Sunday, November 29, 2009

Twitter as Sacred Space

I've been noticing the connections between Twitter and sacred space. To some, this may seem absurd; to others, outrageous. I'm not talking about those hushed, rarified places where a whisper shatters the holy apple cart. The sacred spaces to which I relate Twitter are often pilgrimage sites teeming with a cacophony of seekers, music, rituals, storytelling, offerings, hawkers, con artists, recitations of scriptures and countless other activities. Places such as Varanasi, Bodhgaya, Lourdes, Mecca and countless others are gathering places for the multitudes looking for connection, inspiration, guidance, information and wisdom.

More specifically, the architecture of Twitter reflects the archetypal design of sacred space. Similar to sacred space, Twitter offers a spacious container (think the overarching dome of St. Peter's or the Pantheon). This spacious container of Twitter invites the full spectrum of characters to enter and express themselves (imagine the thousands of carvings covering Notre Dame Cathedral or a Hindu Temple, or Borobudor...) and the crowd of faithful inside. Within the spacious container flows a stream of energy responding to questions, needs, and intentions as they arise moment by moment. Places for making offerings (altars) are also there. Like the prayers wedged between the stones of the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem, the candles lit in the chapels of Chartres Cathedral, flowers placed on the Ganges' current, each tweet is placed in the mysterious digital river, sparking unexpected realizations and pointing toward an indescribable spirit that connects us all.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Nature's Elusive Totality

I'm noticing how Nature does things. She crafts every detail from a galaxy to an insect with care. Each form, color, texture and sound is exquisitely suited to its function. Each gesture of an ocean wave or a bird's flight is living poetry. Each thing is so entwined with every other thing that it is impossible to tell where the life of a frog ends and the life of the pond where it lives and the flies it eats begins. Yet, with all the care and craft, Nature doesn't seem to be attached to a single thing she creates. Whatever she forms, she reforms. Whatever she plants she uproots. Whatever she spawns she dissolves.

I'm noticing that all the change, the gain and loss, doesn't diminish or expand nature one bit. All this becoming and unbecoming, this shattering and flowing unfolds within Nature's completeness. Her sandbox has no limits. She's not confined in the extent of her expansiveness. She's also not confined to the layers and details of the boundaries she creates within the sandbox. Wherever Nature goes, she's definitely there, in her elusive totality.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Charter for Compassion

Today, Karen Armstrong unveiled the Charter for Compassion, Go to the link and listen. Hearing the words was like hearing the voice of my soul speaking its longing for what is so simple yet so ignored. At the essence of all our endeavors is a point of view. Do we see ourselves as isolated and alone or interconnected wave in the ocean of being?The isolated viewpoint generates desperate acts intended to protect and defend islands of fear and numbness. The interconnected viewpoint invites engagement in the mystery currents of becoming. Ignoring entry into those mystery currents induces fear and violence. The tides of living are too strong for an isolated individual to resist. Compassion is the act of that mysterious essence within us touching that mysterious essence that appears to be around us. It is finding that our illusions of disconnection are hallucinations. It is finding that the one true thing we are not alone, that the countless diverse waves of personality, action, belief, institutions, and every other form are shimmering glints of light within one ocean of being. We overcome suffering and recall unity in the simplest of acts: opening a door for a stranger; smiling at a passerby; listening to a friend. We enter it also by courageously acting with compassion in the harsh arenas of business, politics, art, spirituality and every other system that tends to suppress love and wisdom. Appreciate the compassion you encounter today and respond in kind. This IS changing the world.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Ask Nature

Check out This project of The Biomimicry Institute opens the door to nature's research lab. Down at NATURE they've been exploring design applications for hundreds of millions of years. The results are all around you from the architecture of galaxies to the interior design of your brain. Want ideas for waterproofing and paint colors? Don't go to the local lumber yard. Ask Nature and discover what birds, plants and other living things have learned about living on Earth.

Biomimcry means imitating life. What better way to learn about truly sustainable design. Is there a more functional, versatile and beautiful solar collector than a leaf? Why not study a bird's feathers to learn how to design roofing shingles? Nature is ready and willing to share her secrets. Talk to her at

Monday, November 9, 2009

Visionary Encounters with Trees

Yesterday I collected images of trees as seen by various artists from different times and different places. Looking at these images I don't see trees. I see the minds of the artists. How can Giotto's tree be so different from Cezanne's tree which is different from Georgia O'Keefe's tree and Van Gogh's tree? I think its two things: 1) they each had a direct encounter with a tree (vision of it) that broke through their preconceived (cultural) ideas about the tree, and 2) each artist expressed that vision through the unique viewpoint of their individuality. In other words, they broke through the essential being, the universal tree-ness, of what they saw and then had the courage to express that vision honestly.

This is the power and gift of art. It's a call from one one human being to others that says, "Hey, your life isn't as limited as you think. Just open your eyes, really open them, and see what's in front of you. See through your fears, through your been there done that boredom, through your I'm too busy confusion, through your I'm too important self righteousness and behold the miracle of energy and matter shimmering right here, right now. Then tell someone what you actually saw; not what your supposed to have seen, nor what you would have like to see, nor the meaning of what you saw. Just put into what cannot fit into words, put into brush strokes what cannot fit into brush strokes, put into music what cannot fit into music. Then maybe one day, your work will hang in a museum. More importantly, you will live and spark the creative light in others.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Seeing Through the Fiction of Our Lives

For a moment, the clouds of thought parted and revealed what is always behind the scenes. What broke through was not a light or a sound. It wasn't another insight masquerading as truth. It wasn't love or not love. It wasn't bliss or not bliss. It wasn't unity or duality. It wasn't a glowing state of consciousness to be grasped or a dark depression to be pushed away. Naming what it was would be absurd. Denying its reality would be more ridiculous.

In that moment, the entire fiction of my life became clear. The comedy of striving to become what I already am crashed. All the worry and work to do the right thing, make meaningful art, offer genuine love, realize true wisdom, dwell well on the planet appeared as mist illuminated by morning sunlight.

In that moment, papers strewn across the table, clothes flung on the chair, the music pouring through the speaks, birds chirping on the other side of the wall, fingers tapping on the keyboard, golden autumn leaves shimmering through the blinds... anything and everything became a miraculous dream dreaming itself. The dream spun and spun within the emptiness that is full of no-thingness.