The Tao of the Self — Seven

August 14th, 2011

We think of Heaven as eternal
And Earth as lasting a very long time.
Why do Heaven and Earth endure?
They don’t exist for themselves,
So they are able to last a long time.
So if we are wise, we will not think of ourselves alone,
But what we want to live beyond us.
We can move beyond self-gratification
And consider what is best for the long term.
By acting beyond our own self-interest,
We can fulfill greater goals
And live on through our actions.

The Tao of the Self — Seven

The Tao of the Self — Two

August 5th, 2011

Anyone can see you are beautiful
If they see others as ugly.
Anyone can see you as good
If they see others as evil.

Therefore having friends and not having friends arise together.
Difficult and easy relationships complement each other.
Long and short friendships contrast each other:
High and low emotions rest upon each other;
Your voice and the sound of others harmonize each other;
Being in front of and behind others follow one another.

Therefore the sage goes about doing nothing to force relationships,
teaching not gossiping about others.
Thousands of conversations rise and fall without cease,
Creating relationships, yet not forcing them.
Working with others, yet not taking credit for their work.
Great work with others is done, then forgotten.
Therefore it lasts forever.

Tao of the Self. Two

Today’s Lessons

July 18th, 2011

Get up and do something first thing in the day.

Be active.

Be motivated by love.

Don’t be silent anymore.

Simplify life — remove whatever and whoever does not inspire, inform, add personal value and friendship, or provide a needed service

Clean it up, and make it easy to keep clean.

There will always be more things to learn and do as the day progresses, but you have to start somewhere.

How I want to help people feel

November 22nd, 2010

Yes. This is how I would  like people to feel around me…

Sometimes you meet somebody who just exudes contentment and you feel happy and safe with them, as if all is okay in the world and you lack nothing. Everything is easy and you are fully accepted as you are, no matter who or what you are. These people make us feel whole because they are whole.

via THE JOY OF SIMPLICITY | Annastao Blog.

Gratitude

September 7th, 2010


Danielle Anjou, Gratitude

“The essence of all beautiful art, all great art, is gratitude.” — Friedrich Nietzsche

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” -– Melody Beattie

“Feel as grateful to existence as possible — for small things, not only for great things… just for sheer breathing. We don’t have any claim on existence, so whatsoever is given is a gift.

Grow more and more in gratitude and thankfulness; let it become your very style. Be grateful to everybody. If one understands gratitude then one is grateful for things that have been done positively. And one even feels grateful for things which could have been done negatively. You feel grateful that somebody helped you; this is just the beginning. Then you start feeling grateful that somebody has not harmed you — he could have; it was so kind of him not to.

Once you understand the feeling of gratitude and allow it to sink deeply within you, you will start feeling grateful for everything. And the more grateful you are, the less complaining, grumbling. Once complaining disappears, misery disappears. It exists with complaints. It is hooked with complaints and with the complaining mind. Misery is impossible with gratefulness. So that is one of the most important secrets to learn.”

Everyday Osho — 365 Daily meditations for the here and now by Osho

Level 2 Gratitude says, “How wonderful it is to exist!” Circumstances are irrelevant because this form of gratitude is a choice that needs no justification. It is a sense of utter fascination with the very notion of existence.

You become grateful for the adventure that is life, including all of its twists and turns. This form of gratitude is synonymous with unconditional love because there is no attachment to circumstances or outcomes. Consequently, there is no fear of loss or change.

Level 2 Gratitude is like having a constant echo in the back of your consciousness saying, “Wow!” Everything else is experienced on top of that Wow. Gratitude becomes the canvas upon which your life is painted… .When your feelings of gratitude are conditional upon temporary circumstances like your stuff, your job, and your relationships, your base identity doesn’t change. But when you root your gratitude in something permanent, it becomes a permanent part of you. Instead of saying, “I am grateful for…” you just say, “I am grateful.”

“If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, “Thank You,” that would suffice.” — Meister Eckhart

“I would maintain that thanks are the highest form of thought, and that gratitude is happiness doubled by wonder.” — G. K. Chesterton

“It was the love of love,
the love that swallows up all else,
a grateful love,
a love of nature, of people,
of animals,
a love engendering
gentleness and goodness
that moved me
and that I saw in you.”

