Wednesday, September 29, 2010

We are Only Travelers

In Tibetan, the word for body is lu,
which means
"something you leave behind,"
like baggage.

Each time we say lu, it reminds us that
we are only travelers, taking temporary
refuge in this life and this body.

~Sogyal Rinpoche

Of Note: Wisconsin is known for many things such as dairy cows, milk and cheese. It may not be famous for paradigm-shifting neurological research like that carried out at the Center for Investigating Healthy Minds in Madison, a new research lab which is studying whether or not meditation can promote compassion and kindness. The Dalai Lama wants to change that and has donated $50,000 to the cause. It all started back in 1992 when the center's founder, Dr. Richard Davidson, met the Dalai Lama in the Himalayas. His Holiness challenged the neuroscientist to use sophisticated imaging tools to investigate things like kindness and compassion. At that point, Dr. Davidson made the promise to do everything he could to "put compassion on the scientific map." Since then, he and his coworkers have hooked electrodes to the heads of meditating Buddhist monks and others. They found that compassion changes brain wave patterns. Next on the agenda is teaching 5th graders meditation skills in order to change "habits of the heart" and measure the results. This is only the beginning, I feel sure, particularly with the support, financial and otherwise, of the Dalai Lama who promotes compassion wherever he goes.

Of Note: I greeted a woman in the Walmart parking lot today with the question: "Isn't it a beautiful day?" She smiled back and said: "Only for a little while." I asked what she meant by that negative sounding remark to which she responded that rain was on the way. Looking around, I couldn't imagine that she was telling the truth. But, by the time I got out of the store a short time later, ominous clouds had rolled in and rain began to fall. Now it's pouring. So much for our sunshiny day. The lake will like the change, however, as it rises day by day. Even though our rainy, cool season continues, downtown Los Angeles clocked a record 113 degrees Fahrenheit yesterday, even if only for a few minutes at midday. This broke the all-time record of 112 degrees set in June 1990.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Love Battling Space and Time

And love will simply have no choice
but to go into battle with space and
time and furthermore to win.

~James Baldwin

Of Note: I was shocked to find out the other day that the United States has an institute devoted to peace. It is called simply United States Institute of Peace and is located in Washington DC, soon right on the mall. According to their website, the USIP is an "independent, nonpartisan, national institution established and funded by Congress in 1984. Its goals are to help prevent and resolve violent international conflicts, promote post-conflict stability and democratic transformation, and increase peacemaking capacity, tools and intellectual capital worldwide." It does all this with only 142 employees. Reading further showed what appeared to be a marginalized "think tank" that is called in during international conflict when the government's hands are tied for one reason or another. Rep. David Kuchinich has suggested that a cabinet-level department be established called the Department of Peace. While that may not be possible at this point in our evolutionary history, using what we already have in the USIP and making its presence known, might be a good start.

Today's Weather Report: Rain overnight has made all the falling leaves soggy. This weather will continue at least for awhile--the lake will say "Thank you for filling me up." All the animals have come in wet and stinky. There is nothing worse than a wet dog to start the morning off right, and our two big bowsers are particularly odiferous. Last week I discovered the local salvage yard which takes recyclable junk and turns it into 2 to 4 cents a pound, we don't make much but that is not the point. Pickup truck load by pickup truck load, a 15-year old junk pile is being turned into coffee money. By the time this job is completed, only a small pile of refuse will be left for the trash men.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

If We Have Lived Before

"If we have lived before," I am often asked,
"why don't we remember it?"

If we cannot remember last Monday,
how on earth do we imagine it would
be easy, or normal, to remember
what we were doing in a previous lifetime.

~Sogyal Rinpoche

Of Note: Rinpoche has a point, doesn't he? Besides, if we've been "one of each" in all those past lifetimes, would we want to remember them all? If we cannot even face our own death in this lifetime, would we want to reminiscence about all the thousands of deaths we had before? What would be the point? Only when there is reason for doing so, will we remember. But for most of us, that is a long time in the future--during another lifetime. Best to make the one we have the best there is.

