Archive for the ‘Spirituality’ Category


Tuesday, September 8th, 2009

I like this comment from transpersonal psychologist Charles Tart. It can, of course, be taken on many levels, expanded or discarded etc. Nonetheless:

“I think we need to have deep spiritual values, and they have to come out of experiences that really teach us at a deep level. They can’t come by somebody preaching at us and telling us how we should feel and so forth. We need a spirituality in our culture that taps into what is real, and taps-in in a deep way, so it will stand up to the stress of everyday life.”

I like this one, too—it made me laugh out loud, humbly:

“We’re all idea junkies. It feels good to have a clever idea that seems to make sense of our world.”

This comes from this interview which I listened to with much enjoyment. And now, nearly two in the morning, and still not enlightened, I need to go to bed…

Sending you tons of transpersonal love,


Pro-God, Pro-War, Pro-Dictator, Anti-Labour (a theme, perhaps?): “The Family”—a curious Christian/Political Organization brought to you since 1935

Friday, August 7th, 2009

“The Fellowship’s reach into governments around the world is almost impossible to overstate or even grasp.”
—David Kuo, former Special Assistant to President George W. Bush and Deputy Director of the White House Office of Faith Based and Community Initiatives

There is a fifteen-or-so minute interview from the CBC show the Current this morning about the low-profile, high-impact religious conservative group called The Family. Also known as The Fellowship, the group minister and promote the elite—that is to say, in the ideology of The Family, those in power are chosen by God. And it is the Powerful whom The Family support.

They minister to the elite, and not just in America.

They are fond of dictators.

Beginning in 1935, The Family/Fellowship are to me, anyway, a deeply bizarre amalgamation of ideologies beginning with a Roman Christianity sensibility. In other words, politicized Christianity, Christianity with a fist—from so-called biblical capitalism to Union busting. Workers, by this logic, are mistreated because God wants it that way. Outgrowths have included relationships with some of the worst dictators, for example Suharto in Indonesia, Papa Doc Duvalier in Haiti, and Said Barre in now lawless Somalia.

Believe it or not, The Family boards American Senators at a housing complex-cum-church (ie tax exempt) in Washington DC known as C Street. Three recent live-in Senators include Tom Coburn, John Ensign and Mark Sanford. Some lived there and some even philandered there (affairs known about by The Family for months, perhaps longer, before the press was even vaguely up to speed). The Family would then counsel the cheating Senator through the affair and the fallout.

Incidentally, The Family counsels these Senators not to resign. Why? Because these Senators are chosen not by the electorate, ultimately, but by God.

The Family/the Fellowship use the biblical King David as a role model. Not for what most people admire David for—standing up for the little guy (himself), against the dreaded Goliath. But for understanding power. When David in the bible had a heavenly, to be sure, extra-marital affair, he killed his mistress’ husband. That’s power. The King is dead, long live the King.

Doug Coe, their present-day Leader, says that, paraphrasing, I think they said, ironically, it was Hitler, Lenin and Mao who, this past century, best understood the New Testament. Why? Because the New Testament was not about love, it was about power.


What this indicates, to me at least, is that the Hitchens/Dawkins/Harris often-very-justified attack on fundamental religion is slightly misguided—or, at least, incomplete. Power overthrows everything, and the powerful, in myriad ways, stick together. Thus atheistic communism (Mao, Stalin, Pol Pot) or any other dictatorship (Barre, Duvalier, Hitler, Suharto etc), regardless of religious or non-religious affiliation, fit right in, and should not necessarily be separated.

Their ideology is Power.

The religion is secondary, if necessary at all. Just a good -ism and a hatred for most common folk will suffice. But to see this truism would diminish their Religion-is-the-Problem (and it is a problem!) polemic, not to mention book sales. Attack power and religion (and what the hell, throw in unconscious science), and who will publicize your book?

In short, low grade thinking dressed up in Power will exist whether this vast topic and spectrum called religion exists or not. Low grade science is awful, too (brilliant science creating hellish poisons, weapons etc). Low level thinking in communism, socialism, capitalism, atheism. They’re all brutal on the spirit, freedom, sustainability and compassion expansion. Low Grade Thinking in High Grade Power is the shadow of this world.

Ironically, one of The Family’s main guys in Africa is Uganda’s Yoweri Museveni, who was a major part of the film Uganda Rising.

By the way, even the not-so-Leftist CIA called Suharto’s coup in 1965 one of the worst revolutionary crackdowns of the 20th century, killing possibly a million people.

The Family, evidently, was even inspiration for the sci-fi film The Blob, an early—very early—Steve McQueen vehicle. It’s all just plain weird, and perhaps dangerous, in an inconceivably bizarre world.

The interview is here. Press Part II, not Part I.

The good news is The Family has had very little success breaking in to Canadian politics.

Vaya con dios! Jiminy Crickets. Naw, go with love. And try to laugh, but cry if you have to! Breakfast Prayer, anyone?

Pete xo

THE QUESTION: Why is the world so beautiful?

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2009

Sometimes I think we’re alone. Sometimes I think we’re not. In either case, the thought is staggering.
—Buckminster Fuller

For the record, a sage, a yogi, says we’re never alone.

I just got home from a class on Vedic knowledge, the so-called Hindu scriptures, from Jeffrey Armstrong, who studies said knowledge all day, every day—and has been doing so for decades.

And I’m wearing a T-shirt that says Drink Chai, See God. And nearby is a pillow that says: We are inconceivably, simultaneously, one and different.

By beautiful, by the way, I think I also mean compelling—which is an inherent quality of beauty. If that wasn’t true, if the world wasn’t those things, why would we want to stay here?

Because it’s so average? This world is not average.


Nor can it be said, I think, by any deeply honest person, that it is random. Is your house random? It randomly arose? Try living randomly, even for a moment, let alone a day. You will, to be sure, end up in the wrong house, with a toothbrush in the wrong orifice, eating a shoe. And if that’s not proof enough about great non-randomness, you’ll likely get non-randomly arrested, or institutionalized, or beat up for being in the wrong house, brushing your butt, randomly chewing a shoe.

Can the world be both random and non-random? If so, what does this mean? And if it has no meaning, then saying it has no meaning has no meaning. There is, in truth, meaning in saying it has no meaning. The inherent meaning cancels the meaningless statement.


