April 23rd, 2010

Alan - sunrise - Palm Springs area

Citizens -

I took the ferry to and from the city yesterday and as usual it was pure delight.  There is nothing like floating along the water, seeing small boats and freighters and departing one place and arriving another.   I thought of life as a ferryman where the day begins in the dark and ends in the dark with changing light, winds, and waves, and I'm sure no one shift covers the whole day as the last ferry leaves SF at 9:35 PM, and the first one leaves Larkspur at 5:50 AM but still what a treat to spend your days going back and forth across the bay, tossing ropes and welcoming people aboard and wishing them well as they depart.

I was one of eight invited to comment on Ode magazine.  We were a well-bonded eight with nature and reading our major interests.   I learned from one man that in 1957, the term for Americans switched from citizen to consumer.   Consumer.  I don't like it and it became very clear that we were not exactly a consuming group, or at least, that each of us considers ourselves a "conscious consumer."

And there we were gathered, eight people, because we were not happy and wanted a chance to say why, and I thank Ode for giving us the opportunity do do so.    The print version of Ode magazine has changed in the last few years.   The articles are shorter and, in my opinion,  less in-depth.   There are a preponderance of ads, and there is even an ad for cigarettes which was very unsettling to those who once smoked.   That will clearly be missing from future issues.  

The intention of the magazine is positive change and yet many of the ads are by corporations.  Of course, they need advertising to stay in business, so one person gave a good argument for them becoming a non-profit.  There is also the question of the environmental costs to have a print version of a magazine appear in our mailbox.  

To prepare for this discussion, I checked out Ode on-line and realized it reads just fine and saves paper, print and delivery costs.  All of us admitted we never click on ads, so would we be willing to subscribe to an on-line version.  Checking today I see there is one, though it hasn't been "pushed" as far as I know.   You can check it out here, and yes, Ode is worth supporting which is why I wanted to be part of the discussion.   http://www.odemagazine.com/

We were a selected group,  but I was gratified to see how we aligned though we were male and female, ranging in age from 30's to 80's.   It was a lovely way to spend a part of Earth Day and it is lovely to feel "heard," and also to realize how rapidly times are changing, and yet, even with that, the greatest grace is a walk in nature, a ride on the ferry, a gathering of well-intentioned and concerned people, and the energy and vitality of a vibrant city. 
hot air balloon

Rocket Boys!

At my neighborhood book group, a well-read woman said that once a year she reads Rocket Boys by Homer H. Hicham, Jr.   

When I saw the cover, I remembered seeing the movie October Sky, which was inspired by the book.

I think it is worth reading at any time but especially now when there is so much discussion about safety in coal mines.


The author grew up in Coalwood, West Virginia. He was inspired by the rocket discoveries of the time to, with a group of friends, create his own, and the book is a wonderful, inviting, enticing, inspirational read. I give it two thumbs up.
great blue heron flying

Pema Chodrun -

Pema Chodrun posted this today on Facebook. I think most of can identify with this place at some point in our life. Here is a way to examine, explore, and release.

Excerpted from "Taking the Leap", by Pema Chodrön

A few years ago, I was overwhelmed by deep anxiety, a fundamental, intense anxiety with no storyline attached. I felt very vulnerable, very afraid and raw. While I sat and breathed with it, relaxed into it, stayed with it, the terror did not abate. It was unrelenting after many days, and I didn't know what to do.

I went to see my teacher Dzigar Kongtrül, and he said, "Oh, I know that place." That was reassuring. He told me about times in his life when he had been caught in the same way. He said it had been an important part of his journey and had been a great teacher for him. Then he did something that shifted how I practice. He asked me to describe what I was experiencing. He asked me where I felt it. He asked me if it hurt physically and if it was hot or cold. He asked me to describe the quality of the sensation, as precisely as I could. This detailed exploration continued for a while, and then he brightened up and said "Ani Pema, that's the Dakini's Bliss. That's a high-level of spiritual bliss." I almost fell out of my chair. I thought, "Wow, this is great!" And I couldn't wait to feel that intensity again. And do you know what happened? When I eagerly sat down to practice, of course, since the resistance was gone, so was the anxiety.

I now know that at a nonverbal level the aversion to my experience had been very strong. I had been making the sensation bad. Basically, I just wanted it to go away. But when my teacher said "Dakini's bliss," it completely changed the way I looked at it. So that's what I learned: take an interest in your pain and your fear. Move closer, lean in, get curious; even for a moment, experience the feelings without labels, beyond being good or bad. Welcome them. Invite them. Do anything that helps melt the resistance.

Then the next time you lose heart and you can't bear to experience what you are feeling, you might recall this instruction: change the way you see it and lean in. That's basically the instruction that Dzigar Kongtrül gave me. And now I pass it on to you. Instead of blaming our discomfort on outer circumstances or on our own weakness, we can choose to stay present and awake to our experience, not rejecting it, not grasping it, not buying the stories that we relentlessly tell ourselves. This is priceless advice that addresses the true cause of suffering - yours, mine, and that of all living beings.