Saturday, October 07, 2006

What Kind of Intelligence Do You Have?

Your Dominant Intelligence is Linguistic Intelligence

You are excellent with words and language. You explain yourself well.
An elegant speaker, you can converse well with anyone on the fly.
You are also good at remembering information and convicing someone of your point of view.
A master of creative phrasing and unique words, you enjoy expanding your vocabulary.

You would make a fantastic poet, journalist, writer, teacher, lawyer, politician, or translator.

2006 Ig Noble Prize Winners

Several of the Nobel Prizes were awarded last week, but there were also the Ig Noble Prizes. Here are a few of the gems:

The 2006 Ig Nobel Prize Winners

The 2006 Ig Nobel Prize winners were awarded on Thursday night, October 5, at the 16th First Annual Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony, at Harvard's Sanders Theatre.

You can watch archived video of the live webcast .

Two days after the ceremony -- on Saturday, October 7 -- the new winners will give free public lectures at the Ig Informal Lectures.

ORNITHOLOGY: Ivan R. Schwab, of the University of California Davis, and the late Philip R.A. May of the University of California Los Angeles, for exploring and explaining why woodpeckers don't get headaches.
REFERENCE: "Cure for a Headache," Ivan R Schwab, British Journal of Ophthalmology, vol. 86, 2002, p. 843.
REFERENCE: "Woodpeckers and Head Injury," Philip R.A. May, Joaquin M. Fuster, Paul Newman and Ada Hirschman, Lancet, vol. 307, no. 7957, February 28, 1976, pp. 454-5.
REFERENCE: "Woodpeckers and Head Injury," Philip R.A. May, Joaquin M. Fuster, Paul Newman and Ada Hirschman, Lancet, vol. 307, no. 7973, June 19, 1976, pp. 1347-8.

NUTRITION: Wasmia Al-Houty of Kuwait University and Faten Al-Mussalam of the Kuwait Environment Public Authority, for showing that dung beetles are finicky eaters.
REFERENCE: "Dung Preference of the Dung Beetle Scarabaeus cristatus Fab (Coleoptera-Scarabaeidae) from Kuwait," Wasmia Al-Houty and Faten Al-Musalam, Journal of Arid Environments, vol. 35, no. 3, 1997, pp. 511-6.

ACOUSTICS: D. Lynn Halpern (of Harvard Vanguard Medical Associates, and Brandeis University, and Northwestern University), Randolph Blake (of Vanderbilt University and Northwestern University) and James Hillenbrand (of Western Michigan University and Northwestern University) for conducting experiments to learn why people dislike the sound of fingernails scraping on a blackboard.
REFERENCE: "Psychoacoustics of a Chilling Sound," D. Lynn Halpern, Randolph Blake and James Hillenbrand, Perception and Psychophysics, vol. 39,1986, pp. 77-80.

LITERATURE: Daniel Oppenheimer of Princeton University for his report "Consequences of Erudite Vernacular Utilized Irrespective of Necessity: Problems with Using Long Words Needlessly."
REFERENCE: "Consequences of Erudite Vernacular Utilized Irrespective of Necessity: Problems with Using Long Words Needlessly," Daniel M. Oppenheimer, Applied Cognitive Psychology, vol. 20, no. 2, March 2006, pp. 139-56.

MEDICINE: Francis M. Fesmire of the University of Tennessee College of Medicine, for his medical case report "Termination of Intractable Hiccups with Digital Rectal Massage"; and Majed Odeh, Harry Bassan, and Arie Oliven of Bnai Zion Medical Center, Haifa, Israel, for their subsequent medical case report also titled "Termination of Intractable Hiccups with Digital Rectal Massage."
REFERENCE: "Termination of Intractable Hiccups with Digital Rectal Massage," Francis M. Fesmire, Annals of Emergency Medicine, vol. 17, no. 8, August 1988 p. 872.
REFERENCE: "Termination of Intractable Hiccups with Digital Rectal Massage,"
Majed Odeh, Harry Bassan, and Arie Oliven, Journal of Internal Medicine, vol. 227, no. 2, February 1990, pp. 145-6. They are at the Department of Internal Medicine, Bnai Zion Medical Center, Haifa, Israel.
REFERENCE: "Hiccups and Digital Rectal Massage," M. Odeh and A. Oliven, Archives of Otolaryngology -- Head and Neck Surgery, vol. 119, 1993, p. 1383.

The Six Conditions Needed for Change

In a previous post, I presented the eight different forms of change, as identified by Don Beck and Chris Cowan, working from the research and writings of Clare Graves, in their book, Spiral Dynamics.

Talking about the change process is important, and understanding how it works makes it easier to navigate -- or to guide someone else -- through the process, but it is equally important to know that change cannot occur unless certain conditions are met. For example, one may know all the necessary skills to shoot a par round of golf, but if all the conditions are not met (practice, good weather, helpful caddie, more practice, and some luck) it will never happen. The same thing is true of change. Beck and Cowan have identified six requirements that must be met in order for change to occur – all of them must be present and met or change will not take. If more than one condition is unmet and the change process is initiated by external factors, internal factors, or by choice, regression can occur.

1) The first condition is the Potential for change. Not every individual is capable of change. For a variety of reasons, change may be impossible. There are three possible states of a system that determine its ability to change.

A) An OPEN system allows the greatest possibility for change. The individual’s history and capacities are conducive to allowing change to occur, with thinking that is flexible enough to change as conditions and realities change. The individual is also capable of solving problems and dealing effectively with barriers. The most important characteristic, however, is that the individual possess multiple world–views and is not locked into a single point of view.

In general, a person who exhibits an open system will not have rigid world-views, will be open-minded and have a personality that enjoys new stimuli, and will enjoy the challenge of a new situation. There are many ways to cultivate an open perspective, not the least of which are education, meditation, travel, and good therapy.

B) An ARRESTED system is trapped by barriers, either external or internal. The individual can change only if the barriers are removed. The individual most times lacks an adequate understanding of the situation and how to correct it. For this individual, greater dissonance is required to spark change. Carl Jung felt that an individual’s fear of taking the next step in the individuation process was enough to arrest the system, and even propel the individual into an earlier stage if the fear is intense enough -- a situation that would require therapeutic intervention.

The most common version of this pattern is what E. C. Whitmont referred to as the “law of psychic inertia.” Taking his lead from Newtonian physics, Whitmont speculated that the psyche, like every other natural object, prefers inertia. Essentially, change is seen by the psyche (primarily the ego) as a threat, possibly a lethal one. According to Whitmont, all patterns of adaptation are maintained intact and defended “against change until an equally strong or stronger impulse is able to displace it.” The purpose of ritual is to create a strong enough impulse to displace the prevailing complexes and replace them with newer, more complex adaptations.

