An uplifting news item, poem, thought or quotation each day.

4 July 2004 

Are our thoughts and sentiments, our sense of self completely dependent on the frail bodies in which we are embedded? Or does spirit have an independent life? Perhaps it is consciousness that gives birth to matter, creating a home for itself.

"Science" claims the former view as its own, but many individual great minds of science dissent (Josephson, Bohm, Pribram, Penrose).

I have long thought that in the fullness of time I will come to assimilate the impressive body of evidence for telepathy, precognition, and other parapsychological phenomena, and that this will change my sense of self and my relation to reality.

On that day, perhaps I will find myself at home in a mystical and joyous appreciation that what is may be vastly stranger than what I can imagine.

3 July 2004

If Beethoven could create sonic beauty he would never be able to hear...

If Roosevelt could lead the country out of a recession and through the most dangerous war in history while unable to walk on his own two feet...

If Hawking can imagine what makes the universe tick while unable to speak or to press the keys on his computer...

If Dawn Fraser can overcome asthma to become a gold medal Olympic swimmer, and Paula Radcliffe, while fighting asthma, can hold the world record for a marathon...

If Lance Armstrong can survive cancer and go back to winning cycle races...

If Demosthenes and Moses could become inspiring orators despite their speech impediments...

If Domenico Scarlatti, after many years of  forgettable compositions, could begin at age 67 to invent a whole new language for the keyboard, in 666 sonatas for the harpsichord...

...then are there any insurmountable obstacles that stand between us and the realization of our dreams?

2 July 2004

  Do not the spirits who dwell in the ether envy man his pain?
- Kahlil Gibran (Sand and Foam)

When do we appreciate health but in the hour that pain has ceased?


1 July 2004

Traditionally, there are many distinctive pianists and violinists, but the world has room for only one monarch of the cello. Yo-Yo Ma inherited the title from Casals and Rostropovich before him. But instead of just playing the cello superbly, Ma has chosen to broaden his role, promoting world musics and cultures by participating in crossover projects. The only time I have heard him perform live, he joined a quartet from the Philadelphia Orchestra to play the Schubert String Quintet. Ma played second cello and rather than stealing the stage, he boosted the level of performance, and made it magical. Every time he picked up a motif, he looked approvingly at the one who passed it to him, and passed it on with attentive expectation. He made it seem that watching and listening were his primary role, and playing the part was incidental.

"Some people think Yo-Yo should just be content to be the greatest cellist in the world, and indeed there are very few masters of their instruments today--real monsters, I mean. Those who exist keep themselves very cloistered within the world of what they do. But the cello repertoire is extremely limited, and a cellist like him simply can't keep repeating himself for the rest of his life. He doesn't have to prove anything anymore. He's been there for so long--he mastered the instrument so early and conquered every frontier for a cellist. Great artists, especially artists like Yo-Yo with his deeply inquisitive mind and concern for human beings, know they have to keep moving, searching, exploring, so they don't atrophy."

- Richard Danielpour 

30 June 2004

Allen Ginsberg once advised would-be writers, "First thought, best thought." He took a lot of flak for that from people who thought he was simply advocating a lazy unwillingness to edit or revise. But the truth I think he was pointing to is that that first unedited thought is often far more unconventionally original,. more idiosyncratic, odder and more creative, than what the internal "editor" in all of us usually thinks appropriate. And when we edit and try to improve that raw first thought, sometimes we end up with something tamer, and something less uniquely our own.

- Barry Magid (I think)
Ordinary Mind Zendo

29 June 2004 

As I was growing up, there were two brass busts on the mantle, people whom my parents most admired. One was Lincoln, and the other was Albert Schweitzer

Schweitzer came from a privileged family in Switzerland, and had the means and education to do what he wanted. Early in life, he became an organist and musicologist, a performer and scholar of Bach. Though he continued to perform concerts through his life, the work which occupied him most for 50 years was as a medical doctor (and counselor and pastor), bringing service to some of the world's most desperately needy people in French equatorial Africa. 
"Pour différentes raisons je n'ai pas pu trouver moyen de me faire remplacer en ces temps dans la direction de mon hôpital et celle des travaux de la construction du village des lépreux qui se fait en ce moment."

 Schweitzer's speech accepting the 1952 Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo was read for him because he wasn't willing to leave his calling to accept an honor. The $33,000 prize was used to open a treatment center for leprosy.

28 June 2004 

William Greider, writing for The Nation this week, points out a deeply hopeful inference that had gone right by me amid the explosive revelations of recent weeks. It is a lesson about the resilience of our democracy. 

Three documents have been leaked to the press:

  • The legal memo laying the groundwork for torture of prisoners 
  • The Red Cross letter of complaint to the Defense Dept over prisoner abuse 
  • The revelation that the newly-appointed Prime Minister of Iraq, Iyad Allawi, is a former CIA agent who supervised bombings aimed at civilians in Baghdad a decade ago (do we call this terrorism)? 

Some people high up in the Administration, with access to the highest level of classified material, have risked their careers and put patriotism ahead of partisanship, to see that the Administration's wickedness is exposed.
"It's a wonderful country, in a way," said Walter Pincus of the Washington Post. "People in government are really they are willing to raise questions." 

"You can't fool all of the people all of the time. "
- Leon Panetta

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