Tuesday, July 12, 2016

"Your spirit is the true shield.
One does not need buildings, money, power, or status to practice the Art of Peace. Heaven is right where you are standing, and that is the place to train.
Failure is the key to success; each mistake teaches us something.
Life is growth. If we stop growing, technically and spiritually, we are as good as dead.
Those who are possessed by nothing possess everything.
Loyalty and devotion lead to bravery. Bravery leads to the spirit of self-sacrifice. The spirit of self-sacrifice creates trust in the power of love." - Morihei Ueshiba
(  discoverer of Aikido )

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Eros Undressed

Eros Undressed: Into the Heart of Sex 

Sex is, not surprisingly, a highly charged topic in contemporary culture. How-to books and courses on sex abound, pointing out various ways to get turned on or more turned on in a relationship, with little or no attention given to actually exploring the very turned-off-ness that seemingly necessitates finding out how to get turned on. Judging from the sheer volume of such books and courses, plus an immense amount of personal testimony from all quarters (for example, the great number of American women who admit that they don’t enjoy sex with their husband), it appears that there’s an abundance of sexual dysfunction and dissatisfaction within relationships.

 There is plenty of focus on this, accompanied by all kinds of remedies, but not nearly so much focus on how dysfunction and dissatisfaction in the nonsexual areas of relationship might be affecting one’s sexuality. We are usually quite reluctant to cast (or even to permit the casting of) a clear light on what actually may be happening during our sexual times with our partner—other than biologically—but without this, we are simply left in the dark, pinning too much on what we hope sex will do for us. And there is so much that we expect sex to do for us! More often than we might like to admit, we assign it to stress release, security enhancement, spousal pacification, egoic gratification, pleasure production, and other such tasks.

We may use it as a super sleeping pill, a rapid-action pick-me-up, an agent of consolation, a haven or hideout, a control tactic, a proof that we’re not that old or cold. We may also employ it as a psychological garbage disposal, a handy somatic terminal for discharging the energies of various unwanted states, like loneliness or rage or desperation.

Mostly, though, we just tend to want sex to make us feel better, and we use it accordingly, whether in mundane, dark, or spiritual contexts. Not only do we hear more and more about “sexual addiction,” our culture itself is so ubiquitously sexualized that it arguably could be described as sex-addicted. But sexual addiction is, as we shall see, not primarily about sex but about that for which sex is a “solution.” It is so easy to think that our sexual charge with a particular person or situation is no more than an expression of our natural sexuality, when in fact it may actually be an eroticizing of our conditioning or of some need we have. (For example, arousal in a certain pornographic fantasy may be secondarily sexual, its primary impetus being rooted in one’s longing to be unconditionally seen, loved, and wanted.) There won’t, however, be any real freedom here until we release sex (and everything else) from the obligation to make us feel better.

So long as we keep assigning sex to such labor—slave labor—we will remain trapped in the very circumstances for which sexual release is an apparent “solution.” Increased stress means an increased desire to get rid of stress, and if we attempt to do so through sexual means (which does not really get rid of stress, except in the most superficial sense), we simply reinforce the roots of that stress. In addicting or over-attaching ourselves to erotically pleasing release, we also frequently addict ourselves to the very tension that seemingly necessitates and sometimes even legitimizes such release. 

The abuse of sex, particularly through the expectations with which we commonly burden it, is so culturally pervasive and deeply ingrained as to go largely unnoticed, except in its more lurid, obviously dysfunctional, or perverse extremes. Even more removed from any telling awareness is our aversion to truly exploring and illuminating the whole matter of human sexuality, not clinically nor in any other kind of isolation, but rather in the context of our entire being, our totality, our inherent wholeness. That is, sex does not need to be—and in fact cannot be—crystallized out and set apart from the rest of our experience (as those overly focused on the mechanics of sexuality often try to do). Rather, it needs to be seen, felt, known, and lived in open-eyed resonance—and relationship—with everything that we do and are, so that it is, as much as possible, not just an act of specialized function nor an act bound to the chore of making us feel better or more secure, but rather an unfettered, full-blooded expression of already present, already loving, already unstressed wholeness. To embody such wholeness requires a thorough investigation of the labor to which we have assigned—or sentenced—our sexuality. That labor and its underpinnings are eloquently revealed through the stark slang of sex.

Many of the words and phrases regarding our sexual functioning bluntly illustrate the frequently confused, disrespectful, and exploitive attitude commonly brought to one’s own sexuality and sexuality in general.

Consider, for example, the notorious and enormously popular “f” word, for which there is an incredible number of non-copulatory meanings, a fucking incredible number, all pointedly and colorfully describing what we may actually be up to when we are busy being sexual or erotically engaged. Here’s a partial list, the majority of which overlap in meaning: ignorance (“Fucked if I know”); indifference (“I don’t give a fuck”); degradation (“You stupid fuck”); aggression (“Don’t fuck with me!”); disappointment (“This is really fucked”); rejection (“Get the fuck out of here!” or “Fuck off!”); manipulation (“You’re fucking with my head”); disgust (“Go fuck yourself”); vexation (“What the fuck are you doing?”); exaggeration (“It was so fucking good!”); rage (“Fuck you!”); and, perhaps most pithily revealing of all, exploitation (“I got fucked”). Throw together the various meanings of “fuck,” plus the “higher” or more socially acceptable terms for sexual intercourse—including the vague “having a relationship” and the unwittingly precise “sleeping together”—and mix in some insight, and what emerges is a collage composed of (1) the dysfunctional labor to which we have sentenced our sexual capacity; and (2) the expectations (like “Make me feel wanted” or “Make me feel better”) with which we have all-too-often saddled and burdened it. When we primarily assign our sexuality to stress release, security reinforcement, egoic reassurance, the fueling of romantic delusion, and other such chores—thereby burdening it with the expectation that it make us feel better—we are doing little more than screwing ourselves, dissipating much of the very energy that we need for facing and healing our woundedness, the woundedness that, ironically, we seek escape or relief from through the pleasuring and various sedating options provided by our sexuality.

