Author Archive

Kabir: Are you looking for me?

Are you looking for me? I am in the next seat.
My shoulder is against yours.
You will not find me in stupas, not in Indian shrine rooms,
nor in synagogues, nor in cathedrals,
not in masses, nor in kirtans, not in legs winding around your own neck,
nor in eating nothing but vegetables.
When you really look for me, you will see me instantly—
You will find me in the tiniest house of time.
Kabir says, Student, tell me, what is God?
He is the breath inside the breath.

(as translated by Robert Bly)

quoted in Ram Dass,
Polishing the Mirror – How to Live from your Spiritual Heart
Colorado: Sounds True (2013)


Why seniors don’t get hired


Job Interview:

Human Resources Manager: “What is your greatest weakness?”

Senior : “Honesty.”

Human Resources Manager: “I don’t think honesty is a weakness.”

Senior: “I don’t really give a shit what you think.”

A present from Tony Mott, September 24, 2013.


Ram Dass: a guided visual meditation

Dear friends –

I hope you will like this meditation as much as I have, ever since i Heard Ram Dass say it on a cassette while I was driving to or from work. It has been a freind for a long time.

Peace –



Sit straight, so your head, neck, and chest are in alignment. Start by focusing in your heart area, in the middle of your chest, where the hridayam, the spiritual heart, is located. With your mouth closed, breathe in and out of your chest, focusing on your heart, as if you were breathing in and out through your heart. Breathe deeply.
Because of the purity of your seeking, many incredibly high beings are present, and with them comes the spiritual substance out of which all form derives. You can imagine that substance as a golden mist that fills the air. With every breath, don’t just breathe in air, imagine you are pulling into yourself this golden substance. Fill with it; let it pour through your entire body.
Breathe in the energy of the universe, the shakti of the universe. Breathe in the breath of God. Let it fill your whole body. Each time you breathe out, breathe out all of the things in you that keep you from knowing your true Self, breathe out all the separateness, all the feelings of unworthiness, all the self-pity, attachment to your pain, whether it’s physical or psychological. Breathe out anger and doubt and greed and lust and confusion. Breathe in God’s breath, and breathe out all the impediments that keep you from knowing God. Let the breath be the transformation.
Now let the golden mist that has poured into your being focus in the middle of your chest; let it take form as a tiny being, the size of a thumb, sitting on a lotus flower right in the middle of your chest. Notice its equanimity, the radiance that comes from within. Use your imagination. As you look upon this being, see that it is radiating light. See the light pouring out. As you meditate upon it, experience the deep peace that is emanating from it. Feel, as you look upon this being, that it is a being of great wisdom. It’s siting quietly, silently, perfectly poised in your heart. Feel its compassion and its love. Let yourself be filled with its love.
Now, slowly let that tiny being grow in size until it fills your body, so its head fills the space of your head, its torso, your torso, its arms, your arms, its legs, your legs. So now in the skin of your body sits this being—a being of infinite wisdom, a being of the deepest compassion, a being that is bathed in bliss, a being that is self-effulgent: a being of perfect tranquility.
Let this being begin to grow in size. Experience yourself growing until everything in the room around you is within your body. All of the sounds, all of the sensory experiences are coming from inside you.
Continue to grow. Feel your vastness, your peace, your equanimity. Your head extends into the sky. Expand until your town, your environment, and all those beings within them are contained within you. Experience the human condition, see the loneliness, joy, caring, violence, paranoia, a mother’s love for her child, sickness, fear of death—see it all. It is all within you. See it with compassion and with caring, and, at the same moment, with equanimity. Feel the light pour through your being. Let yourself grow still larger. Feel your vastness increase until you are sitting in the middle of this galaxy, the earth deep within your belly. All humankind is within you. Feel the turmoil and the longing. Feel the beauty. Sit in this universe, silent, peaceful, compassionate, loving. All of the creations of human beings’ minds are within you; look upon them with compassion.
Continue to grow until not only this galaxy but every galaxy is within you, until everything you can conceive of is within you. All of it is inside you. You are the only One. Feel your aloneness, your silence, your peace. There are no other beings here; all planes of consciousness are within you, and all beings are within you.
You are the Ancient One. Everything that ever was, is, or will be is part of the dance of your being. You are the universe, so you have infinite wisdom; you feel all of the feelings of the universe, so you have infinite compassion. Let the boundaries of your being dissolve, and merge yourself into that which is beyond form. Sit for a moment in the formless, beyond compassion, beyond love, beyond God. Let it all be in its perfection. Very gently, very slowly, let the boundaries of your vast being, the One, reestablish themselves. Vast, silent, all is within you. Come back from beyond the One and slowly come down in size. Come down through the universes into this universe, until your head is once again in the heavens and the cities are within you.
Come down in size until your head is at the top of your room. Stop here for a moment. From this place, look down into your room and find the being who you thought you were when you began this meditation. Look at that being, bringing to bear all of your love and compassion. See the journey of that being as it is living out this incarnation; its fears, its doubts, its connections. See all the thoughts and objects it clings to that keep it from being free. See how close it is to knowing who it is. Look within that being and see the purity of its soul.
Reach down and, with your mind, very gently place your hand on the brow of this being and bestow upon it your blessing that in this very life it may fully know itself. Experience simultaneously that which blesses and that which is being blessed.
Now come back down into the body you thought you were when you began. You are still flesh surrounding a being of radiance and wisdom, a being of compassion that comes from attunement with the truth, with love for all that comes from being that vast One. That love and peace are pouring out of you to all beings everywhere, like a beacon for all those who suffer.
Remember those people toward whom you have felt less than loving. Look to their souls and surround them with light, with the love and peace of this moment. Let go of the anger and the judgment.
Send the light of love and peace out to those who are ill, who are lonely, who are afraid, who have lost their way. Share your blessings, because only when you give can you continue to receive. As you journey on this spiritual path, accept the responsibility for sharing what you receive. That is part of God’s harmony, of becoming an instrument for the will of God.
Let the radiant, perfect being within you again assume its diminutive form, the size of a thumb. See it again sitting on a lotus flower in your spiritual heart, in the middle of your chest, radiant with light, peaceful, immensely compassionate. This being is love. This being is wisdom. This is the inner guru. This is the being within you who always knows. This is the being you meet through your deeper intuition when you go beyond your mind. This is the tiny form of the entire universe that exists within you.
At any time, you need only sit and quiet your mind, and you will hear this being guiding you home. When you finish this journey, you will have disappeared into this being, surrendered, merged, and then you will know the truth that Ramana Maharshi, a great realized being from India, meant when he said that God, guru and Self are one.