– William Carlos Williams

“Gratitude is a twofold love / love coming to visit us, and love running out to greet a welcome guest.” — Henry Van Dyke

“Happiness cannot be traveled to, owned, earned, worn or consumed. Happiness is the spiritual experience of living every minute with love, grace, and gratitude.” — Denis Waitley

“Let’s choose today to quench our thirst for the ”good life” we think others lead by acknowledging the good that already exists in our lives. We can then offer the universe the gift of our grateful hearts.” — Sarah Ban Breathnach

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.” — Melody Beattie

I posted this in January this year, but am feeling the need to post it again today. For a while I kept a gratitude journal, but I use it rarely these days. Perhaps I need to start doing that again, to remind myself of how much I have to be grateful for. Last night we had a party for our friends, which we hadn’t done in some time, and I realized how disconnected from them I had become, in spite of the facebook and twitter connections. Our electronic connections are so shallow sometimes compared to the reality of our face to face communications. And it is sad how rarely we let others know how very much we appreciate them.

So much of our society is about that search for more, the higher highs, the more powerful position, the ever-increasing salary, more stuff, bigger houses, bigger cars. We let those things get in the way of simply enjoying ourselves and each other.

When are we ever just thankful for what we have? Don’t we know eventually we will lose all the things, all the stuff, our lives themselves?

Be grateful for what you have now, and more will come to you. That is the nature of the universe. Be unhappy, be disrespectful, be harsh to others, and you will have less. Maybe not less stuff, but less in your heart, in your spirit. You have to be grateful for what you have in order to keep it, and in order to really deserve more. Tao trusts only those who prove themselves to be worthy of being its caretakers.

Hold the jewel in your heart.

Rock and Roll!

April 4th, 2010

A major earthquake occurred at 3:40:40 PM (PDT) on Sunday, April 4, 2010.

The magnitude 7.2 event occurred 26 km (16 miles) SW of Guadalupe Victoria, Baja California, Mexico.

via Recent Earthquakes – Info for event ci14607652.

Nothing to get you living in the moment and aware of nature like an earthquake!

And sadly, the day only got worse and weirder from there — this happened on the next street over from our house… there were sheriffs’ cars all over and two helicopters overhead for hours. Our family was not affected, but we’re very sad for our neighborhood tonight.

Deputies kills Poway gunman suspected in 2 slayings

A Poway man thought to have killed two of his neighbors was shot to death by sheriff’s deputies Sunday night, authorities said.

The identities of the three, who lived on Olive Grove Drive west of Community Road, were not released.

Sheriff’s Lt. Dennis Brugos said two sheriff’s deputies responded within 2 minutes to a 6 p.m. call that shots had been fired. They confronted a man with a rifle or a shotgun, and he was fatally wounded at the scene, Brugos said.

Deputies later discovered that the man also was carrying a handgun, Brugos said.

A search of a house in the neighborhood revealed the bodies of a dead man and woman, Brugos said.

Why “cheap” isn’t necessarily a good thing

July 17th, 2009

Cheap: The High Cost of Discount Culture

But Shell wonders if our expectations are too low. We no longer expect craftsmanship in everyday objects; maybe we don’t feel we even deserve it. “Objects can be designed to low price,” she writes, “but they cannot be crafted to low price.” But if we stop valuing — and buying — craftsmanship, the very idea of making something with care and expertise is destined to die, and something of us as human beings will die along with it: “A bricklayer or carpenter or teacher, a musician or salesperson, a writer of computer code — any and all can be craftsmen. Craftsmanship cements a relationship between buyer and seller, worker and employer, and expects something of both. It is about caring about the work and its application. It is what distinguishes the work of humans from the work of machines, and it is everything that IKEA and other discounters are not.”

via IKEA is as bad as Wal-Mart | Salon Books.

I try to support local artists and craftsmen as much as possible. Much of my jewelry is hand crafted by a local silversmith friend, and I have hand crafted pottery and mugs and artwork and many other things. The closest store to my house is a WalMart, where I never shop. I haven’t bought anything from Ikea in years, since everything we got there simply fell apart after a very short time. Yes, I get tired of my things, but I try to get myself to look at their wabi sabi nature, and appreciate that the things I own are made well enough to last for a long time.

