Saturday, July 15, 2006

Poem: Philip Whalen

[image source]

The Bay Trees Were About to Bloom

For each of us there is a place
Wherein we will tolerate no disorder.
We habitually clean and reorder it,
But we allow many other surfaces and regions
To grow dusty, rank and wild.

So I walk as far as a clump of bay trees
Beside the creek's milky sunshine
To hunt for words under the stones
Blessing the demons also that they may be freed
From Hell and demonic being
As I might be a cop, "Awright, move it along, folks,
It's all over, now, nothing more to see, just keep
Moving right along"

I can move along also
"Bring your little self and come on"
What I wanted to see was a section of creek
Where the west bank is a smooth basalt cliff
Huge tilted slab sticking out of the mountain
Rocks on the opposite side channel all the water
Which moves fast, not more than a foot deep,
Without sloshing or foaming.

~ From Overtime

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Fully Present In Time

[image by David Whitten]

This was yesterday's Daily Om -- seems like a nice reminder.

Fully Present In Time
Living For The Moment

Each moment of our lives is imbued with richness and magic. The passage from one second to the next is a miracle in its own right and worthy of being savored. Yet our minds tend to wander away from the present, preferring the unchangeable nature of the past or the nebulous character of the future. There is nothing inherently wrong with revisiting our personal histories or dreaming about what we hope will occur with the passage of time. To live a truly balanced life is to simultaneously embody a past, present, and future self. It is only when our ability to exist purely in the moment is lost and the joys immediately in front of us are overshadowed by the joys of the past and future that we must reestablish our connection to the present. Living in the moment empowers you to discover and appreciate what is beautiful about this unique moment in time.

Our lives are so complex and full that we tend to focus on the big picture rather than on the minute details that make up the picture. Individual moments are lost among the day's clutter, and we are overwhelmed by the burdens, tasks, and responsibilities we must face. To cope, we spend much of our time recalling the bliss the past held or anticipating the blessings the future will bring. However, while life is often demanding and hectic, it is nonetheless made up of immeasurable moments that each carry the potential to delight. A consciousness fixed in the present exists in a state of optimal sensitivity. It responds to life as it comes, reveling in the pleasures of the moment and then gladly letting that moment go.

Grounding yourself in the present is simply a matter of practice. Breathing and moving consciously increases your awareness of how you occupy space from moment to moment. Focusing on life's little joys and relishing everything you do will help you learn to focus wholeheartedly on the task at hand. Living in the moment means immersing yourself fully in every experience, whether positive or negative. As you learn to embrace the present in an all-encompassing way, you will come to realize that life's magnificence is a product of its moments.
Sounds trite, but it's good advice.

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What Is Integral Environmentalism?

One reader of this blog has taken issue with my Spiritual Environmentalism post. He claims that I am merely presently a liberal Green (sensitive self) viewpoint, perhaps even a Mean Green Meme (narcissistic sensitive self) viewpoint. This is his view of the post:

Your post sounds like liberal do-gooderism: Hippies buying hybrid cars; a family raising squash in their backyard; a call for stoicism.
I'd like present a synthesis of my several replies to his comments (with a few additions) as the foundation for a discussion of what an Integral Environmentalism might look like. As I mentioned in the comments of the previous post, I am not second tier, so I don't presume to have second-tier answers. I try to think as integrally as I am capable, but being centered pretty much in the pluralistic, sensitive self stage, I am limited.

So, without further blather, here is my basic stance on environmentalism:

Einstein once said that we can never solve a problem with the same consciousness that created the problem -- with that truism in mind, inventing our way out of global warming will never work.

Certainly we need an integral solution, and if I had one, I'd be shouting it the world.

We need to employ Spiral thinking for sure, since it will be countries that are lowest on the spiral who will be contributing the most to the crisis in the coming years (third world countries are exempt from the Kyoto protocals, which is the reason Bush once gave for not signing on -- though we know he had other motives as well).

Spiral Dynamics is clear on a couple of points: first and foremost, if you want to change people, you must change the conditions in which they live. For example, if we really want to help Islamo-fascists in the Middle East to evolve, get them some I-Pods and some computers, and we'll see a higher level of thinking that access to the world can provide. The second point is that we cannot impose on lower memes the values of higher memes--it never works. This holds true in the US as well.

If we want conservatives (and I think [my critic] is talking mostly about the scientific-rational meme, although conservatives fall along the entire Spiral), to embrace the environment, we must find a way to help them feel that their way of life is at stake if they do not. Al Gore's film cuts across political values in that regard, if the viewer is willing to listen to the facts.

The problem is that there are a lot of people like
Michael Crichton who argue that global warming is a load of crap perpetuated by the liberal, pluralistic meme (cultural version of the sensitive self). All the sceintists in the world can shout him down, and most do, but he and a handful of others provide enough cover for egocentric, self-seeking people who do not want to believe it's happening that they can choose to ignore it -- unfortunately, these people tend to be politicians and business leaders.

As much as it sucks, right now the best solution is to create a grassroots movement that spans the Spiral, from environmental Christians, to rational-scientific self-seekers with only their own interests at heart, to sensitive-self, pluralistic tree huggers, and the handful of integral thinking folks out there who feel that the chaotic flexflow is managable.

