November 9, 2012
Here's a link to a great website many of you may already know about, but I just discovered. What a great idea...and it is working! http://www.karmakitchen.org/index.php
October 10, 2012
Too many people whose intelligence I respect are starting to tell me that they are not voting in this election because the political parties are the same: Obama and Romney are cut from the same cloth; they are both in bed with corporate interests; they both support clandestine operations; neither of them cares about the ninety-nine percent. My friends say they are tired of having their vote taken for granted and then having that vote rendered meaningless because nothing really changes. It’s a peculiar conceit to think that this would be the moment not to vote. These candidates are not the same, and neither are the foundations of their opposing parties. And to say that there is no difference between Obama and Romney is to miss the day-to-day reality of the consequences of this election.
I was never a zealous Obama advocate.But only because I never thought one person would be able to solve all the problems we were facing. I never thought the right-wing conservative fundamentalists would let go easily. I never thought that the people who thought Sarah Palin was a genuine representative of women would ever change their minds, especially in a society that’s been brainwashed not to listen too deeply and not to see too clearly. (Someday in the not too distant future historians will recognize advertising as the true work of the devil.)
In 2008, I was simply willing to vote for whatever Democrat was the candidate, because Democrats have always been the party of women, labor, color, and all the other movements for social justice. Republicans have never taken the plight of the working person to heart. And they aren’t concerned with it now. I was raised in the 50s and 60s by what some might call rabid radicals, which means I was reared on the understanding of just how closely corporations control our culture – the military industrial complex isn’t something new. And because I was raised in a political household, I also learned quite early not to believe that most politicians (if any) have anyone’s interest at heart other than their own. Nonetheless, even in the thrall of such profound narcissistic soul corruption, some of our elected officials still care about their fellow humans.
I supported the Green Party until the Bush/Gore debacle. I remember all too clearly Ralph Nader’s Raiders on the Today Show asking him to step out of the race in Florida, because he had promised to do just that if the race looked close. He had promised to do just that if the race looked close. I’m repeating this on purpose so that there’s no confusion about Nader and his party -- they are no different from the others.
If you insist on the conceit of non-participation, then I suggest you adopt someone who will suffer from the consequences of your apathy. Bring a senior citizen, a family, an infant, a teenager, or someone on disability home with you to live. If the Republicans win, those people who require social services to survive will have to live somewhere – why not with you? But even if Obama wins, bring someone home to live with you so you can participate as an active citizen in the everyday needs of other citizens. So you can come to terms with the necessity of voting to keep social services alive. The survival needs of so many are so challenged right now that it is impossible to imagine that we will ever be able to help all the people in need, especially if the smartest, most thoughtful, and most idealistic among us decide not to vote because it’s time to demonstrate their dissatisfaction. I am as dissatisfied as you, but silence is not the solution. Martin Luther King, Jr., said we would remember the silence of our friends because silence is historically misunderstood to be consent. Not voting is the greatest silence of all. And this is not the time to consent to lies, ignorance, and bigotry.
March 12, 2012
If you haven't seen this, it is well-worth a look. And if you have, it might gladen your heart.
July 15, 2011
Thursday, July 14, 2011
The days here at Kalachakra have gone by so quickly. Each day my friends and I are up 5 or 5:30 to get to the Verizon Center by 7. We sit most of the morning and afternoon. And by evening are exhausted from the day. There’s barely time to read and study for the next day, let alone figure out what information to share with a modicum of clarity. Lunch and shopping seem to provide the major distraction.
The first day of the actual initiation was Wednesday, and as soon as the Dalai Lama started it, there was a huge thunderstorm here. Even in the Verizon Center, which is a huge structure, you could feel the thunderstorms rolling through AND hear the rain. Quite miraculous to feel nature so close. The synchronicity was amazing.
We are in the midst of the initiation now and I am unable to speak about the details. It seems so odd that there could be 12,000 to 15,000 people attending an event and some of the details would still stay secret. But not only do initiates have to make a vow to keep certain details secret. There are also aspects of the initiation that are kept secret from us.
