Saturday, October 29, 2011

Documentary: The Life of the Buddha

I found this cool one hour documentary on the life of Gautama Buddha  at Archive Fire, a very cool blog for those who have never been there.

The Life Of The Buddha

"If there is any religion that would cope with modern scientific needs it would be Buddhism." -Albert Einstein
The following documentary (50mins) covers the life of Siddhartha Gautama, a young prince from India who went out to find the reason for Dukkha [suffering] of human life. He later found the reason of Dukkha and teached a way to live life. He was later known as the Buddha, the founder of "Buddhism". 

[ see also the short doc The Buddha (20mins) ]

TEDxSantaCruz: Gonan & Johan Premfors - Trustology

Interesting talk from TEDxSantaCruz.

TEDxSantaCruz: Gonan & Johan Premfors - Trustology

Gonan and Johan are the main drivers behind the coaching and human consciousness movement on the Arabian Peninsula. Both are faculty members of the Coaches Training Institute (San Rafael, Ca.) They are the founders of Parentology, a relationship philosophy and series of workshops, currently delivered on four continents. Johan and Gonan have worked with thousands of people including business leaders, families, professional athletes, and governments.

Gonan is from Istanbul, Turkey but has lived in Dubai since 1988 where she enjoyed a long career in finance before embarking on the human development path in 2005 by bringing the Coaches Training Institute and professional coaching to the Arabian Peninsula.

Johan is from Stockholm, Sweden but grew up in Pakistan, Kenya and Turkey. He is a former private banker turned telecommunications entrepreneur and later professional coach.

They live in Dubai with their teenage daughter.

This TEDxSantaCruz talk is part of over 2 dozen surrounding our theme of "Engage!" This inaugural TEDxSantaCruz event was held June 11, 2011 at the Cabrillo College Music Recital Hall in Aptos, CA (Santa Cruz County).

Slavoj Zizek Interviewed (sort of) by Charlie Rose

Charlie Rose did the right thing for the most part and allowed the Slavoj Zizek to engage in his usual monologue - it would have been better if Rose would have simply allowed him to go - the few times Rose interrupted seemed like an effort to show his own intelligence or knowledge, which is always a bad thing in an interviewer.

Slovenian philosopher and critical theorist Slavoj Zizek on Occupy Wall Street, capitalism, Western culture and global politics - [Click the image above to go to the interview at Charlie Rose's site]

Friday, October 28, 2011

The International Society for Psychology as the Discipline for Interiority

The Uroboros or "Tail-Eater"

I found this new venture through the CG Jung Page - seems like a cool idea. They are devoted to exploring and promoting the work of Wolfgang Giegerich, someone of whom I have never heard, who appears to be a well-known and important Jungian.

You can read Giegerich's seminal paper, The End of Meaning and the Birth of Man: An essay about the state reached in the history of consciousness and an analysis of C.G. Jung's psychology project online.

Written by Santo J. Tarantino, PhD
Tuesday, 28 June 2011

This newly inaugurated organization will focus on developing and critiquing the thinking initiated by Wolfgang Giegerich. 

Born from intellectual excitement engendered by the writings of Wolfgang Giegerich, the Society is dedicated to the development of a psychology that is truly psychological in its spirit and conception. With the participation and thoughtful contributions of its membership to the issues with which we will be interested, the aim of the Society is to further develop and critique the thinking initiated by Giegerich in his The Soul's Logical Life and Collected English Papers, vols. I to IV.

In addition to the online resources that will be available to members (which includes a discussion forum), there will be a conference for members and interested non-members in Berlin at which Wolfgang Giegerich will present as keynote speaker. Scheduled to take place from July 20-25, 2012, at the Crown Plaza Berlin City Centre Hotel, the theme of the conference is "Psychology as the Discipline of Interiority."

As members of the Society those who decide to join us will be kept posted regarding any details about the conference, such as rates for rooms and the fees for the conference itself. We are making every effort to plan a rich and stimulating conference at an overall affordable price for the whole package. The call for proposals for papers will be finalized very soon and will be available through the Society website. The deadline for proposals will be October 31, 2011. Should you wish to become a member, click the "Become a Member" link on the home page for details.

