Sunday, August 31, 2014

Happy Labor Day!

Have a safe and happy Labor Day folks, and thanks for stopping by!

"The Invitation"

"The Invitation"

"It doesn't interest me what you do for a living. I want to know what you ache for,
and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart's longing.

It doesn't interest me how old you are. I want to know if you will risk looking
like a fool for love, for your dream, for the adventure of being alive.

It doesn't interest me what planets are squaring your moon. I want to know
if you have touched the center of your own sorrow, if you have been opened by
life's betrayals or have become shriveled and closed from fear of further pain!
I want to know if you can sit with pain, mine or your own,
without moving to hide it or fade it, or fix it.

I want to know if you can be with joy, mine or your own, if you can dance
with wildness and let the ecstasy fill you to the tips of your fingers and toes
without cautioning us to be careful, to be realistic, to remember
the limitations of being human.

It doesn't interest me if the story you are telling me is true. I want to know if you
can disappoint another to be true to yourself; if you can bear the accusation of betrayal
and not betray your own soul; if you can be faithless and therefore trustworthy.

I want to know if you can see beauty even when it's not pretty, every day,
and if you can source your own life from its presence.

I want to know if you can live with failure, yours and mine, and still stand
on the edge of the lake and shout to the silver of the full moon, “Yes!”

It doesn't interest me to know where you live or how much money you have.
I want to know if you can get up, after the night of grief and despair,
weary and bruised to the bone, and do what needs to be done to feed the children.

It doesn't interest me who you know or how you came to be here. I want to
know if you will stand in the center of the fire with me and not shrink back.

It doesn't interest me where or what or with whom you have studied.
I want to know what sustains you, from the inside, when all else falls away.

I want to know if you can be alone with yourself and if you truly like
the company you keep in the empty moments."

- Oriah Mountain Dreamer

"A Look to the Heavens"

“This is the mess that is left when a star explodes. The Crab Nebula, the result of a supernova seen in 1054 AD, is filled with mysterious filaments. The filaments are not only tremendously complex, but appear to have less mass than expelled in the original supernova and a higher speed than expected from a free explosion. 
Click image for larger size.
The above image, taken by the Hubble Space Telescope, is presented in three colors chosen for scientific interest. The Crab Nebula spans about 10 light-years. In the nebula's very center lies a pulsar: a neutron star as massive as the Sun but with only the size of a small town. The Crab Pulsar rotates about 30 times each second.”

"The Essential Thing..."

"The most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. 
The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well."
- Pierre de Courbertin

Chet Raymo, “The Universe Becomes Conscious of Itself”

“The Universe Becomes Conscious of Itself” 
by Chet Raymo

"By now most of us will have seen this spectacular photograph of a dusty star-birthing region of the Carina Nebula, celebrating the 20th anniversary of the Hubble Space Telescope. I offer a slightly different cropping from what you may have seen in the media or on APOD. Please click the image to see it it all of its glory.


Let me add some context. The image shows an area of the sky that you could cover with the intersection of two crossed sewing pins held at arms length. Think about that for a minute. Hold two imaginary crossed pins up against the sky and think of the area covered by their intersection, what a tiny part of the visible universe you are looking at. The photo shows a nebulosity that is invisible to the naked eye, in the midst of the southern-hemisphere Milky Way. Where is this object? Our Sun is on the inside edge of an arm of our spiral galaxy, about two-thirds of the way - 30,000 light-years - out from the center. The Carina Nebula is in the same spiral arm, trailing along 7500 light-years behind us as we make our languorous 200-million-year rotation about the galactic axis. There are hundreds of billions of stars in the Milky Way Galaxy, including the ones you see aborning here. And the Milky Way Galaxy is just one of tens of billions of galaxies we could potentially see with present telescopes.

Now, in my usual mischievous way, let me juxtapose two images of the heavens (please click to fill your screen). On the left is Gustave Dore's rendering of Dante and Beatrice looking upon the heavenly realm, the choirs of angels attendant upon the Diety, the anthropomorphic Empyrean Fields where the souls of the Blessed find everlasting life, just up there beyond the spheres of air and aether. And on the right, the new image from the Hubble.


I'm confident that anyone who visits here, and probably most educated people, will agree that the image on the right, and my description above, is the truer representation of the universe we live in. But which universe do we psychologically inhabit? I would maintain that the great majority of educated people today have not yet assimilated the picture on the right, and continue to live as if they were contemporaries of Dante. I know I have a hard time grasping the scale of the universe as revealed by modern astronomy - and I have been studying and teaching this stuff for a lifetime. Coming to terms with the vast size and apparent indifference of the universe is not easy when the tug of culture continually pulls us back into the cozy human-centered cosmos of our ancestors.

Where is our contemporary Beatrice who will take us by the hand and lead us into the swirling star-birthing vortex of the Carina Nebula, and say to us, "See, all this is the gift of the human intellect - human ingenuity and human daring - all this is contained in those convolutions of mortal flesh that sit at the top of your spine"?

"Why Are You Here?"

 "Why Are You Here?"
by Robert Lanza, M.D.

"Why do you happen to be alive on this lush little planet with its warm sun and coconut trees? And at just the right time in the history of the universe? The surface of the molten earth has cooled, but it's not too cold. And it's not too hot; the sun hasn't expanded enough to melt the Earth's surface with its searing gas yet. Even setting aside the issue of being here and now, the probability of random physical laws and events leading to this point is less than 1 out of 100,000,000,000,000,000,000, 000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000, equivalent to winning every lottery there ever was.

Biocentrism, a new theory of everything, provides the missing piece. Although classical evolution does an excellent job of helping us understand the past, it fails to capture the driving force. Evolution needs to add the observer to the equation. Indeed, Niels Bohr, the great Nobel physicist, said, "When we measure something we are forcing an undetermined, undefined world to assume an experimental value. We are not 'measuring' the world, we are creating it." The evolutionists are trying to pull themselves up by their bootstraps. They think we, the observer, are a mindless accident, debris left over from an explosion that appeared out of nowhere one day.

Cosmologists propose that the universe was until recently a lifeless collection of particles bouncing against each other. It's presented as a watch that somehow wound itself up, and that will unwind in a semi-predictable way. But they've shunted a critical component of the cosmos out of the way because they don't know what to do with it. This component, consciousness, isn't a small item. It's an utter mystery, which we think has somehow arisen from molecules and goo. How did inert, random bits of carbon ever morph into that Japanese guy who always wins the hot-dog-eating contest?

