Archive for December, 2008


sometimes a gift is not something you get, but something you let go of

The quote by Campbell below reflects the burden that was lifted from me  (and continues to lift as I accept and sit with and evolve in my practice), especially since I come from that “other worldly” focus of a fundamentalist Christian background.  Nietzche’s ideas were one of the first to influence this change in thinking, way back in college. Movement towards being in the now and accepting. Not a preconceived expectation. Bringing compassion into that moment . . .
Nietzche was the one who did the job for me. At a certain moment in his life, the idea came to him of what he called “the love of your fate.” Whatever your fate is, whatever the hell happens, you say, “This is what I need.” It may look like a wreck, but go at it as though it were an opportunity, a challenge. If you bring love to that moment — not discouragement — you will find the strength is there. Any disaster you can survive is an improvement in your character, your stature, and your life. What a privilege! This is when the spontaneity of your own nature will have a chance to flow.

American mythologist, writer & philosopher Joseph Campbell (1904 – 1987)

shit happens – teaching happens

Dukkha is our best teacher.

It will not be persuaded by any pleading of misery to let go of us.

If we may say to a human teacher, “I don’t feel well….,” the teacher may reply, “I am very sorry, but if you want to go home, then you must go. If we say to dukkha, “Look, I don’t feel well…. I want to go home,”

dukkha says, “That’s fine, but I am coming along.”

There is no way to say goodbye to it unless and until we have transcended our reactions. This means that we have looked dukkha squarely in the eye and seen it for what it is: a universal characteristic of existence and nothing else.

The reason we are fooled is that because this life contains so many pleasant occasions and sense contacts, we think if we could just keep this pleasantness going dukkha would never come again. We try over and over again to make this happen, until in the end we finally see that the pleasantness cannot continue because the law of impermanence intervenes….

So we continue our search for something new, because everybody else is doing it too.

— Ayya Khema, When the Iron Eagle Flies

(still changing diapers, washing bottles, looking into precious eyes, smelling the tops of heads and not sleeping –  it’s all good)


This week’s enlightenment

Clean bottles: change diapers 🙂

(visiting family for the holidays – one month old twins)


As good as it gets ?

Ego is like a room of your own, a room with a view with the temperature and the smells and the music that you like. You want it your own way. You’d just like to have a little peace, you’d like to have a little happiness, you know, just “gimme a break.”

But the more you think that way, the more you try to get life to come out so that it will always suit you, the more your fear of other people and what’s outside your room grows. Rather than becoming more relaxed, you start pulling down the shades and locking the door. When you do go out, you find the experience more and more unsettling and disagreeable. You become touchier, more fearful, more irritable than ever. The more you try to get it your way, the less you feel at home.

–Pema Chodron, Start Where You Are


My favorite – honest and beautiful

I can get sentimental over the holidays (I suppose it’s better than bitter and/or depressed).  I have an affinity to certain timeless and transcendent lessons in childhood stories, The Grinch, Charlie Brown, Pee Wee’s Christmas  (HAH!) . . . but the video below is a clip of my all time favorite.  No speaking (but for a bit of music and song) – there is no need for words.  Beautiful renderings in pastels and what I feel is the most HONEST lesson about life – joy, hope, imagination, clinging, sorrow and Impermanence.


Shut the F up



Since in order to speak, one must first listen, learn to speak by listening.

~ Mevlana Rumi Quotes from Rumi Daylight: A Daybook of Spiritual Guidance

What do you do to still that screaming monkey in your head, so you can hear – before opening your mouth? 

My greatest regrets have been opening my mouth before having listened.  My greatest regrets will continue to be opening my mouth before I have listened.  In order to listen I do not need to quiet others. I need to turn attention to what arises within . . .  and let it go.

