Father and daughter

…having a great time making music together, as an audience foreign to their musical language is captivated.

— Josh Mitteldorf

1 August 2015

Daily practice is the pathway to an enlightened mind
Daily repetition is the obstacle to an enlightened mind.

Most of our activities are scheduled rituals, repeated day upon day. We work toward a goal and our progress accumulates. You can plow a field this way or build a house, or build a bank account. You can develop strength and stamina, and perhaps you can compose a symphony or write a novel this way…

But don’t ritualize meditation.

Meditation is precisely pulling yourself up by the roots, releasing the mind from habits. If you wish to be reborn into a radically different stance or perspective, you will not get there by doing what you did yesterday.

— Josh Mitteldorf

How often does fear of change interfere with our passion for openness and personal growth?

2 August 2015

Two legs, good—four legs, good

Susie Coston runs a retirement community for farm animals, some of whom have been rescued. from factory farms by activists.

It can transform your humanity when you acquire the habit of thinking of animals as sentient.

Article by Chris Hedges

3 August 2015

Animal communication, animal telepathy

Carl Safina is known as an expert on ocean life and an advocate for conservation (restoration, by now) of ocean ecosystems. With his new book, he has taken a brave step toward challenging us to empathize with animals, to expand our imaginations beyond the human experience.

“The work is beautiful and urgent, an almost holy quest for deeper intimacy. Not just with the whales. With the world.”

Read a Science Times review by Gregory Cowles

There are just too many credible accounts of animal and human telepathy for us to regard them as anomalies or mistakes or somehow outside the realm of science. –JJM

4 August 2015

The soul has its own currency

The soul has her own currency. She mints her spiritual coinage and stamps it with the image of some beloved face. With it she pays her debts, with it she reckons, saying, “This man has worth, this man is worthless.” And in time she forgets its origin; it seems to her to be a thing unalterable, divine. But the soul can also have her bankruptcies.

Perhaps she will be the richer in the end. In her agony she learns to reckon clearly. Fair as the coin may have been, it was not accurate; and though she knew it not, there were treasures that it could not buy. The face, however beloved, was mortal, and as liable as the soul herself to err. We do but shift responsibility by making a standard of the dead.

There is, indeed, another coinage that bears on it not man’s image but God’s. It is incorruptible, and the soul may trust it safely; it will serve her beyond the stars. But it cannot give us friends, or the embrace of a lover, or the touch of children, for with our fellow mortals it has no concern. It cannot even give the joys we call trivial—fine weather, the pleasures of meat and drink, bathing and the hot sand afterwards, running, dreamless sleep. Have we learnt the true discipline of a bankruptcy if we turn to such coinage as this? Will it really profit us so much if we save our souls and lose the whole world?

— E. M. Forster

5 August 2015

Inventing modern music

Contemporary with Gutenberg, 50 years before Columbus, 300 years before Bach, Guillaume Dufay helped to enrich the midieval musical language that he inherited, and wrote two textbooks for the coming Renaissance style. (The last copy of the second of these was last seen in 1826.)

Listen to Ave Maris Stella, “Hail Star of the Sea”

Listen to Ballata Resvellies Vous, “Awaken!”

6 August 2015

Bat man

Bats and whales navigate by sonar, and seem to get as clear a picture from light as we do from sound. A bat can fly unharmed through the blades of a moving fan. A whale can “see” a pingpong ball at 100 meters.

Do they have specialized hardware in their brains for processing the echoes into images? Probably. That’s why I was astounded to hear that humans can learn the same skill.

Daniel Kish will teach it to you.

7 August 2015

To Joy

Lo, I am happy, for my eyes have seen
Joy glowing here before me, face to face;
His wings were arched above me for a space,
I kissed his lips, no bitter came between.
The air is vibrant where his feet have been,
And full of song and color is his place.
His wondrous presence sheds about a grace
That lifts and hallows all that once was mean.
I may not sorrow for I saw the light,
Tho' I shall walk in valley ways for long,
I still shall hear the echo of the song,—
My life is measured by its one great height.
Joy holds more grace than pain can ever give,
And by my glimpse of joy my soul shall live.

Sara Teasdale, born this day in 1884

8 August 2015

With all living beings whom we encounter today we share joy and wonder.

— Josh Mitteldorf

9 August 2015

Listen to From the Middle Ages by Alexander Glazunov, born 150 years ago today.

10 August 2015

A new theory of everything

David Deutsch is not easy to understand, but he has my attention, because he is a self-educated physicist who has come up with extraordinary ideas independent of the academic establishment. His thinking was the foundation for quantum computing.

Deutsch’s new fundamental principle is that all laws of physics are expressible entirely in terms of the physical transformations that are possible and those that are impossible.

