Life’s most persistent and urgent question…

.

 

Life’s most persistent and urgent question is,

“What are you doing for others?”

~ the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

 

I am pretty open to most experiences (that aren’t dangerous, immoral, unethical, illegal or stupid). I like to learn and try new things.

~ anonymous blogger

 

…For me—just one guy among billions of other guys out there—freedom is about who you are, which ultimately leads to, what you do. Freedom means that you don’t have to fit the mold that society has cast for you. Instead, you can stomp on the mold, crush it into tiny pieces, use these pieces to make a little porcelain unicorn, and then throw the whole lot out the window.

There is only one of me anywhere in the entire universe, and I don’t succumb to the idea that I should fit into a story written for someone else.

Chances are, if you’re reading this article, you’ve already escaped the specter of normalcy, or have aspirations to do so, and you know that you, as well, are as unique as it gets. So, why worry about what other people do, or whether you’re living according to somebody’s greater plan? Freedom means doing your thing, letting other people do their thing, and not giving a damn about what anyone thinks of your life, your mind, and your world. It’s your life, be free.

~ Kane Grose “Freedom: An Introspection” Rova magazine

 

The Good Life:

Stay fit.

Eat great.

Keep it simple.

~ magazine ad

 

In a transparent ocean

waves appear and disappear again.

Thought-waves are not different in essence

from the absolute reality of pure consciousness.

Therefore, do not look for flaws—remain calm

in the midst of unbidden thoughts.

Regardless of what appears or happens,

Do not grasp – let it be as it is.

Appearances, sounds, and objects –

are all composed of the same essence as your own mind.

Ultimately, there is nothing but mind-essence, pure consciousness.

It is beyond the extremes of birth and death.

~ Niguma (11th c.) Indian yogini, and (woman) mahasiddha, co-founder of the Kagyu school of Himalayan Buddhism

 

If we become the target of someone’s harsh criticism, the karma that is created is only completed if we reciprocate. We have the power and choice to journey on the path of a bodhisattva. We cannot control all of the conflict in our world, but we can control our response to it. We can help ensure that we do not create more harm if we do not cause more commotion, but instead prepare for peace by letting go of grasping, by keeping the mind calm and tapping into the eternal pool of compassion and wisdom that lies within all of us. For it is within this pool, this inner well, that lies the source of peace.

~His Holiness Trinley Thaye Dorje (b. 1983) 30 yrs old

 

Dr Suess: Oh, The Places You’ll Go!

You have brains in your head.

You have feet in your shoes.

You can steer yourself

any direction you choose.

You’re on your own, and you know what you know.

And YOU are the guy who’ll decide where to go.

~ ~ ~

Music is your own experience,

your own thoughts, your wisdom.

If you don’t live it,

it won’t come out your horn.

~ Charlie “Yardbird” Parker (1920 – 1955)

master jazz horn (sax) player

 

As for us:

We must uncenter our minds from ourselves;

We must unhumanise our views a little, and become confident

As the rock and ocean that we were made from.

~ Robinson Jeffers (1887-1962) from “Carmel Point”

 

 

Come forth into the light of things,

Let Nature be your teacher.

…Enough of Science and of Art;

Close up those barren leaves;

Come forth, and bring with you a heart

That watches and receives.

~ William Wordsworth (1170-1850) from “The Tables Turned”

Marion Ravenswood: You’re not the man I knew ten years ago.

Indiana Jones: It’s not the years, honey, it’s the mileage.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

~ ~ ~ ~

Impeachable: A New Kind of Protest Song

Impeachable: A New Kind of Protest Song

By Peter Yarrow, Reader Supported News

26 February 17

Impeachable” is a new twist on the kinds of songs that Peter Paul and Mary were singing that helped to mobilize Americans.

People have been wondering what folksinger/activists, some of them septuagenarians like Noel Paul Stookey and me, might be doing in the face of the current cataclysmic challenges to our democracy and our nation.

The answer is simple: we are going to keep on keeping on. We inherited a legacy from Woody, Pete Seeger and the Weavers and many others who inspired us. They never quit, never stopped and never stopped advocating. Doing so is “in our blood” and it’s a great gift to both Noel and me, as it would be to Mary – were she still to be with us. She would join, even (or maybe especially) at our advanced age, the current advocacies that “hammer out a warning”, “ring out danger” and “sing about the love between our brothers and our sisters”.  No, we’ve not “gone away”. We, and others who also come from the folk music/activist tradition, are solidly committed to using our music to generate community and consensus at our concerts and at gatherings and demonstrations to confront the most dangerous of challenges now threatening our country.

I have written, and currently perform, two songs that have come out of the presidential campaign and its results, one being The Children Are Listening and the other being, Lift Us Up.  I am grateful that, in a limited context (for sure) both of these songs have become rallying points for efforts to assert what is good in ourselves and what is reprehensible and frightening in the face of the recent election. 

By far the most important effort yet, by either Noel Paul or me – in terms of its reach and, in my opinion, its brilliance – is Impeachable, a parody Noel wrote of the song Unforgettable, which was a huge hit by Nat King Cole from the early 1950s.  Impeachable was just released on the internet and went viral with, currently, over 800,000 hits.  (Please share this link with your buddies and help us spread the message.)

