All posts by Mike Zonta

When Relationships Change: Anne Morrow Lindbergh on Embracing the Intermittency and Mutability of Love

By Maria Popova (themarginalian.org)

“God is Change,” Octavia Butler wrote, channeling in poetic truth the fundamental scientific fact of the universe.

We know this. And yet to be human is to long for constancy, to crave the touchingly impossible assurance that what we have and cherish will be ours to hold forever, just as it is now. We build homes — fragile haikus of concrete and glass to be unwritten by the first earthquake or flood. We make vows — fragile promises to be upheld by selves we haven’t met in a future we can’t predict.

The dearer we hold something, the more tightly we cling to the dream of constancy, the more zealously we torture ourselves with the belief that any change is loss. Naturally, it is in our intimate relationships that we most come to fear change and most suffer when it comes — a fear not at all groundless, given what relationship rupture does to our limbic system.

The salve for this singularly discomposing suffering comes not from ossifying change but from changing our beliefs about it. Such salutary recalibration is what the aviator and writer Anne Morrow Lindbergh (June 22, 1906–February 7, 2001) offers in Gift from the Sea (public library) — a book I found in a Little Free Library and felt immediately speaking to my soul, drawn from the diaries Lindbergh kept during two weeks of solitude on the ocean shore “searching for a new pattern of living” as she was entering the second half of her life, that vital “period of second flowering” when one is “free for growth of mind, heart and talent.”

Anne Morrow Lindbergh

Reflecting on the natural trajectory of intimate relationships, she writes:

The pure relationship, how beautiful it is! How easily it is damaged, or weighed down with irrelevancies — not even irrelevancies, just life itself, the accumulations of life and of time. For the first part of every relationship is pure, whether it be with friend or lover, husband or child. It is pure, simple and unencumbered. It is like the artist’s vision before he has to discipline it into form, or like the flower of love before it has ripened to the firm but heavy fruit of responsibility. Every relationship seems simple at its start. The simplicity of first love, or friendliness, the mutuality of first sympathy seems, at its initial appearance — even if merely in exciting conversation across a dinner table — to be a self-enclosed world. Two people listening to each other, two shells meeting each other, making one world between them… It is free of ties or claims, unburdened by responsibilities, by worry about the future or debts to the past. And then how swiftly, how inevitably the perfect unity is invaded; the relationship changes; it becomes complicated, encumbered by its contact with the world.

While this is true in most relationships, Lindbergh observes, the pattern is most pronounced — and most painful — in our most intimate bonds. And yet the pain we experience as a relationship exits this early stage of unselfconscious mutual elation is not evidence of loss — it is evidence of our misshapen ideals of closeness as a static pattern of attachment. She offers an alternative orientation to the inevitability of change:

We mistakenly feel that failure to maintain its exact original pattern is tragedy. It is true, of course, the original relationship is very beautiful. Its self-enclosed perfection wears the freshness of a spring morning. Forgetting about the summer to come, one often feels one would like to prolong the spring of early love, when two people stand as individuals, without past or future, facing each other. One resents any change, even though one knows that transformation is natural and part of the process of life and its evolution. Like its parallel in physical passion, the early ecstatic stage of a relationship cannot continue always at the same pitch of intensity. It moves to another phase of growth which one should not dread, but welcome as one welcomes summer after spring.

Art from Bunny & Tree by Balint Zsako

At the heart of this dread is our unwillingness to relinquish the polished self-image we see in the light-filled eyes of the other in those early stages of mutual infatuation, before we have touched each other’s darkness, before we have met the hungry ghosts of each other’s unmet needs. We long for that image, perfect and haloed with adoration, to become our identity, seeking to make of love a flattering mirror in which to find our best selves, tasking the other with the emotional brunt of bearing the parts we don’t want to look at. Lindbergh pulls back the curtain on the most damaging myth handed down to us by the Romantics:

Certainly, one has the illusion that one will find oneself in being loved for what one really is, not for a collection of functions. But can one actually find oneself in someone else? In someone else’s love? Or even in the mirror someone else holds up for one? I believe that true identity is found… in creative activity springing from within. It is found, paradoxically, when one loses oneself. One must lose one’s life to find it… Only a refound person can refind a personal relationship.