The preliminary teachings began on July 9 and continued until July 11. Al mornings begin with prayers at 7 AM, although for the last two days, the Dalai Lama is there before 7. The Verizon Center doesn’t open until 7. Many attendees show up early to participate in the ritual prayers. It is quite something to be meditating in the cavernous hall of the Verizon Center along with the Dalai Lama and his retinue of monks. It’s very easy to fall back to sleep, but several of us keep wondering whether we are actually sleeping or if the energy being transmitted is so powerful, we are simply slipping into an intense altered state.
The Dalai Lama is in rare form – he’s vital and very, very funny, even if most of his jokes are monk jokes, a specific form of humor that doesn’t really translate well outside of the monastery….oh well.
Throughout the teachings he is stressing the development of altruism. The Kalachakra Initiation is the ritual where you consciously take the Bodhisattva vow and promise to work for the good of all sentient beings. He has explained that this occurs at several levels. For those not interested in making such a commitment, he advises simply holding an altruistic intention. For those willing to make the commitment, there are precepts to adhere to, most of which are about living a life devoted to causing no harm.
One of the keys to this initiation is the growing awareness of the interconnectedness of existence. This is what he explains as the true meaning of “emptiness”: Nothing exists in isolation, and therefore, everything is connected; it is that awareness that provides the potential to recognize that nothing exists independently and all sentient beings share the seed of Buddha nature.
My favorite idea from yesterday (and I am paraphrasing): Just because you can’t see something, doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.
July 9, 2011
Today is Friday, July 8 and the third day of Kalachakra is about to begin. The first day of celebration was the birthday of the Dalai Lama. It began with ritual prayers to prepare the site for the next ten days and then there was a birthday celebration at the Verizon Center, followed with a parade in his honor down Seventh Street. AT the birthday celebration, Arun Gandhi, Mahatma Gandhi’s grandson, as well as Martin Luther King, III, spoke of their personal family legacy of a commitment to non-violence, and of course, of the Dalai Lama’s similar devotion to non-violence. All reiterated that a commitment to non-violence is a commitment to internal non-violence.
Martin Luther King, III, said that to build a life and a world of peace and love requires personal sacrifice. And I could not help but think about what that sacrifice might look like in daily life. Not arguing to make a point. Not feeling superior to others. But also, stopping the internal monologue that justifies all those feelings that ultimately separate us from one another.
Arun Gandhi spoke of the lesson his grandfather taught him about passive violence when he lived with Mahatma Gandhi for two years. His grandfather make him write on the wall all the incidents he experienced of internal violence – anger toward others as well as toward oneself, prejudice, oppression – if only by a thought.
Each leader stressed the idea of the universality of our existence, stressing that when you genuinely care for others, there is no need for greed, stealing, cheating, or slavery. The Dalai Lama added that in order to carry the vision of peace, one needs self-confidence, especially the self-confidence that promotes the value of inner life. A calm peaceful mind full of self-confidence creates the environment for inner peace.
Thursday and Friday, ritual began with morning prayers with the Dalai Lama. The deep drone of the monks in prayer is quite hypnotic and after such a hectic couple of months, I found it difficult to just drop down into an altered state. But eventually by today, I think it will be easier to sustain such a prolonged meditation with so much happening around. These teaching are quite busy with people coming and going
Today, I skipped the Public Talk at the U.S. Capital. Although I wanted to participate in this historic event, I knew I needed to take care of myself so that I could be fully present for the teachings that begin this afternoon. The Dalai Lama is teaching on Gyaltsey Thokme Sangpo’s Stages of Meditation.
The Kalachakra mandala represents the Wheel of Time, as well as the Cosmos, internal and external. The purification rituals of the last several days have started the transformational process in earnest. Whenever the Earth Ritual dances occur, I tend to get dizzy and dislocated. The entire experience is imbued with such concentrated intention – it is thrilling to be a part of it. And humbling to be in the presence of such great masters.
Here is a link to the website if you want to tune in.
July 5, 2011
I am in Washington, D.C. attending the Kalachakra for World Peace, and I am thrilled to be here (and not just because I’m out of New York and the summer heat -- Washington promises to be even more humid). I’m happy to be a participant in this powerful practice because it is completely devoted to peace. I’m here with friends – dharma buds – and we will join several thousand other participants for ten days of meditation and contemplation on compassion; the event culminates in a vow to devote all efforts to the good of all sentient beings.
