15 January 2006
Each of us can see clearly
some aspects of ourselves and our relation to the world, but there are other
areas in which we have been beaten down so long that we have a pessimistic,
limited view of who we are and what we can reasonably expect.
These pieces of our world view have a way of becoming self-fulfilling
prophesies: we flourish in some ways, and fail repeatedly in others – and
both experiences serve to reinforce the original assumptions about our
strengths and limits. Expectation
We may be able to re-program
our expectations by finding a phrase that essentially contradicts our low
expectations, and repeating the words until they sink in.
We need help to begin this process because we cannot find the right
phrase for ourselves. Of
course! we are trying to address precisely those areas in which our
imagination has become frozen within its limits.
The phrase may come from a wise counselor or a trusted friend.
It needn’t be someone who is all-wise and all-knowing – so long
as the person is sufficiently different from us that he or she is clear
about an area of life in which we are stuck.
(Conversely, s/he may be stuck in an area in which we are clear, and
then the helping relationship can be reciprocal.)
We’ll know we have the
right phrase when it seems preposterous and fantastical – patently false.
We may also notice that the phrase is peculiarly difficult to
remember: though we repeat the words dozens of times on Saturday
afternoon, we wake up Monday morning unable to remember what they were.
We can write the phrase over
and over in a notebook. Better
still, repeat it aloud with a friend who will encourage us when it may seem
that we are overreaching, that these words can’t possibly have any
relation to reality. In
meditation practice, the mind can be opened up so that we are more receptive
to re-programming, and the message may reach us more deeply and efficiently.
It may work to use the phrase as a mantra.
When we begin to get what
we’ve always wanted but assumed we cannot have, when we succeed in areas
where we are accustomed only to failure, the results seldom feel delightful.
The change can be profoundly upsetting.
Again, we need the support of a friend or counselor to help us
persist in the face of discomfort, to continue expanding into areas of
14 January 2006
Here’s an idea for turning the sun’s rays into
usable energy that is both new and ancient:
Isaac Berzin of GreenFuel
Technologies has discovered that algae are far more efficient at using
sunlight when they have more CO2 than the atmosphere’s
background 0.04%. He has
devised an arrangement for funneling the smokestack effluent of a coal power
plant through an algae tank. The
algae cleans up the pollution and the greenhouse gases in the power
plant effluent, while creating 15,000 gallons of biodiesel a year on each
acre. That’s 250 times the per-acre fuel productivity of corn or
soy that has been proposed for biofuel.
in Christian Science Monitor
13 January 2006
"A scientist who wishes to
maximize the empirical content of the views he holds and who wants to
understand them as clearly as he possibly can must therefore introduce other
views; that is, he must adopt a pluralistic methodology. He must compare
ideas with other ideas rather than with ‘experience’ and he must try to improve rather than discard the
views that have failed in the competition. Proceeding in this way he will
retain the theories of man and cosmos that are found in Genesis, or in the
Pimander, he will elaborate them and use them to measure the success of
evolution and other ‘modern’ views. He may then discover that the theory of
evolution is not as good as is generally assumed and that it must be
supplemented, or entirely replaced, by an improved version of Genesis.
Knowledge so conceived is not a series of self-consistent theories that
converges towards an ideal view; it is not a gradual approach towards truth.
It is rather an ever increasing ocean of mutually incompatible alternatives,
each single theory, each fairy-tale, each myth that is part of the
collection forcing the others into greater articulation and all of them
contributing, via this process of competition, to the development of our
Feyerabend, born this day in 1924, was above all an intellectual
subversive, and I believe his words should not be separated from the
politics of the era in which he wrote them. In 1974, formal religious
observance in America was in decline, and the danger of a dictatorship of
science must have seemed far more imminent than a dictatorship of
Christianity. Feyerabend was trying to inject a bit of mysticism into
a scientific culture that was too cock-sure of itself. He was well
aware of the strengths and weaknesses of neo-Darwinism, and I like to think
that were he writing today, he would be as appalled at the dogma of ‘intelligent
design’ as are we.
by the way, is a Greek Gnostic text, probably written in the first century
AD, but attributed to the ancient, mythical Hermes
12 January 2006
The tree the tempest with a
crash of wood
Throws down in front of us does not bar
Our passage to our journey's end for good,
But just to ask us who we think we are
Insisting always on our own way so.
She likes to halt us in our runner tracks,
And make us get down in a foot of snow
Debating what to do without an ax.
And yet she knows obstruction is in vain:
We will not be put off the final goal
We have it hidden in us to attain,
Not though we have to seize earth by the pole
And, tired of aimless circling in one place,
Steer straight off after something into space.
On a Tree Fallen
Across the Road
11 January 2006
DUTCH NEIGHBORHOODS: A European
Model for Sustainable Communities
years ago I moved to The Netherlands, and was surprised in many ways to find
myself in what might be called an urban model for sustainable living. The
Netherlands has the second highest population density in the world (Hong
Kong has the highest), and the bulk of the Dutch population is concentrated
around the urban centers of Amsterdam, Rotterdam, and The Hague…The design
of Dutch cities is premised on the concept of neighborhoods, each with its
own center of social and economic activity. This means that everyone can
easily get to the grocery store, bank, post office, and local schools
without having to drive a car. Within my relatively small neighborhood are
five parks…as well as a few acres of woods with walking paths and a
"kinderboerderij", a farm for children to learn about
animals...People walk and bicycle much of the time, neighbors get to know
each other, and the streets are far less congested. Indeed, there is a far
greater sense of community than any other place I have lived."
by Julian Scaff
from the Population Coalition
10 January 2006
don't have a soul. You are a Soul. You have a body.
9 January 2006
to watch yourself at odd times during the day. You may stop yourself,
almost unexpectedly, and observe what you are doing, feeling, saying or
thinking, letting your self-observation be made in a detached, impartial and
practice of suddenly observing oneself, one’s desires, moods and actions,
is especially valuable because it tends to separate the thoughts and desires
from the sense of selfhood which normally inheres in them, and thus tends to
keep consciousness from being everlastingly drowned in the sea of the five