This is not to say that we should never use our sexuality for purposes such as stress release, for there are times when doing so may be entirely appropriate, but such usage needs to be more the exception than the rule. We have, for at least the last thirty or forty years, been living in a pervasively sexualized culture—“sexy” as an adjective has infiltrated just about every dimension of life. There’s much more openness regarding sex than there was fifty or sixty years ago, but much of that openness has more to do with breadth than depth. We have more permission to experiment with sex and to talk graphically about it, but we nevertheless don’t talk about it in real depth very often—exploring, for example, the nonsexual or presexual dynamics that may be in play during sex—for to do so would put us in a position of real vulnerability and transparency, not so able to hang on to a semblance of “having it together.” Seeing what we actually may be doing while we’re being sexual may not be very high on our list of priorities! And this is the era of informed consent, centered by the myth—yes, myth—of consenting adults. In sexual circumstances, many of us may not be clearly considering what is really going on and what is at stake, instead making choices from a desire (largely rooted in childhood) to get approval, affection, connection, love, or security, or to be distracted from our suffering. At such times, we are not so much operating as consenting adults as adult-erated children (and/or adolescents) whose “consent”—however “informed”—is just an eroticized expression of unresolved woundedness or unmet nonsexual needs (perhaps along with an inability to voice and stand behind an authentic “no”).

The deepest sex, sex requiring no fantasies (inner or outer) or turn-on strategies or rituals of arousal, but rather only the love, openness, and safety of awakened intimacy, cannot be significantly accessed without a corresponding depth in the rest of our relationship with our partner. Without such mutual maturity, it doesn’t matter how hot or juicy or innovative our sexual life may be, even if we have many orgasms, big orgasms, together. In fact, when we make coming together a goal, we simply come apart, separating and losing ourselves in our quest for maximally pleasurable sensations. “Sensational” sex is precisely that: sex that is centered and defined by an abundance of erotically engorged sensations. The romanticized or spiritualized presence of these sensations is often misrepresented as actual intimacy, at least until the rude pricks of reality do their vastly underappreciated job.

Most couples we see are not really all that happy with their sex life. Some of them have gone flat sexually, having had little or no sex for a long time. (Not surprisingly, the rest of their relationship is also usually flat, emotionally depressed, low in passion, unnaturally peaceful.) Other couples are more openly frustrated, wanting more than they are getting (such a quantitative focus being mostly a male complaint), or wanting more connection before sex (such a qualitative focus being mostly a female complaint). And others initially act as if they are doing fine sexually, being reluctant to reveal their discomfort with the direction that their sex life may be taking (like tolerating a partner who prefers porn to them). And so on. The good news is that such dissatisfaction, if allowed to surface in its fullness, will often goad a couple into doing work that they would otherwise avoid or postpone. As a couple explores their sexuality, and explores it deeply, they will discover that what’s not working in their relationship usually shows up in their sexuality, often in exaggerated form. And conversely, as they ripen into more mature ways of relating, they will find that this revitalizes and deepens their sexuality. No sex manuals are needed, nor any fantasies or other turn-on tactics—their increased intimacy and trust in each other are more than sufficient, creating an atmosphere within which love-centered, awareness-infused sexual desire can naturally arise and flow, carrying the lovers along into the sweet dynamite and ever-fresh wonder and ecstasy of what sex can be when it has deep intimacy’s green light.

Friday, June 17, 2016

".. man’s general way of thinking of the totality, i.e. his general world view, is crucial for overall order of the human mind itself. If he thinks of the totality as constituted as independent fragments, then that is how his mind will tend to operate, but if he can include everything coherently and harmoniously in an overall whole that is undivided, unbroken and without border (for every border is a division or break) then his mind will tend to move in a similar way, and from this will flow an orderly action within the whole." "If man thinks of the totality as constituted of independent fragments, then that is how his mind will tend to operate, but if he can include everything coherently and harmoniously in an overall whole that is undivided, unbroken, and without a border then his mind will tend to move in a similar way, and from this will flow an orderly action within the whole."

"The notion that all these fragments is separately existent is evidently an illusion, and this illusion cannot do other than lead to endless conflict and confusion. Indeed, the attempt to live according to the notion that the fragments are really separate is, in essence, what has led to the growing series of extremely urgent crises that is confronting us today. Thus, as is now well known, this way of life has brought about pollution, destruction of the balance of nature, over-population, world-wide economic and political disorder and the creation of an overall environment that is neither physically nor mentally healthy for most of the people who live in it. Individually there has developed a widespread feeling of helplessness and despair, in the face of what seems to be an overwhelming mass of disparate social forces, going beyond the control and even the comprehension of the human beings who are caught up in it."

 in an article called David Bohm revisited.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

To the bored mind....

