. During this period of transition, we may feel unsure and not know where to turn next. Many people, during the pause between achievements, begin to wonder what their life is about. These feelings are common and strike everyone from time to time. Human beings are active creatures-we feel best when we are working on a project or vigorously pursuing a goal. But there is nothing inherently wrong with spending a day, a week, or even a month simply existing and not having a plan. Just be. It won't be long before you embark upon your next voyage of growth and discovery.

The quiet lull into we which we fall between ideas, projects, and goals can make life seem empty. After accomplishing one objective, you may want to move immediately on to the next. However, when your next step is unclear, you may feel frustrated, disconnected, or even a mild depression. You may even perceive your lack of forward momentum as an indicator of imminent stagnation. To calm these distressing thoughts, try to accept that if your intent is personal growth, you will continue to grow as an individual whether striving for a specific objective or not. Spending time immersed in life's rigors and pleasures can be a cathartic experience that gives you the time you need to think about what you have recently gone through and leisurely contemplate what you wish to do next. You may also find that in simply being and going through the motions of everyday life, you reconnect with your priorities in a very organic, unforced way.

The mindful transitional pause can take many forms. For some, it can be a period of reflection that helps them understand how their life has unfolded. For others, it can be a period of adjustment, where new values based on recent changes are integrated into daily life. Just because you're not headed swiftly to a final destination doesn't mean you should assume that you have lost your drive. The stage between journeys can become a wonderful period of relaxation that prepares you for the path that will soon be revealed to you.
For those of us who are addicted to the rush of the growth process, this is good advice. Some of my best growth has occurred while I wasn't involved. The psyche has its own pace that we need to respect.

For example, if we are feeling blocked in any way by internal stuff, we need to look at whether we are being resistant or whether our psyches are trying to tell us to slow down or back off. Sometimes, just listening to the message is enough to get things moving again. This winter I decided to stop therapy for a while -- I was feeling like I needed a break from the intensity of the inward gaze. In the months since then, my growth has taken huge new strides.

Sometimes, it is during the super compensation phase (a term from weight lifting that describes the short break after an intense period of training when the muscle heals and grows stronger and larger) that much or our growth occurs -- even while we are sleeping.

We need downtime to relax and rejuvenate for the next test/lesson/adventure. Respecting that is part of the process, too.

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Wyatt Earp's Last Ride

Ken Wilber has posted what he says is the last in his series of Wyatt Earp clean-ups. Calling it, What Would Wyatt Do?, he seems to be on board with the Cafe Press web site created in honor of his Earpy series.

Of much more import, however, than the seemingly interminable self-congratulation for the oh-so-brilliant original post, is the fact the he liked Jay's phrase, “a bodhisattva with the mouth of a gangsta rapper." It's nice to know that Ken (or his staff) appreciates the little blogs, too. Jay is feeling good about it: "Yeah, okay, so my head swelled a bit about being quoted by The Man. I'm workin' on it, okay??" Enjoy the buzz, my friend.

~C4 still has issues with KW calling him coolmel, which to him probably feels about the same as Wilber must feel when people talk about his entire body of work by referencing The Spectrum of Consciousness. KW needs to get with the program and see that ~C4 is at least on version 3.0 by now.

This ride with Wyatt has been a long, strange trip. In the end, I suspect that the integral community is more fractured now than it was before the original post. There were clear divisions among those who generally had held similiar and supportive positions regarding Wilber and I-I -- those who "got it" felt included and part of the club (more than a little ego swelling was detectable) and those who thought it missed the mark were put-off and disappointed (more than a little projection was detectable). I was in the later group on this one, and my projections are discussed here.

In the end, maybe Wilber's "test" did what it was supposed to do. Or maybe the seemingly endless series of follow-up posts and shadow work suggestions were the necessary clean-up for an error in judgement. Wilber argues for the first idea, but from a ground-level view it looks an awful lot like the second possibility is more true. The reality is probably something else entirely.

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Thursday, June 22, 2006

Gratitude -- and Beyond

[click images for full size and source]

I am grateful today, now more than ever, that I gave up my political blog more than two months ago. I used to be so caught up in the day to day insanity that passes as politics in this country. I was bitterly partisan.

Today, I saw a little bit of news with various political figures posturing for a national audience. These men and women were elected to represent our interests in the national government, but all they care about is themselves. If you think I am being harsh, listen to them speak, try to find anything that feels like that senator or representative is truly speaking for your interests.

