Tuesday, February 28, 2006

One being a poet...

"The poet is a liar who always speaks the truth."

--Jean Cocteau
When is there poetry?

"There is poetry as soon as we realize that we possess nothing."

--John Cage

Monday, February 27, 2006

The Journey
By James Wright

Anghiari is medieval, a sleeve sloping down
A steep hill, suddenly sweeping out
To the edge of a cliff, and dwindling.
But far up the mountain, behind the town,
We too were swept out, out by the wind,
Alone with the Tuscan grass.

Wind had been blowing across the hills
For days, and everything now was graying gold
With dust, everything we saw, even
Some small children scampering along a road,
Twittering Italian to a small caged bird.

We sat beside them to rest in some brushwood,
And I leaned down to rinse the dust from my face.

I found the spider web there, whose hinges
Reeled heavily and crazily with the dust,
Whole mounds and cemeteries of it, sagging
And scattering shadows among shells and wings.
And then she stepped into the center of air
Slender and fastidious, the golden hair
Of daylight along her shoulders, she poised there,
While ruins crumbled on every side of her.
Free of the dust, as though a moment before
She had stepped inside the earth, to bathe herself.

I gazed, close to her, till at last she stepped
Away in her own good time.

Many men
Have searched all over Tuscany and never found
What I found there, the heart of the light
Itself shelled and leaved, balancing
On filaments themselves falling. The secret
Of this journey is to let the wind
Blow its dust all over your body,
To let it go on blowing, to step lightly, lightly
All the way through your ruins, and not to lose
Any sleep over the dead, who surely
Will bury their own, don't worry.

Depressed by a Book of Bad Poetry, I Walk Toward an Unused Pasture and Invite the Insects to Join Me
By James Wright

Relieved, I let the book fall behind a stone.
I climb a slight rise of grass.
I do not want to disturb the ants
Who are walking single file up the fence post,
Carrying small white petals,
Casting shadows so frail that I can see through them.
I close my eyes for a moment and listen.
The old grasshoppers
Are tired, they leap heavily now,
Their thighs are burdened.
I want to hear them, they have clear sounds to make.
Then lovely, far off, a dark cricket begins
In the maple trees.


"The personal life deeply lived always expands into truths beyond itself."

--Anais Nin

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Are You Signed Up?

Will we see you at the James Wright Poetry Festival on April 28-29, 2006?

The James Wright Poetry Festival is held annually in early spring. Major poets meet poetry enthusiasts in Martins Ferry, Ohio, Wright's home town, to read, hear and talk about poetry and the work of James Wright.

It's a great time. Besides it will give you a chance to visit Don Iannone and Dan Shimp come from.

Springtime in Martins Ferry...

Learn more here.
Spring is like a perhaps hand
By E. E. Cummings

Spring is like a perhaps hand
(which comes carefully
out of Nowhere)arranging
a window,into which people look(while
people stare
arranging and changing placing
carefully there a strange
thing and a known thing here)and

changing everything carefully

spring is like a perhaps
Hand in a window
(carefully to
and fro moving New and
Old things,while
people stare carefully
moving a perhaps
fraction of flower here placing
an inch of air there)and

without breaking anything.
Seasonal Cousins Meet
Soon winter meets its cousin spring
and the two play briefly together
in the side yard, where the sun can't reach
and where long nights soon give way to long days.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

Thanks Again!

"When you arise in the morning, give thanks for the morning light, for your life and strength. Give thanks for your food, and the joy of living. If you see no reason for giving thanks, the fault lies with yourself."


"No duty is more urgent than that of returning thanks."

--James Allen

Friday, February 24, 2006

What is Most Important!
On Love...

"Love never dies a natural death. It dies because we don't know how to replenish its source. It dies of blindness and errors and betrayals. It dies of illness and wounds; it dies of weariness, of witherings, of tarnishings." --Anais Nin

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Einstein on Love...

"Gravitation is not responsible for people falling in love."

"How on earth are you ever going to explain in terms of chemistry and physics so important a biological phenomenon as first love?"
Poet Dylan?

