Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Gratitude: Gifts from the Society

I feel deeply grateful for the gifts given at the Society of Friends meeting tonight.

  • Richard N. shared poems he wrote.
  • Marc shared a poem by St. Francis.
  • Eve shared a song and we sang it in a round.
  • Richard R. shared poems he wrote.
  • Debra shared her ears and loving heart.

Though my living room is not big, it felt as vast as the ocean when our meeting ended.

Thank you, good friends!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Gratitude: The Genius of Plants

Look, but don't touch!

Touch this plant and you'll get a wicked, itchy rash. It's poison oak, and around here it's just wakening from its winter sleep. I can't help but see its shiny red beauty.

Plants are amazing chemists. From soil, water, sunlight, and air they manufacture compounds that all the rest of life depends upon. Most of these compounds are useful to us in some way or another, either as food, medicine, or materials for clothing or shelter. How do plants know how to do these things? Their intelligence amazes me.

Kindergarten kids will tell me, we humans don't need plants; we can survive on animals. I guess they see us eating nothing but meat and cheese, wearing nothing but leather and fur, and living in leather wigwams. They forget that animals need to plants to eat and breathe. No plants, no animals.

Not Grateful

Here's something I'm NOT grateful for. On our walk on Saturday we passed this artificial tree. It gave me the creeps.

Do they have cell towers disguised as trees in other parts of the world?



Sunday, March 29, 2009

Gratitude March 29

This evening I'm grateful to:

Brad and Arlene for hosting their spring garden party down the street. I enjoyed chatting with our long-time friends and neighbors as we nibbled cookies and sipped tea and marveled at the beauty of the blossoming trees and flower beds surrounding us.

Mitch and Lisa Mann for hosting the Sayonara Party for the adult delegation from Takeo/Yamauchi Japan. I particularly enjoyed talking to Briana, Molly, and Kate. They're high schoolers now, but when they were little they were kindergarten students of mine. Briana, a freshman, plans to spend the summer in Tanzania. We had an engaging chat about Africa.

Sarah for our late afternoon walk between the garden party and the barbecue.

It was, yes, another day full of social events. I like days like that.

Gratitudes

I've been so busy with life, I've not had much chance to blog. Here I am working past midnight early on Sunday morning, trying to catch up on email on my gratitude blog. OK. I'm tired. So really quickly:

Friday: We spent more time with our Japanese friends from Takeo City. Dinner and a party afterwords at Councilman Wilson's house with live music. Grateful for sister city programs, citizen diplomacy, live music.

Saturday: We walked with about 30 townsfolk from Santa Rosa (we rode the bus) back to Sebastopol along the County bike trail. Grateful for perfect weather, pedestrian fellowship, and the first quiet evening at home with Sarah since last Sunday.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Gratititude: Dinner with Mayors

Tonight I had dinner in Sebastopol's local brew pub, Hopmonk Tavern, with the Mayor of Sebastopol and the Mayor of Takeo City in Japan.

The Mayor of Takeo City is in the middle of the photo. The head of the city council is on the left of this picture, and to the right, the Mayor's chief assistant. The hats they're wearing are a gift of our city, Sebastopol hats.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Gratitude: The Love Choir

Tonight's gratitude is for Sebastopol's Love Choir.

I "joined" the choir tonight and am blissed/blessed out.

Nothing I know quite compares to singing songs of love with about 80 other amateurs who sing for the love of singing.

On my way home, I sang the chorus to "Streets of Gold."

Let love lead, let your mercies unfold
Let your good deeds be your stronghold
Follow your heart and listen to your soul
Then you will walk down the streets of gold.


Link to the Love Choir: www.lovechoir.org

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Gratitude: Sutra Salon


Tonight I'm filled with gratitude for the Sutra Salon, a Buddhist Book Club that meets at Many Rivers Books and Tea a short walk from my house. Tonight we talked about the part of the Flower Ornament Scripture we've been reading this month. Everyone had something fascinating to share.

I'm particularly grateful to Walter, my 85 year young friend who inspired me with a story of overcoming doubt in his life after the meeting. Thank you, Walter!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Gratitude

Dancing is the only art of which we ourselves are the stuff.
– Rahel Varnhagen

Today I am grateful for:

  • Ren Brown who caught Sarah and me up on the dance moves we missed,
  • Mild spring weather,
  • Oatmeal by candlelight for dinner.