I was able to listen for a few moments without becoming attached, and what I felt was sadness. I used to believe that politics could make a difference. I used to believe that, even with its flaws, America was a great nation. I used to believe that if we could just elect the right people, we could turn this thing around.

I was a fool.

Rather than pass a minimum wage so that the poorest among us might have a better life, they would rather ban the right to burn a flag. Rather than creating national health care so that everyone can have adequate medical assistance when needed, they would rather try to keep loving couples from being married. Rather than paying our teachers a fair wage so that we may attract the best and the brightest to educate our children, they would rather spend billions and billions of dollars on new ways to blow things up. The list could go on for days.

I used to think it was all the fault of the Republicans, but the Democrats are just as bad -- and in some ways worse.

When was the last time you heard a politician speak as though s/he knew what it was like to walk in your shoes? When was the last time that a politician was willing to stand within the view of another and let it break through the wall of ego? When was the last time a politician spoke to what is best within us and acted with that intention?

I am grateful that I am no longer attached to politics because I am free to envision a politican who is worthy of my vote, rather than settling for whatever spineless weasel pretending to be progressive who has a chance of defeating the racist homophobe that passes himself off as a Christian.

I am grateful that my new criteria for a politician are compassion and empathy, not the right to choose and campaign finance reform. Arizona may be beachfront property before that person appears, but that is what I am holding out for.

I won't stop voting -- I'm not stupid. But I'll never actively support a candidate who does not meet my standards.

I dream of someday seeing that candidate. A candidate who is inspired and who will inspire the best in all of us.

Okay, I'm putting the soapbox away.

I'm also grateful that Kira watched Remember the Titans with me today and liked it as much as I do.

What are you grateful for?

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Video: Showmanship -- The Prophet

Once upon a time, in a land far, far away, I was a DJ. Yep, I spun vinyl: those big round, black disks that people once used to hold music. Back then, a good DJ could put on a good show. Now, the DJ is the show. Check this out.

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The Buddhist at Work

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[image source]

This is a recent offering from on Buddhism and work:

The second noble truth tell us that the suffering and dissatisfaction we experience in life comes from craving, an unwholesome desire for more and more. How does this relate to the world of work?

There are some who become so attached to work that they become workaholics. Work becomes obsessive and their addiction to it affects their personal relationships. The Buddha taught the Middle Way - the avoidance of extremes. In the world of work, therefore, it is good to maintain a good work-life balance, fulfilling one's commitments to one's employer, one's family and also to oneself. Proper relaxation and rest from one's work are essential.

There are no doubt examples throughout history where an almost obsessive devotion to work has resulted in great discoveries and achievements but these are perhaps the exceptions that prove the rule. Very often, for those who become obsessive about the work that they do, there is a burn-out factor. In the long term, this means that they cannot function at all because they have not been able to recharge themselves as they go along.

Another aspect of work that has to do with craving is ambition. In the context of work, there is nothing wrong with the concept of ambition per se, but when ambition causes to act in unwholesome ways then there is a problem. Such unwholesome activities may include backbiting, aggression, and lack of consideration for others. In Buddhism, intention is everything. To seek to do well in work for the good of others and oneself is fine. Where it becomes destructive is where one seeks to get on at the expense of others.

So how do we work without craving? Simply, if we work conscientiously and diligently, that is enough. Whatever advantages that come form this will arise naturally - our craving for them to happen will not make any difference. The Buddha's teaching on karma indicates that good deeds we do have beneficial consequences. Working conscientiously usually has visible and obvious benefits. One gains the respect of employers and colleagues, it can result in promotion, higher pay, job security and harmonious relationships with those we work with.

Work can be a source of great fulfillment or great frustration; often it can be both. What is important is to keep it in perspective and to recognize its value without losing sight of where it stands in the context or our lives as a whole.

Suggested Reading:
The Second Noble Truth
As someone who sometimes struggles to maintain balance in my life around the issue of work, this is good advice. Burn-out is my biggest issue. I don't get enough sleep, so I am always in a state of sleep deprivation, which makes me tired, irritable, and craving isolation.

Since I am essentially self-employed (not really, but it works out that way), my workload is purely a reflection of my desire for income and my inability to say no. The saying no part is a result of my subpersonality who hates to let anyone down, and the working too much comes from an inner critic that says I am lazy if I am not working as much as possible.

