November 29th, 2008


Values -

Yesterday we walked out to the lighthouse that announces the rocks and cliffs on one side of the Golden Gate. There were daffodils blooming along the way. It seems surprising they would be blooming this time of year, and it was a lovely treat, a sign of planning by someone, or many someones, a gift.

We went down to the beach and watched the waves which were exquisite. As they broke, there was a lovely defining of the spray. Each time, we gasped with the beauty. In the soft gray light, we noticed what might have been obscured on a brighter day.

It was odd then to read this piece of news about people stampeding a Wal-Mart to buy things no one needs. We are not talking about starving people here, hungry for food. We are talking about people in line for a $9.00 DVD of Incredible Hulk.

I know this is one incident in a huge country, a huge world, but it is a tragic statement on greed, ego, and the mob.

I remember being down by the Metreon in SF. I was strolling around outside, waiting to meet some people. A man had just jumped off the roof and was lying covered on the ground. There is a church right there, so I went in and sat for awhile, hoping to ease the man's transition in some way. It is hard to imagine that one would be the cause of someone's death or in the vicinity, and then continue shopping. Animals pause to honor the dead, to show respect. They don't eat or take more than they need. Where is the pause that would allow these people to stop and think? What are they thinking this morning? Do they think? How do they feel as they hold a piece of plastic in their hands? Do they consider the cost?

Perhaps any one of us is capable of this. I think an incident like this allows each of us to pause and consider what we value, what truly matters, and perhaps pulls us even further from the shopping mall and the need to consume. This one incident may drop retail sales this year even lower than they might have been. It certainly asks one to stop for prayer, to say, please, give me more awareness, so I never lose sight of why I am here.

ashes and snow - wings

Good Morning!

Alexander Pope wrote: "To err is human; to forgive, divine."

I think of those words today.   We all err, and when we come to forgiveness in and for ourselves and others, there, we touch the divine.

I don't understand the need for punishment in this society, the vast amount of money we pay to incarcerate a group of people and torture not only them but the guards we choose to deal with their care.  Obviously I oppose capital punishment, though I am aware there are certain people who are beyond help, but I believe a civilized people still cares for them, in their necessary isolation, in a way that we do not.

I would imagine that each of us of a certain age knows someone who has committed suicide.  I have said here before that I feel the suicides connected with war should also be included in the statistics of death from war,  and yet, this had nothing to do with statistics.  I think we need to look at what the sanctified greed of the last few years has done to people.  People do know right from wrong, and yet, it can become confusing when everyone is grabbing for what they perceive as their rightful piece of the pie.  We want to do "right" by our family.  We may have been led, when we pause for reflection,  astray.  

How do we then come back to a path that is comfortable for us?

Forgiveness is the way. 


Jack Kornfield -

Here is an article on Jack Kornfield from our local weekly newspaper, the Pacific Sun.

His latest book is
The Wise Heart: A Guide to the Universal Teachings of Buddhist Psychology.

Kornfield says, "Your brain will actually grow new parts and new neutrons depending where and how you direct your attention. In the same way, when you direct your attention to the training of compassion or the training of mindfulness of the body, mindfulness of thoughts, that too changes in measurable ways your nervous system."

He says about Barack Obama:

"I think he's going to lead from a place of great consciousness and integrity. He has a great deal of equanimity, even-handedness and that's something really important in these difficult times. He was judged for the content of his character and not the color of his skin, and that's a really beautiful thing to see. It's a very, very exciting time."

He says, "The point isn't to avoid difficulties, which we can't, but rather to realize that we can be present for the way things are."