The twin root of our suffering in a changing relationship is the expectation — the demand, even — that the other’s love be total and permanent, reserved for us alone, unshared with other priorities and passions, those natural constituents of a fully developed personality and a fully inhabited life. Lindbergh writes:

We all wish to be loved alone… Perhaps, as Auden says in his poem, this is a fundamental error in mankind.

For the error bred in the bone
Of each woman and each man
Craves what it cannot have,
Not universal love
But to be loved alone.

Lindbergh recounts discussing this verse with an Indian philosopher, who made a striking observation — while mutuality is the essence of love and therefore it is natural for us to wish for it, it is in the time-sense that we err. “It is when we desire continuity of being loved alone that we go wrong,” he told her.

The fear of change dissolves when we come to see love not as a vector of constancy but as a rosary of nows, its core promise not that of permanence but of presence. Hannah Arendt would affirm this a generation after Lindbergh in her superb meditation on love and the fear of loss, insisting that “fearlessness is what love seeks [which] exists only in the complete calm that can no longer be shaken by events expected of the future… Hence the only valid tense is the present, the Now.”

Falling Star by Witold Pruszkowski, 1884. (Available as a print.)

Only by meeting each now on its own terms, Lindberg argues, can we allay the reflexive ache of perceiving change as loss, reframing it instead as fertile evolution:

One learns to accept the fact that no permanent return is possible to an old form of relationship; and, more deeply still, that there is no holding of a relationship to a single form. This is not tragedy but part of the ever-recurrent miracle of life and growth. All living relationships are in process of change, of expansion, and must perpetually be building themselves new forms. But there is no single fixed form to express such a changing relationship.

Those able to configure their relationships with such fluidity of form, Lindbergh notes, are “pioneers trying to find a new path through the maze of tradition, convention and dogma.” Auden was one himself — his relationship with the young poet Chester Kallman, like that of Virginia Woolf and Vita Sackville-West, shape-shifted from friend to lover and back again over the last quarter century of Auden’s life.

Ultimately, our fear of change is a trap of self-limitation, keeping relationships from deepening and broadening to encompass the full range of who we are as complete human beings, as dynamic processes in continual state of becoming, which in turn makes possible the thrill of continual mutual discovery. Lindbergh writes:

One comes in the end to realize that there is no permanent pure-relationship and there should not be. It is not even something to be desired. The pure relationship is limited, in space and in time. In its essence it implies exclusion. It excludes the rest of life, other relationships, other sides of personality, other responsibilities, other possibilities in the future. It excludes growth.

With an eye to the best kind of pure-relationship — “the meeting of two whole fully developed people as persons” — and with the recognition that “the light shed by any good relationship illuminates all relationships,” she considers the core dynamic of such a relationship:

A good relationship has a pattern like a dance and is built on some of the same rules. The partners do not need to hold on tightly, because they move confidently in the same pattern… To touch heavily would be to arrest the pattern and freeze the movement, to check the endlessly changing beauty of its unfolding. There is no place here for the possessive clutch, the clinging arm, the heavy hand; only the barest touch in passing. Now arm in arm, now face to face, now back to back… Because they know they are partners moving to the same rhythm, creating a pattern together, and being invisibly nourished by it.

The joy of such a pattern is not only the joy of creation or the joy of participation, it is also the joy of living in the moment. Lightness of touch and living in the moment are intertwined. One cannot dance well unless one is completely in time with the music, not leaning back to the last step or pressing forward to the next one, but poised directly on the present step as it comes.

Illustration by Maurice Sendak from Open House for Butterflies by Ruth Krauss

With this, she returns to the correct time-scale of love — not constancy but intermittency, measured out by the metronome of presence:

When you love someone you do not love them all the time, in exactly the same way, from moment to moment. It is an impossibility. It is even a lie to pretend to. And yet this is exactly what most of us demand. We have so little faith in the ebb and flow of life, of love, of relationships. We leap at the flow of the tide and resist in terror its ebb. We are afraid it will never return. We insist on permanency, on duration, on continuity; when the only continuity possible, in life as in love, is in growth, in fluidity — in freedom, in the sense that the dancers are free, barely touching as they pass, but partners in the same pattern. The only real security is not in owning or possessing, not in demanding or expecting, not in hoping, even. Security in a relationship lies neither in looking back to what it was in nostalgia, nor forward to what it might be in dread or anticipation, but living in the present relationship and accepting it as it is now.