In other words, the laws of physics do not tell you what is possible and impossible, they are the result of what is possible and impossible. So reasoning about the physical transformations that are possible and impossible leads to the laws of physics.

That’s why constructor theory is deeper than anything that has gone before it. In fact, Deutsch does not think about it as a law of physics but as a principle, or set of principles, that the laws of physics must obey.

Read more from the Physics ArXiv Blog.

11 August 2015

Divine Teachers

There is an instinct in the human heart
Which makes that all the fables it hath coined,
To justify the reign of its belief
And strengthen it by beauty’s right divine,
Veil in their inner cells a mystic gift,
Which, like the hazel twig, in faithful hands,
Points surely to the hidden springs of truth.
For, as in nature naught is made in vain,
But all things have within their hull of use
A wisdom and a meaning which may speak
Of spiritual secrets to the ear
Of spirit; so, in whatsoe’er the heart
Hath fashioned for a solace to itself,
To make its inspiration suit its creed,
And from the niggard hands of falsehood wring
Its needful food of truth, there ever is
A sympathy with Nature, which reveals,
Not less than her own works, pure gleams of light
And earnest parables of inward lore.

— James Russell Lowell

12 August 2015

Solar Power is Already Competitively Priced, and the Price Continues to Plummet

The installed price of distributed solar photovoltaic (PV) power systems in the United States continues to fall precipitously….

The price including installation for large, distributed systems is just over half what it was in 2006, when the statistic was first tracked by Berkeley Labs. The hardware price is dropping more slowly, but with experience and more installers available, the end-user price of an installed system continues to plummet. Government subsidies to solar continue, criminally in my opinion, to lag behind subsidies for fracking, for coal and oil and even nuclear

read more at Science Blog

13 August 2015

Ilona Eibenschutz remembers Brahms

Audio recording from 1952

14 August 2015

How do we know what to believe?

“When you are young so many things are difficult to believe, and yet the dullest people will tell you that they are true—such things, for instance, as that the earth goes round the sun, and that it is not flat but round.  But the things that seem really likely, like fairy tales and magic, are, so say the grown-ups, not true at all. Yet they are so easy to believe, especially when you see them happening.”

— E. Nesbit, born this day in 1858

15 August 2015


Immersion therapies

  • Jump in cold water for an instant change of mood. Better than coffee.
    (cold shower will do in a pinch)
  • Sprint-swim in intervals of a minute (more or less as fits your cv status). Rest a minute and do it again.
  • Experience the mental world of an aquatic mammal.  Lounge in a warm pool or lake or ocean, bobbing, moving slowly, slowing the breath and let words and images fade away. Stay there a long time.

— Josh Mitteldorf

Enlightenment lies on the other side of boredom. –JJM

16 August 2015

A Dream of Good

To do some little good before I die;
To wake some echoes to a loftier theme;
To spend my life’s last store of industry
On thoughts less vain than Youth's discordant dream;
To endow the world's grief with some counter—scheme
Of logical hope which through all time should lighten
The burden of men's sorrow and redeem
Their faces’ paleness from the tears that whiten;

To take my place in the world's brotherhood
As one prepared to suffer all its fate;
To do and be undone for sake of good,
And conquer rage by giving love for hate;
That were a noble dream, and so to cease,
Scorned by the proud but with the poor at peace.

— Wilfrid Scalen Blunt, born this day in 1840

17 August 2015

Bidding Adieu

gimme a new piece of
the big Mysterium
—the words had barely left his lips
when he died again in cognate delirium
choking on the language of things


science is a big Imperium
religion is too
but one (at least) gives credit to
what the other calls g-o-d
for having offered to all: experience
and the capacity to question
—to cogitate and guess at what is and what’s not,
what’s coming and what is, as we speak, bidding


Jim Culleny

18 August 2015

George Enescu

Listen to Romanian Rhapsody #1 of George Enescu,
born this day in 1881

19 August 2015

We have become so accustomed to loneliness we think it is human
…but it doesn’t have to be like this.

We seek to move from the self of separation to the self of relationship that knows that everything outside is also inside. Then we are not alone.

This is not something we can accomplish in the normal sense of the word. It cannot be another achievement of the separate self. Rather, it is a gift we can receive—and it is a gift we can pass on.

— from The Longing for Belonging by Charles Eisenstein

“We don’t have a word for the opposite of loneliness, but if we did, I could say that’s what I want in life... … It’s not quite love and it’s not quite community; it’s just this feeling that there are people, an abundance of people, who are in this together. …The middle of the universe is tonight, is here, And everything behind is a sunk cost.” —Marina Keegan

20 August 2015

Pantheism? Panvitalism?