Impeachable is an example of Noel’s extraordinary ability to write a super-funny, very surprising yet also, highly nuanced, lyric. He is, and has always been, an amazing songwriter. In its first public performance last weekend Impeachable brought the audience at our concert in Thousand Oaks, CA to its feet with a prolonged standing ovation. There were screeches of delight the likes of which I have never before heard at a Peter Paul and Mary concert.

Noel has clearly struck a hugely resonant chord amongst those who heard the hammer strokes warning of a grave danger to our nation, our democracy and, in fact, the whole earth.

Impeachable is a new twist on the kinds of songs that Peter Paul and Mary were singing that helped to mobilize Americans at the time of the Civil Rights Movement and the Anti-Vietnam War Movement.  Blowing In the Wind and If I Had a Hammer written by Bob Dylan and Pete Seeger & Lee Hays, respectively, were anthems that brought folks together in ways that let them recognize, in very personal ways, their collective strength as well as reassert a commonly held ethical/ political perspective. Such was also the case with Where Have All the Flowers Gone and a myriad of other songs. With their repetition at rallies, marches and on the radio, these songs inspired many newcomers to the world of activism who asserted to us that our music, and that of our fellow folk musicians, became the “sound track of their political awakening”.  (In our view, this is one of the greatest compliments we ever received.)

Today, of course, the dominant transmission of such advocacies comes through social media, though in-person efforts such as The Women’s March on Washington, and the demonstrations at Standing Rock that electrified the nation are still, I believe, the most powerful tools for social/political mobilization.

Also, there is another new aspect to a musician’s, or an actor’s, or any artist’s efforts in the realm of advocacy. In this time, humor, as offered by the likes of John Oliver, the gifted cast and guests, such as the amazing Alec Baldwin, on Saturday Night Live, Samantha Bee, Melissa McCarthy, Stephen Colbert and Trevor Noah, to name just a few, has played a huge role in inspiring and activating the spirit of our nation. It cuts through the extreme “noise” in tweets, frightening pronouncement and actions emanating from the current administration.

Please take heart my friends. From my travels, I have found that there has been a huge call to action heeded, even (and emphatically) in my and Noel’s elder demographic. Be assured that a large body of former artist-activists is mobilizing now with their songs, their poetry, their heart-rending videos, their humor and their visual work on signs and memes that spread across the internet with ever more amazing directness, humor, and determination.  As long as this continues to build, we’re walking together and gaining strength.  Let’s carry it on, my friends.

In solidarity and love,
Peter

Impeachable
By Noel

Paul Stookey

Impeachable, that’s what you are…
Impeachable, and yet so far…
You’ve avoided closer scrutiny
And even though Vlad-i-mer Putin, he
Opens many doors, it only makes you more…

Impeachable, and when, some day
We can say ‘you’re fired’ and you go away
You may have thought you were unreachable

(but) history makes some moments teachable:
Someday Pence may be impeachable too.

Comments:

0 # Wise woman 2017-02-26 13:46

Never forget that the power of the music that motivated us in the 60s can do so again. Those 50-yearold lyrics are as potent today as they were then and they certainly ring out a warning. Be very warned when the so-called president denies access to the press to his so-called conferences. Time to bring on the hammer!

 

 

0 # ER444 2017-02-26 14:15

I was tinkering on the guitar in the 60’s and Peter, Paul and Mary were idols of mine. How wonderful to see that “our” generation, the generation that went to the streets protesting the Vietnam War, is still so powerful. By the way, the dangerous narcisst who calls himself President is also of our generation. Let’s keep his feet to the fire!! Fire him!!

0 # PaulK 2017-02-26 15:19

Good fortune!

I’m not famous, but my band and I just dropped a protest single ourselves. It’s suitable for a climate march or a town hall meeting.

Republicans Accuse Voters of Using Town Halls to Express Themselves

Photo caption: People shout to Representative Jason Chaffetz during his town hall meeting at Brighton High School, Thursday, February 9, 2017, in Cottonwood Heights, Utah. (photo: Rick Bowmer/AP)

 

Republicans Accuse Voters of Using Town Halls to Express Themselves

By Andy Borowitz, The New Yorker

25 February 17

 The article below is satire. Andy Borowitz is an American comedian and New York Times-bestselling author who satirizes the news for his column, “The Borowitz Report.”

aying “Enough is enough,” Republican senators on Friday angrily accused their constituents of “intentionally and opportunistically” using recent town-hall meetings as vehicles to express themselves.

One of the angriest Republicans, Senator Tom Cotton, of Arkansas, said he was “disgusted and offended” by the “flagrant exercise of freedom of speech” he witnessed at his town hall.

The spectacle of people standing up, asking their elected representatives questions, and expecting them to answer is the most disgraceful thing I’ve ever experienced,” Cotton said. “This will not stand.”

Cotton accused “outside agitators” of sending voters to the town halls “to cynically exploit an obscure provision in the Constitution called the First Amendment.”

