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These are my notes for the talk Heather Mendel and I gave at the Central Coast Book and Author Festival yesterday. We each chose three talking points drawn from our own tradition. My points are are in bold below, followed by aphorisms I used to expand them. Revising your view of the world
• Consciousness is our very existence; it is our Being. - Mark Dyczkowski
Maya - illusion - to count or measure
Behold the universe in the glory of God and all that lives and moves on earth. Leave the transient; find joy in the Eternal. - Isa Upanishad
Observe constantly that all things take place by change. - Marcus Aurelius
Cosmic Consciousness is the Highest Common in the Cosmos, the Unity that pervades the diversity of the Universe. -GB
Freeing the mind from the fetters of materialism is like untangling a scarf from thorn bush. - GB
We have come into this exquisite world to experience ever and ever more deeply our divine courage, freedom and light. - Hafiz Those who seek security from matter alone can never have any real sense of security. GB
Where the old tracks are lost, new country is revealed with its wonders. -Tagore
Conscious evolution: taking charge of your attention/free will
• Prioritizing: "Attention is the key." - Ganesh Baba
What we pay attention to grows. - GB
Man now has a mandate to turn a new leaf in life: auto-evolution, the only alternative to auto-extinction. - GB
Unlike Darwinian evolution this far, the next phase of evolution is conscious. It is up to us whether we continue to evolve or not. - GB
We must lose no time in realizing the gravity of our present predicament as a specific species geared to free will. - GB
Find the One everywhere and in everything and there will be an end to pain and suffering. - Anandamayi Ma
Nowhere to go but the heart - Rumi
Practice: conscious action
• Acting from a new perspective • Walking with feet in two worlds
The hand of human destiny oscillates between unity and diversity, spirit and nature, pure consciousness and action in the world of form. - GB
The words "yoga" and "religion" have the same meaning: the reunion of spirit and matter. - GB
Posture: When your back is straight, you look forward instead of down. Both your physical and mental perspective shifts. - GB
Straight back, open heart. - GB
Breath: The breath connects the world of space and time to the world beyond space and time. - GB
One person breathing slowly and deeply in a stressful situation where others are taking shallow unconscious breaths changes the atmosphere. - GB
Breathe in abundance/gratitude; breathe out surrender. - EN
Being present/service: Have no ambition, above all pretend nothing, but be at each instant the utmost that you can be. - GB
I slept and dreamt that life was joy. I awoke and saw that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy. -Tagore
The fight for the survival of the fittest must now be changed to the fight for the survival of the weakest. - GB
Kindness is the light that dissolves all walls between souls, families, and nations.— Paramahansa Yogananda
Take more time, cover less ground. -Thomas Merton
Put your heart, mind, and soul into even your smallest acts. This is the secret of success. - Swami Sivananda
The Crazy Wisdom of Ganesh Baba By Eve Baumohl Neuhaus Pages: 160 Price: Rs 295 Wit and wisdom, posture and possibilities, drugs and discourse on the hippie trail — the book on the multi-faceted Shri Mahant Swami Ganeshanand Saraswati Giri, aka Ganesh Baba, has enough to keep the serious seeker as well as those just curious, engrossed. Written by Eve Baumohl Neuhaus, one of Baba's many students, this unusually candid book throws light on the life and times of Baba, who "considered himself the true guru of the psychedelic generation."
If the title, The Crazy Wisdom of Ganesh Baba is a teaser, then the blurb "psychedelic sadhana, Kriya yoga, kundalini and the cosmic energy in man" points to the many topics that the mystic shares his insight on. Copious notes of the teacher himself are reproduced to illustrate his profound thoughts, which were more often than not inspired by chillum sessions.
Eve's book traces Baba's early days from his initiation by Lahiri Mahasaya to his discipleship with Swami Sivananda and also the period when he ran the Anandamayi Ma ashram. The author also covers the mystic treading the path of Naga Babas, whose affinity to cannabis and other entheogens are well documented. Baba's dos and don'ts for joint sessions are also touched upon, which include the importance of keeping your back straight and controlled, deep breathing while focusing your attention. Absolute honesty is the trademark of this book. The author pays glowing tributes to her beloved teacher, who is shown to predict that "the psychedelics, rather than the beefy-alcoholics are due to inherit the earth". Then she explains her surprise when she got to know about "his drunken rampages in New York City". Eve writes that even though Baba advocated vegetarianism, he had fish once in a while. She rationalises his behaviour with her arguments that teachers sometimes do have "crazy wisdom" to impart.
Baba's lessons on Crea (for creative) Yoga are given in alliterative 4 P's: posture, pranayama, pinealisation and pronov-mentation or posture (conscious posture and exercise), prana (conscious breathing and eating), practice (conscious action) and presence (constant awareness of consciousness). The various diagrams and charts for "The Cycle of Synthesis" that depicts the evolution of matter to consciousness and back help the reader appreciate Baba's scientific bent of mind. The book has its origins in Eve's work with Baba in updating his manuscript for a book titled Crea Sadhana. Ehud Sperling of Inner Traditions, which published Eve's book, gives an account of his days with the "outrageous" yogi in the preface. The picture of the 90-year-old Baba enjoying joints and dancing into the
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Monday was my rebirthday. It was also my 61st birthday. I'd decided in advance to designate it my rebirthday—it seemed like a good idea since I'm still returning from a flirtation with death. I'd establish a milestone add structure to my recovery. I didn't restrain myself from telling friends and family who came by yesterday that it was my rebirthday. At the same time, I tried not to have preconceptions of what a rebirthday might be like, just to stay open to possibilities.
The day came and went and it was wonderful.
Yet while reflecting on how what I might present it here the following day, I almost missed the point, the wonder of it all. I didn't feel as good as I would have liked. I guess I imagined that after my rebirthday, my regular energy, or better yet, some wonderful new energy, would return - and it didn't. In fact, I was tired all day - which, of course, colored my perception of the previous day.
My plan for this reflection was immersed in stories of what didn't happen on my rebirthday: if only the dinner guests at dinner had gathered in the garden first, if only this or that, I can't even remember what now, had happened, the day would have perfect. I even spent some time trying to figure out how I could share some very personal details in an impersonal way.
Fortunately, by the time I sat down to write, I realized what I'd lost sight of.
Here's what my rebirthday was really like.
I woke up early and went to see how the compass garden the boys made and planted the previous afternoon was doing.
It was flourishing!
Liam came out with me and picked the first ripe tomato. (Well, it wasn't quite that magical. The tomato plants had already been in the garden for a month or so.) The tomato joined some others as part of the huevos rancheros Tom made for breakfast.
Every day I'm better. Every day I feel fully myself for a little longer. I'm sleeping less—though I still took two short naps and one long one yesterday, felt depleted much of the day regardless, and then slept soundly through the night. On the other hand, friends were here from 9 in the morning till 1:30 in the afternoon, helping in the house, bringing delightful food, and sharing their healing energy with me.
My hand is close to completely mobile now. The areas around the scabs are tender, so I avoid using those parts of my hand - the finger easy, the palm not so easy - but I haven't been in real pain since the third day following the surgery, a gift I attribute entirely to Dr. Wood's extraordinary craftsmanship.
At the heart of the matter is caring: channeling the light of consciousness through the heart.
I'm very fortunate. My heart is overflowing with gratitude for the extraordinary care I received through this experience: from the folks at MedStop who recognized the danger and sent me right to the ER; to the ER staff who called Dr. Woods so quickly; to the nurses and hospital staff who managed the regimen of IV antibiotics pumped into the wound and my veins over the days following; to Dr. Holland who recognized the C. diff so quickly, and the ER staff the second time around who re-hydrated me and set me on the course to overcoming it; to Tom's round-the-clock compassion, to Josephine who showed up at my house the day after I came home bearing baskets of probiotics, burdock root, sauerkraut and yogurt, washed my hair, and fed both Tom and me and healing meal; and to the long list of friends who've sent loving thoughts, reiki, prayers and other forms of distance healing, to others who've visited, cleaned the house and brought meals. No wonder I'm healing as quickly as I am.
Nonetheless, this is a dualistic world, one in which heaven and hell co-exist. The loving care of all these individuals is balanced by the descent I experienced during the first few days of the ordeal.
The first instance of the opposite of caring came in the form of that sunny Californian optimism that makes San Luis Obispo the second happiest place in the world. We all assumed the dog bite would be fine; the dog's owner didn't even give me her name. A quick apology was enough.
2 Comments on Nowhere to go but the heart, last added: 7/16/2011
In January of 1998, some months before we moved to San Luis Obispo so unexpectedly, I found myself, equally unexpectedly, in New Orleans where, naturally, I had my palm read.
For $5, the palm reader began her reading by sharing a number of things about me that she couldn't possibly have known. A good intuitive, I thought. Then she said I would travel a lot that year, sometimes unexpectedly (already true), that I would change jobs, no, that I would have the same job but in another location (which turned out to be true as well), and that I would live into my 80's (very reasonable) but that I come very close to death once before that.
In the years since her reading, the palm reader became an integral part of my how-we-came-to-San-Luis story, but I never included the last part. Superstitious. Anyway, if every part of every prediction came true, we would live in a very different world. It's startling enough that so much of the rest of the story came true.
But now that part has manifest, too. On the day of the Grand Opening of Sweet Earth's new store (at Chorro and Palm), my palm was having own grand opening, my hand, and quite possibly my arm and my life, saved.
A few days later it happened again. Back in the ER for 7 hours of blood tests, stool cultures and saline solution dripping into my vein, I so severely dehydrated from a intestinal infection that my blood pressure was 77/48. A nasty bacteria (C. diff.) had taken up residence in my intestines, so beautifully clean from four days of intravenous antibiotics rushing through them.
Now I am recovering. It's taking quite a long time. I'm still so tired that I sleep for hours every day. My hand is recovering beautifully, though, thanks to Dr. Daniel Woods' excellent work. It's just taking a while for all those complex internal communities to be rebuilt.
Yesterday the sutures were removed from the wound at the center of my palm. What remains is a horizontal line with four tiny stars above it. A good palm reader would have more to say but it seems pretty obvious that the major lines on my right palm - are now connected: head to heart to life.
On Friday, July 1, the day of the new moon, partial solar eclipse and other assorted influences described here by Rick Levine and Jeff Jawer, I was sitting at the vet's waiting for my dog, Lily Bear, to be brought out after a night's stay at the kennel. A woman sitting about four feet down the bench received her dachshund, Annie, before Lily Bear arrived. A few moments later, Annie got off her owner's lap and crossed the bench to where I was sitting. Her tail was up and wagging, so I began to raise my hand from the bench to offer the back of it for a sniff. Very abruptly, Annie bit me.
Annie's owner grabbed her and said, "I'm so sorry! I should have told you she can be nippy!" She hurried off to pay her bill and was gone.
The bite was on the middle finger of my right hand. On the left side of my finger the skin wasn't broken, but on the right there was a deep puncture wound. The vet cleaned it up and put a band-aid on it, muttering something about how it might have hit a vein and how it might hurt like hell. "But it should be okay."
Lily Bear was brought out and, as I paid for her stay, the receptionist mentioned that she'd been bitten many times and it never came to anything.
But two hours into my shift at the chocolate shop, which began about an hour later, I was in such severe pain that I closed the shop and called the local urgent care center, which was, unfortunately, closed. So I figured I would ice the wound and go in the morning.
Events moved quickly the next day. The urgent care center sent me right to the ER. An infection had already followed the tendon in my finger into the palm of my hand. At the hospital, I was attached to a machine that began pumping antibiotics into a vein in my arm, an orthopedic surgeon showed up, and x-rays, an EKG, and volumes of blood were taken. Since I had eaten breakfast, surgery couldn't be scheduled until 4 that afternoon. It was my first surgery, and, for the first time in my life, I was given general anesthesia.
The surgeon made two incisions, one along the inside of the long finger next to the puncture, and one across the palm. The tendons were debrided and a drain placed in my palm. The surgery took about an hour, they tell me.
I woke up a while later and was wheeled into the hospital room where I would stay for the next four days.
The story isn't over yet, though I've been home another four days now, but what strikes me about the sequence of events is how strongly aligned they are with current astrology. How much more aligned can they be than this?
I'm not ready to speculate on the meaning of such a blatant manifestation of the current astrological geometry, but as Levine and Jawer point out, we're certainly not in Kansas anymore.
In the version of the Iroquois Creation story I learned as part of the American Indian Program at Cornell so many years ago, the Twins were called Flint and Twig. They're Flint and Sapling in the linked version here and more closely associated with good and bad than in they are in the story I know; in fact in some versions they're called the Good and Evil Twins. In others, they go by Good Mind and Bad Mind.
Together, they create our world; one creates flowers, the other poison ivy; one creates prey, the other predators. From birth, one obeys his Mother and the other disobeys. Eventually they fight to the death, choosing one weapon after another, until—through cunning and flexibility—Twig overcomes his much stronger brother Flint, who is forced to live under the surface of the earth where he rules to this day.
Whatever his name, the flexible twin is the one best suited to living on the surface of the earth.
Ganesh Baba liked to quote Tagore: "Let your life lightly dance on the edges of Time like dew on the tip of a leaf."
Some notes and thoughts, October 12, 2008 Some editing and additions, December 4, 2010
We must become more familiar with the essence and structure of consciousness, because it is out of consciousness we come and to consciousness we return.Ganesh Baba, “The Rochester Raps,” recorded by Ira Landgarten, 1981.
The cosmos is created out of consciousness vibrating at different frequencies, visible to our limited senses as a fractal world created from rainbows and scales:
The eight broad categories, matter, energy, space, time, life, mind, intelligence and consciousness, all operate within the human psyche, but the physical body operates only in the first three dimensions: matter, energy and space. The fourth dimension, time, we can barely conceive; it is like a baby moving around in the womb trying to understand the outside world. GB
Intelligence = Divine Wisdom, Sophia, Buddhi
The subtle world creates the material world. As Swami Armitananda once said, "It is obvious that mind controls matter every time you lift your arm," and science has long shown that the material world disassembles as our understanding of it becomes subtler and subtler.
We misunderstand the subtler worlds when the mind claims greater wisdom than it has, and it sees exactly the opposite of what is. The infinite fractal world of scales and rainbows is reduced to limited patterns conditioned by experience. Consciousness appears to flip and become its opposite: Mercury, in flight between worlds.
The möbius twist.
Thoughts, inhabitants of the world beyond space and time, take on a life of their own whenever they get the chance. Potential archetypes, progenitors of the world in which we live, arise with every word we say, with every intention, with every mood, with every thought we have (conceive: give birth to, create), whether conscious or unconscious. Some thoughts, conceived in the unconscious, take on the dark aspect of things not understood; and others, born in the light of consciousness, bring wisdom and understanding.
We fear what we don't understand - and we project our fear outward onto others and into the future.
Jung knew. The darkness is coming into the light now, willy-nilly. GB
How relevant this is now - during the darkest days of the year, as we near the Winter Solstice. In fact, these are the darkest days of darkest times in my lifetime, in most of our lives, if not in the life of our civilization, and possibly our planet.
The quality of each individual's consciousness, whether receptive or resistant, high or low, subtle or dense, with which we receive and respond to the darkness determines our experience. Our experience, in turn, creates the lens through which we focus our consciousness.
The focusing mechanism of the lens of experience is attention. We can choose what we pay attention to, what we shed the light of consciousness on.
My head was full of facts (nice facts about chocolate, but facts nonetheless) and my body full of adrenalin. I was late starting, so I skipped the stretching and wiggling part of my routine and the rapid exhale cleansing breaths and went straight into long, slow deep breaths. Over and over my mind was drawn back to the same mental pathways I had been using all day. Once on those comfortable tracks, other thoughts of similar vibration flooded in.
Recognizing and accepting that my head needed extra time to empty, I patiently returned to breathing consciously and refocusing on the third eye and listening to the OM again again. It was well after the 11 minutes passed before I was able to move beyond the day's issues. I missed the pleasure of knowing and feeling that I was part of a worldwide phenomenon. There was a time when I'd have been hard on myself for missing the opportunity, but over the years I've learned not to judge myself - or others - so harshly. We're all evolving at our own pace.
I probably sat for 20 minutes before I unwound sufficiently to be relaxed and receptive, which is the key to real meditation.
Then the vision of a world built on love returned. At first I saw people and animals interacting in a landscape of lovely soft hills, like the ones in South Wales. Around each person, each animal, and each feature of their surroundings was a swirling cloud of changing colors. The colors moved in and out of the center of whatever they are massed around, concentrating at the center, dissipating at the edges. As they shifted, they interacted with and affected the colors of nearby swirls.
Then my perspective rose, and I could see that the colors were also interacting on at a higher level of organization. Similar patterns on a larger scale emerged. Some areas were darker and some lighter, some larger and some smaller, but the fluid dynamic remained constant. Colors flowed into other colors intensifying and then fading, a shifting flux of twisting spherical swirls.
At the center of each swirl, no matter what its size, the color was so dense it looked black. I tried to let my relaxed attention focus on one of the points of darkness, but as I drew near, my field of vision was flooded with light.
Spiritual practice streamlines the turbulence of mind. Then the Sun of Suns, Absolute Consciousness, clearly reflects on the mirror of mind. Ganesh Baba
I bathed in the inner sunshine for a time and then came back to the world slowly, with a smile.
The Cosmos is differentiating, diversifying and preparing itself, always, for the coming of life, the coming of consciousness. Ganesh Baba
When I sit for 11 minutes at 9:11 every evening, I go through my crea routine (from page 61), set the stage quickly with a thought - tonight it was "getting there from here"- and then slide easily into taking ten or so of the longest, slowest, deepest breaths I can take - it's like getting into a pool and swimming. When I get to the end of an in- or out-breath, I usually pause and listen. Pranov, the OM, rushes in between breaths.
As I breath consciously and rest in the OM, I focus my attention on the area just in front of my forehead above my eyes and at the forefront of my brain, the third eye. Baba's name for the energy center there is the gyral center, which is very fitting, since, with sufficient attention and appropriate action, the spinning of the gyral center will take you into other dimensions.
The answer to how do we get from here, this collision-course existence, to there, a world built on love, comes slowly, over days of meditation.
We get there by doing what we're doing: millions of us are sitting together for 11 minutes a day envisioning the new reality, creating it consciously in the light of the highest good; and we get there by living as if a world based on love was already our collective reality. Instead of physical gifts, gives gifts of attention. Pay attention to where your attention is going. Notice the vibration.
When Ganesh Baba noticed that one of us was being insensitive to the general vibration, the ambiance, he would say, "Don't screw up the pitch!"
In today's world it seems pretty clear that the great myth we all believe in is the economy. As my father used to say, "The Mighty Dollar is our god." He was right when he said it in the 1950's and he'd be even more right now. The bottom line is indeed the bottom line.
What if the bottom line was love? What if love was the main myth, the most valued, the way goods are passed?
Relationship would be more important than acquisition. Love would be our currency. What we pay attention to grows. - Ganesh Baba
The first definition in the dictionary for the word currency is "the metal or paper medium of exchange that is presently used"- money - but it is also "the property of belonging to the present time." To be current is to be up to date. Time, like a river or like electricity, moves in a current. A current, like the passage of goods, flows.
So currency in a broad sense is a very interesting concept: the warp of space and the weft of time coincide in currency. Currency refers to the Now in the Tollean sense. How telling it is that our civilization values physical currency so highly and has gives so little value to currency in time - when currency in time is the key to such treasures.
Live it light. Only a touch. It is all right here. - Ganesh Baba
What if love replaced money as the medium of exchange in society? Good relationships would be more important than things. We would take care of one another and share whatever we have instead of holding onto it. Being rich would mean being in good relationship with the entire environment: family, neighbors, animals, plants, the earth itself.
A few years ago, when the economy was failing all around us, a surprising thought came to me: Tomorrow's currency is love. The idea arrived with such force that I had to consider it then and it came back again and again, even though the phrase didn't make much sense to me at the time.
The first night of my 11.11 meditation, the thought came to me right away. My mind would have been happy to analyze and ponder it, to take it apart etymologically, historically and philosophically, to stay with it for the entire eleven minutes, but I chose not to follow any of those enticing pathways. I pushed it aside in favor of a quick wish for a world built on love, listening to the OM and sinking into silence. After the meditation, I was left with a series of questions. How would such a world work? Could it work? How can we get there?
The following evening, I began with the thought of a world based on love again. Images of people relating to one another in loving instead of warlike ways, of unraped landscapes, of harmonious interchanges with animals, arose.
On the third night, the vision took form fairly rapidly but it was less detailed. In fact, its details were veiled in airy color, as if washed over with watercolors. The colors, which were varied, soft and lovely, flowed and changed as people and animals moved and interacted. The changes in their colors in turn affected the colors of the landscape. It all blended together harmoniously in a softly swirling fractal pattern. Afterward, it came to me that I had seen a version of the "fractal world of rainbows and scales iterating about us endlessly" that Ganesh Baba describes and I write about in The Crazy Wisdom of Ganesh Baba.
I realized that to live in a world built on love our senses would have to be much more finely tuned than they are in this world. A world built on love would be based on intuition and inspiration rather than hard sense data; on metaphor, symbolism and ta'wil rather than literal interpretation. Creation would arise more directly out of resonance and likeness. Thus the question that came - but how would we make a living? - was answered, good will provide goods.
By last night, the phrase "love as currency" began to makes sense to me, but I'll have to let those thoughts incubate until I have more time to write.
For several nights now I've been taking part in the New Reality Transmission worldwide event in which thousands, maybe tens of thousands, maybe millions of people are meditating on a world built on love for eleven minutes, at 11:11 (EST), for eleven days, beginning, of course, on 11/11.
Each evening I settle into a quiet place where I can sit comfortably with my back straight - or, as Baba would say, my antenna aligned. As I get settled I wiggle a little to loosen up, and exhale rapidly a number of times to clear my lungs, sometimes using my arms like chicken wings to help pump out the air. Then, relaxing more and more deeply, I take about ten of the longest, slowest breaths I am capable of taking, the out-breath roughly twice as long as the in-breath.
I use mantras with my breath practice. Ever since I learned it from Baba, a simple OM on the in-breath, OM on the out-breath, has been the core of my practice. Sometimes I sing the word to myself as I breath, going up and down the scale, or to some melody, but more often I just listen to my inner sound.
The syllable OM represents the primal vibration, the sound of the Big Bang behind space and time. Our ears cannot possibly hear it - but our bodies do sing, some more loudly, some very softly. The body's song is not respected in today's world; we call it "tinnitus." I call it my personal OM and I find listening to it immensely peaceful. I revert to OMing in one form or another between periods of trying other mantras that have come to me from here and there over the years.
Currently, I am using abundance on the in-breath, surrender on the out-breath. I don't use the word, I feel the idea; it's vibrational.
When I am begin the slow, rhythmic breathing that I try to maintain through rest of the meditation, I think about a new world built on love, a world where the currency is love instead of money.
Each evening the thoughts that come to me when I set that stage are becoming clearer. I've been taking a few notes after each meditation. Over the next few days, I'll try to find the time to put some of those understandings here too.
It doesn't matter how close to perfection you are now; it matters that you are headed in the right direction.
I attribute this comforting quotation to Ganesh Baba, but, to be honest, I don't know who said it. Baba's soft, comforting side was one I knew well, but it's not the side he shows in his writing and it emerges only rarely in the recordings I've listened to. What he does say about perfection is almost always about the importance of striving for it.
The statement arrived in my consciousness one morning some months ago as I stretched my leg and back in the mahamudra. Baba was watching from his picture on the altar.
Deeply engaged in the practice, I was attending to my body's subtle and not-so-subtle responses as I inched closer and closer to closing the circuit when the thought came.
Yogic and tantric lineages use the term mahamudra -"high" "gesture"- for practices they consider most central to their teaching. I've been practicing the Kriya mahamudra for more than thirty years, sometimes more, sometimes less. Over the years it's improved, but my 60-year-old body, while built very well for carrying babies both inside and out, was never not perfectly aligned; and my mind, which leans toward being in charge and being right, is not inclined to focus on weakness.
For many years, I always felt not-good-enough about the physical aspect of my practice - however much time or effort I put in seemed not-enough. Only relatively recently have I begun to able to override the constant vague feeling of guilt by giving my full attention to the practice itself, a big step.
When the new thought arrived, my last underlying feelings of inadequacy faded away.
We are all imperfect; there's no more point in dwelling on our weaknesses than there is in dwelling on our strengths. It's ego both ways.
Baba tells us that conscious evolution is about using humanity's specific gift of free will to strive for an ideal state in body, mind and spirit. Accepting what is as it is, the feminine side of the practice, is as much part of the ideal as inching forward, the masculine side is.
"It doesn't matter how far from perfection you are; it matters that you are facing the right direction now."
About a week ago, during that very intense grand cardinal cross, I heard Jon Young telling stories about his recent visit with a group of Kalahari Bushmen in Botswana. What struck me, other than the tragedy of what "civilization" has cost the human race, was that the Bushmen appear to only have two rituals: a greeting ritual, and what Jon called the spontaneous gratitude dance.
Every time a member of the community feels grateful, he or she does a happy, shuffling and shaking little dance. Whenever someone does the dance everyone nearby joins in and pretty soon the whole group is dancing. Jon showed video footage of the gratitude dance a few times, notably when a bottle of very special water was presented to an elder.
Earlier the same day, a friend leading a solstice ritual reminded us of the Haudenosaunee belief that the only reason for humans to exist is to say thank you, that the proper use of free will is to complete the natural circle of giving by giving thanks to nature and spirit for providing.The main understanding I took from my research on the grand cross was that whatever transpired in that time was likely to have a lasting impact -and there I was reflecting on the extraordinary power of gratitude twice in one day.
At the time I was preparing for a radio interview about The Crazy Wisdom of Ganesh Baba, trying to decide which of the 4 P's described in the book (Posture, Prana, Practice and Presence) I wanted to emphasize in the interview. I decided that the one that interests me most at the moment is the third, Practice, or conscious action, paying attention to what you pay attention to. What we pay attention to grows because we are shining the light of consciousness on it. What could have a more positive impact on the world than paying more attention to gratitude?
More than any other practice I can think of, taking on the essential human responsibility of giving thanks as Haudenosaunee saw it has potential to create just the shift in consciousness the human race needs right now.
And the Kalahari Bushmen have known how to do it forever.
So I've been doing the spontaneous gratitude dance for about a week. My dance isn't exactly the same as the one the Bushmen do, but my three grandsons picked it up instantly, not only dancing whenever I did but starting their own dances whenever they felt grateful. It's a little silly, of course, but a little silliness coupled with a lot of gratefulness is just what the world needs.
Here's the shop as it looks today. Its last incarnation was as part of a furniture store that took up much of the block. I've done drawings for what the front will look like - a new glass door and a radically different paint job - but it won't be done for another few weeks.
To get our plans okayed by the health department we're adding an ADA-compliant bathroom, a three bay sink and a mop sink, replacing the old carpet with linoleum (the expensive kind, too - they wouldn't accept our lower cost choice), putting in new wiring and a new ceiling, air conditioning and more.
This will be the retail area. It's small, just 20 x 30, I think. Behind the interior window there's larger area where we'll be doing packaging, shipping and storing the chocolate.
This is a picture of Karin Sander's "Siegfried" from the German book, Kunst in Scholade (Chocolate Art). Today's mail brought a fine new copy for the store in addition to a few more treasures:
The hot chocolate cup is my favorite. It's Austrian, made by Higgins and Seiter, translucent china with delicate roses and gold trim, and a wonderfully eccentric spiraling handle.
I also like the rabbit mold very much, even though it's only half there. He has a rather dignified look and stands on his own.
The other books all come from paperbackswap.com, where I've been using all my credits on chocolate books for the library. The shop will have a good library as well as chocolate books, new and used, for sale.
I thought I might sell the switch plate, too, but now that I see it, I know exactly which switch to use it on in the shop. Maybe I can find some more to sell...
Lately I've been spending a good portion of my time accumulating an eclectic assortment of chocolate things for the shop. Most of the stock is here now, and I've stopped looking for more for the time being.
Yesterday I ordered some postcards of old chocolate ads, framed three gorgeous chocolate trading cards
and an ad from a 1943 Life Magazine ("U.S. Troops Fight on Chocolate Diet"), and I cleaned the Godiva truffle trays that go in our big case. We call that case the Cadillac because that's what it is, an old one but a Cadillac nonetheless: sleek, curved glass and mirrors, gold trim. It's from St. Augustine, Florida. The other case is the Chrysler. In its previous incarnation it was a bakery case in a diner in North Hollywood. It has fins.
The new floors in the shop look great and the carpenter is working on the cabinets.
This press release took me all day to write, but in the late afternoon it went out to over 60 local media outlets. I got two responses right off: an automated response from a reporter who's in Morocco for a month (sounds nice!) and a call from another who wondered if we might hire her nephew. I think we'll get some buzz out of it though.
June 16, 2009 FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contacts: Tom Neuhaus firstname.lastname@example.org Joanne Currie email@example.com Eve Neuhaus firstname.lastname@example.org
Sweet Earth Chocolate Shop Grand Opening July 11
Sweet Earth Organic Chocolates announces the Grand Opening of its first retail shop on July 11, 2009, 11 AM, at 1445 Monterey Street, San Luis Obispo, four doors down from its present home above Splash Café-Artisan Bakery. The shop will carry an expanded assortment of their award-winning organic, fair trade chocolates as well as chocolate memorabilia, art, and cocoa-butter-based body-care products.
Chocophiles of every taste will find something to love in Sweet Earth’s broad range of delicacies — from the deepest of rich, aromatic dark chocolates paired with complex and exotic flavors (try the cinnamon ancho Aztec Truffle or the pineapple coconut Piña Colada), to the playful array of chocolates on sticks. New items also include creamy chocolate and peanut butter fudge, classic cherry cordials, and a line of vegan truffles.
Visitors enter the shop through a magical glass door created by San Luis Obispo artist Frank Zika set into a fanciful jungle of painted cacao vines. Inside, beautifully displayed chocolate is offset by bright hand-painted furniture and an eclectic assortment of books, china, tins and tools, all related to chocolate, from a 1943 ad (“U.S. Troops Fight on Chocolate Diet”) to a two-faced Peruvian drinking vessel. On the walls, continent-shaped collages display photos of chocolate production around the world.
As always, profits from sales directly benefit cacao farmers in Ghana and Cote D’Ivoire through Project Hope and Fairness; and, as always, Sweet Earth Chocolates are made from carefully selected beans grown in Fair Trade certified co-ops in Peru and Dominican Republic and are certified organic by CCOF. Sweet Earth is a local, artisan business and its chocolates will continue to be produced by hand on the second floor of Splash Café. Tours are available.
Tom Neuhaus, chocolatier and founder, learned his craft in Switzerland and from Jacques Torres at Cornell’s Hotel School. A professor in the Food Science and Nutrition Department at Cal Poly, Neuhaus also runs the student enterprise project, Cal Poly Chocolates. He travels to Africa regularly to work directly with the people of the cacoa-growing villages Project Hope and Fairness sponsors.
Contact numbers: Sweet Earth Chocolates (805) 782-9868 Joanne Currie (805) 544-7759 Tom Neuhaus (805) 441-6727 Eve Neuhaus (805) 441- 6739
Two friends and I sit by the fire together on the full moon.This month the full moon coincided with Dia de Los Muertos which falls just after Halloween, which is its turn replaced the more ancient Samhain. In most cultures marking this particular turn of the year, the veil between the worlds is thought to be thinnest, allowing easy contact with the ancestors.
So we welcomed the ancestors to our fire and we listened, pads and pens in hand.
My first guest was a very tall thin woman with bobbed hair and elegant clothing from the 1930's. I asked her what we needed to do to prepare for the coming transition. Her response:
Just release it all - let go - and you'll be provided for. Everything is already there but you don't see it. There is enough if you believe there is enough. Only the ones who who believe there is enough will not have enough.
We have always provided and we will continue to provide if only you can see what it is we are giving.
You are facing in the wrong direction. Face the sun and the sun will give. The cycle goes on even into another phase: a phase of forthrightness, of courage, of listening, of giving, of patience and of generosity.
Your job is to give back what has been given to you. Offer up your gifts to the sun. What you worship you become. Become light. Transform those around you through the power of light and love, and laughter.
Have no expectations, have no preconceptions - they will only cause pain.
The new phase will be a relief. The way you live now is so much harder.
It will be like getting off the train and sitting in the meadow.
Relax, release, regenerate.
Our second meditation brought a truly venerable guest to me: Ananda Mayi Ma, whose picture graces my altar. She stood quietly until I asked a question about my yoga practice, which I put many hours into at this time of year over the past three years, but haven't this year. Is it enough, I asked? She replied:
The practice is enough. Nothing more is needed.
It is enough.
Practice is always, every moment of every day.
Remembering god, remembering the spark of god in everything, feeling god in you and seeing god around you.
It is in the eyes. Look into the eyes when you speak and the god in you will speak to the god in others.
Become god. We are all god.
Breathe in the present.
Breathe out the past to create the future.
In - out
Every breath creates past, present and future.
I am between the breaths.
I am you.
You may call me Mother.
As we sat waiting once more, I noticed my friends busy writing while I still stared at the fire. Then a figure rose from the flames, a fire woman, flaming clothing, flaming hair - fierce, frightening.
The fire cures the clay. You are clay. You are earth. If the earth burns, the clay will be hard enough to hold the water.
If the earth is to go on, we will be waiting.
We will hold you as the fire of transformation sears you.