For an arrested system, however, it is entirely possible to break the hold of inertia. Viewing change as a sacred, ritual process can break through psychic inertia. In fact, taking such a broad perspective might also alleviate the fear Jung mentions, allowing the individual to move forward in the individuation process.

C) A CLOSED system is blocked by bio-psycho-social capacities. The cause may be developmental, environmental, psychological, and so on, but for whatever reason, the individual is essentially incapable of change under any of the current circumstances. For some it means a lack in the necessary intelligences, an actual physical lack (such as low I.Q.), while for others it means they are unable to recognize the barriers. There may also be emotional issues, psychological trauma, social pressures, and on and on. Intense poverty can also result in a “closed” system, leaving the individual incapable of any concerns other than food and shelter. Again, the law of psychic inertia can also intervene to the point that the individual is so threatened by change that s/he will fight to avoid it, or die trying.

2) If a person is not a closed system, s/he then needs Solutions to solve current and previous problems. The goal in meeting this condition is stabilization of any current threats, either external or internal. As an example, a sick person is not capable of systemic change (living a more whole and healthy life) until the threat of death by disease is removed. As another example, a person with an anxiety disorder will have a difficult time working through change without first solving the problems with anxiety.

Solutions can come from either internal or external sources (therapy to resolve anxiety attacks, or time to allow the body to heal from disease). Where the solutions are found is not relevant, only that the individual can find them.

3) There also must be Dissonance within the individual or his/her life conditions. Change does not occur unless the individual becomes uncomfortable in some way. A few of the factors that produce dissonance include the following:

A) Awareness of an increasing gap between the status quo (current life conditions) and the current means for handling problems inherent in the status quo.

B) Enough turbulence to make the individual say “something is wrong” without so much turbulence that the world seems to be coming apart at the seams.

C) Complete failure of old solutions to solve the problems of the “new” life conditions may spark new thinking, a release of the energy being used to maintain the status quo, and this may open up a new mode of operation

D) Choosing to “come undone,” a phrase that suggests the Buddhist idea of breaking down the ego structure in an effort to discover the true Self hidden beneath desires and defenses. This process can be achieved through therapy, meditation practice, mindfulness training, art therapy, and so on.

4) The Barriers to change must be identified and overcome. Correctly identifying the barriers is crucial. Most individuals initially will see the barriers as external (economy, social norms, tyrant boss, etc), but they are often internal (lack of planning, wasted energy, misplaced effort, self-sabotage, etc.). Once the barriers are identified, they must be (a) eliminated, (b) bypassed, (c) neutralized, or (d) reframed into something else.

Reframing is a way to change how a situation is perceived. When barriers are not easily overcome, bypassed, or neutralized, the only productive response is to look at the situation with fresh eyes. There are a variety of psychological processes that can be employed, but one of the simplest is “recalling your projections.” For example, one example of a barrier to change is a boss who will not let the individual stretch his boundaries and try new skills. To the individual, the boss is rigid, insensitive, and stifling, just like his/her mother. Very possibly, the individual has projected feelings about the parent onto the boss, distorting the situation. Recalling that projection is a first step in reframing the barrier, thereby opening the possibility of looking at the situation in a fresh way.

Identifying the barriers correctly is often the biggest step in preparing for change, especially conscious change. Many times an individual will attempt to address inner issues in the outer world -- a result of unclaimed projections of shadow material. The honesty required to identify the true barriers preventing change, and perhaps keeping the individual stuck or lost in liminal space, may require a solid friendship, a therapist, a spiritual leader, or some hard, deep self-examination.

5) The individual must possess Insight into the probable causes for why the previous world-view failed and possible alternatives must be identified. According to Beck and Cowan, insight is understood as (1) a knowledge of what went wrong with the previous system (read: world-view) and why, and (2) an awareness of what resources are available now for handling the problem better. Some ways to initiate change in patterns includes:

A) Insight into how systems form, fail, reform.

B) Putting an end to regressive searches into once viable answers that can no longer address the current complexity. Essentially, the individual must understand that the old solutions no longer apply and the new situation requires new thinking.

C) New scenarios, fresh models, and other experiences are considered – the individual must understand the situation and demonstrate what the alternatives look like. This is where the new thinking is necessary. Borrowing the tired old cliché, “the individual must think outside the box.” Better yet, the individual must learn to reframe the box into an open expanse where anything is possible.

D) The ability to recognize the emergence of new life conditions quickly and to identify the behaviors needed to be congruent with the shifting environment. This might be more relevant for groups or cultures than for individuals, but learning to anticipate when change is on the horizon can make the transition much easier, especially if the individual learns to see the inner signs of imminent change and is able prepare for the challenges that await.

6) Finally, there must be Consolidation and support during the transition. An individual will not be able to consolidate her/his new mode of being without support. The period of adjustment is often volatile and requires some time to stabilize. The “return” to balance feels good initially, but holding onto the gains made when others oppose the changes requires support. In fact, it is advantageous to have an ally who has been through the change process more than once either first hand or as a guide.

If all six of these criteria are not met, the change process will not have a successful outcome. Beck and Cowan provide an even more detailed explanation of the process, which is beyond the scope of a blog post. I enthusiastically refer all interested readers to Spiral Dynamics for a more in-depth presentation of the model.

In the next installment in this series, I want to examine the actual process of change -- the stages one moves through while in the flux and flow of change.

Don Beck on the Seventh Code

What follows are Don Beck's most recent thoughts on the seventh code, better known as the yellow vMeme to those fans of Spiral Dynamics. This text was written for the SDi list serve, so it will be fully loaded with jargon and SDi terminology. I've edited the text a little but, with Don's permission, for posting here.

I like to hear in the comments what any of you think about what Don has written.

Re: The Seventh Code
Posted by: Dr. Don Beck
Sat Sep 30, 2006 5:34 pm (PST)

Clearly, the contours of Yellow (GT-Systemic/Authentic) have not been etched in tin much less set in concrete. But, with all due respect to other developmental models, this highlights the uniqueness of the Gravesian/SDi perspective in that it does address, with great specificity, how each new memetic code actually appears; what are the Life Conditions that spark and drive it; and how Life Problems "G" will awaken the capacities (T) to deal with new realities, new challenges, and new threats as well.