In short, attempts to explain the nature of the universe, its origins, and what's really going on require an understanding of how the observer, our presence, plays a role. According to the current paradigm, the universe, and the laws of nature themselves, just popped out of nothingness. The story goes something like this: From the Big Bang until the present time, we've been incredibly lucky. This good fortune started from the moment of creation; if the Big Bang had been one-part-in-a-million more powerful, the cosmos would have rushed out too fast for the galaxies and stars to have developed. If the gravitational force were decreased by a hair, stars (including the Sun) wouldn't have ignited. There are over 200 physical parameters like this that could have any value but happen to be exactly right for us to be here. Tweak any of them and you never existed.

But our luck didn't stop with the laws, forces, and constants of the universe. Sahelanthropus tchadensis, Orrorin tugenensis, Ardipithecus ramidus, Australopithecus anamensis, A. afarensis, Kenyanthropus platyops, A. africanus, A. garhi, A. sediba, A. aethiopicus, A. robustus, A. boisei, Homo habilis, H. georgicus, and H. erectus - among other hominid species - all went extinct. Even the Neanderthals went extinct. But alas, not us! Indeed, we happen to be the only species of Hominina that made it.

Our special luck continues in the present time. Asteroids could strike Earth at any time, producing a surface-charring blast of heat, followed by years of dust that would freeze and/or starve us to death. Nearby stars could go supernova, their energy destroying the ozone layer and sterilizing the Earth with radiation. And a supervolcano could shroud the Earth in dust. These are just a few (out of billions) of things that could go wrong.

The story of evolution reads just like "The Story of the Three Bears," In the nursery tale, a little girl named Goldilocks enters a home occupied by three bears and tries different bowls of porridge; some are too hot, some are too cold. She also tries different chairs and beds, and every time, the third is "just right." For 13.7 billion years we, too, have had chronic good luck. Virtually everything has been "just right." It's a fascinating story to tell children, but claiming that it's all a "dumb" accident is no more helpful than saying "God did it." Loren Eiseley, the great naturalist, once said that scientists "have not always been able to see that an old theory, given a hairsbreadth twist, might open an entirely new vista to the human reason." The theory of evolution turns out to be the perfect case in hand. Amazingly, it all makes sense if you assume that the Big Bang is the end of the chain of physical causality, not the beginning.

Indeed, according to biocentrism, it's us, the observer, who create space and time (which is the reason you're here now). Consider everything you see around you right now. Language and custom say it all lies outside us in the external world. Yet you can't see anything through the vault of bone that surrounds your brain. Your eyes aren't just portals to the world. In fact, everything you experience, including your body, is part of an active process occurring in your mind. Space and time are simply the mind's tools for putting it all together.

Theoretical physicists Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow recently stated: "There is no way to remove the observer- us- from our perceptions of the world ... In classical physics, the past is assumed to exist as a definite series of events, but according to quantum physics, the past, like the future, is indefinite and exists only as a spectrum of possibilities." If we, the observer, collapse these possibilities (that is, the past and future) then where does that leave evolutionary theory, as described in our schoolbooks? Until the present is determined, how can there be a past? The past begins with the observer, us, not the other way around as we've been taught.

The observer is the first cause, the vital force that collapses not only the present but the cascade of past spatio-temporal events we call evolution. "If, instead of identifying ourselves with the work," said Ralph Waldo Emerson, "we feel that the soul of the workman streams through us, we shall find the peace of the morning dwelling first in our hearts, and the fathomless powers of gravity and chemistry, and, over them, of life, pre-existing within us in their highest form."
Resource links:

The Daily "Near You?"

Ft. Worth, Texas, USA. Thanks for stopping by.

"Why We are Susceptible to Manipulation"

"Why We are Susceptible to Manipulation"
by George Washington

"Biologists and sociologists tell us that our brains evolved in small groups or tribes. As one example of how profoundly the small-group environment affected our brains, Daily Galaxy points out: Research shows that one of the most powerful ways to stimulate more buying is celebrity endorsement. Neurologists at Erasmus University in Rotterdam report that our ability to weigh desirability and value doesn’t function normally if an item is endorsed by a well-known face. This lights up the brain’s dorsal claudate nucleus, which is involved in trust and learning. Areas linked to longer-term memory storage also fire up. Our minds overidentify with celebrities because we evolved in small tribes. If you knew someone, then they knew you. If you didn’t attack each other, you were probably pals.

Our minds still work this way, giving us the idea that the celebs we keep seeing are our acquaintances. And we want to be like them, because we’ve evolved to hate being out of the in-crowd. Brain scans show that social rejection activates brain areas that generate physical pain, probably because in prehistory tribal exclusion was tantamount to a death sentence. And scans by the National Institute of Mental Health show that when we feel socially inferior, two brain regions become more active: the insula and the ventral striatum. The insula is involved with the gut-sinking sensation you get when you feel that small. The ventral striatum is linked to motivation and reward.

In small groups, we knew everyone extremely well. No one could really fool us about what type of person they were, because we had grown up interacting with them for our whole lives. If a tribe member dressed up and pretended he was from another tribe, we would see it in a heart-beat. It would be like seeing your father in a costume: you would recognize him pretty quickly, wouldn't you?

As the celebrity example shows, our brains can easily be fooled by people in our large modern society when we incorrectly ascribe to them the role of being someone we should trust. As the celebrity example shows, our brains can easily be fooled by people in our large modern society when we incorrectly ascribe to them the role of being someone we should trust. The opposite is true as well. The parts of our brain that are hard-wired to quickly recognize "outside enemies" can be fooled in our huge modern society, when it is really people we know dressed up like the "other team".

Because of this hard-wiring in our brains from the days we lived in tiny tribes, we are highly susceptible to false flag attacks. Specifically, if government agents dress up like the "other team" and stage an attack on their own country, most people's "defend the tribe" hardwiring kicks in, so they rally around their leaders and call for the heads of the "other team". Our brains assume that we can tell truth from fiction, because they evolved in very small groups where we knew everyone extremely well, and usually could see for ourselves what was true. On the other side of the coin, a tribal leader who talked a good game but constantly stole from and abused his group would immediately be kicked out or killed. No matter how nicely he talked, the members of the tribe would immediately see what he was doing.

