Saturday, July 22, 2006

Anna Nalick: Breathe (2 am)

The first track on the player is "Breathe," followed by short samples of a few other songs. I love this song. Something about her voice is haunting and beautiful, soothing and sad.

Anna Nalick music player. Play the song in a new window and follow along with lyrics.
Breathe (2 AM)

2 AM and she calls me 'cause I'm still awake,
Can you help me unravel my latest mistake,
I don't love him, winter just wasn't my season
Yeah we walk through the doors, so accusing their eyes
Like they have any right at all to criticize,
Hypocrites, you're all here for the very same reason

'Cause you can't jump the track,we're like cars on a cable
And life's like an hourglass, glued to the table
No one can find the rewind button girl,
So cradle your head in your hands
And breathe, just breathe,
Woah breathe, just breathe

May he turn 21 on the base at Fort Bliss
Just a day, he sat down to the flask in his fist,
Ain't been sober, since maybe October of last year.
Here in town you can tell he's been down for a while,
But my God it's so beautiful when the boy smiles,
Wanna hold him, maybe I'll just sing about it.

Cause you can't jump the track, we're like cars on a cable,
And life's like an hourglass, glued to the table.
No one can find the rewind button boys,
So cradle your head in your hands,
And breathe, just breathe,
Woah breathe, just breathe

There's a light at each end of this tunnel, you shout
'Cause you're just as far in as you'll ever be out
These mistakes you've made, you'll just make them again
If you only try turning around.

2 AM and I'm still awake, writing a song
If I get it all down on paper, its no longer
Inside of me, threatening the life it belongs to
And I feel like I'm naked in front of the crowd
Cause these words are my diary, screaming out loud
And I know that you'll use them, however you want to

Cause you can't jump the track, we're like cars on a cable,
And life's like an hourglass, glued to the table
No one can find the rewind button now
Sing it if you understand.
And breathe, just breathe
Woah breathe, just breathe,
Oh breathe, just breathe.

Ken Wilber Humor

Clint at the Ken Wilber shrine, er, blog, yeah, it's a blog, has posted a collection of Ken Wilber humor. They lifted most of it from, but they also lifted a bunch of Chuck Norris jokes and inserted The Ken.

Here is some of that fine KW humor (well, okay, it's just mildly entertaining):

Random Ken Wilber Facts

-Ken Wilber has mastered over 40 different styles of martial arts, including three that are unknown to any other human, living or dead.

-Ken Wilber doesn't shave his head. He long ago willed his hair to stop growing.

-During a recent session of advanced kundalini meditation, Ken Wilber spontaneously combusted, then arose out of the ash reborn. This cycle has been repeated since the dawn of man's conception of time.

-Ken Wilber can go from ego to nondual in 3.9 seconds.

-George Lucas based the original Star Wars trilogy over a story Ken told him at a bar, about his social traumas and struggles during childhood.

-Ken Wilber has transcended transcendence.

-Ken Wilber can reproduce asexually, by mitosis.

-There is no Alpha and Omega, there is only Ken Wilber

-The crater in the Yucatan Peninsula was created when Ken Wilber's spaceship ran out of fuel and crashed into the face of the earth. Ken is sorry about the dinosaurs

-Ken Wilber glows under black light.

-Once Ken Wilber had an epiphany and it resulted with the manifestation of all 57 varieties of Heinz (including the green and purple ketchup).

-Ken Wilber can divide by zero.

-The Inuit tribe of North America has 37 words for Ken Wilber.

-Ken Wilber can see in the dark, but only by making a high pitched squeal, and feeling the vibrations of it reflecting off of other surfaces. Bats learned this from Ken Wilber.

-You can determine Ken Wilber's age by cutting off his leg and counting the rings.

-He can say, with a straight face, that a certain developmental level enjoys having sex with all sentient beings... for a reason.
Here are the Wilber/Norris jokes:

In light of this celebration of Ken Wilber humor, we have decided to divulge the truth about all those “Chuck Norris” jokes you have seen on the internet. We wrote them all about Ken just over three and a half years ago. And, yes, they are all true. We sold the rights to Chuck Norris because we felt sorry for him and we needed money to start Integral Naked. Below is a selection of the best ones:

-Ken Wilber's tears cure cancer. Too bad he has never cried.

-MacGyver can build an airplane out of gum and paper clips, but Ken Wilber can kill him and take it.

-Ken Wilber once roundhouse kicked someone so hard that his foot broke the speed of light, went back in time, and killed Amelia Earhart while she was flying over the Pacific Ocean. Again, he is sorry about this.

-Ken Wilber doesn't read books. He stares them down until he gets the information he wants.

-If you ask Ken Wilber what time it is, he always says, "Two seconds till." After you ask, "Two seconds to what?" he roundhouse kicks you in the face.

-Rather than being birthed like a normal child, Ken Wilber instead decided to punch his way out of his mother's womb. Shortly thereafter he grew a beard.

-Ken Wilber appeared in the "Street Fighter II" video game, but was removed by Beta Testers because every button caused him to do a roundhouse kick. When asked bout this "glitch," Ken replied, "That's no glitch."

-Ken Wilber lost his virginity before his dad did.

-Ken Wilber sold his soul to the devil for his rugged good looks and unparalleled martial arts ability. Shortly after the transaction was finalized, Ken roundhouse kicked the devil in the face and took his soul back. The devil, who appreciates irony, couldn't stay mad and admitted he should have seen it coming. They now play poker every second Wednesday of the month.

-The original theme song to the Transformers was actually "Ken Wilber--more than meets the eye, Ken Wilber--robot in disguise," and starred Ken Wilber as a Texas Ranger who defended the earth from drug-dealing Decepticons and could turn into a Mercedes SUV. This was far too awesome for a single show, however, so it was divided.

-Ken Wilber is currently suing NBC, claiming Law and Order are trademarked names for his left and right legs.

-It was once believed that Ken Wilber actually lost a fight to a pirate, but that is a lie, created by Ken Wilber himself to lure more pirates to him. Pirates never were very smart.

-Ken Wilber recently had the idea to sell his urine as a canned beverage. We know this beverage as Red Bull.

-If paper beats rock, rock beats scissors, and scissors beats paper, what beats all 3 at the same time? Answer: Ken Wilber.

-If you can see Ken Wilber, he can see you. If you can't see Ken Wilber, you may be only seconds away from death.

-On the 7th day, God rested....and Ken Wilber took over.

-Although it is not common knowledge, there are actually three sides to the Force: the light side, the dark side, and Ken Wilber.

-If you want a list of Ken Wilber's enemies, just check the extinct species list.

-Ken Wilber has never blinked in his entire life. Never.

-If Superman and The Flash were to race to the edge of space you know who would win? Ken Wilber.

