Saturday, July 29, 2006

When You Fall in the Mud, Take a Shower -- Then Pray for Your Messed Up Soul

Mel Gibson got himself arrested for driving under the influence, and he acted like an ass when he was arrested:

So, you know that Mel Gibson arrest for DUI that went off "without incident"? Well, according to documents obtained by TMZ, that's not entirely accurate. If this handwritten report (link points to a PDF file) by the arresting officer is real, there was was nothing cooperative whatsoever about saintly Gibson. Instead, after allegedly running for his own vehicle when asked to get into the squad car (and subsequently being cuffed), he commenced swearing like a sailor, threatening to "get even" with the cop who was taking him in. In what the officer reported were the actor's own words, revenge would be simple because, as Gibson repeatedly told the arresting officer, he "own[s] Malibu." When that didn't work, Gibson allegedly took the old, reliable anti-Semitic route. Again according to the arresting officer's (alleged) report, the actor went off a tirade, apropos of nothing: "'F*****g Jews ... The Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world.' Gibson then asked the deputy, 'Are you a Jew?'" Boy, nothing but class there, huh?

Just to say it one more time: This is all alleged at the moment. But, damn, it sounds bad. Either Mel is a really nasty drunk, or there's a cop in the LA County Sheriff's Department who really, really wants to be famous.
So here's the part that almost never happens: Big Mel is taking full responsibility for being a putz and apologizing to all concerned:

In a shockingly normal-person decision by a celeb in trouble, Mel Gibson has come out with a statement about his DUI in which he takes full responsibility for his behavior. You can find the full text of the statement online, but to summarize, Gibson doesn't dispute anything in the report we told you about this morning. Instead, he describes his behavior at the time of arrest as "completely out of control," and goes on (referring primarily, one assumes, to his anti-Semitic words) to say: "[I] said things that I do not believe to be true and which are despicable. I am deeply ashamed of everything I said." He also apologizes to the deputies with whom he was involved during the arrest, and praises them several times for the jobs they do, and were doing last night.

So, there it is. I'm really, really impressed that he's put out a statement simply accepting that he was wrong -- you don't see that much 'round Hollywood way, at least not from names as big as Gibson's. I'm still troubled, however, by his drunken anti-Semitism. From some of the comments on the previous post, it sounds like some of you accept that sort of thing as being par for the course when people get drunk. So I'm curious: Do you honestly think that, under the influence of alcohol, people with no prejudicial beliefs can suddenly become racist, or anti-Semitic, or anti-Muslim, or anti-whatever? Because I've never known anyone to whom that happens (lucky for me, I guess) -- what are your experiences like?
Great that he apologized, but I agree with the Cinematical author whose post I'm copying here: Can a racist diatribe be written off as inspired by the booze? I think not. It's the same deal as with violence, the booze just reduces the inhibitions against acting out the taboo behavior.

This calls into question, again, the anti-Semitism of The Passion. Gibson has denied that he shares his father's anti-semitic views, but this looks like a classic example of a son (unconsciously?) internalizing the beliefs of his father.

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Working With Unconditional Presence

In Perfect Love, Imperfect Relationships: Healing the Wound of the Heart, John Welwood introduces a process he uses for "meeting and inhabiting one's experience," which he calls Unconditional Presence. He has devised a four-step process for getting in touch with our experience, something a lot of us (especially men) have a hard time doing sometimes. He says the steps "are a way of defining different moments in a process of ever-greater presence with emotional experience."

These are the four steps:

1. Acknowledging: Here we recognize what is there, recognize that it is, without trying to assess whether it is good or bad, or whether it should be this way or not. Seeing and touching a feeling that is already there, as it is --this is what I mean by acknowledgement. This simple act of acknowledgment possesses far greater power than any self-help strategy or mental analysis.

2. Allowing: Allowing means giving the feeling plenty of space to be there just as it is, while continuing to stay in contact with it. Often we unconsciously compress or constrict painful feelings as a way of trying to keep them away or make them smaller and less consequential. Allowing is a form of decompression or unstuffing: letting the energy of the feeling be as large as it is, without either identifying with it or rejecting it.

3. Opening: In this context, opening means opening one's heart to a feeling, letting oneself fully experience the sensations stirring in the body without maintaining any struggle against them.

4. Entering: This means bringing one's awareness right into the core of a feeling, so that one is at one with it, no longer seeing it as something apart from oneself. [Sample question: "Can you let your awareness enter into the feeling, as if you're moving right into the center of it?"]


Whenever you feel unloved, instead of looking for some external remedy, you could take this as a sign that you're disconnected from your own heart. That disconnect is the poison. Letting yourself open to the pain of that disconnect puts you in touch with a certain tenderness and vulnerability, which is a signal that your heart, with its natural longing and capacity to connect, is close at hand. This brings you back to yourself -- which is the medicine for the disconnect.
Welwood is talking about this process in terms of how we are in relationships, where we can sometimes feel unloved and unacknowledged by the person we love so deeply. David Schnarch (The Passionate Marriage) would look at this same process as a way of differentiating in relationship -- of making space for one's own unique and separate feelings.

Schnarch feels that we get into the trap of feeling unloved or unvalidated because we are emotionally fused with our partners, and therefore we seek through them our sense of being loved and valued rather than being differentiated enough to find that within ourselves. Schnarch might argue that we can only feel unloved if we are finding our sense of love in the reflection of our beloved.

Obviously, there will be times when we might feel unloved because our partner is emotionally gone, doing the [fill in the blank], or we are single. But even then, we can feel betrayed and hurt, or alone, but if we are in touch with our own hearts, with the boundless love we all share, then we can still feel connected to love.