But in a country of hundreds of millions of people, where the political class is shielded from the rest of the country, people don't really know what our leaders are doing with most of the time. We only see them for a couple of minutes when they are giving speeches, or appearing in photo ops, or being interviewed. It is therefore much easier for a wolf in sheep's clothing to succeed than in a small group setting. Indeed, sociopaths would have been discovered very quickly in a small group. But in huge societies like our's, they can rise to positions of power and influence.

As with the celebrity endorsement example, our brains are running programs which were developed for an environment (a small group) we no longer live in, and so lead us astray. Like the blind spot in our rear view mirror, we have to learn to compensate and adapt for our imperfections, or we may get clobbered.

The good news is that we can evolve. While our brains have many built-in hardwired ways of thinking and processing information, they are also amazingly "plastic". We can learn and evolve and overcome our hardwiring - or at least compensate for our blind spots. We are not condemned to being led astray by Madison Avenue advertisers and ruthless dictators and scientific frauds and fundamentalists. We can choose to grow up as a species and reclaim our power to decide our own future."

Musical Interlude: Michael Franti, "Hey World (Don't Give Up)"

Michael Franti, "Hey World (Don't Give Up)"

"How It Really Is"

The Poet: Thomas Centolella, "Splendor"

"Splendor"

One day it's the clouds,
one day the mountains.
One day the latest bloom of roses-
 the pure monochromes, the dazzling hybrids-
 inspiration for the cathedral's round windows.
Every now and then there's the splendor of thought:
 the singular idea and its brilliant retinue-
words, cadence, point of view,
little gold arrows flitting between the lines.
And too the splendor of no thought at all:
hands lying calmly in the lap, 
or swinging a six iron with effortless tempo. 
 More often than not splendor is the star we orbit
without a second thought,
especially as it arrives and departs.  
One day it's the blue glassy bay,
one day the night and its array of jewels,
visible and invisible.
Sometimes it's the warm clarity
of a face that finds your face
and doesn't turn away.
Sometimes a kindness, unexpected,
that will radiate farther than you might imagine.
One day it's the entire day itself,
 each hour foregoing its number and name,
its cumbersome clothes, 
a day that says come as you are,
large enough for fear and doubt,
with room to spare: the most secret
wish, the deepest, the darkest,
turned inside out."

 - Thomas Centolella

"We Like To Think..."

"We like to think that we are rational beings; humane, conscientious, civilized, thoughtful. But when things fall apart, even just a little, it becomes clear we are not better than animals. We have opposable thumbs, we think, we walk erect, we speak, we dream, but deep down we are still routing around in the primordial ooze; biting, clawing, scratching out an existence in the cold, dark world like the rest of the tree-toads and sloths."
- "Grey's Anatomy"

"A Message From The Hopi Elders"

"A Message From The Hopi Elders"

"You have been telling the people that this is the Eleventh Hour.
Now you must go back and tell the people that this is The Hour.

Here are the things that must be considered:
Where are you living?
What are you doing?
What are your relationships?
Are you in right relation?
Where is your water?
Know our garden.
It is time to speak your Truth.
Create your community.
Be good to each other.
And do not look outside yourself for the leader.

This could be a good time!

There is a river flowing now very fast.
It is so great and swift, that there are those who will be afraid.
They will try to hold on to the shore.
They will feel they are being torn apart and will suffer greatly.
Know the river has its destination.
The elders say we must let go of the shore, push off into the middle of the river,
keep our eyes open, and our heads above the water.
And I say, see who is in there with you and celebrate.

At this time in history, we are to take nothing personal. Least of all, ourselves.
For the moment that we do, our spiritual growth and journey comes to a halt.

The time of the lone wolf is over. Gather yourselves!
Banish the word "struggle" from your attitude and your vocabulary.
All that we do now must be done in a sacred manner and in celebration.
We are the ones we have been waiting for!"

- Oraibi, Arizona, Hopi Nation

"A Gathering of the Tribe"

"A Gathering of the Tribe"
by Charles Eisenstein

"Once upon a time a great tribe of people lived in a world far away from ours. Whether far away in space, or in time, or even outside of time, we do not know. They lived in a state of enchantment and joy that few of us today dare to believe could exist, except in those exceptional peak experiences when we glimpse the true potential of life and mind.

One day the shaman of the tribe called a meeting. They gathered around him, and he spoke very solemnly. "My friends," he said, "there is a world that needs our help. It is called Earth, and its fate hangs in the balance. Its humans have reached a critical point in their collective birthing, and they will be stillborn without our help. Who would like to volunteer for a mission to this time and place, and render service to humanity?"

"Tell us more about this mission," they asked.

"I am glad you asked, because it is no small thing. I will put you into a deep, deep trance, so complete that you will forget who you are. You will live a human life, and in the beginning you will completely forget your origins. You will forget even our language and your own true name. You will be separated from the wonder and beauty of our world, and from the love that bathes us all. You will miss it deeply, yet you will not know what it is you are missing. You will only remember the love and beauty that we know to be normal as a longing in your heart. Your memory will take the form of an intuitive knowledge, as you plunge into the painfully marred earth, that a more beautiful world is possible.

"As you grow up in that world, your knowledge will be under constant assault. You will be told in a million ways that a world of destruction, violence, drudgery, anxiety, and degradation is normal. You may go through a time when you are completely alone, with no allies to affirm your knowledge of a more beautiful world. You may plunge into a depth of despair that we, in our world of light, cannot imagine. But no matter what, a spark of knowledge will never leave you. A memory of your true origin will be encoded in your DNA. That spark will lie within you, inextinguishable, until one day it is awakened.

"You see, even though you will feel, for a time, utterly alone, you will not be alone. I will send you assistance, help that you will experience as miraculous, experiences that you will describe as transcendent. For a few moments or hours or days, you will reawaken to the beauty and the joy that is meant to be. You will see it on earth, for even though the planet and its people are deeply wounded, there is beauty there still, projected from past and future onto the present as a promise of what is possible and a reminder of what is real.

"You will also receive help from each other. As you begin to awaken to your mission you will meet others of our tribe. You will recognize them by your common purpose, values, and intuitions, and by the similarity of the paths you have walked. As the condition of the planet earth reaches crisis proportions, your paths will cross more and more. The time of loneliness, the time of thinking you might be crazy, will be over.

"You will find the people of your tribe all over the earth, and become aware of them through the long-distance communication technologies used on that planet. But the real shift, the real quickening, will happen in face-to-face gatherings in special places on earth. When many of you gather together you will launch a new stage on your journey, a journey which, I assure you, will end where it began. Then, the mission that lay unconscious within you will flower into consciousness. Your intuitive rebellion against the world presented you as normal will become an explicit quest to create a more beautiful one.