-Ken Wilber is Luke Skywalker's real father.

-Ken Wilber does not use spell check. If he happens to misspell a word, Oxford will simply change the actual spelling of it.

-Before science was invented it was once believed that autumn occurred when Ken Wilber roundhouse kicked every tree in existence.

-Once a grizzly bear threatened to eat Ken Wilber. Ken showed the bear his fist and the bear proceeded to eat himself, because it would be the less painful way to die.

Brian Springer - Spin

Using the 1992 presidential election as his springboard, documentary filmmaker Brian Springer captures the behind-the-scenes maneuverings of politicians and newscasters in the early 1990s. Pat Robertson banters about "homos," Al Gore learns how to avoid abortion questions, George Bush talks to Larry King about halcyon -- all presuming they're off camera. Composed of 100% unauthorized satellite footage, Spin is a surreal expose of media-constructed reality.

Dharma Quote: Generous Wisdom

This was in my inbox from Snow Lion Publications:

Dalai Lama Quote of the Week

Shakyamuni Buddha, even when he was a trainee on the path, was solely concerned in both thought and action with others' welfare. Whenever he found an opportunity to work for others, no matter what difficulties he faced, he was never discouraged. He never hated obstacles and hardships encountered on the way. Instead, the difficult situations facilitated his being more courageous and determined to accomplish others' welfare. Just because he was so determined to work for others in the past, even as a trainee on the path, it is needless to say how much more it is so with him now as a completely enlightened person.

As the saying goes, "A past life story of a teacher is an enlightening practice for posterity."

~ From Generous Wisdom: Commentaries of His Holiness the Dalai Lama XIV on the Jatakamala Garland of Birth Stories translated by Tenzin Dorjee, edited by Dexter Roberts

This seems like a good dharma lesson as so many people are talking about war and killing and complaining that peace movements just make things worse. We should always seek peace and strive to help others.

I'm not down with the whole New Age concept of "our actions can change the world," but I firmly believe that our actions can change us, and touch those around us. If we each strive to embody peace and compassion, and model that in our daily lives, others will be touched by it and they may try to do the same.

These small actions will not stop the killing in the Middle East, and many will scoff at such feeble attmepts to create a better world, and that's okay. A better world starts with you and me choosing to change ourselves and committing to help others seek the path of compassion.

Speedlinks 7/22

I'm liking the speedlink thing as a way to share what I'm reading on the web, so I'm going to keep doing this from time to time. If you have cool stuff you'd like me to post about (either your blog/site, or something you have seen) drop me a note in the comments or on the email me tab in the sidebar. It doesn't have to be integral or Buddhist by definition, but it should be in fitting with this blog.

~ Alaska's grizzly bears: I found this first through GreatNewsNetwork, which led me through Mercury News to the National Geographic website. Watch some cute videos here, or the live grizzly cam here.

~ You can take all kinds of personality tests at Be sure you want to know before you find out.

~ Colmar offers readers another chance to respond to his main point from yesterday, "Anatomy of a War."

~ Ray Harris posts "Age of Consent, Part II" at Open Integral. In this offering he examines how we define a "child."

~ Nagarjuna offers his introduction at Thoughts Chasing Thoughts.

~ Matthew Dallman posts part of a Thomas Sowell article claiming that peace movements are the reason terrorist groups can attack more powerful nations without fear of annihilation. Uh . . . well, whatever, nevermind . . . .


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Woo Hoo, I'm a Schizoid!

This was a rather unsettling personality test -- well, more a psychological disorders test. Okay, not really unsettling because, as a schizoid, I'm not really in touch with my feelings.

Here is the description for schizoid, for those who haven't suffered through a year of abnormal psych in college:

Schizoid Personality Disorder - individual generally detached from social relationships, and shows a narrow range of emotional expression in various social settings.
The author of the test mentions, and I tend to agree, that schizoid is a false category.

Author Note:I don't think Schizoid personality is a valid disorder (read), some of the smartest people in history were schizoid because they occupied a remote end of the intelligence bell curve. Schizotypal personality can encompass highly original thinkers as well as totally insane people so I think it's a flawed type. I think the remaining eight disorders are generally valid.
So what is your particular disorder -- let's share our neuroses.

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Friday, July 21, 2006


Life is good. And it feels important to acknowledge that from time to time, especially after the gratitude posts I did a while back.

I'm working on a new writing project (an 8th grade civics text) that is fun and challenging -- and a nice break from blogging. I'm doing 40-50 section openers, 80-120 words each, relating a current events picture to the content of the section. The year+ that I spent blogging politics and reading Constitutional law is actually paying off -- especially since a lot of the pictures are from things I blogged about in the last year.

I'll also be showing up in a little over a week as a guest on a very fine blog -- more on that as it approaches.

Life at the gym is in its usual summer rut, but the timing is perfect for it to be slow.

The monsoon is here, my favorite time of year in the Sonoran Desert, but the rains have been playing hide and seek with us. It was 110 degrees today and dry as a bone. Our drought is having a drought. But the weather people have tossed a few bones, read some tea leaves, and consulted the Tarot -- they promise a chance of rain tomorrow, maybe.

Finally, in about five weeks we will be going to Nova Scotia for a week or so. I'm looking forward to the cool weather, new landscape, and interesting people. And whales, lots of whales.

What are you grateful for?

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A Wise Man Once Said . . .

[image source]

These teachings are like a raft, to be abandoned once you have crossed the flood.
Since you should abandon even good states of mind generated by these teachings,
How much more so should you abandon bad states of mind!

Conquer the angry man by love.
Conquer the ill-natured man by goodness.
Conquer the miser with generosity.
Conquer the liar with truth.

~The Dhammapada

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I am a bit pressed for time this morning, so I want to point out a few links in the Integral Blogosphere worth your time (in my less than humble opinion).

Colmar takes issue with the Washington Post's Richard Cohen, an article I linked to a day or so back. I attempt to contextualize the article's viewpoint in the comments.

Umguy has a nice post on working with a personal mythology, an idea he credits to ~C4Chaos.

Ray Harris has an interesting post on Integral Sexology over at Open Integral. He's looking specifically at "age of consent" issues within an intergal context. It's an interesting article.

~C4Chaos replies to Colmar's "Sacred Cows" post, as only ~C4 can.

Tom Armstrong's new group political/Buddhist/integral blog goes live with its first post. The blog is called Thoughts Chasing Thoughts, so set your feeds. My friend Nagarjuna is one of the confirmed group members.

Have fun.

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Thursday, July 20, 2006

Social Networking Goes Niche

MySpace and Facebook, with 90 million and 7.5 million members respectively, lead the way in the social networking marketplace. But, as MSNBC/Newsweek reports, the new trend seems to be niche networking sites that focus on particular interests, especially politics.