In 2004, a Newsweek magazine article called Bob Dylan "the most influential cultural figure now alive," and with good reason. He has released more than forty albums in the last four decades, and created some of the most memorable anthems of the twentieth century, classics such as "The Times They Are A-Changin," "Like a Rolling Stone," and "Blowin' in the Wind."

While Dylan's place in the pantheon of American musicians is cemented, there is one question that has confounded music and literary critics for the entirety of Dylan's career: Should Bob Dylan be considered a songwriter or a poet? Dylan was asked that very question at a press conference in 1965, when he famously said, "I think of myself more as a song-and-dance man."
"I ain't a writer," Woody Guthrie once wrote, "I want that understood. I'm just a little one-cylinder guitar picker." Of course, that humble sentiment was part of his public persona--the howdy-doo Woody Guthrie, the ramblin' everyman, the down-home folk singer, poet of the people. The truth, however, is that Guthrie wrote an incredible amount of material: songs, essays, poems, stories, diaries, and letters. In total, an estimated 750,000 words were left unpublished when Guthrie died in 1967.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

A Supermarket in California
By Allen Ginsberg

What thoughts I have of you tonight, Walt Whitman, for I walked
down the sidestreets under the trees with a headache self-conscious looking
at the full moon.
In my hungry fatigue, and shopping for images, I went into the neon
fruit supermarket, dreaming of your enumerations!
What peaches and what penumbras! Whole families shopping at
night! Aisles full of husbands! Wives in the avocados, babies in the tomatoes!
--and you, GarcĂ­a Lorca, what were you doing down by the watermelons?

I saw you, Walt Whitman, childless, lonely old grubber, poking
among the meats in the refrigerator and eyeing the grocery boys.
I heard you asking questions of each: Who killed the pork chops?
What price bananas? Are you my Angel?
I wandered in and out of the brilliant stacks of cans following you,
and followed in my imagination by the store detective.
We strode down the open corridors together in our solitary fancy
tasting artichokes, possessing every frozen delicacy, and never passing the

Where are we going, Walt Whitman? The doors close in a hour.
Which way does your beard point tonight?
(I touch your book and dream of our odyssey in the supermarket and
feel absurd.)
Will we walk all night through solitary streets? The trees add shade
to shade, lights out in the houses, we'll both be lonely.
Will we stroll dreaming of the lost America of love past blue automo-
biles in driveways, home to our silent cottage?
Ah, dear father, graybeard, lonely old courage-teacher, what America
did you have when Charon quit poling his ferry and you got out on a
smoking bank and stood watching the boat disappear on the black waters of

Hear Ginsberg read this poem here.
The Past
By Barbara Guest

The form of the poem subsided, it enters another poem.

A witness was found for the markings inscribed upside-down.

It might have been a celebration, so strong the presence

of the poem. The sky sinks slowly inside the past.

Barbara Guest died on February 15, 2006. A truly great poet who knew how to use space to call attention to language.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

I Am

I am
only because I see you look at me,
your gaze gives life to me,
at this moment
I become in your eyes,
if I see them
I am
only because I can hear your voice talking to me,
and I know that you hear me.
I know that you are
only because I can touch you
I am
only because of our touching
each other.

Source: OMind

Monday, February 20, 2006


"Consciousness, therefore, is what enables us to feel, think, know, intend, attend, perceive, choose, and create . . . It is the source of all meaning, value, and purpose in our lives and in the world. It is “interior,” it is what enables us to feel and know who we are inside—distinct from our external, physical bodies."

--Christian de Quincey, Ph.D.
Philosopher of Mind and Consciousness
What We See

As I look out my office window in Cleveland, this is what I see. Yeah right! Well, at least this was the picture that I saw last week from the Caribbean. It seems to be permanently etched into my brain.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Take the Plunge

The depths of your soul
await you.
Plunge deep.
See the world
--from the other side.
Let the still waters of your soul
fill you
--with light.
Get Involved With Your Own Evolution

"If humankind would accept and acknowledge this responsibility and become creatively engaged in the process of evolution, consciously as well as unconsciously, a new reality would emerge, and a new age could be born." --Jonas Salk

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Looking Out From Buck Island

One last glance back
at St. Croix.
One lingering memory
connecting us to the magic
of the Caribbean
and all else we discovered
while we were there.

