Tuesday, November 28, 2006

glowing from the inside out

Patti's writings at 37Days always glow, full of truth and humor and love and insight. This one glows with special fire, and offers up with deep and breathtaking tenderness the essence of love and community and thankfulness.
This photo is by Hamed Saber

Sunday, November 26, 2006

the full of life is infinite

(For Thomas, whose seat I sat in when his travel plans conflicted with his tickets to see the Butoh troupe Sankai Juku on Tuesday, and thank you dear Ashley for the invitation to sit there!)

Lotus Leaves
"Inspired by the meeting with Mr. Riho Senba, the headmaster of the "koryushooukai" school of Ikebana (the art of Japanese flower arrangement)"

~from the program notes of Kagemi: Beyond the Metaphors of Mirrors

The Kage of Kagemi is shadow
The light of contrast, the image in the mirror of water's surface
mi is seeing and being seen

Some say
Kagemi is the ancient origin of "mirror" (kagemi)

In light, the surface that reflects and is reflected, looked into and looking back

Surface beginning in the horizontal water plane and transforming to the perpendicular face

From an ambiguous and transient state to one clearly outlined

The right hand asks, the left hand answers

Once an imaginary sur-face is defined

~Amagatsu Ushio, Sankai Juku founder, Director, Choreographer and Designer.

The day after the performance, a friend who had also been there said that a difference between modern dance and butoh is that in modern dance the choreographer and dancer will observe a tree or water, and create movement that evokes tree or water; in butoh the dancer becomes tree, or water.

The act of watching becomes a visceral act. Being lulled by the endlessly slow drift of an arm or a leg. In trance and then restless as bodies shift in complex patterns, none of it comprehensible to the mind. So much happens in the lift of the eyelids, in the shapes of the fingers carried like upturned claws or tipped in blood-red paint, in the expressionless mask broken suddenly open in hilarity or howl (which? or both?). Even the faint white clouds arising as the powdered bodies of the dancers quickly cross the stage contribute to the stunning scene. The final image felt too like waves falling, rising: the luminous leaves lowered down to the stage again (where they were at the beginning hovering just above the floor), the dancers reclining on the floor between the descended stems, then lying down as the lights dim. The tiny spotlights on hands rising above the surface of the leaves, fingers alive like birds or blossoms breaking bud.

I Wind in the Water Depths
II MANEBI -- two mirrors
III Echoing of gaze and return gaze
IV In the light by the waterside
V Infinite dialogue
VI Empty / Full
VII CHIRAL / ACHIRAL, Agitation and Sedimentation

Then, on Sunday my 16 year old son and I went to see BODIES: The Exhibition (choosing to go at probably the most crowded time possible), which he has wanted to see since it opened.

Like the intensely expressive. perfectly formed, dancers' bodies, these bodies were amazing, too -- impeccably, exquisitely dissected human cadavers (not without controversy, see here), preserved with a kind of silicone polymer that arrests decay and hardens the tissues. A number of the bodies are posed in athletic gestures, diving to dig a volleyball or poised to shoot a basketball or arm stretched overhead to serve a tennis ball. Others are simply seated or standing to display something particular such as the layers of the spinal cord, or muscle and joint layers. The most mind-boggling to me (having spent many hours during the first year of medical school in dissection lab and knowing how easy it is to do an awful job of it) were the entirely dissected-out, lifted from the rest of the body, nervous system and circulatory systems (arteries and veins). There are also displays of organs both healthy and diseased (no matter how many times I see it, it is always shocking to see lungs that are black from years of smoking, compared with normal lungs that are greyish pink with spots of black from pollution -- spots we've all got, so that "normal" and "healthy" might not be exactly the same thing...)

The choices of what to remove and what to leave were a little curious, I thought -- faces were dissected to remove most of the skin and connective tissue, but eyelids and lips and ears were left, and sometimes fingertips and genitalia, so that you did have a sense of the someone who wore this body at one time. By leaving those features, the bodies definitely looked like people, not just like generalized human specimens.

It is interesting to me that these actual viscera didn't have a visceral effect on me, fathoms away from the internal movement stirred by the living, moving butoh dancers' bodies.