We all know about Zaadz, which now boasts over 10,000 members. But there are other new services, such as Essembly, with over 17,000 members, and MyGOP, launched by the Republican National Committee (the DNC is working on its own version of a social/political networking site to keep pace with the GOP).

Essembly sounds kind of cool, in a debate team sort of way:
Essembly, designed last year by Joe Green, 23, a friend and former Harvard classmate of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, is the emerging online social network of the serious-minded. Like Facebook and MySpace, the site is free and lets users browse friends' photos and personal information. But unlike more organic networks, it actively promotes intellectual discussion. In the spirit of collegiate debate, Essembly users spar over declarations of opinion called "resolves." They also identify other members as "allies" and "nemeses" based on ideological similarities. "On Facebook, people rack up 'friends' like there's no tomorrow," Green says. "What really is missing is a connection between people based on how they think."

That connection can be surprising. Chris Watson, a die-hard libertarian, was shocked to find himself agreeing with a socialist on the issue of gun ownership. To downplay partisan labels, the site calculates the "ideological compatibility" of all members. It's the political equivalent of a dating survey. ("You and Amber are 75 percent compatible!") And often, as in romance, opposites attract. Many Essembly users report that, when it comes down to the issues, they have surprisingly high levels of compatibility with people they thought were their nemeses. In fact, Watson, a former high-school debater, says he learns more from his ideological opposites on Essembly than from his allies. And for those with amorous inclinations, the site might just offer the most in-depth dating recon since Google. Users can see a potential paramour's views on everything from the current Middle East conflict to the sanity of right-wing opinionator Ann Coulter.
I'm now a registered user and engaged in a debate on stem cell research. What fun!

The article really focuses on how these networks will be used for political purposes -- even the ones that arenot organized around that ideal.
With elections this fall and in 2008, campaign directors need new ways to rally voters. Scott Heiferman, the CEO of, the pioneering social-networking site that helped give Howard Dean early momentum in the 2004 presidential campaign, predicts social networks will soon eclipse television in terms of impact on politics. "Expect candidates to be on millions of MySpace and Facebook buddy lists, for sure," he says. "It's a big thing, a real populist revolution." Still, Heiferman believes political networking only reaches its full effectiveness when users take the next step: meeting in person. "People need to use the Internet to get off the Internet," he says.

My best guess is that social networking sites will become captive audiences for political ads, but that they won't become centers for politically minded people to gather. I suspect that the blogopshere will remain the destination for politically minded folks -- places like the Daily Kos and MyDD on the left (don't know where the righties hang out).

Any thoughts?

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Guitar Freak

Around the same time that Joe Satriani was coming up in the US, Sweden was producing Yngwie Malmsteen. This is a piece called Far Beyond the Sun.

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One Taste

[image source]

There has been a lot of Ken bashing in the integral blogosphere of late, so I just wanted to post a reminder of the KW we used to know and love (well, most of us at least).

It is not quite right to describe One Taste as a "consciousness" or an "awareness," because that's a little too heady, too cognitive. It's more like the simple Feeling of Being. You already feel this simple Feeling of Being: it is the simple, present feeling of existence.


But if I remain in the simple Feeling of Being, what does it matter if a friend gets a new house and I do not? Her joy is my joy, in the simple Feeling of One Taste. What does it matter if a colleague receives accolades and I do not? His happiness is my happiness, in the simple Feeling of One Taste. When there is but one Self looking out through all eyes, do I not rejoice in good fortune wherever it occurs, since it is the good fortune of my own deepest Self? And when suffering occurs anywhere in the universe, do I not also suffer, since it is the suffering of my own deepest Self? When a young child cries from hunger, do I not suffer? When one young husband delights in seeing his wife come home, do I not rejoice?

~ Ken Wilber

Seems as though it has been a while since KW has said anything as centered as this. Maybe I'm just missing his newfound brilliance, but the KW of old used to inspire me in deep ways -- for which I am eternally grateful.

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Buddhist Parable: The Great Matter of Death and Rebirth

[image source]


"In India there was once a king who believed in a non-Buddhist religion which taught many kinds of bitter practices ... some spread ashes on their bodies, and some slept on beds of nails. They cultivated all kinds of ascetic practices. Meanwhile, the Bhikshus who cultivated the Buddhadharma had it 'easy,' because they didn't cultivate that way. Now, the king of that country said to the Buddha's disciples, 'It's my belief that the ascetic practices which these non-Buddhists cultivate still don't enable them to end their afflictions. How much the less must you Bhikshus, who are so casual, be able to sever the affliction of your thoughts of sexual desire.'

One of the Dharma Masters answered the king this way: 'Suppose you take a man from jail who had been sentenced to execution, and you say to him 'Take this bowl of oil and carry it in your two hands as you walk down the highway. If you don't spill a single drop, I'll release you when you return.' Then, suppose you send some beautiful women musicians out on the highway to sing and play their instruments where the sentenced man is walking with his bowl of oil. If he should spill any oil, of course, you'll execute him. But if he should come back without spilling a single drop, what do you suppose he will answer if you ask him what he's seen on the road?'

The king of country did just that: he took a man destined to be executed and said to him, 'Today you should be executed but I'm going to give you an opportunity to save your life. How? I'll give you a bowl of oil to carry in your two hands as you take a walk on the highway. If you can do it without spilling a single drop, I'll spare your life. Go try it.' The sentenced man did as he was told. He went out on the highway, and when he returned he had not spilled one drop. Then the king asked him, 'What did you see out on the highway?' The sentenced man said, 'I didn't see a single thing. All I did was watch the oil to keep it from spilling. I didn't see anything else or hear anything at all.'

So, the king asked the Dharma Master, 'Well, what is the principle here?' The Dharma Master answered, 'The sentenced man was like the novice who has left the home life. Both see the question of Birth and Death as too important to waste time on thoughts of sexual desire, [the most dangerous affliction for ascetics].

Why can't people sever their afflictions? Because they don't understand Birth and Death. They don't realize how great the importance of this matter is [and therefore, are not single-minded in their determination to transcend it].'"

~ Master Hsuan Hua/77: 78-79

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Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Breakling the Fusion Trance in Relationships

[image source]

This is from a new thread over at the Integral Relationships pod. I'd like to hear how all of you feel about this topic.

In the thread on defining integral relationship, we talked a bit about the fusion form/stage of relationship. Fusion is a kind of trance state, a loss of equilibrium, according to David Schnarch: "People who lose their equibrium become completely self-centered until they regain it."

