Saturday, February 26, 2011

Ponderisms

I used to eat a lot of natural foods until I learned that most people die of natural causes.

Garden Rule: When weeding, the best way to make sure you are removing a weed and not a valuable plant is to pull on it. If it comes out of the ground easily, it is a valuable plant.If it is hard to pull out, and grows back anyway, it was a weed.

The easiest way to find something lost around the house is to buy a replacement.

Never take life seriously. Nobody gets out alive anyway.

Have you noticed since everyone has a camcorder these days no one talks about seeing UFOs like they used to?

In the 60's, people took acid to make the world weird. Now the world is weird and people take Prozac to make it normal.

How is it one careless match can start a forest fire, but it takes a whole box to start a campfire?

Who was the first person to look at a cow and say, "I think I'll squeeze these dangly things here and drink whatever comes out?"

Who was the first person to say, "See that chicken there? I'm gonna eat the next thing that comes outta its butt."

If Jimmy cracks corn and no one cares, why is there a song about him?

Why does your OB-GYN leave the room when you get undressed if he's going to look up there anyway?

Do illiterate people get the full effect of Alphabet Soup?

Why doesn't glue stick to the inside of the bottle?

Do you ever wonder why you even came to this website in the first place?
Big mistake!! Huge!! Still!!

Friday, February 25, 2011

In the Garden


In each century since the beginning of the world wonderful things have been discovered. In the last century more amazing things were found out than in any century before. In this new century hundreds of things still more astounding will be brought to light. At first people refuse to believe that a strange new thing can be done, then they begin to hope it can be done, then they see it can be done—then it is done and all the world wonders why it was not done centuries ago. One of the new things people began to find out in the last century was that thoughts—just mere thoughts—are as powerful as electric batteries—as good for one as sunlight is, or as bad for one as poison. To let a sad thought or a bad one get into your mind is as dangerous as letting a scarlet fever germ get into your body. If you let it stay there after it has got in you may never get over it as long as you live.

So long as Mistress Mary's mind was full of disagreeable thoughts about her dislikes and sour opinions of people and her determination not to be pleased by or interested in anything, she was a yellow-faced, sickly, bored and wretched child. Circumstances, however, were very kind to her, though she was not at all aware of it. They began to push her about for her own good. When her mind gradually filled itself with robins, and moorland cottages crowded with children, with queer crabbed old gardeners and common little Yorkshire housemaids, with springtime and with secret gardens coming alive day by day, and also with a moor boy and his "creatures," there was no room left for the disagreeable thoughts which affected her liver and her digestion and made her yellow and tired.

So long as Colin shut himself up in his room and thought only of his fears and weakness and his detestation of people who looked at him and reflected hourly on humps and early death, he was a hysterical half-crazy little hypochondriac who knew nothing of the sunshine and the spring and also did not know that he could get well and could stand upon his feet if he tried to do it. When new beautiful thoughts began to push out the old hideous ones, life began to come back to him, his blood ran healthily through his veins and strength poured into him like a flood. His scientific experiment was quite practical and simple and there was nothing weird about it at all. Much more surprising things can happen to any one who, when a disagreeable or discouraged thought comes into his mind, just has the sense to remember in time and push it out by putting in an agreeable determinedly courageous one. Two things cannot be in one place.

"Where, you tend a rose, my lad,
A thistle cannot grow."

While the secret garden was coming alive and two children were coming alive with it, there was a man wandering about certain far-away beautiful places in the Norwegian fiords and the valleys and mountains of Switzerland and he was a man who for ten years had kept his mind filled with dark and heart-broken thinking. He had not been courageous; he had never tried to put any other thoughts in the place of the dark ones. He had wandered by blue lakes and thought them; he had lain on mountain-sides with sheets of deep blue gentians blooming all about him and flower breaths filling all the air and he had thought them. A terrible sorrow had fallen upon him when he had been happy and he had let his soul fill itself with blackness and had refused obstinately to allow any rift of light to pierce through. He had forgotten and deserted his home and his duties. When he traveled about, darkness so brooded over him that the sight of him was a wrong done to other people because it was as if he poisoned the air about him with gloom. Most strangers thought he must be either half mad or a man with some hidden crime on his soul. He, was a tall man with a drawn face and crooked shoulders and the name he always entered on hotel registers was, "Archibald Craven, Misselthwaite Manor, Yorkshire, England."

He had traveled far and wide since the day he saw Mistress Mary in his study and told her she might have her "bit of earth." He had been in the most beautiful places in Europe, though he had remained nowhere more than a few days. He had chosen the quietest and remotest spots. He had been on the tops of mountains whose heads were in the clouds and had looked down on other mountains when the sun rose and touched them with such light as made it seem as if the world were just being born.

But the light had never seemed to touch himself until one day when he realized that for the first time in ten years a strange thing had happened. He was in a wonderful valley in the Austrian Tyrol and he had been walking alone through such beauty as might have lifted, any man's soul out of shadow. He had walked a long way and it had not lifted his. But at last he had felt tired and had thrown himself down to rest on a carpet of moss by a stream. It was a clear little stream which ran quite merrily along on its narrow way through the luscious damp greenness. Sometimes it made a sound rather like very low laughter as it bubbled over and round stones. He saw birds come and dip their heads to drink in it and then flick their wings and fly away. It seemed like a thing alive and yet its tiny voice made the stillness seem deeper. The valley was very, very still.

As he sat gazing into the clear running of the water, Archibald Craven gradually felt his mind and body both grow quiet, as quiet as the valley itself. He wondered if he were going to sleep, but he was not. He sat and gazed at the sunlit water and his eyes began to see things growing at its edge. There was one lovely mass of blue forget-me-nots growing so close to the stream that its leaves were wet and at these he found himself looking as he remembered he had looked at such things years ago. He was actually thinking tenderly how lovely it was and what wonders of blue its hundreds of little blossoms were. He did not know that just that simple thought was slowly filling his mind—filling and filling it until other things were softly pushed aside. It was as if a sweet clear spring had begun to rise in a stagnant pool and had risen and risen until at last it swept the dark water away. But of course he did not think of this himself. He only knew that the valley seemed to grow quieter and quieter as he sat and stared at the bright delicate blueness. He did not know how long he sat there or what was happening to him, but at last he moved as if he were awakening and he got up slowly and stood on the moss carpet, drawing a long, deep, soft breath and wondering at himself. Something seemed to have been unbound and released in him, very quietly.

"What is it?" he said, almost in a whisper, and he passed his hand over his forehead. "I almost feel as if—I were alive!"

I do not know enough about the wonderfulness of undiscovered things to be able to explain how this had happened to him. Neither does any one else yet. He did not understand at all himself—but he remembered this strange hour months afterward when he was at Misselthwaite again and he found out quite by accident that on this very day Colin had cried out as he went into the secret garden:

"I am going to live forever and ever and ever!"

The singular calmness remained with him the rest of the evening and he slept a new reposeful sleep; but it was not with him very long. He did not know that it could be kept. By the next night he had opened the doors wide to his dark thoughts and they had come trooping and rushing back. He left the valley and went on his wandering way again. But, strange as it seemed to him, there were minutes—sometimes half-hours—when, without his knowing why, the black burden seemed to lift itself again and he knew he was a living man and not a dead one. Slowly—slowly—for no reason that he knew of—he was "coming alive" with the garden....