Friday, February 17, 2006

The Road Not Taken
By Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I--
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

By Langston Hughes

Hold fast to dreams
For if dreams die
Life is a broken-winged bird
That cannot fly.

Hold fast to dreams
For when dreams go
Life is a barren field
Frozen with snow

Thursday, February 16, 2006

What is Death But Another Part of the Life Adventure

"When it comes time to die, be not like those whose hearts are filled with the fear of death, so when their time comes they weep and pray for a little more time to live their lives over again in a different way. Sing your death song, and die like a hero going home." --Chief Aupumut, Mohican. 1725

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Afterthought on Valentine's Day

Love catches us--
when we least suspect it.
But when it does,
it is a wonderful thing.
Open your heart,
and let love catch you.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

The Six Perfections

1. The Perfection of Generosity
From the virtuous merit that I collect, by practicing generosity and the other perfections, may I attain the state of Buddha to be able to benefit all sentient beings.

2. The Perfection of Ethics
In order to observe a rule of life, the mind must zealously be guarded. It is not possible to observe any discipline without guarding the quivering mind.
Unsubdued and overwrought elephants do not effect that damage here which the unrestrained mind, an elephant roaming wild, does in the Avici hell and elsewhere.
If this elephant of mind is bound on all sides by the cord of mindfulness, all fear disappears and complete happiness comes.

3. The Perfection of Patience
Hostility destroys all the moral conduct, charity, and reverence of the Buddhas, which has been achieved in thousands of aeons.
No evil is equal to hatred, and no austerity is equal to patience. Therefore one ought diligently to cultivate patience by a variety of means.
Therefore I will destroy hatred's nourishment, because that enemy has no other purpose than my destruction.
My joy will not be disturbed, even by the occurrence of the most frustrating event, because even in unhappiness, there is nothing which can adversely affect a virtue which one truly desires.

4. The Perfection of Effort
Thus having become patient, one should become heroic, for Enlightenment is gained by standing strong. Without strength there is no merit, as without the mind there is no movement.
What is strength? Proper effort. What is its adversary? Sloth: attachment to contemptible things, despair, self-despising. Because one is unconcerned with the sorrow of rebirth, sloth arises through inertia, relish for pleasure, torpor, and eagerness to be protected.
Having obtained the chariot of the Thought of Enlightenment, which removes all depression and fatigue, going from happiness to happiness, who that is intelligent would be despondent?
For achieving the welfare of beings,there is the power of zeal, constancy, joy, and release.
Eagerness is derived from a fear of sorrow, and it becomes beneficial because of actions.
Then, after having eradicated the enemy, one should strive for an increase of strength, by means of the power of zeal, pride, joy, sacrifice, dedication, and mastery.

5. The Perfection of Concentration
Solitudes are pleasing, kindly, the dawn of all that is auspicious, the tranquilizers of all disturbance. Let me always frequent them!
Liberated from the thought of anything else, the mind centers one-pointedly upon its own thought, I shall strive for the composing of thought and its control.

6. The Perfection of Wisdom
The Buddha taught that this multitude of virtues is all for the sake of wisdom; hence, by means of one's desire for the extinction of sorrow, let wisdom arise.

Source: Bodhicitta

Monday, February 13, 2006

Preparing Ourselves

"...if we remain clinging to this life even for one day, we are misusing our time. In this way, we can waste months and years on end. Because we don't know when our lives will finish, we should remain mindful and well prepared. Then, even if we die tonight, we will do so without regret. If we die tonight, the purpose of being well prepared is borne out; if we don't die tonight, there is no harm in being well prepared, because it will still benefit us.

