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Showing posts from November, 2014

A Truism Is a Truism

When it comes to the Holy Scriptures of any religion, the veracity of the Word as an utterance from God, Allah, Jesus, Moses, Buddha, Joseph Smith or Ron Hubbard ad nauseum are highly suspect in my book.

If eye witnesses are notoriously unreliable in reporting what they perceive has transpired, under oath in a court of law, then apply the same logic to scriptures written by disciples tens or hundreds of years later. Exponentially more subjective, in no way can they be the infallible exclamations of God or a prophet.

Let's just say that if one finds wisdom in a religious text, take the money and run. In other words, if those admonishments make sense and bring a little sanity to your life, why not believe? The stronger the belief, the greater the impact on behavior (as long as vive la différence prevails).

With this long-winded introduction, the aphorisms that have guided my mindset for decades come from two sources: the Bible and Sufi wisdom:

"Be ye wise as a serpent and as gentle…

Love Over Ego

Last night, after most of the Thanksgiving guests had departed, a few of the remaining folks had to deal with a First World Problem - severe stomache distension due not to malnutrition but gluttony. The best solution was to take to the living room couches and lie down so that the pressure on the over-stuffed abdomen would abate.

Since it took about three hours for the innards to slowly deflate, a wonderful conversation ensued as the only thing left intact were the vocal chords. As an old married-in-spirit woman with three grown children, I had in fact seen the ups and downs, the joys and sorrows, the love and resentment, that comes with that social unit called "family."

My friends were just embarking on their adult life as partners and parents, although with more wisdom than many at their stage of life. As we reflected on the ways in which couples engage, a thought occurred to me: the only reason that my husband and I had had a great marriage for thirty years was that in the e…

Calm Abiding

"Calm-abiding" is a phrase that Buddhist writers and scholars have employed over the ages to denote a state of mind that the words self-describe.
Today, depite an iffy oven whose real, accurate temperature is unknown to me - thus making the roasting of a 16 pound turkey a possible fiasco - calm-abiding permeats the air on my terrace of balmy Southern California weather.
The pressure is off. No longer striving to prove my housewifely or best-hostess-ever status, the dinner fixings have been happily pawned off to family and friends who are quite willing to contribute (and are state-of-the-art cooks). Thus, when I find myself in the kitchen making extra little doodad veggie treats, it is relaxing because my attachment to "enough," "more," and "overwhelm" has dissipated with age and neurosis fatigue.
Sure, the thought of an OLED 55 inch LG television that looks perfect from every angle does cause one eyebrow to lift slightly. A pause, a skip of a heart…

The Ubiquitous Back-seat Driver

If you are married or partnered in one form or another, a certain type of argument arises among couples of all nations and nationalities - if they regularly drive together in car.

Known as the "back-seat driver," the person sitting in the front passenger seat (an oxymoron unto itself) has as good a view of the highways and byways as the driver. And therein lies the problem.

The pair of eyes not in control of the steering wheel, brakes and accelerator feels disempowered, relegated to watching for potential mishaps with no ability to control them with the car's mechanisms. Thus, the only form of control left to the passenger is the vocal chords.

And this is where a couples' bliss ends. The sudden gasps, screams, or admonishments of the passive one have an unnerving effect on the driver. Depending on the temperment of said person, the response is either a calm, "I saw that, no worries darling," (not likely), "I know what I'm doing," (said with decid…

The Paradox of Tribalism

The industrialized First World has been seeping into the belly of the Third World, fragmenting tribal identities along the way. Factories, city tenements and smart phones homogenize ancestral ties; steel, cement, and electronic chips sever bonds birthed from Mother Earth.

For many ethnic groups, modernization brings a terrible loss. The African phrase, popularized by none other than Hilary Clinton, says it all: "It takes a village to raise a child." Sprawling city landscapes of highrise/lowrise apartments isolate people from one another as walls replace open doors.

At this juncture, our "global village" more resembles a jigsaw puzzle in disarray than a small planet with a few billion humans with more in common than not.

But herein lies the paradox. It is none other than the culprit of tribalism that causes wars large and small. This cultural amalgamation often breeds a mindset that "the other" or "the outsider" is different, and thus not as human a…

With the Wave of a Hand

The beauty of existence may shout out with pride: a glorious riot-red sunset, a sleek dolphin airing out over the ocean blue, an Amazion jungle-wonder of plants and birds. The list goes on and on, even now with the world war on Mother Nature.