From: The Secret Garden, Frances Hodgson Burnett, Chapter 27

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Log Off Warning


I got this error message today...
I didn't know what to do!

Then I got this message in my inbox!


Yowsers!
So I sent this reply:


 

Here's a thought!

Wouldn't I be nice if whenever we messed up our life
we could simply press 'Ctr Alt Delete' and start all over?

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

More toothbrush pictures!


Looks like some people don't know where a toothbrush is actually supposed to go!



Except for maybe Darth Vader here...
He just doesn't have...
well... teeth!

Brushing Some Big Teeth!

While researching photos for the post about how internet games are taking over - I found these!
Aren't they fun?



Speaking of Games

That one guy looks kind of worried!

Games Are Taking Over!

From CNN we have this interesting and creepy interview with Jesse Schell, a game designer and professor of Carnegie Mellon University. It's all about why games will take over our lives - there are even plans for a game in your toothbrush! Gamepocalypse is fast approaching!! Here's the article:

(CNN) -- If you think an electric toothbrush is high-tech, wait until you hear about the Internet-enabled version. Jesse Schell, a game designer and Carnegie Mellon University professor, says toothbrushes will be hooked-up with Wi-Fi Internet connections within five years.

The point? If the entire Internet knows how often you brush your teeth and for how long, there's an incentive to brush more often.

Toothbrush makers could offer rewards for frequent brushers, too. Say you brush your teeth twice each day for three months. A company like Crest or Procter & Gamble could reward you with coupons for more toothbrushes, since your well-used bristles would probably be frayed by then.

Schell says dental hygiene -- and, really, just about everything else -- will become a game. He thinks the "gamepocalypse," the moment when everything in our lives becomes a game, is coming soon -- if it's not already here.

The Web-connected toothbrush is just one example Schell touched on during a recent interview. Here's an edited transcript:

CNN: You've said games are showing up all over the place. What do you mean by that, exactly?

In short, we already see games creeping into our everyday lives in all kinds of funny ways. You go to Starbucks, and you get points if you have a Starbucks card. And, in fact, they have a whole leveling system. The more times you visit, the more you move from level green up to gold level, with special privileges and free soy milk.

Already, we have this whole system of economies floating around out there. And at the same time, we have all these technologies showing up that are allowing us to track new things, things that we couldn't do before.

CNN: What are we tracking now that we couldn't before?

A new example that's kind of a popular one is this new game Foursquare, which is a game that works off of the GPS in your phone.

We normally think, 'Oh, the GPS in my phone is useful in case I need to get directions to somewhere.' But there's no reason that your GPS can't track your location all the time. And, in fact, why not make a game of it?

So in the world of Foursquare, you get territory points based on all the places you visit. If you are the person who visits a place more than anyone else, you can become the mayor of that place, unless someone else visits it more than you, and then they take over the mayorship of the place.

New video gaming systems are coming out that track every joint of your body. It's basically going to become a normal thing for us to allow Microsoft to put a three-dimensional camera on top of your television set looking at you, which sounds like a Big Brother scenario if ever I heard one, but, still, it's what we're going to allow.

CNN: Do you think this will go so far that we'll be living a game?

I think people will find a great deal of their lives co-opted by games, sort of like how we saw advertising co-opt huge amounts of our lives in the 20th century.

CNN: Has it already happened?

I jokingly call this convergence of games into reality the "Gamepocalypse": the moment when every moment of life is actually a game. So many people have been interested in the topic that I made a blog called Gamepocalypse Now.

Do you know about this Green Goose product that you snap onto your bicycle and it tracks how much you ride ... and it has a system of rewards based on how much gas you save?

There's a lot of these things that are starting to happen now, and I think we're going to see more and more of them coming together.

CNN: What's going to happen next?

I think camera-based technology and tracking is going to be one of the things, in the next 10 years, we're going to see a lot of evolution in.

The idea of cheap little cameras and disposable cameras are going to become fairly normal. And when you combine that with the fact that we're getting used to touch-based interfaces and gesture-based interfaces, I think we're going to see these cameras in a lot of places for interacting with a lot of things.

You've got Google Goggles, where you take a picture of like anything, and it will tell you what it is. We haven't really started to make games with that yet, but I think we will start to.

And if you look at the new Nintendo DSi, which is their newest handheld, it has two cameras on it, which at first seemed kind of crazy to people, but the idea is you have one camera that faces out into the world and one that faces you the user, so it can look at your face and study your face.

No one's quite figured out exactly what that's for yet.

CNN: What do you think it's for?

I presume they want to go toward some facial tracking. They want to have games that involve tracking your face.

I think one of the things we'll start to see is common is, massively multiplayer online games like World of Warcraft will start to have a camera on your face, and then they'll map your facial expression to your avatar.

That's technologically not very difficult, and I think the potential for meaningful emotional expression and communication is significant there.

CNN: Will that change our everyday lives?

Anybody who has a product that can sense that the product is being used ... they're going to want to create motivations for you to use the product.

So fundamentally, they're going to make games out of it, because games are reward-based systems that motivate us to do things.

In fact, Oral-B is like halfway there. They already have a toothbrush that senses when you're brushing your teeth. And every 30 seconds, it beeps, meaning it's time now to change to a different corner of your mouth. So you do the four quadrants of your mouth, and when you've done all four, then it does a little special beep, and a happy face appears. And you don't get the happy face, you get a sad face, if you don't finishing brushing your teeth properly.

Now, that doesn't connect to the Internet yet, but, you know, it's about five seconds from connecting to the Internet. They already have a bathroom scale that uses Wi-Fi and connects to the Internet, so that every time you weigh yourself, it uploads it to a database so you can track your weight over time. You can configure it to automatically tweet your weight, in case you want that.

CNN: Is that supposed to be fun, or beneficial, for the consumer?

It depends on the product. If it's a product that gets you to brush your teeth more, or what if it not only it gets you to brush your teeth, but you floss?

That sounds health-giving. But if you look at people who make soda pop, they're going to try to incentivize you to do things that are less healthy. I hate to think about the systems the cigarette companies are going to come up with in order to incentivize people.

Whether it's fun is going to be important, because it's going to be competition. The 21st century is going to be this war for the attention of humanity.

CNN: Do you see a downside to people being watched and tracked all the time?

We all have choices to make about what aspects of our privacy we want to give away. We're already making choices like that all the time.

Anybody who uses Gmail has decided, "Yeah, I think it's OK for a major corporation to carefully sniff through every word of every e-mail I send and try to automatically come up with a profile of what sorts of things I might want to buy and then pop up distracting messages, specifically designed to distract me, based on my interests, on the side of the page."

So you could say, "Yeah, that's kind of creepy." Many of us say, "That's OK. I'm willing to give that up."

Is it OK for Amazon to know every word of every book you've read? Are you comfortable with that? Maybe you are. Is it OK to let everybody know you eat Corn Flakes? OK, but then there are certain products you might not want people to know that you're using. ...

The part that I worry about the most is sort of the perverse incentives that these systems are going to try to create. Largely, the companies won't be caring about our health and welfare. They're going to be caring about, "Can I manipulate you into doing things that help the company?"

CNN: Should we create regulations to keep that from happening?