Deep Breathes


Dirty Dawg


From, –Jack Kornfield,  A Path with Heart
(Jack basically says it all, no need for much comment, so throw me a bone – I’m a novice at sitting)

For some, [the] task of coming back a thousand or ten thousand times in meditation may seem boring or even of questionable importance. But how many times have we gone away from the reality of our life?–perhaps a million or ten million times! If we wish to awaken, we have to find our way back here with our full being, our full attention. . .

In this way, meditation is very much like training a puppy. You put the puppy down and say, “Stay.” Does the puppy listen? It gets up and runs away. You sit the puppy back down again. “Stay.” And the puppy runs away over and over again. Sometimes the puppy jumps up, runs over and pees in the corner, or makes some other mess. Our minds are much the same as the puppy, only they create even bigger messes. In training the mind, or the puppy, we have to start over and over again.


Rubbermaid or Tupperware?


Have you ever witnessed a toddler fall?
Often you’ll notice that they do not cry until they look around and find their mother.  It is only when they see their mother (or guardian) that they go running into safe arms and let out their cry.  Why?
An evolved parent is a a sturdy and safe container for the child’s unpleasant emotions.

As we evolve in our practice, we too become better containers for the unpleasant things that arise.

To parent oneself can mean facing and confronting the disowned self and embracing it.

I came across this quote by Jack Kornfield from “Buddha’s Little Instruction Book” that made me think about this developmental process:

Even our anger can be held in a heart of kindness


Aren’t you as impressed with my bulge as i am ?


To believe ourselves to be custodians of truth is to become its opposite, is a direct path to becoming stale, self-righteous, or rigid. Ideas and memories do not hold liberating or healing power.

Wisdom is alive only as long as it is lived, understanding is liberating only as long as it is applied. A bulging portfolio of spiritual experiences matters little if it does not have the power to sustain us through the inevitable moments of grief, loss, and change. Knowledge and achievements matter little if we do not yet know how to touch the heart of another and be touched.

— Christina Feldman and Jack Kornfield, Stories of the Spirit, Stories of the Heart


And the award for most over-rated performance goes to . . .


From Brian Johnson:

Got this one from a Tony Robbins seminar (I think it was Date with Destiny):

You have any movies you just absolutely hated? Yah? Me, too.

Quick question: Would you go watch it 10,000 times?

Um. Riiiiiiiiight.

That’d be pretty stupid, eh?

So, another quick question: Why do we replay that horrible scene from our lives over and over and over and over and over and over again?

Time to go to a new movie, wouldn’t you say?


With hands open and relaxed, befriending the moment

On November 8th and 18th I had posted an eloquent saying I came across:

“Open your hand and let the dead wood drop”

It is still a wonderful picture. It is a wonderful Practice .
Just opening my hand and letting go relaxes my body (my shoulders drop), I breathe and usually I smile.

It’s addictive – just observing my hand opening and closing.

It’s like open hands = an opening of my heart. There is a befriending of the moment.
(Probably because there is much I hold on to ;  I return to myself as I do this, this simple movement.  I practice it from time to time in my office at work.  It’s a great one minute meditation.  My yellow sticky note on my computer reminding me,  says “open your hand”)

In practicing  Qigong this morning, I was noticing my open hands.  Noticing how they follow the energy, how they don’t try. There is no try, just do.

Here are a few words that follow in this vein, written better than I could have:

The goal of vipassana practice is to cultivate the mindful, non-reactive observation of bodily and mental processes so as to develop an increasing awareness–an awareness undistorted by our usual desires, fears and views of the true nature of these processes, that they are impermanent, that they are without self and therefore involve no suffering on our part until we learn to let go.It is through mindful observation of what is actually there that the delusion that makes us perceive what is impermanent and transient as permanent and lasting is gradually dispelled. Liberation consists in experiencing and understanding fully and clearly that everything is impermanent and seeing that there is quite literally nothing to worry about.
–Amadeus Sole-Leris, Tranquility & Insight


Whatever the present moment contains, accept it as if you had chosen it. Always work with it, not against it. Make it your friend and ally, not your enemy. This will miraculously transform your whole life.
–Eckhart Tolle , The Power of Now


