“Then what do you depend on? My own internal reactions. I read myself, not the person in front of me. I always know a lie because I want to turn my back on the liar.”
Frank Herbert

Chapter House Dune

The Notion of Time in Computing

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Anyone who has done any programming that has elements of persistency (not just adding two numbers, but recording when that addition was performed) has experienced the challenge of time. It is a problem that exists on any scale, from human relevant scales (which online shopping order was placed first) to machine-relevant scales (which network packet was sent first). It is a problem that escalates as computer systems get larger (scale up) and faster.

This is an intruiging talk by Paul Borrill about the notion of time how it reflects on how we do computing (and how what we do is still shaped by the linear tape that was used when computers were born).It suggests that our linear approach to time is unfounded and causes much of the complexity we have to deal with in computing. Human beings are required to deal with this complexity. The result being that scalability is limited by what human beings can oversee / manager / administer. What if it was possible to create software (and hardware) in a different way. What if computing could be created without a “God View” – a sense of overseeing centrality, without monolithic source-of-record storage?

via Matthew Schutte and Arthur Brock – Ceptr / MetaCurrency

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Being a part of … nothing

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I started this video in a tech-mindset. I had already known about most of what is displayed in it, but the conclusions drawn in the last seconds gave me chills. Yes feeling a part of something, community, sharing, etc … are precious experiences that we are drawn to. But does it not matter what underlies that shared experience? If it is a void, devoid of even physical reality let alone meaningful purpose … what kind of shared being will emerge?

During winter I watch some alpine ski-racing. It is the only sport I consume and that too, I feel fading away from me. I do consider it a sport. I watch Eurosport UK where, over the years, I have been amused by the side-by-side presence of things like snooker or darts or poker, which lack a physicality that defines sport for me. Also over the years I have noticed a clear shift in (UK related) advertising where two themes seem to have come to power: private money loaning and online gambling.

My opinion on this evolution of “sport” is inconsequential. However I do believe that we are lying to ourselves, and that matters. The labels we attach to things matter. They highlight some fatures and obscure others. They can connect us with others who share in the higlight, and alientate us from others who share in the obscure. Politics is not the only domain in which isolated social bubbles can be formed. What is described in the video is entertainment, creates a sense of relatedness (even if fleeting and superficial), commerce, business … but sport?

Once we agreed that an overweight man throwing 3 darts (many times!) a distance of a couple of meters is a sport, we opened a door. That door is now leading to a bunch of people sitting together with googles on watching robots (smart ones!) race being called a sport too. I don’t deny the fascination and entertainment of it. But when we call it a sport we are opening another door … a meta-door. This is a door that leads into mental ambiguity and laziness. Where will that door take us? Does it matter? Do you care?

Posted in Intake, Intellect Run Amok, Money, outside, Tech Stuff | You are welcome to read 1 comment and to add yours

Dancing with Allergy

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About 2 weeks ago first subtle signs of allergy appeared. It was a subtle itching sensation in the back of my throat. As the days went by the signs accumulated and gradually intensified … though for the most part subtle (in comparison to past years).

The most stable aspect of my life is my daily practice. It is therefore the most reliable point of reference and reflection for me. I can tell how I am by how I am in practice. In past years I continued with my daily practice as long as I could until it collapsed in the face of allergy symptoms.

This time, when first signs of allergy manifested I met it differently. I began to change my practice. Instead of pushing forward with practice-as-usual (until I couldn’t anymore) I modified it to accommodate the allergy manifestations. Instead of just accepting that allergy has arrived I took it in and responded to it. We started moving together … dancing.

I was sweetly and softly surprised by what happened. For the first 10 days my asana practice responded to the symptoms. I gradually modified my practice. First by gradually removing practices that had a brahmana effect – that consumed my breath. Then by reducing my time spent in forward bends which increased my sense of congestion.

During these first 10 days I was also considering modifying my pranayama practice, but there was no need to. Changes in asana practice made it possible to stay with my pranayama practice. But there was a subtle qualitative shift there too. In the beginning, at the end of every part of every breath I felt that even though breath was complete, there was less space in the echo of the breath. Where there was previously a round softness there was now a sharper turn.