But when we leave the world of humans, we do so without a protector or supporter and the total responsibility falls on us. We only have our own intelligence to rely on at that time, so we must expend our own effort in order to protect ourselves. As the Buddha said, "I have shown you the path to liberation; know that liberation depends on you." We must put strenuous effort into gaining freedom from the lower migrations, liberation from samsara, freedom from conventional existence and solitary salvation.

The body is compared to a guest house; it is a place to stay for just a short time and not permanently. At present, the guest of consciousness is staying in the guest house of the body, like renting a place to stay. When the day comes for consciousness to leave, the guest house of the body must be left behind. Not being attached to friends, the body, wealth and possessions is the practice of the Bodhisattvas."

-- from "The Heart of Compassion: A Practical Approach to a Meaningful Life," by His Holiness the XIV Dalai Lama.

In Search of Still Waters

Find the still waters in your life. They are always there. Find a peaceful harbor. One where life turns magical. Just like the photograph you see here. Life is precious. Every drop of it. Drink only what you need.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Others First

"If you want others to be happy, practice compassion.If you want to be happy, practice compassion."

--The Dalai Lama
Exactly What We Need

On life's journey
Faith is nourishment,
Virtuous deeds are a shelter,
Wisdom is the light by day and
Right mindfulness is the protection by night.
If a man lives a pure life nothing can destroy him;
If he has conquered greed nothing can limit his freedom.


Saturday, February 11, 2006

You on the Still Waters of Life

Beauty finds its way into your life when you allow it to reveal itself. It's always there, just like the sun, the moon, and the stars. You can't force it. Let it come to you. St. Croix, 2/9/06.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Filled with Emptiness

Why would you possibly allow your mind to be troubled? You have a choice. Bask in the warm water of your soul. Let the sunlight of your heart cleanse what ails your mind.
Discovering Our Only Permanance

"Anything that is created must sooner or later die. Enlightenment is permanent because we have not produced it; we have merely discovered it."

--Chogyam Trungpa

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Your Life

Set sail with your life. Allow it to be blown by the wind, moved by the waves, and filled with the beauty of who you really are.
Filled with Emptiness

"Like it or not, if you look at your own mind you will discover it is void and groundless; as insubstantial as empty space."

--Padma Sambhava

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Life Color

Find the colors in your life. Chances are there are many. Let them blend and flow across your life canvas.
Swimming in the Sea of Samsara

"The only reason why we are still here is because we believe there is a reason to be here. So why are we still swimming in the sea of samsara?"


Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Riding Waves to Formless Being

At times our emotions wash over us, causing us to lose all form. Ride your emotional waves and let them help you seek that which comes before form.
The Ties That Bind

What is it that binds you? You are not bound by any chains now. Is it just the thought that you are bound that binds you? Mental chains can only be broken by mental effort.


Monday, February 06, 2006

Forest mist
--somewhere in your heart
crying tears of joy
deepening us
dragging us back
--in the forest's secrets
where we lose ourselves
--to find ourselves.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

From Christian Fundamentalism to Evolution to Non-Belief to New Age Eclecticism to Consciousness and Buddhism to ?

What do you believe about yourself, the Universe, the origins of life, and the Cosmos? Some people seem less compelled than others to explore these issues. They have always been important to me.

I grew up believing that God created me and everything else in the Universe. This belief was held to be "self-evident" and an unquestionable fact of life.

Only a crazy man or woman, or even worse, one possessed by the devil, would question there was a God and that the ONLY path to God was an indirect one through Jesus Christ. Believe in Jesus Christ, follow His teachings on a daily basis, obey your parents, the preacher, your Sunday school teacher, and you were a shoo in for Heaven.

Looking for knowledge and wisdom to guide your life? If you wanted to know the secrets of the Universe or needed a guide for everyday life, one only need read the Bible, considered by most Christians to be either the "exact" or "inspired" word of God Himself.

As a young child growing up in Eastern Ohio, to utter the word "evolution" was considered blasphemous. Man descended from an ape? Think again son. I was born with a natural and deep curiosity about life and what made it tick.