So if I can really know this, about the beauty of this place, if I can remain relaxed yet freely conscious, aware of this inconceivable beauty, why aren’t I at least more excited, overall, all the time? And if I’m not, can I consciously choose to be more excited?

Can I? If not, why carry on? Hoping I might randomly feel more joyful?

The Taoists say ‘Just smile.’ Try walking down the street just non-randomly smiling. Guaranteed it’ll make you laugh out loud, or at least smile.

Why do I get upset by totally predictable things, like change? Do I have to be?


What if something from within, some blissful understanding—known as ananda to the yogis—a joy arising from a one-pointed yet relaxed state of understanding, were to shine on whatever I’m seeing, hearing, experiencing, making it new and beautiful?

This ananda is by Vedic definition inner joy or bliss that one feels utterly independent of what is happening externally. It is what they call your true nature…

Thinking about this, I wonder what it would take to see things as they really are; life as it really is: new. How she/he/it works, moves, feels, thinks, manifests, wants, waits, needs, moves etc., is always new.


Am I forever forced to respond to such things with varying degrees of unhappiness or happiness from my experiencing them—or feel nothing? Or is there some way for my experience, my consciousness, to elevate the relationship to greater joy than I am experiencing now (in my already deeply privileged life), with whatever passes?

That is the question. To ask, remember and smile. To exhale and smile. To smile and smile. To put a smile in my eyes, in my heart, my thoughts, my smile.

Can I relax into that joyous commitment?

If the seemingly existential nature of the previous lines (I actually wrote them them with complete practicality in mind) frustrate you, anger you or bore you, try smiling instead—with joy. Do we have a choice to be joyful or sad, content or angry? Observe your next emotion and find out.

If yes, and you choose to be some unsettled emotion by what has been written, why?

I want to non-randomly practice believing, ‘Yes, I have a choice,’ and walk and breathe from that stance, that asana. Tonight, yes I can. Gosh I’m excited. Okay, I’m also tired. And you’re gorgeous, for the record, even if temporary.

Joy, in the madness. Beauty, or even belief in beauty to come, outweighs the pain. Clearly, or why would we want to stay? Wanting to be here, somehow beauty must trump everything.

May you experience big, joyous, unstoppable beauty…love. And if I go to bed hoping this changes someone, or converts them in some way, I will wake up with anxiety. None of it’s in my hands. So I’m simply going to exhale, laugh—ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!—and go to bed next to one I love very much, and try to remember to smile.

Yours transincidentally,

Yogi Barely

Hugh Brody, the Kwikwexwelhp Healing Village, and The Meaning of Life.

Sunday, May 24th, 2009

There is a correctional institute in British Columbia (Canada) called the Kwikwexwelhp Healing Village (good luck pronouncing that)—a remarkably progressive, alternative and controversial penal facility, and simultaneously limited in terms of numbers. Kwikwexwelhp is a fifty bed facility.

At its heart Kwikwexwelhp is a minimum security facility, with even less restrictions, whose healing/rehabilitation practices are inspired by indigenous cultural and spiritual practices. Its inmates are generally prisoners who, over time, have ‘cascaded’—a term used by the director of photography after the film—from maximum security, to medium security, to minimum security, and through their own initiative and courses taken, qualify for Kwikwexwelhp.

I just saw a simple, provocative and moving documentary (DOXA) on it by the wonderful Hugh Brody (I didn’t know much about him until two friends filled me in—thank god for friends), called The Meaning of Life. At the core of so many of the inmates’ original fracturing are those shameful, horrendous, racist residential schools. My god, the damage—the structural violence—inflicted by some of the people in that god-forsaken institution. Of course, the past doesn’t by necessarily absolve a crime in the present (it does in some places, politically), but it sure as hell is good to know the nature of cause-and-effect in a deeply fractured world.

Here’s a newspaper link about the film.

Really worth seeing.

Structural violence, institutional violence, happens in countless, faceless ways. Eduardo Galeano (as quoted in Paul Farmers’ Pathologies of Power) sums up one form of institutional violence here, from his South American viewpoint. Perhaps the view can be extrapolated worldwide:

The big bankers of the world, who practice the terrorism of money, are more powerful than kings and field marshals, even more than the Pope of Rome himself. They never dirty their hands. They kill no-one: they limit themselves to applauding the show.

Their officials, international technocrats, rule our countries: they are neither presidents nor ministers, they have not been elected, but they decide the level of salaries and public expenditure, investments and divestments, prices, taxes, interest rates, subsidies, when the sun rises and how frequently it rains.”

And these decisions, by whom is left out, result in what Dr. Paul Farmer and others call ‘structural violence’—where limited options lead to violence, violence against the person with painfully limited options.

Galeano continues:

“However, they don’t concern themselves with the prisons or torture chambers or concentration camps or extermination centers, although these house the inevitable consequences of their acts.

The technocrats claim the privilege of irresponsibility: ‘We’re neutral’ they say.”

And the more privileged, the more affluent the country, would it be fair to say the more these sins are all of ours?

I don’t know the answer, but more compassion is always called for. Compassion with discernment, with love.

And here’s to all of us who are not (which is everybody), as Sister Prejean (of Dead Man Walking fame) once said, ‘the worst thing we’ve ever done.’

Lots of love to you,


AN ORGANIC FARM IN INDIA: Bio-Fuel, Solar Power, Vegetarian, Cow Dung…

Saturday, May 9th, 2009

What more could you ask for? That must be a pretty sweet vibration, overall, huh? Here’s a little video from a visit we were privileged to have just outside of Mysore. I didn’t know a dung thing about bio-fuel. In fact, my knowledge was in a slurry state.

I left out the fact that they also used cow urine as a natural fertilizer. Here’s to the stupendous, incredible, bountiful Mother Earth.

And may we learn to walk a little softer, and think of the whole thing as family, and I do not mean that at all sentimentally. Sister, brother, somehow, we are on this walk together…

Lots of love to you,

Pete xoxo

Gratitude and Inner Work: Being in your own Business

Wednesday, April 29th, 2009

Not trying to be in your business, but I read what I find to be a very important and insightful passage from Gabor Mate’s wonderful book In the Realm of Hungry Ghosts:

“I can only find three kinds of business in the universe: mine, yours, and God’s,” says the self-work teacher Byrin Katie in her book, Loving What is…

“For me,” Katie writes, “the word God means reality. Anything that’s out of my control, your control and everyone else’s control—I call that God’s business.”