So that there is no misunderstanding about the purpose of our society, we must make it clear that we are not offering training or certification for any professional activities as a therapist, analyst or psychologist. By becoming a member we presume you understand and accept the specific goals of the Society as described above and in more detail on the website. Also, membership dues are not tax deductible except as a personal business expense. Consult with your tax adviser on this matter. The Society is incorporated as a legal not-for-profit entity.

We hope you will visit the website at and possibly decide to join us in this exciting intellectual venture of the Society.

Sincerely yours,
Santo J. Tarantino, Ph.D.

Executive Committee: John Hoedl, Greg Mogenson, John Robertson, Peter White, Santo Tarantino, Chair.
The International Society for Psychology as the Discipline for Interiority has a well-developed website with a handful of papers available and a mission statement of sorts on the main page.

Slavoj Žižek - Occupy first. Demands come later

In The Guardian UK, philosopher and social critic Slavoj Žižek offers some advice for the #occupywallstreet movement - he advises them (us) not to fall into some quick definition of purpose, citing Bill Clinton's suggestion that the #OWS movement get behind Obama's job plan so as to be for something rather than against the system as it currently operates.

He also addresses and refutes the conservative attacks on the protesters as un-American, as violent, as communists, as dreamers, as losers - all simple-minded ways to discredit the sense of fairness that gave rise to the cause.

And returning to the main point, they should also be wary of false friends who will try to dilute their motives and energy:
What one should resist at this stage is precisely such a quick translation of the energy of the protest into a set of concrete pragmatic demands. Yes, the protests did create a vacuum – a vacuum in the field of hegemonic ideology, and time is needed to fill this vacuum in a proper way, as it is a pregnant vacuum, an opening for the truly new.
Here is the whole article:

Occupy first. Demands come later

Critics say the Occupy cause is nebulous. Protesters will need to address what comes next – but beware a debate on enemy turf
Occupy protester
'The protesters should fall in love with hard and patient work – they are the beginning, not the end.' Photograph: Timothy A Clary/AFP/Getty Images
What to do after the occupations of Wall Street and beyond – the protests that started far away, reached the centre and are now, reinforced, rolling back around the world? One of the great dangers the protesters face is that they will fall in love with themselves. In a San Francisco echo of the Wall Street occupation this week, a man addressed the crowd with an invitation to participate as if it was a happening in the hippy style of the 60s: "They are asking us what is our programme. We have no programme. We are here to have a good time."
Carnivals come cheap – the true test of their worth is what remains the day after, how our normal daily life will be changed. The protesters should fall in love with hard and patient work – they are the beginning, not the end. Their basic message is: the taboo is broken; we do not live in the best possible world; we are allowed, obliged even, to think about alternatives.
In a kind of Hegelian triad, the western left has come full circle: after abandoning the so-called "class struggle essentialism" for the plurality of anti-racist, feminist, and other struggles, capitalism is now clearly re-emerging as the name of the problem. So the first lesson to be taken is: do not blame people and their attitudes. The problem is not corruption or greed, the problem is the system that pushes you to be corrupt. The solution is not "Main Street, not Wall Street", but to change the system where Main Street cannot function without Wall Street.
There is a long road ahead, and soon we will have to address the truly difficult questions – not questions of what we do not want, but about what we do want. What social organisation can replace the existing capitalism? What type of new leaders do we need? What organs, including those of control and repression? The 20th-century alternatives obviously did not work.
While it is thrilling to enjoy the pleasures of the "horizontal organisation" of protesting crowds with egalitarian solidarity and open-ended free debates, we should also bear in mind what GK Chesterton wrote: "Merely having an open mind is nothing; the object of opening the mind, as of opening the mouth, is to shut it again on something solid." This holds also for politics in times of uncertainty: the open-ended debates will have to coalesce not only in some new master-signifiers, but also in concrete answers to the old Leninist question, "What is to be done?"
The direct conservative attacks are easy to answer. Are the protests un-American? When conservative fundamentalists claim that America is a Christian nation, one should remember what Christianity is: the Holy Spirit, the free egalitarian community of believers united by love. It is the protesters who are the Holy Spirit, while on Wall Street pagans worship false idols.
Are the protesters violent? True, their very language may appear violent (occupation, and so on), but they are violent only in the sense in which Mahatma Gandhi was violent. They are violent because they want to put a stop to the way things are – but what is this violence compared with the violence needed to sustain the smooth functioning of the global capitalist system?
They are called losers – but are the true losers not there on Wall Street, who received massive bailouts? They are called socialists – but in the US, there already is socialism for the rich. They are accused of not respecting private property – but the Wall Street speculations that led to the crash of 2008 erased more hard-earned private property than if the protesters were to be destroying it night and day – just think of thousands of homes repossessed.
They are not communists, if communism means the system that deservedly collapsed in 1990 – and remember that communists who are still in power run today the most ruthless capitalism. The success of Chinese communist-run capitalism is an ominous sign that the marriage between capitalism and democracy is approaching a divorce. The only sense in which the protesters are communists is that they care for the commons – the commons of nature, of knowledge – which are threatened by the system.
They are dismissed as dreamers, but the true dreamers are those who think things can go on indefinitely the way they are, just with some cosmetic changes. They are not dreamers; they are the awakening from a dream that is turning into a nightmare. They are not destroying anything, but reacting to how the system is gradually destroying itself. We all know the classic scene from cartoons: the cat reaches a precipice but goes on walking; it starts to fall only when it looks down and notices the abyss. The protesters are just reminding those in power to look down.
This is the easy part. The protesters should beware not only of enemies, but also of false friends who pretend to support them but are already working hard to dilute the protest. In the same way we get coffee without caffeine, beer without alcohol, ice-cream without fat, those in power will try to make the protests into a harmless moralistic gesture.
In boxing, to clinch means to hold the opponent's body with one or both arms in order to prevent or hinder punches. Bill Clinton's reaction to the Wall Street protests is a perfect case of political clinching. Clinton thinks that the protests are "on balance … a positive thing", but he is worried about the nebulousness of the cause: "They need to be for something specific, and not just against something because if you're just against something, someone else will fill the vacuum you create," he said. Clinton suggested the protesters get behind President Obama's jobs plan, which he claimed would create "a couple million jobs in the next year and a half".
What one should resist at this stage is precisely such a quick translation of the energy of the protest into a set of concrete pragmatic demands. Yes, the protests did create a vacuum – a vacuum in the field of hegemonic ideology, and time is needed to fill this vacuum in a proper way, as it is a pregnant vacuum, an opening for the truly new.
The reason protesters went out is that they had enough of the world where recycling your Coke cans, giving a couple of dollars to charity, or buying a cappuccino where 1% goes towards developing world troubles, is enough to make them feel good. After outsourcing work and torture, after the marriage agencies started to outsource even our dating, they saw that for a long time they were also allowing their political engagements to be outsourced – and they want them back.
The art of politics is also to insist on a particular demand that, while thoroughly "realist", disturbs the very core of the hegemonic ideology: ie one that, while definitely feasible and legitimate, is de facto impossible (universal healthcare in the US was such a case). In the aftermath of the Wall Street protests, we should definitely mobilise people to make such demands – however, it is no less important to simultaneously remain subtracted from the pragmatic field of negotiations and "realist" proposals.
What one should always bear in mind is that any debate here and now necessarily remains a debate on enemy's turf; time is needed to deploy the new content. All we say now can be taken from us – everything except our silence. This silence, this rejection of dialogue, of all forms of clinching, is our "terror", ominous and threatening as it should be.

GoogleTechTalks - Zen and the Brain
: Dr James Austin

Cool - this GoogleTechTalk was recorded a year ago, but they just now posted it. Good stuff - I'm a fan of Austin's Zen and the Brain.

Zen and the Brain

Presented by Dr James Austin

Google Tech Talk
November 8, 2010


What has been learned about the brain that helps understand how selfless insight-wisdom can develop on the long-term meditative path? Recent brain-imaging research clarifies the relationships between two key issues: 1) How we use both top-down and bottom-up modes of attentive processing; and 2) How we constructed an egocentric Self so strong that it so often generates suffering.

Speaker Info: James H. Austin

James H. Austin is Emeritus Professor of Neurology, University of Colorado Health Sciences Center. Austin is the author of his well known book Zen and the Brain, which aims to establish links between the neurological workings of the human brain and meditation. Austin has written two sequels to it: Zen-Brain Reflections (February, 2006), and Selfless Insight Zen (2009). He was student of the late Rinzai roshi Kobori Nanrei Sohaku.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

WTF Is Going on in Oakland? Police Violence at #occupyoakland

An Iraq war veteran who survived two tours of duty in combat has been seriously injured by a police projectile (likely a teargas canister) that fractured his skull. He is in critical condition and under sedation as doctors monitor the damage he has suffered.

