Monday, November 13, 2017

Time Monster


In the end, we get swallowed up by the time monster. Easy to think that time is not real. Time is personified by clocks, chimes, bell towers, time stamps, a side bar on computer screens, and much more. The price of life is time. But beyond time is eternity. People in jail are said to be "serving time". The events and stages between conception and death are the "story of our lives". Stories happen in time, like movies and novels. Life implies death; death implies life.

Thursday, November 09, 2017

Stillness

Stillness
Coming into Stillness is the fruit of many long years practicing coming to the present moment. How shall we do this? The best way is to stop anywhere you can for a few moments. This could be just out your door, living room, kitchen, on a walk in the woods, etc. Just stop. Wait. Listen for a moment of stillness-silence in your mind. Usually, you start noticing your breath. Or, perhaps, the white noise in your ears. Stay with the breath - following it in and out. If long enough, notice that the stillness may get deeper. If any or all of this happens - just be thankful. You have "stopped the world".



Monday, November 06, 2017

"Old" Map of the World


found at
peet's coffee vine and walnut

Sunday, November 05, 2017

Coming of Age

Coming toward old age is easy - it happens. Coming to terms with advancing old age is difficult. There are many unexpected changes in health, habits, and powers. Fortunately mother nature gives us time to anticipate and adjust. Difficult goodbyes coming upon one upon another with accelerating velocity. Become aware of the minuses and pluses of aging. 

Downside:
  • Stairs seem harder to climb.
  • Going to work becomes less attractive.
  • Days, months, and years fly faster.
  • Long time friends are getting sick and dying.
  • Feeling so thankful for each day of health.
  • Injuries take longer to heal.
Upside:
  • Cooling of passions brings new freedom from complexity.
  • Wisdom dawns.
  • Spiritual senses open to eternity.
  • Long friendships truly valued.

Friday, November 03, 2017

Retrospect - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle


Retrospect

There is a better thing, dear heart, 
    Than youthful flush or girlish grace. 
There is the faith that never fails, 
    The courage in the danger place, 
The duty seen, and duty done, 
    The heart that yearns for all in need, 
The lady soul which could not stoop 
    To selfish thought or lowly deed. 
All that we ever dreamed, dear wife, 
    Seems drab and common by the truth, 
The sweet sad mellow things of life 
    Are more than golden dreams of youth.

Monday, October 30, 2017

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

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Creation


Creation

Creation is the play of nothing, something, the possible, and the impossible. Within a field of nothing a universe is born - expanding outward in all directions. Many theories exist about this. Some theorists suggest that there may be multiple universes (but detecting such a possibility going to be hard). What’s something? A thing, an object Things could be tangible or intangible.

Every moment and place is filled with infinite possibilities. Out of nothing (unless God is assumed) a universe began to expand.


Thursday, October 19, 2017

The Unknown

Living knowing
that we are in the unknown
opens us up to the spacious sense of existence.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Enlightenment and Practice


When you are
enlightened the
days of practice
are over. You realize
that you are the light,
just like a young
child again

Monday, October 16, 2017

Buckminster Fuller ~ The Final Message




Earthstar Radio production soundtrack, recorded just weeks before Buckminster Fuller passed away on July 1st, 1983 at the age of 87. In his last days he was focused on integrity. I had the honor of doing the interview in a sound studio for nearly an hour. It was a difficult task. Co-producer, Sherri Morgan, condensed the recorded interview into what felt like the essence of his final message. Buckminster Fuller was one of the most inventive and socially aware engineers of the 20th century. For him "doing more with less" was a human value as well as engineering value. He warned us that we need to do more with less so that "spaceship" could sustain all of us in a high standard of living without the need for war.

Permission granted by the co-producers of Earthstar Radio. This program aired on National Public Radio shortly after Fuller passed away. I don't know the exact date. It was a long time ago. Sound quality is poor - this audio recorded off of an old audio tape in my files. I had lost track of it for many years. Image: Photoshop 5.5 Artistry by Barry Haynes and Wendy Crumpler, New Riders Publishing.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Climate Change Is Real


Climate change is real. The severe weather this October in Northen California and around the world is a sign. Irresponsible leaders must get out of the way. Reality, not politics and special interests, is required now. It's not just the cars we buy. Travel less and less. Become truly localized in our living patterns. Consume less. Enjoy life with friends and simple pleasures.  


