Monday, December 29, 2008
Saturday, December 27, 2008
Thursday, December 25, 2008
Sunday, November 30, 2008
Every yesterday was "a today";
every tomorrow will be "a today".
It's always today!
The quality of today is
like yesterday, like tomorrow.
Therefore, focus on today.
This moment creates today. So,
focus into this moment -
the infinitesimal moment-point
Friday, November 28, 2008
Thursday, November 20, 2008
Wednesday, November 05, 2008
Monday, November 03, 2008
Sunday, November 02, 2008
Saturday, November 01, 2008
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
Today! You have an appointment with destiny.
The idea of destiny suggests some future great event that will happen to us. For a young person, perhaps, the day of meeting the love of their life; a mature person, the day a grandchild is born. Or, for a whole culture, the day the world ends. Destiny, however, is nothing greater than the meeting of the present with the future. When does that happen? That’s right now as the present meets the future – today.
We don’t know when we’ll die. We can’t assume waiting for destiny as some “big event”; but, feeling totally present, today itself is a big event.
Saturday, October 11, 2008
Wednesday, October 08, 2008
Holding to an "idea of happiness" blocks happiness. For happiness is. If happiness strictly depends on this or that, then we are not free. The greatest discovery is that happiness is already within us; we find happiness when we uncover it.
Of course we take joy and confort in our home, family, friends, and lovely things we acquire along the way. But, that which is given to us will be eventually taken away.
There is another dimension of life; call it the absolute, which just is. The ancients called it "Atman" - the imperishable soul that is a spark of the universal Brahman (or God infinite) We are THAT as well as our relative fleeting life. Jesus may have been speaking of THAT when he talked of "Life more abundant".
Saturday, October 04, 2008
Sunday, August 24, 2008
Phone interviews / no travel / Heidegger / far is near / near is far / human awareness / reality / dimensionality / reality / technology / 3000 B.C. / Dave Bohm / quantum physics /enfoldment / parallel universes / importance of thought / the marketplace / Kierkegaard / skimming life / no purpose / duty / media / news as entertainment / end of thought / duty to think / elections as circus / public philosophy / the duty of freedom.
Wednesday, August 20, 2008
Saturday, August 8th, 2008. Nineteen people joined me for an hour of talk, meditation, and focused conversation at Elephant Pharmacy in Berkeley. The sound quality in the store makes it hard to hear many of the participant comments; but, I assure you that wisdom was all around in the room! We did not come to any "final" answers about the meaning of life. Indeed, the journey, the exploration was joy itself. Here's the recording:
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
With everything changing so
fast - it's a challenge to
If you can't count
on the dollar, the banks,
the schools, the presidents,
your future old age retirement,
the air you breathe, your job ---
What do you turn to?
Ask lots of questions.
Tuesday, August 12, 2008
I received a letter from Steven L. Turner, a soldier in Iraq. He wrote:
I just wanted to write a short letter thanking you for your contributions to
Steven L. Turner
I would be honored. All of the information that I gave you would not be sensitive in any nature. Any interaction via unsecured network should be carefully looked at and I thank you for your concern. Many would take that for granted. I have been urged by your words to write an essay of my own, as I often do, on the topic previously discussed. I have been getting some interesting answers from the guys when questioned "What is the good life?". I think I will write one here in country (given the unique setting and environment) and then write one when I get home. I
think comparison would be an interesting one. Anyway, thanks again and let me know if there are any other lectures available. The Internet connection here still isn't fast enough (or broad enough) to handle iTunes, but I stay hopeful. Have a good one and good luck in all that you do. ...
Steven L. TurnerI personally thank Steven Turner for his letters and comments. He inspires me to go on with teaching! Certainly, makes all this work worth the effort. I feel that people like him are truly making this a safer and better world.
Here's the podcast of the November 19, 2007 lecture on "What is the Good Life?" given at the University of California:
Sunday, August 10, 2008
serenity / the American dream/ greed/ spiritual materialism/ mastery/ love of wisdom/ value/ Nietzsche / revaluation of values/ market forces as "gods"/ money/ dogmatism / and more...
Saturday, August 09, 2008
Whenever I see these naked lady flowers, it means
that Fall is coming; that it's almost time to be
teaching my university classes on meditation,
nonviolence, technology and human values, and
Monday, July 21, 2008
Lately, I've been calling Mike Scott, founder of ThoughtAudio and XLRQ, on the phone and capturing our dialogues with a digital recorder. We began in a "Zen" fashion - not knowing where the dialogue will take us; for, indeed, the quest for truth takes us where it will.