Sunday, March 22, 2009

Gratitude: Interested in the Seasons

At their petals' base
Backyard crab apple blossoms—
5-point star of space!

To be interested in the changing seasons is a happier state of mind than to be hopelessly in love with spring.

—George Santayana


This evening I feel grateful for:

  • a 2 hour walk along Santa Rosa Creek.
  • the Kalyana Mitta group I participated in this evening,
  • trusting that the new work I find will be even more fulfilling and rewarding than the work I'm leaving.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Gratitude: A walk on the Beach


Morning walk on beach.
Sandpipers, Sarah, and me.
A spring storm due soon.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Gratitude: Equinox and Mr. Rogers

Today, we who live in the northern hemisphere are having our first day of spring. The earth has swung round the sun so northern regions are tipped towards the sun, making our days longer than our nights.

Today's gratitude is titled "equinox" instead of "spring" because our spring implies "fall" for the southern half of the world.

I'm grateful to be in contact through my blog with friends in the southern hemisphere for whom our lengthening days mean exactly the opposite for them. It made our winter more bearable, somehow, to read about the summer activities of my friends in Australia and New Zealand. I hope to return the favor.

I'm grateful for Mr. Rogers (who was born on this day in 1928). Although I'm about as allergic to television as anyone I know, I think Mr. Rogers was a very rare bright spot in a wasteland. He conveys values you don't often see on television: acceptance of oneself, creativity, honoring one's emotional life, courtesy, friendship, sustained attention, slowing down, and kindness. He taught the same values on television that I've taught in my classroom. Simple stuff, valuable today because it's become so rare.



Sad to say, ask a kindergarten kid these days who Mr. Rogers is, and he'll look right through you.

Here's one more video. This one makes my eyes well up.



May you rest in bliss, Mr. Rogers!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Gratitude

Tonight, I'm grateful for:

LED flashlights,
Matches, candles, and the moon.
Stars that light the dark.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Mindful by Mary Oliver

Our world needs more poetry in it. Here's one for your consideration.

Mindful

by Mary Oliver

Every day
I see or hear
something
that more or less

kills me
with delight,
that leaves me
like a needle

in the haystack
of light.
It was what I was born for -
to look, to listen,

to lose myself
inside this soft world -
to instruct myself
over and over

in joy,
and acclamation.
Nor am I talking
about the exceptional,

the fearful, the dreadful,
the very extravagant -
but of the ordinary,
the common, the very drab,

the daily presentations.
Oh, good scholar,
I say to myself,
how can you help

but grow wise
with such teachings
as these -
the untrimmable light

of the world,
the ocean's shine,
the prayers that are made
out of grass?

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Gratitude

Gratitudes:

1. My Dharma Friends group for their companionship in the Dharma;

2. George Carlin for observing the impossibility of achieving peaceful ends with military means in this observation:
"Well, if crime fighters fight crime and fire fighters fight fire, what do freedom fighters fight? They never mention that part to us, do they?"
3. Rice, celery and onions. They fed me tonight.

(I've noticed that since starting this gratitude practice my appreciation, gratitude, and plain awareness of plants has sharpened. Plants seem so obviously the wisest, most generous, and noblest form of life.)

Monday, March 16, 2009

Come by Here

When I was a kid, my family went to a church family camp in the mountains.

We'd sing spirituals at the campfire. It felt good to sing under the trees and stars, faces warmed by the glow of the fire, backs chilled by the darkness.

Anyway, this video gives me a similar feeling. Click on it to feel better.

Positive Pause

I think you'll be glad you did.

Again

I lifted this poem from Pal Alden's blog, Stream of Consciousness. He didn't write it; he found it on the internet and passed it along, same as me.

Again

If I had my children to raise all over again,

I'd finger-paint more, and point the fingers less.

I would do less correcting and more connecting.

I'd take my eyes off my watch, and watch with my eyes.

I would care to know less and know to care more.

I'd take more hikes and fly more kites.

I'd stop playing serious, and seriously play.

I would run through more fields and gaze at more stars.

I'd do more hugging and less tugging.

I'd build self-esteem first, and the house later.

I would be firm less often, and affirm much more.

