Sunday, December 27, 2015

One Kind of Change

Yesterday I wrote my first petition for instead of just signing them. It's a request to invest effort to reduce conditions that result in reactivity and seed distrust and suspicion in people and conversations online and off. To make the online environment of Twitter a kinder, safer place to be for all ages.

I wish the suggested changes would eliminate online reactivity altogether. I know they won't, though it would be a welcome addition to recent policy revisions in response to complaints. For example, see Online sexism is so out of control that we can no longer ignore it by Yvette Cooper in the Guardian. It remains to be seen how Twitter will enforce the new policy.

Consider signing my petition. If people can design drones, driverless cars and send spaceships to the moon, the minds that created Twitter should be able to find a way. For #HumanRights. For the sake of each individual on the planet.

The text of the petition:

Petitioning Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey

Request Twitter Clean Up its Problem with Pornography

There are real men, women and children behind Twitter accounts. Twitter's environment should be safe for all ages. Yet, as already was noted by Mashable in 2009, Twitter has a porn problem. Porn bots and pornographic photos can appear unbidden out of nowhere and subvert conversations and reputations. In view of the increasing ways Internet users are monitored by the National Security Agency and corporations, we do not have reasonable navigational control over what we and our children encounter.

Relying on users to block accounts with explicit pornographic material only corrects the problem after harm has been done, especially in the case of children. Even for adults the prevalence and haphazard encounters with pornography can be anxiety-inducing, cause blaming of and incite volatile reactivity among a variety of groups, including women (whether feminist or not), men's right advocates, and men and women of other countries with different moral boundaries.

Either block pornography altogether or make changes to allow for user preferences. Child-safety locks and account preference settings, similar to movie ratings, needn't interfere with free speech and could easily be factored into search results, along with context specific interpretation of hashtags, and preference settings for accessibility to other accounts to reduce or avoid unexpected encounters with sexually explicit material.

It's time for Twitter to make an effort to fall in line with common sense standards instead of risking our children's mental stability, increasing the potential for misogyny, and increasing the risk for, if not silencing, women.

Friday, November 27, 2015

The Road to Paris and COP21

There's only one point.

There's only one point is the nineteenth of fifty-nine mind training slogans -- the Dalai Lama trained and practiced with these slogans most of his life. The honorable Garchen Rinpoche practiced and taught these slogans to fellow prisoners in a labor camp in China.

There is only one point. I was reminded of Garchen Rinpoche's story as I was reviewing the first chapter of Rosenberg's Nonviolent Communication, which opens with quote from Etty Hillesum, a Jewish woman from Holland that died at Auschwitz. Her writings have been compared to Rilke and her practice, like that of Garchen Rinpoche, was one of understanding and compassion until the time of her death.

Disturbed life: Monument for Etty Hillesum

There is only one point. Like many passages in the Bible and Koran, the slogan has passed through centuries of Buddhist tradition.

It's so easy. So straightforward. So simple, it's almost too easy to forget. The primary message of the slogan is one of a shared reality. A world we all share — whatever we're experiencing and whatever our individual stories are. All the other slogans can be rolled into There is only one point.

View from the top of the Musée d'Orsay.

Right now, the reality we share threatens the extinction of many lives and life forms, including ours. There is only one point: Right now, the point is global warming and the approaching talks in Paris.

Without doubt, horrid things are happening in our world and in my own country. Many have been neglected and need immediate attention. People have every right to be impatient and angry because economic giants and politicians of our world haven't listened: Inattention and a lack of compassion and empathy are replicated from one circumstance to the next as efficiently as genes.

To the politicians of our world: Is bombing a country that already has been demolished listening? Does further bombing represent a change of heart? How is it that "When all we have is love" gets translated into more bombing?

Are those that remain in Syria and Iraq able to continue life with integrity, caring for their families as a normal person would? President Francois Hollande is horrified at the attacks on Paris, as am I. But our countries have treated those countries, these people no different than you or I, to the same destruction thousands and thousands of times over. What choice do they have? Whether it's refugees from Syria or the Daesh, our world can only expect more of the same shock-and-awe. The same in droves, as the conditions of our world deteriorate: There is only one point.

