Thomas King has won the RBC Taylor award for his non-fiction book, The Inconvenient Indian. ‘With this book in particular, I’m writing for native and non-native reader…. I had to figure out some way to get past, in some cases, the horror of the history itself’, said King (Dead Dog Café, Green Grass, Running Water) to the CBC. ‘I have learned that over the years that a little bit of humour for the serious stuff is critical, especially for getting people to read and hopefully understand what’s going on.’ As is made clear in the Canada Reads-winning novel, The Orenda, colonization started centuries ago. Its after-effects are with us today. King expects it may take a long time to resolve, which he won’t be around to see, but feels he is part of a sea-change in native-settler relations.
Talk about a sea-change! SomeOfUs.org wants to stop SeaWorld imprisoning orcas. ‘In just a few days over 650,000 of us have signed the petition [you can too]…. [California’s] Orca Welfare and Safety Act could change everything — setting a global precedent that no one should be allowed to capture and imprison these animals for entertainment. We’re reaching out to partner groups and California’s assembly members on a plan to get this legislation passed.’
Last week’s speaker, Les Kaye, talked about paying attention (through meditation, which, as he emphasizes, is not religious, or as this week’s speaker, Jon Kabat-Zinn, says, which ‘universalizes it’). What happens when we don’t? Inattentiveness results in more than clumsiness–it can result in increased stress, which can affect our health and our relations. In this video of Kabat-Zinn speaking at Google in 2007, when he started the mind-body stress reduction program (MBSR) in 1979 compared to today, he wonders, What stress? For he can, thanks to the digital revolution, do more and better work in a day in 2007 than a month in 1979.
(Pictured is ‘A woman thinking’ by Áwá.) Yet the digital revolution has a cost: burnout from addiction, or what he calls ‘overdosing’, ‘where you’re not actually tapping into the creativity that maybe you once were.’ It requires more effort to get the return you once had. Stress affects your health and even cripples your DNA. We stress about doing things. Can you imagine not doing those things, ever? Just being? Just being requires attention in this day and age. Attention, though, is not an end itself, but something that increases our awareness, which in turn balances our thinking mode with our non-thinking modes, such as the feeling mode. Another name for ‘paying attention’ is ‘mindfulness’.
In Asian cultures, the word for ‘mindfulness’ is the same as the word for ‘heartfulness’; i.e., mind = heart. ‘Mindfulness [or ‘heartfulness’–pictured is its Chinese ideogram] is moment to moment nonjudgmental awareness that’s cultivated by paying attention.’ There are two parts to meditation. Like in quantum mechanics, it’s both, they’re ‘complementary‘. There’s a part that’s instrumental, you have somewhere to go, you’re learning, thinking, striving, you’re a human ‘doing’; but there’s another part that’s non-instrumental, you have no place to go, nothing to do, for you are already complete and whole. This part practises non-attachment thinking, ‘awarenessing’ (based on a non-dual view, where there are no relative opposites, such as pleasant/unpleasant, like/dislike, positive emotions/negative, you/me, subjective/objective), not striving; you’re a human ‘being’.
By being aware, you’re looking for the path or the Way (pictured is the ideogram for ‘the path’, ‘the Way’, ‘dao’). There’s no right path; you have to find your own. It’s your Job, your Way. The present was once the future, but if we ‘blast though’ the present in our rush to get to the future, it has negative side-effects. We can just zone along for years on autopilot. The implication is that we may never be where we actually are. But by being aware, we can achieve a breakthrough.
A breakthrough (pictured is its ideogram) embraces an aversion, like in aikido, the martial art where you turn the attacker’s force, rather than block it. In Rumi‘s poetry, too, you put out the welcome mat ‘for all the stuff that arrives at your door, whether you like it or not.’ Kabat-Zinn quotes a short poem by Rumi (from The Guest House)–
Every moment a new arrival:
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some fundamental awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a host of sorrows
who violently sweep your house of furniture,
still treat each guest honourably.