I'd teach less about the love of power,

And more about the power of love.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Gratitude

Tonight elements that added elegance and pleasure to our dinner at home:
  • Tommy Dorsey's sweet trombone and his big band,
  • Beeswax and the candles made from it,
  • Asparagus, carrots, and cauliflower.
Slow down, and the simplest things afford us great pleasure.

Gratitude: Mike and Elizabeth

Mike and me on the Kortum trail.

My long-time pal Mike and I took a walk along the Sonoma Coast today. We have a lot in common: we've both been married forever, we've both been elementary school teachers forever, we met sailing, we both love hiking, kayaking, biking. We both filed for conscientious objector status, and Mike actually served it out (I managed to avoid Vietnam by staying in college!) We met, gee, in 1979, sailing Lasers. If Alden lived 'round here, there'd be three of us.


Elizabeth called me this morning from Boston where she's visiting her best friend and looking over the city as a possible city in which to do her medical residency. We chatted over the phone for most of an hour.

So tonight, I'm grateful for Mike and Elizabeth.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

The Atlantic on the Arctic

In the November, 2008 Atlantic Monthly's map feature, I ran across a "Sea Change" about changes in the Arctic. It startled me. Here's one excerpt:

BEFORE OUR EYES, the Arctic is changing from an impenetrable wasteland into an oceanic crossroads. The polar ice cap has lost up to half its thickness near the North Pole in just the past six years and may have passed a tipping point; it is now shrinking at more than three times the rate predicted by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change only four years ago. At the current pace, the Arctic may well be ice-free in summer by 2013.


You'd think this story would crowd Miley Cyrus right off the front pages, but I'm afraid that in the judgment of modern American newsroom editors, her frosty smile prevails over the Arctic Ice Cap. Someone on the Atlantic Monthly seems to have enough courage to report this story. I used to subscribe to the Atlantic Monthly. Maybe I'll resubscribe.

A friend suggested that if the worldwide economic meltdown damps down economic activities enough to stem the polar meltdowns, then perhaps this bitter medicine will be good for us. Meanwhile, I think we kindergarten teachers are going to have to come up with a new story about where Santa Claus lives:

The fabled Northwest Passage opened this summer for the second time in history—and the second year in a row. The Northeast passage (also called the Northern Sea Route) over Eurasia first fully opened to shipping in 2005; shipping is already extensive within that region, particularly in the Barents Sea. Yet both routes, sought by ancient mariners, are likely to be used for only a few years. By 2025, if not before, most ships in the Arctic will likely sail straight over the pole avoiding coastal-state jurisdictions and shaving still more miles off their journeys. Much of the world's international shipping will reorient itself as a result.



Here's a link to the online version of the article: Sea Change. If you click over there, you'll be able to see a slide show related to this topic.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Gratitude

Friday the 13th is, I know, thought to be unlucky.

But I had a good day.

My student teacher, Amanda Brice, took over my class so that I could complete the report cards. She (and the students) had a wonderful day painting Starry Night (as inspired by Van Gogh), went on a Weegee Hunt, made felt people, did PE and snack, and generally just had a fine time.

On the blog, here, a new visitor, Vickie, left a comment about a website that I had forgotten about but is, I think, worth a visit, Mindful Parent. They've got meditations, verses, podcasts, and a newsletter, all of it designed to help us stay in the moment and connected to the children in our lives. Thank you Vickie!

My wife, Sarah, was appointed as the alternate representative for our region to the statewide California Coastal Commission, a very powerful statewide planning and land-use agency governing coastal property. She spent the day in Monterey, attending her first meeting. She's out of town this weekend at a law review class, leaving me home to a quiet house.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Seeing the Needs under Feelings

In our Non Violent Communication class tonight, we practiced seeing the needs that underlie feelings. When needs go unmet, negative feelings arise; when met, feelings are positive.

Knowing this about feelings provides a useful way to get "unstuck" when feelings get sticky.

Look for unmet needs under negative feelings and ask what might be done to meet them.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Gratitude

Inclining one's mind to what is going well, going right, helps me resist the human tendency to take for granted the countless miracles that occur every second.