We can vote with our dollars, too, choosing to support energy companies that are forward thinking (BP rather than Exxon), buy cars that are good on fuel use, and a million other choices -- check out the
BuyBlue web site I posted about. This even goes as far as choosing not to shop at Walmart, or giving up soda because of the environmental impact created by making soda.

Yeah, that sounds like a liberal, sensitive-self approach, but it doesn't require anyone to believe that all views are relative, it does not reject hierarchies of value (in fact, it embraces them), and it does not need to change lower memes to match anyone's values -- what it does is place responsibility for change with each of us. And that's where it needs to begin.

And if I were standing on a narrow liberal ledge [as my critic clams], I'd be arguing that we pass new laws to enforce environmental protection, or that we tax the hell out of polluters -- both of which are not bad ideas. Certainly we need some intervention by government to regulate industry. Clinton had improved things in this area, Bush has undone all of that.

Perhaps, rather than punishments, what is needed is economic incentives for green, environmentally safe industry. This would certainly motivate the rational, self-interest folks running businesses to think about switching over to environmentally friendly technology.

But what I am really arguing for is personal responsibility, one of the hallmarks of the conservative agenda. Rather than blaming everyone else for my problems, or for the problems in this nation or on this planet -- which is surely part of the equation, since I can't have done it all on my own -- I contend that it is up to you and me and everyone else to take personal responsibility for the world in which we live.

Philosophically speaking, liberalism places responsibility in government and the social structures, while conservatism places responsibility with individuals.
Wilber argues this distinction and I agree with it (as does the Oxford Companion to Philosophy).

The middle way is to inspire everyone to take responsibility for the planet, from grassroots people who want to do their part to big business and government leaders who have the most power to effect change. Part of being a responsible citizen is leaving a smaller environmental footprint, voting for politicians who will work for that agenda, and supporting businesses who will as well.

So, that is my argument as much as I have one (all of which was formulated last night in response to my critic -- so I am thankful for his prodding, since I may not have articulated anything on this topic otherwise). I don't pretend that this is an integral approach. But I would like to have a discussion of what an integral model for environmentalism might look like. How do we move beyond the sensitive-self stage that I and so many others who care about the future of the planet seem to be stuck in?

I look forward to hearing what all of you have to say.

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Friday, July 14, 2006

Interesting Video

They call it videodrone:

- Is a tactical weapon. It uses an avant garde aesthetic to catch the audience and put inside the brain of it some powerful memes or ideas to create or dethrone ideologies.
- Is a tag. We would like people and artists to use "videodrone" as a key word to describe their work. It's a way to find this "kind" of content quicker.

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Sogyal Rinpoche on Spiritual Environmentalism

[image source]

To serve the world out of the dynamic union of wisdom and compassion would be to participate most effectively in the preservation of the planet. Masters of all the religious traditions on earth now understand that spiritual training is essential not solely for monks and nuns but for all people, whatever their faith or way of life. The nature of spiritual development is intensely practical, active, and effective. The danger we are all in together makes it essential now that we no longer think of spiritual development as a luxury but as a necessity for survival.

As a famous Tibetan teaching says: “When the world is filled with evil, all mishaps should be transformed into the path of enlightenment.”

~ Sogyal Rinpoche, Glimpse of the Day
This is so true it hurts. I'm not even sure how to look at this integrally because it feels so overwhelming in many ways. There is probably a developmental line that relates to this stewardship idea -- it certainly isn't limited to "second tier" thinking.

One of the most heartening things I have seen on the political landscape in the past few years is the Christian environmental movement. While we may not agree with their reasoning, they are beginning to take responsibility for the health of the creation over which their God presided. With as much political power as Christians have in this country, I am hopeful that they will begin to exert their influence in the area of environmental policy.

But the bottom line is that a useful spiritual life in an engaged spiritual life. We are all residents of this planet, and we each can take steps to reduce our impact, our environmental footprint, and to educate others in reducing their impact. If not us, then who?

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Cultivating Courage

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[Ashes and Snow]

Practioners who train in courage become true warriors. The war we wage is not with enemies outside of ourselves but with the powerful forces of our own habitual tendencies and negative emotions. The greatest of these is fear. In order to become fearless, we need to experience fear. Facing fear changes our perspective and gives rise to the courage to face our neuroses as well as our enlightened qualities.


It takes courage to accept life fully, to say yes to our life, yes to our karma, yes to our mind, emotions, and whatever else unfolds. This is the beginning of courage. Courage is the fundamental openness to face even the hardest truths. It makes room for all the pain, joy, irony, and mystery that life provides.

~ Dzigar Kingtrul, It's Up to You

This courage is what I seek in my life and in my practice. It is also what I seek through this blog. Because this blog is a mirror of who I am, there will be days when I am not at my best. I need people to call me on my sh!t when that happens, and even if there is not a consensus, I will still make every attempt to look at myself and question my motives, my intentions, my courage to face who I am.

I have no illusions of ever becoming enlightened, and I doubt that I will ever fully be "second tier," whatever that might mean, but I am dedicated to my growth.

I started this blog with the hope that it would become part of the integral community and that I would be able to learn from other people who are thinking about integral ideas. It feels like that has happened, and I am grateful for that.