When that inner critic teams up with the pleaser, and if the part of me that lives in poverty mentality joins the party, I end up working 45-50 hours a week, like I was in the first part of the year. For a trainer, that's a fast lane to burnout.

I've learned to set some boundaries on hours I will not work, and to say no if I can't fit someone into an opening in my existing schedule, but it's hard each time I have to make those decisions.

Taking the Middle Path is about more than just deciding to do it -- we must also work with the parts of ourselves that lock us into unhealthy patterns. That's the only way we can heal those wounds and be more whole. Unless I can remaon mindful of those subpersonalities who feel compelled to say yes when I need to say no, who tell me I am lazy if I am not always working, or who make me feel like I will not be able to meet my needs unless I work more and more and more, I won't be able to maintain that Middle Path that is so healthy.

Little by little, by paying them attention, they have less influence over my life.

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Poem: Zen Oleary

[image source]

It's dark and
I can't find my face.
Did I leave it on a canvas
somewhere by accident?
Last night was filled
with the passions of owls.
Now it's snowing
wonder in my soul.
Dawn bleeds into me
playing its morning flute.
I tremble without my face
but oh, what a trembling.

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Buddhist Parable: Fate

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"During the Ch'ing Dynasty in China, in Yang Chou, there was a person named Ch'eng Pai Lin. One day he had a dream in which Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva told him, 'Tomorrow the Ch'ing army will arrive. Out of the seventeen people in your household, sixteen will survive. But you cannot escape your fate. Tomorrow Wang Ma Tze will kill you, because in a past life you stabbed him twenty-six times and killed him.' Then Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva added, 'There is still an expedient method that may work. Prepare a fine feast tomorrow, and when he comes, invite him to eat with you. Afterwards, allow him to kill you. Perhaps that will change things.'

The dream was vivid and when Ch'eng Pai Lin awoke the following morning, he went out and bought wine and vegetables, brought them back, and had a feast prepared. Then noontime came, someone knocked at the door. He opened the door and said, 'Are you Wang Ma Tze?' 'How strange,' said the man at the door, 'I'm from the north, how did you know my name?' His host invited him in and said, '... You're welcome; I've prepared a feast for you. Won't you join me?' Then he related the dream he'd had the night before. 'Last life I killed you with twenty-six stabs of a knife, and so this life you have come to kill me. After we've finished this meal, you can do it.' Wang Ma Tze pondered over this and said, 'But if you killed me last life, and I kill you this life, won't you kill me again next life? It will just go on and on. No, I won't kill you.' Then he took his knife and scratched twenty-six marks on his host's back to represent that the debt had been repaid.

Not only did Wang Ma Tze not kill his host, but afterwards they became very good friends. Wang said to his host, 'The Ch'ing army is following en masse. They are not reasonable, so the best would be for you and your family to go to Su Chou. It's safe there.' So that is what Ch'eng Pai Lin did. This is a case of turning grievance into friendship and reversing the retribution that is due one. From this you can see that it's possible to alter one's fate." (Master Hui Seng)


"'He beat me, he robbed me. Look at how he abused and injured me.' Live with those thoughts and you will never stop hating...Abandon such thoughts and your hatred and suffering will cease." (Dhammapada, Anne Bancroft, tr.)

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Wednesday, June 21, 2006


[image source]

I am grateful today that I was able to save a gecko from drowning in my client's pool. It was grateful enough that it let me pet it -- or it was in shock, not sure which.

I am grateful that we got a good rain today -- a preview of what we all hope will be a good monsoon this year. We are two inches behind in our rainfall, so we need a good wet summer.

What are you grateful for?

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The Ken Wilber Rant Fallout: My Projections and Shadows About Spiritual Leaders

I'm ending my self-imposed moratorium on the ongoing fallout from the Wilber rant and its subsequent cleanup and pontificating. I don't excuse or condone the Wyatt Earp posts, nor do I agree with his reasons for taking that route, but then he likely doesn't give a damn what I think.

But this post isn't specifically about Wilber, although it is inspired by and a response to his series of posts.

Wilber asked us to look at our shadow stuff that might have come up as a result of his Wyatt Earp post, and also to look at our projections of that shadow stuff. For the most part he dismisses any objections to his posts as shadow material that we are projecting onto him. I think this is true, but not necessarily in the way he thinks it is.