This podcast ("Getting Started") is under eight minutes long. It touches upon the following themes:
being real / special experience / birth of the church / why institutions distort reality / judgements & spiritual ego / "the right way" / the beginning of dogma / and more...
Monday, July 14, 2008
In my talk, I mention the "Ten Bulls" from the Zen Buddhist tradition - especially number ten, representing someone enlightened who has completed the spiritual journey finally return to the marketplace. Below is that the 10th drawing as the corresponding text. It's one of my favorites.
10. In the World
My clothes are ragged and dust-laden, and I am ever blissful.
I use no magic to extend my life;
Now, before me, the dead trees become alive.
Transcribed by Nyogen Senzaki and Paul Reps
Illustrated by Tomikichiro Tokuriki
Friday, July 11, 2008
True meditation releases mind's identification with objects; mind turns toward the source light of awareness itself without objects.
The purpose of true meditation is to break the mind’s identification with objects – so that the mind simply turns toward the source light of awareness without object. This is the true spacious, skylight radiant quality of mind that we glimpse and sustain as we awaken. Like “being in love” when the whole world seems brighter, more real, more filled with love all around. The difference is that this awakened condition is not dependent upon any object or specific person. It just IS.
Monday, July 07, 2008
FACE-TO-FACE WITH VIRTUAL COMMUNITIES
Building a Conversation with 500 Students
Syllabus "Case Study", July 2001, page 10
Americ Azevedo has 500 students in his Introduction to Computers course at the
Azevedo, who has taught courses in computers and human/computer interaction at several institutions, has always believed that the Socratic method is right approach to teaching. In courses with smaller enrollments, he has usually relied upon open-ended questions and in-class discussion while simultaneously tinkering with online discussion formats to supplement the ongoing Socratic dialogue. However, faced with the prospect of teaching hundreds of students in a large lecture hall three days a week for 50 minutes, Azevedo knew that in-class discussion would be nearly impossible and that he’d have to rely on online discussions to achieve his goals.
The immediate benefit of using discussion software has been an increase in participation by his students and a chance for him to get to know some of them quite well. “I can call up a list of all of their contributions to the course and see what they’re like quite easily.” Says Azevedo. “Through the use of the software I get a chance to hear the ideas and concerns of a large number of students. It also allows the shy students to participate as actively as the more outgoing ones.”
Flexibility was one of his primary concerns. “Most of the software that exists for course management is content-centered,” notes Azevedo. “It locks you into specific topics and doesn’t allow discussions to grow naturally.” Because it had many of the features he was looking for, Azevedo decided to try WebCrossing in the course. “What like about WebCrossing is that it’s discussion-centered and allows students to generate new topics, or threads, if they want to. It is really an experiment in developing a pattern language, a new way of submitting thoughts.”
Azevedo’s class site had topics that he’s generated, where he can post course information, posit questions, and link to other useful sites. It also includes many student-generated threads. In addition, the course is supported by the full array of UC Berkeley’s technology tools. For instance, through the Berkeley Internet Broadcasting Network, Azevedo has captured streaming video of all of his lectures. Students can link to these from the class site. Coupled with dynamic lecture notes, PowerPoint slides, and online assignments, the site is a rich resource for both discussion and study. “With these resources in place,” he notes, “we could expand the enrollment of the course to a distance learning situation with twice or four times as many students.”
e-mail is a part of Azevedo’s package as well. He is experimenting with the use of e-mail to communicate with his students, posting information about upcoming lectures to a listserv. Based on student responses, he can tailor the lecture to address the material they need specific help with, and skip what they’ve already absorbed. This has led to some interesting student-contributed material. “I asked them to define some terms that are used in the computer industry,” he says. “The students generated some very interesting metaphors that I used in lecture.”
Azevedo’s Introduction to Computers also has a lab requirement. “With 18 sections of labs 4 hours a week, we’re using all the available lab space,” he says. In the future, he hopes to use discussion software to enhance the laboratory experience, allowing the students in each lab section to communicate with each other and with the TA on projects. He’s also planning to experiment with a CyberLab that would replace some of the lab sections.
According to Azevedo, discussion software can enhance not only large lecture courses, but smaller enrollment courses as well. “When I used it with small classes, it generated a lot of excitement,” he notes. “There was more personal engagement than you get with a large course. My students generated hundreds of pages of text, and the themes just grew and expanded organically.”