I’m not a conspiracy theorist, but isn’t it a little suspicious that, in town hall after town hall, all these voters were so well-versed in one tiny sentence in the Constitution?” he said. “It doesn’t pass the smell test.”

While Cotton said that he would consider participating in future town halls, he warned that some modifications to the town-hall format were necessary, such as banning voters from the events.

We need to send a strong message to these people,” he said. “A town-hall meeting is not a time for everyone in town to come to a hall and meet.”

Comments:

# CDMR 2017-02-25 16:11

Borowitz is great. This is exactly what is happening. This in not satire. It is not “fake news.” It is real, really reality.

 

# grandlakeguy 2017-02-25 18:26

Another good one Andy!

However, if the Republicans did indeed ban voters from these town halls the seats would then be filled by NON- voters.

Those citizens who failed to vote are being screwed by the Republicans just as badly as everyone else!

http://readersupportednews.org/opinion2/277-75/42172-republicans-accuse-voters-of-using-town-halls-to-express-themselves

Americans Overwhelmingly Say Lives Have Improved Since Kellyanne Conway Went Away

http://readersupportednews.org/opinion2/277-75/42153-americans-overwhelmingly-say-lives-have-improved-since-kellyanne-conway-went-away

Americans Overwhelmingly Say Lives Have Improved Since Kellyanne Conway Went Away

By Andy Borowitz, The New Yorker

24 February 17

 The article below is satire. Andy Borowitz is an American comedian and New York Times-bestselling author who satirizes the news for his column, “The Borowitz Report.”

n overwhelming majority of Americans say that their lives have improved since Kellyanne Conway went away, a new poll finds.

According to the poll, Americans have been sleeping more, eating better, and enjoying a markedly greater sense of well-being following Conway’s sudden departure.

“I had lost my zest for life,” Carol Foyler, a poll respondent, said. “Now that Kellyanne Conway is gone, I greet every day with a smile, I feel my energy coming back, and I want to have sex again.”

Across the nation, medical professionals have reported striking improvements in patients’ mental health since the White House counsellor vanished, a phenomenon some doctors are calling the Conway Effect.

“Over the last few months, we had incorrectly diagnosed a number of patients with a host of psychiatric disorders,” Dr. Davis Logsdon, the head of psychiatry at the University of Minnesota Medical Center, said. “It turns out it was just Kellyanne.”

Conway’s disappearance, however, has not been an unalloyed boon, because in some patients it has stirred “severe anxiety” that she might someday return “without warning,” Logsdon said.

“For patients who are worried about Kellyanne Conway coming back, I prescribe mindfulness,” Logsdon said. “Regard every day without Kellyanne Conway as a gift. Savor it. Cherish it.”

 

Comments   

+3 # ER444 2017-02-24 16:23

Would prefer the “Trump Effect”!!

+3 # CDMR 2017-02-24 17:26

Now, let’s see. Should I make a list of others who would make me feel better if they went away? Good idea.

a year ago today

On this date last year, I posted a road-trip and festival-related blurt/ screed (see well below, under “Adventure, Travel & Pilgrimage”).

Again, earlier this year, I started to catalog a list of various interesting (-sounding) festivals to be held this year around the US — dharma (spiritual) fests, film fests, music fests, poetry fests, etc. But I never finished nor posted it to this blog. The list I compiled last year ended up expanded and scattered across multiple posts. The list in the post below, from this day last year, was only part of the full listing I ended up with. I did make it to a few such locations, gatherings and events last year. Not nearly as many I would have wished, but they were enough to make the year experientially more enriched and enriching.

So far this year, also, I’ve managed again to make a couple of road-trips, brief but delicious, in quest of interesting places and events. I look forward to doing more again soon.

What travel-adventures have you undertaken since this time last year? What spiritual and/or other cultural festival(-like) events have you enjoyed? Where are you planning to go next?

Go deep, have fun, give thanks, stay safe.

 

from 24 February 2016:

Adventure, Travel & Pilgrimage

As I’m sure I previously have written here a few times already, I love random road-trips, spontaneous open-road overland excursions. I also love pre-planned expeditions.

In much earlier years, I often undertook many such journeys, planned and unplanned, sometimes on my own, sometimes with a friend or two, but I always preferred to share such excursions with only a special romantic female companion — a girlfriend. Somewhat later, during the many wonderful years I was married, my partner & I enjoyed lots of adventures on the road. We seriously considered moving full-time into a camper-van, giving up our “stable” home, and making a road-van our only home. But, for better or worse, we decided we both preferred to have a stable (non-mobile) place somewhere to which we could retreat for at least part of every year, same place every year, wherever we might travel in the meantime and for however long at a stretch. Part of the trouble was settling on any one place we liked enough, and could afford well enough, to stake-out as our non-mobile home, and still have financial and situational fluidity to get our travel desires met on a semi-regular basis.

Now that I’m single again (widowed), I sometimes again feel like just living out of a camper van, but at the same time it continues to be comforting in some ways to have a stable place somewhere to park my seven-league boots.

Meanwhile, I continue these days to feel like spending more time traveling around than I am able to do comfortably just now. Hopefully, the future will lead to many more open-road-trips.