Yet another wondrous display exists on an invisible level, or at least unknown to many a naked eye. The power of prayer, compassionate intention, the diligent work of hidden yogis and masters who work incessantly for the peace and prosperity of sentient beings.

Last night, I sat in the presence of one of those treasures of humanity; a Tibetan master of ancient age who has had the benefit of 80 plus years of intensive meditative training. Supposed to be absorbed in meditation, I sat with my eyes fixed at a space in front of me, knowing that to stare at the master was not the object of me own exercise.

At a certain moment, his hands started moving ever so gently, subtly, in mudric gestures. Catching this with my peripheral vision, I broke rank with my…

The Human Condition

A phrase oft used to describe a human plight, "She had to rely on the kindness of strangers" implies that the person had no family or friends who cared about her welfare - and luckily, had the good fortune of meeting compassionate others.

A twist of the phrase also evokes pathos: "She had to rely on the kindness of friends and/or family."

It could be argued that the most solid source of refuge is one's inner strength and connection to the source of life and Light. Yet, we are interdependent creatures, dependent on one another and Mother Nature for sustenance both physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual. 

John Donne's great poem says it like it is, without shying away from a reality that is at once beautiful and wrenching:

No man is an island,
Entire of itself,
Every man is a piece of the continent,
A part of the main.
If a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less.
As well as if a promontory were.
As well as if a manor of thy friend's
Or of thine own w…

Can You Really Tame a Tiger?

No. You can never really tame a tiger, because it is not in its nature to be domesticated. Even those lovely big cats, groomed from babyhood to perform for Las Vegas crowds, have drawn blood from their masters. Evidently, the king of the jungle does not take kindly to the role of indentured servant.

Same for our egos i.e. the jumble of thoughts that swirl through our heads incessantly and create a story of who we are and who you are. These beastly or saintly thoughts may seem to behave according to patterns, i.e. a negative thoughts will produce a negative result and positive thoughts will produce a positive result. And in our dream-like reality, a notion of control causes us think we are acting and behaving as if our thoughts are always real, right and true.

But like the beast of the jungle, our ego mind is inherently unreliable, a castle built on shifting sands. If we rely on this method of navigating the world, sooner or later life will maul us at the most unexpected moments.

A sense …

Golden Angel Wings

Close your eyes and image a rain shower, made not of water but of golden light droplets. As they descend around the physical, these glittering gold lights form into a pair of large diaphanous wings that attach to you from the center of the spine.

As if you were a giant angel, these golden light wings form a cacoon of protection permeating every nerve and cell in your body. As the wings float in the breeze, they also emanate beautiful energy into the very molecules of space around you, eventually making their way around the world and into infinite space.

Have a blessed day and vote for the candidates who care most about the welfare of sentient beings lest your golden wings vanish into thin air.

The I Ching Speaks

64: Nearing Completion November 3rd, 2014
The situation is incomplete, but the chaos of the past is slowly giving way to order, and the goal is in sight. Nevertheless, you are still treading on thin ice — the way ahead is unobstructed, the goal is clear, but a cautious and careful attitude is essential, lest you slip and fall.

Nearing Completion is the last hexagram of the I Ching. It suggests that the ever-spinning wheel of life never reaches an absolute conclusion. Just as a hidden sadness resides in the heart of true euphoria, just as the seeds of great achievement often sprout first in a cauldron of adversity, so too no end is ever really complete without a new beginning stirring inside it. Though we divide life into categories in order to understand and master it, experience itself is seamless. With this reading, the 64-spoked, timeless wheel of change is ready to spin onward, ever evolving, ever staying the same.

A situation that is represented by this reading …

I Got the Memo

Wandering through an upscale mall after dropping my wayward Mac at the Apple store for rehabilitation, I was seduced by a bright orange tee shirt hanging on a sales rack; its vivid hues beckoned me into its place of hanging. In a moment of frivolity, the shirt was purchased and then summarily hung in my closet of no return. It was rather nice in comparison to those Old Navy tee shirts, my faithful companions over the past ten years. 

Fast forward two days later. I venture into a grand Century Cityhigh rise for a business appointment, wearing the spanking new garb of choice - maybe a tad bright for the sober business world, but for an artist, a forgivable wardrobe choice.

As the uber-tight security person checked me in and ushered me a pass to the 48th floor, another woman ventured up to the desk; lo and behold, she too was wearing a bright orange tee shirt of bold design.

Surprised to see such display of color in this steel and marble environment, I remarked, "Hey, orange is the new…