Much of our stress comes from mentally living out of our own business. When I think, “You need to get a job, I want you to be happy, you should be on time, you need to take better care of yourself,” I am in your business…I realized every time in my life that I had felt hurt or lonely, I had been in some else’s business.

[I can totally relate—and it causes dis-ease, and pain, and frustration]

If you are living your life and I am mentally living your life, who is here living mine?

Being mentally in your business keeps me from being present in my own. I am separate from myself, wondering why my life doesn’t work.”

Or, to be more gentle, isn’t working towards a calmer, more grateful place, anyway.

I find this journey/cycle happens a great deal and consistently during my work/creative endeavors. It has to do with freedom and my perception of freedom, I think.

And so much energy willed to get something done, beautifully. I can’t imagine what this must be like for parents.

But I feel so much truth in what Kate and Gabor are saying. That said, I can’t quite see clearly as to how that precisely manifests in my life. The mind is very tricky, your best friend or your worst enemy—and everything in between. But I have the same feeling, and it’s a good meditation to remember.

And learning to surrender simply (with great difficulty!) by staying in my own business, being clear, loving, and letting the rest be God’s business, if you will, is always right for me.

Whenever I want something not in my business, I get not only lonely or hurt, but also frustrated or angry. And I think it’s their fault. Ha ha ha. I first saw this explained in the Bhagavad Gita, and I am sure it is explained in many places.

But in Chapter 2:47 of the Gita, I think, it says, paraphrasing, that ‘you are in control of your actions, but not the results of your actions.

That line really floored me. No wonder we have tantrums! But to think you can control the results of your actions is to, in a sense, usurp God, which may not be for the best, Richard Dawkins’ logic notwithstanding.

What I do know is frustration almost always arises whenever I do this. I want something beyond my control, and I start doing twists and groans to get it. I am no longer within myself. And it’s a tough lesson to learn. And it can be the simplest thing/desire/thought—but the mechanism is put in motion and the same contorted old frustration or sadness or feeling of futility comes knocking on my mind’s door. It’s like a self-induced voodoo doll.

Also, the results of these desires can manifest much later, in my experience—days, months, stemming from a lack of initial clarity, courage or humble confidence. It’s very subtle.

So not to be in your business, my dear friend, but meditation on this is so valuable to me.

The Bhagavad Gita also says of these misplaced desires, paraphrasing: ‘If these desires are met, greed increases. If they are not met, frustration arises, and frustration turns to anger.

Be on the compassionate lookout!

Smart book. Deep breath. Armed with yoga, stand and fight—and laugh, and breathe, and find gratitude for this inconceivable miracle that could be no other way.

Of course, that’s all your own business.

Lots of love,

Pete xoxo

The Human Highway with its ten thousand road maps

Monday, April 27th, 2009

Provocative, wonderful-looking film trailer sent by a friend. What a gig to do! Peter Rodger’s Oh My God.

And to think, we’re all actually brothers and sisters, crazily, wildly, genetically related. It has been suggested (Michael Wood, the Story of India) that everyone in the world—first out of Africa, which is the Mother of the Mother, and look how we treat Her—can trace their lineage back to south India, where people arrived, from Africa, across the Arabian peninsula, some 70,000 or 80,000 years ago. This evidence appears via a gene called the M130, and whatever else scientists do to figure this out. Not unsurprisingly, perhaps, M130 sounds like a highway. A human highway still being constructed.

The southern state home of the M130 in India is called Kerala. And it is beautiful. People of the three major religions get along remarkably well, and the state government is the Communist Party! One sees religious symbols and sickles and hammers co-mingling all over the place. I use the term communism loosely (what is communism, anyway?), but it just goes to show you that the generalizations about these manufactured concepts of tribe and ideology and religion are sketchy at best, and limited undoubtedly. Go to your heart first, and remember…

Lots of love to you, sister and brother,


Thich Nhat Hanh and the Unconscious (or conscious) Maintenance of Anger

Tuesday, April 14th, 2009

Continuing on from yesterday’s blog, and the 14 precepts from Hanh of Engaged Buddhism, these three reminded me of myself. Actually they all remind me of myself, of course, being part of this grand human and material experiment:

6: Do not maintain anger or hatred. Learn to penetrate and transform them when they are still seeds in your consciousness. As soon as they arise, turn your attention to your breath in order to see and understand the nature of your hatred.

That is such sweet and good advice. Isn’t it crazy how we, or at least I, maintain anger by going over it again and again? Or what I’d like to say before the situation has even arisen, mind-disturbing speculation—even if it sounds rational in my head? It’s like putting logs (thoughts) on an angry fire, to keep it burning, when there’s no one around to keep warm. In fact that fire doesn’t warm, it burns. I feed that fire with my speculations and cyclic thought.

The mind is a cauldron of thoughts. It’s a great question, for me, to wonder: from where do these thoughts arise? Do they have to stay? Can I not attach to them—that is follow them, use them, repeat them, be them? Can I instead let let them drift by? Are they useful? Edifying? Am I these thoughts?

That’s hard, man. Those thoughts justify my moods!

One form of meditation (of thousands!) is to observe the thoughts arising, and then watching them drift away.

And for those who practice being aware of the breath, you’ll notice how difficult it is to observe the breath (pranayama), inhale, exhale, when the mind is involved in the far more important and more real fire/thought building process of being angry (or hurt or whatever). The italics were sarcasm, of course.

7: Do not lose yourself in dispersion and in your surroundings. Practice mindful breathing to come back to what is happening in the present moment. Be in touch with what is wondrous, refreshing, and healing both inside and around you. Plant seeds of joy, peace, and understanding in yourself in order to facilitate the work of transformation in the depths of your consciousness.

That in yoga is the law of good association. Associate, indeed, believe in, beauty, goodness, kindness, compassion—even (or especially) your own.

Sometimes I think my problems are exclusive to me. What a farce! Last night, I couldn’t sleep, unsure and discomforted by a series of stories. You know, sometimes this is just body discomfort retranslated, everything from a lack of flow to body pain to even, dare I say, unnoticed bowel discomfort. The mind is very tricky, responding to a trillion impulses, projected through old knots or ways of thinking (sometimes called samskaras in Sanskrit).