YET, during these 10 days I noticed something new. My nostrils are typically somewhat blocked. This is not from mucus but from some kind of tissue inflammation. Then, when they are inflamed, it takes only a little mucus to cause a sense of blockage. What I realized, and surprised me, was that when the allergy symptoms began my nostrils suddenly cleared. It was as if allergy had released a blockage that was locked in place and the blockage was transformed into a more vague and moving presence. For the first time over these years of reflection around allergy, it seemed, amongst its clearly dysfunctional symptoms, to perform a specific function.

As the days passed I continued to be attentive to the quality of my breathing. By the end of these first 10 days my asana practice had become short and concise … a preparation for sitting in pranayama, no more, no less. And then I finally felt a change was needed in pranayama itself. I reduced the length of breath and removed holds (I stayed with the same technique, pratiloma, which is why I was able to notice the clear and open nostrils). These changes allowed me to stay in a good cycle of breathing practice.

Today, about 15 days in, after waking up at 4:30am. This is the earliest I have gotten out of bed during this cycle of allergy. During the allergy period I typically I wake up with a sense that my breath is locking up, if I stay in bed it does so quickly, less so if I get up, get vertical and start taking liquids.

I got on the mat one more time. I did not complete a practice sequence. Between a physical tiredness and a weak and fragmented breath the practice became uninteresting, uninspiring and unappealing. I stopped practicing.

I practice because I want to. Because the experience of practice engages me, reveals me and reminds me of that I am. I do not feel that individual practices are in themselves acts of healing or self improvement. I do feel that it is a continuous relationship with practice which takes me through healing, health and beyond. I do feel that when a disturbance such as allergy manifests there is a qualitative drop in energy and well being. What matters most in such times is not how far I fall, but where do I fall from. If I am higher up on a scale of well-being, when I do fall, it is to a better place than had I been in a lesser place to start with.

Now I don’t want to practice. The practice experience is unappealing. Maybe I could discipline myself into practicing for a few more days. Doing so, I feel, would be a denial of where I am. It would also undermine my long term development by re-surfacing qualities (forceful, controlling, fear, etc.) which I have witness soften through practice and the life that has formed around it.

And so, I softly got off the mat, rolled it up and put it away. I remain softly curious to see what the coming days and weeks bring. Regardless, I trust that in a few weeks, when allergy symptoms have passed, my mat, my practice and I will resume our relationship.

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Robert Pirsig’s Metaphysics of Quality on: Is Trump Evil?

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I don’t know that there is any

A recent interaction with David on Twitter brought up the question Is Trump Evil?

David is making a great effort to present what Pirsig’s Metaphysics of Quality is and I have dedicated a section of my site to Pirsig’s Book Lila: In Inquiry into Morals.

While I generally agree with David about the view on Trump I have a reservation about the “Evil” conclusion.

David and I connected via email and started a debate chat … and with his permission I’ve moved the conversation from email to here so that it can unfold and be available to others. Most of the content will therefor be found in the comment thread below.

 

 

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My shoulders, socks and lowerback … doing and not-doing

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Shoulders

My practice includes lying back bends with active arms. I start with my arms alongside my body and swing them “up above my head”. One of my focuses in this posture is softening and relaxing the shoulders every time my arms are placed back on the floor alongside my body. I have been working with this focus for a few months and there has been a gradual improvement:

  1. First I had to bring my attention to my shoulders at the right time (there are other focuses in the posture that require my attention).
  2. With my attention in place I was a bit mechanical in finishing each movement, noticing my shoulders were active and relaxing them.
  3. Gradually that become a more fluent movement … but still mechanical and somewhat separate … relaxing the shoulders came after finishing the movement.
  4. Then the two movements have merged. I am aware of my shoulders already when I start to lower my arms. When I am attentive enough I arrive with my shoulders down.
  5. Now the integration is expanding further. The question I am with now is how can I do the entire movement in such a way that no excess is created in the shoulders at all, so nothing need to be adjusted at the end of the movement. I am learning to engage my shoulders differently throughout the entire movement. It’s a curious learning because I can do it yet I can’t (yet?) describe what it is exactly that I am doing.

