The In-Between Time

There is a feeling one gets the day after Christmas (if you aren’t in the shopping mall) that allows one a bit of contemplative pause 2019imqge34before considering the possibilities of the new year only one week away.

Were this not the Age of Trump, this week might be full of joy and wonder and speculative potential for wondrous new things. But since it is the Age of Trump, we are filled with dread, uncertainty, and a pending sense of doom with thoughts of how dumbshitchristmascall.jpgmuch damage he can do in one short week with the government shut down and no one around to stop him.

I mean how stupid do you have to be to hold a Christmas Eve photo op of him talking to 7-year -olds about Santa Claus coming, and to say on national television: “Are you still a believer in Santa? Because at seven it’s marginal, right?”

Right.  It’s marginal Mr. President.

“Mommy, what does marginal mean?”

Well there goes a future prospective voter. Why on earth did the White House communications people think that putting a misogynistic, narcissist with no sense of empathy or humanity on national television speaking live to an impressionable female child about the plausibility of Santa Claus, was a good idea?presdienthomealomne5

Especially  Mr. “I’m HOME ALONE in the White House (poor me).”   Now there’s a Christmas message of hope and goodwill to all. (They rushed Melania back from Florida after that one.)

Don’t consider that the stock market took the biggest dive in December since the Great Depression, primarily because of Trump’s irrational behavior and tweeting—threatening to fire of all people, the Federal Reserve Chairman for raising interest rates.

MATTISflagsgenDon’t consider that firing the one buffer (Secretary Mattis—Defense Department) we had to keep Trump from starting a nuclear war or giving Vlad the keys to the White House, just scared the crap out of not only us but our allies around the globe.

Don’t consider that he makes national and foreign policy changes not on his Presidential Advisor’s opinions, but on the advice of FOX News consultants Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh (Is Hannity on the outs with him now?  I thought HE ran the Presidency.)

Don’t consider that Senate Republicans are likely soiling their drawers now wondering how they are going to actually handle the aftermath of all this Trump-created mayhem because it’s squarely in their laps for letting him do what all he’s done to date.

And the Democrats take over the House January 3rd.  Won’t that be a fun time for all!subpoena-forcongress.jpg

Watch those subpoenas fly—see those criminal investigations launching for the heavens like a new rocket to the moon.

Welcome to Washington—oh no, there will be no welcoming committee to Washington DC because the government is SHUT DOWN due to his latest temper tantrum!  Oh yes, that’s right.

So, during this time between your Christmas Cheer aftermath and your New Year ahead optimism, try to keep your head from exploding, stay away from the booze, and by all means, shut off the television. There’s nothing good for you on there now.

Trust me on this one.Washington DC Capitol Government Shutdown Text

Advertisements

Shoshin – The Beginner’s Mind

Sounds a bit paradoxical, but I can easily say that despite lessIknow45.pnghow much I’ve often thought that I knew throughout my life, or how hard-won that advanced knowledge came into being for me, the older I get the better I appreciate how little I actually DO know.

In truth it seems that with every passing day I feel this almost humorous certainty growing stronger within me: a certainty-of-my-own-ignorance—that jolting realization that what you once believed to be truth, actually wasn’t, and you may never know the REAL truth no matter how old or knowledgeable you become because that TRUTH exists in a realm that is incomprehensible to your present existence.

This body shock of awakening to our own innate ignorance can be scathingly honest and quite humbling.

It certainly was to my ego.

But to those who study Zen, this isn’t some new concept—some might simply call it ‘cultivating the Beginner’s Mind.’

What is Beginner’s Mind?  Here’s a good explanation first from Wikipedia, then from a Zen master himself.

Shoshin (初心) is a concept in Zen Buddhism meaning ‘beginner’s mind.’ It refers to having shozinbeginnersmind.pngan attitude of openness, eagerness, and lack of preconceptions when studying a subject, even when studying at an advanced level, just as a beginner in that subject would. The term is especially used in the study of Zen Buddhism and Japanese martial arts.”

Text source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shoshin

Master Shunryu Suzuki can explain it far better than I can:

“People say that practicing Zen is difficult, but there is a misunderstanding as to why. It is not difficult because it is hard to sit in the cross‑legged position, or to attain enlightenment. It is difficult because it is hard to keep our mind pure and our practice pure in its fundamental sense.

