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COVID19 as Shabbat March 13, 2020

Filed under: Arts,Resilience Solutions — BrujaHa @ 10:07 am
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isolation wizard
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A wise friend of mine, Lynn Ungar, wrote this magnificent poem about the current COVID-19 situation.
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I love her perspective and thought you might enjoy it too. To me, these words are like medicine, and with no need to do insurance paperwork to get it. There is often a gift carried with the wound, which can be had if we only change perspective to find it.
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This poem also reminds me of the something writer Anne Lamott once said:
“Almost everything will work again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.”
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Pandemic

What if you thought of it
as the Jews consider the Sabbath—
the most sacred of times?
Cease from travel.
Cease from buying and selling.
Give up, just for now,
on trying to make the world
different than it is.
Sing. Pray. Touch only those
to whom you commit your life.
Center down.

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And when your body has become still,
reach out with your heart.
Know that we are connected
in ways that are terrifying and beautiful.
(You could hardly deny it now.)
Know that our lives
are in one another’s hands.
(Surely, that has come clear.)
Do not reach out your hands.
Reach out your heart.
Reach out your words.
Reach out all the tendrils
of compassion that move, invisibly,
where we cannot touch.

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Promise this world your love–
for better or for worse,
in sickness and in health,
so long as we all shall live.

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Lynn Ungar,  3/11/20

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And then one of my grad students wrote the following.  I love this too, as it ties together traditional Chinese medicine  with current events, thereby reminding us humans of our vital inter-being with the living Earth, our larger body.
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A Thought on Coronavirus

by Andrew Somps

There exists a curious and poignant connection between the way in which this new virus targets the lungs and an ancient theory of traditional Chinese medicine which sees the lungs as the organs that house feelings of grief.

Given such a connection, one might begin to imagine how Coronavirus could be the earth’s way of nudging the world’s citizens to turn inward and grieve for the quite unprecedented disconnection that exists between modern, industrial society and the natural world…and the resulting loss of the body’s felt sense of home in a world desperate for healing.

That something so small and invisible can do what it’s doing serves as a terribly beautiful reminder of the fact that the individual body and the life of the earth are inseparably bound to each other, that we are all bound to each other.

I offer this connection between grief and Coronavirus to stir the imagination and bring reflection to something that seems hellbent on only inducing panic.

As the world puts on the brakes, we too are called into stillness and silence. Perhaps, hopefully, into grief as well…where grief is anything but a strictly personal emotion, but rather is world-oriented, living in the potential of every cell of the body to feel pain on behalf of the world and thereby gradually redeveloping a sense for what is essential.”

 

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Finally, even if we should limit contact with each other as physical human beings for awhile, this does not apply to contact with other-than-human beings or nature at large.

As Tom Fleischner of Arizona’s Natural History Institute recently remarked, “Immersion in nature can boost human immune systems and provide many other health benefits.  We encourage you to get outside and connect with the more-than-human world: practicing natural history, now more than ever, is good for you.” 

 

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NOTES:  
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Lynn Ungar‘s poetry and more can be found at lynnungar.com
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The wizard meme above was made by Rob Brezny. If you aren’t yet familiar with his humorous and deeply philosophical astrology column, hie thy eyes to any syndicated publication or https://freewillastrology.com
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Anne Lamott‘s wonderful quote I got on social media a long while back; it was part of a longer list she created, so I unfortunately can’t provide a proper citation. If you know what publication it’s in, please tell us in the Comments below. Thanks!
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Tech note: For some bizarre reason, WordPress won’t make proper spacing for this post unless I stick something like these stars in-between the lines. It just all melds together in a sort of word blob. Sheesh. Simple-fix advice is always welcome.
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What my students learned this semester December 6, 2015

Unknown

Start paying attention

The difference between me and you (or anything, for that matter)

is the thought that creates that reality.

 

I need to be radical in my love, my thoughts, my actions, my acceptance and surrender – to get to the root,

the seat of life and growth, which is the seat of quintessence.