Who do you know who doesn’t struggle in this journey of being? Who can avoid the big pains and the little pains of life? Who doesn’t get attached to a good feeling, and get dragged away from themselves? Who doesn’t experience birth, death, old age and disease?

I don’t know anybody. On both a macro and micro level (and in between in everyday life), it seems to me that we really are in this human condition together.

8: Do not utter words that can create discord and cause the community to break. Make every effort to reconcile and resolve all conflicts, however small.

How easy is that to do with our so-called pain? I do it all the time—even if only in my head. But where else do the problems begin? How difficult would it be to not speak those words, and instead of suppressing them, learn to watch them just drift by? Understand their root. Understand their pointlessness. Understand that through the body thoughts do arise; through discomfort, through old wounds and stories and beliefs…

Very difficult, actually, to understand, let alone cut, the root. Okay, okay, back to the breath. And seek the joy of a bigger emotion, to replace the petty one. You, life, is beautiful!

This is not, for the record, avoiding standing up and speaking out against injustice. This is, to me, about the petty injustices we believe have been done to ourselves. Standing up against injustice is healing and a demand of right-living. Of course one person’s injustice…

A few thoughts. What a thing to have a mind! In the Bhagavad Gita it says the mind can be your best friend or your worst enemy.

May your friendship with the mind be deep, loose, joyful, discerning and mindful, with lots of love,


Thich Nhat Hanh and the ever-changing truth of truth

Monday, April 13th, 2009

Thich Nhat Hanh is a Zen Buddhist monk, teacher and author from Vietnam who started a school in the early 1960s during the American invasion of Vietnam that set up orphanages, hospitals and places of refuge to help people left homeless, injured or orphaned by the war.

In the mid 1960s, Hanh traveled to the United States and urged Martin Luther King to speak out publicly against the Vietnam War. King finally did, and his speech is extremely powerful. It begins with this great line:

I come to this magnificent house of worship tonight because my conscience leaves me no other choice.

Hanh, for the record, was exiled from Vietnam in 1973 (I think for his involvement in the 1973 Paris peace talks, but I’m not sure), and ended up staying in France.

In 1967, Martin Luther King nominated Hanh for the Nobel Prize for Peace. The Nobel Committee did not offer a prize that year.

Anyway, here are some sweet words from Hanh:

All systems of thought are guiding means; they are not absolute truth. Avoid being narrow-minded and bound to present views.

Learn and practice non-attachment from views in order to be open to receive others’ viewpoints.

Do not think the knowledge you presently possess is changeless, absolute truth.

Truth is found in life and not merely in conceptual knowledge. Be ready to learn throughout your entire life and to open yourself to reality and the world at all times.

There are actually 14 precepts from Hanh of what he calls Engaged Buddhism. In other words, at least on one level, anyway, to be active in the world and speak out against injustice.

Hanh started practicing Engaged Buddhism in the 1960s, with the Vietnam War, but credits a Vietnamese King (Tran Nhan Tong) from the 13th century with the founding of the idea. Tran Nhan Tong gave up his kingly position to become a monk, and began what was called the Bamboo Forest tradition, which continues today.

Those precepts are powerful and humbling, at least to me. Hanh himself says he can’t follow them perfectly, and the only way is practice and more practice. Interestingly, I had the rare opportunity to sit with a renowned swami in Udipi, India, and I asked him how one is to see the soul—the atma/the eternal aspect of an individual and the whole—in everyone. All he said was, “Practice,” with a glint in his eye. There must be something to intelligent and compassion-inducing ritual after all.

Incidentally, the Vedic idea of the atma or soul is quite different from most Buddhist practices.

Lots of love to you, and your eternal, shining, miraculous nature,

Pete xoxo

Work, Free Time, and the Curious Case of Modern Technology

Saturday, April 11th, 2009

Unfortunately, all external means of improving our life experiences are double-edged swords: they are always good and bad. No external remedy improves our condition without, at the same time, making it worse.
—Thomas Hora

This includes the always praised ‘work.’

Two could debate—if two ever wanted to—whether or not I am addicted to my work, or production, or something related. From a yogic point of view—a view that says ultimately we are not this body, we are a soul having a ‘this body experience’—I definitely identify myself with my work compulsion. That is not optimum in terms of minimizing self-ignorance.

But work/leisure/freedom etc are such curious things.

Today, we act like we have so much more than our parents and our parents’ parents. But in fact to get on average something like one extra room per house than our parents had, we work way more—two instead of one full time job—and have massive, uncontrollable debt.

Is that freedom? Is that the dream?

Either way, has technology saved us time? The amount of time I spend figuring out programs and technology in the filming/editing/sound aspects of movie-making is staggering, and likely unhealthy. I was reading bits of Carl Honoré’s In Praise of Slow, and I found out this misperception/hope is nothing new (pg 188).

“Inspired by the technological breakthroughs of the latter 1700s, [Ben Franklin] predicted that man would soon work no more than four hours week.

The nineteenth century made that prophecy look foolishly naive. In the dark satanic mills of the Industrial revolution, men, women and even children toiled for fifteen hours a day.

Yet at the end of the nineteenth century, the Age of Leisure popped up once again on the cultural radar. George Bernard Shaw predicted that we would work two hours a day by 2000.”

I’m not sure who ‘we’ are, I’m not sure what exactly we’re working for, and god knows what I really think working in a certain compulsive way will accomplish long term. Heck, long term I won’t even be here. All that will remain is my nervous energy, oscillating towards some distant gallery on the wings of Bell’s Theorem. Or will that be vibes of love, trust and calmness? What can be changed? Controlled?

“In 1956, RichardNixon told Americans to prepare for a four-day workweek in the “not too distant future.”

That’s happening now, but only because of lay-offs.

“A decade later, a US Senate subcommittee heard that by 2000, Americans would be working as little as fourteen hours per week….

One in four Canadians now racks up more than fifty hours a week on the job, compared to one in ten in 1991.”

Interesting, huh? What are we working for? Who are we working for? One thing is for sure, with people working so profoundly hard, and for so much time, a large drop in civic involvement, community and communication in general must be a side-effect.

This can’t be good.

