• Jackie Evancho: The Lord's Prayer

  • Emily Dickinson

    A something in a summer’s Day

    As slow her flambeaux burn away

    Which solemnizes me.

     

    A something in a summer’s noon —

    A depth — an Azure — a perfume —

    Transcending ecstasy.

     

    And still within a summer’s night

    A something so transporting bright

    I clap my hands to see —

     

    Then veil my too inspecting face

    Lets such a subtle — shimmering grace

    Flutter too far for me —

     

    The wizard fingers never rest —

    The purple brook within the breast

    Still chafes it narrow bed —

     

    Still rears the East her amber Flag —

    Guides still the sun along the Crag

    His Caravan of Red —

     

    So looking on — the night — the morn

    Conclude the wonder gay —

    And I meet, coming thro’ the dews

    Another summer’s Day!

     

     

     


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Paradox of Spiritual Seeking

November 20, 2012 By: Michael Nagel

In their search for enlightenment, some persons cross deserts or and climb mountains at great peril to themselves. Others seek realization at the feet of their beloved masters listening expectantly to every word. Still some attend weekend seminars or study sacred texts late into the night.

While there are a great many seekers, there appear to be few finders. Perhaps this confirms that, by definition, a seeker can never be a finder.

If I am seeking, I am seeking some thing – an object which is other than me. I am the seeker; the object is the sought. There is the duality of I – and that which I seek.

If I am a seeker of spiritual realization, I first conceive of realization and its presumed attributes (calm, equanimity, bliss ?), and I presume that such fulfillment rests there in the enlightenment I seek, not in the lowly person I take myself to be.

Such a seeker must think that the great sages have been in error. But might such seeking be mistaken instead? The Buddha taught that buddha-nature (the intrinsic potential to become enlightened) exists within every sentient being. The Christ taught that the Kingdom of Heaven is within. Nondual teachers point to our inseparability from the natural perfection of all that exists. Like the Buddha and Christ, they suggest that what we seek is not in the Himalayas, at the feet of a master, or in a book – but “closer than your nose.”
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Presence, Neurons, and the Internet

October 09, 2012 By: Michael Nagel

Presence, neurons, and the internet: these concepts are intimately related in an unsuspecting and unfavorable way which might concern you, if in your pursuit of authenticity, you practice presence.

Contemplative traditions consider the practice of presence the sine qua non (“without which nothing”) of spiritual unfolding. The Tibetan Dzogchen master, Namkhai Norbu, for example, considers presence to be “the ultimate” practice.

Presence could be considered the unreactive resting of awareness in the experience of the moment-to-moment experience of the Now. Initially the practice of presence requires sustained voluntary attention. Ideally and impossibly, we would be in presence uninterruptedly throughout the day. Yet, unless you are a master, inevitably distractions will interrupt your attention leading you to not be present.

The internet and your neurons relate directly to your capacity to practice presence. To understand how they relate, it’s helpful to know of the relatively new science of neuroplasticity. Perhaps you think, as once I did, that your brain stopped developing when you reached physical maturity. Not so! Read more »

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The Virtue of Self-ishness

August 07, 2012 By: Michael Nagel

Was it 1984 when I walked up to a teller of the Santa Monica branch of First Interstate Bank to deposit my paycheck? I must have laid on the teller counter, title up, the copy of “The Virtue of Selfishness” by Ayn Rand which I was reading, because as I filled out my deposit slip, the teller remarked with palpable moral indignation, “Don’t tell me you want to be selfish!?”

Slowly looking up straight into her eyes, I replied, “As a matter of fact, I do!”

I still want to be Self-ish, though sometimes others may misinterpret that as my being selfish. But that is their problem, not mine. I wish that you be Self-ish too.

That is, I wish everyone be taught how to think critically with the light of their intellects. As individuals and a nation, we might not fall victim to deceit.

I wish everyone finds within themselves, Read more »

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Fire, Nature & the Art of Transformation » Pele Flow

June 20, 2012 By: Mary Lane

Happy Solstice! And welcome to the fire element, and season of the yearly cycle. This element rules the heart, small intestine and sex circulation. We are collectively transforming our relationship with all three of these aspects of the fire element. In fact we are transforming our relationship with the fire element in general and maturing into a human race that is more heart centered. We are welcoming the receptive feminine principle back into our world to create the much needed balance we all long for.

So what is her role in this fire element? We have the heart which rules our passion, relationships, joy, warmth, transformation, creativity, and just plain juiciness of life that emanates care toward everything and everyone else. The heart’s partner in this is the small intestine that supports the heart by sifting through and separating the pure from the impure. It supports the heart to follow what is pure with discernment. When we walk through life with an open heart and follow it, a good companion is discernment.

Sex circulation moves our raw creative energy through the channels and supports us to create, bring into manifestation and form from the realm of the unmanifest. It supports the nourishment of all the organ systems so they are alive and healthy, contributing to the creative process. Read more »

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The Finish Line

June 20, 2012 By: celedra

Six months ago, I purchased a RunKeeper App for my IPhone, set some goals as usual, and assumed that running a Half Marathon was simply a matter of pushing through until I got to where I wanted to go.  Not so much any more.

Suddenly I seemed to be in a whole new relationship with my body.  The ‘pushing through’  transformed into a practice of patience and attentiveness as the entire experience seemed to be reorganizing my DNA.  I found myself  juggling the gap between ” I’m getting older so I should slow down, be gentle and not push myself too hard” to  “if I don’t push myself, I’ll eventually slow down completely and UGH!,  I don’t want to let age slow me down; I must keep on pushing against this tide in order  to stay vital and healthy”.

The ten days before the run, I felt exhausted.  In spite of the fear of not finishing, I decided to simply rest and listen to my body.  What joy and relief to awaken on the day of the run feeling energetic and excited about the 13 miles of pavement waiting ahead. It was a glorious slow and steady run, filled with cool cups of Gatorade grabbed and tossed in every few miles along with multiple flavors of sugary Gu to keep us going.  The bands were energizing, the weather cool and misty and the air filled with heartfelt hum of men and women doing something really great for themselves.

Our culture demands speed, precision, sharpness, success and I have done my best to be a disciple of them all.  To what end, I ask myself.  And who am I to become if and when I slow down, calm down, turn inward; allow rather then push; ask for help, say no.  Somewhere inside of me though, it is already happening, almost on its own and from a deep well of wisdom.

I am unsure of this new ground and how to tread mindfully upon it.  I am curious to explore its edges and look forward to the unfolding.   Oh, and by the way, only 10ks from now on.

 

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Obstacles and Their Overcoming

May 24, 2012 By: Michael Nagel

Overcoming Personal Obstacles - Authenticity Project

The beauty of the soul shines out when a man bears with composure one heavy mischance after another, not because he does not feel them, but because he is a man of high and heroic temper.
~ Aristotle (384-322 BC )  Greek philosopher

Just as a question asks to be answered, as a pain calls out to be healed, so too an obstacle beckons to be overcome.
Imagine you’re walking down the highway of life, you turn a corner, and there before you sits a boulder of overwhelming size which blocks your path. What would you do?
Some persons would throw their hands up in plaintive despair. Forlorn, they might sit down before the boulder, and wait for it to move itself. It may be a very long wait.
Others might shake their heads, and just turn around. They might think they were mistaken when they took the path that lead there.
Still others, after carefully examining the situation, might: tunnel beneath the boulder, climb over it, chart a new path, dynamite it, detour left or right, hire a helicopter … do whatever is necessary to overcome the boulder, and…
continue on their way.
A capricious god does not place boulders in our lives to thwart our progress. It’s profitless to speculate whether the boulder is due to karma or any other cause. It simply is what is: an obstacle on our way. It beckons a response.
Persons who live as the causes of their lives and not as the victims of their circumstances experience that obstacles evoke from them an almost instinctual choice to overcome. Notice the word “choice.”
Although it may be habitual to collapse before an obstacle, or to turn back, or to overcome, still it is a choice for which we are responsible. The act of choice is the fulcrum point of our unfolding lives. Choosing to overcome expresses that quality of authenticity called “agency” (see “A Life of Your Choosing“). Moreover overcoming taps the seemingly inexhaustible ‘high and heroic’ depths of our Being.
How do you respond to obstacles on your path?

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Tomorrow I Go On Medicare With More Than 10,000 Other Baby Boomers!

April 30, 2012 By: celedra

Ease, Grace, Laughter & Joy

Can you believe that this turnover is going to keep happening EVERY day for the next 19th years? This timed acceptance into one of our government’s most generous clubs would seemingly have me filled with the hard facts of old age. But, alas, I am absolutely delighted to give up my medical savings plan with it’s $2500 deductible and payments of approximately $400/month, for a $99 a month payment to Medicare and $39/month to Kaiser, which, in case you didn’t know, received the ONLY 5 stare rating from Social Security.

So, what does all this have to do with Touchstones of the Sacred? Turning 65, which actually doesn’t happen for me until June 1st, feels like a cultural initiation into the last third of life. Last time I wrote about taking this marker of time as preparation for death. Inspired by our interview with Margueritte, I have started taking Qigong and have increased my meditation practice. I am committed to a life of ease, grace, laughter and joy and plan to write this commitment along our hallway in large sprawling letters. The older I get, the more I know this is a choice.

