Saturday, September 18, 2010

Without limit

Why are we so often
Afraid of meeting
“the still point of the turning world*”?

Shall we drop down to the
center of Being?
Like a stone that no longer orbits earth
falling down and burning up in
the atmosphere

Are we afraid of meeting someone
we’ve been avoiding (for a long time)?
God? Self? Atman? Jesus? Krishna?
Who’s there?

It’s you
without limit, definition, clothes
without memories

Just you as silent radiant joyful consciouenss

*T. S. Elliot

Monday, August 16, 2010

Maya time

Maya time
they say
is ending.
No. No. Not so.

It's lies ending.
Truth coming down.
Awakening us from spells
of fear words.

Truth that's so
sweet like a
dove crossing
your path early
this morning.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Changing the world

How do we change the world? Don’t even try – it’s impossible. Any change you try will have unpredictable consequences. “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.” Just change yourself, just wait until the obvious situation for change presents itself. You are there. Your hands can touch the levers of action, of power. Manage yourself wisely. Focus on love. Focus on the action not the outcome. Ride the wave. It may be only a ripple; or, a big wave that wipes you out. Wait again, try the next wave. Do nothing, melt into what is.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Reality as-it-is

Reality just is as-it-is. Realize unity with reality, and let the distinguishing mind subside. Become still within; even while life continues in the world. Strengthen the platform: the body. Eat good food, exercise, and feed the mind good ideas from within and beyond. This sustains contact with reality. (For much darkness, despair and illusion is simply weakness of the body.)

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Consumerism, community, creativity & consciousness

Consumerism is currently the global religion. We measure the success of our personal lives, the economy and our society by their ability to produce and consume goods and services. So strong is this perspective that little time is left for creativity, community, and consciousness. This is a great imbalance that throws us at odds with the health of the Earth.

The good life is narrowed to the consumer perspective. It is a self reinforcing cycle. Work, produce, and consume; this cycle transforms every aspect of life into a consumable commodity. Raising children is now done by professionals and less by parents. Even those professionals who baby-sit and teach young children are paid very low wages.

Consumerism is not an absolute law of nature. We can shift the cultural center of gravity toward community, creativity and consciousness. Indeed, that is the task at hand.

Begin with consciousness. That is why meditation is important – so that we may have minds clear enough to see, feel, hear our situation without judgment.

Consciousness naturally promotes creativity. Being creative is a joy in itself. It’s true that we are “made in the image of the Creator”. And, the Creator creates. We, too, can create; that means each and every one of us; not only the experts or entertainers on stage.

Creativity naturally promotes community. That is to share our creations. Like children who want to share their dances, paintings with parents and friends.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Mystical woodland walks

Sometimes I find life kind of overwhelming. On those days, I really like to go to the woods. There’s a place I go to in Mill Valley, a walk that takes about 35 to 45 minutes that ends at a waterfall, and I delight in taking this walk. At the waterfall, I can smell the air of the forest, and sometimes the fresh air of the ocean not too far way, meeting at the same place. The process of walking here is like shedding layers of clothes, shedding the cares of life, and slipping, falling, surrendering to meditation, a sense of unity, where self and Universe become one, and I cannot know whether the Universe creates me, or I create the Universe. It is just so, it is just this. And in having this experience, this meditation, I feel revived, cleansed, new.

In truth, I can often have the same experience in my own room, a place that’s quiet, and just let myself settle down, settle down and fall into that state of being present, fully in the moment at hand. So a mystical woodland walk can happen anywhere, even in one’s apartment, or home, or perhaps in some quiet room in a coffeehouse.

The above text is based on an audio snapshot recorded with a Sony microcassete recorder, passed the audio to my computer, edited it, and converted to mp3. The sound is poor, but you can hear the waterfall in the background. It's raw and real - in the spirit of being in the woods.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Timekept timekeepers

I journeyed to London,
to the timekept City

--from "The Rock"
T. S. Eliot

I once read a novel where the main character got so frustrated with time that he tore out the hands of a clock. But the clock kept ticking anyway! Shortly after graduating from college, I developed the habit of being late for work. Even during college I was often late for classes. I would constantly look at my watch and race against it to be "on time."

One day my wristwatch fell into the dish washing sink. It was not waterproof. Thereafter, I lived without a wristwatch. Soon I discovered that I did not need a wristwatch. Clocks were everywhere. Banks had signs flashing the current temperature and time. The radio announcers told the time on the hour. There were clocks in supermarkets, offices, and classrooms. Most people had wristwatches.

I stopped being late after my wristwatch drowned in dish washing waters. I discovered that I did not have to race the clock as I just adjusted down my expectations of what I could do in ten or fifteen minutes. I began to realize exactly what I could do between two events, I began to feel like I had more time. I used to look for “a spare 10 minutes” in my watch, and fill up that time with something rather than going to my appointment – naturally, I could not do all those things. I am a human being not a computer slicing nanoseconds. I became in touch with my natural time rather than just clock time.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Clock time and natural time

In the 1920's a French critic of modern civilization argued that toward the very "end", things would speed up. We would have more and more choices, more things to acquire, and more things to do. This, he wrote, would be the human condition just before the collapse of Modern Civilization -- a civilization based on an almost exclusive devotion to the demons of money and time. Our current lack of time is a symptom of cultural bankruptcy. We have more options than a human being can manage. We are supposed to be parents, good workers, sexy mates, and personally well developed in every way. There is just not enough time.

