Sunday, August 31, 2014

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Vision Actualization Process

The following is a ten step process for making your visions happen. I developed it with hundreds of students in my PACS 164A (Introduction to Nonviolence) class at the University of California, Berkeley. You can do it by yourself; however, it's more powerful if you do it with others. We had over 400 students go through this process. All kinds of wonderful projects emerged. Lives where changed. Thousands of people outside our classes (even in foreign countries) received the benefits of student visions for good turned into tangible actions in the world. 

Vision Actualization Process
Date: _______________
Name:  Last_________________ First_______________
A personal vision contributing a nonviolent sustainable good society.

Write down responses to the following steps. Read your responses. Rewrite as you become clearer on your project. Share with others what you are doing. Take feedback. Make adjustments if needed. Rewrite again. Act. Feedback. Adjust. Act again. Actualize.
Vision Title
A short descriptive title for your personal vision.

Detailed Vision Story
On a singe sheet of paper, describe your current vision. Keep in mind that it is perfectly okay to now have a different vision than the one you originally declared in class.

Mission Statement
A brief summary of what you are trying to accomplish.

Territory
The “landscape” of people, problems, and projects your vision is embedded within. Why is it needed? Who else is doing it? How can you do it better?

Limiting Beliefs, Re-framing, and Positive Self Affirmations 
Identify the limiting beliefs that slow down or stop you and re-frame them into affirmations supporting your vision.

Goals
List specific goals that must be met in order to attain your vision. (Could be one or several interdependent goals.) What resources do you need in terms of time, people, knowledge, money, and materials? What overall types of actions are required?

Planning
Provide specific steps and timelines for attaining each goal. 

Actualization
Let all of the above “hit the road”. Moving from thought to action. What actions did you already accomplish to actualize your vision? What actions are you undertaking at this time? What’s ahead on your "to do list" for today, tomorrow, next week, next month, next year, etc.?

Observations and Adjustments
Evaluate, reevaluate, and reevaluate again your ideas and/or process. What problems, complexities or issues are you running into? What modifications are, or have been, required of your plan?  Where are you now?

Any Other Comments.
For example, your personal experience with the vision project, your thoughts about doing this in the class context, or anything else.


Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Heaven On Earth

Even on a loud street - we can find "heaven on earth" 
in a still quiet place within ourselves.



Monday, August 25, 2014

Realizing True Wealth

(This article, written by Americ Azevedo, originally published in What is True Wealth & How Do We Create it? Edited by Verna Allee & Dinesh Chandra. Indigo Press, New Delhi, India. 2004. Pages 124-130. Note: Book was inspired by the His Holiness the Dalai Lama; an interview with him on true wealth is included.) 

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-at-large.   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 at large. 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 then the ancient ideal of enlightenment of all sentient beings. 
The Paradox of Wealth

We may have money but little time.  We may have time but no money.  We may have love but neither time nor money.  Coming to a point of balance between these factors is mastery of the art of living which is true wealth.

It’s been said, "He who dies with the most toys, wins!"  This is both true and not-true.  Some say, “money does not matter" -- but quietly and privately we fear poverty.  Fear of homelessness, hunger, and a drop in social status drives many to insane focus on money at any cost. If you are poor with a positive state of mind, you may still suffer a sense of emotion degradation just from the social stigma of poverty.  Such fears are well founded in societies that fail to attain true wealth, since the members of those societies know they can and do fall into poverty.  A world based on fear cannot be wealthy in any real sense.

Our possessions can own us.  Attach ourselves to our possessions and we immediately loose our sense of true wealth.  The very desire for possessions not yet owned breeds greed and lust.  We suffer endless rounds of grasping for the goods that will make us “happy and full”.  We get “more”, but immediately need to get “more” again.  There is no end in sight.

“Business as usual” means a life filled with urgency, running to keep up, and without time. “Oh! If only I had more money, I would do the work I love.”  Or, “If I had that big new house on the hill, people would respect and love me.  My wife would stay with me.”   Such conceptions of wealth are very childish. 

Many of the “richest” people in the world are always “hungry”.   Much shopping is for useless trinkets which act as displacements for lack of meaning and love in life.  Many a parent, for example, who has no time for talking with their children, will just buy toys.   Most people identify with the stuff that they own as an extension of their personal ego.  Consider automobiles and houses which function as symbols of wealth, but are also destructive to the natural capital of nature.  