Also interesting to me is that all of these bodies are Asian bodies like mine (except that all of the dancers and most of the cadaver specimens are male), so that the surface of what I was seeing was maybe a little bit more mirror-like for me than it might have been. At one point I heard a woman in the Bodies exhibition say something like, "well, he still looks like the chinaman that he was" and I turned around to stare, surprised to hear a term I haven't heard for decades, but I couldn't tell who had said it (it really was crowded there!). The warmth of the crowd and the buzz of conversation and exclamations, as we milled around the exhibits in our own self-organized choreography, generated a current of liveliness that both encompassed and contrasted with the formerly-alive. My son and I noticed and sometimes shared people's reactions of fascination, wonder, revulsion, wistfulness, reverence, and even a resistance to being amazed ("they're just dead bodies, what's the big deal?" ~overheard while standing in the line to get in)

Sankai Juku's Amagatsu-san points to: the surface that reflects and is reflected, looked into and looking back
"Kagemi" explores what happens behind mirrors, said founder and artistic director Ushio Amagatsu, speaking in Japanese through an interpreter by phone from Tokyo. The performance begins by using the surface of water as a mirror, he said. "It's real, but not real."

Seven scenes contrast life and death, ash and blood, sand and water. Knowing about death allows you to realize what kind of life you can live, Amagatsu said. "If you think about yourself, there's a beginning and an end, but the full of life is infinite." In other words, individual lives emerge and disappear, but human life is continuous.
~The Seattle Times
Not only human life, but just life, the one life, pouring through the exquisiteness of all of these individual forms; the more forms we see, the more we may see our self, looking back at us.

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Building a WISER Commons, Dec 1, 2006

My friends Jon and Tova Ramer of The Interra Project, along with WiserEarth and WiserBusiness (projects of the Natural Capital Institute) invite us all to a half day session on Friday, December 1st, 2006, to be kicked off with a presentation by Paul Hawken. The doors will open at 8:30 AM at Town Hall at 1119 8th Avenue, Seattle, 98101. The event is downstairs -- use the Seneca Street entrance.

Little update: here is the related SustainabilityCommons Wiki

- We are more together - (and you can see who else is attending here)
We are cooperating to create a Sustainability Commons. The Commons is a network of cooperators creating a common-pool resource of sustainability focused information and tools. The Commons is a "control-free zone" in which participants agree to create Public Goods used by all members of society. Paul Hawken will participate and present the WISER (World Index for Social and Environmental Responsibility) framework for connecting the civil society, private and public sectors.

A Commons is not about forming one big umbrella. We are using enabling technologies to connect our umbrellas to enhance what each of us offers our constituencies; and to extend the reach of the information we are sharing.

Measurable outcomes include the quality, usefulness, and completeness of the information that each of us has access to and increasing the numbers of people viewing our shared information.

- We are open -
This half day session is strategic and will not focus on the technical details. Whatever technologies we utilize will be open and use a "creative commons license" or "copyleft" approach and be maintained for the public good.

Our goal for the session is to build upon the momentum to bring a Commons into form.

We will demonstrate WISER, an open source platform that enables private sector, civil society, and government to collaboratively address and solve social, economic and environmental problems.

"The world changes when networks of relationships form among people who share a common cause and vision of what's possible."

- We think it is time and hope you can join us -
We recognize and appreciate the work you are doing and invite you to consider joining with us. Coming to the session does not commit you to any further participation. Table space will be provided so you can promote your work.

$10.00 covers the cost of Town Hall (& no one will be turned away)

- Please RSVP so we can prepare -
You can purchase tickets online at http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/8542

If you plan to purchase a ticket at the door or if you have any questions please contact:
Jon Ramer (jramer@interraproject.org) (206) 972-7356
or Habib Rose (habib@connectexpress.com)

If you have a laptop bring it!