There is clock time and natural time -- these two kinds of time may or may not match. It's possible to be "on time" by the clock, yet early or late by natural time. We can never be "on time" by racing against the clock -- the clock will always win, if not by the numbers, by wearing us down and making us die young of high blood pressure. When we are on natural time, we are always "on time". We are not either waiting or rushing. We are always in the right place at the right time. Doctors used to advise that newborn babies be fed at regular intervals such as 9 a.m., 12 noon, 3 p.m., etc. This was one method of taking natural time away from our lives.

The art of living is that of harmonizing clock time with natural time. Clock time holds the modern world together. So we need to adjust our clocks to fit human needs, not human needs to fit the clock. Airlines need to run on schedule. But human beings should just "show up" and move on as they will. I never looked at bus schedules, but I used buses all the time. I just showed up and waited. If there were enough buses coming up, I did not particularly worry about when the next bus came. If I plan my days properly, I move through my appointments with time to spare.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Busy being born

He not busy being born
Is busy dying
- Bob Dylan*

*From his song, “It’s Alright Ma (I’m Only Bleeding)”.

Saturday, June 19, 2010


Audio comments on the nature of words:

A Vision

In forests, deserts, plains, mountains, and valleys – the ancient healers of soul, mind and body knew Grace, Power, Wisdom, and Love. They lived before civilization – directly with the sky, earth, sun, rain, fire, and seasons. Now few know the sky, instead looking at reports on the news, reading books, and other media. Few of us understand or live primal ways of life.

Agriculture brought cities; and the flowering of poetry, writing, politics, and the division of work into complex social arrangements. Some went back to the forest and deserts to connect with the elemental powers. The playful Krishna, the cool wise Buddha, the heartfelt Jesus, the long-lived Lao-Tzu, the messenger Mohammed – each one spent time in the wilderness away from civilization; plus, so many others now unknown to us. They returned to their communities speaking and teaching of the Way, the One God, and Enlightenment.

We quest for the stars and knowledge of atoms, forgetting the primal knowledge of Life and soul; and, recklessly ruling the earth and each other.

What did the ancient ones know and teach? Did they cut through all illusions and see truth behind the blinding power of ego? Can we weave these personalities, these archetypes, together into wholeness? Can we? Dare we not? This is the age of a new alliance between humans, all life, earth, cosmos and humble understanding of the All-in-all.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Political “Idiots”

"Our word 'idiot' comes from the Greek idiotes which was the term to describe someone who lived an entirely private existence and took no part in the public life of the city. Most of us today are idiots, then, inasmuch as we fail to exercise our political intelligence." – David Miller, Professor of Political Theory, Oxford University*

* David Miller. Political Philosophy: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford University Press, 2003. page 48.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Morning Dispatches

Everyday I walk down
to the local coffee house;
get a cup, sit by the window
facing the hills, before sunrise.
From my shirt pocket, I pull out a
couple of folded sheets
of loose paper, fountain pen,
and wait for a "dispatch" -
a “bead” of wisdom
to come out and flow
upon the sheet of paper.

For a long, long time
writing a book of wisdom.
Not quite like writing instructions
for fixing a leaky bathroom faucet.

Wisdom reflects the
immediacy of this moment.
It must always sound true –
thoughts, spoken and written
in a timeless present.

You can't just memorize wisdom;
you unpack wisdom
from the depths of your being
as if connected to all Being.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Space of silence

"Be still, and know that I am God!
Psalms 46:10

Meditation is like listening for Silence
Prayer is like talking to Silence
Contemplation attends to thoughts between Silence

Dance in the space of silence
Hear an eternal ocean within

Life’s like a dance of
Activity, prayer, and deep silence

Silence holds beginnings and insights;
With power beyond imagination

Monday, June 14, 2010

A humble start

I began elementary school with no knowledge of English. I never played with any other children until the first day of class! The world had many adults and one child – me. My first English word was “stupid” – the name the kids called me on the playground. No one on the playground spoke Portuguese. I hid in cupboards and lost weight from nervous distress. Eventually, I was placed in the equivalent of a retarded group of students. I’d go to bed praying to God to make me smart. A few years later I became the class “nerd” or “brain”. Intelligence or the sense of belonging to a group can’t be taken for granted. I now see that true intelligence is not in doing “class assignments” well, but in manging our own self-transformation toward “being all that we can be” – that is, to full actualize.

Saturday, June 12, 2010


To recall, to think
that all my life I've been
writing notes and journals.
I don't know if this is good
or bad - don't care.
It's what I do.
Everyone does something.
Everyone has a karma.
We are placed in a
context as we come into
this life. No choice
about it. No freedom it seems,
but, if conscious, if aware
freedom comes with training,
restraint; the ability to
wait and watch for
an opening to our
heart's desire comes.
Follow it. It's your calling.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Holy instant

With well tuned mind
Every moment is holy

We embrace this holy instant
drinking the wine of bliss

Even in fiery spells
Of sweet lust
or bitter rage

We can awaken
Through consciousness
To our own true nature.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

A Hopi Elder Speaks

During a recent "Wisdom Circle" telephone conference call, Marrianne read a wonderful quote from a Hopi elder -- directly off her refrigerator door. Later she found the text on several locations on the web (the follow being from :

"You have been telling the people that this is the Eleventh Hour, now you must go back and tell the people that this is the Hour. And there are things to be considered . . .

