Sunday, February 28, 2010

The Mracle of a Single Flower


~ The Buddha

Of Note: What do you think the Buddha knew that we don't? Could He have meant something more than merely looking at a flower and appreciating its readily apparent beauty? It would seem so because that's so obvious--and nothing about what the Buddha or Jesus the Christ said was obvious. Could it be the He was asking us to look past the physicality of the flower to its essence, its life, its connection to the Divine? Could it be that before us in the flower is the whole universe in miniature? Contemplation on such thoughts could bring us closer to our essence, and it is guaranteed that constant meditative practice such as this would change our lives forever. Could be that's what the Buddha knew.

Today's Weather Report: Yesterday on my birthday it was sunny and almost 40 degrees Fahrenheit! The Birkie cross country ski race was in town with 10,000 participants. The conditions were perfect for spectators although it was a bit warm for the racers. The time capsule with George W. Bush memorabilia has 23 more years to go before we see how history views his time in office. Two years ago it seemed certain that history would judge the former President harshly. But as I've said the past two years on my birthday, I am not so sure. I plan to be around in 2033 and will go to my sock drawer, draw the time capsule out and re-read all the material I've saved there. Should be quite enlightening. Anyone around at the time has an open invitation to join me.

Saturday, February 20, 2010


I'm not a Republican
I'm not a Democrat...
For years I've been a

~ Clyde Tombaugh

Of Note: Clyde Tombaugh "discovered" Pluto in 1930. At that point, no one argued that Pluto was the ninth planet and congratulated the young Kansan for his astronomical observation. Pluto is 3.67 billion miles away which made it impossible to closely observe. It wasn't until the 1970's and 1980's that Pluto's size was downgraded to smaller than the smallest planet, Mercury. As a matter of fact, it was only half the diameter. In the 1990's a belt of objects past Neptune were discovered, and astronomer's realized that Pluto was merely a part of that large belt of asteroids. Thus, in 2006, a new definition for planets was created by the powers that be, and Pluto was stripped of it's planetary regalia. It is not surprising that many did not agree with the ruling, and the controversy has raged ever since. As a matter of fact, a majority of Americans overwhelmingly sided with Pluto's planethood in a 2009 poll. The ancients might agree. Astrologically, 12 planets are known to exist, and Pluto has not been been removed from its planetary list. Thanks to Ken Croswell, an astronomer, for his insighful editorial in the Wall Street Journal about this timely subject.

Today's Weather Report: What can I say? Another sunny day mixed with a cloudy day. Pretty typical for winter in the northwoods. This is a picture of the moon from my backyard last year, not Pluto obviously. What I had in mind was a little exercise in using the "As If" technique to imagine Pluto all those billions of miles away. It is so far away it orbits the sun only once every 248 years. What's more, sunlight requires several hours to reach it. Strangely, during the years 1979 to 1999, Pluto was inside the orbit of Neptune so was the eighth planet from the sun rather than the ninth. Now that's it's been stripped of its credentials as a bona fide planet, Pluto makes a perfect underdog for Americans to champion. My prediction? I wouldn't be surprised if one day, Pluto isn't recognized as a planet once more.

Friday, February 19, 2010

A Candle in Your Heart

There is a candle in your heart,
ready to be kindled.
There is a void in your soul,
ready to be filled.

You feel it, don't you?


Of Note: Rumi was a mystic poet who lived in the 1300's. His poems are often used between lovers because he apparently had an insight into the mystery shared by two people in love. His writings exude an intimacy at a level that is almost uncomfortable in the mundane world. One of his pieces was even center stage on the invitation to Jim's and my wedding. It might surprise some that Rumi was not talking about earthly love at all. Rather universal love was his focus--the final union that the soul is awaiting with its Higher Self. Yes, what we call our Higher Self has itself a Higher Self. It is the union of these two that finally put an end to the earthly cycle of evolution for most. A mystic gets the first glimpse of this Reality and is overcome, although it will take many lifetimes before the final union is achieved. However, having seen the vision, the mystic's subsequent lives are never the same.

Today's Weather Report: What a lovely day in the neighborhood! The sun is shining brightly and no clouds mar the scene. I just saw one drip off the roof; so,the day will be warm. Every warm day like this gets us one day closer to spring.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Courage in the Face of Pain

The period of greatest gain in knowledge and
experience is the most difficult period in one's life.

Through a difficult period you can learn;
you can develop inner strength, determination,
and courage to face the problems.

~His Holiness the Dalai Lama

Of Note: For better or worse, the Earthly experience is one of trial and sorrow. God must have loved Humanity an awful lot to give it the extraordinary opportunity to school here.

Today's Weather Report: Well, it's finally above freezing, and water is dripping from the roof outside the window here. The bright sun has dissipated the morning's clouds to the joy of all--particularly the frolicking puppies. We are hoping that all the snow that fell this winter will raise the lake level to something more respectable. I still can't get over the multiple feet of snow that blanketed the east coast recently. It may be for reasons like this that the words "global warming" have been replaced by "climate change" sometime in the last 6 months. Jim's photo of a local field may give another meaning to the phrase "rolling with the flow."

