While I now spend lots of time trying to figure out why the world is so focused on work/job/money, as a kid I just jumped into the working world, cutting lawns, et cetera. In my underaged landscaping role, I spent a fair amount of time trying to eradicate those evil yellow flowers with the ugly jagged leaves.
I spotted the little buggers coming on like a plague in Grand Army Plaza park this morning, and realized how much I love their gorgeous saturated yellow and the way that they keep coming all summer long. It made me ponder what life would have been like if we all had brilliant yellow and green lawns, flecked with violets and strawberries.
But who would have paid me Slurpee money to leave nature on its own and to perhaps simply take a picture of the loveliness?
Peter Ferko, "Weeds" 2013, iPhone photo
A thorough analysis by Christian Viveros-Fauné in the Village Voice, How Uptown Money Kills Downtown Art.
In that regard, I would like to read to you my new favorite little piece: “If you can sit quietly after difficult news, if in financial downturns you remain perfectly calm, if you can see your neighbors travel to fantastic places without a twinge of jealousy, if you can happily eat whatever is put on your plate and fall asleep after a day of running around without a drink or a pill, if you can always find contentment just where you are, you are probably a dog.” [Laughter]
-Jack Kornfield, excerpt from talk with Pema Chodron, reported here
I’m pondering the odd life choices presented to artists and yogis…
“I have been told,” the merchant began, “that you were a Brahman, a learned man, but that you seek to be in the service of a merchant. Might you have become destitute, Brahman, so that you seek to serve?”
“No,” said Siddhartha, “I have not become destitute and have never been destitute. You should know that I’m coming from the Samanas, with whom I have lived for a long time.”
“If you’re coming from the Samanas, how could you be anything but destitute? Aren’t the Samanas entirely without possessions?”
“I am without possessions,” said Siddhartha, “if this is what you mean. Surely, I am without possessions. But I am so voluntarily, and therefore I am not destitute.”
“But what are you planning to live of, being without possessions?”
“I haven’t thought of this yet, sir. For more than three years, I have been without possessions, and have never thought about of what I should live.”
quote from text of Siddhartha by Hesse at www.online-literature.com
I heard an interview this week with Jeff Bridges. He recited these remembrances, which Buddhists are encouraged to recall daily:
- I am of the nature to grow old; I cannot avoid aging.
- I am of the nature to become ill or injured; I cannot avoid illness or injury
- I am of the nature to die; I cannot avoid death.
- All that is mine, dear and delightful, will change and vanish.
- I am the owner of my actions;
I am born of my actions;
I am related to my actions;
I am supported by my actions;
Any thoughts, words or deeds I do, good or evil, those I will inherit.
from AN V.57 Upajjhatthana Sutta: Subjects for Contemplation
If you’ve been trying to keep straight the beta->alpha->theta progression that happens in meditation, here’s a nice infographic by Timmy Kucynda, reblogged from Yogadork on the brainwave frequencies.
Republican vs. Democrat
People who tend to vote Republican or Democrat, if gotten into a respectful exchange, will admit their frustration with leaders on both sides and the government in general. Republicans may believe the quality of candidates is pretty close to the same, but they prefer the one promising to do less via government. They trust individuals and business as more efficient. Democrats believe government defends people, rather than special interests (aka, corporate interests).
People who identify as Republican have certain core aggravations with government programs that seem to reward what feels to them like laziness, e.g., “entitlements,” which even by the name sound unearned; and debt spending, which seems to them irresponsible.
Republicans are obstinant about notions of government size, spending and efficiency that do not stand up to the historical statistics, which show deficits, taxes, and efficiency improvements as better under Democratic Administrations. Assuming that the Republican arguments are not trying to mislead based on pure deception, there must be something that is not being well-enough defined in the Republican argument.
Democrats are not doing a good job at convincing the public that they are pro-business, pro-efficient government, and pro-fiscal responsibility. Democrats are not especially liberal — just ask any Green Party member or other liberal.
Democrats don’t understand Republicans’ refusals to honor individual rights over group conformity; Republicans don’t understand that Democrats don’t have the same ideas of what the American “group” is. Jonathan Heidt has done psychological research on this issue, which he discusses in the light of morality and culture, here: http://www.edge.org/3rd_culture/haidt08/haidt08_index.html. Not understanding this discrepancy in how morals work leads to a lot of anger and astonishment and makes many of us think members of the other party are somehow not playing with a full deck.
Republicans claim they can break Congressional gridlock. So do Democrats. Barack Obama tried. He was stonewalled (but still accompished a lot). The past several presidents have been expanding the powers of the Presidency, which is of questionable value to the country, but helps the President trump our Senators and Congresspersons. I have listened to old school Congresspersons, such as Bill Bradley, talk about the compromises that they used to expect to make to accomplish the work of governing. For example, Richard Nixon signed a bill creating the EPA; Bill Clinton restricted welfare rules. The trend is toward gridlock. This is a terrible situation that wastes resources and brings voters to despair.
The Influence of Sandy on these Republican/Democrat Observations
Hurricane Sandy required a response that was big and coordinated. Individuals who tried to help often found their services were unneeded, in the wrong place, or uncoordinated. For example, a call for 300 hard boiled eggs for a senior refugee center in Park Slope brought a response of 3000 eggs. My anecdotal reports are of people trying to volunteer and getting turned away. Mitt Romney advocated canned food donations; FEMA, the Red Cross, etc. said that kind of response is more trouble than it’s worth.
There is no coordinated way for nongovernmental entities to first respond to disasters of this magnitude, except for authorities to contract it, which is how things now work.
The impulse for people to help is strong; people care about community and are compassionate when hardship occurs.
Republicans draw a distinction between disaster such as hurricanes and more chronic hardship and community based on criteria of worthiness and what could be called “tribe” while Democrats do not. This usually appears as pointing out people who “game” the system or never “try” to get off welfare. In fact, since the Clinton presidency, you cannot stay on Welfare indefinitely. Also, gaming a system does not necessarily mean the system is “wrong,” it may just need fixing, such as closing loopholes.
This episode has demonstrated, in my opinion, that government has important roles in the nation, and that belief that Federal Government should relinquish functions to individuals, business, or States, are unrealistic.
This spring, I posted here about an experience sighting a topless woman in Union Square. I presumed she was engaged in a performance art piece.
I got an update this week, meeting said woman in an unlikely place: Sivananda Ashram in the Catskills, where she was part of my stepson’s graduating yoga teacher training group. She described her project during the closing activities.
Moira Johnston’s topless strolls are in fact woman’s activism, sparked in an situation involving a yoga class that included topless men. Moira wanted the freedom to do the same and learned that in New York State, women are free to go topless. She has been raising awareness (and no doubt eyebrows) ever since. Here’s a link to an advocacy organization with a video she did on the Daily Beast. Moira’s blog is www.toplessmoira.com.
I was pleased that my reaction back in March was pretty much on the target with what she is trying to say.
A yoga student asked me to please clarify why desire is bad — wasn’t desiring to be better at what you do or wanting hunger to end a good thing? The distinction is two-fold. First, desire pulls you out of the moment; being out of the moment makes it impossible to achieve a state of samadhi, or the union of all aspects of yourself to experience things as they are. Second, when you tune in to that state, and do what you intuit or decide is a good action — like working to be a good musician or to end world hunger — the intuition and the action are in the moment and are done without concern for the outcome. Desire is an add on, the want of what is not, and perhaps, for all you know, what should not be what you do or get. To be without desire is to work without attachment to the results. (p.s., this is not easy ;-)
28. I do not desire a large screen, nor do I desire an LCD projector.
29. I do not desire new clothes or boots.
30. I do not desire a vintage auto.
31. I do not desire a large turnout.
32. I do not desire recognition of my [talent/wisdom/accomplishments].
33. I do not desire agreement with my point of view.
34. I do not desire to win in the competition of the market.
35. I do not desire that more people read my book.
This is part of a 40-day practice to notice and sidestep desires.