An uplifting news item, poem, thought or quotation each day.
Archive of past entries

29 January 2006

When I am waiting, I am passive.  I feel that developments are outside my power to influence.  The stance is frequently accompanied by a vague anxiety, and sometimes by despair.

When I am observing, I am active, engaged, curious.  I do not seek to control events or decisions in the outside world, or even the content of my own mind and body.  But as an active witness, I feel a positive relationship to all that unfolds.  I am in a stance akin to hope, but with expectations less defined and specific.  The attitude seems to include analysis, but of a kind that is instantaneous, intuitive and effortless.  I do not deliberately contemplate action or seek ideas, but the creative mind is open and engaged, so that ideas and later action may flow from the witness.

Meditation, as I practice it, is a technique that transforms passive waiting into active observing.  Paradoxically, it is both a surrender of control and an assumption of power.

~ Josh Mitteldorf

28 January 2006

Those who want to know the truth of the universe should practice the four cardinal virtues. The first is reverence for all life; this manifests as unconditional love and respect for oneself and all other beings. The Second is natural sincerity; this manifests as honesty, simplicity, and faithfulness. The third is gentleness; this manifests as kindness, consideration for others, and sensitivity to spiritual truth. The fourth is supportiveness; this manifests as service to others without expectation of reward. The four virtues are not an external dogma but a part of your original nature. When practiced, they give birth to wisdom and evoke the five blessings: health, wealth, happiness, longevity, and peace.

~ Hua Hu Ching of Lao Tzu, as translated by Brian Walker 

27 January 2006

"Be what you would seem to be – or, if you would like it put more simply, never imagine yourself not to be otherwise than what it might appear to others that what you were or might have been was not otherwise than what you had been would have appeared to them to be otherwise."

'The Duchess'

Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, better known as Lewis Carroll, was born this day in 1832.

26 January 2006



Consider the mysterious salt:
In water it must disappear.
It has no self. It knows no fault.
Not even sight may apprehend it.
No one may gather it or spend it.
It is dissolved and everywhere.

But, out of water into air,
It must resolve into a presence,
Precise and tangible and here.
Faultlessly pure, faultlessly white,
It crystallizes in our sight
And has defined itself to essence.

What element dissolves the soul
So it may be both found and lost,
In what suspended as a whole?
What is the element so blest
That there identity can rest
As salt in the clear water cast?




Love, in its early transformation,
And only love, may so design it
That the self flows in pure sensation,
Is all dissolved, and found at last
Without a future or a past,
And a whole life suspended in it.

The faultless crystal of detachment
Comes after, cannot be created
Without the first intense attachment.
Even the saints achieve this slowly;
For us, more human, less holy,
In time like air is essence stated.

~ May Sarton


25 January 2006

The world changes at a bewildering pace, and the engine for change seems far removed from us, beyond our reach.  Science and politics seem most remote.  So it’s empowering to hear about people who make major contributions to science from outside the establishment.  New Scientist this week features three profiles of outsiders who have moved the scientific community. 

Forrest Mims devised a hand-held UV detector to monitor the hole in the ozone layer, and used it to detect flaws in NASA’s satellites dedicated to the same purpose.  He publishes a monthly column in the magazine of the Society of Amateur Scientists.

For inspiration from an amateur in politics, I look to Cindy Sheehan.  

 Disclaimer: I am an independent academic, doing research in evolutionary biology, as well as a political activist, working on election integrity.

24 January 2006

All mankind is of one author, and is one volume; when one man dies, one chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language; and every chapter must be so translated…God's hand is in every translation, and his hand shall bind up all our scattered leaves again for that library where every book shall lie open to one another. As therefore the bell that rings to a sermon calls not upon the preacher only, but upon the congregation to come, so this bell calls us all…Never send to know for whom he bell tolls: it tolls for thee... 

- John Donne, born this day in 1572

No man hath affliction enough that is not matured and ripened by and made fit for God by that affliction…Tribulation is treasure in the nature of it.

(this and the above taken from Meditation XVII, which is also the source of the phrase, 'No man is an island') 

23 January 2006

The day will come
when with elation you will greet yourself
arriving at your own door
in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other's welcome,
saying, 'Sit here. Eat. You will love again
the stranger who was yourself.'

from Love after Love
Derek Walcott is 76 years old today