“As it is, we are merely bolting our lives—gulping down undigested experiences as fast as we can stuff them in—because awareness of our own existence is so superficial and so narrow that nothing seems to us more boring than simple being.  If I ask you what you did, saw, heard, smelled, touched and tasted yesterday, I am likely to get nothing more than the thin, sketchy outline of the few things that you noticed, and of those only what you thought worth remembering. Is it surprising that an existence so experienced seems so empty and bare that its hunger for an infinite future is insatiable? But suppose you could answer, “It would take me forever to tell you, and I am much too interested in what’s happening now.” How is it possible that a being with such sensitive jewels as the eyes, such enchanted musical instruments as the ears, and such a fabulous arabesque of nerves as the brain can experience itself as anything less than a god? And, when you consider that this incalculably subtle organism is inseparable from the still more marvelous patterns of its environment—from the minutest electrical designs to the whole company of the galaxies—how is it conceivable that this incarnation of all eternity can be bored with being?” - Alan Watts

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

Camp Grounded

Who's in for creating a movement of DYI camp grounded over a weekend road trip? Remember life before we had phones and computers?

Camp Grounded Promo Video #1 from Camp Grounded on Vimeo.

A Love Letter to Wilderness | KarmaTube

Video from KarmaTube

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Times of day for each Raga

Raga Times from a great article on the science of Ragas and time.

Consciousness evolution in the collective evolution - David Bohm

graphic: Eli Vokounova"Continuing with this theme on the transformation of consciousness, Bohm goes on to suggest that an intense heightening of individuals who have shaken off the “pollution of the ages” (wrong worldviews that propagate ignorance), who come into close and trusting relationship with one another, can begin to generate the immense power needed to ignite the whole consciousness of the world. In the depths of the Implicate Order, there is a “consciousness, deep down–of the whole of mankind.”

It is this collective consciousness of mankind that is truly significant for Bohm. It is this collective consciousness that is truly one and indivisible, and it is the responsibility of each human person to contribute towards the building of this consciousness of mankind. “There’s nothing else to do,there is no other way out. That is absolutely what has to be done and nothing else can work.”

Bohm also believes that the individual will eventually be fulfilled upon the completion of cosmic noogenesis. Referring to all the elements of the cosmos, including human beings, as projections of an ultimate totality, Bohm notes that as a “human being takes part in the process of this totality, he is fundamentally changed in the very activity in which his aim is to change that reality, which is the content of his consciousness.” from a marvelous article on David Bohm's work.

Thursday, October 01, 2015

On Universal Love - "the only complete and final way" to love

"Mankind, the spirit of the earth, the synthesis of individuals and peoples, the paradoxical conciliation of the element of the whole, and the unity with the multitude - all these are called Utopian and yet they are biologically necessary. And for them to be incarnated in the world all we may well need is to imagine our power of loving developing until embraces the total of men and of the earth.

It may be said that this is the precise point at which we are invoking the impossible. Man's capacity, it may seem is confined to giving his affection to one human being or to very few. Beyond that radius the heart does not carry, and there is only room for cold justice and cold reason. To love all and everyone is a contradictory and false gesture which only leads in the end to loving no-one.

To that I would answer that if, as you claim, a universal love is impossible, how can we account for the irresistible instinct in our hearts which leads us toward unity whenever and in whatever direction our passions are stirred? A sense of the universe, a sense of the all, the nostalgia which seizes us when confronted by nature, beauty, music - these seem to be an expectation and awareness of a Great Presence. The "mystics" and their commentators apart, how has psychology been able so consistently to ignore this fundamental vibration whose ring can be heard by every practised ear at the basis, or rather at the summit, of every great emotion? Resonance to the All - the keynote of pure poetry and pure religion. Once again: what does this phenomenon, which is born with thought and grows with it, reveal if not a deep accord between two realities which seek each other the severed particle which trembles at the approach of "the rest"?

We are often inclined to think that we have exhausted the various natural forms of love with a man's love for his wife, his children, his friends and to a certain extent his country. Yet precisely the most fundamental form of passion is missing from this list, the one which, under the pressure of an involuting universe, precipitates the elements one upon the other in the Whole - cosmic affinity and hense cosmic sense. A universal love is not only psychologically possible; it is the only complete and final way in which we are able to love." - Pierre Teilhard de Chardin


Sunday, September 27, 2015

25 life changing axioms from Rumi's poetry.

1. Stop acting so small. You are the universe in ecstatic motion.

2. Your job is to live your life in a way that makes sense to you, not to “them”.

3. Never give up on yourself.

4. Ignorance is God’s prison.

5. The treasures that can be found outside of you can’t even compare with the treasures that can be found inside of you.

6. When you let go of who you are, you become who you might be.

7. There is something you can do better than anyone else.

8. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.

