Tuesday, December 28, 2010


Yesterday I discussed briefly the spirituality of my childhood. For the last eight years or so, the arrow of my moral compass has pointed toward India (though recently it was begun to shift back toward Japan, where it had been for at least a decade prior.) My yoga teaching has been largely inspired by my teacher Tias Little, and one of the reasons I chose Santa Fe as my point of re-entry was in order to study with him. In 2010 I took three, one-week yoga teacher trainings, two as a participant and one as his assistant. During my times on the mat with Tias, I learn far more than I can hope to pass on. And more important, I follow verbal breadcrumbs that lead me exactly to where I am.
(The following entries are things that profoundly resonated with me at the time of training and are basically nothing more than a self-indulgent recording of that. Be forewarned.)

How interesting that as infants we engage the world strictly orally. Later, we create the world through another oral process, through words.

Reality as film: the illusion of the continuation of image. The stills are the aggregates. The light of our being serving as the light that animates.

Regarding the Chakras (ala the Anatomy of the Chakras training I was in), I'm currently stuck in the Vishuddha, as a writer, and as one who has recently returned to the land of my mother tongue.

Humor in the US of the put-down variety, a competition like everything else here. Japanese humor more of the pratfall variety, a social release valve.

Time spent near water increases prana. Relates to my own philosophy that the World's most beautiful cities are those that utilize their waterfronts well.

Incense is time literally passing before our eyes.

I'm an introvert with extrovert tendencies. I consistently play out my internal dramas and process in conversation. (Sorry!)

In Japanese, 'perception' is chikaku. Chi=knowledge. Kaku=Comprehension, satori, awakening.

Disillusionment with American life is a sign that I'm once again emotionally invested.

Buddhist eight-fold path related to Chakras, as stages toward liberation. (As are the 7 cities of Cibola, according to the incredible writing of Frank Waters).

I wanted to be a star in the land of conformity (Japan). I want to be conformist in a land where everyone wants to be a superstar. (US)

In this New Mexico of dramatic outer landscapes, I pass most of my time in inner landscapes. I need to return to external landscapes, including those citified.

On the turntable: Stiff Little Fingers, "B's, Live, Unplugged, and Demos"

Monday, December 27, 2010

Church is a Verb

While at Upaya Zen center, we had the opportunity hear Father John Deer speak passionately about Gandhian non-violent social action. We joined him for a demonstration at Los Alamos, and afterward, joined in a private discussion with some of that event's organizers. One of them was a Catholic priest with whom we eventually struck up a friendship. My return to New Mexico was confusing in many ways, but none more confusing than my feeling a pull toward the religion of my youth, which I quite deliberately left behind over two decades ago.

So it was to my surprise that I found myself attending a mass said by our new friend, Father Earl. The church was progressive in the same way that Santa Fe itself is, down to the art hung in the lobby. Rather than the long, narrow, and aged mission style churches found throughout New Mexico, this was a circular structure, all white and well lit. We were seated in the first row, made to feel welcome by the smiling faces around us. I've attended a few masses over the years with my mother down at her 300 year old church in Tome, but the mass said was world's apart from any I'd experienced before. The song were new, and our voices were led by a pair of altar girls, no less. There was a strong emphasis on study, rather than on mere worship and faith, an emphasis that knowing God takes some hard work. And being offered communion wine was something I hadn't seen since my childhood in the '70s. Most of all, was the sense of inclusiveness. Many of the pews up front were led to by ramps for wheelchairs. And the statues around the church showed faces beyond the usual long-haired, bearded hippie types; here was an African, there a Native American.

It would take a huge ideological shift in Rome to bring me back to the flock. But for one afternoon, I saw a glimpse of how wonderful Catholicism can be, if it were to listen to the tenets of love on which it was founded.

On the turntable: Dinosaur, Jr., "Where You Been"

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Sunday Papers: Maia Duerr

"Freedom...It's An Inside Job."

---header for her blog, "The Liberated Life Project"

On the turntable: Mr Fox, "The Gipsy"

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Weil away the morning

Got a chance to see Andrew Weil speak in downtown Albuquerque. After a nice announcement, he came striding up to the podium, a friend of the universe-ity. (This close to Christmas, it was impossible to ignore the man's resemblance to Santa Claus.) As he spoke, he constantly moved his large, nervous hands, but his talk was focused and casual, and filled with fascinating points I found myself frequently returning to later. Such as:

The word 'medicine' has Indian roots, and is etymologically related to 'meditate' and 'measure.'

Fewer than 27% of doctors in the US are members of the AMA.

Health care in the US is along the lines of a "disease management system," rather than true health care, which is more holistic and preventative.

Soy gets all the subsidies, rather than fruit or vegetables, which is where the truly healthy vitamins live.

It is illegal to advertise drugs in New Zealand.

The US government is finally beginning to recognize obesity as a problem, not out of concern for citizens, but because it threatens the pool of potential military recruits.
And finally, the word 'conspiracy' literally means to breathe together...

On the turntable: "Sub Pop 200" (Various)

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

It was much more than a hunch...

As children, we were all charmed by the quirkiness of The Brady Bunch. Little did we know that the melding of broken families would become the paradigm by the end of the 70s. It continues to resonate across an entire generation.

On the turntable: The Seeds, "A Web of Sound"
On the nighttable: Eli Levin, "Santa Fe Bohemia"

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Sunday Papers: Betrand Russell

"War does not determine who is right, only who is left."

On the turntable: The Doors, "Apocalypse Now"

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

It was 30 Years Ago Today...

My alarm radio turned on at 6:30 as it always did. I had it set to WPLJ, a station I'd discovered a few months before. During the summer, my musical interests were expanding, due in part to an older friend up the street who turned me onto The Ramones "Rocket to Russia" and the first album by The Clash. One September afternoon, I flipped my radio's switch to FM for the first time, and there were The Talking Heads doing "Life without Wartime." My radio never played AM ever again.

This particular morning, the first words I heard were, "New York has been living a nightmare." My brain switched on instantly, wondering what had happened. Soviet attack? Another blackout? Then I heard that John Lennon had been killed.

When I didn't get out of bed, my mother came in to see what was going on. I told her I felt sick. She brought me the thermometer to take my temp, which I then held in front of the heater until the mercury rose past 100. I spent the rest of the day with the music.

I've often had the experience where I really heard a band for the first time, despite having listened to them for years. It's happened with Dylan, with The Clash, and many others. Lennon's music too seemed to flow in and out of my life. One night in college, while watching the film, "Track 29," I was floored by the song "Mother,' it having special resonance as I was in the midst of an existential coming to terms with the fact that I'd been adopted.

In Japan, I found traces of Lennon all around, not really a surprise considering the Yoko connection. The tribute compilation, "Working Class Hero,' was in frequent rotation during my first year there. When I was in the national finals for Shorinji Kempo, standing on the floor of the Budokan with the other martial artists, my thoughts weren't on how far I'd come, or on the competition later in the day. My mind was instead fixed solely on "Holy Crap! John Lennon played here, man!" After my son was born, I'd often sing to him, "Beautiful Boy." That line saying life is what happens when you are busy making other plans took on a horrible resonance after Ken died.

Today, thirty years after Lennon's murder, I again find myself with the day off. I'll simply sit, dream my life away, and watch the wheels go round and round...

On the turntable: John Lennon, "The Lost Lennon Tapes"

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Sunday Papers: Porter Fox

"Travel is not exploration. It is about taking things from each other."

On the turntable: Graham Bond, "Holy Magick"

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Temps Perdu

"When a person, a storehouse of memories, dies, do the things remembered cease to exist?"

Grateful Dead, Reckoning"