Friday, February 29, 2008

Mammatus Clouds


The.Magician
Originally uploaded by Chris (archi3d)
Well we have a free bonus day today.
So, I’m offering up Mammatus Clouds as the Cracker Jack prize
apropos absolutely nothing that I have been writing about,
except perhaps to say:
“mammatus are usually seen after the worst of a thunderstorm has passed”
(aka me and my pain-body drama – which actually I hope to return to soon enough.)

Mammatus Clouds: “As updrafts carry precipitation enriched air to the cloud top, upward momentum is lost and the air begins to spread out horizontally, becoming a part of the anvil cloud. Because of its high concentration of precipitation particles (ice crystals and water droplets), the saturated air is heavier than the surrounding air and sinks back towards the earth…”

Oh, my, the mammatus has formed.

Some classics: One and Two.
Some inspiration: Three
Or, if clouds are not your thing for mammatus, I offer you these nuts.

After all…
The More You Eat, The More You Want

I salute you! – Here, have a free day.

Bowing to the Buddha


Bowing Buddha
Originally uploaded by
Seeking Tao

She said she had come expecting me to show her the way out of her unhappiness, not into it.

At this moment, this is what you feel, I said… Now instead of wanting this moment to be different from what it is…is it possible for you to completely accept that this is what you feel right now?…
I am not asking you to do anything.
All I’m asking is that you find out whether it is possible for you to allow those feelings to be there.
In other words … if you don’t mind being unhappy, what happens to the unhappiness?…

She said, “This is weird. I’m still unhappy, but now there is space around it. It seems to matter less. …”

It was also the beginning of the end of her pain-body.
Emotion in itself is not unhappiness.
Only emotion plus an unhappy story is unhappiness.

Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth


Thursday, February 28, 2008

Take One Step

My teacher, Wong Loh Sin See, had us all stand-up, take a bow and close our eyes.
After a moment he said, “Now, take one step backwards.”
Silently, we did.
After a bit he said, “Now, take one step backwards.”
And again, we did.
As I stood there eyes closed, simply waiting, wondering what in the world he was doing, I began to notice I didn’t feel so well.
It was hard to hold my head up. I felt weak.
I felt unsettled.
Unhappy.

“Now, take one step backwards.”
One more step and from the muffled crying I began to hear around me, I suspected that I wasn’t the only person having difficulty.
This was no simple break in concentration or centeredness as I had first suspected,
this was tapping Misery.

Finally, the Teacher said, “Take one step forward.”
Oh! What relief in that simple step.
Things began to quiet down. My strength began to return.
“Take one step forward.”
How very strange this was! I felt light. Happiness was welling up.
The Teacher had us take one final step, and just as joy began to surface he had us bow and take our seats.

We were all fairly stunned. We looked about surreptitiously checking other faces.
Everyone had had pretty much the same experience.
Discomfort had swept over us and then reversed into happiness.

The Teacher explained that as we go forward in life we grow in consciousness. Happiness spontaneously increases.
If we were to go back to our former lives, our former selves, we would be amazed by the misery we’d find.
Through spiritual cultivation our norms change.
Even if we don’t appreciate the progress that we’ve made, if given a chance to actually travel back in time, we would feel the difference.
The Teacher had just provided us that opportunity.

I tell this story by way of an apology.
I have had it in mind to write about Eckhart Tolle’s concept of the pain-body.
I have had it in mind to use events (STORIES!?) from my own life.
But, I find the mere intention has awakened pain in an almost cellular manner.

The exercise in taking a single step should serve as something of a warning.
The pain-body is a creation from the past that we carry to this day.
And if we travel back in time to probe the pain-body at its roots, I do believe our pain is doubled.

Yet ultimately, the pain-body is about the struggle to embody an awakened consciousness.
So, I feel compelled to try my hand at explaining what I’ve seen.

Taking It Like a Man

I’ve been taking it like a man since I was four
when the nurse stuck the booster in my arm
and I never said a word.
My father was so proud he told everyone. . .

“She never cried.”

I’ve been taking it like a man every time I meet
a stranger and talk all one way at them about
the power thoughts I know.
I’ve been taking them like a man

when all along
I ache to sit awhile in my rocker on the porch
snapping beans, my eyes fixed on the horizon
waiting for the news my boys are dead
letting in the knowledge my heart knew all along
letting my moan swell into a wail
the wind might carry to the earth’s end
so each woman might stop a moment, tilting an ear,
catching the whisper echoing inside,
her own tears of taking it.

Pain-Body (Part 3): Knowing All Along


James M. Bralley
Originally uploaded by Seeking Tao
I composed "Taking It Like a Man" over twenty years ago, long before I ever heard about pain-bodies.
Still, it is a good example of both the personal and familial pain body:
the pain body I acquired growing up and the pain that I unconsciously inherited.
In this poem I speak as child, adult, and my own ancestor.