9. When you commit to something, do it with all your heart.

10. Good things come to an end so that better things can fall together.

11. The wound is the place where the Light enters you.

12. Do what you love and do it with love.

13. Think less. Feel more.

14. Love is worth it all.

15. Appreciate both the good and the bad in your life.

16. You change your world by changing yourself.

17. We are made of Love and made to Love.

18. Your Soul is not of this world, your body is.

19. At the Soul level, we are all ONE.

20. Your Soul is more precious than anything.

21. Choose your life partner wisely.

22. Real love transcends the material plane and no matter if your bodies are apart, your souls will forever be connected.

23. Raise your words, not your voice.

24. Silence is the language of God.


Thursday, September 10, 2015

Singularity appears not as near as originally presumed....

I've always been curious about the science behind the notion that we can achieve singularity - ie that we could devise intelligent devices on par with the human brain and mind....

This excellent article "The Brain vs Deep Learning Part I: Computational Complexity — Or Why the Singularity Is Nowhere Near" outlines a range of topics, although long and complex beyond my background in neuroscience... yet it makes me pause and question once again our culture's premises and assumptions - singularity while not impossible, is far more challenging than ever conceived, I trust, if we were to really attempt to mimic the miracle of our human form:


Here's an excerpt:

Factors which help to predict a singularity
Ray Kurzweil has made many very accurate predictions and his methods to reach these predictions are quite simple for computing devices: Look at the exponential growth of computing power, efficiency, and size, and then extrapolate. This way, you could easily predict the emergence of small computers which fit into your hands and with a bit of creativity, one could imagine that one day there would be tablets and smartphones. The trends were there, you just needed to imagine what could be done with computers which you can hold in your hand.

Similarly, Ray Kurzweil predicted the emergence of strong AI which is as intelligent or more intelligent than humans. For this prediction he also used data for the exponential growth of computing power and compared this to an estimate for the computational power of the brain.

He also acknowledges that the software will be as important as the hardware, and that the software development of strong AI will take longer because such software can only be developed once fast computer systems are available. This can be felt in the area of deep learning, where solid ideas of the 1990s were unfeasible due to the slow computers. Once graphic processing units (GPUs) were used, these computing limitations were quickly removed and rapid progress could be made.

However, Kurzweil also stresses that once the hardware level is reached, first “simple” strong AI systems will be developed quickly. He sets the date for brain-like computational power to 2020 and the emergence of strong AI (first human like intelligence or better) to 2030. Why these numbers? With persisting growth in computing power in 2019 we will reach the computing power which is equivalent to the human brain — or will we?

This estimate is based on two things: (1) The estimate for the complexity of the brain, (2) the estimate for the growth in computing power. As we will see, both these estimates are not up-to-date with current technology and knowledge about neuroscience and high performance computing.

Our knowledge of neuroscience doubles about every year. Using this doubling period, in the year of 2005 we would only have possessed about 0.098% of the neuroscience knowledge that we have today. This number is a bit off, because the doubling time was about 2 years in 2005 while it is less than a year now, but overall it is way below 1 %.

The thing is that Ray Kurzweil based his predictions on the neuroscience of 2005 and never updated them. An estimate for the brains computational power based on 1% of the neuroscience knowledge does not seem right. Here is small list of a few important discoveries made in the last two years which increase the computing power of the brain by many orders of magnitude:

It was shown that brain connections rather than being passive cables, can themselves process information and alter the behavior of neurons in meaningful ways, e.g. brain connections help you to see the objects in everyday life. This fact alone increases brain computational complexity by several orders of magnitude
Neurons which do not fire still learn: There is much more going on than electrical spikes in neurons and brain connections: Proteins, which are the little biological machines which make everything in your body work, combined with local electric potential do a lot of information processing on their own — no activation of the neuron required
Neurons change their genome dynamically to produce the right proteins to handle everyday information processing tasks. Brain: “Oh you are reading a blog. Wait a second, I just upregulate this reading-gene to help you understand the content of the blog better.” (This is an exaggeration — but it is not too far off)

Read more here.