Today's Weather Report: Happy Sunday with the sun shining and the leaves in a glorious array of fall colors. At 32 degrees Fahrenheit this morning, it was cold. By the looks of it though, the day will get up into the 50's. I will have to saunter down to the lake to see if it came up more after this past week of rain.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Moon on the Mountain Edge



~A Zen Harvest

Of Note: Education. These days in the United States that is a loaded word, especially with the release this week of the new documentary "Waiting for Superman" by the producer of "An Inconvenient Truth." It purports to show why our nation is lagging behind other developed countries in educational achievement, particularly reading, mathematics and science. Frequently for those in the developing world, education is just a dream. Often, education for girls and women is non-existent and does not even rise to a wish. However, with the push of the Millennium Development Goals, education and gender equality are now a top global priority. It is about time, don't you think? After all, research has recently shown that educating women saves children. For every extra year of education for women, the death rate for children under 5 dropped by almost 10%! In 1970 women ages 18 - 44 had only attended on average two years of school. By 2009, that number had risen to seven years. The lead author of the study, paid for by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, explained: "Investments in education pay off by providing better health for the future. Educating women tend to use health services more and often make better choices on hygiene, nutrition and parenting." Think of a world in which both halves of the population are equally educated. That is a future of which I want to be a part. Care to join me?

Today's Weather Report: It is currently 2 am and drizzling outside. The temperature was hovering at 52 or so degrees Fahrenheit the last time I looked. We had a huge dinner party tonight, and I just finished cleaning up at midnight. This is a twice a year event for 40+ of my husband's friends from the Chicago area. Amazingly, the two dogs mingled like regular guests in the crowd. For two near-puppies, that was quite a feat. The cats wanted no part of it, but one is currently nestled in my lap glad for the return to peace and quiet.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Peace is Not an Absence of War

Peace is not an absence of war.
It is a virtue, a state of mind,
a disposition of benevolence,
confidence, justice.

~Baruch Spinoza

Of Note: Spinoza was on to the something when he stated that peace was not an absence of war. This is where some peace activists go wrong with their rowdy protests. If the word LOVE was substituted for PEACE, we would be getting closest to describing it. If we are love, then we are peace. There would be no need to DO anything as the emanation of love/peace would literally change the environment, and wars would cease. Thus, be love and peace will follow. Be love and justice will prevail. Be love and cooperation will rule. That is our future.

Today's Weather Report: Blustery winds and clouds plus a light sprinkling of rain defines the morning. It must be fall. The leaves on the trees have changed to crimsons and golds overnight it seems. What a beautiful display! Two of the four cats have made peace with the dogs and now just saunter by without either of the pooches even lifting their heads. It's been almost a year--hey, better late than never. If the dogs and cats can do it, maybe the Israelis and Palestinians won't be far behind.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Beauty All the Days of Our Lives



~Frank Lloyd Wright

Of Note: Someday we will see beauty in each person we meet. Our eyes will open to the inherent beauty in each of us when we recognize the soul residing in the heart. Ageless wisdom explains that this beauty is Real and not merely symbolic. Radiant light of multi-hued, scintillating color will be seen pouring forth. Our natural reaction will be joy coupled with a deep sense of responsibility and desire to do whatever it takes to bring everyone else to this level without proselytizing. Even if we cannot imagine beauty of this magnitude, we can begin today by acting AS IF we do. Little by little the world around us will begin to respond to these "make believe" thoughts of beauty. If everyone joined in, the world would never be the same. Then "someday" will become "today" ahead of schedule.

