There is a sufficiency in the world for man’s need but not for man’s greed.
—Mohandas K. (Mahatma) Gandhi

Mahatma means great (maha) soul (atma)—one who sees a bigger picture, all souls as sisters and brothers. Now that’s inspiration.


I’m on a blogging panel on Friday and yet I’ve had no time to write on this blog.

In a comment, my friend Tim (co-directed Hope In The Time of AIDS with me) wrote:

No blog posts for Pete in 4 days…something big must be brewing!!

I hope hope he’s right.

As for the film I’m directing called Facing Ali, I’ve been heavily researching the endlessly fascinating 1960s and 70s, and history as it unfolded in juxtaposition to Muhammad Ali’s journey—from Cassius Clay to heavyweight champion, to a friendship with Malcolm X, to joining the segregationist Nation of Islam under Elijah Muhammad, to refusing to go to war in Vietnam and so on.

Extraordinary times—just as these times are extraordinary.

Just think about the utter incomprehensibility of being alive, being born where you were born, of existing. And then consider the incomprehensibility of how it could be (or not be) any other way. Woo.


A couple of quotes I read recently—the first one bouncing off Chomsky’s inherent suspicion of leaders, where he says we don’t need leaders—in fact run when you hear the term—in a true democracy we would have representatives.

A not so subtle distinction that should be kept in mind.

Eugene V. Debs (who was sentenced to ten years in prison for being against the brutal carnage of World War I) writes:

I never had much faith in leaders.

I am willing to be charged with almost anything, rather than to be charged with being a leader. I am suspicious of leaders, and especially of the intellectual variety. Give me the rank and file every day in the week.

If you go to the city of Washington, and you examine the pages of the Congressional Directory, you will find that almost all of those corporation lawyers and cowardly politicians, members of Congress, and mis-representatives of the masses—you will find that almost all of them claim, in glowing terms, that they have risen from the ranks to places of eminence and distinction.

I am very glad I cannot make that claim for myself. I would be ashamed to admit that I had risen from the ranks. When I rise it will be with the ranks, and not from the ranks.

And a comment from Thomas Jefferson, who is always touted as being a great democrat.

A democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where fifty-one percent of the people may take away the rights of the other forty-nine.

That’s some food for thought.

All I can say is, assuming your intentions are good, be yourself as much as possible, and inform yourself with edifying information as much as possible. My friend and Vedic scholar and teacher Jeffrey Armstrong has said that:

Ego expands to fill the space not filled by knowledge.

Go forward with your heart’s intention, your action as clear as possible, and strive in greatness to do so with ahimsa (cause no harm). We are remarkably temporary here (at least in some undeniable way), which makes seeing everybody as sisters and brothers, and choosing love in every action (with discernment) the richest of choices.

I’m feeling so grateful for this time, this life, and trying to love all my sisters and brothers,


And here’s a link to a video of a song of mine I recently put together, called “What’s Going Down.” That’s my grandmother talking off the top, when she was 97. She died in 1999 at the age of 101.

Oh, here she is again, at the beginning of this tiny little ditty called Orangutan from way back in the early ’90s. I just love her laugh.

She lived through poverty, two World Wars, the depression, two dead husbands, her mom and her brother leaving for good when she was very little, and immigrating to Canada at eighty.



  1. Karen says:

    Hi Pete,

    The 60s and 70s were an amazing time to come of age. Everything was in flux. Family, political, sexual, and educational values, as well as racial tolerance, were changing at an incredible rate. I grew up immersed in the political and social upheaval, in a big family where no topic was off limits for discussion and those discussions were (are) usually noisy and passionate. But if you grew up at that time, that’s just the way it was. Maybe that explains the twitch (just kidding).

    I have a copy of an interesting piece of history from the 60s, which I received from a history professor/historian/author I know. A few years ago he remembered attending a speech given by Dr. Martin Luther King. He checked the archives at the university Dr. King spoke at, but they had no record of it. He was sure about his recollection, so being friends with the archivist from the time of the speech, he asked and his friend still had a copy. The professor started listening to it on his way home and had to pull over when he realized he was listening to one of only a few copies of an expanded version of the “I Have a Dream” speech. It’s substantially longer than the speech on the Mall and utterly amazing.

    Thank you for the reminder to go forward with your heart’s intention. Ahimsa means “cause no harm,” but is there a word in Sanskrit meaning “prevent harm”? That might be more appropriate in our case. The past 18 months have been very difficult for us and we’ve doubted ourselves many times, especially these last few days. We should not have.

    And god, your grandmother had me from the first time I heard “Orangutan.” Her voice never fails to make me smile. Sounds like she was an extraordinary woman and you pretty lucky to be her grandson.

    Love to you,

    P.S. Thought you should know that on the Windows platform, your calendar is a blank space. But a nicely copyrighted blank space. KB

  2. Hey K,

    I didn’t see this wonderful note for awhile. When you mentioned the twitch, I couldn’t help but think of Inspector Clouseau’s boss in the Pink Panther, getting more and more twitches.

    That’s a wonderful bit of history with MLK. If you look at the video I did for that song of mine, “What’s Going Down,” the image of MLK towards the end is his last speech.

    I am reminded by what you have written there, that these speeches are not spontaneous. They are worked and reworked, and delivered as natural. Quite a skill.

    Yes, I love to remember ahimsa as best I can, with limited ability, with whatever I do, talking, walking, writing.

    There is sort of a term for preventing harm, too. In a sense it’s dharma. Not precisely, but the Bhagavad Gita (as section from the Indian epic called the Mahabharata) finds the great and wise warrior Arjuna talking to Krishna (his best friend and the Supreme Being—what a stroke of luck!) about being depressed because he doesn’t want to fight in the war because people will die, some of his opponents are related, his teachers etc.

    Well, the point of the war is to “restore dharma”—universal dharma. In this sense it means to bring life back to the balance point (the Vishnu point), where life is most beautifully maintained—where life is best for the largest possible amount of people. Sustainable, if you will.

    The point is, sometimes you have to fight in life if dharma is being threatened. The standard dharma for warriors, kshatriyas in Sanskrit, for example, should be the protection of women and children and the elderly and the thinkers etc at all costs.

    So one of the famous lines in the Bhagavad Gita, that also makes me smile, because yoga is so much sweeter than carrying small weapons, is: “Armed with yoga, stand and fight.”

    And yoga, and balance, and dharma and so forth, is to understand that sometimes we’re in a fight, sometimes we have to protect, but to remain steady while doing it.

    To remain equanimous with both good and bad moments because good and bad moments are inevitable and ongoing. They are literally the condition of being alive.

    That is why doing a pose in yoga, an asana, is simply a practice, a metaphor, for standing in the turbulences of life. That is why doing yoga, you stand in a difficult or awkward position, while maintaining a smooth flow of the breath and not straining, and being as balanced as possible all the while.

    This is both preparing oneself for meditation, and for standing in the world, which for one that practices enough, can become one and the same!

    That’s a little bit about preventing harm. Doing what’s right with equanimity, with understanding, while watching the breath, he said, exhaling.

    And thanks for the sweet words about my grandmother, my Nana. She was a beautiful firecracker, indeed. I love that laugh of hers on Orangutan, too.

    And the calendar, yes, well…I start an idea and then have a dozen other commitments. The blank state has something to do with being “Wide Open”!

    Sending you and yours lots of love,

    Pete xo

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