Category Archives: Whatchamacalit

Logos and Separation

We need another and a wiser and perhaps a more mystical concept of wild animals.  Remote from universal nature, and living by complicated artifice, man in civilization surveys the creatures through the glass of his knowledge and sees thereby a feather magnified and the whole image in distortion.  We patronize them for their incompleteness, for their tragic fate for having taken a form so far below ourselves.  And therein we err, greatly err.  For the animal shall not be measured by man.  In a world older and more complete than ours they move finished and complete, gifted with extensions of the senses we have lost or never attained, living by voices we shall never hear.  They are not brethren, they are not underlings; they are other nations, caught with ourselves in the net of life and time, fellow prisoners of the splendour and the travail of the earth.

-Henry Beston, The Outermost House, as cited by Karsten Heuer in Being Caribou: Five Months on Foot with an Arctic Herd, p. 10

In the “complicated artifice” of immured, urban life, I often experience the living world of the animals, plants and minerals in the tundras, deserts, mountains, rivers, lakes, forests, caves and oceans like a ghost-appendage, like a part of me that I can’t shake the awareness of, though I live in a fast-moving, technologically driven human ‘nation’ that has severed itself from these other nations both in habitat and in consciousness.

The influential philosophical writings of the ancient Greeks, particularly of Aristotle, conveyed down to us through innumerable refracted lenses in the post-classical tradition the notion that human beings are superior to the animal kingdom as a result of their unique possession of ‘logos’, or the capacity to reason.  Aristotle took this analogy even further, to suggest that just as domestic animals’ benefit’ from their domination by human beings, so do women and slaves ‘benefit’ by being ruled by free men.  Aristotle’s writings supplied the European and early American slave-traders and slave-owners of the 17th-19th centuries with canonical arguments for racialized, chattel slavery.

What comes of the persistent human belief in separation?  Our human history is littered with exemplum upon exemplum of the tragic consequences of this belief.

Mindfulness practices provide an antidote.  They help us to reestablish connections with each other and with other nations.  They help us to really feel and grieve expressions of separation, to have compassion for them, and to heal the rifts through loving kindness and equanimity.  They help us to attune to the earth with new or regained senses.


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The Year of a Thousand Cranes

It has been some time since I’ve sat down to write a blog post, and I confess that the greatest reason is that I have spent all my spare time in the last few months planning our D.I.Y. wedding. My partner and I at long last had a beautiful wedding ceremony in a rustic state park in the heart of Virginia’s Cumberland forest. Friends and family surrounded us as we offered blessings and khatags to each other and spoke the following vows:

Do you pledge to help each other to cultivate compassion, patience, and wisdom in all the seasons of life?


Do you pledge to see all circumstances as opportunities to grow, to open your hearts, to accept yourselves, and each other and to generate compassion?


Do you pledge to honor the mystery of each other, even as you seek to understand yourselves, each other, and all living beings?


Do you pledge to examine your own minds continually and to regard all the mysteries of life with curiosity and joy?


Do you pledge to preserve and enrich your affection for each other, and to share it with other beings?


Do you pledge to take the loving feelings you have for one another and your vision of each other’s potential and inner beauty as an example and to radiate this love outwards?


Do you pledge to remember the disadvantages of fear, anger, judgment and clinging attachment, and to apply antidotes when these arise in your minds?

Do you pledge to support each other and help each other deepen the other’s experience of the Tao, holding in your awareness that all things and beings are empty of a separate existence?


Do you pledge to continually return to the awareness of your own Buddha nature and the Buddha nature of all beings?


Do you pledge to continually return to the awareness that all things are impermanent?


Do you pledge to allow this awareness of the impermanence of all things to help you achieve your greatest potential and lasting happiness?


The Japanese tradition of Senbazuru, or the making of a thousand origami paper cranes, is said to bring the maker of them eternal good luck and a blessing or wish come to pass. And, so, I embark for the remainder of the year on making a thousand paper cranes with the intention of inviting the blessing that I may every day remember my vows and remember who I was on that day–a true being connected to every other being by the purest of love–a girl with her heart blown wide open with love and gratitude.


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Prayer in a Contentious Political Climate

May I surrender the struggle to change myself and others.

May I surrender Frustration and Anxiety as Expressions of the Persistent Belief in Separation.

May I rest in the awareness that I Am

and That All Beings Are Worthy of Celebration

and that my Being and Your Being are Empty of Separation from Each Other.

May I understand that Doing does not perfect Being

Any more than Not Doing Makes Being Imperfect.

May I Be Witness to Attack Thoughts as they Arise

And as They Fall Away,

Resting in the Awareness

That I am Not my Thoughts

And Neither are You.



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There is Peace in Yielding

Return to the movement of the Tao.
Yielding is the Way of the Tao.

Tao Te Ching 40, tr. by Stephen Mitchell

I could see peace instead of this.

A Course in Miracles, Lesson 34.