What Wilber is searching for with regard to "altitude" that provides the totem pole for development is, in our view, the accumulation of the memetic codes or schemes (with the multiple expressions of content or themes) that form societal stacks that maintain all of the awakened codes and set the stage for new ones in the future. This is what we call "The Double Helix"; namely the interaction between Life Experiences and the complex adaptive, contextual intelligences - micro, meso, and macro - that rise in human thinking and priority setting experiences. (This also explains why we put the amazing spiral right in the vortex of the quadrants as the regulating intelligence that governs the relative strength, density, ordering, and relevance of the emerging "levels" and "lines.") This provides the verb, the dynamic element, and the intelligence within the spine or core of the spiral itself. (Actually, Spiral Dynamics is about the master code rather than the specific manifestations of the master code over time and in conceptual space.) Too often many simply reduce the complex model to specific levels and miss entirely the essence of the point of view.

The Gravesian "bio-psycho-social" model argues that mind and brain cannot be separated, that activity in the Upper Right impacts development in the Upper Left and vice versa; otherwise, how can the approach be truly "integral." Years ago, while a fledging Ph D student at the University of Oklahoma, we were discounting the artificial polarities between thinking and feeling, thoughts and emotions, and even psychology and biology. Muzafer Sherif was one of the founding principals of the field of Social Psychology so our focus, then, was on cognitive structures and domains, that "integrated" person and group dynamics. You recall he was the originator of the famous auto kinetic light experiment as well as the celebrated Robbers' Cave intragroup and intergroup conflict reduction framework.

This, then, becomes the context for what GT-Yellow will be, at least within the Gravesian/SDi and Second Tier concept and language. There are, of course, other points of view as to how/why/when "value systems" appear -- in what arrangement, mesh, sequence, and "developmental" stacking -- but I would caution against expropriating Graves/SDi language and symbols to fill in holes in other models. Better to keep each theoretical package and stream unique and separate otherwise one is confusing apples with oranges and is corrupting the essential purity and seamlessness of elegant models. I decided some time ago to stay with the Gravesian perspective while respecting the invisible spiral and honoring all of the systemic models. I also find it is much easier to work with practical people in reality settings by framing issues within the systemics of an internally logical set of definitions and perceptions of the critical variables.

We are being overwhelmed at the number of people who are reporting their experiences in the Green to Yellow dance. All of these reports are actually making history as Life Conditions are driving the passages through a vast array of feelings, textures, hues, and quests. In short, the Yellow textbook is now being written by individuals who have been struggling with their own experiences and sharing these with us. It always helps, however, to focus on what the conditions are, internal and external, that are being confronted, and how they are different from both Life Conditions "F" -- producing Green -- and Life Conditions "H" -- producing Turquoise ("U").

These ideas might help.

First, it is important to avoid the linear trap; that is, the tendency to think of climbing a ladder where one leaves one step totally before moving to the next. Since these codes are more like complex chords than individual notes, one always has blends and admixtures. Further, as Mike Jay will point out in Boulder in late October, "density" development is as important as vertical up-shifts. The entire spiral is within us as opposed to our being on the spiral. In our work within organizations we always, for example, look for the dominant warm color (red, orange, or yellow) and dominant cool color (purple, blue, green or turquoise) rather than search for a single defining color. This means our "yellow" will have other colors within it, with diverse manifestations of density and ego-involvement and, of course, with many, many different expressions of each (Content). Yellow with strong Blue as a subset will be different from Yellow with a powerful Orange as an alloy. The pressing need in "G" is to find new ways to connect entities beyond, but often including, both top-down, hierarchical models or expansive egalitarian arrangements. This capacity to connect the dots does require a mother board on which the dots can be connected; the nature of the glue that binds them together; and the intelligence to moderate the flow of energy and resources among them.

Second, I believe the general feeling of loneliness is generated by the transition from the warmth and humanness of collective Green into the first display of individuality (existentialism) within the 7th Code. One is literally alone with few comrades or mates. This entails being outside the dominant culture(s) for sure, and often one is separated from both the internal motives that drive meaning and purpose as well as the external arrangement of teams and associations around common cause. I believe stage two in the development of Yellow reacquaints one with the earlier codes where one can bond with them once again but without attachments or obsessiveness that characterized the First Tier expressions. One can literally relish trips through Purple, Red, Blue, Orange and Green zones which provide variety and richness in the human experience. I spoke recently of the "Meme Gym" concept and suggested that we find places and experiences where we can exercise all of the First Tier codes.

Third, and I really sensed this when I attended the first European SDi Confab in the Netherlands last week. Peter Merry and others in his expanding constellation are actually creating the models of individual collectivism -- in an imaginative fashion. You can read about it at the Center for Human Emergence website. (Just enter the website and click on the Dutch flag and read for yourself.) Just as the critical difference between Red and Orange is reflected in the discipline within Blue, and the element that differentiates Blue from Green is in the autonomous self within Orange, Green can only transform into Turquoise through the verticality, practicality, and 'stuff that works' qualities within Yellow. Beware of the large number of "Green" organizations, think tanks, movements, and alliances who are claiming that they have the codes to untangle the global knot. Simply changing names or dressing up websites and PowerPoint presentations won't get it done. I know this idea does not make me popular, but I gave up on that goal some time ago.

Finally, the book Spiral Dynamics contains a number of the descriptors of the 7th Code, primarily from the original writing of Clare W. Graves. I suspect for many of us we will sense a shift from a human-centric to a systems-centric perspective. We will seek to improve the human condition through the design of natural systems and arrangements which, as they unfold, will address many human problems in a much more effective manner than the F-S world view. We will discover a higher level of caring than what is expressed in Green. We will develop more of a pragmatic versus idealistic approach. We will accept that attempts to push the river will only result in frustration and often resistance to what we are trying to accomplish. We will work with Life Conditions, with the structure and texture of vMemetic Codes, and, in addition, with the content the code has permeated and impacted. And, we will accept that life itself is full of paradoxes, mystery, wonderment, sudden surprises, with peaks and valleys of emotions and feelings. Life becomes a journey, not a destination. And, we develop a deep respect and acceptance of the nature of ebb and flow as we experience life and all that it involves.

We will do the change that the world needs done.

Pope Benedict to Reject the Idea of Limbo

According to many reports that I missed yesterday, Pope Benedict XVI rejected the notion of limbo yesterday. This move comes following the report from a theological commission that said unbaptized children who die before reaching the age of reason go to heaven.
To Catholics of generations past, baptism wasn't something to be deferred until a convenient time, because the souls of infants who died without it were thought to be consigned to something other than heaven. Limbo.

Not quite heaven, not nearly hell, it was regarded as a place of eternal happiness that fell just short of paradise, reserved for unbaptized children and righteous souls who lived before Christ.

It was a widespread and influential teaching for centuries. But Pope Benedict XVI is expected today to reject the concept, endorsing the conclusions of a theological commission that said unbaptized children who die before reaching the age of reason go to heaven.