The situation around the #occupyoakland protests have gotten WAY out of hand - the police seem to be overreacting in very violent ways.

Democracy Now! has the coverage.

Iraq War Vet Hospitalized with Fractured Skull After Being Shot by Police at Occupy Oakland Protest

Thousands of people reclaimed the Occupy Oakland encampment in front of City Hall Wednesday after police dispersed them twice on Tuesday — first in a pre-dawn raid on the camp and 12 hours later at night when protesters attempted to retake the park — using beanbag projectiles and tear gas. Many protesters expressed outrage over of the injury of Oakland protester Scott Olsen, a 24-year-old Iraq War veteran whose skull was fractured by a projectile fired by police Tuesday night. He is hospitalized in critical condition and is reportedly under sedation by doctors monitoring his injury. We speak to Jesse Palmer, an Occupy Oakland protester who helped move Olsen to safety, and to Aaron Hinde, a close friend of Scott Olsen and a fellow member of Iraq Veterans Against the War. One of Olsen’s other friends, Adele Carpenter, told Reuters, "The irony is not lost on anyone here that this is someone who survived two tours in Iraq and is now seriously injured by the Oakland police force." Aaron Hinde talked about why Olsen joined the Occupy Oakland movement: "He was a very motivated and dedicated individual. And he believed in the Occupy movement, because it’s very obvious what’s happening in this country, especially as veterans. We’ve had our eyes opened by serving and going to war overseas." [includes rush transcript]

Aaron Hinde, close friend of Scott Olsen and a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War. He has slept at Occupy San Francisco for several nights.
Jesse Palmer, participant in Occupy Oakland since its inception. He helped carry Scott Olsen to safety after a police projectile hit Olsen in the head.


This transcript is available free of charge. However, donations help us provide closed captioning for the deaf and hard of hearing on our TV broadcast. Thank you for your generous contribution.


AMY GOODMAN: As we broadcast, protesters with the Occupy San Francisco encampment are preparing for possible eviction by police, but reports just now coming in say police may have called off their raid.

Meanwhile, across the Bay last night, thousands of people reclaimed the Occupy Oakland encampment in front of City Hall after police dispersed them Tuesday night using bean bag projectiles and tear gas. At last night’s general assembly, the Occupy Oakland encampment voted almost unanimously to call for a general strike on November 2nd, saying, quote, "Instead of workers going to work and students going to school, the people will converge on downtown Oakland to shut down the city. All banks and corporations should close down for the day or we will march on them," the statement said.

Also in Oakland, an independent police review body will examine the clashes between riot police and protesters Tuesday that left an Iraq war veteran in critical condition. Scott Olsen is a 24-year-old Iraq war vet. He was struck in the head by a police projectile. Video footage posted to YouTube shows a man identified as Scott Olsen lying motionless and unresponsive in front of a police line after apparently having been hit by a tear gas canister. Several protesters gather around him, but a police officer can be seen throwing a device close to the group which then explodes with a bright flash and loud bang, dispersing the protesters. The video then cuts to footage of protesters carrying Olsen away as blood streams down his face.

A spokesperson for Highland Hospital in East Oakland has confirmed that Scott Olsen remains in critical condition. He suffered from a fractured skull and brain swelling. One of Olsen’s friends, Adele Carpenter, told Reuters, "The irony is not lost on anyone here that this is someone who survived two tours in Iraq and is now seriously injured by the Oakland police force." Olsen served in Iraq from 2006 to 2010 with the 3rd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment.

Acting Oakland Police Chief Howard Jordan told a news conference his department is investigating the injury to Olsen as a "level one" incident, the highest level for an internal police inquiry. He declined to confirm whether Olsen was struck with a projectile fired by police.

