Saturday, July 29, 2017

Great Acts

Great acts are made up of small deeds. - Lao Tzu

According to legend Lao Tzu was keeper of the archives at the imperial court. When he was eighty years old he set out for the western border of China, toward what is now Tibet, saddened and disillusioned that men were unwilling to follow the path to natural goodness. At the border (Hank Pass), a guard, Yin Xi (Yin Hsi), asked Lao Tsu to record his teachings before he left. He then composed in 5,000 characters the Tao Te Ching (The Way and Its Power).

Many of us feel an overwhelming sense of despair at the state of affairs in Washington, D.C.
We have a madman in the White House, a Congress filled with mentally challenged Republicans (minus a few), not to speak of an uninformed and ignorant swath of Americans who mindlessly follow, unaware that they are sawing the branch they sit on.

War, disease and hunger plague millions if not billions. Those of us living in prosperity pinch ourselves at our good fortune, fully aware of the blessings of the lucky few...and fervently wish that the evil eye continues to sheathe its glance. Some might pray for the rest of humanity to find abundance, peace and happiness. Some might donate life-giving funds or other material items to alleviate suffering. Nonetheless, the enormity of humanity's plight and the missteps of self-serving leaders trigger a sense of futility. Our life-affirming offerings seem like droplets in the ocean, disappearing into tidal waves of dysfunction.

This is why we need great masters whose panoramic vision spans the totality of existence and, with their clear vision, nudge us to proceed with courage. Lao Tsu's famous words of wisdom, "The thousand mile journey begins with the first step," or alternately, "Great acts are made up of small deeds," provide an antidote to the collective sense of disempowerment. Rooted in reality, his words of wisdom point out a truth hidden in plain view. Every state of being, every accomplishment, is merely the tip of the iceberg. Near-infinite acts/events form the foundation upon which positive outcroppings appear.

Understanding thus, how could we ever feel discouraged? The truth is that everything matters, whether we impact a billion people or just two. Patience, courage, wisdom and compassion become the tenets of day to day existence. As long as we never give up, any act large or small will propel us into a brighter future.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Trees Speak

Many years ago I imbibed a weed-laced dark chocolate brownie in an attempt to kill the pain of radiation burnitis. The shopkeeper of the medical marijuana store had gifted me with this delight, perhaps taking pity on an almost bald, thin woman who could barely walk into his digs - clearly a cancer victim. He warned me to eat only half.

Ever the chow hound, even when half dead, I scarfed the first half of said treat before Michael and I had even reached the car. Our house was 30 minutes away and about twenty minutes into the drive home, having not felt any effect of the cannabis, I downed the second half of that yummalishous chewy, chocolatey pastry.

Gluttony always meets punishment as its bride. Afterall, isn't gluttony one of the mortal sins?

The cannabis of 2017 is not the cannabis your grandmother smoked or ate; in this case, my peer group are the grandmothers. Shortly after arriving home, the environment took on a different luster. Colors jumped off the wall; subtle and previously unnoticed house sounds became a chorus of machines; the plant world outside my windows danced and swayed with verdant alacrity.

After an indeterminate stretch of time, spread out on the couch and floating outside the normal realms of perception, lo and behold! A tree peered in the window and invited me to come outside to introduce myself.

Twenty-seven years ago, I planted 13 trees around the house. Those saplings were now tall, strong guardians of the property. The tree that beckoned me outside told me its name and I bowed in acknowledgement. Of course they already knew me, she who supplied their water and gave them first life in decades past. The next tree waited expectantly, much like a guest in a formal greeting line. After moving around the property making proper introductions, I slumped into a lawn chair and gazed at this tribe with a fair degree of astonishment.

Why had I not noticed that each tree was a living being with a personality and its own potent mode of perception? While I certainly took note of new leaves in the spring or branches in need of pruning, never had I addressed the gestalt of the tree.

Nature speaks to us if we listen...and this communication is a symbiotic bond that extends far beyond the reaches of time and space. One needn't be stoned out of his or her gourd to partake in the subtle yet powerful exchange. The only requirement is to stop the busy-ness and feel...listen...breathe.

Saturday, July 8, 2017

The Fox and the Ass

Dear Vladimir (a.ka. the Fox),

Congratulations on your superb strategy of rigging the election to secure King Rump the presidency of the United States of America. First of all, his uber foxy wife Melania speaks Serbo Croatian, Russia's linguistic cousin. What more could you want than the president's pillow talker to have a genetically in-bedded tribal bond with you, not to speak of the prize of power - a beautiful woman seated next to you at a state dinner. (Maybe King Rump and his consort sleep in separate rooms, but hey, let's keep this scenario for the sake of argument.)

And let's not forget that your remarkable ability to lie straight into the face of another and have them believe you unilaterally is truly a gift. Maybe you even believe your own PR. Afterall, 25 years holding the reins of power is a feat only to be matched by Stalin, Mao, and a few other obscure dictators around the world.

Lest you think this analysis is anti-Russian, please rest assured that my perception of American Imperialism cloaked in the guise of "bringing democracy to the world" is no less cynical.

While this chess game of political-material gain plays on, and while glasnost holds great promise, your success in bringing the US and Russia together holds a bitter price for the common person in America. King Rump may hold the key to a closer relationship, but please ask the downtrodden (and yes they do exist in the vastly rich nation of the Americas) how they will fare when their access to medical care, higher education and food is denied. Please ask the people of color how they will feel when the voting patterns are rigged to prevent true equality of access. Please ask the fish, the animals and the trees how they will survive the roll-back of protection from humans and corporations, who are deemed humans by the IRS.

Success in one arena weighed against devastation in another is hardly something to gloat about. The only hope for mankind rests in actions and policies nested in a humanitarian basket of gem-like beings of good will. Alas, between the Fox and the Ass, this seems an unlikely proposition.

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Kristallnacht USA

For those who don't know their history, "Kristallnacht," as explained in Wikepedia:

The "Night of Broken Glass"

The violence against Jews lasts into the morning hours of November 10th, 1938 and becomes known as Kristallnacht—the "Night of Broken Glass." Several dozen Jews lose their lives and tens of thousands are arrested and sent to concentration camps. 

And what does this have to do with the USA?

Today a digital Kristallnacht was launched against the media; more specifically CNN. Trump tweeted a video that used computer simulations to make it look like he punched out a CNN reporter. The big ape continued to pound the hapless face of the reporter as he laid sprawled out on his back. 

The inane pundits who defend Trump (for a living) said it was a joke, modeled after the faked violence of televised wrestling. To those who understand the power of imagery, this was a dog whistle to the white militias of the far right to begin an American born and bred version of Kristallnacht. No need for thousands of storm troopers. His millions of followers via Twitter now have their marching orders, delivered effortlessly with a click of the mouse.

Trump's threats to the Fourth Estate have now taken an

ugly turn for the worse. We need to be afraid but not afraid

as in cowardliness. This strike to the heart should be a

massive wakeup call...and we need to listen with a special

ear....lest we fall.

Between the Frying Pan and the Fire

When the first inklings of a pandemic started brewing in late January, I was in Bodgaya, India, the place where the historical Buddha attai...