Today's Weather Report: Wow, rain, rain and more rain. The forecast was a 100% chance of rain, really. This morning it only drizzled, but this afternoon we got the full kahuna. A friend and I happened to be in town taking care of errands and got soaked. My raincoat was wet through and through. The dogs were not impressed with the precipitation and hunkered down for the day. Bet the lake responds to this latest addition. One of these days I will announce it is actually full again. Never thought I'd see the day the lake was back up to the original shoreline.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

International Day of Peace


~Luke 17:20-21

Of Note: How many times have we heard this quote from the Bible? The kingdom of God is within us. The kingdom of God is within us. Over and over we listened to these words through the years until the meaning was drained. Just for a minute, then, let's revive the meaning by acting AS IF the words were literally true. What would that be like? How would it feel? How would the world be changed if many KNEW this to be literally true? We can give it a try today at noon when a million people or more will say a prayer for peace at exactly noon for one minute as part of A Million Minutes for Peace, the multi-faith movement mobilizing the power of prayer. If at the same time we are saying a prayer for peace, we visualize the kingdom of God and Peace within us, the power released could be off the charts. That could bode well for the global leaders scrutinizing their next moves in regard to the Millennium Development Goals especially if one or two of them join in as well.

Today's Weather Report: The clouds are coming and going this morning with sunshine streaming through every once in awhile. The promise of a beautiful day is there anyway. Interestingly, it is 53 degrees now and feels balmy. During the summer, the same temp would have felt chilly. That shows us how relative is the "feeling" of temperature.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Measuring the Height of a Mountain

Never measure the height of a mountain
until you have reached the top.
Then you will see how low it was.

~Dag Hammarskjold

Of Note: Today begins the three-day global summit to mark the 10 year anniversary of the creation of the Millennium Development Goals, otherwise known as MDGs. Presidents, prime ministers and kings representing 140 nations have gathered at the UN to assess how far we have come in meeting the goals and plan for the next five years. Prior to this summit, diplomats from 192 member states agreed on a 58 page document to be adopted by the leaders "which spells out specific actions to accelerate implementation of each of the eight MDGs in the next five years." Progress to date has been encouraging but spotty. While few believe that all the goals and objectives will be met by 2015 as originally set forth, the MDGs shout to the world that it is possible to eradicate poverty and its underlying causes because we have the capability and responsibility to do so, which represent paradigm shifting concepts. The United States took a back seat in the original effort but this past summer President Obama unveiled a Millennium Development Goals Plan. Most acknowledge that with the backing of the United States, success may be within reach. The late Dag Hammarskjold, former Secretary General of the UN, would have been proud.

Today's Weather Report: Cloudy with rain in the forecast. Chilly. Actually, with no heat in the house at the moment, my fingers are having difficulty typing. It's always this way in the early fall before the heat is turned on. With a wood boiler, it is not a matter of flipping a switch for a little heat. Once it's on, it's on until spring. That boiler gets to be like another family member during the winter and must be filled once or twice a day, each and every day. That's why we hold off turning it on until we must.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

God Never Changes

Let nothing disturb you,
Let nothing dismay you,
All things pass.

God never changes,
Patience attains
All it strives for.

He who has God
Finds he lacks no-thing.
God alone suffices.

~St. Teresa of Avila

Of Note: This tree grows so slowly that it looks like it never changes but indeed it does. Conversely, some things change right before our eyes. Change is all around us and informs our every move. Without it, life and consciousness would not evolve. But St. Teresa said that God does not change. What does that mean? She may have meant that God simply IS in an unchangeable sort of way, and He sits over all of His creation as an uninvolved Entity. However, if we are God and our consciousness evolves as ageless wisdom postulates, then must not God evolve as well? Seems to me that would be the case. Not that I am smarter than St. Teresa, who was a venerated mystic. Thus, I would bet that she was saying, "For all practical purposes" God does not change as it would be so slowly as to be unintelligible. If that was the case, the dear saint and the ancient sages would align perfectly, and we could close our Sunday musings on God.