Socks

It’s warm enough for me to wear baggy pants that expose my legs somewhat during movement. It is also cold enough that I am still wearing socks. When I initially bend forward (on both sides) I have a tendency to pull up my socks. It is a distraction that I have noticed for some time. During winter, as my hands reached my legs I could get away with a more subtle distraction of slightly arranging the fabric of my pants. It was subtle because it kind of merged with placing my hands on my leg. Now the distraction is much more obvious.

This presents a subtle challenge. I do not know how to SOFTLY not-do something. Refraining from doing something echoes subtly with qualities such as self-judgement, an aha! of “catching myself”, expecting myself to make a mistake, etc. So while it may be possible to “not-do” something, I feel that it has more downsides to it than value. I also find it easier to move towards something I want than to escape from something I don’t want.I found 2 “wants” to support me.

The first is wanting to notice and better discern between the impulse to arrange my clothes and the action of actually doing so. I trust (from past experience) that doing so will, in time, resolve the distraction. Something seems to find satisfaction when it is given attention, making the action at first lest necessary and ultimately unnecessary.

The second is related to my eyes. For some time now, in the same seated forward bends, my eyes tend to open. So, I am trying to keep my eyes close. This is something very tangible for me to work with. More tangible then catching the impulse to arrange my clothes. I am curious to see which one (noticing the urge or closing my eyes) will take hold first.

Lower back

Because of recent life off-the-mat I have felt a bit of rigidness in my lower back and can best discern it in seated forward bends. Here too I’ve been on a subtle and gradual journey of learning:

  1. In the past I would have felt some disappointment knowing that I can bend better then I am doing in the present moment.
  2. Gradually I came to accept that my back is the way it is and to work with it as it is rather then wish it to be something else.
  3. That shift in attitude allowed me to experience a softness that improved my ability to bend. That softness improved my range of movement.
  4. That  softness also allowed my attention to move more freely (not that a-tension had been reduced) and to move to my core (abdominal area).
  5. Applying strength in my core further supported my back and improved my range of movement.
  6. Gradually I came to be curious (instead of critical) of any sense of limitation in my lower back (a curiosity which applies to all movement). I began to explore how to fully be with the limited range of movement. It became a practice of surrender … softening generated attention generated strength generated trust generated more softness.
  7. I realized that meeting limited range of movement was teasing out of me more softness and better attention.
  8. Eventually I came to appreciate limited range of movement (of varying levels, from slight discomfort to painful injury) and realized that what I was experiencing as limitation was actually my body protecting itself from further injury. When I came into that relationship I lost interest in overcoming the limitation.
  9. Since then, when experiencing more serious discomforts in my lower back, I know that I have an opportunity to refine my practice that I would otherwise not have. There are subtle things that I have learned about movement through pain or discomfort.

This kind of refined learning seems to be never-ending. I can, like in the present moment, feel more established in my lower back, less in my shoulders. Then another dimension opens up and I feel like a beginner again, where I previously felt established.

I continue to be surprised by the subtle relationship between attention, breath and movement (I haven’t mentioned breath much in this post because these days my breathing is stable and developing and less affected by life disturbances). From years of practice I feel I know better how to work within that relationship, but how it actually works seems beyond intellectual grasping … more like magic.

 

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My Conception, Birth and Early Life

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I recently asked my parents to tell me about how I came into this world and this is what they were able to recall. How this came to be and the reason for doing this will appear in followup posts.

Conception

My mother (freshly married to my father) visited with a friend (another woman) who had given birth recently. When my mother held her friend’s baby in her arms she knew she wanted to have a baby too. To my surprise, my mother was passionate about this (I do not recollect experiencing my mother passionate about anything). My father was supportive but raised some questions about practicalities (both of my parents were students and living in a shed in a boarding school in a village setting).

