This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
I’m in a four day workshop at North Campus learning about using Producer and including video and audio to my class lectures. I’m very drained. The semester finished and I left to Iowa to do a service-learning workshop on reflection. The workshop was one day, but the travel time, along with the preparation and stress of actually going there has put me really out of energy. I’m in a whining sort of mood and don’t know really why. Everything has gone so well. Everything I’ve asked for at school seems to be happening. I’m riding a beautiful wave of good energy. I know it’s all illusion, however. The however part is not a way to poo poo the good that’s all around. What I’m trying to say? Nothing remains the same, so I hold on to, at least I am trying to hold on to these achievements of sorts with a very light grip. I don’t know if I really believe this or not. I think I like the sense of good guy image I put out; holding on not as tightly is actually part of this sense of identity. I’m somehow above the din of existence. I’m hearing the voice of I don’t know what speak through these words. This voice is actually wonderful and I invite it to show itself with all of its great doubt and somewhat jaded judgments. Who’s that saying this other voice? This is sounds like the familiar voice that thinks it knows more than what it really does. It’s the voice that is actually writing this journal tonight, self-conscious, wondering always what next, what experience could possibly make complete sense out of all of the craziness and disjunction. So, I’ve blabbed myself toward the end of the page. What I really want is a delicious writing theme to dive into. Right now I don’t have one. I am not hearing something come out and say this is what you should write this summer. This journal is my way of posing this question and hopefully getting an answer before long. My commitment this summer is actually to write at least five times per week. I had thought of placing a 500 word minimum but I’m not sure this is what I want or if putting myself under the pressure of having to write a certain number of words will actually help. Maybe I should write some lists of possible writing topics? • • • Identity Education South Florida
• • • • • • • • • •
Cuba/America/Split Spiritual Life/Spirit Children Feelings Dreams What to live for? Letting go and clearing up in order to live more peaceful Handling suffering Sharing what I’ve learned Tenderness, vulnerability, intimacy, and communion
Part of this list actually comes from the spiritual inventory I included in the reflection booklet I put together for the Iowa conference. These are some very good themes. Now the question has to do with which one to choose and then how to discipline myself in order to actually write about them. It seems that I can ask for very contained writing assignments from my students, but when it comes time for me to write, I have a hard time focusing, finding my groove, especially if I’m the one making it up for myself. Alright, here’s the plan: I will write every day. In order to avoid just writing what has happened during the day, I will take up one of the themes on the list. I don’t necessarily have to exhaust myself writing about a particular theme, but it will become a starting point. Eventually, as we closer to Summer B and my time off, I will then begin thinking of a more focused approach. I don’t know exactly what I want. I suppose that what appeals to me the most is feeling myself creative, expressive, and somehow making sense out of my life at t he moment.
Summer Journal #2 4 May 2005 Here’s my second attempt. It’s about 9:30 pm and I’m very tired. I took part in day three of the technology workshop at North Campus today. It was a difficult day of trying to get programs to work correctly and not really being successful. Patience is such a key part of learning anything new. I suppose the idea of raising one’s tolerance level for incongruence, confusion, and discomfort is key in learning new technology is critical. I’m excited about the coming semester and my work in getting faculty to move toward using the web as an effective tool to teach. I can foresee major changes in scheduling as a result of this effort. Both students and faculty will benefit
tremendously. It is work like this that makes me very happy. It’s a great way to affect change and do so in the most positive of ways. Summer Journal #3 5 May 2005 Almost went to bed and did not write. It’s such a struggle sometimes to stop, stop the non-sense of being productive, of showing off and actually doing the hard work of moving within. Today I finished the four day tech workshop. I left more interested in using video and audio in a way that makes sense. My initial idea for the week did not work because of software problems. I’ve tried all sorts of things to fix it, but the problem is at another level beyond my understanding. After I got home, I worked on Renee’s course. I set up a syllabus and welcome page and fixed some of the content modules. I hope things go well for her. We had a very interesting conversation on the notion of identity. It was funny to hear someone suggest the “Who am I?” meditation without any prior knowledge of Hindu or Buddhist training. It seems Renee came to the same conclusion that all who have struggled with this question eventually come to: The only response to “Who are you?” is I am. And I am points to further questioning the idea of who it is that is saying I am. On and on goes this exercise to the point of exhaustion and breakthrough if allowed for all of the layers of identity to be stripped away or dissolved away into the groundlessness of I am. So much depends on my constant editing of my own experience. Working with images this week and thinking of video clips and how they come together is a wonderful metaphor for life and the piecing together of knowledge and this thing we call life. I question the sense of continuity that I normally place on existence. So much depends on so many other things that are also depending on so many other things and beings that in the end all is dependent and not completely …. I’m falling asleep and I’m looking for a good night’s rest. Summer Journal #4 20 June 2005 Woke up at 6:30. Spent about 40 minutes sitting. Had hoped to go kayaking with Allan; it’s not going to happen, however. It’s raining and there’s a 60% chance of thunderstorms. The rest of the week seems like more of the same type of weather.