Where are you living?
What are you doing?
What are your relationships?
Are you in right relation?
Where is your water?
Know your garden.
It is time to speak your Truth.
Create your community.
Be good to each other.
And do not look outside yourself for the leader."

Then he clasped his hands together, smiled, and said, "This could be a good time!"

"There is a river flowing now very fast. It is so great and swift that there are those who will be afraid. They will try to hold on to the shore. They will feel they are torn apart and will suffer greatly.

"Know the river has its destination. The elders say we must let go of the shore, push off into the middle of the river, keep our eyes open, and our heads above water. And I say, see who is in there with you and celebrate. At this time in history, we are to take nothing personally, Least of all ourselves. For the moment that we do, our spiritual growth and journey comes to a halt.

"The time for the lone wolf is over. Gather yourselves! Banish the word struggle from you attitude and your vocabulary. All that we do now must be done in a sacred manner and in celebration.

"We are the ones we've been waiting for."

-- attributed to an unnamed Hopi elder
Hopi Nation
Oraibi, Arizona

Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Community deficiency disorder

I met a man from Mexico who reported that in his small village people did not use antidepressant drugs. "We don't let anyone slip away into depression. We give our friends attention, play with them, talk with them, and make them feel loved. Soon, their depression lifts." We, on the other hand, live in a society that encourages isolation. This is what the consumer society is all about. We substitute services and products for real contact with people; as if products and services can replace real community. Highly rich technological consumer oriented societies suffer from community deficiency disorder. Can we take the cure?

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Quality of mercy

Justice tempered by mercy is the practical application of love in public life. All would do well to take to heart William Shakespeare’s the words of mercy within the Merchant of Venice, in the trial scene near the end when the judge, Portia, says,

The quality of mercy is not strain'd,
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath: it is twice blest;
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes:
'Tis mightiest in the mightiest: it becomes
The throned monarch better than his crown;
His sceptre shows the force of temporal power,
The attribute to awe and majesty,
Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings;
But mercy is above this sceptred sway;
It is enthroned in the hearts of kings,
It is an attribute to God himself;
And earthly power doth then show likest God's
When mercy seasons justice. Therefore, Jew,
Though justice be thy plea, consider this,
That, in the course of justice, none of us
Should see salvation: we do pray for mercy;
And that same prayer doth teach us all to render
The deeds of mercy. I have spoke thus much
To mitigate the justice of thy plea;
Which if thou follow, this strict court of Venice
Must needs give sentence 'gainst the merchant there.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

A mystic moment

Nothing to prove.
Standing just as human.
Living, spontaneously from center.
Listening for God's voice within.

And, what is "God"? Not a word.
It's reality, the sense of truth
opening to the unlimited.
Unspeakable, it is.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Invisible money

The poet shall not spend his time in unneeded work...
He shall go directly to the creation.
-- Walt Whitman*

I walked down to the local coffee house for a small cup; often paying with odd looking coins and bills. One morning, I paid with a Peet’s Card "charged up" with $21. The clerk poured me the coffee. When she saw the card she said it wasn't my usual funny money. I said, “It’s invisible money!” Almost all money is now invisible. For many years, I carried little pieces of jade and silver in my pocket; a habit picked up from my friend Glenn, who enjoyed buying small amounts of silver and old copper coins, as well as picking up deep green jade stones at the beaches near Gorda (south of Big Sur) in California. Jade, silver and gold make excellent money tokens. But no one uses them as money anymore.

The dematerialization of money started with paper money. Originally, paper money was "backed" by gold, silver or other tangible items. Later, we removed money's "backing" or base; effectively, debasing money. Most money is now intangible data configurations stored in computers. Paper? Why even use that? Plastic cards are better. Actually, "money" is even more intangible than the computer's memory banks; it's the meaning we give to these data configurations that defines money. Money has absolutely no physical basis at all, not even the electronic data. It's all mental. Money is based on customs of trust between us, banks, and governments. Inflation, deflation, and monetary collapses show us that money is mostly a state of mind. It's time to break the money mind spell; to go directly to the creation, and stop confusing symbols for reality.

*From "Preface", Leaves of Grass (1855).

Saturday, May 29, 2010

To let learn

Teaching is more difficult than learning because what teaching calls for is this: to let learn. The real teacher, in fact, lets nothing else be learned than -- learning. His conduct, therefore, often produces the impression that we properly learn nothing from him, if by "learning" we now suddenly understand merely the procurement of useful information. The teacher is ahead of his apprentices in this alone, that he has still far more to learn than they -- he has to learn to let them learn.
-- Martin Heidegger*

* What is Called Thinking? (Translated by J. Glenn Gray). One of my guiding concepts for teaching. Sometimes, I even share this "secret" with my students.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Our work

Our work, our labor, is to awaken to our true nature which was forgotten due to false identification with the content of consciousness. 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. **

* Famous phrase summarizing one of Alfred Korzybski’s great work on general semantics.
** Published in Meditation: Waking Up to Life by Americ Azevedo, Cognella Academic Publishing, 2010.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Between birth and death

Suzuki, in Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind, gives a wonderful metaphor for life, birth, and death – a waterfall. If you think of a river flowing downstream, it is all one river. When the river reaches the edge of a waterfall, it breaks up into billions of drops of water. The individual life is like one of those drops of water. Our friends and family are those drops of water around us, that fall with us. We see ourselves as separate, individual. Then, at the bottom of the waterfall, we become the river again.