Today's Weather Report: If you can believe it, I did not step outside at all today. Not for one minute. I was busy inside working on a school report. Besides it was chilly. At 6:30 am when the dogs got me up to go out, it was 32 degrees Fahrenheit. That's freezing, and that's cold. It hasn't stopped the mosquitoes from swarming around my head as I worked at the computer today--cold temps or not. Something outside was making my dog go bonko this morning. It could have been the geese flying overhead making all sorts of racket. Or off in the distance a barking animal of some kind. Or something clinking around the barn. Whatever it was, the German Shepherds were unhappy and wanted us all up to know it.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

The Soul Walks Upon All Paths

Say not, "I have found the truth,"
but rather, "I have found a truth."

Say not, "I have found the path of the soul,"
Say rather, "I have met the soul
walking upon my path."

For the soul walks upon all paths.
The soul walks not upon a line,
neither does it grow like a reed.
the soul unfolds itself,
like a lotus of countless petals.

~Kahlil Gibran

Of Note: Seems the Roman Catholic Church is beginning to face its dark past. The Church Fathers acted as if it was all over when the sex scandals exploded in the United States 10 years ago, and the victims were paid off with the hard earned donations of its congregations. Come to find out, the Church hierarchy knew all along that the scandals went deep into the belly of the Church on a global scale and did little about it. Shame on them. Now, there will be no going back to an illusion of holiness. The Pope is currently visiting the UK and is apologizing for the abuse at every turn. Many Brits are sporting t-shirts with the words "Nope Pope" for many reasons but the sex abuse scandal is at the top of the list. Where the Church goes from here is anyone's guess but it will be an interesting "Watch" from the standpoint of an Observer.

Today's Weather Report: Wow, the sun has never looked more gorgeous after many days of clouds and rain. But the look is deceiving because it is currently only 42 degrees Fahrenheit outside. That will not stop me from venturing forth and finishing the painting project at the hunting cabin, which got a new door this week. The new entryway should take care of the last big leak. Our roofer certainly hopes so since he has been out repeatedly to fix several of them. We thought the rubber roof would do it last fall, but no, many other leak problems complicated the picture. No big deal, just want to finally scratch this off my list for the year, particularly since it was a 2009 carry-over. After all, we are talking about a leaks at a hunting cabin while many Pakistanis go homeless after devastating floods.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Thy Friend and Intimate

Nor can goodness and evil be equal.
Respond to evil with doing good
deeds to the evil doer.
Then will he, between whom
and thyself was hatred,
become as though he was
thy friend and intimate!

~The Quran 41:34

Of Note: Recently a former member of a radical Islamic group asked his fellow Muslims to restrain themselves in response to incitement by those threatening to burn the Quran. Tawfik Hamid, now a reformer and senior fellow at the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies, told of Abraham's response to his father who wanted to stone the young prophet for refusing to follow the pagan believes in vogue at the time. Abraham's response? "Peace be unto thee! I shall ask my Sustainer to forgive thee. For behold he has always been kind unto me." Hamid believes that "the more Muslims follow this model, the more they could bring peace to the world. And the more tolerance Muslims show for values like freedom of expression, the less others will think of burning the Quran." Many have asked why more Muslims do not speak publicly regarding the actions of religious fundamentalists in their midst. Well, here is one. Will others join him?

Today's Weather Report: Cloudy, rainy, cool. All the above described our day. A friend and I picked beans in his son's garden. LOTS of beans and a few peas. Many were eaten right then and there. Yummy. It struck me what a wonderful bounty can be had from a small space.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Children of the Light

Walk while you have the light,
lest darkness come upon you,
for he that walks in darkness
knows not where he goes.

While you have light,
believe in the light
that you may be the
children of the light.

~John 12: 35-36

Of Note: What if a million people saw the light at the exact same minute. Wonder if 10 million did? What would it take to turn the world from a place where hatred prevailed to one where love predominated? A multi-faith movement called "A Million Minutes for Peace" plans to mobilize the power of prayer and put this question to the test on the UN International Day of Peace, September 21st. Check out and sign up to participate in one minute of prayer next Tuesday at noon. The requirements are simply to pray for peace for one minute in whatever way is comfortable and from whatever faith is observed. It's FREE, it's SIMPLE and it's GLOBAL.