"In the time of loneliness, you will always be seeking to reassure yourself that you are not crazy. You will do that by telling people all about what is wrong with the world, and you will feel a sense of betrayal when they don't listen to you. You will be hungry for stories of wrongness, atrocity, and ecological destruction, all of which confirm the validity of your intuition that a more beautiful world exists. But after you have fully received the help I will send you, and the quickening of your gatherings, you will no longer need to do that. Because, you will Know. Your energy will thereafter turn toward actively creating that more beautiful world."

A tribeswoman asked the shaman, "How do you know this will work? Are you sure your shamanic powers are great enough to send us on such a journey?"

The shaman replied, "I know it will work because I have done it many times before. Many have already been sent to earth, to live human lives, and to lay the groundwork for the mission you will undertake now. I've been practicing! The only difference now is that many of you will venture there at once. What is new in the time you will live in, is that the Gatherings are beginning to happen."

A tribesman asked, "Is there a danger we will become lost in that world, and never wake up from the shamanic trance? Is there a danger that the despair, the cynicism, the pain of separation will be so great that it will extinguish the spark of hope, the spark of our true selves and origin, and that we will separated from our beloved ones forever?"

The shaman replied, "That is impossible. The more deeply you get lost, the more powerful the help I will send you. You might experience it at the time as a collapse of your personal world, the loss of everything important to you. Later you will recognize the gift within it. We will never abandon you."

Another man asked, "Is it possible that our mission will fail, and that this planet, earth, will perish?"

The shaman replied, "I will answer your question with a paradox. It is impossible that your mission will fail. Yet, its success hangs on your own actions. The fate of the world is in your hands. The key to this paradox lies within you, in the feeling you carry that each of your actions, even your personal, secret struggles within, has cosmic significance. You will know then, as you do now, that everything you do matters. God sees everything."

There were no more questions. The volunteers gathered in a circle, and the shaman went to each one. The last thing each was aware of was the shaman blowing smoke in his face. They entered a deep trance and dreamed themselves into the world where we find ourselves today."
※※※
"Who are these missionaries from the more beautiful world? You and I are surely among them. Where else could this longing come from, for this magical place to be found nowhere on earth, this beautiful time outside of time? It comes from our intuitive knowledge of our origin and destination. The longing, indomitable, will never settle for a world that is less. Against all reason, we look upon the horrors of our age, mounting over the millennia, and we say NO, it does not have to be this way! We know it, because we have been there. We carry in our souls the knowledge that a more beautiful world is possible. Reason says it is impossible; reason says that even to slow -- much less reverse -- the degradation of the planet is an impossible task: politically unfeasible, opposed by the Money Power and its oligarchies. It is true that those powers will fight to uphold the world we have known. Their allies lurk within even ourselves: despair, cynicism, and resignation to carving out a life that is "good enough" for me and mine.

But we of the tribe know better. In the darkest despair a spark of hope lies inextinguishable within us, ready to be fanned into flames at the slightest turn of good news. However compelling the cynicism, a jejune idealism lives within us, always ready to believe, always ready to look upon new possibilities with fresh eyes, surviving despite infinite disappointments. And however resigned we may have felt, our aggrandizement of me and mine is half-hearted, for part of our energy is looking elsewhere, outward toward our true mission.

I would like to advise caution against dividing the world into two types of people, those who are of the tribe and those who are not. How often have you felt like an alien in a world of people who don't get it and don't care? The irony is that nearly everyone feels that way, deep down. When we are young the feeling of mission and the sense of magnificent origins and a magnificent destination is strong. Any career or way of life lived in betrayal of that knowing is painful, and can only be maintained through an inner struggle that shuts down a part of our being. For a time, we can keep ourselves functioning through various kinds of addictions or trivial pleasures to consume the life force and dull the pain. In earlier times, we might have kept the sense of mission and destiny buried for a lifetime, and called that condition maturity. Times are changing now though, as millions of people are awakening to their mission all at the same time. The condition of the planet is waking us up. Another way to put it, is that we are becoming young again.

When you feel that sense of alienation, when you look upon that sea of faces mired so inextricably in the old world and fighting to maintain it, think back to a time when you too were, to all outside appearances, a full and willing participant in that world as well. The same spark of revolution you carried then, the same secret refusal, dwells in all people. How was it that you finally stopped fighting it? How was it that you came to realize that you were right all along, that the world offered to us is wrong, and that no life is worth living that does not in some way strive to create a better one? How was it that it became intolerable to devote your life energy toward the perpetuation of the old world? Most likely, it happened when the old world fell apart around your ears.

As the multiple crises of money, health, energy, ecology, and more converge upon us, the world is going to collapse for millions more. We must stand ready to welcome them into the tribe. We must stand ready to welcome them back home.

The time of loneliness, of walking the path alone, of thinking maybe the world is right and I am wrong for refusing to participate fully in it... that time is over. For years we walked around talking about how wrong everything is: the political system, the educational system, religious institutions, the military-industrial complex, the banking industry, the medical system -- really, any system you study deeply enough. We needed to talk about it because we needed to assure ourselves that we were not, in fact, crazy. We needed as well to talk about alternatives, the way things should be. "We" should eliminate CFCs. "They" should stop cutting down the rain forests. "The government" should declare no fishing zones. This talk, too, was necessary, for it validated our vision of the world that could be: a peaceful and exuberant humanity living in co-creative partnership with a wild garden earth.

The time, though, for talking merely to assure ourselves that we are right is coming to an end. People everywhere are tired of it, tired of attending yet another lecture, organizing yet another discussion group online. We want more. A few weeks ago as I was preparing for a speaking trip to Oregon, the organizers told me, "These people don't need to be told what the problems are. They don't even need to be told what the solutions are. They already know that, and many of them are already in action. What they want is to take their activism to the next level."

To do that, to fully step into one's mission here on earth, one must experience an inner shift that cannot be merely willed upon oneself. It does not normally happen through the gathering or receiving of information, but through various kinds of experiences that reach deep into our unconscious minds. Whenever I am blessed with such an experience, I get the sense that some benevolent yet pitiless power - the shaman in the story - has reached across the void to quicken me, to reorganize my DNA, to rewire my nervous system. I come away changed.