Life happens between the top and the bottom of the waterfall. Birth is that moment we become separate, the span of a life is the time we fall as individual drops of water, death is the moment we merge back together. Unity before birth, separation during life, unity again at death.

* "Waterfall" (2003) - original audio version of this post. Another version published in my book, Meditation: Awaking Up to Life, Cognella Academic Publishing, 2010.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Becoming human; becoming divine

Humans have reflective consciousness. This allows us, once in a while, to have the experience of cosmic (non-dual) consciousness; to become divinely human.

Metaphorically speaking, we stand erect with our heads in the sky and our feet on the ground. (I’m not speaking of just the physical frame, but of the relationship with all-that-is. Someone lying down in bed is still human.) A human being holds all the levels needed to connect heaven and earth:

Consciousness – transcendental awareness
Awareness – reflective perception
Mind – simple mapping of environment (world)
Brain/body – neuro-somatic matrix; ground of experience

Mind and brain/body are the material aspect of humanness; while awareness and consciousness are the spiritual aspects of the human.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Intentional Living

If you have known how to compose your life,
you have accomplished a great deal more
than the man who knows how to compose a book…
You have done more than the man
who has taken cities and empires.

A life can be composed, can be intentional. Freedom or liberty implies an inner power to change thought patterns, leading to new words and actions, leading to new life at large. We dynamically walk the path of our life purpose – that means that we change and adjust as we walk along the way. Here are several steps that enhance intentional free living:

• Create an ideal vision of the way your life can be.
• Write and repeat affirmations (a firm, “to make firm”), prayers, or mantras that support you in getting to that ideal vision.
• Make plans to support the steps of realizing each one of these affirmations.
• Externalize/realize. Turn plans into actions (either internal or external).
• Keep observing, re-evaluating where you are. Make adjustments based on feedback from circumstances -- so that your inner power works to change and improve circumstances.**

Circumstances are given to us from the beginning of life; but, at every point we are also changing those circumstances.

* Quoted in The Practical Cogitator: The Thinker’s Anthology. Selected and edited by Charles Curtis, Jr. and Ferris Greenslet. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1962. page 85.
* * These steps based on suggestions from Mark Allan’s teachings.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Undivided wholeness

In the very early phases of the development of civilization, man's views were essentially of wholeness rather than of fragmentation. In the East (especially India) such views still survive, in the sense that philosophy and religion emphasize wholeness and imply the futility of analysis of the world into parts. Why, then, do we not drop our fragmentary Western approach and adopt these Eastern notions which include not only a self-world view that denies division and fragmentation but also techniques of meditation that lead the whole process of mental operation non-verbally to the sort of quiet state of orderly and smooth flow needed to end fragmentation both in the actual process of thought and in its content?

David Bohm*

To know the whole, we begin with fragments and end with a leap of faith to the oneness of all things. Our true work is to realize wholeness within the fragments of our own life. The whole is not a thing – just as the Self is not a thing. Realizing this, we realize all that is. In fact, we become whole; in becoming whole we realize the great human virtue of integrity.

Image: Three Spheres II, by M. C. Esher (lithography, 1946). First suggested to me from page 258 of Douglas Hofstadter’s Gödel, Escher, Bach. New York, Basic Books, 1979. Oddly enough, Hofstadter was using this image for the idea of Indra’s Net – a metaphor I had not imaged him using in all these years since reading the book.

* Wholeness and the Implicate Order by David Bohm.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Focus on one thing for a while

Focus on one thing for a while…
Just a little longer than usual

Watch your footsteps on a woodland walk
Sit, follow your in-breath and out-breath
Stand and look into the distance with a quiet mind
Feel the contact between your hands in prayer

When your mind goes elsewhere
Come back to the object of awareness

Moments of peace and stillness come of themselves
Without effort
Doing nothing, everything is done

At our root
We're not the endless thoughts and images
That stream through our minds

At our root
We're limitless beings of light, love, and peace

At our root
Pure consciousness

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Vessels have done their job

The vessels* have done their job.
Gone to the other shore.
Light & free, passing beyond, now.

I asked God for help in writing this book
God gave me a tip
“Get out of the way!”

Liberty is freedom, enlightenment, salvation, fulfillment, and union with all-that-is. Words for liberty keep coming and coming. But, it’s not about words; it’s about realization – about making, being real. I’m reminded of Jesus’ expression about being “born again” in spirit. It may seem like a sudden event, but there is gestation that many take most of a lifetime (of minor openings, grand openings, working on self, laughter, and dropping away of the ego). Who are we after our spiritual rebirth? Perhaps as Jesus suggests, we “become as children again”. In Zen Buddhism it’s said that we recover our “original face”; the face of a young child – open, free, and expressive of love at a moments notice. Our new condition is like pure light with a sense of the oneness of all-that-is. There is only this: this moment now. (+)

* "Vessels" are the containers for wisdom -- the traditions, the religions, and the schools. You get to a point, a place, where you just are wise and live in wisdom. It's spontaneous.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Make a distinction, a universe comes into being

... a universe comes into being when a space is severed or taken apart. The skin of a living organism cuts off an outside from an inside....

At this stage the universe cannot be distinguished from how we act upon it, and the world may seem like shifting sand beneath our feet.