True wealth goes beyond the concerns of the skin encapsulated ego.  True wealth includes the social, political, and transpersonal levels.  What about a friend or relative who needs help?  What about broader environmental concerns?   True wealth goes beyond the individual, and even national, egos.  What you spend your money on, changes, impacts society.  Buy an SUV because you like personal leg room, but consume the air and warm the environment for everyone else as well as yourself.
Time, Love, and Money
  
An old man asked me, “With what do you buy your money?”

I said, “With your life.”

He said,“Right!  I wish I had known that when I was young. I spent my life working for money instead of living.”

Time, love and money are the three legs of truth wealth’s stool. The time allotted to your life is utterly fundamental; a finite constantly depleting resource.  Have you loved enough?  Have you made money, invested money, and spent money in a way that sustains life on this earth for seven generations to come?  Most don’t think we have time for these questions.  We can be occupied working for money that we buy cars, drive to places, buy food from thousands of miles away, thus depleting earth’s natural capital without noticing it. 

Many people will say that they are making good money, but have no sense of free time.  They hope that someday in the future they will have time for the things they really enjoy like family and nature.  Often that day never comes.  I once worked at the headquarters of Standard Oil.  My life had become the company. When I went home, my mind was preoccupied with Standard Oil.  One day I awoke to realize that I worked in an environment that was loveless.  I had money, but love and time where in short supply.

What is money?  It’s a symbol for value, it is information; it is abstract.  Humans are driven by symbols to go to war and fight for abstract causes.  Money, being utterly abstract, is often valued more for itself than for what it actually buys – it is the ultimate “field of dreams”.  Individuals and societies measure self-worth by financial net-worth, but this devalues the deeper qualities of awareness and soul that are the true source of all value.
 
Walking by a beautiful garden filled with iris flowers, someone might think: “I don’t own it, how unfortunate!”  So they miss the simple of joy of the experience.  You don’t need to own things in order to enjoy them. To really “have” something we must be present to it. Taking time to appreciate the existence of an object, a friend, or a place is really having that object before us.    

Wealth is transpersonal because it is “beyond the personal”.   Everything that we do to accumulate wealth depends on past human efforts; as well as the Earth, the solar system, and the cosmos at large.  You are not your own source of supply.  Companies create private wealth by extracting resources from nature as if nature is "free" and unlimited.  Water, for example, was always free.  Industrial pollution turns water into another commodity with price barriers for the poor and helpless.  This situation creates transpersonal poverty. 
 
There can be a wealth of time.  Societies can make time for living, for singing, for family, for just sitting and watching.  This wealth is greater than the focus on consuming goods and working to pump up the "gross domestic product".

A man can become homeless and starve to death in a big city filled with apartments, hotels, and food.  It is not just lack of money that brings us to the homeless state.  Depression, lack of faith in life, lack of friends, and lack of family ties can bring one to this place.  Call it lack of love

We cannot be truly wealthy in such societies with extremes of poverty and riches. The expansive homes of the few wealthy are beautiful, but the society is really poor and ugly. So many become restless and debased is such a society.  I cannot relax in a mansion without security systems and insensitivity to the disparity around me. Just like the Buddhists who say they cannot become enlightened until everyone is enlightened, you and I cannot be truly wealthy until all are “wealthy”.  Clearly, a new meaning of wealth needs to emerge for the culture at large. 
Balanced Wealth Portfolio

An investor will diversify her assets into different categories of assets so as to balance out risk with the changing tides of market fortunes.  The seeker of true wealth balances the assets of time, love and money across the dimensions of personal, interpersonal and transpersonal – thus optimizing abundant life for themselves, neighbors, future generations, and Earth.

A balanced wealth portfolio can be attained by disciplining the ego and personal pride.  This spiritual practice has ramifications for self, society, and life on earth.  Portfolios are lists of assets by categories.  We could begin by playing with lists of “assets”.  One simple list of categories for grouping our assets would look like this:

1.     Personal-money
2.     Personal-time
3.     Personal-love
4.     Interpersonal-money
5.     Interpersonal-time
6.     Interpersonal-love
7.     Transpersonal-money
8.     Transpersonal-time
9.     Transpersonal-love

These categories are not absolute; they are starting points to help us on the road to true wealth realization.  Make up your own categories and lists.  Begin from where you are, and expand to include larger dimensions of wealth.    