After sitting with this for a couple of weeks, what is clear to me is that my reaction to his posts (mostly disappointment and befuddlement, with a good dose of betrayal) were a result of my projections onto him of what I want in a spiritual teacher (he calls himself a pandit, so he assumed the role of teacher). His posts shattered that projection.

Not too much has changed for me in what I want or expect from a teacher, but I am clear now that simply because I do not own that part of myself (yet) does not mean that Wilber or any other teacher has to measure up to my internal definitions.

Wilber's posts on the shadow and how to reclaim our projections focus mostly on those negative aspects of ourselves that we project (to him, we got angry because he acted out the stuff we can't own in ourselves) onto others. However, we also hold positive aspects of ourselves in shadow and project them onto the world as well.

In the West, we are conditioned to believe that we must trust and obey teachers if we want to learn anything -- whether it's how to read as a child or how to meditate or how to know what is true. We are not encouraged to develop and access that higher self (the witness or observer) who remains aloof from emotional baggage and has insights that defy reason -- the inner teacher in all of us. So we hold that part of ourselves in shadow and we project it onto people like Wilber, or Surya Das, or Andrew Cohen, or whoever is the guru of the day.

So some of us were disappointed in Wilber's posts because we had projected our inner teacher onto him -- and his actions shattered our ideas of what we expect a teacher to do or how a teacher should act. Maybe this was just me, but I suspect others experienced this as well. Wilber cultivates this type of projection to a certain extent, but it is my fault for not owning this necessary part of myself to begin with.

I think it's easier to see and reclaim the negative traits. When we are projecting negative stuff, we get reactive and it is apparent. But when we project positive qualities, such as the inner teacher, the reactivity is subtle and appears more like hero worship, or guru relationships, or simply idolization. We often can't these things because they don't cause us any suffering -- usually.

Even though I sometimes find myself in disagreement with Wilber and find myself questioning his theories, I looked to him to be a teacher, a pandit. I wanted him to lead by example, but to do so within the framework of how I believe a teacher should act: graciously accepting or refuting criticism or ignoring it when it amounts to little more than a personal attack, being able to express anger and frustration in ways that are mature and not needlessly hurtful, and having the big compassionate balls with himself -- the ability to admit when he is wrong or has made a mistake.

I want this of all teachers because this is what I want of myself, of my inner teacher. But now that I have been forced to reclaim my projection from Wilber, I will be diligent in attempting not to project that teacher outside of myself. Rather, I want to seek a connection to that part of myself, to that higher wisdom within me.

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It strikes me as funny that I wrote about this very thing in my post on the Hermit card in the Tarot. I am amazed that I was able to write that post and not see my own projections in this area. Sometimes we teach what we have to learn.

Many years ago, I kept a Hanged Man tarot card with me as a reminder about surrender. I think it is time to keep the Hermit, or Wise Old Man (can also be a woman) near at hand as a reminder that I need not always look outside of myself for wisdom and teaching.

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Al Gore on Charlie Rose

Charlie Rose is back and he had Al Gore on the other night. You can watch the whole show here.

Gore continues to duck the presidential aspirations questions, but the interview is good. Truthdig called it Gore's "most thoughtful, thorough TV interview to date on the global warming crisis."

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Sacred Text: Sa'di

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Sa'di's travels (about 1194-1292 CE) and observations of the characters of the people he met, backed by his extensive learning, led him to compose two masterpieces—The Bustan [The Fragrant Place, i.e Flower Garden] and The Gulistan (The Flower Garden). The second, from which this extract derives, is a prose work interspersed with verses that touches on practical wisdom and moral questions in an easy and entertaining style.

Parrot and Crow

They shut up a parrot in the same cage with a crow. The parrot was affronted at the crow’s ugly look, and said: “What an odious countenance, a hideous figure; what an accursed appearance, and ungracious demeanor!

Would to God, O raven of the desert!
We were wide apart as east is from west.
To cross your path by morning,
Changes the serenity of peaceful day
To gloomy night.
An ill-conditioned wretch like you
Should be your companion;
But where could we find
Such a one in this world?”

But what is more strange, the crow was also out of all patience, and vexed to the soul at the society of the parrot. Bewailing his misfortune, he was railing to the revolutions of the skies. Wringing the hands of chagrin, he lamented his condition, saying: “What an unfavorable fate is this, what ill-luck, and adverse fortune! Could they not in any way maintain my dignity, who would in my day strut with my fellow crows along the wall of a garden?