He may be cleaning you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
greet them at the door laughing–That’s advanced practice–and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
for each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
The poem suggests a turning towards rather than a recoiling from. (To be continued…)
• 2014-03-11–after an excellent dinner, we watched museum diaries (dna dissected), rmr, 22, and the genius of marie curie–one thing i struggle with especially during lent is with death and what rohr calls the false self: ‘Perhaps you have noticed that we are not as comfortable with talking about dying as master teachers like Jesus, the Buddha, St. Francis, the “Teresas” (Avila, Lisieux, and Calcutta), the “Johns” (the Evangelist, the Beloved Disciple, and John of the Cross), Hafiz, Kabir, and Rumi. They deeply knew that if you do not learn the art of dying and letting go early, you will hold onto your False Self far too long, until it kills you anyway.’
- What Time Is It?
- Tools For The Journey
- How Connected Are We?
- Living As A Whole Being
- Whole Systems Economics
- Whole Systems Governance
- Street Smarts For Change Agents
Stay tuned for details….
• 2014-03-12–tonight’s episode of super-smart animals presents spindle cells, which are found in the brains of only primates and cetaceans, as a possible key to empathy. from biology to the technology of cars. four car guys discussed the practicality of autonomous (driverless) cars. then paikan interviewed lauren fix about cars with less ghg emissions.
• 2014-03-13–conjoined twins tatiana and krista control each other’s limbs and sense each other’s feelings; do they know each other’s thoughts?–episode 1, the eternal frontier, of wild canada featured some of the forests, plains, and animals from coast to coast to coast. From the website: ‘WILD CANADA … is the largest natural history survey of Canada in our generation — filmed across the country, showing animal behaviour never before captured…. The stunning visuals are matched by a dramatic narrative, which tells the story of how humans have made their mark over millennia in often surprising ways. Unlike any nature documentary series before it, WILD CANADA puts people back in the picture…. Accompanying the series is the WILD CANADA App,… a visually stunning interactive “coffee table book”, that features lush, high-impact HD video and photography from some of Canada’s most remote locations, as well as 360° panoramas, immersive soundscapes, fly-throughs, interactive infographics, and a wealth of exclusive WILD CANADA material available nowhere else.’
A Little Free Library (a kind of public bookcase) is a weather-protected box of books in someone’s front yard, with the motto ‘TAKE A BOOK, RETURN A BOOK.’ Starting with one box in 1991, there are now over 12,000 free libraries in more than 40 countries. (thanks to sm)
• 2014-03-14–to be and to not be–that is an answer (a paradoxical, quantum mechanical answer). watched two episodes of wonders of the universe (‘destiny’ and ‘stardust’) with professor brian cox, who said, ‘Why are we here? Where do we come from? These are the most enduring of questions. And it’s an essential part of human nature to want to find the answers…. Ultimately, we are part of the universe, so its story is our story.’
Jean Vanier writes that ‘many people [in communities] are afraid of authority and of taking it on. To them, authority seems to lack tenderness and relationship. They see it as only bad and bullying. Perhaps this is one of the ills of our times; the tendency everywhere seems to be to separate authority from love and make it legalistic.’
• 2014-03-15–bob ballard and crew search both the atlantic and pacific for volcanic thermal vents, the first non-solar source of energy that supports life to be discovered and possibly the source of life itself–neil oliver and his crew travelled the west coast of england and wales, surveying some of past century’s changes.
• 2014-03-16–bj came over this afternoon–tonight we learned how to brew beer, bake bread, cast bells, and make beeswax candles on tudor monastery farm–that the desert was not too long ago aquatic on how the earth changed history–how women rose to power as charles ii’s mistresses in harlots, housewives and heroines.
On Neil Young and speaking your mind: ‘I thought he had a pretty good retort, like rock stars and using your oil, and he was like, actually, I have a green car that costs me no oil to get here…. That kind of passionate discourse’, says Arcade Fire’s Win Butler, ‘there’s not too much of it in society.’
Freddie Mercury and other great Google musical doodles.
Kathleen Edwards is not really moving to America. That’s just an empty threat.
• 2014-03-17–it’s some saint’s feast day–starts with a ‘p’–st paul or st peter or st petula (pictured in 1966) or something.–how best to govern in crimea and china, western-style or eastern-style?–in the deadly depths, ‘one million tons of discarded chemical weapons [from ww2] … are beginning to leak.’
TVO celebrates Water Week,
2014-03-17 to 23.
The Royal Ontario Museum turns 100.
Episode 2, The Wild West, of Wild Canada on the CBC,
Thursday, 2014-03-20, 8pm.
‘Use your power to make change a reality’–Earth Hour,
At a library near you: Books2Eat .