Image result for storms images

Saturday, October 07, 2017

Consciousness and human unity

For decades, I've shared the dream of human unity with my friend Eugene Haggerty who traveled the world signing up public leaders and common folk to the reality of our true human unity beyond all differences. It's imperative that fundamental human unity becomes a universal cultural and personal norm. It's the positive constructive nonviolent bases for optimum life survival and flourishing on earth. How can this happen? Turn your attention back on your own consciousness; you will eventually realize that everyone else's consciousness is like yours. States of mind, states of life all differ; yet, we share a common field of consciousness. This is "seeing the lamp and not the lampshade." In fact, you and I participate in the same human reality even though we have different bodies and circumstances. This is the essence of the golden rules expounded by all the world's great traditions.

Sunday, October 01, 2017

Life More Abundant


Many years ago, my spiritual teacher suggested that “all power is in the present moment”. This was, perhaps, the greatest teaching I ever received. By living deeply in this present moment, we sense our bodies here and now - which is the only place to feel the body. Not just our bodies but also our minds. Anything else is mere living in a dream state; exactly where most of us waste our lives. By feeling our feet on the ground, we become truly grounded. Just sensing our bodies laying down - allows us to be grounded in this moment and place. This morning I was putting away the dishes, when suddenly the memory of receiving this “all power is in the present moment teaching” came back. Suddenly I felt my feet on the ground. I became stronger - “more here”. Indeed, life more abundant.

Friday, September 29, 2017

Glenn Matson Meditating



1934-2017
Glenn was my friend for forty years.

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Tilopa's Mahamudra Teaching to Naropa


Gazing intently into the empty sky, vision ceases; 
Likewise, when mind gazes into mind itself, 
The train of discursive and conceptual thought ends 
And supreme enlightenment is gained. 

Like the morning mist that dissolves into thin air, 
Going nowhere but ceasing to be, 
Waves of conceptualization, all the mind's creation, dissolve, 
When you behold your mind's true nature. 

Pure space has neither colour nor shape 
And it cannot be stained either black or white; 
So also, mind's essence is beyond both colour and shape 
And it cannot be sullied by black or white deeds. 







Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Unending Love - by Rabindranath Tagore


Unending Love - by Rabindranath Tagore


I seem to have loved you in numberless forms, numberless times…
In life after life, in age after age, forever.
My spellbound heart has made and remade the necklace of songs,
That you take as a gift, wear round your neck in your many forms,
In life after life, in age after age, forever.

Whenever I hear old chronicles of love, its age-old pain,
Its ancient tale of being apart or together.
As I stare on and on into the past, in the end you emerge,
Clad in the light of a pole-star piercing the darkness of time:
You become an image of what is remembered forever.

You and I have floated here on the stream that brings from the fount.
At the heart of time, love of one for another.
We have played along side millions of lovers, shared in the same
Shy sweetness of meeting, the same distressful tears of farewell-
Old love but in shapes that renew and renew forever.

Today it is heaped at your feet, it has found its end in you
The love of all man’s days both past and forever:
Universal joy, universal sorrow, universal life.
The memories of all loves merging with this one love of ours –
And the songs of every poet past and forever.
© by owner. provided at no charge for educational purposes

Monday, September 25, 2017

Memories of a Sierra Nevada Summer

the winter cold wanes
bits of orange flame spray through slush
Indian Paintbrush

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Be In Wonder


be in wonder
like a child again
embrace life

Friday, September 22, 2017

Universe Speaking


The Universe is always
speaking to us
from the scintillating stars
to the heartbeat
in our chests. 