One way it happens is through the "gathering of the tribe" I described in this story. I think many people who attended the recent Reality Sandwich retreat in Utah experienced something like this. Such gatherings are happening now all over the world. You go back, perhaps, to "real life" afterwards, but it no longer seems so real. Your perceptions and priorities change. New possibilities emerge. Instead of feeling stuck in your routines, life changes around you at a vertiginous pace. The unthinkable becomes commonsense and the impossible becomes easy. It may not happen right away, but once the internal shift has occurred, it is inevitable.

Here I am, a speaker and a writer, going on about how the time for mere talk has ended. Yet not all words are mere talk. A spirit can ride the vehicle of words, a spirit that is larger than, yet not separate from, their meaning. Sometimes I find that when I bow into service, that spirit inhabits the space in which I speak and affects all present. A sacredness infuses our conversations and the non-verbal experiences that are becoming part of my events. In the absence of that sacredness, I feel like a smart-ass, up there entertaining people and telling them information they could just as easily read online. Last Friday night I spoke on a panel in New York, one of three smart-asses, and I think many in the audience left disappointed (though maybe not as disappointed as I was in myself). We are looking for something more, and it is finding us.

The revolutionary spark of our true mission has been fanned into flames before, only to return again to an ember. You may remember an acid trip in 1975, a Grateful Dead concert in 1982, a kundalini awakening in 1999 -- an event that, in the midst of it, you knew was real, a privileged glimpse into a future that can actually manifest. Then later, as its reality faded into memory and the inertial routines of life consumed you, you perhaps dismissed it and all such experiences as an excursion from life, a mere "trip." But something in you knows it was real, realer than the routines of normalcy. Today, such experiences are accelerating in frequency even as "normal" falls apart. We are at the beginning of a new phase. Our gatherings are not a substitute for action; they are an initiation into a state of being from which the necessary kinds of actions arise. Soon you will say, with wonder and serenity, "I know what to do, and I trust myself to do it."

"The Truth Is..."

"The truth is that our finest moments are most likely to occur when we are feeling deeply uncomfortable, unhappy, or unfulfilled. For it is only in such moments, propelled by our discomfort, that we are likely to step out of our ruts and start searching for different ways or truer answers."
- M. Scott Peck

Free Download: “A Letter To A Hindu”; Tolstoy’s Letters to Gandhi on Love, Violence, and the Human Spirit

“A Letter To A Hindu”
Tolstoy’s Letters to Gandhi on Love, Violence, and the Human Spirit
by Maria Popova

“Love is the only way to rescue humanity from all ills.”
- Leo Tolstoy

"In 1908, Indian revolutionary Taraknath Das wrote to Leo Tolstoy, by then one of the most famous public figures in the world, asking for the author’s support in India’s independence from British colonial rule. On December 14, Tolstoy, who had spent the last twenty years seeking the answers to life’s greatest moral questions, was moved to reply in a long letter, which Das published in the Indian newspaperFree Hindustan. Passed from hand to hand, the missive finally made its way to the young Mahatma Gandhi, whose career as a peace leader was just beginning in South Africa. He wrote to Tolstoy asking for permission to republish it in his own South African newspaper,Indian Opinion. Tolstoy’s letter was later published in English under the title "A Letter to a Hindu" (free download here.)

The exchange sparked an ongoing correspondence between the two that lasted until Tolstoy’s death — a meeting of two great minds and spirits, eventually collected in "Letters from One: Correspondence (and more) of Leo Tolstoy and Mohandas Gandhi" and rivaled only by Einstein’s correspondence with Freud on violence and human nature.

Tolstoy’s letters issue a clarion call for nonviolent resistance — he admonishes against false ideologies, both religious and pseudo-scientific, that promote violence, an act he sees as unnatural for the human spirit, and advocates for a return to our most natural, basic state, which is the law of love. Evil, Tolstoy argues with passionate conviction, is restrained not with violence but with love — something Maya Angelou would come to echo beautifully decades later.

Gandhi’s introduction to the original edition, in which he calls Tolstoy “one of the clearest thinkers in the western world, one of the greatest writers,” offers a pithy caveat to the text, as perfect today as it was a century ago: "One need not accept all that Tolstoy says … to realize the central truth of his indictment. There is no doubt that there is nothing new in what Tolstoy preaches. But his presentation of the old truth is refreshingly forceful. His logic is unassailable. And above all he endeavors to practice what he preaches. He preaches to convince. He is sincere and in earnest. He commands attention."

Tolstoy opens each “chapter” of his missive — for the letter’s length, indeed, puts in glaring perspective the nuanceless and hasty op-eds of our time, contrasting the truly reflective with the merely reactive — by quoting a passage from Krishna as a backdrop for his political, moral, and humanistic arguments. His words bear extraordinary prescience today, as we face a swelling tide of political unrest, ethnic violence, and global conflict. 

He writes: "The reason for the astonishing fact that a majority of working people submit to a handful of idlers who control their labour and their very lives is always and everywhere the same — whether the oppressors and oppressed are of one race or whether … the oppressors are of a different nation. The reason lies in the lack of a reasonable religious teaching which by explaining the meaning of life would supply a supreme law for the guidance of conduct and would replace the more than dubious precepts of pseudo-religion and pseudo-science with the immoral conclusions deduced from them and commonly called “civilization.”

It’s worth pausing here to note that Tolstoy’s notion of “religious teaching” is perhaps best regarded as “spiritual direction,” for he dedicated a great portion of his life trying to discern precisely such spiritual direction for himself by selectively culling wisdom from all the major religious and philosophical traditions. Indeed, he speaks to that aspect directly further along in the letter: "In every individual a spiritual element is manifested that gives life to all that exists, and that this spiritual element strives to unite with everything of a like nature to itself, and attains this aim through love… The mere fact that this thought has sprung up among different nations and at different times indicates that it is inherent in human nature and contains the truth. But this truth was made known to people who considered that a community could only be kept together if some of them restrained others, and so it appeared quite irreconcilable with the existing order of society."

He considers how political ideologies hijacked this basic law of love at various times in human history and tried to replace it with a law of violent submission: "This truth was made known to people who considered that a community could only be kept together if some of them restrained others, and so it appeared quite irreconcilable with the existing order of society… The dissemination of the truth in a society based on coercion was always hindered in one and the same manner, namely, those in power, feeling that the recognition of this truth would undermine their position, consciously or sometimes unconsciously perverted it by explanations and additions quite foreign to it, and also opposed it by open violence. Thus the truth — that his life should be directed by the spiritual element which is its basis, which manifests itself as love, and which is so natural to man—this truth, in order to force a way to man’s consciousness, had to struggle not merely against the obscurity with which it was expressed and the intentional and unintentional distortions surrounding it, but also against deliberate violence, which by means of persecutions and punishments sought to compel men to accept religious laws authorized by the rulers and conflicting with the truth.