Eventually, my curiosity got the best of me and I began to read certain books (on evolution and other things) buried in the recesses of the public library. I discovered there were other ideas about where the Universe came from and what life was all about. In my junior year in high school, I co-founded St. Clairsville High School's first Philosophy Club. We needed two teachers to serve as advisors to the club. Mr. Voss, our Biology teacher, and Mr. Sharpe, our English teacher, agreed to assume this role. With that, the Philosophy Club was set in motion. That was 1968.

Through the Philosophy Club, I was exposed to poetry, Existentialism, the concept of social justice, and e-v-o-l-u-t-i-o-n. It was inevitable that I would drift from my dogmatic fundamentalist Christian roots. The Philosophy Club created a social context (community of like-minded souls) for my escape.

Needless to say, the contents of our Philosophy Club discussions were never revealed at home, for fear that Mom and Dad would discover my secret plot to withdraw from their teachings and beliefs. It was not until I was safely enrolled at the University of Arizona and taking my first Anthropology class that I announced to Mom and Dad that they were mistaken. Mistaken? About what? Everything I said, but especially about Christianity being the only pipeline to God. They urged me to find a "good" church in Tucson to cleanse my mind and heart of such thoughts. That is exactly what I did. It was called "the church of higher education." Yes, I am referring to the UA, Anthropology, and many other sources of revolutionary ideas.

By the time I had completed my Anthropology degree, I felt cleansed of the unscientific and primitive religious ideas that fed my mind throughout my childhood and teenage years. There was no God. Human beings and all other life forms got here by way of evolution. I was living proof of just that because I was evolving my beliefs and worldview in new directions.

Most of the wounds endured by Mom and Dad and me were healed over time. I am thankful for that. They were who they were, and I was who I was.

For many years, I set aside my curiosity about the cosmos, evolution, God, philosophy, and other things. While I was accepted at several Ph.D. programs in Anthropology, I decided to enter a Ph.D. program in Organizational Behavior instead--a program I never finished because it demanded too much of me personally. I felt indoctrinated. It was an uncomfortable feeling; bringing back the first 18 years of my life and my struggle to be my own person. Why did I need to change who and how I was? I can become an organizational change agent without changing myself. Or so I thought. I jumped ship and decided to work. After all, that is where my education should lead me anyway.

My life shifted to the pragmatic concerns of family and career. What possible value could these esoteric subjects be to my daily life of raising a family and growing a career? I spent the next twenty years in Non-Belief. Actually, my basic belief was that it didn't matter what I believed. What mattered most was what I did with my life. My belief was that life was about doing. And doing I did. To my surprise, my reality started to fall apart. That was 1986. The year before my father-in-law died. In January 1986, my Mom died. I changed jobs. My marriage was in serious trouble. And I didn't have the foggiest idea who I was and where I was going.

It hit me one day that I needed to believe something, and so I was in search of something to believe. Christianity wasn't an option. Nor was Evolution and Relativism. What? I started looking around and discovered New Age Spirituality, which embodied everything from Native American spirituality to esoteric astrology to versions of various Eastern religions. I learned a lot from my experiences in the New Age circle. Most importantly, I discovered that I was most comfortable being eclectic in my spiritual and philosophical beliefs. That lasted for almost 15 years.

In 2002, I took up meditation, which has helped me to move from believing to being. All thought is illusion masquerading as reality. Our minds are out of control amusement parks. Reality in an absolute sense may exist, but it is unknowable to us. We have our experience, our thoughts, our feelings, and our consciousness. We have a responsibility to observe our thoughts, know them, feel them, and consciously decide whether they make any real sense. We should cultivate mindfulness, loving kindness, and compassion for others. Life is not about us. Rather, it is about getting beyond ourselves and serving others.

It's now 2006. I am immersed in the study of consciousness and its role in the Universe. What does consciousness have to do with the Universe, spirituality, and other matters? Everything! Not the least of which is that our consciousness is who we are. It is the subject that comes prior to all else that we experience. In the words of Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj, "I am That!"

