4 November 2007
Early in my practice of meditation, I discovered that though my resolve was to focus just on my breath, I would find myself engrossed in the most captivating, creative thoughts I'd ever experienced. Insights into myself and my relations with others, ideas for creative projects, solutions to scientific puzzle, and general all-around fascinating ideas would crowd the subtle sensation of the breath right out of my thoughts.
This is just an early phase, a milepost on the path - but thirty years on, I find myself no less distracted and no less fascinated than I was as a neophyte.
Is this fount of creativity a stealth agenda, the unspoken point of meditation? or is it a Siren's song, hauntingly beautiful perhaps, but ultimately a diversion from my path? The answer is not so clear to me, but, fortunately, it doesn't much matter: the more insistently I return my attention to my breath, the more profound and wondrous are the insights and ideas that bubble up from within me.
— Josh Mitteldorf
3 November 2007
“Conceive of God in terms of universal Nature – a nature God in whom we really live and move and have our being, with whom our relation is as intimate and constant as that of the babe in its mother’s womb, or the apple upon the bough. This is the God that science and reason reveal to us – the God we touch with our hands, see with our eyes, hear with our ears, and from whom there is no escape, who is, indeed, from everlasting to everlasting.”
Through primrose tufts, in that sweet bower,
2 November 2007
There are times when we feel
the pull to meditate but are swayed from it by
It might be useful to ask
yourself why you would put off something so
1 November 2007
“Life on earth...is overwhelmingly microbial. ‘Our planet has been shaped by an invisible world,’ says Roberto Kolter, a professor of microbiology and molecular genetics at Harvard Medical School. ‘Microbes mediate all the important element cycles on Earth, and have played a defining role in the development of the planet.’
“Although a few microbes are known to cause disease, the precise role played by the vast majority is essentially unknown.... There are a billion of them in a gram of soil, and a billion per liter of seawater, but we know neither what they are nor what they do.”
We do know that our own bodies and every other animal and plant in the world are all utterly dependent on symbiotic microbial communities for our survival. It has also become clear that many of the great breakthroughs in evolution have occurred not because of a chance mutation in an animal, but because bacteria have transmitted a useful new gene right into the animal’s DNA. Because of their huge numbers, vast diversity, and short generation time, bacteria evolve much faster than macroscopic life forms. It’s been a great boon to evolution of the larger life forms that bacteria share their genes.
“The planet is about 4.5 billion years old...The oldest rocks we can look at are 3.8 billion years old. Chemical evidence suggests that life was already present then...” But multi-celled life did not appear until 0.5 billion years ago.
— from a
Harvard Magazine article by Jonathan Shaw
31 October 2007
30 October 2007
“Most people who know me well know that I love ice cream. It has been my favorite comfort food since early childhood, when the Good Humor truck came around daily and a local luncheonette sold double cones for 25 cents. But a new friend was shocked to learn that I routinely keep about six half-gallons of ice cream in my freezer...
“...despite my well-known interest in healthful eating, I don’t believe in deprivation. I learned long ago, when I struggled unsuccessfully for more than a year to lose 35 pounds, that deprivation feeds desire and can lead to overindulgence at the first opportunity.
“And so I adopted a philosophy that I call controlled indulgence. In the two years it took me to return to a reasonable weight for my 5-foot frame, I allowed myself one small treat each day — perhaps two cookies, a thin slice of cake or pie or a few tablespoons of ice cream. The strategy worked, and I continued to use it in the decades of weight maintenance that followed.”
29 October 2007
“We cannot tell the precise moment when friendship is formed. As in filling a vessel drop by drop, there is at last a drop which makes it run over. So in a series of kindnesses there is, at last, one which makes the heart run over.”
— James Boswell, born this day in 1740
also wrote “A decent provision for the poor is the true test of civilization.” and
“Patriotism is the last refuge of scoundrels.”)