Also meanwhile, one of the road-trip adventure categories I sometimes fantasize about indulging in (again) in a fairly big way, is that of attending various kinds of festivals—film, music, art, book festivals, etc,—even though there is a part of me that generally dislikes big crowds.

It’s not so much the huge crush of people who attend such popular festivals that I dislike, although that can be a bit disconcerting at times. It’s much more a matter of all the drinking, and smoking (tobacco & weed) that tends to go on among crowds of folks in attendance at large (and also small) festivals.

Although I’ve never been a drinker, smoker, or toker, I used to be able to handle being temporarily in the midst of festival crowds without too much discomfort due to the ubiquitous ambient smoke-&-drink “air pollution”-&-under-the-influence group mind-state “vibrational alteration.” But these days my system is much less “tolerant.” Attitudinally, I’ve never minded folks indulging, so long as they stop well short of any sort of violent tendencies, or wave-surges of a potential trampling-threat. And naturally I can’t stand the idea of folks getting behind the wheel while under the influence, which of course is how many of them eventually depart such venues (at least the major outdoor music fests), and all too often also how they will have arrived as well.

Bad things definitely can and sometimes do happen when big crowds are gathered, especially when various substances are involved. I’ve experienced my share of observing that in the distant past. But for the most part, cultural festival gatherings can be a lot of fun. Such fests are just one of the several kinds of road-trip adventures I sometimes like, but it is one kind I have been thinking about quite a bit lately. I’ve often thought if I had lots of money and no responsibilities, I would enjoy taking an entire year just camping and traveling from one festival to another right across the seasons. Seems like it would be a lot of fun. But of course hugely expensive….

Anyway, it’s a pleasant fantasy. And it may be possible to venture-forth on at least one or two such roadtrip-related quests this year and the next. I’m including here a list I’ve compiled of some of the sorts of fests I’ve been thinking about lately.

Naturally I especially love to visit spiritually-centered gatherings, public teaching events by various living saints and other traditional spiritual elders, as well as Sufi camps, Yoga camps, Bhakti fests, Shakti fests, Kumbha Melas, etc. Not only is the smoking and drinking less-to-nonexistant at such spirituality-related events, but often the food is more to my liking as well! I must say, however, that as a life-long vegetarian I have found that the quality, quantity, and selection of vegetarian food available at many music, art, film, book, and other sorts of public festivals has improved dramatically over the past several years. But you often still have to wade past a lot of horrible stinky smoking meat-&-bone oven stalls (yuck!) to get to a decent veggie food stall.

In addition to attending various kinds of arts-&-cultural festivals, I also very much enjoy quietly journeying to, in, & through sacred landscapes, camping at natural beauty spots & natural/sacred energy centers, and visiting many kinds of spiritual/ cultural shrines & centers. Though I love making retreat-camps in scenic and magical natural beauty spots, I also love exploring artists’ colonies, small hippie towns, small college towns.

Although at this point I mostly no longer care much, or often, for being in big cities for any length of time, I still do sometimes enjoy short stays in major university-cluster urban centers like Boston-Cambridge. I like opportunities to visit major urban museums and gallery openings, as well as obscure local smaller museums, gallery openings, funky indie bookstores, book launches, historic landmarks, tomb-shrines of famous historic yogi-saints, etc. And my most favorite road-trips involve visits to living personal heroes: peacemakers & other activists, poets/artists, public intellectuals, traditional spiritual adepts & elders, hermit monks & nuns, living saints, etc.

“The wonders of a journey consist far more of intangible
experiences and unexpected situations than of factual
things and events of material reality.
—Lama Anagarika Govinda

“We live in a wonderful world that is full of beauty, charm,
and adventure. There is no end to the adventures we can
have if only we seek them with our eyes open.”
—Jawaharlal Nehru

“A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving.”
—Lao Tzu

Here is another section (M-through-R) of my list of some fave places:

Maastricht, Madison, Madrid NM, Majorca, Manali, Mani, Manitou Springs, Manoa, Mariposa, Marshall, Mauna Kea, Mcleod Ganj, McCloud, Melbourne, Mendonesia, Menlo Park, Middlebury, Mill Valley, Milwaukee, the Mission, Mission Beach, Moab, Monomanock, Montreal, Moosewood, Mora, Morgantown, Morro Bay, Mt Athos, Mt Barnabe, Mt Benson, Mt Kailash, Mt Laguna, Mt Palomar, Mt Ronda, Mount St Desert Island, Mt Shasta, Mt Tam, Mountain Center, Mountain View, Mt Vision, Muir Beach, Muir Woods,

Nainital, Napoli, Narai, Navarro, Nelson, Nevada City, Newcastle Island, New Hope, New Paltz, New Town, Nick’s Cove, Nimbin, Ninole, Nob Hill, NoCoCo, Noe Valley, Normal Heights, North Beach, North Island, North Park, North San Juan Ridge, the North Shore, Nosy Ankao, Nuns Leap,