Well, for more on what happened to Iraq war veteran, to Marine Corporal Scott Olsen, and the broader role that veterans play in the Occupy movement across the country, we’re joined by two guests in Berkeley, California. Aaron Hinde is a close friend of Scott Olsen, a member of Iraq Veterans Against the War, as Scott was. He has slept at Occupy San Francisco for several nights. We’re also joined by Jesse Palmer, who participated in Occupy Oakland since its inception. He helped carry Scott to safety after the police projectile hit Olsen in the head. Aaron Hinde, Jesse Palmer are joining us from the studios of the University of California, Berkeley School of Journalism.

We welcome you both to Democracy Now! I want to begin with Jesse, because you were on the scene on Tuesday night. Can you describe what time it was that Scott was hit and exactly what happened when you came upon him?
 Read the whole transcript.

Easter Island Statue Project - Excavation Season IV July-August 2011

Wow - amazing pictures from this project. The degree to which these statues are embedded in the ground is something I have not seen before. Incredible. It boggles the mind that any primal culture could have done this without some kind of advanced technology.

You can read their brief summary of this season's work at the link below - there are also more pictures.

Excavation Season IV July-August 2011

A Jungian Perspective on the Dissociability of the Self

This interesting article comes The CG Jung Page - a paper presented in a public lecture at the C.G. Jung Education Center in Pittsburg, PA, by Brian Skea. In this article, he discusses trauma, transference and transformation in relationship to the dissociated complex that can cause neurotic conflict or more serious disorders, such as Borderline Personality Disorder, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder or even psychosis.

Here is the beginning of the article.

Trauma, Transference and Transformation: A Study of Jung's Treatment of His Cousin, Helene

A Jungian Perspective on the Dissociability of the Self and on the Psychotherapy of the Dissociative Disorders

A paper presented in a public lecture at the C.G. Jung Education Center in Pittsburgh, PA, on February 3, 1995.

Along with Freud and Janet, Jung was one of the pioneers of the psychoanalytic movement. In the early years, at the start of the twentieth century, trauma, especially childhood sexual abuse, was implicated in the development of hysteria and conversion disorders in adults. Jung's early contribution was his complex theory, in which he showed how trauma promotes the formation of autonomous complexes in the psyche. In binding traumatic memories, images and affects, the dissociated complex protects the ego from being overwhelmed. However, the complex can be subsequently triggered and can compete with the ego for dominance of the conscious personality, causing neurotic conflict, or more serious disorders, such as Borderline Personality Disorder, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, the dissociative disorders, or even psychosis.

Jung's contribution to the fields of dissociation and post- traumatic stress has however been ignored in historical reviews by experts such as Putnam and Kluft (1993), or Herman (1992). Likewise Jungian psychologists have not published on trauma, abuse and the dissociative disorders. Exceptions are Emmett Early, his book, The Raven's ReturnThe Influence of Psychological Trauma on Individuals and Culture (1993) and Richard Noll, his 1989 article in the JAP, "Multiple Personality, Dissociation, and C.G. Jung's Complex Theory," though he has since strangely rejected his earlier paper (1993).

In actual fact, Jung, early in his work, minimised the impact of exogenous trauma on complex formation, emphasising more the endogenous trauma caused by conflictual fantasy. He also focussed on the capacity of the psyche to split into different personalities or systems of consciousness as an aspect of normal, that is, supposedly non-trauma-related complex formation. He postulated that these complexes originated in the archetypal depths of the psyche, deep structures, patterns and ways of living that represent an inherited memory of the history of human culture. Jung proposed that this dissociative capacity of the normal psyche promotes the expansion of the personality through greater differentiation of function. He said that dissociation "allows certain parts of the psychic structure to be singled out so that, by concentration of the will, they can be trained and brought to their maximum development....This produces an unbalanced state similar to that caused by a dominant complex -a change of personality" (Jung (1960), p122).

Erich Neuman developed this further in The Great Mother(1955): "Thus to the differentiation of consciousness corresponds a more differentiated manifestation of the unconscious, its archetypes and symbols." The fragmentation of primordial undifferentiated archetypes, for example, the Great Mother, leads to the emergence of individual archetypes, such as the witch, the whore, the young goddess, the wise woman etc. This parallels the discriminatory powers of ego consciousness to embrace such diverse archetypal images, in this case, of the Feminine, without being possessed and overwhelmed by them.