St. Augustine, an influential church father, theorized the existence of limbo in the fifth century, when entry to heaven was thought to be restricted to baptized Christians. Nobody wanted to believe God would send innocent souls to hell, so the saint theorized the existence of limbo.

"I call it `Paradise Park,'" said Larry Chapp, a professor of theology at DeSales University in Center Valley, evoking a kind of gilded Disneyland as he described the concept of a haven on the fringe of heaven.

The Catholic understanding of salvation has broadened since Augustine's day, but many still regard water baptism as essential to salvation.

Some confuse limbo with purgatory, where souls that have been saved but still must atone for their sins are cleansed before entering heaven. Unlike purgatory, which Catholics say is rooted in Scripture, limbo has no scriptural basis, Chapp said.
I'm not sure that is a big deal for the Catholic tradition, although any time they choose to override Augustine it will create some waves.

The interesting thing here is that this possibly sets a precedent for all those incapable of reason to not be excluded from heaven if they have not been baptized, such as the developmentally disabled, the mentally ill, and the senile. I'm sure the Church will stick with a strict age deliniation, but I wonder how that will work with the parents of an autistic child who is not functioning at the same level as another child of her/his age.

Or what about those who were once baptized and later, under the influence of schizophrenia, clinical depression, or the profound derangement of loss reject the teachings of the Church and the idea of God altogether.

I, for example, fall into this last group. I was baptized and confirmed. Then my father died when I was 13, and I rejected God, the Church, and the whole idea of God during the days following that loss. Was I outside the boundaries of reason that might be considered normal when I made that choice? Having lived nearly 27 years with that decision, I am lost and subject to purgatory? Or hell?

I think this will open up some interesting discussions for theology geeks, and that's always a lot of fun.

Poem: Walt Whitman

No Less a critic that Harold Bloom considers this to be the greatest American poem ever written. I'm not totally convinced that he is right, but then he is Harold Bloom and I am not.

Whitman wrote this poem following the death of Abraham Lincoln. The poem registers some of the fragmentation Whitman felt following the Civil War and the death of Lincoln.

[I had to reduce the font size to accomodate the long lines Whitman employes in this poem.]

When Lilacs Last In The Door-Yard Bloom’d
Walt Whitman


When lilacs last in the door-yard bloom’d,
And the great star early droop’d in the western sky in the night,
I mourn’d—and yet shall mourn with ever-returning spring.

O ever-returning spring! trinity sure to me you bring;
Lilac blooming perennial, and drooping star in the west,
And thought of him I love.


O powerful, western, fallen star!
O shades of night! O moody, tearful night!
O great star disappear’d! O the black murk that hides the star!
O cruel hands that hold me powerless! O helpless soul of me!
O harsh surrounding cloud, that will not free my soul!


In the door-yard fronting an old farm-house, near the white-wash’d palings,
Stands the lilac bush, tall-growing, with heart-shaped leaves of rich green,
With many a pointed blossom, rising, delicate, with the perfume strong I love,
With every leaf a miracle……and from this bush in the door-yard,
With delicate-color’d blossoms, and heart-shaped leaves of rich green,
A sprig, with its flower, I break.


In the swamp, in secluded recesses,
A shy and hidden bird is warbling a song.

Solitary, the thrush,
The hermit, withdrawn to himself, avoiding the settlements,
Sings by himself a song.

Song of the bleeding throat!
Death’s outlet song of life—(for well, dear brother, I know
If thou wast not gifted to sing, thou would’st surely die.)


Over the breast of the spring, the land, amid cities,
Amid lanes, and through old woods, (where lately the violets peep’d from the ground, spotting the gray debris;)
Amid the grass in the fields each side of the lanes—passing the endless grass;
Passing the yellow-spear’d wheat, every grain from its shroud in the dark-brown fields uprising;
Passing the apple-tree blows of white and pink in the orchards;
Carrying a corpse to where it shall rest in the grave,
Night and day journeys a coffin.


Coffin that passes through lanes and streets,
Through day and night, with the great cloud darkening the land,
With the pomp of the inloop’d flags, with the cities draped in black,
With the show of the States themselves, as of crape-veil’d women, standing,
With processions long and winding, and the flambeaus of the night,
With the countless torches lit—with the silent sea of faces, and the unbared heads,
With the waiting depot, the arriving coffin, and the sombre faces,
With dirges through the night, with the thousand voices rising strong and solemn;
With all the mournful voices of the dirges, pour’d around the coffin,
The dim-lit churches and the shuddering organs—Where amid these you journey,
With the tolling, tolling bells’ perpetual clang;
Here! coffin that slowly passes,
I give you my sprig of lilac.


(Nor for you, for one, alone;
Blossoms and branches green to coffins all I bring:
For fresh as the morning—thus would I carol a song for you, O sane and sacred death.

All over bouquets of roses,
O death! I cover you over with roses and early lilies;
But mostly and now the lilac that blooms the first,
Copious, I break, I break the sprigs from the bushes;
With loaded arms I come, pouring for you,
For you, and the coffins all of you, O death.)


O western orb, sailing the heaven!
Now I know what you must have meant, as a month since we walk’d,
As we walk’d up and down in the dark blue so mystic,
As we walk’d in silence the transparent shadowy night,
As I saw you had something to tell, as you bent to me night after night,
As you droop’d from the sky low down, as if to my side, (while the other stars all look’d on;)
As we wander’d together the solemn night, (for something, I know not what, kept me from sleep;)
As the night advanced, and I saw on the rim of the west, ere you went, how full you were of woe;
As I stood on the rising ground in the breeze, in the cold transparent night,
As I watch’d where you pass’d and was lost in the netherward black of the night,
As my soul, in its trouble, dissatisfied, sank, as where you, sad orb,
Concluded, dropt in the night, and was gone.


Sing on, there in the swamp!
O singer bashful and tender! I hear your notes—I hear your call;
I hear—I come presently—I understand you;
But a moment I linger—for the lustrous star has detain’d me;
The star, my departing comrade, holds and detains me.


O how shall I warble myself for the dead one there I loved?
And how shall I deck my song for the large sweet soul that has gone?
And what shall my perfume be, for the grave of him I love?

Sea-winds, blown from east and west,
Blown from the eastern sea, and blown from the western sea, till there on the prairies meeting:
These, and with these, and the breath of my chant,
I perfume the grave of him I love.


O what shall I hang on the chamber walls?
And what shall the pictures be that I hang on the walls,
To adorn the burial-house of him I love?