That's hard for me to imagine. These things are going to creep up on us one by one, and it's going to be up to what can people take, and what can people tolerate?

CNN: Why are we attracted to games?

One of the main things that's appealing about games is that you know a game can be won. It's an unusual game that's impossible to win.

In real life, we have these problems, and the problems are hairy, and they're messy. You look at the problems that you face in your job or in your relationship or in your family, and it's like there's no clear winning, and there's no clear losing. Whereas, in a game, things are crisp and clear.

The game presents you with challenges that can be met, and then it congratulates you on your successes at those challenges. It's a thing we don't get everyday in life.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Yeah! I want that too!!


I want to learn how to purr. Abandon myself, have mistresses in maidenhair fern, own no tomorrow nor yesterday: a blank shimmering space forward and back. I want to think with my belly. I want to name all the stars animals flowers birds rocks in order to forget them, start over again. I want to wear the seasons, harlequin, become ancient and etched by weather. I want to be snow pulse, ruminating ungulate, pebble at the bottom of the abyss, candle burning darkness rather than flame. I want to peer at things shameless, observe the unfastening, that stripping of shape by dusk. I want to sit in the meadow a rotten stump pungent with slimemold, home for pupae and grubs, concentric rings collapsing into the passacaglia of time. I want to crawl inside someone and hibernate one entire night with no clocks to wake me, thighs fragrant loam. I want to melt. I want to swim naked with an otter. I want to turn inside out, exchange nuclei with the Sun. Toward the mythic kingdom of summer I want to make blind motion, using my ribs as a raft, following the spiders as they set sail on their tasseled shining silk. Sometimes even a single feather’s enough to fly."

-Robert Maclean

Monday, February 21, 2011

Doing The work without doing it!

So, looks to me like nobody actually wants to do "the work." And if you don't have a clue what I'm talking about - that's ok because well... I never do either.

And what I think I'm talking about is the latest Prosperity Project. A while back, I thought it would be a really good idea to do The Work - and I've been working my ass off avoiding doing the actual work of doing the work. Instead, what I have done is an unprecedented amount of blogging. I have actually completed the entire 30 day project - 2 sometimes 3 posts a day for 30 days - that's more than 60 posts folks!! - complete with awesome illustrative artwork - all prescheduled so that the Prosperity Project can post like clockwork and I'll never even have to look at it for the entire time we're "doing the work."

I may even have to do the work on why I'm not doing the work... so that I can find out if it's really true or not that I'm not doing it because maybe I'm actually doing it without knowing that I'm doing it...

It's fun that no one else is doing it with me because now I can moan and complain about how nobody wants to do the work - and nobody is participating - and nobody even goes to the prosperity project. I can blame my own lack of participation on everyone else's lack of participation and find all kinds of excuses to feel sorry for myself - and use up every inch of my available brain power with that so that there really isn't time - or room in my life to do the work on myself for myself with myself by myself.

Cool, huh? And hey, if you're totally not interested in doing the work over at the Prosperity Project, you're probably equally not interested in all the cool pictures I found to go with it.

I didn't, for example, post this one:


Nor did I post these:


Astonshing, the talent it would take to do this, huh?


Yes, it is actually a shoe carved into the lead of a carpenter's pencil!


Nifty, huh?
Pencil shavings - who thinks of shit like this?


I didn't post this one either - it's a torso made of pencils.
Looks almost snuggly, doesn't it?


Yes, you guessed it!
That's a big glob made out of pencils.

Oh, and just in case you didn't want to see it!
Here's one I actually did post.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

This is pretty!


It's called Fractal Rainbow Ocean.

I tried to make fractals once. I downloaded a bunch of programs and got all obsessive and crazy and tried to make them. But nothing I did came out cool. NOTHING! Interestingly, it's a math thing. Apparently, I'm so not good at math! At least not the cool kind of math that makes nifty pictures like this!

Here's an even cooler one!
I Love this!!

Friday, February 18, 2011

Thirty Questions

On the surface this seems like one of those benign things that float through my inbox periodically... on closer examination - I wonder... what with identity theft and passwords and all that stuff, are you sure that you want people to actually KNOW some of these things?

  1. Any nickname?
  2. Mother's maiden name?
  3. Favorite drink?
  4. Tattoo? 
  5. Body Piercing?
  6. How much do you love your job?
  7. Birthplace?
  8. Favorite vacation spot?
  9. First Elementary school? 
  10. Ever eaten cookies for dinner?
  11. Ever been on TV? 
  12. Ever steal any traffic sign?
  13. Ever been in a car accident?
  14. What was your first car?
  15. Favorite salad dressing? 
  16. Favorite pet?
  17. Favorite number?
  18. Favorite movie?
  19. Favorite holiday? 
  20. Favorite dessert?
  21. Favorite food?
  22. Favorite day of the week?
  23. Favorite brand of body wash?
  24. Favorite toothpaste?
  25. Favorite smell?
  26. What do you do to relax?
  27. How do you see yourself in 10 years?
  28. Farthest place you will send this message? 
  29. Who will respond to this the fastest?
  30. Who's dumb enough to answer all these questions truthfully and then send them on to complete strangers so they can hack into all their personal information?

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Knowing Is Better

It is better, of course, to know useless things than to know nothing.

~Seneca

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Words of wisdom from Steve Jobs

I've been posting a bunch of depressing shit from way back when, and then I found this... and in case you're wondering, yes, I'm rooting around in my "saved drafts" and "cleaing up" around here by getting everything posted and published.... So... now we come to Do What You Love by Steve Jobs, and I'm already thinking, "Well, that's easy for HIM to say, he's got everything he would ever need anyway!"

And maybe you're thinking the same thing too, but bear with me, because I did finally actually read the three stories he told, and maybe there's something to it... I don't know... So here it is, I'd be curious to know what you think of this.


'You've got to find what you love,' Jobs says

I am honored to be with you today at your commencement from one of the finest universities in the world. I never graduated from college. Truth be told, this is the closest I've ever gotten to a college graduation. Today I want to tell you three stories from my life. That's it. No big deal. Just three stories.

The first story is about connecting the dots.

I dropped out of Reed College after the first 6 months, but then stayed around as a drop-in for another 18 months or so before I really quit. So why did I drop out?

It started before I was born. My biological mother was a young, unwed college graduate student, and she decided to put me up for adoption. She felt very strongly that I should be adopted by college graduates, so everything was all set for me to be adopted at birth by a lawyer and his wife. Except that when I popped out they decided at the last minute that they really wanted a girl. So my parents, who were on a waiting list, got a call in the middle of the night asking: "We have an unexpected baby boy; do you want him?" They said: "Of course." My biological mother later found out that my mother had never graduated from college and that my father had never graduated from high school. She refused to sign the final adoption papers. She only relented a few months later when my parents promised that I would someday go to college.

17 years later I did go to college. But I naively chose a college that was almost as expensive as Stanford, and all of my working-class parents' savings were being spent on my college tuition. After six months, I couldn't see the value in it. I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life and no idea how college was going to help me figure it out. And here I was spending all of the money my parents had saved their entire life. So I decided to drop out and trust that it would all work out OK. It was pretty scary at the time, but looking back it was one of the best decisions I ever made. The minute I dropped out I could stop taking the required classes that didn't interest me, and begin dropping in on the ones that looked interesting.