Great thoughts on living from a creative mind Alejandro Jodorowsky

Lovely maxims from Alexando Jodorowsky

1. Ground your attention on yourself. Be conscious at every moment of what you are thinking, sensing, feeling, desiring, and doing.
2. Always finish what you have begun.
3. Whatever you are doing, do it as well as possible.
4. Do not become attached to anything that can destroy you in the course of time.
5. Develop your generosity ‒ but secretly.
6. Treat everyone as if he or she was a close relative.
7. Organize what you have disorganized.
8. Learn to receive and give thanks for every gift.
9. Stop defining yourself.
10. Do not lie or steal, for you lie to yourself and steal from yourself.
11. Help your neighbor, but do not make him dependent.
12. Do not encourage others to imitate you.
13. Make work plans and accomplish them.
14. Do not take up too much space.
15. Make no useless movements or sounds.
16. If you lack faith, pretend to have it.
17. Do not allow yourself to be impressed by strong personalities.
18. Do not regard anyone or anything as your possession.
19. Share fairly.
20. Do not seduce.
21. Sleep and eat only as much as necessary.
22. Do not speak of your personal problems.
23. Do not express judgment or criticism when you are ignorant of most of the factors involved.
24. Do not establish useless friendships.
25. Do not follow fashions.
26. Do not sell yourself.
27. Respect contracts you have signed.
28. Be on time.
29. Never envy the luck or success of anyone.
30. Say no more than necessary.
31. Do not think of the profits your work will engender.
32. Never threaten anyone.
33. Keep your promises.
34. In any discussion, put yourself in the other person’s place.
35. Admit that someone else may be superior to you.
36. Do not eliminate, but transmute.
37. Conquer your fears, for each of them represents a camouflaged desire.
38. Help others to help themselves.
39. Conquer your aversions and come closer to those who inspire rejection in you.
40. Do not react to what others say about you, whether praise or blame.
41. Transform your pride into dignity.
42. Transform your anger into creativity.
43. Transform your greed into respect for beauty.
44. Transform your envy into admiration for the values of the other.
45. Transform your hate into charity.
46. Neither praise nor insult yourself.
47. Regard what does not belong to you as if it did belong to you.
48. Do not complain.
49. Develop your imagination.
50. Never give orders to gain the satisfaction of being obeyed.
51. Pay for services performed for you.
52. Do not proselytize your work or ideas.
53. Do not try to make others feel for you emotions such as pity, admiration, sympathy, or complicity.
54. Do not try to distinguish yourself by your appearance.
55. Never contradict; instead, be silent.
56. Do not contract debts; acquire and pay immediately.
57. If you offend someone, ask his or her pardon; if you have offended a person publicly, apologize publicly.
58. When you realize you have said something that is mistaken, do not persist in error through pride; instead, immediately retract it.
59. Never defend your old ideas simply because you are the one who expressed them.
60. Do not keep useless objects.
61. Do not adorn yourself with exotic ideas.
62. Do not have your photograph taken with famous people.
63. Justify yourself to no one, and keep your own counsel.
64. Never define yourself by what you possess.
65. Never speak of yourself without considering that you might change.
66. Accept that nothing belongs to you.
67. When someone asks your opinion about something or someone, speak only of his or her qualities.
68. When you become ill, regard your illness as your teacher, not as something to be hated.
69. Look directly, and do not hide yourself.
70. Do not forget your dead, but accord them a limited place and do not allow them to invade your life.
71. Wherever you live, always find a space that you devote to the sacred.
72. When you perform a service, make your effort inconspicuous.
73. If you decide to work to help others, do it with pleasure.
74. If you are hesitating between doing and not doing, take the risk of doing.
75. Do not try to be everything to your spouse; accept that there are things that you cannot give him or her but which others can.
76. When someone is speaking to an interested audience, do not contradict that person and steal his or her audience.
77. Live on money you have earned.
78. Never brag about amorous adventures.
79. Never glorify your weaknesses.
80. Never visit someone only to pass the time.
81. Obtain things in order to share them.
82. If you are meditating and a devil appears, make the devil meditate too.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Connecting our breath to eternity....

The acclaimed buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh talks to the Ecologist about the loss of biodiversity and why human vulnerability is not something we should despair about

Do you believe humans can avoid a global ecological collapse, or are we driving ourselves towards one?

"The National Wildlife Federation tells us everyday that 100 plants and animal species are lost to deforestation. Extinction of species is taking place everyday. In one year there may be 200,000 species going into extinction. That is what is happening; that is not the problem of the future. We know that 251 million years ago there was already global warming caused by gigantic volcanic eruptions. They caused the worst mass extinction in the history of the planet. The 6C increase in global temperature was enough to wipe out 95 per cent of the species that were alive. Global warming already happened 251 million years ago because of volcanic eruptions and 95 per cent of species on earth disappeared. 

Now a second global warming is taking place. This time because of deforestation and industrialisation; man-made, maybe in 100 years there will be no more humans on the planet, in just 100 years. After the disappearance of 95 per cent of species on the earth by the mass extinction the earth took 100 million years to restore life on earth. If our civilisation disappears it will take some time like that for another civilisation to reappear. When volcanic eruptions happened the carbon dioxide built up and created the greenhouse effect. That was 251 million years ago. Now the building up of carbon dioxide is coming from our own lifestyle and our industrial activities. 

If 6C degrees take place, another 95 per cent of species will die out, including Homo sapiens. That is why we have to learn to touch eternity with our in breath and out breath. Extinction of species has happened several times. Mass extinction has already happened five times and this one is the sixth. According to the Buddhist tradition there is no birth and no death. After extinction things will reappear in other forms, so you have to breathe very deeply in order to acknowledge the fact that we humans may disappear in just 100 years on earth. 

You have to learn how to accept that hard fact. You should not be overwhelmed by despair. The solution is to learn how to touch eternity in the present moment. We have been talking about the environment as if it is something different from us, but we are the environment. The non-human elements are our environment, but we are the environment of non-human elements, so we are one with the environment. We are the environment. We are the earth and the earth has the capacity to restore balance and sometimes many species have to disappear for the balance restored. Maybe the flood, maybe the heat, maybe the air.

 

Thursday, June 25, 2015

the Way of Tea ....

The Way of Tea
A friend presented me
With tender leaves of Oolong tea,
For which I chose a kettle
Of ivory-mounted gold,
A mixing-bowl of snow-white earth.
With its clear bright froth and fragrance,
It was like the nectar of Immortals.
The first bowl washed the cobwebs from my mind -
The whole world seemed to sparkle.
A second cleansed my spirit
Like purifying showers of rain,
A third and I was one of the Immortals -
What need now for austerities
To purge our human sorrows?
Worldly people, by going in for wine,
Sadly deceive themselves.
For now I know the Way of Tea is real.
~ Chio Jen (Tang Dynasty

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

A Bigger Container

A Bigger Container
by Charlotte Joko Beck
We can talk about “oneness” until the cows come home. But how do we actually separate ourselves from others? How? The pride out of which anger is born is what separates us. And the solution is a practice in which we experience this separating emotion as a definite bodily state. When we do, A Bigger Container is created.