Complement these fragments of Gift from the Sea — a revelatory read in its entirety — with philosopher Martin Buber on love and what it means to live fully in the present, then revisit Thich Nhat Hanh on the four Buddhist mantras for turning fear into love.

Salon Calvin on February 25

Calvin Harris, H.W., M.

From the comfort of your own home through Zoom for an “aha moment” certainly a laugh or two, and in the first of 2024 Calvin Salon’s, in the company of a community of close friends.

This month’s Salon Calvin presents an old-time radio-type listening experience, from one of  North American great Storytellers Garrison Keillor, with his a short Lake Wobegon story, as well as a short rethink of Mark Twain’s classic Huckleberry Finn featuring James Earl Jones.

So unplug and slow down for a few hours that will invigorate and revitalize you through the enjoyment of the Art of Storytelling, to reimagining the past as well as offering ideas for us to imagine new and beautiful futures.

Time 5:00 pm to about 8:00 pm Pacific Time

Use the link  Zoom Meetinghttps://us02web.zoom.us/j/89922643702

Love and Hugs

Calvin

Steven Ray Ozanich on the body as an apothecary

“Nature has given the body what it needs to heal; the body is its own apothecary.”

–Steven Ray Ozanich

Steve Ozanich is a mindbody health consultant and author who penned the two-time International Book Award honoree The Great Pain Deception and Dr. John Sarno’s Top 10 Healing Discoveries, based on his own experience, the work of John E. Sarno, MD, and ten years of intensive research. His newest book Back Pain Permanent Healing: Understanding the Myths, Lies, and Confusion is an Amazon #1 Bestseller and is a 3 year writing effort that pulls the larger picture of suffering together in order to erase the confusion in healing. Over the past twenty years, Ozanich has helped to teach thousands of people how to heal themselves through his lectures, books, articles, and interviews. Steve is a practitioner of presence work certified through the Eckhart Tolle School of Awakening.

Book: “How to Be Less Stupid About Race: On Racism, White Supremacy, and the Racial Divide”

How to Be Less Stupid About Race: On Racism, White Supremacy, and the Racial Divide

Crystal Marie Fleming

How to Be Less Stupid About Race is your essential guide to breaking through the half-truths and ridiculous misconceptions that have thoroughly corrupted the way race is represented in the classroom, pop culture, media, and politics. Centuries after our nation was founded on genocide, settler colonialism, and slavery, many Americans are kinda-sorta-maybe waking up to the reality that our racial politics are (still) garbage. But in the midst of this reckoning, widespread denial and misunderstandings about race persist, even as white supremacy and racial injustice are more visible than ever before.

Combining no-holds-barred social critique, humorous personal anecdotes, and analysis of the latest interdisciplinary scholarship on systemic racism, sociologist Crystal M. Fleming provides a fresh, accessible, and irreverent take on everything that’s wrong with our “national conversation about race.” Drawing upon critical race theory, as well as her own experiences as a queer black millennial college professor and researcher, Fleming unveils how systemic racism exposes us all to racial ignorance–and provides a road map for transforming our knowledge into concrete social change.

Searing, sobering, and urgently needed, How to Be Less Stupid About Race is a truth bomb and call to action for everyone who wants to challenge white supremacy and intersectional oppression. If you like Issa Rae, Justin Simien, Angela Davis, and Morgan Jerkins, then this deeply relevant, bold, and incisive book is for you.

About the author

Profile Image for Crystal Marie Fleming.

Crystal Marie Fleming

Crystal Marie Fleming, PhD, is a writer and sociologist who researches racism in the United States and abroad. She earned degrees from Wellesley College and Harvard University and is associate professor of sociology and Africana studies at Stony Brook University. Fleming writes about race, sexuality, and politics for publications including The Root, Black Agenda Report, Vox, and Everyday Feminism, and she has tens of thousands of followers on social media. She is the author of Resurrecting Slavery: Racial Legacies and White Supremacy in France.

Photo credit: Nicole Mondestin Photography

If Reincarnation is Real, Then Most Of Us Are Wasting Our Lives

You deserve better than such ignorance

Rami Dhanoa

Rami Dhanoa

Published in Orient Yourself

Jan 23, 2024 (Medium.com)

Photo by Eugene Capon.

Last year, one of the most optimistic humans in history passed away.

His name was Lama Zopa, said to be the reincarnation of a yogi from a region called Lawudo in Nepal.

This yogi died in retreat, and Lama Zopa as a child would spontaneously run to climb up the mountain to his previous life’s retreat cave. He’d say to his mother that he still had work to do up there!

But such aberrations of behaviour aren’t the only “proof” that our subtle consciousness can continue beyond our mental/physical dissolution.

You can find it yourself — but only if you get your head out of the sand.

The biggest stumbling block to this, in modern folks, is that we’re utterly identified with what isn’t truly us–our name, appearance, privilege, mind, thoughts and emotional state.

You can’t even consider that the deeper reality beyond, which is reborn, will actually be “you” when it manifests a new form. Because you identify totally with the lie of a self that’s bound to come to an end one day.

How will you ever notice where your root tendencies actually come from, which is beyond your parents, culture, education, and environment?

To an extent, this lazy and ignorant interpretation is right

“You” are a unique recipe of manifestation that won’t ever come about in the same combination again.

Congratulations, snowflake – now realize when you melt, you’ll still be water. And it’s cold, so you’ll freeze back again – influenced by the way you melted last.

Reincarnation isn’t much different.

Sure, your future manifestations will process the world slightly differently. They’ll have a very different body. Emotions unknown to you now will reveal themselves in full bloom in another realm of possibility.

But if you latch onto all this, calling it truly you and yours, guess what? It’ll slip through your fingers like sand. Again and again, birth after birth, with nothing lasting but the passing pains and pleasures of this unpredictable world.

How is that even a remotely dignified way to live?

It’s not your fault you’re brainwashed

Our culture is inherently geared to what Buddhist philosophy labels as “the affairs of this life.”

Your reputation, material gain, relationships – all the bridges made of sand that you can’t take with you. And not because of some kind of inherent Western inferiority — because even ancient India, China, and Tibet had cultures tending to gear toward this physical reality.

It’s because it’s simply easier to focus on what’s in front of you. The distant future is just that: out of view and hence out of mind.

But is it actually out of reach, if every moment is creating it?

It’s not only right in front of you, but it’s the deep purpose in you being here in the first place.

Humans are the only form of life we know of that can influence the process of their consciousness’ development.

We undergo involution, whereas the natural world is subject to evolution.

So how do you obtain that which benefits you even after death?

Proper effort on the spiritual path is considered to be the only thing that brings value beyond this coarse manifestation. Because it creates the conditioning of the next ones.

How, you ask? Most obviously by shifting the kind of mental and physical apparatus that emerges from the “DNA” of karmic seeds deposited in the subtle mental continuum.

  • Acts of generosity and patience deposit energetic potentials of expansiveness and sturdiness.
  • Selfishness and anger produce contraction and restriction.

Engineer enough of these deep, root-level habits, and happiness is likely to come about in this very life, let alone in the far future.

Photo by Kalle Kortelainen on Unsplash

But if you roast the seeds entirely, something magical happens

In the Buddhist theoretical landscape of psychology models to explain these concepts, there is a term called ‘storehouse consciousness’ that is the holder of all these karmic potentials. It’s the subtle stream of consciousness that reincarnates after death.

The deep work that Lama Zopa’s previous yogic incarnation was doing had something to do with ‘shaking off’ the accumulations of karma in this layer, using the burning blaze of insight.

He saw right through the entire process, so it was impossible to unconsciously fall into (coarse) karma ever again.

One of his most outspoken students, Robina Courtin, told a story about how his childhood was itself “proof” of his success in his past life’s spiritual endeavor.

After falling into a lake and almost drowning, Lama Zopa struggled and barely saved himself from potential death. But recounting his state of mind during the event: he said there was absolutely zero fear, just awareness and action.

Lack of mental afflictions like overpowering lust, anger, dullness, and anxiety is a sign that someone has entered what Buddhism calls ‘irreversibility.’

This is the inability to turn back to faulty, delusional forms of existence in this world.

And these are exactly the inner superheroes our confused modernity desperately needs.

But they can’t arise out of nowhere

Deep work is impossible without dedicated individual efforts plus institutional support.

How will you know which path is right without trying several, that too in an intensive & immersive environment, with access to living masters?

Yet ashrams are rare in our capitalist Western world, where housing is a commodity and community is a luxury.

How will you know what you’re capable of, beyond the whims of this life, without abandoning your obsession with it?

But few people, even supposedly spiritual ones, have actually turned away from the external world, becoming totally dedicated to optimizing their inner one.

So if the causes and conditions actually come together for you to do something out of the ordinary scheme of things – even if it’s sitting for 10 minutes in meditation after watching a video about it on the internet – consider it a lucky moment.

It’s aligned with the higher potential you’re here to embody.

Distraction isn’t your problem, it’s your solution

When the influences of the collective unconscious bear heavy, remember the following story.

A king who would go on barefoot walks decided one day to make all the land he had influence over ‘perfect’ for this strange habit of his.

He went about carpeting the roads, and jailing those who made messes of the walking paths. Until one day, someone convinced him to wear shoes – and then to provide them to all who couldn’t afford them.

  • The king is your tendency to think you’re truly in charge.
  • Walking barefoot is your overly sensitive nature.
  • The carpet is your delusional and stressful effort to change the world to suit your “needs.”
  • And the shoes are the insight of your own (fixable) inner faults being the main issue in life, not a list of external complaints.

Like the Buddha said, we’re all walking around minds impaled by arrows.

Why not perform the essential care we need, rather than building whole cultural systems geared toward ways to “cope” with our condition?

Rami Dhanoa

Written by Rami Dhanoa

·Editor for Orient Yourself

Re-thinking human potential with meditation & Indic philosophy.

What Is Ego Death?

Melody Thomas

Melody Thomas

Jan 28, 2024 (Medium.com)

Ego death is dissolution of persona.

So, what basically happens is that everything you think of as you (appearance, memory, experience, thoughts, emotions, feelings) just disappears and all that’s left is the experience of being.

It’s not scary. It’s still and silent and alive. You have absolutely no doubt that this thing that you are is eternal.

The problem is that people mistake this thing that you are for the thing that is everything.

Which is God.

And it can seem that way.

But it’s not.

So, yes. You —

Everything you think of as you.

Disappears.

And all you’re left with of you is the experience of being.

It’s not Oneness.

Which is different.

Oneness is the experience of everything —

Being one thing.

But even in Oneness, you —

Your being.

Stripped of —

Persona.

Is still there.

It’s not like your being disappears.

Just your persona.

And believe me. You won’t miss it —

At all.

Melody Thomas

Written by Melody Thomas

A Long-Forgotten TV Script by Rachel Carson Is Now a Picture Book

PICTURE BOOKS

In “Something About the Sky,” the National Book Award-winning marine biologist brings her signature sense of wonder to the science of clouds.

A cut-paper and sumi ink illustration shows a young boy watching a small plane as it soars through the sky trailing cirrus clouds that look like jet stream. The silhouetted boy, the plane and the clouds are cut from black and white paper. The bright sky is rendered with blue ink that fades dark to light from top to bottom.
From “Something About the Sky.”Credit…Nikki McClure

By Maria Popova

Maria Popova, the creator of TheMarginalian.org and the author of the forthcoming “The Universe in Verse: 15 Windows on Wonder Through Science and Poetry,” has written about Rachel Carson in her book “Figuring.”

Feb. 9, 2024 (NYTimes.com)

SOMETHING ABOUT THE SKY, by Rachel Carson. Illustrated by Nikki McClure.


A cloud is a spell against indifference, an emblem of the water cycle that makes this planet a living world capable of trees and tenderness, a great cosmic gasp at the improbability that such a world exists, that across the cold expanse of space-time, strewn with billions upon billions of other star systems, there is nothing like it as far as we yet know.

Clouds are almost as old as this world, born when primordial volcanoes first exhaled the chemistry of the molten planet into the sky, but their science is younger than the steam engine. At the dawn of the 19th century, the chemist and amateur meteorologist Luke Howard, still in his 20s, noticed that clouds form in particular shapes under particular conditions. Applying the principles of the newly popular Linnaean taxonomy of the living world to clouds, he named the three main classes cumulusstratus and cirrus, then braided them into sub-taxonomies.

When a German translation reached Goethe, the polymathic poet with a passion for morphology was so inspired that he sent fan mail to the young man who “distinguished cloud from cloud,” then composed a suite of verses about the main classes. It was Goethe’s poetry, translating the lexicon of an obscure science into the language of wonder, that popularized the cloud names we use today.

Another cut-paper and ink illustration shows Rachel Carson sitting, with the young boy in her lap, on a hill under a tree overlooking a body of water. Carson scribbles in a sketchbook while the boy looks up at the white clouds in the blue sky.
From “Something About the Sky.”Credit…Nikki McClure

A century and a half later, six years before Rachel Carson awakened the modern ecological conscience with her book “Silent Spring” and four years after “The Sea Around Us” earned her the National Book Award (whose judges described it as “a work of scientific accuracy presented with poetic imagination”), the television program “Omnibus” approached her to write “something about the sky,” in response to a request from a young viewer.

This became the title of the segment that aired on March 11, 1956 — a soulful serenade to the science of clouds, emanating from Carson’s credo that “the more clearly we can focus our attention on the wonders and realities of the universe about us the less taste we shall have for the destruction of our race.”


(Contributed by Michael Kelly, H.W.)

Parents

By Heather Williams, H.W., M. (with permission)

What did you learn from your parents?

PARENT: one that brings forth offspring; a mother or father; a person that brings up and cares for another; the source from which something is derived

QUESTION: What did you learn from your parents?

STORY: We all have stories of our parents. When I was born, mom was 35 and dad was 26. Mom was Republican. Dad was a Democrat. Mom was Lutheran. Dad was agnostic – though raised Catholic. Mom and dad were different people and though they loved each other – their marriage was not meant to endure forever. They married in 1943 and divorced in 1961. Mom was quite fearful while dad was curious about the world around him. Mom inherited money from her father’s big dairy business and was able to live quite well without dad. Dad had a day job but didn’t make much money. My mom taught me to take care of my money. My dad taught me to be curious. Thank you mom and dad.

QUOTES

“It would be wonderful if every child was raised by loving, cheerful, wise parents but the truth is we are all on a sacred journey of coming to know our higher identity as Consciousness and interestingly, parents are a big part of the journey.” ~ Heather Williams

“The thing about parenting rules is there aren’t any. That’s what makes it so difficult.” ~ Ewan McGregor

“The universe doesn’t allow perfection.” ~ Steven Hawking

“Children begin by loving their parents; as they grow older they judge them; sometimes they forgive them.” ~ Oscar Wilde

EXERCISE

STOP.

Sit quietly. Assume an erect posture. Sense the breath.

Sit calmly and imagine that your parents are sitting before you. Gently ask each one a question. Open your heart and listen to their response.

Get your pen and paper and write words or draw lines expressing something that you learned in this dialogue with each of them.

Move forward into your day feeling yourself parenting something that wants to be born through you.

I Learn to Choose Another Point of View

(Photo from theprosperos.com)

by John Atwater, H.W.

It was just after Christmas and I was enjoying one of my gifts. It was a book called Life on Earth. It had a green and yellow cover. It had all the different types of life with chapters about all the different life forms. It had lots of pictures. I looked at mostly the animals. It had whales and all sizes of fish. It had tigers, wolves, foxes, deer and rabbits. I enjoyed the pictures and reading about the different creatures. After a while, I realized that the predators were killing and eating many of the animals. Small fish got eaten by the medium fish and in turn, were done in by larger fish. I just started thinking of all the killing, bloodshed, and carnage. I got a bit upset and sad about it all. I went and told my mom I did not like the book so much anymore and explained why. Just so much killing, blood, and death.

She listened and thought quietly for a bit. She said “It is true that all things that live also die. But everything is born, grows up, and lives many, many days. One day they die or are killed, but that is just one day or just one moment. They all live so many, many days and die on just one. There is so much more life than death if you see it that way! The world is filled with life!”

I sat and thought about what she said. It made sense. I felt so much better for all the creatures. I felt so much better about life and the world. I was no longer a bit sad or upset. I felt better myself. It was so weird that you could see things in a different way and that had a huge result on your feelings. I liked the book again. This is the first time I can remember that as I changed my way of looking, so much changed. I realized you have to be thoughtful about the way you look, and that there just might be a better way of looking at the world than your first perspective. Thanks, Mom!