The recognition that love represents the highest morality was nowhere denied or contradicted, but this truth was so interwoven everywhere with all kinds of falsehoods which distorted it, that finally nothing of it remained but words. It was taught that this highest morality was only applicable to private life — for home use, as it were — but that in public life all forms of violence — such as imprisonment, executions, and wars — might be used for the protection of the majority against a minority of evildoers, though such means were diametrically opposed to any vestige of love. And though common sense indicated that if some men claim to decide who is to be subjected to violence of all kinds for the benefit of others, these men to whom violence is applied may, in turn, arrive at a similar conclusion with regard to those who have employed violence to them, and though the great religious teachers … foreseeing such a perversion of the law of love, have constantly drawn attention to the one invariable condition of love (namely, the enduring of injuries, insults, and violence of all kinds without resisting evil by evil) people continued — regardless of all that leads man forward — to try to unite the incompatibles: the virtue of love, and what is opposed to love, namely, the restraining of evil by violence. And such a teaching, despite its inner contradiction, was so firmly established that the very people who recognize love as a virtue accept as lawful at the same time an order of life based on violence and allowing men not merely to torture but even to kill one another."

He distills this idea to one “old and simple truth”: "It is natural for men to help and to love one another, but not to torture and to kill one another."

In addition to the false interpretations of religion, Tolstoy takes equal issue with scientific reductionism — something that undoubtedly felt like a great threat at the dawn of the twentieth century, when science was just beginning break to down the material universe into its basic atomic units, a discovery that many feared might be reduced to the hollowing belief that a human being is nothing more than physical “stuff.” Both science and religion, Tolstoy argues, could result in dangerous dogma that blinds us to the basic law of love, if taken at face value and stripped of nuance — the danger of, as he puts it, “scientific superstition replacing the religious one”: "But by the term “scientific” is understood just what was formerly understood by the term “religious”: just as formerly everything called “religious” was held to be unquestionable simply because it was called religious, so now all that is called “scientific” is held to be unquestionable… The unfortunate majority of men bound to toil is so dazzled by the pomp with which these “scientific truths” are presented, that under this new influence it accepts these scientific stupidities for holy truth, just as it formerly accepted the pseudo-religious justifications."

(How easy it is even today for laypeople to be “dazzled by the pomp” of questionable science journalism that prioritizes clickbait sensationalism — something else about which Tolstoy held passionate, prescient opinions — over clarity and rigor.)

He returns to the central point, affirming Gandhi’s advocacy of nonviolent resistance: "Love is the only way to rescue humanity from all ills, and in it you too have the only method of saving your people from enslavement… Love, and forcible resistance to evil-doers, involve such a mutual contradiction as to destroy utterly the whole sense and meaning of the conception of love."

Considering the British colonization of India, Tolstoy marvels at how “a commercial company enslaved a nation comprising two hundred millions” and argues that this was only made possible by people, both the oppressors and the oppressed, failing to contact “the eternal law of love inherent in humanity.” He writes: "As soon as men live entirely in accord with the law of love natural to their hearts and now revealed to them, which excludes all resistance by violence, and therefore hold aloof from all participation in violence — as soon as this happens, not only will hundreds be unable to enslave millions, but not even millions will be able to enslave a single individual."

Reflecting on the process of reawakening to that “eternal law,” Tolstoy offers a developmental metaphor: "What is now happening to the people of the East as of the West is like what happens to every individual when he passes from childhood to adolescence and from youth to manhood. He loses what had hitherto guided his life and lives without direction, not having found a new standard suitable to his age, and so he invents all sorts of occupations, cares, distractions, and stupefactions to divert his attention from the misery and senselessness of his life. Such a condition may last a long time.

When an individual passes from one period of life to another a time comes when he cannot go on in senseless activity and excitement as before, but has to understand that although he has outgrown what before used to direct him, this does not mean that he must live without any reasonable guidance, but rather that he must formulate for himself an understanding of life corresponding to his age, and having elucidated it must be guided by it. And in the same way a similar time must come in the growth and development of humanity. I believe that such a time has now arrived — not in the sense that it has come in the year 1908, but that the inherent contradiction of human life has now reached an extreme degree of tension: on the one side there is the consciousness of the beneficence of the law of love, and on the other the existing order of life which has for centuries occasioned an empty, anxious, restless, and troubled mode of life, conflicting as it does with the law of love and built on the use of violence. This contradiction must be faced, and the solution will evidently not be favorable to the outlived law of violence, but to the truth which has dwelt in the hearts of men from remote antiquity: the truth that the law of love is in accord with the nature of man.

But men can only recognize this truth to its full extent when they have completely freed themselves from all religious and scientific superstitions and from all the consequent misrepresentations and sophistical distortions by which its recognition has been hindered for centuries. To save a sinking ship it is necessary to throw overboard the ballast, which though it may once have been needed would now cause the ship to sink."

Sensing that global tensions were brewing, Tolstoy added the prescient admonition that “in our time all these things must be cleared away in order that mankind may escape from self-inflicted calamities that have reached an extreme intensity.” World War I broke out less than five years later. One of humanity’s grimmest self-inflicted calamities offered evidence, as modern wars do, that we still have a long way to go before reaching that return to the basic nature of love Tolstoy envisioned — which is why Tolstoy’s closing words to Gandhi ring with amplified urgency today: "What are wanted for the Indian as for the Englishman, the Frenchman, the German, and the Russian, are not Constitutions and Revolutions, nor all sorts of Conferences and Congresses, nor the many ingenious devices for submarine navigation and aerial navigation, nor powerful explosives, nor all sorts of conveniences to add to the enjoyment of the rich, ruling classes; nor new schools and universities with innumerable faculties of science, nor an augmentation of papers and books, nor gramophones and cinematographs, nor those childish and for the most part corrupt stupidities termed art — but one thing only is needful: the knowledge of the simple and clear truth which finds place in every soul that is not stupefied by religious and scientific superstitions — the truth that for our life one law is valid — the law of love, which brings the highest happiness to every individual as well as to all mankind. Free your minds from those overgrown, mountainous imbecilities which hinder your recognition of it, and at once the truth will emerge from amid the pseudo-religious nonsense that has been smothering it: the indubitable, eternal truth inherent in man, which is one and the same in all the great religions of the world."