True Wealth Realization Practice

Wealth is usually defined by external measures: affluence, millionaire money levels, ownership and control of companies, and influence over people. Look deeper; and, there is the feeling of being wealthy or poor more or less independent of external wealth measures.  Work with that feeling so as to become more independent of the strictly personal illusions of money-wealth and poverty.

Remember who you really are.  This means giving yourself the time to contact your own ultimate wealth:  the soul.  Your own soul is your own ultimate wealth.  As you begin to be wealthy in yourself, you will be able to extend your sense of wealth to include others and reality at large.  Every soul is the same soul – only covered by different personality, history and circumstances.  I could have been any one of the other people that I see everyday.   

To awaken to this very moment is truth wealth.  This moment is in truth all we really have and own.  Everything else is just on loan; we must give it all back in the end.  




Sunday, August 24, 2014

Green Manufacturing Blog

I highly recommend following the
It is produced by David Dornfeld, head of the Mechanical Engineering Department and Laboratory for Manufacturing and Sustainability at the University of California, Berkeley. This subject is most important as we head into a world of global climate change. Here's the blog's summary description:

Commentary, information and resources related to green manufacturing, sustainable manufacturing and sustainability in the US and abroad. Based on information from a variety of sources (web to print) and including technical information from researchers in the field as well as researchers at the University of California in the Laboratory for Manufacturing and Sustainability (LMAS - lmas.berkeley.edu). 

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Today. Today. Today.

Today. Today. Today.
What is today?
A passing moment in "our" universe.
A travelling point in space-time
wrapped up with our
individual lives
always moving on to
a future. Hello today!
I am here now. 

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Imagine Healing Now

Imagination 
sometimes makes us ill;
sometimes makes us well.

Image & message: Bella Bleue Healing

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Creation


The physicist, unmaking mind and life
explaining creatures as kinds of light
To undo the work of the Creation,
returning from the 6th to the 1st Day!

               “To Undo the Work of the Creation…”
                             Paul Goodman[1]


When did it begin? Anyone of us around for that event? Was it the sound of “aum” as suggested in the ancient Upanishads?  Physicists and cosmetologists project backwards using mathematical time travel. They say we can tune into the sound of the cosmic creation event, the Big Bang. You can “hear” that creation sound on your radio or television as the static on channels with no active broadcast stations – it’s a small percentage of that static! The shock waves of creation are still with us.

“Universe” = “uni” + “verse” suggesting “One song”. The universe sings one song. Listen, listen, and listen. The song is love.

Creation is not over. New varieties of animal and plant species are still arriving. Old mountains falling. Creation is a big long winded event. Now is the moment of creation. “Undo the work of Creation” – come into presence where you are. It begins here and now. Again and again. Now create. “Let there be….” Just fill in the blanks.
  
A listener of my audio recordings[2] listeners wrote:

your words always give me hope
that there is someone on the same frequency out there.
the frequency of the universe.

A beautiful idea: that we can tune ourselves to the frequency of the universe! What could that frequency be? Perhaps the ringing echoes of the Big Bang creation event. Maybe the sound of Aum (om) as suggested in the Upanishads. Or, is it the frequency of truth - which only a quiet soul can hear?

Monday, August 18, 2014

Root of the Golden Rule

"The world's religions are rooted in experiences of cosmic consciousness. Often these experiences came after long periods of isolation and fasting. By looking at this common root, we can come to greater understanding of the unity within the diversity of religions."
Americ Azevedo - Voice & Thoughts 
Josh Williams  - drum programming, sounds, electric guitars, synths

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Learning and Unlearning

"If you are not having fun, you are not learning." That was my motto when teaching database theory and administration. One day a student surprised me. He was quoting back me my own motto!

Meditation is one of the best ways to unlearn, to break out of old habits, to let go of the past and be more present to what is here now.

Humans are born learners – in youth often experiencing a certain ecstasy in learning itself. To stay young keep learning something new. Open up a different kind of magazine. Keep changing the environment that you're looking at so that your mind works at mastering new vistas. You're old when you can't be bothered to learn new things. A long time ago my first child told me, “When you stop learning you die.” I think he was eight or seven years old at the time.