My mother got off birth control and got pregnant with me. She has some sickness in the first months but other then that enjoyed the pregnancy very much. She felt good and confident. N

As my birth neared my parents reviewed a book of names and chose a name for a boy and a name for a girl. They did not know my gender. They opted for a name that felt fresh and young (stepping out of the cultural norm of seelcting classic / biblical names). The name they chose for me was “Ronen”, they liked that it meant happiness (though I don’t remember that meaning being brought to my attention, it is only much later in life that I realized that my name had meaning and wondered about how it related to me).

Birth

I was born in a hospital. My mother arrived in the morning hours. She was alone. Fathers were not allowed into the birthing rooms, so my father was in a waiting room. There was no one else with her, not her mother, not a friend. She was alone.

Labor was difficult for her. Epidurals were still not available but she did receive some medication for the pains she was experiencing. My head was not centered, off to one side, and so labor was prolonged. Forceps were placed on my head and used to get me out. I was born in the early evening hours. By then my mother was exhausted and disassociated. She does not remember the details of what happened after I was born. I was not given to my mother after I was born. I was taken out to my father for a short meet and greet. I was then taken away to a nursery. My mother held me for the first time only the next day. I did not nurse at all.

Post Birth

I got sick with Jaundice and was hospitlalized for two weeks. I was in the same hospital as my mother. My mother was released from hospital after 6 days. She came to visit me everyday until she was allowed to take me home. She was alone, and I was alone.

After I got over the Jaundice I was circumcised by a rabbi (not a surgeon) at my grandparents home. If tradition was followed, I was probably given some wine to soften the blow. During the ceremony the rabbi asks for the name of the baby and the name of the father and grandfather (you get the jist) so as to insert them into the prayer templates. When my parents responded with “Ronen” my grand-grandfather (my mother’s father who was a well known rabbi in the city) interjected, as if he didn’t hear their reply and said “yes, but what’s his name”. He couldn’t fathom the name “Ronen” and so, for the sake of the ceremony, my name was “Haim” (an established and proven biblical name that means “life”). Beyond the ceremony my parents stuck with “Ronen”.

Early Life

At the time, my parents felt supported by family in almost every context of their new life as parents. I felt that my father stated this in contrast with today where family feels far and fragmented and the feeling that we are living in a world where everyone is on their own.

During the first year of my life the Yom Kippur war began. My parents awoke in the morning to the sound of radio coming from somewhere outside their shed. When they turned on the radio they learned that war had started and continuous sequences of recruitment codes were being broadcast. Within a few hours a jeep appeared to collect my father who then disappeared from my life for 6 months. When he returned I did not recognize and rejected him.

My mother had a very difficult time during the war. She was alone with a newbor, in a remote place. She did not know even where my father was serving in the war. She wanted to leave to go be with either her parents or my father’s parents. But she was a teacher and principle insisted that she stay. She was offered assistance in the form of a young woman soldier who took care of my when my mother was teaching, and then came at the end of the day to sleep with us so that my mother would not be alone. My grandparents visited her regularly to bring her groceries and to help her with me.

During my third year of life I experienced a first asthma attack. At first my parents were very concerned, but once they arrived at the hospital and I was diagnosed and medicated they felt confident they could handle the illness. I asked them if something happened in my life around that time, that they could associate with the onset of the illness. They could not think of anything. However, in a roundabout part of our conversation they mentioned that my older sister also got asthma, and the timing at which she got it got my attention. It seems that my asthma appeared when my mother was in her first months of pregnancy with my older sister. It seems that asthma appeared in my older sister when my mother was in her first months of pregnancy with my younger sister.

I am Ronen.

 

 

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Robert Pirsig: Rest in Abundant Peace

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Robert Pirsig has departed. He was and continues to be a grand pillar in my consciousness. Though I have very little patience for academic philosophy, I do consider Pirsig a philosopher, a grand phiilosopher of our time . Grand as the myths that society seems to (mistakenly!?) assign to famous Greek philosophers like Plato and Aristotle (which he challenged and pointed at as culprits of much of our modern day suffering). His philosophy felt driven by a passionate need to make sense of an appearingly senseless world. His hunger felt like that of a starving person, not of a privileged theoreticist. He continually transforms my perception of a deteriorating world (which seems to evident at this time) to a world that is stubbornly moving towards better.

