Category Archives: political change



Once you’ve seen the face of god,
You see that same face on everyone you meet.

The true god has no face. The true Tao has no name. But we cannot identify with that until we are of a very high level of insight. Until then, the gods with faces and the Tao with names are still more worthy of veneration and study than the illusions of the world.

With long and sincere training, it is possible to see the face of god. Holiness is not about scientific objectivity. It is about a deep and clear recognition of the true nature of life. Your attitude toward your god will be different than anyone else’s god — divinity is a reflection of your own understanding. If your experience differs from others, that does not invalidate your sense of godliness. You will have no doubts after you have seen.

Knowing god is the source of compassion in our lives. We realize that our separation from others is artificial. We are neither separate from other people not from Tao. It is only our own egotism that leads us to define ourselves as individuals. In fact, a direct experience of god is a direct experience of the utter universality of life. If we allow it to change our ay of thinking, we will understand our essential oneness with all things.

How does god look? Once you see god, you will see that same face on every person you meet.

Deng Ming-Dao, 365 Tao

I have just three things to teach: simplicity, patience, compassion. These three are your greatest treasures. Simple in actions and in thoughts, you return to the source of being. Patient with both friends and enemies, you accord with the way things are. Compassionate toward yourself, you reconcile all beings in the world.
— Lao Tsu, Tao Te Ching, Chapter 67

The quality of mercy is not strain’d,
It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
Upon the place beneath: it is twice blest;
It blesseth him that gives and him that takes:
‘Tis mightiest in the mightiest: it becomes
The throned monarch better than his crown;
His sceptre shows the force of temporal power,
The attribute to awe and majesty,
Wherein doth sit the dread and fear of kings;
But mercy is above this sceptred sway;
It is enthroned in the hearts of kings,
It is an attribute to God himself;
And earthly power doth then show likest God’s
When mercy seasons justice. Therefore, Jew,
Though justice be thy plea, consider this,
That, in the course of justice, none of us
Should see salvation: we do pray for mercy;
And that same prayer doth teach us all to render
The deeds of mercy. — William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice

The supreme good is like water, which nourishes all things without trying to. It is content with the low places that people disdain. Thus it is like the Tao.
— Lao Tsu, Tao Te Ching, Chapter 8

When I strike you,
your blood will certainly flow from my veins.
When you are starving,
your bloated belly is gnawing into my flesh.
The laughter in your eyes
lights up mine.
I can see my face in yours.
Can you see yours in mine?

— The Tao is Tao, 97

The courage
to show compassion
comes from
the acceptance of

— The Tao is Tao, 15

My greatest problem with becoming truly compassionate is letting go of my own ego. I can be compassionate towards others, but I make the mistake of expecting compassion in return. I need to learn to accept that others are not always compassionate, that they will not show me the same courtesy that I show to them, and be ok with that.I forgive others for their transgressions towards me, but others have not forgiven me, and yet, I must still feel compassion for them. My sadness these days is that they cannot open their own hearts enough to forgive, cannot let go of their prejudices. But, Tao teaches acceptance, and acceptance of others own hardness is one of the most difficult things to feel compassion towards.

It is the problem I see in America today. Those who claim compassion also shout for war, and the death penalty, and intolerance of others actions. How can they be like this? If they believe in compassion, they must feel it towards all others, not just those that agree with them and that they like, or those who they see as thinking the same way they do and believing in the same religion. For the sake of their version of heaven, they are willing to put the rest of us in hell. That is not compassion, that is hypocrisy.

And yet…. I must show compassion for them, and not judge them, and understand them and care about them in spite of how they act. This is difficult, but it must be done. Otherwise, I become the hypocrite that I detest.

Compassion, true compassion, is indeed a difficult thing, until we accept that all are one.

(originally posted in 2005, last posted in 2008. Sadly I feel the need to post it again today, in light of the news.)

Getting along and going along

There is every possibility your life is destined for something you don’t know anything about at all.

There is every possibility that you aren’t always right.

There is every possibility your ego is completely misleading you as to what you really want in your life, what your heart knows you need.

If you stop fighting the tides of your life, and enjoy whatever happens, life gets a lot easier. This doesn’t mean just giving in to what happens, it means moving with it, maintaining your plans and dreams for the future while recognizing the reality that it may not always go just as you pictured it, or happen right when you want things to happen.

When you decide to move with life, though, rather than fight it, things suddenly become much simpler and you’ll find a flow to your life that is amazing. Stop fighting yourself and your own pace, stop trying to speed up other people or slow them down, stop hurrying your kids to grow up or wanting other people to change. You can no more stop the snow in the winter than you can the blazing heat of summer, you can only change your location or your attitude about snow or heat, or adjust your surroundings and circumstances to deal with them.

If you can accept what is, completely, then you are in the position to change it if you need to, sometimes just simply by changing your attitude towards it. Once you stop seeing someone else or something else as difficult, and realize the difficulty is within you, then you can begin to deal with it and come to terms with it.

When you decide to work with others to accomplish their goals and plans, your own become less important. And suddenly, your ideas become more important to others; since you are cooperating with them, they will cooperate with you, and everyone’s life flows more easily. It is when we fight against other’s desires and plans that we run into trouble. When someone else sees you as a normally cooperative person, then when you do object to something, it is even more powerful. If you always object no matter what, then you’re just seen as difficult, and people won’t listen to you.

But mostly you have to be yourself, you have to be genuine. When others see you as coming from your heart, they will pay attention. If you can give advice out of love, rather than in an attempt to control, it will have a greater impact. If you can lead with your strengths, with your deepest wisdom and your heart rather than from your fears or your ego, people around you will grow and change.

And so will you.

Calitics:: A Movement In Search of Leadership

An important piece on the current state of California’s progressive movement and its future. Well worth a read. Go to the link for the full article:

…The 2010 ticket is going to offer defense against the right, but isn’t offering what most California Democrats really want: leadership.

As California enters its third year of the worst, most profound political and economic crisis in the 240 years since Europeans arrived, there remains a lack of hope and optimism that the crisis will be resolved favorably. Efforts to explore solutions to that crisis in 2009 revealed just how deep the problems are and how hard it is to produce the fixes.

Progressives are positioned to provide both the leadership and the agenda to get California out of the crisis. But so far, we haven’t been willing to step into that spotlight. 2008 and 2009 were consumed with the battle to elect Obama and then implement his agenda. The passage of the health care bill marks the end of that first phase.

Importantly, that bill was hailed by most California progressives not because it achieved a great progressive policy victory (it did no such thing) but instead because it confirmed that the concept of using government to guarantee provision of human services is a popular, politically possible goal.

California is at a tipping point. The old ways of the last 30 years – extracting wealth from the middle and working classes to fuel the wealthy, destroying our public institutions and services to achieve the same, justified as a necessity to protect the late 20th century suburban model of the California Dream – those old ways are over. Done. Dead.

But what replaces it? Progressives instinctively know the answer – an urban, sustainable model that is backed by a strong public sector that serves the basic needs of its people. But we do not yet know to get there, and do not have any leadership, whether top-down or bottom-up, that is producing the answer.

So far, at this convention, that animating vision and agenda is lacking. Not out of a lack of faith that we can implement it, but because we’re at a transition point. Progressives no longer have any villains within the Democratic Party, and in any case using villains as a way to motivate action has run its course.

We’ve reached the end of one phase of growth and activity in the California Democratic Party and the progressive movement. We’re about to enter another, one where we have the opportunity to start talking about and implementing our vision, now that many of the obstacles to it have been pushed aside. That vision isn’t on display at this convention. But it is percolating, coalescing, and requires progressives to learn how to deal with a new environment, where we’re no longer fighting against a venal, corrupt Republican president and the Democrats that enable them.

Instead we are in a place where Democrats govern the nation, and though many of us are ambivalent about that governance, it means we have to consider new frames and new ways to achieve our goals. We need not just individual leaders, but a leadership agenda, one no longer focused on tearing down our perceived enemies but on building up new institutions, new ideas, and ultimately, new campaign victories.

Calitics:: A Movement – and a Party – In Search of Leadership.

What do we have to give?