Both Welwood and Schnarch have as their mission to help people find their own foundation for love, from within, not as reflected by one's partner or in one's relationship.

How do these ideas fit or not fit with your own life? Is this a load of New Age crap or does it resonate for you?

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Humor: Bill Clinton Responds to Ann Coulter

David Letterman did a skit in which Bill Clinton responds to Ann Coulter's charge that he is gay. Funny stuff, but if you are offended by Dave's kind of humor, please do not watch.

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[image source]

It's been raining for a couple of hours this morning, which in the desert means lightning and thunder. This is the fourth day in a row that we've had night time rains, and the last three have started after midnight and lasted into the morning. We had a couple of mornings that reminded me of Seattle -- gray skies, drizzle. Very unusual.

As much as I am sleep-deprived from being awakened by heavy rain and thunder, I am immensely grateful for the rain. The monsoon has been weird this year, starting with a week-long cycle of rain and then disappearing for nearly three weeks. But now it's back and dropping lots of needed rain.

At least one of the local weather reporters blames the strange monsoon on shifting temperature patterns in the oceans that have changed the flow of weather over the North American continent. He points to the heat in California and the record temperatures throughout the country as proof that things have gone awry.

I don't know.

Average temperatures for this part of the desert are predicted to increase by three to five degrees over the next 25-75 years (based on best available research models). Others (Dept. of Defense) think this is part of a natural cycle that will get worse in the next 10-20 years before producing an average drop of around 4 degrees in northern hemisphere temperatures.

Either way, things are pretty screwed up. So, for today, I am grateful for the rain we have been getting. I hope that it continues to rain regularly for the rest of this monsoon cycle.

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Friday, July 28, 2006

Speedlinking 7/28/06

There are a lot of good posts today, and good stuff from other places, so my apologies to anyone I miss. As always, you can drop me a note if you have something cool to share.

~ There's a good guest post by Duff at Anxious Living.

~ Colmar offers an interesting self-test on integral thinking, called integral basics.

~ Jim Andrews (Stripping the Gurus) has posted a critique of Ken Wilber's claims for meditation as a major part of integral practice. He examines 9 claims he feels Wilber makes with which he finds fault. (Thanks to Matthew Dallman for the link.)
Here are the nine Concerns to be discussed in this critique:

1. KW asserts that meditation accelerates the development of human consciousness, yet he typically provides no supporting evidence

2. KW suggests that 20 to 25 years of meditation can yield full enlightenment, yet he admits that he has not achieved this state nor met anyone who has

3. KW states that only meditation has been demonstrated to accelerate the development of human consciousness, yet he also recommends other spiritual practices

4. KW praises the research of Skip Alexander and his colleagues, yet he also acknowledges that their studies are subject to “valid criticisms”

5. KW claims that meditators can advance two levels in only three or four years, yet the cited study is subject to “valid criticisms”

6. KW reports that 38% of meditators advanced to the highest levels on Jane Loevinger’s scale of ego development, yet the cited study is subject to “valid criticisms”

7. KW advocates the use of meditation and community verification to establish spiritual truths, yet this recommendation is not “good science”

8. KW asserts that even skeptics acknowledge that “the Maharishi effect” is authentic, yet skeptics have repeatedly rejected “the Maharishi effect”

9. KW is aware that meditation can have “negative effects on practioners,” yet he provides only a very few warnings of the potential hazards

~ Bob, of the blog Dust, responds to the Jim Andrews post.

~ Jay, the Pagan Bodhisattva, also had a response.

~ Sam Rose at the P2P Foundation has a great post on managing of the various information streams many of us have to deal with in our online lives. He calls it synergizing.

~ Mike of Unknowing Mind has a nice post on the emotional lives of non-human animals. I hate to anthropomorphize animals, but I suspect they feel a lot more than we give them credit for.

~ The Middle East Media Research Institute has an excerpt from an Al Jazeera television interview with Arab-American psychiatrist Wafa Sultan. She comes across as very anti-Muslim, and she sounds a bit like an Arab Sam Harris. This is from February so it may be old news, but she offers a view sympathetic to the Spiral Dynamics stance, seeing militant Islam as an unhealthy Red-Blue and the Jewish state as a "healthier" Blue-Orange.

~ Ann Coulter has shifted her attack from Bill Clinton's supposed latent homosexuality (she thinks that interpretation best explains his horndog past) to Al Gore being a "total fag." Chris Matthews ate that sh!t up, and I mean that in the most scatalogical way possible.

Here is Ann's stance on whether or not she was joking about Bill (this after saying his behavior had "whiff of the bathhouse" about it):
MATTHEWS: It's not a joke.

COULTER It's not only not a joke, it's not even surprising. If feminists were not so in love with Bill Clinton, this is like standard --


COULTER For any feminist with the benefit of something beyond a community-college education, this is standard --


COULTER -- feminist doctrine that wild promiscuity shows a fear-hostility of women.

If you were married to Hillary . . . oh wait, that's Ann's territory.

~ The NY Times thinks that the Arab world wants to distance itself from Washington and back Hezbollah.

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Safe Drugs

Fun visual effects.

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Making Time for Others

[Rogue River Gorge, Oregon]

This was the Daily Om from a couple of days ago. I've been wanting to post it because it feels like a good reminder for why we should extend ourselves to others. But there is also the benefit of stepping outside of our own limited egos.

When we extend ourselves, selflessly, to help or assist another person, even in a small way, for that brief moment our own little ego has been set aside. This is great practice. A million tiny steps still get us closer to the goal of reducing the power of ego to control our lives.

