Monday, September 29, 2008

Rethinking Education - Great Research

This 20 minute video of Sugata Mitra seems a little longer because the lecture is not quite as entertaining as the previous one. Nonetheless, it gets better throughout. The research is fascinating and will strike a cord with parents who see their intelligent children bored to distraction in school.

I have seen children learn how to play the piano that way, as well as all kinds of sports, languages , etc. It seems that we make it all harder than it has to be. Foreign children learning English and how to search the Internet for information in a few months, with such limited resources, is quite a wonderful discovery.

To add to this idea of rethinking education - if you have a growing little brain in your household check out this book, called Brain Rules, and the author, Dr. John Medina's Blog. He makes the point that visual learning is how we often like it best. No wonder everyone is glued to some sort of screen all hours of the day.

Until it's time to play soccer. The other point he makes. Physical activity improves learning, as most mothers have observed for years. When grades fall in Middle School - sign your kid up for wrestling, and "magically" - grades go up.

Medication Or Dance School?

Sir Ken Robinson says it all in this video - a must see for all parents - and very entertaining at that.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

She Doesn't Know What She's Doing

As Deepak Chopra's pet phrase goes, and as he says in the new PC commercial:"Not a human thinking, not a human doing, but a human being!". In order to respond properly to our planet systems and life on earth, we need to rediscover what it means to be a human being. At present, there is too much doing and thinking, and too much of it is inhuman.

There is a difference between "good men doing nothing" in the face of evil, and non-doing. What that difference is, is for us to discover deep within ourselves. Which brings me back to the way children are trying to process the vast amount of depressing, planet-dying information they are presented with in school, mentioned in my previous post. Worried adults telling them to do, or stop doing - something - not only when they can't, but when their whole being is still peaceful , playful and in a state of wonder. It would be better to teach them how to meditate so they can develop a center from which to act wisely, rather than "informed" and "decisively".

After I had just posted the previous post a few hours ago, we decided to watch the Science Channel, only to come across the possibility of the volcanic magma chamber underneath Yellow Stone National Park exploding into a super eruption. The kind of thing that extinguishes dinosaurs with its explosive power and subsequent global ash clouds. There was no place to run or hide. It could happen tomorrow (for drama), or in the next 100.000 years...but...most likely not in our lifetime. There goes Plan B for cooling the earth down. Although, if you check on there are scientists who are thinking about just that.

Just when I was thinking that maybe this particular documentary before bedtime wasn't such a great idea, my little environmentalist said with obvious relief: "Finally, it isn't my fault. Even the Earth doesn't know what she's doing" - and then he fell asleep.

But - she's beautiful!

Environ Mental Wisdom


NEW POSTERS - Put them up in your classrooms, offices, and businesses.

Would you put this into your child's class room? What would it accomplish regarding the plight of seals? And what would it do to your kid? I very much agree with the message, but not with putting it into anyone's classroom.

The reason I ask is because when I came across this, I was reminded of the misguided efforts in our California school system to make our kids conscientious environmentalists. My fourth grader - for over a year now - looks out at the most beautiful landscape, and forlornly declares "The Earth is dying. Corporations are killing everything." And, no, he is not depressed otherwise, but quite the cheerful, happy earthling.

"Well" - I say - "we can do things about it. Let's sign up for the beach clean-up day, or let's buy fewer toys, let's ride our bikes to school, let's make a list of things we won't buy to send those corporations a message. Let's make earth-friendly cookies" I put all my earth enthusiasm into it, but finally I had to give up. I couldn't keep up with the visiting environmentalists at our school assemblies. The problems presented to our children in school rightfully strike them as way too far beyond their power to change. My son thinks our little efforts are completely "useless" considering the big picture. "Picking up one bag of garbage isn't going to stop the North Pole from melting, Mom. So it's a waste of gas to drive there." Checkmate.

People in California would brand you a planet-callous nutcase, if you were to try to get these programs out of school. So, I just try to save my child, and let them keep saving the planet their way, which I am afraid will prove counter productive because they don't seem to understand the hearts of children.

Whenever "the earth is dying" comes home from school now, my child asks to watch Planet Earth at night. There were weeks last years that we had to watch it every single night. Life looked pretty resilient, especially near hot and poisonous gas spewing underwater ocean volcanoes.

We count the cows, pigs, chicken, and fish we haven't eaten, and all the trips we haven't taken. We read about the things corporations and scientists do to clean up our rivers and lakes. We look at the vast ocean sparkling in the sun to balance the picture of an ocean full of garbage that is in his class room. We grow vegetables - as they do in school (to their credit )- and we drive peacefully, knowing we are way ahead of everybody else who is still eating meat when it comes to global warming, including chubby Al Gore. And, I do think some or our teachers feel the same way and balance some of this with their vegetable gardens and encouragement, but I do think unintentional harm is being done to my child, that I have to then undo.

I think we create the future by the images we put into our children's minds. Therefore I simply disagree with the way this is handled in schools, although I care a great deal about the same issues. There is no wisdom in creating these overwhelming feelings of powerlessness in children when children could so easily be empowered and inspired instead, as seemed to be much easier twenty years ago when my older ones were little.

I also have lost hope in regards to activism. Greenpeace, PETA, and all the organizations that got my attention, my money and my support for many decades have failed because of their own violence. Now "animal rights activist" is close to "terrorists" in people's minds and animals continue to suffer and will do so even more now. Mankind has gone insane and requires a spiritual rebirth of major proportion. Not religion, but an inner transformation to peacefulness. The non-doing the Tao talks about, that gets everything done. We clever ones - corporations or environmentalists alike- have done enough, and look at the mess.

Maybe my kid is onto something. Maybe the school and I are a good bad cop/good cop team after all, and we will create children who know how to turn powerlessness - not into action - but into wisdom.

Whole Foods New Website

Now that you are all going to ride bicycles and become vegetarians after my last post, check out Whole Foods' great new Website, with all kinds of helpful information, forums, store updates etc. Even if there is no Whole Foods Store in your town - or budget for that matter - there is a lot of great information here about good food - even meat ;-) and how to cook it.

In spite of ever expanding lotion and potion isles in Whole Food stores, they have kept to their principles, maintained high quality and most importantly to me - my little macrobiotic section I care so much about.

I remember the first time I set foot into a health food store in 1981, when my oldest was just two. It was magic. It smelled so good, and he had such fun filling a paper bag with brown rice and beans with the little shovel in the bucket. Our world had changed forever. I am so grateful for all the people who create for us good, strong, healthy, and above all - cruelty free food - from the farmers who grow it to the businessmen who bring it into our stores. Bless them all.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Vegetarian On A Bicycle

My oldest son is a vegetarian on a bicycle! And here is why this matters.

I found a short post on line yesterday regarding the health of our planet, titled: "A vegetarian driving a hummer, is better for the planet, than a meat-eater driving a Prius" Inspite of the title it wasn't a great post, but had an interesting link in it to this post titled "A Very Inconvenient Truth" - which reminded me of my son up North, who is a vegetarian - mostly anyway - and paddling to work on his bike every day.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Amo, Amas, Amat

Remember your first Latin lessons? Amo, amas, amat, amamus, amatis, amant? That's when Latin was still fun. After that it just gets too hard.

Why is this on my mind today, and fun? Because I have a new name! I received it the way most grandmothers get named by their first grandchild. The parents try to train the newly talking child before the next grandma's visit with the name the grandma kind of thought she'd be called - in my case, the German version of grandma which is "Oma". The child looks up at the parents and creatively comes up with a new version for what forever since ancient times was "Oma" or "Grandma" for most.

Well, I am now "Amo", according to my son's recent email. My son who made "Momo" out of the very same word - "Oma" - when he was little, for my mother. Who knows how it works in those little brains.

"Amo" means "I love" in Latin and in Italian. My grandson, and - because of his genius and great leadership - all our future grandchildren, will all be declaring "I love" every time they see me, and I'll be thinking "Yes, I know you do".

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Book Passage Event

It is just too much fun - having a book event and actually have people show up. Especially for a children's book author since the visitors are so cute. This day was a lot of fun at Book Passage in Corte Madera last month.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Monday's MeditationMom Moment - God As The Number Zero

Monday's MeditationMom Moment

I have many religious discussions on various forums on line. These discussions help me have the best insights and find ways of saying things I know to be true. So - I am going to try this "new thing" on my blog called "Monday's MeditationMom Moment". I hope you like it. This one was in an atheists forum. Atheist are committed truth seekers and often had very strict religious upbringing by the wrong people, or had none, and are scientifically minded.

Consider this, scientifically minded truth seeker - God is like the number zero and is both absolute power as well as absolute powerlessness. Both undetectable and obvious depending on the circumstances. He doesn't matter, unless he does. Both at the same time. It all depends on how you use the number zero in your calculations whether it makes a difference or not. It seems when atheists and believers argue about the existence of God it is like arguing whether the number zero is a number. It is not - and yet it is - it is a non-number-number. It names that, which is not. God is that, which is not matter. It is that out of which everything arises and to which everything returns. As such it matters more than matter itself. People who say God exists and people who say he doesn't exist - are both right for reasons they do not understand.

If we thought of God as the number 0, and were to describe an atheist as the number 5, a believer would be the number 05. Jesus would be the number 50, and someone like Hitler would be the number 55.

Is There A Point To Enlightenment?

Questioner: "It would seem pointless to have to go through the circle of life to finally reach enlightenment and then just disappear to nothing."

It is so pointless in fact that we miss it again and again. Our mind very, very. very much wants there to be a point to it. That is why we rather stay in "search" or "effort" towards enlightenment, because there does seem to be a point to this effort.

Once we disappear into nothing and manage to reappear here, we simply "make it a point" to help others even though there is still no point to it at all. It is also true - if people knew what enlightenment is - they would not pursue it, because it is not what they think they are pursuing.

And why would this have anything to do with motherhood? Because - just sitting on the floor and playing with your child day in and day out- at times also may seem pointless and boring - but it is closer to enlightenment than most people realize. That is why in the old days people had to serve a master for twelve years before any spiritual teachings would even be begun.

Anything that takes us closer to enlightenment is at times incredibly uncomfortable because this process is basically about dissolving selfishness. Add to that our culture, in which selfishness is celebrated and rewarded, it is tough being on this spiritual path.

Here's a hug out into the mothering universe where so many Moms/Dads - or grandparents who had to take over - fight this emotional battle within, every day at the feet of their little Buddhas.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Saturday Night Live Moment Of Zen

Here is - as Jon Steward would put it - our Moment of Zen. In regards to the feminist movement, Sarah Palin is nothing short of a Buddhist koan - a feminist who doesn't hate, but loves men, is pro-life, and enthusiastically for marriage and motherhood. What to do about feminists who are crazily in love with their decades long husband dudes, keep having babies and dare to become President - I mean, nominees for Vice President? This is akin to the revenge of the nerds - the many pale and out of shape men in the computer industry who are today's billionaires and are getting all the good-looking girls.

Sarah Palin is making all of us look bad, of course - stereotypical feminists and stereotypical stay-at-home Moms alike. But - for us husband-and-baby-loving Moms, who also believe in equal rights for women, as well as a woman's right to chose, even if we wouldn't considering abortion as a solution for ourselves - the present phenomenon of Sarah Palin is indeed sweet revenge even if we don't agree with all of her political positions. Feminists are the ones who have made staying at home with children and taking good care of a hard working husband harder on women in many cases than it ever was for our mothers.

Is she ready to lead the nation - just in case? Be that as it may. The problem is that - rightfully or not - most mothers - just like most actors and cab drivers and other folks - think that they could run the country just fine - and better than the sitting president. As far as "only" being Vice President is concerned - maybe it would even be boringly non-challenging. Another Zen Moment for campaign planners. As with most koans - and certainly in the case of Sarah Palin - silence would have been best. Of course that moment has long past.

Leave it to our royal jesters to point out the situation to us. Here as well as below, is Saturday Night Live with our yin and yang female political archetypes for us.

(I don't know what the rules are about posting videos. I first found this on YouTube where it was pulled suddenly, and then found it again on NBC - now with several adds which makes sense, but also with the embedding code, which makes me think it is OK to post it here for your enjoyment)

Roald Dahl Day In Malaysia - September 13

September 13th is "Roald Dahl Day" in Malaysia. I bet you didn't know that. He was born in 1916 on that day.

I was a bit suspicious when a journalist from Malaysia contacted me last month for my opinion on Roald Dahl via my blog. Unlike most spammers, though, he was well spoken, and sounded kind and intelligent in his emails. His newspaper checked out on line as well, so I took a chance. A dangerous thing to do when your Ego has just been stroked and someone wants a picture of you as well. Why me? Is my blog that interesting after all? Reaching people as far away as Malaysia?

I do have one fundamental rule: "If it sounds too good to be true...

Today, though - thank goodness - my female intuition paid off and I received an email from my journalist friend to find out that - low and behold - Here You Are - and its author - yours truly - are indeed mentioned and quoted in Mr. Lin's article in The Star - the Malaysian Newspaper he works for. It is a well-written, entertaining, and comprehensive article about Roald Dahl. I hope you will have time to check it out - either for a nostalgic tour of the Roald Dahl books you read during your own childhood, or - to discover this great and strange author, if your children are just starting to develop the brain synapses required for his books.

I am not yet famous or jaded enough, not to be quite excited that today on the streets of Malaysia thousands of people might come across Here You Are, including my name and valued opinion on a beloved children's book writer whose greatness is beyond doubt. In Mr Lin's article there is a great picture of Roald Dahl at a book event, with one of his fans at age 8 - and then today as an adult peeking through a pile of his Roald Dahl books - a great picture which rightfully won out over the picture I had sent, which was just my author photo.

You will find my quoted opinion at the end of "The Darker Side" paragraph of Rouwen Lin's article - which is actually a good point parents might want to take into account when considering Roald Dahl's books for their children. Here also a quick link to Roald Dahl's books on Amazon - as Mr. Lin's article is bound to get you all fired up. Happy Roald Dahl Day to you!

Friday, September 12, 2008

The God Particle

The Dalai Lama is trying to bring science and religion together by especially working with brain researchers as described in "The Destructive Emotions". So are some other theologians. We should take notice.

Science and religion seem to be at war the same way the Democrats and Republicans are at war. A whole new approach is needed to our search for truth. An approach that does not have power or profit as a motive, and that doesn't suffer from mutual disdain. A Buddhist monk may just be a good leader in this endeavor.

Science describes everything it sees, then formulates laws which it tests through predictions and verifiable experiments. Since all those laws are bound to hit "horizons" where they no longer apply, science then looks for more insight in the far, far away in time and space all the way back to the big bang, both in the macro and micro cosmos. Thus science is endlessly fascinating. But not as much as meditation, and much slower and more expensive.

Experiments typically try to split matter into tinier and tinier units, using stronger and stronger colliders. You don't need to be a physicist to realize that no matter how often you split matter you will never get to nothing or zero. We are trying to find the Ur-Particle, presently called the Higgs Boson - a no-mass, no-spin "particle".

Here is how Brian Greene, professor of math and physics at Columbia, puts it this morning in the New York Times:

"Perhaps space is pervaded by a field...that acts like invisible molasses. When we push something to make it move faster, the Higgs molasses would exert a drag force - and it's this resistance, as the Higgs theory goes - that we commonly call the object's mass."

Meditators - and that is where we need the brain scientists to join the party - would call this hypothetical molasses field "thought". Everything we know comes out of nothing and returns to nothing by the mystery of thought. Meditators know both the most subtle levels of thought, and - if they have experimented long enough - the realm of no thought, where there simply is no physical phenomena or mass of any kind. Thought, not as words but as subtle movements of mind, creates the resistance needed for matter to appear in time and space. We also know of supersymetry were every such movement has its exact opposite - together they can annihilate the universe.

The physicists have baptized the Higgs Boson the God Particle. Are physicists prepared to be in the presence of a God particle? I can't wait to see this - it will be amusing.

The fact that physicists may know nothing of meditation, may not understand thought and its origin, or how it creates and destroys the universe, is of some concern when they go to great length at smashing particles in an effort to discover the secret of the universe. Hopefully they aren't even close to the "answer" or ancient history might repeat itself where curiosity killed the cat. The fact that religious people have, and are still stoning people, has made us overlook some of the warnings in religious texts about trying to discover "the secret of the universe" and acquiring "God power". One aspect of God's infinite power is his infinite powerlessness. Are we prepared for such powerlessness?

A meditator knows that the secret of the universe is revealed in its annihilation - and we are wondering how this will turn out in the physics lab. To a meditator, the physicist is someone who is standing in front of a mirror studying every movement, color, shape etc., with ever more precision and complicated math, making predictions and designing experiments to test his theories - without ever realizing he is looking in a mirror. He needs to wake up to this fact or his more and more intense efforts are going to shatter the mirror. Which may be one way - and hopefully a harmless way - to this discovery,a s well.

Physicist look down on people who don't understand their elusive math and their sophisticated machines, while we look down on their attachment to the mind and its infinite illusions. They think we are fooled by our stupidity, we think they are fooled more dangerously by their intelligence. If we don't come together we may indeed destroy our world. The wisdom of smashing two tiny particles together at a velocity or violence level of twice the speed of light is at first thought, frightening. It seems that only the speed of light, is the level of violence natural in this present universe. Then again - doubling it would be a natural next step for universe dwellers to try out. Hopefully it is built into the universe's plan for us. That would indeed be very exciting.

Meditators would be well prepared for infinite and eternal existence outside of time and space, and to them it would be pure bliss - while to physicists the same realm would be eternal and infinite boredom, because there is no thought. Physicists are very attached to thinking but don't know what it is, because they have never stopped it long enough.

Hopefully the experiments in Switzerland will not mean the end of the material world. Here is a video of Brian Greene explaining things, which makes it easy to jump on the excitement wagon. We are still hoping for logic in a final, elegant, unified theory. The final truth can only be expressed in a paradox, so it will be a while before we'll get there, if at all, in physics. Jesus said:"You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free." We all long for this truth and freedom. For a scientist this freedom means no more questions. What scientist may not know is that the final answer will be a question that dissolves into omniscient not-knowing.

In this video, notice the physicist who studied swimming by reading a book - those are the folks who tell us we won't sink - even though we are swimming in the water waiting for them to jump in. Hopefully they won't drain the pool. Physicists and meditators have one thing in common - they love experiments and danger, and are willing to risk all - for truth.

While some scientists are still worried about the experiments scheduled at the LHC in Switzerland, most scientists are as excited as this guy - Brian Greene, mentioned above. We live in interesting times...

Thursday, September 11, 2008

I Am Divine, I Am Oblivion - La Mamma Morta For September 11, 2008

I became interested in opera after I saw this scene in the movie Philadelphia with Tom Hanks.

Before that, opera seemed to me an over-dramatic indulgence in emotion using music - great music, no doubt, to stir up the listener into deepest sorrow, joy, romance, revenge, etc. In this song, though - emotions culminate in enlightenment. When through deepest suffering the emotions become unbearable, enlightenment can happen, and often does.

Here is the text minus the magic of the Italian language and passion you can listen to in the video. This is my post today in honor of all the victims and heroes of 9/11 and their loved ones. May all find peace, including those who continue to suffer in horrible circumstances, be that our soldiers or our enemies, but especially all the children who have to endure such pain.

There as I stumbled away with Bersi
At dead of night
A bright glow flickered
Lit up the whole street in front of me
I watched
They had set fire to my childhood home
I was alone, surrounded by emptiness
By hunger and poverty, by despair and danger
I became ill
And Bersi so good and pure
Sold her beauty for me
I bring misfortune to all who love me

It was there in such misery that love came to me,
It whispered to me with voice so sweet,
Live on for me,
I am your life,
Your heaven is in my eyes,
You are not alone,
Let your tears fall on my breast,
With you I will walk,
Smile and hope,
I am love,
All around is blood and dirt,
I am divine, I am oblivion,
I am the God who will save the world,
I am coming from heaven
To make a paradise on earth
I am love, I am love,

(Maria Callas is Maddalena in Gioedano's Opera, Andrea Chenier, singing with Montserrat Cabballe)

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Evolutionists Flock To Darwin-Shaped Wall Stain

Here is something I never thought I'd see, and most likely it is a hoax. You decide. Is it sarcasm, or the worshiping area of scientific brains asserting itself? Religious leaders are outraged and evolutionists are in rapture - at least according to this article. The power of mold on the fragile human ( and American) mind?

Darwinic pilgrims claim the image fills them with an overwhelming feeling of logic.

DAYTON, TN—A steady stream of devoted evolutionists continued to gather in this small Tennessee town today to witness what many believe is an image of Charles Darwin—author of The Origin Of Species and founder of the modern evolutionary movement—made manifest on a concrete wall in downtown Dayton.

"I brought my baby to touch the wall, so that the power of Darwin can purify her genetic makeup of undesirable inherited traits," said Darlene Freiberg, one among a growing crowd assembled here to see the mysterious stain, which appeared last Monday on one side of the Rhea County Courthouse. The building was also the location of the famed "Scopes Monkey Trial" and is widely considered one of Darwinism's holiest sites. "Forgive me, O Charles, for ever doubting your Divine Evolution. After seeing this miracle of limestone pigmentation with my own eyes, my faith in empirical reasoning will never again be tested."

Added Freiberg, "Behold the power and glory of the scientific method!"

Here is the whole story at the Onion.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Is the Dalai Lama Enlightened?

This was the topic of discussion the other day. The consensus was: "Enlightenment is a concept that we can't really define using our own experience as it is beyond human comprehension so it would be difficult for us to say who is, or who isn't."

That is true. Only an enlightened one would be able to tell with certainty. Then we would have to decide if the one declaring the Dalai Lama enlightened or un-enlightened is enlightened. Others can only suspect or assume. The Dalai Lama himself says that he is not enlightened, and people suspect he is is lying. The assumption is that he is lying out of compassion so people do not feel inferior to him. People insist on putting him on the pedestal of enlightenment for their own purposes. After all, who would they be if they followed and adored an un-enlightened one?

To say that "enlightenment is beyond human comprehension" is true, but enlightenment is not beyond humans!!! An important distinction. It is quite possible that the Dalai Lama is not enlightened, and the monk cooking his food or sweeping outside of his door - is.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

September 10th Particle Collision at LHC

On September 10th, we start experimentation with a whole new level of particle collision in Switzerland at the Large Hadron Collider. You can find a lengthy discussion about this project by what seems to be physics students and lay people, here, or if you can make sense of actual physic go here to Tommaso Dorigo of the University of Padua.

The bottom line is, that it is an Experiment. Experiments by their very nature have predictable AND un-predictable results. Governments and scientific organizations have been suing each other for years arguing about its safety. The problem here? Black holes. Tiny ones that are expected to disappear instantly, or fall off into space for others to deal with - or - suck up the whole universe. It is definitely beyond my ability to assess whether I should worry. Skeptical scientists used to worry that people would explode in fast moving trains. And yes, trains have exploded but not because of science, but because of religion and politics - when motivations of power and greed were combined with fast moving trains. There-in lies the danger.

We used to think that we were the center of the universe, with the sun orbiting our enormous world, and the sky surrounding us with millions of little lights to make things sparkle. Suddenly we were just one planet of many, in a mediocre solar system. Then even our solar system was just a tiny spec of dust in a gigantic galaxy, and after that even our galaxy turned out to be nothing much among a sea of far more gigantic galaxies. Now superstring theory is talking about infinite universes, so even our universe is no big deal. If we take this to its logical conclusion - we don't exist at all. This final leap into this paradoxical realization may be the hardest one to accept. Of course it is possible that in higher physics circles they already know this, the same way this is known to the enlightened ones.

There is the chance that through this kind of experiment at the LHC, our non-existence will become clear or at least something to consider and build into the physics equations, as well as into our religious understanding. The annihilation of the universe may indeed turn out to be the result of this experiment - not literally, but in our understanding of things - or better - our realization of Nothing, meaning our infinite and eternal existence outside the realm of time and space.

May we have the required humility and grace to handle such knowledge.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Governor Palin and Motherhood

(Photo by Getty Images)

When our children were little I used to joke all the time that instead of bigger feet and bigger hips, a mother should grow an extra pair of hands and legs with each pregnancy.

Then one day, while I was making dinner, my second youngest was cutting up a banana for the baby, patiently feeding the pieces to him. My third youngest was wiping the table with a sponge, while my oldest was taking the garbage out. Suddenly it dawned on me and I was overwhelmed with gratitude.

I HAD grown a pair of extra hands and feet with each pregnancy! Their little hands and feet were all very busy - proudly and happily so - with helping and making things wonderful. This never changed as they grew older, even when our family faced bigger challenges.

I had almost forgotten that day until I saw Governor Palin's family lined up at the Republican Convention passing their new little brother from family member to family member. Their baby is in good hands - many wonderful, loving hands. I see a highly functioning, loving family.

Politics and party affiliations aside - as far as Mom/Governor Palin's ability to both parent AND govern is concerned - she seems to be gifted and empowered in both areas at levels that bring Olympian swimmers like Phelps to mind. All our presidential candidates are Olympians. They manage their lives far better, and are willing to make far bigger sacrifices than most of us. It should be celebrated, and like Senator Obama, we should wish her well regardless of our political views.

Original Enlightenment

I have always had a different notion about my children than most other mothers I knew. It made me wonder sometimes whether this was the right approach, but there was nothing I could do about it. With four of my five children grown to adulthood, I can only say that for us it was the only way and my children are proof that this approach works. In order to understand it, one would have to understand the master-disciple relationship that was a traditional spiritual arrangement between the enlightened and the to-be-enlightened.

In that tradition, a young adult aspiring to ultimate spiritual development, would first have to be accepted by a teacher. If he then was deemed worthy, he had to serve the teacher for twelve years before any spiritual teachings would even commence. Clean the house, cook, do the laundry - anything the teacher ordered. It was made hard by the teacher to the point that it would seem abusive to Western sensibilities. The point was to accomplish a level of surrender on the part of the student, and a level of love and trust in the teacher, that spiritual teachings would find the proper receptors in the students heart and mind, and ultimately take him or her beyond.

Once in the presence of my children, I somehow knew that they were born enlightened and I could learn from them for a short time until they - as we all must - moved from "original enlightenment" to worldliness, as taught to them by us. "What is an Absence in a young child, becomes a Presence in a sage." Our human life is this spiritual journey which is what my book Here You Are represents "in a nut shell" This is why it has resonated with so many people around the world. It is beyond culture, religion, philosophy or any other belief system.

So I see my children as Buddhas who are my Masters. I surrendered to them the minute I conceived them and this had two effects. It dissolved my selfishness bit by painful bit which was a long and arduous process; and it produced selfless, generous children with backbones, and what people like to call a "moral compass", yet without the moralistic attitude. I raised them from the little helpless bodies and minds to competent adults who not only function in the world, but are enriching people's lives - and they raised me from who I thought I was, to who I AM.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Now Walking Meditation

Well - sitting on that ball may have contributed to my back injury. I have not been able to sleep, walk, drive, sit at the computer, or much else...without a lot of pain. I threw my back out last week - just when I was feeling quite strong "in my core". Overconfident maybe, I moved too fast and too strongly. I tried to pick up a sock in the laundry room - with my purse already slung over my shoulder because I was about to pick up my child from school.

"Welcome to the club", my husband said, after he managed to carry me to a bed without throwing his back out. I couldn't walk. He fed me Ibuprofen every two hours, handed me his back-belt on the second day, taught me how to move onto and off the couch, and in general monitored my recovery. Today I feel better, except a little older.

Since I have been a couch potato all week, I will have to overcome my fears and "get back on the ball", so to speak. I think the ball was only indirectly at fault - it was more that I couldn't handle my new strength and moved with too much new-found vigor.

Nothing like the danger of throwing my back out again, to remember to keep moving slowly and with awareness like a Buddhists practicing Vipassana walking meditation.

(Photo by Bart van den Bosch, Sukhotai, Thailand)