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Salutation of the Dawn - Kalidasa 2500 BC


Salutation of the Dawn

Look to this day!
For it is life, the very life of life,
In its brief course
Lie all the verities and realities of your existence:

The bliss of growth,
The glory of action,
The splendor of beauty,
For yesterday is but a dream
And tomorrow only a vision,
But today well lived makes every yesterday
a dream of happiness
And every tomorrow a vision of hope.

Look well, therefore, to this day!
Such is the salutation of the dawn.

~ Kalidasa (2500 BC Sanskrit)

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Water's Way

As a child, I watched water slowly dripping from a leaky faucet. Waiting between drops, wondering how much a single drop would swell before falling into the white porcelain abyss, crashing onto the brown rust stain formed by countless past drops, finally followed by a hollow drip sound within the sink pipe's chambers. Water became a life metaphor during my senior year high school "Great Books" course which included Lao Tzu's Tao Te Ching; on a hot lazy Spring afternoon I read these words from chapter 8:
That which is best is similar to water. Water profits ten thousand things and does not oppose them. It is always at rest in humble places that people dislike. Thus, it is close to Tao [the Way].
One day, I wanted to feel really rich. I decided on taking a hot bath; to soak my body and slow down the mind, finally feeling limp and relaxed all over. The water washed away my drive, my concerns, my worry, my thoughts. A gentle joyful bliss filled with simple appreciation overwhelmed me. An ocean in a bath tub. Water is so passive, so soft; it passes through the fingers. Yet, it can destroy mountains and cities. It's power is in its softness. Every dew drop mirrors the garden around it. We are like water, too; reflecting everything that is.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Technology and the meaning of life

The endless cycle of idea and action,
Endless invention, endless experiment,
Brings knowledge of motion, but not stillness;
Knowledge of speech, but not of silence;
Knowledge of words, and ignorance of the Word.

Where is the Life we have lost in living?
Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge?
Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?

-- T. S. Elliot
We uncouple technologies, such as computing and road building, from our deepest human values. The questions asked by T. S. Elliot become irrelevant as we refuse to acknowledge the human context.
Students at universities become mainly focused on "practical knowledge" that leads to high paid jobs. The values by which we guide our technological development and application become afterthoughts. We must wonder if technology now controls human life more than humans control technology.
Information technology is valued above wisdom. There is no "wisdom technology". It's easier to understand information technology then wisdom. A high school student can quickly grasp computer programming, but it takes almost an entire lifetime to mature to wisdom. People who think of themselves as wise because they have read some books are dangerous. Wisdom is lived, not mastered as procedures and facts that can be scored on an exam sheet.
Data and information are the "atomic" components of knowledge. These components don't make a lot of sense by themselves. Water is composed of molecules, which are in turn composed of atoms of hydrogen and oxygen. We could say that molecules are like information and atoms (a level further down) are like data. But such an understanding does not allow us to understand the "wetness" of water. Wetness is an emergent phenomenon that is experienced by sentient human beings. When we look at a friend, we just don't see atoms and molecules, we see a friend.
Meaning is the real food of human life. Our real task is to arrange education, family, society, moral training, technology and economic arrangements in way that allows meaningful human life to unfold for as many people as possible. Clearly, we have remarkable technologies. But do we have enough meaning?

Monday, September 18, 2017

For "God" to be God

Life and death animate deep feelings... Confront this complementary pair of opposites... You can't see life without death...  If you bring God into this picture there is only Life... For "God" to be God ... God becomes an eternal standing outside/inside our world of relative time... We can be rid of words such as "God"... but not being... presence... consciousness... And, yet, what do we know? 

Sunday, September 17, 2017

My Bambo Flute


My bambo flute
Moving Fall's air beyond a
Place and time

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Philosophy in My Life


In my last year at the University of California at Irvine, I switched majors from biology to philosophy. Friends asked me, "What good is philosophy?" What they really meant was, "Can you make any money at it?"

I knew people with lots of money, but little meaning in their lives. They seemed to be lost in games and pastimes. They worked without questioning the purpose or value of their work. I was interested in meaning, not money, but the people around me didn't share my feeling. Most of them believed that only money was real.