Small Gestures
Common Courtesy

We often feel that we don't have the time or energy to extend ourselves to others with the small gestures that compose what we call common courtesy. It sometimes seems that this kind of social awareness belongs to the past, to smaller towns and slower times. Yet, when someone extends this kind of courtesy to us, we always feel touched. Someone who lends a helping hand when we are struggling with our groceries makes an impression because many people just walk right by. Even someone who simply makes the effort to look us in the eye, smile, and greet us properly when entering a room stands out of the crowd. It seems these people carry with them the elegance and grace of another time, and we are always thankful for our contact with them. Common courtesy is a small gesture that makes a big difference.

An essential component of common courtesy is awareness and common sense-looking outside yourself to see when someone needs help or acknowledgment. As a courteous person, you are aware that you are walking into a room full of people or that your waiter has arrived to take your order. Then, awareness leads to action. It is usually quite clear what needs to be done-open the door for the woman holding the baby, move your car up two feet so another person can park behind you, acknowledge your sister's shy boyfriend with a smile and some conversation, apologize if you bump into someone. A third component is to give courtesy freely, without expecting anything in return. People may not even take notice, much less return the kindness, but you can take heart in the fact that you are creating the kind of world you want to live in with your actions.

When you are out in the world, remember to be aware of others, lend your hand when one is needed, and give this help without an ulterior motive. Through these small actions, you make this world a better place in which to live.

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Poem: Sherman Alexie

This is from one stick song:



I know a woman
who swims naked
in the ocean
no matter the season.

I don't have a reason
for telling you this (I never
witnessed her early morning
dips into the salt) other than
to let you know that I once found
the thought of her nudity erotic

but now can only imagine
the incredible cold, how I would want
to cover her body with my coat
and tell her how crazy she is
for having so much faith
in two parts hydrogen, one part oxygen.


While reading a mystery novel (I
don't remember the title), I

dropped a cup of hot tea
into my lap. Third degree burns

on my thighs, penis, and scrotum. I
still have the scars and once told

a white woman they were the result
of a highly sacred Spokane Indian adulthood ceremony.


I knew a man
who drowned in three inches of water.

Rain collected
in a tire track.

His family and friends accuse me
of making light

of his death, but I insist
on my innocence. Lord, I think

his death is tragic, possibly epic
the first and last act

of a reservation opera, and I wish
I could use his name here, make him

remembered, but I am forbidden
from doing so by tribal laws

that are more important than any poem.
But I want to give him a name

that means what I say, and I so I name him
Hamlet, King Lear, Othello, Noah, Adam.


Boo tells me, "Whenever I feel depressed or lonely
I drink a glass of water and immediately feel better."


In the unlikely event of a water landing
you can use your seat cushion as a floatation device.

I worry about this.

I wonder if the puny cushion can possibly support
my weight. I am a large man. In the unlikely event

of a water landing, you can use your seat cushion
as a floatation device. Of course, we don't crash.
We land safely. We always land safely. And Ha! Ha!
the flight attendant tells the disembarking passengers
to drive safely away from the airport because driving is
so much more dangerous, statistically speaking, than flying.

I want to slap her across the mouth, statistically speaking.

In the unlikely event of a water landing, you can use
your seat cushion as a floatation device. I am suddenly afraid
of gravity so I take my seat cushion off the plane. I steal
the damn thing and run through the airport, chased
by an ever increasing number of security people,
men and women, so I'm glad this airport has progressed
beyond an antiquated notion of gender roles. But wait,

I have no time to be liberal, I have to run fast, so I do run fast
with that seat cushion pressed tightly against my chest.
I cannot run fast enough in such an awkward position
as I am a large man with large hands. I cannot easily hide.
I cannot blend into the crowd. I cannot duck behind
the counter of the Burger King and ask for your order, your order, your

Oh, in the event of a water landing, you can use your seat cushion
as a floatation device, and here I am, running, and praying as I run,
every step shouting Lord, Lord, Lord, every other step whispering

amen, amen, amen.


At the restaurant, I ask the waiter to leave the pitcher of water
because I drink lots of water.

I can't do that, he says.

Why not? I ask.

Because we never leave the pitcher, he says.

Not once? I ask.

Never, he says, have we ever left a whole pitcher of water, not once
in the entire history of this restaurant. It is impossible for us to do so.
It is inconceivable for us to even consider such a thing. Who knows
what would happen if we set such a precedent?

When I was seven, I took swim lessons at the YMCA
from three beautiful teenagers who all seemed like women to me.

They hugged me when they saw me waiting in line
to see JAWS at the Fox Theater in downtown Spokane.

Where are those girls now? Somewhere, they are being women.

Do they remember teaching me how to swim? Do they
recognize my face when they pick up the local newspaper
or see my photograph on the back of my latest book?

Oh, strange, strange ego.

Here, I've decided I want them to love me from afar. I want them
to regret their whole lives because they were once sixteen year old
swimmers who never stopped to passionately kiss
the seven year old me, as I floated
from the deep end of the pool back to the shallow.


My brother, the big one, says, "It ain't water
unless it's got some Kool-aid in it."


My wife, the Hidatsa Indian, grew up in Southern California
with a swimming pool. Wow!

Her father, the trickster, called relatives back home
in North Dakota. Called them in late December
when trees were exploding in the high plains cold.
Called them and said, He held the phone up to the air, toward
the empty pool, because it was too cold to swim in December, even
in Southern California, but the North Dakota Indians didn't know
any better, so they were jealous and happy at the same time.

My wife, just a child then of five or ten or eighteen years old,
heard the slurred laughter of her father, the drunk, and
maybe he would laugh and get off the phone and be charming
or maybe he would be the cruel bastard, but there was no way
of knowing until he got off the phone, so she'd sit in her room
with a glass of water on the windowsill, oh, she'd be praying
to that glass of water, oh, she'd be praying
like everything was two parts broken heart and one part hope.