When this poem came out of me,
(for that is a fairer description than to say I ever wrote it)
I did not know that during the Civil War both sides of my family sent many sons to war. Nor, did I know the details of their deaths.

In 1860 seven Bralley brothers enlisted in the 45th Virginia Infantry.
Mitchell Carter and Stephen Craig were taken prisoner.
James M. received a gunshot to the spine, laid paralyzed as a prisoner of war, then died.
Sergeant George Bralley was killed leading a charge at the Third Battle of Winchester.

When I first heard the words of this poem rumbling in my mind,
I had not seen the illustration in Harpers Magazine,
nor read the description of the Third Battle of Winchester.
So I did not see the resemblance between the events of 1864 and my own visions,
flashbacks” I would call them, for over twenty years.
Back in 1980, I only knew that I seemed to be suffering PTSD from a war
I never fought.

But, I did know some history.
As my grandfather’s grandfather, John Pierceall Kearfott was something of a family legend. (Maybe you’ve seen the family farm online.)
J.P. rode in Jeb Stewart’s Calvary.
I took a handful of his Civil War bullets to “Show and Tell” in fifth grade and was quite a hit.
Mom had inherited his diary.
Reading that book I felt as if I sat with him in his encampments.
I could feel the bushes nearby, the heat, and the horses stomp the ground.
The diary also described the waiting
as day after day brother his brother Jimmy lay wounded on a cot.
Just after reading that Jimmy seemed a bit better, I was stunned, then haunted by J. P.’s one line entry,
“Jimmy died last night.”

J.P. Kearfott and his farmstead are still in my family’s thoughts.
At Uncle Eddie’s memorial, a couple cousins told of hopes of purchasing the place.
But, it was Kim, who raised the question that no one could address,
Where are the women?”
Even Mom was mute.

Two generations of women (the great-great and the great) have no voice in our collective memory.
Except, perhaps, in this poem I wrote so many lifetimes later.
It seems my heart still carries their grief.
How very familiar it seemed to sit and wait.
How very familiar to know “my boys were dead.”
It seems I have inherited their pain.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Antidote


Bookworm
Originally uploaded by Solvi Hrafn
Somehow, I missed this teaching by Adyashanti (posted in full on his website).
I share a shortened version here as I think it makes a really nice counterbalance and even antidote to my blog of yesterday.
All those characters (demons, goddesses, fires, blood, whatever) and me running all around…
That is quite a Story.
It’s good to realize that it’s all just part of the novel of my life:

The Novel of Life
When you read a novel, and you read about various characters, you may like some and not like others… —but you’re not finding your sense of self in them. You’re not referencing your self-worth by the characters in a novel or when you turn on the TV.
You just have your thoughts about them.

But imagine if you turned on your TV or you read a novel and you actually completely derived your sense of being and your sense of self from one of the characters.
Immediately your perspective is very different, isn’t it?
Now your perspective has gone from something that’s very vast to something that’s very limited… Sadly, that’s how most human beings spend their lives.
They have this little character in their mind called "me,"
and they’re actually viewing that “me” as personal when it’s not.

The “me” is very impersonal,
not meaning cold or distant,
but just meaning without inherent self nature, in the same way that when you read a book, the characters are without self nature.
They actually don’t exist outside of your imagination.
They don’t even exist in the book, because the book is just words.
And without someone reading the words and bringing it all alive within imagination, nothing even exists on the printed page.
It’s all within the reader, all the life.

When the Buddha talked about the realization of no-self,
he was talking about the self that’s an image in the mind being completely seen through.
And when there is no image of self, experience has nothing to bounce off of.
Everything just is as it is, because there's no secondary interpretation.
The one that’s interpreting is the one that’s in pain.
And that’s the one who suffers.
That’s the one who causes others to suffer. …

Am I wise? Am I stupid? Am I clumsy?
Am I courageous?
Am I enlightened about this?”
That’s the movement of consciousness reflecting on an image of itself that doesn’t actually exist. It’s always measuring each and every experience, and then believing in the interpretation of the experience rather than seeing
“Everything just is.”…

You start to see that the only thing that goes into resistance, a story, or an interpretation of what is—whatever it is—is this mind-created persona.
It's like a character in a novel.
When you read a novel, every character has a point of view.
It has beliefs. It has opinions. …
Our persona is literally this mind-created character that’s always making itself distinct.
So it always needs to evaluate everything against its preconceived idea…

You don’t have to destroy the character called “me” to wake up from it.
In fact, trying to destroy the character makes it very hard to wake up.
Because what’s trying to destroy the character? The character.
What’s judging the character? The character.

So you leave the character alone.
The character called you, just leave it alone.
Then it’s much easier for the awakening out of that perspective to happen.

You don’t lose the character; you just gain the whole novel of life.
It’s not like you lose anything. You just gain the whole book.
You gain the whole universe.
As Buddha would say, “Lose yourself, gain the universe.”
It’s not a bad deal. …
Wake up from your character, and then you see your self nature in all characters—
not just one, but all of them.