Pictures of growing spring, and farms, and homes,
With the Fourth-month eve at sundown, and the gray smoke lucid and bright,
With floods of the yellow gold of the gorgeous, indolent, sinking sun, burning, expanding the air;
With the fresh sweet herbage under foot, and the pale green leaves of the trees prolific;
In the distance the flowing glaze, the breast of the river, with a wind-dapple here and there;
With ranging hills on the banks, with many a line against the sky, and shadows;
And the city at hand, with dwellings so dense, and stacks of chimneys,
And all the scenes of life, and the workshops, and the workmen homeward returning.


Lo! body and soul! this land!
Mighty Manhattan, with spires, and the sparkling and hurrying tides, and the ships;
The varied and ample land—the South and the North in the light—Ohio’s shores, and flashing Missouri,
And ever the far-spreading prairies, cover’d with grass and corn.

Lo! the most excellent sun, so calm and haughty;
The violet and purple morn, with just-felt breezes;
The gentle, soft-born, measureless light;
The miracle, spreading, bathing all—the fulfill’d noon;
The coming eve, delicious—the welcome night, and the stars,
Over my cities shining all, enveloping man and land.


Sing on! sing on, you gray-brown bird!
Sing from the swamps, the recesses—pour your chant from the bushes;
Limitless out of the dusk, out of the cedars and pines.

Sing on, dearest brother—warble your reedy song;
Loud human song, with voice of uttermost woe.

O liquid, and free, and tender!
O wild and loose to my soul! O wondrous singer!
You only I hear……yet the star holds me, (but will soon depart;)
Yet the lilac, with mastering odor, holds me.


Now while I sat in the day, and look’d forth,
In the close of the day, with its light, and the fields of spring, and the farmer preparing his crops,
In the large unconscious scenery of my land, with its lakes and forests,
In the heavenly aerial beauty, (after the perturb’d winds, and the storms;)
Under the arching heavens of the afternoon swift passing, and the voices of children and women,
The many-moving sea-tides,—and I saw the ships how they sail’d,
And the summer approaching with richness, and the fields all busy with labor,
And the infinite separate houses, how they all went on, each with its meals and minutia of daily usages;
And the streets, how their throbbings throbb’d, and the cities pent—lo! then and there,
Falling upon them all, and among them all, enveloping me with the rest,
Appear’d the cloud, appear’d the long black trail;
And I knew Death, its thought, and the sacred knowledge of death.


Then with the knowledge of death as walking one side of me,
And the thought of death close-walking the other side of me,
And I in the middle, as with companions, and as holding the hands of companions,
I fled forth to the hiding receiving night, that talks not,
Down to the shores of the water, the path by the swamp in the dimness,
To the solemn shadowy cedars, and ghostly pines so still.

And the singer so shy to the rest receiv’d me;
The gray-brown bird I know, receiv’d us comrades three;
And he sang what seem’d the carol of death, and a verse for him I love.

From deep secluded recesses,
From the fragrant cedars, and the ghostly pines so still,
Came the carol of the bird.

And the charm of the carol rapt me,
As I held, as if by their hands, my comrades in the night;
And the voice of my spirit tallied the song of the bird.


Come, lovely and soothing Death,
Undulate round the world, serenely arriving, arriving,
In the day, in the night, to all, to each,
Sooner or later, delicate Death.

Prais’d be the fathomless universe,
For life and joy, and for objects and knowledge curious;
And for love, sweet love—But praise! praise! praise!
For the sure-enwinding arms of cool-enfolding Death.

Dark Mother, always gliding near, with soft feet,
Have none chanted for thee a chant of fullest welcome?

Then I chant it for thee—I glorify thee above all;
I bring thee a song that when thou must indeed come, come unfalteringly.

Approach, strong Deliveress!
When it is so—when thou hast taken them, I joyously sing the dead,
Lost in the loving, floating ocean of thee,
Laved in the flood of thy bliss, O Death.

From me to thee glad serenades,
Dances for thee I propose, saluting thee—adornments and feastings for thee;
And the sights of the open landscape, and the high-spread sky, are fitting,
And life and the fields, and the huge and thoughtful night.

The night, in silence, under many a star;
The ocean shore, and the husky whispering wave, whose voice I know;
And the soul turning to thee, O vast and well-veil’d Death,
And the body gratefully nestling close to thee.

Over the tree-tops I float thee a song!
Over the rising and sinking waves—over the myriad fields, and the prairies wide;
Over the dense-pack’d cities all, and the teeming wharves and ways,
I float this carol with joy, with joy to thee, O Death!


To the tally of my soul,
Loud and strong kept up the gray-brown bird,
With pure, deliberate notes, spreading, filling the night.

Loud in the pines and cedars dim,
Clear in the freshness moist, and the swamp-perfume;
And I with my comrades there in the night.

While my sight that was bound in my eyes unclosed,
As to long panoramas of visions.


I saw askant the armies;
And I saw, as in noiseless dreams, hundreds of battle-flags;
Borne through the smoke of the battles, and pierc’d with missiles, I saw them,
And carried hither and yon through the smoke, and torn and bloody;
And at last but a few shreds left on the staffs, (and all in silence,)
And the staffs all splinter’d and broken.

I saw battle-corpses, myriads of them,
And the white skeletons of young men—I saw them;
I saw the debris and debris of all the dead soldiers of the war;
But I saw they were not as was thought;
They themselves were fully at rest—they suffer’d not;
The living remain’d and suffer’d—the mother suffer’d,
And the wife and the child, and the musing comrade suffer’d,
And the armies that remain’d suffer’d.


Passing the visions, passing the night;
Passing, unloosing the hold of my comrades’ hands;
Passing the song of the hermit bird, and the tallying song of my soul,
(Victorious song, death’s outlet song, yet varying, ever-altering song,
As low and wailing, yet clear the notes, rising and falling, flooding the night,
Sadly sinking and fainting, as warning and warning, and yet again bursting with joy,
Covering the earth, and filling the spread of the heaven,
As that powerful psalm in the night I heard from recesses,)
Passing, I leave thee, lilac with heart-shaped leaves;
I leave thee there in the door-yard, blooming, returning with spring,
I cease from my song for thee;
From my gaze on thee in the west, fronting the west, communing with thee,
O comrade lustrous, with silver face in the night.


Yet each I keep, and all, retrievements out of the night;
The song, the wondrous chant of the gray-brown bird,
And the tallying chant, the echo arous’d in my soul,
With the lustrous and drooping star, with the countenance full of woe,
With the lilac tall, and its blossoms of mastering odor;
With the holders holding my hand, nearing the call of the bird,
Comrades mine, and I in the midst, and their memory ever I keep—for the dead I loved so well;
For the sweetest, wisest soul of all my days and lands…and this for his dear sake;
Lilac and star and bird, twined with the chant of my soul,
There in the fragrant pines, and the cedars dusk and dim.