It wasn't all romantic. I didn't have a dorm room, so I slept on the floor in friends' rooms, I returned coke bottles for the 5¢ deposits to buy food with, and I would walk the 7 miles across town every Sunday night to get one good meal a week at the Hare Krishna temple. I loved it. And much of what I stumbled into by following my curiosity and intuition turned out to be priceless later on.

Let me give you one example:
Reed College at that time offered perhaps the best calligraphy instruction in the country. Throughout the campus every poster, every label on every drawer, was beautifully hand calligraphed. Because I had dropped out and didn't have to take the normal classes, I decided to take a calligraphy class to learn how to do this. I learned about serif and san serif typefaces, about varying the amount of space between different letter combinations, about what makes great typography great. It was beautiful, historical, artistically subtle in a way that science can't capture, and I found it fascinating.

None of this had even a hope of any practical application in my life. But ten years later, when we were designing the first Macintosh computer, it all came back to me. And we designed it all into the Mac. It was the first computer with beautiful typography. If I had never dropped in on that single course in college, the Mac would have never had multiple typefaces or proportionally spaced fonts. And since Windows just copied the Mac, its likely that no personal computer would have them. If I had never dropped out, I would have never dropped in on this calligraphy class, and personal computers might not have the wonderful typography that they do. Of course it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backwards ten years later.

Again, you can't connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something - your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever. This approach has never let me down, and it has made all the difference in my life.

My second story is about love and loss.

I was lucky – I found what I loved to do early in life. Woz and I started Apple in my parents garage when I was 20. We worked hard, and in 10 years Apple had grown from just the two of us in a garage into a $2 billion company with over 4000 employees. We had just released our finest creation - the Macintosh - a year earlier, and I had just turned 30.

And then I got fired. How can you get fired from a company you started? Well, as Apple grew we hired someone who I thought was very talented to run the company with me, and for the first year or so things went well. But then our visions of the future began to diverge and eventually we had a falling out. When we did, our Board of Directors sided with him. So at 30 I was out. And very publicly out. What had been the focus of my entire adult life was gone, and it was devastating.

I really didn't know what to do for a few months. I felt that I had let the previous generation of entrepreneurs down - that I had dropped the baton as it was being passed to me. I met with David Packard and Bob Noyce and tried to apologize for screwing up so badly. I was a very public failure, and I even thought about running away from the valley. But something slowly began to dawn on me – I still loved what I did. The turn of events at Apple had not changed that one bit. I had been rejected, but I was still in love. And so I decided to start over.

I didn't see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.

During the next five years, I started a company named NeXT, another company named Pixar, and fell in love with an amazing woman who would become my wife. Pixar went on to create the worlds first computer animated feature film, Toy Story, and is now the most successful animation studio in the world. In a remarkable turn of events, Apple bought NeXT, I retuned to Apple, and the technology we developed at NeXT is at the heart of Apple's current renaissance. And Laurene and I have a wonderful family together.

I'm pretty sure none of this would have happened if I hadn't been fired from Apple. It was awful tasting medicine, but I guess the patient needed it. Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don't lose faith. I'm convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did. You've got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven't found it yet, keep looking. Don't settle. As with all matters of the heart, you'll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don't settle.

My third story is about death.

When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: "If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you'll most certainly be right." It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: "If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?" And whenever the answer has been "No" for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.

Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything – all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure - these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.

About a year ago I was diagnosed with cancer. I had a scan at 7:30 in the morning, and it clearly showed a tumor on my pancreas. I didn't even know what a pancreas was. The doctors told me this was almost certainly a type of cancer that is incurable, and that I should expect to live no longer than three to six months. My doctor advised me to go home and get my affairs in order, which is doctor's code for prepare to die. It means to try to tell your kids everything you thought you'd have the next 10 years to tell them in just a few months. It means to make sure everything is buttoned up so that it will be as easy as possible for your family. It means to say your goodbyes.

I lived with that diagnosis all day. Later that evening I had a biopsy, where they stuck an endoscope down my throat, through my stomach and into my intestines, put a needle into my pancreas and got a few cells from the tumor. I was sedated, but my wife, who was there, told me that when they viewed the cells under a microscope the doctors started crying because it turned out to be a very rare form of pancreatic cancer that is curable with surgery. I had the surgery and I'm fine now.

This was the closest I've been to facing death, and I hope its the closest I get for a few more decades. Having lived through it, I can now say this to you with a bit more certainty than when death was a useful but purely intellectual concept:

No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don't want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life's change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.

Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma - which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of other's opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary.

When I was young, there was an amazing publication called The Whole Earth Catalog, which was one of the bibles of my generation. It was created by a fellow named Stewart Brand not far from here in Menlo Park, and he brought it to life with his poetic touch. This was in the late 1960's, before personal computers and desktop publishing, so it was all made with typewriters, scissors, and polaroid cameras. It was sort of like Google in paperback form, 35 years before Google came along: it was idealistic, and overflowing with neat tools and great notions.

Stewart and his team put out several issues of The Whole Earth Catalog, and then when it had run its course, they put out a final issue. It was the mid-1970s, and I was your age. On the back cover of their final issue was a photograph of an early morning country road, the kind you might find yourself hitchhiking on if you were so adventurous. Beneath it were the words: "Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish." It was their farewell message as they signed off. Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish. And I have always wished that for myself. And now, as you graduate to begin anew, I wish that for you.

Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.
Thank you all very much.

Authors Details: This is the text of the Commencement address by Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple Computer and of Pixar Animation Studios, delivered on June 12, 2005.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Force


Ok, yeah, it's a Volkswagon commercial.
But it's cute!
And I like it...

And I also wonder how different my life would be if my dad would have supported my fantasy life as well as that dad did!

Darth Vader vs Hitler


I'm still laughing!
I love YouTube - and I love how "Don't Worry Be Happy"
led me to Darth Vader vs Hitler
which turned into me actually laughing out loud...

I like it!!


Love the song.
Love that he's actually getting donations.
And love how I felt after stopping to listen.
Geez...
Did I say how much I love that song?

Me As A Jedi

A while back I had this idea that I wanted to be a Jedi  and live by the Jedi Code. Naturally, as soon as I posted it, the idea left my mind completely. Which, by the way, is what I do so dearly love about blogging. As soon as I write about something I can forget it entirely and act as if I have ACTUALLY DONE whatever it is I was writing about.

Then, when researching for the Project on Begging I found this! I figure if worse comes to worse, I can wrap up in a black hoodie and blanket, go out on the street and put up a sign that says: "Homeless Jedi Wannabe." Or better yet, I can blog it and then I'll never have to ACTUALLY DO anything at all!

My Flag Of Surrender

So, the 30 days of Begging (over at The Prosperity Project) is completed, and I did have a small epiphany when writing the post about my thoughts on the subject. I even found a picture to illustrate said epiphany - and here it is, a perfect illustration of the way in which I submit to authority and admit defeat:

Monday, February 14, 2011

Love and Marriage

Do you have questions about love and marriage? I've got the answers right here! Just about anything you want to know about this important issue. I found it in my inbox this morning, it was too fun not to share.


HOW DO YOU DECIDE WHOM TO MARRY?