Honoré writes (190):

Technology, meanwhile, has allowed work to seep into every corner of life. In the age of the information super-highway, there is nowhere to hide from email, faxes and phone calls…I know from experience that working from home can easily slide into working all the time.

Garl darnit, me, too! I don’t feel worthy (of what, god knows?), in a sense, unless I produce something I think is of value to someone—even these blogs. It’s a knot tied inside between a compulsion and wanting to be useful. A knot that is never loosened by accomplishment or anything else. Thus, a hamster wheel—and oh how the hamster longs!

From the Bhagavad Gita (Jeffrey Armstrong translation), Chapter 2:

47. As a human being, your strength lies in purposeful action but the results of your actions are beyond your control. Do not consider yourself to be the cause of the results of your activities but do not retreat into a state of inaction.

48. Perform your work in a balanced state of mind, O Arjuna, without attachment either to success or failure. Such equanimity of mind during action is called Karma Yoga.

So if you have the privileged luxury to ask why you’re working so much and hard, ask also who you’re working for, and what is propelling you to work so hard. For so many of us, it is simply an insatiable hunger for consumer goods—or is it? What a thing to throw one’s freedom away for. As I’ve heard before, “Enjoy yourself, the time is later than you know.”

The Taoists have a great way to begin a meditation.

I am sitting in the lap of my Mother. I love Her and She loves me. I am exactly where I’m meant to be. Now I shall meditate.

Please love yourself more, and breathe more deeply, and sit and feel the world, and that you are part of it; part of the rhythms of nature; you have an inherent right to be here, to breathe from a relaxed space, to love, to play, to increase community. Yes, this is your right. Say it over and over again…

Pete xoxox


Sunday, April 5th, 2009

Here, I think, is a useful article from Douglas Todd in the Vancouver Sun. It’s called ‘Scientism’ effects Darwinian debates. Its by-line is:

An unflinching belief that science can explain everything about evolution becomes its own ideology

An excerpt:

The second major barrier [Todd’s first major barrier is religious literalism which leads to creationism] to a rewarding public conversation about the impact of evolution on the way we understand the world is not named nearly as much.

It is “scientism.”

Scientism is the belief that the sciences have no boundaries and will, in the end, be able to explain everything in the universe. Scientism can, like religious literalism, become its own ideology.

The Encyclopedia of Science, Technology and Ethics defines scientism as “an exaggerated trust in the efficacy of natural science to be applied to all areas of investigation (as in philosophy, the social sciences and the humanities).”

I have two aspects that always remain interesting to me. The first is the questions unanswered still by Quantum Theory, and the still unclear position of consciousness; the wild yet important idea that an ‘observer’ may be necessary to make something actually exist. That is indeed spooky, but remains a result of much experimentation in the field.

Physicists Rosenblum and Kuttner, in the Quantum Enigma, repeat over and over and unabashedly that (pg 201):

“…if you take quantum theory seriously beyond practical purposes, it has baffling implications. It tells us that physics’ encounter with consciousness, demonstrated for the small, applies to everything. And that “everything’ can include the entire universe.

Copernicus dethroned humanity from the cosmic center. Does quantum theory suggest that, in some mysterious sense, we are a cosmic center?”

I’m not sure enough Darwinians are simultaneously meditating upon Quantum Theory, as they describe unequivocally how the universe unfolds. As physicist Brian Greene has said, classical Newtonian physics is “demonstrably not how the universe works.” I’m quoting from memory, so I’m not sure if that is the exact phase.

My second question, with regard to an expanding, exploding universe, based on entropy, that is utterly random according to certain Darwinians, why is there any order at all, anything non-random?

Let’s face it, all of this is an impossibility, and yet none of us live a random life—quite the contrary. There is order and rules everywhere. Try living random for an hour. You may find your toothbrush in a strange place come morning.

I’m not sure what that fact of having to follow nature’s rules means, but it is, at least for me and the people I know, compellingly non-random. For best results, I truly try to follow, to be in tune with, these rules—rules that came from god knows where.

Physicists Kuttner and Rosenblum write on page 198:

Though there is as yet no accepted theory for that minuscule split second before quarks and electrons came into existence, there are constraints on how the universe must have started.

To produce a universe resembling one in which we can live, the Big Bang had to be finely tuned. How finely? Theories vary.

According to one, if the initial conditions of the universe were chosen randomly, there would be one chance in 10 to the 120 (that’s one with 120 zeros after it) that the universe would be livable.

Cosmologist Roger Penrose has it vastly more unlikely: The exponent he suggests is 10 to the 123.

By any such estimate, the chance that a livable universe like ours would be created is far less than the chance of randomly picking a particular single atom out of all the atoms in the universe.

Can you accept odds like that as a coincidence?

That, too, should be in every scientists meditation. Of course then they have to find some mystic to show them how to meditate. I’m kidding!

Lots of semi-random love to you (sounds like a frat party),


The Mystery of Sleep and the Progressive Death of Rhythm

Wednesday, April 1st, 2009

Although I don’t get too much of it, I’m fascinated by sleep. What is it? Every single day or night, no matter what we will—we will sleep. A massively pervasive part of our lives, obviously. Life is impossible without it. We will die without sleep.

Yet, it remains in many ways, a mystery. Jeff Warren writes, in his enthusiastic and informative The Head Trip:

Today, with the help of imaging technologies…a lot more scientists know a lot more about the mechanisms of sleep and dreaming/ Yet in other respects sleep is still very much a mystery—both its biological function [and how it functions biologically], ind its place in the larger story of human culture.

Tonight I was talking to my lovely and brilliant friend Marina and she mentioned that in the old days, long before iPhones, peasants in certain parts of Europe would routinely get up in the middle of the night (and not just to pee), and then a couple of hours later, go back to sleep.

I looked this up and in an article by Richard Handler, found what Marina was talking about—which I found fascinating, and can relate to:

When historians began studying medieval texts, they noticed something referred to as “first sleep.” It was never defined. But now scientists are telling us our ancient bodies are predisposed to “segmented sleep” — slumber in discrete chunks. This business of eight hours uninterrupted sleep is a modern invention. And who gets that much, anyway?

In the past, without the artificial light of the city to bathe in, humans went to sleep when it became dark and then roused themselves around midnight. That late night period was known as The Watch.