Casey’s points today are well taken:

The shape of life defines a space (what we call the empty space in Taoism) that defines each person. We feel a need to place within our empty space connection and meaning. If you consume meaning, after the consumption: you are left with nothing and left chasing more consumption.

The answer people seek can be stated simply:

To have a full life is to live it.

We spend a lot of time and effort trying to avoid emptiness, filling our lives with activities and other people and lots of stuff and things. I spent a lot of time in my life being afraid of the void, fearing what would happen if I lost things, if I lost friends, if I lost myself. Well, all those things happened, and the best part was all the other things I found — that the void isn’t really so scary, that “crazy” people are often the sanest people around, with a different perspective on life that can be very enlightening, that real friends don’t walk away from you and those who do aren’t real friends, and that “for everything you have lost, you have found something else.”

We cheapen our own lives, and those of others, when all we look for is the least expensive thing that suits our need or desire of the moment. We add value to our lives by valuing the work of others, valuing their time, and their abilities to craft a fine product that we can enjoy using for many years. When I wear my friend’s jewelry, I smile, and when others admire it, I have a story to share. When I take the time and make the effort to find the best quality for what I want, instead of just the cheapest price, I feel like I am valuing myself, the thing I am buying, and the people who made it. I can’t always afford the very best (and often price is no guarantee of quality, really), but even in making the effort, I have taken that step towards being aware of what went into what I’m buying, who benefits from it, and valuing myself and the other people involved as fully as possible.

Narcissism

July 15th, 2009

waterhouse_echo_narcissus
John William Waterhouse – Echo and Narcissus

“Narcissus does not fall in love with his reflection because it is beautiful, but because it is his. If it were his beauty that enthralled him, he would be set free in a few years by its fading.” — W. H. Auden

“As individuals and as a nation, we now suffer from social narcissism. The beloved Echo of our ancestors, the virgin America, has been abandoned. We have fallen in love with our own image, with images of our making, which turn out to be images of ourselves.” — Daniel J. Boorstin

“America has been knocked-up with democracy’s mutant love child. She has finally borne the demonic spawn of greed, narcissism and civilian indifference. (Congrats on a second term Mr Bush).” — Jules Carlysle

“I loathe narcissism, but I approve of vanity.” — Diana Vreeland

“Narcissism and self-deception are survival mechanisms without which many of us might just jump off a bridge.” — Todd Solondz

“Shyness has a strange element of narcissism, a belief that how we look, how we perform, is truly important to other people.” — Andre Dubus

“We’re making far too big a deal out of our sexual preferences. It’s just another form of narcissism, and I think it can be a big problem and a tremendous obstacle.” — Andrew Cohen

“Whoever loves becomes humble. Those who love have, so to speak, pawned a part of their narcissism.” — Sigmund Freud

some quotes via Ritholz

“ I think you live more and become more familiar with the workings of your own mind — the darkness in it, the narcissism — and the desperate attempts the ego makes to cover that up.” — Patrick Page

“The paradox about narcissism is that we all have this streak of egotism. Eighty percent of people think they’re better than average.” — Mark Leary

“In males, narcissism is something that has been associated with immaturity. Classically, it’s something men are supposed to abandon to become adult males. Today, consumerism tells all males that … they never need abandon their narcissism. That they never need grow up. Just so long as they buy the right products.” — Mark Simpson

“Narcissism is an occupational hazard for political leaders. You have to have an outsized ambition and an outsized ego to run for office.” — Stanley Renshon

“Because that’s what narcissism is all about; looking in the mirror everyday and thinking ‘Damn, I’d like to shag myself.’” — Eddie Izzard

“I have come to realize that we live in a society that encourages narcissistic behavior. And there is an explosion on the internet of sites devoted to narcissism, as well as narcissistic web sites; youtube, my space, etc…” — Stephen McDonnell

social-media

T-shirt logo via despair.com

“Narcissism doesn’t mean you think you’re the greatest person on earth, but rather that all things in the world are relevant only as they impact you…. Being on YouTube, having a blog, having an iPod, being on MySpace– all of these things are self-validating, they allow that illusion that is so important to narcissists: that we are the main characters in a movie. Not that we’re the best, or the good guys, but the main characters. That everyone around us is supporting cast; the funny friend, the crazy ex, the neurotic mother, the egotistical date, etc. That makes reminders of our insignificance even more infuriating.” — The Last Psychiatrist

Connecting

March 14th, 2009

harlem_hayden_jeunesse_lg
Palmer Hayden, Jeunesse


Gifted at both oils and watercolors, Palmer Hayden became a well-known Harlem artist and folklorist. Most of his early paintings were landscapes. In 1926, the Harmon Foundation awarded first prize to a Maine seascape of Hayden’s creation.