Writing to Gandhi again on September 7, 1910 — eight weeks before he took his final breath — Tolstoy revisited the subject with even more heartfelt conviction: "The longer I live — especially now when I clearly feel the approach of death — the more I feel moved to express what I feel more strongly than anything else, and what in my opinion is of immense importance, namely, what we call the renunciation of all opposition by force, which really simply means the doctrine of the law of love unperverted by sophistries. Love, or in other words the striving of men’s souls towards unity and the submissive behavior to one another that results therefrom, represents the highest and indeed the only law of life, as every man knows and feels in the depths of his heart (and as we see most clearly in children), and knows until he becomes involved in the lying net of worldly thoughts… Any employment of force is incompatible with love.”
"A Letter to a Hindu" is well worth a read in its entirety, and it’s available as a free download. Complement it with Tolstoy on finding meaning in a meaningless world, his timeless Calendar of Wisdom, and a rare recording of the author reading from it shortly before his death, then revisit another extraordinary exchange of Eastern and Western ideas in Einstein and Tagore’s 1930 conversation about Truth and Beauty."
Alternate download link: http://www.theosophyonline.com/ler.php?id=3766

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Musical Interlude: Yanni “Live at the Acropolis, - Acroyali/Standing in Motion”

Yanni “Live at the Acropolis, - Acroyali/Standing in Motion”

Musical Interlude: Yanni, “Live at the Acropolis - Until the Last Moment”

Yanni, “Live at the Acropolis - Until the Last Moment”

"A Look to the Heavens"

“Have you ever seen the Pleiades star cluster? Even if you have, you probably have never seen it like this: all dusty. Perhaps the most famous star cluster on the sky, the bright stars of the Pleiades can be seen without binoculars from even the depths of a light-polluted city. With a long exposure from a dark location, though, the dust cloud surrounding the Pleiades star cluster becomes very evident. The below exposure took about 30 hours and covers a sky area several times the size of the full moon. 
 Click image for larger size.
Also known as the Seven Sisters and M45, the Pleiades lies about 400 light years away toward the constellation of the Bull (Taurus). A common legend with a modern twist is that one of the brighter stars faded since the cluster was named, leaving only six stars visible to the unaided eye. The actual number of Pleiades stars visible, however, may be more or less than seven, depending on the darkness of the surrounding sky and the clarity of the observer's eyesight.”

Chet Raymo, "Thank God, It's Doomsday"

"Thank God, It's Doomsday" 
by Chet Raymo

“OK, folks. Here's what's awaiting you. The End Times. The Apocalypse. The Rapture. The Final Reckoning. Oh, I could pick any one of a thousand representations of the Last Days from centuries of Western art. This one is Luca Signorelli's "The Damned Cast Into Hell," in the Capella Nuova chapel of Orvieto Cathedral, painted around the year 1500 (click to enlarge).


Why were these scenes of souls in extremis so common? Exhortations to be good? A reminder of what awaits us if we don't contribute to the Sunday collection? A local bishop trying to scare the bejesus out of his rebellious flock? Or were these scenes of tribulation just plain old popular with ordinary people, early versions of a Hollywood blockbuster armageddon movie? A pre-modern equivalent of the hugely popular "Left Behind" books of LaHaye and Jenkins?

We love Doomsday. I don't know why, but we seem to have a built-in fascination with the end of the world. Yeah, I watched the movie "Deep Impact." Loved it when that comet smashed into the ocean, sending a tidal wave over New York. The good guys survived. The sheep and the goats.

One Christian group or another has been anticipating the Apocalypse virtually every decade since the Guy himself went up into heaven. And it's not just religious folks. Today we have a secular doomsday genre. Cosmic catastrophe. Google "Nibiru." Eight million hits. A rogue planet that swings by Earth every 3600 years. The Sumerians named it. And the time is nigh. The winter solstice, 2012. The end of the Mayan calendar. This time it's gonna hit. Be afraid. Be very afraid.

Or not. But I wouldn't be surprised if a film called Nibiru is not in production. Meanwhile, we can enjoy the approach of the rogue planet even though it doesn't exist, just as the good folk of Signorelli's Orvieto presumably took a vicarious pleasure at seeing the winged demons drag their less virtuous neighbors down to hell. A suspension of disbelief. A bit of cognitive dissonance. That's entertainment.”

The Poet: Margaret Atwood, "The Moment"

"The Moment"

"The moment when, after many years
of hard work and a long voyage
you stand in the centre of your room,
house, half-acre, square mile, island, country,
knowing at last how you got there,
and say, I own this,
is the same moment when the trees unloose
their soft arms from around you,
the birds take back their language,
the cliffs fissure and collapse,
the air moves back from you like a wave
and you can't breathe.

No, they whisper. You own nothing.
You were a visitor, time after time
climbing the hill, planting the flag, proclaiming. 
We never belonged to you.
 
You never found us.

It was always the other way round."

- Margaret Atwood
"Morning in the Burned House"

Anthropology: “Monogamy May Sound Sweet, But Why It Evolved Isn't”

 
“Monogamy May Sound Sweet, But Why It Evolved Isn't”
by Seth Borenstein

WASHINGTON (AP) — “Only a few species of mammals are monogamous, and now dueling scientific teams think they've figured out why they got that way. But their answers aren't exactly romantic. The answers aren't even the same.

One team looked just at primates, the animal group that includes apes and monkeys. The researchers said the exclusive pairing of a male and a female evolved as a way to let fathers defend their young against being killed by other males. The other scientific team got a different answer after examining about 2,000 species of non-human mammals. They concluded that mammals became monogamous because females had spread out geographically, and so males had to stick close by to fend off the competition. So it's not about romance, said researcher Dieter Lukas of the University of Cambridge, lead author of the mammals study. "It's just really the best he can do."

The differing conclusions apparently arose because the two teams used different methods and sample sizes, the researchers said. But both teams discounted a long-standing explanation for monogamy, that it provides two parents rather than one for rearing offspring. That's just a side benefit, they said. "Romance obviously came after" monogamy, said Christopher "Kit" Opie, an anthropology researcher at the University College London, who was the lead author of the primate study

The studies are published in the journals "Science" and the "Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences". The mammal paper in "Science" excluded humans while the primate analysis in "PNAS" counted people both as monogamous and not, because that differs around the world. Researchers said they hesitated to apply their conclusions to humans, and they acknowledged that their results aren't exactly the stuff of Valentine's Day.