Oak Creek, OB, Occidental, Oceano, Ojai, Old Town, Olema, Olympia, Ouray,

Pacific Grove, Pacific Heights, Pahoa, Pai, Paia,  Palma, Palto, Pancake Flat, Paradise Cay, Partington Ridge, Paso Picacho, Patagonia, PB, Pemakod, Penngrove, Petaluma, Petrolia, Philo, the Piedmont, Pie Town, Pine Valley, Pismo Beach, Plainfield, the Poconos, Point Loma, Point Reyes, Point Reyes Station, Pokhara, Poland Spring, Port Arena, Port Costa, Port Townsend, Portland Maine, Portland Oregon, Prescott, Princeton, Princeville, Puri,

Questa,

Radnor, Rainbow, Ramona, Ranchos de Albuquerque, Rancho Santa Fe, Rattlesnake Mountain, Reno, Reykjavik, Rishikesh, Rive Gauche, Rockies, Rockridge, Rogers Park, Roma, Rosalyn, Rose Apple Tree Island, Russian Hill….

Some Festivals in 2016:

JAN

Jan 21-31 Sundance Film Fest

FEB

Feb 20-28 Sedona Film Fest

MAR

Mar 3-6 Boulder International Film Festival

Mar 14 Banff Film Tour, Sedona

Mar 15-20 SLO Film Fest

April

April 15-19 Plein Air Convention & Expo Tucson

April 15-24 Coachella Valley Music Fest

MAY

May 13-15 Shakti Fest Joshua Tree

May 17-21 Festival of Faiths, Sacred Wisdom, Pathways to Non-Violence, Louisville, KY
Five day celebration with dialogue, music, poetry, film, and the arts that explores how sacred wisdom addresses violence.

May 18-28 San Diego Surf Film Fest

May 20-22 Overland Expo Flagstaff

May 27-30 Telluride Mountainfilm Fest

May 29 – Jun 2 Seattle Film Fest

JUNE

June 18-19 Flagstaff Folk Fest

July

AUGUST

Aug 21-28 Port Angeles WA Plein Air Fest Paint the Peninsula

Aug 28 – Sept 5 Burning Man

SEPT

Sept 7-12 Bhakti Fest Joshua Tree

Sept 16-18 Flagstaff Bluegrass Fest Pickin in the Pines

Sept 19–25 Mendocino Plein Air Paint Out

Sept. 24 & 25 Julian Apple Days

OCT

Oct 7-14 Plein Air Fest Acadia Ntl Park, Maine Fall Color Week

Oct 21-23 Bioneeers Conference San Rafael

Oct 29 – Nov 6 Banff Film and Book Fest

NOV

DEC

If you know of other festivals in 2016 that you think I should know about, drop me a line! Do you have any travel plans this year? Where are you planning to go? Where would you most like to go?

Murk, murk, murk

Good Morning! Here’s Another Insane Russia Story to Start Your Day

By Charles Pierce, Esquire

22 February 17

 

It’s time for the tax returns.

There have been two characters in the news over the past couple of weeks that have gone unmentioned here at the shebeen. The first is Milo Yiannopoulos, a bully and a charlatan who has fallen on hard times at the moment, and whom I never knew much about in the first place and couldn’t care less about now. You want to argue about him, feel free. But try not to disturb the folks at the next table, who are talking about Felix Sater—and there, my friends, is a story and a half.

Let me just say at the outset that I will read any story anywhere that contains the phrase, “once stabbed a guy in the head with a broken margarita glass.” (It’s like Raymond Chandler rewritten by Carl Hiassen.) That’s a grabber, that is. But it’s only part of the Felix Sater story which, thanks to great reporting by Josh Marshall and a number of other people, seems to run all the way through the depths of the corruption that has leached into the government thanks to the election of El Caudillo del Mar-A-Lago last November.

Sater, it seems, was born in what is now Kazakhstan, but was then part of the USSR, in 1966. He emigrated to the United States. When he was 20, he stabbed the dude with the stem of the margarita glass. He went to the slammer for that and, once he got out, he got involved with a stock scam that also involved both the Genovese and Columbo crime families. He seemed to be headed back into the jug for a longer stretch this time but, as Marshall and others have indicated, this is where the story becomes an exploded ball of yarn.

Somehow, after he got busted on the stock scheme, Sater became an asset to the American intelligence community, buying arms in the wild-west weapons bazaar of the former Soviet Union. As Marshall writes in TPM:

After Sater got busted, somehow he managed to offer his services to the FBI and supposedly the CIA to work on their behalf purchasing stinger missiles and other weapons on the then wild and free-wheeling Russian black market. Whatever Sater was doing for the CIA in the black market arms smuggling world seems to have become much more important after 9/11 – thus Sater’s high value to the US government.

Marshall asserts that whatever work Sater was doing for the spooks was important enough for them to shield him from actual punishment for the stock scam. This is not an unfamiliar scenario for those of us who were in and around Boston during the last 30-odd years. It appears that the intelligence community may have made of Felix Sater an international Whitey Bulger. Good move!

Somehow, Sater—and another guy named Salvatore Lauria, who’d been in the bar when Sater stabbed the guy, and who was his partner in the stock swindles—got into business with the Trump organization. Marshall points us to a New York Times account of how they all got together in a project known as Trump SoHo through something called Bayrock Group, where Sater finally landed.