A wise woman who was traveling in the mountains found a precious stone in a stream. The next day she met another traveler who was hungry, and the wise woman opened her bag to share her food. The hungry traveler saw the precious stone and asked the woman to give it to him. She did so without hesitation. The traveler left, rejoicing in his good fortune. He knew the stone was worth enough to give him security for a lifetime. But a few days later he came back to return the stone to the wise woman.

“I’ve been thinking,” he said, “I know how valuable the stone is, but I give it back in the hope that you can give me something even more precious. Give me what you have within you that enabled you to give me the stone.”

What do we have to give, those of us who don’t have a precious stone in our bag? Is it enough if we give what we can? And if we do have that stone and someone asks for it, are we open enough to give it up? How many people would give up their security for a stranger? Not many. How many would give up something of value to us to help a stranger?

We are all travelers on our own paths. We are all hungry and looking for precious stones. But what is most important is what is within us, and what we are willing to share. Don’t hesitate to give what you can, when you can.

Yes, We Did — and Yes, We Will

I’m glad to finally see the health care bill pass. While it isn’t exactly what the progressive community wants, it’s certainly a big step forward, and will provide health care for millions of people as well as make health care better for the rest of us. So it’s a big win.

And there were a lot of doubts about getting this far. I’ve learned one thing about Obama — he will make every effort to keep his word and do what he says he will do. He has great integrity, and that is certainly what I saw in him when I started working with the political community to get him elected. I’m glad for the work I did over those years, sad for the friends I alienated in doing so, but their lives will be better, too. Even if they don’t appreciate that. But I’m glad for the friends I’ve made, and how deeply those friendships run. I’m glad to have the life I have now, with true, deep friendships and relationships, and I would not have those things if I did not follow my heart and do what I know is the right thing to do.

These days, I’m starting to get kudos for the work I do in pet therapy. The thing is, I don’t do any of the things I do for the ego gratification, for the good feeling of people praising me for what I do. I do what I do because it’s simply the right thing for me to be doing. It’s the Buddhist idea of “right work” — once you know it’s right, you simply do it. There is no ego involved.

I think for many of us who worked so hard on the campaign, on the years of political activism, we don’t feel much except great relief that it is finally showing results and the job is getting done. We know we still have years of struggle ahead to continue making the changes this country needs. Some may feel pride, some are experiencing great joy today, but for those who really understand and believe in change, we know the real work is still ahead, and this is just the first big step. A huge step, and it marks the beginnings of a new age in America, yes — but there is still so much to do.

Yes, we did.
Yes, we will…..

“Every once in a while a moment comes where you have a chance to vindicate all those best hopes that you had about yourself, about this country, where you have a chance to make good on those promises that you made … And this is the time to make true on that promise. We are not bound to win, but we are bound to be true. We are not bound to succeed, but we are bound to let whatever light we have shine.” — Barack Obama

Decide to Network

Decide to Network
Use every letter you write
Every conversation you have
Every meeting you attend
To express your fundamental beliefs and dreams
Affirm to others the vision of the world you want
Network through thought
Network through action
Network through love
Network through the spirit
You are the center of a network
You are the center of the world
You are a free, immensely powerful source
Of life and goodness
Affirm it
Spread it
Radiate it
Think day and night about it
And you will see a miracle happen:
The greatness of your own life.
In a world of big powers, media, and monopolies
But of six billion individuals
Network is the new freedom
The new democracy
A new form of happiness.

–Robert Muller, Under Secretary General of the United Nations

via Kathryn

Source (updated from Feb 2005)


(I blogged this three years ago, but Rambling Taoist is posting on this book today, so thought I would repost this here).

Wellspring of energy
Rises in the body’s core
Tap it and be sustained.
Channel it, and it will speak.

The source of all power is within yourself. Although external circumstances may occasionally hamper you, true movement comes solely from within yourself. The source is latent in everyone, but anyone can learn to tap it. When this happens, power rises like a shimmering well through the center of your body.

Physically, it will sustain and nourish you. But it can do many other things as well. It can give you gifts ranging from unusual knowledge to simple tranquility. It all depends on how you choose to direct your energies.