Ram Dass with Rameshwar Das
Polishing the Mirror –How to Live from Your Spiritual Heart
Colorado: Sounds True (2013) pp. 9-12


border checkpoints that are hundreds of miles from border:


Let us now praise Terry Bressi of the University of Arizona, who is publicizing the existence of in-country border checkpoints that are hundreds of miles from the nation’s edges. Bressi films his encounters – more than 300! – and posts the vids at his YouTube channel.

Watch the vid above but expect to get pissed at the enormous waste of time, resources, and American idealism.

Thanks to Chas for this heads-up.

Peace –



Wisdom from the Dalai Lama about farting:

Hi folks –

Here is a lovely Thanksgiving sentiment from Chas Pyle about farting.

I hope you will all like it as much as I do. Do pass it on.

Peace –



Tell Google to wake up: we have ONE climate, and we are wrecking it

Dear Friends,

I just heard a very troubling thing — Google has joined ALEC, an organization that tries to pass bills that would oppose fracking disclosure, require public schools to teach climate denial, make reporting industrial animal abuse a crime, and attack our voting rights.

Google should know better! I signed a petition demanding they quit ALEC at once. Will you join me?

Check it out here:


New treatment discovered to cure MRSA infection:

Friends –

Pass the good news: MRSA is one of those killers that have gotten the medical community very worried. Pass the news along. Thanks to Terry Halwes for the heads-up.

Peace –


Posted: 13 Nov 2013 11:41 AM PST
Recent work promises to overcome one of the leading public health threats of our time. In a groundbreaking study, the team presents a novel approach to treat and eliminate methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA, a potent bacterium whose resistance to antibiotics has kept it one step ahead of researchers. That is, until now.



Inkjet-based circuits created at fraction of time and cost:

Friends –

Another great post from Terry Halwes: Ask him to be put on his mailing list

Inkjet-based circuits created at fraction of time and cost
Posted: 06 Nov 2013 09:20 AM PST
Researchers have developed a novel method to rapidly and cheaply make electrical circuits by printing them with commodity inkjet printers and off-the-shelf materials. For about $300 in equipment costs, anyone can produce working electrical circuits in the 60 seconds it takes to print them.

Dig it!

Peace –



Scientists achieve levitation with acoustics

Thanks to Gaby Hollmann!


