Friday, May 25, 2007

bee people

This is from my friend and colleague, Karen Stocker:

Dear Human Cousins,

You worry we may be disappearing.

You wonder if we've died, become lost or run away.

We give thanks you wonder! We like it when you Human People wonder.

Please wonder!...about our lives, our days, our ways of flying out and all the way home on any available breeze; our yellow pollen fuzz leggings and blur of glascene wings; our ancient intimacy with blossoms; the precise hexagonal wax of our edible hives; the amazing, thick, sweet medicinal translucence of honey; our dance vibrations languages and questioning antennas, our irresistably magnetizing queen, and faithful tender attentions to each of our precious jewel-like sleeping unborn; our reason for being bees.

Please wonder!...what is flight like in a tangle of satellite signals, cell phone fequencies, exhaust and high voltage wires? What does Life feel like without Her, without Them? What meaning can be made from the taste of sugar water and 'pollen substitute'? Can we be shipped by the thousands, thousands of miles in the chaos and din of metal eighteen wheelers? How many times can we land on the open petals of ancestrally welcoming flowers to find the heart we enter sprayed or engineered hostile?

Wonder Human Cousins, could you live like this? Released, would you come back?

with Respect and Love to our Human Cousins,

Bee People

Bumblebee on bramble, originally uploaded by SouthbankSteve.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

ripening self

There are many names and quotes and terms I would normally make links for, in this post, but I want to publish it before sundown and the beginning of the holiday.

Today, for another few minutes, is the last day "in the wilderness" between freedom from enslavement (the story of Passover) and "revelation," stepping into the responsibility of freedom (tonight begins the holyday of Shavuot). It's the last day of "counting the omer," (didn't that seem like a long time?), counting the steps between two ways of being, making each day count.

Shavuot is the cyclical experience of standing at Sinai with all the children of Israel ("isra-el" meaning, "one who is wrestling with god") from all time, of hearing a voice which tradition says was/is outwardly silent, inwardly shattering. Rabbi Gerson Winkler of the Walkingstick Foundation writes about his experience, including this encounter with Miriam, the sister of Moses:
"...You want to explore the meaning of life? You want to achieve Nirvana? Go attend some self-discovery seminar, or read some bestselling paperback on how to attain enlightenment in six easy steps. You want to explore the will of God? Be ready for some seemingly mundane stuff about wholesome, conscientious relating with your ox or donkey, with your laborer, your housekeeper, your children, your partner. That's what God wanted to talk about directly, and chose to do it in a direct open major revelation so as to draw your attention to what is really important, not what you surmise is important; to get the point across loud and clear that the theme of this life is Relationship: relationship with self, other, earth, and with the mystery from which all emanates."

"Every Shavu'ot I recall my encounter, with God at the Mountain of Sinai; with Miriam at the Tent of Meeting. Every Shavu'ot I feel myself ripen, so much so that I trust enough to release my desperate grip on the Tree of Knowledge, and allow myself to fall onto the earth."

Following the energies of the Kabbalistic Tree of Life has brought us today to the Ground of the Ground, the day of the energy center called Malchut, in the week that also corresponds to Malchut. Rabbi Ted writes, "We are here, in this world of countless wonders. This is where we must realize the energies of the Tree. This is the space in which and for which we have responsibility."

Malchut is also called Shechinah, the in-dwelling, the filling up, the brimming over Presence.

Jay Michaelson writes,
"...There's a wise teaching that while the mind may know that all is one, the heart still experiences two. You and me; here and there; now and later — or before. And so the heart experiences a yearning which is sometimes sweet, oftentimes holy, and other times bitter and tinged with pain.

This yearning is also part of our reality. Our experience of separateness is part of our reality. And that which is present is not mere illusion: it is the Presence of the Divine, the shechinah, the tenth sefirah, also known as malchut, sovereignty...

...In Divine terms, malchut is the world that we experience, which is filled with the Shechinah, the Divine presence. Malchut is that aspect of the Divine which is totally immanent, absolutely here and now, closer to you even than your concept of "you."

Consequently, malchut is also that aspect of God which — as expressed poetically, and in ways that would horrify some rationalist philosophers — experiences what we experience. When we experience joy, malchut experiences joy; when we experience sadness, malchut experiences sadness. Most radically, when people are oppressed, enslaved, or even exterminated — this is malchut's experience as well."

A journey of only 50 days -- plenty long enough to be very challenging to my ability to sustain attention. Marking each step with a very brief ritual blessing was easy to remember almost every night; following along with the specific meditations was manageable for a few weeks out of the seven; making each day count, paying attention to how each moment is worth counting -- so much more challenging, so much more important.

George Por writes, "...a pattern that I sense as essential to our survival: for the new (temporary) states of collective consciousness to lead to the next stage of social evolution, they call for the sustained attention of groups in the tip of the wave to evolutionary dialogues, learning journeys into the future that wants to come into being through our loving attention to the 'magic in the middle,' as the late Finn Voldtofte used to talk about it."