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Jung on the Shadow

[image source]

"Nothing has a stronger influence psychologically on their environment, and especially on their children, than the unlived lives of the parents."

"Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves."

"To confront a person with his own shadow is to show him his own light."

~ Carl G. Jung, psychiatrist (1875-1961)

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Thursday, July 27, 2006

Speedlinking 7/27/06

Wow, busy day.

Note to self: never let employers know you work well with insane deadlines.

Okay, some cool things to read:

~ Buddhist blogger Dukkha Earl is back online with Enso It Goes. Thanks to Tom Armstrong for the tip.

~ Mushin J. Schilling has an article appearing in a German magazine on Ken Wilber and the need for cooperative spirituality, as opposed to Wilber's vertical spirituality.

~ If you don't read Craig Photography regularly, you're missing out.

~ ~C4Chaos has some INSANE beer goggles!

~ Aaron has a great post on how we might accept or push through (or both?) our social anxiety. Anxious Living is a great blog -- add it to your feeds. And please be sure to check it out on Monday, July 31.

~ Colmar wasn't sure he liked being called a conservative the other day. Here's his response.

~ An interesting article on defining global neighborhoods appears at P2P Foundation. The author is seeking comments.

~ Bill at Oaksong's Nemeton reviews the new Live album -- he likes it, as do I.

Okay, I'm sure I'm leaving out some good stuff, but that's all I had a chance to read in any depth today.


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Poem: Anna Akhmatova

[image source]

Memory of Sun

Memory of sun seeps from the heart.
Grass grows yellower.
Faintly if at all the early snowflakes
Hover, hover.

Water becoming ice is slowing in
The narrow channels.
Nothing at all will happen here again,
Will ever happen.

Against the sky the willow spreads a fan
The silk's torn off.
Maybe it's better I did not become
Your wife.

Memory of sun seeps from the heart.
What is it? -- Dark?
Perhaps! Winter will have occupied us
In the night.

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Humor: Motocrosser Quits After Learning Physics

This is from The Onion, but it's harmless.
Motocrosser Quits After Learning Physics
July 27, 2006
Onion Sports

TALLAHASSEE, FL—Reigning AMA Motocross national champion Ricky Carmichael, considered by many to be the greatest off-road motorcycle rider in history, abruptly announced his retirement from competition Monday after completing a summer course in physics at Florida State University. "I've had a great run in both professional motocross and Supercross, but the more I learn about kinetic energy, momentum, and ballistics, I'm beginning to think I've had a pretty good run of luck, too," said Carmichael, whose instructors said he seemed particularly interested in the effects that gravity and sudden deceleration could have on a Suzuki RMZ250 four-stroke dirt bike. "I'd like to thank everyone and everything that helped me get this far, especially the considerable gyroscopic forces of the wheels on my race bikes, which were apparently sometimes the only thing keeping me from sublimating into a liquid state of matter." Carmichael is rumored to be considering a career in NASCAR after completing courses in business and marketing.

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Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Speedlinking 7/26/06

And away we go . . .

~ m alan kazlev of Integral Transformation has posted links to his series of articles appearing over at Frank Visser's site, Integral World. Here are the links (which are also posted at Open Integral):

Historical and Comparative use of “Integral”
The Wilberian Paradigm: A Fourfold Critique
An Aurobindonian Vision
Where To Now For The Integral Movement?

~ Mike at Unknowing Mind offers a quote from Joseph Campbell and a meditation to access our own "worldview goggles" when it comes to religion.

~ Deep Surface offers an introduction to Pandora (my apologies to whoever it was who blogged this service a while back), a totally personalizable on-line radio station. Enter your favorite artist(s) and let it do its thing. It creates a customized playback list (based on the music genome project) that you can further fine tune by rating the songs that come up. All I can say is that Pandora is way cool.

~ The House must have sent its compassionate twin to work yesterday as they seem to have found something resembling a soul in passing bills to protect 670,000 acres of new wilderness and protect 47 miles of wild and scenic rivers in California, Idaho and Oregon.

~ Michael Hirsh's new Newsweek article makes a compelling case that the Bush administration's failure to understand the situation in Iraq has resulted in a loss of support from the core of the Muslim world:
And at cafes and around kitchen tables throughout the Arab world, good-hearted Muslims can no longer defend America against their more hate-filled brethren. They have fallen silent; they have no arguments left. "The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity," as the poet Yeats memorably put it.

Hirsh argues -- in a semi-review of (The Washington Post's pentagon reporter) Thomas Ricks's "devastating" new book about the Iraq war, Fiasco -- that American military policy in Iraq has been brutal and has created the insurgency it now fights. By lumping Al Qaeda, Hamas, and Hizbollah together, Bush further alienates moderate Arabs who all despised Bin Laden's actions.

~ While Lance Bass (of 'N Sync shame) is finally out and proud (as reported by the Pagan Bodhisattva), the state of Washington has decided that he can't get married on their turf. By a 5-4 vote, the state's high court upheld a law passed by the state legislature defining marriage as between one man and one woman. The court's opinion, however, was clear that they were ruling on the constitutionality of the law, not on the legality of gay marriage, which the lead opinion suggested could be acheived through a ballot initiative.

~ Finally, The Nation's John Nichols agrees with Molly Ivans that Bill Moyers should run for president, but disagrees that it would be a purely symbolic run. He thinks Moyers could contend for the nomination.

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It's the End of the World as We Know It . . .

. . . and I feel fine.