His first and well known book was Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance (I have an interactive summary of it, maybe its time to release that). I have dedicated a section of this site to his second, lesser known (yet in my opinion more vital) book Lila: yetAn Inquiry into Morals.

Almost every day, as I look out at the world, as I read about other people’s interpretations of it, I wish that Pirsig was a part of the conversation. I feel that so many efforts by so many people to navigate the troubled waters of our times could be richly informed by Pirsig’s reflections. I believe his presence will continue to shimmer in the peripheral vision of human consciousness from where his field will continue to subtly inform us. I am pleasure whenever I see echoes of his discoveries manifesting in others ideas and realizations.

Though he is no longer in body, I feel him vitally present. The best words I can find to describe the experience of his departure come from his own writing. But not from either of his books, rather from an afterword added to a later edition of Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. In it Pirsig talks about the death of his son Chris who was stabbed to death on the streets of San Francisco. I did not want to change the original and so I invite you to hold “Robert” in your heart when you read “Chris”:

“Chris is dead … Where did Chris go? … What was it I was so attached to? .. Do real things just disappear like that? … What is the ‘he’ that is gone? … What had to be seen was that the Chris that I missed so badly was not an object but a pattern, and that although the pattern included the flesh and blood of Chris, that was not all there was to it … Now, Chris’s body, which was a part of that larger pattern, was gone. But the larger pattern remained. A huge hole had been torn out of the center ot if, and that was what caused all the heart-ache … If you take that part of the pattern that is not the flesh of Chris and call if the “spirit” of Chris or the “ghost” of Chris, they you can say without further translation that the spirit or ghost of Chris is looking for a new body to enter … it was not many months later that my wife conceived, unexpectedly.”

Robert Pirsig … your larger pattern remains … may you rest in abundant peace.

I am also holding gratitude in my heart for James Landis (with whom I corresponded briefly some years ago) the publisher who chose to support Pirsig’s work.

 

 

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This is what HOME felt like

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home … a place where opening replaces recoiling

“The ideal birth occurs in a place that has been saturated with love for many years. In this way the walls, the furniture, the linens the garden, the trees outside the window, all breathe back that love. For a soul who comes from a place of pure openness, this lve is a palpable comfort of familiarity. In this love filled environment baby realizes, ‘Oh, this feels good. This is what HOME felt like!'”

World Mother via Sunni Karll – Sacred Birthing : Birthing a New Humanity

 

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Opening

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not just babies … not just birth

“Home birth is a gift to both parents. Birth can be the spiritual impetus that opens a parent to their next higher vibration. All birth has the potential to offer this initiation. Home birth supports your receptio of these spiritual energies because your peaceful home is where you are comfortable. Being comfortable and in your power traslates to being open and receptive. Being open encourages parents to stay in their heart and encourages the high vibration we wish to create and maintain for the incoming soul … After a home birth there is no place you need to go … At home there is no interruption, no strangers, no hurry, no frenetic activity, no need but the present moment. Love deepens and builds as it is expressed …

The sharing o home birth is a ‘glue’ of relationship. A deep connection within relationships is built after a family experiences home birth together. This glue has been taken away from the family by institutionalizing both birth and death and there is precious little that replaces the exquisite depth of sharing that these experiences offer. Only by acting on our inner truth when home birth is right for us, can these experiences be returned to the family and community. Reclaiming these intimate, natural, loving experiences and bringing them back home may be the adhesive that again strengthens our families.”