Writing the sound of water

Friends –

I apologize fro jumbled formatting. If it precludes understanding, please write to me and i will send you a Word file or a odf. My email is

Peace –


Writing the sound of water: Basho’s pond
Haj Ross
Poetics and Linguistics
University of North Texas

Stéphane Mallarmé told his painter friend Edgar Degas that lines of poems are never written with ideas (beautiful or not) – that they can only be written with words. This may puzzle us initially – words do, after all, convey ideas – what else is necessary? I will argue that the most important thing that writing with ideas alone leaves out is the body. Words can denote concepts, and many of them may also call up images, bits of experience from the visual mode or from other sense modalities, but all of them also involve a dance for the throat. What idea-writing leaves out is the feeling of syllables, vowels, consonants, all kinds of sounds pulsing on our breath. To learn to speak a language is (in part) to learn to produce incredibly complex sequences of contractions and releases of the muscles of chest, throat, jaws and tongue. To write poetry is to make sound and image and concept reflect off each other. To write


I propose to look at one of the most widely-known poems in the world: every Japanese child learns this haiku by the great master Matsuo Basho:

huruike ya

ancientpond – oh

kawazu tobikomu

frog jump-beincluded

mizu no oto

water ’s sound

Translation is especially hopeless here – dozens have been tried. The one below is perhaps no worse than necessary:

oh – ancient pond!
a frog jumps in
the sound of the water

The poem has the macrostructure of a sonata: A – B – A – the first and last lines (the A’s) are just noun phrases – constituents headed by nouns. The first line exclaims: it presents us with a noun phrase, followed by ya – a particle which calls us to pay special attention – it’s a syllable a little like an exclamation point. Also, with respect to this line, it is worth noting that the normal word for “old” is huru-i – where the suffix -i expresses the present tense. So if Basho had written hurui ike in this line, it would have been better translated as “oh – pond that is old!” He had something deeper in mind when he chose a compounding of adjectival stem and noun in his huruike. Not many words can be preceded by the compounding form huru- : huruboosi, “old hat,” is one. It suggests something archetypal, primeval – possibly a way to suggest this in English would be to write oldpond – like Oldtown or Oldham. He wants us to feel the preternatural stillness and calm of the pond. The American Zen master, Robert Baker Aitken, suggests that Basho is the pond; that Basho’s contemplative practice has brought him to a state of total absorption and readiness, about to burst with potential. []
At any rate, the first line gives us a noun – a still, static pond. The second line, by contrast, gives us a small actor, a frog, performing one of the prototypical acts of a frog – jumping, the poem’s first verb, tobi – followed by, and fused with, the second verb, komu – a stative verb, which gives the result of the frog’s act: the frog and pond are joined in the (aftermath of the) jump. This compounding of verbs is possible in Japanese, but this particular sequence was perhaps new in this poem. Again, like the unusual fusing of huru and ike in line 1, Basho’s choice of incorporating a verb of action and its easily visualizable image with an actionless, more abstract, verb like komu may suggest a meeting of import, significance. The first line presents a stage – a tranquil pond – but hints at great potential. The second line announces an event of the greatest import. As in zen, there is no unimportant act – brushing one’s teeth is a sacrament – so here: every jump of Everyfrog is The Great First Jump – the Primal Event, in which Will shakes the world.
The second line gives us the most expected actor for this stage, doing what we expect a frog to do: entering its element, where it can be safer, find food, be in the company of other frogs. The smallest event, so routine as to risk being overlooked – but to the poised mind of the Zen student, the touch of a feather can trigger the mystical shift in awareness known as satori – an instant of realization, the goal of the seeker of wisdom. A mind perched on the abyss of satori is like a supersaturated liquid, which the falling of a single particle can transform into a solid in a revolutionary fraction of a second.
The great Japanese Zen master Daisetz Suzuki, who was instrumental in bringing the Zen teachings to the United States, describes such a moment beautifully:

Basho discovered this in the sound of the water as a frog jumped into the old pond. This sound coming out of the old pond was heard by Basho as filling the entire universe. Not only was the totality of the environment absorbed in the sound and vanished into it, but Basho himself was altogether effaced from his consciousness. Both the subject and the object, en-soi and pour-soi, ceased to be something confronting and conditioning each other. And yet this could not be a state of absolute annihilation. Basho was there, the old pond was there, with all the rest. But Basho was no more the old Basho. He was “resurrected.” He was “the Sound” or “the Word” that was even before heaven and earth were separated. He now experienced the mystery of being-becoming and becoming-being. The old pond was no more, nor was the frog a frog. They appeared to him now enveloped in the veil of mystery which was no veil of mystery. When he wished to communicate it to others, he could not avoid this paradox, but within himself everything was transparent, and no clouds of ambiguity enveloped him.

