Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Your First Adventure

The following video clip is about a quarter hour long. Though it is without words, I found it utterly captivating. I can find no words to do it justice.

Find 15 minutes. See for yourself.

Saturday, November 26, 2011


Here's a video clip that Steven Leak from The Golden Fish passed along my way. It shows an impressive flight of starlings over the Shannon River in Ireland. It happened that soon after viewing this video we saw a very similar (though much smaller) flight of starlings over a vineyard not far from our house.

Murmuration from Sophie Windsor Clive on Vimeo.

This video appears on where you'll find an explanation of it.

It is pretty impressive.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Power of Nonviolence

Forty plus years ago, I participated in a number of nonviolent anti-Vietnam war protests at Berkeley. I was among those students who were tear gassed. Had my generation of protesters been as disciplined and as non-violent as these UC Davis students who refused to disperse Friday, I believe our efforts would have been far more successful. I believe that the Vietnam war would have ended much sooner—sparing countless lives. The power of nonviolence is real. If you haven’t already seen the video of John Pike pepper spraying non-violent protesters, you can find it here. I found it quite upsetting to watch, especially the first part. I strongly encourage you to watch this clip all the way to the end. The clip is about eight and a half minutes long. You won’t want to miss the final 90 seconds. It shows the overwhelming power of disciplined nonviolence.


I’m going to guess that many Mindful Heart readers have yet to see this second clip of an assembly of students as the UC Davis Chancellor walks to her car. You see a stunning instance of the deafening power of non-violence.


Two further notes: 

I understand that students pay approximately $12,000 each year in tuition. It’s now time to review and reduce the pay of police. According to the Sacramento Bee, last year Police lieutenant, John Pike, was paid—I cannot say he earned—a salary of about $110,000. His salary is a lot higher than those offered to instructors at UC Davis. This in unconscionable. His salary is, in my opinion, well out of proportion to his contribution to the education of the students who pay his salary.

Note Two
Under California law, the use of pepper spray in California is illegal unless used in self defense. There is NO exception in the law for police. This officer needs to face trial for this crime, along with the others who conspired to commit this assault against the protesters.  The District Attorney should do jail time if he refuses to prosecute. California Penal Code Section 12403.7 (a) (8) (g) Any person who uses tear gas or tear gas weapons except in self-defense is guilty of a public offense and is punishable by imprisonment in a state prison for 16 months, or two or three years or in a county jail not to exceed one year or by a fine not to exceed one thousand dollars ($1,000), or by both the fine and imprisonment, except that, if the use is against a peace officer, as defined in Chapter 4.5 (commencing with Section 830) of Title 3 of Part 2, engaged in the performance of his or her official duties and the person

Monday, November 14, 2011

A Message of Hope

Here's a TED talk, 10 minutes long, that might fill you with optimism for our future. Perhaps the ideas in this video can zing around the Internet and occupy our imaginations (and Occupy Movement discussions—it's always best to talk face to face) so we can get our priorities straight.

I think many others feel—as I do—keen frustration that the "leaders" of our country seem to serve so faithfully the interests of the already rich and powerful instead of the commoners like everyone I know.

Watch this TED talk and see what you think.

Do you agree we can do better than building more nuclear power plants?

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Live Simply

Here is a heart-felt message from a young man....

Saturday, November 5, 2011

(I am large, I contain multitudes.)**

As a kid growing up in California in the fifties and sixties I came to believe that the “me” I called Dan Gurney was separate from everything outside of my skin. I saw my situation as just another “Me versus the World” drama.
Inside I thought I was totally germ-free. To stay healthy I thought I needed to follow the rules of general hygiene and keep my environment as close to germ-free as possible. 
Image credit:
Since then I have gradually become aware that my boyhood ideas were quite incomplete. In the past several months I have come across several articles that make the point that most of the cells inside my skin aren’t even human cells. 
For example, the California Monthly (a journal that comes to me from my alma mater, U.C. Berkeley) recently featured an piece titled “The Teeming Metropolis of You” by Brendan Buhler that begins:

You are mostly not you.That is to say that 90 percent of the cells residing in your body are not human cells, they are microbes. Viewed from the perspective of most of its inhabitants, your body is not so much the temple and vessel of the human soul as it is a complex and ambulatory feeding mechanism for a methane reactor in your small intestine.This is the kind of information microbiologists like to share at dinner parties....
My body, the one that I walk around in every day, could be regarded, quite reasonably, as a complex community of living microbes. 
From this perspective, we look after multitudes of sentient beings when we look after our bodies and minds skillfully, you know, according to the advice grandpa (hopefully) taught you: getting enough rest, taking regular exercise, eating nutritious food and perhaps most important, cultivating a warm heart, a forgiving nature, and a contented outlook. 
For me, knowing all this (I am large, I contain multitudes) is a happy twist on the Mahayana Bodhisattva vow to save all sentient beings. 

**By the way, the title for this post comes from Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass. I do not believe Walt was thinking about the microbes in his small intestine when he wrote that line.
Link to the article in California Monthly, The Teeming Metropolis of You