It were sufficient imprisonment
For a good and holy man that
He should be made the companion
of the wicked.

What sin have I committed that my stars in retribution of it have linked me in the chain of companionship, and immured me in the dungeon of calamity, with a conceited blockhead, and good-for-nothing babbler?

Nobody will approach the foot of a wall
on which they have painted your por­trait.
Were you to get a place in paradise,
Others would go in preference to hell.”

All these years later, we now know that corvids (crows, ravens, jays) and parrots are the two smartest bird families on the planet. Both are smarter than most primates. So this is a nice story about egos and attachment.

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Sogyal Rinpoche on Tonglen

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This was this morning's Glimpse of the Day:

Imagine vividly a situation where you have acted badly, one about which you feel guilty, and about which you wince even to think of it.

Then, as you breathe in, accept total responsibility for your actions in that particular situation, without in any way trying to justify your behavior. Acknowledge exactly what you have done wrong, and wholeheartedly ask for forgiveness. Now, as you breathe out, send out reconciliation, forgiveness, healing, and understanding.

So you breathe in blame, and breathe out the undoing of harm; you breathe in responsibility, breathe out healing, forgiveness, and reconciliation.

This exercise is particularly powerful and may give you the courage to go to see the person whom you have wronged, and the strength and willingness to talk to him or her directly and actually ask for forgiveness from the depths of your heart.

~ Sogyal Rinpoche, Glimpse After Glimpse

I liked the simplicity of how Rinpoche presented this. We can use tonglen practice to help us own our own mistakes and hurtful actions. In tonglen, we embrace our suffering and our responsiblity -- in doing so we become free.

Pema Chodron writes this about tonglen practice:

People often say that this practice goes against the grain of how we usually hold ourselves together. Truthfully, this practice does go against the grain of wanting things on our own terms, of wanting it to work out for ourselves no matter what happens to the others. The practice dissolves the armor of self-protection we've tried so hard to create around ourselves. In Buddhist language one would say that it dissolves the fixation and clinging of ego.

Tonglen reverses the usual logic of avoiding suffering and seeking pleasure and, in the process, we become liberated from a very ancient prison of selfishness. We begin to feel love both for ourselves and others and also we being to take care of ourselves and others. It awakens our compassion and it also introduces us to a far larger view of reality. It introduces us to the unlimited spaciousness that Buddhists call shunyata. By doing the practice, we begin to connect with the open dimension of our being.
This is another powerful way to work with our pain, our fear, our suffering. When we do, we can create a new openness within us that makes space for all of who we are. We can use this practice to build our capacity for compassion.

In the end, it is our capacity for compassion -- both tender and fierce -- that enables us to see beyond our own limited egos.

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Tuesday, June 20, 2006


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This was from my Daily Om today:

Wonderment Of Life
The Things We Take For Granted

Most of us begin our days with a continuous list of things we need to do to keep our lives running smoothly, but we rarely take time to note all the things we don't need to do. For example, we don't need to figure out how to breathe. We don't need to find a way to make sure the earth continues to revolve around the sun. We don't need to concentrate to ensure that our heart beats and our cells regenerate. All of these things, and many more, take care of themselves without our having to think or do anything at all. This is the miracle of life on earth.

Beyond the wonder of the natural world, we have the wonder of human-created conditions such as indoor plumbing, electricity, automobiles, airplanes, telephones, and the Internet to name a few. Someone living just a hundred years ago would be overwhelmed by the ease with which we can communicate with people all over the world. Every day, millions of us jump on airplanes and fly to distant locations in a matter of hours. If we have access to a computer, we can read obscure information about any subject, free of charge, at any time of the day or night. And yet, it's only when one of these miraculous inventions fails that we notice it at all.

When you wake up tomorrow, take time to notice how many things are running smoothly, how many small miracles compose your day. If you wear glasses or contact lenses, as you put them on, take a moment to appreciate the fact that without them, you would be unable to see. Your life would be entirely different if someone hadn't invented corrective lenses. As you take in your world, you might feel a moment of gratitude for the basic fact that, once again, the sun has risen to illuminate the abundant earth, and the earth's gravitational field holds you and all that you hold dear in a tight, life-affirming embrace.

Today's entry was essentially about gratitude -- seeing all the little things around us that we take for granted and learning to appreciate them.

