the TAO of CHANGE

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Archive for the ‘Philosophy’ Category

Big Love. Big Complications.

Friday, April 1st, 2011

As Winter weather drags on around here, we’ve taken to another HBO (itunes) binge at our little compound:) We’ve become absorbed in Big Love, the series about the Mormon experience, both fundamental and otherwise.

I know, I know. It’s TV. But as popular films and even many art-house movies (think Certified Copy) disappoint, I’m getting a cultural education, albeit an indulgently dramatized one. Big Love ranks up there with Mad Men, as a look into a time, place, and psychology of a time, place, and culture that I know little about. And I’m enjoying every cyber minute of it.

True to many dramatic series, by the time they reach a 3rd or 4th season, story lines tend to take a turn towards the ludicrous (think Weeds) and they same is true for Big Love. Mormon Gangsters? Mormon-owned casinos (or “gaming”, as they prefer to call it), blood atonement? Actually, I started to laugh at this, but it didn’t take much research to discover the threads of truth to these portrayals. Well. Okay then. Did I mention I am learning a lot?

The show does an excellent job at putting an everyday, very human – and in some cases – an appealing face to the idea of group marriage – at least in the household of these main characters, hiding their polygamist lives in 3 connected houses in a Utah suburb. The love, the process, and even the “schedule” seems real and plausible.

But the story weaves in and out of these seemingly blissful moments and reveals the unavoidable and perhaps insurmountable issues below the surface of shared housework, shared childcare, shared incomes and a shared husband. The sister-wives seem to have a genuine love and respect for each other, despite – or perhaps because of -  their different personalities and ages. Emotional jealousy seems to be negated by an unwavering belief in The Principle of the importance of family – and a lot of it.

The first thing that popped my bubble was the pure, unadulterated sexism going on in the house – portrayed with accurate subtly. The “sisters” are expected to be immune to any feelings of competition or jealousy, yet Bill, the family patriarch, can’t contain his rage when a woman he is newly “dating” as a prospective 4th wife is discovered to be dating another man. The sister wife who escaped from the fundamentalist compound to join Bill and his first wife says it all when she reminds the other wives that “Our husband’s dating life is none of our business.”

Still, this family is living in the real world, not on a compound and one by one, in unique and sometimes covert ways, the women begin to grow and express their own sort of independence and it is both entertaining and moving.

This show accurately and continuously reminds us of the extreme conflicts between what is considered a fundamentalist sect and your average LDS Mormonism – a religion which stopped practicing polygamy in the 1890’s. Both churches, however, denounce homosexuality and the story line that pulls us through this kind of ignorance is both heart-breaking and real.

The Well of Genius

Tuesday, December 14th, 2010

“If you do not bring forth the genius within you, it will destroy you. If you do bring forth the genius within you, it will free you.” ËœJesus Christ, the Gnostic Gospel of Thomas

If this were a FaceBook post, I would “Like” this. It’s one of those things that is so true that it makes you feel both hopeful and hopeless at the same time. Hopeful because, quite often, I can do and think and say things that make me feel genius and I’m in that zone I call, Wow, and it’s a place and time that I like a lot.

But reading this makes me feel Hopeless, too, because of the other times where I feel like Timmy trapped in a deep dark well. I don’t know why that image just came to me, except that I used to care for two really gallant and smart and tall Collies who lived with me and we walked around my neighborhood each day and invariably, someone would drive by, roll down the window and yell something about Timmy, a well, and Lassie. It always made me feel like I had just been rescued from a deep, dark place.

Then there is the whole idea of what and how genius trapped inside of you destroys you and just what part of you becomes destroyed and how when the destroying begins, it’s usually so slow and quiet that you don’t catch on until your body begins to either nag at you with something physically painful, or you one day notice that there is no ground under your feet, but you are walking on air, which is usually meant as a metaphor for being extremely happy, but that is just a trick because if you don’t have your feel on the ground, you are addicted to something unworldly that has mostly to do with your ego and that is just a whole bag of trouble waiting to happen.

Getting back to the hopeful part, because after all, intention is everything I like to say to my yoga students (I know, I don’t really sound like a typical yoga teacher, but really I kinda am good at all of it because I really understand what it’s like in the well and that maybe the well is necessary in some way). The hopeful part is that digging into the genius inside of you does really make you free. In yoga terms, it would be called being “liberated” from those things that drag you down, like fear, anger, doubt, etc.. I don’t know if you can be human and not have these things lurking inside, but, when you are “bringing forth” your genius, I think it keeps your mind off of it.

Suffering With Meaning

Saturday, July 3rd, 2010

A friend went to get inked today. He left a message saying he hoped that he would not suffer too much in the process. It made me think again about the idea of suffering. I believe we not only benefit from a certain amount and type of suffering, but I believe we  – knowingly and unknowingly – seek it out. Why?

Unlike all other beings and despite our comfort-seeking nature, humans have a craving for suffering with meaning. And, I think the allure of getting a tattoo is linked to the bit of physical suffering that we endure in the process.

You can apply this theory to things like extreme sports, or other uniquely human experiences like piercings, sweat lodge, fasting, and other pursuits.

In yoga asana, we twist and turn our bodies to explore our edges — or productive limits – that live somewhere between discomfort and pain. Our physical and mental edges blend together, it results in a genuine spiritual experience, freeing us from distraction.

Without the ability to reach that internal place of suffering, we can’t express our full creative potential. The task is to find a way to contact the dark but then bring it into the light. Suffering can have meaning.