In his large course, Azevedo has found that students don’t necessarily participate as much, but he has been surprised by the level of response at times. “I started a debate about participation credits: should students get credit for participating in these large lecture courses? This produced a raging debate on WebCrossing. It was a level of expression that you would normally never get in a large class. Students contributed ideas about how the course should be graded, some of which I incorporated into the course.”
He adds, “My co-teachers, Nicholas Cravotta, quickly adopted the new environment. For instance, he was able to give quick public feedback to a discussion topic led by student-generated questions. Normally, students would never get this kind of feedback in a large class.”
Friday, July 04, 2008
I wrote this paper in 1998. The internet was exploding. Many schools, including mine, where throwing themselves into online education. It was a time of revolution. But, at the same time I saw a dark side and a great opportunity. Today, looking at it again - it still rings true. -Americ
The Socrates Online MethodBy Americ Azevedo
MOST DISTANCE EDUCATION IS TRAINING, NOT EDUCATION
When movies first came into existence, producers created motion pictures that duplicated the look of live theater. They failed to see the possibilities inherent in the new medium of film. Likewise, faced with the revolutionary possibilities of online education, many educators still think in terms of converting their lectures into static web pages and relegating their own teaching rule to grading online quizzes and taking online attendance.
Meanwhile students are eager to embrace online education. Not having to commute and having a flexible schedule are such powerful motivators that investors like Michael Milken are crawling over themselves to corner an online education market which promises to be extremely lucrative. Financially stressed administrators, businessmen/educators, and excited investors are lured by the prospects. Online education has been hyped as a way of reaching a worldwide pool of students, paying fewer teachers, having relatively lower overhead, and tapping into the concept of "cradle-to-grave" learning.
The financial and marketing advantages are obvious. Unfortunately the spirit of online education has often been reduced to page after page of linked web materials that the instructor has put together - constituting about the most boring "slide show" you can possibly imagine. Some of these online lecture sites have as many as 40 pages of content. Perhaps that's impressive to people who aren't taking the course. But imagine a student sitting in front of the monitor reading all that. Since reading from a monitor is harder on the eyes than reading from a printed page students often print these pages out to read them . As one of my students told me, "I used up a lot of ink jet cartridges printing out those so-called lectures!"
This canned type of approach is often used to represent what online learning is all about, but I think it has nothing to do with a true teaching experience. Interactive textbooks on the web are valuable, but they have distinct limitations. For instance, there are no human beings on the other end to interact with, no one to explain a difficult concept or engage a student's interest and creativity. Let's remember that without interaction institutions that take up the banner of online education are really only championing a poor variety of correspondence course. A March 1998 article in the New York Times chastised the University of Phoenix for the "drive-thru" flavor of its online curriculum. The concept of online education is here to stay, but in order to sustain its momentum we need to examine the quality interaction between a student, a teacher , and course material - not just technological innovation.
There are some very expensive distance education systems out there that run on pure technological power -- teachers hardly have to check in on their classes. Quizzes are graded and stored automatically. Students respond with less attention because they are getting no attention from living teachers or from each other. Many of these quick-fix systems seem to provide conferences and chat features as an after thought. The primary focus being on creating large amounts of text materials to simulate a lecture. Even when translated into beautiful multimedia web pages, you can't disguise the fact that something is missing. In fact, the more multimedia bells and whistles that are added, the further the shift away from teacher interaction.
The rules in cyberspace are the same as real life. Its easy to fall asleep when you are being lectured at. No one pays much attention. However, when a teacher and other students can engage you online, or in person, there is a creative tension that makes you think and grow intellectually.
REAL EDUCATION IS POSSIBLE - SOMETIMES BETTER - ON THE WEB
Education means, "to draw out." Socrates, in his great dialogues, worked with the idea of drawing out the knowledge that people had within them. Computers don't necessarily do this. A talented teacher, coaching and guiding a student, is the essence of real education.
The Internet and Web have created new environments for talented teachers to thrive. Dialogue, research results, information, and resources are vast. Once I believed that I wanted to rid myself of the books. A paperless classroom, so to speak. I just wanted to post content on the web and link to online resources. But, I've experienced a turnaround. Books are great, few classes should be without them. Books give the class depth, and a common footing. In addition to a class book the addition of Internet resources make for a very rich and accessible environment. Other instructors have told me that web-savvy students in their classes have contributed a great deal to their fellow students. Those students that can immediately find leads to deeper sources are quick to share their tips. The web encourages them and they eagerly communicate that enthusiasm. That is using the medium for what it really is.