  • You got to find somebody who likes the same stuff. Like, if you like sports, she should like it that you like sports, and she should keep the chips and dip coming.
    ~Alan, age 10
  • No person really decides before they grow up who they're going to marry. God decides it all way before, and you get to find out later who you're stuck with.
    ~Kristen, age 10
WHAT IS THE RIGHT AGE TO GET MARRIED?
  • Twenty-three is the best age because you know the person FOREVER , by then..
    ~Camille, age 10
HOW CAN A STRANGER TELL IF TWO PEOPLE ARE MARRIED?
  • You might have to guess, based on whether they seem to be yelling at the same kids.
    ~Derrick, age 8
WHAT DO YOU THINK YOUR MOM AND DAD HAVE IN COMMON?
  • Both don't want any more kids.
    ~Lori, age 8
WHAT DO MOST PEOPLE DO ON A DATE?
  • Dates are for having fun, and people should use them to get to know each other. Even boys have something to say if you listen long enough.
    ~Lynnette, age 8 (isn't she a treasure?)
  • On the first date, they just tell each other lies and that usually gets them interested enough to go for a second date.
    ~Martin, age 10
WHAT WOULD YOU DO ON A FIRST DATE THAT WAS TURNING SOUR?
  • I'd run home and play dead. The next day I would call all the newspapers and make sure they wrote about me in all the dead columns.
    ~Craig, age 9
WHEN IS IT OKAY TO KISS SOMEONE?
  • When they're rich.
    ~Pam, age 7
  • The law says you have to be eighteen, so I wouldn't want to mess with that.
    ~Curt, age 7
  • The rule goes like this: If you kiss someone, then you should marry them and have kids with them. It's the right thing to do.
    ~Howard, age 8
IS IT BETTER TO BE SINGLE OR MARRIED?
  • It's better for girls to be single but not for boys. Boys need someone to clean up after them.
    ~Anita, age 9 (bless you child)
HOW WOULD THE WORLD BE DIFFERENT IF PEOPLE DIDN'T GET MARRIED?
  • There sure would be a lot of kids to explain, wouldn't there?
    ~Kelvin, age 8
And the #1 Favorite is........
HOW WOULD YOU MAKE A MARRIAGE WORK?

  • Tell your wife that she looks pretty, even if she looks like a truck hit her.
    ~Ricky, age 10

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Yet another gloomy post from the past...

This time it's from July of 09 - I must have been thinking of doing something social... and for the life of me I can't think of what it could have been.

Yowsers!
Am I just NEVER happy about ANYTHING?


Today, I am lacking the energy for enthusiasm, don't even have a vague idea of what to celebrate, am pretty sure that in order to have a feast - I'd have to do the dishes and if it was going to be any fun at all, I'd love to have people over... clearly, that wasn't going to work for me.

So I headed over to Osho.com and consulted the Zen Tarot. Here's what I got:

In a cinema hall, you look at the screen, you never look at the back--the projector is at the back. The film is not there really on the screen; it is just a projection of shadow and light. The film exists just at the back, but you never look at that. And the projector is there. Your mind is at the back of the whole thing, and the mind is the projector. But you always look at the other, because the other is the screen.

When you are in love the person seems beautiful, no comparison. When you hate, the same person seems the ugliest, and you never become aware of how the same person can be the ugliest and the same person can be the most beautiful....

So the only way to reach to truth is to learn how to be immediate in your vision, how to drop the help of the mind. This agency of the mind is the problem, because mind can create only dreams.... Through your excitement the dream starts looking like reality. If you are too excited then you are intoxicated, then you are not in your senses. Then whatsoever you see is just your projection. And there are as many worlds as there are minds, because every mind lives in his own world.

Osho Hsin Hsin Ming: The Book of Nothing Chapter 7

Commentary:
The man and woman in this card are facing each other, yet they are not able to see each other clearly. Each is projecting an image they have constructed in their minds, covering the real face of the person they are looking at. All of us can get caught up in projecting movies of our own making onto the situations and people surrounding us. It happens when we are not fully aware of our own expectations, desires and judgments; instead of taking responsibility for them and owning them, we try to attribute them to others. A projection can be devilish or divine, disturbing or comforting, but it is a projection nonetheless--a cloud that prevents us from seeing reality as it is. The only way out is to recognize the game. When you find a judgment arising about another, turn it around: Does what you see in others really belong to you? Is your vision clear, or clouded by what you want to see?


Hmmm... this is interesting. I wonder if I am WANTING to see only gloom and doom. I wonder if I am ENJOYING the suffering and the drama. I wonder if the movie I've created is one of those deliciously terrible B grade disaster movies???

Feeling Discouraged

Way back in July of 09, I wrote the following post and somehow it never got posted. It is somewhat discouraging to me that I'm still in that dark wood, the Slough of Despond, and sitll without a muse or even a puppy...


Feeling Discouraged? Start something new!

At least this is what the Oracle told me just now. I have spent most of the day wandering in my "dark wood" without the benefit of a Beatrice, a Virgil, or a firm and structured belief in the afterlife. It feels pretty much like the Slough of Despond to me...

So, I asked Auntie Moss if my life was worth living, and she said, "What does an old witch woman know?" Apparently not a heck of a lot!! So then I thought I'd ask the Oracle and this is what I got:

I asked the I Ching Oracle:
how can I find a way to make a life that feels good to be in?

16. Yu - Eagerness to Start, Enthusiasm
Start something new. Celebration, feasting, and music will raise your spirits.

What does the Oracle hold for you?
http://luckyhonu.com/

Interestingly, this is something I often do. I get discouraged, down hearted, and next thing you know, I'm knee deep in some new project. That's why I have 27 blogs - 3 websites - a table full of mosaic stuff - under which is stored art supplies - a room full of strange stuff that I once thought I'd do something really cool with - not to mention 5 cats and a crazy insane dog - and a whole bunch of unfinished projects floating around here and there.

Actually - now that we're in 2011 - its more blogs, more websites, more strange stuff, but thankfully... just 4 cats, 2 birds, and not even one crazy insane dog! I can't tell if I'm making progress or not...

Looks like I need to start counting my marbles, doesn't it?

A Thousand Marbles

About 3 years ago someone sent me this via email. It's been sitting here as a draft ever since. Today I actually took the time to read it. It's kind of a story about "losing your marbles" which is something I regularly worry about..  and it's a story about time which is another thing I worry about... So... I think it's worth sharing and here it is:


The older I get, the more I enjoy Saturday mornings. Perhaps it's the quiet solitude that comes with being the first to rise, or maybe it's the unbounded joy of not having to be at work. Either way, the first few hours of a Saturday morning are most enjoyable.

A few weeks ago, I was shuffling toward the garage with a steaming cup of coffee in one hand and the morning paper in the other. What began as a typical Saturday morning turned into one of those lessons that life seems to hand you from time to time. Let me tell you about it:

I turned the dial up into the phone portion of the band on my ham radio in order to listen to a Saturday morning swap net. Along the way, I came across an older sounding chap, with a tremendous signal and a golden voice. You know the kind; he sounded like he should be in the broadcasting business. He was telling whom-ever he was talking with something about 'a thousand marbles.' I was intrigued and stopped to listen to what he had to say

'Well, Tom, it sure sounds like you're busy with your job. I'm sure they pay you well but it's a shame you have to be away from home and your family so much. Har d to believe a young fellow should have to work sixty or seventy hours a week to make ends meet. It's too bad you missed your daughter's 'dance recital' he continued. 'Let me tell you something that has helped me keep my own priorities.' And that's when he began to explain his theory of a 'thousand marbles.'