Humans have always been fascinated with the "end times." So it's no surprise that literalist Christians are seeing the new war in the Middle East as the sign they have been waiting for. These people interpret the rather surreal and allegorical images of the book of Revelation through their worldview, looking for events in the world today that can be made to fit into their understanding of Revelations.

Two looks at this phenomena: First, a serious report by CNN, then a fun segment from Stephen Colbert.

And please don't bother to accuse me of making fun of Christians. That isn't my point. I'm interested in how a worldview shapes the way people read current events.

To further illustrate my point (in the integral blogosphere), take a look at how conservatives are reading these events by stopping by Colmar's blog. Or perhaps you want to see how the left is looking at the Israeli-Arab conflict, so you might stop by Thoughts Chase Thoughts (especially Nagarjuna's contributions).

What kind of goggles are you wearing?

And now, a lighter look at the end of the world.

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Feel Good News: Honesty Pays

A homeless man looking for returnable bottles in Detroit found $21,000 in savings bonds in a coat tossed out in the garbage. Charles Moore had been homeless and living in a shelter since losing his job six weeks ago, but when he found the money he took it to the shelter so that its owners could be found. For his honesty, he was given a $100 reward.

But many felt that was not enough. Two local businessmen gave him $1,200, some new clothes, and a job lead. Others have donated thousands of dollars more. Mr. Moore is speechless when asked about the outpouring of support, other than to say that, "Honesty is the best policy, and honesty pays off."

You can watch the video of the ABC News story here.

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Desert Island Television

Rolling Stone (I think) used to have a feature called "desert island discs," in which people picked their top 5 or 10 albums of all time to be stranded with on a desert island (assuming, of course, some way to listen to them).

Tom McMahon asks a similar question: If you could only watch 5 TV shows for the rest of your life, which 5 would you choose?
His list:
The Twilight Zone
Alfred Hitchcock Presents
Police Squad! (in color)
The Simpsons

My list:
The West Wing
The Simpsons
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Star Trek: The Next Generation
Sports Night (not many episodes, but they are SOOO good)

What would be on your list? Please share your choices in the comments.

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Folktale: Raven Returns the Water

[image source]

This is a Native American folktale whose tribal origin is unknown to me. It is rare in that Raven is female in this story. Most Alaskan and Northern stories have Raven as male.

Raven Returns the Water

In the old time, it happened that all of the water in the world had vanished. Rivers were nothing but bare stones. Lakes were reduced to dry dirt. Trees were losing their leaves and dying. Even the animals were beginning to die from thirst. Things were looking grim.

Raven, who had created the heavens and the earth, knew that she must do something to save her beautiful world. She flew far and wide over the dry earth. She flew over glacial mountains with no snow or ice. She flew over vast fields of dry brown grass. After many days, she finally found one green valley hidden away within a desert of dried up oceans.

In the middle of the valley sat a rather enormous frog. His belly was huge and round, filled with all the world's water. When the giant frog saw Raven approaching, he flicked his massive tongue and knocked Raven from the sky. The giant frog croaked, "I will never share!" Raven thought quickly and as Frog spoke, she placed a stone on his tongue that Frog then swallowed. Soon Frog felt bad in his stomach.

"I will help you, Frog," said Raven, "if you promise to share the water with the rest of the world." Frog agreed. He would do anything to stop the pain. So Raven pierced Frog's side with her beak, letting out all the water and the stone. She gathered the water together and tucked it under her wing. She is Raven, after all, and can do amazing things.

Raven immediately began to fly around her creation, letting drops fall, and slowly refilled the rivers, lakes, and oceans. Frog suddenly felt very sorry. He remembered how much he had enjoyed sitting on a rock in the water waiting for flies to come by. Even today, you can still hear him say, "Sor-ry, Sor-ry." And you can hear Raven's reply, as she flies through the sky, "Rock, rock, rock," a reminder to Frog to not be so greedy.

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Parable: The Power of Thought

[image source]


"There was once in China an expert archer. One day he went to a very high mountain with his bow on his back. While strolling on the mountain, he became thirsty and wanted some water to drink. Fortunately, he found a small spring under a bush, and he immediately bent over the water to drink it out of his hands until his thirst was quenched. However, when he finished drinking, he thought he saw a snake crawling in the water. He immediately felt sick and wanted to vomit the water he had drunk, but the water did not come out. He became seriously nervous about the water in his stomach, feeling something wriggling in it. When he got back home he became seriously ill. Numerous doctors gave him medical treatment, but in vain; finally, he became nothing but skin and bones, resigning himself to die.

One day a traveler stopped at his home. Seeing the condition of the patient, he asked the reason. The patient told him that he saw a snake crawling in the water of the spring and that he had swallowed the snake. The traveler said that he could cure the illness if the patient would do as he told him to do, taking him to the same spring where he had drunk the water.

He told the patient, who was bearing the same bow on his back, to take the same pose as he had before. The patient reluctantly bent over the water and was just going to scoop it up in his hands when he screamed out, that a snake was crawling in the water again. The man told him to be quiet and to observe the snake more closely. The archer got control of himself and found that it was not a snake at all, but the shadow of the bow he was carrying on his back.

The archer realized that the snake he thought he had swallowed before was only the shadow of his bow. After this, he felt quite relieved, and soon he regained his health.

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Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Poem: Ch'i-Chi (864-937)

[image source]

Little Pines

Poking up from the ground barely above my knees,
already there's holiness in their coiled roots.
Though harsh frost has whitened the hundred grasses,
deep in the courtyard, one grove of green!
In the late night long-legged spiders stir;
crickets are calling from empty stairs.
A thousand years from now who will stroll among these trees,
fashioning poems on their ancient dragon shapes?

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Speedlinking 7/25/06 [Updated, 4 pm]

There might be a second installment today, but here is the morning's good stuff.