Today's Weather Report: What do you know? I mentioned that we had not seen rain for a few days, and it returned pronto. Yesterday was just about perfect with temperatures in the upper 50's, a light rain in the morning and sunshine in the afternoon. With some painting to do, I'm hoping for the same pattern today. Misty's leg continues to heal, and she no longer limps but now she has a strange rash. Seems that there is something always going on with these two dogs ever since they graced our door. Our grandson, Noah, was born yesterday morning and weighed over 8 pounds. My son sent a precious picture of the newborn being held by his two smiling brothers, who sported tee shirts that read "The Bigger Brother" and "The Biggest Brother." Somehow, even 9 months pregnant, Cheryl managed to pull off coordinating the clothing of her older sons for the big day.

Monday, September 13, 2010

The Finite is Mortal

Where one sees nothing else,
hears nothing else,
understands nothing else,
that is the Infinite.

Where one sees something else,
hears something else,
understands something else,
that is the finite.

The Infinite is immortal;
the finite is mortal.


Of Note: This past week two magazines have run "list" stories touting this or that. Apparently, readership loves short "sound bites" and not long stories. TIME magazine highlighted the 10 start-ups that will change our lives. In DISCOVER magazine's 30th Anniversary issue, accompanying the article "How Far We've Come," a time line that stretched several pages showed various scientific discoveries made since 1980. In both instances, the magazines wrote captivating vignettes of the particular person(s) and/or discovery featured. To be sure, such articles as "The Web Takes Over," "DNA Decoded and Reprogrammed," and "Physics Seeks the One" might lead us to agree with one theoretical physicist who proclaimed: "I'm on record as saying we're about to enter a new golden age." Hey, not so fast. What struck me is how few of these changes directly address global human need. One of the ten TIME accolades went to an entrepreneur who created a non-profit on a venture capitalist model to create drugs and delivery systems at the lowest cost while few of the featured discoveries in the DISCOVER line-up could be said to directly impact need based on right human relations. Where are the discoveries that followed the Green Revolution, for example, or the advancements in vaccine production for the third world (NYT, 8/3/10: "In a Meningitis Hotbed, A New Vaccine At a Price Governments Can Afford." ) These stories are out there but it is my guess that they do not make the big news because they are not sensationalistic enough. Technology is IN and making money. The bigger, the better. But Jacqueline Novogratz, author of The Blue Sweater claims that although technology is one of the greatest drivers of change, it is not the change itself. We can have a new hedonistic golden age of technology as the be all/end all or we can have a truly golden age where right human relations prevail augmented by technology. Which will it be?

Today's Weather Report: It has been several days without rain now. Feels strange. The big news here is a grandchild that is due at around 7:30 tomorrow morning in Denton, Texas. Technology has assured us that this is a boy, who already has the name of Noah. We are patiently awaiting the first pictures of the new arrival--again a product of the new age of technology. We love technology when it connects us and makes us more human. We are not as fond of it when people all over the world starve while we try to figure out how to send men to Mars. Let's feed everyone first, provide potable water and medical care, educate, shelter and clothe and then have a heyday with all the other fun stuff humanity might want. It's a matter of priorities.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

By the Fire I Lit


~A Zen Harvest

Of Note: Many companies are having to recreate themselves in the light of current public opinion regarding sustainability. It has been my assertion for years that large international companies will eventually have no choice. Not that everyone is on the same page yet but more and more we are starting to wake up to the fact that we cannot go on like there is no tomorrow. Take Unilever, for instance. It announced last week an investment in Solazyme Inc., a producer of algae oil, which is created from cheap, available bio-matter such as prairie grass, sugar cane and corn husks. What brought the behemoth corporation Unilever to this paradigm shift? In 2008 Greenpeace put a guy in an orangutan suit on the front steps of its corporate office in London to protest the use of palm oil in products such as the ubiquitous Dove soap and Vaseline lotion. In response, Unilever intends to make the switch to algae oil in three to five years after extensive product testing and supply-chain development. Other companies such as Kraft Foods, Nestle and Proctor & Gamble have no plans yet to change from palm oil so Unilever is forging the trail. Earth conscious consumers might want to keep this in mind when they shop.