I'm grateful to:

  • My high school English teachers, especially Mr. Tanner, who took the trouble to teach me—a somewhat slow, reluctant, and lazy student—what they could about writing;
  • My garden for growing so much kale and collard greens;
  • My gratitude buddies in cyberspace who post (or email) their gratitudes back. You're like angels. Wait. Maybe you ARE angels.
And a gajillion other things and people, too.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Gratitude: Walk, Dinner, Dessert

This evening, I feel grateful:

  • that my daughter enjoyed serving as a surgeon's apprentice today in medical school (this sort of thing amazes me, as I'm squeamish);
  • that my student teacher, who is taking over my class, is having a good time doing it;
  • that Sarah and I can take a walk that includes a very good dinner, excellent ice cream, and ends up in our quiet house.
And for this practice of gratitude that seems somehow to help me dust off my knees and move along.

Inspiring Dancer

They say that dancing can keep you youthful.

If there is better evidence of that statement than the video you see below, I'm not aware of it.

Check this old gal out! Could she really be 80 years young?

Monday, March 9, 2009

Gratitude: Kleenex

Been sick (with a cold) all day, grateful for:

  • Kleenex
  • Echinacea
  • Herbal teas

And the opportunity to catch up on bills and such at home.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Gratitude: Carfree Day

Sarah and I love days when we don't get into any car. Today was one. We walked to get some special soap and toothpaste, and later walked to dinner at Peter Lowell's. Since we live in town, we don't have far to go, and that's a good thing, because I'm down with a cold. In between, some time for blogging. Quiet day. Another, tomorrow, too. Thank goodness for echinacea.

The Extinction of Desire

At our most recent Society of Friends meeting we contemplated Chapter 19 of the Dhammapada which ends with the following statement:

“Do not be confident about the way you are living as long as you have not yet attained the extinction of desire.”



It’s a resounding conclusion to the chapter. When it was my turn to comment, I said that I thought this chapter hinged on that final statement. I hadn’t always held that opinion.

I remember the first time I read it. I felt incredulous. Contrary to the teaching of the Buddha, I was not at all confident that I should personally aspire to the extinction of desire in my life. I even wondered, “Did the Buddha really mean to say that? How can desire be so bad? Aren’t there forms of desire that are good? Maybe this is a faulty translation.”

Several members of our group seemed to have a similar response. We got out other translations of the Dhammapada. One used “self will” in the place of “desire” and some of us seemed more comfortable with that. But I’ve read the message enough times to know that the Buddha meant what he said. I tried to illustrate the point with a little exercise.

“Vividly imagine a moment of complete happiness with every need well met. Imagine that there is no way you can make this moment more perfect.” I paused to let our imaginations work. “Now think: what is missing from this imaginary moment?” I paused again, and then answered my own question. “What is missing is desire.”

Desire arises as a feeling of ill will towards the present moment. Desire is the wish to change the way things are.”

As luck would have it, the next day, as I was doing my daily devotional readings, I ran across the following passage in the Sutta Nipata;

“The removal of desire and passion for pleasant things, seen heard, or cognized is the sure path for the realization of Nirvana. Understanding this, those who are mindful have attained this tranquility of complete Nirvana in this immediate life. They are calmed forever. They have crossed the attachment in this world.”


Just a little later in the same Sutta, the Buddha, responding to Todeyya’s questions states:

“The wise, Todeyya,” said the Buddha, “do not have desires, nor do they need to learn. They are wishless, they have wisdom, and you can recognize them because they are of nothing: they are not hanging on to pleasure or to being.”


One could find other places where the Buddha makes this same point. I just happened to come across these two very soon after our discussion last Tuesday night. They drive the point home:

Yes, the Buddha does mean that we should aspire to achieve the extinction of desire.

Why is it so hard for us to understand this teaching?

Partly, I think, it is a result of our life and times.

Living, as we do, in a capitalist society, we are subjected to relentless advertisements that skillfully stimulate desires. We are led to believe—against our direct experience—that gratifying desires is a reliable way to find lasting happiness. So it is not surprising that this message from the Dhammapada does not go down easily.

True, if there were absolutely no satisfaction to be found in the gratification of desires, the wheels would immediately come off of our capitalistic caravan, advertisers or no advertisers. There is, I admit, at least temporary satisfaction and happiness to be had from gratifying desires.

It is worth considering, though, that sometimes the gratification of desire brings unhappiness. Whether one reaps happiness or unhappiness depends at least partly upon the object of desire. If what one desires is unwholesome, then the fulfillment of that desire will reliably produce unhappiness.

For example, if a person trying to lose weight desires a jumbo ice cream sundae and fulfills that desire, its gratification will probably result in fleeting satisfaction followed by lingering regret.

