Thursday, August 13, 2009

Monday, August 01, 2005


To my surprise, after several months of weight training with my basic dumbbell starter set, I am coming to a point where I need to add weight to some of my exercises; the two most important ones being the bent-legged deadlift and the squat. Over the course of my life I have undergone three laminectomies (removal or ruptured portions of disk material in my lower back). Needless to say I am very cautious when it comes to lifting, so have taken my routine involving my back exercises very slowly. No problems so far, but I came across a not too well know variation of the bar configuration that is designed to "reduce spine stress relative to the straight bar. It reduces spine stress relative to the straight bar deadlift... insuring that your lower back can be kept flat in this this extended range of motion." I'm hoping this will solve the problem of additional weight that in the past has caused me so many serious injuries. It can also be use for squats with the same advantages and additional safety factors. Check out Peidmont Design Associates for details.

Friday, July 08, 2005



"...even the things inside us that seem most terrible or unworkable contain a deeper intent that needs to be unlocked and redirected in a life-affirming way. Hidden within every wound we always find a particular blessing. If we blame ourselves for our personality patterns, we cannot access the gift contained within them and thus only impoverish ourselves further. Whatever we are struggling with, whatever seems most neurotic, can become an important stepping-stone on our way. Whatever problem, question, or confusion we have, whatever seems impossible in our lives--if we go toward it, see it, feel it, make a relationship with it, use it--becomes our path.
Tantric Buddhism uses the metaphor of a snake uncoiling in midair to describe the process of awakening. The coils of our neurosis have raw, wild energy tangled up in them. To uncoil these tangles, so that we do not remain ensnared, we do not have to kill the snake, or even sublimate its energy into more socially approved forms. Instead, by simply allowing it to do what in naturally wants to do--to unwind--we can tap its power and aliveness. What allows the coiled snake of the mind to unwind is awareness and gentle compassion. Compassion does not try to suppress the snake's wildness, but rather draws on the energies tied up in our neuroses to propel us forward on our path. And this path--of liberating the qualities of our being, proclaiming and celebrating them, and using them to help ourselves and other people--is never ending."

Toward a Psychology of Awakening
John Welwood
pp. 33,34

Monday, July 04, 2005



Several years ago I had a large copy of this print framed and hanging in my bedroom, primarily as another expression of the insight from my Pogo cartoon, "We have found the enemy and he us us". My experience has been that, in Ernest Becker's words, "normality is neurosis". And from the wisdom that comes from those in AA, we can be more specific as to the nature of this neurosis; "Selfishness-self-centeredness! That, we think, is the root of our troubles." End of story?
Some time later my partner at the time, in referring to my practice of centering prayer, accused me of engaging in just the sort of selfish selfcentered behavior my artwork referred to. It was suggested that I should rather be spending my time helping others instead of prayer for myself all the time. John Welwood in Toward a Psychology of Awakening speaks directly to this issue. "Misconceptions of meditation are common in the West. Some view it as a self-improvement technique, others regard it as a passive withdrawal from the world. The approach developed here allows us to avoid both these pitfalls, for it is grounded in an understanding of the total interpenetration of organism and environment, self and world. In this light, the following description of meditation from a Tibetan text begins to make sense:

One should realize that one does not meditate in order to go deeply into oneself and withdraw from the world...There should be no feeling of striving to reach some exalted or higher state, since this simply produces something conditioned and artificial that will act as an obstruction to the free flow of the mind...The everyday practice is simply to develop a complete awareness and openness to all situations and emotions, and to all people, experiencing everything totally without mental reservations and blockages, so that one never withdraws or centralizes onto oneself...When performing the meditation practice, one should develop the feeling of opening oneself out completely to the whole universe with absolute simplicity and nakedness of mind". The way in is the way out.