Given the controversy swirling around Intelligent Design, Creationism, and Evolution, let me clarify one point: "I am not an Intelligent Design (ID) groupie!" At the same time, I do not believe that evolution even comes close to providing complete answers about our origin and nature.

Our consciousness is the subjective aspect of who we are. While Western science, with its current Materialism-bound methods, is not well prepared to tackle the study of consciousness, we can at least evolve an improved philosophy to guide that science in the future. People like Christian de Quincey, one of my teachers, is well along that path. I concur with the recent observation by His Holiness The Dalai Lama: Spirituality needs the rigor of science, and science needs a recognition of soul and spirit.

Stay tuned. I will be adding further thoughts on this topic in the future. This is just one man's journey to find himself and bring more peace and wisdom to the world around him.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Longing to Be

Your spirit longs
...to be
and it shall
...no matter what you want.

Photo Credit:
Oak Creek Canyon AZ
NPR Series on Tibetan Buddhism
Photo Credit: Travel Blog

Friday, February 03, 2006

Lessons on Life
Author Unknown

There was a man who had four sons. He wanted his sons to
learn not to judge things too quickly. So he sent them
each on a quest, in turn, to go and look
at a pear tree that was a great distance away.

The first son went in the winter, the second in the spring,
the third in summer, and the youngest son in the fall.

When they had all gone and come back, he called them
together to describe what they had seen.

The first son said that the tree was ugly, bent, and twisted.

The second son said no it was covered with green buds
and full of promise.

The third son disagreed; he said it was laden with blossoms
that smelled so sweet and looked so beautiful, it was
the most graceful thing he had ever seen.

The last son disagreed with all of them; he said it was
ripe and drooping with fruit, full of life and fulfillment.

The man then explained to his sons that they were all right,
because they had each seen but only one season in
the tree's life.

He told them that you cannot judge a tree, or a person,
by only one season, and that the essence of who they are
and the pleasure, joy, and love that come
from that life can only be measured at the end, when
all the seasons are up.

If you give up when it's winter, you will miss the promise
of your spring, the beauty of your summer, fulfillment
of your fall.


Don't let the pain of one season destroy the joy of all the rest.
Don't judge life by one difficult season.
Persevere through the difficult patches
and better times are sure to come some time or later.


Aunt Jean in Columbus sent this along to me. I thought you might enjoy it as much as I did. Thanks Aunt Jean!

Being in St. Croix

If this were you, what would you be thinking about now? Nothing because you would be in the now completely not thinking.

Sunset, St. Croix

Just an ordinary early evening view. Something you could see anywhere. Yeah, right!

Buck Island (St. Croix, U.S. VI)

Thursday, February 02, 2006

Soft Sun and Mountains
Photo Credit: Ben Nugent
Not just silence, but a great silence...

Seek the source, of course without seeking. All is indeed One. I ran across this wonderful Zen poem this morning (see below), and thought I'd share it on Conscious Living. It coincides with the direction of my own evolving meditation practice, and it aligns with the message of Healing from the Source: The Science and Lore of Tibetan Medicine, by Dr. Yeshi Dhonden, translated by Dr. B. Alan Wallace, which is one of the required readings for my course on Buddhist Psychology and Methods of Healing.

I love this line: "Sitting alone in a great silence." Not just silence, but a great silence.

Meditating deeply upon Dharma
Reach the depth of the source.
Branching streams cannot compare to this source!
Sitting alone in a great silence
Even though the heavens turn and the earth is upset,
You will not even wink.

- Jakushitsu Genko Zenji (1290-1368)

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Who are You?

You are the lotus blossom flowering in the sunlight of your soul. Picture yourself as such, smile deeply, give thanks for your blessings, and be that.
Mind Shifts

"Man's mind, once stretched by a new idea, never regains its original dimensions."

-- Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

Don's PS: Consider these ideas and see how your consciousness changes.

* Reality is unknowable.
* You are not who you think you are.
* You are that which comes before whatever you think.
* Through your consciousness, we create your own reality.
On Life

"It is not length of life, but the depth of life that matters."

-- Ralph Waldo Emerson
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