In my search for meaning, I first turned to the study of logic, mathematics, and science. In my teenage years I encountered logical positivism. Logical positivism was an early 20th Century school of philosophy that claimed all the grand questions of traditional philosophy were meaningless. Questions like "What is the meaning of life?" or "Is there a God?" were meaningless, logical positivists asserted, because the answers cannot be verified. But questions like "Does the moon have an opposite side?" are meaningful because we can construct tests to prove or disprove any answer. We can build a rocket to the moon. But how can we verify the meaning of life, or the existence of God? The logical positivists saw no true/false test for these matters.

Of course, just because we can't prove or disprove God's existence doesn't mean He doesn't exist! Logical positivism lost its hold on me while I was a graduate student at San Francisco State University in 1970. I was moving toward 'meaningless' questions like: Why is there something rather than nothing? What is the purpose of life? Why is there evil in the world? Then I discovered Buddhism and other ancient spiritual traditions that addressed such questions. I was beginning to find real philosophy.

Philosophy is not a word game. It is, as Plato explained, the "love of wisdom". Few students get to study real philosophy at college. Philosophizing is an extraordinary act. It requires re-thinking issues at the most fundamental level -- right down to questions of being. One winds up asking simple-sounding, childlike questions like "What is real?"

The world is adrift, without meaning. That is why so many become victims of political ideologies and extreme religious viewpoints that offer a sense of meaning at the expense of compassion, truth, and justice.

All the really amazing jobs I've held came from my grounding in philosophy. I became a computer programmer because my boss assumed that philosophy made one logical. I got promotions to higher levels of responsibility because I saw the "big picture" in the organizations I worked for. One day I found myself the acting CEO of several small technology companies in trouble. Why? Because my philosophical perspective gave me a high tolerance for ambiguity, which allowed me to go into unknown and almost unknowable situations again and again. So yes -- philosophy can help you make money. But meaning, understanding, and wisdom are the real payoffs.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Name and Reality

Name and Reality


"What’s in a name? That which we call a rose, By any other name would smell as sweet."
                        ~ Shakespeare

What's a name? A symbol that points to something beyond itself (as a symbol). On any single day our minds are flooded with symbolic thoughts that pull us away from direct experience. Education can be harmful to the intuitive-feeling levels of perception and understanding. Meditation helps clear away some of our thoughts, words, images, and desires. We improve our chances touching the ground of reality.
 

Monday, September 11, 2017

Universe Communicating


The Universe is vast -
and bigger than
we can imagine.
But love is greater.

The Universe is always 
communicating with us. 
It's our job to listen.

Related image

Saturday, September 09, 2017

Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Deep Reality

Human brains are somewhat fuzzy. Our bodies are not the all that strong. We walk around on two feet. Our eyes don’t see in the dark. Our bodies are not the strongest. It takes many years for us to mature enough to be able to live without our parents.

Reality seems endlessly deep. How do we get to the bottom or is it (reality).
Dictionary definition of reality: (in ethology) the world as it is experienced by a particular organism. Brooke Gladstone’s little book, The Trouble with Reality introduced me to the word “umwelt”. A word that suggests the idea that different animals living on the same patch of earth have radically different experiences of the same local environment.

Tuesday, September 05, 2017

Uses of philosophy

Life is complex and uncertain. Modern & post-modern life is much more complex than 2,000 to 5,000 years ago. The pace of change makes it difficult to "get a handle" to "feel the ground under our feet". Philosophy is simply the love of wisdom. And, wisdom is a deep clear sense of understanding (standing under) all that is happening and being. To philosophize is to map the all-that-is, even including what seems to transcend the world. I started doing philosophy as a young person. I'd study different philosophical schools and systems. Later, I created my own philosophy. This was my quest, my love for wisdom. Something beyond ordinary knowledge. Eventually, I got academic degrees in philosophy. That seemed impractical. But, I learned a holistic way of thinking that lead to a wonderful set of careers and life paths. Much more on this later.

Sunday, September 03, 2017

Be Real

Many of us constantly try to escape from ourselves. That's impossible - and usually creates neurosis. Instead, face reality even if it is uncomfortable. Slowly the authentic Self dawns. Be real! It's worth it.  