I am grateful for gratitude today. And for a new fitness pod at Zaadz. And that Kira's work life is tranforming in all the ways for which she has been hoping. And for this computer than allows me to interact with a world outside of Tucson.

What are you grateful for?

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Video: Folgers - Happy Morning

Jay turned me onto this video. Let me say up front that my morning coffee hasn't been like this since I quit buying my food coloring in the parking lot of Grateful Dead concerts and adding a few drops to my coffee.

[This is a YouTube video, so it may disappear at any time -- my apologies if it does.]

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Poem: Hafiz

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A New World

Let's offer flowers, pour a cup of libation,
split open the skies and start anew on creation.

If the forces of grief invade our lovers' veins,
cupbearer and I will wash away this temptation.

With rose water we'll mellow crimson wine's bitter cup;
we'll sugar the fire to sweeten smoke's emanation.

Take this fine lyre, musician, strike up a love song;
let's dance, sing all night, go wild in celebration.

As dust, 0 West Wind, let us rise to the Heavens,
floating free in Creator's glow of elation.

If mind desires to return while heart cries to stay,
here's a quarrel for love's deliberation.

Alas, these words and songs go for naught in this land;
come, Hafiz, let's create a new generation.

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A Koan

A little Zen wisdom to start the day:
Once there was a devoted old woman who built a place of retreat for a monk, arranging that he would not lack for anything, so that he could concentrate upon his meditation and practice. One day, after twenty years, she instructed her daughter: "Today, after serving the Master his meal, take advantage of the situation to embrace him tightly, asking him at the same time, 'how does it feel to be hugged these days?' Come back and let me know his answer as faithfully as you can."

The daughter dutifully did as she was told, putting her arms around the Master and asking the question. The Master replied, "I am not moved in the very least by sexual desire, no different from a dried up tree leaning against a cold mass of rocks in the middle of winter, when not even a drop of warmth can be found." The young girl repeated the answer to her mother, who said unhappily, "I have really wasted my time and effort during the last twenty years. Little did I know that I was only supporting a common mortal!" Having said this, she went out, evicted the monk, lit a fire and burned the meditation hut to the ground.

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Dalai Lama Quote of the Week

This is from Snow Lion Books, publishers of The Art of Happiness: A Handbook for Living by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Howard C. Cutler, M.D.

Howard Cutler: "Have there been situations in your life that you've regretted?"

Dalai Lama: "Oh, yes. Now for instance there was one older monk who lived as a hermit. He used to come to see me to receive teachings, although I think he was actually more accomplished than I and came to me as a sort of formality. Anyway, he came to me one day and asked me about doing a certain high-level esoteric practice. I remarked in a casual way that this would be a difficult practice and perhaps would be better undertaken by someone who was younger, that traditionally it was a practice that should be started in one's midteens. I later found out that the monk had killed himself in order to be reborn in a younger body to more effectively undertake the practice..."

Surprised by this story, I remarked, "Oh, that's terrible! That must have been hard on you when you heard..." The Dalai Lama nodded sadly. "How did you deal with that feeling of regret? How did you eventually get rid of it?"

The Dalai Lama silently considered for quite a while before replying, "I didn't get rid of it. It's still there. But even though that feeling of regret is still there, it isn't associated with a feeling of heaviness or a quality of pulling me back. It would not be helpful to anyone if I let that feeling of regret weigh me down, be simply a source of discouragement and depression with no purpose, or interfere with going on with my life to the best of my ability."

At that moment, in a very visceral way, I was struck once again by the very real possibility of a human being's fully facing life's tragedies and responding emotionally, even with deep regret, but without indulging in excessive guilt or self-contempt. The possibility of a human being's wholly accepting herself or himself, complete with limitations, foibles, and lapses of judgment. The possibility of recognizing a bad situation for what it is and responding emotionally, but without overresponding. The Dalai Lama sincerely felt regret over the incident he described but carried his regret with dignity and grace. And while carrying this regret, he has not allowed it to weigh him down, choosing instead to move ahead and focus on helping others to the best of his ability.
This is a good lesson in not becoming attached to our emotions, which is so easy to do. I got to practice this on a much smaller scale yesterday morning.

When I was driving to my first client, a dove flew out of the bushes alongside the road and struck my windsheild. It was killed instantly. I felt horrible, as I always do when something like that happens. But I found myself being aware that I had a choice to dwell on the feeling, become attached to it, or to feel it and then let it be released.