He talks about self-soothing as a way to create the differentiation that can break that trance state. One of the traits of fusion is an inability to maintain equilbrium in the presence of our partners:

"Self-soothing involves meeting two core challenges of selfhood: (a) not losing yourself to the pressures and demands of others, and (b) developing your capacity for self-centering (stabilizing your own emotions and fears)."

From this it would seem that one way to break the trance of fusion is to develop ways to self-sooth.

So, how do you self-sooth? How do you get centered in yourself and maintain that balance when things are challenging in a relationship?

I had a very good therapist last year who said that healthy couples are not those who do not fight, but those who have learned how to maintain themselves while fighting fairly.

So how do you maintain yourself, self-sooth, remain balanced, or whatever you want to call it?

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Poem: Theodore Roethke

[an old root cellar]

Root Cellar

Nothing would sleep in that cellar, dank as a ditch,
Bulbs broke out of boxes hunting for chinks in the dark,
Shoots dangled and drooped,
Lolling obscenely from mildewed crates,
Hung down long yellow evil necks, like tropical snakes.
And what a congress of stinks!
Roots ripe as old bait,
Pulpy stems, rank, silo-rich,
Leaf-mold, manure, lime, piled against slippery planks.
Nothing would give up life:
Even the dirt kept breathing a small breath.

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Asking for Help

[image source]

Some more Rigpa Glimpse of the Day:

All we need to do to receive direct help is to ask. Didn’t Christ also say: “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek and ye shall find; knock and it shall be opened unto you. Everyone that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth”? And yet asking is what we find hardest. Many of us, I feel, hardly know how to ask. Sometimes it is because we are arrogant, sometimes because we are unwilling to seek help, sometimes because we are lazy, and sometimes because our minds are so busy with questions, distractions, and confusion that the simplicity of asking does not occur to us.

The turning point in any healing of alcoholics or drug addicts is when they admit their illness and ask for aid. In one way or another, we are all addicts of samsara; the moment when help can come for us is when we admit our addiction and simply ask.

~ Sogyal Rinpoche

This is one of my big issues. I have a hard time asking for help when I need it. I was raised to think that men should be self-sufficient if they are "real men." What a load of crap.

Taking refuge is asking for help.

But it's still very easy for me to walk around as though I need nothing from anyone. The one thing that has changed that is my relationship with Kira. Having a loving, healthy relationship underscores how much I can sometimes need her in my life. That used to scare me, but now it feels like a good thing.

I'm learning this lesson, but it's a slow process.

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Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Happy! Happy! Joy! Joy!

I just got my copy of The Never Ending Quest, the book Clare Graves was working on before he died.

I'm excited to to start reading this rather massive book. I'll keep you posted as I get into the meat of the book. It appears that the first 200 pages or so are devoted to explaining the model. Then there is another 200 pages explaining each of the developmental stages. A final 100 pages look at the evidence for the model.

As an aside, Natasha Todorovic (Chris Cowan's wife) handled my order herself and was very generous with her time and in helping me place the order.

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The Israeli-Muslim War

[I'm pretty sure I'm going to get flamed on this either way that I go, so have at it. I am attempting an integral view, but I suspect that I have failed . . . and that's okay.]

I've done a bit of reading today, and I have to say that I now am very clear on why I quit my political blog. Politicians are mostly idiots, or at least pretend to be when the camera is on them or the tape recorder is running. And then there is a whole profession whose job it is to analyze the crap that spews from the always open mouths of politicians. But perhaps I am being to gentle.

So, this is some of what I learned:

William Kristol is stark raving mad.
George Will is remarkably sane for a baseball fan.
Israel is a brutal monster of a state.
Israel will have to negotiate its way out of this mess.
Hizbullah is winning the hearts and minds of Arab citizens.

But this seems to be the best article I read today, from Richard Cohen at the Washington Post. Here is a quote from the top of the piece:

The greatest mistake Israel could make at the moment is to forget that Israel itself is a mistake. It is an honest mistake, a well-intentioned mistake, a mistake for which no one is culpable, but the idea of creating a nation of European Jews in an area of Arab Muslims (and some Christians) has produced a century of warfare and terrorism of the sort we are seeing now. Israel fights Hezbollah in the north and Hamas in the south, but its most formidable enemy is history itself.

This is why the Israeli-Arab war, now transformed into the Israeli-Muslim war (Iran is not an Arab state), persists and widens. It is why the conflict mutates and festers. It is why Israel is now fighting an organization, Hezbollah, that did not exist 30 years ago and why Hezbollah is being supported by a nation, Iran, that was once a tacit ally of Israel's. The underlying, subterranean hatred of the Jewish state in the Islamic world just keeps bubbling to the surface. The leaders of Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan and some other Arab countries may condemn Hezbollah, but I doubt the proverbial man in their street shares that view.
There is no easy answer to this issue. I certainly don't have the answers after one afternoon of reading. So to take these thoughts as preliminary observations subject to revision in light of new info as I encounter it.

If Israel persues war with the Muslim world -- which would be intiated by a continued offensive against Hizbullah out of proportion to the atagonism, or an attack on Syria and/or Iran -- the US will be drawn in under the Bush administration. That is not acceptable.

It's time to take a hard line with Israel. They have the right to defend their borders and to prevent terrorist attacks on their soil. But they do not have the right to indiscriminately bomb residential areas in Lebanon in retaliation against Hizbullah attacks. And they would be foolish to engage Iran in a war.

I have no doubt that Pakistan, a nuclear nation, would covertly aid its ethnic and spiritual neighbor in a war against Israel. This might draw India into the mess. The whole region could end of exploding in war, possibly nuclear.

The US must not support Israel in widening this battle. And we must not insert our already stretched-too-thin military into the mess.

More from Richard Cohen's article:

Hard-line critics of Ariel Sharon, the now-comatose Israeli leader who initiated the pullout from Gaza, always said this would happen: Gaza would become a terrorist haven. They said that the moderate Palestinian Authority would not be able to control the militants and that Gaza would be used to fire rockets into Israel and to launch terrorist raids. This is precisely what has happened.

It is also true, as some critics warned, that Israel's withdrawal from southern Lebanon was seen by its enemies -- and claimed by Hezbollah -- as a defeat for the mighty Jewish state. Hezbollah took credit for this, as well it should. Its persistent attacks bled Israel. In the end, Israel got out and the United Nations promised it a secure border. The Lebanese army would see to that. (And the check is in the mail.)

All that the critics warned has come true. But worse than what is happening now would be a retaking of those territories. That would put Israel smack back to where it was, subjugating a restless, angry population and having the world look on as it committed the inevitable sins of an occupying power. The smart choice is to pull back to defensible -- but hardly impervious -- borders. That includes getting out of most of the West Bank -- and waiting (and hoping) that history will get distracted and move on to something else. This will take some time, and in the meantime terrorism and rocket attacks will continue.
Isreal needs to take a long-term view here, as suggested, and realize that they will never be accepted into the region as long as they appear to be the bully on the block. It may take generations for their Arab/Muslim neighbors to accept their right to exist. For now, they need to protect their borders and use as much restraint as they can muster.