Saturday, September 02, 2017

Knowing When to Quit

It's okay not to succeed. By acknowledging the value of failure we can open the door to true success. We can be kinder, more loving. Knowing when to quit is as important as knowing when to start. Dogged persistence is often encouraged, at the expense of community. It takes time and persistence to accomplish noble projects in life - such as raising a sane healthy child. Knowing when to quit is wise. Keep things from getting too complex. You may start a project and quickly realize that it's a waste of time. The best action may be to turn around and walk away.

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Knowing water


On October 4th, 1957 the Soviet Union launched Sputnik I, the first artificial satellite. It was the size of a basketball, weighed 183 pounds, and orbited the earth in 98 minutes. So began the "Space Age".

I was ten years old. When the United States entered the space age, so did I—by becoming a junior scientist. I could not go into space, but I could study the elements. I studied the chemistry of the water molecule—two hydrogen atoms bound to a common oxygen atom. At room temperature and normal air pressure, these two elements were gases. Eventually I ran a direct electrical current through an sulfuric acid solution, and collected hydrogen and oxygen at two electrodes inside separate test tubes. This was one of my life's greatest moments.

But did I really know water? The power of water was just an abstraction. The Pacific Ocean was only thirty minutes away, but I had never stepped into those vast waters. My mother was afraid of water—be it a rain storm or the ocean—and I was my mother's child.

Not until I was married did I learn to swim. The body is lighter than water, it will float if you don't struggle against it, becoming stiff and thrashing yourself down until you take in gulps of something quite alien to your lungs. Water is hard. Fall into a pool and water demonstrates its solidity. Water is seductive. As you swim, it takes on the feeling of a sensuous substance enfolding you within its body. Eventually, you feel free—like a fish or a soaring eagle. Moving and flowing in a pool is its own self-sustaining pleasure.

After some months in the pool, I braved the frontier: the roaring Pacific Ocean. I became a beach bum. Sun and surf, day after day. Throwing my body into the waves. Catching a wave of salt water that carried this finite human body to the soft sandy shores of Corona Del Mar not far from Newport Beach. I took in life from the vast water. I had discovered water as way of being, at an entirely other level from oxygen and hydrogen.

Meanwhile, more and more satellites orbited the earth. I knew that water was going to be important to people someday living on other planets. Would they make their own water from hydrogen and oxygen? Would they know water as a way of being? Would they even care?

Image source is from NSSDC Master Catalog Display: Spacecraft.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Purification of Consciousness

During forty seven years of life, I've practiced meditation and purification of consciousness. It's the most difficult and rewarding of tasks. Purification of consciousness is attained by uncovering the innate stillness and peace of mind -available via simple frequent moments of meditation during the minutes, hours and days of our lives. Take time today to stop the busy mind - thereby uncovering the peace and joy already within yourself. 

Monday, August 28, 2017

Home Bound

It's hard to go home even if you long for it. To long for something but be afraid to grasp it is a human experience. What's left there to avoid though? Only what you left behind. Be brave and find your way home; home is where the heart is.