Sunni Karll – Sacred Birthing : Birthing a New Humanity

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The Fourth Phase of Water by Gerald Pollack

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This book was my winter companion two winters ago and I have been wanting to write something about it ever since … especially given that I frequently mention it to people in conversation. For years I’ve carried a wish for a good book about chemistry … something passionate and inspiring. I am interested in chemistry in a practical way because it is all around me … in soils, in earth construction, in burning of rocket stoves, in wood finishes. But all of my past attempts to relate to chemistry have failed. I first read about Gerald Pollack and The Fourth Phase of Water a review by Charles Eisenstein. This book has definitely answered my wish, it was a joy to read … though I remain even hungrier for understanding … I look forward to many more books like this (if you know of any please leave a comment and let me know about them).

Science

The book, as its title implies, discusses a fourth phase of water, beyond liquid, solid and vapor. It is a phase that comes about when water is in touch with hydrophilic (water loving) surfaces. Most of our body is made up of hydrophilic surfaces. It is a well known piece of trivia that our bodies are 70% water, but less well known that we are 99% water molecules … so this research has far reaching implications.

When water comes in contact with a hydrophilic surface it rearranges itself into a liquid crystal like structure – somewhere between liquid and solid. This layer is substantial, it can extend millions of molecules away from the hydrophilic surface. In the book this is called Extraction Zone water or EZ water. It is named this way because molecules organize in a very tight atomic lattice that, as it forms, pushes out contaminants and once it is formed, prevents contaminants from pentetrating it. Another feature of EZ water is charge separation … there is a measurable potential difference between the EZ water and the surrounding liquid water. A third feature is a drastic changes in the PH gradiant from the hydrophilic surface, through the EZ water and the surround liquid water.

The book offers many explanations to water behavior in nature: how electrical charge forms in our bodies, boiling, bouyancy, droplets and bubbles (they are related!), why warm water freezes faster than cold water, why concrete needs to be watered when it sets (it doesn’t dry, the water doesn’t ‘leave’ it, the water changes phase and locks the concrete together!), physical joints (what are the liquid properties that prevent bones from rubbing up against each other), why two panes of glass with water in between them resist being pulled apart but can slide apart, why ice can be sticky and slippery, electric current in nerves, blood flow (challenging the myth that the heart is a pump, it is too small relative to the size of the blood vessels in our body to be able to pressurize it, demonstrating that it doesn’t need to, because flow is generated in the blood vessels themselves which are hydrophilic tubes … so the heart only gives it direction!), viscosity in vodka … and so much more (the author admits that he wanted to share even more but was limited by editing considerations).

Approach

The book begins with a promise that to understand it one only needs to understasnd that positive and negative charges attract. It lives up to that promise. You can read the whole book and understand the science described in it with just that understanding, basic logic and arithmetic and without any mathematical formula. This, in its own right is an inspiring achievement. It demonstrates that science can be taught in a light an inspiring way, that science can be a commons, accessible to everyone, that you don’t need to have advanced academic degrees to enjoy and benefit from science.

As I was joyfully reading the book I thought back to science that I was taught in school (I was also taught some in university but I didn’t get it) and how the emphasis was on mathematic formulas and calculations and pointless memorization of bits of information. It was lifeless and uninspiring … complex formulas and calculations were an obstacle, a barrier … and I was good at math and algebra and geomtery … I can’t imagine what it was like for students who were not as comfortable with math.

Looking back at the science education I received, I wonder if that was because my teachers themselves didn’t really understand (I don’t blame them personally, I am suggesting that understanding was not yet available to them) the phenomena they were trying to teach. I feel that the formulaic science was a cover up … and this has implications beyond teaching. The explanations offered in the book are often simple, simpler then established explanations, sometimes even contradicting and undermining well established complex theories (one prominent example is Einstein’s theory of Brownian motion). The book also opens up the door to things that have been viciously rejected by mainstream scientific thought … water memory is a prominent example: the structure of the EZ water responds to the characeristics of the hydrophilic surface like a template.

Context

In the first part of the book the author gives some historical background to the current state of water-related research. He shows how socio-political considerations effected and undermined research in the field of water. These statements have potentially far reaching implications to the current state of science beyond the field of water.

