Food can be poison or medicine. And the same food can be one or the other, depending on time, amount, and combination. I have known this - from personal experience - since my teens, and am reminded of it daily.
Sometimes, even the food that normally makes me sick, is exactly what I need to feel better. After several months in Nepal and India, I spent a few days near the beach by Los Angeles, and ate 5-7 milkshakes daily. It was just what my organism needed at that time, although I rarely if ever eat milkshakes otherwise.
I read the Winter 2002 issue of Parabola today, which is on death. It reminded me of some insights from Buddhism, and my own meditation practice.
Each phenomenon dies and is reborn, continuosly. It dies as what it was, and is reborn as something else. Everything is in flux.
There is nothing to hold onto (no phenomenon, no experience, no insights).
All phenomena are born from and expressions of that which is beyond all dualities. The "ground" beyond existence and nonexistence.
This means that "I" am never reincarnated. This body, this collection of experiences, which I try to "fix" by calling it "I", dies for good at the end of this life.
I listened to a five-episode history of beards on NRK today. (With with typical euro-centrism they call it "history of beards" while it is only the history of beards in the west.)
The author Anders Kvåle Rue obviously has a strong pro-beard view, and another point he wants to get across. Below is a summary.
Beards have, not surprisingly, been the norm throughout western history - with beardless phases as anomalities. In the "cradle of civilization" (eurocentric again), beards signaled which group you belonged to. To have ones beard shaved off, the fate of slaves and prisoners of war, was the ultimate humiliation. The first beard-free phase was among the soldiers of Alexander the Great, as beards were a drawback in close combat. Later, the Roman soldiers shaved for a similar reason.
The next beard-less phase came during the middle ages, where knights needed a clean shaven face to fit inside their helmets, and the Catholic church wanted its monks to shave as sign of humility. Beards became the norm again in the Renaissance, and - with few exceptions - remained the norm until the early 1900s.
During World War One, soldiers were again required to shave, this time to allow the gas masks to fit closely. Gilette, which made a fortune during that time, engaged in a massive attitude changing ad campaign following WW1 to increase their market.
Clean shaven faces have typically been the expression of submission to authority throughout western history. Clean shaven faces were seen on slaves, soldiers, monks, and now (in a slightly one-sided phrasing) - those enslaved to a consumer culture where sales of shaving implements means big profits.
The Eugene Permaculture Guild is hosting the 7th Annual Permaculture Gathering this weekend, and it is running smoothly and with quite a number of people (three digits). I was less involved in the early planning as I normally would have been, due to my architecture studies this summer.
The workshop topics are the typical (and important) ones: water systems, food preservation, biodiesel, etc.
I realize that I would like to see the topics expanded to less typical and still permaculture related topcs. Here are some ideas for next year: complexity theories, effective community organizing and social change strategies, facilitation training, open source technologies, nonviolent communication, techniques for participatory democracy (e.g. citizen councils).
I dreamt that we were moving into a house far larger than we thought. It had a large number of rooms, one of which led to a large public swimming pool...!
We are moving into a new house next week. It is large, but I have concerns about storage space - its from the 70s when they thought people didn't need storage space. These types of dreams often reflect a process of exploring new sides of oneself. That may be the case as I am in a quite demanding architecture program, and already feel I have explored much - in terms of design and my personality.
I saw Winged Migration tonight. It is a powerful reminder of the unity of all life - we all share the same struggles and concern for food, shelter, community, providing for our offspring, seek safety.
For me, it was also a reminder of something that seems as true now as when I first started to perceive it. Our own survival is intimately connected with the survival of all life on Earth.
Our own survival is dependent on our ability to expand our circle of concern to include all life - current and future generations. And it is fully possible. We are already making choices based on what we perceive as good for "us". Now, we need to expand "us" to include all life - nothing is outside. It will not be perfect, but any step in this direction is immensely important.
Matrix & life
I watched Matrix Reloaded today. The first movie intrigued me due to its clear parallels to Buddhism (waking up to the reality gives choice). The second one obviously needs to be finished by the third, although I do like its complexity, its lack of a clear resolution - just like life. Life is rarely black and white, resolutions are rarely complete. There is always more to work on. Life is dukha - something is always a little off. While Matrix I gave a glimpse of enlightenment, the second shows dukha.