On a long enough timeline the survival rate for everyone drops to zero

Thanks to “Breathe” for posting a comment on my last blog, which has me remembering what a wonderful shadow expression this film was:





Owning up to your “shadow” – not a bad idea, can be a difficult process though.  It’s the Holiday Season so get ready to face it, cause it is going to be in your face screaming a big “Fuck You”, which for me can easily mean, turning around and projecting it onto someone else (I mean wtf, this is the shadow – I ain’t gonna own it – that’s its point).
Tis the season to be with “family” and there’s nothing like family to bring out a little bit of my repressed features.  The bigger the jerk, the more likely I’ll project my disowned self  (hell, you should see me at work recently – it’s all – “I’m rubber, you’re glue”).  But family D-r-a-m-a makes  the  stunts pulled at drag shows seem tame (and trust me, those queens know drama).

If you head over to,  Kelly Sosan Bearer has written some great 101 articles on the Shadow.  Really worth taking a look – even if you’re like me and spent quite a bit of time examining this issue over the years.  “Hot on the Shadow’s Trail”  also includes an informative 10 minute video by Diane Musho Hamilton.   Here is an excerpt:

“There are several benefits to recognizing and working with our shadow qualities. For one, we are usually more effective when we are not projecting all over everyone and everything we encounter. By reclaiming our projections, we unburden others from our projections about them, and allow them to just be themselves, rather than as how we see them. In that way we gain more objectivity.
But possibly the most important reason to work with our shadow is that hiding our shadow from ourselves requires an extraordinary amount of energy. What could we do with all that liberated energy? Enjoy life more? Enjoy others more? Accomplish more because we aren’t being constantly triggered into a familiar drama? Maybe even make a developmental stage transition?”

I think one of the greatest benefits of examining and owning the shadow for me is that I have a great desire to open – and part of what the above excerpt points to –  is that we are able to be more objective when we own our shadow.  Wouldn’t it be great to say,  “I don’t ALREADY know how you’re gonna act”, because you’re making it about yourself (your shadow) rather than them?
So in the end whether they are a jerk or not doesn’t really matter.

(sure, easier said than done – but you gotta start somewhere. And you have to have a bit of healthy ego development and sense of self to begin to even look at your dark side, otherwise you’re gonna go neurotic or even psychotic – which probably explains why some of those family members will never try this process.)


Co-dependent or Caring? A Balance

I am often asked by friends and clients what the difference is between the “sacrifice” that comes with loving another and that line you can cross where it becomes codependent  –   Or  when is the act of making a boundary not really self care at all but just plain selfishness.
I have no easy answer.  I still struggle with this at times myself.   I do know that the more mindful and centered I am, the better I am at self care and care for others.  I have been called selfish when I was in fact just making a boundary and I have been called caring when I was in fact feeding my ego’s need for approval by helping someone (not true altruism).  Bottom line for me is, if I decide to slow down and “pay attention” I can usually discern the difference, or at the very least be open to hearing feedback from trusted friends/teachers.
Sure there are days where I choose to not learn, stay overwhelmed and generally just not give a fuck.  But at least I know that’s what I’m doing now.   It’s not as unconscious a behavior as it has been in the past. Awareness has its benefits, even without immediate change in behavior.

Below is another Daily Dharma from Tricycle Magazine that puts caring and co-dependence into a good perspective and explains it way better than I can.  See you on the Middle Way:

Supporting Right Livelihood

The most important step in building support for right livelihood is giving back more than you get. It’s not really a matter of keeping track in some kind of ledger book. It’s more a function of the attitude that you adopt in caring for yourself and those around you. People tend to mirror the way they are treated. If you show an interest in helping and sharing, those around you will start helping you and sharing more with you. If you empathize with other people’s situations, they tend to empathize more with yours. . . . The key is to be active about it. Look for opportunities to cooperate. With a proactive attitude of supporting others, you will seldom experience a shortage of support from others.