It was when people literally kept watch against predators, although many of them simply puttered around or visited neighbours and family.

This period of wakefulness could last an hour or two. One scientist claims people who experienced it entered a quasi-state of “altered consciousness.”

I can totally relate. And if I go to bed very late because of creative endeavours (say, 3 or 4 o’clock) and then get up at 8ish, I actually feel that “altered” state, and it isn’t simply fatigue. In fact, I’m not tired. I’m somewhere else, slightly more internal. And I like it.

This is in the article too:

When it comes to sleep, we humans are Pleistocene creatures living in artificial circumstances…Apparently, at times in the past, peasants in France and Russia took to a semi-state of human hibernation. So writes Graham Robb, a British scholar who has studied the sleeping habits of the French peasantry…

This Big Sleep was, indeed, an ancient tradition in certain parts of the frigid world where the byword was: “Seven months of winter, five months of hell.”

After the ordeal of work was over in the summer, farm families settled in with their cows and pigs for the big freeze. Like hibernating animals, their metabolic rates wound down to prevent starvation…

Robb tells us these habits were not just for the mountain folk. Even in temperate areas of France (such as Burgundy after the wine harvest) peasants simply settled in, comfortably, for a long snooze.

The same thing happened among Russian peasants, Robb says. They would rouse themselves once a day to eat a tiny meal of hard bread. People took turns keeping the fires going inside their shelters. Outside, the land was abandoned to the wolves and the hoary winds of winter…

No wonder the Europeans are such conquerors/colonizers/inventors.

Besides, Robb argues, these long sleeps are good for the environment: Nobody consumes much for seven months. They may be an opportunity for the industrial world to wean itself of its gas-guzzling, carbon-burning ways.

Fat chance of that, I would think. But if the notion does take root, perhaps we Canadians can even call this period our “David Suzuki Winter.”


How about this slogan: Save The Environment: Nap More!

Fossil fuels have created certain great ‘advances’, to be sure, not to mention vast environmental degradation and a sped up closeness to our own extinction. Perhaps the reason for this is not just what the damage fossil fuels and their by-products can do externally, but because fossil fuels have aided and abetted the murder of that gorgeous internal faculty that can actually listen—and perhaps needs to listen—to the rhythms of nature, the seasons, our bodies, day and night.

In short, in some way, this progress has removed us from who we are, via another part of who we are: from Homo sapiens rhythmicus to Homo sapiens inventus or Homo sapiens extractus.

Shirley, we can be both. Stop calling me Shirley.

One can only re-inspire, re-engage and re-awaken these things back by one’s own belief, discipline, vigilance, love, association with these rhythms, internally and externally, and the grand question ‘Who are we?’

I mean ‘What are we?’

I mean ‘Why are we?’ etc.


What may the cost of losing rhythms, the cycles, be to how we work with (instead of against) the world that surrounds us, including our bodies? What may it be to the soil and its ongoing degradation? The perversion of the water cycle? To our fellow animal little sisters and brothers? For we are from, and are, those rhythms.

The full article is here.

Man, what a fabulous, inconceivable mystery we are. And speaking of sleep…

Lots of love to you, and beautiful sleep, and altered states of great revelation and joy, you Neanderthal, you.

Pete xoxo


Wednesday, March 25th, 2009

In this talk, anthropologist Wade Davis pours out the word as it pours through him: the worldwide web of belief and ritual. This is another great TED talk.

These myriad voices of humanity [wild and profound, often indigenous, cultures] are not failed attempts at being you [or me], at being modern. They are unique facets of the human imagination. They are unique answers to a fundamental question: what does it mean to be human and alive?

And when asked that question they respond with six thousand different voices. Collectively those human voices become our repertoire for dealing with the challenges that will confront us in the ensuing millenia.

Our industrial society is scarcely three hundred years old. That shallow history shouldn’t suggest to anyone that we have all of the answers for all of the questions that will confront us in the ensuing millenia.

The myriad voices of humanity are not failed attempts at being us. They are unique answers to that fundamental question: what does it mean to be human and alive?

And there is indeed a fire burning over the earth taking with it not only plants and animals, but the legacy of humanity’s brilliance.

Right now as we sit in this room, of those six thousand languages spoken the day you were born, fully half aren’t being taught to children. So you’re living through a time when virtually half of humanity’s intellectual, social and spiritual legacy is being allowed to slip away. This does not have to happen.

These peoples are not failed attempts at being modern, quaint and colourful, and destined to fade away as a financial law. In every case these are dynamic living peoples being driven out of existence by identifiable forces.

That’s actually an optimistic observation, because it suggests that if human beings are the agent of cultural destruction, we can also be, and must be, the facilitators of cultural survival.

And now I will go and wonder about the miracle of what it means to be human and alive in this stupendous, inconceivable, multi-layered, multi-dimensional world utterly imbued with timeless consciousness and unfathomable intelligence. And in the words of the Lakota Sioux: mitakuye oyasin (mi-tak-wee-ah-son)—we are all related.

Lots of love to you,

Pete xox

EVER-BLESSED IN INDIA: No slumdogs, no millionaires, just countless beautiful people

Wednesday, March 18th, 2009

I just posted a little video for a song called Wide Open—a video filmed on the Gulf Islands off the coast of Vancouver.

This video, for a song called Ever-blessed, is from footage I took while in South India in December of ’08 into January ’09. India is so much more than slumdogs and millionaires, my god. Not a good person was to be found in that Academy-Award winning film, save the resilient heroes. In my experience in India, we only found good, interesting, beautiful, colourful, hospitable, devoted, generous people—everywhere.

I don’t mean the opposite sort of people don’t exist there—of course they do—but you get my point.

We almost only found people who, regardless of their religion, got along—indeed, took pride in getting along. That is the deeper essence of Hinduism—that we are eternal, and where we have to be, and individual souls (atmas) on a journey. Therefore do not proselytize unless asked.

We met beautiful, emotional, resilient people who stand everyday in the wild, paradoxical madness and beauty of a timeless country, and live with great dignity against sometimes serious odds.

In Alleppey (in Kerala), for example, the rice farmers are right up against rising backwaters on the edge of the man-made banks—probably worsened by global warming. Their livelihood is threatened after thousands of years of cultivation. In many places mere inches of safety keep their houses from being washed away. Yet they carry on with unstoppable belief.