I've developed a method that I call the Socrates Online Method to help harness student enthusiasm in a virtual classroom. My technique is not software dependent like many other distance learning systems. Rather, the heart of the teaching method is an ancient, time-honored, and deceptively simple technique: dialogue. Socrates, the ancient Greek philosopher, recognized dialogue as the best way to maximize the learning process.
One-on-one communication between student and teacher is emphasized in this method. Socrates Online is NOT a means of quickly throwing up web pages and canned materials onto the Internet. The shortsightedness of the "convert all your text materials into web pages" approach misses the whole dynamism of online learning, it fails to see this exciting medium as something completely new. Students who simply read lectures and assignments from a screen are not actively and personally engaged by their teachers. Students in this stultified environment will quickly tire of reading dated materials from a computer terminal and long for the social interplay of a traditional classroom.
This method fosters a rich exchange between student and teacher, between student and student, and between the online class and the vast resources of the Internet which are immediately on hand.
Asynchronous dialogue allows students and their teachers to manage their own learning times. Students who previously could not take classes due to busy career and family schedules are now freed to enrich themselves and their careers. And, unlike traditional classrooms, where students may be hesitant to participate or are hampered by one or two outspoken students online conferencing allows all students to provide input.
Another advantage to online communication is that it allows all students equal time to express themselves. No one interrupts another; postings in this dialogue format can be simultaneous. Responses and questions can be written thoughtfully, since the student is able to take his or her time. Since online conversations are, at present, text-based this medium increases the development of writing skills.
The World Wide Web can be a medium for conversational teaching software that benefits both students and teachers. Teaching dialogues can also occur asynchronously around the world and around the clock since people do not have to be on at the same time zone or on the same schedule. The skills and education necessary to succeed come within the reach of busy working adults and parents. And with the second-by-second advances in job-critical technologies, learning to stay competitive will be an ongoing process for an ever-growing group of people.
In online learning sessions, which are structured around dialogue, the computers don't eliminate teachers. Talented teachers are needed more than before. For example, with classes in Tax Law at Golden Gate University, we found that online students with a good teacher actually performed better than their counterparts in traditional classes.
Attractive, easy to read and navigate web pages are extremely important entryways into the virtual classroom, but once you are in the class, the web-based conferencing is the heart of the online classroom. Good online teaching means person to person interaction. Just like real life. Human attention is the currency of quality.
Thursday, July 03, 2008
For more related videos, biography, and links; please go to An Invitation.
Saturday, June 28, 2008
The sunlight had turned an orange-red color caused by smoke from 800 fires north of Berkeley. It was being on another planet with a different sun!
Thursday, June 19, 2008
The theory and practice of meditation help us again realize (make real) our true nature. When I speak, write or listen to these words, I am in the realm of theory; when I take in the meaning of these words, I inform and transform myself along the path of self realization.
It’s very, very important to remember that words are not what they refer to. “The map is not the territory.” Speaking or writing about meditation is not meditation. Meditation is in the gaps between the words, between the thoughts. But the word “gap” is not the same as a gap itself as-it-is. Get past the word – allow the great silence to come. At the point of great silence is the great labor of liberation.
Saturday, June 14, 2008
Some of the greatest Zen masters were cooks and janitors. Some of our best days are when we do cleaning up; moving around from thing to thing, cleaning, sorting out, and putting everything away in its place. At the end of the day, you look around and feel happy with the sense of clean, clear spaciousness all around.
Friday, June 13, 2008
We are born with true wealth, but constantly forget to realize the wealth we already have. Failing to acknowledge our true wealth we keep grasping for more, like hungry ghosts who are never satisfied while constantly eating! Thus, we go about despoiling the earth, corrupting relationships, and twisting societies into grotesque forms that promote needless suffering for ourselves, others, and the earth as a whole. Realizing true wealth leads to personal, interpersonal, and transpersonal fulfillment. Furthermore, the long-term survival of life on earth depends upon true wealth realization.
We need deep psychological and spiritual healing of individuals, groups, communities, nations, and the earth. The bedrock of this healing is a return to this present moment, not in a selfish, narrow way, but in a way that includes the totality of what is here–there as well as past–present–future. It is nothing less than the ancient ideal of enlightenment of all sentient beings.