- The Interra Project -
The Interra Project’s mission is to empower a community based movement of citizen consumers by providing tools for a direct alignment between daily economic activities and our deepest human values. http://www.interraproject.org

- Wiser -
Wiser’s mission is to create a common language, collaborative tools, and a comprehensive, freely accessible, and transparent body of knowledge, enabling a transformation to a restorative economy. This powerful tool for social change encompasses the sister sites WiserEarth — connecting social and environmentally focused non-profits worldwide, and WiserBusiness — guiding companies of all sizes toward responsible business practices. http://www.wiserbusiness.org

The Interra Project and WiserBusiness are working to cohesively tie together networks in a way that makes conscious consumption and responsible business easily accessible and a systemic part of everyday life.

Friday, November 17, 2006

encounter with non-violence

"Encounter Point is an 85-minute feature documentary film that follows a former Israeli settler, a Palestinian ex-prisoner, a bereaved Israeli mother and a wounded Palestinian bereaved brother who risk their lives and public standing to promote a nonviolent end to the conflict. Their journeys lead them to the unlikeliest places to confront hatred within their communities. The film explores what drives them and thousands of other like-minded civilians to overcome anger and grief to work for grassroots solutions. It is a film about the everyday leaders in our midst."

Opening in selected cities in North America and the Middle East over the next few weeks, Encounter Point was made by a production team of young Israeli, Palestinian, North American and Brazilian women: Ronit Avni, Julia Bacha (co-writer and editor of Control Room, the award-winning documentary about Al-Jazeera), Nahanni Rous, and Joline Maklouf. Their production company, Just Vision, is a non-profit that works to "widen the influence of Palestinian and Israeli grassroots peace activists."

Encounter Point will screen here in Seattle at the Northwest Film Forum, December 5 at 7 pm and December 6 and 7 at 7 pm and 9 pm, at Cinema 1, 1515 12th Ave between Pike and Pine streets. Tickets available through brownpapertickets.com.

Monday, November 13, 2006

hanging out with awakened beings

"In ancient times, and probably today in a few places, the Taoist priest was called in if there was a problem in the village...he would trot off from his hermitage and go to the town and say something like, 'Give me a quiet place, give me a cabin, and leave me alone.' There he would sit down and open himself to the chi of the environment, to the energy. Now that's great compassion because when you open yourself to the environment, if it's out-of-kilter, you are going to feel the out-of-kilter in your own being. It's all going to happen inside just as it's happening outside. But if you have enough stability, if you have enough insight, nothing in you is going to be worried about that. It's not going to be a problem. It's not even going to make you suffer, but it will just happen: turbulence. Only when you've fully realized yourself, do you have the fearlessness to do that. Otherwise, if you open yourself up, you get totally lost.

"The Taoist priest would sit there in the cabin and just open himself to the chi, or the energy of the environment--feel it, experience it, and then open the chi to the light of his own consciousness...and the energy would start to rectify itself. The people in the village would start to feel better and get along for awhile.

"That's why scriptures have advised us to hang out with awakened beings. The awakened one could be a human being, a tree being, a street-corner being. Expose yourself to them. Don't worship them and put them on a pedestal. But expose yourself and this rectification happens; this harmonization happens because of their state of consciousness.

"But don't become dependent. You wake yourself up."

Adyashanti, emptiness dancing, pp 30-31
photo originally uploaded by *Micki*

"The traditional or tribal shaman, I came to discern, acts as an intermediary between the human community and the larger ecological field, ensuring that there is an appropriate flow of nourishment, not just from the landscape to the human inhabitants, but from the human community back to the local earth...To some extent every adult in the community is engaged in this process of listening and attuning to the other presences that surround and influence daily life. But the shaman or sorcerer is the exemplary voyager in the intermediate realm between the human and the more-than-human worlds, the primary strategist and negotiator in any dealings with the Others.

And it is only as a result of her continual engagement with the animate powers that dwell beyond the human community that the traditional magician is able to alleviate many individual illnesses that arise within that community. The sorcerer derives her ability to cure ailments from her more continuous practice of "healing" or balancing the community's relation to the surrounding land...Only those persons who, by their everyday practice, are involved in monitoring and maintaining the relations between the human village and the animate landscape are able to appropriately diagnose, treat, and ultimately relieve personal ailments and illnesses arising within the village...The medicine person's primary allegiance, then, is not to the human commmunity, but to the earthly web of relations in which that community is embedded..."