I want to say Thank You to everyone who reads this blog and sometimes kicks me in the arse when I am befuddled by ego, not thinking clearly, or otherwise misguided. My promise to all of you is that I will make every attempt at cultivating the kind of courage that allows me to face myself clearly and without fear.

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Thursday, July 13, 2006

The Narrows of Emergence

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Some seed in me,
Some troublous birth,
Like an awkward awakening,
Stirs into life.

Terrible and instinctive
It touches my guts.

I fear and resist it,
Crouch down on my norms, a man's
Patent assurances.

I don't know its nature.
I have no term for it.
I cannot see its shape.

But, there, inscrutable,
Just underground,
Is the long-avoided latency.

Like the mushrooms in the oak wood,
Where the high-sloped mountain
Benches the sea,

When the faint rains of November
Damp down the duff,
Wakening their spores--

Like them,
Gross, thick and compelling,
What I fear and desire
Pokes up its head.

From Man-Fate, William Everson
This poem is from a book that I always think of as The Narrows of Birth, one of the central poems in the sequence. The whole book documents the author's struggle with leaving the Dominican order for the love of a woman. But it also documents the emergence of a new stage in the author's life.

This is all a very convuluted way into my assertion that I am struggling with a similar emergence in my own life, although along a different series of developmental lines. And things have recently come undone.

When Kira and I went to Zion over the 4th of July weekend, I seemed to have allowed myself to get really unplugged from my normal life. I even skipped a day of blogging here, which is terribly unusual. In fact, I didn't even want to blog. I know . . . sheer madness.

But what really pushed me out of the groove my life seemed to be grounded in was a hike into The Narrows at Zion National Park. Each time I think of that hike or look at the pictures, I am again reminded of an Everson poem, from The Narrows section of Man-Fate:
Something lives on that the heart can't help,
Something below the proud flesh of that bruise:
A hunger for God and nothing but God
This world cannot fill.

Neither wife nor child nor fame nor fortune.

The brute thirst for the absolute,
The apotheosis of desire
In the guts of God.

~ From "The Challenge"
There is something incredibly mythical about entering a slot canyon where the rock walls block the sun, where one is mostly in water that is sometimes chest deep -- water that is a very tepid 60-65 degrees (f). Combine that with the hypnotic sound of running water, the near vertigo that is engendered when one looks into the oncoming current while crossing a rapids, and the rapid heartbeat from exertion, and the conditions are ripe for quieting the rational mind and allowing more nonlinear aspects of consciousness to emerge.

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It was like entering the womb of the Goddess.

I couldn't really talk about the experience until now, and I still struggle to find the right words. Entering that canyon, in a way that I can't fully articulate, was like re-entering the womb -- but on a bigger scale. It wasn't like a personal rebirth of my little, fragile ego. It was more mythic, more intuitive, more soul-level -- all of which does nothing to tell you what it felt like in a way you might make sense of -- and it left me feeling like I had been gifted with an experience that will forever change who I am.

Pretty effusive for a nature hike, eh? No, there were no substances involved, in case you're wondering. But damn, wouldn't that have been interesting.

But I digress.

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As hard and masculine as rock walls seem in my mind, the curves and contours felt very feminine to me, as did the earth-tone colors and the lush plant life that grew out of the rocks. And of course, water has been associated with the feminine -- and with the unconscious mind -- for probably as long as humans have been aware of either.

Something about that experience in the canyon has unsettled me, left me unable to re-enter the comfortable groove of my life. And I don't want to get back into the groove. Some need both essential and frightening has been activated, and while I can try to repress it, as I have done since I have been back, I can't escape myself.

So here I am getting all introspective and sensitive. Funny thing is that being introspective and sensitive is part of what wants to emerge, I think. In my daily life I am so detached and aloof from things -- having to wear my "trainer mask" to deal with SAD (social anxiety disorder) creates a distance that isn't very healthy. When Kira and I are alone on vacation, I can put down the mask and be more involved in my own life.

I want more of that feeling.

The bottom line is that parts of me that are underdeveloped are demanding some attention -- and they're being damn insistent about it. I go through these periodic phases where a whole bunch of stuff that has been happening beneath the surface emerges all at once and wants to be integrated. These have gotten more frequent, and therefore more challenging, since Kira and I become partners.

This would seem to be one of those times. As rough as this feels sometimes, I cultivate these times through my integral practice. No one to blame but me, I guess, and that's no fun.

So that's the nutshell version of what I think is going on. There may be more of this to come, since it seems I am all too willing to share my process with the world.

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This is beginning to sound like a bad therapy session, but please bear with me.

Colmar, a blogger who I have great respect for, stopped by this morning and ripped me a new one on three different posts. His comments, added to those of others, including my partner Kira, have convinced me that yesterday was a really bad day.

I'm caught between feeling humility and a lack of self-confidence. At least one of my subpersonalities thrives on acceptance by others, especially those he respects, and feels lost when he encounters criticism. Another of my subpersonalities, and this one may be a variation of my "higher self," sees all things as opportunities to learn.

So, I want to learn from this experience. Something was deeply awry yesterday, both on the blog and in my regular life -- including a speeding ticket. I want to identify what was happening and why and see what the lesson is.