~ Even Native Americans destroyed their environment by using up the natural resources. The Hohokam died out around 1450 in somewhat mysterious circumstances, but it seems they simply dwindled in numbers as a result of their negative impact on the land.

~ 1,500-year-old Byzantine port discovered, an important site for understanding the history of ship-building and regional economic history. A quote from the article: "Archaeologists call it the "Port of Theodosius," after the emperor of Rome and Byzantium who died in A.D. 395. They expect to gain insights into ancient commercial life in the city, once called Constantinople, that was the capital of the eastern Roman, Byzantine and Ottoman empires."

~ Common Dreams reprints an article from that argues the Earth is on the verge of a major biodiversity crisis. From the article:

Scientists say they understand that biodiversity cannot be measured by simple universal indicators such as temperature and atmospheric carbon dioxide because it involves several levels of organization, such as genes, species, and ecosystems.

On the other hand, however, statistical facts on the loss of biodiversity suggest the imminent dangers of inaction, as two thirds of the services provided by nature to humankind are already in decline, with 12 percent of bird species, 23 percent of mammals, 25 percent of conifers, 32 percent of amphibians, and 52 percent of cycads (a type of evergreen plant similar to palms and ferns) continuing to face serious threats of extinction.

Moreover, according to scientific calculations, within the next 50 years, it is quite likely that up to another 37 percent of currently existing species might be gone due to climate change.
~ Key 23 is a strange little site claiming the title of Occulture Evolved. For those who have interest in such things, it looks like an interesting site. (They have a Douglas Rushkoff article, so they can't be all bad.) Besides the mandatory interest in fringe culture, there seems to be a genuine inquiry into occult practices for a post-modern reality.

~ MSNBC/Newsweek ran a cheesey Boomeritis article yesterday called The Faustian Generation.

New stuff:

~ Victoria has a nice post on the need for including types in stage development models.

~ Tom at Blogmandu is seeking input on how to improve his extremely helpful "roundups" when they return in September. [By the way, Tom, it's Integral Options Cafe. ;)]

~ The Pagan Bodhisattva is dumbfounded by George Michael's choice in an illicit sex partner. There's nothing integral about this, I just want to ditto Jay's sentiment.

~ BeliefNet has an interesting take on the Israeli assault on Hezbullah. The author thinks this is a prelude to a bigger and better war with Iran, a clearing away of possible retaliation before it can retaliate.

~ Molly Ivans wants to run Bill Moyers for president. No, really. She does. I swear. Moyers is an honest, intelligent man -- by definition he is not eligible to be a politician, let alone president. But she makes a good argument for why he should run anyway.

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The Iraq Debacle Nears Total Chaos

From two very prominent bloggers, very similar opinions on the failed invasion of Iraq. It appears that while the world is focused on the Israeli-Hezbullah conflict, things in Iraq are deteriorating quickly.

Andrew Sullivan:
I fear the cycle of civil war is now beyond our control - or anyone's control. Here's an email from an American soldier in Northern Iraq about the fast-deteriorating situation:

Baghdad has descended into complete anarchy, as near as I can tell. We have police investigators in Northern Iraq who are scared to drive down there to attend an IPS investigator's course for fear that they will be stopped by Sunni or Shia checkpoints and killed. And these guys are police! I imagine the situation is terrible for ordinary citizens.

This is the dark side of the big shift in the U.S. strategy/presence over the last year. As we've reduced our forces, disengaged from the cities, and consolidated on massive super-FOBs like Balad and Camp Victory, we have lost the ability to impose our will on the streets of Iraq. At this point, I don't know how effective U.S. forces can/will be in imposing order. We just don't have the combat power, nor the presence in the city, nor the right mix of constabulary and civil affairs units. It's frustrating.
And so one of the biggest military fiascoes in American history lurches toward another down-draft.

And from Glenn Greenwald, the final paragraphs on his article:
So, to recap as dispassionately as possible -- Iraq is falling apart. There is apparently serious talk of dividing Baghdad, or even the country as a whole, along sectarian lines. Sectarian tension is at an all-time high, with continuous reprisal mass murders, and the government appears incapable of enforcing the law or maintaining even basic security, and worse, relies upon the good will of powerful, well-armed lawless militias and death squads just to maintain the level of chaos currently engulfing the country.

Meanwhile, for the very first serious crisis which arises in the Middle East, the Iraqi Government is on the opposite side of the U.S., condemning Israel's actions with increasing fervor. All the while, the government does not hide its intent to maintain strong alliances with Iran, the country we are told is now the worst threat to American interests and world peace. And all of this is occurring while we have 140,000 troops occupying the country and the Iraqi government is dependent upon them. Imagine what will happen in terms of Iraq's allegiances if we ever actually leave that country and that dependence no longer exists.

Our invasion of Iraq certainly ousted Saddam Hussein from power, but in his place will be a government that is a close ally of Iran, our new arch enemy, and which appears incapable of maintaining even basic stability for a long time to come, if it ever can. And we are told that Al Qaeda-type terrorists thrive in environments where there is a weak government and chaos, which happens to be exactly what we created in Iraq for the foreseeable future -- at the cost of thousands of lives and hundreds of billions of dollars, and counting. Is there even a single theoretical benefit to American security that we derived from our invasion and occupation of that country in exchange for the immeasurable damage we created and are enduring?

The Iraq invasion has been an egregious mistake at every step, but having created this mess and put the stability of the entire region at risk, failure cannot be an option.

If Iran is our new enemy, an Iranian-Iraqi alliance would be disastrous for the entire Middle East. Rather than spreading democracy, they would spread fundamenalist Islam among a population that really does not want to live such a repressive regime.