What is created, what grows, is the amount of life I can hold without it upsetting me, dominating me. At first this space is quite restricted, then it’s a bit bigger, and then it’s bigger still. It need never cease to grow. And the enlightened state is that enormous and compassionate space. But as long as we live we find there is a limit to our container’s size and it is at that point that we must practice. And how do we know where this cut-off point is? We are at that point when we feel any degree of upset, of anger. It’s no mystery at all. And the strength of our practice is how big that container gets.

As we do this practice we need to be charitable with ourselves. We need to recognize when we’re unwilling to do it. No one is willing all the time. And it’s not bad when we don’t do it. We always do what we’re ready to do.

The practice of making A Bigger Container is essentially spiritual because it is essentially nothing at all. A Bigger Container isn’t a thing; awareness is not a thing; the witness is not a thing or a person. There is not somebody witnessing. Nevertheless that which can witness my mind and body must be other than my mind and body. If I can observe my mind and body in an angry state, who is this “I” who observes? It shows me that I am other than my anger, bigger than my anger, and this knowledge enables me to build A Bigger Container, to grow. So what must be increased is the ability to observe. What we observe is always secondary. It isn’t important that we are upset; what is important is the ability to observe the upset.

As the ability grows first to observe, and second to experience, two factors simultaneously increase: wisdom, the ability to see life as it is (not the way I want it to be) and compassion, the natural action which comes from seeing life as it is. We can’t have compassion for anyone or anything if our encounter with them is ensnarled in pride and anger; it’s impossible. Compassion grows as we create A Bigger Container.

About the Author: Charlotte Joko Beck â€‹was an American Zen teacher and the author of the books Everyday Zen: Love and Work and Nothing Special: Living Zen.

Originally published on Awakin Weekly from Nipun Mehta

Friday, June 19, 2015

Welcome all the guests in the guesthouse of your being

Rumi said:
"This being human is a guest house
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
Some momentary awareness comes
As an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and attend to them all!
Even if they're a crowd of sorrows,
Who violently sweep your house
Empty of its furniture.
Still, treat each guest honorably,
He may be clearing you out for some new delight."

Tuesday, June 09, 2015

AMAZING wheat free nut and seed bread - worth trying!

Yes, I'm posting a recipe for one of the BEST BREADS I have ever tried.... first time ever - and when you try it you'll know why!


The Life-Changing Loaf of BreadMakes 1 loaf
Ingredients:
1 cup / 135g sunflower seeds
½ cup / 90g flax seeds
½ cup / 65g hazelnuts or almonds
1 ½ cups / 145g rolled oats
2 Tbsp. chia seeds
4 Tbsp. psyllium seed husks (3 Tbsp. if using psyllium husk powder)
1 tsp. fine grain sea salt (add ½ tsp. if using coarse salt)
1 Tbsp. maple syrup (for sugar-free diets, use a pinch of stevia)
3 Tbsp. melted coconut oil or ghee
1 ½ cups / 350ml water
Directions:
1. In a flexible, silicon loaf pan combine all dry ingredients, stirring well. Whisk maple syrup, oil and water together in a measuring cup. Add this to the dry ingredients and mix very well until everything is completely soaked and dough becomes very thick (if the dough is too thick to stir, add one or two teaspoons of water until the dough is manageable). Smooth out the top with the back of a spoon. Let sit out on the counter for at least 2 hours, or all day or overnight. To ensure the dough is ready, it should retain its shape even when you pull the sides of the loaf pan away from it it.
2. Preheat oven to 350°F / 175°C.
3. Place loaf pan in the oven on the middle rack, and bake for 20 minutes. Remove bread from loaf pan, place it upside down directly on the rack and bake for another 30-40 minutes. Bread is done when it sounds hollow when tapped. Let cool completely before slicing (difficult, but important).
4. Store bread in a tightly sealed container for up to five days. Freezes well too – slice before freezing for quick and easy toast!

Heisenberg in a song - all about you!

Sunday, June 07, 2015

The Love that Will Not Die - Are you an unwise selfish person, or a wise selfish person?

In her awesome book, "When Things Fall Apart" Pema Chodron wrote:
It is said in difficult times, it is only bodhichitta [the mind of enlightenment] that heals. When inspiration has become hidden, when we feel ready to give up, this is the time when healing can be found in the tenderness of the pain itself. This is the time to touch genuine heart of [the mind of enlightenment]. In the midst of loneliness, in the midst of fear, in the middle of feeling misunderstood and rejected is the heartbeat of all things, the genuine heart of sadness.
Just as a jewel that has been buried in the earth for a million years is not discolored or harmed, in the same way this noble heart is not affected by all our kicking and screaming. The jewel can be brought out into the light at any time, and it will glow as brilliantly as if nothing had ever happened. No matter how committed we are to unkindness, selfishness, or greed, the genuine heart of [the mind of enlightenment] cannot be lost. It is here in all that lives, never marred and completely whole.
We think that by protecting ourselves from suffering we are being kind to ourselves. The truth is, we only become more fearful, more hardened, and more alienated. We experience ourselves as being separate from the whole. This separateness becomes like a prison for us, a prison that restricts us to our personal holes and fears and to caring only for the people nearest to us. Curiously enough, if we primarily try to shield ourselves from discomfort, we suffer. Yet when we don't close off and we let our hearts break, we discover kinship with all beings. His Holiness the Dalai Lama describes two kinds of selfish people: the unwise and the wise. Unwise selfish people think only of themselves, and the result is confusion and pain. Wise selfish people know that the best thing they can do for themselves is to be there for others. As a result they experience joy.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Gigapixels of Andromeda [4K]

WE are all of it.