As long as they employ an aggressive, militant attitude, they will be seen as a threat that must be eliminated. Images like these won't help:

Pictures of Israeli children writing messages on missles to be launched at Lebanon will do nothing toward helping their neighbors accept them in the region.

And the Muslim terrorist groups must be brought to justice by the nations that protect them. Israel isn't going away and the endless assult on their lands must be stopped. This would mean that the US would have to stop coddling dictators and thugs (we usually call them allies), and that the US and Europe will have to put humanitarian interests ahead of economic interests. The bloodshed must end.

The US presence in Iraq is certainly a contributing factor to this mess. The ill-conceived and ill-planned war has always been a mistake, but it is only now that we are beginning to see what our presence as an occupying power has created in the region. Fundamentalist Islam, which is already militant, sees the US presence as a possible long-term occupation that, together with Israel's militanism, threatens their already paranoid worldview.

We need to withdraw from Iraq and let the Iraqis sort out their own mess. Instead of wasting more than $300 billion in a futile -- and seemingly unending -- military campaign, we could be building secular schools, working hospitals, and a functional infrastructure. Tribal conditions create a tribal mentality. If we want to change the way Muslims think, we must change the way they live.

It is no coincidence that the most Westernized Arab nations are also the most progressive. We need to push that model in other areas of the Middle East. We will not eliminate Islam, but as its followers enter the 21st century, the fundamentalism will fade.

Israel could contribute to that process by becoming a generous and compassionate neighbor that carries a big stick. They could support democratic movements, progressive education, and economic growth. At the same time, they can powerful defend their lands with their superior military.

But Israel must learn the art of a measured and calculated response. All out brutality in response to every offense only inflames their enemies. With that approach, they will never be accepted into the region.

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Poem: Wu Men

[image source]


Ten thousand flowers in spring,
the moon in autumn,
a cool breeze in summer,
snow in winter.

If your mind isn't clouded
by unnecessary things,
this is the best season of your life.

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Oprah Isn't Gay . . .

. . . Not that there's anything wrong with that.

I have to admit that I hadn't heard the rumors about Oprah and her best friend Gayle being lesbians. But then, Tucson is not Seattle, so I'm no longer in the loop on these things.

My question is why she felt a need to devote an article in her magazine to denying the rumors? Who the hell cares?

She's Oprah-freaking-Winfrey for crying out loud. She could be purple and have three arms and people would still love her at this point.

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The Middle East Is Exploding . . .

. . . and Integral-land only cares about Wilber's use of the word "simply." So says Colmar. He is calling out the integral blogosphere for ignoring what might possibly be WWIII or WWIV, depending on who you talk to. Matthew Dallman is the exception here, as he has posted a very intelligent and non-pc piece on the topic.

This is a tough issue for me. I want to avoid politics as much as possible, but as I pointed out a few minutes ago, we can't escape suffering.

I'm torn on this issue. I think both sides are pretty screwed up. Clearly this new crisis was not initiated by Israel, but my conspiracy theory loving friends think the CIA paid Hizbullah a bunch of money to start this latest episode as a covert way to create more of a justification for war with Iran. Gotta love the conspiracy guys for thier creativity.

This stuff goes way back. So in order to give a more cogent response, I need to do some reading. Maybe in the next few days I'll have something to say about this, maybe not. I'm hesitant to get back into political stuff.

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Sogyal Rinpoche on Suffering

[image source]

This is the Rigpa Glimpse of the Day:

Don’t we know, only too well, that protection from pain doesn’t work, and that when we try to defend ourselves from suffering, we only suffer more and don’t learn what we can from the experience? As Rilke wrote, the protected heart that is “never exposed to loss, innocent and secure, cannot know tenderness; only the won-back heart can ever be satisfied: free, through all it has given up, to rejoice in its mastery.”

~ Sogyal Rinpoche
I'm going to go off on a rant here, so please bear with me.

In our culture, we seem to value youth, beauty, and perfection. We want smooth skin, perfect bodies, flat emotions, and any number of other things that actually deny life and living. We do not want to be touched by life or the world.

We do not want scars, so we use creams to make scars disappear. We do not want hard emotions, so we takes drugs that flatten our affect until we feel very little. We do not want wrinkles or sags, so we get plastic surgery to smooth everything out. We do not want gray hair, so we color our hair to hide that reality of our aging.

All of these things are ways of denying our life. Rather than face the truth of aging and death, we fight it tooth and nail, deny it as much as possible, then rage that we will not go gently into that good night.

But we can't escape suffering and death -- we can only delay it until later. If we embrace our suffering, accept it, befriend it, then it will lack the power to shadow our every thought and action. Unless we do this, our whole lives will be about suffering.

When we resist suffering, it feels solid, dense, formidable. It can appear to be like a wall that we can't climb over, find a way around, or punch our way through. But if we accept our suffering, and get to know it, then it is no more imposing than a stream we must cross. Our feet might get wet, but we do not fear drowning.

If we could spend some time learning to swim in the creek, our lives might feel a lot lighter.

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Monday, July 17, 2006

Dealing with Inner Turmoil


I posted this piece at the Integral Relationship pod this morning:

When I hit a growth period, in the past at least, everything goes to hell. I become more self-obsessed, withdrawn, and emotionally distant. If I could be sent to live in a cave until it passes, that would probably be the best option for everyone.

But that isn't possible. I live in a world where I have to relate to people daily, and in a relationship with someone I love. She has to go through these periods with me, for better or worse, as the ad says. It's not fair to her to lose me for a few months, which is what happened last summer when my mother and sister both passed away and I was already in the midst of upheaval as a result of therapy when that happened.

So, it's fair to say that Kira has a reason to be concerned that I am in another of those upheaval periods. But this one feels different. I am less attached to the material that is trying to work itself out. And I feel capable of letting my psyche do its thing without me being sucked into the storm. I credit my practice with this new ability to stay centered in the midst of a storm.

More importantly, I feel able to assure Kira that I will not withdraw this time, that I will honor and protect our connection. And I feel that it's fair to ask Kira to trust that I can do so.

Navigating periods like these in our lives is tough, for both partners in a relationship. But how we grow together will determine whether we stay together or grow apart.