Adyashanti

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Make Peace, Make Peace


Bruegel's "Mad Meg"
Originally uploaded by Seeking Tao

One of my favorite ways to define what I consider real freedom or real liberation is: you no longer have an argument with yourself,
you no longer have an argument with God,
you no longer have an argument with others,
you no longer have an argument with Life.
Adyashanti

I went to a workshop this weekend with my Teacher, Wong Loh Sin See.
During one of our meditations I had a vision of my heart. This painting by Bruegel, that I’ve posted, gives a good feel for what I saw and experienced.
My chest was filled with angry, little, tormenting gods.
Bruegel has them as demons, but it was clear to me that they were gods, stirring up quiet a fuss in my heart chakra. Set this painting into frienzied motion and that is my recollection. Curiously, I didn't find it the nightmare you might imagine. It was more a curiosity.

Gods of the heart chakra?
I have heard of sounds and colors and mandalas specific to each chakra, but never had I heard about specific gods.
So, this was interesting. Still, I probably wouldn't have mentioned it, if our discussion hadn't gotten into "energy." This whole macabre scene seemed to be a reflection of my subtle energies.
Of greater significance seemed to be the message that now seemed to be coming up,
“The gods are angry and need to be appeased.”

“Appease the gods!” Could this be true?

I asked Leong about this, forming my question along these lines:
I understand that our inner energies sometimes assume the form of animals.
A lion has been particularly helpful to me. This “lower higher self provides” a wild, fierce energy and strength when there is a need.

Now, it seemed that on a little higher level, there are these minor gods… but their activities seemed much less beneficial. Black arms arm whirling in all directions, contorted figures, baroquely elaborated in the darkness of a bloody underworld - these guys are on the rampage.
This cannot be all that good.

It reminded me that on most days recently I have had a fair amount of chest pain.
Is this why my blood pressure has not responded to three months of medications and now the meds feel like they're poisoning my system?
Is this why there’s an aneurysm ballooning out the top of my aorta?

If there are gods within that sometimes need appeasing, now may be the time.
But, could this be so? Such a belief is not really that much a part of my usual mindset.

Leong gave a long answer and he also gave a short.
The words that cut right to the bottom line were simple:
“It’s not appease... it is Make Peace.”

Yes, those were the Teacher’s words to me when I initiated with him,
“Make peace. Make peace.”
How many times have I replayed those words?
At the time, they were directed towards the dissolution of my twenty-year partnership.
Today, they pointed deep inside, so much more profoundly as to constitute a whole new lesson.

Sunday morning dawned and the image of those tormenting gods was still fresh in my mind.
Who are they?
With whom am I to make peace?
Of course it is my self.
But, in such new territory for my soul the self-image still seems as Other to me.
I wanted names and more specifics.

So, I Googled, quickly finding good faxsmilies online,
crowded upon on the fa├žade of the Hindu temple in Bangkok,
Wat Phra Si Maha Uma Dev.

Parvati, the consort of Shiva, covers the temple and so I started reading about her.
Generally considered a benign goddess of Nature, she also has some fearful aspects namely, Durga, Kali, and the Mahavidyas.

"Durga" echoed in my head along with one word, “Yes!”
I clicked the link to her.
Durga is Parvati’s fighting form, a warrior with 10 arms riding upon lion or a tiger, carrying weapons and assuming mudras.
In short, she’s not so foreign to my being after all.
Hadn’t I begun with lion energy and realizing the gods were above (or "riding") that? And wasn’t this all about the battle being waged within my heart chakra and chest?

I moved on to Kali.

Click.
Knowing what I would find since Kali has visited me for years and her energy is no stranger.
She has this wagging, curling tongue that is a dead give away of when she comes to call.
The first time I assumed her fierce posture with my own tongue curling out, I was so relieved that tradition has us meditating with eyes closed. I didn’t care to see nor to have any witnesses from my meditation group.
She is a black and devilish being and yet, a goddess. (How bad can that be? - Well, there is that wicked tongue...)

Instantly, I was back to the TEE procedure, my benumbed tongue choking my throat (Exsanguinate).
Oh! That must have pissed her off.
I resolved to take a bow to myself and her next time the doctors have to take a look.
It seemed the respect due oneself and goddess, as basic as the Inuit hunter’s bowing to the animals they hunt. (Hadn't I just written how they'd reduced me to an animal? Exsangunate!)
Still, doctors have to do what they must do, and perhaps next time I can make the process less a sacrilege by first paying my respects.

It’s written that:
Once, during their numerous love games, things got out of hand between Shiva and Parvati. What started out in jest turned into a serious matter with an incensed Shiva threatening to leave. Left with no choice, Parvati multiplied herself into ten different forms, the Ten Mahavidyas, one to block each of the ten directions, thus preventing her consort’s escape. (Am I trying to escape?)