Do not make the mistake of imagining that the nature of mind is exclusive to our minds alone. It is in fact the nature of everything. It cannot be said too often that to realize the nature of mind is to realize the nature of all things.

Sogyal Rinpoche

21 August 2015

The Crown of Creation

The average Neandertal brain was 9% larger than the average modern human brain, though their bodies were smaller.

Of course they were not as smart as we are today. No, sirree. Maybe they had better visual processing or more sophisticated reflexes.

Maybe brain size shrunk when humans adopted agriculture, because it takes less brains to push a plow than to hunt. Maybe we are organized into communities that make us safer, and demand less from each individual, except for a few leaders and innovators.

22 August 2015

God is dead. Long live God.

19th Century science led to atheism, existentialism.

21st Century science is pointing to a philosophy of mysticism.

The God of Lao Tzu was That Which Cannot Be Known.

— Josh Mitteldorf

23 August 2015

Theory in the Biosciences

“Unfortunately, nature seems unaware of our intellectual need for convenience and unity, and very often takes delight in complication and diversity.”

— Santiago Ramón y Cajal (Nobel lecture, 1906)

24 August 2015

Aphorisms on Nature

NATURE! We are surrounded and embraced by her: powerless to separate ourselves from her, and powerless to penetrate beyond her.

Without asking, or warning, she snatches us up into her circling dance, and whirls us on until we are tired, and drop from her arms.

She is ever shaping new forms: what is, has never yet been; what has been, comes not again. Everything is new, and yet nought but the old.

We live in her midst and know her not. She is incessantly speaking to us, but betrays not her secret. We constantly act upon her, and yet have no power over her.

The one thing she seems to aim at is Individuality; yet she cares nothing for individuals.

Goethe, tr T. H. Huxley

25 August 2015

Where does poetry come from?

I’m too much given to sit still and keep by myself. It seems as if I could sit silent all day long with the thought of God overflowing my soul—as the pebbles lie bathed in the Willow Brook. For thoughts are so great—aren’t they, sir? They seem to lie upon us like a deep flood; and it’s my besetment to forget where I am and everything about me, and lose myself in thoughts that I could give no account of, for I could neither make a beginning nor ending of them in words. That was my way as long as I can remember; but sometimes it seemed as if speech came to me without any will of my own, and words were given to me that came out as the tears come, because our hearts are full and we can’t help it.

George Eliot had no religion of her own, but she satirized the pomp and sanctimony of the religious establishment, and she was fascinated by people who followed a spirit calling from their own hearts.

26 August 2015

Quantum Biology

27 August 2015

The Last Renaissance Man

“The really unhappy person is the one who leaves undone what he can do, and starts doing what they doesn’t understand; no wonder he comes to grief.”

but also…

“I love those who yearn for the impossible.”

How may we learn when to take a bird in the hand and when to reach for a star?

Poet, philosopher, scientist, and a dominant thinker of his generation, Wolfgang Goethe was born this day in 1749.

“Few people have the imagination to perceive reality.”

28 August 2015

Watch carefully
Listen carefully

just as mist on a mirror fades from Martha Boyden on Vimeo.
Music by Andrea Clearfield, born this day in 1960.

just as the mist on a mirror fades
so does the net of illusory manifestions
dissolve into the clear light of emptiness

for the messengers,
may their activity ceaseless and stainless
be continuously spacious, benefiting all.

29 August 2015


Einstein drained the world of newness
Told us time was just like space—
The Great Machine not even moving:
But a crystal,
      frozen in dimension four.

Heisenburg restored unfolding
Genesis in every moment—
Validated the subjective:
No mere discovery,
      but co-creation.

But it was Schroedinger who connected
Quantum to the world of life—
Biology, no accident:
But sewn in
      the very laws and substance of the cosmos.

And Bohm-de Broglie-Mach,
Affirming Eliot: It is all one
Web, with vibrant ether clotted into worlds.

Small wonder, then, that there is yet no
Unified Field, as though Gravity
And the Quantum could live forever in separate worlds

— Josh Mitteldorf

I thought it pretentious when T.S. Eliot footnoted his poems, but in this case I am tempted…

30 August 2015

Music pours from her fingers

Gabriela Montero is my candidate for the most brilliant improvisation artist alive today. She seems to have perfect command of a great variety of different styles. Her works are constantly varying, and often have a deep complexity of rhythmic structures.

At the end of a performance of a Rachmaninoff or a Beethoven concerto, she might come back out on stage and ask her audience for a suggestion for a theme. In one episode, her entire audience sang her a German folk song which, apparently, she had not heard before.

She seems to be listening to what comes out of her fingers with delight (just like the rest of us).

Here is a playlist of Youtube videos of (mostly) her improvisations.

31 August 2015

Queen of Hearts — Archive of past entries. Bullfrog Design