Friday, October 06, 2006


An unknown visitor from Hillsboro, Oregon (are you who I think you are?) working on a Mac OSX at 7:10 pm was the 25,000th person to visit this site. I know some blogs get 4x that number of hits in a single day, but for this little blog it feels like a big deal to have reached that mark in just over 14 months.

Thanks to everyone who reads this site regularly or by accident. I love doing this blog, but it would be nothing without you who read and comment. I am grateful beyond words.


What's the Point?

A new study hitting the news today says that marijuana may help prevent the onset of Alzheimer's disease. I'm sure some of my former friends from high school who never gave up the herb are ecstatic. But then again, they were usually high all the time any way.

New research shows that the active ingredient in marijuana may prevent the progression of the disease by preserving levels of an important neurotransmitter that allows the brain to function.

Researchers at the Scripps Research Institute in California found that marijuana's active ingredient, delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, can prevent the neurotransmitter acetylcholine from breaking down more effectively than commercially marketed drugs.

THC is also more effective at blocking clumps of protein that can inhibit memory and cognition in Alzheimer's patients, the researchers reported in the journal Molecular Pharmaceutics.

The researchers said their discovery could lead to more effective drug treatment for Alzheimer's, the leading cause of dementia among the elderly.

Those afflicted with Alzheimer's suffer from memory loss, impaired decision-making, and diminished language and movement skills. The ultimate cause of the disease is unknown, though it is believed to be hereditary.

I'm wondering what would be the point of smoking herb to delay Alzheimer's? Short-term memory loss, disorientation, impaired decision-making, diminished language and movement skills, staring blankly into space -- how is the cure any better than the symptoms of the disease?

But then, I guess it's more fun if you choose to be that way.

IOC Recommends . . .

The Worst Horse, pop culture and mayhem for Buddhists.

The links section covers literature, music, art, tattoos, GLBT sites, comix, and a whole lot more. There's a whole mess of Buddhist-related popular culture news coverage, some of which barely counts as news (which they admit). There's lots of good stuff, so check it out.

Nirvana: Heart-Shaped Box


The lyrics:
She eyes me like a pisces when I am weak
I've been locked inside your Heart Shaped box for weeks
I've been drawn into your magnet tar pit trap
I wish I could eat your cancer when you turn black

I've got a new complaint
Forever in debt to your priceless advice
I've got a new complaint
Forever in debt to your priceless advice
I've got a new complaint
Forever in debt to your priceless advice

...your advice

Meat-eating orchids forgive no one just yet
Cut myself on Angel Hair and baby's breath
Broken hymen of your highness I'm left black
Throw down your umbilical noose so I can climb right back

I've got a new complaint
Forever in debt to your priceless advice
I've got a new complaint
Forever in debt to your priceless advice
I've got a new complaint
Forever in debt to your priceless advice
...Your advice


She eyes me like a pisces when I am weak
I've been locked inside your Heart-Shaped box for weeks
I've been drawn into your magnet tar pit trap
I wish I could eat your cancer when you turn black

I've got a new complaint
Forever in debt to your priceless advice
I've got a new complaint
Forever in debt to your priceless advice
I've got a new complaint
Forever in debt to your priceless advice
Your advice
Your advice
Your advice

Sogyal Rinpoche on Developing Compassion

From today's Rigpa Glimpse of the Day:

One technique for arousing compassion for a person who is suffering is to imagine one of your dearest friends, or someone you really love, in that person’s place.

Imagine your brother or daughter or parent or best friend in the same kind of painful situation. Quite naturally your heart will open, and compassion will awaken in you: What more would you want than to free your loved one from his or her torment? Now take this compassion released in your heart and transfer it to the person who needs your help: You will find that your help is inspired more naturally and that you can direct it more easily.

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Flash Fiction: The Other

The Other

I confront the mirror, but my other self simply stares back, blank, detached.

It has always been this way.

I curse, gesticulate, am animated in my objections, my questions, my discontent. I wear suffering as a fine garment, draping myself in sackcloth and ashes.

But he quietly stands there, serene, seemingly at peace.

I construct stories, rationalize choices, demand some acknowledgment of my efforts, my wounds. I puff up my chest to hide my fears and doubts.

Year after year, I age, suffer the injustices of time. Gray hair thickens around my temples. I fight the clock and know I am always losing.

He is unchanged, unmoved. It has always been this way.

There is something about his eyes, some frustrating depth of kindness that calms me even when I hate his aloofness. His constant presence keeps me anchored, feels like being submerged in baptismal over and over again.

I feel that he knows me . . . .

Thursday, October 05, 2006

New Material at Elegant Thorn Review

Here are a few recent posts at Elegant Thorn Review.

~ A Conversation with Poet Mei-mei Berssenbrugge

~ Two Photos: Aeterna Doloris

~ Review: THE ODE LESS TRAVELLED by Stephen Fry

As always, I am looking for quality photography, inspired poetry, and brilliant flash fiction with a spiritual feel to it. Guidelines can be found here.

Scientists Teleport Two Different Objects

CNN reported this morning that scientists have succesfully teleported information between light and matter,the next step toward quantum computing. I dig the science stuff, but I don't fully understand everything in the article. If a more educated person wants to explain this stuff in the comments, I'd be appreciative.

The experiment involved for the first time a macroscopic atomic object containing thousands of billions of atoms. They also teleported the information a distance of half a meter but believe it can be extended further.

"Teleportation between two single atoms had been done two years ago by two teams, but this was done at a distance of a fraction of a millimeter," Polzik, of the Danish National Research Foundation Center for Quantum Optics, explained.

"Our method allows teleportation to be taken over longer distances because it involves light as the carrier of entanglement," he added.

Quantum entanglement involves entwining two or more particles without physical contact.

Although teleportation is associated with the science-fiction series "Star Trek," no one is likely to be beamed anywhere soon.

But the achievement of Polzik's team, in collaboration with the theorist Ignacio Cirac of the Max Planck Institute for Quantum Optics in Garching, Germany, marks an advancement in the field of quantum information and computers, which could transmit and process information in a way that was impossible before.

"It is really about teleporting information from one site to another site. Quantum information is different from classical information in the sense that it cannot be measured. It has much higher information capacity and it cannot be eavesdropped on. The transmission of quantum information can be made unconditionally secure," said Polzik whose research is reported in the journal Nature.

Quantum computing requires manipulation of information contained in the quantum states, which include physical properties such as energy, motion and magnetic field, of the atoms.