Here's a link to the website: www.kalachakra2011.com
And here is an excerpt from the website:
The Kalachakra for World Peace
For the first time, His Holiness the Dalai Lama will confer the ancient and profoundly meaningful ritual Kalachakra for World Peace in the capital of the United States, Washington, DC. The Kalachakra, open to all who wish to participate, has the power to benefit all beings on this planet. The Capital Area Tibetan Association welcomes you to join in this historic event, offered with the heartfelt motivation to inspire harmonious relationships and abiding peace in our hearts and in our world.
The Kalachakra Tantra teachings date back to the time of the historical Buddha Shakyamuni (approximately 6th century BCE), who transmitted them to the king of the semi-mythical land of Shambhala . The purpose was to help the king and his 96 lieutenants unite Shambhala’s subjects against possible foreign invasion. Thus began the tradition of associating the Kalachakra teachings with the promotion of world peace and with large audiences. Since that time, the Kalachakra Initiation has been given by an unbroken succession of great masters, including revered figures such as Lama Atisha and Je Tsongkhapa, and continuing directly to the present Dalai Lama, who has offered this great ceremony to hundreds of thousands of eager participants around the world.
Participants in the Kalachakra are generally divided into two categories: observers (the vast majority); and participants. While the latter commit to personal disciplines, involving daily practice, observers are welcome simply to watch the ritual, absorb what they wish of the teachings, and receive the blessing. All are welcome, each being free to accept this rich, sacred offering at the level he or she finds most comfortable.
Besides the preparatory teachings, the event includes a three-day empowerment process in which audience members visualize the Vajra Master (in this case HH the Dalai Lama) as the Kalachakra deity, and themselves reborn as his spiritual children. There follows the taking of Bodhisattva vows, along with a series of visualizations marking the rites of passage involved in attaining spiritual maturity.
Among the event’s most inspiring visual experiences is the making of the exquisite, colorful sand mandala by the monks of His Holiness’s personal monastery, Namgyal. This detailed work of sacred art, executed with utmost precision and related prayers, is a symbolic representation of the Kalachakra deity, his palace, and 721 surrounding deities. The Dalai Lama himself recalls that when, at the age of 18, he first saw the mandala, “I almost lost my balance just from looking at it...I was so moved that I choked with emotion.” It is supremely auspicious that in this time of demanding national and global challenges, His Holiness is conferring the Kalachakra empowerment in a location where local decisions affect multitudes around the world. All who are striving for inner growth and who wish to be part of furthering world peace are welcome.
For scholarly and detailed discussions of the Kalachakra, its history and its meaning, please enjoy looking at the website of our distinguished sponsors, Snow Lion Publications, with over 30 years of dedication to the preservation of Tibetan Buddhism.
About Kalachakra 2011
Beginning on July 6, 2011, the 76th birthday of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, a Kalachakra for World Peace will be offered in the heart of the US capital, Washington, DC. His Holiness will offer this great ritual empowerment, including preparatory teachings, from July 6 through 16.
The Capital Area Tibetan Association (CATA), along with the greater Tibetan community, Mongolians, Kalmyks, and the peoples of the Himalyan regions, join in acting on behalf of Buddhists throughout North America and the world. Together, we realize that the Kalachakra offers an unparalleled way to amplify the profound, unshakable commitment of His Holiness to values such as love, compassion, wisdom and interfaith harmony.
In addition, we humbly want to offer our work on this great event as an expression of gratitude to the people of the United States, our host country, and to all those in the Western Hemisphere and around the world who have so kindly supported the preservation of Tibet’s rich culture, spiritual heritage, and distinctive identity for many years now. We deeply appreciate how your kind and generous commitments has enabled Tibet’s unique spiritual wisdom-heritage to survive, spread and take root in all parts of our world.
The Kalachakra for World Peace 2011 will unfold in a world capital where local actions deeply and globally affect the lives of so many. It will provide a rare chance to act in powerful spiritual harmony as part of a huge group dedicated to invoking the power of great wisdom and compassion, so urgently needed in today’s world.
Highly accomplished spiritual practitioners from many traditions respect and honor the ancient ritual of the Kalachakra, first offered by Shakyamuni Buddha in India. Those who are devoted to achieving world peace can join like-minded others in an event made sacred by the moral force of our common motivation to benefit all.