People—sisters and brothers, all atmas—were so open to my beloved and me. So much beauty: the people, the temperature, the urgency to support oneself, the resilience against the modern world and history, the colour, the pure veg food, the endless conversation with the divine (subtle, pleading, devotional, silent), the traditional music, sitars or flutes against a tabla back-drop. Transportive.

And the trip was deeply enriched by my affection for the Vedas, and Hindu metaphysics, and so much teaching from many sources, but in particular from six or seven years of yoga philosophy classes and kirtans with Jeffrey Armstrong (Kavindra Rishi).

Jeffrey, who lectures on the subject all over the world (he’s off to Holland tomorrow), is utterly addicted to the Vedas and a remarkable, unstoppable teacher and mentor. How much fun was it bringing that knowledge into conversation, meditation, and into temples?

In India, after meeting a man named Anantu who ran an organic farm, and was reading a book called The Quantum Enigma, which is the butting up of physics against consciousness, a famous line from quantum theory came to me, and with a few changes, seemed to sum up India:

“Anyone who thinks they understand India, doesn’t understand India.”

That resonates for human nature, and the human journey, too. What a ride. And what a beautiful time we had in south India.

I’ll write more about the trip and the shots in the video later, but for now, here’s a link to the video. I hope you like it.

Lots of love to you,

Pete xoxo

LIFE in the UNIVERSE: The Odds of Actually Being a Being, Here

Saturday, February 28th, 2009

I meant to put this paragraph in the little summary of Quantum Enigma, but somehow forgot. Random mistake, predestined? God knows.

Physicists Kuttner and Rosenblum write on page 198:

Though there is as yet no accepted theory for that minuscule split second before quarks and electrons came into existence, there are constraints on how the universe must have started.

To produce a universe resembling one in which we can live, the Big Bang had to be finely tuned. How finely? Theories vary.

According to one, if the initial conditions of the universe were chosen randomly, there would be one chance in 10 to the 120 (that’s one with 120 zeros after it) that the universe would be livable.

Cosmologist Roger Penrose has it vastly more unlikely: The exponent he suggests is 10 to the 123.

By any such estimate, the chance that a livable universe like ours would be created is far less than the chance of randomly picking a particular single atom out of all the atoms in the universe.

Can you accept odds like that as a coincidence?

Wow. That’s, ah, small. Why is it so hard for humans to tangibly feel those inconceivable odds? In other words, why don’t we walk around all day with a dumb smile on our face, just shaking are heads in wonder and breathing it all in and out, deeply?

Oh yeah, we have to work.

Then again, maybe the whole human aspect of religion/spirituality/mysticism/Theism is created by an undercurrent feeling of said mystery. These theories/emotions are natural superimpositions on our unlikely arrival.


Maybe not.

But man, I have to remember to love more, to be more love, to be more gracious, to have more gratitude. Oh I love ya!

Pete xox

QUANTUM ENIGMA would be NO ENIGMA to GREAT MYSTICS—Just Part of the Cosmic Dance of Consciousness

Thursday, February 26th, 2009

I finished reading Quantum Enigma: Physics Encounters Consciousness, by Bruce Rosenblum and Fred Kuttner. They did a great job, I think, admirably doing what they set out to do. The book is inspired, informative, courageous, and accessible to the lay person (moi). Their punch is measured but not pulled, and I appreciate their dilemma, let alone the enigma.

I know I’m seeing Quantum Theory through my own lens, but I can’t tell you how much it resonates with Eastern thought (Vedic—Hindu Metaphysics—in particular, with flashes of Buddhist mind (manas) stuff as well).

A few final (of many) great moments. From page 155:

Quantum mechanics forces us to accept that the Mechanistic Newtonian view of the world [and thus could you not throw in the genius of Darwin’s view, also?]—and the intuitions fostered by it—are fundamentally flawed

[I]t is also fascinating to explore what Nature seems to be telling us.

As [Physicist] John Bell [of Bell’s Theorem] says:

Is it not good to know what follows from what, even if it is not necessarily FAPP [“for all practical purposes”]?

By FAPP, they mean scientists being able to do quantum physics while ignoring the virtually undeniable confrontation of Quantum Theory and consciousness.

Bell goes on:

Suppose for example that quantum mechanics were found to resist precise formulation. Suppose that when formulation beyond FAPP is attempted, we find an unmovable finger obstinately pointing outside the subject, to the mind of the observer, to the Hindu scriptures, to God, or even only Gravitation [some paths in the Vedas would say Gravitation has consciousness, has beingness]? Would that not be very, very interesting?

Scientists with the courage to say such things are so inspiring.

And this monster from Niels Bohr:

[T]he apparent contrast between the continuous onward flow of associative thinking and the preservation of the unity of the personality exhibits a suggestive analogy with the relation between the wave description of the motions of material particles, governed by the superposition principle [let’s say in infinite places at the same time], and their indestructible individuality.

It is as if, with observation, we ‘collapse’ to individuality. Before that, we are infinite possibilities. And in fact, even as individuals we are infinite possibilities (don’t get me wrong, I have no idea what this means, either).

The Bengali 15th century Vaishnava mystic Caitanya (Shay-tanya) said this: “We are inconceivably, simultaneously, one [with everything, the Supreme] and different [distinctly individual].”

Rosenblum and Kuttner repeat over and over and unabashedly that (pg 201):

“…if you take quantum theory seriously beyond practical purposes, it has baffling implications. It tells us that physics’ encounter with consciousness, demonstrated for the small, applies to everything. And that “everything’ can include the entire universe.

Copernicus dethroned humanity from the cosmic center. Does quantum theory suggest that, in some mysterious sense, we are a cosmic center?”

They finish the book with, in my opinion, just the right, beautiful emotion (at least for me!).

Most physicists will dismiss the creation of reality by observation as having no significance beyond the limited domain of the physics of microscopic entities. Others will argue that nature is telling us something, and we should listen.

Our own feelings accord with Schrodinger’s:

“The urge to find a way out of this impasse ought not to be dampened by the fear of incurring the wise rationalist’s mockery.”

Man, I love that. I’ll keep that in my heart, Dr Dawkins—whose greatness is not denied.