And the third line is again a noun phrase, a return to the motionlessness of the first line – an evocation of the sound of one of the four elements of universe – water. Water is essential for all that lives: English distinguishes between various “bodies” of water – ocean, lake, river, brook, well. These differ in size, in power, and in the sounds that are prototypically associated with them. The surf roars, waves lap the shore, brooks gurgle. But still water only shows its voice if something outside enters with enough speed – then water “goes” plop, kerplunk, splash. Water-sounds like these are surely some of our earliest acoustic experiences. Many of us have seen a frog jump into a still pond, have heard the sound of the water, have seen the ripples spread out in concentric, astoundingly circular, rings, have heard the silence return. The pond incorporates the frog’s act, as ike incorporates huru-, as komu incorporates tobi, as the silence incorporates oto.
The poem goes from state (a noun phrase) to action (a sentence) and returns again to state – a noun phrase. But this final noun phrase, unlike the one in the first line, is not inert, at rest. The word oto, the final word of the poem, is an energy word. The everyday jump of the frog, in the sentence of the second line, has triggered the release of the sonic energy that was dormant in the pond. The second line of the poem gives the complement of oto – the act which brought forth the essence of water, a sound known to all humans, everywhere. Thus, as Aitken Roshi points out (op.cit), though the first two lines are separated, by the final ya of line 1 (In Japanese, such particles are called kire-ji – “cutting symbols.), the last two lines fuse into one syntactic unit, the second line being something like an object of the noun that ends the line to follow. A translation which may come closer to suggesting how these lines can be heard by a Japanese would be

the water-sound of the frog jumping in (to the pond)

In short, everything depends on this last word of the haiku: oto. We notice that to, the second syllable of oto, repeats another syllable of the poem: the first syllable of tobi, “jump.” Not by coincidence, there is only one more pair of repeated syllables in the poem: the syllable zu ends kawazu, “frog,” and also ends mizu, “water.” These two pairs of syllables are adjacent in line two: they occur at the juncture where the actor kawazu meets its act, tobi(komu). We might see them as marking the spark of action. And then, in the next line, we find zu and to again, as the final syllables of the two nouns into which the frog’s action unfolds the notion of the pond: what it consists of – mizu, which we can perhaps see as a kind of abstract actor – and oto, the resultant sound energy which the act called forth.

I would like to suggest that this three-line sequence of stopped – act – stopped is reflected in the phonetic structure of the Japanese word for sound: oto. Vowels are much more suited to convey states – they are singable, prolongable, and holdable – they are long enough to hold, touch. By contrast, consonants are too short. The very morphemes of which con + son + ant is made mean something like “that which sounds with.” Thus the wave of a vowel is cut, interrupted, by the consonant.

Not by coincidence, there are only two places in the poem where vowels come together with no interrupting consonant: two syllables from the beginning of the poem (huru + ike) and symmetrically, two syllables before the end of the poem (no + oto). This mirrored placing is connected to another deep similarity: there are only two words in the poem that begin with vowels – the poem’s first and last nouns, ike and oto. And in both of these words, and in none of the other four bisyllabic words of the poem (namely, huru, tobi, komu, and mizu) we find between the vowels the least singable of all types of consonants – the voiceless stops [k] and [t].

So the last three morae of the poem make two syllables: [no:to]. A mora is sort of like a syllable, except that to the Japanese ear, a long vowel, like the first and the last vowels of the word ookii, “big,” (phonetically [o:ki:]) has four isochronic (= equally long) morae: o + o + ki + i. Thus the correct description of the metrical structure of a haiku is not that it has seventeen syllables, divided into lines of 5 + 7 + 5 syllables, but rather that it has seventeen morae, divided 5 + 7 + 5. Thus the last line of huruike has only four syllables, but it has the metrically required five morae. Nowhere else in the poem do we find a long vowel. And, beautifully, this lone long [o:] is followed, after the briefest of stops, by a continuation of itself! In other words, we can view the last three morae of the poem as a triple-long [o::] interrupted by the quickest and smallest of obstruents – [t].

What are we reminded of here? Why of the poem itself! The syntactic structure of the poem (which is Noun phrase + Sentence + Noun phrase), a structure which semantically expresses State + Act + State, a drama which itself rhymes with the semantics of a life (we come from timelessness and locationlessness into the briefest of intervals and smallest of spaces, our life and body, and return into the Vastness of which Suzuki Roshi and Aitken Roshi speak so eloquently).

In other words, one of the reasons why this poem has survived for 400 years is because of its magisterial writing with words. The meaning and syntax of the poem rhyme with the music of its central word, oto. As we hear its music, we are entrained into its sense and structure. Like Basho, we are pond, we are frog, our life is kerplunk, our tinily immense existence is/becomes/is (thank you Suzuki Roshi)