I certainly don't know what the answers are, but a divided Iraq would be exactly what the Iranians have been seeking. And that can't be good.

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Choosing Our Responses

[image source]

This was yesterday's Daily Om. This is good advice for all of us who seek to know ourselves and to become the best people we can be. Overcoming fears is a big step toward becoming better people. The only way out is through.

Choosing A New Response
Common Fears

Everyone has fears-it is a natural part of being human. Fear can protect us from harm by sending a rush of adrenaline to help us physically deal with potential danger. But there are times when fear may keep us from participating fully in life. Once we realize that fear is a state of mind, we can choose to face our fears, change our minds, and create the life we want to live.

Our minds are powerful tools to be used by our higher selves; like computers, storing and using data to make certain connections between thought and response. We have the ability to observe these and choose differently. No matter where the fear came from, we can create new connections by choosing new thoughts. When our souls and minds are in alignment, we create a new experience of reality. This journey requires many small steps, as well as patience and courage through the process. Here's an example: You decide to overcome your fear of driving on the freeway. Your plan of action starts with examining your thoughts and finding a new way of seeing the situation. When you're ready, you enlist a calm companion to support you as you take the first step of merging into the slow lane and using the first exit. Your heart may be racing, but your confidence will be boosted by the accomplishment. Repeat this until you are comfortable, with or without help, and then drive one exit furth! er. When you are ready, you can try driving in the middle lane, for longer periods each time, until you find yourself going where you want to go. This gradual process is similar for conquering any fear, but if you find it overwhelming, you can always seek the help of a professional.

You may think that you are the only one with a particular fear, that nobody else could possibly be scared of ordinary things such as water, heights, public speaking, or flying. These types of fears are very common, and you can have great success overcoming them. Remember, it is not the absence of the fear but the courage to take action anyway that determines success. When we learn to face our fears, we learn to observe our thoughts and feelings but not be ruled by them. Instead we choose how to shape the lives we want.

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Monday, July 24, 2006

Speedlinking 7/24/06

A mostly quiet day, again, but there are a few good things to rest your eyes upon.

~ Mushin has posted an article by Don Beck that addresses the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Substitue Hezbullah for Palestinian and the ideas are still very applicable to the current conflict.

~ PaperFrog issues its last call. It's a sad day in the Buddhist blogosphere.

~ The Daily Goose posts a moving video of Tiger Woods' emotional win at the British Open.

~ Mike at Unknowing Mind had a good post a couple of days ago on Spiritual Seeking and Buddhism that I missed. Get the feed for this site if you like Buddhist blogs -- this one is very good.

~ Gareth at Green Clouds has a nice post called Zen and the Art of Killing.

One final note, then I have to go back to work.

Matthew Dallman (The Daily Goose) just found out that he has a Wikipedia page -- and he didn't create it. That's a major achievement, so let's extend our congratulations to him.

Poem: Al Hallaj

[image source]

Kill Me, My Faithful Friends

Kill me, my faithful friends,
For in my being killed is my life.

Love is that you remain standing
In front of your Beloved
When you are stripped of all your attributes;
Then His attributes become your qualities.

Between me and You, there is only me.
Take away the me, so only You remain.

~ Al Hallaj

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Nature Wisdom

[image source]

Experiencing the present purely is being empty and hollow; you catch grace as a man fills his cup under a waterfall.

~ Annie Dillard

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The Human Spirit in Sport

We hear a lot of negative things about athletes lately, from steroid scandals to spousal abuse to simple greed. But over the weekend there were two stories that can restore some faith in the spirit of athletes to overcome obstacles when few think they can.

First, Tiger Woods won his third British Open, and his second in a row, with a brilliant strategy and his trademark tenacity on the final round (he is 11-0 in majors when leading going into the final round). No big deal, you say, he is the best golfer in the world. But it is a big deal.

On May 3 of this year, Tiger's father and best friend passed after a long battle with cancer. Tiger has been deeply impacted by this loss. Only nine weeks after losing his father, playing at the US Open, Tiger missed the cut in a major for the first time in his career. Most thought he had come back too soon. Few gave him a chance of winning the British Open after that performance.

After the final putt had sealed the victory, Woods shouted a defiant YES! then sobbed into the shoulder of his caddy, then cried again with his wife. It was a show of emotion we are not used to seeing with Tiger -- the passion that made him great but has been missing in recent years.

Said Tiger:
"After the last putt, I realized my dad's never going to see this again, and I wish he could have seen this one last time," Woods said at the trophy presentation. "He was out there today keeping me calm. I had a very calm feeling the entire week, especially today."
[Tiger Woods photo from Sports Illustrated.]

Meanwhile, also in Europe -- France to be precise -- an American cyclist few would have picked to be in contention for the Tour de France title, became the third American to win the sport's biggest race.

[photo source]

Floyd Landis, a former teammate of Lance Armstrong, won his first Tour this weekend, finishing the race on Sunday with the traditionally ceremonial ride into Paris. But the race was really won last week, with one of the greatest comebacks ever seen in the Tour or in any cycling event.

After riding a strong stage on Tuesday up the L'Alpe d'Huez, Landis was in the yellow leader's jersey and did not plan to give it back. But the very next day disaster struck as Landis was dropped on the final climb and lost more than ten minutes to the other contenders. Now sitting more than 8 minutes back, the race seemed over. British oddsmakers dropped him to a 1 in 200+ chance of winning.

But on Thursday, Landis's Phonak team attacked from the beginning. They split the field early and put pressure on the top riders to keep pace on a hot day with many climbs ahead. With still 80 miles to go, Landis was 8 minutes clear of the leaders, but few thought he could keep that pace. Soon he had caught the early break-away, a group of riders not in contention for the overall title who were trying for the glory of a stage win. They helped him stay clear until it was just Landis and the last climb. He finished far enough in front that, with time bonuses added, he now only trailed the leaders for 35 seconds or so. An amazing turn of events.

