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Thursday, May 31, 2007

today's research...

Originally uploaded by alxindia

found me 'over the hill' as we say in Santa Cruz, CA, meaning, 'in Silicon Valley'. there are VERY few things that would bring me out of my home temple in the redwood forest of home, but John Edwards coming to San Jose State today for a speech was worth crawling out of the woods for.

Jonathan and I are doing a kind of political-spiritual research on the candidates for the American presidential election in '08, trying to check them out closely and in person when possible. despite what impressions you can get from tv or youtube, or over the airwaves via radio -- there is no substitute for being in the room with a person to grok what's really going on with them.

we went being peripherally Edwards supporters -- we also seriously appreciate Barack Obama and are head-over-heels in love with Gravel.

& we went by way of research:
is this man sincere and heartful?
does he have real vision or is he mouthing whatever platitudes and promises seem expedient?
is he taking a real stand for issues we care about?
does he care about poor people in this country? what about around the world?
how does he view America, in the big picture? as a deserving empire? as an embarrassment around the world? as a bully? a leader of peace and freedom? an exporter of genuine democracy?

most importantly -- is this a real leader?

I was really impressed with his voice, first off -- Edwards sounds clear, sharp, focused, serious but not overbearing, perfectly aware of the atrocious blunders this country has made in the last several years but not angry-sounding. he's positive, has conviction, isn't afraid to make a strong stand, and is obviously very funny as well.

what struck me watching and listening to him was his unswerving commitment to help eradicate poverty in the USA and abroad. I felt that this was someone who could stand strongly on a particular issue and will go to the mats for it.

what also struck me was his confidence and inner strength -- while other candidates are still positioning themselves and evolving into the kinds of candidates they want to be -- a necessary and beautiful part of the process, I think, I'm not at all against transformation! -- Edwards seems to know who he is and what he represents.

in this day of the relentless soundbites and spin, of pandering and posturing and smart men suddenly going mealy-mouthed out of fear of "offending" (whom, exactly? special interest groups? the 28%ers? Christian fundamentalists? "the People"????) -- it's a HUGE relief to see someone real.

clear, simple, to the point, heartful and confident.

seems like leadership material to me.

the clincher was one line he gave about the Democratic party and its complete fearfulness -- "if the Democrats cease to be the party that speaks up for the poor, the underprivileged, and those who don't usually GET a voice in this country, then we have lost our soul."

maybe I'm just a sucker for a strong guy with good hair who talks openly & earnestly about the soul -- but I'm impressed enough to keep listening to what Edwards has to offer this country.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Ode to Duty

Hanuman & swing
Originally uploaded by alxindia.

STERN Daughter of the Voice of God!
O Duty! if that name thou love
Who art a light to guide, a rod
To check the erring, and reprove;
Thou, who art victory and law
When empty terrors overawe;
From vain temptations dost set free;
And clam'st the weary strife of frail humanity!

There are who ask not if thine eye
Be on them; who, in love and truth,
Where no misgiving is, rely
Upon the genial sense of youth:
Glad Hearts! without reproach or blot;
Who do thy work, and know it not:
Oh! if through confidence misplaced
They fail, thy saving arms, dread Power! around them cast.

Serene will be our days and bright,
And happy will our nature be,
When love is an unerring light,
And joy its own security.
And they a blissful course may hold
Even now, who, not unwisely bold,
Live in the spirit of this creed;
Yet seek thy firm support, according to their need.

I, loving freedom, and untried:
No sport of every random gust,
Yet being to myself a guide,
Too blindly have reposed my trust:
And oft, when in my heart was heard
Thy timely mandate, I deferred
The task, in smoother walks to stray;
But thee I now would serve more strictly, if I may.

Through no disturbance of my soul,
Or strong compunction in me wrought,
I supplicate for thy control;
But in the quietness of thought:
Me this unchartered freedom tires;
I feel the weight of chance desires:
My hopes no more must change their name,
I long for a repose that ever is the same.

Stern Lawgiver! yet thou dost wear
The Godhead's most benignant grace;
Nor know we anything so fair
As is the smile upon thy face:
Flowers laugh before thee on their beds
And fragrance in thy footing treads
Thou dost preserve the stars from wrong;
And the most ancient heavens, through Thee, are fresh and strong.

To humbler functions, awful Power!
I call thee: I myself command
Unto thy guidance from this hour;
Oh! let my weakness have an end!
Give unto me, made lowly wise,
The spirit of self-sacrifice;
The confidence of reason give;
And, in the light of truth, thy Bondman let me live!

- William Wordsworth

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

negativity in creation

I think it's a delicate subject, and one that people have very strong opinions about on all sides of the spiritual spectrum -- what I've seen in the New Age and other spiritual systems (including some Eastern meditation teachings) is that there's a studied avoidance of the question of negativity, or evil per se.

the prevailing thinking is 'well, if I think about it, then I'll create it. so I refuse to think about it.'

every spiritual master I've known, worth their salt, mentions that trying to deny that negativity exists actually saps more energy from us than simply dealing with it.

my experience is this:

if we want to understand what's really happening in this world, and on this planet, our comprehension has to include a real assessment of the negativity and evil actions in this world.

why? so we can learn how to transform it into high divine, high positivity.

every example of Jesus (in the conventional gospels that form the New Testament)in terms of negative spirits and people performing evil actions involves a transformation, a healing, of those characters. he didn't just turn a blind eye, or react with denial ('it doesn't exist so I won't give it any attention') or fear -- he just handled it, and turned it into a healing example.

this is true with the Indian yogi-saints, as well. when faced with high negativity, or people performing evil acts, they knew how to change that negativity into beauty.

surely this is a challenge that lies before each of us, today, regardless of what tradition or belief system we're coming from.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

action or reaction?

someone posted this on a spiritual discussion site, and I thought it was super-brilliant, and worth repeating here.....

I walked with my friend, a Quaker, to the news stand the other night, and he bought a paper, thanking the newsie politely. The newsie didn't even acknowledge it.

"A sullen fellow, isn't he?", I asked.

"Oh, he's that way every night", shrugged my friend.

"Then why do you continue to be so polite to him?", I asked.

"Why not?", inquired my friend. "Why should I let him decide how I'm going to act?"

As I thought about this incident later, it occurred to me that the important word was "act". My friend acts towards people; most of us react toward them.

He has a sense of inner balance which is lacking in most of us - he knows who he is, what he stands for, how he should behave. He refuses to return incivility, because then he would no longer be in command of his own conduct.

When we are enjoined in the Bible to return good for evil, we look upon this as a moral injunction -- which it is. But it is also a psychological prescription for our emotional health.

Nobody is unhappier than the perpetual reactor. His center of emotional gravity is not rooted within himself, where it belongs, but in the world outside him. His spiritual temperature is always being raised or lowered by the social climate around him, and he is a mere creature at the mercy of these elements.

Praises give him a feeling of euphoria, which is fasle, because it does not last and it does not come from self-approval. Criticism depresses him more than it should, because it confirms his own secretly shaky opinion of himself. Snubs hurt him, and the merest suspicion of unpopularity in any quarter rouses him to bitterness.

A serenity of spirit cannot be achieved until we become the masters of our own action and attitudes. To let another determine whether we shall be rude or gracious, elated or depressed, is to relinquish control over our own personalities, which is ultimately all we possess. The only true possession is self-possession.

Author Unknown