A simple caution is in order, however, when it comes to giving to others. . . . Give more than you get, but not more than you’ve got.

— Claude Whitmyer, Mindfulness and Meaningful Work

from Everyday Mind, edited by Jean Smith, a Tricycle book


We wanted SUV’s not Solar Panels

Still think your vote doesn’t count?  The first presidential election I was ever able to vote in, made a difference. I thought President Carter was a country farmer with little wisdom; I believed Ronald Reagan was an amazing leader/communicator.  History has since proven me dead wrong. But at the time I helped vote “image” into office.  Soon we returned to our gas guzzling cars; energy conservation was an illusion of the past. AIDS was not mentioned for years as thousands died.  My vote counted. (Well at least my karma did not involve voting for Bush)

Here is an article from the Elephant Journal regarding former president Carter and current president elect Barak Obama (and yes, the great communicator too).  I never new there were solar panels at the White House at one time! Of course they were dismatled . . . (I wonder where we would be now with about 30 years dedicated to this original direction?).  Just part of our Karma (that is, reaping the effects of what we sow – so be careful who you’re angry with – if you haven’t examined the part you played in our current outcome).


Photo via

In a recent interview with Barbara Walters, President Elect Barack Obama said that he plans to coordinate an evaluation with the Chief Usher of the White House to see how energy is used in the White House. I can only imagine the number of light bulbs in all of the rooms of that place!

For starters, Obama plans on keeping the lights off in rooms that aren’t being used. I’m feeling like a youngin’ since, for many, Obama’s statements are inspiring recollections of Jimmy Carter’s days and his installation of solar panels on the roof of the White House—something I hadn’t even known he’d done. They were taken down during Reagan’s administration (why?), but check out this article for a nice synopsis of Carter’s energy initiatives. I think it’s an important time to look at where we’ve been, to see where we are going.

Our friends over at Eco Times also posted an excellent article today that reminded me of the limitations of some renewables and how we have to keep this energy debate open and balanced.

Was Jimmy Carter right?
Published Sat, 10/01/2005 – 07:00
by Stephen Koff

Washington- President Bush is telling Americans to go easy on energy, use carpools and “curtail nonessential travel” – an unusual moment for an administration that used to say it could meet growing energy demand by expanding supply, not consuming less.

But this is not a Jimmy Carter, turn- down-the-thermostat, late-1970s moment.

Carter wore a cardigan when asking Americans to bear a little discomfort in a time of severe oil price increases. Last Monday, Bush rode in a motorcade – two limousines, three utility vans, six SUVs and a medical truck – to the climate-controlled Department of Energy, where he appeared in a suit and tie behind a podium.

Symbols aside, the former oilman who occupies the White House today shares a problem that plagued Carter, a former peanut farmer and naval nuclear engineer: How to solve an energy crunch in a nation utterly dependent on fossil fuel?

Conservation is only a tiny part of Bush’s answer, although on Monday, Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman will lay out what his office calls a comprehensive, national conservation campaign in the face of rising winter energy costs.

In the past, Bush focused on promoting new nuclear power plants, better use of coal, new shipments of liquefied natural gas and further exploration of oil and gas in Alaska.

Bush’s energy problems stem largely from growing worldwide demand for limited supplies of oil and natural gas. The situation has grown worse because of the war in Iraq and, recently, hurricanes Katrina and Rita, which knocked out rigs in the Gulf Coast and hampered refineries.

Carter faced a crisis from a combination of economic problems, failed policies of his predecessors and, finally, an Iranian revolution that cut access to some Middle Eastern oil.

Carter met the problems by starting sweeping oil-reduction reforms, including creation of the Cabinet-level Department of Energy.

He began spending millions of dollars researching alternative sources for electrical power, including solar power. He got utilities to cut their use of oil for electricity and ramp up their use of natural gas or coal.

“Up until Carter, we were getting about 20 percent of our electricity from oil generation,” said Jay Hakes, director of the Energy Information Administration under Carter and an authority on modern presidents and oil. “And post-Carter, it went down to about 3 percent.”