Touching Ground

Touching Ground

“Too often, people think that solving the world’s problems is based on conquering the earth, rather than touching the earth, touching ground.”
- Chogyam Trungpa*
Long ago, while walking home from grade school, among the dairy farms of Los Angeles County, I invented a game with myself. While walking on the sidewalk, I started paying attention to the dark lines between the slabs of concrete. Keeping attention, on these lines one after another. Soon, I noticed my attention flying away toward daydreams or solving problems at school or home. Over and over in my mind, I'd return to the dark lines between the concrete slabs. How long could I stay concentrated on those lines? That was my first concentration practice.
Almost 60-plus years later I still play that same game, but using the feeling of my feet on the ground instead. I contemplate, how long can I stay feeling my feet touch ground?
Students, professionals, and business people now spend the majority of their working hours looking at luminous screens, while ignoring the numinous quality of "nowness". Computers and handheld devices are becoming the "place" of work and play. Always connected, we are increasingly at work or play through electronic screens. We do not "touch ground" – instead, we are imagining ground though our screens.
While a graduate student in Philosophy, I wondered where to find wisdom… for I did not find it in academic philosophy. It dawned upon me that Buddha found, lived, and expressed wisdom. Fortunately, a special visitor from Tibet paid a visit.
Chogyam Trungpa showed up to speak in Jacob Needlman's philosophy of religion class. This was the early 1970's. Trungpa was newly arrived in San Francisco - fresh from the publication of his first book, Born in Tibet. Dressed in a blazer, turtle neck shirt, and a can of Coca Cola in hand. Not my image of an Eastern guru! An unforgettable moment.
Years later, I met with four cousins - sons of my father's step brother - at my father's funeral reception. They had all emigrated from the Azores Islands as teenagers. One told me about working the farmlands bare foot. They felt the earth all day long. Apparently, the pre-colonial native people of the San Francisco Bay area, the Ohlone, walked barefoot all day long with feet naturally callused.
The "horse stance" is basic training in Qi Gong. Stand with legs somewhat apart and let the body drop down toward the earth. Eyes looking into the horizon. Hands slightly in font. Feeling feet on the ground. Just standing. The horse stance may look easy, but the inner attention is extremely difficult to stabilize. Over and over one forgets to stay with feet feeling the ground - as attention flies into dreams and thoughts. With much practice, we start standing firm and still on our feet in full presence.
Getting up in the morning is a most honest time. We are not trying to please anyone yet. Just waking up. Stumbling around a bit. A moment of presencing. A great time to practice and get stronger in presence.
The present is an infinitesimal slice of time's vast ocean of past and future. Our ground begins and ends right here and now. This is where we assemble and clean up our life. For as Trungpa suggests, "Nowness, or the magic of the present moment, is what joins the wisdom of the past with the present."
By being grounded on this earth we become more present to one another by expressing love, care, and compassion. The "other" is also part of "the ground". It is "all one". They are "us" and we are "them". But how do we stay touching the ground? Practice, practice, practice. The "hard" part is to let it be easy. Over time there's a growing sense of joy at being grounded. We naturally want that - and that allows the fullness of life to unfold.
A good society, an enlightened society, naturally spends time touching the earth, touching ground. No need go anywhere, except the journey to here and now. Start today: spend an hour each day touching ground. If we all did this, a good society would emerge like daisies in a green field of spring grass. The earth itself would be our healer.
So right now, right here, as I write and as you read - let's feel ourselves touching ground.
-------------------------
* Taken from from the last paragraph, Chapter Eleven of Shambhala: The Sacred Path of the Warrior.

Sunday, August 27, 2017

Tree of Life

After my mother's passing, I began drawing images of the tree of life. It's one of the two trees mentioned in the biblical Garden of Eden story - the tree of life & the tree of knowledge of good and evil. Mother was my first tree of life. I did not know that while she lived. We often know what we have until it's gone.


I'm reminded of the following lines from Joni Mitchell's hit song "Big Yellow Taxi"

They took all the trees
And put them in a tree museum
And they charged all the people
A dollar and a half to see 'em
Don't it always seem to go
That you don't know what you've got
'Till it's gone
They paved paradise
And they put up a parking lot




Saturday, August 26, 2017

Touching Ground (Inspired by Chogyam Trungpa)