When experts disagree, you may choose your expert. Since the quantum enigma arises in the simplest quantum experiment, its essence can be fully comprehended with little technical background. Nonexperts can therefore come to their own conclusions. We hope yours, like ours, are tentative.

There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.

—Shakespeare, Hamlet

I loved this stuff, this book—and their honesty and intellectual courage. And I love to be in awe—as the “real” world spins crazily into a black hole bail-out—at the wonder and mystery of it all, love, consciousness, me, you, us.

Time for dream sleep. Lots of love,

Pete xox


Tuesday, February 24th, 2009

I can’t express how much I agree with the following article called Yoga piracy: India shows who’s the guru:

India is going all out to save yoga—a 2,000-year-old art of righteous living, from western pirates.

Instances of self-styled yoga gurus claiming copyrights to ancient ‘asanas’, especially from the West, is now becoming rampant.

This has made 200 scientists and researchers from the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and Union health ministry’s department of Ayush join hands to put on record all known yoga postures and techniques that originated in India.

You would have thought centuries of colonization would have been enough filling of the coffers. Maybe the West is subconsciously bitter they didn’t bludgeon to death the indigenous culture of India altogether—alas, not by a long shot.

You’ll recall that after America invaded Vietnam, the result being 3.4 million deaths in Indochina according to Robert McNamara, and the war finally came to an end, America shortly thereafter imposed a decades-long embargo on that country—evidently for defending themselves.

Similarly, for democratically electing the ‘wrong’ government in Palestine, civilians have been murdered en masse, brutalized ad nauseum, and collectively punished ad infinitum. And this is not an apologetic for their own extremist, and extremely mad leaders.

Just a little solidarity for my sisters and brothers.

But back to beautiful yoga (and more of my sisters and brothers), it must be doubly annoying to Indians and real yogis everywhere when they see Indian ex-pats also copyrighting ‘yoga’ (ie Bikram etc).

Call me Yogi Barely, but that’s got to be bad karma.

We’ll end up having to send a donation for doing a back bend. What about variations on namaste? Are those up for grabs, too?

This should be called Bechtel Yoga. The Bechtel Corporation, for the record, pushed hard to own all the water in Bolivia—even the right to collect rainwater. In return, Bechtel finally got ran out of the country by enraged campesinos, and the first ever indigenous leader, Eva Morales, was elected.

McDownward Dog, anyone?

I’ve got to say, the sight of McDonalds in Bangalore disgusted me. Actually, it disgusts me everywhere else, too. Why isn’t it illegal to simultaneously torture animals, mistreat workers and poison children? Maybe when they’re all together they cancel each other out.

I think the final lines of the Yoga article are wonderfully conclusive:

Experts say yoga has become a $225 billion market in the West, leading to foreign quack yoga instructors claiming patents over `asanas’ at random. Nearly 16.5 million Americans practice yoga and spend about $3 billion a year on yoga classes.

What a world. You know, the asanas make a person more flexible, but a true yogi will only bend so much before, well, let me quote the Bhagavad Gita (4:42): “Armed with yoga, stand and fight.”

The full article is here.

Jai yoga! Vasudaiva Kutumbakam, lots of love, keep the breath calm,

Pete xoxo


Tuesday, February 3rd, 2009

I actually wrote a decent sized essay recently, in an effort to not be a total and useless knob while trying to explain the mysteries of Quantum Theory to my perfectly lovely, recently turned 16-year-old, niece.

Heck, Quantum Theory is a mystery—a counter-intuitive, science-tested meditation that forces an honest person to question so much of how we believe the material world actually works—and in that sense, who and what we are. And who am I kidding? I’m trying to explain it to her to explain it to me, and you know how that goes.

I must say it can’t be easy being an honest scientist these days, either. The relentless drive, through scientific experiment, to support the idea of a purely mechanistic universe has led to not only a vision of a world more mysterious than we’d imagined, but perhaps more mysterious than we can imagine, to quote an old physicist.

The piece is called QUANTUM THEORY AND SIXTEEN TRIPS AROUND THE SUN, in which we talk about Aristotle, Einstein, consciousness, asymmetrical balls, the Pope’s undergarments, Newton, entanglement, breakfast burritos, vegetarian-eating Frenchmen, Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle and a few things about the Theory itself—like how only the observation of the theory makes it, or anything else, real, according to a bunch of nerdy physicists who were yogi renunciates in a past life.

It’s all here—and more darn fun than lawn darts!

Anyway, it’s for my niece, but I thought you might like it. I’ll probably change bits over the next few days. I always do. Any extrapolations, ideas or corrections are always exciting.

Hope all else is shining and good. Lots of love to you,


SOUL SURVIVAL: Yes, a little poem on the dream of being

Thursday, November 6th, 2008


I’ve hardly seen a soul survive
To live as if fully alive
To break the walls we think we are
To go within endlessly far
To push beyond conditioned life
To stand above both joy and strife
To serve oneself by serving others
And see only sisters and brothers

RICHARD DAWKINS on the queerness, as it were, of the Universe

Friday, October 31st, 2008

I joke, because Taoists and Tantrics (and the Vedantists, in some paths) sometimes suggest the Universe unfolded and unfolds from the eternal embrace of yin and yang, Shiva and Shakti, the male and female principle in ongoing sexual embrace.

Two quotes, with which I feel a warm kinship (if one can feel kinship with a quote):

The inimitable Richard Feynman:

“I think I can safely say that nobody understands Quantum Mechanics.”

And from Sir Arthur Eddington:

“Not only is the universe stranger than we imagine, it is stranger than we can imagine.”

Anyway, I so enjoyed this inspired and funny talk from legendary evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins.

I found his “…we are evolved denizens of middle world and that limits what we are capable of imagining…” wonderfully provocative, exciting, and begs infinite questions. In fact, using both scientific equipment, as he knows, of course (and, brace yourself, even deep contemplation from, yes, millenia past—I can provide examples!), we have imagined much beyond this middle world, but his point is well taken.

Dawkins’ talk for me, I must confess (and forgive me, ye savage non-poets), is mystical in its passion and information.

He asks:

“Could we by training and practice emancipate ourselves from middle world, and achieve some sort of intuitive—as well as mathematical—understanding of the very small and the very large? I genuinely don’t know the answer…”

The talk, another of the brilliant TED talks, is here.

Lots of love, and an old chestnut, Wide Open.

Pete xo