Rising in Beauty

Rising in Beauty
Sky over North Park

Just Learning

Just Learning
Kitchen Studio

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Inspiration: Soul Shine, TED

Earl Thomas and his acoustic band performed "Soul Shine," on Tom Fudge's radio show today. This is a great singer and band. "Soul Shine," was credited to Gov't Mule, and is the title of the group's latest of 11 CD's. Thomas sings it blues style. The voice is warm, laid back, funky, clear and then smoky, with perfect phrasing. He's Northern Californian by way of Guam, Tennessee and San Diego, with roots in the American South.

TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design: Ideas Worth Spreading. Charlie Rose interviewed Chris Anderson, who communicated joy and a dedication to following through on great ideas. JUST GO LOOK AT THE SITE.

Divinity is within you.

Death and the Mind


“You work, you slave, you worry so,
But you can’t take it with you
When you go, go, go,

So keep repeating, ‘It’s the berries,’
(Something, something, must fall)
Life is just a bowl of cherries,
So live and laugh at it all!”

Sung, probably, by Rosemary Clooney, this was a popular tune in my youth.

It came to mind because I was thinking, “You can’t take your mind with you when you go.”

A friend was troubled by the attitude some people were taking towards their mother: that their mother should go ahead and die. They were saying she’d be happier, reunited in heaven with their father. My friend was grieved. She was not at all sure that that was what happened after death.

I believe people need to find some comfort, some order, some compensation when facing the death of someone in the family, or their own deaths, for that matter. Religions often offer some reassurance of continuity of personality, and of reward or punishment for the way one has lived ethically.

As a pastor and chaplain, I have been present at the moment of death just a few times. I experienced passage to… something. Eternal life might be experienced in what we time-bound ones would call half a second. People who have been revived after dying often report experiences. They report them in words and images that are the mind’s interpretation of what they experienced. The Revelation of John does not say that heaven has gold streets and jeweled thrones. It says it has something “like” gold, “like” jewels. Glory, exaltation, and communication with the divine had to be communicated to us earthlings in words and images that John’s mind could provide.

PBS showed a program recently on people trying to understand how the mind arises from the physical matter and electrical energy in the brain. (They are nowhere near an explanation.) Intrepid, curious scientist researchers showed MRIs of excitation of various brain areas when exposed to various stimuli. (Excitation shows up as red.) They showed the deflection of activity in persons who do not have a corpus callosum to send impulses between the right and left hemispheres of the brain. They even showed an MRI of a Buddhist monk meditating. All the red, excited areas gradually faded, till only a blue area at the center of the top of the brain could be seen.

That night I read the part of Sarah Gilbert’s book, “Eat, Pray, Live,” that describes her experiences with yogic meditation. It also relays some of the teachings from gurus. Freed, at least for the moment, from her endless thinking and worrying, she “saw” a cool, blue circle of light that was her essence, her heart. This blue light is the part of us that “knows everything and has always known everything.” It is totally love. This is how we are divine, and how the divine is within us.

So: When we let ourselves free from the concerns and responsibilities of this life, we leave the body, brain, and the mind based on it, behind. It seems to follow, that when we leave the body behind permanently, we are love. As love we have a kind of consciousness that is not based on the brain.

Sarah describes a process of forgiveness and reconciliation, in which, while meditating, she sees her blue light and someone else’s circling each other, loving and knowing each other. As a result, Sarah lets go of resentment and hurt which was impairing her life.

So: Yes, my friend’s friend will be reunited with her husband. They will be love. They will BE love.

My image of my mother (who died in 1986) enjoying a favorite place in the company of a very dear friend is true. It is not literal, it is true.

These thoughts make me happy. However, I share the built-in desire of the living to continue to live, and I do not want other people deciding when it is time for me to move on.

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Blogs and Sites

Blogs and sites I've enjoyed recently:

Barbara Ehrenreich's blog posts on the economy, with sideswipes at cultural phenomena, provoke lots of comments, some rants. She points out that economists have taken to calling the world of low wages and high cereal prices "the real economy." She wants to know what they are talking about before when they just use the term "the economy."

Kevin Kelly gives us eight "generative values," for which we can earn money even when the content is free. His meta-value: Trust.

Indeterminacy's latest invitation to write a one-minute story based on a photo he puts up, really brought out LoL's offbeat creativity. LoL's sites, HappyLoLDay and Things Look Like Things, make eye-opening use of photos as stories, often without text.

The Little House fascinated me. The smallest house in Toronto is for sale and has its own website. It's seven feet wide, yet has a washer/dryer. There are front and back yards.

I read Jon King frequently. Today I scrolled back through older posts for several I remembered. "Yikes, I'm It," October 26, 2007 caught my eye. "I'm It," could mean "I'm responsible for the work," it could be egotistical, it could just be "this is who I am."

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Sunshine in the Park

Yesterday I was up at 8:30 AM, and I knew I was going to be able to walk. I took a bus to Balboa Park and walked between the Zoo and the Prado, then past the lily pond (Do Not Feed the Fish or Birds!). I enjoyed quiche and baby spring greens in the chilly atrium restaurant that is part of the sculpture garden. A bronze sculpture puzzled me. It was flattish, a rough square on end with ugly extensions. Once I read its little sign, I could kind of make out "Two Seated People." There's a new (to me) Nogare, resembling a seven foot polished black granite chisel head, very stern and deceptively simple in line. The tall black wood construction by Nevelson is gone. I walked around the grassy outdoor area, sat on a bench in the sun near Henry Moore's "Reclining Figure: Arch Leg." I couple came by. The young woman related the tale of the sculpture in much the way I have to others. (A eucalyptus fell over, its roots shifted the ground and broke the base of the sculpture. Several tons of bronze Arch Leg fell over.) That's how it was the first time I saw it..I think. When I first came to San Diego, I was profoundly moved and relieved to find that sculpture garden. I used to visit the sculpture garden at MOMA frequently. Apparently I need Rodin and Maillol and Calder and Renoir and Rembrandt to feel I'm home. (The Timken has a wonderful Rembrandt of St. Bartolomeo.) I also need Matisse and Cezanne and Van Gogh.

The Moore stayed broken for years. Eventually they built a cyclone fence around it to keep people from climbing on it and risking getting hurt if the ground shifted further. It must have cost a gazillion dollars to shift the sculpture back in place, after stabilizing the ground underneath. (You can see it on Flickr.com, arrow9studio, or the San Diego Museum of Art site.)

The young lady telling about it had the same attitude I did, ownership about this piece of local history. I suppose thousands of people feel similar investment in the Case of the Fallen Moore and its eventual restoration. No fence around it now.

The sun felt good, benign. I felt quiet, even though we could hear shouting and cheering and drumming from a big rally for Ron Paul in the amphitheater. As I limped up the Prado towards the fountain and the bus stop, I saw an amazing number of costumed entertainers, musicians, mimes, and fortune tellers. As usual, there were lots of small children running around the fountain, which was turned up to an exuberant imitation of the geyser, Old Faithful.

My muscles hurt, but I was and am very grateful that I could take that walk in the sun.

Saturday, February 2, 2008


Boy, did I get tired. Probably it's just the up and down cycles I've been through for a long time. It's oddly reassuring to see that in black and white on the calendar chart and graph provided by the 10,000 Step program. My goal is the same: raise the lowest days over the long term, not when my bones seem lined with lead. That just makes things worse. No, gentle reader, I'm not talking about depression, but about energy-sapping illness.

There's a wedding coming up several months from now. I want to be able to enjoy it. I will enjoy it!