Monthly Archives: February 2008

Returning

Activity is essential, but exhausting,
And its importance is only on the surface.
Withdraw into Tao at the end of the day.
Returning is renewal.

Each day is filled with activity. We rush around from meeting to meeting; we make all sorts of arrangements for the future. Such doings are important, but they are not all that there is in life. Even as we engage in them, we must remember that all human endeavors are temporary and provisional.

We cannot allow our accomplishments to divorce us from what is actually happening in the world. It is imperative that we withdraw to reflect upon the day’s events and collect ourselves for the continuation of our path. There is no need to go to a temple, a sacred spot, or a special room. We do not need elaborate ritual. All we need is a simple and natural turning within.

This is why followers of Tao always use the word ‘returning.’ They recognize the necessity of activity in life, but they also recognize the need to return to Tao. In Tao is the source of all things, and in the source one finds the renewal that one needs to go on with life. This back-and-forth movement between the source and the activity of life is the movement of all things.

Deng Ming-Dao, 365 Tao

To hold until full is not as good as stopping.
An oversharpened sword cannot last long.
A room filled with gold and jewels cannot be protected.
Boasting of wealth and virtue brings your demise.
After finishing the work, withdraw.

This is the Way of Heaven.

— Lao Tsu, Tao Te Ching, Chapter 9

Effect emptiness to the extreme.
Keep stillness whole.
Myriad things act in concert.
I therefore watch their return.
All things flourish and each returns to its root.

Returning to the root is called quietude.
Quietude is called returning to life.
Return to life is called constant.
Knowing this constant is called illumination.
Acting arbitrarily without knowing the constant is harmful.
Knowing the constant is receptivity, which is impartial.

Impartiality is kingship.
Kingship is Heaven.
Heaven is Tao
Tao is eternal.

Though you lose the body, you do not die.

— Lao Tsu, Tao Te Ching, Chapter 9

Return is the motion of the Tao.
Softening is its function.
All things in the cosmos arise from being.
Being arises from non-being.

— Lao Tsu, Tao Te Ching, Chapter 40

I do most of my Tao meditations in the morning, not at the end of the day. I like having my mind in a good place before starting my day, then I seem to not get so absorbed in the hustle and hassle of the day to begin with. In the evenings, I look at my meditation for the next day to start thinking about it, then empty my mind and relax completely, letting myself return to the ultimate of quiet places, and see what comes. By the next day, I am ready to put some thoughts together about that day’s meditation.

Well that is the plan, of course it doesn’t always work out that way. Life has its various phases of being busier than you would like it to be, and moods can overtake you to where you don’t really feel like thinking about Tao, even when that is when you need it the most. That’s why the masters encourage us to make a habit of it, I suppose, so that you do it whether you want to or not, like brushing your teeth. Well, I always brush, but I don’t always floss. I always work to try and quiet my mind, I don’t always succeed at doing it.

It amazes me how some people in this culture refuse to let quiet into their lives. They are constantly on their cell phones when they could be enjoying a leisurely lunch, blasting music when they could enjoy a few minutes of quiet in their cars, watching television at home instead of really relaxing in quiet and peace from their day. And then wonder why they are stressed out. I’ve taken to suggesting to people that they drink a cup of green tea in the morning before starting in with the coffee or soda during the day, since the tea has chemicals that counteract the caffeine in the coffee and its effect in increasing the stress hormone cortisol. My husband has been so much calmer since he started doing this. Now he’s giving up the soda completely. I drink tea throughout the morning, and soda sometimes in the afternoon. Much less than before, though.

How do you add peace to your day? How do you return to quiet and calm?

Communication (repost)

Movement, objects, speech, and words:
We communicate through gross symbols.
We call them “objective,”
But we cannot escape our point of view.

We cannot communicate directly from mind to mind, and so misinterpretation is a perennial problem. Motions, signs, talking, and the written word are all encumbered by miscommunication. A dozen eyewitnesses to the same event cannot agree on a single account. We may each see something different in cards set up by a circus magician. Therefore, we are forever imprisoned by our subjectivity.