How do you handle turbulent growth periods in your lives? How do you and your partner work as a team in these times? Or do you? Maybe this is something each person must do on her/his own. I'd love hear what you all think about this topic, how you work with it.
And then this was in my in-box from the Daily Om, my horoscope for today (please note that I do not take horoscopes seriously, but this one was a little synchronicity laden):

Time For Contemplation
Taurus Daily Horoscope

You might notice a desire to think about weighty topics today, which could initiate a deep search for the overall purpose of your existence. The smaller details in life may not seem as important to you today, and you may find through this soul-searching that it is difficult to concentrate on aspects of your daily routine. Perhaps you could make an effort to set aside a specific amount of time to think about the deeper issues that seem important to you. You can try to work through some of your more mundane tasks and then give yourself a break to reflect upon more profound subjects. You may find that it becomes easier to think seriously once you have cleared away distractions and have created the mental space to do so.

Giving ourselves a time and place for reflection allows us to concentrate more deeply on our thoughts. There are times when we find that our thoughts pull us out of the world, and we use them as an escape from what we need to do. Conversely, we might be distracted from our reflections by thinking about other subjects that may not have great meaning for us. Setting aside a specific time for contemplation, however, gives us the opportunity to focus on what we truly find important. We set a date with ourselves that allows us to fully enter our search for understanding—and gain more profound insights as a result. By allowing yourself time for reflection today, you will uncover deeper meaning in your quest for awareness.
Hmmm . . . maybe the Kosmos is trying to tell me something. Or maybe I'm looking for "signs" to provide a meaningful framework for my interior life. Or maybe it's just my imagination having some fun with my rational mind.

Who cares?

I'm home for the day, and it's time to do some of that there contemplatin' stuff.

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Creating a Buddhist Altar

[image source]

On the Buddhism 101 listserve, there had been some discussion about creating an altar. Someone posted an article from Snow Lion Press this morning, so I decided to post the original article here.

Tibetan Altar

Snow Lion has received many calls over the years from individuals wanting to purchase items for their altars. To help answer some of the most frequently asked questions about the proper arrangement and significance of Tibetan Buddhist altars, Snow Lion's Gail Birnbaum recently met with the Venerable Tenzin Yignyen of Namgyal Monastery who has offered the following guidelines for setting up an altar and making proper offerings.

Why Have an Altar?

A proper altar holds images or representations of the Buddha's enlightened body, speech and mind which serve as reminders of the goal of Buddhist practice-to develop these qualities in oneself so as to be able to fully benefit all sentient beings. The reason for setting up an altar is not for fame, for showing off wealth, or to increase pride, but rather it is to reduce one's mental afflictions and to seek the ability to help all sentient beings.

Where to Place the Altar

The best place for an altar is in a separate shrine room, but if you live in a small place and cannot set aside a separate room for worship, any room can be used. The size of the altar is not mportant, but it should be in a clean and respectful place, higher than the level of your head as you site facing it. If it is in your bedroom, the altar should be placed near the head of your bed, never at the foot, and it should be higher than the bed. The altar should be either on a separate shelf or on a table set aside for this purpose that does not double as a coffee table or night stand.

The Objects and What They Represent

A proper Buddhist altar holds symbols of enlightened body, speech and mind, traditionally represented by displaying a statue or photo of Buddha Shakyamuni, a scriptue, and a stupa. At the very least, the altar should hold an image of Buddha Shakyamuni, the found and source of the teachings in our time.

Regarding the placement of the images, it is important that Shakyamuni Buddha be the central figure. Other images are not requisite, but if you have them place them around the central figure in this order: root lamas, yidams (highest yoga tantra deities, performance tantra deities, then action tantra deities), dakinis, and finally protector deities. The order of the arrangement is never by the quality of the material or the artistry. Often it is better to have only a few images, as too many can be distracting.

The scripture representing the speech of the Buddha does not need to be written in Tibetan or Sanskrit, but can be in any language. It can be the Heart Sutra if you wish to represent all the teachings of Buddha, or it can be a special scripture related to your practice. If the altar consists of three or more levels, the scripture should be placed highest on the altar, above the Buddha statue. If the altar is on one level, the order should be, from left to right: scripture, Buddha, stupa.

The mind of the Buddha is traditionally represented by a stupa of enlightenment, but you need not go out and buy a costly silver or gold one. A photograph or a clay model is perfectly acceptable. The stupa should be placed to the right of the Buddha image, or below the Buddha if the altar consists of several levels.

The objects on the altar also represent the Three Jewels of Refuge. If there is only a statue of Buddha Shakyamuni, think that it represents all Three Jewels. If there is also a scripture and a stupa, think that the stupa represents the Buddha Jewel, the scripture represents the Dharma Jewel, and the image of the Buddha represents the Sangha Jewel.

It is important to keep in mind that the objects on the altar serve as a means for directing one's mind to the Buddha and the Buddha's enlightened qualities, which one aspires to emulate for others' benefit. In maintaining an altar one is trying to cultivate the qualities of the Buddha-his enlightened body, his enlightened speech and his enlightened mind. By remembering these qualities and aspiring to develop them, one reduces the negative qualities of attachment, hatred and ignorance, and increases positive qualities like faith, respect, devotion, and rejoicing.

Making Offerings

There is no limitations to what can be offered, and there are many levels of offering. In general, one can offer any pleasing object, particularly objects pleasing to the five senses-form, sound, smell, taste, and touch. In the Tibetan Buddhist tradition it is customary to offer seven bowls of water which represent the seven limbs of prayer prostrating, offering, confession, rejoicing in the good qualities of oneself and others, requesting the buddhas to remain in this world, beseeching them to teach others, and dedicating the merits. Flowers, candles or butterlamps,a and incense are also commonly offered. It is customary to offer a part of every meal on the altar before eating and a portion of tea before drinking. The things to be offered should be clean, new and pleasing. Food should be of only the best part, fresh, and clean-never old, leftover, or spoiled food.

It is best to offer things that you already have or can obtain without difficulty. Don't think that you have to deceive others in order to get offering materials-they should not come from stealing, cheating or hurting others in any way. Rather, they should be honestly obtained. In fact, it is better not to offer things that were obtained in even a slightly negative way.

As you make offerings, think that what your are offering is in nature you own good qualities and your practice, although it appears in the form of external offering objects. These external offerings should not be imagined as limited to the actual objects on the altar, but should be seen as vast in number, as extensive as space. Offer food with the wish that all beings relieved of hunger, and offer water with the wish that all beings be relieved of thirst. It is important to think that the deities accept the offerings, enjoy them, and are pleased. Think that by making these offerings all beings are purified of their negative edge of the ultimate nature of reality is satisfied. The purpose of making offerings is to accumulate merit and in particular to develop and increase the mind of generosity and to reduce stinginess and miserliness. By making offerings you also create the causes for the future results of becoming naturally and spontaneously generous.