The book, "The Great Work: Our Way Into the Future" outlines our current situation in such lucid terms, that there’s many quotes I’d love to share.

That said,  this one on spirit highlights the depth of how we are spirit and the cosmos and human all at the same time, and the importance of fully embracing who we are to heal the human relationship with the biosphere.

“To succeed in this task of shaping the future, the will of the more comprehensive self must be functioning. The individual will can function in this capacity only through an acknowledged union with the deeper structures of reality. Even beyond union with the human community must be union with the Earth, with the universe itself in the full wonder of it’s being. Only the Earth can adequately will the Earth. If we will the future effectively it will be because the guidance and the powers of the Earth have been communicated to us, not because we have determined the future of the Earth simply with some rational faculty.

Central to this process is our contact with the sacred and the vast range of Earth’s psychic dynamism. While our sense of the sacred can never be recovered precisely as it existed in former centuries, it  can be recovered in the mystique of the Earth, in the epic of evolution. Spiritual disciplines are once again being renewed throughout the world. For some the ultimate mystery of things is experienced in the depth of the inner self, for others in the human community as well as the total spiritual heritage of the universe. Within this context the religious antagonisms of the past can be overcome, the particular traditions can be vitalized, and the feeling of presence to a sacred universe can appear once more to dynamize and sustain human affairs.

We must feel that we are supported by that same power that brought the Earth into being, that power that spun the galaxies into space, that lit the sun and brought the moon into its orbit. That is the power by which loving forms grew up out of the Earth and came to a special mode of reflexive consciousness in the human. This is the force that brought us through more than a million years of wandering as hunters and gatherers; this is that same vitality that led to the establishment of our cities and inspired the thinkers, artists and poets of all the ages. Those same forces are still present; indeed, we might feel their impact at this time and understand that we are not isolated in the chill of space with the burden of the future upon us and without the aid of any other power.


We are a pervasive presence. By definition we are that reality in whom the entire Earth comes to a special mode of reflexive consciousness. We are ourselves a mystical quality of the Earth, a unifying principle, an integration of the various polarities of the material and the spiritual, the physical and the psychic, the natural and the artistic, the intuitive and the scientific. We are the unity in which all these inhere and achieve a special mode of functioning. In this way the human acts as a pervading logos. If the human is microcosmos, the cosmos is macroanthropos. We are each the cosmic person, the Mahapurusha, the Great Person of the Hindu India, expressed in the universe itself….”

Friday, December 26, 2014

"The Internet is my Religion" - "Together we are the Creator"

"Today we are the creators. We each have our own unique skills and talents to contribute creating the kingdom of God. We serve God best when we do what we love for the greatest cause we can imagine. What the people in this room do, is spiritual, it is profound. We are the leaders of this new religion. We have faith that people connected can create a new world. Each one of us is a creator, but together we are the Creator."


Saturday, December 13, 2014

Rethinking time and the physics of life

"If the theory of syntropy is correct, three levels of time must exist. The sequential time to which we are accustomed to, in which energy is divergent and entropy prevails, would be typical of expanding systems, such as our universe. On the contrary, in a converging system the flow of time would be reversed as it happens in black holes. There are also systems in which diverging and converging forces are balanced, such as atoms. At this level time is unitary and past, present and future coexist.”
read more in the article "Luigi Fantappié and the physics of life"


Wednesday, December 03, 2014

From where does consciousness rise in the brain?

A great article on the new understandings of the nature of consciousness in the brain which may revolutionize our assumptions.

"A review and update of a controversial 20-year-old theory of consciousness published in Physics of Life Reviews claims that consciousness derives from deeper level, finer scale activities inside brain neurons. The recent discovery of quantum vibrations in "microtubules" inside brain neurons corroborates this theory, according to review authors Stuart Hameroff and Sir Roger Penrose. They suggest that EEG rhythms (brain waves) also derive from deeper level microtubule vibrations, and that from a practical standpoint, treating brain microtubule vibrations could benefit a host of mental, neurological, and cognitive conditions."
"The theory, called "orchestrated objective reduction" ('Orch OR'), was first put forward in the mid-1990s by eminent mathematical physicist Sir Roger Penrose, FRS, Mathematical Institute and Wadham College, University of Oxford, and prominent anesthesiologist Stuart Hameroff, MD, Anesthesiology, Psychology and Center for Consciousness Studies, The University of Arizona, Tucson. They suggested that quantum vibrational computations in microtubules were "orchestrated" ("Orch") by synaptic inputs and memory stored in microtubules, and terminated by Penrose "objective reduction" ('OR'), hence "Orch OR." Microtubules are major components of the cell structural skeleton."