But, Ten!
Perhaps that explains all the crowding that I saw, the busyness of Bruegel.
It certainly explains the carnage.
The Ten Mahavidyas cover the whole range of feminine divinity with a heavy nod to the horrific:
Chinnamasta - the Goddess who cuts off her Own Head (or ruptures her aorta?)
Bhairavi - the Goddess of Decay
Dhumawati - the Goddess who widows Herself
Bagalamukhi - the Goddess who seizes the Tongue (geeze, another one with tongue issues!)
Matangi - the Goddess who Loves Pollution (or is that modern medication?)
Kali - the Eternal Night

But, I am not too dismayed.
“Mahavidya” comes from maha (great) and vidya (knowledge, revelation)
and each form made Shiva realize an essential truth.

So, I will think on all of this and see if I can find a way to
“Make Peace. Make Peace.”

To these who are my self,
Namaste, I bow down.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Exsanguinate

By feeling the subtle flow of air in and out of the body as well as the rise and fall of your chest and abdomen, you are becoming aware of the inner body. Your attention may then shift from the breath to that felt aliveness within you, diffused throughout your body… To be unable to feel the life that animates the physical body, the very life that you are, is the greatest deprivation that can happen to you…

Can you feel your body from within…?

Your inner body is not solid but spacious. It is not your physical form but the life that animates the physical… It is the intelligence that created and sustains the body, simultaneously coordinating hundreds of different functions of such extraordinary complexity that the human mind can only understand a tiny fraction of it… It is the elusive “life” that no scientists has ever found because the consciousness that is looking for it is it.
Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth

I find that an Eckhart Tolle CD puts me right to sleep, in the best sense,
as I have had some insomnia of late.
Last night was so strange.
I drifted in and out of his teachings never sure just when I was asleep.
Still, this morning I was eager to find these words in A New Earth that so reminded me of the sky in Karen Cleveland’s paintings,
the sky filled with all the little bubbles and squiggles over the Red canoe and Red chair.
I keep coming back to these paintings: the sky, the water, the dripping, lolling silence.

I have been trying to understand their hold on me, which brings me to the Red.

I love the Red.
The color seems to Form the word that has been going round and round in me for days.
It is color as embodiment and the word is:
“Exsanguinate”
As in the sentence, “Most patients with aortic ruptures exsanguinate on scene,”
But, I only hear the word.
The sentence and emotion apparently choose to appear as non-linguistic image and body memory.

“Exsanguinate”
And I feel like spitting up and wiping at my mouth.
“Exsanguinate”
And I remember all those years of meditation in which blood seemed smeared across my face – just some memory, some flashback... a bit old pain-body?

“Exsanguinate”
Come here.
Tuesday, my cardiologist said that I would need another TEE in August.
They did one a month or so ago.
That’s how they found the aneurysm.

First, they have you open wide and gargle until everything is numb.
Inside your throat your tongue suddenly feels huge.
It seems to fill everything, this huge muscle, blocking off your breath.
I focused hard on staying calm – “don’t panic!”
and then, anesthesia injected in a vein somewhere takes that Will away.

I became an animal simply laying there,
this probe shoved down my throat,
groaning,
writhing when a torque of the wand causes the pain to spike…
I heard some words, “There, the aorta…”

Then much later,
“Ms. Bralley, do you remember the procedure? … You have an aneurysm of the ascending aorta. You’ll probably be having this test again.”

“Exsanguinate.”
The word started in my head a while later.
So did the insomnia.
So did the pleasure at seeing bright Reds:
the kitchen towel in the sun, the Red chair, the Red canoe.

When you are no longer totally identified with forms, consciousness- who you are- becomes freed from its imprisonment in form. This freedom…comes as a stillness, a subtle deep peace within, even in the face of something seemingly bad… This too will pass. Suddenly, there is space around the event…and from that space emanates a peace that is not “of this world,” because this world is form, and the peace is space. This is the peace of God.
Eckhart Tolle

These are the words I opened to this morning, as I meant to find the ones describing sky.
These are the words that I found instead, the words that brought searching to an end.
I lay down into the Red canoe and all was well.

Exsanguinate, freed from imprisonment.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

What I Do


Karen Cleveland: Sitting
Originally uploaded by Seeking Tao

My friends never understand what it is I do all day in the lab.
So, I thought I’d tell you.
Last week I started a project to clone three genes, the first step being an amplification of DNA (specifically, the genes) via a technique known as “PCR.”

PCR was invented by a wild man, Kary Mullis.
(you must check out this guy, his reading list and autobiography!)
For his efforts he won a Nobel Prize. But now, PCR is basic molecular biology.
And last week I could not get my PCR to work.

I went home Friday evening pretty frustrated and Monday morning found me pouring over technical literature to formulate a plan.
I also did an online search which totally distracted me with laughter.
I have cut and pasted the online chatter down below.
I find these unknown colleagues both heart warming and a perfect reflection.