In fact, I have been feeling out of alignment since returning from Zion last week. It feels like I got outside of my daily grind to such a degree that I cannot get back into the same groove again. So I'm stuck in liminal space, spinning in the wind, and making bad choices for lack of a new framework.

I need to spend some time sitting with all of this and stop trying to participate in the world. There is more going on here than a few dumb blog posts.

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Poem: Rilke

[image source]

[Exposed on the cliffs of the heart]

Exposed on the cliffs of the heart. Look, how tiny down there,
look: the last village of words and, higher,
(but how tiny) still one last
farmhouse of feeling. Can you see it?
Exposed on the cliffs of the heart. Stoneground
under your hands. Even here, though,
something can bloom; on a silent cliff-edge
an unknowing plant blooms, singing, into the air.
But the one who knows? Ah, he began to know
and is quiet now, exposed on the cliffs of the heart.
While, with their full awareness,
many sure-footed mountain animals pass
or linger. And the great sheltered birds flies, slowly
circling, around the peak's pure denial.- But
without a shelter, here on the cliffs of the heart...

~ Translated by Stephen Mitchell

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Yesterday I posted two items that seem to have offended a bunch of people and prompted at least one (maybe more) regular readers to abandon this site. As my intention for this site has always been a conversation, it is nothing without its readers.

So I want to apologize to those who were offended. I tried something new for me, and it failed. In hindsight both items appear to have been mistakes in my judgment. It's not the first time, and it probably won't be the last.

Part of me wants to try to explain the intent of the posts, but there is also the realization that, like a joke, if it has to be explained then it failed. So there will not be any long series of shadow-work posts in justification of my mistake.

I screwed up, and I am sorry.


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Wednesday, July 12, 2006

John Dean: Conservatives Much More Likely to be Authoritarian

Former Nixon administration counsel, John Dean, was on Olbermann discussing his new book, Conservatives Without Conscience, in which he cites an apparently obscure, long-term, academic study that chronicled the characteristics of the authoritarian personality.

Here is some of the transcript (borrowed from The Great Society).

KEITH OLBERMANN: What did you find? — In less than the 200 pages that the book goes into.

JOHN DEAN: I ran into a massive study that has really been going on 50 years now by academics. They’ve never really shared this with the general public. It’s a remarkable analysis of the authoritarian personality. Both those who are inclined to follow leaders and those who jump in front and want to be the leaders. It was not the opinion of social scientists. It was information they drew by questioning large numbers of people — hundreds of thousands of people — in anonymous testing where [the subjects] conceded their innermost feelings and reactions to things. And it came out that most of these people were pre-qualified to be conservatives and this, did indeed, fit with the authoritarian personality.

OLBERMANN: Did the studies indicate that this really has anything to do with the political point of view? Would it be easier to impose authoritarianism over the right than it would the left? Is it theoretically possible that it could have gone in either direction and it’s just a question of people who like to follow other people?

DEAN: They have found, really, maybe a small, 1%, of the left who will follow authoritarianism. Probably the far left. As far as widespread testing, it’s just overwhelmingly conservative orientation.
Makes me want to read the book. Seems like this is support for the SD vision of the Blue Meme, but I'd have to see the book to know for sure.

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Can We Laugh at Ourselves?

Earlier today I posted an article from The Onion, a great source of postmodern satire. The article in question pretended to support using stereotypes to categorize people, thereby saving time in our daily lives. I liked it -- it seemed to poke at something many of us do without ever being aware of it.

A regular reader found the article offensive and not in keeping with the intent of this blog. S/he will no longer be reading these pages. That saddens me. S/he felt the post was "off message," as the political types might say.

This was my reply in the comments:
The post has everything to do with my message. We all know stereotypes are wrong, but we use them everyday. If you think that you don't, that you are above such things, then I suggest you spend one week, just seven days, painfully observing EVERY time you make a judgement about someone you have never met, classifying people based on how they look or how they dress, and so on.

The article was over the top -- that should have been a sign that it was satire. Maybe it hits too close to home, and feeling uncomfortable prevents us from being able to laugh at ourselves?

It was apparently okay to poke fun at George Bush, but poking fun at liberal sensibilities is off limits. This seems like an unfair double-standard.

When satire works, it makes us uncomfortable. When it targets things we do personally -- but block from our awareness -- it can be very unsettling. Being unsettled is a great way to enter new areas of awareness.

I have tended to avoid doing or saying anything that might unsettle or offend people, not just in this blog but in my entire life. I would never intentionally be mean or hurtful, but I am not above creating discomfort in myself and in my readers. If you are going to be offended by being made uncomfortable, I sincerely hope you will stay with the feelings and see where they lead.

I'm not about to go all Wyatt Earpy on you guys, but I might get a little Jay Andrew Allen on your arse. I hope that's okay.

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Guest Editorial: Stereotypes Are A Real Time-Saver

Guest Editorial:

Stereotypes Are A Real Time-Saver

By Wallace Rickard
Privileged White Male

I'm a busy guy. And, while I'd love to, I don't have the time to get to know every person I encounter in the course of my daily life. So thank goodness I have a handy little device at my disposal that helps me know how to deal with just about anyone I come across: stereotypes. Yes, stereotypes are a real time-saver!

