“In his absence, Brook asked Myers to take personal responsibility for work on another show, The Ogre Show, which would be performed that night. Pleased and flattered, Myers accepted the job as the group’s new boss. He found out later that Brook had given the same to job to everyone else.”
John Heilpern

Conference of the Birds

The #OMCru System

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Personal Disclaimer: I am not a fan of communities. It may be my understanding of “community” that is unclear – but it is what it is. I’ve been rejected by many communities most of my life. Most of the communities I have experienced were aggressive towards and threatened by my personal sense of freedom. For many years this led me into a false belief that I am not a people person, it has taken me a long time to realize that community does not equal people. People I like and I can do, communities I don’t.

What is OMCru?

Over recent months I encountered on Twitter an inspiring phenomenon called the Online Meditation Crew which can be found on Twitter using the hashtag #OMCru. People affiliated with this stream announce when they are going to sit down for a short meditation so that others may join them – thus fostering group meditations. I really liked the concept though until recently I never got a chance to participate because it seems to be happening way out of my time zone. Then a couple of months ago I lucked out and ran into a meditation checkin by @shuliji (who indirectly introduced me to OMCru). I came out of the meditation with a flood of thoughts for a web-service based inspired by OMCru. I have since reached out to the founder of OMCru to share my thoughts and yesterday when I tweeted about it – I was ambushed. Coming from meditators made it soft – but it was an ambush.

Systems

Yesterday’s swift flood made it clear to me that there is no point in talking to or about an OMCru “community” – there are too many diverse voices, personalities, qualities and motivations participating in it for me to relate to it as a whole. Yet there is an OMCru System in place and my thoughts pertain to it rather then to it’s members. As a precursor to my thoughts I am calling on another precious resource also introduced to me by @shuliji. Following is a video by Dominic Barter of Restorative Circles that wonderfully explains and demonstrates an understanding of “system” that I embrace:

I suffer from an opposite symptom to Dominic’s “System Blindness” – I am prone to “System Brightness” – systems shout out to me and many times the underlying is so powerful that I cannot benefit from the system itself. So I am going to apply my “System Brightness” to OMCru. There are numerous underlying assumptions of order that drive the OMCru system – such as:

  1. To use it you must use Twitter. It is also useful to be an advanced Twitter user – you need to know what hashtags are and how to use them if you want to stay intune with the OMCru stream.
  2. To join a meditation you must either connect to a daily scheduled meditation or be with Twitter on you at all times (or at least around the time you want to meditate) – to see who’s meditating now.
  3. You are awake and active in or near a USA/Canada time-zone which is where the core and most of OMCru meditation originate.
  4. You can meditate on your own.
  5. You can time your meditations.

… and the list probably goes on and on with gross and subtle assumptions that define  the system. Some of the assumptions are inherited from people/ group dynamics and others are inherited from technological dynamics. It is the technological dynamics of it that I don’t like and, in the spirit of Dominic Barter, “are not serving me well”.

For Me the OMCru System Sucks

  1. I don’t live with Twitter – I review it only occassionaly. Twitter can easily generate too much noise for my liking. I don’t have mobile internet at all.
  2. I live in Europe – which means that most of the (current) OMCru meditation activity takes place when I sleep.
  3. My scheduled meditations take place within a wider practice – which does not include sending updates to Twitter.
  4. My spontaneous meditations usually meet a thin or silent OMCru stream.
  5. I like my Twitter stream concise and clean. The OMCru dynamics make an awful mess. Yesterday I encountered a person from the OMCru stream that appealed to me and I wanted to follow. I hesitated to do so because that would bring more useless OMCru noise into my stream.
  6. I had some thoughts to share with the community – but there was no where to share them (and finally put them up in this post).

For Me the OMCru Idea Rocks

It was just a few days ago that I managed to see beyond the obstacles of the OMCru system and to reconnect with it’s core inspiration. Even though I don’t participate in OMCru meditations it is present with me. I love knowing that many others are engaged in meditation. “System Brightness” tells me that is a system that can bring clarity to the world. I realized that I partake in it even if I don’t meditate with others at the same time. I realized that I partake in it even without meditating, by just witnessing it. Then I realized that my Shakuhachi meditations are a part of it – and I even indulged in sending shoutouts on Twitter. Then I remembered the flood of thoughts that came to me after my first and only OMCru group meditation. They are NOT meant to do anything to an OMCru Community – they ARE intended to improve the OMCru System.

