17 September 2006

Healing the World and Healing the Self

Intuition tells you that work involves sacrifice; that you can accomplish more on the outside if you are willing to endure discomfort on the inside.  Self-care, on the other hand, would seem to depend on attuning yourself to your body's messages – in other words, doing what is comfortable.

The reality is reversed.  It is not necessary that you suffer in order to offer your highest contribution to our world. On the contrary, you will offer your utmost only when you are clear and calm, energized and joyous.

And paradoxically, optimum health and longevity require stressing the body.  Eating less, fasting frequently, and exercising prodigiously don’t come ‘naturally’ to most of us.  Joy and peace of mind are essential ingredients in health, so we’re best off if we can come up with games and gimmicks that make our exercise and diet programs ennjoyable.  Aim to stress the body without stressing the emotions.  

~ Josh Mitteldorf

16 September 2006

Can computers write poetry?  Poetry is defined by the kind of experience it inspires in the reader.  If words are chosen according to a simple algorithm with random linguistic input, are we fools for projecting on them our own impressions, memories, and associations?  If we find the experience to be amusing or thought-provoking or satisfying in any way, have we been duped by in imposter (a communication which we honor as if it came from a conscious entity), or have we harvested a free lunch (an experience that is meaningful for us, derived from whatever source)?

Any vacuum cleaner can nonchalantly make love to a chain saw around an eggplant, but it takes a real mastodon to teach a temporal roller coaster. A bowling ball inside the tape recorder hesitates, and a smelly apartment building feels nagging remorse; however, the feverishly cosmopolitan avocado pit brainwashes the fashionably blithe spirit...

Who wrote these words?  They came to me this morning in a message tacked on to a spam ad, hawking a new diet pill breakthrough. 

All beauty, resonance, integrity, exist by deprivation or logic of strange position. This being so, we can only imagine a world in which a woman walks and wears her hair and knows all that she does not know. Yet we know what her breasts are. And we give fullness to the dream. The table supports the book, the plume leaps in the hand. But what dismal scene is this? The old man pouting at a black cloud, the woman gone into the house, from which the wailing starts?

“The young man places a bird-house against the blue sea . He walks away and it remains. Now other men appear, but they live in boxes. The sea protects them like a wall. The gods worship a line-drawing of a woman, in the shadow of the sea which goes on writing. Are there collisions, communications on the shore?  Or did all secrets vanish when the woman left?  Is the bird mentioned in the wave’s minutes, or did the land advance?”

Le livre est sur la table, by John Ashbery

15 September 2006

As the stream merged with the great Light, I asked never to forget the revelations and the feelings of what I had learned on the other side. I thought of myself as a human again and I was happy to be that.

From what I have seen, I would be happy to be an atom in this universe. An atom. So to be the human part of God ...this is the most fantastic blessing. It is a blessing beyond our wildest estimation of what blessing can be.

– from an account of a near-death experience by Mellen-Thomas Benedict

14 September 2006

Personal ambition can distort our perceptions of overall value with a self-centered perspective.  Spiritual practices in many traditions focus on annihilation of the ego.  Thirty-five years ago, Larry Brilliant started out on such a path then turned aside, seeking to harness his ambition in large-scale humanitarian projects.

Dr Brilliant has worked to eradicate smallpox in India and start entrepreneurial ventures in global communications.  This year he joined Google’s philanthropic arm as CEO, where he seeks to harness capitalism to lift people out of poverty and solve global environmental problems.

NYTimes Article

13 September 2006

“And above all, watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don't believe in magic will never find it.”

~ from The Minpins, by Roald Dahl, born this day in 1916

12 September 2006

“The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reasons for existing. One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries to comprehend a little of this mystery every day. Never lose a holy curiosity.” 


11 September 2006

Arvo Pärt, born this day 1935 in Estonia, composes hypnotic, inspirational music.  Like a modern day Palestrina, he creates seamless moods that hang motionless in time.  

Some of his works are based on ingenious arrangements of the simplest musical ideas.  
Here is the Cantus in Memory of Benjamin Britten, for strings and bells, built on a downward minor scale; 
and here is the Solfeggio for four voices, built on an upward major scale.