I felt sad for a couple of minutes -- and I still feel sad -- but I did not become attached to the feeling. I did not allow it to become a shadow on my day. That's a new skill for me.

If it were a bigger situation, say a cat had run out, it might not have been so easy. If it were something much larger, on the scale of what His Holiness describes, I know I would not be able to do it. Small steps.

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Monday, June 19, 2006


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There is no need for temples, no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple: The philosophy is kindness.

~ The Dalai Lama
I am grateful for kindess -- kindness that is extended to me, kindness that I can extend to others, and kindness that others extend to each other. There are few situations where kindness is not the best response.

I am grateful that it was 106 degrees today, and I lived to tell the tale.

What are you grateful for?

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Video: What Global Mind Meditation Looks Like

A little Buddhist humor for a Monday morning.

Ken Wilber used to call this the psychic level, but now it's global mind. So here is what monks who have mastered meta-mind meditate on.

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Deepak Chopra on Meditation's Benefits

Deepak Chopra has taken a break from his fairly consistent political posts over at Intent Blog to write about the benefits of meditation.

Benefits of Meditation
Deepak Chopra - June 16, 2006

Physical impurities in cells have their equivalents in the mind: fear, anger, greed, compulsiveness, doubt, and other negative emotions.

Operating at the quantum level, they can be as damaging to us as any chemical toxin. The mind body connection turns negative attitudes into chemical toxins, the so-called “stress hormones” that have been linked to many different diseases. Ayurveda lumps all negative tendencies together as “mental ama” which needs to be cleansed from the mind.

It is not possible to purify the mind by thinking about it. An angry mind cannot conquer its own anger; fear cannot quench fear. Instead, a technique is required that goes beyond the domain where fear, anger, and all other forms of mental ama hold sway. This technique is meditation. If properly taught and used, meditation allows a person to become unstuck from the ama in his thoughts and emotions. In our Center we prescribe Primordial Sound Meditation, or PSM as a simple, natural way of accomplishing this goal.

As a young physician in the 1970’s, I was attracted to meditation for two reasons, one personal, the other professional. The personal reason was the promise of inner growth, of reaching an expanded state of mental and spiritual development. The professional reason was the large body of research on meditation that established that this meditation was “real”, that is, it produced tangible benefits.

Meditation is not forcing you mind to be quiet; it’s finding the quiet that is already there. In fact, when you examine the background static of worry, resentment, wishful thinking, fantasy, unfulfilled hopes, and vague dreams in your head, it becomes clear that the internal dialogue going on inside is literally controlling us. Each of us is the victim of memory. That’s how the Ayurvedic masters diagnosed it thousands of years ago.

Behind the screen of our internal dialogue, there is something entirely different: the silence of a mind that is not imprisoned by the past. That is the silence we want to bring into our awareness through meditation. Why is this important? Because silence is the birthplace of happiness. Silence is where we get out bursts of inspiration, our tender feelings of compassion and empathy, our sense of love. These are all delicate emotions and the chaotic roar of the internal dialogue easily drowns them out. But when you discover the silence in your mind, you no longer have to pay attention to all those random images that trigger worry, anger, and pain.

How to Meditate:

When you are ready to begin, sit quietly holding your hands lightly at your side or in your lap. Now, with your eyes closed, start to breathe lightly and easily. Let your attention easily follow your breathing. Feel your breath entering your nostrils and flowing down into your lungs. Don’t inhale deeply or hold your breath, just breathe normally. When you exhale, let your attention follow the air up out of the lungs and softly through the nostrils.

Nothing is forced here. The breath is moving easily and gently; your attention is following it softly as it leaves swaying in the treetops. As your breathing relaxes, make it a little lighter. Again, don’t force this, but when you feel that your breathing wants to get a bit shallower and lighter, just let it happen. If you start to feel short of breath, don’t worry. This means that you need a little more air and that deep stresses are coming out. Or you might also be forcing your breathing to be lighter than it wants to be. Return to whatever rate of breathing your body feels comfortable with.

When you are comfortable with this effortless process, you can add the mantra “so hum” to the procedure, silently thinking the word “so” on each inhalation and “hum” on each exhalation.