With the backing of wealthy art patron, Hayden moved to Paris in 1927 and studied there for the next five years. It was a richly productive period for the painter, as evidenced by the stack of sketchbooks he brought home in 1932 that vividly capture Parisian society. Hayden went to work that year for the U.S. Treasury Art Project and the Depression-era government-funded Works Progress Administration (WPA). His work began to concern itself with scenes of daily life in Harlem.

From this:

This entry was posted on Wednesday, May 7th, 2003

The main thing that seems so different going through this battle with depression is I am so lonely. I haven’t ever really been bothered by loneliness that much in my life – I always sort of liked being alone. But now I want people around to be with and talk to and there is so seldom anyone available – it is very difficult. And I find the internet, which used to be a link to the world for me, is really not a replacement – I physically want people with me. I go out to various places just to be around people but the interaction and connection with others is really not the same. Strangely, sometimes even when I am with people I feel rather disconnected, because they cannot really feel the things I feel and the deep need I have for them. It is all so hard…

To this:

This entry was posted on Tuesday, January 20th, 2009

I feel much better now, knowing our nation is on the right track again, moving away from the mistakes of the last eight years. My main feeling today is relief, mixed with a lot of pride and an underlying happiness. I didn’t go to any of the big screenings of the inauguration, didn’t do anything special, just sat on my couch and watched, but I feel a part of it all anyway. We are all a part of it now, and that is a very good feeling, to know that what each of us does matters. We are all called to responsibility by our new president, to a new era of being accountable for our actions.

After eight years of “it’s not my fault, bail me out for my mistakes”, that’s a nice feeling.

How much my own journey the last few years reflects our national journey, from all of us feeling disconnected and alone, each fighting our own individual battles in a feeling of “you’re on your own” to finding ways to connect with each other, communicate with each other, and achieve larger goals through this medium of exchange we call the Internet. Whether we blog at large community blogs or in our own small spaces, whether we connect with thousands and have a national audience or just connect with friends and family on facebook, we are all finding a place here to express ourselves and find others who share our values and ideals. And we’ve come together in ways we never might have expected. I certainly didn’t see myself in those dark days of depression coming into a politically active community of people who have grown to be good friends and who have achieved so much together. My personal and political journey as an individual reflects a larger national journey that we all have walked or are now learning to walk, as even the most selfish among us start to be called to a new age of accountability and responsibility for others. It is in helping to create new possibilities for others that we are often able to connect with ourselves and find our own way again.

I hope our feelings of community and learning to share this space in our world can lead us all to value our own communities and spaces, help us connect with the places we live in and build them into larger wholes, too. And I hope, perhaps just as the WPA created a place for so many artists to be able to express themselves, we can find room in our public works for art again, and help another generation of talent come to express themselves artistically, too.

barack_michelle_first_dancejpeg

Speech (repost from 2004)

February 27th, 2009

speech

“Great minds discuss ideas,
Average minds discuss events,
Small minds discuss people.”
– Eleanor Roosevelt

“No one gossips about other people’s secret virtues.” — Bertrand Russell

“It is just as cowardly to judge an absent person as it is wicked to strike a defenseless one. Only the ignorant and narrow-minded gossip, for they speak of persons instead of things.” — Lawrence G. Lovasik

“The only gossip I’m interested in is things from the Weekly World News – ‘Woman’s bra bursts, 11 injured’. That kind of thing.”
— Johnny Depp

The Puritan’s idea of hell is a place where everybody has to mind his own business. ~Wendell Phillips

It is one of my sources of happiness never to desire a knowledge of other people’s business. ~Dolley Madison

There is so much good in the worst of us,
And so much bad in the best of us,
That it hardly becomes any of us
To talk about the rest of us.
~Edward Wallis Hoch

If an American was condemned to confine his activity to his own affairs, he would be robbed of one half of his existence. ~Alexis de Tocqueville

Yen. Speech, words.