As I sat this morning, I had this deep sense of well being and gratitude for just being able to do this quiet practice. It has been a while since I’ve actually sat and practiced. Oh, how good. One of my aims this summer sabbatical is to wake up early in order to do this while the house is quiet. As I look outside my window, I see a cloudy morning, and surprisingly, about four or five zebra butterflies hovering over the fire-bush and oaks. As I look up, I noticed a bird eating the palm seeds that are now bright red and ripe. It’s my first official day of summer and I see so much potential. Potential to write, to think, to slow down, to create, to love, to pay attention more, to become healthier, to deepen my resolve, make new friends…As I list these things, I know that the days and weeks will fly. There’s a bit of concern that somehow the time will slip away. May it not be so! Summer Journal #5 22 June 2005 My dreams are coming back. Woke up this morning with some fresh images. At first I did not have a sense that they were about me. As a matter of fact, I thought that they involved Javi, my nephew. As I sat for my morning meditation, the dream came back. I was clearly one of the characters. I realized this with the word “papelera.” Here’s the dream: Several young people have prepared several Molotov cocktails and were throwing them at some structures. It was a factory. In the dream, the images were zoomed in on the very specific place where the young people were throwing the fire bombs. Somehow the factory buildings had been raised on one side by some large hydraulic jacks. At first, the young people were throwing the fire bombs without a sense that anything was going to happen. However, when the first or second fire bomb landed within the space between the floor of the factory and the ground (the wedge created by the raising of the building) the buildings began blowing up. Eventually all of them were brought down. I don’t have a sense of how many these were, but they were more than three. The buildings were like warehouse structures. Much like the ones I recall from the sugar mills I worked with my dad during a couple of summers in my teens. No one was hurt. The factory was empty at the time of the attack. After the last fire bomb was thrown, there was great celebration. The main character was actually playing with the fire and alcohol and not getting burned. Suddenly, out of nowhere, this woman appeared. She was very upset. She had black hair and began screaming and insulting the main character. “How dare you do this?”
“Are you crazy?” “Your father will be so upset with you. Wait till he finds out. What kind of work will he do now that you have destroyed his livelihood?” She went on and on. Eventually the young people dispersed. This time in a much more somber mood. The main character had brought down the “papelera”—the paper mill. (My dad’s work place in Cuba.) As I sat and allowed my mind to come to rest, I thought that this summer I would like to visit Clewiston. I’d like to take a visit to see what is there. I’m not sure why I would like to go. Maybe it has to do with retracing my dad’s steps. It may have to do with going back in time to the last summer I recall that had this 9— week feeling. I must have been 16 and I had just started working with my dad. The mornings were brutal. I was up by 4:30 and in the car by 5am. I was delirious going to work and coming back. My dad drove and I would doze on and off looking at the morning or afternoon sky as we sped by State Road 27 —“Death Alley.” Oh, how I much preferred sleeping in, but years later, what a beautiful memory. Observing the Doves All summer long the doves have been scratching for fallen seeds. Above them the bird feeder--source of food for bird, squirrel, and moonlight rat. Instead of landing on the edge of the feeder like the cardinal or blue jay, The doves just feed from the ground. They peck, sifting through treasure, looking for morsels from above. Eight, ten or twelve of them, content with the leftovers of the more picky and colorful visitors who hardly notice their presence on the ground. Summer Journal #6 23 June 2005 “Wake up, Carlos.” I look at my alarm clock; it’s 4:30 am. I’m sixteen years old. School is out. This summer I’m working with my old man. I like the idea of working, getting some money for the summer. I just did not figure on 4:30 am being such an obstacle. I get dressed, have breakfast, get in the car. Dad works two hours away. His job has to do with “remodeling” sugar mills. He builds and repairs just about everything that breaks down in the mills. (Funny thing if I were to look twenty some years later how my relationship to these mills would change.) Most of the two hour drive up to the mill I’m in a deep sleep. Just when light breaks though, I begin a routine I keep the entire summer. I look up, look