In Japan we have the phrase shoshin, which means ‘beginner’s mind.’ The goal of practice is always to keep our beginner’s mind…

For Zen students the most important thing is not to be dualistic. Our ‘original mind’ includes everything within itself. It is always rich and sufficient within itself. You should not lose your self‑sufficient state of mind.

This does not mean a closed mind, but actually an empty mind and a ready mind. If your mind is empty, it is always ready for anything; it is open to everything. In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities; in the expert’s mind there are few.

The most difficult thing is always to keep your beginner’s mind. There is no need to have a deep understanding of Zen. Even though you read much Zen literature, you must read each sentence with a fresh mind.

You should not say, ‘I know what Zen is,’ or ‘I have attained enlightenment.’ This is shoshinmaster.jpgalso the real secret of the arts: always be a beginner.

Be very, very careful about this point. If you start to practice zazen, you will begin to appreciate your beginner’s mind. It is the secret of Zen practice.”

Shunryu Suzuki
from Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind

 

So I acknowledge that here I sit in my own ignorance while trying to make sense of our life existence.

These are the very things I often write about: What is reality?—What is consciousness?—What are we doing here? Why are we here? Who benefits and how do they benefit from our incarnating here during this time period or ANY time period?

All those unanswerable questions come down to the battle in our minds over the relevance between our DOING and our BEING.

Here is a basic truth as I presently know it:  I AM.  I EXIST.  I EXPERIENCE.  I OBSERVE.

And I try like the dickens NOT to judge the value of what I am observing because to do so implies a comparative knowledgebase that I do not have—at least not from my humble human perspective.

the-older-i-get-the-less-i-know-by-that-i-mean-the-less-i-am-sure-of-i-view-p-403x403-nkb3nfSo each day I open my eyes and wonder what this day will bring to me. I wonder what new realization will occur to my sensing abilities. I wonder what type of sense I can make of whatever is happening to me and around me, but knowing full well that ‘making sense’ is a judgment in itself.

However, I also know that only through shoshinbeginner’s mind—can I simply observe all and note those observances without judgment or expectation—knowing I must simply allow all occurrences (and not labeling them as ‘good’ or ‘bad’) to flow along with the river of life into the great sea of consciousness that connects us all and patiently awaits our return.

This I also know:  Beginner’s Mind is not easily achieved nor sustained for long unless you willingly intend it.

T-Baby Tours the Pampas

Pretty exciting times right now for the world’s most illustrious leaders. The G20 is meeting in Buenos Aries today to discuss the fate of the entire planet, and our favorite inflated, orange blowhard is there to see how many nations he can insult, dismiss, or push out of the way as he fights for air time.

And air time he will have!  Lots of hot air there as T-Baby tours the pampas!

TRUMP-BABY-BALLOON-716148.jpgthe_pampas_04.jpg

We’re so proud!

Brigit Anna McNeill’s Prose on “Winter”

“We are approaching the threshold of winter.

Life is being drawn into the earth, painlessly descending down into the very heart of herself.

And we as natural human animaljessicaboehmanearthpic.jpgs are being called to do the same, the pull to descend into our bodies, into sleep, darkness and the depths of our own inner caves continually tugging at our marrow.

But many find the descent into their own body a scary thing indeed, fearing the unmet emotions and past events that they have stored in the dark caves inside themselves, not wanting to face what they have so carefully and unkindly avoided.

This winter solstice time is no longer celebrated as it once was, with the understanding that this period of descent into our own darkness was so necessary in order to find our light. That true freedom comes from accepting with forgiveness and love what we have been through and vanquishing the hold it has on us, bringing the golden treasure back from the cave of our darker depths.

This is a time of rest and deep reflection, a time to wipe the slate clean as it were and clear out the old so you can walk into spring feeling ready to grow and skip without a dusty mountain on your back & chains around your ankles tied to the caves in your soul.

A time for the medicine of story, of fire, of nourishment and love.