Read the whole article.

Beyond the Daily Kos

For those on the left, the Daily Kos is the voice of the people -- literally. Nearly all the daily content at Kos is generated by readers in their diaries. Wired magazine looks at the future of Markos Moulitsas, the Kos in the Daily Kos. Moulitsas plans to step away from the daily operations at Kos next year to launch some new ventures.
With 3.5 million unique visitors every week, his blog has become the preeminent site for liberals on the Web. It's also a virtual political action committee. Daily Kos raised more than $1 million for Democratic candidates in 2004. Senate minority leader Harry Reid was a keynote speaker for the Yearly Kos convention in Las Vegas last June, and potential 2008 presidential candidate Mark Warner feted attendees with a $50,000 gala at the Stratosphere Casino. When John Kerry and Barack Obama wanted a line to the blogosphere's most reliable partisans, they posted on Kos.

Daily Kos works because it's not a one-way broadcast of Moulitsas' views. Close to 99 percent of the site is user-generated – it hosts 14,000 comments a day and 2,000 miniblogs called diaries. Moulitsas has figured out how to turn readers into writers, to transform discontent into content.

An activist who has succeeded in mobilizing so many passionate users might next head for a career inside the political machine. Run for office. Start a PAC. Become a consultant. But no. At what's arguably the top of his game, Moulitsas says he's "going offline" next year, taking his obvious knack for building online communities and applying it to that other great American pastime: sports. And once he gets his network of sports blogs ramped up, he'll turn to building communities in the real world, a chain of giant meeting places "replicating megachurches for the left" – complete with cafés and child care. Moulitsas has shown he can harness people's enthusiasm, but he says he doesn't want a leadership role in these "democracy centers."

It's a good article. Read the rest here.

The Dogmatic Richard Dawkins, or Why Daniel Dennett Is Right

Richard Dawkins is a brilliant scientist, but his rabid dislike for all forms of religion is equally as dogmatic and intolerant as are the religions he spends so much energy deriding. But he is popular among the atheists. They tend to hold him up as the scientist with the courage to expose the pre-rational thinking behind religious belief. But their scientism is no better than religious fundamentalism.

Dawkins' new book is The God Delusion, and it is reviewed by Prospect magazine, a British publication. To say they didn't like it would be an understatement, I think. Here is the beginning of the review:
It has been obvious for years that Richard Dawkins had a fat book on religion in him, but who would have thought him capable of writing one this bad? Incurious, dogmatic, rambling and self-contradictory, it has none of the style or verve of his earlier works.

In his broad thesis, Dawkins is right. Religions are potentially dangerous, and in their popular forms profoundly irrational. The agnostics must be right and the atheists very well may be. There is no purpose to the universe. Nothing inconsistent with the laws of physics has been reliably reported. To demand a designer to explain the complexity of the world begs the question, "Who designed the designer?" It has been clear since Darwin that we have no need to hypothesise a designer to explain the complexity of living things. The results of intercessory prayer are indistinguishable from those of chance.

Dawkins gets miffed when this is called "19th-century" atheism, since, as he says, the period of their first discovery does not affect the truth of these propositions. But to call it "19th-century" is to draw attention to the important truth added in the 20th century: that religious belief persists in the face of these facts and arguments.
Fans will surely enjoy his attacks on religion, but for those of us who would rather understand how and why religion has survived this long when its believers are consistently confronted with its irrational aspects, there is Daniel Dennett.

I'm not a huge Dennett fan, as I tend to see him as a reductionist on too many occasions. I didn't buy into Consciousness Explained, although it was a brilliant book.

Earlier this year, Dennett published Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon, a book that tries to look at why religion is still so popular, more than 100 years after Darwin. This book is on my list, so until I can read it and report back myself, here is a piece of one of the reviews, from Scientific American:
Drawing on thinkers such as Pascal Boyer (whose own book is called Religion Explained) and giving their work his own spin, Dennett speculates how a primitive belief in ghosts might have given rise to wind spirits and rain gods, wood nymphs and leprechauns. The world is a scary place. What else to blame for the unexpected than humanlike beings lurking behind the scenes? The result would be a cacophony of superstitions --— memes vying with memes -- —some more likely to proliferate than others. In a world where agriculture was drawing people to aggregate in larger and larger settlements, it would be beneficial to believe you had been commanded by a stern god to honor and protect your neighbors, those who share your beliefs instead of your DNA. Casting this god as a father figure also seems like a natural. Parents have a genetic stake in giving their children advice that improves their odds for survival. You'’d have less reason to put your trust in a Flying Spaghetti Monster.
I'm always happy when my own diety of choice is mentioned, the glorious Flying Spaghetti Monster. May his meatballs never rot.

Anyway, Dennett's book makes an attempt to understand religion that I never see in any of Dawkins recent work or lectures (or diatribes). We don't need more intolerance and dogmatism, we need to understand religion, the source of its power and strength in our psyches.

Given a choice of reading either of these books based on the reviews, I'm going to have to go with and recommend Dennett over Dawkins.

Dumb, Dumber, Dumbest

From The Progressive:
October 4, 2006

Dumb: Congress gutted funding for school security but did find $20 million to pay for a celebration in the nation’s capital 'for commemoration of success' in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Dumber: A Cedar Rapids man caught with two pounds of marijuana said he shouldn't be charged with possession because he stole it from a nearby business that he had just broken into.

Dumbest: Banning a book about book burning. "It's just all kinds of filth," said Alton Verm, referring to Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451, the story of a man in a futuristic, totalitarian society whose job is to burn literature. Verm, who says he has not actually read the book, made his complaint during American Library Association's Banned Books Week.

Honorable mention: Mark Foley still logging on with the same screen name linked to scandal

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New Poem: Exposed


The year has turned to face its demise
and still the vicious sun overhead

erases shadows, burrows beneath my skin
the way splinters deep in my finger

can never be removed, the way the wound
in my heel is not a mark of prophecy,

carries no meaning beyond the pain.
Just that way the sun flays me,

its voice reciting my crimes, and
I am exposed as in memories

of standing on stage having lost
my lines, frozen, melting under the lights,

nowhere safe to hide, like that I am caught
in the cruel brilliance of my life,

all my mistakes revealed, its voice
is my voice, ridiculing, reaching

deep within me to burn away every
last vow, every illusion of who I am.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Deep Compassion or Fatalism?

Found this story linked to at Crunchy Con.

From CNN:
A grieving grandfather told young relatives not to hate the gunman who killed five girls in an Amish schoolhouse massacre, a pastor said on Wednesday.