Followers of Tao assert that we know no absolute truth in the world, only varying degrees of ambiguity. Some call this poetry; some call this art. The fact remains that all communication is relative. Those who follow Tao are practical. They know that words are imperfect and therefore give them limited importance; The symbol is not the same as the reality.

Deng Ming-Dao, 365 Tao

In self-differentiating into all beings, Tao has initiated the first moment of communication. The second moment of this ontological communication is a process of returning back. All beings, as be-gotten by Tao return to Tao through a process of conversion. Cor-responding to the process of differentiation, is the process of con-version. Lao Tzu said, “All things come into being, and I see thereby their return. All things flourish, but each one returns to its origin. This returning to its origin means tranquility. It is called returning to its destiny. To return to destiny is called the eternal Tao” (ch. 16).

Tao, in self-manifesting in all beings, still works inside all beings in order that they return back to it. Therefore, differentiation and conversion, this process for to and fro constitutes the original act of communication. Tao in fact is an original communication. The process of communication constitutes also all things and man’s relation to Tao, because differentiation and conversion define our relation with Tao. Lao Tzu summarizes this relation in saying that, “Return to the Simple Origin must be the act of all things, since they are begotten by the self-differentiation of the Simple Origin” (ch. 28). Sometimes he uses the metaphor of the relation between mother and son to illustrate this: “He who has found the mother thereby understands the sons; and having understood the sons still keeps to its mother” (ch. 52). Lao Tzu thereby has well grounded ontologically all the other derivative communications between man and other men, between man and other things. Begotten by Tao and returning to Tao, all beings are ontologically related. We can communicate one with another, because we are all sons of the same mother.

— Vincent Shen

Extending our hand to another, we join with that other in a union of contact that embraces our essence. Satir captures this sweet realization in her reminder that we are all born little. The practice of psychotherapy and leadership have much in common; both are art and science, and both require the conscious and strategic use of self to facilitate desired positive outcomes. Lao Tsu’s counsel to those of us who want to change culture reads:

If the sage would guide the people, he must serve with humility
If he would lead them, he must follow behind.
In this way when the sage rules, the people will not feel oppressed;
When he stands before them, they will not be harmed.
The whole world will support him and will not tire of him.
(Chapter 66)

Likewise:

He who stands on tiptoe is not steady.
He who strides cannot maintain the pace.
He who makes a show is not enlightened.
He who is self-righteous is not respected.
He who boasts achieves nothing.
He who brags will not endure.
According to followers of the Tao, “These are extra food
and unnecessary luggage.”
They do not bring happiness.
Therefore followers of the Tao avoid them.
(Chapter 24)

— Jean McLendon, Tao of Communication and the Constancy of Change

“The first of the principles governing symbols is this: The symbol is not the thing symbolized; the word is not the thing; the map is not the territory it stands for.” — S.I. Hayakawa, Language in Thought and Action

So communication comes first from the Tao to us, by way of the initial differentiation. Communication with other people then becomes, in a sense, getting past that differentiation and back to commonalities, in other words, back to the Tao. If we are followers of Tao and that becomes reflected in our words, they will ring truer to others than if we simply speak from our own self interests.

But, we can’t expect this from others, so we have to learn not to trust so much in their words, but look more to their actions to know what their real purpose is. I’ve gotten to where I’m actually rarely listening so much to the words people say as to their mood, their feeling, their body language, and whether they have that glow in their eyes that tells me they are actually excited about and interested in what they are saying. If it’s obvious to me that it is important to them, I pay far more attention to what they are saying. Passion speaks volumes to me. Travel with passion…

Smile when you say that…

I always smile just before I slap someone up side the head, myself… in a nice, curving motion, of course…

Children and Youth – Play – Development – Science – New York Times

Social play has its own vocabulary. Dogs have a particular body posture called the ‘‘play bow’’ — forelegs extended, rump in the air — that they use as both invitation and punctuation. A dog will perform a play bow at the beginning of a bout, and he will crouch back into it if he accidentally nips too hard and wants to assure the other dog: ‘‘Don’t worry! Still playing!’’

Other species have play signals, too. Chimps put on a ‘‘play face,’’ an open-mouthed expression that is almost like a face of aggression except that the muscles are relaxed into something like a smile. Baboons bend over and peer between their legs as an invitation to play, beavers roll around, goats gambol in a characteristic ‘‘play gait.’’ In fact, most species have from 10 to 100 distinct play signals that they use to solicit play or to reassure one another during play-fighting that it’s still all just in fun. In humans, the analogue to the chimp’s play face is a child’s smile, an open expression that indicates there is no real anger involved even in gestures that can look like a fight.

The day Brown met me in the park was a cold one, and the kids were bundled up like Michelin Men, adding more than the usual heft and waddle to their frolicking. Even beneath the padding, though, Brown could detect some typical gestures that these 2- and 3-year-olds were using instinctively to let one another know they were playing. ‘‘Play movement is curvilinear,’’ he said. ‘‘If that boy was reaching for something in a nonplay situation, his body would be all straight lines. But using the body language of play, he curves and embraces.’’

For all its variety, however, there is something common to play in all its protean forms: variety itself. The essence of play is that the sequence of actions is fluid and scattered. In the words of Marc Bekoff, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Colorado, play is at its core ‘‘a behavioral kaleidoscope.’’

In fact, it’s this kaleidoscopic quality that led Bekoff and others to think of play as the best way for a young animal to gain a more diverse and responsive behavioral repertory. Thus, the currently fashionable flexibility hypothesis, a revival of an idea Bekoff first proposed in the 1970s. If a single function can be ascribed to every form of play, in every playful species, according to this way of thinking, it is that play contributes to the growth of more supple, more flexible brains.

‘‘I think of play as training for the unexpected,’’ Bekoff says. ‘‘Behavioral flexibility and variability is adaptive; in animals it’s really important to be able to change your behavior in a changing environment.’’ Play, he says, leads to mental suppleness and a broader behavioral vocabulary, which in turn helps the animal achieve success in the ways that matter: group dominance, mate selection, avoiding capture and finding food.

….

Why would such an enriching activity as play also be a source of so much anarchy and fear? Sutton- Smith found one possible answer by reading Stephen Jay Gould, the author and evolutionary biologist. The most highly adaptive organisms, Gould wrote, are those that embody both the positive and the negative, organisms that ‘‘possess an opposite set of attributes usually devalued in our culture: sloppiness, broad potential, quirkiness, unpredictability and, above all, massive redundancy.’’ Finely tuned specific adaptations can lead to blind alleys and extinction, he wrote; ‘‘the key is flexibility.’’

What Gould called quirkiness, Sutton-Smith called play. ‘‘Animal play has been described by many investigators as fragmentary, disorderly, unpredictable and exaggerated,’’ Sutton-Smith wrote, and ‘‘child play has been said to be improvised, vertiginous and nonsensical.’’ The adaptive advantage to a behavior that is multifaceted, then, is that pursuing it, enjoying it, needing it to get through the day, allows for a wider range in a play-loving person’s behavioral repertory, which is always handy, just in case.

Playing might serve a different evolutionary function too, he suggests: it helps us face our existential dread. The individual most likely to prevail is the one who believes in possibilities — an optimist, a creative thinker, a person who has a sense of power and control. Imaginative play, even when it involves mucking around in the phantasmagoria, creates such a person. ‘‘The adaptive advantage has often gone to those who ventured upon their possibility with cries of exultant commitment,’’ Sutton-Smith wrote. ‘‘What is adaptive about play, therefore, may be not only the skills that are a part of it but also the willful belief in acting out one’s own capacity for the future.’’

loose ends

Sensing the changes impending
My thoughts are diffused by despair
I feel like I’m swimming straight up
Underwater
Desperately racing for air
I’m racing for air.

And the chords struck at birth
Grow more distant
Yet, we strike them again and again.
And we plead and we pray
For a glimmer of day
As the night folds its wings
And descends
Exposing the loose ends….
— Dan Fogelberg, Loose Ends

Winners never know the worth of losing
Til the prize has slipped right through
their hands

Love will take a heart of its own
choosing

And break it if you try to understand.

— Dan Fogelberg, Love Gone By

Once in a vision
I came on some woods
And stood at a fork in the road
My choices were clear
Yet I froze with the fear
Of not knowing which way to go
One road was simple
Acceptance of life
The other road offered sweet peace
When I made my decision
My vision became my release.

— Dan Fogelberg, Netherlands

Peace be with you

On a day when I am not at peace with myself or my surroundings, Ascender comes along and kicks my cage door wide open. I was going to write something about how I am feeling today, but I think I’ll just link to her good wishes instead. Please click on her link below to visit all the bloggers she lists; I don’t have the time to fix all the linky love at the moment here.

Namaste, to all.

Studio Lolo tagged me with this ‘peace and love’ meme; to spread the word to send loving energy and thoughts to the places and people that need it. Rather then tagging others I hope to pass on some urls of my virtual pals who could use some of your loving energy and thoughts. Please leave some virtual peace and love to some people who could really use it right now.

Red Moon at the loss of her daughter

The Daily Warrior successfully fighting ALS for 16 years

Studio Friday is closing down. Stop by and show her some love for her dedication all these years.

Check out these bloggers who address peace and love almost everyday: 3191, a poetic justice, another poster for peace, anti-war us, Art For A Change, Art of Mark Byran, Artists Helping Children, Blog Like You Give A Damn, Blood For Oil, bricalu, Buddha Project, Change Me, Changing Places, Crafty Green Poet, No Blood For War and Profit, Inhabitat, kamurawayan, Light a Candle, Military Families Speak Out, Miniature Gigantic, Paris Parfait, Peaceful Societies, Pinwheels for Peace, Poets Against the War, rambling taoist, smile, smile, Take it Personally, The Peace Train, Treehugger, Visual Resistance, We Are What We Do, Betmo, Bloggers For Peace

Maya's Granny is ill

One of the weird things about the Internet and blogging is caring deeply about people you’ve never met.

One of my favorite bloggers is ill – think good thoughts for her, people…..

Oh, and if you have symptoms of angina and congestive heart failure, please do not think you are “lazy” and get yourself to the hospital a bit more quickly than Maya’s Granny has, please. We older women are simply not indestructible, no matter how much we think we are.

Maya’s Granny

This is J again. Mom came through the angiogram well. She did not enjoy it at all. Looks like she will need bypass surgery, probably on Friday, but that’s just a guess, as I haven’t talked to her surgeon about it yet.

Will keep you up to date as I know more.

Brother, can you spare a job?

My good friend John in L.A. is getting a mite desperate to pay his rent – if you know of any graphic design jobs in L.A., please let me know. Or hey, just send him some good wishes.

Of course, Arnie is busy shutting down teachers’ jobs and cutting college and university school budgets here in CA – I wonder what he expects all our 20-something kids, who will have no jobs in a recession, to do if they can’t get the classes they need?

UPDATE:
From an email from a teacher friend at UC San Marcos this afternoon:

! i just got some good news about my job today – i dodged a bullet – out of the 10 people who were in the conference room today – 5 walked out without jobs…

But hey, we can bail out all of the “too big to fail” banks. I say sure, right after we repossess all of THEIR houses and cars and yachts, and take away the lovely California yacht loophole, or the sloophole, as they call it.

No money for schools, but heaven forbid the rich lose their tax break for yachts. And we wonder what is wrong with our society. The problem is the rich only like socialism when it benefits THEM!

Lunar eclipse to occur Wednesday night

Hope you all get to enjoy this – our weather is rainy and overcast and it doesn’t look like it will clear by tonight. Grumble.

UPDATE:

The clouds cleared enough for us to catch a glimpse of the moon after it was coming out of the total eclipse. So at least we got to see a part of it!!

Lunar eclipse to occur Wednesday night – Yahoo! News

The last total lunar eclipse until 2010 occurs Wednesday night, with cameo appearances by Saturn and the bright star Regulus on either side of the veiled full moon.

Skywatchers viewing through a telescope will have the added treat of seeing Saturn’s handsome rings.

Weather permitting, the total eclipse can be seen from North and South America. People in Europe and Africa will be able to see it high in the sky before dawn on Thursday.

As the moonlight dims — it won’t go totally dark — Saturn and Regulus will pop out and sandwich the moon. Regulus is the brightest star in the constellation Leo.

Jack Horkheimer, host of the PBS show “Star Gazer,” called the event “the moon, the lord of the rings and heart of the lion eclipse.”

Snapping Turtle Dream


Artwork by Steve Cova

My dream last night was about a snapping turtle, who I tried to take to do therapy work with Darwin (we are going to the Casa today to do pet therapy), but the turtle kept trying to bite me. I finally asked some advisers what to do about the turtle, and put it down. Suddenly it got much smaller and developed brightly painted colors (mostly blue) on its back. I woke up.

Haven’t figured out quite what this dream symbolized for me yet, but found this interesting story while I was researching the turtle dream. Enjoy.

Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens: Common Snapping Turtle

One time that well-known brave, Snapping Turtle, became angry. All the people wondered why he acted so strangely. “Snapping Turtle is very cranky,” said the other turtles, “Something must be in the air.” One day a messenger came to all of them, calling each to appear at Snapping Turtle’s wigwam. All the turtle people were glad, and hoped that this meant that he would be in a good mood, so they came and feasted. Then Snapping Turtle said to them: “My brothers, I am angry at mankind. I am going to raise a war-party and fight them.”

All the turtles agreed that they had received many insults from men, and were ready to go. That night when everyone was asleep, the warriors started out to do battle. They traveled from dawn until dark, and then they rested and slept. One of their numbers, the little Box Turtle, had a dream of bad omen. This made Snapping Turtle angry. He said that he did not believe in omens, and that he was determined to fight anyway. Each dawn he called on his followers to narrate their dreams of the night before, and each morning they had only bad omens to report. One morning Box Turtle sang this song: “Oh! Snapping Turtle, I see you now! They are throwing all of us turtles in a sack!”

“Don’t sing that!” hissed Snapping Turtle. But Box Turtle continued to sing, so Snapping Turtle went up to him and kicked him, but found that Box Turtle was singing in his sleep. The blow struck Box Turtle on the chest so hard that it broke his shell, and you can still see the break-the hinge of the shell on his chest-to this very day.

He said, “Next time, Box Turtle, you will sing ‘Snapping Turtle is brave and cleans up all the villages wherever he goes.’ I don’t want you to sing that I get my people thrown into a sack. It is a bad song. Instead, sing that I am the one who makes a clean, sweep wherever he goes, and throws the enemy into hysterics.”

Box Turtle was indignant and answered, “I don’t want you to put people in a sack. This is not my fault. I was asleep, and the dream I sang about came out that way. Who am I to control my dreams?” ….

Click on the link to continue the story)

Here’s the dream symbol interpretations I’ve found:

SNAPPING TURTLE – a person who will retaliate in a negative situation

TURTLE – the negative aspect is a fear of facing responsibility or reality. Can represent long life because turtles live a long time. Quiet strength,. In China it carries the world on it’s back. It is a symbol of fertility and unwavering vitality, and great patience.

Apparently I’m not the only one dreaming about him lately either….