When I traveled to Paris the trip I took was 'Paris by alone'. Paris by alone, with hundreds of stories as my companion. In some ways, much like the Daesh, Paris with all its stories represented a life I wanted but never had. My days in Paris were a sadness. Beautiful Paris, beautiful sadness for days and chances that had passed through my life without my knowing.

There is only one point. If empathy exists, if compassion exists, take that sadness, that beauty, that desire we all have for belonging, that love for friends, family and country, and reach agreement on carbon emissions.

There is only one point: When all we have is love.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The Four Pillars and economic Yoga!: Saving the World is More Than an Idea


= The Four Pillars of True Power in Respectful Confrontation. An important caveat when referring to power:

"a distinction needs to be made between true power and brute force... [The] old-fashioned view of power is not what I would call true power but rather a strategy to use brute force to impose one's will and ensure one's success at the expense of others. George Washington, ... said, "Arbitrary power is most easily established on the ruins of liberty abused by licentiousness."" - Joe Weston (link to the program website, which I highly recommend in order to feel and and experience the technique.)

As an electrophysiologist, the Four Pillars brought to mind a mechanical model I'm familiar with: the vibration isolation tables that are critical for stable recordings of ion channel and neuronal or muscle fiber activity. (Another intuitive analogy might be the shock absorbers and tires on a car.) When one of the four pillars is overinflated, the vibration isolation function is compromised. A truck or train going by outside, or even someone closing a door down the hall, rapidly spells disaster for the experiment.

Building on meditation and martial arts traditions, the Four Pillars were designed with the intention of improving communication. That is to say communication in conventional linear mode — those times in face-to-face conversation when it's important to be heard.

For the purposes of this post, I'm expanding the model to include the world as described by the parameters presented in "on a World that isn't Round," namely, the Earth (grounding), politics (focus), the global economic system (strength), and all of us (flexibility).

Using the Four Pillar model of the world it's easy to see what the majority of us intuitively know. The economic 'pillar' of our world is overinflated (1). The non-linear model of Mitra et. al. (2015) is undoubtedly, a more accurate descriptor for the complexity of cause and effect, though computing power is required to use it.

No amount of fiddling with human behavior to adjust health, effectiveness, satisfaction and the meeting of needs will be successful at bringing the world back from precipices of crisis, climate or otherwise, without simultaneously reducing the over-inflation of economics. It is only in the context of changing the nature of the economic system that individual efforts to improve communication and life will begin to change the dynamics of our world. No matter where specific needs are situated on Maslow's hierarchy, due to economic stressors individual needs aren't being met and inequalities continue to be reinforced.

"It is the very 'nature' of alienated labor that one has no choice but to work against the interests and needs and desires of one's own being." - McKenzie Wark in Anthropocene Denial Bingo

My prescription for our world based on the above observations is economic Yoga.

economic Yoga is individuals and, more importantly, institutions and governments slowly and carefully releasing 'air' out of the economic system ― the over-inflation of which has disabled function of our politics, institutions, individuals, and the planet.

Because they are working from within the economic 'pillar,' efforts of Wall Street, big banks, and the Fed aimed at keeping the economical system and corporations 'afloat' have done little to correct the height of the economic pillar relative to the others. That's because of the basic assumption that our current economic system is the only way to manage the exchange of goods and services. One result: over-compression of other pillars and not enough 'air' in the cogs and joints of individuals for individual efforts to correct the imbalance. Another result: depriving 'third world' countries of the richness of their own resources by forcing them into the existing system.

As things are, because of our dependence on the inanimate indifferent intermediate of the dollar, individual efforts and the decisions and actions of politicians, institutions and the global aid industry often exacerbate, rather than heal, existing inequalities and imbalances between nations, races and genders.

My vision of what economic Yoga looks like isn't The Man Who Quit Money, Daniel Suelo, giving up money entirely and living alone in a cave ― however laudable the individual asethetic effort may be. When I ask myself what the end point of economic Yoga might look like, I am reminded once more of Donna Haraway's imaginary of the Chthulucene:

"the dynamic ongoing sym-chthonic forces and powers of of which people are a part, within which ongoingness is at stake." Because "Right now, the earth is full of refugees, human and not, without refuge."

Donna Haraway recognized the need to reconstitute refuges:

"to make possible partial and robust biological-cultural-political-technological recuperation and recomposition."

Like the name Chthulucene implies, Haraway offers little practical beyond the idea of returning to cultural habits more appreciative of the Earth and "making kin," which does appear to being happening on the Internet in a perverse sort of way (2).

My vision for economic Yoga addresses problems most of us face in the way our economic system and lifestyles are currently structured. It provides an alternative with which to augment existing social services (or Universal Basic Income). economic Yoga would reconstitute community, provide opportunities for training in multiple disciplines, and prevent some of inequalities the pursuit of a single career path and the definition of success in our society encourage.

economic Yoga is a reawakening of the practice of apprenticeship. The idea is an extension from community gardens, 'family projects' from my younger years, and house and barn building projects from days before I was born, as well as my time at Antaiji and Green Gulch Farm. As previously recognized, there aren't enough monasteries in the world to accommodate all those involved in meditation practices, nor should religion, philosophy, or race be a requirement. Moreover, the types of apprenticeships in typical monastic settings — the few that remain — are limited in the type of training and a greater diversity is necessary if apprenticeships are to be more broadly applicable.

Some proposed details for economic Yoga include shifting to a three-week work month, the fourth week to be spent on a community apprenticeship project. It should begin at an early age (12?) and represent a service payment towards social services including housing, food, health care, day care and an additional contribution to retirement. economic Yoga should also provide a path distinct from higher education and/or military service for some of the same types of positions. Community projects could include gardens, projects and services approved via small grant applications; apprenticeships could include apprenticeship employment with a variety of institutions and firms. People in high level positions should take time to work at more manual, though different tasks; unemployed or underemployed should be given priority for institutional and corporate apprenticeships - in this way we all benefit from interacting with a broader range of people.

In addition to reconstituting community, economic Yoga increases opportunities for interdisciplinary innovation both between individuals via the creative flux inherent in interactions across disciplines, and within the same individual because of exposure to a greater diversity of thought and life modalities.

(1) My definition of inflation and deflation are intuitive and do not necessarily correspond to the classic definitions.

(2) I consider the possibility that the 'sense' of perversity is an emotional reaction to the limits of our cognitive capacity to 'grasp' the non-linearity of cause-and-effect which via the Internet is increasingly perceptible. Those with strong ties and responsibilities in daily life perceive these identities and events as correlations because of the focus of their attention. Those with weaker ties in daily life have cognitive space in which to perceive the sometimes-visible-sometimes-not shimmering strands of cause-and-effect.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

of a World that isn't Round: My ActionPlan For How To SavetheWorld (II)

I'm looking at you from what may as well be the opposite side of the Universe. The realization I need to share is that our world isn't round.

Our world isn't even round plus time.

The conglobulate world we live in is an amoebic shape stretched along a multitude of dimensions we often only gain awareness of when things go wrong.

In fact, right now, a lot of 'things' are wrong. The perception that things are 'right' is the delusion. And one of the most problematic features of the delusion is that it's being manufactured by the corporate powers that increasingly control our lives. No one has to be a buddha to perceive the truth behind the delusion. We each momentarily perceive the delusion of 'rightness' with each new disaster ― whether that disaster directly and immediately affects us, or not.

Some of the parameters that define the world we live in include: (A) planet Earth, distances, time and the climate crisis, (B) the global economic system, (C) politics* and (D) our individual lives and perceptions.

* In fact, B and C are so entangled as to be inseparable; so B and C should logically be combined into one variable: C/B.

In this world of ours:


One of the biggest disasters getting news coverage, especially with the Paris talks right around the corner, is climate change ― marked by scientists as the onset of the Anthropocene. As recognized increasingly by politicians and the media, the prospects for the human species and the rich diversity of life on planet Earth will be terrifying within a generation if we, as a collective human species, fail to change course. In fact, amoeba or amoeba-like organisms could end up being one of the few life forms left.

Unfortunately, even if the Paris talks meet with success and countries promise to reign in carbon emissions to minimize the duration of the worst effects on our environment, the promised changes will likely fall short of their target because, as recognized in the recent paper by Burke et. al. (2015), not all dimensions of the true nature of the world we live in will have been integrated and therefore the root causes of global warming will not have been addressed.


As with global warming, we have already passed the threshold for economic collapse. Every dollar has already been 'promised' over ten times between different interdependent coorporations and institutions that are the drivers of industrialization and technology. It is only by juggling the promise of this false money -- which almost might as well be monopoly money -- that corporations are managing to convince most of us that 'business as usual' is possible.


Whether referring to gridlocked governance within or between nations, political collapse occurred when corporations gained control of our governments and governments ceased serving citizens. Politicians are dependent on corporations for their election. National and international negotiations no longer serve either citizens or nations because corporations have vested interest in multiple countries for materials, labor, and logistics. The means of production that contribute to the Anthropocene are the same, whether for the 'individual' or for the 'state', so differences in existing political ideologies and philosophies cannot be held solely accountable. Furthermore, whether via corporations buying-off politicians and media for elections, or via petitions asking for donations from citizens already experiencing economic hardship, we as citizens are subsidizing the inseparable entanglement of corporations, governments and nations through a transference of cost.


We are being assimilated.

We are being assimilated by a technology that, in the best of our imaginations, was intended to give each human being equal voice. However, the desired equality has already been compromised by propogandic manipulation, biased algorithms, and technological warfare. Moreover, increased quantities of data are accompanied by increased risks for misinterpretation, misrepresentation and falsification.

The invasion of privacy that has accompanied the increased reliance on the technologically-driven Internet is a continuation of the chain of events that began with the disruptive effects of industrialization on community and family. But is an increase in technology-mediated communication an adequate substitute for community, friendships established through experience, and family, given that so many cues to normal communication are absent? What happens when individuals chose not to respect even direct long term interactions? The intrusion on privacy that may initially seem like nothing more than a pin-prick of irritation in exchange for convenience reaches more serious proportions when combined with the mentally stressful effects on attention span and the decreased opportunities for and effectiveness of interactions in real life. Yet most all of us are already invested.

The methods we, in first world countries, are relying on for self improvement, stress reduction and increased efficiency are methods that have already sold out to, been co-opted by, the stress producing systems the methods are supposed to counter-act. For example, just think of all the pharmaceutical companies and psychoanalysts that would go out of business if corporations and governments produced reductions in war induced post-traumatic stress disorder, gun violence, violence against women, and family and work related stress and depression. (Dear Twitter, I imagine changing the favorites symbol from a star to a heart was probably well-intended, but the change adds insult to injury when either rude commentary or reports on violence are favorited, may place women of other cultures at further risk, and is not adequate compensation for the harm individuals belonging to oppressed groups currently may experience as result of using the service.)

The whole world
In a dewdrop not knowing
It's overdue.

Whether people believe in climate change or not, the bigger problem is that the 'patches' our governments and corporations have been negotiating and designing to provide solutions isn't taking enough of complexity into account. Whether the solutions have been temporarily effective or not, the solutions have increased the overall complexity of the world we live in — the result being a further increase in the difficulty of producing changes in momentum due to inertia. Up until now, the 'patches' have been linear solutions attempting to resolve the problems inherent in a nonlinear, multi-dimensional system.

This post has been a non-data driven attempt to provide further definition to the variables suggested by Mitra et. al.'s model (2015) in order to use the model to address climate change. On first reading, L, latitude describes the flexibility of individuals; R, resistance, describes our political-economic system; and Pr, precariousness, describes the climate crisis.

Because multiple crises exist in the world we inhabit, it seems dangerous to solely rely on promises made by governments regarding carbon emissions. In my next post I hope to suggest a method that might be used affect each of the parameters in a concerted beneficial way. Possibly scientists with access to the necessary resources can use existing data to determine whether the suggestion would have a chance in hell of producing the desired effects overall.

Special thanks to David Chandler who, even though he doesn't follow me, happened to miraculously reference Mitra et. al. (2015) as I was writing this post.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

My #ActionPlan For How To #SavetheWorld (I): Statement of the Problem

An Open Letter To Presidential Candidates, the President, Congress and the World:

Whether we acknowledge the reality of global warming or not, most of us sense and acknowledge the stresses of a world that is drastically out of balance. The variety of ills our countries and cultures face is at odds with how the world ought to be given the good will, kindness, patience and effort most of us already exhibit on a daily basis.

For evidence of a world out of balance we need look no further than the electoral system in the United States, broken by gerrymandering and Citizen's United, and the gridlock in Congress, which like the dysfunction of our daily lives, have become standard fare and deny citizens the effect of their vote even if the favored candidate is elected.

The gridlock of government is reflected in the hundreds of petitions that regularly accumulate in my email inbox addressing a diversity of issues. One more way that we, as individuals, are asked to demonstrate resilience and pick up the tab for dysfunctional government and economic systems.

The myriad issues that need to be addressed include the prison-industrial complex, black lives matter, militarization of police, starvation and homelessness, the immigration and refugee crisis, health care, education, social security, endangered species, unrest and war in a number of countries, and an increased frequency in natural disasters caused by an increasingly unstable environment.

The need for, not only individual, but systemic change has reached a critical, code red, level.

Photo of Hurricane Patricia from NASA via @NEWeatherWx

The need for, not only individual, but systemic change has reached a critical, code red, level. One way that government and corporations have attempted to address the crisis -- and another way that individuals are picking up the tab -- is an invasion of privacy that borders on harrassment of every citizen in the name of surveillance and datafication for corporations and the NSA. Furthermore, the convenience promised by the computerized wireless system that increasingly runs our lives is quickly belied by frustration when the underlying infrastructure causes errors which no corporation has clear responsibility for and the individual is forced to take extra steps to correct. If more individuals could take time out from their day-to-day activities we might hear a collective scream in response to this parasitic invasion of our minds and lives.

It shouldn't be a surprise that as individuals we need more from our governments, the United Nations, and NGOs than a greater diversity in the colors and slogans for our t-shirts and magazine covers to address the above issues and the disasters of the day, though it is not my intention to be disrespectful of great sacrifice. Celebritization of our politicians rewards rash rather than reasoned behavior, is financially wasteful in astronomical proportions and distracts from the serious problems at hand rather than working toward solutions. Especially in first world countries the cost of the infrastructure and logistics on which we depend to live our daily lives exceeds what the individual is able to produce. We have reached a point in the story of humans as a species in which no amount of meditation, yoga, recycling or individual planning will pull the human race and the planet back from the brink.

The brink of what? The Anthropocene, an epoch in our planet's history in which the boundaries of sustainability have been exceeded. World-wide systemic change at the levels of governments and corporations is needed to support individual effort. Without drastic systemic change our governments, militaries, the United Nations and NGOs are, in effect, lost in debates and uncoordinated efforts to plug up the cracks of a pressure cooker of a planet and society that will give rise to increasing levels of devastation and, in a generation or two, most likely will burst.

In the writing of this special thanks go to Matthieu Ricard, David Chandler and contributors to #spir700, various individuals of the San Franscisco Zen Center, and Joe Weston and group.

In this group everyone is included!

Saturday, October 17, 2015

It's My Metaphor and I'll Cry if I Want To*

The title of this post is derived from of one of the chapter titles of a book that 'jumped out' from the poetry shelves at a bookstore in Mill Valley called: How to Read Literature Like a Professor: A Lively and Entertaining Guide to Reading Between the Lines by Thomas C. Foster. (The actual title of the Chapter is 'It's My Symbol and I'll Cry if I Want To.) I haven't had the chance to read more than a few passages out of the book yet. But what I did read resonated deeply. Namely, a section that discusses that whatever authors write inevitably gets transformed in readers minds into different contexts than what was the authors' intention. He adds that this is part of the mystic of literature and poetry. And that in present day, initially authors can be disturbed by the transformation process but need to learn to accept it as a cultural given.

There is one particular haiku that I wrote that has been interpreted entirely differently from the actual intended meaning. This particular haiku has caused a substantial amount of reactivity in myself and others which continues to this day, so the context in which it was written is worth reviewing in order to put it to rest and re-assert the original context.

During spring season at Antaiji, we often were working in the fields in incessant rain. There was no clothes drier at Antaiji and it would take clothes several days to air dry. Speaking for myself, the situation was aggravated by the fact that that I hadn't been able to find my rain pants when packing in preparation for the trip. (My husband typically neglected to put away gear after he went canoeing.) In short, the rain pants I had were borrowed and didn't fit. Whatever pants I was wearing got soaked within five or ten minutes of being out in fields. The haiku, though not one I particularly like:

A storm: hard to walk --
When you're dripping wet, and when
Sitting, drips stain cloth.

I know this haiku got taken out of context, largely due to the presence of a poet that would often mix zen with more erotic haiku. I particularly loved the haiku in the zen vein but, speaking for myself, I found some of the other haiku problematic. I was aware that he was part of a group of writers that 'corralled' women to form attachments and make choices they wouldn't have made outside of this active process. Given the poet's tendency to anger quickly we developed an antagonist relationship, though I kept him within view -- largely due to the subliminal details in his haiku, information he shouldn't have had access to.

The transformation of symbols, metaphors, etc as they metamorphose through online environments can give rise to some very spurious results. But the inclusion of subliminal facts that individuals should be unaware of makes it particularly problematic and can have a hypnotizing effect since the process is out of writers' control. Unfortunately, for women, the 'corralling' process is not unlike that described in an article about the Congo from the Huffington Post that refers to 'male bonding' as a motivating factor, though I still think a sense of entitlement is also a cause.

Thankfully, the on-line environment is not real life, though it has real life consequences. And how are affected women supposed to deal with a trauma they don't have any evidence for and whose lives aren't respected?

Pennies In Her Eyes*

I'm about to leave for a meeting next week. Some old favs from poetry days gone by to tide you over. (Any corrections will probably have to wait until I get back.)

A Chord-uroy Poem

I missed you when you
Were a pair of cords.
So now I draw the sky
In flannel sheets for winter,
Extra protection against the cold,
And take comfort in the landscape
Of ridges on a second down cover.

The hoody is a familar face
Too, in these differing climes,
No eyes or mouth if
You toe it right and don't lose
Your teeth or easy with
A tee, and lasting through
Multiple gigs and infusions.

I'll have you know, as a girl
I loved the vintage look,
Or brown-black velvet,
Smooth to the touch
To go with my Docs and leather.
And drums were my chime. Now
I knit socks. I'd ask what size, but
I don't really think you need them.
This poem has feet and wears socks
In mix and match colors.


Meet you
at the end
of the rainbow
where there are pennies
for our eyes.


Sometimes Empty & Sometimes Full

Of us and of us,
these two worlds I drift through,
this one born of shock.
Who knows which is more real?
Does it even matter, except
to the sadness this happiness carries?
There is so much eavesdropping
and fault finding, no matter
where I find myself or who judges.
Are these straights a way
or another sensation,
the outflows of which
are just as untrustworthy as the rest,
and so, a perception that loses me?
If I backtrack my passing, I find
the crossroads of March in Mays
and barely know why I took that turn in time, except
for the half flickering signs and the observation
that everything I see and write comes true,
though differently... and in the realm of duality.
Is letting go losing me and finding you?
Where do I go for my undoing? There are places and times, and fountains of you
I've barely said hello to, much less gotten to know, touch the walls of, or wander through.


She wanders through you
in the pouring rain to find
flowers for Buddha.



We walked the unreal.
Clouds grazed vacuously
Across sky's surface.
Only, that word. Only
Dipping into the green
Mountain presence
In one location
As if it were fog.
As if. Into, then into


Even the sky grays
As helicopters bring in
More wounded and dead.


Measures & Weights of Things

The mind works it's abacus
Casting it's weights
In columns only it sees.
The sums cancel each other
out & add up
Upto some other thing,
Immeasurable like sky.
How quickly
The hands move
When moving in this dark dust,
Dust-filtered light
Through substances
Fragile, breakable, tender.


Someday, when we are gone from this world
My dust will know your dust
So well, no-one will be able to tell us apart.
My soul will know your soul
So intimately, there will be no need
For stories or secrets,
Though it will be pleasant
Just to hear your voice.
Somedays, I know we have already
Come from there.
It doesn't matter how many
Clouds there are.
Today the sky is perfectly
Blue and clear.


Another hundred
Folks unfollowed I won't miss
And that's a sorrow?

Artist: Natasha Nicholson


You gave me the map
To my soul, but I am still
Trying to find shoes.