October 18th, 2007

Book Cover

Thoughts -

Bush uses the fear card on Iran, while this goes on in our hospitals.  Read Jon Carroll today.


It is no wonder I retreat to books about man meeting the cold and surviving or not.

I just finished reading George Grinnell's book, A Death on the Barrens.   He is seventy and was just now able to write a story that happened in 1955 when he was 22.  Six men set off with canoes to explore the uninhabited Canadian Barrens.  One does not return and it is a miracle, many miracles that the other five do.

I am intrigued with this need in some to explore solitary, cold places.  At one point, the men are saved because they stumble upon some Inuit, the first people they have seen in months.  The Inuit  feed the starving men caribou steaks.  They are not able to swallow the barely rehydrated carrots offered in return. 

Grinnell has this to say:

    "On average, industrial cultures can support a hundred persons per square mile. Hunting cultures, like that of the Inuit, whose stone instruments lay at my feet, could support only one person per square mile. Today there are more than six billion persons on the planet, or about one hundred persons per square mile of land. In order to revert to hunting and gathering, we would have to kill off ninety-nine percent of the human population.  The Inuit's was the last culture to survive in North America. Today, its remnants hang around the Hudson's Bay Posts, work the electronic cash registers, watch hockey on TV in the evenings, and drink themselves into an early grave."

We can't go back to those days, and yet, how do we navigate life now,  and provide the inner-outer journeys we seem to need, the journeys that prove the need for connection and tribe.  I continue to read that we can do it with meditation.  It is the tool of our times.

Book Cover

Quotes -

Here are some of the quotes George Grinnell uses to introduce his chapters in A Death on the Barrens.

To fly we must dance with our longest
    shadows in the brightest sunlight.

             - Louise Rader

But when I breathe with the birds,
The spirit of wrath becomes the spirit of blessing
And the dead begin from the dark to sing in my sleep.

             - Theodore Roethke, Journey to the Interior

When you become a sheet of music without
        notes, your song will sing to you.

                    - John Squadra

Nobody sees a flower, really it is so small
it takes time - we haven't the time - and to see
takes time, like to have a friend takes time.

                           - Georgia O'Keefe

I never get lost because I do not know where I am going.

                - Zen Master Ikkya

Book Cover

(no subject)

Here is the blog address for Lawrence Lessig in case you want to follow him and his mind. 


I continue with George Grinnell and A Death on the Barrens.

    Grinnell explains how Art, the leader and man who died, used nature to educate.

          "What Art had understood, and what we did not, is that God is not the one who kills and eats;  God is the one who is killed and eaten."

                    He speaks of it in terms of eating the caribou, of the path of the mystic.

          "Sometimes a miracle happens, a flash of light, a feeling of great warmth, and the mystic is transported in joy to a heavenly realm surrounded by angels, becomes aware that individual existence is absolutely nothing without the gift of other creatures:  the gift of identity in the darkness, bestowed by family and friends who pray for us, the gift of life itself given in ultimate sacrifice by the plants and animals who die that we might eat, and, finally, the gift of a soul granted by the One who is unknowable.  Having achieved enlightenment, the mystic reappears to the world as a Bodhisattva, full of understanding, joy, and gratitude."

Goethe - The soul that sees beauty may sometimes walk alone.

Old Inuit Song - I think over again my small adventures, my fears, those small ones that seemed so big for all of the vital things I had to get and to reach, and yet there is only one great thing: to live and see the great day that dawns and the light that fills the world.

When Grinnell concludes and speaks of the changes in each of the five survivors, he says, "Earlier in the trip, we had been lords of the flies, but now, we were pleased to be just flies of the Lord."

In the Fall 2007 issue of Inquiring Mind, Jack Kornfield speaks about "Buddhist Psychology for the West."  Unlike the Western paradigm, where the essence of human nature is aggressive, the Buddhist psychologies access an innate state of purity, brilliance, and goodness.

Honoring a gently powerful  mind-set will create the changes we want to see.   Lessig asks us to take responsibility for our president and what is going on in the world.  Buddhism does the same.

Change your thoughts, and, therein,  the world.
Book Cover

Gary Snyder -

In Gary Snyder's new book, Back on the Fire: Essays, he writes:

    "A central teaching of the Buddhist tradition is nonviolence toward all of nature, ahimsa.   This seemed absolutely right to me. In the Abrahamic religions, "Thou shalt not kill" applies only to human beings.  In Socialist thought as well, human beings are all-important, and with the "labor theory of value" it is as though organic nature contributes nothing of worth. Later it came to me, green plants doing photosynthesis are the ultimate working class ... Almost all of the later "high civilizations" have been the sort of social organizations that alienate humans from their own biological and spiritual heritage.

Book Cover

Poetry -

I have been going through old photos and putting out my Halloween decorations.  I went out with Tiger and Bella in the dark to hang my Halloween windchime.  I figured if they can see in the night so can I.  It is very still and the predicted rain not yet here.  I definitely feel the slide toward Halloween and the opening of the door of November 1st and the night of the dead.  

Poetry is essential.  We each must write.   David Whyte has this to say.

Poetry is a break for freedom. In a sense all poems are good; all poems are an emblem of courage and the attempt to say the unsayable; but only a few are able to speak to something universal yet personal and distinct at the same time; to create a door through which others can walk into what previously seemed unobtainable realms, in the passage of a few short lines."
--David Whyte
Book Cover

A poem by Robert Hass -

Misery and Splendor
Robert Hass

Summoned by conscious recollection, she
would be smiling, they might be in a kitchen talking,
before or after dinner. But they are in this other room,
the window has many small panes, and they are on a couch
embracing. He holds her as tightly
as he can, she buries herself in his body.
Morning, maybe it is evening, light
is flowing through the room. Outside,
the day is slowly succeeded by night,
succeeded by day. The process wobbles wildly
and accelerates: weeks, months, years. The light in the room
does not change, so it is plain what is happening.
They are trying to become one creature,
and something will not have it. They are tender
with each other, afraid
their brief, sharp cries will reconcile them to the moment
when they fall away again. So they rub against each other,
their mouths dry, then wet, then dry.
They feel themselves at the center of a powerful
and baffled will. They feel
they are an almost animal,
washed up on the shore of a world—
or huddled against the gate of a garden—
to which they can't admit they can never be admitted.