27 May 2017 No more pictures, cell phones and todays message from Streams in the Desert (letting go and letting God – true faith)

Good morning to you – it’s 5:59 am as I write.  I have come to an impasse with this blog – my picture allowance is maxed so just words and existing images.  I will say that I was going to share a picture from Gateway to the heavens – pages 104 and 105 and the meditation I did last night 1007pm that involved a drawing I had done earlier with the fragment of purple chalk….a Goddess and the Prussian iron cross.  What happened is I was burning a red cinnamon candle in the darkness and it kept going out so I thought to pour the wax out and was lead to pour it on the drawing in the lower abdomen part – this happened twice which matches the number of times I was operated on for fibroid cyst removal by two separate doctors, two years in a row.  I was pretty upset after I realized this is what I was seeing was about and tried to turn off my phone.  Well as I did a voice activation feature for the phone came on and for some reason it wanted to call my broker of several years, Seth Peritzman!  I thought that was very strange.  When that happened a very small flying insect flew itself into the hot wax of the candle I was burning and died.  Why couldn’t I just turn off my phone?  Then I started looking at the features of the phone and realized all kinds of tracking elements had been activated on it and that was interesting.  I realized if something were to happen to me, if someone were trying to find me, a tracking feature would be useful.   Cell phones can be very useful but as with any tool, only if used for good reasons.

The message from Streams in the Desert resonates with me on many levels and it puts to words beautifully a message I have tried to share in so many ways, through the years.  People like me don’t always get listened to.  People like me – middle-aged house wife with “labels” and no children who live in the lower middle-class income bracket.  I have been speaking, writing, drawing and attempting through my crafts to share so many things that if only had been acknowledged long ago could have helped so much.  I do not expect today will be any different than any other day in this regard but I have faith in the God who has walked with me thus far, through all things, that may today will be different.  I also have Hope – not the child….the daughter….the vision and spirit of the future I want for all creation.   Much love to you today wherever and whenever this message finds you.

9 years and going strong! Happy snap to note the special occasion 🙂

Streams in the Desert message for the today that is also tomorrow:

May 28

“I will not let thee go, except thou bless me…and he blessed him there.” (Gen. 32:26, 29.)

Jacob got the victory and the blessing not by wrestling, but by clinging. His limb out of joint and he could struggle no longer, but he would not let go. Unable to wrestle, he wound his arms around the neck of his mysterious antagonist and hung all his helpless weight upon him, until at last he conquered.

We will not get victory in prayer until we too cease our struggling, giving up our own will and throw our arms about our Father’s neck in clinging faith.

What can puny human strength take by force out of the hand of Omnipotence? Can we wrest blessings by force from God? It is never the violence of willfulness that prevails with god. It si the might of clinging faith, that gets the blessing and the victories. It is not when we press and urge our own will, but when humility and trust unite in saying, “Not my will, but Thine.” We are strong with God only in the degrees that self is conquered and is dead. Not by wrestling, but by clinging can we can the blessing. – J.R. Miller

An incident from the prayer life of Charles H. Usher (illustrating “soul-cling” as a hindrance to prevailing prayer): “My little boy was very ill. The doctors held out little hope of his recovery. I had used all the knowledge of prayer which I possessed on his behalf, but he got worse and worse. This went on for several weeks.

“One day I stood watching him as he lay in nhis cot, and I saw that he could not live long unless he had a turn for the better. I said to God, “O God, I have given much time in prayher for my boy and he gets no better; I must now leave him to Thee, and I will give myself to prayer for others. If it is Thy will to take him I choose Thy will–I surrender him entirely to Thee.’

“I called my dear wife, and told her what I had done. She shed some tears, but handed him over to God. Two days afterwards a man of God came to see us. He had been very interested in our boy Frank, and had been much in prayer for him.

“He said, “God has given me faith to believe that he will recover–have you faith?”

“I said, ‘I have surrendered him to God, but I will go again to God regarding him.’ I did; and in prayer I discovered that I had faith for his recovery. From that time he began to get better. It was the ‘soul-cling’ in my pyrers which had hindered God answering; and if I had continued to cling and had been unwilling to surrender him, I doubt if my boy wold be with me today.

“Child of God! If you want God to answer your prayers, you must be prepared to follow the footsteps of ‘our father Abraham,’ even to the Mount of Sacrifice.” (See Rom. 4:12.)

————–

This Kyle and I did on 27 April 2011 with our cocker spaniel Samuel and God’s answer was to let him go to God. God didn’t abandon us in our grief…..we surely thought so! But we waited and through love, patience and friendship we were blessed with Link who came to us along with two brothers on 9 Dec 2015. When Sam died, it was like Kyle and I had lost a child. I went looking everywhere to get him back – screaming in the field down the street that was my sanctuary, my church that has been turned over and made into houses for profit. In 100 degree temperatures I walked that blooming field and stood by it’s waters begging for Sam to come back….screaming at the air….the God of my understanding in all things and all it seemed I got was more searching. Then came the day I found the first part of a Christmas ornament in that field and the other at the entrance to the neighborhood. I thought it was to tell me my friend Erin was going to have a son as she is part Choctaw because the ornament was from a Choctaw Casino.  But  no…..she and I were to be blessed with Link and his two brothers. Two women not able to have human children but having maternal instincts to care for all God’s children whatever their form.

God answers your prayers, God is always listening, God never fails – it’s just that you must let go of YOUR plans, YOUR timing, YOUR expectations of how those prayers will be answered. As I have learned to pray and have shared many, many times all through this blog:

“Whatever is for the greatest, most loving good for this (person, place or situation) – not as I would have it but as you would have it. I do not know what is best for my sight is limited to this moment and what has already been and you see all directions of time and space….all possible outcomes and you know what is best….you see the big picture.”

Then LET GO! Stop holding on, “clinging” to your prayers because when you do that is not faith….that is using God like a wishing well. God doesn’t require your monetary homage to answer your prayers, God needs your faith, hope, praise and trust. Let go, Let God – learn acceptance as a path to peace.

 

24 May 2017 Spirit walk this morning (sound and vision – Cygnet Committee David Bowie) and The Vibrations of Conflict (Kenneth Cloke, Daily Good Feature Article and Meditate.com)

Hello to you.  It’s 9:52 am and taking a break after a pretty intense spirit walk/meditation session this morning.  I can tell I’m working through more things I need to and it’s good.  The song by David Bowie Cygnet Committee felt like listening to him talk to me directly.   I know it’s not really so, but that’s how it felt! I had never heard it before today but it is certainly timely and resonates with our current days.

David Bowie – Cygnet Committee

Cygnet Committee

I bless you madly,
Sadly as I tie my shoes
I love you badly,
Just in time, at times, I guess
Because of you I need to rest
Because it’s you
That sets the test

So much has gone
And little is new
And as the sparrow sings
Dawn chorus for
Someone else to hear
The Thinker sits alone growing older
And so bitter

“I gave Them life
I gave Them all
They drained my very soul
…Dry
I crushed my heart
To ease their pains
No thought for me remains there
Nothing can they spare
What of me?
Who praised their efforts
To be free?
Words of strength and care
And sympathy
I opened doors
That would have blocked their way
I braved their cause to guide,
For little pay

I ravaged at my finance just for those
Those whose claims were steeped in peace, tranquility
Those who said a new world, new ways ever free
Those whose promises stretched in hope and grace for me”

I bless you madly,
Sadly as I tie my shoes
I love you badly, just in time,
At times, I guess
Because of you I need to rest, oh yes
Because it’s you
That sets the test

So much has gone
And little is new
And as the sunrise stream
Flickers on me,
My friends talk
Of glory, untold dream, where all is God and God is just a word

“We had a friend, a talking man
Who spoke of many powers that he had
Not of the best of men, but ours

We used him
We let him use his powers
We let him fill our needs
Now we are strong

And the road is coming to its end
Now the damned have no time to make amends
No purse of token fortune stands in our way
The silent guns of love
Will blast the sky
We broke the ruptured structure built of age
Our weapons were the tongues of crying rage

Where money stood
We planted seeds of rebirth
And stabbed the backs of fathers
Sons of dirt

Infiltrated business cesspools
Hating through our sleeves
Yea, and we slit the Catholic throat
Stoned the poor
On slogans such as

‘Wish You Could Hear’
‘Love Is All We Need’
‘Kick Out The Jams’
‘Kick Out Your Mother’
‘Cut Up Your Friend’
‘Screw Up Your Brother or He’ll Get You In the End’

And we know the flag of love is from above
And we can force you to be free
And we can force you to believe”

And I close my eyes and tighten up my brain
For I once read a book in which the lovers were slain
For they knew not the words of the Free States’ refrain
It said:
“I believe in the power of good
I believe in the state of love
I will fight for the right to be right
I will kill for the good of the fight for the right to be right”

And I open my eyes to look around
And I see a child laid slain
On the ground
As a love machine lumbers through desolation rows
Plowing down man, woman, listening to its command
But not hearing anymore
Not hearing anymore
Just the shrieks from the old rich

And I want to believe
In the madness that calls ‘Now’
And I want to believe
That a light’s shining through
Somehow

And I want to believe
And you want to believe
And we want to believe
And we want to live
Oh, we want to live

We want to live
We want to live
We want to live
We want to live
We want to live

I want to live
I want to live
I want to live

I want to live
I want to live
I want to live

Live
Live
Live

Songwriters: DAVID BOWIE
© EMI Music Publishing, TINTORETTO MUSIC
For non-commercial use only.
Data from: LyricFind

There are no strangers here; only friends you haven’t yet met. William Butler Yeats

http://www.dailygood.org/2017/05/24/the-vibrations-of-conflict/

How strange the change From major to minor, Every time we say goodbye. Cole Porter

The Vibrations of Conflict

May 24, 2017— “Cole Porter clearly got it right. But what exactly is it that changes from major to minor when we say goodbye? What permits music to express and stimulate our moods so precisely? How does it ignite or dampen our spirits, make us feel romantic or cynical, lighthearted or blue? Why do simple sequences of musical notes or complex symphonic strains cause us to weep with sorrow, waltz with elegance, march in disciplined military formations, or swirl sensuously across a dance floor? And what does any of this have to do with conflict?” Kenneth Cloake specializes in mediation, negotiation and the resolution of complex organizational, interpersonal, and public policy disputes. He shares more in this thought-provoking excerpt. (1969 reads)

http://mediate.com/articles/cloke3.cfm

The Vibrations of Conflict

Kenneth Cloke August 2003

The Vibrations of Conflict [Excerpted from Kenneth Cloke, The Magic of Mediation: A Guide to Transforming and Transcending Conflict (to be published) © 2003]

How strange the change From major to minor, Every time we say goodbye. Cole Porter

Cole Porter clearly got it right. But what exactly is it that changes from major to minor when we say goodbye? What permits music to express and stimulate our moods so precisely? How does it ignite or dampen our spirits, make us feel romantic or cynical, lighthearted or blue? Why do simple sequences of musical notes or complex symphonic strains cause us to weep with sorrow, waltz with elegance, march in disciplined military formations, or swirl sensuously across a dance floor? And what does any of this have to do with conflict?

The Music of Conflict

In a brilliant comedic sketch on the 1950’s “Your Show of Shows,” Sid Caesar and Nanette Fabray pantomimed a marital spat to the strains of the Overture to Beethoven’s 5th Symphony. Words were wholly unnecessary, as music gave the audience everything it needed to recognize the flow and commiserate with the futility of their argument.

It has often occurred to me, sometimes in the middle of a mediation, that even the most prosaic conflicts have a subtle musical quality about them. In the first place, there is the explicit music of the parties, reflected in their contrasting tempos, pitches, inflections, timbres, and tones of voice. There are solos as individuals hold forth, duets as they discuss, and dissonance as they argue and interrupt each other. There is fortissimo, pianissimo, diminuendo, and crescendo, mirroring the stages of their dialogue and transporting them from fear and rage to forgiveness and reconciliation.

Second, there is the mediator’s calming, measured, propitiating, yet hopeful tone, using tone of voice to draw the parties together. There is the refusing of invited counterpoint, the offering to each side of a solo or aria, and the prompting of a duet or chorus. There is the soprano of injury and distress, the baritone of bitterness and injustice, the bass of hopelessness and depression, and the tenor of optimism and resolution. There is the interplay of score and libretto, moving toward a single harmonious and satisfying finale. Throughout, there is the mediator, trying to orchestrate and harmonize the diverse instruments and blend them into a single symphonic whole.

Third, there is the emotional attunement of the listener to the music that transmits the emotional experience of the storyteller, allowing the listener to resonate, and thereby empathize and approximate the experience of another. Empathetic resonance allows the music to vibrate inside the listener, who experiences secondhand what the speaker experienced, and thereby discovers internally what it might have felt like to have experienced it firsthand.

Historically, it has long been recognized that music stimulates intense emotions. Plato distrusted the emotional power of sensuous music and saw it as dangerous enough to justify censorship. Schopenhauer recognized the deep connection between human feeling and music, which “restores to us all the emotions of our inmost nature, but entirely without reality and far removed from their pain.” Nietzsche described an Apollonian-Dionysian dichotomy in music, representing form and rationality versus drunkenness and ecstasy. For Nietzsche, music was the sensual, Dionysian art form par excellence, which could be used to convey all the emotions for which words would never be enough. Russian poet Marina Tsvetaeva declared that “The heart: it is a musical, rather than a physical organ,” and Austrian Philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein maintained that “Every word strikes an emotional tone.”

These observations help us recognize that every emotion, attitude, and mood in conflict possesses a signature frequency and amplitude, a unique rhythm that is communicated as much through tone of voice, pitch, pace, and timing as through verbal description. These unique emotional frequencies are also communicated through body language and gestures, choice of words, and the narrative structure of conflict stories to listeners who are asked to resonate, empathize, evoke, and experience what happened to the speaker within themselves. The mediator or facilitator in this scenario can be thought of as a tuning fork, grounding the conversation in a tone or musical theme with which everyone is asked to resonate, and, if possible, combine into a single all-encompassing, harmonizing melodic strain.

It is clear that different musical rhythms evoke radically different moods. There are rhythms of control, as with marching music; rhythms of exploration as with jazz; rhythms of sadness as with the blues; and rhythms of devotion as with gospel. Each style of music evokes a different set of emotions, memories, and spiritual or energetic responses. Can we then use rhythms of speech to elicit sadness, anger, or fear? Can we counter these dusky tempos with lighter, upbeat rhythms in order to elicit joy, affection, or courage? What are the qualities of vibration that impart these special, substantive meanings? What, for example, is the vibratory quality of a sincere apology as opposed to an insincere one? And how do we know the difference between them?

We appear to decide these issues by combining sensitive, even subliminal information from multiple resonating sources, including inflection, body language, eye contact, auditory signals of stress, and other signs that are often too faint to distinguish consciously, yet are perceived subliminally. Much of what we think, feel, and do in conflict is grounded in these microscopic, subliminal, nearly unconscious messages that are often beneath the level of conscious awareness. In one experiment, for example, volunteers were shown a video with peaceful visual images punctuated by a car crash that produced a characteristic stressful response in the brain. Researchers then sped up the video so that none of the subjects could recognize that there had been a car crash, yet their brains continued to respond as though they had.

The vibrations we receive from others tremble, sway, and oscillate subtly inside us. The consequence of this internalization is that all our conflict responses, from rage to reconciliation, take place within us, and do so at a level that is below that of conscious attention. We routinely make subtle assessments, such as whether we feel respected or discounted by the other person based on the vibratory quality of their speech, or their posture, attitude, or quality of presence as these resonate within us. We make these assessments by paying attention to how we feel when we are with them. As the Sufi poet Rumi wrote:

‘What if a man cannot be made to say anything? How do you learn his hidden nature?’ ‘I sit in front of him in silence, and set up a ladder made of patience, and if in his presence a language from beyond joy and beyond grief begins to pour from my chest, I know that his soul is as deep and bright as the star Canopus rising over Yemen. And so when I start speaking a powerful right arm of words sweeping down, I know him from what I say, and how I say it, because there’s a window open between us, mixing the night air of our beings.’

Indeed, there is rhythm and refrain, euphony and cacophony, not only in music, but in sight, touch, smell, taste, and thought, which are subtly present in every conversation. Unfortunately, we spend so much time and energy focusing on the relatively superficial literal meanings of what people say that we miss much of what they really mean beneath the surface of what they are saying. If we discount the words and simply focus on facial expressions, body language, tone of voice, and the ways their conversation affects us, we may gain a far better understanding of what they actually mean. We know that music strikes people in different ways, so while these effects may be experienced and encouraged, they cannot be predicted or calculated. For this reason, it makes no sense to think of conflict as being created by others without our active participation. When we describe conflict as a tango, we suggest not only that a dance partner has selected us, but that we have selected them, and agreed to sway together to an agreed-upon piece of music. Yet this fact implies that we can stop the dance or change the music whenever we decide to end it, or respond to a different strain of music. Science as Metaphor

Once we recognize that every conflict has emotional, energetic, and spiritual overtones, we can go deeper, and explore the subtle, invisible, vibratory lines along which it, and much of reality, runs. By paying attention to the music of ordinary communication we can discover a hidden fulcrum that can be used to nudge a conflict from impasse to resolution. We can use scientific understanding as a metaphor to find this fulcrum, and consider, for a moment, the part scientists believe may be played by vibration in the universe as a whole. Since Einstein, physicists have been clear that our universe consists of matter and energy which translate directly into each other, and are therefore simply different expressions of the same thing. Matter, which is merely energy moving very slowly, behaves at a quantum level like a wave. Energy, which is matter moving very rapidly, takes the form of a field whose invisible lines of force are revealed, for example, through patterns that can be seen in iron filings sprinkled on a sheet of paper covering a magnet.

Without digressing too far from our topic, many physicists now believe that all matter is composed of vibrating 10 or 11 dimensional strings or “branes,” that vibrate at different frequencies to produce all the known elementary particles. A super-symmetrical unification of all known forces and particles within a single vibrational framework would tell us that the universe does not consist simply of lumps of matter separated by vast reaches of empty space, but of a constant translation of matter into energy and back again, that is expressed through vibrations, waves, fields, “spin” and similar qualities that have no discrete corporeal existence. Particles, which we usually think of as matter, are a tiny part of the universe, separated by unimaginably vast distances. To illustrate, if a proton in the nucleus of an atom were the size of a tennis ball, its electron would be circling two miles away, and the strings scientists theorize would have the same size compared to an atom as an atom has to our solar system. Yet our focus and attention are attracted to particles, or by analogy, to the substantive issues in conflict, with little dedicated to the energetic or vibrational fields created by polarization.

If these speculations by physicists are correct and we live in a world that consists not only of particles of fixed matter, but waves of vibrating energy; if we ourselves inextricably express that world; and if our emotions and spirits are partly explained by thinking of them as wave-like, vibrational, and energetic, we are drawn to consider how our view of conflict and efforts at resolution might shift by treating them as vibrations or waves, rather than as static or particulate. There are many deep and profound issues related to the physical nature of the universe that have had a significant impact on how I think about and respond to conflict. It has been useful to me in mediation, for example, to recognize that I cannot pin down someone’s position and at the same time be precise about their momentum; that my uncertainty about them imparts a kind of structure to the mediation process; and that there is a complimentarity to conflict that allows it to be both fixed or particulate and flowing or wave-like. It has been my experience in mediation that if anything vibrates or resonates, it can be tuned to less adversarial and destructive frequencies. I have found it useful to recognize that in mediation, as in physics, there is no absolute or fixed frame of reference for the perceptions of parties, and when I am able to open heart-to-heart communications, previously hostile combatants merge to form a new, unified, collaborative state, much like a Bose-Einstein condensate in which, at temperatures near absolute zero, individual atoms lose their distinctness to form a single integrated whole and a new state of matter out of thousands of otherwise discrete parts.

I have sometimes found it useful to adopt a geometric analogy that views the parties perceptions of time and space as relative, elastic, and warped by their gravitational attraction to some emotionally massive invisible black hole of pain, around which they rotate at rapid speeds; or to think of impasse as a vacuum in conflict space, and not empty, but seething with polarizing energy that I can borrow for an instant to create something new. These diverse, seemingly inapt physical perspectives have helped me improve the way I think about and articulate what I do, and in the process, led me to new techniques that draw on these understandings.

While these physical examples are metaphoric, they point to underlying unities and relationships. Thus, if I begin with Einstein’s proof that space and time are part of a single equation; that mass bends the shape of spacetime, and that this elastic geometry of spacetime tells matter how to move, I can predict that the greater the density or mass of emotion surrounding a conflict, the greater the distortion it will create in the relational spacetime geometry that connects and separates people, and the greater the gravitational tug, which may result in their going into continuous orbit around each other, or fall more rapidly toward its’ center. Following this line, it helps my understanding of conflict to shift from linear, particle-like, mechanical theories of causation to complex, wave-like, relativistic fields with multiple interacting causes and effects. Developing a field theory of conflict will allow us to recognize its’ complex movements and energetic fluctuations at different points of time and space. Similar changes in our understanding take place when we shift from assuming conflict is regular and predictable to seeing it as chaotic, self-organizing, and sensitively dependent on initial conditions.

Geometry can also be used to enhance our understanding of relationships, since conflict is above all a relationship – not only with others, but with ourselves, the past, present, and future, and the environment in which it occurs. Space, then, translates into relative qualities of distance, angle, and trajectory, while time translates into relative qualities of speed, frequency, and direction, and the angle by which one approaches or examines something. Examining the angle of our speed and position relative to others can help define the meaning of our conflict.

Similarly, we can learn from evolutionary biology and computer algorithms about the competing and collaborating elements that are responsible for the evolution of conflict as a complex self-organizing system. Just as gravity was reduced by Einstein to the flexible geometry of spacetime, so species differentiation was reduced by Darwin to the adaptive process of evolution, in which birth and death, competition and collaboration, change and conservation combine to produce a continuously fluctuating natural selection process that carries useful lessons for conflict resolution.

Using evolution as a metaphor allows us to see that people in conflict face environmental pressures from their partners, families, cultures, organizations, and societies that subject them to the unpredictability of non-equilibrium conditions, and require them to learn and adapt in order to survive. Conflict can then be seen as a series of competitive environmental or ecological crises that require ever more advanced levels of skill and collaboration to resolve.

In these ways, nature provides us with metaphors about symmetries, forms, and patterns that can be used to analyze and affect conflict behaviors. We may then recognize that nature is not “out there” but “in here.” We are nature, perhaps constituted out of vibrating ten dimensional strings, but certainly made up of wave-like quarks, gluons, protons, neutrons, and electrons, all obeying the laws of physics. We are living, evolving organisms composed of organic compounds, bacteria, and diverse collaborating cells. We are primates with a capacity not only for rational thought, self-awareness, and strategic thinking, but irrationality, blinding emotion, and self-destruction. Every part of nature is manifested through us in countless ways that can help us understand how and why we behave as we do when we are in conflict, and lead us to newer and more powerful methods of resolution.

Orchestrating the Vibrations of Conflict

Adopting a vibrational metaphor for conflict allows us to develop our skills by treating communications as though they were waves rather than particles, and working with their elements at a more subtle level. For example, waves possess both amplitude and frequency and can be cancelled by equal and opposite waves, or amplified and increased by adding waves of a similar frequency. We can use tone of voice to stimulate others to increase their empathy, or communicate emotion at a deep level of authenticity, or acknowledge a willingness to settle, or let go of grief and rage. All this can be done not merely by using words that convey precise meanings, but by tone, pitch, frequency, and modulation.

We can stimulate awareness through intentional acts and rituals as by shaking hands, through body movements as by nodding, through tone of voice as by whispering, through repetitive phrasing as by summarizing, through timing as by process intervention, or simply through the vibrational quality of who we are as by spirit and heart-based communications. Each of these, if used with the right person at the right time can create a sense of spiritual connection, relational synergy, emotional resonance, and sympathetic vibration without words. As Rumi also observed:

There is a way between voice and presence where information flows.

By thinking of emotions as waves or vibrations, we can consciously de-escalate our conflicts by lowering or deepening our tone of voice, slowing the pace or frequency of our comments, softening our pitch, using repetitive, modulated phrasing, and emphasizing vowel sounds as opposed to harsher sounding consonants. We can release pent-up emotion by leaning forward, nodding rhythmically and repetitively, taking a deep breath and releasing it slowly, using caressing gestures while not actually touching the other person, or using a gentle touch or pat to produce a calming effect. All these vibratory acts intersect, resonate with, and direct the attribution of meaning within the listener.

At a deeper level, it is possible to change the rhythmic patterns of our words. We can significantly alter what is communicated, for example, by repeating key words or phrases, slowing down, or using rhythmic emphasis, as was done to great effect by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and John F. Kennedy. At a deeper level still, it is possible to make peace and tranquility so powerful within ourselves that without any of these interventions, others intuitively understand that it is unnecessary to act aggressively toward us.

I frequently use vibrational qualities of voice, body language, metaphor, pacing, liturgical repetition, and my own clear, committed, heart-based intention to calm parties in mediation and induce a sense of trust and comfort in the process. To do so, I expand my awareness of what is happening in the present moment and do not get stuck in the past or the future or worry about what I am going to do next. Sometimes, as in deep meditation, I experience a subtle, background vibration that is extremely calming. This vibration does not occur as thought or emotion or body sensation, but transcends them. The phrase that best describes this state of mind is an ancient Zen definition of enlightenment, which is: being available for anything at every moment. When I am in this state, others may become calm effortlessly. In truth, conflict is inherently chaotic and so sensitively dependent on initial conditions as to be unpredictable, making it impossible to plan in advance how to respond. It has been my experience that when I have a pre-set plan it often goes awry because I cannot move naturally, in concert with what people just said or did. On the other hand, when I am able to sense the vibratory, wave-like quality of what is occurring in the conversation and am completely open, present, and available for whatever others may say or do, I am able to respond in creative, unimaginable ways that are far more effective than the best prepared strategies. This does not make strategy or planning irrelevant, but provisional and secondary to experience.

How We Attribute Meaning

The more we listen to our inner voice, the more clearly we can hear the voices of others. Indeed, when we consider how sense impressions are processed, the entire distinction between self and others begins to unravel and dissolve. It is clear, for example, that all our sensory perceptions are based on a combination of unreliable factors, including external objects that produce or reflect waves or vibrations which strike specialized sensory detectors, which transmit electrical signals through neurons to the brain, where synapses are arranged in patterns based on previously experienced patterns stored in memory, which result in our attribution of meaning. Minor errors in any of these maneuvers will result in radically distinct meanings.

Vision is a coordinated, even collaborative relationship between an object, light, the eye, nerve cells, the brain, and patterns of meaning created by our prior experiences. What we see is therefore not actually outside us, but a relationship between what is inside and outside. Light waves of specific frequency and amplitude are reflected off objects at angles that render them perceivable by the eye, but perception necessarily includes the attribution of meaning, which takes place inside us. This does not mean the things we see are not also seen by others and therefore, according to convention, objectively exist. It means that attributing meaning is highly personal, based on individual prior experiences, dependent on multiple variable inputs, interpretations, and choices that can be altered to create equal and opposite meanings. Thus, it can be argued that the people we love and hate are only a complex set of externally triggered internal vibrations we have imbued with special meaning based on past experiences, and that these meanings exist only inside us due to our unique history. While others may experience something similar, it is clearly impossible to say anything about anyone else without simultaneously describing ourselves.

Every attribution of meaning is therefore a combination of sensory perceptions and individual experiences, intentions, personalities, and innermost nature, all of which are communicated through wave-like interactions. As a result, we can chose at any time to interpret our perceptions differently, or recall and amplify a set of experiences we previously ignored, or interpret events differently. We can design fresh experiences that cancel previous wave patterns, recognize that we have selected from a mass of perceptions only those that fit a predetermined emotional pattern, discover the source of this pattern within ourselves, and consciously dismantle it. Attribution of meaning is therefore not fixed or static, but open to change and constantly evolving, as revealed in the following case study.

No More Teachers Dirty Looks – A Case Study

Several years ago, I mediated a dispute involving Rose, a teacher who was being fired for yelling at three other teachers and using what might be considered “world-class” swear words in front of children during school hours. Rose had been chair of the union at her school for twenty years and a strong advocate for teachers. The incidents that threatened her job all began six months after she stepped down as head of the union.

At the mediation, the three teachers angrily described what Rose had said and done to them. Rose responded defensively, first by denying that what she had done was so serious, then by attacking the other teachers for having provoked her, and finally by quibbling over details in their descriptions of each event. The mood was one of entrenched animosity, unyielding blame, impasse, and shared recrimination.

Sensing the determination behind her resistance and at the same time being aware of its’ utter futility, since the Principal had made it clear that without a full resolution Rose would be terminated, I did something I had not planned or thought about in advance. I stopped her mid-sentence in one of her defensive counter-attacks against her accusers, and said: “Excuse me, Rose. Can I ask you a question?” She said “Yes,” and I asked simply, softening my tone of voice, lowering my posture, and leaning towards her until I was at the very edge of her personal space: “Has anyone ever thanked you for what you have done for this school?” Her mouth dropped open and she burst into tears and sobbed uncontrollably. I decided to deepen the spiritual opening created by her response, and after a moment of warm, sympathetic silence, I turned to her accusers and asked them if they would each tell Rose directly one thing she had contributed to the school, and thank her for having done it. Now they all began crying, and as they told their stories about Rose’s dedication to teachers and the school, the defensive “vibrations” and atmosphere of impasse were totally transformed.

After the teachers finished and Rose stopped crying long enough to speak, she apologized profusely for what she had done. She said she cared so much about the school and about the teachers and children, but didn’t know how to show it, and was desperately unhappy about how useless she had become. Her “accusers” supported her by saying they knew she cared about them and about the school, and apologized to her for becoming accusatory rather than reaching out and helping her make what must have been a very difficult transition. Together they decided there was something they could still do – not merely for teachers, but for the school as a whole, by helping everyone learn from what happened, work more collaboratively as a team, and develop new teacher leaders.

I suggested they might start by letting people know how they had resolved their conflict, and asked what they wanted to do to communicate to others what they had decided and help the school heal. Rose said she felt she needed to apologize to the entire faculty and staff, and would start by asking to be put on the agenda for the next all-hands meeting. The other teachers said she should not have to do this alone, and wanted to join her in apologizing for their role in the conflict. Everyone began crying all over again, but this time with joy at their newfound solidarity. I suggested that they go together to ask the Principal to put them on the next agenda, and that they each describe at the meeting what they learned from this conflict about teaching, teamwork, and solving their problems together. They readily agreed.

I again decided to do something unplanned and push the opening just a little wider. Rose said she had gone to one of the teachers after yelling at him, apologized, hugged him, and asked him if she could take him to lunch to make up for what she had done. The teacher said it had shocked him at the time because Rose was not known as someone who hugged people or invited them to lunch. Riding this wave of collegiality, I asked them if they would all agree to hug each other each time they meet, and go to lunch as a group at least once a week between now and the end of the semester. They enthusiastically agreed, and I asked Rose whether she would agree to invite others who also had problems with her to join her for lunch, and find out what they could do together to improve the school. She agreed.

I later heard from the Principal how shocking and transformational it was to see Rose, the tough-talking union advocate, hugging everyone and inviting all her former enemies to lunch. He said the faculty meeting at which they apologized had transformed the culture in the school, triggered a profound conversation about how the faculty and staff needed to care more for each other, and actually resulted in better teaching and fewer disciplinary problems with students.

In retrospect, it is clear that while Rose was thoroughly defended against insult, isolation, and attack, she was utterly defenseless against compliment, inclusion, and acknowledgement. Her toughness was a barrier erected to protect herself against her own vulnerability, which collapsed at the slightest push in the right direction. Analyzed in vibrational terms, the gentleness, kindness, and open-heartedness that were contained in the question I asked regarding acknowledgement conveyed a vibrational frequency that spoke directly to her heart and touched a deep chord that released her pent-up emotions. What allowed me to discover that question was not merely a sense of intellectual futility about the way the conversation was going, or a sense of emotional frustration over her lack of ownership, or the depth of understanding in the teachers’ stories, or even a physical discomfort with the stress-filled accusatory/defensive dynamic that filled their argument, but a spiritual, energetic, vibrational sense of what must lay beneath those layers of defensiveness and rationalization.

By going to my heart and asking a question that came directly from the vibrational quality I wanted to elicit, I was able to touch her heart in ways I could not have done by asking a question from intellect. Although it happened very quickly, the question flowed from intuition, empathetic resonance, and my willingness to place myself in her shoes. From there, I asked what would have made me do as she did, and was able to find a question that would reveal whether my intuition was correct.

These moments of “sublime mediation,” or what is sometimes called “crazy wisdom,” represent a kind of “peripheral mind,” which, like peripheral vision, consists of paying attention to the background rather than the foreground, and empowering one’s intuition. In this state, it is possible to notice the subtle vibrational differences between anger and caring, defensiveness and pain, and within myself, between judgement and empathetic resonance. Intuition is not infallible, and for this reason should take the form – not of an answer, but of a question that might be asked by a three year old. If my intention is clear and I have no judgements, agendas, or stake in the outcome, I may be able to combine innocence and curiosity with directness and honesty in a simple, disarming, heart-based question that suddenly exposes the nucleus of the conflict.

 

Biography

Kenneth Cloke is Director of the Center for Dispute Resolution and a mediator, arbitrator, consultant and trainer, specializing in resolving complex multi-party conflicts, including community, grievance and workplace disputes, organizational and school conflicts, sexual harassment and discrimination lawsuits, and public policy disputes, and in designing conflict resolution systems for organizations. He is a nationally recognized speaker and leader in the field of conflict resolution, and a published author of many journal articles and several books, including Mediation: Revenge and the Magic of Forgiveness and Mediating Dangerously: The Fontiers of Conflict Resolution . His consulting and training practice includes organizational change, leadership, team building and strategic planning. He is a co-author with Joan Goldsmith of Thank God It’s Monday! 14 Values We Need to Humanize The Way We Work, Resolving Conflicts at Work: A Complete Guide for Everyone on the Job, Resolving Personal and Organizational Conflict: Stories of Transformation and Forgiveness; The End of Management and the Rise of Organizational Democracy, and The Art of Waking People Up: Cultivating Awareness and Authenticity at Work. His latest book, Journeys into the Heart of Conflict will be published in 2015.

He received a B.A. from the University of California; a J.D. from U.C.’s Boalt Law School; a Ph.D. from UCLA; an LLM from UCLA Law School; and has done post-doctoral work at Yale Law School. He is a graduate of the National Judicial College in Reno, Nevada. His university teaching includes law, mediation, history and other social sciences at a number of colleges and universities including Southwestern University School of Law, Pepperdine University School of Law, Antioch University, Occidental College, USC and UCLA.

9 May 2017 Responsibility

Hello to you today from wherever and whenever you are stopping by. Today is going to be an “inside” sort of day I think. For the past two days Kyle and I have been besieged by allergies! It’s been dry, windy, it’s spring and lots of grass cutting going on.  Wanted to mention to my pet people that I found out using a dish washing soap like Dawn is best to remove a topical flea treatment if your dog experiences and adverse reaction like ours have recently.  Regular dog or people shampoo’s won’t get it out.  Our dogs haven’t been doing well with topicals, so we are going to try the internal – not wild about that idea either!  But with how many wild and stray critters we have around here carrying ticks and fleas, we can’t really leave them untreated.   Last year one of the dogs or us actually brought a tick into the bed!

Yesterday was a very nice day for us. We went to one of our favorite local eateries, Taqueria Torres (https://www.facebook.com/Taqueria-Torres-514132938621565/) and as always it was delicious! You can taste love and happiness in every bite – it permeates the place! I think part of the reason we like the people and the place so much is there is such a peaceful and spiritual energy.  They   express their spirituality in their decoration and on one of their message boards in particular was a message that resonated with me from the Bible, James 1:26:

“If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless. (the rest of the passage) Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after ophans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”

This passage resonated with me and my own struggle with knowing when to speak and when to listen when it comes to matters of the spirit and religion! Sometimes it’s just better to agree to disagree!

Yesterday in the mail, as if to celebrate our special day, a package from my beautiful friend Natalie from the company Pocket Orgonite arrived. She had chosen some pieces that she felt were for me and sent them as a gift. They look a lot like the being in the drawing I did the other day! Pink and blue pyramids! The smallest piece actually helped me get through the allergy attack Kyle and I both suffered after walking to and from lunch! The bracelet is still on my wrist! It’s much like one my friend Cyndy had sent but broke. I am honored and humbled by Natalie’s beautiful work and gesture. I am planning on sending her an example of some of my crafts in reciprocity.

Had a weird dream this morning and this song comes to mind to recall it for you:

Robert Hazard – Escalator Of Life (1982)

What I remember of the dream Paul Ryan was in it and there were a bunch of people on an escalator. It was almost like watching an amusement ride but there too many people being crammed into it. It started to get dangerous and sparks were flying and people were screaming. At the end I remember seeing someone sticking a stick with what looked like, well to be honest, poop on a stick, into someone’s mouth.

What comes to mind is what happens when you try to cram all sorts of different people into one system, “one size fits all”….you get a shit-stick of a deal out of it. That’s what I feel about what’s going on with this Healthcare business. There is “no one-size fits all” answer when it comes to taking care of people – especially in the realm of Healthcare. I feel like what is going on with this repeal/reform is totally missing the mark of what actually needs to be dealt with. The “American Healthcare Escalator” itself – the insurance companies, the pharmaceutical industry and hospitals….ahhh but that is too hard….takes too much time and means admitting responsibility for our current “death spiral” of a program ! The elephant in the room on all of this – the very same party that is trying to “fix” this mess is the same party that did everything within their power to obstruct, sabotage and neuter Obamacare!

http://www.philly.com/philly/opinion/20170305_Commentary__Obamacare_s_flaws_were_designed_by_Republicans_to_make_it_fail.html

Commentary: GOP’s legal and political sabotage crippled Obamacare

Updated: —March 5, 2017 — 3:01 AM EST

by Abbe R. Gluck

Like a healthy body, a complex federal legislative scheme needs nurturing. Obamacare was starved to death by its legal guardians – the U.S. Congress – the same caretakers who now have the audacity to argue that the law has collapsed of its own weight. That’s like refusing to feed a newborn and then saying it died because it was sick. You can bet that if a Republican replacement bill ever passes, this Congress will give it a lot more care and a chance to actually succeed.

Let’s be clear. Obamacare was not perfect. But how could we expect a federal law so complex, affecting one-fifth of our economy, to be perfect from the get-go? Congress never gave it a chance, or even a tweak, to help it work. The amount of legal and political sabotage incessantly directed at the Affordable Care Act appears to be unprecedented in modern American history.

Political opponents filed a lawsuit the very day the statute was enacted, arguing that the insurance purchase requirement – which President Barack Obama modeled on Republican Gov. Mitt Romney’s Massachusetts health reform – was unconstitutional. Republicans then turned the state-based implementation of the statute into a political football, proclaiming that any governor who implemented a state exchange or expanded Medicaid was a traitor; never mind that the idea of resting the exchanges in the states in the first place came from Senate conservatives (or that nearly a dozen Republican governors eventually had the courage to say that the Medicaid expansion was in their states’ best interests and did it anyway).

When the Supreme Court, in 2012, refused to strike the statute down, the opponents didn’t stop there. The charge to their allies, which came from a high-profile 2010 meeting at the American Enterprise Institute, was to adopt a strategy designed to “exploit” “bits and pieces” of the law, calling it a “bastard [that] has to be killed as a matter of political hygiene.” That birthed the second Supreme Court case, one that attempted to take advantage of four sloppily drafted words in the 2,000-page law to argue – impossibly – that Congress never intended for the subsidies essential for all the ACA’s insurance reforms function to apply to the federal insurance exchanges. The Supreme Court quashed that suit too, in a definitive 6-3 smack-down, but not before the uncertainty caused by the suit prevented a smooth implementation.

The opponents didn’t stop there. Next, they took aim at the “three R’s” – the provisions of the statute on risk adjustment, reinsurance, and risk corridors. Simplified, those crucial provisions gave transitional financial relief to the insurance industry to stabilize the market and insurance premiums as the ACA began implementation. Congress never gave these a chance either. Instead, in 2013 it let Sen. Marco Rubio (R., Fla.) brand them an insurance “bailout” and then passed laws preventing the appropriation of some of this critical funding. Never mind that a federal court has now held that the government must pay the contractually obligated amount regardless, Rubio’s law notwithstanding. The damage was done.

What’s more, the House then brought a high-profile lawsuit arguing that another critical part of the ACA’s funding – the “cost sharing subsidies,” payments to insurers so they can charge individuals lower premiums – had not been properly appropriated. And that’s not even to mention countless other suits aimed to chip away at the statute, from challenges to its birth-control provisions, to its legislative process, to its implementation of the employer insurance mandate.

As noted, the statute wasn’t perfect. The insurance subsidy amounts were set too low in the law as drafted; a normal, responsible Congress would have stepped in to change that. Obama made his own mistakes, too. For example, many believe that the Department of Health and Human Services’ generous interpretation of the ACA’s grandfathering provisions narrowed the insurance markets in ways that contributed to premium increases.

Even with this strangulation, however, the ACA has had some enormous successes. Not only have 20 million more Americans been given access to health care, but health costs are way down and data on positive health outcomes are starting to come in. Indeed, the best testament to the ACA’s success is the fact that all of the proposed Republican plans keep its basic structure – requiring insurers to cover everyone at roughly equal prices, continuing support for Medicaid, and largely leaving many of the ACA’s less controversial provisions in place.

If there is any great weakness in the ACA, it is its overreliance on the insurance markets as the primary means of expanding health access. That makes the statute extremely vulnerable to the insurance industry and its politics. But that is a Republican preference. It’s a way to keep health care at least somewhat in the private sector, rather than federalizing the entire insurance scheme into a national version of Medicare for all. The part of the ACA that House Speaker Paul Ryan (R., Wis.) claims is “collapsing under its own weight” are these same insurance provisions; and they are collapsing because Congress double-crossed the insurance industry for political gain.

And here’s the kicker. The very first proposed regulation released by the Trump HHS aims to stabilize the very insurance markets that Congress and the ACA’s opponents spent the last seven years trying to undermine. President Trump met with top insurance CEOs last week to continue that effort. And of course, the Trump administration and the House of Representatives have decided to put the House’s cost-sharing-subsidy lawsuit on hold. Because if the House gets what it wants, it will further destabilize the insurance markets – and that no longer seems such a good idea now that a Republican is responsible for the ACA.

Trump has called Obamacare a “disaster” more times than one can count, and recently said, “Dems are to blame for the mess.” Let’s be clear about who is accountable. Considering how much the ACA has accomplished, just think what it could have done had our Republican-controlled Congress bothered to actually support it.

Abbe R. Gluck is professor of law and faculty director of the Solomon Center for Health Law and Policy, Yale Law School.

John Oliver’s latest on yet another hornet’s nest getting sticks poked into it:

Net Neutrality II: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)

Reblog: Passover from Rachelmankowitz

I feel like I want to take a pass on Passover this year. I’ve done it before. I tried to do the whole thing last year – closing up cabinets and shopping for matzo meal and gefilte fish and kosher for Passover candy. I spent an inordinate amount of time looking up articles about […]

via Passover — rachelmankowitz

19 March 2017 Active Hope (Daily Good, Joanna Macy) and the tragic story of Edward Daniel Dowd (Vet dies in detox center lobby – Greenfield MA)

Hello to you today. I hope this finds you well. I have been enjoying doing drawings of faces in chalk lately and have been meditating and praying a lot about things going on in our country and world at the moment. I hope something here will resonate with you. I am focusing on what I want in this world and having a clear understanding of the “why” of what I don’t.  Something else I’ve been doing is more lately is fact checking things I read – especially on Facebook.  It’s not always easy to fact check things, even the credibility of Snopes.com has come into question in recent years but it is still possible to do.  It is important that if you are going to form an opinion or belief about something that it is founded in as much truth as you can find!  Anyhew – much love to you!

You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.
C.S. Lewis

Empathy is about finding echoes of another person in yourself.
Mohsin Hamid

You cannot solve a problem with the same mind that created it.
Albert Einstein

The welfare of each is bound up in the welfare of all.
Helen Keller

http://www.dailygood.org/2017/03/19/active-hope/

Mar 19, 2017— Shifting our world toward a life-sustaining society takes active hope. We need to counter the voices that say we’re not up to the task, that we’re not good enough, strong enough, or wise enough to make any difference. If we fear that the mess we’re in is too awful to look at or that we won’t be able to cope with the distress it brings up, we need to find a way through that fear. This piece, co-authored by Joanna Macy, describes three threads we can follow that help us stand tall and not shrink away when facing the immensity of what’s happening to our world.

“I’m fed up to the ears with old men dreaming up wars for young men to die in.” George S. McGovern

*Update 5:21 pm

I looked and found this obituary for Mr. Dan Dowd this afternoon and felt I should share it.  He looked like a very kind person and I am sad his life ended the way it did!

http://hosting-6556.tributes.com/obituary/show/Dan-Dowd-104469282

Dan Dowd
November 17, 1953 – February 8, 2017
Greenfield, Massachusetts

REENFIELD: Daniel Dowd, 63, of Greenfield, MA, passed away February 8, 2017. He was born in Holyoke, MA and is the beloved son of the late James J. Dowd, Jr. and Mary Louise Teahan Dowd, and his step-mother Cynthia Clark Dowd Rowell. Dan graduated from the University of Massachusetts – Amherst. He was a disabled veteran who proudly served in the US Navy at Guantanamo Bay Cuba. Dan was a lover of music, poetry and laughter. Always a musician, his passion for music was at the heart of his band – The Crybabies. www.thecrybabies.com. He is survived by his three brothers James J. Dowd, III (Dawn Chamberlain) of Conway, MA, David E. Dowd of Westbrook, CT and Timothy W. Dowd (Maggie Sullivan) of Orange, CT and his nieces and nephews James M. Dowd (Sheri) of Santa Monica, CA, Michael D. Dowd of Tampa, FL, Mark A. Nelson of Weare, NH, David J. Dowd (Gwen) of Webster, NY, Mary L. Dowd Stopka (Nicholas), Thomas J. Dowd, and Kathleen S. Dowd all of Orange, CT. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated Friday, February 17, 2017, at 10:00 AM in the Chapel of St. Jerome Church, 169 Hampden St, Holyoke, MA. Friends and family are invited to call on Thursday, February 16, 2017, from 4:00 to 7:00 PM at the Barry J. Farrell Funeral Home, 2049 Northampton St, Holyoke, MA. In lieu of flowers, it is requested that a memorial contribution be made to The Food Bank of Western Massachusetts, P.O. Box 160, 97 N. Hatfield Road, Hatfield, MA 01028 (www.foodbankwma.org), telephone (413)247-9738,

Sending men and women to fight in war is an expensive.  I believe when our Government sends soldiers to war they incur a life-long obligation to those soldiers, which includes men like Mr. Dowd.

Recorder Staff/Tom Relihan
The main entrance to Behavioral Health Network’s new detox facility at the former Lunt Silversmith property in Greenfield.

http://www.recorder.com/Greenfield-vet-ends-life-in-detox-center-lobby-8074983

By DIANE BRONCACCIO Recorder Staff

Monday, February 13, 2017

Vet dies in detox center lobby

GREENFIELD — Police are investigating an apparent suicide involving a gun in the lobby of the Franklin Recovery Center.

Greenfield Police Chief Robert Haigh confirmed a report that Edward Daniel Dowd, a Greenfield man in his 60s, died of a late-night gunshot wound to the head inside the lobby of the drug treatment center at 298 Federal St.

“Everything is still under investigation,” Haigh said of the Feb. 8 shooting, which occurred around 11 p.m. He said the shooting occurred in the lobby and “appears to be self-inflicted.”

He said no one else was injured and that he couldn’t give any other details. He declined to say whether there were any witnesses.

Dowd is listed as a disabled veteran, according to the Greenfield Street List, and was born in 1953.

Katherine Wilson, chief executive officer of the Behavioral Health Network, which runs the Franklin Recovery Center, said the agency is “conducting an internal investigation of events leading up to the incident.

“We are deeply saddened by the recent incident at the Franklin Recovery Program site in Greenfield. We offer our condolences for the loss of a community member, as an organization and as individuals working in the field of recovery.”

Wilson said the agency has counselors who are assisting “those traumatized by this tragedy.”

She said all appropriate state authorities have been notified, but that health care privacy laws prevent Behavioral Health Network and its program staff from sharing any information or any details about the incident or care for the individual involved.

http://www.recorder.com/Franklin-Recovery-Center-suicide-case-comes-to-a-close-8166171

Suicide spotlights intersection between insurance and recovery


Recorder Staff

Friday, February 17, 2017

GREENFIELD — The 7-month-old Franklin Recovery Center got caught in the glare of social media this week following the suicide in its lobby of a distraught 63-year-old veteran, an alcoholic in crisis.

The longtime county resident, Daniel Dowd, who identified himself as suffering from post traumatic stress disorder and alcoholism, left behind an angry and anguished note, spread on Facebook. His core complaint focused on the center’s apparent inability or, in his mind, unwillingness to take him into its detoxification program.

Since the death a week ago, members of the recovery community in Greenfield, specifically members of the Behavioral Health Network, which oversees and runs the recovery center on Federal Street, have spoken out to address issues raised by the suicide, while declining to discuss specifics of this case citing federal confidentiality rules.

Police Chief Robert H. Haigh Jr. said the shooting death was in fact a suicide and that the detective on the case found a note on the body of Dowd that corroborated the authenticity of the “suicide note” that circulated online.

“When someone does something in this manner, in a very public manner, you certainly don’t want to ignore the situation,” Haigh said. “You don’t want to shortchange it.”

 In addition to the police investigation, a state Department of Public Health probe is underway. A state spokesman would only say, “We are aware and are actively investigating the circumstances of this tragic death, and cannot comment further until our review is complete.”

The Franklin Recovery Center has been licensed to provide detoxification services by DPH’s Bureau of Substance Abuse Services since May 2016.

 Insurance

In light of the suicide, leaders at Behavioral Health Network, the Regional Opioid Task Force and The Recovery Project all noted the importance of finding immediate care for addicts who decide they want help. But finding that help with or without insurance has never been easy, one of the reasons that the state supported creation of the 64-bed recovery center in Greenfield. County residents seeking help in residential programs for themselves or others before last summer had to work the phones, scouring facilities in Springfield, Worcester or Boston to find a bed.

Within 48 hours of opening last summer, the Greenfield center was full — though with constant turnover. Currently there are 32 beds for the short-term detoxification and 32 beds for the second-step care, which if used, typically lasts the state-required 14 days.

“Some days I walk in and I’m like, ‘homeless shelter, psych unit, detox.’ That’s what we’re running,” Dr. Ruth Potee, medical director of the Franklin Recovery Center, said of her experience so far. “I didn’t know that’s what it was going to be like.”

Just how the center operates and who it can accept has been a prominent point of confusion following the suicide. It isn’t a state-funded facility but relies on private insurance and Medicaid money to keep its doors open.

If prospective patients have no insurance, they can be admitted to the Recovery Center, and the state covers the cost. If prospective patients have insurance that doesn’t contract with the Recovery Center, or are “underinsured,” commonly by Medicare, then they cannot be admitted to the center. Instead, the center staff tries to find other available options and if the prospective client desired, arrange to transport the person to somewhere with an available bed that takes the insurance or to a hospital emergency room or if the case is relevant, to the Northampton VA Medical Center.

“In fact, having zero insurance is better than having the wrong insurance,” Potee said. “But once you have insurance, you can’t pretend to have zero insurance. That’s fraud.”

Potee and the Senior Vice President of BHN, Candy Darcy, said fewer than 5 percent of their prospective patients have the “wrong” insurance, so that the inability to help is rare.

“We try to contract with every insurance provider out there,” Darcy said. “Some of them just won’t pay for detox services.”

Further, if a prospective patient is not able to walk or maintain their vital signs, the center cannot admit them.

“I’m not running a hospital,” Potee said. “I don’t have 20 nurses. It’s the level of care that is considered the state’s level of care, which is that people have to be functioning, walking, talking and not have such acute medical needs that they need an IV.”

Those patients are offered transport to the ER and a bed kept waiting for them for when they are stabilized, said Potee, who noted that they can’t force anyone to the ER or alternate programs. Hospital ERs are obligated to provide that care with or without insurance, often losing thousands of dollars in uncompensated care.

The VA hospital in Northampton will accept patients regardless of mental or physical circumstances, as long as they are eligible for VA care, Public Affairs Officer Andre Bowser said. Franklin Recovery Center would offer to transmit an eligible veteran there as long as beds were available.

Also, the Recovery Center sometimes has stretched its protocols. Most of its patients arrange admission by telephone, so that when they arrive, insurance issues have already been resolved. But if someone wants help and walked in at night or on the weekend when the center administrative staff isn’t available to check insurance and there happens to be an available bed, the person might be admitted temporarily. When the immediate treatment is concluded, if the insurance does not check out, then the center will refer that patient to somewhere that does take his or her insurance to continue the care.

The Recovery Center does not run a waiting list, but instead emphasizes immediate service.

Reaction from addiction communityMembers of the regional Opioid Task Force, which worked hard behind the scenes to establish the Recovery Center in Greenfield, say this incident points to the need for continual improvement in addiction programs and policies statewide.

“In some ways, we need to go back to our roots, ” said John Merrigan, task force co-chair, about the group’s education outreach objectives.

Sheriff Christopher Donelan, another task force co-founder, said he hopes to work with the task force to push state officials in Boston to consider changing rules.

“Let’s focus on the crisis first and the insurance second,” he said.

Local leaders in recovery have urged members of the community to refrain from particularly negative social media comments like those that swirled around the internet based on Dowd’s note, clearly written in a time of distress and anger, saying it doesn’t help.

“Finger-pointing or hashing out old stuff is not going to help at all. It’s going to take away the focus from this individual who was in a crisis moment,” said Michael Lewis, director of The RECOVER Project, a peer-to-peer participatory program for people in and seeking recovery from all forms of addiction.

Longtime friend Wid Perry said of Dowd, “I choose to remember him as an energetic and proud Shipmate Sailor who served his country well and made a positive difference in my career.”

Perry said Dowd was passionate and sometimes intense about his musical interests and national politics, “but I think for Dan it was our Navy connection that meant the most to him.”

Impact on staffPotee noted that it’s difficult for nurses and her staff at large to feel positively when vitriolic voices fill social media, especially if the comments aren’t necessarily based on facts.

She defended the facility’s staff as hard working professionals who care deeply about their work and their patients.

Since the suicide, the parking lot has had a security officer. The center will re-evaluate safety protocol, but Potee emphasized that this recent incident is a rare situation.

“We don’t consider our clients to be unsafe people,” Potee said. “I’m not running a jail, I’m not running a courthouse. This is a treatment facility. I don’t think that guns in a public setting are very common in this part of the world. I don’t live in fear and most of my staff doesn’t.”

She said her staff has experienced stress of late because of turnover by peers leaving for higher paying jobs at private clinics that have opened in the region lately.

“We’re hiring like mad right now, so that will de-stress the amount of stress my staff is under because they’re all working so hard right now.”

Instead of working eight-hour shifts, nurses have been pushed to closer to 12-hour shifts, Potee said.

You can reach Joshua Solomon at:
jsolomon@recorder.com
or 413-772-0261, ext. 264

Other Links:

http://www.disabledveterans.org/2017/01/04/veterans-affairs-ptsd-suicide-cover-morally-indefensible/Veterans Affairs PTSD, Suicide Cover-up ‘Morally Indefensible’

https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/house-bill/1181 – Veterans 2nd Amendment Protection Act (Rep. Roe, David P. [R-TN-1)

https://foac-pac.org/House-Passes-Bill-To-Restore-Gun-Rights-To-Veterans/News-Item/6391

http://www.quotegarden.com/war.html

These are just a fraction of the unfathomable amount of words used about the topic of War. Many of these I had never read before. Many, many messengers have lived and continue to live amongst us much like canaries taken into the coal mines.

A great war leaves the country with three armies an army of cripples, an army of mourners, and an army of thieves. ~German Proverb

 

15 March 2017 The Radical Power of Humility (The Daily Good Nipun Mehta)

14 March 2017 – my favorite face is Kyle’s so naturally he shows up in my art. He said I made him look like Jesus and I said we both know Jesus probably didn’t have blue eyes and blonde hair lol. No this is just how I view Kyle in my life, sunshine each day.

Good morning family.  How are you?  I am trying my best to practice mindfulness and a mantra I shared with you some time ago – “It doesn’t matter what they are doing, what matters is what I am doing, what I feel and what I think.”  It is so damn hard not to be literally swallowed up with what is going on in the world today but it can be done.  What we focus on with our hearts, words and deeds becomes OUR reality, not the reality other people want to impose on us.

Yes, there is a very old “war” of the houses, a literal “Game of Thrones” on the main stage right now for us to finally see.  The ancient quest for complete power and dominion over all people, places and things is alive and well in the world….to coin a phrase, “The Empire Never Ended – Philip K Dick.”  It’s like Dr. Wilhelm Reich said long ago, “It’s in their structures, in their tissues, in their blood.”

So this morning Kyle and I were talking about this surreal world and I asked the question, “What can we do?!”   The answers did not come easily but there are many things we can do and all of them start at the very core of our being….start with us. I was looking for comfort and wisdom and was lead to this story on the Daily Good. I especially like the fable of the sparrow. From now on when I put my feet in the air I will visualize this story lol!   Even if there seems like nothing we can do, that we are completely powerless there is always one thing we haven’t thought of yet we can yet do and it doesn’t have to be negative either!

My “sparrow” feet

Trying to squash a rumor is like trying to unring a bell.
Shana Alexander

Feeling gratitude and not expressing it is like wrapping a present and not giving it.
William Arthur Ward

Decide what you stand for. And then stand for it all the time.
Clayton Christensen

Someone’s sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.
Warren Buffet

http://www.dailygood.org/story/1096/the-radical-power-of-humility-nipun-mehta/I pasted the entire article so that you would be more likely to read it.  I have trouble reading long articles on the computer, so I understand if you have to come back to this.  This phenomena seems to be a “thing.”  Without meaning to, I do a lot of “scanning” of digital media versus what I do with the actual printed word.  I am realizing this is a dangerous thing to do in this day and age.  Scanning things versus actually reading them word for word means things get “missed” and overlooked….go unnoticed and go on unchecked!  Now are the times of paying attention!   SLOW DOWN!       

https://www.washingtonpost.com/local/why-digital-natives-prefer-reading-in-print-yes-you-read-that-right/2015/02/22/8596ca86-b871-11e4-9423-f3d0a1ec335c_story.html?utm_term=.ef59ac2b73c0 – excerpt

“Earlier this month, Baron published “Words Onscreen: The Fate of Reading in a Digital World,” a book (hardcover and electronic) that examines university students’ preferences for print and explains the science of why dead-tree versions are often superior to digital. Readers tend to skim on screens, distraction is inevitable and comprehension suffers.”

On to humility!

If you are humble nothing will touch you, neither praise nor disgrace, because you know what you are. –Mother Teresa

The Radical Power of Humility

–by Nipun Mehta, Jul 07, 2015

[Below is transcript of a talk, delivered to four thousand people gathered at the National Jain Convention in Atlanta, Georgia. Prior to Nipun’s talk, civil rights legends John Lewis and Andrew Young shared insights from their journey with Martin Luther King, Jr.]

Thank you for this opportunity to speak to all of you. What an honor to be here with all you today, and a special honor to get to follow John Lewis and Andrew Young.

Today I’d like to surface an unpopular virtue. One that’s fallen out of favor in a time of selfies and relentless status updates. The virtue of humility. We live in an era that believes it can no longer afford to be humble.

Years ago, I sat down for lunch, next to a young villager in India. As usual, I closed my eyes for a moment of gratitude before eating. As I opened them, I saw the most unusual thing — this boy was preparing a bite from my plate. My plate! Seeing my confusion, he kindly explained, “I wanted a piece of your prayer, and so I figured the best thing was to be of service to it right now.” Saying this, he offered me that bite. Imagine hearing these words, and receiving that gesture from someone you’ve only just met. I was touched.

Curious to know more about him, I asked him about his work. He smiled and said, “Well, it’s hard to describe. It’s a bit like the sparrow in that fable. As the story goes, the sky is falling down and all the creatures are fleeing. The sparrow thinks to itself, ‘I want to help. But what can I do? I’m just a sparrow.’ Then, the sparrow has a flash of brilliance — it lies on its back and points it two feets towards the sky. ‘What are you doing, Little Sparrow?’ others ask. ‘Well, I’ve heard the sky is falling, and so I’m doing my little bit to hold it up.'” After a pause, my new friend adds, “That’s what I try to do too.”

Small, subtle, silent. And humble.

The world we live in is almost the polar opposite — grandiose, mundane, loud.

A few years ago, Google released a searchable database of 5.2 million books published since 1500. Researchers soon discovered that, between 1960 and 2008, individualistic words increasingly overshadowed communal ones. The usage of “kindness” and “helpfulness” dropped by 56%, even as “modesty” and “humbleness” dropped by 52%. Our language reflects our lives. Phrases like “community” and “common good” lost in popularity to “I can do it myself” and “I come first.” We moved from We to Me.

The archetype of today’s hero is a go-getter, with a nice-guys-finish-last mindset. Our systems are designed to privilege power, where respect is calibrated by our titles and bank balances. As business cards lead our handshakes and hugs, our daily lives have morphed into a relay of commercial intentions. In a rat-race to pad our resumes, we’ve condensed our nuanced experiences into elevator pitches. We’re primed to “speak up”, and to favor ambition over surrender.

The question is no longer if we can afford our humility, but rather can we really afford our own arrogance?

Without humility, our overblown sense of entitlement disconnects us. It increases narcissism and reduces empathy. That may be good for the economy but certainly not for societal well-being. A couple of months ago I was in Bhutan with the folks who implemented Gross National Happiness, and from them I learned about some remarkable research at the University of Michigan. It turns out that ever since 1980, our empathy levels have been gradually dropping, but in 2000, they suddenly plummeted 40 percent. Forty! Not surprisingly, a Gallup report just released last week reported that the US has dropped from 12th position to number 23 on the global well-being index. It’s a strange paradox, we are at the same time, more self-centered than ever, and less happy and healthy for it.

With humility, though, we can give birth to a whole new story.

In the late 70s, two Buddhist monks — Rev. Heng Sure and Heng Chau — began a mind-blowing bowing pilgrimage along the California coastline. For 900 miles, they would walk three steps and take one full bow to the ground. Their practice was to meet everything as a reflection of their mind and rebound it with a heart of love. One day, crossing through a rough neighborhood in LA, they found themselves surrounded by a bunch of gang members. One of them threw down a trash can, removed the rod connecting the can with its lid, threateningly started screeching that rod around the side of the trash can. Sluzzzz, slussssh, as if sharpening his blade and signaling the impending fate of the monk’s head. Other friends egged him on with a menacing chant. As Rev. Heng Sure would later write in his journals, “All the hair of my body stood up in fear.” Yet his commitment was to unconditional compassion: no matter what you bring to this moment, I bow to the goodness in you. May you be blessed. And so he humbly went for that final bow at the teenager’s feet. His would-be attacker’s fist was raised in the air poised to strike, but he froze. Completely froze. Others around him fell silent. Imagine if you’re about to pummel someone and he bows to you with great compassion. The monks continued bowing right past the dumbstruck gang.

Humility is seen as a sign of weakness, in today’s culture, when, in reality, it is the gateway for an unparalleled and profound strength.

We see examples of this across all wisdom traditions. In Sikhism, Guru Arjan Dev, the fifth of their ten gurus, offered this credo to all the warriors: “Humility is my mace; becoming the dust of everybody’s feet is my sword. No evil can withstand that.” Jesus Christ washed the feet of his disciples, the 12 apostles, and then adds, “Know ye what I have? I have given you an example.” At another point, he explicitly states, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and whoever humbles himself will be exalted.” In Jainism, as you all know, there is the powerful practice of Micchami Dukkadam on the last day of the holy Paryushan period, where Jains actively seek and offer forgiveness: “If I have caused you offense in any way, knowingly or unknowingly, in thought, word or deed, then I seek your forgiveness.” Every year, on this day, I receive many such emails from Jain friends. Simply being on the receiving end is such a humbling feeling, that I can only imagine what it means to be on the other end.

We have so many contemporary examples as well. Mother Teresa called humility the “mother of all virtues” and reminded us, “We can do no great things. Only small things with great love.” And, of course, we have Gandhi. When he died, with less than 9 possessions to his name, journalist Edwin Murrow read this across the radio waves: “Man without wealth, without property, without official title or office. Mahatma Gandhi was not a commander of great armies nor ruler of vast lands. He could boast no scientific achievements or artistic gift. Yet men, governments and dignitaries from all over the world have joined hands today to pay homage to this little brown man in the loincloth who led his country to freedom.”

Today, then, I want to share three progressive doorways of power that humility opens up.

The first doorway is the power of many.

In the absence of humility, we forget the shoulders that we stand on, and foolishly begin to take singular credit for what we’re doing. I remember my mom telling me a parable from the Mahabharata. A dog is traveling on Krishna’s chariot, and lo and behold, when the dog wagged its tail to the right, the chariot turned to the right. And when he wagged it left, the chariot turned to the left. It was an example of correlation, not causation, and it would have been nothing short of ludicrous for the dog to actually believe it was controlling the chariot with its tail. Yet, that is precisely how our arrogance deceives us. We forget that behind each one of us lies an invisible stream of conditions that supports our every move.

Growing up, I had certainly forgotten that wisdom. I started out doing all the “right things”: did well in high school, got into UC Berkeley, landed a prestigious job in Silicon Valley. Then, in my early twenties I left the corporate world, and started ServiceSpace. My television debut was a half an hour interview on CNN. People celebrated my accomplishments, and initially I believed I deserved the credit. But over time, I realized that I was just a dog on the chariot. The ego is ever-ready to build a story around our exclusive special-ness. Whether it’s about worldly achievement or even service, pride comes in one flavor. And our world, unfortunately, encourages this. Slowly, though, I started seeing the long series of cascading conditions that had to conspire even just for me to stand here today. How could I possibly think that this is all my doing?

New science is now pointing to the power of many. We have a greater impact on each other than we think. Studies have shown that the strongest influence on someone’s behavior is — their friend’s behavior. According to groundbreaking research by Harvard’s Nicholas Christakis and James Fowler, happiness loves company — it spreads virally, in a network. So does obesity, cancer, and even divorce. If you have a divorced friend, you are 147% more likely to divorce yourself. So if you want to stay married, we have to work on strengthening your friend’s marriages. I try to tell my wife that if she wants me to get into shape, she needs to get my brother and mother on the treadmill. 🙂 And it works the same way for philanthropy, kindness, and good news too. Everything we do ripples out and affects each strand in the web of our connections.

With this understanding, a significant insight emerges: everyone matters, and everyone has something to give. And if we organize around leveraging people’s gifts we begin to create breakthrough possibilities.

I recently met a guy named V. R. Ferose. He had turned around a Fortune 500 company’s R&D department, and by age 36, had 5000 employees working for him. He married his college sweetheart, became a father and one devastating day, he and his wife learned that their son, Vivaan was on the autism spectrum. They were shattered by the news, but in the crucible of their despair, Ferose and his wife forged their lifes’ calling. As Ferose succinctly put it, “I want to change the world for Vivaan, and my wife wants to change Vivaan for the world.”

Soon after, they launched many successful projects. Ferose looked deeply into the unique gifts of the autistic population. Well, if you’re autistic, you are never bored, and you never lie. Ferose looked at those traits, and then took a revolutionary leap — he hired 5 autistic staff at his Fortune 500 Company, and then matched them with roles that allowed their gifts to shine. It was a huge success. The new staffers excelled at their jobs. News of their contributions reached the CEO of the company and he was so moved that he announced that, by 2020, 1% of their 65 thousand world-wide staff would be people on the autism spectrum. “That day a friend came into my office and said, Vivaan has just created 650 jobs. I had tears in my eyes,” Ferose remembers. Now, the UN is exploring a mandate to inspire other Fortune 500 countries to do the same.

All this transpired because Ferose understood that the best way to support his special child, was to help create a world that supports the specialness of others, and to build a community that thrives on the belief that everybody is good at something.

Tapping into people’s gifts can’t be done by brute force or authority. It takes a heart of humility. It takes deeply trusting the synergy of our inter-connections, and understanding the power of many.

The second doorway that humility opens is the power of one.

Last year, I had the pleasure of spending some time with Francois Pienaar, a rugby legend who was very close to Nelson Mandela — and famously played by Matt Damon in the movie Invictus. As he shared many personal encounters with Mandela, the thing that struck me was how practically every story spoke to Mandela’s humility.

One of the most pivotal moments in Francois’s life came when he visited Mandela’s jail cell on Robben Island. Holding his arms out, he said, “This is what how much space he lived in, for 27 straight years. I grew up thinking he was a terrorist. All Afrikaners did. And yet he come out of jail with an open heart that can hold everyone.” Indeed, Mandela’s first words, after being released from jail: “I stand here before you not as a prophet, but a humble servant.” Humble. Servant.

A telling example of Mandela’s servant leadership came in 1995. Amidst rampant civil tensions that were taking hundreds of lives, he had come to power as the first democratically elected President of South Africa. That also happened to be the year that the country’s rugby team was winning a lot. With millions cheering on, many South Africans saw this as a symbolic opportunity to signal the end of Apartheid; they were eager to change the team name, colors and jersey in a sport that was widely considered a “white man’s game”. Mandela, on the other hand, saw a different opportunity. An opportunity for forgiveness. He went from sport clubs to town halls to rally his countrymen to take the higher road: “We have to surprise them with compassion, with restraint and generosity; I know, all of the things they denied us, but this is no time to celebrate petty revenge.”

That was the thing about Mandela. He had the audacity to believe in each person’s capacity to transform their suffering into love. He had done it himself. Where the power of many teaches us that everyone is good at something, the power of one points to our unbounded capacity for inner transformation. Everyone can find greatness in love.

They kept the same name, same jersey, same colors. Springboks in green. That year South Africa makes it to the finals, where they faced New Zealand. At the end of regulation, it’s tied 12-12. Overtime. An epic game. And South Africa wins the World Cup, for the first time in the country’s history! Mandela humbly comes out onto the field, not in a Presidential suit, but wearing a green Springboks jersey — what many considered the “uniform of the enemy.” The 65 thousand person crowd spontaneously erupts into a chant: Nelson, Nelson, Nelson! It was electric. “Never seen so many grown men cry,” players later said. The crowd later goes on to sing “Shoooo–shaaaa-llooooo–aaaaa” — a Zulu song that Mandela had often sung to himself while in jail. In that moment, an entire nation stood united under Mandela’s leadership — and his love.

In the concluding trophy presentation, as Mandela handed the trophy to Francois, he whispered to him: “Thank you for what you have done for the country.” Francois paused, deeply moved. And then spontaneously came his response, to the man he had once thought of as a terrorist, “Thank you, Madiba, for what you have done for the world.”

Mandela shook the world, not through the might of his ego, or his considerable skills, but through his breathtaking capacity for inner transformation and humility. He believed in the power of one, he embodied that power of one, and showed us how it is a force beyond measure.

The third, and subtlest, doorway of humility is the power of zero.

I recently met a 96 year old Sufi saint named Dada Vaswani. He has a great many followers around the world, is highly respected by monks and nuns from various traditions, and radiates a profound sense of peace. I was deeply grateful to meet him. But his first words to me were, “I’m so grateful to have met you.” It wasn’t just a pleasantry, he really meant it. And it wasn’t because he thought I was special — he just knew that everyone is special. Because everyone is connected to everything, and the whole show is sacred.

Everything about him, and around him, was humble. When we met, in his private study room, we sat on simple, white plastic chairs. Another plastic table stood flimsily between us. You could tell these surface trappings didn’t matter to him. The way he carried himself, the words he shared, the kindness he emanated, it empowered me and everyone around him — empowered us, not to be bigger, grander, somebodies… but rather to be small, simple, nobodies.

Dada shared that his own teacher was once asked who he was. “Are you a poet? Are you an educationist? Author? Saint?” He responded with, ‘I am a zero.’ Then he paused for a while and added, ‘I’m not the English zero — the English zero occupies space. I am the Sindhi ‘Nukta’. In Sindhi, zero is written like a dot. So that was the ideal placed before me,” Dada shared.

When we succeed in radically downsizing the ‘I’, we find true expansion. It is when we shrink our preoccupation with self, that far greater energies course through us. We no longer attempt to drive change in the world, but rather to “be” that change we wish to see. St Francis’s prayer was not, “Make me CEO of your peace”. It was make me a channel of your peace. And to be a channel, is to understand the true power of being zero.

At one point in our conversation, I asked Dada about his plans for the future. He’s 96 and the spiritual leader of millions, so the succession plan is a natural concern for many. Yet, his response was unequivocal: “Oh, that’s not my concern. I’m not the one making this happen now, and it won’t be me in the future. I just try to be zero.” He had given a lifetime to this work, and yet was not trying to control its future. He knew his job was to simply – be an instrument.

To probe into this idea of being an instrument, of being zero, I asked him about Bodhisattvas. Similar to Jinas in Jainism, Buddhists define Bodhisattvas as beings who forsake their own liberation for the sake of others. He paused for moment, locked eyes with mine and recited a poem by Shantideva. One deliberate word after another.

May I be a guard for those who need protection,
A guide for those on the path,
A boat, a raft, a bridge for those who wish to cross the flood.
May I be a lamp in the darkness,
A resting place for the weary,
A healing medicine for all who are sick,
A vase of plenty, a tree of miracles;
And for the boundless multitudes of living beings,
May I bring sustenance and awakening,
Enduring like the earth and sky
Until all beings are freed from sorrow,
And all are awakened.

His voice died into silence, and no words could describe the electric feeling in the room. My heart was overflowing with gratitude. With whatever limited humility I was capable of, I asked, “Dada, how may I be of service to you?” Then, he did something that blew me away. He cupped his two hands in front of me, as if holding out a begging bowl, and gently said, “I request your tears of compassion.”

Long pause. This time, on my account. No questions were arising, no answers were arising. We just gazed into each other’s eyes. Finally I managed to get a few words out, “I’ll do my best, Dada,” I said.

When Dada asked for my tears of compassion, what he was pointing to is the power of zero – that capacity to be an empty vessel, so that compassion’s flood can effortlessly surge through you. And it all begins with the wisdom of humility.

In conclusion, I want to end with a story of a friend and a wonderful person, Shakkuben.

Shakkuben spent most of her life working as a school janitor in India. One day, however, she had this beautiful wish arise in her heart: I want to serve. Immediately after, she had another thought: what can I possibly give? A friend told her a story of how Gandhi had once lost a very small pencil, and he was looking everywhere for it. When someone told him, “Bapu, you’re the father of the nation; you don’t have time to look for a small pencil, here’s a dozen more,” Gandhi simply replied, “But a child had given me that pencil with a lot of love,” and carried on the search for the pencil. For Gandhi, size of love mattered a lot more than the size of the pencil. And Shakkuben took this to heart, and started her own experiment in service. Everyday, she would sift through the trash at her school, look for those small pencils that others had thrown away, and give them to people who couldn’t even afford that much. And for her, it wasn’t about the pencils but the love that they’d be wrapped in.

One day, after breakfast at home, Shakkuben offers me a parting gift. A slightly-ripped pink plastic bag, I still vividly remember it. Her first collection of those small pencils. I was so touched, I couldn’t even open it in front of her. I had another event that morning, and I couldn’t resist sharing her story there. As a show-and-tell, I opened that pink bag, put my hand in, and held out a fist full of small pencils, broken erasers, blunt sharpeners. Oh, man. It wasn’t just the pencils … it was what they were wrapped in. The love of this humble janitor. I couldn’t hold back my tears.

When our gifts to the world are draped in such humility and reverence, an unspeakable thunder roars behind those rain drops. And this is precisely what Jainism invites us to do. Bow to all life, Ahimsa; bow to others points of view, Anekantvad; bow to our inter-connection, Aparigraha.

When we bow to all that is, we reframe our understanding of success and accomplishment. We discover that everyone is good at something. That anyone can find greatness in giving, and that each is connected to all. We know then that our job is simply to be like the sparrow, and do our little bit to hold up the sky. Like my young friend who broke a piece of bread and offered up that bite, may we always strive to serve one another in small ways. And to hold a piece of each others’ prayers.

This is a transcript of an address at the 2015 National Jaina Convention in Atlanta, delivered by Nipun Mehta. Nipun is the founder of ServiceSpace.org, a nonprofit that works at the intersection of gift-economy, technology and volunteerism. You can also view his other talks online.

 

 

7 March 2017 Dream triggered after seeing Waiting For Godot’s Obamacare Replacement Starring Patrick Stewart and Dalai Lama: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)

Good morning family.  How are you doing?  I’m doing alright, just staying in gratitude as much as I can.  Got a letter from my Mom yesterday and that always helps!  Thank you Mom!  I woke up to blowing winds and heavy rain this morning.  Nothing serious, just a quick band of showers passing through.  The woman/angel I drew yesterday is gone this morning.  I have to admit I was a little sad about that, I was really pleased with how she turned out!  Such is the literal nature of drawing things outside in chalk and why I have really taken to it.   It is a true lesson about Attachment and the Impermanence of all things.  My deepest condolences to fellow blogger and artist Dymoon on the passing of her Mom: https://dymoonblog.com/2017/03/07/mother-1921-2017/

So now I have lots of fresh canvas to choose from out back!  Kyle gave me some ideas of things to draw that I’m going to attempt.  He suggested trying to draw his FFXIV avatar Morrigu so we’ll see how that goes!

From FFXIV the Elezen female Morrigu DeAngelic in her Paladin gear. Paladins are tanks that can heal themselves.

I had a bunch of dreams last night like one about being at some property that had a sort of Southwest feel to it that supposedly cost almost a million dollars but whoever bought it paid for it in cash.  Yeah, I have no idea where that came from.  The one that was really fun was triggered by this video I saw yesterday of a skit with Stephen Colbert and Patrick Stewart:

Waiting For Godot’s Obamacare Replacement Starring Patrick Stewart

The dream was of being with Patrick Stewart, he is my favorite Star Trek Captain (Star Trek Next Generation) so that’s a dream unto itself!  Anyways, I was standing in the dark with him and we looked up and saw a ship of bright lights.  It looked a lot like some of my drawings, like a spaceship in the shape of the Flower of Life or something.  He asked if I wanted to go on the ship and I said, “Oh God YES!” lol.  I can remember feeling so much happiness and relief at the thought!  Well we were beaming up and it was like being inside the elevator at the Willy Wonka factory!  He had forgotten someone and we had to go back down and then back up and I was aware of the journey both directions lol.  Thankfully, unlike reality would probably be, no motion sickness!  That’s all I remember but it was so fun I had to share.  At least in my dreams I’m escaping at last getting to travel in space ships!

We watched the latest Last Week Tonight with John Oliver this morning and I found myself get very teary watching it.  It is sad to think this could be the last Dalai Lama.  I think he is a blessing in this world and he is on my gratitude list for today.  Thank you John Oliver for your courage and going to interview him.  It was an absolute delight to see the two of you.  You two brought laughter, love and light into our home today and that’s not an easy thing to do in these times.   I pray for peaceful relations between China and Tibet.

Dalai Lama current name

The 14th Dalai Lama /ˌdæl.aɪˈlɑː.mə/ (religious name: Tenzin Gyatso, shortened from Jetsun Jamphel Ngawang Lobsang Yeshe Tenzin Gyatso, born Lhamo Dondrub, 6 July 1935) is the current Dalai Lama and is the longest-lived incumbent.
en.wikipedia.org/wiki/14th_Dalai_Lama

Dalai Lama: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO)

6 March 2017 Honesty, How the USDA’s New Privacy Policy Undermines Animal Welfare (Petful.com, Dr. Debora Lichtenberg), possible NOAA satellite funding cuts and outdoor chalk drawing

Hello family, how are you today?  It’s Monday, 3:33 pm as I write to you.  If I’m honest with you, I’m not sure how I’m doing.  I’m really not.  I’ve been pulling out my mental gratitude list a lot and that’s helped some.  Each time I do this, I find I have far more to be grateful for than to complain about!  It’s been very difficult for me these past few months to stay positive.

The word that came to me as I sit here today is Honesty.   I can remember as a kid I was dusting in my parents room and broke a figurine of my Mom’s.  Instead of telling her I broke it I tried to fix and cover it up that I had broken it.  Well I wasn’t good at either thing and I ended up getting caught and punished for what I had done and rightly so!  That’s how I was raised.  When you did something wrong you were expected to tell the truth about it or risk getting punished more severely for either an outright lie or a lie of omission.

Honesty is something I’m not seeing very much out of very many of our elected officials in this country and it’s downright disheartening and shameful.

When a deep injury is done us, we never recover until we forgive.
Alan Paton

The eye sees only what the mind is prepared to comprehend.
Henri Bergson

Joy is not in things; it is in us.

Richard Wagner

More of what is going on you may not have known about in Washington:

http://www.jamestownsun.com/news/4227948-under-pressure-usda-restores-some-abused-animal-reports-website – I was surprised to hear this had happened!  I don’t think this was mainstream news.

http://www.petful.com/animal-welfare/usda-problems/

How the USDA’s New Privacy Policy Undermines Animal Welfare

Citing privacy concerns, the USDA has scrubbed welfare reports and animal abuse data from its website.

With the USDA’s new privacy policy, puppy mill operators have little incentive to cease. By: Nikita Kravchuk

Petful does a great job keeping us up to date on animal welfare issues.

In the last month, animal welfare has suffered an enormous setback — and everyone should be aware of it. Animal welfare reports and animal abuse data have been obliterated from the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) website.

Let’s unpack what this means.

The Way It Used to Be

Before February 2017, a person could find out if animal laboratories, puppy mills, horse farms, animal transporters, breeders, small circuses and other animal enterprises were abusing animals, not passing USDA inspections or creating unnecessary or unethical pain.

For example, you could look up certain puppy mills and find out if the operation was breeding dogs until they died or keeping moms and puppies in stench-filled hovels.

Now, no one will have access to this and other important animal welfare information anymore. More importantly, animal welfare activists and watchdog organizations (no pun intended) won’t be able to ascertain this information either.

How It Is Now

In order to access USDA information regarding inspection reports at about 9,000 animal facilities, an individual or organization will now have to file a request under the Freedom of Information Act. These requests can take years.

The obliteration of these records not only means the information cannot be checked by a concerned individual — it also means the people and employees running these facilities have very little incentive to obey regulations.

Even when the USDA information was available, many animals at these facilities were suffering because guidelines were being broken by researchers, animal handlers and inhumane puppy mill operators. Now that they will have even less incentive to take proper care of the dogs, cats and kittens, rabbits, horses, monkeys and other animals in their care, the result does not look good for improving the welfare of these poor animals.

The Animal Welfare Act and Horse Protection Act may exist, but they aren’t necessarily enforced.

The welfare of cats, horses and other animals are also undercut by this new policy. By: Max and Dee Bernt

The Humane Society’s Response

The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) said, “This action benefits no one except facilities who have harmed animals and don’t want anyone to know.” HSUS is threatening to pursue legal action if the USDA does not reverse this bad decision.

Why would the government block public access to information regarding animal welfare? HSUS says, “the posting of these documents has been an invaluable tool in rooting out some of the worst abuses that are occurring. Essentially, this is now going to give a bit of a get-out-of-jail-free card to horse soring, puppy mills, delinquent roadside zoos and animal research labs that are flouting the law.”

My Experience With a Laboratory Dog

The first dog I ever adopted on my own came from the University of Pennsylvania’s Veterinary School. Elvis, the walker hound, was thin and already de-barked when he became a part of our family.

A sweet laboratory assistant took tender loving care of these laboratory dogs at Penn. When I asked him where Elvis came from, he said, “An animal transporter, I guess.” An animal transporter obtains animals from shelters and pounds and sells them for research. Elvis was lucky enough to end up in a “no-kill” laboratory and finally in a loving home.

But who de-barked him, and why? Why was he in poor health when he arrived at the university? He seemed to have been somebody’s pet at a happier time in his life.

The trafficking of animals, the animal research complex and all other for-profit animal industries need all the regulation possible to ensure that the simplest of guidelines set forth under the Animal Welfare Act and the Horse Protection Act are followed.

With the new lack of transparency at the USDA, I fear the worst.

This pet health content was written by a veterinarian, Dr. Debora Lichtenberg, VMD. It was last reviewed March 1, 2017.

Editor’s Note: On Feb. 7, 2017, the USDA reposted a portion of the data it originally removed from its APHIS website due to the new privacy policy.

This one affects all of us and it is very upsetting to see why it may be happening: 

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/noaa-satellit-funding-cuts_us_58bcff7be4b0d2821b4efb52 – see link for entire article

Satellite shots by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration are incredible, but who knows how long they’ll be on this Earth?

NOAA is yet another federal agency that President Donald Trump has targeted with funding cuts.

According to an Office of Management Budget memo obtained by The Washington Post, Trump hopes to slice NOAA’s funding by a whopping 17 percent. That would include cutting 22 percent ($513 million) from NOAA’s satellite date division, and axing another $216 million (26 percent) of funds from NOAA’s Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research. Some of the programs hit hard would be coastal management and developing ways to aid coasts in dealing with rising sea levels.

In an indication of how draconian the cuts could be, the memo inquires about ending leases on facilities and “property disposal.” As rationale for the cuts, the memo said the administration wants to “prioritize rebuilding the military.” –

I suspected this was why we are seeing what we are with the proposed elimination of complete government departments (EPA, Education, ACA etc), defunding and cutting of programs vital to the health, safety and well-being of the American people!  Why do we need a bigger military?  It is may be because one of the main sources of revenue for this country is from the manufacturing of arms and implements of war?!  Rather than do what’s right and hard, like fixing what is broken about our country, they seem to be intent on scrapping it all for profit and go the tried and true route of the war machine.      

https://www.nationalpriorities.org/cost-of/ – this site has a continuing tally of how much war has cost us, to date and what the money could be spent on instead:

Total Cost of Wars Since 2001

Cost To:

Every hour, taxpayers in the United States are paying
$8.36 million for Total Cost of Wars Since 2001.

Source Internet – from the Gilded age of cartoons. Some things never change.

7 Feb 2017 Eyes in the Skies (drawing and video Kerch Strait, Kerch Strait oil spill) and Mosaics

Good morning family.  How are you today?  I’m trying to get motivated without the morning coffee.  We have first world problems of running out of chocolate milk.  At our house there is no point in making the coffee if there isn’t any chocolate milk to put in it!

So yesterday I spent some time exploring “boxes to make shapes” drawing style and this is what came forth.  It came to me that the eyes should be circles peering in to a world of boxes.  This is kind of how I’ve always felt about my being in the world.  I am a round peg trying to fit into a square hole of a world but somehow I think this is exactly my purpose.  Much love, light, hope, joy, laughter, music and some enthusiastic dancing to you today!

6 Feb 2017 - exploring squares and circles but I make each one instead of placing a tile like in a mosaic.

6 Feb 2017 – exploring squares and circles but I make each one instead of placing a tile like in a mosaic.

I found this video when I was looking for a picture of eyes in the clouds.  It does not appear to have been altered – just one of those freaky things people sometimes capture when they look up into the sky.  What’s also freaky is I just went to look up where Kerch Strait is and no more than 2 hours ago a oil spill with water pollution was reported there!  May be not a coincidence I was lead on this path?

http://en.portnews.ru/digest/18450/

Источник: http://www.maritimeherald.com

2017 February 7

Oil leaked at Kerch Strait and caused water pollution

Oil leaked from unidentified vessel and caused water pollution at the approach to the Kerch Strait from the Black Sea. The oil spot was found and reported by the Russian cargo ship Volgobalt-242, which found the pollution during passage of the strait in evening on February 3. The oil spot had length of 500-650 m and width of 200-250 m, drifting in north direction. The environment protection procedures were activated and at the scene were dispatched hazmat teams with water cleansing equipment. The calm weather and lack of winds did not allowed of the oil stop to adrift to the shore. The clean-up operations were completed successful on the next day and the traffic through the Kerch Strait was not seriously affected.

The local authorities initiated investigation for the source of the oil leak. The vessel, which caused the water pollution was not identified, but authorities will trace and inspect all the vessels, which proceeded through the strait. According to preliminary information, the oil leak was after discharging of sludge from vessel proceeding through the strait in recent 6 hours before finding it. The official statement of Rosmorrechflot says that the water pollution did not affected the marine life and the local environment.

Kerch Strait connects the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov, separating the Kerch Peninsula of Crimea in the west from the Taman Peninsula of Russia’s Krasnodar Krai in the east. The fishing is important for the local economy, as several fish-processing plants are located on the Crimean coast.

God eyes in sky Kerch

Uploaded on Feb 8, 2008

During hurricane in Kerch strait in the sky eyes of the God were visible

Another example of using squares to make images is a very ancient one, Mosaics.  I’m just doing it with a fine pen versus placing millions of tiny tiles!

 

Ancient Roman Symbols Mosaics Gypsy Girl," an ancient Roman mosaic, has become the symbol of treasures rescued from the rising waters of a manmade lake in south central Turkey and now displayed nearby at a museum in Gaziantep.\l "cultureindevelopment.nl

Ancient Roman Symbols Mosaics
Gypsy Girl,” an ancient Roman mosaic, has become the symbol of treasures rescued from the rising waters of a manmade lake in south central Turkey and now displayed nearby at a museum in Gaziantep.\l “cultureindevelopment.nl

http://www.ancient.eu/article/498/

Roman Mosaics

Article

by Mark Cartwright

published on 14 June 2013

Roman mosaics were a common feature of private homes and public buildings across the empire from Africa to Antioch. Not only are mosaics beautiful works of art in themselves but they are also an invaluable record of such everyday items as clothes, food, tools, weapons, flora and fauna. They also reveal much about Roman activities like gladiator contests, sports, agriculture, hunting and sometimes they even capture the Romans themselves in detailed and realistic portraits.

 

5 Feb 2017 Trees Need Not Walk the Earth (David Rosenthal poem) and Eye of the Storm (Evosia Studios time-lapse video of Iceland’s beauty)

Good morning family!  I hope this finds you well wherever and whenever you are as you visit me here.  I finally got some “dream-sleep” last night for which I’m grateful.  There was a presence or strong energy signature I sensed milling about again before bed last night, but they didn’t disturb our sleep.  I like to think whoever or whatever they are, they are  just settling in to their post to watch over us as we sleep.

This morning on the dog walk we stopped by the mailbox and there was a letter from my Mom in there!  It is a blessing to have someone who loves you and takes the time to tell  you in writing!  She and I may agree to disagree on many things but there is one thing that is never up for negotiation or compromise and that is our love for each other!

This morning I decided I wanted to focus on things I think are beautiful.  I want to do my part to bring light and beauty into this world….chase out the darkness.  I hope you enjoy what I have chosen to share.

“We may seem to be merely strangers but I assure you we are anything but.  We have crossed paths once again.  Only the unbreakable thread of love could assure such a meeting.”  (Me)

 

https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/trees-need-not-walk-earth

Trees Need Not Walk the Earth

David Rosenthal

Trees need not walk the earth
For beauty or for bread;
Beauty will come to them
Where they stand.
Here among the children of the sap
Is no pride of ancestry:
A birch may wear no less the morning
Than an oak.
Here are no heirlooms
Save those of loveliness,
In which each tree
Is kingly in its heritage of grace.
Here is but beauty’s wisdom
In which all trees are wise.
Trees need not walk the earth
For beauty or for bread;
Beauty will come to them
In the rainbow—
The sunlight—
And the lilac-haunted rain;
And bread will come to them
As beauty came:
In the rainbow—
In the sunlight—
In the rain.

 

Eye of the Storm 4K Ultra HD  – Mother and Father Earth speaking in the language of color and light

Published on Apr 2, 2014

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Update: Join me on a timelapse and aerial expedition in Iceland! EvosiaStudios.com/workshops/

Eye of the Storm is a winter saga in Iceland. In Iceland there are many kinds of storms. Ice, snow, rain, sand, ash, solar, magnetic, and more.

Storms are agents of change. While often destructive and unpredictable, they also demonstrate the unyielding power of nature. They reveal nature’s beauty and its hand in creating the landscapes we see today.

Shot in Iceland between February and March, 2014, I was lucky enough to witness and film the power of an X-class solar flare and coronal mass ejection hitting our atmosphere. The resulting auroras were a sight hard to believe, even in person and seeing it with my very own eyes. Enjoy the film!

Follow us on Twitter: http://twitter.com/evosia
Website: http://evosiastudios.com
Music: The Eye of the Storm by Shaun Diaz, http://www.shaundiazmusic.com

Special thanks to our sponsors for making this film possible:
Kessler Crane – Film equipment, motion control gear – http://kesslercrane.com
Glacier Rental Car – Iceland car rentals – http://glaciercarrental.is

I also want to give thanks and appreciation to Thorvardur Arnason for his friendship and invaluable help during my trip in Iceland. He is an amazing photographer as well as a timelapse filmmaker. http://thorri.is

Shot on the Canon 1-DC and 5D Mk III in 5K raw. Motion control using Kessler Crane Cinedrive, Shuttlepod Mini, Turntable and Oracle. Edited and available in Cinema 4K and Ultra HD.