Today's Weather Report: I arose at a pleasant 55 degrees Fahrenheit this morning with the sun shining through the windows. A lovely day in the neighborhood as my husband likes to chirp. Does anyone wonders why I put this weather report here in my blog on otherwise weighty matters? There is a method to my madness. It is my intention to continue this blog as long as I am physically able--that will be decades, I hope. During that time, these weather reports will create a history of weather patterns in northern Wisconsin during a period the climate is supposed to change dramatically. Eventually, it will be easy to see what happened weather-wise at least in this little part of the world.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Exactly the Same as Us

Imagine we are having
difficulties with a loved one,
such as our mother or father,
husband or wife, lover or friend.

Thinking of them as a real person,
exactly the same as us,
will open our hearts to him or her and
give us more insight into how to help.

~Sogyal Rinpoche

Of Note: Let's take this one step further. Imagine that we are having difficulties with the thought that every single member of humanity is our brother and sister. Thinking of them exactly the same as us may open our hearts and give us more insight into how to help. The Millennium Development Goals is an attempt at the global level to open our hearts and minds to end poverty by 2015. While few believe that poverty itself will suddenly end in 2015, the point of the Goals is to "point the way to a better world of which we all know humanity is capable and to encourage us to make that journey. The Goals provide direction, incentive and inspiration." On September 20 -22, the UN is hosting a Summit to see how far we have come in the 10 years since the Goals were created. For those interested in contributing, sending lighted thoughts toward the gathering of dignitaries might increase the likelihood of a successful meeting. Many are working on the mental plane in just this way. After all, change begins with a change of consciousness followed by action and not the other way around.

Eight Millennium Development Goals

1. End Poverty and Hunger
2. Achieve Universal Primary Education
3. Promote Gender Equality
4. Reduce Child Deaths
5. Improve Maternal Health
6. Combat AIDS and Malaria
7. Ensure Environmental Sustainability
8. Strengthen the Global Partnership

Today's Weather Report: Although it was quite chilly and drizzling this morning, at 6 pm it is in the high 60's with the sun shining through scattered clouds. With a slight breeze, it was perfect weather to cut the grass this afternoon. I thought mowing would be done by now, and may even have stated that right here--but alas, no. Every time I mow I think maybe it's the last time. That appears to be wishful thinking on my part. Because of all the rain this summer, the dock is partially submerged. The "Dock Doctors," who installed it this spring, are going to have to lift it up a tad. The mosquitoes are the other beneficiary of the rain, and bug spray is a mandatory requirement when working outside.

Friday, September 10, 2010

The Mind in Meditation

I often compare the mind in
meditation to a jar of muddy water:

The more we leave the water
without interfering or stirring it,
the more the particles of dirt
will sink to the bottom,
letting the natural clarity of
the water shine through.

~Sogyal Rinpoche

Of Note: Through meditation we reach the soul. All of our doing, doing every day will not provide a means of reaching the soul. What is required is a quieting of the brain to let the mind shine through. In the beginning we only manage to accomplish this for short periods of time. But eventually as the state becomes more familiar and desired, the periods lengthen until the routine of the day becomes the meditation. Or so I've heard. Not being there yet, I can only imagine what that will be like.