around, realize I’m in a car with my dad; somehow I know that this is dreamlike— very special. At the moment I don’t have words for this. I just feel it. I doze on and off until we get to the entrance of one of the mills. The one we spend most of the time is called Osceola. It’s owned by the Fanjul family. Dad does not know me all that well. I don’t know him either. We both respect one another deeply. As I enter his work world, I see a very happy man, who is loved by his employees and respected by the people he works for. He has a nickname for everyone. He has an energy that is hard for me to keep up with. He is up and down the mill, looking at this piece that needs repair, showing this guy what to do next. I bask in his competence, his exuberance. His white hard hat is a vivid image. He takes great pride in his work. He does not say so. I can feel it when we walk by some structure we pass by which he has made. He looks at them with love. These include huge water and molasses tanks, all sorts of strange contraptions to keep the mill working, conveyor systems, scrubbers, the names elude me but keep my interest. Not because I want to do this kind of work; I know I’ll be doing something else. Summer Journal #7 3 July 2005 Have taken some days off. Went to Ft. Myers and somehow have not written in over a week. I’m finding that sitting down to write is actually a very difficult activity that I am avoiding. I do so only when I find that I can’t help myself but write. It’s almost as if I write out of guilt for not writing. This sounds terrible but don’t misunderstand. The story I started earlier felt firebrand hot when I was recalling. Days later and the energy has cooled and the memories and intensity of feeling has retreated, to somewhere far out in my consciousness. These days without having to work are beginning to show how much distraction goes on in my life. I’m propped up by routines of coming and going, of activity that allows me a certain sense of comfort of the familiar, even as they wear me out, and irritate me. As the routines change, I’m left feeling the empty space and I’m also left with the instinctive reaction to fill up the time with other mental games to keep my time occupied. What an interesting experience. This last week I’ve had some good sitting practice. …so even if we achieved a creative, enlightened, and compassionate nation, workplace, family, even if everything was in it’s proper place and balance, even if the ideal is achieved, there would still be a missing and dissatisfying element. Everything within the world of cyclical experience involves and inherent
dissatisfaction/suffering. This sounds terrible, but it’s actually very wonderful. If that is the case, then we can treat nation, workplace, family and the like with a much lighter expectation. I think that for me at least, I place too much of a heavy burden on ‘existence’ to give me a deep sense of satisfaction. Everywhere I turn, there’s great good, but it is never enough and the still small voice says look further, look deeper, look elsewhere. This still small voice is clueless maybe, and maybe it’s actually very tyrannical. Further, deeper, and elsewhere is a recipe for never here, never now, always off, never quite fully present. I woke up this morning thinking of the following: Resolve the suffering not by struggling with it, but by looking at root causes. Go to the root to find a way in, through, out, here and now. I watched Almodovar’s Bad Education last night. I don’t know what it is about his films that I keep coming back to. I suppose the attraction has something to do with his fearless looking at the grimy and not so pretty aspects of human nature and life. None of the characters in the film had appealing personalities or qualities. Each lived in a world of shadows, of extensive pain, and confusion. Appearances and stories are quite relative as the film points to. Juan’s murder of his brother and his entanglement with the source of his brother’s suffering is all the more interesting and all the more sad. We’re invited to ponder a way through. By film’s end I was left thinking/feeling how will we ever find a way through so much suffering? This is an age old question which takes me to question I discovered in my mid teens; it’s St. Paul’s finest line in his correspondence with his followers: “Who will rescue me from this body of death?” (Rom. 7.24). I later discovered that Donne also toyed with this theme rephrasing and transforming this question into a powerful sonnet, one which captures a certain desperation and violence inherent in Paul’s writing: Batter my heart, three-person'd God, for you As yet but knock, breathe, shine, and seek to mend; That I may rise and stand, o'erthrow me, and bend Your force to break, blow, burn, and make me new. I, like an usurp'd town to' another due, Labor to'admit you, but oh, to no end; Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend, But is captiv'd, and proves weak or untrue. Yet dearly' I love you, and would be lov'd fain, But am betroth'd unto your enemy; Divorce me, 'untie or break that knot again, Take me to you, imprison me, for I, Except you' enthrall me, never shall be free, Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me. The film comes to a similar and dissatisfying conclusion.