G. Spencer-Brown*

* Laws of Form.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Only one job - data entry

Everywhere I go, everyone's work looks like data entry. Workers sitting or standing in front of electronic devices -- inputting or receiving symbolic data. Jobs progressively transforming into "information manipulation". Doctors, lawyers, plumbers, truckers, teachers, students, engineers, store clerks, factory workers, and children -- we're all exchanging text, voice, and graphic data on computer terminals. Someday every job will automatize ; on that day the remaining work will be either data reception or entry. Pay may differ, but the work will look much the same. Hopefully, I'll be wrong!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Take time, now, to return to center

Sometimes the "monkey mind" gets too busy. There are so many things we feel we have to do now -- as soon as possible. It's painful to "keep up while falling behind". At such moments there's an accelerating feeling (to get more done faster) but no sense of relief in sight. The mind darts around, with divided attention on far too many tasks. This is exactly a moment to pull back; and meditate, pray or contemplate. But something stops you from doing so! It's as if a little voice inside says, "I don't have time now. Wait until later when things get better." Don't listen to that voice. It's like a little child refusing to take a medicine because it does not taste good at first. The mind healing medicine happens to be meditation, prayer, or contemplation. The medicine tastes better after taking it. Go find a quiet place away from your tasks and be alone for ten to fifteen minutes. Settle down. Let go of thoughts as they come. Have faith that you are moving closer to your own quiet center -- that you will be more effective when you return to your activities. A short centering rest does wonders.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

As if flowing down a river

We can live as if flowing down a river. 
We could struggle to go faster or slower; 
toward the Sea of Being, 
toward the oneness-of-all-things. 
The Way is easy that goes 
along the river's current. 
Resistance adds pain 
beyond the required suffering. 
Surrender to the flow, 
going Home. 

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Opening to true love

Our beginning is already our end; and, our end is already our beginning. We came into this world with nothing, no-thing; and, we leave this world with nothing, no-thing. All we have is the limitless openness of consciousness. Even when enlightened, still the world goes on and on. We're within and outside the world; remaining self-realized, filled with compassion, love, and wisdom in daily life. To be free and enlightened is embracing life; it is living more abundantly. The greatest gift is providing space for insight, wisdom and clear action within everyday life. We return from self-discovery's journey, not because we have to, but because we love. Then begins an even greater journey. (+)

Monday, May 10, 2010

Going backward to go forward

Sometimes I feel so backward. You'll catch me saying phrases such as, "Better to not travel so within a small island-like'll shop less...use less fuel...Encourage your children not to go away for college...go to a local school...keeps the family more extended...less expenses as everyone ages". The list goes on! This goes against the grain of hyper-mobile civilization. Yet, it's where we must go: to build a more meaningful, connected localized global culture. Is that so backward? Is it not forward?

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Ask for wisdom

Young king Solomon asked God for wisdom, rather than wealth. God was impressed, so he made Solomon the wisest of kings; giving him wealth as well.

With wisdom there is more time for stillness and less time for needless thinking, chatter, and activity. Power and possessions mean nothing; and, usually bring more distress than we can imagine. Love may get us through the night; but, Wisdom gets us through the day.

My parents gave me a big red leather bound copy of the Bible. It had classic prints of old master paintings depicting scenes from memorable biblical passages. I looked at the prints trying to understand the meaning of the words in the Bible that I had yet understand at all. I just enjoyed holding these mysteries up to the mirror of the mind. The words of King Solomon in Ecclesiastes turned my eyes, mind, heart and soul toward wisdom.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Great sages, humble teachers

In Ancient China, Lao-Tzu, one of the greatest sages, said, “My mind is so foolish, so simple others look bright. I alone seem dim; others are certain…”* Meanwhile, in Ancient Greece, Socrates visits the Oracle of Delphi, where he asks, “Who’s the wisest man in Athens?” The Oracle responds, “You are!” Stunned, Socrates realized: “If I’m wise, it’s that I know that I don’t know, while others think they know what they don’t know!”

* Tao Te Ching, chapter 20.

Friday, May 07, 2010

Lampshade and light

Is the disturbing person next door nothing but an "idiot"? Is the boss only out to get us? Are those homeless people merely the untouchables of society? Do we pay attention mostly to clothes and possessions? If so, we're looking at "lampshades". We could instead "see the light and not just the lampshade."* The light in others is also the light within us -- a spark of Consciousness. The Golden Rule found in all great religious traditions becomes totally self-evident. At the core, everyone else is like us. What a marvelous sight to behold! Seeing the light in others spontaneously gives others permission to be all that they can be -- freed from our lampshade-like judgments.

* I've heard this attributed to the Jerry Jampolsky's Attitudinal Healing center.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Arrive where we started

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.

T. S. Eliot
Little Gidding
Four Quartets

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

True wealth

We 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. Life, love, and this present moment is true wealth.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Two birds

Two Birds with fair wings, knit with bonds of friendship,
in the same sheltering tree have found a refuge.
One of the twain eats the sweet Fig tree’s fruitage;
the other eating not, regardeth only.