Today's Weather Report: Clouds engulfed the sky earlier today but now the sun is peeking through. It was 34 degrees Fahrenheit yesterday morning. Today my husband came in breathlessly and said one of the dogs was hurt, and he had to go get her on the trail. After putting the other one inside, he started out the door when the hurt dog limped up the front steps. Seems hurt paws are the norm this week. My husband's wrist, which I mentioned in the last blog, was only sprained thankfully. We think it will probably be the same for the dog who is getting around pretty well after a couple of hours and half an aspirin.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Eyes Fixed on the Far Horizon



~Dag Hammarskjold

Of Note: The preacher in Gainesville, Florida who plans to burn a Koran this Saturday is obviously looking too close at the ground near his feet where an inflated ego resides. To date, his provocative acts demonstrate no knowledge of a far horizon or the right road. An unintended consequence of this activity, however, has been the formation of a coalition of local clergy, who have denounced the minister's actions. Outwardly, this cooperation action has not been effective, but inwardly it may be far-reaching.

Today's Weather Report: It is cloudy and 50 degrees Fahrenheit again, though it has yet to rain. The dogs knocked my husband over yesterday when he was running, and he may have broken his right wrist. Being a good stoic of Germanic descent, he will wait a few days until going to the clinic for an xray--but I would bet we end up there by the end of the week. Thankfully, the summer's work is done for the most part and now we are just "mopping up." Yesterday I finished some painting but at 52 degrees, the paint was quite uncooperative. I won't be unhappy to call the painting done for the year.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Every Child Comes With the Message


~ Rabindranath Tagore

Of Note: Even though we may be discouraged at times, let it be known that discouragement does not rise to the heavens. Day after day, year after year, our minds develop and coupled with the heart, we move ever forward. One day we will look back on this chaos as an accepted part of that development although it now appears overwhelming at times. Take heart, we are not alone. The All Seeing Eye is forever sending the needed energy though it is up to us to use it wisely, and for the most part, we are. Take for example the work of Heifer International, which has "committed to lifting families out of poverty for the long term" for the past 65 years. They asked why teach a man to fish if there is no pond and then proceeded to provide the pond. Guided by 12 Cornerstone values, this innovative global organization has helped over 12 million families and communities rise out of poverty for good. Check out Heifer International at and view an award-winning 5 minute video showing service in action. Onward and upward.

Today's Weather Report: A cool 52 degrees Fahrenheit and gentle rain describes the day so far. Fall is definitely in the air, and the long pants and sweatshirt I've got on prove it. I raised my eyebrows when I read of the attempt in Warren, Michigan to regulate fortune tellers and psychics to reduce fraud. Apparently, a few people got ripped off, and now government has stepped in with a fortune teller and psychic registration including fingerprinting and a background check plus a $150 fee. Municipalities in Michigan need money, but isn't this going a bit far? Some psychics are happy for the regulation they say may root out the bad eggs. Others are unhappy about the infringement on their freedom. France has taken another tact and is simply deporting some of its non-French fortune tellers aka gypsies. It will be interesting to observe how this all plays out.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Religion as Ethical Alchemy

I say religion isn't
about believing things.
It's ethical alchemy.
It's about behaving in a
way that changes us,
that gives us intimations
of holiness and sacredness.

~Karen Armstrong

Of Note: Ever heard of Karen Armstrong? It's not a household name unless the subject of religious history is the topic. However, Armstrong's name should be. Why? This former nun was instrumental in creating a document that if signed and implemented by millions could change the world. After a stellar career as an author and historian, she won a coveted TED prize in 2008 and with her prize money made a wish: to create, launch and propagate a Charter for Compassion. Last November, the charter was given to the world as an act of service. It is currently available in 30 languages and is being translated into as many as possible. The creation of this document was an open and collaborative effort and used a web-based decision-making process that included thousands of people from over 100 countries. After a six-week submission period, 150,000 people commented, and the final document was created by the Council of Consciousness based on these contributions. The Charter for Compassion begins with the words: "The principle of compassion lies at the heart of all religions, ethical and spiritual traditions, calling us always to treat all others as we wish to be treated ourselves . . . " To read the full text visit and sign it online if the urge strikes.