Monday, June 27, 2005


"Hidden within every wound we always find a particular blessing. If we blame ourselves for our personality patterns, we cannot access the gift contained within them and thus only impoverish ourselves further. Whatever we are struggling with, whatever seems most neurotic, can become an important stepping-stone on our way. Whatever problem, question, or confusion we have, whatever seems impossible in our lives - if we go toward it, see it, feel it, make a relationship with it, use it - becomes our path.
It is easy to become discouraged by life's challenges, to ask, 'Why is it so difficult to be human, why do I have to go through this, why am I not more enlightened?' In our despair we fail to appreciate the path quality of human evolution. Enlightenment is not some ideal goal, perfect state of mind, or spiritual realm on high, but a journey that takes place on this earth. It is the process of waking up to all of what we are and making a complete relationship with that."

Toward A Psychology of Awakening: Buddhism, Psychotherapy, and the Path of Personal and Spiritual Transformation
John Welwood

Saturday, June 25, 2005


I was just recently introduced to this book by
Cynthia Bougeault
, author of Mystical Hope. What caught my attention were the reviews on the cover of the book. It read like a Who's Who of those responsible for the renewal of the Christian contemplative dimension in the Twentieth Century;

"There is hardly a line without some profound significance... To me it is the last word in wisdom. It is simply astonishing. I have never read such a comprehensive account of the perennial philosophy."-Father Bede Griffiths

"It is without doubt the most extraordinary work I have ever read. It has tremendous spiritual depth and insight."-Trappist abbot Basil Pennington, OCSO

"This book, in my view, is the greatest contribution to date toward the rediscovery and renewal of the Christian contemplative tradition of the Fathers of the Church and the High Middle Ages."-Trappist abbot Thomas Keating, OCSO

And lastly, an afterward by Swissborn Hans Urs von Balthasar, called by the late Pope John Paul II as "one of the most extraordinary theologians and social scientists, who deserves a special place of honor in the cultural life of today."

In a more extensive review Keating goes on to suggest "it (Meditations on the Tarot) deserves to be the basis of a course in spirituality in every Christian institution of higher learning and what would be even better, the point of departure and unifying vision of the whole curriculum." Well there's an opportunity begging to be appropriated (Integral Institute perhaps?).

Wednesday, June 08, 2005



This has always been a favorite cartoon of mine and I hesitate to add any comments because I feel in its wonderful simplicity it expresses a truth drawn from the deepest of wells. From time to time you hear from people who have friends in AA or Alanon who have come to the conclusion that the world would do well to head many of the principles promoted in these recovery organizations. One such principle foundational to "working the steps" is performing a fearless and searching moral inventory of the mistakes we were resonsible for amidst our troubles Most people get stuck at the point of truth that "this world and its people were often wrong". But for the fortunate ones that let wisdom permeate their souls, it is realized that the field of battle ( a term that would be familiar to St. Theresa of Avila) is our own back yard. The real hope of changing a conflicting drama in our lives is to change ourselves. In a painful scene illustrating this reality, Jesus drives home this insight to a wounded and demoralized Peter after he had publicly denied Jesus and abandoned him in Jesus' greatest time of need. "When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, 'Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?' 'Yes Lord,' he said, 'you know that I love you.' Jesus said, 'Feed my lambs.' Again Jesus said, 'Simon son of John, do you truly love me?' He answered, 'Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.' Jesus said, 'Take care of my sheep.' The third time he said to him, 'Simon son of John, do you love me?' Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, 'Do you love me?' He said, 'Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you.' Jesus said, 'Feed my sheep. Follow me.' Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them. (This was the one who had leaned back agaisnt Jesus at the supper and had said, 'Lord, who is going to betray you?" When Peter saw him, he asked, 'Lord, what about him?' Jesus answered, 'If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me." Truly this world and its people are often quite wrong, and I pray for the grace to be able to offer them the tolerance, pity, patience and kindness I would hope they might offer me. But the injunction is clear; as to the fate of those who have harmed me, "what is that to you?'. You must follow me."
Web The Integral Path