“Too often, people think that solving the world’s problems is based on conquering the earth, rather than touching the earth, touching ground.”
- Chogyam Trungpa*
Long ago, while walking home from grade school, among the dairy farms of Los Angeles County, I invented a game with myself. While walking on the sidewalk, I started paying attention to the dark lines between the slabs of concrete. Keeping attention, on these lines one after another. Soon, I noticed my attention flying away toward daydreams or solving problems at school or home. Over and over in my mind, I'd return to the dark lines between the concrete slabs. How long could I stay concentrated on those lines? That was my first concentration practice.
Almost 60-plus years later I still play that same game, but using the feeling of my feet on the ground instead. I contemplate, how long can I stay feeling my feet touch ground?
Students, professionals, and business people now spend the majority of their working hours looking at luminous screens, while ignoring the numinous quality of "nowness". Computers and handheld devices are becoming the "place" of work and play. Always connected, we are increasingly at work or play through electronic screens. We do not "touch ground" – instead, we are imagining ground though our screens.
While a graduate student in Philosophy, I wondered where to find wisdom… for I did not find it in academic philosophy. It dawned upon me that Buddha found, lived, and expressed wisdom. Fortunately, a special visitor from Tibet paid a visit.
Chogyam Trungpa showed up to speak in Jacob Needlman's philosophy of religion class. This was the early 1970's. Trungpa was newly arrived in San Francisco - fresh from the publication of his first book, Born in Tibet. Dressed in a blazer, turtle neck shirt, and a can of Coca Cola in hand. Not my image of an Eastern guru! An unforgettable moment.
Years later, I met with four cousins - sons of my father's step brother - at my father's funeral reception. They had all emigrated from the Azores Islands as teenagers. One told me about working the farmlands bare foot. They felt the earth all day long. Apparently, the pre-colonial native people of the San Francisco Bay area, the Ohlone, walked barefoot all day long with feet naturally callused.
The "horse stance" is basic training in Qi Gong. Stand with legs somewhat apart and let the body drop down toward the earth. Eyes looking into the horizon. Hands slightly in font. Feeling feet on the ground. Just standing. The horse stance may look easy, but the inner attention is extremely difficult to stabilize. Over and over one forgets to stay with feet feeling the ground - as attention flies into dreams and thoughts. With much practice, we start standing firm and still on our feet in full presence.
Getting up in the morning is a most honest time. We are not trying to please anyone yet. Just waking up. Stumbling around a bit. A moment of presencing. A great time to practice and get stronger in presence.
The present is an infinitesimal slice of time's vast ocean of past and future. Our ground begins and ends right here and now. This is where we assemble and clean up our life. For as Trungpa suggests, "Nowness, or the magic of the present moment, is what joins the wisdom of the past with the present."
By being grounded on this earth we become more present to one another by expressing love, care, and compassion. The "other" is also part of "the ground". It is "all one". They are "us" and we are "them". But how do we stay touching the ground? Practice, practice, practice. The "hard" part is to let it be easy. Over time there's a growing sense of joy at being grounded. We naturally want that - and that allows the fullness of life to unfold.
A good society, an enlightened society, naturally spends time touching the earth, touching ground. No need go anywhere, except the journey to here and now. Start today: spend an hour each day touching ground. If we all did this, a good society would emerge like daisies in a green field of spring grass. The earth itself would be our healer.
So right now, right here, as I write and as you read - let's feel ourselves touching ground.
-------------------------
* Taken from from the last paragraph, Chapter Eleven of Shambhala: The Sacred Path of the Warrior.


Friday, August 25, 2017

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Oh Holy One! Hear my prayer, my plea!


Oh Holy One! Hear my prayer, 
    my plea!
You who are the greatest.
You who are so beautiful, 
    so beautiful.
Be with me and my beloved one 
    all my days of life.
Let peace be everywhere on earth.
Grant me enough wisdom to 
    follow your still quiet voice -
today, tomorrow, and beyond.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Unknown Unknowns - Donald Rumsfeld testimony





“There are known knowns – 
these are things we know we know. 
There are known unknowns….
these are the things we know we do not know. 
But there are also unknown unknowns; 
these are the things we don't know we don't know.” 

Donald Rumsfeld
Former United States Secretary of Defense [1]




[1] Engineering: A Very Short Introduction. David Blockley. Oxford University Press. © 2012. Page 98. 

Friday, August 18, 2017

Fabric of the Universe


Modern quantum physics suggests that 
uncertainty is woven into 
the fabric of the universe. 
Each of us reflects the 
wholeness of all that is
Can't be certain 
we'll be here tomorrow.  
Statistically, chances are good 
for being correct when saying, 
"See you tomorrow morning." 
That's not absolutely determined. 
So be humble. 
Nothing is certain - 
not even death and taxes.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017