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Feelin’ It

Monday, June 21st, 2010

Connection. Is. Everything. As perfectly imperfect human beings, we crave experience and energy that comes from connection. And we get it through our experiences – either directly or indirectly – with other people. We also get it from connecting to a place inside ourselves. There’s a balance between the two – an edge we have to walk in order to fulfill our intellectual and emotional needs.

The difficult part about the inner world is that it often feels incomplete until I connect it to another person’s energy, one who can mirror my own thoughts and desires. Yoga teachers need students, and  want to connect with other yoga teachers. Musicians and artists need an audience – and they need other musicians and artists. Even our everyday experiences carry the desire to be shared. (If you doubt this, spend a little time on Facebook.)

Just like anything, walking the middle path can be tricky, as addictions apply to just about anything. But, I’m enjoying the ride and hoping that we can keep pushing ourselves to that idea of oneness and all that goes with that.

Here’s one music video, called, YES!– that got me thinking about all of this (along with a few other more personal experiences). It comes from Colourmusic, an OK-based indie rock band as part of the Oklahoma Creativity Project and directed by band member, Nick Turner. It’s really simple. It’s kind of sweet. It will describe everything I tried to to say above, but a lot better. You’ll be feelin’ it.

Something Old, Something New…

Thursday, June 10th, 2010

After watching a little bird disappear inside, I found this nest in this lamp by my front door. It reminded me of many things about this thing we call Life.

It also reminded me that if we make room for the natural world rather than trying to conquer it….we might just see the light.

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The Divine Frenzy of Inspiration

Monday, April 12th, 2010

How do you define Inspiration?

From the WWW:

  • arousal of the mind to special unusual activity or creativity
  • a product of your creative thinking and work; “he had little respect for the inspirations of other artists”; “after years of work his brainchild was a tangible reality”
  • a sudden intuition as part of solving a problem
  • divine guidance: (theology) a special influence of a divinity on the minds of human beings; “they believe that the books of Scripture were written under divine guidance”
  • arousing to a particular emotion or action

Inspired by color, Wearpalettes.com, says it even better:

In Greek thought, inspiration meant that the poet or artist would go into ecstasy or furor poeticus, the divine frenzy or poetic madness. He or she would be transported beyond his own mind and given the gods or goddesses own thoughts to embody.

“Divine Frenzy” – now we’re talking. Indeed, I’m sensing a familiar restlessness that says, “Grow or go, dammit.” I have a long history of “going”, so my supposed-to-be-adult self has put a lot of effort into the growing. But sometimes, you need some of both.

Let’s sum it up like this from Creato-Destructo Imagery:

“BEAUTY IS NOT JUST IN THE EYE OF THE BEHOLDER. IT’S EVERYFUCKINGWHERE.”

Where will you go for inspiration?

Time vs. Timeology

Thursday, March 25th, 2010

I’m having a new relationship with Time this year. I’m no longer going to be intimidated by it. I admit to being a clock-watcher and a waste worrier, and that, I’ve finally come to realize, is a kind of slow torture and death.

Ok, I’m exaggerating a little, but I really don’t want to be a slave to the hands of a clock any longer. Although we all have places we have to be, things we simply have to do, but I’m learning to put time priority on the things i want to do and need to Be. Time that allows my whole-hearted interest and attention. So, this is more about attitude than schedules.

Rob Brezsny of Free Will Astrology recently shared his insight on the matter of Time vs Timeology:

“Last night I had a dream in which I was addressing a crowd of thousands of Cancerians in a large stadium. I was referring to them as dolphins rather than as crabs. “I say unto you, my fellow dolphins,” I proclaimed (I myself was born June 23), “that you have been given a sacred assignment by the great gods of time themselves. And that assignment is to master the art of Timeology.” When I awoke from the dream, I was awash with feelings of deep relaxation and ease, although I wasn’t sure why. I had never before heard that word “timeology,” so I googled it. Here’s how the Urban Dictionary defined it: “spending time doing what you want to do, not accomplishing anything major but also not wasting time.”

With this bit of inspiration, I’m turning my awareness of time upside down. I’m re-prioritizing. First, deciding what is vital to me each day and how I can best spend my time experiencing it and nourishing it. The rest, well, I’ll squeeze it in because those are usually the types of things that can be squeezed.

You don’t want to squeeze “vital”…

I’ve always remembered a quote with the musician, Sting. When asked how he fits daily yoga practice into such a busy schedule, he said something like, “When I practice yoga, I do everything else so much more efficiently, that I get more done.” I think that anything that inspires you, balances and aligns your body/mind can be like this. How do you do Timeology?

Of, or pertaining to, Life.

Tuesday, March 23rd, 2010

by Tao

“of, or pertaining to, life” …this is the definition of “vital”.

I admit it. Maybe it’s the planets stirring things up, maybe it’s Spring, but I’m starting to feel lured off into a new landscape. And there is not a hemp, organic, or recycled product anywhere. But it holds a part of me I need.

For simplicity, I’ll call it artistic Inspiration, though a musician and friend I came to know recently said it better. It is that pull towards, at all costs, what is “vital” to your very being. It comes in many shapes and forms but always involves our creativity and our passion. And it sometimes creates chaos in an otherwise orderly life.

I’ll tell and show you more about my recent inspirations. But in the meantime….

Share in the joyful chaos of Charlie Todd, founder of Improv Everywhere, producing, directing, performing, and documenting the group’s work – “causing scenes of joy and chaos in public places” – for over eight years. He is also a teacher and performer of improv comedy at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre in NYC. This guy has found “vital” and I am inspired.

His missions involve just a couple people or sometimes thousands. There are dozens of videos to watch on his web site and you’ll get the idea. I especially enjoyed, “Invisible Dogs” (2000 of them!!) and “No Pants Subway Ride”.



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