Less than 9 percent of mammal species pair up socially. Among primates, about 25 percent of the species are socially monogamous, Opie said. Some, like gibbons, are highly monogamous while others, like chimps, are on the other end of the spectrum, Opie said.

Opie drew on data about how 230 primate species behave, and he mapped out evolutionary family trees for them. Then, using more than 10,000 computer model runs and calculating the same mathematical probability system that famed prognosticator and statistician Nate Silver employs, Opie came up with a timeline for when certain traits developed, he said. His result: Before any of the social traits associated with monogamy appeared, Opie saw signs of high rates of outside males killing babies. In primates that developed monogamy, such pairing up appeared to develop only later, he said. Why? Because primates breast-feed their offspring for a long time, even for years, and competing males kill off infants if the dad doesn't stick around to fight them off.

But Tim Clutton-Brock, a zoology professor who wrote the all-mammal study in Science with Lukas, said their research saw absolutely no evidence of infanticide spiking before monogamy. Instead, Clutton-Brock and Lukas found that in nearly every case, solitary females came before social monogamy. Those females had spread out to monopolize food like fruit that was of better quality but harder to find. That made it harder for males to keep other males from inseminating the females, Lukas said. "Males cannot successfully defend more than one female," Lukas said. So they stick around and monogamy occurs.

Frans de Waal of Emory University, who wasn't part of either team, said he thought the Opie infanticide paper offered quantifiable support for that theory, but he wasn't sold completely. Another independent expert, Sue Carter of the University of Illinois at Chicago, looks at the biochemistry of monogamy in individual species, zeroing on two hormones. And those hormones "are associated with protection, defensive behavior," so they could fit with either conclusion, she said.

Both teams did agree that they wouldn't quite put humans in the monogamous category. Clutton-Brock said his study found species that are monogamous have fewer physical differences between the genders. They are about the same size, live about as long. That's not humans. Opie agreed, saying: "Strict monogamy, such as (with) the gibbons, is not what humans do."
And they wonder why... lol
- CP

The Daily "Near You?"

Tijeras, New Mexico, USA. Thanks for stopping by.

"13 Cliches to Live By"

"13 Cliches to Live By"
by MensHealth.com

"1. It ain't over till it's over. 2004. Red Sox down 0-3. If Mariano Rivera can let one slip, think how your buddy Phil's bladder quivers as he prepares to shank the serve on match point. On the flip side, when you're 1 point from victory, it's no time for experimentation. End it.
2. Do unto others. It doesn't guarantee reciprocation, but you'll never lose. No one's going to scoff, "You delivered as promised? Congrats on being elected mayor of Chump City!"
3. You can't save someone from himself. You can try - and you will - but you'll fail. Your belief that you know what's best will always be trumped by his belief that he knows better. Treat his crash-and-burn like a good New Year's party: Enjoy the carnage, but offer to stay and help clean up afterward.
4. Always consider the source. So Captain Bitter calls you a suckbag behind your back. Go ahead, internalize. Worry that he's right. Always a good use of your energy. Or realize that he's just trying to find someone to hang out with.
5. Life isn't fair. If it were, the boss's kid wouldn't have been promoted to Senior Executive Suckbag, and John Mayer would in no way be bigger than John Hiatt. But it's not, so the only thing to do is . . .
6. Shut up and play. Vent? Sure. Reflect? You bet. Whining has never been a "turn-on" choice in an online-dating profile for good reason. Everyone, though, clears a path for the guy who makes Plan B look better than Plan A.
7. Surround yourself with good people. Bad taste in pants can be forgiven. Bad taste in friends cannot.
8. Sh-- or get off the pot. There's nothing less captivating or inspiring than watching a man ponder. Heck, even Thoreau eventually stopped staring at the pond and wrote a book.
9. Think before you speak. Five seconds. 1... 2... 3... 4... 5. Just turn over a thought and inject it with a trace of reason before you open your mouth (or hit send, for that matter).
10. There's no pleasing some people. These folks also take no joy from air hockey, puppies, or Spinal Tap, and should receive minimal contact.
11. Get over yourself. The curing-cancer story is a nice résumé builder and good for about 5 minutes of party talk. After that, all anyone wants to hear is a good joke.
12. Stop thinking with your other head. Oh, yes, you do. For proof, take this test: Count on one hand how many times getting a little action has been as blissfully uncomplicated as it seemed. Still have five fingers doing nothing, right? You know what to do with them.
13. Die trying - to put your teeth back in after sex with twins at your 100th birthday party."

"Recognizing Happiness: Analyzing the Path"

"Recognizing Happiness: Analyzing the Path"
by Madisyn Taylor, The DailyOM

"When we take the time to recognize when we are happy and what that feels like, it becomes easier to recreate. Those of us on the path of personal and spiritual growth have a tendency to analyze our unhappiness in order to find the causes and make improvements. But it is just as important, if not more so, to analyze our happiness. Since we have the ability to rise above and observe our emotions, we can recognize when we are feeling joyful and content. Then we can harness the power of the moment by savoring our feelings and taking time to be grateful for them.

Recognition is the first step in creating change, therefore recognizing what it feels like to be happy is the first step toward sustaining happiness in our lives. We can examine how joy feels in our bodies and what thoughts run through our minds in times of bliss. Without diminishing its power, we can retrace our steps to discover what may have put us in this frame of mind, and then we can take note of the choices we’ve made while there. We might realize that we are generally more giving and forgiving when there’s a smile on our face, or that we are more likely to laugh off small annoyances and the actions of others when they don’t resonate with our light mood.

Once we know what it feels like and can identify some of the triggers and are aware of our actions, we can recreate that happiness when we are feeling low. Knowing that like attracts like, we can pull ourselves out of a blue mood by focusing on joy. We might find that forcing ourselves to be giving and forgiving, even when it doesn’t seem to come naturally, helps us to reconnect with the joy that usually precedes it. If we can identify a song, a picture, or a pet as a happiness trigger, we can use them as tools to recapture joy if we are having trouble finding it. By focusing our energy on analyzing happiness and all that it encompasses, we feed, nurture, and attract more of it into our lives, eventually making a habit of happiness."