Placing Offerings on the Altar

If you have the space, place the offerings a little lower than the objects of refuge on your altar. When you awaken in the morning, it is customary to wash at least your face before approaching the altar to offer prostrations and then offerings-this is a sign of respect for the object represented there. One is making offerings as if one is accepting a dignitary or a great being into one's home, and it is important to be gracious and respectful

To offer water on your altar, you should have a minimum of seven bowls. Start with fresh water every day. The bowls should be clean. Pour a little water into each bowl before placing it on the altar. Place the bowls in a straight line, close together but not touching. The distance between the bowls is traditionally measured by the width of a grain of wheat. The bowls should be filled up to the space of a grain's width from the top-neither too little nor too much. Pour water like the shape of a wheat grain-in a thin stream at first, then gradually more, then tapering off at the end. Try not to breathe on the offerings.

If you have a butter lamp, you can place it on your altar between the third and fourth water bowls. Lamps or candles symbolize wisdom, eliminating the darkness of ignorance. In Tibetan monasteries hundreds of lamps are lit as offerings. There is really no limit to the quantity of either water bowls or lamps.

Blessing the Offerings

After pouring the water, lighting candles and offering incense, bless the offerings by dipping a piece of kusha grass (or a tree twig) into the water, reciting three times Om Ah Hum (the seed syllables of the Buddha's body, speech and mind), and then sprinkling the offerings with water. Visualize that the offerings are blessed.


Whether external offerings become pure or not, or whether they become a cause for good rebirth in the next life, a cause to achieve liberation, or a cause to achieve enlightenment to benefit all beings depends on one's motivations and dedication. Dedication is crucial. It will not exhaust or limit one's store of merit but will multiply and increase it. It is excellent to dedicate the merit of making offerings to the elimination of suffering and its causes from all beings, to their achievement of lasting happiness, and to world peace.

Removing the Offerings

At the end of the day, before or at sunset, empty the bowls one by one, dry them with a clean cloth and stack them upside down or put them away. Never leave empty bowls right side up on the altar. The water is not simply thrown away but offered to the plants in your house or in the garden. Food and flowers should also be put in a clean place outside where birds and animals can eat them. Bowls of fruit can be left on the altar for a few days and can then be eaten when they come down-there is no need to put them outside.
For those of us who also are involved in integral studies, having an altar may seem like a vestige of the tribal/magical mindset. Maybe, but having outgrown that meme as a central aspect of our lives did not remove it from our psyches. We still have that need to recognize the spirit inherent in all thinsg, including sacred objects.

We use an altar as a way to remind ourselves of the qualities of the Buddha that we wish to possess and embody. I have a beautiful Medicine Buddha on my altar that fills my heart with peace when I contemplate it. Simple as that sounds, that's what we ask of our altars -- that they help us along the path through bringing out the Buddha nature inherent in us.

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Poem: Thich Nhat Hanh

[image source]


The bell tolls at four in the morning.
I stand by the window,
barefoot on the cool floor.
The garden is still dark.
I wait for the mountains and rivers to reclaim their shapes.
There is no light in the deepest hours of the night.
Yet, I know you are there
in the depth of the night,
the immeasurable world of the mind.
You, the known, have been there
ever since the knower has been.

The dawn will come soon,
and you will see
that you and the rosy horizon
are within my two eyes.
It is for me that the horizon is rosy
and the sky blue.
Looking at your image in the clear stream,
you answer the question by your very presence.
Life is humming the song of the non-dual marvel.
I suddenly find myself smiling
in the presence of this immaculate night.
I know because I am here that you are there,
and your being has returned to show itself
in the wonder of tonight's smile.
In the quiet stream,
I swim gently.
The murmur of the water lulls my heart.
A wave serves as a pillow
I look up and see
a white cloud against the blue sky,
the sound of Autumn leaves,
the fragrance of hay-
each one a sign of eternity.
A bright star helps me find my way back to myself.

I know because you are there that I am here.
The stretching arm of cognition
in a lightning flash,
joining together a million eons of distance,
joining together birth and death,
joining together the known and the knower.

In the depth of the night,
as in the immeasurable realm of consciousness,
the garden of life and I
remain each other's objects.
The flower of being is singing the song of emptiness.

The night is still immaculate,
but sounds and images from you
have returned and fill the pure night.
I feel their presence.
By the window, with my bare feet on the cool floor,
I know I am here
for you to be.
Here is some commentary on the poem from its author:

This poem is about an insight related to vijnanavada. It is a difficult poem, fit to be explained in a course on vijnanavada. You are there for me, and I am here for you. That is the teaching of interbeing. The term interbeing was not yet used at that time. Although we think of the Avatamsaka when we hear the term interbeing,the teaching of interbeing also has its roots in vijttanavada, because in vijnanavada, cognition always includes subject and object together. Consciousness is always consciousness of something.

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Sunday, July 16, 2006

Is Wal-Mart Going Green?

I found this at Raven's blog, the blog for the BuyBlue site. If it's true, it may be a huge step toward large companies taking a stand to be responsible for their impact on the environment. And if it's Wal-Mart, there must be profit involved.

Grist magazine is a responsible source, so this article seems legitimate.
I've talked to directors of packaging, produce, logistics and transportation, construction, jewelry, apparel, and beyond, all surprisingly savvy and knowledgeable about sustainability within their divisions.

There's a huge focus on supply chain: Wal-Mart's leaders have acknowledged that "90 percent of the impact Wal-Mart can have is on the supply chain." They have recognized that while Wal-Mart is responsible for roughly 20 million metric tons of CO2 a year, there are 200 million tons of annual greenhouse-gas emissions in their supply chain -- a level of transparency that no company I've covered to date has offered.

The produce director is moving toward more local farm purchases in order to save money on truck fuel costs and refrigeration. Moving away from selling monoculture produce at all stores to more diversity in produce based on region (instead of Yukon potatoes at every store, dozens of different potato varieties at different stores depending on what's local). Said the produce director, "Our whole focus is: How can we reduce food miles?" He predicts a big resurgence of locally produced farm products in coming decades (not necessarily family farms, but locally produced nevertheless).

The jewelry division is moving toward working only with sustainably certified gold mines, and producing Wal-Mart jewelry with recycled gold. Also, consolidating jewelry shipping to reduce energy.

In transportation, they're looking to double the efficiency of their truck fleet by 2015, and bring hybrid-diesel trucks into their fleet.

In packaging, Wal-Mart is moving toward the use of reusable plastic containers instead of cardboard, and biodegradable corn-based packaging, with the aim of a zero-waste stream by 2025.

Of course, these are all goals, not accomplishments. We'll see over the coming years how their performance measures up to their talk.
Read the whole article.