You have no idea how much this streamlines my day. For example, before I started using stereotypes, if I were trying to choose a podiatrist to treat my foot pain, I would be clueless. I would've tried tons of podiatrists of all different races before finding a really good one. But, armed with the stereotype that Asians are all really smart and studious, all I have to do is scan the yellow pages for podiatrists under the name "Chang"!

Stereotypes also work when I'm trying to decide on a place for lunch. I steer clear of any place that employs Arabs—not because Arabs are all terrorists, but because they tend to be filthy and have poor hygiene. By sticking to Caucasian-run establishments, I can avoid wasting weeks lying in bed with a debilitating food-borne illness. If I'm in a rush and have to eat fast, I'll definitely avoid going to a place run by Jamaicans. They are sooo slow. Ever been to Jamaica? It takes, like, two hours to order a Coke down there.

Gender and age stereotypes can be just as useful as the racial ones. Let's say you need to ask directions. I'd never ask a woman, because her answer could be unreliable. With a woman, you can never tell if "Aunt Flow" is in town, so she could be going through a mood swing and send you to Timbuktu. And women over 50 are completely out of the question because of their hot flashes. I won't even ask a man over 60, because you never know when the ravages of Alzheimer's could be setting in. That's why the only people I trust to get me where I need to go are men under 60. White men, that is.

Stereotypes aren't just a trick for leisure time. You can really speed through your work day with them, too. Right now, the firm I manage is looking to hire an accountant. Without stereotypes, I'd have to read every resume and interview dozens of candidates. Make no mistake, there's still a lot of culling involved, because resumes rarely include photographs. But the first thing I do when a big stack of resumes shows up is throw out the Hispanic last names. This saves me hours right off the top.

After that, I make an "A-List" pile out of the Jewish-sounding names. According to the old stereotype, Jews are great with money, so those are the people I'm primarily interested in interviewing. In the interest of fairness, though, I'd like to interview a few Christians, too. Only problem is, some Christians are black, and who ever heard of a black accountant? I want to screen out the blacks, but unfortunately, not every black person is named Tyrone or Laquisha, so I sometimes wind up accidentally calling one in for an interview.

To fix this problem, I've turned to—what else?—stereotypes. I've come up with this plan where I phone everyone in the Christian pile and ask whether they'd be interested in participating in a menthol-cigarettes-and-malt-liquor taste-test (free, naturally). Boo-yah! An hour of phone calls later, and I've got my two master lists, Jews and white Christians. My competitors can flush all their free time down the crapper searching hither and yon for the actual best-qualified applicant, but Fast-Track Wally's got Yankees tickets!

Yes, even a Polack can see that stereotypes are the busy man's best friend!

[Reprinted from August 14, 2002
Issue 38•29]

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Fun With Fundies

Every once in a while, I stop by Fundies Say the Darndest Things! for a good laugh (and to feel morally and intellectually superior, of course). Here are a couple of items I found this morning.
Let me give you something real simple so that a child can understand it. DNA code is made up of ACGT. The A here is the first letter in the alphabet. It is the beginning and DNA is also the beginning of everthing that is living. C stands for Christians. It is the Christians that are here to deliver God's message to the world. G of course stands for God. It is God who is expressing Himself in the DNA and thus God is expressing Himself in Creation. The T of course expresses God and the head or in His leadership over man. There is a lot that can be said about this, but now is not the place. If you have a small t then of course you have the cross that Jesus gave Himself for us. If you have a small g you will see that God has expressed Himself in us. The small c of course represents our humility before God. If we have pride or ego or are puffed up before God, then it is not going to work according to God's plan and purpose. The small a of course shows how things start off small in the beginning and over time they become greater. A journey of 1000 steps begins with one step. A study of the Bible begins with one word and one passage at a time."

Christian Forums [Comments (51)] [2006-Jul-01]


"Believe it or not many commercials have very liberal overtones and hidden messages that one would not pick up on unless one was actually trained at doing so or used to seeing. I recently saw a commercial where two men were grilling steaks outside on a patio. This commercial seemed innocent enough, but when I saw it the second time around, I noticed the two men were closer than normal and all throughout the commercial there were kids there, but no women. Get the point?"

Rob Hood,
The Conservative Voice [Comments (28)] [2006-Jul-04]


"I wish all of those of the Arab faith....death

A horrid death...the type of death that makes Arab Women when raped. cey... the most horrid sounds when their sons are killed...and to see their entrails on the street. The horror of devils...that when they die, they are to face US soldiers..over and over and over again.

Death is a good thing...for Arabs."

FreeConservatives [Comments (40)] [2006-Jul-05]


[This one is my favorite.]

"Here are my top three favorite questions to Evolutionists:

1. Explain evolution in light of a 6000 year universe - (Genesis 1).
2. Since God pronounced His Creation "very good" in Genesis 1:31 - why the need for Evolution?
3. Since Jesus didn't believe in Evolution - (Mark 10:6; 13:9) - why should we?"

Christian Forums [Comments (33)] [2006-Jul-07]

See, now don't you just feel so much smarter and more educated? I do. My ego is all inflated and feeling good about itself.