The Rig Veda[1]

[1] Book I, Hymn CLXIV, Verse 20 from Sacred Writings, Hinduism: The Rig Veda. Translated by Ralph T. H. Griffith. Book-of-the-Month Club, New York, 1992.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

Two lives

We have "two lives" - a temporal life and eternal life. Temporal life comes and goes with birth, growth, decay, and death. Eternal life was, is, and always will be. This seems impossible. It is, however, an insight that grows from years of meditation practice; and, the study of ancient teachings such as the forest hermits in the Himalayas who delved into the ground of consciousness. Our bodies "plug into" the universal eternal absolute consciousness. From Absolute Consciousness we came and to Absolute Consciousness we return. Eternal life is already given. That's the good news.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Joy of art

Children naturally do art. Put paper and drawing materials in front of them and they start drawing with complete abandon. For a whole summer I met with a group of friends at a community cafe to support it from going out of business. Our group did art together. We had so much fun. People passing by saw us with our art supplies and colorful drawings. More customers came in! Now-a-days, the cafe is doing well. But equally important was the wonderful experience of drawing together -- talking freely about our lives while we drew all kinds of images in a rainbow of colors.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

God had to make "not-God"

I hear from Jewish and Islamic perspectives that God is infinite and has to create; even create his negation – the not-God – the realm of illusions or appearances which we know so well. Seyyed Hossein Nasr said it so well when he wrote: "Since the One God is Infinite and Absolute as well as the Infinitely Good, He could not but create. His infinitude implies that He contains within Himself all possibilities, including that of negating Himself, and this possibility had to be realized in the form of creation. Moreover, as St. Augustine also stated, it is in the nature of the good to give of itself, and the Infinitely-Good could not but radiate the reality that constitutes the world and, in fact, all the worlds."*

*The Heart of Islam. HarperSanFrancisco, 2002. page 9.

Monday, April 26, 2010

What's the meaning of life?

As years fly by, an old question returns: “What is the meaning of life?” Many people laugh this question off. I dropped asking that question long ago because some friends responded with, “The meaning of life is in the living of life itself.” That seemed good enough. But, lately, I see and hear a hunger for meaning. I find it among college students, I find it in groups of older people and the very young. It’s not meaningless to ask “What's the meaning of Life”. Asking this "question of questions" may be more powerful and meaningful than any answer. The act of grappling with this great and unanswerable question often yields a deep sense of wordless meaning. We are divine exactly because we can ask this question. Our polite societies dismiss the question of meaning as impractical. Better to go out and shop, watch the Super Bowl; maybe shopping and games are the meaning of life. The impractical, however, can be exquisitely meaningful. Even if it's free.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Far is near; near is far

I've seen families sitting at dinner with both parents and three children all looking at their separate computers and smartphones -- communicating with employers and friends somewhere else. They're together but far away. Mealtime was a sacred moment; a time together to report on a long day. But here, I say: Love is fractured. I walk across the campus. So many students now on their media players listening to class lectures. Meanwhile lecture halls are often less than half full; instead we're walking past each other; minds away within the media player lecture replays. (I can't blame them; so many lectures and readings; too little time.) Or, are they listening to music? We don't know. We pass by so close, while far away. Lecture halls may be boring, but we did experience all our classmates together. Now, it's only on the final exam day that everyone is together. Not much fun! Our relationship "bandwidth" is diminishing. The people around us get less attention; because our attention is scattered throughout millions of cyber-sphere nodes (the internet, phone lines, and old fashioned television and radio. Where will it all go?

Monday, April 19, 2010

Business and wisdom

Today business is the greatest power on earth. The churches and temples are small compared to the world's office towers. Business ethics is now reduced to mere survival tactics. Too many business leaders never stop accumulating wealth and power -- without any hope of true satisfaction or happiness. There's an addiction to constant accumulation for its own sake. This corrupts free markets, governments, media, culture and the human soul. The Halls of Congress are filled with hungry business representatives from corporate boardrooms. Can anything be done? I say "settle down" and meditate. Businesspeople at all levels need to spend time looking within -- to see who they really are. This does more than all the ethics rules and government regulations people come up with. With clear insights, true ethics is spontaneousness -- as we begin to see that we are not in survival, but actually have enough to look beyond self-interest. It's about love; saying "Yes!" to doing business as love and service.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Purpose of life

Does life (your life, my life) have a purpose? Yes. I think it's to live and overcome the illusions of darkness passing through our wobbly minds; getting past the thinking mind to truth itself. This seems impossible. So, we need faith. Not blind faith, but faith meaning firmness. Holding firm for truth until we actually behold truth freeing us from despair, illusion, and darkness. We get to truth and purpose by beholding and holding this present moment until all dissolves away except This-ness. Life's purpose is to realize This-ness; which once realized informs us of exactly what to be and do right now. Easy to say; but often takes a lifetime to realize. That's the adventure. Living in the adventure is already life's purpose.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Spirit of life

God shaped a clay pile into a human form; still something was missing. He had to breathe Life into that clay human; than it became a living man. For the ancients breath is the spirit of life. We "inspire", breathe in; and, "expire", breath out. No spirit, no life. Can there be life without clay, without a body? I think so, if we refer to Life with a capital "L" -- meaning pure timeless (always "was, is, will be") Spirit. If life is "nothing but" organic compounds we would be without consciousness, without comprehension of the organic dimension. I can hardly speak or write of such matters; these are only hints, impressions, inklings of the unspeakable. That's Life.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Philosophy and wisdom

