Wednesday, October 5, 2016

True, North is the other side of South

From an old (1/7/96) Journal:

Realized today—for the first time really, it seems—that North is but the other side of South, and cold, the other face of hot; that it all depends on one’s perspective. I realized this while traversing the land and noticing the remarkable differences that exist from side to side, coming from a Southwest slope, facing into the relative warmth of the winter Sun, and then going down the Northeast, shady, mossy side of the same ridge, and looking at the opposing Southwest ridge across the gully, in full sun. When however you’re in a flat landscape you are the compass needle turning, spinning out your desired direction and fate; you become the mountain ridge in sun or shadow depending on the direction you face.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Heron Gesture

“Poetry uses the most ancient and universal of all languages, gesture, more than does prose. From gesture it is but a short way, if any way at all, to dance.” ~from Arthur Cooper’s Introduction to Li Po and Tu Fu.

Can I out-wait the Blue Heron? Be more patient than it than the fish? Can I become the water that passes beneath his smokey plumes? Can I carry the fish to the heron’s view—just a flash of movement will do. Can I bring myself and the fish to same still green water? Heron has it’s keen face away from my inquiring ideas. And then turning and stepping in the deliberate way that only hunters and Daoists know, head leading out to scan the water yet unplied by feet, spear poised to each gentle step, anticipating movement stirred up from below, herding its meal in.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Evolution of human attitudes toward Nature and Cosmos

The evolution of our Western attitudes toward Nature begins with fear and transforms into delight in the Sublime, continues in Enthusiasm--in those days a more radical attitude than today--and concludes in love of Nature, which arose through two stages: love of God through Nature, followed by a love Nature as such. In this way, love of Nature has its origins in love of God, the strongest and highest form of love that Westerners have professed to have.

~paraphrased from the book Foundations of Environmental Ethics (1989, pg.
202), Eugene Hargrove editor.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

Nothing like belly breathing

There is likely nothing better for your health than DEEP, DIAPHRAGMATIC, BELLY BREATHING. By stimulating the Vagus nerve/parasymphathetic/relaxation response, belly breathing: Calms your entire nervous system, reduced inflammation throughout the body, connects your head brain with your gut brain. Try Section 1 of my DVD, Tai Chi and Qigong for Everyone, it is devoted to breathing practices.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

You can thank insects and birds for the beauty of flowers

Though they may not have been "consciously" (according to our human definitions of consciousness anyway) aware of it, insects and birds through their feeding/selecting behaviors helped "design"and  create the beautiful diversity and array of flowers in the world today. You should literally thank pollinators for having food to eat and flowers to enjoy.

Beautiful natural Design does not require "a Designer"

What we call beauty in Nature is an integral part of the design of the Universe, the fundamental laws from sub-atomic to galactic physics, but this does not require there to have been an original "Designer." It seems that Nature is designed or perhaps we should say, simply UNFOLDS, HAPPENS, beautifully--with symmetry and order--and it so happens that such beauty likes to appreciate itself (this is where human awareness comes in). This is a beautiful fact then, woven into the Kosmos (Greek for Goddess of  Beauty, by the way), that what we consider beautiful in Nature is the result of basic laws according to which the Cosmos evolves.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Existential notes of my 25 year-old self: on the Cosmic Wilderness we inhabit

21 years ago:

"Do we have any idea what the Cosmos has in store for us from day to day to year to eon after eon? We construct our houses of reality around our minds to shelter us from the cosmic storms of uncertainty and anxiety about our fate: which seems to this observer to be: ultimate mystery, through and throughout."

Which reminds me presently of a bumper sticker that I love: "Don't believe everything you think"  (I would add "and feel"), for while they may have validity for a time, like all things, thoughts and feelings change with Time.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Interdependence instead of Independence is how the Universe works

I'm going over 20 year old notebooks from my graduate studies in environmental aesthetic philosophy. The following are gleanings from my notes:

An aesthetic of the sublime in nature (mountains, oceans, starry skies, for instances) is enhanced by the knowledge that we are in fact part and parcel ocean, mountain, and star appreciating themselves. Far from the narcissi obsessive-gaze, this mingling of awe and humility is a primal (yet reflectively advanced) form of worship.

Etymological investigation of the word Sublime yields:  from L. sublimus, to lift up. In chemistry, to pass from solid to gas without becoming a liquid. Interesting implications: Being lifted up by a sublime experience, toward the sky, the stars. To be inspired is to literally be breathed up, our spirits lifted toward the absolute, and solid body goes directly toward airy realms of spirit. Perhaps metaphysics and physics, metachemistry and chemistry are not so far apart after all...

Perhaps then the transcendence of small ego-self we feel when sensorily engaged with sublime features of Nature (as above) is due to our feeling a part of (instead of apart from!) the larger, incomprehensible grandeur of the cosmos; and the sublime is a literal lifting up of the human to have a glimpse at our deep cosmic ancestry and proportions. So that when I stare raptly into the Milky Way (Chinese Starry River) on a clear night, my contemplations of distant galactic features like other galaxies, trillions upon trillions of supernovae, stars, and the even greater Void of deep space, this contemplation lifts my ordinary state of consciousness to its grand origins. We can call such experiences Sublime, Divine even, but ultimately beyond words.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Refrigerator hums more beautifully than birdsong today

As I was sitting in meditation this morning: the near constant hum of refrigerator was in contrast to the fervent songs of birds outside doing their mating and communicating. It occurred to me that my refrigerator was more useful to me than their piercing cries, as I closed the window to be more focused within. It was a revelation in that I have usually preferenced the sounds of "nature" (water, wind, birds) over modern culture (machine sounds of various sorts), but that on closer inspection, I might just have well thought the opposite given the respective sound-making entities' function in my daily life. Certainly, the world needs birds and their songs for no other reason than biological diversity and their inherent beauty and worth. However, that humming refrigerator keeps my food fresh for days, saving me from a trip (in my exhaust and noise spewing car) to the coolers at the grocery store every day. To me, today, closing the window on the birds doing their own things, for their own sakes, allowed me to appreciate the refrigerator doing its own thing and me doing mine as well.

On "nature" and ontology

"[A]n aesthetic appreciation of nature, if serious, is necessarily a self-exploration also; for the energies, regularities, contingencies of nature are the...[same] that sustain my own embodied life and my own awareness. Nature may be "other" to us, but we are no less conatural with it. We do not simply look out upon nature as we look at the sea's drama from a safe shore: the shore is no less nature, and so too is the one who looks."

(from article "Trivial and serious in aesthetic appreciation of nature," R.W. Hepburn in the book "Landscape, Natural Beauty, and the Arts," Kemal and Gaskell editors, Cambridge UP 1993, pg. 69)

As John Muir said, "I found that by going out, I was also going in."