Mr. Lauria brokered a $50 million investment in Trump SoHo and three other Bayrock projects by an Icelandic firm preferred by wealthy Russians “in favor with” President Vladimir V. Putin, according to a lawsuit against Bayrock by one of its former executives. The Icelandic company, FL Group, was identified in a Bayrock investor presentation as a “strategic partner,” along with Alexander Mashkevich, a billionaire once charged in a corruption case involving fees paid by a Belgian company seeking business in Kazakhstan; that case was settled with no admission of guilt.

Sater and Bayrock also were involved with the Trump organization’s abortive Trump Fort Lauderdale, which went belly-up and subsequently was buried under an avalanche of writs. Most recently, Sater popped up in the news as an alleged intermediary for a Russian-favorable peace plan involving the Ukraine and Crimea. The plan would have lifted sanctions on Russia. There also was a proposal for a referendum whereby the Ukrainian people would decide whether to “rent” Crimea to Russia for 50 or 100 years. This strikes me as being dangerously close to the law-school definition of chutzpah and, anyway, the Russians slapped it down.

In addition, to the surprise of absolutely nobody, there’s a reek of kleptocracy around the deal. From the NYT:

But the proposal contains more than just a peace plan. Andrii V. Artemenko, the Ukrainian lawmaker, who sees himself as a Trump-style leader of a future Ukraine, claims to have evidence — “names of companies, wire transfers” — showing corruption by the Ukrainian president, Petro O. Poroshenko, that could help oust him. And Mr. Artemenko said he had received encouragement for his plans from top aides to Mr. Putin. “A lot of people will call me a Russian agent, a U.S. agent, a C.I.A. agent,” Mr. Artemenko said. “But how can you find a good solution between our countries if we do not talk?” The two others involved in the effort have somewhat questionable pasts: Mr. Sater, 50, a Russian-American, pleaded guilty to a role in a stock manipulation scheme decades ago that involved the Mafia. Mr. Artemenko spent two and a half years in jail in Kiev in the early 2000s on embezzlement charges, later dropped, which he said had been politically motivated.

Russian ratfcking in the West seems to be the old Tsarist imperatives hitched to an outlaw plutocracy that possibly might have its hooks in the President of the United States and/or in his corporation’s business, about which the Congress should demand more information. The burlesque about the tax returns has to end, very soon. If there’s a single Republican chairperson of a relevant committee with any sense of patriotism at all, those returns have to be subpoenaed as soon as possible.

Right now, we’ve thrown national security—and the presidency itself—into the blender with a Dostoevsky novella and some sort of pulp spy fiction. Enough is truly enough.

 

Desolation Island

Already, 46% of Americans favor impeachment of Trump. But who would automatically become president if Trump were impeached? Here is the present line of succession:

No. 1 Vice President Mike Pence (R)

No. 2 Speaker of the House of Reps. Paul Ryan (R)

No. 3 Pres. pro tem. of Senate Orrin Hatch (R)

No. 4 Secty of State Rex Tillerson (R)

No. 5 Secty of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin (R)

No. 6 Secty of Defense James Mattis (I)

No. 7 Attny General Jeff Sessions (R)

Of course Trump should be impeached. And tried for his numerous crimes, not the least of which is giving the nation and the world this Cabinet of Horrors.  And he should be — not punished, no one should be punished, that never helps anybody, — but held (think of it as a “time out”) under strict guard, without a twitter account or other means of communicating to the outside world, for the remainder of his days, on a remote island such as St Helena (Napoleon’s final residence), or on the even more remote Tristan da Cunha Island, or perhaps best of all, on Desolation Island in the Kerguelens (population: 50 rotating French climate scientists). Again, not to punish Trump – or the poor scientists, or guards! – but to protect all of us, the people of the world, and all other living beings of the planet, from the otherwise inevitable future great harm that would be further perpetrated by this obscene criminal were he ever again allowed to operate freely in society.

But the legal line-up just now of who will succeed Trump after he is impeached is not a pretty picture. Not a pretty picture. Sad. Sick. Bigly terrible. Personally, I think they are all more or less equally despicable, each one perhaps even more dangerous in his own way than Trump himself, and I greatly wish they could all instantly be safely removed and banned from ever holding public office again. But I’m afraid we are stuck with this shuddersome line up for now. Part of Trump’s gift to the nation and the world.

Is there any hope of dispensing with this clutch of unthinkables before the 2020 election, or even the 2024 election? And if they continue to remain in power as each new day goes by, will there even be another election?

Badges? What badges? (part II)

Hear me now and understand
He’s gonna find me some peace of mind
And if that peace of mind won’t stay
I’m gonna find myself a better way
And if that better way ain’t so
I’ll ride with the tide and go with the flow
And that’s why I keep on shoutin’ in your ear sayin’
Wo, wo, wo, wo, wo!