We cannot say that a person will become enlightened solely by virtue of having tapped this source of power; energy is neutral. It requires experience, wisdom, and education to direct it. You may gain power from your meditations, but it is possible for two people with the same valid attainment to use it in two different ways, even to the extremes of good and evil. Finding the source of spiritual power is a great joy; deciding how to direct it is the greatest of responsibilities.

Deng Ming-Dao, 365 Tao

I wrote this in 2005:

I don’t really have a lot to say about spiritual power today. It is a wonderful feeling when you feel it, and when that energy is flowing within you things seem to become effortless. I can’t keep mine flowing consistently but then i don’t tend to spend a lot of time in meditation. My energy source is definitely lying coiled and resting today. Perhaps I’ll push myself along to yoga later and get the juices flowing again… yawn. First maybe a dip in the spa and a long hot shower to get moving…

Five years later, a lot has changed for me. I would say that I flow very well from within my source, my life is fairly effortless these days. But I am beginning to feel the power rising; I do not yet know where and how it will be channeled. I’ve been sustained for a long time now and haven’t felt the need to do much, other than my political efforts, which I’m told have been very powerful at inspiring others, and my pet therapy work, which I hear the same about. I don’t actively try to inspire or create action these days; I mostly move with the Tao and allow myself to be a channel for whatever creative force wants to flow through me. This is hard to explain to people sometimes, but I don’t actually try to force my own will so much as I go along with whatever seems to need to be done at the moment. It is rare that I will tell people no if they ask something of me.

So I don’t always know exactly where I am headed, or even what the day will bring. I prefer not to bring my expectations to the day anymore, but rahter to let myself move along with whatever the day may bring. I’m not always able to do this, of course, and do get out of sorts, but I don’t expect everything to just flow to me either. It’s not about the law of attraction, it’s about the law of following for me. I don’t so much attract what I want — I turn it around to want what is attracted to me. It’s a different attitude, but it leads to a great deal of happiness and fulfillment.

Get it done already!

I’ve been watching the healthcare summit this morning, and observing how calmly Obama handles the Republicans. I sure couldn’t do it. I yell at them just listening to them, they are so inane. Same talking points over and over, and it is obvious they don’t really care about anyone. The Sunlight Foundation has been doing a wonderful live coverage with blogging and showing the campaign contributions of each speaker from, and it’s very revealing. The most adamant speakers against healthcare reform have huge contributions from the healthcare industry. I suppose that’s to be expected, but seeing it live as they are talking is so refreshing. I wish our mainstream media could be this open and honest.

With this kind of coverage available on the Internet, is it any wonder mainstream media is fading? We want to be able to interact with our world, both to share what we know and to learn new things. We want to be able to directly tell our legislators what we think, and not being able to do that real time is so frustrating. Twitter users were twittering CNN to stop talking over the speakers. This is what we want — to get our messages out to the media, to the big corporations and to our government. It comes out from the right wing in stupid ways, but the anger they express is just as real on the left — we all want to be listened to and responded to. I think the healthcare summit, and the kind of coverage and interaction I’m seeing today (also chatting with people on twitter and facebook about this) is the real future of our public interactions. I hope that healthcare reform passes soon, and I know it is not enough — but what I’m seeing today is very encouraging — not just on the political side, but also on the side of those working in the Internet media to really reform how we interact with our government and corporate agencies.

The Uh-ohs are finally over!

The Big Zero

Maybe we knew, at some unconscious, instinctive level, that it would be an era best forgotten. Whatever the reason, we got through the first decade of the new millennium without ever agreeing on what to call it. The aughts? The naughties? Whatever. (Yes, I know that strictly speaking the millennium didn’t begin until 2001. Do we really care?)

But from an economic point of view, I’d suggest that we call the decade past the Big Zero. It was a decade in which nothing good happened, and none of the optimistic things we were supposed to believe turned out to be true.

It was a decade with basically zero job creation. O.K., the headline employment number for December 2009 will be slightly higher than that for December 1999, but only slightly. And private-sector employment has actually declined — the first decade on record in which that happened.

It was a decade with zero economic gains for the typical family. Actually, even at the height of the alleged “Bush boom,” in 2007, median household income adjusted for inflation was lower than it had been in 1999. And you know what happened next….