If we desire something wholesome, its fulfillment may produce something closer to happiness. For example, if one desires to attend a two-month meditation retreat, the fulfillment of that desire is likely to result in new and deeper understanding, and perhaps even fleeting moments of tranquility.

It is not easy for me to understand why I should try to extinguish my desire for wholesome activities. But my faith in the Buddha’s teaching leads me to suspect that I’m still not yet capable of understanding this.

For now, it is enough to throw a little water on the desire to have seconds on dessert.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Thoreau's Mug


Son Ted left this mug with me while he's away in Africa.
We think he bought it at the Isla Vista Food Co-op.
Maybe it helped give him the courage he needed to join the Peace Corps and head off for a rural village in Togo.

Since he left last September I've been using it for my tea, and contemplating the message on it. Daughter Elizabeth has been living its message for as long as we can remember. My wife, too.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Apples to Vineyards

A dead orchard on my drive home today.


When we moved to Sebastopol in 1979 our town was surrounded by apple orchards. We still celebrate apple blossom time each April with a festival and parade named in honor of the now almost non-existent apple industry. In less than 30 years most of our apple trees have been chopped down to make way for vineyards. This orchard fell recently.

What does it say about our society that so many landowners must convert their farms from food production to alcohol production? Probably it's simply evidence that most of us are willing to spend more money on wine than on applesauce.

I'm probably guilty, too, even though I'm pretty close to a teetotaler. When I see a scene like this, I feel ashamed.

I just put applesauce on the grocery list.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Ryonen's Death Poem

Sixth-six times have these eyes beheld the changing scene of autumn.
I have said enough about moonlight,
Ask no more.
Only listen to the voice of pines and cedars when no wind stirs.


—Ryonen

Gratitude


I pulled over on the drive home from school today to take this picture. I live about 7.5 miles from the school where I teach and it can be quite a beautiful trip.

Six errands later, I was home to make dinner in time for us to get to our class in Non Violent Communication. As is our habit after class, we had dessert at the Starlight, usually a cozy little restaurant housed in a railroad dining car parked more or less permanently on the eastern edge of Sebastopol.

Tonight the atmosphere of the restaurant was strongly scented by a loud conversation between a young man and woman on their third date. They seemed to be getting to know each other well enough over a bottle of wine to take their relationship to "the next level." It was exactly the sort of conversation one wishes NOT to overhear. We didn't linger.

Tonight I am grateful for:

  • The work of Judith Martin in the service of Miss Manners.
  • A sky filled with interesting clouds.
  • Learning the skills of self-empathy.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Gratitude: Whine Country

Okay, this wasn't the best of days for me. I'm not feeling immediately grateful. Reviewing the day, these events come most immediately to mind (call the whaamubulance!):

My neck aches. I wonder if blogging is getting out-of-control. At lunch, one of the kids in kindergarten did #2 in his pants. We had a longish staff meeting; I was the only male in a room of 15 or staffers; I felt lonely, frankly. There was rather disappointing news waiting for my wife on the answering machine when I got home. Sniffles and a headache suggest to me that I may be coming down with a virus that's been going around....

Grateful? Well, let's see...I'll have to dig a bit.

  • the Awakening Joy course materials for March arrived in my email box;
  • a package from LLBean arrived today;
  • there's aspirin for my headache.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Gratitude: A Wife Who Listens

This evening, I'm grateful to have a wife who listens.

Our days ended at about 9:30. Mine with the Society of Friends, hers with the City Council. When she got home we made some herbal tea and sat by the fire and talked till just a minute ago, about 90 minutes sharing the news of the day and our thoughts about the future.

Now, time for bed.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Gratitude: Green Soup


This evening I'm grateful three times over:

Numero Uno:

Elizabeth, who started a new rotation in her medical school career: surgery. She's enjoying/enduring a significant snowstorm in New York City. They have 15 boxes of cereal for the next 18 weeks. They're prepared!



Numero Dos:

Green Soup. "Green soup" is the name that daughter Elizabeth gave to our trusty recipe for a simple, healthy meal. We used to call it "zucchini soup" after Karin Grobe's recipe.