'You see, I sat down one day and did a little arithmetic. The average person lives about seventy-five years. I know, some live more and some live less, but on average, folks live about seventy-five years.


'Now then, I multiplied 75 times 52 and I came up with 3900, which is the number of Saturdays that the average person has in their entire lifetime. Now, stick with me, Tom, I'm getting to the important part.


It took me until I was fifty-five years old to think about all this in any detail', he went on, 'and by that time I had lived through over twenty-eight hundred Saturdays.' 'I got to thinking that if I lived to be seventy- five, I only had about a thousand of them left to enjoy. So I went to a toy store and bought every single marble they had. I ended up having to visit three toy stores to round up 1000 marbles. I took them home and put them inside a large, clear plastic container right here in the shack next to my gear.'


'Every Saturday since then, I have taken one marble out and thrown it away. I found that by watching the marbles diminish, I focused more on the really important things in life.


There is nothing like watching your time here on this earth run out to help get your priorities straight.'


'Now let me tell you one last thing before I sign-off with you and take my lovely wife out for breakfast. This morning, I took the very last marble out of the container. I figure that if I make it until next Saturday then I have been given a little extra time. And the one thing we can all use is a little more time.'


'It was nice to meet you Tom, I hope you spend more time with your family, and I hope to meet you again here on the band. This is a 75 Year old Man, K9NZQ, clear and going QRT, good morning!'

Saturday, February 12, 2011

EZ Banner Creator

I found a cool site called Image Chef and in about 3 minutes was able to create this cool banner. The whole process was so easy that I thought it might be something good to share. Here's the banner I made. Nifty isn't it?


You can either get the code that links back to Image Chef, or you can save the image to your computer. It could then be resized to fit into a smaller space - and might be useful for a number of different things.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Hara Meditation

I have no idea where this came from... I'm just methodically clearing out my "drafts" here at Shirley Twofeathers, this one is a couple of years old, and I was apparently pretty lax about making note of my sources. I wonder how well it works... maybe I should try it!


This is not strictly a Reiki technique but it is a useful practice to get in touch with your hara.

Your head should rest comfortably on your neck. Pretend that a puppeteer has a string attached to the centre of the top of your head. Your spine should be straight but not rigid so that your head balances there without much muscle tension keeping it in place. Your shoulders should be relaxed. Sit up straight and find that balance point. Your gaze should be slightly downward.

Your nose and your navel should be in line. So should your ears and your shoulders. You may rock a little front to back and to each side to find the balance point. Let your shoulders relax.

Shunryu Suzuki, in his classic Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind, says, "If you put your left hand on top of your right, middle joints of your middle fingers together, and touch your thumbs lightly together (as if you held a piece of paper between them), your hands will make a beautiful oval. You should keep this universal mudra with great care, as if you were holding something very precious in your hand. Your hands should be held against your body, with your thumbs at about the height of your navel. Hold your arms freely and easily, and slightly away from your body, as if you held an egg under each arm without breaking it." This hand position will assist you in focussing on your hara.

Now release any remaining muscle tension and concentrate on your breathing. Let your breathing become very natural. It will find its own pace and you may notice that it slows and deepens. Breath in and out through your nose. Allow the inbreath to sink into your abdomen. Imagine that the breath is moving like a wave between your lungs and your hara, that point in the centre of your abdomen about eight centimetres below and behind your navel. Visualise your breath falling there.

Where the mind goes the Ki follows.

Allow the out breath to leave your body gently and loop out in front of your nose. On the in breath pick up that loop again and let it fall down to your hara.

Bring your attention fully to that energy centre, that balance point we are referring to as hara. Allow all of your attention to focus at that point. It may be helpful to imagine a point of red light in the dark of your abdomen. Whatever image you choose, allow it to aid you in focusing, and then when it has lost its usefulness, let it go.

Continue to return your awareness to your hara whenever it drifts away. Focus all of your attention there. Be in that place. Own that part of your body. Note any sensations you have there and let them go. Releasing your mental constrictions there will allow the energy of the hara to move up your spine and throughout your body. You may feel energized, yet at the same time you may feel the peace of being in balance.

Experience whatever comes without grasping. Focus your attention without desire for any particular result. Check your posture and bring it back to balance when you feel it slip. Allow the emptiness of non-doing to bring you peace.

You are back with the source... your true nature.

Emotional Incontinence

I have recently uploaded quite a bit of stuff about emotions, and ran across this little article about Emotional Incontinence from the Osho site. It's a question and answer session, and I thought it contained a lot of food for thought. Maybe even some blog fodder. So, here it is:


Question:
You once suggested to me that I keep my energy inside and bring it to my Hara, my lower belly. Since doing this, I notice that my Hara has become like a mirror for all my feelings.I feel that behind this small suggestion of yours lies more than I can imagine. Could you please comment?

Answer:
The hara is the center from where a life leaves the body. It is the center of death. The word hara is Japanese; that’s why in Japan, suicide is called hara-kiri. The center is just two inches below the navel. It is very important, and almost everybody in the world has felt it. But only in Japan have they gone deeper into its implications.

Even the people in India who had worked tremendously hard on centers, had not considered the Hara. The reason for their missing it was because they had never considered death to be of any significance. Your soul never dies, so why bother about a center that functions only as a door for energies to get out, and to enter into another body? They worked from sex, which is the life center. They have worked on seven centers, but the Hara is not even mentioned in any Indian scriptures.

The people who worked hardest on the centers for thousands of years have not mentioned the Hara, and this cannot be just a coincidence. The reason was that they never took death seriously. These seven centers are life centers, and each center is of a higher life. The seventh is the highest center of life, when you are almost a god.

The Hara is very close to the sex center. If you don’t rise towards higher centers, towards the seventh center which is in your head, and if you remain for your whole life at the sex center, then just by the side of the sex center is the Hara, and when then life ends, the Hara will be the center from where your life will move out of the body.

Why did I tell you this? You were very energetic, but not aware of any higher centers; your whole energy was at the sex center, and you were overflowing. Energy overflowing at the sex center is dangerous, because it can start releasing from the Hara. And if it starts releasing from the Hara, then to take it upwards becomes more difficult. So I had told you to keep your energy in, and not to be so expressive: Hold it in! I simply wanted the Hara center, which was opening and which could have been very dangerous, to be completely closed.

You followed it, and you have become a totally different person. Now when I see you, I cannot believe the expressiveness that I had seen at first. Now you are centered and your energy is moving in the right direction of the higher centers. It is almost at the fourth center, which is the center of love and which is a very balancing center. There are three centers below it, and three centers above it.

Once a person is at the center of love, there is very rarely a possibility for him to fall back down, because he has tasted something of the heights. Now valleys will be very dark, ugly; he has seen sunlit peaks, not very high, but still high; now his whole desire will be.... And that is the trouble with all lovers: they want more love, because they don’t understand that the real desire is not for more love but for something more than love. Their language ends with love; they don’t know any way that is higher than love, and love does not satisfy. On the contrary, the more you love the more thirsty you become.