Saturday, February 13, 2010

A Source of Strength

Difficulties and obstacles,
if properly understood and used,

can turn out to be an
unexpected source of strength.

~Sogyal Rinpoche

Of Note: Buddhists suggest that difficulties and obstacles should be welcomed with joy on the evolutionary way. Often adverse to pain, westerners rebel at such a foreign concept. Many believe that money can buy the way out of any problem. In reality, such is not the case and potentially has two consequences: debilitating weakness on any or all of the three physical planes (physical, emotional, mental) and more obstacles until the lesson is learned. One step forward, two steps backward characterizes this attitude. On the other hand, difficulties and obstacles consciously used could serve as strengthening agents. It is our choice.

Today's Weather Report: I went to town today with the sun blazing. The apparent warmth from the sun was deceptive, however, as the temps hovered at minus zero a good part of the morning. I'm not complaining because much of the country was blanketed in snow--49 out of 50 states according to Hawaii was the only state free of snow today!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Spiritual Globalization

We are living in a period
of commercial globalization.
What we really need is
spiritual globalization.

~Sr. Joan Chittister

Of Note: In my mental world, commercial and spiritual are one and the same. One could argue that the underpinning values of globalization range from the very base such as moneymaking to the more lofty such as sharing and cooperation--but ALL values represent humanity's spiritual nature to some degree or other. It could no other way for the divine entity, man, who walks the path of globalization in his next steps up the ladder of evolution. There could be no better example of globalization than the Olympics, and the Winter Games start tomorrow in Vancouver, BC. Making their debut are teams from the Peru, Pakistan, Columbia, Ghana, Montenegro, and Serbia. While not large, these teams show resolve in putting forth athletes who hail from current or former countries of conflict. Given the inherent global representation at these games, it might behoove us to begin looking at the Olympics as a spiritual event for at some level that is indeed what it is.

Today's Weather Report: This is a double alleluia day! With the sun out and temps in the mid-30's, you would think it was spring already. Ah, in my imagination today, I can see the plants growing tall, and the flower buds facing the sun ready to burst open and show their stuff. Misty was mesmerized by the pools of water created in the snow by the drips off the roof. She had never seen such a sight and couldn't quite figure it out. Little Chewy could care less as he lounged on the top of a snow pile taking in the rays. Tonight is the last night, knock on wood, that it will dip below zero (as predicted by my personal weatherman, Jim.)

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

A Feather Duster


~ Old Proverb

Of Note: This line is one of Secretary of State Robert Gates favorites. Having worked under the last 4 or 5 Presidents, he knows that change is inevitable, and it is how we roll with change that counts. That's how he has survived and flourished. A change worth noting was published recently in the prestigious journal Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine. Research has shown that abstinence only sex-education programs have proven more effective than those providing information on safe sex and contraceptive options. The Obama administration has taken note and is considering increasing funding for abstinence only sex-education. As it turned out, maybe the previous administration was on to something--even if old-fashioned.

Today's Weather Report: What a beautiful sunny day with fluffy clouds superimposed over blue sky. It's a perfect winter day in the 20's Fahrenheit. Yesterday a light sprinkling of snow fell--it was the edge of the storm slamming Chicago with 12 inches. I cannot imagine, however, how the east coast is coping with first 2 to 3 feet of snow and now another foot or two! We had a dump like that in the early 1990's, and it took a week for hearty northerners to come up for air. Jim saw a mosquito the other day while running. I cannot imagine that but he swears by his story. By the way, I know this duck is not a peacock but this photo was the best we could do in the bird line at the moment!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

His Own Sacred Tears

On Pain

Your pain is the breaking of the shell
That encloses your understanding.

Even as the stone of the fruit must break,
That its heart may stand in the sun
So must you know pain.

And could you keep your heart in wonder
At the daily miracles of life
Your pain would not seem less
Wondrous than your joy.

And you would accept the seasons of the heart
Even as you have always accepted
The seasons that pass over your fields.

And you would watch with serenity
Through the winters of your grief.

Much of your pain is self-chosen.
It is the bitter potion by which the
Physician within you
heals your sick self.

Therefore trust the physician
And drink his remedy
In silence and tranquility:

For his hand, though heavy and hard
Is guided by the tender hand of the Unseen,

And the cup He brings, though it burns your lips
Has been fashioned of clay
Which the Potter has moistened
With His own sacred tears.

~ Kahlil Gibran

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Transparent and Clear

If the mind is not contrived,
it is spontaneously blissful,
just as water, when not agitated,
is by nature transparent and clear.


Of Note: Water has always been the symbol of the emotions. Whenever the word water was noted in ancient writings, the reader was challenged to look deeper. The ancients ascribed seven layers of meaning to their esoteric writings. That is why, taken at face value, old texts were often misunderstood. Often, grossly misunderstood. The ancients knew, however, that at some future date the keys of knowledge would be found, and the layers of meaning peeled back to reveal the Truth. It has been foretold that we could enter this period in the near future. Based on a collective decision, Humanity will ultimately determine when that time will begin. There is much talk of 2012, but that date could come and go with no apparent changes if we simply sit back and wait for the universe to take action. WE are the ones who are predestined to take action, and so it shall be. Or not. It is up to us.