~ from “Mockingbird” written by Charlie Foxx, recorded by Inez and Charlie Foxx (1963)

 

Nancy Pierpan (Rachel Weisz): It’s hard enough to grieve, isn’t it? (sniffles) I mean, grief is hard enough anyway, but when you don’t know the truth, everything freezes and you can’t move on. …I’m like you, I go to work, I get through the day. Since Jake died, I haven’t been interested in making friends. Please, it’s nothing dramatic. I’m not asking for anything, but… You seem a nice man. I’m not really used to the idea of having feelings again.
Johnny Worricker (Bill Nighy): It’s dangerous, isn’t it?
Nancy: Too dangerous for you?
Johnny: I’m frightened. I fuck everything up.
Nancy: Shh. (leans in to kiss him)

~ Page Eight, written and directed by David Hare (2011)

 

Walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet.

~ Thich Nhat Hanh

 

Sometimes I stare in space
Tears all over my face

I can’t explain it, don’t understand it
I ain’t never felt like this before
Now that funny feeling has me amazed
Don’t know what to do, my head’s in a haze
It’s like a heat wave!

~ Martha (Reeves) and the Vandellas, Heatwave (1963),(written by Lamont Dozier, Brian Holland, Eddie Holland)

 
Time is a game played beautifully by children.

~ Heraclitus

 

British Intelligence (MI 5) officer Johnny Worricker (Bill Nighy), sits over drinks with his artist daughter, Julianne (Felicity Jones), following the opening of her first professional gallery show:

Julianne: So? You haven’t said what you thought.
Johnny: No.
Julianne: Why not?
Johnny: Don’t look at me like that.
Julianne: Why not?
Johnny: Because I never could refuse you.
Julianne: You could tell me the truth. For once in your life, you might try telling me the truth.
Johnny: Only if you insist.
Julianne: I insist.
Johnny: All right. They look like works of despair. If the despair isn’t real, then I don’t like them because they’re fake, they’re unfelt. They’re avant-garde protest and nothing more. But if the despair is real, then that hurts, too, because…because you’re my daughter, and I don’t want you to suffer.
Julianne: They’re not fake.
Johnny: That’s what I thought.

Julianne: So what bothers you? If I’m unhappy then it’s your fault? They make you feel guilty? The absent father, the evasive father?
Johnny: The pictures are morbid. They’re morbid, Julianne. Okay, I can see it may be my problem to do with getting older, but why do you want to piss on life before you’ve even lived it?
(Julianne gets up in a huff and exits).

Later, at home with his new girlfriend, Nancy Pierpan (Rachel Weisz), whose father is a celebrated writer…

Johnny: Tonight I felt I had the right to say [to his daughter Julianne] what I thought about her work. Clearly I didn’t.
Nancy: Same thing’s true with writers. Well, you can say what you like about their personalities because they think, “Oh, I can change, I can improve.” But work’s different.

~ Page Eight, written and directed by David Hare (2011)

 

Writing for the sake of writing, writing that draws its credibility from its very existence, is a foreign idea to most Americans. As a culture, we want cash on the barrel head, we want writing to earn dollars and cents so that it makes sense to us, we have a conception—which is naïve and misplaced—that being published has to do with being “good” while not being published has to do with being “amateur.” We treat the unpublished writer as though he or she suffers an embarrassing case of unrequited love.

~ Julia Cameron. The Writer’s Life: Insights from The Right Way to Write. (2001)  

 

We can express our feelings regarding the world around us either by poetic or by descriptive means. I prefer to express myself metaphorically. Let me stress: metaphorically, not symbolically. A symbol contains within itself a definite meaning, certain intellectual formula, while metaphor is an image. An image possessing the same distinguishing features as the world it represents. An image — as opposed to a symbol — is indefinite in meaning. One cannot speak of the infinite world by applying tools that are definite and finite. We can analyse the formula that constitutes a symbol, while metaphor is a being-within-itself, it’s a monomial. It falls apart at any attempt of touching it.

~ Andrei Tarkovsky (1932-1986)

 

Listen now and understand
She’s gonna find me some peace of mind
And if that peace of mind won’t stay
I’m gonna find myself a better way
I might rise above, I might go below
I’ll ride with the tide and go with the flow
And that’s why I keep on shoutin’ in your ears y’all
No, no, no, no, no, no, now, now, baby!

~ from “Mockingbird” written by Charlie Foxx, recorded by Inez and Charlie Foxx (1963)

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Gelek Rinpoche

Gelek Rimpoche

Gelek Rinpoche withdrew from his earthly body today around 6am (February 15, 2017)

Remembering Gelek Rinpoche, Tibetan Buddhist teacher and author (1939-2017)

The Tibetan lama and author of books including Good Life, Good Death: Tibetan Wisdom on Reincarnation, has died. As posted on his Facebook page:

Kyabje Gelek Rimpoche, our dear teacher and friend, passed away this morning at 6 AM. We will keep him in our thoughts today and every day.

Information regarding arrangements will be posted on the Jewel Heart International Facebook Page as we receive it and we ask you to respect the privacy of his immediate family at this time.