Learn to unlearn. Question authority as it presents itself in books, all the media, and interpersonal relationships. Learning to unlearn is one of the greatest attainments in our lives; unlearning opens up space for new knowledge, skills, and insights. 

Saturday, August 16, 2014

New American OccuPie 1

Clyde Leland's brilliant musical social political commentary inspired by the original Occupy Movement. Clyde's "New American OccupPie 1" transcends the Occupy Movement, deserving a place within mainstream social-political-entertainment culture. This is music and song for sparking dialogue among friends and critics.

Friday, August 15, 2014

Consciousness

Consciousness is obvious, mysterious, unthinkable, and infinitely deep.  Scientists and philosophers often write convoluted exhausting boring explanations of consciousness; but that is not consciousness.

Consciousness' luminous reality is to be intuited directly and effortlessly. Consider the Dzogchen[1] teachings. Tsoknyi Rinpoche sums it up brilliantly: “Let the display of thoughts, emotions, and perceptions unfold naturally and without clinging, like clouds passing through an open sky.”[2] Consciousness is like the sky – open to everything passing through it but ultimately unaffected. Like a mirror – it reflects everything that passes by while staying clear and empty.

We live mostly in separation consciousness; feeling-thinking "this or that" in a world of distinct, somewhat unrelated objects. Me and you. Us and them. Light and dark - and shades in-between.
  
The universe is infused with consciousness. But it is unfocused and not self-aware. Life becomes progressively more intelligent until it become self-aware, self-conscious. Feeding back on itself. Learning from its own successes and mistakes.

Unitive, union, or cosmic consciousness is a state of alive luminous oneness. This state is more likely to persist while discursive dualistic thought is suspended.

At one extreme it a bath of bliss. And, we care little for the “details” of maintaining the body.

In a more ordinary functional life, we feel love and unity with others while still aware of separate persons and objects.




[2] “Dzogchen: The Sky of Wisdom”, Shambhala Sun, July 2014, page 60.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Presencing

Engaged in endless desires 
mind darting place to place
forgetful of true deep nature
looking for jewels of enjoyment
within illusions and flickering desires
water passing through our fingers 

Living is showing up for our own lives. No one else can do it for you! Where would you “be” if you don’t know you’re here?  “Presencing[1]” is the process of coming to full presence. Real presence is quiet and still.

An old friend asked, "What happens after you die?" Without thought, I said, "Nothing". They looked stunned.  Either way it is nothing. If you really don't die – nothing changed. You die – nothing changed. Consider this deeply.

It is not so much about being alive or dead; it’s being awake to this moment that is life. The intensity of wakefulness is how alive you are. Good sleep, paradoxically, is a sound basis for stable wakefulness. Waking up requires going to sleep. Remember to exercise, eat good food and keep good company. Attend to the general environment all around – the air, the ambient sounds, the tone of the times, and so forth. That means to adjust your distance closer or further away as needed.  Enhance your inner resolve to be alive, to be awake.

Modern civilization’s great “dis-ease” is intentional distraction. Our everyday world is built on distractions. Technology, new products, advertising, sales people – all of them want our attention – their livelihoods depend on your attention

Your real livelihood is your real life which depends on bringing your attention back to the present here and now. Every morning, our place on earth turns toward our local star – the sun. And, we, over and over, need to turn toward the life experienced – this very present, ever present moment here and now. This is active intention called “presencing”. 

Feel with the whole being, be present to the rich textures of body, mind, and heart! Face life. Live life. Live today.





[1] The word “presencing” was introduced to me by Frederika Kreitzer, who was a graduating Philosophy student at UC Berkeley. Thereby turning the noun (present), into a process, a verb (presencing).

Monday, August 11, 2014

Desiderata


Desiderata

Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.

As far as possible without surrender be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even the dull and ignorant; they too have their story. Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit. If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time. Exercise caution in your business affairs; for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals; and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be critical about love; for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness. Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself.

You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life keep peace with your soul. With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. Be careful. Strive to be happy.

© Max Ehrmann 1927

Friday, August 01, 2014

Miracle

Image found by looking up "Life" on Google.

Image from http://www.cfcmiddleeast.org/?p=3736