At this point, with still three stages left, including a time trial on Saturday, the race was Landis's to lose. After nearly falling so far behind that everyone had written him off, he pulled the most amazing rebound I have ever seen in cycling. His stage win on Thursday is the stuff that true champions are made of.

And, one final note. Landis did all of this while riding on a hip that will have to be replaced soon, probably during the off-season. The pain on some of those climbs must have been incredible. But so was Landis's spirit.

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Sunday, July 23, 2006

Washing of the Water: Part I

the small rodent skull
sat atop the fence post for months,
bleached white, eyeless,
teeth clenched,
a reminder of what awaits

Someday, sooner or later, my heart will stop beating. Doctors and coroners can talk about all the different causes of death, but in the end there is only one cause -- the heart stops.

We celebrate the heart in this culture. Of a brave person, we say s/he has heart. When we are emotionally hurt, we say our heart is broken. When we hold something as true, we take it to heart. But mostly, we see the heart as the seat of love. So, in essence, if death is finally just the cessation of a heartbeat, and the heart is love, then death is to stop loving. Life as eros.

By this somewhat convoluted definition I was dead for many years -- most of my adult life. I was like the skull of that squirrel, eyeless, teeth clenched, enduring each new day completely void of feeling.

My heart had stopped by virtue of having been frozen. Not dead, but not beating either. Encased in an icy refusal to feel anything, to be touched by anything or anyone.

Years later, when I was in my early twenties, I tried to use the incantations of poetry to revive the lost organ. I thought that if I could find the right combination of words, it would be magically healed.

because it is dry and bitter and tastes
like the dirt in which it lay, found
after twelve long years, I eat
all of it, moistening the dust
with saliva, chewing every piece

I swallow but feel the fleshy
sustenance catch in my chest
and stop; it is warm and grows
solid, fills a space where only
icy winds have howled in silence

~ from "liturgy for twelve years," everything comes undone, 1994

In my youthful impatience, I thought that writing those words would help heal the wound. But I sadly underestimated the depth of the hurt. Mere words can only scratch the surface. As a function of intellect, words are insufficient to the challenge.


In ways I can only intuit, some form of love is the impulse behind all of existence. But it remains a mystery to me most days. I get a glimpse here and there, especially in nature or when I am with my beloved, but I seldom can hold it as an experience. Too much wounding. Too much separate ego keeping me trapped in duality, experiencing myself as separate from that love.
Our birthright as human beings is to have direct access to perfect love, and our privilege is to serve as a channel through which it flows.

~ John Welwood, Perfect Love, Imperfect Relationships
I crave that experience, being the channel for the eros that is everything. But I am seldom quiet enough to feel what is always already there.
damp musk of desert rain
moistens dry earth,
droplets reflecting a cool sunrise
fall from fresh ocotillo leaves,
while a cardinal and his mate
make the morning rounds:
nothing is out of place
So rarely do those moments come -- so peaceful when they do.

After so many years of trying to stay numb by any means possible -- all of them a way of wooing death -- I now seek out feeling, life, wherever I can find it.

Whether through music, movies, poetry, or even television, I seek out things that can thaw the ice in my chest. And it works.

At first all that came was pain -- years and years of buried pain all needing to be released. So many tears, so much hurt. All the childhood wounds never given expression because boys don't cry. All the teen angst never acknowledged because I had to be cool and confident. All the sorrow of first love gone wrong then drowned in gallons of alcohol.

A lot of the pain was aloneness, a deeply painful isolation from myself, from the world, from life, but most of all, from love. I felt abandoned by everything and everyone, especially myself.

Over time however, something has changed. The pain is no longer of abandonment, but of separateness. There is a great river of life flowing beneath the surface of things -- a river I know but that I am not of.
River, river carry me on
Living river carry me on
River, river carry me on
To the place where I come from

So deep, so wide, will you take me on
your back for a ride
If I should fall, would you swallow me
deep inside

River, show me how to float
I feel like I'm sinking down
Thought that I could get along
But here in this water
My feet won't touch the ground
I need something to turn myself around

~ Peter Gabriel, "Washing of the Water," from Us
Retreating again to the language of symbolism, water is the realm of the emotions. The river I sense and that Gabriel sings about is the the truth beneath the rational mind. Intellect is great, but the realm of the heart, of life, is in the feeling. It can keep us afloat, or we can freeze it and suffer the loss of life that choice entails.

I didn't trust feeling because, in part, I was taught not to trust it. So I froze it out. But as it thaws, what I realize is that feeling is what connects us with other people.

The separation I feel sometimes, that pain that comes up, is the recognition that we are all linked in ways we can never understand with our minds. When women grieve the loss of children in some far away place, I feel their loss. When a man looks on in horror at the lifeless bodies of his family, I feel his suffering. When an animal is caught in a trap, I feel its fear. When a man beats his girlfriend, I understand his lack of self-esteem, his loss of control over his fear.
I am a man; nothing human is alien to me.

~ Terence, Heuton Timoroumenos
And with that recognition comes humility. I am a human being capable of all things human beings are capable of -- good and bad.
This kind of questioning is the journey itself. The fruition lies in beginning to realize our kinship with all humanity. We realize that we have a share in whatever everyone else has and is.

~ Pema Chodron, Awakening Loving-Kindness
Think about that statement: we have a share in whatever everyone else has and is. How do we let that in, fully, and not be overwhelmed by its truth?

Stay tuned for Part II.