School taught me that the word "philosophy" means "the love of wisdom". I loved the ideas and intellectual arguments of the great philosophers such as Russell, Hume, and Heidegger. As I progressed into graduate school it became clear that most of what is called philosophy is word play seeking more clarity through words. In a deeper search for wisdom I looked into the world's spiritual traditions. But, again, that was mostly words, symbol, and ritual. To cultivate wisdom I had to open myself to deep ways of knowing that go beyond words -- to go explore the being that lives within and around directly. The words, actions and attitudes of a wise person are indescribable. How could wordy philosophers understand? If only they could quiet down we'd have better philosophy.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Great ideas run the world

Great ideas go unnoticed like air; yet, they inform (give form) to our human world. Sometimes we give these ideas names such as: God, truth, integrity, time, money, love, justice for all, freedom, progress and nonviolence. This list is not set in stone. I just made it up! The point is - that we stop and pay attention to what drives our lives by contemplating these great ideas. These ideas, despite their importance, go mostly unexamined in our daily lives; if we examine them, dialogue about them, we enrich our lives with a certain kind of "food for the soul". Ask your friends and co-workers "what are the great ideas?" and engage. Make up your own lists. Your life will be enriched.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Desire is prayer

Prayers are desires* unspoken from deep within. Religion is not required. We are praying all the time. Mostly it's ineffective because we're not allowing prayer to be transformed by That which we are praying to. What is That? My definition of prayer is broad enough to include agnostics and atheists. If prayer is desire coming from deep within (even before materializing into words), it will be ineffective if inclined to be "my" desire. True prayer can't just be about me, it's a relationship with That -- That being the truth which is all around and within us. Our prayer (and the desire) will be transformed by deep inner dialogue with the wider reality beyond myself; otherwise we'll be frustrated by "unanswered" prayers. All prayers will be answered if we allow truth to transform our prayers, our desires.

*This is idea found in Mary Baker Eddy's Science & Health, page 1: "Desire is prayer; no loss can occur from trusting God with our desires, that they may be moulded and exalted before they take words..." In the current essay, I am extending it beyond the religious context.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Just before the rain

Sitting here looking out the window. The cloudy sky darkens. Sensing, with my own body, the air pressure dropping. We are in nature and nature is in us. Sky darkens; my own feelings darken. Tension builds up, can't wait for the rain to start. Gusts of wind, windows rattle! First rain drops. More rain. Yes. Relief at last. Maybe a day inside, happy to be warm and dry. It's already mid-April. So much rain since November. The impending drought is over. Everything so green; grass covers sidewalk edges. Birds singing everywhere. Gratitude abounds.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Human, subhuman, and transhuman

German Nazi society classified Jews as "subhumans". Jews could then be killed and confined without feeling that crimes against humanity where being committed. There is now an emerging "transhumanist" dream of becoming greater than human: living for hundreds or thousands of years, attaining superhuman powers, having a youthful healthy body for a hundred years, greater intelligence, and much more. It's becoming possible with the technological enhancement of the human body. If civilization continues on this path, in a hundred years the human species may split off a new species; recognized as no longer human, just as we say that chimpanzees are sub-human or non-human. Would that new species respect us, the remaining humans? Would we be "sub-transhumans"? Would they despise, kill or enslave us? Or, will there be many sub-species of transhumans specialized to different tasks? The future is not ours, except in dreams to go toward or avoid.

Friday, April 09, 2010

Discipline is power

Many people believe discipline is stiff, difficult and constraining. That's not true. Discipline can bring great freedom. Through discipline's door we become master's of ourselves. We discover a greater power to change self and world. Practice little acts of discipline everyday. I'm now practicing the discipline of writing one paragraph a day & posting it to my philosopher-at-large blog. I get up in the early morning, write a rough draft; look at it later and fix it up. Then I send it to my blog. Each time I do this. It gets easier. It has and does take discipline to keep doing this. In my mind, I want to do this for a year. Life may throw many distracting situations along the way. This effort, maintained over a year will have a positive spillover affect on the rest of life. The specific outcomes matter less than the "incomes" to self-mastery.

Thursday, April 08, 2010


In the early morning email a student activist wrote: "... budget cuts are affecting the lowest-paid workers on campus. We've all noticed how there's more trash due to the lay off of custodians. But many of our students don't realize that these were already low-paid workers living pay-check to pay-check. The remaining dining hall workers and custodians are also facing draconian pay-cuts of up to 20% in a 3-month period. This will force many workers to choose between paying rent and bills or feeding their children. Laid-off workers are now facing eviction if they can't find another job.The amount of money saved by cutting the lowest-paid workers is less than 7$ million statewide. The Regents just approved 9 million in bonuses for executives, clearly showing the Regents' priorities."

I would not be surprised if this is true. Those who control budgets (in schools, corporations, etc.) naturally feel an entitlement to high salaries. This attitude is morally wrong. And, is causing much more harm than good by slowly ripping apart the fabric of society. Where's the ethical value high ground now? Goodness and fairness needs to return not by force but by cultivation of empathy for the poorest members of society. The richer well off people will be happier.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Confessions of an autodidact

I'm an autodidact - someone who is self taught. Yes, I have university degrees; but, always I loved learning what I'm attracted to at any one moment. And I love all knowledge. There's no school that will give me a degree in universal knowledge. Most of the music, poetry, philosophy, science, art, technology, business, and more -- have all been learned by rambling reading, asking questions of others, and self-paced practice. I jump from book to article to Wikipedia as the mind seeks to fill in details on a subject. What I am passionate about, I learn with no effort. What's most fun is to follow chains of association between topics, issues, and fields of study. All is really one and interconnected. Children learn best when they play. If you're not having fun you're not learning.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Art is play