Carter insisted that U.S. automakers build more fuel-efficient cars, with a goal of 27.5 miles per gallon over the following decade – a requirement passed under Gerald Ford but put into force by Carter.

He offered incentives for getting oil from shale, creating a boom initially in the Rockies – and a bust when it failed to be cost-effective. He offered deductions for using solar water heaters in homes and commercial buildings.

“People in the upper-income bracket were always looking for tax cuts. They were going to build a house anyhow, so they were saying, ‘Well let’s look at this solar stuff and see what we can do,’ ” said Marc Giaccardo, a professor at the University of Texas at San Antonio who at the time was an Albuquerque architect.

Carter even had solar collec tors installed on the White House grounds to heat the executive residence’s water.

Then Carter lost re-election to Ronald Reagan in 1980. The so lar panels at the White House eventually came down – and Reagan and his aides gutted the solar research program.

“In June or July of 1981, on the bleakest day of my professional life, they descended on the Solar Energy Research Institute, fired about half of our staff and all of our contractors, including two people who went on to win Nobel prizes in other fields, and reduced our $130 million budget by $100 million,” recalls Denis Hayes, the founder of Earth Day, who had been hired by Carter to spearhead the solar initiative.

Reagan and Congress stopped aggressively pushing new auto efficiency standards, acceding to Detroit’s desire to leave them at Carter-era levels. They let the solar tax benefit expire, and the nascent solar industry went belly- up.

It was time to let the markets work their magic and stop all this government tinkering, Reagan and conservatives said.

Bad stuff? A recipe for the fix we’re in today?

A number of environmentalists and conservationists say so.

Although the corporate average fuel economy, or CAFE, standards already were saving 3 million barrels a day, “they could be saving us a further 3 million or 4 million barrels a day” if they had been ramped up, says Dan Becker, director of the Sierra Club’s global-warming project.

That would be enough to compensate for Katrina or for disruptions in supply from Venezuela and Nigeria in the last year or so, Becker says. “We could be saving more oil than we now import from the Persian Gulf had the government acted to raise the fuel economy.”

Every president since Carter has refused or been obstructed by Congress – which is lobbied by automakers and unions that fear losing jobs. When Americans want sheer size, they buy American, but when they want fuel efficiency, they tend to buy Japanese.

Meantime the nation began its love affair with sport utility vehicles, which are classified as light trucks, not automobiles, and have a lower standard of 20.7 miles to the gallon. That’s scheduled to go up to 22.2 miles per gallon by 2007. In August, Bush announced a plan to raise it to 23.5 miles by 2010, but critics call that inadequate – and some moderate Republicans agree.

New York Republican Rep. Sherwood Boehlert introduced legislation in September that would require a 33 mile-per-gallon average for cars and SUVs in the next decade. While anything is possible, a majority in his party has previously rejected these measures.

Meantime, the solar energy industry is hopeful – not because of anything that occurred in the White House after Carter, but because the 2005 energy bill, signed by Bush, will give up to $2,000 in tax credits for anyone installing solar energy in a home. The credits begin next January, although they will be available for only two years unless Congress extends them.

Solar-energy champions say such a boost was needed 20 years ago, as the Carter tax credits were expiring. “The solar water heating industry instantly went from a billion-dollar industry to an industry that now installs, in the U.S., about 6,000 solar hot water heaters a year,” said Noah Kaye, spokesman for the Solar Energy Industries Association.

Had Reagan not squashed it, the research that Carter started could have triggered a substantial shift to solar, wind power and other renewable forms of energy – possibly providing as much as 25 percent of the nation’s electricity supply, says Hayes, the Carter solar expert.

“We were all aware of what in theory could happen by the year 2000, and it occasionally comes back and haunts us,” Hayes said.

That is all hypothetical, of course, because the theories never got a chance to run their course.

Yet solid data exist on what happened after the free market- loving Reagan chopped Carter’s programs to shreds.