Continue this exercise for two or five minutes, just closing your eyes and focusing your mind on easy, natural breathing and silently repeating “so hum” with each cycle of your breath. What is happening with this exercise? You probably noticed that just by paying attention to your breathing you sank deeper and deeper into relaxation, and as you did so, your mind naturally became quieter. Did you sense that? If so, you probably experienced a few glimpses of complete silence, which you aren’t likely to have noticed, because I didn’t ask you to be on the lookout. If you had looked for silence it wouldn’t have appeared. Yet I imagine there were stretches where you lost track of time, which is a good indication that you were getting very near to the goal. Most people experience much fainter thoughts than usual, which is another good sign.

As you gain experience with meditation, you’ll begin to feel the reappearance of youthful energy and vitality that is being released form a deeper level of the nervous system. This is a very profound change and the real fountain of youth. Although mediation has been wrapped in an aura of mysticism for many centuries, at its heart lies this extremely practical and unmystical process of quieting the mind. It is the surreal way to open a channel of healing.
Meditating for physical health isn't the worst thing a person can do. And if people stick with it, they are bound to become curious about how to deepen the practice.

I tend to give Chopra a hard time every now and then, but he -- like Oprah and some others -- get people interested in personal growth who might not otherwise ever give it a chance. As shallow as it often seems, it's better than nothing. Everyone starts their path at the beginning, and everyone's beginning is a little different.

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New Social Anxiety Blog

Three of the finest integral bloggers have joined forces to create a blog for and about those who suffer from social anxiety (count me in). Dashh, Umguy, and Ryan will be blogging on all things related to SA. Here is some of the introduction to Anxious Living:
Anxious Living is an exploration into the nature and treatment of social anxiety. As the authors of Anxious Living we write based on our own personal experiences of social anxiety, as well as on formal and informal research. Posts on Anxious Living discuss the experience of social anxiety, in addition to techniques and paths of treatment, both in an objective manner and from individual experience of those techniques and paths. We invite you to join us in this ongoing conversation, whether you yourself struggle with social anxiety, you know someone who does, you are a mental health practitioner, or if you simply have an interest in social anxiety. We encourage you to share your experiences, feelings, thoughts, and ideas in the comment section. Our hope is that this will be a supportive and dynamic site for everyone.
I look forward to seeing what they will doing with this.

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Befriending Pain

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Whatever you do, don't shut off your pain; accept your pain and remain vulnerable. However desperate you become, accept your pain as it is, because it is in fact trying to hand you a priceless gift: the chance of discovering, through spiritual practice, what lies behind sorrow.

"Grief," Rumi wrote, "can be the garden of compassion. If you keep your heart open through everything, your pain can become your greatest ally in your life's search for love and wisdom."

~ Sogyal Rinpoche
Our pain and struggle, if we face it and work through the challenge, can be the source of our gift to the world. This is what I was taught by a wise friend many years ago.

His sense of this was based on his studies of shamanism. In many cultures, the future shaman experiences a crisis (sometimes physical health and sometimes emotional health) that marks the calling to service. If the initiate answers the call and goes into the suffering, s/he is often healed and through that healing receives the gift of initiation. If the initiate refuses the call, s/he might die from the illness or be ostracized as insane.

If we choose to see our pain as a calling, we then can hold it as a teacher.

We can learn from all forms of pain -- physical, emotional, spiritual. If we take an even wider view, pain at any one level (say physical) is often experienced in the other levels as well. Spiritual pain can often manifest first as pain in the body, or even as a physcial illness.

If we open our hearts to our pain, in whatever form it first appears, and walk into its realm with clear intention, then like the shamans from other cultures, we too can experience the process as an initiation. We will be transformed and strengthened. If we learn our lesson well, then we will be gifted with a compassion that we can share with others.

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Sunday, June 18, 2006


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For The Children

The rising hills, the slopes,
of statistics
lie before us.
the steep climb
of everything, going up,
up, as we all
go down.

In the next century
or the one beyond that,
they say,
are valleys, pastures,
we can meet there in peace
if we make it.

To climb these coming crests
one word to you, to
you and your children:

stay together
learn the flowers
go light

--Gary Snyder

Today I am grateful for Kira (I always am, but moreso today). We had a relaxing day today: shared a little about what is going on in our lives, took a nap, played Scrabble, and had no agenda for getting anything done. It was peaceful, relaxed intimacy. Exactly what I needed on this Sunday.

What are you grateful for?

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