A period of reconnecting, relearning & reclaiming of what this time means brings winter back to a time of kindness, love, rebirth, peace and unburdening instead of a time of dread, fear, depression and avoidance.

This modern culture teaches avoidance at a max at this time; alcohol, lights, shopping, overworking, over spending, bad food and consumerism.

And yet the natural tug to go inwards as nearly all creatures are doing is strong and people are left feeling as if there is something wrong with them, that winter is cruel and leaves them feeling abandoned and afraid. Whereas in actual fact winter is so kind, yes she points us in her quiet soft way towards our inner self, towards the darkness and potential death of what we were, but this journey if held with care is essential.

She is like a strong teacher that asks you to awaken your inner loving elder or therapist, holding yourself with awareness of forgiveness and allowing yourself to grieve, to cry, rage, laugh, & face what we need to face in order to be freed from the jagged bonds we wrapped around our hearts, in order to reach a place of healing & light without going into overwhelm.

Winter takes away the distractions, the noise and presents us with the perfect time to rest and withdraw into a womb like love, bringing fire & light to our hearth.”

  • illustration by Jessica Boehman
  • words Brigit Anna McNeill

Just Watching It All Play Out

1800ELECTION_RESULTS.jpg

I would have commented on the midterm election results sooner, but I, like the rest of the country, am still awaiting the final tallies.

Clearly changes were made across the nation, with other changes still in the making.

And one thing remains the same for the time being: the insanity presently occupying the White House. The only difference is in how amped up it has lately become. Someone is definitely not happy there.

For the country and democracy in general, I think major progress was pushed forward, or let me rephrase that, major progress was retrieved from the garbage heap where it had been so flagrantly tossed 2 years ago when Obama left.

While we are nowhere near being out of the constitutional danger zone as a nation yet, I do think that some folks who were banking on voter apathy and inciting racial fears, were a bit disappointed in the election results. I also think those same folks will be even more disappointed when Mueller indictments start falling in the near future.furorpres18.jpg

You don’t have to like the guy in charge. You don’t even have to tolerate his tantrums and embarrassing displays of juvenile behavior around the globe. You only have to expect him to do his job in a conscientious and lawful manner. He is the President, after all.

And that is an expectation that is backed by the laws of the United States Constitution.

This isn’t a personality/popularity issue.  It isn’t a political hit job. It is simply a question of legalities that were violated and obliterated in some instances.

It isn’t even a morality issue because if that had ever been in play, he’d have been gone before he even started.

This is about violating laws. This is about trading influence for future rewards. This is about greed and corruption in the highest offices of the land.

meachumbooksoul.jpgThis is about taking back the soul of America—what we stand for—who we are.

This is about you and your family, and the kind of world you want your children to inherit.

This is about looking in the mirror across the entirety of the nation and liking what you see again—a diverse populace.

This is about getting real and serious on social change and helping others to make the best of their own lives. They don’t need handouts–they need hand ups. They need respect and acknowledgement of their basic right to personal dignity as human beings. This is who we are–this is what we do. We respect each other as human beings with shared goals for a better life for ourselves and for those we love.

This is the NEW America, we hope.

And this is our new agenda for moving forward with our lives.

For Christmas, get your new ballcap with the letters on it for “MAAA!”

Make America “AMERICA” again!capwithamericabeing.jpg

That’s what this midterm election just tried to do.

 

 

 

Sunday Chuckles

I am a fan of NASA’s Facebook page because they post such amazing images of our solar system and beyond.  So this morning, they posted this fantastic image of Jupiter up close and personal; and it got personal to a few folks out there which made for some much needed laughter.

nasalodo987.jpg  NASA – National Aeronautics and Space Administration

 “Inkblot test!    What do you see in this image by NASA’s Juno Mission to Jupiter? We keep finding new shapes hidden in Jupiter’s swirling clouds. Look closer: https://go.nasa.gov/2qMt8ih

jupiteratmosphere56.jpg

To which the viewership responded in hilarious fashion:

  • Scott Dew I see our lord and savior Cthulu
    • ( according to Urban Dictionary: “A character in Lovecraft’s tale ‘The Call of Cthulhu’. Cthulhu is a monstrous entity who lies “dead but dreaming” in the city of R’lyeh, a place of non-Euclidean madness presently (and mercifully) sunken below the depths of the Pacific Ocean.Cthulhu appears in various monstrous and demonic forms in early myths of the human race.”)
  • Марио Колев Here come the religious people, even if their god is fictional….
  • Daniel Harden It’s a lady giving a Velociraptor the Heimlich.
  • Liz Gaffney Air quality in Los Angeles right about now due to fires. (So sorry California.)
  • David Jobling I’m not religious but I can see the full nativity here, which is a bit of a head trip.
  • Arun Krishnarayan A Bird of prey on the right and Gandalf with a bad cold.
    And at the bottom is a shark with a wide open mouth & woman lying face down in the middle.
  • Saranda Tessera The only true god is Zeus.  Scripture tells us so. Anyway the picture of Jupiter (Latin for Zeus) is breathtaking. What a chaotic creation.
  • Steve Parkinson Keep your sky pixie nonsense off scientific fact pages please.

At least the comments made me chuckle. 🙂

Our minds constantly associate familiar memories to objects and items that we are unfamiliar with in an attempt to identify the threat or safety of them before we proceed further in encountering them. And likewise, if you want to see something that others may not see in a burnt piece of toast, you will do so mainly because you are looking for it no matter where you look.

Unimaginatively I see an amazing image of Jupiter’s atmosphere with wild weather interactions.  (But I totally concur about the lady giving a Velociraptor the Heimlich–it’s clear as day.)

On the “Nature of Reality” Per Alberto V.

boatalberto67.jpg

Saw an interesting blog post from Alberto Villoldo this morning with his take on Peruvian lessons in humanity and how we often view each other:  https://thefourwinds.com/blog/shamanism/the-nature-of-reality/

… “An Earthkeeper realizes that while you have to change everything within, you still have a responsibility to others and to the planet. The way to modify the dream is to own everything that you perceive is amiss with the world: the ugly, the violent, the beautiful, and the powerful. Perceive every hungry child, violent criminal, rich celebrity, polluted river, and tropical island just as if they were a dream and you were seeing every character, setting, and plot twist.

The mythologist Joseph Campbell once said that what we call reality comprises only those myths and stories we haven’t quite seen through yet. Once we do so, we understand that they’re just fairy tales. We come to this realization by seeing through the eyes of hummingbird. This is why I found it so easy to be an anthropologist—I could arrive at a village in the upper reaches of the Amazon and be the only one who saw that the emperor has no clothes (in some of the villages I visited, that was literally the case).

We’re able to see the dream or nightmare that others are trapped in so much more easily than our own. We quickly perceive that our friend is creating his own misery, but we still facepaintwall98.jpgthink that our own grief is the result of some tragedy that befell us. But when we discover that reality is really a dream, we can wake up from the collective nightmare, and what was hidden before becomes ridiculously apparent…”

On November 6th I do hope that we wake up from this collective nightmare by going to the voting booths and intentionally changing the direction that this country is presently headed.

I hope we finally wake up to the deceptions and distractions so carefully created to fool the masses—but also knowing full well that those masses are fooled only if they wish to be so.

Our life’s direction is an intentional creation by each of us. We choose to believe what we do.

We choose to agree and to support those who spew rhetorical hatred and bigotry used against our neighbors and against those who might differ from us in some way, even though we all simply want a safe and promising life for ourselves and for our families.

democracy voting people.jpgOn November 6th I truly hope that we create a better reality that finally clears away the crumbling façade from “the myths and stories we haven’t quite seen through yet.”

I also hope that November 7th is the start of a new day and a new direction for our nation.

Please vote November 6th to save our democracy while we still can save it; and please vote to save ourselves from this constant, flagrant hatred and bigotry demonstrated daily by those in the highest positions of government who are shirking their duties to all of us as American citizens by remaining silent and allowing the racism and hate speech to continue.

Please see through the lies and distractions, and stand strongly for fairness and equality again. Stand up again for the nation that we once were, where citizens believed that everyone should have the right to liberty and to basic human dignity.

Grab your family and friends and VOTE November 6th—and please help to save us from our lesser natures.voteisvoice5.jpg