Am I any different from these folks when I'm going on about Integral Theory and thinking I have the answers? Probably not.

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John Muir: Nature Mysticism

[Ray Rasmussen: Jasper National Park]

I found this quote here, a good collection of quotes and haiku on nature mysticism.

A few minutes ago every tree was excited, bowing to the roaring storm, waving, swirling, tossing their branches in glorious enthusiasm like worship. But though to the outer ear these trees are now silent, their songs never cease. Every hidden cell is throbbing with music and life, every fiber thrilling like harp strings, while incense is ever flowing from the balsam bells and leaves. No wonder the hills and groves were God's first temples, and the more they are cut down and hewn into cathedrals and churches, the farther off and dimmer seems the Lord himself.

~John Muir

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Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Syd Barrett, RIP

Founding member of The Pink Floyd, Syd Barrett, died a few days ago according to a press release from the band. The cause of death wasn't released, but MSNBC has an article on Barrett. Barrett, who has been living quietly in his hometown of Cambridge (England) under his original name (Roger Barrett) was 60 years old.

May his soul find the peace in its next life that it sought in this one.

Here are a couple of old Pink Floyd videos featuring songs by Barrett.

The Scarecrow

Astronomy Domine

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The Abusive Guru: Andrew Cohen

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[image source]

I found this at the P2P Foundation blog this morning, which was copied from a series on Frank Visser's site. But of course, as Ken Wilber warns, do not assume this has anything to do with what Wilber thinks.

My friend Alan Kazlev has a really excellent four-part critique of Ken Wilber. One part specifically deals with Wilber’s inability to deal with spiritual abuse, and focuses on Andrew Cohen:

“But the most common – indeed, the standard, excuse abusive gurus use to justify their behaviour is that it is necessary that the disciple be abused and humiliated in order for them to overcome ego and attain enlightenment (although at the same time, no abusive guru ever acknowledges that any of their students have ever attained enlightenment) It is this, more subtle argument, that one finds associated with the Wilberian Integral movement as a whole. According to Andrew Cohen, teachers need to break down one’s ego, and this can be a psychologically and emotionally excruciating process. Wilber fully supports this approach. In the Foreword to one of Cohen’s books, says

"When it comes to spiritual teachers, there are those who are safe, gentle, consoling, soothing, caring; and there are the outlaws, the living terrors, the Rude Boys and Nasty Girls of God realization, the men and women who are in your face, disturbing you, terrifying you, until you radically awaken to who and what you really are….

If you want encouragement, soft smiles, ego stroking, gentle caresses of your self-contracting ways, pats on the back and sweet words of solace, find yourself a Nice Guy or Good Girl, and hold their hand on the sweet path of stress reduction and egoic comfort. But if you want Enlightenment, if you want to wake up, if you want to get fried in the fire of passionate Infinity, then, I promise you: find yourself a Rude Boy or a Nasty Girl, the ones who make you uncomfortable in their presence, who scare you witless, who will turn on you in a second and hold you up for ridicule, who will make you wish you were never born, who will offer you not sweet comfort but abject terror, not saccharin solace but scorching angst, for then, just then, you might very well be on the path to your own Original Face”.[
Wilber applauds Cohen as a “rude boy”, and offers him (and abusive gurus in general) as the alternative to a ridiculous caricature that does not match the description of any spiritual teacher. He says that the “rude boy” will “hold you up for ridicule” and “will make you wish you were never born”. Yes, all out of his boundless love and compassion that you may yourself attain Enlightenment! But let us look at the reality, the mind games and psychological conditioning and abuse; things that Wilber, who has never been a disciple at Cohen’s Foxhollow community, has not had to experience.
Read the rest here.

I personally think Andrew Cohen is a very sick man based on all that I have read, but then it is all by people who don't like him (including his mother). With that many people saying such bad things, there must be a lot of truth to it -- that's what my gut tells me.

It really hurts Wilber's image to be associated with such a person as Cohen. It makes anyone who thinks about it skeptical of Wilber's ability to distinguish good teachers from bad. And failing that, it makes one wonder -- assuming KW knows Cohen is awful -- if he is only associated with Cohen for the exposure he gets for himself and I-I in WIE?

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If You Care, BuyBlue

Want to do your part to save the world? Vote with your wallet. My friend Zoe turned me onto this site -- BuyBlue -- where you can research companies to see where they stand politcally and environmentally.

This is the site's tagline:
Stop supporting companies that don't support your values.
Reward companies that have a triple bottom line:
People, Planet and Profit.
Here is their mission statement:
Mission Statement supports businesses that share our progressive values and ideals. We believe in a triple bottom line: people, planet and profit. uses our power as consumers to vote with our wallets, supporting businesses that abide by sustainability, workers' rights, environmental standards, and corporate transparency. At the same time, focuses sharply on businesses that violate the essential values of a sustainable, fair and profitable society through their policies and the politicians they support.
Among other things, the site offers a link for those who want to get involved after seeing Al Gore's An Incovenient Truth.

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Very Basic Intro to Jean Gebser

I found this at the Self Forum. I remember reading the original article, and this seems like a fair condensation.

Jean Gebser (1905-1973) tried to understand the unfoldment of human consciousness. He developed a model examining the structures of consciousness: the Archaic, Magical, Mythical, Mental, and Integral structures.