Art is play; it's to delight in conscious existence as its own reward. Children naturally create; it's us serious adults who stop them from making chaotic playful artistic messes. We want them to make drawings and songs with purpose. To constrain consciousness into predefined packages. This, of course, is needed by the laws of civilization - the rules of the road. Yet, we need to appreciate the power of daily spontaneous song. The money making media have co-oped the art of song, of images, of poetry. Take it back. Play again. Sing a song today; a song never sung before. Write freely as if no English teacher is going to correct you. Make a new dance. Breathe free. Be gentle. Be love. We only have this life. Face life. Live it.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

At one with now-ness

I return again and again to the thought of "now-ness". This is a thought, however. There's a deeper step: to drop into the meaning of "now-ness". Can we do that? What's it like? Does one return from now-ness to non-now-ness?

I become at one with now - right now. Staying in now for a while. Forgetting time; no time. Coming back to not-so-much-now. Here I am. Time runs again. This is a dance, a movement between time and eternity.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Nonviolent Communication - Marshall Rosenberg

Marshall Rosenberg created Nonviolent Communication and is Founder and Director of Educational Services for the Center for Nonviolent Communication,
Nonviolent Communication Skills
This approach to communication emphasizes compassion as the motivation for action rather than fear, guilt, shame, blame, coercion, threat or justification for punishment. It is about creating a quality of connection that gets everyone’s needs met through compassionate giving.

The process of NVC encourages us to focus on what we and others are observing separate from our interpretations and judgments, to connect our thoughts and feelings to underlying human needs/values (e.g. safety, support, love), and to be clear about what we would like towards meeting those needs. These skills give the ability to translate from a language of criticism, blame, and demand into a language of human needs -- a language of life that consciously connects us to the universal qualities “alive in us” that sustain and enrich our well being, and focuses our attention on what actions we could take to manifest these qualities.

Nonviolent Communication skills can help you receive critical and hostile messages without taking them personally, giving in, or losing self-esteem. These skills are useful with your own internal dialogues in interpersonal relationships and in communities of all sizes.

NVC offers practical, concrete skills for manifesting the purpose of creating connections of compassionate giving and receiving based in a consciousness of interdependence and power with others. These skills include:

  1. Differentiating observation from evaluation, being able to carefully observe what is happening free of evaluation, and to specify behaviors and conditions that are affecting us;
  2. Differentiating feeling from thinking, being able to identify and express internal feeling states in a way that does not imply judgment, criticism, or blame/punishment;
  3. Connecting with the universal human needs/values (e.g. sustenance, trust, understanding) in us that are being met or not met in relation to what is happening and how we are feeling; and
  4. Requesting what we would like in a way that clearly and specifically states what we do want (rather than what we don’t want), and that is truly a request and not a demand (i.e. attempting to motivate, however subtly, out of fear, guilt, shame, obligation, etc. rather than out of willingness and compassionate giving).

These skills emphasize personal responsibility for our actions and the choices we make when we respond to others, as well as how to contribute to relationships based in cooperation and collaboration. NVC fosters respect, attentiveness and empathy, and engenders a mutual desire to give from the heart. The form is simple, yet powerfully transformative and is founded on consciousness, language, communication skills, and use of power that enable us to remain human, even under trying conditions, .

10 Things We Can Do to Contribute to Internal, Interpersonal, and Organizational Peace

(1) Spend some time each day quietly reflecting on how we would like to relate to ourselves and others.

(2) Remember that all human beings have the same needs.

(3) Check our intention to see if we are as interested in others getting their needs met as our own.

(4) When asking someone to do something, check first to see if we are making a request or a demand.

(5) Instead of saying what we DON'T want someone to do, say what we DO want the person to do.

(6) Instead of saying what we want someone to BE, say what action we'd like the person to take that we hope will help the person be that way.

(7) Before agreeing or disagreeing with anyone's opinions, try to tune in to what the person is feeling and needing.

(8) Instead of saying "No," say what need of ours prevents us from saying "Yes."

(9) If we are feeling upset, think about what need of ours is not being met, and what we could do to meet it, instead of thinking about what's wrong with others or ourselves.

(10) Instead of praising someone who did something we like, express our gratitude by telling the person what need of ours that action met.

From the Center for Nonviolent Communication

Friday, March 05, 2010

Business Wisdom

Business wisdom is simply living life - here on earth - in the best possible way.

The nature of wisdom is to be all inclusive.

The nature of business is to provide for the essentials of survival - and even prosperity if conditions permit.

He that does good
to another does also
good to himself.
- Seneca

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Spring in early February

Between generous Winter rain and global warming - it's early Spring.

Be still and know That

These two passages from the Bible are a joy to contemplate. For me, they connect ancient Bible teachings with meditation practices. -AA

1 Kings 19:11-13 (New International Version)

11 The LORD said, "Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by."
Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. 12 After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. 13When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.
Then a voice said to him, "What are you doing here, Elijah?"

Psalm 46:10 (New International Version)

10 "Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth."

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs

I like this representation of Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs. Image from Tutor2U.

Wikipedia entry.

Friday, January 08, 2010

My New Book Released - "Meditation: Waking Up to Life"

Cognella Academic Publishing just released my new book: Meditation: Waking Up to Life.

Please go to their website for more details, including a preview of the first 30 pages at
Online orders are now open at that site.