"Orch OR was harshly criticized from its inception, as the brain was considered too "warm, wet, and noisy" for seemingly delicate quantum processes.. However, evidence has now shown warm quantum coherence in plant photosynthesis, bird brain navigation, our sense of smell, and brain microtubules. The recent discovery of warm temperature quantum vibrations in microtubules inside brain neurons by the research group led by Anirban Bandyopadhyay, PhD, at the National Institute of Material Sciences in Tsukuba, Japan (and now at MIT), corroborates the pair's theory and suggests that EEG rhythms also derive from deeper level microtubule vibrations. In addition, work from the laboratory of Roderick G. Eckenhoff, MD, at the University of Pennsylvania, suggests that anesthesia, which selectively erases consciousness while sparing non-conscious brain activities, acts via microtubules in brain neurons."

"The origin of consciousness reflects our place in the universe, the nature of our existence. Did consciousness evolve from complex computations among brain neurons, as most scientists assert? Or has consciousness, in some sense, been here all along, as spiritual approaches maintain?" ask Hameroff and Penrose in the current review. "This opens a potential Pandora's Box, but our theory accommodates both these views, suggesting consciousness derives from quantum vibrations in microtubules, protein polymers inside brain neurons, which both govern neuronal and synaptic function, and connect brain processes to self-organizing processes in the fine scale, 'proto-conscious' quantum structure of reality." 
"After 20 years of skeptical criticism, "the evidence now clearly supports Orch OR," continue Hameroff and Penrose. "Our new paper updates the evidence, clarifies Orch OR quantum bits, or "qubits," as helical pathways in microtubule lattices, rebuts critics, and reviews 20 testable predictions of Orch OR published in 1998 -- of these, six are confirmed and none refuted." 
"An important new facet of the theory is introduced. Microtubule quantum vibrations (e.g. in megahertz) appear to interfere and produce much slower EEG "beat frequencies." Despite a century of clinical use, the underlying origins of EEG rhythms have remained a mystery. Clinical trials of brief brain stimulation aimed at microtubule resonances with megahertz mechanical vibrations using transcranial ultrasound have shown reported improvements in mood, and may prove useful against Alzheimer's disease and brain injury in the future.
"Lead author Stuart Hameroff concludes, "Orch OR is the most rigorous, comprehensive and successfully-tested theory of consciousness ever put forth. From a practical standpoint, treating brain microtubule vibrations could benefit a host of mental, neurological, and cognitive conditions."
The review is accompanied by eight commentaries from outside authorities, including an Australian group of Orch OR arch-skeptics. To all, Hameroff and Penrose respond robustly." 
"Penrose, Hameroff and Bandyopadhyay will explore their theories during a session on "Microtubules and the Big Consciousness Debate" at the Brainstorm Sessions, a public three-day event at the Brakke Grond in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, January 16-18, 2014. They will engage skeptics in a debate on the nature of consciousness, and Bandyopadhyay and his team will couple microtubule vibrations from active neurons to play Indian musical instruments. "Consciousness depends on anharmonic vibrations of microtubules inside neurons, similar to certain kinds of Indian music, but unlike Western music which is harmonic," Hameroff explains."

Monday, December 01, 2014

On Psychic Problems.....

The preeminent scholar and philosopher Manly P. Hall who founded the Philosophical Research Society in Los Angeles. He's the author of "Secret Teachings of All Ages" which he wrote in his twenties in 1928.

He wrote many books, among them "Solving Psychic Problems and Submerged Personalities" from which this definitive quote emerged:

"We advise those who come with psychic problems to relax the tensions caused by fear and uncertainty and take a matter-of-fact attitude. Nine times out of ten this ends the phenomenon, which which is only hysteria due to metaphysical indigestion. Spirits are traditionally believed to inhabit ancient ruins, old and deserted houses, graveyards, places of executions, and similar melancholy spots. They shun the light of day, remain aloof from gaiety and happiness, and return to their graves when the cock crows at dawn. Psychological spooks frequent those gloomy and decadent zones of the subconscious which correspond to the melancholy places of the earth. They rise from the dead hopes and from the ruins of old memories, and they depart in haste at the approach of mental light. When day breaks in us, the specters fade like mist at dawn. When we clean out the gloomy ruins within ourselves, there is no suitable habitation for the shadows of lost causes."

"There is no essential evil in nature, not intent to plague mortals with horrible phantoms. Such a sad condition myst be caused by the individual, and the cure lies in the correction of the cause. Socrates paid homage to happy spirits and found each grove and glade the habitation of useful and kindly creatures ever ready to serve mankind. Having experienced the universe as full of goodness, the philosopher had no place in his own soul for fear. He lived his convictions and died with a good hope. If we do not acknowledge the existence of injustice, we are seldom the victims of any mysterious evil agency. If, however, we lack within ourselves a deep and abiding confidence about the integrity of universals, we plague ourselves innumerable deceits. The remedy is to live and think constructively, develop our internal resources naturally and graciously, correct our faults, forget the past, and dedicate the present and the future to useful and constructive enterprises. The spook, if any, cannot endure such optimism, and departs in search of a more congenial ruin to haunt."