Sound was an issue at our house meeting (Walnut Street Co-op) last night. Some folks want music into common spaces in the house. I prefer not. I realize that it has many reasons:
(a) I enjoy music too much. It means too much for me to be random background sound.
(b) We have such dramatically varied music taste. While I enjoy exploring new music, I prefer smaller doses.
(c) I have an aversion to the dullness, lack of inventiveness, and lack of organic sense of sound in most popular music. The worst for me is constant and unchanging drum rhythms. They seem dead and devoid of an organic sense of music and sound. It lacks aliveness and spontaneity.
(d) I enjoy silence tremendously. There is so much in silence - all the small sounds created by life. It gives space for experience and intimacy with oneself and the situation. Constant music dulls my experience of the world.
Recipe for Happiness
Recipe for happiness:
(a) Gratitude (for all our experiences)
(b) Rejoying in other's happiness (other's good fortune)
Old Log Entries
Here are several log entries that got lost when I moved from one to several separate logs:
Mon Dec 09, 11:47:26 AM
Happiness & Choice
Happiness is a choice. Simple, but not easy...
Happiness comes from within, independent of external situations. It is chosen, or not. Of course, realizing it to the point where there is a real choice, takes skills and practice.
We are thoroughly trained, especially in our western culture, to experience our happiness as completely dependent on external situations. External situations "create" responses and feelings in us, just like a mathematical formula (2+2=4). Of course, this is not true, but it takes insight, practice and patience to turn this around.
Choosing happiness, independent on circumstances, can be learned, and the tools are there. I have found the most effective ones in the Tibetan mind-training (lo jong) teachings. (Lama Zopa's "Transforming Suffering Into Happiness" is an excellent beginning).
Sun Dec 08, 07:35:25 PM
Dreams of Impermanence
I did a solo retreat this weekend, and had the following dream on the last day:
An experienced diver lead me through a series of underground caverns. They were filled with ice cold water and I wore a dry suit as protection. The opening to the first cavern was a small hole in the ground, and I experienced a surprising amount of apprehension before entering.
The cavern was dark and cold. We dove down, and the floor was lit up by our headlamps. I noticed that the rock looked volcanic and ancient.
The entrance to the second cavern was small, as the first one. The surface was some feet below, and we had to drop down. Diving down, we saw shapes in the rock resembling a petrified city. We saw people in cars, light rail, streets, buildings. It reminded me of cities I have lived in.
The entrance to the third cavern was small, and with a drop to the surface. There, on the floor of the cavern, we saw fossilized imprints of the Earth and many similar planets which had harbored life.
In the fourth cavern, we saw the imprints of a multitude of Universes.
Throughout, there was a strong sense of impermanence: Human civilization, planets and Universes exists only temporarily. Then, there will be no trace of them.
At the last opening, we left the series of caverns and entered a sunlit natural landscape full of life. My guide was exhilarated and joyful.
I was left with a strong sense of the impermanence of everything. Of the importance of making the most out of what we experience at the moment, and the pointlessness of seeking fame and wealth, as there will be no trace left. Most of all, I was left with a sense of urgency in engaging fully in my spiritual practice.
Thu Dec 05, 12:38:21 PM
I had food poisoning over the weekend (from a gift of smoked salmon).
It was an excellent lesson in just being with what is occuring. With no separation, without adding anything. Letting any thoughts (of self-pity, past, future, cause) pass. Holding on to them only added suffering to discomfort.
Extreme situations are often our best teachers, magnifying the patterns of our mind and their effects.
Fri Nov 29, 09:57:05 AM
I have practiced visualizations regularly for about a year now. I was initially skeptical, but have found it a valuable practice, and sometimes remarkably effective. It seems to work in setting a clear direction and purpose, which in turn gives guidelines for choices and actions.
I tend to visualize what I would like in my life, in long and short term.
For health, I visualize general good health, and the healing of specific ailments (e.g. scoliosis, food allergies). For my scoliosis, I visualize a smooth and supple spine, and it has encouraged me to seek out practices and therapies that may bring that about, such as yoga and therapeutic massage. The scoliosis has improved markedly over the months I have engaged in visualization. For my food allergies, it has helped me choose food that is good for me and does not give me reactions.
For relationships, I visualize clear communication, a good connection, and smooth cooperation. I use it with people I interact with regularly, as well as before meetings and other situations where I will interact with new people.
For work, I use it for ease, effectiveness, and efficiency. It has even proved valuable for nitty-gritty tasks such as computer programming. If I get stuck, I go for a walk, clear my mind, and visualize finding the solution with ease. It sometimes works!
In my dream, a drug addict came into our house on my invitation. I noticed he seemed very weak. It turned out that he took something and later sold it. I was ambivalent as I wanted to help (although was not clear/firm in my resolve) and also did not want to encourage him expressing/meeting his needs in a concealed way. He came into the house a second time, I pinned him down under a boxlike piece of furniture, and called for assistance. After a short time, I saw blood coming out. I assumed he had committed suicide.
Taking the dream literally, it seems to connect with this issue: How do I use my privileged situation? How does it benefit others? I want to ask more consistently: "How am I in a privileged situation right now, in terms of knowledge/information, experience, resources?" "How can I use it in a way that benefits life?" This also has to do with letting go of false pride and humility, seeing our gifts for what they are, and how they can be used to benefit life.
How we relate to the world is reflected in how we relate to the outer world (people, ecosystems) and our inner world (thoughts, emotions, characteristics). How I relate to people in my life, to the Earth community, and to figures in my dreams, reflect how I relate to similar parts of myself. Less literally, the dream may have to do with how I relate to the weaker parts of myself. I exerience sympathy towards them but do not clearly choose to (a) accept them fully as they are, or (b) assist them in becoming healthier and stronger.
Maybe most of all, the dream reminds me about choices. I always make choices, and by bringing my choices more into awareness, I can make choices more aligned with my values, and take more full responsibility for my choices (less complaining).
Here is one way of bringing choices into awareness: (i) Look at what I do and how I talk to myself about it ("I pay taxes because the government says I have to"). (ii) Rephrase it into a choice and real reason ("I choose to pay taxes because I want to support society, and do not want to go to jail."). (iii) Change action or our attitude towards the action ("I choose to not pay taxes because they are not used in a life serving way, and I take full responsibility for the consequences", or "I am OK with paying taxes because they serve society and I do not put myself in risk at going to jail.")