Today's Weather Report: Perfect weather on a perfect day. I mowed and mowed some more but this will most likely be the final cutting. Everyone has commented how much the grass proliferated this summer because of all the rain. Speaking of rain, it appears from the clouds rolling in that more rain is in the forecast. Last night I brought in all my outdoor houseplants because it was supposed to get down to 36 degrees. Must be that time of year! On a more global note: thankfully, Hurricane Earl swept by the east coast of the USA without too much damage. The same cannot be said of the earthquake that struck New Zealand's South Island Friday. The news reported this evening that the quake opened a new fault line. On top of the volcano in Indonesia that unexpectedly blew last week, much has been happening with the physical Earth recently.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Those Who Persevere


~The Koran

Of Note: Ageless wisdom does not talk excessively about faith, hope and charity. What it does repeatedly mention is striving. It seems that besides just being a generally good person, the only thing we are asked to do is try, and keep trying even in the face of adversity. Striving indicates movement, and a continued push forward is required for the evolution of consciousness. Sometimes when it seems we are in a hole and stagnant, it is our soul's way of getting our attention for the next big push onward and upward.

Today's Weather Report: Alleluia, it was 48 degrees Fahrenheit this morning, and long pants were in order. Long pants and a fleece top, I might add. Did I mention that it was raining and has been all night? The black cat has found his way to my lap, and is purring and padding me softly. He and the dogs don't get along very well, but the dogs are gone at the moment, and the cat is taking advantage of the interlude. A friend came over for my husband's birthday on Wednesday and asked, "Where did all your flowers go?" I told him the show was over for the year. My sister provided me with an abundance of seeds from her Texas garden earlier this year, and those are the only flowers blooming at the moment--larkspur, zinnia, verbena, and marigold. The tomatoes are just coming in, but won't do much if the cooler temps keep up. So it goes.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Responsibility for our Future


~George Bernard Shaw

Of Note: The Middle East has been such a quagmire for so long, few believe there is any hope for ending that dispute. Surprisingly, one hopeful voice has been heard through the din. The former ambassador to Israel under the Clinton administration, Martin Indyk, is speaking out with a refreshing message of hope as peace talks begin anew tomorrow in Washington DC. Because of the diplomat's intimacy with the issue, no one doubts his expertise. In an op-ed published this week in the New York Times, Ambassador Indyk notes four reasons why the atmosphere may have changed to make way for a "lasting peace"--
  1. Violence is down considerably in the region.
  2. Settlement activity has slowed significantly.
  3. The public on both sides supports a two-state solution.
  4. There isn't a lot to negotiate because most final status issues have been dealt with exhaustively in the 17 years since the Oslo Accord.
In summary, the former ambassador resolutely stated: "The prospects for peace depend now on the willpower of the leaders." He went on to say he does not know "whether Mr. Abbas and Mr. Netanyahu will make the politically perilous leap" but was assured that they will soon be put to the test. Eleanor Roosevelt knew what political fear was and had this advise, which we will pass on to the two Middle East leaders: "You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing which you think you cannot do." The time has come, Misters Abbas and Netanyahu; the world is watching and waiting expectantly.

Today's Weather Report: Amazingly, this morning's temperature hovered at 59 degrees for several hours. I needed a sweater at breakfast. What a difference between sweater temps and tank top temps of the last week! This morning I was engrossed in The Columbia History of Philosophy and wanted to see what it had to say about pre-Socratic philosophy. During study yesterday, I uncovered the fact that Pythagoras, Gautama Buddha and Confucius all lived at exactly the same time. What are the chances that three of the greatest thinkers of all time, including one World Teacher, would all walk the Earth at once? Slim. So the next question was "Why then?" Could it be that they were forerunners of Jesus the Christ who lived 400 years later? In effect, they could have been creating the Path for Him. Well, could be, I thought as I finished breakfast. The dogs were more interested in my empty cereal bowl than my inquiry, and I had to leave the book for later to go on with my busy day. But I will let you know if I uncover more as this impromptu study continues.