Category Archives: awareness

The Strangest Thing


In the Mahabharata, Yudhishthira, the son of Dharma and Arjuna’s older brother, has his wisdom put to the test. To restore the lives of his brothers, Yudhisthira must answer a slew of philosophical questions posed by a mystic crane.

One of the questions the crane asks is, “What is the most wondrous thing, the strangest thing?”

Yudhishthira responds, “Every day, all around us, by report, by implication, by direct knowledge, all living things are hurtling towards death, and yet all of us behave as if we’re immortal. It’s the strangest thing.”

Mahabharata: Vana Parva 312 – 314

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Tell the Truth


I randomly came across a blog post I wrote on July 18, 2015. In the post I mention two quotes. I’m not going to share them here. It will make this post way too long. Just know that they were by Junot Diaz and David Foster Wallace. For now, I just want to share what I wrote. Because it’s 8 years later and I still feel the same.

Tell the Truth, Tell the Truth

This year the words ‘tell the truth’ have been rolling like waves in my head. Not because I’ve been lying, or have been hiding something, but because I’ve come to a breaking point. My desire after 40 years of life, is not to be brutally honest, but to live compassionately with integrity. Living and feeling compassion first for myself, and then seeing myself in others. It’s interesting that the word Integrity means to be honest, but it also means to be whole, undivided.

Two quotes come to mind. (Wait, I’ll share them in a moment.) Often ideas feel abstract in my mind, but sharing them along with other artists’ work somehow helps to paint a clearer picture (not only for others, but for myself), because it allows me to create a context. I don’t like when my thoughts seem obtuse or isolated. I like them to feel like they are part of a conversation, a universal one, that might not be getting the attention that it deserves.

So quickly, before I share the work of others, I just want to say that telling the truth, for me, simply means to stop f*cking around. I’m getting too old to waste time. I’m getting too old to act like I’m not seeing what is looking me dead in the face. And the words ‘too old’ are not implying that 40 years of age is old. It means, that I have lived enough to know when life is being wasted. It means that I know the difference between an authentic conversation and a superficial one. It means I know the difference between falling asleep with the feeling of ‘Is this all there is?’, versus the feeling of falling asleep with my heart wide open, eager to see what tomorrow brings.

This feeling of wanting to be more authentic and open has been bubbling since I was a child, but only in the last decade has it come to a boiling point. I guess I’ve reached a point where I feel like the only life worth living is the one I have, and it’s only worth living if I make it my own. Making it my own, means to be an honest expression of the life force that I am. The very thing that was born of the unknown cosmos, manifesting through a, seemingly knowable, human form.

I’ll stop there. Today’s post is really only a feeling. I’m just sharing a feeling.


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Nisargadatta: Mirror of Your Mind


“There is no such thing as a person. There are only restrictions and limitations. The sum total of these defines the person. You think you know yourself when you know what you are. But you never know who you are. The person merely appears to be, like the space within the pot appears to have the shape and volume and smell of the pot. See that you are not what you believe yourself to be. Fight with all the strength at your disposal against the idea that you are nameable and describable. You are not. Refuse to think of yourself in terms of this or that. There is no other way out of misery, which you have created for yourself through blind acceptance without investigation. Suffering is a call for inquiry, all pain needs investigation. Don’t be too lazy to think.”

“Since time immemorial the dust of events has been covering the clear mirror of your mind, so that you could see only memories. Brush off the dust before it has time to settle; this will lay bare the old layers, until the true nature of your mind is discovered… Dispassion, detachment, freedom from desire and fear, from all self-concern, mere awareness – free from memory and expectation – this is the state of mind in which discovery can happen. After all, liberation is but the freedom to discover.”

“It is always the false that makes you suffer, the false desires and fears, the false values and ideas, the false relationships between people. Abandon the false and you are free of pain; truth makes happy, truth liberates.”

“Truth is not a reward for good behaviour, nor a prize for passing some tests. It cannot be brought about. It is the primary, the unborn, the ancient source of all that is. You are eligible because you are. You need not merit truth. It is your own….Stand still, be quiet.”

All quotes by Nisargadatta

Video of Stephen Wolinsky sharing his experience and perspective on Nisargadatta:

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In The Preparation


“Are you denying your life now because there is a hint of fulfillment in the future? If so, you don’t understand Zen. You’d better work on understanding your breath. Otherwise, even if your dreamed-of future arises and all of the circumstances of your life fall into place just as you had imagined, you’d just rush past that experience as you did this one and all the others between — on your way to somewhere else. Are you on your way to somewhere else? Won’t you pause for a moment? Please, come in. Take off your shoes. Have a cup of tea.”

“Zen masters have always meant to communicate this identification with pure consciousness, able to contain any sound or sight, smell or touch. Do you get it? It isn’t really all that complicated: there is you and then there is what you experience; there is an awareness — an ability to hear or the “sense of hearing” and then there is the sound. But you can’t just understand the idea; it’s misguided. You can argue with it, finding flaws. You can compare it to other Zen books and lectures and point out discrepancies. You have to really listen. You have to get in the water, not just understand what swimming is about. The tea is in the preparation, in other words. Make some tea. Zen really is that simple.”

Quotes by Wu De

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The Cosmic Mirror


“The Shambhala understanding of bravery is quite different. Here bravery is the courage to be – to live in the world without any deception and with tremendous kindness and caring for others. You might wonder how this can bring magic into your life. The ordinary idea of magic is that you can conquer the elements, so that you can turn earth into fire or fire into water or ignore the law of gravity and fly. But true magic is the magic of reality, as it is: the earth of earth, the water of water – communicating with the elements so that, in some sense, they become one with you. When you develop bravery, you make a connection with the elemental quality of existence. Bravery begins to heighten your existence, that is, to bring out the brilliant and genuine qualities of your environment and of your own being. So you begin to contact the magic of reality – which is already there in some sense. You actually can attract the power and strength and the primordial wisdom that arise from the cosmic mirror.”

“In addition to the sitting form of meditation, there is the meditation practice in everyday life of panoramic awareness. This particular kind of practice is connected with identifying with the activities one is involved in. This awareness practice could apply to artwork or any other activity. It requires confidence. Any kind of activity that requires discipline also requires confidence. You cannot have discipline without confidence; otherwise it becomes a sort of torturing process. If you have confidence in what you are doing, then you have real communication with the things you are using, with the material you are using. Working that way, a person is not concerned with producing masterpieces. He is just involved with the things that he is doing. Somehow the idea of a masterpiece is irrelevant.”

Quotes by Chogyam Trungpa

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National Day of Mourning?


If you know me, and you know this blog, you are probably familiar with how I feel about the third week of November. If you aren’t, I’ve created a little reading list for you to explore.

Thoughts on Thanksgiving 2020
What would it be like? 2016
Happy-Thanks-living! 2014
Who me? 2012

This year, I wanted to bring attention to the 53rd Annual National Day of Mourning, taking place on November 24, 2022.

Since 1970, Indigenous people & their allies have gathered at noon on Cole’s Hill in Plymouth to commemorate a National Day of Mourning on the US Thanksgiving holiday. Many Native people do not celebrate the arrival of the Pilgrims & other European settlers. Thanksgiving Day is a reminder of the genocide of millions of Native people, the theft of Native lands and the erasure of Native cultures. Participants in National Day of Mourning honor Indigenous ancestors and Native resilience. It is a day of remembrance and spiritual connection, as well as a protest against the racism and oppression that Indigenous people continue to experience worldwide.

More information can be found here and here, as well as the video posted below of Annawon Weeden.

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Reminders from Congo Square


“If you can’t improvise, you’re gonna be in a world of trouble. You’re not gonna be able to survive.”
— Wynton Marsalis

“At the heart of the only art form Americans have invented, is this notion that I do not have to play the notes on the page. I can play who I am, and in telling you honestly who I am, that will be the art.”
— Ken Burns

“Jazz is about freedom. It’s about a certain kind of liberation. There have been other people, of course, that have been oppressed in the United States, or have gone through brutal treatment in the United States, but only African Americans were enslaved. Only African Americans were legally a people who have a legacy and history, a historical consciousness, of having been unfree in a free country.”
— Gerald Early

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Take The Time To Read

Gustavo Petro un speech

columbia president amazon jumgle

columbis president un speech

columbia president amazon forest

Gustavo Petro talk

Gustavo Petro speech

Gustavo Petro addressed the United Nations General Assembly on September 20, 2022. Please take a moment to read the entire transcription. It’s important for us all to be aware.

I come from one of the three most beautiful countries on Earth.

There is an explosion of life there. Thousands of multicolored species in the seas, in the skies, in the lands… I come from the land of yellow butterflies and magic. There in the mountains and valleys of all greens, not only do the abundant waters flow down, but also the torrents of blood. I come from a land of bloody beauty.

My country is not only beautiful, it is also violent.

How can beauty be conjugated with death, how can the biodiversity of life erupt with the dances of death and horror? Who is guilty of breaking the enchantment with terror? Who or what is responsible for drowning life in the routine decisions of wealth and interest? Who is leading us to destruction as a nation and as a people?

My country is beautiful because it has the Amazon jungle, the ChocóWar jungle, the waters, the Andes mountain ranges, and the oceans. There, in those forests, planetary oxygen is emanated and atmospheric CO2 is absorbed. One of these CO2 absorbing plants, among millions of species, is one of the most persecuted on earth. At any cost, its destruction is sought: it is an Amazonian plant, the coca plant, sacred plant of the Incas. [It is in] a paradoxical crossroads.

The jungle that tries to save us, is at the same time, destroyed. To destroy the coca plant, they spray poisons, glyphosate in mass that runs through the waters, they arrest its growers and imprison them. For destroying or possessing the coca leaf, one million Latin Americans are killed and two million Afro-Americans are imprisoned in North America. Destroy the plant that kills, they shout from the North, but the plant is but one more of the millions that perish when they unleash the fire on the jungle. Destroying the jungle, the Amazon, has become the slogan followed by States and businessmen. The cry of scientists baptizing the rainforest as one of the great climatic pillars is unimportant.

For the world’s power relations, the jungle and its inhabitants are to blame for the plague that plagues them. The power relations are plagued by the addiction to money, to perpetuate themselves, to oil, to cocaine and to the hardest drugs to be able to anesthetize themselves more. Nothing is more hypocritical than the discourse to save the rainforest. The jungle is burning, gentlemen, while you make war and play with it. The rainforest, the climatic pillar of the world, disappears with all its life.

The great sponge that absorbs planetary CO2 evaporates. The savior forest is seen in my country as the enemy to be defeated, as the weed to be extinguished.

Coca and the peasants who grow it, because they have nothing else to grow, are demonized. You are only interested in my country to spray poisons on our jungles, to take our men to jail and put our women in exclusion. You are not interested in the education of the child, but in killing its jungle and extracting coal and oil from its entrails. The sponge that absorbs the poison is useless, they prefer to throw more poisons into the atmosphere.

We serve them only to fill the emptiness and loneliness of their own society that leads them to live in the midst of drug bubbles. We hide from them their problems that they refuse to reform. It is better to declare war on the jungle, on its plants, on its people. While they let the forests burn, while hypocrites chase the plants with poisons to hide the disasters of their own society, they ask us for more and more coal, more and more oil, to calm the other addiction: that of consumption, of power, of money.

What is more poisonous for humanity, cocaine, coal or oil? The dictates of power have ordered that cocaine is the poison and must be pursued, even if it only causes minimal deaths by overdose, and even more by the mixtures necessitated by clandestinity, but coal and oil must be protected, even if their use could extinguish all of humanity.

These are the things of world power, things of injustice, things of irrationality, because world power has become irrational. They see in the exuberance of the jungle, in its vitality, the lustful, the sinful; the guilty origin of the sadness of their societies, imbued with the unlimited compulsion to have and to consume. How to hide the loneliness of the heart, its dryness in the midst of societies without affection, competitive to the point of imprisoning the soul in solitude, if not by blaming the plant, the man who cultivates it, the libertarian secrets of the jungle.

According to the irrational power of the world, it is not the fault of the market that cuts back on existence, it is the fault of the jungle and those who inhabit it. The bank accounts have become unlimited, the money saved by the most powerful of the earth will not even be able to be spent in the time of the centuries. The sadness of existence produced by this artificial call to competition is filled with noise and drugs. The addiction to money and to having has another face: the addiction to drugs in people who lose the competition, in the losers of the artificial race in which they have transformed humanity.

The disease of loneliness will not be cured with glyphosate [sprayed] on the forests. It is not the rainforest that is to blame.

The culprit is their society educated in endless consumption, in the stupid confusion between consumption and happiness that allows the pockets of power to fill with money. The culprit of drug addiction is not the jungle, it is the irrationality of your world power. Try to give some reason to your power. Turn on the lights of the century again. The war on drugs has lasted 40 years, if we do not correct the course and it continues for another 40 years, the United States will see 2,800,000 young people die of overdose from fentanyl, which is not produced in our Latin America. It will see millions of Afro-Americans imprisoned in its private jails.

The Afro-prisoner will become a business of prison companies, a million more Latin Americans will die murdered, our waters and our green fields will be filled with blood, the dream of democracy will die in my America as well as in Anglo-Saxon America. Democracy will die where it was born, in the great western European Athens. By hiding the truth, they will see the jungle and democracies die. The war on drugs has failed.

The fight against the climate crisis has failed. There has been an increase in deadly consumption, from soft drugs to harder ones, genocide has taken place in my continent and in my country, millions of people have been condemned to prison, and to hide their own social guilt they have blamed the rainforest and its plants. They have filled speeches and policies with nonsense. I demand from here, from my wounded Latin America, to put an end to the irrational war on drugs. To reduce drug consumption we do not need wars, for this we need all of us to build a better society: a more caring society, more affectionate, where the intensity of life saves from addictions and new slavery. Do you want less drugs? Think of less profit and more love. Think about a rational exercise of power.

Do not touch with your poisons the beauty of my homeland, help us without hypocrisy to save the Amazon Rainforest to save the life of humanity on the planet. You gathered the scientists, and they spoke with reason. With mathematics and climatological models they said that the end of the human species was near, that its time is no longer of millennia, not even of centuries. Science set the alarm bells ringing and we stopped listening to it.

The war served as an excuse for not taking the necessary measures. When action was most needed, when speeches were no longer useful, when it was indispensable to deposit money in funds to save humanity, when it was necessary to move away from coal and oil as soon as possible, they invented war after war after war. They invaded Ukraine, but also Iraq, Libya and Syria.

They invaded in the name of oil and gas. They discovered in the 21st century the worst of their addictions: addiction to money and oil. Wars have served them as an excuse not to act against the climate crisis. Wars have shown them how dependent they are on what will kill the human species.

If you observe that the peoples are filling up with hunger and thirst and migrating by the millions towards the north, towards where the water is; then you enclose them, build walls, deploy machine guns, shoot at them. You expel them as if they were not human beings, you reproduce five times the mentality of those who politically created the gas chambers and the concentration camps, you reproduce on a planetary scale 1933.

The great triumph of the attack on reason. Do you not see that the solution to the great exodus unleashed on your countries is to return to water filling the rivers and the fields full of nutrients? The climate disaster fills us with viruses that swarm over us, but you do business with medicines and turn vaccines into commodities. You propose that the market will save us from what the market itself has created. The Frankenstein of humanity lies in letting the market and greed act without planning, surrendering the brain and reason. Kneeling human rationality to greed.

What is the use of war if what we need is to save the human species? What is the use of NATO and empires, if what is coming is the end of intelligence? The climate disaster will kill hundreds of millions of people and listen well, it is not produced by the planet, it is produced by capital.

The cause of the climate disaster is capital. The logic of coming together only to consume more and more, produce more and more, and for some to earn more and more produces the climate disaster. They applied the logic of extended accumulation to the energy engines of coal and oil and unleashed the hurricane: the ever deeper and deadlier chemical change of the atmosphere. Now in a parallel world, the expanded accumulation of capital is an expanded accumulation of death.

From the lands of jungle and beauty. There where they decided to make an Amazon rainforest plant an enemy, extradite and imprison its growers, I invite you to stop the war, and to stop the climate disaster. Here, in this Amazon Rainforest, there is a failure of humanity.

Behind the bonfires that burn it, behind its poisoning, there is an integral, civilizational failure of humanity. Behind the addiction to cocaine and drugs, behind the addiction to oil and coal, there is the real addiction of this phase of human history: the addiction to irrational power, to profit and money. This is the enormous deadly machinery that can extinguish humanity.

I propose to you as president of one of the most beautiful countries on earth, and one of the most bloodied and violated, to end the war on drugs and allow our people to live in peace. I call on all of Latin America for this purpose. I summon the voice of Latin America to unite to defeat the irrational that martyrs our bodies. I call upon you to save the Amazon Rainforest integrally with the resources that can be allocated worldwide to life.

If you do not have the capacity to finance the fund for the revitalization of the forests, if it weighs more to allocate money to weapons than to life, then reduce the foreign debt to free our own budgetary spaces and with them, carry out the task of saving humanity and life on the planet. We can do it if you don’t want to. Just exchange debt for life, for nature. I propose, and I call upon Latin America to do so, to dialogue in order to end the war. Do not pressure us to align ourselves in the fields of war.

It is time for PEACE.

Let the Slavic peoples talk to each other, let the peoples of the world talk to each other. War is only a trap that brings the end of time closer in the great orgy of irrationality.

From Latin America, we call on Ukraine and Russia to make peace. Only in peace can we save life in this land of ours. There is no total peace without social, economic and environmental justice. We are also at war with the planet. Without peace with the planet, there will be no peace among nations. Without social justice, there is no social peace.

Link to full speech by Gustavo Petro in Spanish.

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