As I write this, I wonder if G-d really has to f-ck our brains out in order for us to find ourselves free of our bondage, free to be, fee at last? What a story line. It seems like a great big conspiracy where in the end, we will have all been penetrated, even without our consent. Maybe the resulting unraveling is the way through. In the mess, pain, confusion…transformation I’m not making all that much sense here. My thoughts are jumbled by too many associations and low grade pain. How many times around? How many times does the story get retold, relived, rehashed? …I took a break from the writing and have come back after a couple of hours. After reading this entry once again, I’m reminded of Shiva and his destructive/creative power. Talk about the great G-d F-ck once again. I have a wall length image of Shiva in my office. When I got it, I did not make the association with the lingam or lingam worship. I never quite fully understood why I placed it there. But maybe deep inside, like Paul and Donne, there’s the unconscious understanding of the G-d F-ck, its inevitability, its potential for destruction/creation, and its invitation to liberation and transformation. This great G-d F-ck continues to be an important theme for me. I picked up Chardin’s Divine Milieu on my shelf. Here’s what he writes: When the signs of age begin to mark my body (and still more when they touch my mind); when the ill that is to diminish me or carry me off strikes from without or is born within me; when the painful moment comes in which I suddenly awaken to the fact that I am ill or growing old; and above all at the last moment when I feel I am losing hold of myself and am absolutely passive within the hands of the great unknown forces that have formed me; in all those dark moments, O God, grant that I may understand that it is you (provided only my faith is strong enough) who are painfully parting the fibres of my being in order to penetrate the very marrow of my substance and bear me away within yourself. (89-90) Chardin suggests that we welcome the penetration, that we experience it in its totality, not as an absolute act of destruction but an inevitable and temporary stop on the way toward the dissolution and unraveling of self. I suppose in a roundabout sort of way I’m back with Paul and Donne. Maybe it’s not such a bad education after all, especially with enough lubrication. From Ram Dass’ Paths to God: Living the Bhagavad-Gita
“Not until they found themselves in the middle of a battlefield, not until that moment of crisis awakened Arjuna, was he ready to hear something new. And that something new will take Arjuna on a journey from giving up his attachment to things like family and caste to letting go of his attachment even to form itself. Because that is the deepest level of the Gita’s teaching. The final thing Arjuna faces is Shiva. He faces God in the form of chaos, God in the form of destruction—the destruction of all our illusions, Arjuna is facing the pain of having to ask, “If there is a God, if there is a law, if there is any meaning to all of this, how can I be asked to make war on my own family? How can I be asked to do this horrible thing?” Arjuna is facing a terrifying fact: You cannot use reason to understand God’s law. In the Ramayana, Ram says over and over again, “Unless you honor Shiva, you cannot come to me.” That is, until you have fully embraced the existence of chaos—chaos!—you cannot go through the door. If you want to be a preserver of love and beauty, you’ve got to be able to look at the destruction of love and beauty with wide-open eyes and say, “Yeah, right. And that, too.” In nature there is creation, preservation, and destruction. Suffering and pain and catastrophe and death—all of those are as much a part of God’s plan as delight and joy and renewal and birth.” (32-33) Summer Journal #8 11 July 2005 It’s almost 1pm; I can see the glow of the day coming through the shutters. I’ve had three days in one already. I did not sleep all that deeply last night. I woke up several times. Eventually, I got up at around 6:45 am. Put on my running clothes and left for a run around the neighborhood. Victor joined me. The morning air was thick and sticky. Coming back home felt good! I serenaded Maribel from the window before going inside. She smiled and blew kisses at me and went back to bed. After a while of wondering about, I took a shower. Then, instead of going for my typical routine of putting the coffee on, I dove into bed, grabbed my sweetheart’s hand, and three minutes later entered India via dream world. This went on and off for about an hour or two—an early morning nap! When I got up at around 10:30, all of the kids were still asleep and Maribel and I had a quiet breakfast. Eventually, we headed back to the bedroom and celebrated our 13th wedding anniversary! from Gary Paul Nabhan’s
cross-pollination: The Marriage of Science and Poetry Perhaps more than any other factor, my fieldwork with plants, moths, butterflies, bees, bats, and hummingbirds has helped me understand that cross-pollination is not merely a metaphor but a requisite for sustaining the diversity of life on earth. It is a survival necessity for certain organisms, the only way they are able to continue their legacy. The downside of this understanding is that I have learned in my heart what extinction is all about, especially the extinction of relationships. I have touched with my own hands plants so rare, so threatened, that they are no longer able to attract the pollinators they need to set seed and pass on their genes. Extinction seldom comes in one fell swoop, with a bulldozer’s scoop or the shot of a single gun barrel. Instead, it occurs when a web of supporting relationships unravels. It occurs whenever we or any other species are unable to sustain mutually beneficial interactions with those around us, those with whom we have been historically associated. No, few endangered plants and animals suffer their ultimate extirpation