Imagine a web-site where you can join or create meditations:

  • You could see a list of upcoming meditations and the people who will be participating in them.
  • You could be reminded (by Twitter, Email or a nifty mobile application) of upcoming meditations.
  • That nifty mobile application could also signal you gently when a meditation begins and ends.
  • You could create a spontaneous or planned meditation, you could invite others to it – you could even give it a theme (a word, a thought, a color, an image, a sound …).
  • You could offer or partake in a voice guided meditation.
  • You could make a note of reflection after a meditation and/or share with others – in a unique form of dialoge which lends itself to peaceful attention.
  • Eventually you could review your meditation history – your reflections, the people you’ve spent time with, etc.

All of this, I believe, would make it easier for the OMCru idea to spread, to reach more people (including me), to create more opportunities for connection, to facilitate a cleaner means of communicating and coming together. In addition it would make it possibl to experience a “bigger picture” of what is happening:

  • You could see a map of the world with indications of meditations taking place all over.
  • You could see how much meditation has happened & how many people have meditated in the last 24 hours, week, year … or since the inception of the system.
  • You could see where in the world meditation is established and where new seeds are growing.
  • You could effortlessly organize and coordinate large meditation events.

Anyways … these are just some of my thoughts and my intention was (and remains) to share them in the hope of collaborating with others to transform them into a good working system, to support and nurture the OMCru idea.

Unhealthy Systems

Systems (and communities!) tend to become self propagating – which can cause them to lose sight of the values and ideas they are intended to serve. They can become so self-serving that they can even work against their purposes – this is a state of illness. I was surprised by the mass of defensive reactions in the spirit of “We like our community, don’t change it” I received yesterday. I was disappointed by the absence of curiosity.

Posted in AltEco, Open Source, outside, Tech Stuff | You are welcome to add your comment

I Shakuhachi – November 28, 2010

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This is my first shakuhachi recording in Romania. I’ve recently associated some of my meditative Shakuhachi sessions with the building resonance of the Online Meditation Crew (blog, Twitter stream).

I hear in it coming and going, still arriving, edgy, confident … it reflects how I feel – still coming together in a new place on the planet.

click to download

Posted in About, inside, My Shakuhachi Recordings, Romania, Shakuhachi | You are welcome to add your comment

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2010-11-28

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  • samkhya this morning: the "cup" I'm holding is an illusion, the subtle elements that uphold it (earth, air, fire) are real objects #
  • being an outsider of Israeli society and away from Israel illuminates even more clearly the raw-calousness of it's social norms #
  • @MettaYogaIL thank you for taking the time to read it 🙂 re: Degeneracy & Yoga: http://bit.ly/cEQr3n #
  • a charming coffee shop and cheese makers in Romania: http://bit.ly/9zfpuA #
  • ~1$ worth of vegetables from the Romanian market have transformed into a mouth watering soup! cc: @lifeinromania #
  • @zenpeacekeeper @spiver I believe "goodness" of a teacher is an experience reserved for a student, it's an intimate & personal experience #
  • 2 beautiful 1sts in Romania – home-baked bread from a couple of days ago & a first blanket of fresh snow this morning: http://bit.ly/f9YnLi #
  • stunning contrast between darg gray skies and bright & warm rays of sun light #
  • surprised to find myself thinking & writing about nationality & Israel – there's no such thing as "a right to land" http://bit.ly/gpOdsD #
  • sitting down to a short meditation playing Shakuhachi #omcru #
  • @iandstewart what would you use on a self-hosted domain instead of facebook? #
  • first time home alone in Romania 🙂 Andreea has gone to visit her family #
  • @iandstewart sadly I feel WordPress isn't ready to replace Facebook ( it should) but it will b a gr8 day when it is!! http://bit.ly/hq9vCu #

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Nationality

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My thoughts have been moving towards a post I intend to publish on oDharma about blogging. Those thoughts have not yet consolidated but this morning they led me in a surprising direction – to thoughts about nationality. If you speak Hebrew then I invite you to view this talk by Yeshayahu Leibovitz (a prominent Israeli philosopher) from 1982 in which he tackles a volatile political question “To whom does Israel belong?”:

The dialogue begins when an Israeli farmer describes a conversation he had with his arab (Palestanian!?) neighbor who said to him that the land he is working belonged to him 30 years ago and was taken from him. The Israeli farmer also admits that he sometimes hires his arab neighbor  to work the land (the very land that was taken from  him) for him. The Israeli farmer asks how to face that question – what can he say so that they (he and his arab neighbor) can live in peace.