The Archaic structure can best be described as a zero-dimensional, non-perspectival world which could be compared to a state of deep sleep. It was characterized by non-differentiation and the total absence of any sense of separation from the environment. This was a world of identity between self and surroundings; not a world in which we could speak of consciousness in any terms that would be meaningful to our modern understanding of the term.

By contrast, the Magical structure was characterized by a certain separateness, but not a total separation by any means. Dimensionally this could be described as one-dimensional; a pre-perspectival state of timelessness and spacelessness. It's like a state of sleep. Magic man was much a part of his environment, to be sure, and felt secure only within his group, his tribe or clan. It was the transition from the Archaic to Magic structure of consciousness that has probably been mythologically captured in the story of the "Fall of Man."

The clothing of knowledge in myth is what characterized the transition to the Mythical structure of consciousness, the two-dimensional, unperspectival state of consciousness that can best be compared to a dream. Imagination and attunement with natural rhythms became important factors in man's life. The separation begun in the Magic structure reaches a tensional climax in the Mythical.

This structure is superseded by the Mental structure, whose appearance coincides with the rise of Greek civilization. In this regard, it can be seen that modern thought disregards a good deal of mankind's history, for it is to the Greeks that we most often trace our intellectual roots. By comparison, the Mental structure of consciousness is a three-dimensional, perspectival world that we describe with the term wakefulness. The polar tensions of mythology are replaced by the analytical separation of duality and opposition. Thinking is primary, and in its latter phase rational thinking is primary.

But this structure, too, is yielding to a final mutation which Gebser identifies as the Integral structure of consciousness. This is described as a four-dimensional, aperspectival world of transparency. This is a time-free, space-free, subject- and object-free world of verition.

From a methodological point of view, three fundamental notions are involved: systasis, synairesis, and eteology.

The first term, systasis, goes beyond mere synthesis, which is a mental-rational concept, to achieve a total integration of all parts simultaneously.

Synairesis is the means of achieving the end just described. It emphasizes the how of such total grasping, namely by the mind or spirit. It is synairesis that enables us to achieve the transparency that is indicative of the Integral structure of consciousness.

Finally, eteology replaces philosophy as the way of knowing and acquiring knowledge. Eteology becomes the statement of truth in lieu of the philosophical statement about truth.

This approach goes beyond the limitations of space- and time-perception, to a complete and liberating understanding of the whole. It should be noted that this transition is still in process; it is not yet a completed act.

Condensed from
a text by Ed Mahood, Jr.: Homepage The Integration Website Co-Developing the Noosphere.

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Poem: Molly Peacock

[image source]

That Leaf

That leaf tries very hard to turn over
in very little wind. It lifts a corner
and settles on the ground exhausted, lifts
itself half over but, as the wind shifts,
falls face down eating mud. It hikes half up
in an attitude of prayer, then gives up.
Suddenly it turns fully over, sun
illuminating its dry belly. The sum
of all attempts is change, yet when change comes
it's finally so easy the world becomes
instantly rearranged, present
from past estranged, the old energy spent
in almost angry astonishment.
All the leaf sees is sky, appallingly wide,
though it always was so -- depleted, terrified
by sudden perspective, the outside brought inside,
though it always was so.

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Monday, July 10, 2006

Fun With Numbers

Some fun with numbers from Harper's.

Harper's Index for June 2006

Year that a signboard tallying the U.S. national debt was erected near Times Square: 1989

Year in which it is expected to run out of digits: 2007

Percentage change in U.S. discretionary spending during the first five years of George W. Bush's presidency: +35

Percentage change during Lyndon Johnson's and Bill Clinton's first five years, respectively: +25, -8

Ratio of the average manufacturing wage in the United States to that in Mexico, before NAFTA took effect in 1994: 6:1

Ratio today: 8:1

Estimated number of illegal Irish immigrants in the United States: 25,000

Percentage change since 1960 in the per-capita U.S. consumption of fresh potatoes: -43

Percentage change in per-capita consumption of processed potatoes: +247

Average number of calories of oil that are used to make each calorie of food Americans eat: 7

Length, in miles, of a barrier that Saudi Arabia has proposed to build in order to seal its border with Iraq: 560

Number of electronically controlled gates that would be placed along its length: 135[Middle East Economic Digest (London)]

Minimum number of Iraqis displaced by sectarian violence since February: 65,000[Ministry of Displacement and Migration (Baghdad)]

Days after her coronation in April that an Iraqi beauty queen resigned, citing death threats: 4

Factor by which the number of Iraqis imprisoned now exceeds the number at the time of the Abu Ghraib scandal: 2

Chances that a U.S. federal judge has requested a government-supplied home security system since May 2005: 3 in 4

Chances that a U.S. commuter both lives and works in a suburb: 2 in 5

Percentage change since 1990 in the number of Americans who describe themselves as “nonreligious”: +106

Percentage of U.S. abortions in 1973 and 2002, respectively, that took place in the first trimester: 38, 61

Estimated percentage of women in U.S. prisons or jails who are single mothers: 77

Chance since 2001 that a criminal case in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., has been tried off the docket: 1 in 6

Number of state laws enacted since September 2001 that restrict access to information: 616