by being physically removed from this earth. They die by suffering from the loss of ecological companionship. Cross-pollination is not some perk or frill that benefits only the elite few. Tens of thousands of kinds of plants need cross-pollination if they are to yield fertile seeds and plump, ripe, delicious fruit. Hundreds of thousands of insects and thousands of other (vertebrate) floral visitors are nourished by nectar and pollen. Artists and scientists also need crossfertilization or else their isolated endeavors will atrophy, wither, or fall short of aspirations. Linguists now suggest that cross-cultural exchanges have been among the driving forces of human evolution over the last two million years. The spark that moves between us ultimately has the capacity to sustain us over the long run. (12-13) Summer Journal #9 12 July 2005 Riding my bicycle last night around the neighborhood with Inez and Jackie made me think about how I’ve actually put off doing the summer camp for kids. As I rode my bike and looked at the asphalt under my tires, I mean really looked at the asphalt, I wondered about wildness. I heard Inez saying how she enjoyed the wind in her face, how good it made her feel. I could see joy in her face as she glided down one of the streets in our neighborhood that actually has a drop in elevation. I thought at that moment about her connection to place, how she saw her local environment, how closed in she is compared to how I grew up. I thought of how my own childhood was one of limits compared to people who grow up in rural areas. I thought of what I can say, show, do with and for these kids to help them feel the wildness beneath the asphalt. I thought that I could not possibly break through the asphalt to reach down to the roots of this place. How
could I possibly show them the ghost forest of Dade County slash pine that somehow still grows in this area? I don’t have language for this, in part because I only see this spirit forest with a sideward glance, never a direct one. What to do with these kids who live so much of their lives in doors, so much of their lives protected and sheltered from the violence of the city? Just before we left on our bike ride last night, my nephew’s girlfriend’s mom called. She’s going out with a man who is trying to market a backpack with an alarm system. The idea developed after last year’s abduction of a north Florida girl. The pack is wired with an alarm that is triggered by the child if she feels threatened. She wanted to know if we would not mind if Inez modeled the pink alarmed backpack for a promotional video. I rode my bike around the neighborhood with the image of the pink backpack in my mind, the asphalt under my tires, and the invisible ghost forest of slash pines all around. I feel so inadequate to actually counteract the asphalt and fear. I feel I don’t know the way through the confines of domestication we are all in. I want to offer myself and my kids something better, something wild, something that is real and not contrived. I know that it’s under my nose, under the tires of my bicycle, under the asphalt, all around. I know, I know, I know.
Summer Journal #10 17 July 2005 I spent most of last Saturday with one of my sons and nephews working in the Overtown Community Garden Project that Dr. Marvin Dunn and his brother started eight years ago. When we got there it took some time to adjust to the surroundings. I became aware of the stereotypes that work to keep different ethnic groups from coming together. (It’s interesting how once out of the car and talking and moving about, surroundings become familiar.) We met where I-95 and I-395 intersect. It’s interesting that in all of my years living in Miami and going over these highways, that not once had I spent any time beneath the underpass structures. The system consists of acres upon acres of concrete; the road system takes up so much land, and the interesting part about it is that 99.9999% of those of us who use this system to get from one place to the other don’t even notice and don’t know the consequences for the people whose homes and business were in the way. There’s something quite remarkable in this. As I write this, I’m reminded of my visit to Dachau earlier this year. The logic of the concentration camp and that of the interstate system running through this once vibrant community seems to come from the same ugly and flawed rationalism, one where relationships and Spirit are ignored for some so called greater good and progress. I remember
feeling shaken after a couple of hours visiting this death camp and wondering how on Earth could the towns people, a community which at one time was full of artists and creative people could somehow not know what was going on in the camp. Months later, I’m not all that surprised given my own response to what I saw in Overtown beneath the underpass system. There’s little outrage anywhere. It seems that we have all accepted what is as an inevitable consequence for our need for comfort. I recall Gary Paul Nabhan’s words in his book Cross- Pollinations regarding extinction and relationships: Extinction seldom comes in one fell swoop, with a bulldozer’s scoop or the shot of a single gun barrel. Instead, it occurs when a web of supporting relationships unravels. It occurs whenever we or any other species are unable to sustain mutually beneficial interactions with those around us, those with whom we have been historically associated. (12-13) Given what I know, the unraveling has already started. As I reflect on my experience, I see an organizing and destructive force that creates all sorts of things that are invisible for those of us who benefit from the “paving over.” This organizing principle destroys relationships through a twisted form of magic that makes one party invisible to the other; let me rephrase to be more accurate: which creates “others” when there’s really only family, only relatives, relations, brothers, sisters, cousins. (I mean this