Prof. Leibovitz answers that “no people have any right to any land” that even “the Swedish people do not have a right to Sweden” – there is no such “right”. He explains that the existence of a country is a result of a large group of people (a majority?) who share a common relationship to a land – it is what  is in their hearts that associates a people to land and makes it into a country. Israel is (and this he said almost 30 years ago) in a difficult position – because there are two people’s claiming an association of ownership with the same physical land. This is not a legal matter and therefore cannot be debated as such and pretending otherwise is just plain stupid. It is a matter of heart(s) – and hearts don’t reason. Prof. Leibovitz then goes on to say that there are only two possible solutions to this situation (emphasizing that there isn’t a 3rd) – either a fight to the death (nothing less) or the reknown solution of separation – two countries for two people’s.

These two solutions used to delineate a clear structure in  Israeli politics – the right embracing all out war  and the left embracing peace through separation. Over the last 30 years two processes of evolution have occured. (1) There are no clear mainstream political delineations anymore (though there are small extremist groups on both sides) –  the idea of separation-as-a-solution engulfs both right and left – leaving a mediocre and stale political system. (2) The realities of life have created a friction-filled but single living entity. On the national level Palestinian territories rely on Israel for basic sustenance – things like electricity and food (I’m sure there is much more and two way business – I simply do not have more information on it) are sold from Israel to Palestinian territories. On a local level, having lived for 18 month with arab neighbors (within as-yet uncontroversial Israeli borders) – lives are completely intermingled on a day-today basis.

I wonder if time has revealed a refined perspective – I am offering myself as an example – my Judaism is just an inherited title, my Israeli nationality is also a reality into which I was born (yet, especially now that I’ve left Israel, I can say there is a sense of belonging and connection though no longing to the place). I have come to believe that most people share common interests, things like a house, food, a sense of security, kids, education. It’s really not very complicated – yet somehow (and today my finger is pointed more in the direction of industrialization and capitalism than it is at politics and religion) leaderships and societies seem to lose sight of that. I’m sure that even right-wing extremists enjoy a warm embrace, a nice dinner and seeing their kids grow and mature.

That’s how I live my life and how I meet and experience others. I prefer an experience of connection over an experience of separation – as seems to be the case with actual life in Israel (not political life or the life-image depicted in mass media). I am constantly discovering that if I let my guard down my mind draws a picture that distorts or even goes against what is in my heart. One way I can tell which is dominant is through a simple rule of thumb – if I experience connection it’s coming from my heart, it I experience separation it’s coming from my mind. What is in the hearts of Israelis & Palestinians is, whether they admit it or not, a shared experience – there is connection. What is in their minds masks that and contorts it into separation. Even if the two leaderships eventually find a “solution of separation” they will quickly need to create “mechanisms of connection” because hearts and life will demand it.

Ironically – there is something else shared by Israeli and Palestinian societies – they are both filling their minds and the minds of their young with wrong perception, perception that creates a sense of enmity, separation, insecurity and eventually violence. That can be changed – though I am not sure it will be (sometimes death arrives before enlightenment). Minds can be changed – it happens all the time 🙂 Separation is not sustainable in the long term – it’s against nature. My contribution to Israeli society was changing my own mind and allowing that change to echo within my life circles. It doesn’t really matter if I am right or wrong – what does matter – and this is something that largely escapes Israeli society – is that I am a product of Israeli society and I am not the only one.

Posted in Expanding, inside, Israel, Quality | You are welcome to add your comment

Two Firsts – Bread & Snow

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We are here in Romania to create a sustainable home (more on that soon). We are always looking for small steps we can take on this long journey. A couple of days ago we took another smal step by baking our first bread. This is Andreea’s handy-work – pretty amazing result for the first time around:

This morning I woke up to another beautiful first. I’ve seen snow before – but usually as a tourist. I now live here. We’ve been here for over  2 weeks and we’ve had great weather – sunny days and pleasant temperatures. We’ve felt the temperatures drop over recent days and then this morning I wake up to a world covered by a delicate blanket of snow. It’s a big weather shift and yet it happened with such delicacy and grace. I am looking forward to seeing the city covered with snow 🙂  For now, this is the view out the window:

Update Nnovember 30, 2010: another image through the window and two of snow left-overs later that day.

Posted in Expanding, inside, Romania | You are welcome to add your comment