That’s where i want to be.

 

[What I’ve learned has been] both extremely helpful and devastating:

How unconscious most humans are, but that it can change!

I uncovered some of my own self-defenses that keep me from action.

The application of psychoanalytical theories to understand the great complexity of our environmental situation.

I developed more clarity and compassion, for myself and others

Context for the madness

A lot less anger

At once, I feel the urgency to act and the need to be patient and not act forcefully

To learn to live with and through the earth, not just on her

Gratitude that I owe to my family

 

Humans’ connection with nature

A sense of oneness

Enmeshment within the natural world

Being an integral part of the macro interdependent-system that feels itself, knows itself, and heals itself

Ecological identity

This has forever changed my life

 

I look at all that is around me a little differently now.

Knowing it is all of the earth, and perhaps more importantly that it will go back to the earth, changes the way I operate in my days.

 

This sense was deepened and became more embodied

An exchange in breath: as the plant was breathing out, I was breathing in

Increase my awareness and widen my perception

Eventually feeling the reciprocal awareness of nature

How incredible these realizations have been for me.

 

Awakening has been the most beautiful process I’ve ever endured.

Thank you Earth!

Healing source

Never ending story

 

These are the truths that have become my mantras from being absorbed in ecopsychological concepts.

These are incredible supports that I rely on when feeling distressed, confused, and at times, hopeless.

 

I will continue to live mindfully in respect to nature.

Being conscious about what I purchase, what I waste, how and what I eat etc.

“No matter how big you get, don’t forget to take out your own trash.”

 

So grateful to walk this path with you

and share what I can with whoever will listen.

A challenging(!), engaging, deepening, fulfilling and respectful round of studies

I’m so grateful to be receiving wisdom

Like candy for my soul.

 

I bow out to a transformative journey

I and the moon bow in thanks

Your wisdom and beautiful hearts

 

Just bloom.

 

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These words are from first-year students’ final self-reflections on their learning in my Ecopsychology class, part of Naropa University’s M.A. program in Ecopsychology, early December 2015

collated into a poem by professor Tina Fields

I composed this as a gift back to them, a lens on what happens in this program, and a reflection for teachers to turn to when times at work get rough. To help us remember that what we do matters.

Students whose words are in here: Katie Poinier, Thompson Bishop, Melanie Gajewski, Colleen Kirkpatrick,  Karen Delahunty, Lauren Mangion, Anne Gordon, Sierra Robinson, Erika Dearen, Bekah Turner, Tessa Stuart and Jakob Ledbetter.

I am extraordinarily fortunate as a teacher, so often getting to feel awe at the depth of my students’ thoughtful engagement with their learning, their passionate desire to care for the planet, and most of all, their souls.

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Happy Pi Day! March 14, 2015

Filed under: Spiritual Ecopsychology — BrujaHa @ 3:46 pm
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Happy Pi day!

As you likely know, pi (π) is a mathematical constant found in all circles. Perhaps you remember the old joke from geometry class: “πR2? No, pie are round.” (Hardy-har.) Since pi’s decimal expansion starts off 3.14… and today’s date is 3/14, it’s the perfect day to celebrate Pi and to feel wonder at the mathematically amazing world we get to live in. 

Taking Pi’s numerical sequence further, we get the exact moment of 9:26 today. If you missed it this morning, take advantage of the 12-hour clock option and nab another chance this evening to eat cosmic pi.

Perhaps you, like me, tend more toward greater skills in the arts or humanities than in mathematics. Well, you need not be left out. Here’s a super nerdy-cool thing to do: play with the connection between math and poems by trying to write a “PIEM” – that is, a poem where the number of letters in each word yields the sequence of pi’s digits. 