Thursday, June 12, 2008
Wednesday, June 11, 2008
The idea of "time poverty" naturally came up while lecturing on Moore's Law - which states that computing power doubles every 18 months. Suddenly I asked "Why if computing power doubles every two or less years, is it that our working day does not go down? Why is it that so many people now complain about having too much to do? Why do we complain so much about not having enough time?" For decades we have refined automation, labor saving, time saving devices, and computers do our routine labor and thinking for us. Elusive is the dream of a world with time for loved ones, time for creativity, and time for real self development.
Monday, June 09, 2008
Sunday, June 08, 2008
(My phone camera does not do justice.)
Sitting on a bench.
Happy to be alive and healthy this early morning.
Friday, June 06, 2008
All day, or for just one hour: no radio, no television, no computer, no phone, no reading. Stay with yourself. Hear yourself! Much will be learned.
It’s normal, natural to want to be entertained. We’re all like children. We want to be distracted from ourselves. Our “self” in the sense of the small self, the ego, engages in a painful struggle for against a hostile world. Call it reality. It wants to withdraw from the battle. Listening to the news on the radio; or, watching “reality television” (where we tune into the lives of other “real” people) gives us relief from ourselves. We also keep going to our computers or phones to be thrown outward to somewhere outside our little self.
I’m not saying that radio, television, computers, phone and books are bad – I’m saying that to use these to escape deprives us of the precious opportunity to come closer to our big Self – the ground of our consciousness, which is also everyone else’s consciousness. This is the ultimate reality experience. Life is short; we have no time to waste. Be all you can be. Be here now. Afterwards, take a break; turn on the radio, TV, computer. Remember to come back again to your Self, again and again.
Thursday, June 05, 2008
Monday, June 02, 2008
"Success is not directly related to time", said Mark Allan. Otherwise, internet millionaires could not be rich so fast.
Time moves at the speed of thought! In a flash we can leap into another dimension. Success, money, and time are related in that “leap” like way – which is to say that they are not directly related. In one hour you could make $1, $10, $100, $1,000, $10,000 or more. It’s close to magic how money really is. Close to the true nature of thought. In a year, you could go from middle class to rich levels of wealth. And, wealth has many meanings here. Time moves at the speed of thought, money is a little slower, money is a link between thought and matter.
My first born was only a few years old. He overhead me complaining that I was not making enough money. He said, “Dad! I have the solution. Just make more money every hour.” That was many years ago. If we value our time more than money, we may find ourselves with more time but less money. If we value our money more than time, we may find ourselves with more money but less time. What we value is what we put our attention on. The usual logic is “either-or”. So, the way out of the paradox here is to embrace both money and time.
Saturday, May 31, 2008
During sleep you live in a world of dreams, and sometimes utter quiet. Of these two states, the dream world is most like waking life. The quiet state is most like the condition of total enlightenment - which is beyond the world altogether. Is not life itself, when recalled (as memories) like a dream? A dreamer sometimes realizes they are in a dream, and thereby breaks the power of the dream.
Friday, May 30, 2008
A mediation question is a gift. It turns our focus to the fundamental nature of our consciousness. It humbles us, because so much is at stake: the mind of the person asking. Answer carefully from the depths of your heart. Admit what you don't know. Thank the questioner, for they have compelled you to return to mediation in that moment. Only in meditation, can a question about meditation be answered.
The World Wide Web opened up social networking sites that expose us to each other's private worlds and fantasies. But, when I was a child we had the four line party line. I loved it! When my parents where in another room, I would quietly pick up the phone receiver. Suddenly, I'd hear a phone conversation between two people who where strangers. It was exciting! A glimpse into another personal world. Actually, I was too embarrassed to listen for more than a few seconds. Just to know that they were there - to know that I could hear them was enough. A bridge had been made between two private worlds. Today's technologies provide more and more tools to hear and see each other's private worlds. Even mainstream broadcast television offers "reality TV" - we can look in continuously the life of a family as they go about their days. Now, we've got lots of "party lines"!
Thursday, May 29, 2008
This issue of progress in meditation comes up often. Students tell me that they are not making any progress at all. But, the problem is that meditation is not about progress - it's about giving up control and surrendering to what is. What is, is what is - both outside and inside. How can there be progress in the realm of surrender. True surrender is giving up control. So there may be no progress in the sense that the ego is controlling how things will go. If the ego must control - that is not meditation. If the ego steps aside - the very idea of progress goes away! That is meditation.