Without speech and words, there would be little communication and learning.

In ancient times, people so revered words and paper that they tried never to throw them away. When they could no longer write on a piece of paper, they carefully gathered it up and burned it reverently, so that the words and the paper could be recycled into the great process of life. There were even people who patrolled the streets to pick up the paper and take it to be recycled or burned in honored places. Such was the respect people had for words.

Before the ancients spoke, they stopped to consider what they were about to say. They washed their mouths with clean water, they inhaled the air of Tao, they paused once more for contemplation. For them, words were sacred, the hard-won repositories of knowledge. They were not to be devalued by gossip or thoughtlessness.

It is natural, then, that we learn neither to waste words, nor to use them with malicious intent. If we want to be pure of spirit, we must be pure of speech. If we acquire the habit of always meaning what we say, then we have the possibility of being pure not just in speech but in character as well.

Deng Ming Dao, Everyday Tao

________

I try to mean what I say more of the time. Sometimes, I say what people want to hear, because they need to hear it to feel reassured. For things that really matter, though, my words matter a lot to me.

I’ve come to really be annoyed by gossip. I had a good friendship pretty much destroyed by her gossiping behind my back, and my confronting her about it. I was very sad to lose her friendship but maybe it’s better not to be around that kind of destructive speech. I didn’t really want to know the things she told me about other people when she was my friend, but never told her she shouldn’t do it. But by not confronting her earlier when were still good friends, I think it cost me in the long run, and her as well. She’s probably still a big gossip.

Idle chatter often bothers me as well. The need some people have to constantly be on their cell phones, talking about nothing of any importance, can be annoying. Especially when they drive stupidly because of it or bother other customers in restaurants or other public areas. Even at parties, I tend to gravitate to the people who are actually discussing something interesting or important, rather than those just chit chatting to fill the time or hear themselves talk. We had a party at our house last night, and since we know so many professional smart people, the conversations were lively and interesting. Those are the great parties to be at.

Mostly these days, I am silent a lot of the time, just listening to what goes on around me. I tend to be very aware of my surroundings, and now try to get in tune with the people I come into contact with as well. I can usually know someone’s mood and feelings within a couple of seconds, even without their words. Then I try to listen closely to what they have to say. Once in a while you run into someone who has a lot to say with only a few words. Those are the fascinating people to meet, and a treasure to find.

Bushfires

February 10th, 2009

bushfire

The Victoria bushfires are terrifying. Please go here and donate if you can — in any fire situation, the Red Cross is first on the scene and really does a great job of taking care of the victims who have lost their homes or been forced out of them by the fires. And an awful disaster in terms of lives lost and homes lost. Living in SoCal, we’ve seen several huge disastrous fires in the last few years. We’ve managed well so far, only having to evacuate once, which we turned into a relatively pleasant experience. But when you see fire surround your community on all sides, or smoke billowing up and starting to blow over your home, it is a horrible, frightening thing. And when people don’t have time to escape, these fires are deadly. The loss in Australia is just heartbreaking. When it happens close to home, it is sad, but at least most people here had time to get out safely. Unfortunately that didn’t happen for the people in these fires.

We’re fortunate here to have a reverse 9-1-1 system in place. When we were evacuated, we received a call to leave our home in plenty of time to get out. I would encourage everyone to ask their communities to put these systems in place. It is well worth the cost to be able to save lives in an emergency situation. And everyplace has something — if not fires, then tornadoes, earthquakes, hurricanes, floods, ice storms, whatever. People need time to prepare and to get out if they have to, and our community leaders need to make sure they get the warning in time.

Just a reminder that you can work to be a change leader in your community, too. Get to know your neighbors, plan for how to handle emergencies, and help each other out. Last time around, I took a neighbor’s cat with me to evacuate and moved her car to a safe place for her since she was out of town. We made sure all our neighbors were out safely or leaving before we left, and we stopped by our community evacuation center once we were back home and took pet supplies over to take care of the animals, as well as taking additional supplies to the animal shelter that was simply overwhelmed with animals that had been evacuated. We now have a “bug out” kit that can be easily thrown in the car full of emergency supplies.

Mostly it takes awareness, though, knowing what local weather conditions are, being prepared to get out if you have to.

And helping out those who have been devastated by tragic circumstances.