This really exists!  Cadaeic.net tells us how to write in “Pilish”:

“The idea of writing a sentence (or longer piece of poetry or prose) in which the lengths of successive words represent the digits of the number π (=3.14159265358979…) has been around since the early 1900’s. One of the earliest and most well-known examples is the following sentence, believed to have been composed by the English physicist Sir James Jeans:

“How I need a drink, alcoholic in nature, after the heavy lectures involving quantum mechanics!
The first word in this sentence has 3 letters, the next word 1 letter, the next word 4 letters, and so on, following the first fifteen digits of the number π.”

Two longer examples of poetic Pilish offered by mathematician Nick Yates are Near a Raven, Mike Keith’s retelling of a poem by none other than Edgar Allen Poe (written in the more forgiving form known as “standard Pilish”), and this century-old piem

Yates also shared a recording of the sound of pi (this one uses pi in base 12 to match up with the chromatic scale). How cool is that?

Finally, you can play with your mathematical food visually as well. Look at this gorgeous example of secret geometry based on circles.

From the blog World Mysteries

 

Photo (c) Kenneth Vincent

 Pi can be found everywhere!

If you want to get it down to the second, celebrate Pi Day exactly at 3.141592653589793238462643383279.

The universe is full of so many wonders. What’s your favorite kind of pi?

Pi pie image nabbed from lbtimes.co.uk 

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More Sources

Pi mandala image (c) David Reimannn, found here

See more math wizardry from Nick Yates at nyates314.wordpress.com

 

Grist for the Mill August 15, 2014

Grist Mills*

(Reframe to stay AWAKE)

Not a pain in the ass,

not annoying miscommunication over incessant email,

not a nasty fight with stepfamily over money,

not a frightening illness,

not losing dear friends far too young, with yet more in the pipeline out; sadness unending,

not a super flattering compliment that makes me feel good

and could inflate my ego like a balloon:

Just more grist for the mill of enlightenment, baby,

Grist for the mill.

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5:20 AM, another farewell July 17, 2014

Filed under: Adventures,Animism — BrujaHa @ 1:41 pm
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Stars

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5:20 am

 

Another dear friend

lost to this world

 

Her last message to me,

with a continent between us, was,

 

“Can’t talk right now: I’m on my way.”

 

Did she confuse me with someone else?

Or was there a deeper meaning?

 

Just in case, I’m paying attention;

watching for

yet another familiar pair of eyes

looking back at me

when I gaze up at the stars at night.

 

 

 

 

Farewell, Pete – and thanks January 28, 2014

Filed under: Announcements,Arts,Singing — BrujaHa @ 10:50 am
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Pete Seeger's banjo

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“To my old brown earth, and to my old blue sky
I now give these last few molecules of ‘I;’
And you who weep, and you who stand nearby,
I do charge you not to cry:
Guard well our human chain–
Watch well you keep it strong
As long as sun will shine.
And this, our home, keep pure and sweet and green,
For now I’m yours, and you are also mine.”

—Pete Seeger

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Pete Seeger young singout

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R.I.P. and deep thanks to our elder Pete Seeger, who just passed on at age 94, in late January of 2014. They say he was chopping wood just 10 days before he died.

Pete Seeger wielded folk music as a guerrilla tool to create a better world. His legacy spreads around campfires and along picket lines still, and on the sloop Clearwater (where a number of my students did environmental education internships). His powerful banjo inscription: “This machine surrounds hate and forces it to surrender,” is, in my opinion, a sign of wisdom, showing a way to make deep and lasting change from a place of positive, inviting joy rather than from angry confrontation.

What an example of a life well lived.

Sing on, sir – sing on.  And we will too.

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pete seeger walking banjo rr

 

Crush Their Butts June 1, 2011

 Following is one of my favorite poems. It was written by Gary Snyder at a Sierra Club wilderness conference in 1969, and depicts our favorite bear in jeans and ranger hat as the reincarnated Virocana Buddha.

Despite the problematics of putting out forest fires that might actually be beneficial, Smokey remains a powerful character in the American imagination. The poem came to my mind this morning after listening to the news. Oy, do we need this bear and his vajra-shovel now.