"As we were standing next to the body of this 13-year-old girl, the grandfather was tutoring the young boys, he was making a point, just saying to the family, 'We must not think evil of this man,' " the Rev. Robert Schenck told CNN.

"It was one of the most touching things I have seen in 25 years of Christian ministry."

Also in the same article:

Jack Meyer, a member of the Brethren community living near the Amish in Lancaster County, said local people were trying to follow Jesus' teachings in dealing with the "terrible hurt."

"I don't think there's anybody here that wants to do anything but forgive and not only reach out to those who have suffered a loss in that way but to reach out to the family of the man who committed these acts," he told CNN.

Sam Stoltzfus, 63, an Amish woodworker who lives a few miles away from the shooting scene, told The Associated Press that the victims' families will be sustained by their faith.

"We think it was God's plan, and we're going to have to pick up the pieces and keep going," he told AP. "A funeral to us is a much more important thing than the day of birth because we believe in the hereafter. The children are better off than their survivors."

I admire their ability to forgive, the depth of the compassion they demonstrate, but I have to wonder how much of that is a result of their belief that all things are God's plan. If you hold a fatalist point of view, you can more easily forgive the person who does you harm, since it was God's will.

This is one of the things that bothered me as a grew up, and one of the reasons I questioned so much of what the Church tried to teach me. I believe that human beings commit evil acts as a result of a variety of factors -- none of which are divine in origin -- not that God has a plan and that we are merely acting out our parts.

However, I can see the comfort in holding such a viewpoint, especially in the face of such horror.

I knew That Was How I Would Score

You Are 60% Intuitive

Your intuition is often right, and you use it more than you may realize.
Your gut feelings are usually a good guide, but you need more to go on when making a decision.
You'll often check to see if the facts back up your feelings.
And when your intuition is wrong, you work to improve it for the future.

Katie Couric Loves the Religious Right

From Media Matters:

In response to Pennsylvania school shooting, CBS' "Free Speech" featured Columbine father attacking evolution, abortion

In introducing the "Free Speech" segment of the October 2 broadcast of the CBS Evening News, anchor Katie Couric noted that because of the school shooting that day in Paradise, Pennsylvania, "we've decided to hold the 'Free Speech' we had planned to bring you. Instead, we've called on someone who knows all too well the pain the families in Lancaster County are feeling tonight." But, as the weblog Think Progress noted, the segment featured Brian Rohrbough, father of one of the students killed in the 1999 Columbine High School massacre in Colorado, who -- rather than talking about "the pain of the families," as Couric indicated -- proceeded to blame school shootings on evolutionary theory being taught in public schools and on abortion.

From the October 2 broadcast of the CBS Evening News:

COURIC: Because of the tragedy in Pennsylvania, we've decided to hold the "Free Speech" we had planned to bring you. Instead, we've called on someone who knows all too well the pain the families in Lancaster County are feeling tonight. Brian Rohrbough lost his son Dan in the Columbine massacre, and we asked him to share his thoughts.

ROHRBOUGH: I'm saddened and shaken by the shooting at an Amish school today and last week's school murders [in Bailey, Colorado]. When my son Dan was murdered on the sidewalk at Columbine High School on April 20, 1999, I hoped that would be the last school shooting. Since that day, I tried to answer the question, "Why did this happen?"

This country is in a moral freefall. For over two generations, the public school system has taught in a moral vacuum, expelling God from the school and from the government, replacing him with evolution, where the strong kill the weak without moral consequences. And life has no inherent value. We teach there are no absolutes, no right or wrong, and I assure you the murder of innocent children is always wrong, including by abortion. Abortion has diminished the value of children. Suicide has become an acceptable action and has further emboldened these criminals. We're seeing an epidemic increase in murder/suicide attacks on our children.

Sadly, our schools are not safe. In fact, we now witness that within our schools, our children have become a target of terrorists from within the United States.

COURIC: The reflections tonight of Brian Rohrbough, whose son Dan was killed at Columbine. And coming up next, a look inside a world most of us never see, the private world of the Amish.

This is the letter I sent to Ms. Couric:

Ms. Couric,

Your decision to have a grieving father share his feelings about the killings in the Amish school was a good idea. Why didn't we see that piece?

What we did see was a far right religious believer condemn the Constitution, science, and freedom as the causes for the killings of children by madmen. I believe he is hurting, and that he is angry, and that he needs to blame something. However, this does not constitute an opinion worthy of inclusion on the network news. Where is fair and impartial?

The only way you can right this wrong is to have a segment featuring a historian who can talk about all the killings that have been committed in the name of whichever god was favored at the time.

This is simply another in a long line of conservative speakers you have invited on your show. Perhaps you would be more at home at Fox News?

William Harryman
Tucson, AZ

It's Not Easy Being Green

[image source]

I've spent an awful lot of time in the past week and a half exploring and/or wallowing in my sensitive self. It occured to me last night that this is an example of stretching up as a form of handling change. I tend to reside someplace in the confluence of a rational, changeability-oriented self and a sensitive, inner-focused self. Generally, I lean more toward the rational part.

But when change kicks my ass, I dive into the sensitive self aspect, exploring all my feeeeeelings (said with derision in my voice). I know this is healthy, and in theory it's the next step in my development, but I can't help recalling some of what Don Beck said about this meme.

He discussed the sensitive self's need to find peace for the inner self, the never-ending search for deeper and deeper healing. The sensitive self tends to believe that no further growth can occur until the self finds the inner tranquility it craves. In order to achieve this goal, it engages in endless processing. For the inner self, this may mean a lifetime spent in therapy or attending every personal growth workshop that promises to fix the sensitive self's wounds

In relationship with others, it believes that purely through sharing and discussion that solutions will spontaneously emerge -- which is really nothing more than a variation on magical thinking. The focus tends to be on the process rather than the content. As a result, the inner search for meaning, healing, and tranquility becomes a form of group navel gazing.

This is where I have been for the last week, and although there is surely some value in doing this, especially since it is a stretch up for me personally, I'm seeing the risk in spending too much time in this endeavor. I do want to explore the inner drives and and damage that contributed to getting me to where I am now, but I also don't want to become one of those people who feel paralyzed by their wounds and can't see beyond the perpetual exploration of that stuff.

Feeling is all well and good, and it is a step beyond rationalizing, but I want to KNOW, not just think and feel. There are many variables that have gotten me to this place, and many of them are not within me and my narcissistic psyche.

I'm still going to give some energy to working with my sensitive self, and I still want to explore some of my patterns that got me to where I am now, but I also want more. I want to see the bigger picture -- my life can't be reduced to personal interiors.

Making sense out of what appears to be chaotic requires a bigger picture.