I like to think that "the sustained attention of groups" can mean that the heart and mind and intention that I give to the groups that I care about, contributes to the habit and the practice of attention that calls forth "the future that wants to come into being" through us, and then that attention can remain steady and sustained and available to me and to all of us, even as some of the individuals in the group have their turn to lose focus (me, this week).

Rabbi Ted writes, on the threshold of awakening, "We are already the One we need to be."

Saturday, May 19, 2007

more luminous edge: "everyone was like, whoa!"

These spot-on reviews, from today's Seattle Times:

"When an internationally acclaimed performance-art festival is in Seattle, it only makes sense to ask Seattle-area children what they think of it.

"We sent out a troop of youngsters to catch some of the acts on stage during the first two days:

Emma Baron, 9, on "Luminous Edge," with juggler Thomas Arthur:

The most incredible thing I saw: The juggler. He was three characters and he was amazing. He made it look like the balls were coming out of nowhere. He made it look like he was twirling a piece of string. He was juggling and rolling balls through a tube and catching them while juggling. It was really amazing and it was really cool.

They asked us to be quiet but ... The one time it was really loud was when he was juggling glowing red balls. It was dark and the balls were glowing and showing in the dark. Everyone was like, "Whoa!"

Marni Lehman, 9, on "Luminous Edge," with juggler Thomas Arthur.

Where did all those balls come from? At the Children's Festival we saw Thomas the Juggler, and he was amazing! He made juggling look like the balls were coming out of nowhere. Thomas can juggle from under his legs to the top of his head. He can juggle very fast and makes it seem as if you see one ball but it is actually three.

Sound and visual effects: He tells a story as he goes on with the juggling. He makes a lot of noises that I can't make at all. He is three different people, characters such as a wizard. He has a screen that goes with what he is showing. The screen comes on right after or before a character. Thomas makes things on the screen look real. He will make his shadow go in the middle of the screen like walking through it. He makes special noises while he is juggling the balls. He also has a squiggly piece of metal that he moves hand-over-hand to make it look like it is coming up from the ground and never ends. He has a piece of wood that he can make look like a snake. He has rocks that he can make look like a snowman and has lots of stuff that he can make look real.

The show stopper: He can juggle in the dark with three glow-in-the-dark balls that are red. Thomas puts a ball in one way, and it comes out another. He makes one ball go all the way around in a circle. He makes three balls go around at the same time. He was juggling things behind his back and rolling them on his arm, and it was amazing!

photo of Saturn back lit by the sun, from the Cassini probe
photos above, Thomas and Ashley

Friday, May 18, 2007

luminous edge, inside out, upside down, and backwards

Chris sat still for a while, as everyone moseyed out to chat in the lobby following Thomas' performance of Luminous Edge last night at Seattle Center. When he could speak again, he said with sparks of wonder lighting up each word, "Have you ever seen someone make art of what you do?" I thought (out loud), "it's like seeing yourself inside - out up there."

Chris writes more here about the intimate patterned dance of chaos and order, and the "process artist" practices of uncovering and understanding and supporting the natural patterns of human conversation and relationship and organization, and the way that Thomas (and Ashley, who was a matrix-deep collaborator in the creation of the show) illuminated it all in a deep and beautiful weave of sound and story and movement and image.

Two nights ago, I got to sit next to Ashley and her dad, Paul, and my friends Chris and Rick, for a talk by Paul Hawken who is on the lecture circuit with his latest book, Blessed Unrest: How the Largest Movement in the World Came into Being and Why No One Saw It Coming, which I wrote a little about last month. You can read the beginning of the book in issue 43 of Ode magazine.

Paul Hawken speaks with warmth and a sweet sense of humor, and deep appreciation for all of the many ordinary (and the few celebrated and extraordinary) people who have been growing the roots and branches of this movement.

Since first hearing him speak at the bioneers conference in October, I have been thinking a lot about his conviction that
The environmental movement seems to have the upper leg because the house is burning down. Literally. So it is very easy for the environmental movement to turn to the social justice movement and say, yes I know how important your issues are, but the house is burning down. You should come and join us on the environmental bus. I think that it is upside down and backwards. Global warming is injustice. It is a type of colonialism. If we are going to be effective over the short time we have, we have to slow down, stop, and change the bus. I think the environmental movement has to get on the social justice bus.
Whatever we call that bus, I think the process artists have an important and useful role to play, perceiving and nourishing and connecting and integrating the deep patterns that are most restorative and regenerative and healthy for the human and more-than-human lifeworld.

Photos by Ashley and Thomas

Monday, May 07, 2007

work with the energy of joy and fire

Even if you have a lot of work to do,
if you think of it as wonderful,
and if you feel it as wonderful,
it will transform into the energy of joy and fire,
instead of becoming a burden.

Tulku Thondup Rinpoche
The Practice of Dzogchen

from Word for the Day