Smokey the Bear Sutra

by Gary Snyder

Once in the Jurassic about 150 million years ago, the Great Sun Buddha in this corner of the Infinite Void gave a Discourse to all the assembled elements and energies: to the standing beings, the walking beings, the flying beings, and the sitting beings — even grasses, to the number of thirteen billions, each one born from a seed, assembled there: a Discourse concerning Enlightenment on the planet Earth.

“In some future time, there will be a continent called America. It will have great centers of power called such as Pyramid Lake, Walden Pond, Mt. Rainier, Big Sur, Everglades, and so forth; and powerful nerves and channels such as Columbia River, Mississippi River, and Grand Canyon. The human race in that era will get into troubles all over its head, and practically wreck everything in spite of its own strong intelligent Buddha-nature.”

“The twisting strata of the great mountains and the pulsings of volcanoes are my love burning deep in the earth. My obstinate compassion is schist and basalt and granite, to be mountains, to bring down the rain. In that future American Era I shall enter a new form; to cure the world of loveless knowledge that seeks with blind hunger: and mindless rage eating food that will not fill it.”

And he showed himself in his true form of

SMOKEY THE BEAR

  • A handsome smokey-colored brown bear standing on his hind legs, showing that he is aroused and watchful.
  • Bearing in his right paw the Shovel that digs to the truth beneath appearances; cuts the roots of useless attachments, and flings damp sand on the fires of greed and war;
  • His left paw in the Mudra of Comradely Display — indicating that all creatures have the full right to live to their limits and that deer, rabbits, chipmunks, snakes, dandelions, and lizards all grow in the realm of the Dharma;
  • Wearing the blue work overalls symbolic of slaves and laborers, the countless men oppressed by a civilization that claims to save but often destroys;
  • Wearing the broad-brimmed hat of the West, symbolic of the forces that guard the Wilderness, which is the Natural State of the Dharma and the True Path of man on earth: all true paths lead through mountains—
  • With a halo of smoke and flame behind, the forest fires of the kali-yuga, fires caused by the stupidity of those who think things can be gained and lost whereas in truth all is contained vast and free in the Blue Sky and Green Earth of One Mind;
  • Round-bellied to show his kind nature and that the great earth has food enough for everyone who loves her and trusts her;
  • Trampling underfoot wasteful freeways and needless suburbs; smashing the worms of capitalism and totalitarianism;
  • Indicating the Task: his followers, becoming free of cars, houses, canned foods, universities, and shoes; master the Three Mysteries of their own Body, Speech, and Mind; and fearlessly chop down the rotten trees and prune out the sick limbs of this country America and then burn the leftover trash.

Wrathful but Calm. Austere but Comic. Smokey the Bear will Illuminate those who would help him; but for those who would hinder or slander him,

HE WILL PUT THEM OUT.

Thus his great Mantra:

Namah samanta vajranam chanda maharoshana Sphataya hum traka ham nam

“I DEDICATE MYSELF TO THE UNIVERSAL DIAMOND. BE THIS RAGING FURY DESTROYED”

And he will protect those who love woods and rivers, Gods and animals, hobos and madmen, prisoners and sick people, musicians, playful women, and hopeful children.

And if anyone is threatened by advertising, air pollution, television, or the police, they should chant SMOKEY THE BEAR’S WAR SPELL:

DROWN THEIR BUTTS CRUSH THEIR BUTTS DROWN THEIR BUTTS CRUSH THEIR BUTTS

And SMOKEY THE BEAR will surely appear to put the enemy out with his vajra-shovel.

  • Now those who recite this Sutra and then try to put it in practice willl accumulate merit as countless as the sands of Arizona and Nevada.
  • Will help save the planet Earth from total oil slick.
  • Will enter the age of harmony of man and nature.
  • Will win the tender love and caresses of men, women, and beasts.
  • Will always have ripe blackberries to eat and a sunny spot under a pine tree to sit at.
  • AND IN THE END WILL WIN HIGHEST PERFECT ENLIGHTENMENT.

thus have we heard.

(may be reproduced free forever)

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