Oil prices dropped and stayed relatively stabile for two decades. Motorists were thrilled.

Oil prices plunged in the early ’80s after the Iranian crisis ended; after a worldwide recession sapped productivity (a less productive economy uses less fuel); and — especially — after Reagan eliminated price controls. The controls, limiting how high the cost of fossil fuel could go, had been in place since Richard Nixon used them in an effort to rein in inflation and dampen consumer prices during the Arab oil embargo. Carter started to eliminate them but never finished.

While the controls kept a lid on prices, they also prevented oil companies from earning enough to make them want to reinvest in more exploration and production. “When there’s a shortage of supply and you put in price controls, it makes the matter worse because it decreases incentives to produce more,” Hakes said. “And it decreases the incentives for drivers to cut back.”

Reagan couldn’t wait to fix that problem. “He signed the order the day he came in,” said Bob Slaughter, president of the National Petrochemical and Refiners Association.

Soon prices began reflecting the laws of supply and demand. World affairs, be they labor strife in Venezuela, Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait or the threat of higher prices from Middle Eastern countries, could drive prices higher. But renewed drilling in Texas, the new pipeline from Alaska’s North Slope, good relations with foreign producers like Saudi Arabia and occasional siphoning of the Strategic Petroleum Reserve (a Ford administration invention created for emergencies) tempered most crises.

In fact, the price of petroleum got so low at one point, after the Saudis flooded the market in 1986, that some Texas oilmen went broke. Not that drivers minded.

Home heating oil and natural gas prices followed similar patterns. And with inexpensive and seemingly abundant energy, who needed solar? It was cheaper and more reliable to power a home with electricity from the local utility than to gamble that a $20,000 investment in solar panels might eventually pay off.

“I’m not sure it’s a benefit to anybody to push a technology that’s not economically viable,” said Rayola Dougher, manager of energy market issues for the American Petroleum Institute, the big oil trade group.

But if supply interacts so closely with demand in a free market, ultimately benefiting consumers by driving down prices, then the opposite must also occur: High energy costs will make consumers choose to drive less or trade in their gas guzzlers. High electricity bills will make alternatives like solar power more appealing. Americans will conserve, adapting to the market. Which brings us back to 2005 — and to gasoline prices that have hovered near $3 a gallon for several weeks.

“Price is having an effect,” said William O’Keefe, chief executive of the George C. Marshall Institute, a science policy think tank, and a former American Petroleum Institute executive. “There is a shift within the auto market — people are buying more crossover vehicles, they’re looking at the smaller SUVs that get higher miles per gallon.”

Higher prices are also “providing incentives to look at alternative fuels, and we are using more alternative fuels all the time,” says Dougher. “In fact, the biggest producer of solar energy today is an oil company, BP, in terms of solar panels.”

It bears noting, some energy authorities say, that the free markets embraced by the oil companies aren’t entirely free. Billions of federal dollars flow to the oil, gas and electric utility industries through tax credits, depreciation rules, research grants, insurance guarantees and even direct government expenditures. And yet, some in those industries say that federal taxes should not have subsidized a speculative industry such as solar power in the Carter White House.

This is not lost on Hayes, Carter’s solar guru.

“For the industry that has gained by far the most subsidies and tax advantages from the federal government ever in American history to talk about the free market is slightly ironic,” he says.

To reach this Plain Dealer reporter:, 216-999-4212

© 2005 The Plain Dealer
© 2005 All Rights Reserved.

Live'n Aloha on Maui.
Lately just posting pics, artwork, vids, & music with just a headline (less seems to be more).
Into Wilber, Beck, Zen Stuffs, Spiritual Concepts, Philosophy and Humor (kinda geeky humor).
Currently attempting to strengthen my meditation skills (this has been a 20 yr process).
Thanks for stopp'n by and please leave a comment. Poz or Neg, all comments welcome.
"I don't like Spam" (said with a British accent)

December 2008