Today's Weather Report: Hallelujah, the sun was out gloriously today, and it was 30 degrees! Not enough for any melting but the promise was in the air. The newest puppy was recovering from his neutering operation yesterday and is supposed to be kept "calm" for 10 to 14 days. The best we could do with two rambunctious pups was to let only one out at a time. Other than that in the house, it was play, play, play. There was simply no getting away from it. This past week, Chewy has been climbing 4 staircases to get to Jim's turret office where the cats hang out. It has worked out amazingly well. The dog lies on the floor to sleep, and the cats are sometimes within a few feet with no hissing. This may be the real detente we were waiting for.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Dance in the Sunlight


~Gail Marie

Of Note: As I look out, humor seems to have disappeared from the landscape. Sometimes the emotional energy seems heavy indeed, especially on the political front. It hangs on us like lead and permeates our whole anatomy. It's not enough to simply push this dissonant energy away for it only promises to come back with vengeance. Better to substitute it with something lighter and more finely tuned. Might I suggest starting the transformation with hearty laughter. Then a walk in the sunlight. Even a day off from TV might be therapeutic. Or making toasted cheese sandwiches with a friend on a cold afternoon. I'm sure if we thought about it, we could come up with a long list. Whatever it takes. I feel certain that if we concentrated on celebrating the wonders of life, our humor would re-appear.

Today's Weather Report: Gosh, it got up to almost 30 degrees Fahrenheit! It was almost balmy even though the sun refused to shine. Washington DC is getting slammed with two feet or more of snow today through tomorrow. The news anchor said that even a half-inch of snow in the Capital makes going rough. Can you imagine two feet of the fluffy stuff? That would paralyze even northern Wisconsin for a time. It will be quite interesting to see how everyone out there handles the situation.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Shaking the World Gently


~Mahatma Gandhi

Of Note: Well, it's official. Corporal punishment--called spanking in my day--is not good for children. The task force appointed by the American Psychological Association has concluded that "parents and caregivers should reduce and potentially eliminate their use of physical punishment as a disciplinary measure." I'm wondering why we ever thought it was good in the first place. Most of us would not think of disciplining animals by physical force so why we would conclude it would be good for children? Maybe because it seems to work so well short-term. However, the evidence examined by the group showed a long-term correlation between corporal punishment and increased childhood anxiety and depression, increased behavioral problems and impaired cognitive development. Not everyone agreed, of course. One detractor said that spanking along with others forms of non-contact punishment resulted in similar negative outcomes. Another thought that it should be held as a backup when other forms of punishment did not work. The APA will sort all of this out and issue its official recommendations at a later date. In the meantime, parents might take note of the preliminary findings.

Today's Weather Report: We are back to the 20's Fahrenheit. And cloudy--though yesterday was a bright sunshiny day. Seems we are having a day of clouds and then a day of sunshine. That's better than November which is historically cloudy 90% of the time. I noticed when in Hayward yesterday that the town is having a difficult time with piling the snow next to roads. In one case, the snow took up half a lane. Thankfully, this particular road has three lanes--one in each direction and a turning lane. I think I might have spotted Brett Favre at the Hayward Wal-Mart last Friday. If it wasn't him, it was his identical twin wearing an expensive Green Bay Packer Superbowl jacket.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Once Social Change Begins

Once social change begins,
it cannot be reversed.

You cannot un-educate the
person who has learned to read.

You cannot humiliate
the person who feels pride.

You cannot oppress the people
who are not afraid anymore.

~Cesar Chavez, 1984

Of Note: Mr. Chavez has a point. Actually, his point is so simple that it seems like plain, old commonsense. However, fear always trumps commonsense until it is surmounted, and that takes many lifetimes. What we are seeing at this time is all of humanity facing its fears and then moving onward and upward. The outer appearance is one of chaos and turmoil, but do not be deceived. Humanity has a lighted destiny that is within reach and ultimately cannot be reversed.

Today's Weather Report: The full moon of Aquarius over the weekend brought all those nights of below zero Fahrenheit. We are past that now, and temps will be getting back to normal. A little snow fell this morning, but it did not last long. Last Saturday in anticipation of spring, I picked out treasures for my garden at the local thrift store. During the growing season, I "hide" these inexpensive items in my garden and see if people notice the strange array of figurines, pots, dangles, and bobbles scattered here and there. Hayward actually has four thrift stores and a new one for building materials. Each is run by a local charity so any money spent supports a good cause.

Watch For Change Snippet: TIME magazine along with CNN and Fortune Magazine are hosting a global forum in South Africa during the World Cup. The three-day event in June will bring together Fortune 500 CEO's, world leaders, and members of the TIME 100, who are the top 100 world leaders chosen by the magazine every year. The participants will discuss the shifting of economic power to developing countries. The head of TIME magazine's steering committee noted: "We've given the conference the title The New Global Opportunity because there's a realization that we can't go back to the old ways. Growth has to be inclusive and sustainable. And the role and potential of those who have been marginalized in the past--the poor, especially women and girls--will only grow."