Born in Lhasa, Tibet in 1939, Rimpoche [whose name was sometimes spelled “Gelek Rinpoche,” “Gehlek Rimpoche,” or variations thereof] trained at Drepung Monastic University, earning his geshe degree. He fled Tibet for India in 1959, and became director of Tibet House in Delhi, India. In the late 80s he founded Jewel Heart, the Ann Arbor, Michigan-based center “dedicated to the preservation of Tibetan Buddhism and to bringing the practice of this rich tradition within the context of contemporary life to everyone.” A lively center, Jewel Heart attracts and serves practitioners of all levels, and is informed by a board and advisors that includes luminaries such as Amy Hertz, Jonathan Rose, Richard Gere, and Philip Glass — who serves as Board chair and once wrote an exclusive composition as a fundraiser for the sangha. Poet Allen Ginsberg was also a member of the community.

His full biography can be read on the Jewel Heart website.

In noting his passing, Roshi Joan Halifax offered this tribute, surely among the first of many to come:

Beloved Gelek Rinpoche has gone beyond……..
With his passing, we remember that life is so fragile, so brief.
We have little time to awaken in perfect unselfishness.
Rinpoche gave so much to so many.
He is an inspiration for all of us.
We must remember his way, his great teachings on bodhicitta.
My heart aches knowing that he is now not among us as a living being
but his great heart will never leave us.

Rimpoche was also a contributor to our publication, Buddhadharma: The Practitioner’s Quarterly. We wish to express and share sympathies with all who knew or were touched by his presence and teachings.

Please read enjoy this selection of his articles from our archives.

Practice Like Your Hair’s on Fire

Enlightenment is possible in this lifetime but time is running out. We have to make the most of this rare and fleeting opportunity to wake up.

Enlightenment in Female Form

Gelek Rinpoche argues that enlightenment is possible only when female and male energies are both present. Tara practices bring enlightened female energy.

In With the Bad Air, Out With the Good

Gehlek Rinpoche on the practice of tonglen, the way to awaken bodhimind by doing exactly the opposite of what your ego wants.

Gelek Rimpoche

Gelek RimpocheBorn in Lhasa, Tibet, in 1939, Kyabje Gelek Rimpoche was recognized as an incarnate lama at the age of four. Carefully tutored from an early age by some of Tibet’s greatest living masters, Rimpoche gained renown for his powers of memory, intellectual judgment and penetrating insight. As a small child living in a monk’s cell in a country with no electricity or running water, and little news of the outside world, he had scoured the pictures of torn copies of Life Magazine for anything he could gather about America. Now Rimpoche brings his life experience and wisdom to both the east and the west.

Among the last generation of lamas educated in Drepung Monastery before the Communist Chinese invasion of Tibet, Gelek Rimpoche was forced to flee to India in 1959. He later edited and printed over 170 volumes of rare Tibetan manuscripts that would have otherwise been lost to humanity. Rimpoche was also instrumental in forming organizations that would share the great wisdom of Tibet with the outside world. In this and other ways, he has played a crucial role in the survival of Tibetan Buddhism.

He was director of Tibet House in Delhi, India and a radio host at All India Radio. He conducted over 1000 interviews in compiling an oral history of the fall of Tibet to the Communist Chinese. In the late 1970’s Rimpoche was directed to teach Western students by his teachers, the Senior and Junior Masters to His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Since that time he has taught Buddhist practitioners around the world.

Rimpoche is particularly distinguished for his thorough familiarity with modern culture, and special effectiveness as a teacher of Western practitioners of Tibetan Buddhism. Recognizing the unique opportunity for the interface of spiritual and material concerns in today’s world, Rimpoche has also opened a dialogue with science, psychology, medicine, metaphysics, politics, and the arts.

In 1988, Rimpoche founded Jewel Heart, a Tibetan Buddhist Center. His Collected Works now include over 32 transcripts of his teachings, numerous articles as well as the national bestseller Good Life, Good Death (Riverhead Books 2001) and the Tara Box: Rituals for Protection and Healing from the Female Buddha (New World Library 2004). Rimpoche is a U.S. citizen and lives in Michigan.

Gelek Rimpoche Collected Works

Gelek Rimpoche’s contribution to the preservation of authentic and seminal Tibetan Buddhist teachings within the Gelugpa tradition, for both present and future generations, cannot be underestimated.

His vast audio archive of teachings, dating back to the mid 1980’s, serves as a basis for future books and transcripts and is a source for distribution as mp3s and downloads. It was fully digitized and catalogued in 2009 and Rimpoche’s video recordings await similar digitization and cataloging.

With many of Rimpoche’s teachings transcribed, compiled and published, there are now over 35 lightly edited transcripts with another ten in various stages of production. The goal to re-publish these and all future transcripts in a book-like format began with the production of SEM, GOM, Odyssey to Freedom, Four Noble Truths, and The Four Mindfulnesses.

Gelek Rimpoche published books are Good Life, Good Death and The Tara Box. The archive holds great potential for future books with several projects currently under consideration by different publishers.

The extensive archive housing Rimpoche’s audio/video recordings and transcripts is a treasure house of original and authentic teachings from a great contemporary master. Your support to maintain and further develop the electronic audio and video archive and the transcript project is most welcome. To offer your support, to transcribe or to sponsor transcript publication: