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April 22, 2011

Apr 21, 2011

i have been invited to a nondualism conference. the other night i was at the east bay open circle, which is also, as i understand, devoted to non dual teaching. what does non dual mean? i am not sure. nevertheless wind right now is blowing bushes around outside. ty wiggington in disbelief stood at home plate for a few seconds. bud selig just said he is going to take over the dodgers franchise due to mismanagement. this is major news, of concern to us all. barack obama is somewhere around here today, i know because monica is going to go see him. i told her to tell him we are all proud of him. it isn't his fault things are so screwed up. but how screwed up are things actually?

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this is the post-facebook blog. the other blog was excerpts from my personal journal in which i am writing about big important things. for the ages. this blog is quick original thoughts. like facebook - here is what i am doing, here is what i am thinking, here is what i am eating for breakfast. much more real and raw - isn't that what's wanted?

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just got charles bernstein's "attack of the difficult poems" in the mail the other day. terrific book. charles is always so funny and so astute about the poetry wars, who is up, who is down, and who is controlling the game. in fact, as he says, no one is paying any attention to poetry - at least to the poetry charles and i would value. a nod is given in the press and in the public to something called "poetry" and i guess it actually is poetry of some kind but mostly limited to sincere and personal statements of grief, beauty, query, etc. a little vignette or a moment of epiphany.

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Time is passing (what does that actually mean?) and the state of the world is as dire, if not more dire, than it was a year ago. Confusion reigns, and the recent elections won’t help. But I am grateful for our practice and our friendship, and confident that we are making a difference, person by person, heart to heart.

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Time is passing (what does that actually mean?) and the state of the world is as dire, if not more dire, than it was a year ago. Confusion reigns, and the recent elections won’t help. But I am grateful for our practice and our friendship, and confident that we are making a difference, person by person, heart to heart.

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These last few months I have been contemplating emotions and feelings, how they work to help or harm us, and what our practice has to do with them. These reflections have been occasioned by work I've been doing recently with my good friends at the Center for Understanding in Conflict, both here in California and in New York, where we practice with conflict resolution professionals to help them access feelings skillfully for more effective and more heartfelt work. Also, I've been reading an excellent book that touches the question of emotions: Looking for Spinoza: Joy, Sorrow and the Feeling Brain by the neuroscientist Antonio Damasio.

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Letters, words, sentences. Paragraphs. Chapters. Books... I often joke that I have an incurable reading and writing habit. That’s a Zen joke. Gary Snyder’s emails used to come with a little self-mocking motto after the closing, lines from Japanese Zen Master Ikkyu (also a poet!) to the effect that literary people are the lowest scoundrels on earth. But the exact phrase “writing habit” comes from my dear teacher, friend, and fellow poet, the late great Philip Whalen, who used it all the time in reference to himself.

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.. was in Washington for a Mindfulness "summit meeting" with the U.S. Army and assorted others, sponsored and organized by Mirabai for Contemplative Mind in Society. To explain what mindfulness is, report on mindfulness research, talk about how mindfulness training might be of use to the army. The event is in part a preparation for the retreat for army chaplains and caregivers I am to give (that has been scheduled and postponed twice now). The army people seemed pretty decent open-heated and open-minded people. I was impressed with them.

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Mel has been an inspiration, a guide, and a friend for me since I was a young man. I am one of the old Dwight Way crowd. Recently I drove by that old place. It is still there, but the yucca and monkey puzzle trees in the front yard that were of modest size in the early 1970's are quite large now, dwarfing the house. I was struck at how different the place looked. I attribute the difference to the fact that the practice - Mel's practice and spirit - vacated the space so long ago. Then, the place had a simplicity and a dignity it doesn't have now. A quiet but insistent presence. Having felt these things then - in the actual physical space - and not feeling them now, makes me understand better the virtue of Mel's teaching. These are the words I would use to describe it: simplicity, dignity, a quiet but insistent presence.

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March 27, 2009

Mar 27, 2009

In Dharma seminar last month we studied Hamlet. We had all read the play years ago, but reading it again together turned out to be an emotional experience. We commiserated with poor Hamlet's pained and honest subjectivity as he looks with anguish at his own confusion. We could see ourselves in him: just as we are sometimes too smart for our own good, and turn that intelligence into merciless self-critique, so is Hamlet scathing in his self-assessment. We suffered too with Hamlet's agonizing compulsion to act - we too sometimes become paralyzed, not knowing how or when or what to do, even though we know we have to do something. We sympathized with Hamlet's grief. Most of us had missed this when we first read the play, but now, after suffering many losses ourselves, we could see how painful it is for Hamlet to have no one to share his grief with.

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