At the fourth center, of love, one feels a tremendous satisfaction only when energy starts moving to the fifth center. The fifth center is in your throat, and the sixth center is your third eye. The seventh center, the sahastrara, is on the top of your head. All these centers have different expressions and different experiences.

When love moves to the fifth center then whatever talents you have, any creative dimension, is possible for you. This is the center of creativity. It is not only for songs, not only for music; it is for all creativity.

The sixth center, which we call the third eye, is between the two eyes. This gives you a clarity, a vision of all your past lives, and of all the future possibilities. Once your energy has reached your third eye, then you are so close to enlightenment that something of enlightenment starts showing. It radiates from the man of the third eye, and he starts feeling a pull towards the seventh center.

Because of these seven centers, India never bothered about the Hara. The Hara is not in the line; it is just by the side of the sex center. The sex center is the life center, and the Hara is the death center. Too much excitement, too much uncenteredness, too much throwing your energy all over the place is dangerous, because it takes your energy towards the Hara. And once the route is created, it becomes more difficult to move it upwards. The Hara is parallel to the sex center, so the energy can move very easily.

The Hara should be kept closed. That’s why I told you to be more centered, to keep your feelings inside, and to bring the energy to your Hara. If you can keep your Hara consciously controlling your energies, it does not allow them to go out. You start feeling a tremendous gravity, a stability, a centeredness, which is a basic necessity for the energy to move upwards.

Your Hara center has so much energy that, if it is rightly directed, enlightenment is not a faraway place.

So these two are my suggestions: keep yourself as centered as possible. Don’t get moved by small things: somebody is angry, somebody insults you, and you think about it for hours. Your whole night is disturbed because somebody said something.... If the Hara can hold more energy, then naturally that much more energy starts rising upwards. There is only a certain capacity in the Hara, and every energy that moves upwards moves through the Hara; but the Hara should just be closed.

So one thing is that the Hara should be closed.

The second thing is that you should always work for higher centers. For example, if you feel angry too often you should meditate more on anger, so that anger disappears and its energy becomes compassion. If you are a man who hates everything, then you should concentrate on hate; meditate on hate, and the same energy becomes love.

Go on moving upwards, think always of higher ladders, so that you can reach to the highest point of your being. And there should be no leakage from the Hara center.

Energy should not be allowed through the Hara. A person whose energy starts through the Hara you can very easily detect. For example, there are people with whom you will feel suffocated, with whom you will feel as if they are sucking your energy. You will find that, after they are gone, you feel at ease and relaxed, although they were not doing anything wrong to you.

You will find just the opposite kind of people also, whose meeting you makes you joyful, healthier. If you were sad, your sadness disappears; if you were angry, your anger disappears. These are the people whose energy is moving to higher centers. Their energy affects your energy. We are affecting each other continually. And the man who is conscious, chooses friends and company which raises his energy higher.

One point is very clear. There are people who suck you, avoid them! It is better to be clear about it, say goodbye to them. There is no need to suffer, because they are dangerous; they can open your Hara too. Their Hara is open, that’s why they create such a sucking feeling in you.

Psychology has not taken note of it yet, but it is of great importance that psychologically sick people should not be put together. And that is what is being done all over the world. Psychologically sick people are put into psychiatric institutes together. They are already psychologically sick, and you are putting them in a company which will drag their energy even lower.

Even the doctors who work with psychologically sick people have given enough indication of it. More psychoanalysts commit suicide than any other profession, more psychoanalysts go mad than any other profession. And every psychoanalyst once in a while needs to be treated by some other psychoanalyst. What happens to these poor people? Surrounded by psychologically sick people, they are continually sucked, and they don’t have any idea how to close their Haras.

There are methods, techniques to close the Hara, just as there are methods for meditation, to move the energy upwards. The best and simplest method is: try to remain as centered in your life as possible. People cannot even sit silently, they will be changing their position. They cannot lie down silently, the whole night they will be turning and tossing. This is just unrest, a deep restlessness in their souls. One should learn restfulness. And in these small things, the hara stays closed. Particularly psychologists should be trained. Also, psychologically sick people should not be put together.

You have done well. Just continue whatever you are doing, accumulating your energy in yourself. The accumulation of energy automatically makes it go higher. And as it reaches higher you will feel more peaceful, more loving, more joyful, more sharing, more compassionate, more creative. The day is not faraway when you will feel full of light, and the feeling of coming back home.

Osho: The Golden Future

What is the hara?


In short, the hara is also known as the "lower dantien." And towards the end of the following article is an explanation. But first, you'll need to have an idea of what the Dantien is.

From Wikipedia, we have the following explanation:

Dantian, Dan Tien or Tan t'ien (Chinese: Dāntián ; Japanese: 丹田 Tanden; Korean: 단전 DanJeon; Thai: ตันเถียน Dantian) literally means "cinnabar or red field" and is loosely translated as "elixir field". It is described as an important focal point for internal meditative techniques and refers specifically to the physical center of gravity located in the abdomen (about three finger widths below and two finger widths behind the navel).

The dantian is important in Neidan, qigong, neigong, tao yin and other breathing techniques, as well as in traditional Chinese medicine. It is also widely used throughout East Asian meditation and martial art theories, especially the neijia school of Chinese martial arts and Tai Chi Chuan.

Taoist and Buddhist teachers often instruct their students to center their mind in the dantian. This is believed to aid control of thoughts and emotions. Acting from the dantian is considered to be related to the state of samadhi.

The dantian also roughly corresponds to the Indian concept of the manipura, or navel chakra. In yoga philosophy, it is thought to be the seat of prana that radiates outwards to the entire body.

According to principles of Chinese alchemy, there are three dantians in the body:

The upper dantian is in the brain just behind a point directly between the eyebrows and corresponds to the Third eye. In Western anatomy, this point corresponds to the pituitary gland.

The middle dantian is in the heart and in Western anatomy is associated with the thymus gland.

The lower dantian is located 1.3 inches below the navel and is also called the golden stove. In speaking of the lower of the three points, the term dantian is often used interchangeably with the Japanese word hara (腹; Chinese: fù) which means simply "belly". In Chinese and Japanese tradition, it is considered the physical center of gravity of the human body and is the seat of one's internal energy (qi). A master of calligraphy, swordsmanship, tea ceremony, martial arts, etc. is held in the Japanese tradition to be "acting from the hara".

(Note that the dantian is a fixed anatomical location in the body but the center of gravity is a theoretical concept. The center of gravity moves within the body in relation to the posture and to the position of the limbs.)

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Unconsious Loops


Ok, so I found this sitting in here - in draft form - for almost a year. And I can't remember what i wanted to say about it, nor do I remember what was cool about it... clearly I was in some sort of unconscious loop. And now I'm sharing that loop with you! How cool is that? is that? is that? is that cool?

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Three Monks

“There are three monks, who had been sitting in deep meditation for many years amidst the Himalayan snow peaks, never speaking a word, in utter silence. One morning, one of the three suddenly speaks up and says, ‘What a lovely morning this is.’ And he falls silent again. Five years of silence pass, when all at once the second monk speaks up and says, ‘But we could do with some rain.’ There is silence among them for another five years, when suddenly the third monk says, ‘Why can’t you two stop chattering?”

