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18 December 2005

In my twenties, I caught myself striving for inner peace. What a delicious paradox!  Of course, itís not possible to attain peace by striving. And yet, my ambition was not entirely counterproductive. The intensity with which I had once pursued success and acclaim in science was diverted to the pursuit of enlightenment. The regularity of my daily disciplines of yoga and meditation were useful, and it was ambition that kept me on track. Over time, the practices had their effect, eroding my dissatisfaction, undermining my self-importance, softening my intolerance.

Today I ask: Is it possible to have ambition and peace at the same time? Inner peace implies perfect acceptance of, and satisfaction with the world as it is right now. Is there still room for passion in the pursuit of justice? for the creation of moving works of art, or for augmenting human knowledge?

My answer for now is that the conflict is illusory. Progress toward inner peace is not inimical to ambition, and lightening my inner dissatisfaction has helped to make me a more effective person. But you can ask me again when I get there.

- Josh Mitteldorf

17 December 2005

Conflict within oneself is often caused by dueling voices inside of each one of us...Among all your inner voices, your true inner voice is the one which encourages you, gives you hope, and pushes you to trust and believe in yourself.

~ Daily OM 

16 December 2005

"Always remember that you are absolutely unique. Just like everyone else."

~ Margaret Mead, born this day in 1901

15 December 2005

Freeman Dyson, 82 years old today, was once a theoretical physicist, now a provocative science writer and imagineer of the future. Pick up a Dyson article, and you will always be rewarded with fresh ideas youíve never thought about before.

Read why it makes sense to send a mission searching for freeze-dried fish in the rings of Jupiter.  "Nature is usually more imaginative than we are...Many of nature's most beautiful creations might be dismissed as wildly improbable if they were not known to exist. When we are exploring the universe and looking for evidence of life, either we may look for things that are probable but hard to detect or we may look for things that are improbable but easy to detect." 

More thoughts on the search for extraterrestrial life: "Any form of life that survived on Mars from the early, warm and wet era to the present, cold and dry era had two alternatives: either it adopted an entirely subterranean lifestyle, retreating deep underground to places where liquid water could be found, or it remained on the surface and learned to protect itself against cold and dryness by growing around itself an insulating greenhouse to maintain a warm and moist environment... It seems to be an accident of history that warm-blooded animals evolved on Earth to colonize cold climates, whereas warm-blooded plants did not. On Mars plants might have been pushed to yet more drastic adaptations."

From a book review on humans and our relationship to ecology: "Humanists believe that humans are an essential part of nature. Through human minds the biosphere has acquired the capacity to steer its own evolution, and we are now in charge. Humans have the right to reorganize nature so that humans and biosphere can survive and prosper together."

From a book on physics and where it is headed: "I hope that the notion of a final statement of the laws of physics will prove as illusory as the notion of a formal decision process for all of mathematics. If it should turn out that the whole of physical reality can be described by a finite set of equations, I would be disappointed. I would feel that the Creator had been uncharacteristically lacking in imagination."

14 December 2005

The Department of Peace

Dennis Kucinich has since 2001 been promoting Congressional authorization for a permanent cabinet-level advocate for peace.  The bill now has some 60 sponsors in the House and, in September, was introduced in the Senate by Mark Dayton of Minnesota. Inspired by Kucinich, Bill Bhaneja and Saul Arbess, two academics, have proposed creation of the corresponding post in Canada.

"What we seek," write Bhaneja and Arbess, " is a world in which peaceful relations between states are a systematically pursued norm and that the numerous non-aggression pacts between states become treaties of mutual support and collaboration. We envision a world in which a positive peace prevails as projected most recently in the U.N. International Decade for a Culture of Peace (2001-2010) Programme of Action."

syndicated column of Robert Koehler
permanent link

13 December 2005

"I do not pray for a lighter load, but for a stronger back."

~ Phillips Brooks, born this day in 1835

O never failing splendor! O never silent song!
Still keep the green earth tender, still keep the gray earth strong,
Still keep the brave earth dreaming of deeds that shall be done,
While childrenís lives come streaming like sunbeams from the sun.
- "The sky can still remember"

12 December 2005

Socialist Michelle Bachelet led yesterday's election to become Chileís next president. Bachelet is a doctor, a divorced working mother, and former political prisoner under the fascist dictator Augusto Pinochet, who was installed with US complicity in a coup against another democratic socialist 30 years ago. In a newly prosperous economy, Bachelet has campaigned on a platform of social conscience and independence from business interests.

Bachelet polled just shy of the 50% she needed to avoid a run-off election in January.

News article from Santiago Times
Op-ed from New York Times