Thursday, November 23, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving all...

Sandy whipped up quite a tasty Thanksgiving day assembly of food. It was all quite good. She even made a turkey in our tiny little oven, for her official "Thanksgiving feelings" and all, even though she's gotta eat it all by herself, since I'm on the veggie kick.

Sandy was most proud, and rightfully so, of her pumpkin pie.
Good... and good for you.

Why Sandy insisted on taking a picture of me, complete with sallow, flu/cold affected complexion - who's germs and sniffles and sneezing I've passed on to Sandy [sorry kid] - is really quite beyond me.
Something about showing the world how much I love mashed potatoes or something.
I do enjoy a good plate of mashed potatoes though.

Boy, I just look sad and sick, don't I?
I could blame it on being forced to sit through the annual airing of "The Sound of Music" but the picture actually precedes the presentation of that Thanksgiving holiday classic.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Blending the TAO with, you know... living.

Taking Action in a Perfect World
The world is perfect. As you question your mind, this becomes more and more obvious. Mind changes, and as a result, the world changes. A clear mind heals everything that needs to be healed. It can never be fooled into believing that there is one speck out of order.

But some people take the insight that the world is perfect and make it into a concept, and then they conclude that there’s no need to get involved in politics or social action. That’s separation. If someone came to you and said, “I’m suffering. Please help me,” would you answer, “You’re perfect just the way you are,” and turn away? Our heart naturally responds to people and animals in need.

Realization has no value until it’s lived... I remember when I used to think there was a problem. How can I say no when that person asks for help? That would be saying no to myself. So I say yes and I go, if I can. It’s a privilege. It’s more than that: it’s self-love.

People are perfect just the way they are, however deeply they’re suffering, but they don’t realize that yet. So when I meet someone who’s suffering, I don’t say, “Oh, there’s no problem, everything is perfect.” Though I can see that there’s never a problem, and I’m available to help him see that, telling him what I see would be unkind. That part of my body is suffering, everything is not perfect for him, because he believes it’s not. I, too, have been trapped in the torture chamber of the mind. I hear what he thinks he needs, I hear his sadness or despair, and I’m available. That’s full-blown activism. In the presence of someone who doesn’t see a problem, the problem falls away—which shows you that there isn’t a problem.

People ask me, “How can you listen to all these problems, day after day, year after year? Doesn’t it drain your energy?” Well, it doesn’t. I’ve questioned my stressful thoughts, and I’ve seen that every single one of them is untrue...

If you have a problem with people or with the state of the world, I invite you to put your stressful thoughts on paper and question them, and to do it for the love of truth, not in order to save the world. Turn it around: save your own world. Isn’t that why you want to save the world in the first place? So that you can be happy? Well, skip the middleman, and be happy from here! You’re it. You’re the one...

Monday, November 20, 2006

"I beseech you... think it possible you may be mistaken".

History is full of those who were wrongly sure of themselves, to the point where we suspect that anyone who is completely sure is never quite right. Many religious groups have been "sure" that "others" were wrong, and have used force to convert them. Within Christianity, Roman Catholics have burned heretical Protestants at the stake, and vice versa, and so on.

Not only in religion do we find this, but in political life as well. Communists have forced their ways on society, as did the Nazis. None of all this made many true converts, or proved who was right. Sports and styles offer more examples, without the violence, mostly.

If we search for reasons for all this, we find ourselves considering, again, the biological need to belong, preferably to those whose appearance, language or geographical origins are similar to ours. We are uneasy being alone. It all seems as simple as that. So much for freedom.

I believe I'll be trying this.

The alternative is the Rob Pugh - Marvin Wilburn "I actually know better than you what you're trying to say" school.

That school kinda sucks.

Hearing the Truth: Literal Listening by Byron Katie
Practice listening to others in the most literal sense, believing exactly what they say without attaching a future to it, and do your best to resist falling into your own interpretations about the information they share with you.

...We can hurt ourselves with our misconceptions and our thinking for others.

Try trusting that what they say is exactly what they mean: not more, not less. Hear people out.

Catch yourself when you want to finish a sentence for someone, either aloud or in your mind.

