Sunday, March 27, 2005


I am in the habit of carrying around a blank book and using it to write down anything I might want again later (impressions, phone numbers, thoughts, dreams, notes from lectures and meetings and conversations, phrases I like, an occasional striking shape or contour) (but not appointments--those go on the calendar; and no grocery lists--those go on a scrap of paper destined inevitably to be lost somewhere after the produce section and before the cereal aisle).

I fill it up in the order of things received, till I get to the end, and then I get a new book that looks different from the previous one. I know which part of my life, which months, are in the yellow book with the calligraphy on it, which part is in the book with the red rubbery cover imprinted with a Chinese poem, which part is in the hardcover spiral notebook with the coffee stains on the front (and back). Etc. But my current book is a Moleskine journal, a black hardcover ("moleskine" oilcloth cover) that has a built-in accordion pocket in the back, a ribbon for a bookmark, and an attached stretchy band to go around the whole thing and keep all the collected loose scraps inside. It has graph paper pages (usually I like blank pages, and definitely don't like ruled pages, but have been enjoying the geometricness of these pages underneath my far-from-geometric jottings).

One book, full of a lot of different stuff, and yesterday I took to pasting Post-It flags throughout so that I could find things more easily. There are four colors of flags, and I found that I could shimmy all the pages into one of four arbitrary categories, pretty easily, though the groupings might only make sense to me!
Red: Rabbi Ted's teachings (Torah study, a class on the Kabbalistic wisdom of the alef-bet) and my Israel journal. Also, all of the Five-Element and Traditional Chinese Medicine notes I've taken in the past few months.
Yellow: Business/work plans, projects, musings.
Green: Everything that has to do with Bastyr & naturopathic medicine. Notes for the Determinants of Health course I'm teaching next quarter, conversations and meetings about Bastyr's vision/mission reworkings, meetings about the Foundations of Naturopathic Medicine textbook that I'm peripherally involved with.
Blue: The wider conversations; collective exploration; notes from when Tom Atlee of the Co-Intelligence Institute came up to Seattle and talked about his "five favorite large-group collaborative practices" (out of the dozens that he's familiar with, he finds the most effective to be World Cafe, Open Space Technology, Future Search, Dynamic Facilitation, and Citizen Deliberative Council); phone numbers such as those for Open Space friends Avner, Tova, (you could have their phone numbers, too, by seeing Israel on the Open Space world map!) and Chris; and most recently a preliminary mind-map for an Open Space for Giving and Receiving and Flourishing (a sprout seeded at the first such Giving Conference held in Chicago last year), that Ashley's begun to concoct. Dream and poetry fragments get this flag, too.

I like this book, a lot! I think my next one will be just like it (but maybe I'll get the Post-It flags with the purple and pink ones next time).

Saturday, March 26, 2005

and then You are

And then You are like this:

A small bird decorated
With orange patches of light
Waving your wings near my window,

Encouraging me with all of existence's love--
To dance.

And then You are like this:

A cruel word that stabs me
From the mouth of a strange costume You wear;
A guise You had too long tricked me into thinking
Could be other--than You.

And then You are...

The firmament
That spins at the end of a string in Your hand
That You offer to mine saying,
"Did you drop this--surely
This is yours."

And then You are, O then You are:

The Beloved of every creature
Revealed with such grandeur--bursting
From each cell in my body,
I kneel, I laugh,
I weep, I sing,
I sing.

Hafiz, from The Gift, translated by Daniel Ladinsky

Saturday, March 12, 2005

essence prayer

Like a maker of rare perfume, Rabbi Ted distills the essence of traditional Jewish prayer to:
Bless (from the Barchu, the call to blessing)
You (from the typical blessingway that begins "blessed are You")
One (from the Shema, whose first phrase is the foundational declaration/recognition of Oneness)
Love (from the V'ahavta, the continuation of the Shema that begins "and you shall love your God")

In another reflection of the Shema ("Listen, O Israel/wrestler with God: the Eternal is our God; the Eternal is One") and in the same spirit of entering the deep-to-the-bones essence prayer, Jeff Aitken offers the practice of "...kissing mezuzah* and saying listen: there is only God--following Saniel Bonder."

*mezuzah is the tool of mindfulness affixed to Jewish doorways.
Here is an essay by Rabbi Laura Geller called "Being a Mezuzah"

Saturday, March 05, 2005

the treasure of seed

The Three Taoist Treasures are Qi (energy), Jing (essence) and Shen (mind/spirit).

Jing is stored in the Kidneys and belongs to Water. This is some of what I learned from Thea about Jing:

Jing is Potential. Resource. Blueprint. Seed (see Chris Corrigan's telling of the Sky Goddess creation story: in it, Seed holds the roaring power of transformation, which can require deep endurance and sacrifice, and the prospect of that often evokes terror -- all Kidney/Water attributes).

Jing is "the thing you can't change about yourself", your individual uniqueness given through family, lineage, ancestry, everything that's come before. You can fight it or embrace it, but it's innate and it unfolds over time.

The transformation to virtue is from Fear, to Wisdom. The wise person is deeply attuned to the inevitable unfolding, to what is going to unfold/emerge from the seeds planted now, deeply attuned to the song whose opening notes are just starting to be sung.

We have two kinds of Jing: Original Jing, which is passed to us by our parents and all of the ancestors before; and Postnatal Jing, which we make from Kidney Yin (sleep) and Kidney Yang (from the energy of the Sun -- in the air we breathe, and in the food we eat). One of the main ways to deplete Jing is to be other than what we're meant to be, to deny our authentic nature. We are given quite enough Jing to realize our True Nature, but it uses up more Jing to be/do something other than that. "Are you going to will for yourself what Heaven's willed for you?"

Original Jing is irreplaceable. When we kick into "willpower" (effortful striving) to live our lives, it means we've surpassed the amount of Jing we acquired from eating, breathing and sleeping for that day, and we are squandering Original Jing. "It is OK to tap your Jing for immortality" -- for that which will live beyond you: your child who needs you in the middle of the night, your life's devotion; just be aware of what you're choosing to use it for. Teaching is a Jing activity, relying as it does on the ability to understand the authentic Nature of each student.

A "Jing crisis" will put you into what Dr. Ted Kaptchuk calls "existential vertigo": it's "looking into the pit" or looking at the night sky and feeling like you're falling in, it's "losing your place in Time". People in a Jing crisis will visit their home town or people who knew them "before they got lost", wondering "who am I now?"

Jing tonics and medicines can't replace Original Jing, but they can help us attune to our "Jing vibration" so that we will be more likely to move in accordance, and not squander.