Cultural change is hinted at here, brought about by creative, heroic individuals who dare to bring socially useful archetypal ideas or innovations into consciousness. This benign Jungian view can be wedded to a pathological view of dissociation, say arising from trauma, via acknowledging that early trauma can stimulate the creation of adult heroes, prophets, artists, and healers, for example, Moses, Frida Kahlo, Mozart, or Jung himself, exceptional individual cases who were able to creatively transform their traumatic experiences. Not many of us reach this level, but Jung believed that his form of therapy could restore pathological forms of dissociation to health via some of the methods that creative individuals have discovered spontaneously. These always involve some form of conscious expression of the emergence of healing images and symbols from the unconscious, via dreams, art work, dance, active imagination, sandtray, etc. This relates to Jung's concept of the individuation process, which implies the development of wholeness of the personality. In actual fact, most creative individuals are not well-rounded, but are one-sided and "unbalanced" in the direction of their area of genius. The area where they seem so often immature, if not pathological is in the area of relationships. This was true of Jung, artists such as Frida Kahlo (1983), and traumatised dissociative clients that I have worked with, however talented and creative.

Because of his view of dissociation as a normal aspect of the psyche, Jung never took the trauma theory or the seduction theory of causation of neurosis as seriously as did Freud. This can be seen from his early papers on his work with early patients at the Burgholzi, notably Sabina Spielrein, his research on complexes via the word association test, and his doctoral dissertation, which we will be looking at in this paper.

I will explore Jung's description of multiple personality or multiple complex formation, firstly, in his young cousin, Helene, found in his first published work, his doctoral dissertation, On the Psychology and Pathology of So-Called Occult Phenomena (1902) and, secondly, in himself, found in his last published work, his autobiography, Memories, Dreams, Reflections (1961). I will explore the role of trauma in both of their lives, which seems to me to have played a larger part in the development of their conflicted fantasy life and to obvious dissociative symptoms in childhood and adolescence, than Jung has acknowledged. Jung appeared to have healed his own inner splits by innovative self- healing methods, involving written inner dialogues, fantasy journeys, playing with water, sand and rock that he made into a miniature town, and painting his dreams. He also described the apparent resolution of his cousin's dissociated state following her participation in a series of seances that Jung attended. That Helene was Jung's first patient has been suggested by William Goodheart (1984), who has also investigated the transference- countertransference aspects of the case, raising troubling questions which we will explore further. As with many dissociative individuals, intimate relationships were clearly problematic for both Jung and his young cousin, before, during and after their relationship. The transference- countertransference field of a therapeutic relationship is a place where dissociative and traumatic interpersonal scenarios from past relationships can be reenacted and possibly resolved as long as the therapist is conscious of projective identification phenomena constellated between himself and his client (see Davies & Frawley, 1994). This was clearly not so for the young Jung, and likewise even in some of his later therapy relationships, despite his theoretical consciousness of these phenomena in his writings, eg The Psychology of the Transference (1954). In fact both Goodheart and psychohistorian, John Kerr, in his book, A Most Dangerous Method, (1993) suggest that Helene's relationship with Jung was ultimately traumatising to her rather than therapeutic.

Rick Hanson - Practicing The Compassion Meditation

Rick Hanson, Ph.D., is a neuropsychologist and author of the bestselling Buddha's Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love, and Wisdom (in 21 languages) - and Just One Thing: Developing a Buddha Brain One Simple Practice at a Time. Founder of the Wellspring Institute for Neuroscience and Contemplative Wisdom and Affiliate of the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley, he's taught at Oxford, Stanford, and Harvard, and in meditation centers in Europe, North America, and Australia. His work has been featured on the BBC, NPR, Consumer Reports Health, and U.S. News and World Report. His blog - Just One Thing - has over 25,000 subscribers and suggests a simple practice each week that will bring you more joy, more fulfilling relationships, and more peace of mind and heart. If you wish, you can subscribe to Just One Thing here.

Practicing The Compassion Meditation

Rick Hanson, Ph.D.

Neuropsychologist and author, 'Buddha's Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love and Wisdom'

Compassion is essentially the wish that beings not suffer -- from subtle physical and emotional discomfort to agony and anguish -- combined with feelings of sympathetic concern.

You could have compassion for an individual (a friend in the hospital, a co-worker passed over for a promotion), groups of people (victims of crime, those displaced by a hurricane, refugee children), animals (your pet, livestock heading for the slaughterhouse), and yourself.