Listen. It can be amazing to hear what comes out when we allow others to complete their thoughts without interruption. And when we are busy thinking we know what they are about to say, we often miss what they are actually saying.

You might want to consider these questions:

- What can be threatened if I listen and hear literally?
- Do I interrupt because I don’t want to really know what people have to say?
- Do I interrupt to convince them that I know more than they do?
- Am I attempting to convey an image of self-confidence and control?
- Who would I be without the need to possess those qualities?
- Do I fear appearing unintelligent?
- Would people leave me if I heard them literally and no longer engaged in manipulative games?

The "New Puritans" are even gettin' the good places.

And whenever anybody says "for the children" I automatically stop listening. It makes me gag a little bit.

Is Las Vegas Threatened? by Vin Suprynowicz
...Las Vegas is a boom town because of a confluence of historical accidents. Out of desperation, Nevada's politicians in the Great Depression decided to try and draw some tourism and economic activity by legalizing "sins" that were forbidden or strongly censured elsewhere – gambling, booze, "quickie" divorce and prostitution. The timely arrival of commercial air conditioning helped.

...But that's all we've got, folks. That, a big hydroelectric plant, a bombing range, and Celine. We can't fall back on the fishing fleet, the port, the great river that allows commerce into the back country – not even the proximity of coal and iron ore deposits that make this a logical place to build steel mills.

And is Nevada still the only place people can come for legalized gambling or a "quicky," six-week divorce? Of course not. Yes, prostitution is de facto legal and protected here, as any glance through the outcall "entertainers" section of the yellow pages makes clear. And tourists have doubtless spent more money in the grandiose "no-touch" lap-dance palaces of Las Vegas in the past year than in all the Silver State's low-rent legal brothels combined.

...We no longer have a monopoly on any of this stuff. And next to several tourist markets – Amsterdam with its hashish bars, its red light district, its superior architecture and restaurants and museums, comes quickly to mind – we already stand outclassed, despite the best efforts of Steve Wynn.

All that's left is cheaper airfares. Most of the Dutch even speak better English.

So, on Tuesday, what did Nevadans do to catapult themselves back into the lead in the only category that sustains this town's existence – offering "forbidden pleasures" to tourists sick of their puritan environment back home?

Why, we turned down an extremely modest half-step toward marijuana legalization and the eventual introduction of the Dutch-style hashish bar. (I don't believe for a moment that even 3 percent of voters shared my concerns over this proposal's "let's-make-a-deal" tax-jail-and-regulate paternalism.) And we told millions of visiting cigarette smokers who have previously smiled and clapped their hands with glee upon spotting an ashtray and learning that Nevada restaurants still have "smoking sections" that we'd just as soon they take all their money and fly to some casino in the Caribbean, in Asia, on some "sovereign" Indian reservation or any other damned place but here.

And does anyone think these New Puritans will now fold their tents and quit the field, content with rendering some of our favorite taverns as quiet as the morgue at midnight?

...I doubt two years will pass before this gang is back, first to demand mandatory free baby-sitting, and then to wave planted breathless exposes from their mindless mouthpieces of the press, ululating that they're shocked – shocked! – to learn there's illicit drug use going on in this town's new generation of trendy upscale nightclubs, drug use that the proprietors knew about, mind you, and which has been known to contribute to ensuing episodes of – you're not going to believe this – unprotected sex!

...I'm just saying that I can now glimpse the most likely route of our destruction. We will do it to ourselves. Hundreds of thousands of newly transplanted California or Illinois voters who don't quite grasp the source of all this wealth now routinely go to the polls and vote to "protect the children," the same way the do-gooders of Pittsburgh and Detroit wanted the regulators to "protect the children" from the grimy pollution produced by all those nasty factories – and now wonder where our industrial base went, taking all those good blue-collar jobs with it.

The Movement for Moral Hygiene knows no limits. Enact their entire wish list into law and they'll be back next year with a new one. After all, would you want your child to point at a billboard showing women's mostly nekkid butts as you drove her to Bible class, asking "What's that, Mommy?"

These ignoramuses never stop braying "for the children" till they've shut down the very industries that gave their cities life. As though Daddy's paycheck isn't "for the children."