This is What I Do.
This is Science as I have come to understand its practice in molecular genetics.
Ninety-percent of what we try to do fails.
We follow the best logic we can muster…
and in the end often conclude, “it was my lucky red t-shirt,” - i.e. we do not know.

Perhaps, that’s why I love this painting I post here of the red chair, by Karen Cleveland.
Karen paints with her energy and intuition and her work to me embodies consciousness.
Science that works has this same wild artfulness.

The sky around that Red Chair could be the stuff percolating in my PCR.

And now, my virtual colleagues, and their artfulness which runs like this...

Posted by: vetticus
Hi,
I've said this before, but, basically, i've been using a PCR reaction with Pfu on genomic DNA, and until very recently, it's worked really well. last few weeks, the reaction flopped majorly. Other researchers in our lab have used the Pfu also, unsuccessfully.
So, we got a new batch out of our freezer, it too didn't work.
Changed the water... didn't work.
Fresh dNTP... didn't work.
Fresh primers... didn't work.
Changed the PCR machine from my floor to the one upstairs... didn't work.
swore... didn't work.
changed from Pfu to another proofreader with it's very own buffer and with assurances that this PCR would work... didn't work
(though did get some lovely primer dimers)....

I was wondering... and was hoping someone could confirm this.... the only thing that has remained constant is my supply of DMSO (5%). could this be the thorn that screwing me around?
(as i write this, i'm running a PCR with a fresh batch of DMSO)

can DMSO go bad?

hoping desperately that this reaction works.
supposing this reaction doesn't work, and i manage not to throw myself off a building, is there anything else i can try?
this reaction has worked for months, and now is not.

vetticus

PS
fresh DMSO... didn't work. i don't get it. I got this reaction to work. One day it's fine... next it's stuffed. Which molecular biology god should i make a sacrifice to?

Posted by: Bob
Hi,
I am fairly sure that DMSO degrades slowly in the presence of water, it could be that the
5% solution you are using is degraded and seeing your last comment, it could be that the new stock is also degraded if stored as 5%.
Just a thought- try fresh DNA, if possible, it is barely likely but it could be the factor as it seems to be the only one not changed.
Otherwise I am flummoxed!
Good luck
Bob

Posted by: vetticus
apparently DMSO degrades if exposed to sunlight... ahhhh.
still doesn't help me out (but useful for anyone else out there). Don’t store it at 5%, that's the percentage of final volume...
my head hurts.
trying fresh DNA... will probably have result in ~30 min.
thinking about it all day... the only other variable that has changed is that the other lab swiped our radio and is playing pop rock instead of our usual indy/alternative.
i don't know.
perhaps i should stand on one leg whist preparing the reaction.

Post by: nabla
“the only other variable that has changed is that the other lab swiped our radio and is playing pop rock instead of our usual indy/alternative.” That is a quiet good reason according to my opinion!

Posted by: littlecell
there must have been something wrong with your DNA template.
please store the template at 4 centigrade but not freeze them.
good luck!

Posted by: vetticus
It works... it works.... it works... little dance little dance.... it works...
what happened... i offered a blood sacrifice to one of the more fickle gods of molecular biology (ok, maybe not, but the idea did cross my mind)...
seriously, i have no idea what happened.
it just stopped working, but it works now...little dance little dance.
wearing my lucky red t-shirt must have pushed it over the line.
the DNA's fine, the primers are fine, the magnesium content is fine, the water is fine, the machine is fine.... little dance little dance little dance.

what doesn't kill me can only make me stronger.
can finally breath normally again.

Posted by: robyn
Hi guys,
I am having the same problem!
2 months ago It worked OK.
A colleague suggested that it would work better at Ta=67. I tried that - it worked beautifully!!!
Now, suddenly at Ta=67 there is nothing!
I know what you're thinking… Not so.
I tested it again at 67 - no luck.
Tested it with new primers and new dNTPs and new water - no luck.
Decided to play around with the temperature - tried 65 (so-so), 68 (nothing), 62 (so-so)…
Any help will be greatly appreciated as I don’t have any more hair left to pull out!!

Posted by: perneseblue

"what doesn't kill me can only make me stronger.”
Except a horrible disfiguring accident that leaves you paralyzed for life
And what was it, finally? The DMSO?

P. Bralley (not posted there but here)…
I decreased my DNA and enzyme, increased the magnesium, dropped the DMSO completely.
It worked! …“little dance little dance”

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Shadows


Kitchen Towel
Originally uploaded by Seeking Tao

My eyes seemed starved for red this afternoon. Thus, the choice in photo.

The subject today is shadows, in consciousness and art... and this site is merely shadowing the commentary that is really HERE.

(Actually, I just wanted to keep "art" topics in my art site.)

Friday, February 15, 2008

Two Cents and Coffee


Day 26
Originally uploaded by lrayholly
I am just back from purchasing my morning coffee.
There's a little Starbucks in the basement of "Whitehead," the reaserch building connected to mine.
Today, as the cashier dug at getting out my change, I noticed that on the wall behind her hung a new large calendar without a single scribbled-in event.

“You need to start writing things on your calendar,” I said, offering my totally unsolicited opinion, but then the dear woman had already allowed as how she’d chip in the two cents I’d forgotten, once again, for making easy change.

“Well, my boss wants me to take it down. But, The People in the building put it up.”
These people (scientists) are also, presumably, the ones who have put up the sign: “No animals may exit this door.” - a sign that stuns me and to which I take personal exception every time I go for coffee.

But, getting back to the calendar, What was one to do?
It appeared she’d decided to do nothing.
She just sat there in her quiet, Southern, secretly amused Black manner.
She wasn’t going to take the calendar down, nor was she going to actually use it.
I thanked her for my coffee and moved on.

As I added my half and half and stirred in my sugar substitute, images of the one and only time my sister gave me a driving lesson came drifting up.
Traffic was kind of heavy when suddenly Sandy yelled, “Get over!”

So, I did. I jerked the wheel and just like that we were in the right hand lane.
However, there was no placating her.
“DON’T EVER change lanes without looking! Jesus!”
“Well, you said 'GET OVER'!”

Then I heard the soft replay, that gentle (tired?) voice of the coffee cashier.
“It’s confusing, ain’t it.”

I loved her gentle detachment. It was perfect Presence.
I started chuckling, my first laughter in awhile, and made my exit via the door that animals are not supposed to use.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Purple Finches

And here are the little finches that like to peak in my window.

They're Here!


Cedar Waxwing By Mark Trabue
Originally uploaded by marktrabue
The cedar waxwings are back! Migrating through? They fill the trees outside my work place nibbling at the berries of the holly bushes.

And they fill me with joy.

They are accompanied by purple finches who nest in the rafters above my second floor lab window. These guys like to come right up and peak inside. That way we get to say hello and have a little chat.

Spring can't be too far away.
Thank God.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Dow in the Tao


Fractal Buddha
Originally uploaded by Seeking Tao
I went to a Chinese New Year celebration last week.
There, I overheard an explanation the Indian concept of time and yugas.
It’s cyclical of course, revolving round through ups and downs.
Satya Yuga is a Golden Age which lasts for 1.73 million years. The people enjoy long life and most become enlightened.
Inevitably, Satya Yuga declines into the more degenerate ages, each of shorter duration and greater suffering.
Today, we are in the darkest, most degenerate age of Kali Yuga.
It began 5000 years ago and will continue for another 430,000 years.

During Kali Yuga life spans are short and difficult. Few people are enlightened, and some would characterize our species as insane.
Back in the 1972, when Maharishi announced that through the efforts of our teaching Transcendental Meditation, humanity was entering the Age of Enlightenment, someone asked him, “But what about Kali Yuga?”
Maharishi replied that even in this darkest age, we could create 10,000 years of an Enlightenment world, a spot of brilliance within the dark.

And I thought, “….well, maybe…” I hoped that he was right. I told myself, surely he should know.

These days, I don’t think of Kali Yuga all that often.
I am, however, studying stocks closely.
Specifically, I was recently scanning the ValueLine list of Top Performers for stocks that are currently in an up-trend.
I was examining price charts that spanned about a five-year time frame.

To my delight, the charts looked great! I anticipated many trading opportunities and making lots of money.
So, having established my qualified list, I started clicking on these stocks’ charts once again, looking at a shorter time frame.

Now the stocks looked simply horrendous.
In case you’ve been asleep, world markets and the Dow have been in something of a free fall for these past few weeks.
I started scowling inside my little brain.
It was going to be trickier to make all that money than I had anticipated.

How could something that looked so good be in such bad shape?

It has to do with the property of self-similarity,
cycles within cycles.
Just like the yugas. Even within Kali Yuga there can be an uptrend amd an Age of Enlightenment.
Or not. You can get the opposite – a downtrend in the midst of five great years.

Self-similarity.
It is a property displayed by fractals.
And I knew it must be a function of consciousness the moment I discovered James Gleick’s book, Chaos , twenty years ago.

Self similarity:
How something looks at one magnification, is how it looks at another power.
The Man in the Moon is nothing but large craters seen from Earth.
Land a lunar module on the surface and you see yet another set of craters.

The mathematician who formalized all this is Benoit Mandelbroit.
When he graphed the equations he revealed the startling beautiful image I’ve posted here.

Turns out fractals are a powerful descriptor of Nature and thus the Way of the Tao.
The anatomy of our lungs is fractal.
The beating of our heart is fractal.
The behavior of the stock market is fractal.
And I can only imagine that Yugas themselves are fractal in their structure.

We can become enlightened in the depths of Kali Yuga.
Our lives can be in an up-trend, even when the day seems to have gone all wrong.

The thing about fractals that really struck me, is that as a computer draws out these beautiful, mandala like patterns, (which are plotted out dot by dot)
each bit of color is placed upon the page in a seemingly random or chaotic order.
Standing at the last point plotted,
you would never guess where the next dot will be placed.

And that to me is where we stand each moment in the Now.
Standing in complete Presence we stand with that which simply Is,
Without any preconception of what the next moment will bring.

Adya repeatedly says, the more enlightened you become, the less and less you know.
And somehow I am picturing that as standing right on the edge of this cliff looking out into Nothingness…

which, is not at all unlike staring at that last price bar of a stock chart.
As I ponder past performance, and wonder whether I have interpreted the signs correctly,
Should I sell, or buy or hold?
I find myself staring right into the Void.

The daily-do of technical analysis has opened out into my Cosmic quest,
and I begin to hear the whispers
lines from Adyashanti’s unfinished poem,
Everlasting Inheritance.”

Listen now, or lose your life, for what I have to say is what you have imagined in quiet moments but have failed to realize in full. Perhaps you were too timid or astonished at the critical moments, or couldn’t find the courage to step through the veil of your frail life when the door was opened for you…

Or perhaps you wanted to keep your life as your own, and chose to hold onto a few pennies when you could have had gold. No matter, for yesterday has passed into the dust of remembered dreams, and tomorrow’s story is yet to be written…

Stand with me here at the precipice and take my hand in yours, for I am good company to those ready to depart familiar ground. If not, then let loose of my hand now and take that of a more familiar companion. For where we stand is known, but our next step will not be—nor the one after or the one after that.

…lift your foot together with mine and we will step off the well-trodden paths and into the uncharted woods where the essence of things lies waiting for you to open your eyes.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

The Pain Body (Part One)


Onions
Originally uploaded by Seeking Tao

Mama used to say …I was especially sensitive to onions like my great-aunt, Tita. …when she [Tita] was still in great-grandmother’s belly her sobs were so loud that even Nacha, the cook, who was half deaf, could hear them easily. Once her wailing got so violent that it brought on an early labor… Tita made her entrance into this world…was literally washed into this world on a great tide of tears that spilled over the edge of the table and flooded across the kitchen floor…
Like Water for Chocolate, byLaura Esquirel.

I have been thinking about the pain body.
It is a term coined by Eckhart Tolle:

…every emotional pain that you experience leaves behind a residue of pain. It merges with past pain and lodges in your mind and body. This accumulated pain is a negative energy field, and if you look upon it as an invisible entity in its own right, you are getting quite close to the truth.

So, there is a personal pain body that we acquire as we struggle to grow up.
There is also a pain body we inherit, simply by being human.
Here, Tolle describes social pain bodies. I think it only reasonable that there is also a pain body associated with our family history.
I look as this as so physically ingrained (albeit very subtly) that it is actually reasonable to consider it our inheritance through Nature rather than from Nurture. Although we are also shaped by inherited behavioral patterns. I am concerned more with physical and energetic inheritance.

The pain body usually has a collective as well as a personal aspect… The collective one is the pain accumulated in the collective human psyche over thousands of years through disease, torture, war, murder, cruelty, madness… Everyone’s personal pain body also partakes of this collective pain-body. There are different strands in the collective pain body. For example certain races or countries in which extreme forms of strife and violence occur have a heavier collective pain-body than others…every woman has her share in what could be described as the collective female pain-body… This consists of the accumulated pain suffered by women partly through…slavery, exploitation, rape, childbirth, child loss, and so on, over thousands of years.
The Power of Now, by Eckhart Tolle.

College age and still at home, one evening I was watching a movie on TV.
During a commercial break, I rummaged the refrigerator.
A bit amazed at what I came up with, I held my bowl out to Mom
as I passed her in the hallway.
“Look at this! Chocolate ice cream and a dill pickle. How weird! But, I want it!”
“Oh! I craved that when I was pregnant with you,” was Mom’s instant reply.

Tita, Tita, Tita.

I have another story, many stories really, regarding the pain body,
as I am just back from a weekend in Kentucky.
The memorial service for my mother’s brother, Uncle Eddie,
reunited eight of the eleven Kearfott cousins, the children of Mom and her two brothers.
I hadn’t seen a number of these people in over forty years.
And I was stunned by the parallels our lives had run.
My generation may not have interacted all that much,
but we share some of the same ghosts and grief.

The pain-body doesn’t want you to observe it directly and see it for what it is.
The moment you observe it, the identification is broken.
A higher dimension of consciousness has come in.
I call it presence.
You are now the witness, or the watcher of the pain-body.
It can no longer use you by pretending to be you, and it can no longer replenish itself through you.
You have found your own innermost strength.
You have accessed the power of Now.
Eckhart Tolle

Well, I don’t feel all that in the Now these days.
I am too aware of the pain my family carries.
As we cousins, the women really, talked around the table, with my mom, and through the weekend, it became obvious that each in her own way was trying to understand and heal.