This sounds good, but talk is cheap -- while good publicity is priceless. And even though Wal-Mart buying locally sounds good, it probably won't be good for local farmers. Wal-Mart continually pushes down prices to the point that suppliers and up losing money just to be in Wal-Mart. I worked for a company that tried to get into Wal-Mart, so I've seen the way they treat suppliers.

Still, if they can reduce any of the CO2 they talk about, it is a step in the right direction. But I remain skeptical.

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Sunday Poet:Louise Glück

I don't have time to work up my normal Sunday morning poet post, so here are a few poems by Louise Glück, one of my personal favorite poets. She is one of the best poets currently writing in this country, and she has all the awards to show for it. But what really makes her such a fine poet is that she is accessible, yet her language is loaded with possibility. Many of her poems reveal themselves on the first read, but each later reading can add layers of understanding or provide ambiguity that makes us consider where and how we feel the poem's truth.

Celestial Music

I have a friend who still believes in heaven.
Not a stupid person, yet with all she knows, she literally talks to God.
She thinks someone listens in heaven.
On earth she's unusually competent.
Brave too, able to face unpleasantness.

We found a caterpillar dying in the dirt, greedy ants crawling over it.
I'm always moved by disaster, always eager to oppose vitality
But timid also, quick to shut my eyes.
Whereas my friend was able to watch, to let events play out
According to nature. For my sake she intervened
Brushing a few ants off the torn thing, and set it down
Across the road.

My friend says I shut my eyes to God, that nothing else explains
My aversion to reality. She says I'm like the child who
Buries her head in the pillow
So as not to see, the child who tells herself
That light causes sadness-
My friend is like the mother. Patient, urging me
To wake up an adult like herself, a courageous person-

In my dreams, my friend reproaches me. We're walking
On the same road, except it's winter now;
She's telling me that when you love the world you hear celestial music:
Look up, she says. When I look up, nothing.
Only clouds, snow, a white business in the trees
Like brides leaping to a great height-
Then I'm afraid for her; I see her
Caught in a net deliberately cast over the earth-

In reality, we sit by the side of the road, watching the sun set;
From time to time, the silence pierced by a birdcall.
It's this moment we're trying to explain, the fact
That we're at ease with death, with solitude.
My friend draws a circle in the dirt; inside, the caterpillar doesn't move.
She's always trying to make something whole, something beautiful, an image
Capable of life apart from her.
We're very quiet. It's peaceful sitting here, not speaking, The composition
Fixed, the road turning suddenly dark, the air
Going cool, here and there the rocks shining and glittering-
It's this stillness we both love.
The love of form is a love of endings.


A Myth of Devotion

When Hades decided he loved this girl
he built for her a duplicate of earth,
everything the same, down to the meadow,
but with a bed added.

Everything the same, including sunlight,
because it would be hard on a young girl
to go so quickly from bright light to utter darkness

Gradually, he thought, he'd introduce the night,
first as the shadows of fluttering leaves.
Then moon, then stars. Then no moon, no stars.
Let Persephone get used to it slowly.
In the end, he thought, she'd find it comforting.

A replica of earth
except there was love here.
Doesn't everyone want love?

He waited many years,
building a world, watching
Persephone in the meadow.
Persephone, a smeller, a taster.
If you have one appetite, he thought,
you have them all.

Doesn't everyone want to feel in the night
the beloved body, compass, polestar,
to hear the quiet breathing that says
I am alive, that means also
you are alive, because you hear me,
you are here with me. And when one turns,
the other turns—

That's what he felt, the lord of darkness,
looking at the world he had
constructed for Persephone. It never crossed his mind
that there'd be no more smelling here,
certainly no more eating.

Guilt? Terror? The fear of love?
These things he couldn't imagine;
no lover ever imagines them.

He dreams, he wonders what to call this place.
First he thinks: The New Hell. Then: The Garden.
In the end, he decides to name it
Persephone's Girlhood.

A soft light rising above the level meadow,
behind the bed. He takes her in his arms.
He wants to say I love you, nothing can hurt you

but he thinks
this is a lie, so he says in the end
you're dead, nothing can hurt you
which seems to him
a more promising beginning, more true.



In your extended absence, you permit me
use of earth, anticipating
some return on investment. I must report
failure in my assignment, principally
regarding the tomato plants.
I think I should not be encouraged to grow
tomatoes. Or, if I am, you should withhold
the heavy rains, the cold nights that come
so often here, while other regions get
twelve weeks of summer. All this
belongs to you: on the other hand,
I planted the seeds, I watched the first shoots
like wings tearing the soil, and it was my heart
broken by the blight, the black spot so quickly
multiplying in the rows. I doubt
you have a heart, in our understanding of
that term. You who do not discriminate
between the dead and the living, who are, in consequence,
immune to foreshadowing, you may not know
how much terror we bear, the spotted leaf,
the red leaves of the maple falling
even in August, in early darkness: I am responsible
for these vines.


The Red Poppy

The great thing
is not having
a mind. Feelings:
oh, I have those; they
govern me. I have
a lord in heaven
called the sun, and open
for him, showing him
the fire of my own heart, fire
like his presence.
What could such glory be
if not a heart? Oh my brothers and sisters,
were you like me once, long ago,
before you were human? Did you
permit yourselves
to open once, who would never
open again? Because in truth
I am speaking now
the way you do. I speak
because I am shattered.
Biographical information comes from The Academy of American Poets:

Louise Glück was born in New York City in 1943 and grew up on Long Island. She is the author of numerous books of poetry, including The Seven Ages (Ecco Press, 2001); Vita Nova (1999), winner of Boston Book Review's Bingham Poetry Prize; Meadowlands (1996); The Wild Iris (1992), which received the Pulitzer Prize and the Poetry Society of America's William Carlos Williams Award; Ararat (1990), for which she received the Rebekah Johnson Bobbitt National Prize for Poetry; and The Triumph of Achilles (1985), which received the National Book Critics Circle Award, the Boston Globe Literary Press Award, and the Poetry Society of America's Melville Kane Award. She has also published a collection of essays, Proofs and Theories: Essays on Poetry (1994), which won the PEN/Martha Albrand Award for Nonfiction. Her other honors include the Bollingen Prize in Poetry, the Lannan Literary Award for Poetry, and fellowships from the Guggenheim and Rockefeller foundations, and from the National Endowment for the Arts. Louise Glück teaches at Williams College and lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts. In 1999 she was elected a Chancellor of The Academy of American Poets. In the fall of 2003, Glück assumed her duties as the Library of Congress's twelfth Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry.
Wild Iris is a personal favorite of her many fine books.

You can find many more of her poems at PoemHunter (beware the pop ups), at Louise Gluck: Image and Emotion, and at Famous Poets and Poems. Enjoy!

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