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Thank You for the One Lovely Blog Award

Thank you to both Arjuna of The Wondrous Dharmma and Yaz of Free Your Mind for nominating Zen Being for the One Lovely Blog Award.   I really love both of their thought-provoking blogs for very different reasons.  And, I appreciate these awards–not so much for the award itself (though I am honored), but rather for the opportunity to share with other readers blogs they may not have encountered before.   And, so, in no particular order, I pass on nominations for the One Lovely Blog Award to:

Fierce Buddhist

I Stop for Suffering

Donkey Whisperer Farm Blog (from one animal lover to another!)

Worldly Winds

Julie Hansen Intuitive

Pocket Perspectives

Through the Healing Lens

Recovery Through my Lens

I know that many bloggers do not accept awards. For those of you who do not, please just accept my appreciation for all you do.

Peace and love,



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After the Palace Burns (a villanelle)

This seedling has a secret life, untold

by sparrows sleeping softly in its ear.

This one small thing is heaven, shaking, bold,


its mossy buds recalcitrant to cold

and shadowing a blue-veined, faint frontier.

This seedling has a secret life, untold;


its frozen limbs a glassy world uphold–

as if all life should be this tight, this clear–

for this small thing is heaven, shaking, bold.


What wind could all its universe unfold!

Perhaps it takes a stranger who can hear

this seedling in its secret life, untold,


its sightless face emerging from the mold,

its features worn away into a smear

of my small piece of heaven, shaking, bold.


A palace burnt and all the gardens sold,

though God’s address is anywhere but here,

this seedling has a secret life, untold;

this one small thing is heaven, shaking, bold.

-Jennifer Anna Gosetti-Ferencei, After the Palace Burns. Zoo Press, 2003.


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What a Gem–another insightful post by Gems of Delight. Enjoy!

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On Emptiness

Empty your mind of all thoughts.
Let your heart be at peace.
Watch the turmoil of beings,
but contemplate their return.

Each separate being in the universe
returns to the common source.
Returning to the source is serenity.

If you don’t realize the source,
you stumble in confusion and sorrow.
When you realize where you come from,
you naturally become tolerant,
disinterested, amused,
kindhearted as a grandmother,
dignified as a king.
Immersed in the wonder of the Tao,
you can deal with whatever life brings you,
and when death comes, you are ready.

-from the Tao Te Ching by Lao-tzu (tr. by S. Mitchell)


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Going Within and Coming Back Out

Last week, my partner and I took a back-country camping trip into the heart of Adirondacks’ West Canada Lakes Wilderness.  For five days, we were surrounded by pine, spruce and hardwood, felled trees disintegrating into forest floor, a pristine lake with a beaver dam about 100 yards from our tent, whole micro-ecosystems living out their destinies in small pools and ravines, mountains blanketed with morning mist, and all manner of living creatures carrying out their quotidian acts of survival.  A huge electrical storm swept through one night, with impressive cloud to ground lightening and raucous thunder peeling out in the magnificent stretch of sky.  Billions of stars lit up the cool night sky afterwards.

It took a little while to shed the layers of civilization that we carried into this landscape, but after a day or two, we noticed ourselves becoming more and more at one with the pace of life  as we breathed in and out the incredible energy that enervated all life in one of the most wild places left on the East Coast of the U.S.  It occurred to us how easily we could peel away so many of the so-called “conveniences” of life that actually make life so much more complicated.

No computers, no cell phones, no running water, no air conditioning, no oven, no restaurants, no running this or that errand, no checking bank accounts and paying bills, no making this deal or going to that meeting, no strategic planning, no profit-forecasts, no microwaves that kill food, no electrical wires, no eerily flickering TV’s, no annoying commercials on the radio, no endless miles of pavement, concrete, steel and glass, no air pollution, no honking, no pissed off drivers weaving in and out of lanes, no billboards trying to sell you stuff you don’t need, no shopping malls selling stuff to teens that they don’t need, no hot showers, no running to the grocery store, nothing we had to do and nowhere we had to go.  The only thing we had to do was just Be One with Our Nature.

Hollows between the roots of a great tree were our lounging chair.  A good portion of the day was spent drawing water (thank you, lake) and collecting the abundant sticks lying on the forest floor for firewood (thank you, forest).  We practiced Qigong by the lakeshore.  We listened to the sound of beavers carrying out their work in the middle of the night and smiled in our half-sleeping states.  We marveled. We learned from the fire, from the water, from the air, from the earth, and from the few simple metal tools that we brought with us. We ate simply. We loved simply. We laughed. We were quiet.

I’m still a little in shock at our return to civilization.  I am struck hundreds of times daily at how needlessly complicated we have made our lives.


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On the so-called ‘God Particle’

Just as the world can reveal itself as particles, the Tao

can reveal itself as human beings.

Though world and particles aren’t the same, neither

are they different

Worlds and particles, bodies and beings, time and


All are transient expressions of the Tao.

Unseeable, ungraspable, the Tao is beyond any

attempt to analyze or categorize it.

At the same time, its truth is everywhere you turn.

If you can let go of it with your mind and surround it

with your heart, it will live inside you forever.

The Unknown Teachings of Lao Tzu: Hua Hu Ching (tr. by Brian Walker, Harper One),  p. 39 (~4th c. CE)


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