As you can imagine, the expenses of holding such a long event in the center of a major city are formidable. We deeply appreciate any help you can offer. Your sponsorships and your donations, from the large to the small, will help us set ticket prices as low as possible so they are affordable to the largest number of people.
Together, we will gather to raise a living mandala, with His Holiness the Dalai Lama at the center, to teach us, guide us, inspire us, and bless us. Our beautiful and spacious venue will hold many comfortably, and we invite you to join us in seeing a great hall filled with devoted attendees, notable for their commitment to achieving kindness, wisdom and peace in our world, the antidotes so deeply needed to overcome forces of divisiveness.
You, by attending, will be the very instrument through which the great mandala of the Kalachakra for World Peace 2011 arises. Please join us in this noble gathering.
Information is provided throughout this website, and we welcome your interest and your questions, so feel welcome to contact us.
President of The Capital Area Tibetan Association
Representative of His Holiness the Dalai Lama
The Office of Tibet
Co-Chairs of the Kalachakra for World Peace 2011
January 5, 2011
Happy New Year! And it's off to a great start.
I will be speaking in San Francisco on Saturday, March 19 at the San Francisco Astrological Society Conference, Brave New World: Outer Planets in Transition.
My talk will be about the Uranus/Pluto squares of the next several years and how these squares can be seen as the astrological equivalent of a Hero’s Journey. It contextualizes the cycle through a mythic framework in order to allow a deeper understanding of its power and potential for personal as well as planetary transformation. Often understood astrologically as the principle of sudden change, Uranus is infamously at the center of startling twists of fate. As the original Greek sky god who joined with Gaia to create the Olympian Gods, Uranian thunderbolts of lightning still catalyze transformation by illuminating stagnant systems in need of renewal.
We have just completed a two-year cycle of Saturn/Uranus oppositions, during which time we witnessed the dissolution of structures and systems that no longer serve. But this process is not over. We have yet to witness what will rise from the ashes: we know what’s dying; we don’t know what’s being born.
The next four years of Uranus/Pluto squares hold the key to what lies ahead. Pluto’s primal force always demands a death as well as a rebirth, and as it joins forces with Uranus, we will hear what Joseph Campbell deems “The Call to Adventure.” As the journey of these Uranus/Pluto squares unfolds, it will be marked by a descent into the underworld, various trials and initiations, and most importantly opportunities to redefine masculine and feminine cultural archetypes. It will also include a reemergence into the world based on a new and expanded consciousness.
Bay Area residents: If you are interested in a reading while I am in the area, I will be available for readings on Friday, March 18, Sunday, March 20, and Monday, March 21. Please email me to arrange an appointment.
November 25, 2010
I've spent Thanksgiving Day catching up on my reading, some in preparation for next semester and some just for fun. In the just for fun category, although I wouldn't call it light reading, I found the following article: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/24/magazine/24volunteerism-t.html?_r=1&emc=eta1. I know I could/should share it on Facebook, but it feels more approriate to share it here. Also found this: http://kristof.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/10/20/how-to-change-the-world/. For those of us who continue to work to make a difference in the world. The article on volunteerism is truly inspiring. The resource of Kristof's column makes it easy to get involved, at least from a financial point of view.
November 24, 2010
If you’re reading this, you’re visiting my new website. Welcome. I hope you like the new look. For those of you who have been asking for archives all these years, they are finally here. For those of you who want to know how to spell “tchotckes” (a burning cultural question) check out the Aquarium Age store where I’m actually selling tchotckes. For those of you who don’t know what tchotckes are, they are the Jewish equivalent of knick knacks: useless but often beautiful things that tend more toward sentimental than actual value and eventually end up in a garage sale because they take up too much space or because they have lost their emotional splendor.
I decided to add “Terrestrial Musings” to the Aquarium Age website as a blog. There are lots of subjects I want to write about in the column but there is rarely enough room to cover all topics. There are also topics I want to write about that aren’t related to astrology. This blog frees me up to write without having to justify my point of view through the stars and planets. I can’t guarantee I will always have something interesting to say or that I will have anything to say at all. But when I do, I will post it here.
Thanks for visiting the Aquarium Age. I hope you enjoy the new site.