The wise women we interview with Aging With Grace and Glory live this choice through the foundation of their spirituality. The many Tibetan Lamas I’ve met though the last 20 years live this choice through the foundation of their spirituality. My mother lived it through the choice of her spirituality. All different, all the same. Right now, I am deeply grateful for my health, my strong body (which just ran 12 miles with my daughter in preparation for the Rock N Roll Half Marathon) and all the immense love I have in my life. Oh, and FINALLY not being ashamed of my age!

 

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Pesto Recipes Spring Healing

April 26, 2012 By: Mary Lane

The verdant colors of “new” at this time of year brings such excitement of potential creativity, and the birthing of a fresh start. My heart just sings, jumps a beat and expands when I am surrounded by the delicate greens of new plant life.

In Chinese medicine spring is the wood element and the color associated with it is green. Any wonder? The liver and gallbladder are the organ systems related to this element that embodies the rebirth time of the year.

Have you ever noticed when you walk or drive into a green area in nature how the temperature immediately cools down? Do you think it is a coincidence that these new fresh green plants that are bursting forth in the spring support the liver and gallbladder?

If they have a cooling affect in the natural world does it not make sense they would have a cooling affect on your liver? It is very common for our liver to heat up, especially during stressful times.

Your liver needs the support to “stay cool” in these stressful times. Think green. Think newly fresh, young greens. There are a multitude of fresh green plants popping up everywhere both in the garden and in the wild to support your liver.

Here are a couple pesto recipes that I designed specifically for this purpose. Not only are they good medicine for your liver, but they are delicious. For those of you that live in an area that nettles and chickweed grow you couldn’t have better allies. I have shared with many gardeners who thought they were plagued with chickweed taking over their gardens in the spring that is the best crop you could have right now. Not only does it support you greatly in the spring, but as it dies off it feeds the soil. Simply turn it under.

Enjoy these spring recipes. They are from my book, Divine Nourishment. If you already have my book this is a friendly reminder to pull it out and receive the benefits of the spring chapter.

If you are in a cleansing mode leave out the parmesan and walnuts.

Enjoy!

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True and False Autonomy

April 19, 2012 By: Michael Nagel

A saner man would have found himself, often enough “in formal opposition” to what are deemed “the most sacred laws of society,” through obedience to yet more sacred laws, and so have tested his resolution without going out of his way. It is not for a man to put himself in such an attitude to society, but to maintain himself in whatever attitude he find himself through obedience to the laws of his being, which will never be one of opposition to a just government, if he should chance to meet with such.

~ Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862),
American Transcendentalist, author and naturalist, in Walden

As a brief prelude to this post, I recall that while sharing coffee with a 20-something-year-old a couple of years ago, I mentioned Thoreau.
“Who?”, he replied.
“Thoreau!”
“Who’s he?”
…..
For those of us whom the American educational system has misguided, Thoreau’s “Civil Disobedience” inspired Mahatma Ghandi who liberated India from British colonial rule. Thoreau also inspired Martin Luther King Jr. who helped liberate fellow citizens from social injustice. Thoreau’s “Walden” is one of the great works of American literature, and it is a foundation stone of American Transcendentalism.

Autonomy is one of the themes of Thoreau’s writing (which may be why today he no longer is taught). His life is an example of personal authenticity. Now, about authenticity…

____________

Living things have innate intelligence. From amoeba to human, each is capable of directing its own activities in a way that seeks to optimize its existence. Science describes this trait as self-organizing. In psychology, we speak of an innate drive to self-actualize.

Personal autonomy is an attribute of the self-actualizing person. Wordinfo.info defines autonomy as “the quality or state of being independent, free, and self-directing.” In our striving to be autonomous, we need to distinguish between false and true autonomy.

We act with false autonomy when our seemingly self-directed action is a reaction to something else. However subtle our reaction may be, we are ensnared by that to which we react. Our action is not independent, but rather it depends upon that to which we react. Read more »

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Detoxifying: You are what you eat (or don’t eat)

April 03, 2012 By: Patricia Tedeschi

In June, 2006, the World Health Organization reported that nearly one-quarter of global disease is caused by environmental exposures and that well-targeted interventions can prevent much of this environmental risk, “saving what could amount to millions of lives every year.”

In addition to the external toxins that assault the body daily, our own bodies produce toxins, called metabolic waste products as a result of digestion and respiration. Although many mainstream doctors feel that the body is capable of detoxifying itself without “intervention,” we are impacted by many more pollutants than ever before.

In 2000, the Environmental Working Group and Commenweal began the Human Toxome Project to analyze human tissues for chemicals that enter the body. Utilizing the latest technology, the project thus far has shown that all 75 participants ranging in age from newborn to the elderly tested positive for a combined total of 455 out of 528 chemicals.

As the skin is the largest organ of the body, it is imperative that we are conscious of what we put on it. That includes some of the more “technologically advanced” ingredients touted by many skin care lines. It is tempting to grab a bottle of the “latest, greatest” product with the “latest, greatest” ingredient(s), but “buyer beware.”

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