Monthly Archives: December 2009

Searching

As my life goes on I believe
Somehow something’s changed
Something deep inside
Ooh a part of me

There’s a strange new light in my eyes
Things I’ve never known
Changin’ my life
Changin’ me

I’ve been searchin’
So long
To find an answer
Now I know my life has meaning

Now I see myself as I am
Feeling very free
Life is everything
Ooh it’s meant to be
When my tears have come to an end
I will understand
What I left behind
Part of me…

________________________________

There is a story from ancient India about a musk deer that was born with a scent of musk on his forehead. But he spent his whole life seeking and searching for this wonderful scent that seemed to be somewhere out there just around the next corner, not realizing that the scent was there already as a part of himself. — Ingela Abbott

Even in slumber
I searched for her face,
like someone obsessed,
and when it became clear
I would never succeed,
and I stopped searching,
she appeared
not in glory but without trace,
and I saw my self in her face.

— Jos Slabbert, The Tao is Tao

When we enter into a relationship…we are seeking a connection or, perhaps more accurately, what we feel as a result of this connection: comfort, love, acceptance, peace, joy. What we are seeking and striving for is a quality of connection that is — hopefully — a mutually pleasurable state, a dance of two spirits moving in agreement. Though we may be unable to articulate precisely what we seek, we recognize it when it happens. Simply stated, it feels good when it is right, and it does not feel good when things are wrong. And when it is right, it’s delightfully, incredibly, inexpressibly right. And when it is wrong, it can be terribly, unbearably wrong. What drives us crazy at times is that even when the connection is powerful and good, we may not know just how that moment was achieved or what magical ingredients helped to create it or, sadly, why it just as mysteriously dissolves into the mundane or routine.

Because this kind of profound connection is elusive …we may not understand that it is not a goal or a “thing” but rather a process … the truth is there is no particular formula by which a powerful connection may be summoned or created. In our restless searching through books and videos and seminars, we are asking for the recipe that can help us create what we know exists… We’ve tasted it, or we’ve seen it or perhaps we even just read about it — and we want more. We want a road map to There, because we’ve been there or we know others who have, and we know it’s where we want to go.

None of us deliberately sets out to create a relationship filled with conflict, frustration or disappointment. But the deep connection we seek may be missing…To find what we are seeking, we need to begin at the beginning, examining the foundation on which the entire relationship will turn: the quality of the connection itself.

Each time we interact … we have an opportunity to create an event of quality, or not. Our relationships … are dynamic, responsive to and informed by every choice we make. Each of our actions, whether intentional or inadvertent, will move us in only a few possible directions — away from or toward greater intensity of connection, or we do not move at all and remain still.

If quality is indeed an event, then in every moment, we have a choice. Relationships are not mechanical processes…. Our world is not one of simple cause and effect, but one of dynamic interactions, right down to the cells within our bodies. .. A relationship is also — at its core — a seamless integration of information. By the very act of choosing to be in a relationship — even casually — with another being, we open ourselves to the dynamic process of both putting forth and receiving information.

To fully embrace the idea that quality is a dynamic event that we can choose to create is both a heavy burden of responsibility and one of the greatest of all freedoms… The event of quality is one that we can actively choose, every day. — Suzanne Clothier’s “Bones Would Rain from the Sky” (this is actually a book about dog training, but it is awesome.)

The Uh-ohs are finally over!

The Big Zero
By PAUL KRUGMAN

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….

Winter Solstice

“Every gardener knows that under the cloak of winter lies a miracle … a seed waiting to sprout, a bulb opening to the light, a bud straining to unfurl. And the anticipation nurtures our dream.”
– Barbara Winkler

“Have you ever noticed a tree standing naked against the sky,
How beautiful it is?
All its branches are outlined, and in its nakedness
There is a poem, there is a song.
Every leaf is gone and it is waiting for the spring.
When the spring comes, it again fills the tree with
The music of many leaves,
Which in due season fall and are blown away.
And this is the way of life.”
– Krishnamurti

“Still in bloom–
California flowers dance
to winter song”
– Victor P. Gendrano

Sonnet at the Winter Solstice

This solstice is the return of the light
At which the sun stands still then to decide
That each succeeding day be made more bright
Although it takes until the other one
A moment at a time and day by day
The summer solstice greets winter’s work done
And pauses then to turn the other way

The yin and the yang of the year elide
And I am reminded of you somehow
Written in my heart and the sky above
As both winter and summer solstice now
Become two eyes in the face of my love

Another year the sun has smiled its way
Two eyes in the face of my love dawn day

— Steven Curtis Lance

Upper Mismanagement | The New Republic

The new managerial class tended to neglect process innovation because it was hard to justify in a quarterly earnings report, where metrics like “return on investment” reigned supreme. “In an era of management by the numbers, many American managers … are reluctant to invest heavily in the development of new manufacturing processes,” Hayes and Abernathy wrote. “Many of them have effectively forsworn long-term technological superiority as a competitive weapon.” By contrast, European and Japanese manufacturers, who lived and died on the strength of their exports, innovated relentlessly. One of Toyota’s most revolutionary production techniques is to locate suppliers inside its own factories. The New York Times’ Jon Gertner recently visited a Toyota plant and reported that the company doesn’t actually order a seat for a new truck until the chassis hits the assembly line, at which point the seat is promptly built on-site and installed. “If the front seat had not been ordered 85 minutes earlier, it would not exist,” Gertner observed. Alas, these aren’t the kinds of money-saving breakthroughs the GM brain trust has ever excelled at.

The country’s business schools tended to reflect and reinforce these trends. By the late 1970s, top business schools began admitting much higher-caliber students than they had in previous decades. This might seem like a good thing. The problem is that these students tended to be overachiever types motivated primarily by salary rather than some lifelong ambition to run a steel mill. And there was a lot more money to be made in finance than manufacturing. A recent paper by economists Thomas Philippon and Ariell Reshef shows that compensation in the finance sector began a sharp, upward trajectory around 1980.

… it’s hard to believe that American manufacturing has a chance of recovering unless business schools start producing people who can run industrial companies, not just buy and sell their assets. And we’re pretty far away from that point today.

via Upper Mismanagement | The New Republic.

Good article on one of my primary complaints as an engineer and process improvement manager….

Astronomy Picture of the Day

Tutulemma: Solar Eclipse Analemma

Credit & Copyright: Cenk E. Tezel and Tunç Tezel (TWAN)

Explanation: If you went outside at exactly the same time every day and took a picture that included the Sun, how would the Sun appear to move? With great planning and effort, such a series of images can be taken. The figure-8 path the Sun follows over the course of a year is called an analemma. This coming Tuesday, the Winter Solstice day in Earth's northern hemisphere, the Sun will be at the bottom of the analemma. Analemmas created from different latitudes would appear at least slightly different, as well as analemmas created at a different time each day. With even greater planning and effort, the series can include a total eclipse of the Sun as one of the images. Pictured is such a total solar eclipse analemma or Tutulemma – a term coined by the photographers based on the Turkish word for eclipse. The composite image sequence was recorded from Turkey starting in 2005. The base image for the sequence is from the total phase of a solar eclipse as viewed from Side, Turkey on 2006 March 29. Venus was also visible during totality, toward the lower right.

via Astronomy Picture of the Day.

We live on such an amazing planet! And such a beautiful one… and in such a beautiful universe!

Being Present and not a Zombie

Is it any wonder that I love all my Tao blogging buddies?

I love these people I’ve never met….

Daily Revolution:

Your presence is your purpose.” This is the foundation of sanity, of maturity. To be present means not merely to be physically alive, but to be alive in awareness. Where such presence lives, purpose is perpetually fulfilled and authority’s golden touch becomes both superfluous and burdensome.

I have seen this presence, this natural sense of purpose manifested in bricklayers and nurses; in janitors and auto mechanics; and especially in animals. I have seen its glow in teachers, doctors, even in a few executives. But never in a corporation, never in a state, never in a media conglomerate.

Whenever you become lost or disoriented — whether it is on a city subway’s labyrinthine route or during a hike through a forest — what does your instinct tell you to do? Does it tell you to press forward with your head down and eyes half shut? Or does it urge you rather to retreat, retrace, go back, return?

The old and mournful wish of many people my age is, “ah, if only I could go back [to youth], knowing then what I know now…” The message I have to offer you today is, you can. Not in time, however — that would be too banal, vain, and unnatural an effort — remember what Einstein demonstrated, that time and space in isolation are both illusions, vapid falsehoods as patently ridiculous as a green cheese moon. But you can go back, in and to the most important moment of all time — now.


The Tao of Zombies

I think we can be more certain on the Taoist perspective on zombies. Taoism would would accept zombies as metaphysically possible. Indeed, zombies would simply be another aspect of Tao, subject to the same dynamics of the ebb and flow of ziran (occurrence appearing of itself), like any other element of Tao. There is much textual support for this point. Let’s go to the Daodejing.

The beginning of passage 2:

All beneath heaven know beauty is beauty only because there’s ugliness, and knows good is good only because there is evil…

The inescapable complementarity of all things in Tao (each thing exists in relation to their opposite) suggests a necessity, of sorts, of zombies. We cannot know humans as living, beautiful and thoughtful individuals without the presence, somewhere and sometime, of undead, horrible, senseless zombies.

The beginning of passage 5 also suggests zombies:

Heaven and earth are Inhumane: they use the ten thousand things like straw dogs. And the sage too is Inhumane: he uses the hundred-fold people like straw dogs…

Here it would seem is an insight into the political significance of zombies. Clearly, zombies are, by definition, Inhumane, and they certainly treat the hundred-fold people like straw dogs (i.e. not caring for their interests or feelings). And it is in that natural inhumanity that they might be models for the “sage.” The text is telling us: don’t get caught up in humanly-created standards of right and wrong that are disconnected with the natural unfolding of Way. Rather, follow your natural instincts. And if those include coming back from the dead and eating people, just do it…

I think there is also something here for the zombies themselves. It is as if Zhuangzi is writing this passage from them to read. He is saying to them: don’t be so anxious and obsessed with consuming humans. Rather, accept you zombie-ness, be satisfied with yourself. See yourself as an element of Way, as integral to the wholeness and completeness of Way as any other element.

Flame (updated from 2005)

vista_flamenebula

vista_flamenebula

Vista Flame Nebula

Enter the cavern with its
Walls of tangled strands.
Find the living flame
That burns on blood.

The brain is a physical object that generates mental energy. It is a tangle of strands, an unknowable, dense web. It is a mass of emotions, memories, instincts, reactions, and thoughts. Whatever comes into its scope of awareness is channeled through its dark core. Energy sparks through at speeds faster than lightning, but still, there are many areas that lie dormant, unused, nearly petrified with age.

With the proper methods, we can enter into the center of the brain. Metaphorically speaking, this area is like a cavern with a subterranean river running through it. That river can be kindled with a spiritual spark, and the whole river can be set aflame. This illumination is spiritual energy. It can be used to rejuvenate the brain and to supplement the limitations of our normal mental abilities.

Methods that deal with the mind only as a brain will always be limited. Coping with life only through physical faculties will always fall short of the ultimate answers. Only through lighting a living fire within ourselves can we dance quickly and spontaneously enough to meet the rhythm of life.

Deng Ming Tao, 365 Tao

All thoughts, all passions, all delights
Whatever stirs this mortal frame
All are but ministers of Love
And feed His sacred flame.
— Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Imparting knowledge is only lighting other men’s candles at our lamp without depriving ourselves of any flame. — Jane Porter

Sometimes our light goes out but is blown into flame by another human being. Each of us owes deepest thanks to those who have rekindled this light. — Albert Schweitzer

There will be many flames throughout the holiday season, in fireplaces and candlelight, in the hanukkah flames, but let’s hope they also rekindle the flames within us to make our place, wherever it is, as bright as possible for those around us. Light the fire within yourself and use it to rekindle the flame of those you meet. Remember everyone you meet can be the reflection of your own flame, the eternal flame we sometimes see in the eyes of others who are awake with life. Namaste….

Conduit


Wassily Kandinsky. The Blue Mountain


Marietta Ganapin. Untitled (Blue Mountain by Vasily Kandinsky), 2004 Paper collage

Both yoga and art aim at the same thing, that is, to re-establish our personal connection with the world around us according to our own inner creativity. To render body and mind a conduit through which the creative energy can flow freely, unimpeded by outer restrictions, in the trust that this energy, being a part of the universal energy, is ultimately pure and joyful. — Dona Halleman

This is the work of sauca, “to render body and mind a conduit through which the creative energy can flow freely”. It is a noble endeavor. The asanas do much of the work for us.They cleanse the organs, the central nervous system, and the mind, while strengthening the muscular-skeletal system. Much can be accomplished through the asanas, but not all. For each of us, sauca is a journey of discovery. What works for you? Dairy, no dairy; meat, no meat; lots of sunshine, very little sun; lots of stimulation, or quiet solitude; long ambles, or power walks. We each find our own way to health and balance. Once again, we are on the path that leads to truth, and the means for determining the truth is our own individual experience. What practices render you a conduit through which the creative energy can flow freely? — Rolf Gates, Meditations from the Mat.

Marietta Ganapin is an avid museum and gallery visitor, and her relationship to specific works of art is highly personal and reverential. Her creative method is an expression of her spiritual connection to artwork that she loves. After having viewed the work of art–whether a painting, a sculpture, or decorative object–many times, she then gathers scores or even hundreds of gift-shop postcards or museum brochures which reproduce it. Using a hand-held hole punch and scissors, Ganapin creates a palette of color, pattern and form by repeatedly cutting specific areas of the reproduced image. These hole punches and cut-outs are then used as the building blocks of her designs. With great care and attention to detail, the artist transforms these elements into intricately detailed mandalas. At first, the viewer is dazzled by the obsessive and precise execution in these colorful and beautiful works. Slowly, recognizable details from the source material reveal themselves: a shank of hair in Roy Lichtenstein’s Stepping Out reads as a yellow arabesque in the concentric composition; the eyes and lips of a statuette of the Egyptian god Amun become a ring of dimensional, abstracted forms within the inner rings of the mandala structure. Yet the resultant artworks transcend mere appropriation. Ganapin’s labor-intensive execution and reverence toward her subject parallels the devotional activity of a Buddhist monk creating a sand mandala. As Ganapin has noted, “A symbol of healing, wholeness, totality and spirituality, the mandala inspires contemplation and meditation. For me, what more fitting framework than that of the mandala in reinterpreting other works of art.”