~Krishnamurti

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Magick Naked Body Art


I found an interesting article about Chaos Magick and Sigils (actually - the idea contained within the article is what's interesting - the article itself is a pretty dense read) and I think it has potential... potential, that is, if a person has the patience and persistance to actually read the whole thing - which I actually did. And the courage, energy, enthusiasm, and art supplies to actually do it. And, by potential, I also mean potential to be a fun, cool thing to do, as well as an interesting way to create art and chaos at the same time. As for the magick? I do not know... but hey, who cares if the magick would work or not? It would at least be cool and fun, don't you think?

So here's the premise behind the idea. But wait, before we start, I think it might be a good idea to give a definition of the word, "sigil." Along with a couple of pictures. So, here's that:

 
A sigil (or /ˈsɪgəl/; pl. sigilia or sigils) is a symbol created for a specific magical purpose. A sigil is usually made up of a complex combination of several specific symbols or geometric figures each with a specific meaning or intent.
The term sigil derives from the Latin sigillum meaning "seal," though it may also be related to the Hebrew סגולה (segulah meaning "word, action or item of spiritual effect"). A sigil may have an abstract, pictorial or semi-abstract form, and it may or may not be enclosed within a circle, square, or triangle,.

 
Ok... so now that's clear - it is, isn't it? On to the article, which will no doubt be about as clear as mud. So here's that:

 
MAGICK SIGILS - RITUAL AND ACTION:

One of the problems, perhaps the only problem, with the process of sigilisation as it has been developed over the last seventy years or so is the disassociation of the intention and the operation. The pioneers of sigils have always maintained that it was essential, once the sigil had been designed and reified (using whatever method), that the operator should at least forget having done the working for this purpose and, if at all possible, forget the sigil itself after it had been destroyed or consigned to the realms of magical (unaware) consciousness.

 
For this reason some sigilisors have adopted the scheme of making sigils and storing them with many other sigils, withdrawing particular ones at random and empowering them in ignorance of their intention. This has the required effect of separating the intended result from the working but also fragments the energies used. It is a useful experiment but little more.

 
There are two kinds of sigilisors - those who have been doing it for a while and those who are just starting to experiment. The first group tends to experience few difficulties excepting those of personal style and elegance of technique. The second group, largely through unsureness, suffers from more tangible difficulties and it was largely on their behalf that experiments with action sigils were undertaken.

 
The starting premise for this scheme of sigils is that the intellectual input usually involved in designing the sigil is entirely removed. This requires two magical operations rather than one. These two operations compartmentalize the creation of the sigil into the first ritual and the empowerment of it into the second thereby making it easier to empower the sigil without consciously restimulating memories of its intention and, since this method of creating the sigil produces an abstract rather than a symbol form it becomes far easier to enter the state of positive non-desiring and to work ‘without lust of result’.

 
It should be noted at this point that I have only experimented with this technique on a group basis and that I have done no solo working with it although, in theory at least. It should make little difference except insofar as the note on abandonment of individual identity is concerned. To keep a short story short I now resort to ritual rubric.

 
Ok... now for the good part!
This is the how-to:

The following must be done in advance:
  • The operators carefully define the intention of the sigil.
  • An incense is made and is used for this working only.
  • Music is created and recorded and is to be used for this working only.
  • A large blank canvas is attached firmly to the temple wall.
  • Pigments appropriate to the work in hand are chosen and placed in open vessels near the canvas.
  • Special attention should be made to lighting whether that be of the traditional type, in which case many candles or lamps should be used, or whether it be stroboscopes and other mind-bending gadgets of evil empire.
  • Incense, music and lighting should be arranged so that, once lit or turned on, they need no further attention for the remainder of the rite.
The opening:
This is a rite within a rite put together by concensus of those concerned.
It’s functions are:
  • To set the mood of the rite.
  • To begin the rite.
  • To forcefully remind the operators of the intention of the rite.
  • To afford an opportunity for a strong sacrament to be shared.
  • A period of silence in which each summons his/her allies, gods, demons or whatever.
The music starts. The operator who puts the tape together must bear in mind the kinds of activities that will take place over it (as follows) and must ensure that the tape is at least as long as the rite from this point onwards.

 
In order to bring a gnostic state upon themselves the participants begin to whirl. This is a technique in itself and must be practised several, or even many times before it is used ritually. It is best to start slowly and establish a rhythm, gradually building up speed until the arms rise by the force generated. This speed should be maintained while attention is focused on the object of the rite, eyes open. Experienced exponents might intone a mantra at the same time. The likely duration of this process is subject to four variables:-
  1. The strength of the sacrament
  2. The effect created by the lighting, incense and music.
  3. The proclivities of the individual participants.
  4. Chaos, but less than one hour would be a waste.
Whirling is a technique most often used to induce the ability to walk on hot coals. If you feel that you are ready to that you have achieved the desired state. (Prior to using whirling in ritual it is useful to set up a firewalk to demonstrate to oneself the effectiveness of this technique). The gnostic state has been entered when awareness of the body disappears and self is centred in or totally exterior to the body.

 
A difficulty with this kind of rite is in arranging the transition between one activity and another, especially when each individual must achieve the required mindstate in his/her own time. This means that the transition is graded and that for some time two activities are taking place concurrently.

 
"Each in turn as he was taken" stops whirling (not suddenly to avoid dizziness) and maintaining concentration on the object of the rite, approaches the canvass, smears Body with paint and transfers this to the canvass using any and all body parts except the hands and feet which leave too recognisable and symbolic an imprint.

As other participants join in this activity all ideas of individualness in terms of Body and Self are surrendered to the notion of one Body, one Self, one organism with intention. There should be no difference in the minds of the participants between my Body and your Body, this Self and that Self. It is all one Body no matter whose the hand that smears or the thigh that receives the paint. This submission, this temporary abandonment of individual identity has four advantages:
  1. In the absence of the individual Self there is no internal dialogue.
  2. In the absence of the individual Self attention can be easily concentrated.
  3. Paradoxically, in the absence of individual Self exteriorisation is facilitated because one has abandoned the notion of Self owning a particular Body to which it must necessarily remain attached. Exterior to Body is the ideal condition in which to create magical effects.
  4. In the absence of individual Self one automatically forgets that one is performing ritual and this leaves one free to operate in present time, no longer concerned about or constrained by the structure of the rite. This is an excellent bonus. It is what every practical ritualist seeks to achieve.

This part of the ritual should go on for as long as the participants can hold their concentration and until everyone is satisfied with the operation.

 
An ending, previously designed through consensus, is performed.
It’s functions are:
  • To ensure that all participants are centred in their Bodies.
  • To shut down concentration on the object of the rite.
  • To bring the rite to an end.

The ritualists leave the temple, bathe and relax in one another’s company. The first rite is finished, an abstract sigil having been produced, and there should now be an interval of some days, if not a week or two, before the second rite.

 
There are many possible starting points for the ritual of empowerment and these depend mainly on the participants’ preferred methods of working. They may prefer, for example, to work with the sigil itself, although its physical size may be somewhat inconvenient in terms of practicality. They might use a large colour photograph or even a colour intensified video image. Whatever, the ritualists now resort to their favourite method of hurling the sigil into Chaos in order to activate it. The only restriction on them is not to give the purpose of the sigil any consideration and the temple should be furnished with this in mind.

 
Authors Details: Ray Sherwin

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