We discovered you don't need zucchinis. You don't even need a recipe. Just chop up whatever aging veggies you've got in your house, throw them in the cast iron pot with some water and cook till tender. Ladle the cooked veggies and their broth into the blender and blend until smooth. The resulting soup is thick, seemingly creamy, luscious, and healthy as all get out. Sprinkle on some real (or, in my case, faux) cheese.

Serve with steamed yams and you're good to go. Tonight's green soup was made from onions, turnips, turnip greens, celery, broccoli, bok choy, spinach, and kale, all of it organic, all of it wilted, limp, or languishing from waiting too long for us to cook them, and most of it from Farmer Scott. Once cooked up into soup, though these veggies became ambrosia.



Numero Tres:

My little camera that can take videos. Technology is almost too good. If you're interested in kindergarten education you can see a little video I took this afternoon of a mid-year kindergarten assessment over on my Soundabet blog. Here you go: Soundabet.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

March 1, 2009 Gratitude

This evening I feel grateful to my son Ted for calling us this evening with his news from Togo. This past week went well. About 40 students showed up at his English class on Tuesday even though it was Market Day. He seems to like teaching and to be very good at it. Ted seemed to be much happier this week.

Friends Bill and Laurie Mattinson for their company this evening. Glad to see Bill on the mend.

A day of rain and catching up.

Daily Contemplation #4: The Contemplations for Everyone


In previous posts I have offered some Daily Contemplations for your consideration.

They were:

  • Kindness Contemplation
  • Warming the Heart
  • Metta

Today I want to share a fourth contemplation. This one, culled from the Buddha's Numerical Discourses and added to by my teacher, is called The Contemplations for Everyone. The contemplation I use goes like this:

Contemplations for Everyone


I take this moment to recall:

I am of a nature to grow old.
I am of a nature to become ill.
I am of a nature to die.
I am of a nature be separated from all
that I hold dear.
I am the heir of my own deeds.
I am of a nature to become enlightened.

I am not the only one to grow old;
All will grow old.
I am not the only one to become ill;
All will become ill.
I am not the only one to die;
All will die.
I am not the only one
who must be separated from all that I hold dear;
All must be separated from all that they hold dear.
I am not the only heir of my own deeds;
All are heirs of their own deeds.
I am not the only one to become enlightened;
All will become enlightened.

Knowing this, the way appears and the path emerges.

Commentary

My teacher was once a prison chaplain in an institution for the criminally insane. He tried to teach the patients there how to meditate. Didn't work to well. So he tried teaching this contemplation, since, after all, the Buddha said it was a contemplation for everyone. Everyone would include the insane, too, right. To my teacher's satisfaction, the contemplation proved helpful to the patients he served.

Common to Other Traditions

When I first ran across this contemplation, I thought that it was unique to Buddhism. Not so.
I've since learned that very similar contemplations were taught in other traditions. Most recently, I've learned that Greek and Roman philosophers recommended contemplations like this.

The Paradox of Happiness

At first glance, these contemplations would seem to be depressing. "Who would want to start their day thinking about the inevitability of old age, sickness, and death?" I thought. "I'm just not up to that. It would wreck my day. My life's hard enough as it is!" In spite of my initial resistance to this contemplation, I gave it a try. (I credit my willingness to suspend my doubts to my faith in the Buddha's teachings.)

I discovered almost immediately that contrary to ruining my day, these contemplations paved the way to moments of great joy. Paradoxically, contemplating the fact that everything I hold dear is impermanent helped me to appreciate, savor, and, yes, love the world just as it is, even as it ages, rots, decays, and renews itself without end.

Inclusion of Karma

The fifth component of the contemplation includes the idea of reaping what one sows. Like many others who came of age with me in the late sixties and early seventies, I developed fairly strong allergies to moral directives.

Older and grayer now, I see that moral behavior is essential to happiness. Despite what advertisers tell us, we cannot buy enough stuff to be happy. Happiness is not relative; it's relational. The more reliable, robust, and resilient your relationships with friends, family and community, the happier you're likely to be.

To me ethical behavior implies at least the following: not to harm other living beings, not stealing, not lying, not being angry, not allowing your mindfulheart to become clouded with intoxicants, and not using sexuality in ways that might cause anyone to suffer.

Ethical behavior means to me at a minimum these ways of being:
  • protective of life,
  • generous,
  • truthful,
  • kind,
  • sober, and
  • faithful to your mate
So, I commend to you this contemplation. Give it a try and let me know how it works for you.