And so in the next few days and pages, that is what I hope to do.
Heal and share and perhaps bring some Presence or at least the light of day
to my family’s shared pain,
for the next generation is upon us
and they are struggling too.

(Pain Body Part II: Grandfather)


Pain Body (Part Two): Grandfather


Bill's wash bowl
Originally uploaded by Seeking Tao
At the table Saturday night, five of the women cousins sat.
It wasn’t longer before someone mentioned the tradition of eating oysters for Christmas dinner and the ensuing problems the raised for a young child.
I asked them if they knew why they were eating oysters.
Turns out, neither of my uncles had ever mentioned the story Mom recounted to us every year.

“My father was born on Christmas day and so he got to choose his favorite food for Christmas dinner. And he loved oysters.”
And about then, Mom would start tearing up, because Grandfather had loved her and she had loved him, and one week after she returned from her honeymoon in 1946,
William Kearfott put a gun to his head and pulled the trigger.

Mom had felt it coming. She had had a dream the night before and called her father early the next morning. His reassure proved untrue.
In a few hours he was dead.
Uncle Eddie, age 14, was pounding on the bathroom door when his father killed himself.

So this last Christmas, when I walked into Mom’s kitchen to find her dressed in her all in her Merry Christmas clothes with tears in her eyes, I was ready for a trauma.
But, I didn’t expect her to say that she’d just found out that Eddie was dead.
I didn’t expect her to say that she hadn’t called him last night because she wanted to call tomorrow on the twenty – forth.
And I didn’t expect her to say that this old man with Alzheimer’s, who hadn’t done a thing without my Aunt’s help in years, had gotten out of bed all by himself in the middle of the night to die of a heart attack
in the bathroom.

The bathroom.
I have to wonder if the room hadn’t haunted him throughout his life.
His daughter Kitty was en-route home for Christmas, had delayed a day to visit with friends a few hours away.
She says that night a single clap of thunder exploded through her lodgings.
The event shook everyone.
An hour later, the phone rang. Eddie was gone.
I have to wonder about the noise of that gun shot.

I asked Kitty if she’d seen the lightening bolt Mom wears around her neck.
She wears it to commemorate my father’s passing.
As we completed the sprinkling of his ashes into the Atlantic one lone cloud on the distant horizon had flashed with a bolt that made us all jump.
“Poppy!” Mom had cried referring to her comment in the hospital as we’d waited for them to prop his body.
“Poppy said that when he died he was going to be ‘an electrical thought impulse.’”
At the time this strange prediction had simply made me laugh.
Now, it makes me wonder. How many circles do we trace out.

Yet another Christmas and once again, Mom was in tears:
She had meant to call.
All the men in her life died so quickly, just like that, no warning.
“And Grandma wouldn’t let me cry at Dad’s funeral!”
At the age of 82, Mom is still angry at her mother.

By the time I was 10, I knew that Mom’s body gave her constant pain.
She would wrap her legs in ace bandages as she constantly had flares ups of phlebitis, the blood clotting in her inflamed veins.
Other explanations included, “The doctor told me I developed food allergies rather than having a nervous breakdown in the early 1950’s.”
And not long after that, I became aware that both my uncles waged a battle against alcohol,
as did Mom and Grandma to a lesser extent,
as have my cousins.

But, I was surprised and then intrigued to learn this past weekend that,
“Six family members have suffered psychotic episodes.”
Since I was pretty sure I was being included in this list, I chuckled and replied,
“You know, I think we might reframe that statistic into terms of spiritual awakening.”

After all, one man’s Psychotic is another’s Shaman.
Thus, not all psychotic episodes are pathology.
The term “spiritual emergency” has been coined since I had many of my experiences.
I myself have always learned fascinating stuff every time I’ve slipped off the end of that old Bell Curve of Normality.
Not that the fall wasn’t painful, difficult, and something I might choose to avoid if given half a chance.
But it has always been an eye opener.
And in all honesty, I have often wondered if the hunger, the intense longing for the grips of spiritual connection, even at the cost of worldly function, isn’t simply a deeper layer in a soul also at risk more superficially to addiction to alcohol and heroine.

And if the next generation is following our lead (which apparently they are),
perhaps they’d like to know a bit about the family tradition:
We are a Sensitive bunch.
We hunger deeply.
We have not always been allowed to claim our sensitivity
and thus not allowed to claim all the power of the Self, not allowed to satisfy our deepest hungers.
That denial has created our family pain body and we will replay the cycle until the body is dissolved.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Speechless



Originally uploaded by LunaSol

I find myself unable to write.

Partly, there is too much to say and so only disjointed fragments of stories exist in my head.

Partly, there are no longer words, only images and moods I cannot quite leave.

I liked the circling buzzards in this photo by LunaSol.
That's kind of how it is.

If you have the time... you might like to read this entry from the Cassandra Pages. It's where I go these days for sustenance.
Perhaps appropriately, it's entitled "Round about Blue."