Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Actionless Action

Human beings and indeed animals all seek activity that soothes the body, mind and soul. To some, this pursuit is considered a positive way to manage the vicissitudes of life. To the yogi, a place of solitude with no external distractions represents the highest form of actionless action on the physical plane.

Modern day mystics face a challenge in balancing these equal and opposite forces; the desire for pleasure and the need for deep introspection. 

Motivation is a key in determining whether a whirlwind of stimulation serves as an escape from facing one's own mind or provides a wider bandwidth for experiencing what our social compadres have to serve up.

Eventually, all experiences can be understood as "the magical display of appearances." Until then, examining intention and purpose becomes key to living a balanced and integrated existence. Ever the pingpong ball, eventually the winner will make a grand slam and finish off the opponent, the monkey mind.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

It Ain't Permanent

One of the worst nightmares for a vain or insecure woman is going to a hairdresser for a trim and having 3 inches of hair lopped off. In reality, this is hardly a cause for extreme distress, given the tidal wave of terrible abuses that abound in the world. Nonetheless, it is remarkable how an undesired butcher job on a gal's hairdo can cause such upset.

Likewise, for one who has a lush garden needing a little trim, it is horrifying to come home and see that the "expert" hired to shape a tree or overgrown bushes has cut them almost to the ground. Bare, twisted trunks writhe in pain as the scalped limbs bespeak a debacle vested upon them.

Having experienced both scenarios at least three times, these events no longer cause me to complain in vain. Hair grows back. Plants regenerate. Months or a year later, all is well again. Besides, these are First World problems.

Life is impermanent, nothing is permanent and rebirth always follows loss. My hair and the plants in the garden have taught me such. 

Thursday, June 4, 2015

When It's Personal

Around 6PM most nights, I take great pleasure in stretching out on my 25 year old leather couch to stream a documentary on my internet-friendly flatscreen. Sacred places become thus after many moments of grace-filled beingness and my couch is no exception.

Over the years, it has accommodated wonderful guests; a clever dog who slept on it at night when we weren't looking (but left telltale hairs); sleeping children; movie-loving teenagers; and inebriated adults who were smart enough to stay put and leave the highways and byways to other folks.

A place of refuge, old faithful provides a snuggly place to escape the world, while paradoxically learning more about it. Occasionally, comedic fare lights up the screen but more often the documentaries of choice highlight injustices, political chicanery, and straight out horror that humans inflict on one another.

My daughter passed through the living room on the way to the kitchen and glancing at the screen showing an exposé on child sex slaves, she remarked, "Why do you watch that shit?" Other people have phrased it differently: "I can't bear to watch that," or "It makes me too sad," and other comments of that ilk.

After seeing firsthand unimaginable living conditions in Nepal, Bhutan, India, South Africa, and Myanmar (Burma), what I see on the screen looks all too familiar.To witness human suffering is to learn about life. Knowing this, I feel wonderment that my incarnation has found itself in a peaceful environment where food is plentiful and crime is almost non-existent, not to speak of being a Western woman with civil rights.

Usually, these documentaries pique my curiosity and empathy but last night I watched one that made my heart beat faster and a heaviness form in my chest. Told by the CEO of Canter-Fitzgerald, it was his account of the 911 attack that wiped out about 700 of his 900 employees.

Granted, he could return to his estate while most people return to their hovels or have nowhere to sleep anymore. Granted, he had the resources and technology to pull himself and his company out of total ruin, while most people have no such infrastructure.

Yet, human suffering is human suffering no matter what one's economic stature or nationality. What caught me off-guard was my visceral reaction to this documentary as opposed to all the others. And why? Because I could identify with these people. I came from a New York family - my ethnic roots were similar to the CEO - the world of finance and investment has always been in my family background - many of those killed lived in the same county in which I grew up.

What I learned last night: despite my efforts to connect with the One and to realize interdependence, I still carry a tribal identity that evokes cellular, visceral reactions that do not occur when watching the suffering of "others."

It's good to see the "what is" in the mindset and even better to widen one's worldview so that eventually all humanity is "us."


Wednesday, June 3, 2015


A young girl from a poor village in Cambodia rides her bike 17 miles each way, everyday, to a bare-bones school. One of the lucky ones who is able to scrape together the fees for education - and has willing parents - she tells a visiting reporter from The New York Times about her daily journey.

The reporter fears for the 12 year old. The route to the school is thick jungle terrain with many places in which rapists and slave traders can hide. In a country overflowing with such crime (that goes unpunished except for the rape victim who is ostricized or worse), the "outsider's" alarm is justifiable.

She asks the girl what she fears most as she rides alone along the route. The girl replies, "Ghosts."

The reporter is perplexed by this information. After all, wouldn't a rational person fear a real human being with concrete abilities to maim body, mind and soul?

When she asks the girl to elaborate, the young one says, "I mean living ghosts."

Her clarification is poetic and insightful. Only a person who has lost their humanity, who is dead to the life force and sanctity of the human body, can commit the crimes that are a daily occurrence in Cambodia...and for that matter worldwide.

I ponder. What part of myself is dead to the present, filled with ghosts from the past that inhabit my daily thinking? How does this affect my ability to love and serve?

Tuesday, June 2, 2015

One Person Many Lives

The choice of documentary film tonight plummeted me into a world of incredible suffering - that of the underage sex slave. Usually from impoverished, uneducated families, these girls are sold into slavery by family members or abducted with false promises of better jobs elsewhere.

Whether it be Cambodia, Thailand, Nepal and more, the theme was the same. The average 12-14 year old prostitute is losing favor over younger girls ranging from 3-8 years old. If a girl objects she is beaten, and in India where the cruelty is greatest, simply killed for non-compliance.

Another theme, but on the side of hope and salvation, were the women who had survived these horrors and escaped. Their life mission evolved into that of savior for those still in shackles.

The film demonstrated a clear message. It is possible for one good person to impact the lives of many. So when we wonder what us little people can do to change a seemingly vast world of problems, the answer is simple. Do what you can.

Monday, June 1, 2015

Silence is Golden

When Jesus Christ walked the earth, he preached a bottom line, here and now philosophy cloaked in the metaphors of his time. He rebelled against the polluted practices of his religion of origin and he certainly did not preach about building a new religion - one that his disciples would accomplish. That edifice called the Church became privy to greater ills than the one he was attempting to purify. If Christ were a modern day prophet, he might have even sued St. Paul & Co. for identity theft and defamation.

Likewise, the historical Buddha took himself off into the wilds, away from his kingdom with its swamis and priests and found a new connection to the All-That-Is that defied all previous rules and regulations of the religions during his era. Since then, so many men (and a few women, generally not allowed to pontificate publically) have embellished the Buddha's words so much that one cannot say for sure what the Buddha really did express beyond a series of simple tracts.

In both cases, Christ and the Buddha, the original message is simple: compassion, love, service, non-violence to name a few. In fact, even an atheist would agree that these are quintessential characteristics of a bona fide human being and most animals.

People who are at each others' throats for religious differences ironically know the least about what their saviors would wish. Everyone knows about ubiquitous religious wars/persecution over the ages. Yet, even subtle duels called "religious debates" are the machinations of ego. 

It seems that the homily "silence is golden" may contain more wisdom than us down-home folks ever imagined.


George Washington, Visionary

George Washington, our first American president, understood the duties of the office and the pitfalls inherent in such power. He grasped th...