Sunday, April 11, 2010

Share the Joy

Not long ago, I was at a lecture about sustainable farming. The speaker pointed out, perhaps somewhat indelicately,

“You’ve heard people say, you are what you eat. That’s not quite right. You are what you don’t defecate.”

That night I became keenly aware that our bodies have the wisdom to get rid of useless, harmful stuff. It's what they do. When we eat junk food and the like, our bodies put the junk in the toilet.  Our bodies are so wise. We must take care of them so they work as they're meant to work.

But what about our feelings, perceptions, impulses, consciousness?

We must deal with more than toxic “food” for the body. We must also rid ourselves of toxic material for the mind: harmful images, thoughts, music, and so on. Much of it will come via the Internet, television, and the radio.

How do we our detoxify this stuff? At what cost?

My guess is that we disassemble much of it in our dreams. We forget stuff, too. If we have a place in our homes for a meditation practice, perhaps it serves the heart much as the bathroom serves the body.

As a blogger, I’ve come to appreciate more and more the importance of lifting up the spirits of my readers. Blog friends have helped me learn this.

We have the responsibility to share the good, to, as steven at golden fish said in a comment on this blog recently, to “bring the greatest goodness i can into this world in whatever time i am given.”

Thich Nhat Hahn writes:

Writing is a deep practice. Even before we begin writing, during whatever we are doing—gardening or sweeping the floor—our book or essay is being written deep in our consciousness. To write a book, we must write with our whole life, not just during the moments when we are sitting at our desk. When writing a book or an article, we know that our words will affect many other people. We do not have the right just to express our own suffering if it brings suffering to others. Many books, poems, and songs take away our faith in life. You people today curl up in bed with their walkmen [iPods today] and listen to unwholesome music, songs that water seed of great sadness and agitation in them. when we practice Right View and Right Thinking, we will put all of our tapes and CDs that water only seeds of anguish into a box and not listen to them anymore. Filmmakers, musicians, and writers need to practice Right speech to help our society move again in the direction of peace, joy, and faith in the future.

—Thich Nhat Hahn,  The Heart of the Buddha’s Teaching, (Parallax Press, 1998) pg 83-84

Bobby McFerrin lifts spirits in this clip of Ave Maria. It sure lifted my spirits this rainy Sunday morning. If you've got four and a half minutes to cheer up your heart, I invite you to share the joy.


Lori ann said...

Hi Dan,

I couldn't agree more. I've always loved the image of watering our good thoughts. There is a Native American saying (Navajo) that I love, it is: Be careful of the words you speak, they create the world around you. Thank you for this post. It's raining here too.

Dan Gurney said...

Lori ann, thank you. I like that image, too. TNH uses it a lot. It helps bring out the similarity shared by work in the garden and working with our thoughts. Just as a gardener encourages and cultivates some plants and not others, so do we cultivate some thoughts and not others. I've been working especially on cutting out almost all media and news which I find to be almost uniformly discouraging and depressing.

Delwyn said...

Hi Dan

a lovely post again today, I enjoyed the Ave Maria - it gives me goosebumps...

I agree with you 1000% about the tenor of our life and also the tenor of our blogging.

When I began posting I looked around and sampled a number of popular blogs and made a resolution that I would endeavour to keep my blog within a circumscribed zone eliminating the negative, the griping, the too personal issues that I feel belong elsewhere and create a place that made me feel calm and grateful, and that may do the same for others and also one that inspired others to feel that wonder and awe in the very world right where they live...

Like you I don't watch TV, I prefer reading books and looking at beautiful blogs; communicating with their creators, and writing my own stories...

I have all my books packed away in the garage so am not sure if I have that particular Thich Nhat Hahn so will look for it at Amazon...

I hope that you have enjoyed your spring break...
Have a happy day

steven said...

dan thankyou for this post. it helped me answer a friend's question regarding the tone of a group that meets once a month nominally to discuss books but practically to complain about how awful their lives are. i sat in silence for the last get-together and was asked why. silence was the greatest goodness i could bring. adding to the mix of negativity would have served the wrong purpose. i remember when king crimson played a live concert many years ago, the drummer remained silent for one song and was given credit for the silence. his silence added something equal to the music that poured through the other three musicians!
on another subject but for some reason drawn forward by this posting, it might be time to look over past and present purposes in our blogs. delwyn reveals something here that i hadn't know before and yet which resonates so deeply with my own initial wishes. my own sense of prupose in writing and sharing images is evolving. i wonder about your own. have a lovely californian spring week mr. kindergarten. steven (mr. grade six)

Karena said...

Hi Dan, I love your site,the ideas and prose, very thought provoking. We all need more positive thoughts. Ave Maria is one of my favorirte songs.

I have an interview with Artist Robert Anders up on my site that is fascinating.

Art by Karena

Karena said...

Favorite and so emotionally charged when sung this way!

Paul C said...

Lifting the spirits of readers and celebrating the good is an excellent goal.

Dan Gurney said...

Hi, Delwyn. I'm so happy your back! I so like your energy in blogland.

I started out thinking this would be a good place to vent my spleen. But I don't think so anymore. Almost the opposite. Like TNH says, writing is a responsibility. We need to be very careful about what we say.

My pal, Bruce, loaned me this book. I have many others by TNH but this is my fav of all so far. I actually just ordered a copy through Amazon to add to my library. Our Society will be reading this and discussing it.

Thanks for asking about my spring break. It was really wonderful and refreshing, but I am looking forward to getting back to my wonderful, wonderful wonderful students.

Dan Gurney said...

Hi, mr. grade six!!

Yes, I've been thinking a lot about my reasons for blogging and what parameters I wish to work within. Your work as a blogger, steven, has been quite influential to mine.

I really really like the way you look for the beauty and the positive in the world. You know what? Your posts have transformed my experience in the world. I'm much more apt to look for AND FIND beauty in small things. So your work is changing the universe I'm experiencing.

And your work encourages me to keep my gripes and my complaints and my dismay to myself. I hope people who read my blog don't imagine that I'm a total Pollyanna. I find plenty about the world that discourages me. But why share it out and amplify it? To me, what needs to be done most urgently is this: to find and share joy, hope, and beauty, especially in nature.

Dan Gurney said...

Thanks, Paul. I'm guessing you know steven leak from where you live and the fact you like bikes. And, yes, lifting up seems more appropriate these days than knocking things down.

Reya Mellicker said...

I've seen Bobby McFerrin on a couple of blogs this weekend. That is so cool.

Here's what I think - I trust in a divine guidance that is much wiser than my thinking consciousness. I think about stuff, dream about it, whatever. But at the end of every day as well as first thing in the morning, I LET GO, trusting that the divine soul will help me hang on to what's nourishing and let go of what isn't.

We humans are so great at gathering energy, at holding on to thought forms, stuff, energy. Our challenge is in release. So I let it all go. What I need will stay close, what I don't, will vamoose. At least that's what I think.

Dan Gurney said...

Hi, Reya--

That's really cool that you trust in divine guidance.

I wish my mind could be like yours. My mind tends to hold onto some stuff that I wish it wouldn't. I agree: my greatest challenge is in the release. That being so, it's wiser for me to simply avoid going there in the first place. Hence I don't watch movies, news, etc. that just stirs me up. I'd rather take a walk, be the flowers, the trees.