Compassion is not pity, agreement, or a waiving of your rights. You can have compassion for people who've wronged you while also insisting that they treat you better.

Compassion by itself opens your heart and nourishes people you care about. Those who receive your compassion are more likely to be patient, forgiving, and compassionate with you. Compassion reflects the wisdom that everything is related to everything else, and it naturally draws you into feeling more connected with all things.

Additionally, compassion can incline you to helpful action. For example, one study showed that motor circuits in the brain lit up when people were feeling compassionate, as if they were getting ready to do something about the suffering they were sensing.


Compassion is natural; you don't have to force it; just open to the difficulty, the struggle, the stress, the impact of events, the sorrow and strain in the other person; open your heart, let yourself be moved, and let compassion flow through you.

Feel what compassion's like in your body -- in your chest, throat, and face. Sense the way it softens your thoughts, gentles your reactions. Know it so you can find your way back again.

Moments of compassion come in the flow of life -- maybe a friend tells you about a loss, or you can see the hurt behind someone's angry face, or a hungry child looks out at you from the pages of a newspaper.

Also, you can deliberately call in compassion a minute (or more), perhaps each day; here are a few suggestions:

· Relax and tune into your body.
· Remember the feeling of being with someone who cares about you.
· Bring to mind someone it is easy to feel compassion for.
· Perhaps put your compassion into words, softly heard in the back of your mind, such as: "May you not suffer ... may this hard time pass ... may things be alright for you."
· Expand your circle of compassion to include others; consider a benefactor (someone who has been kind to you), friend, neutral person, difficult person (a challenge, certainly), and yourself (sometimes the hardest person of all).
· Going further, extend compassion to all the beings in your family ... neighborhood ... city ... state ... country ... world. All beings, known or unknown, liked or disliked. Humans, animals, plants, even microbes. Beings great or small, in the air, on the ground, under water. Including all, omitting none.

Going through your day, open to compassion from time to time for people you don't know: someone in a deli, a stranger on a bus, crowds moving down the sidewalk.

Let compassion settle into the background of your mind and body. As what you come from, woven into your gaze, words, and actions.

Omitting none.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Tom Waits: A Desperate Voice For Desperate Times

You can hear the new Tom Waits album in its entirety on NPR for the next few days - if you are a Tom Waits fan, this is a can't miss opportunity to hear the new material - his first studio album in seven years (and his 17th overall).

You can listen to the brief review of the album here:

Tom Waits: A Desperate Voice For Desperate Times

All Things Considered

[4 min 7 sec] 
Tom Waits has just released his latest album, Bad As Me.
October 26, 2011
Tom Waits generally sings like a psychotic carnival barker or a drunken lounge crooner. And I really mean that as a compliment.
It's not everyone's cup of tea, that voice. Pushed to extremes like the characters in his songs, his voice is an exaggeration full of truth. He's a singer of blues sentiment like Screamin' Jay Hawkins or Howlin' Wolf orRadiohead's Thom Yorke. His latest album is called Bad As Me, and the songs on it sound truer than ever — partly because Waits' songwriting and arranging are still extremely potent, and partly because his thematic desperation fits this particular moment in history like a ragged glove.
There's a line in one song about bailing out millionaires, and plenty of lyrics about money, jobs and the lack thereof. But Waits' music draws on the sweep of American history, early rock 'n' roll, old Mexican ballads and vaudeville-era pop, and you realize that these themes are depressingly eternal. Waits also sings about the power of love; about Eisenhower, Elvis and Wolfman Jack; about unlucky bodies piled up at the morgue; and, in a chilling song called "Hell Broke Luce," about a damaged soldier furiously trying to comprehend what he's lost, and the reasons why. 
At this point, Waits seems to be like Woody Allen: so respected by his peers that truly legendary artists come out for his projects. Keith Richards of The Rolling Stones is featured in "Hell Broke Luce," along with Marc Ribot, an old Waits crony who might be America's greatest session guitarist at the moment. But Waits is an auteur just like Allen, and all the players ultimately serve his vision. Waits is an old pro singing slightly freakish songs — which, after a couple of listens, reveal themselves as not so freakish at all. Just human. 
Here is the text that goes with the page to hear the new album:

First Listen: Tom Waits, 'Bad As Me'