David Abram, The Spell of the Sensuous
, pp 7-8
photo originally uploaded by David Pham/shapeshift

Friday, November 10, 2006

in the look in your eyes

Today's Word for the Day from Gratefulness.org:"To treat every human being as a shrine of God is to fulfill all religion."
~Bowl of Saki
Pir-O-Murshid Hazrat Inayat Khan
founder of the Sufi Order International

The Sufis also say:
"There are as many paths to God as there are breaths"
"When you look for God, God is in the look in your eyes"

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

steeped in the cups with the moon and the stars

Meredith pours three cups of tea so fresh and clear that you can see the stars inside looking back at you:

"The iris pond has flowered
Before the old temple;
I sell tea this evening
By the water's edge...

"People go looking far and wide
for the Buddha's enlightenment
but I just sip my tea
and my tea swallows me...

"Wakefully we drink tea
sipping from simple cups
holding the moon
and galaxies of stars...

And today mamster wrote about a new teahouse
in town, called Remedy Teas ("Tea For Life"), which stocks close to 150 varieties of organic tea.

It's tea time right now! And pretty much all the time that you are not asleep.

Lovely photo above of Dragon Pearl jasmine tea and rooibos "redbush" tea
by Selva Morales under a Creative Commons License

Saturday, November 04, 2006

precious metal is the mother of water

Autumn is Metal:
"If you're really listening, if you're awake to the poignant beauty of the world, your heart breaks regularly. In fact, your heart is made to break; its purpose is to burst open again and again so that it can hold ever-more wonders."

Andrew Harvey, The Return of the Mother

And Winter is Water:
"This mind of endless effortless movement is what we strive to emulate in Aikido. Joining with, absorbing, surrounding, and protecting all that we encounter, regardless of the perceived adversity. Through our practice we come to embody the emotional understanding that we are very much the same as all of life. Each of us engaged in the inevitable journey back to the center of the universe, to die and be born again."

Senta Yamada sensei
founder of Kikusui Kai Aikido

Springtime is Wood:
"Too often we focus exclusively on the objectives, reacting to the failure of its immediacy with frustration and impatience. One wonders if the apple seed, too, experiences this frustration and sense of dashed hopes as it grows into a wooden stick that in no way resembles the apple it was promised it would become."

Rabbi Gerson Winkler

Summer is Fire:
"I am the joy of the desiring flesh
The days of my living
are summer days
The nights of my glory
outshine the blazing wavecaps of the heavens
at their floodtide
Mine is the confident hand shaping this world."

Kenneth Patchen

And this is Earth, sometimes called the season in-between the seasons, sometimes called Indian Summer, sometimes called the center and axis of the wheel as it turns:

"I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. This is the interrelated structure of reality."

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Friday, November 03, 2006

make their skin wake up

I've posted a few of my rough notes from the Bioneers at the Easily Amazed Forum Schoolhouse, and it has been re-inspiring and re-stirring to read them over (except for the frustrating parts that I can't make out! I actually used to have very nice handwriting, before I spent a few too many years in school).

So far I've written up my notes from Paul Hawken's plenary address and James Hillman's, both of which are available as audio downloads from the Bioneers store. My latest addition, though, hasn't been available--I'm not sure if it didn't get taped, or it's just not listed yet in the store--but if it's "disappeared into thin air," or rather, resonating and reverberating still in the living air without its signal having been captured in electronic form, it might be appropriate...

So here are just a few para-phrases from that talk, which was a panel discussion between cultural ecologist and magician David Abram (author of the profoundly stirring The Spell of the Sensuous: Perception and Language in a More-Than-Human World) and feminist thinker, poet and activist Susan Griffin on Changing the Language of Environmentalism (also, see Amy Lenzo's great notes, at The Beauty Dialogues):
Griffin: We need language that holds the grief of this moment--need to take back 'right to life/right to live'

Abram: We all have to be poets...to speak "as creatures luring people back into their bodies and making their skin wake up."
The Air is the Mystery for every oral culture--where the meaning is, where the voices of the ancestors still hang out.
Sometimes he spells it "E A I R T H" to remember that the air is part of the Earth, not separate from it.