literally but don’t misunderstand me, these familial ties are not just human in nature; by nature of our Big Bang star dust heritage, they encompass the living and non-living beings and things on the planet and Universe.) Yet, at every nook and cranny of our culture, there just seems to be a basic move toward convenience which inevitably is based on some harm to the less powerful. I’m aware of this even as I write on this computer. I know that this machine became available to me because there are underpaid women in factories in Asia working with highly toxic materials. I know that the toxic chemicals in the guts of this machine eventually end up in somebody’s lymphatic system. Yet, I don’t stop writing and I don’t stop using this technology. I suppose that this conundrum and limited awareness on my part in itself is part of the system that paralyzes any movement away from oppression and injustice. The broken relationships and harm seem so intrinsic and pervasive that it just seems like an impossibility that any of us could feasibly move ourselves out of such a mess. The logic behind this sentiment perpetuates the system. In a sense, tasting a little bit of injustice and seeing it actually reinforces the breakdown. At least this has been my personal experience and my experience working with students. People want hope, a way out, a way through. When they see that we are actually quite fenced in, the typical initial reaction is loss of hope
and paralysis. It’s easier not knowing, not seeing, and just moving about the city, the nation, and the world without any sense of the waves of suffering and destruction we create. Despair work is essential in opening the heart and mind to new possibilities. More on this later. What I saw in Overtown on Saturday was actually quite powerful and beautiful. The area looks run down, but it has a village/tribal feel to it that may hold a key to the future. I’m reminded of my home country of Cuba. Even with all of its many difficulties, there’s a deep sense of community and care which has allowed people to survive in the face of great challenges. I believe that as we come down from our oil dependent ways and lifestyles, and we find that we no longer are the top dog in the world scene, we will eventually have to make do with what we have. (Right now we seem to make do by taking from others.) We will eventually have to let go of our avarice and need for more and find satisfaction within the community and within ourselves. As I left the area, I saw people playing dominos and checkers in street corners. I saw people walking the street, riding their bicycles, and going about their business. The pace of life seemed slower. In a strange sort of way, I heard the distant call of home. Earlier I mentioned despair work. I suppose this is one of my attractions with what the Dunn brothers are doing. For me gardening is the ultimate despair workshop. It is a powerful activity which if done in the right spirit and mindset is all about inviting relationships amongst plants and animals—insects, birds, frogs…people. The power of the garden for me has to do with this notion of honoring relationships. I suppose that this is my deep interest in using native plants, avoiding chemicals, and using the least amount of oil intensive technology as possible. The garden is a spiritual/political container, one which connects us back to when our ancestors moved from hunting and gathering to a more settled life. The garden can provide a window to our roots, an opportunity to unravel misplaced priorities and restore right relations. Summer Journal #11 28 July 2005 We began our three-day neighborhood summer camp yesterday. The plan for the week is to have neighborhood kids meet our house with their bikes, water bottles, and lunches for a 9 to 12 noon intensive on learning about South Florida. The camp will focus on three major habitats: pine rocklands, hardwood hammocks, and mangrove estuarine. On our first day the kids took a ecological neighborhood quiz. … we noted the remnants of the pine rockland forest which once covered our neighborhood. We noted the role of elevation, looked carefully at limestone ridge formations in the neighborhood, discussed how Florida has been shaped by the
ocean (cooling and warming of the planet). We visited with a lone slash pine in one of our neighbor’s yard. This tree is the last left in the area. While there, we talked about relationships, the importance of community. We noted how this lone tree needs a large community of support to survive. Extinction in most cases is a result of broken relationships. As we stood there, we sent out our blessings to this tree; we wished it well; we opened up our hearts to it and in doing so opened up our hearts to one another, to the world at large, to our calling to live within community. From our stay with the lone tree, we rode our bikes to Benjamin’s Versoot’s house. I met this neighbor the day before when I asked him permission to bring the kids over to his front yard. I wanted to show the kids how our actions can make a difference. He’s kept his yard mostly native and has worked on helping the slash pines thrive. The contrast between this yard and those around are quite startling. The kids were surprised to see the number of butterflies. We looked at a number of dead trees. I pointed out that these tree trunks can stay up for ten or fifteen years providing a home for many microorganisms, insects, and birds. Summer Journal #12 30 July 2005 Dream sequence: Went to St. Thomas Church. Everything has been changed. There are all of these post it notes all over the walls. Fr. Tobin goes to the pulpit. Can’t see him. Somehow the pulpit has been remodeled. There’s a wood “wall” of sorts that looks like a wave of sorts leading toward the lectern. Could only see him if I rubber neck. We’ve gone to church with some friends. Somehow explaining that there’s something off today. There’s no music, liturgy, no “traditional” actions, just the play with the large post it notes. I also notice that pews have been removed. There are only a few left and filled. The dream shifts to the altar. The bread and wine are there. I’m sitting on the one end of the pew and looking at the chalice. We’re all holding hands, prayer of consecration seems to be going on. Suddenly, I see a very bright light shimmer over the chalice; it is so bright that I close my eyes and exclaim, “Ahhhhhh.” The person next to me, one of the friends we came to church with, asks me if I’m ok. I can’t speak or open my eyes, but I keep sensing the powerful light. Summer Journal #13 2 August 2005 Have to return Ram Dass’ text Paths to God: Living the Bhagavad Gita tomorrow morning. I wanted to renew the book, but someone else is waiting for it. Here are some passages I wanted to go back to:
This is it—this is the battlefield. This is Kurukshetra within yourself. And though you may think you didn’t ask for it, yet at another level, just like Arjuna, you are getting your just deserts. You are getting the benefit of all the work you’ve ever done up until now, which has put you in the place where you’re reading this bizarre book about a peculiar topic that most of the population couldn’t care less about…Whatever karma has brought you to this point, it’s now your dharma to work with it…We each have our own path. I don’t know what yours is—I can hardly figure out my own. What I can predict, though, is that for you, as for Arjuna, it will probably include giving up some cherished notions about yourself, some ideas about who you are and where you’re going. (52) …Arjuna is in the same predicament here. He doesn’t like the dharma that’s facing him out on the battlefield. He has his own ideas about what he’d like his path to be. But gradually, we come to realize that following our own path isn’t going to get us where we want to go; we begin to acknowledge that our dharma is our route through, and we start to surrender into it. (60) Mahatma Gandhi told us what that looks like in practice; he said, “In regard to every action, one must know the result expected to follow, the means thereto, and the capacity for it. He who being thus equipped is without desire for the result, and is yet wholly engrossed in the due fulfillment of the task before him, such a man is said to have renounced the fruits of his action.” Once we’ve really done that, renounced the fruits of the action, we’re finally free to act in whatever way we’re drawn by our dharma to act. We’re no longer being pulled and pushed in other directions by our own attachments—we’re not going to get anything out of it. We’re acting solely to fulfill our dharma. How do we know what “fruits” to ask for, anyway? How do we know what’s supposed to happen? Until we’re at the place where we can see the whole scope of the karmic pattern, we have no idea what outcome would be the best for ourselves and for everybody else… So what do I do? I do my best, but I give up the fruit of the action. If I don’t know what’s supposed to happen, it’s probably better if I don’t get too attached to one particular outcome. …It’s a matter of letting go of expectations. (64-65) So karma yoga turns out to be a technique for extracting ourselves from the turmoil of life not by inaction, but by shifting perspectives on our actions. No longer are our actions a means to fulfill our desires; now they are opportunities for spiritual practice; for practice in being unattached to the outcome, and for practice in getting rid of the idea that we’re doing anything. We do what we do , all the time recognizing that it’s just the wheel of karma, the dance of God’s play, the laws lawfully unfolding through us. We see that it was only our incredible egocentricity that made us think we were doing it!
And as we begin to see ourselves that way—not as actors, but as the vehicles through which the laws of nature are unfolding—we are approaching something which is much more interesting, and much more profound, than whatever it was we might have thought the game was about. Krishna points to it when he says, “I have no work to do in all the worlds, Arjuna, for these are mine. I have nothing to obtain, because I have it all. And yet I work.” (70-71) When we first set out to do our work as spiritual practice, we’re still operating from inside the world of attachments and desires, because the desire to get free is still a desire. But as the upaya, the method, begins to work, it leads to a deeper understanding of the reason and wisdom that underlie the whole system. We see who we are, and what it is that’s going on, in a different light. And along with that understanding comes an increasing impersonality toward our own lives. Impersonality. Not less involvement, but less romanticizing of it all, less melodrama, less doer. We go on living our lives, and we live them as perfectly as we can, but we live them in an increasingly detached way. Less and less are we acting out of our motives or our desires—not event he high-minded ones like enlightenment. We’re just acting because it’s our dharma to act. That’s essence karma yoga. (72) Summer Journal #14 3 August 2005 Dream: I was in my red Prelude on 107 Ave. and 32 Street. Was just getting ready to make a left hand turn. I did, but somehow my back tire exploded and I lost control of the car and was hit by these very large, big wheeled trucks. I slid into the seat and was not hurt as the car was crunched from above. In the dream, the blowout was related to something to do with my dad’s brother. I don’t remember what. As I awoke in the morning, I went back (waking dream) to the actual accident that I had in that car. While in bed, I realized that my dad’s death and the car accident where psychically intertwined. It’s as if the events happened simultaneously. In a sense, they now are. Realized while sitting this morning how much of the storyline I’ve actually created in these past 21 years—all of it and none of it! Poem Start… What did I do all summer?
I mulched…I mulched…placed a layer of chopped up leaves and tree bark on the beds…placed a layer of chopped up leaves and tree bark on myself…knowing that the dry season is coming, that moisture must be invited in… Summer Journal #15 4 August 2005 Thinking about Mac’s seed document…just woke up… Content seems right. The situation seems dire…but somehow the content and approach seems partial, does not fully describe the All or the One or the Many. Seems to leave off Spirit. Felt quite heavy and serious. Don’t hear Jesus’ voice as he would walk with his friends down the road picking up a child or pointing out the lily’s of the field. Found myself saying yes to most everything, but somehow sensing something is missing from the document. I’m not much of a fan of academic discourse. Sounds funny coming from an English teacher. I remember the sense of frustration I felt while in graduate school reading and then participating in endless discussions about texts that somehow felt irrelevant. I don’t believe this text is irrelevant, but I don’t know if the form of the text calls forth more of the same response, more of the same type of discussion without some kind of transformative result, without letting go of the attachments to the “law” and a somewhat diminished relationship to Spirit. Thinking again of the Pharisees and Jesus debating… Summer Journal #16 5 August 2005 Idea for fall term: create seed projects where groups of three students work with either their own children and the neighborhood, or a small group within their area school, park…have them teach about two habitats, use several story books, have hands on activities…have these pre-approved...all three students develop the lessons, find out how to deliver them, and divide the work of teaching, facilitating, and documenting…once project is over, students create a powerpoint letter with photographs and so on, planting a seed for the future, a seed of compassion, engagement, and growing awareness…of course the seed is for the three students primarily, have the powerpoints up on the web by the end of the term. Dream: Thought I had not dreamed, but I recalled something…was somewhere, not sure, someone came to me and drew something on my forehead, not a smiley face, a u of sorts and something else associated with the symbol.ﭦ Closest approximation... …Desire is the creator, destroyer, Universe…
Before the beginning, before the initial bifurcation, in the beginning was the Word, before the beginning, … Summer Journal #17 8 August 2005 Reading Primo Levi’s Survival in Auschwitz If we were logical, we would resign ourselves to the evidence that our fate is beyond knowledge, that every conjecture is arbitrary and demonstrably devoid of foundation. But men are rarely logical when their own fate is at stake; on every occasion, they prefer the extreme positions. According to our character, some of us are immediately convinced that all is lost, that one cannot live here, that the end is near and sure; others are convinced that however hard the present life my be, salvation is probable and not far off, and if we have faith and strength, we will see our houses and our dear ones again. The two classes of pessimists and optimists are not clearly defined, however, not because there are many agnostics, but because the majority, without memory or coherence, drift between the two extremes, according to the moment and the mood of the person they happen to meet. (36) Concerning the lesson the author learns from one of the prisoners regarding washing, even when it seems futile, useless, and illogical: ...But this was the sense, not forgotten either then or later: that precisely because the Lager was a great machine to reduce us to beasts, we must not become beasts; that even in this place one can survive, and therefore one must want to survive, to tell the story, to bear witness; and that to survive we must force ourselves to save at least the skeleton, the scaffolding, the form of civilization. We are slaves, deprived of every right, exposed to every insult, condemned to certain death, but we still possess one power, and we must defend it with all our strength for it is the last— the power to refuse our consent. So we must certainly wash our faces without soap in dirty water and dry ourselves on our jackets. We must polish our shoes, not because the regulation states it, but for dignity and propriety. We must walk erect, without dragging our feet, not in homage to Prussian discipline but to remain alive, not to begin to die. (41) Summer Journal #18 10 August 2005 I’m sitting at my desk. The light is coming through our wooden blinds and making horizontal line patterns in the room. I love mornings like these. The light feels just right. I’m writing, however, as a joint exercise with Inez. Part of her
morning routine involves writing for five minutes in her journal about anything that comes to mind. Part of the deal is that these writing opportunities will be shared with Maribel. Today, my sweetheart is away at the dentist, figuring out whether she needs a root canal or not, so Inez has invited me to write with her. I am aware right now of the ticking of the timer and the sounds Inez’s pen and left hand makes on her journal notebook. Writing is a great activity that allows for reflection and slowing down of the mind. At least this is the case when one feels comfortable in the task and just lets go and allows the words to slip through to the surface. The timer just rang. I don’t believe it was five minutes. We write for a bit longer. Inez just said she is done. I suppose that I will stop now and see what else is next with her work…
This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
We've moved you to where you read on your other device.
Get the full title to continue reading from where you left off, or restart the preview.