Number that broaden access: 284

Number of CIA employees that the Chicago Tribune was able to identify in March through online databases: 2,653

Number of CIA workplaces it located: 24

Estimated number of fake blogs created every day by websites to improve their rankings in search-engine results: 6,750

Price for which China will rent out Beijing's Great Hall of the People: $12,000

Percentage of Chinese who say the free market is “the best system on which to base the future of the world”: 74

Percentage of the French who say this: 36

Chance that an American says he or she views France as a U.S. ally: 1 in 6

Chances that an American says he or she uses the word “fuck”: 2 in 3

Percentage of U.S. public-radio stations' funding in 1980 and 2004, respectively, that came from businesses: 8, 18

Percentage that came from the federal government: 33, 11

Factor by which total U.S. student loans from private lenders last year exceeded the amount in 1995: 10

Minimum amount that a Massachusetts special-ed teacher received in donations from 2003 to 2005 by faking cancer: $35,000

Fee for which a Florida middle-school gym teacher allowed students to skip class, before he was fired in January: $1

Years that his predecessor had operated under the same policy: 1

Amount a Pennsylvania T-ball coach paid a player last year to hit an autistic teammate with a ball: $25

Ratio of negative portrayals of teachers on U.S. children's TV shows to positive portrayals: 3:1

Ratio for portrayals of adults in general: 10:1

This is Harper's Index for June 2006, a Harper's Index, published Monday, July 10, 2006. It is part of Harper's Index for 2006, which is part of The Harper's Index, which is part of

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John Edwards Seeks Role as Rebel Outsider

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MSNBC/Newsweek has a story on John Edward's attempts to recast himself as a rebel outsider fighting for the poor.
"Thirty-seven million of our people, worried about feeding and clothing their children," he said to his audience. "Aren't we better than that?" It's not the stuff of great sound bites, but it's part of Edwards's new political plan: a presidential campaign with fighting poverty as a central plank. It's a risky strategy in today's Democratic Party—Edwards may be the most viable national candidate since Bobby Kennedy to tie his destiny to a fight for the destitute. "Yeah, I heard all that stuff: 'Who cares?' or 'It's a dead end'," Edwards tells NEWSWEEK. "Well, it's what I want to do."
But can Edwards really change his image? Can he shake off the Republican charges of being anti-business and still run a campaign to fight poverty? Will anyone take him seriously?

Edwards is counting on the fact that Americans have very short attention spans and that no one ever remembers the bench warmer on a losing team.

But is this really a new Edwards? Can a politician change his stripes in just under two years? Or is this just a ploy to set himself apart from Kerry and Clinton, two of the biggest names who will seek the Democratic nomination.

I'm skeptical at best. I never saw Edwards as a viable candidate.

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Possible Qualities in Defining an Integral Relationship

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Over at the Integral Relationships pod at Zaadz, we've been tossing around some ideas as to how we might define the rather abstract idea of an integral relationship. Here are a few of the traits we've identified so far:

(1) Trying to work on several levels at once -- essentially having some form of integral practice.
(2) Trying to communicate between levels, in the ways that are possible.
(3) Awareness of and ability to manage different selves.
(4) Ability to take the role of the partner during conflict. It's easier to do this when everything is good, but a true mark of development is to be able to do it during conflict.
(5) Ability to experience trans-egoic states during intimacy (not just sex, but other forms of intimate bonding as well).
(6) Honoring the four drives of a holon: the need for agency, communion, eros (which would be progress in the relationship… you know, trascending and including wherever you've already made it to), and agape (which would be lovingly conserving what has already been built).

The reference to levels in numbers one and two refers to the various stages of development as outlined by Ken Wilber, Beck & Cowan, or others. The reference to selves in number three refers to subpersonalities or "parts."
These are merely preliminary proposals as offered by at least three different people. I'm thinking that the exercise posted below might offer a seventh criteria: the ability to experience oneself as love rather than merely being the recipient of love.

What do you think? Is there anything you would add here or take away?

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Exercise: To Feel Loved Is to BE Love

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This exercise is from John Welwood's Perfect Love, Imperfect Relationships.

Before beginning this exercise, or any other, he recommends getting comfortable and taking several deep breaths to relax and get centered in the body. This exercise may be done as a journal entry or as a meditation that you later record some notes on.

To Feel Loved Is to BE Love

This exercise will help you explore how being loved allows the window of the heart to open, so that you can experience love as something within you, rather than something that someone hands over to you.

1. Think of someone in your life who loves you – a lover, spouse, friend, or family member. Let yourself feel this person's love and caring for you.

2. Notice how you associate this good feeling with the other person, and how you tend to see the other person as the cause or source of it.

3. Now let go of thinking about the other person and pay attention to what happens in your body when you feel loved. Pay particular attention to the heart center, the area at the center of your chest. See if you can recognize the warmth or fullness in your heart as your own experience, as something that arises from within you, as something that is yours.

4. How does it feel to recognize that?
I'd love for anyone who does this exercise to share their experiences in the comments section. Welwood doesn't talk about integral relationships, although he has appeared on Integral Naked, but I think that the ability to feel love as something sourced in ourselves might be a criteria for being integral in relationships.

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