He also discusses and challenges the view that science has come so far that it is almost “complete” in its ability to understand, predict and manipulate nature (I also got this impression when I was growing up. I recall a promise that some kind of Grand Unification Theory was supposedly just around the corner … and 25 years on it seems that there are more unknowns than knowns in science … which to me feels like a sensible balance). As a result, science has become peripheral … scientific research is focused on niche subjects which are considered mere extensions of established core understandings. But, the author suggests, there is still much to do in the fundamentals of science itself and that questioning basic assumptions should be inherent to scientific research (there are a bunch of wildly divergent theories, but we still don’t know how water molecules organize into liquid water!).

The research in this book has so many applications that could drastically effect our lives: passive (flow based) filters based on exclusion zone properties, imagine photovoltaic panels that are made of water instead of silicon, there are medical applications

The book was a delightful read. Science always appealed to me, but I was repelled by the way it was introduced to me. Reading this was educative, inspiring and a healing experience.

 

 

 

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Recoiling

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… not just babies

“When a baby’s body feels good, it opens to receive more stimuli and the body-consciousness makes a simple decision to continue opening. When the body hurts, the body-consciousness recoils, makes a decision to separate from life, and takes what time it needs, in order to come back into balance after integrating this stimulus before continuing. When the baby body-consciousness is harmed, it is not as easily open to the nex experience that life presents. This rudimentary decision to open or to protect is the basis for emotional balance or imbalance.”

Sunni Karll – Sacred Birthing : Birthing a New Humanity

 

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Stuart Kauffman on the Hegemony of Mechanistic Thinking: Must There be Laws of Nature?

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this comes on the heels of Daniel’s Shmachtenberger’s talk about Emergence:

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Volcano National Park – Sculpture Garden

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The sculpture garden formed when lava flowed over trees. The trees, it seems had enough life in them to support the lava as it flowed around them, formed tubes and lava and then burn the encased trees … resulting in these sculptures … imprints of trees made of lava. It is hard to capture in pictures, but in most of the scultpures are tubes which are the spaces the trees inhabited.

We the walked towards the large crater where vog (fumes coming out of the volcano = volcano fog) is continuously erupting. We went there despite signs that indicated visitors are not allowed there because of the vog (my uncle is inspired by “do not” signs and can’t help tasting the forbidden fruits):

This picture, though not much to look at it, is a rare view … the layers, starting from the road, volcanic field before crater, crater wall on the far side, a mountain rising after it and finally in the distance (this picture is from an area south of Mauna Loa) is the barely visible Mauna Kea.

 

From here my uncle continued for a walk around another neighboring crater. I was tired and decided to walk back to the car.

I got lost in the lava fields (mentioned in the beginning of this post) and knew then that this would be the last day of travels with my uncle. The next day I felt back to Kauai where another journey had begun (it is a story from a parallel universe so doesn’t really belong here) … where I found rest, relaxation and nourishment in preparation for my long journey (6 flights) home.

 

 

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Mauna Loa

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Today we drove up to Mauna Loa – the sprawling mountain across from Mauna Kea. Its an impressive drive up … a long wavy road that crosses through vast rough textured lava fields … it did not feel as steep as the road up to Mauna Kea … its impressive feature was its length and the contrast between the smooth the texture of the road surface next to the rough texture of the surrounding landscape. It is also a narrow, one lane road … with side-niches for stopping to allow oncoming traffic to pass. The twisty(right to left), wavy (up and down) narrow road creates plenty of potentially hazardous blind spots and demands attention driving up.

You can see Mauna Kea across the valley:

Mauna Loa is a rough landscape … lunar … lifeless … vast:

It also has some observatories … but apparently these are more military-ish … so closed off to the public.

 

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Around the Big Island

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Ancestors

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Two (more) beaches

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We seem to have found a rhythm of one day intense and one day soft. Today was soft … two beaches. We were able to get close by car to the first … and went swimming in it:

A short hike through a lava field brought us to the second where we were greeted by bright greens and white sands (apparently the sand on this beach is from corals)

… and went swimming in it too … then I went to check out the next two bays (David went earlier) and found this phenomenal site … trees that have grown on the volcanic surface close to the beach … first feature (which I’ve seen a lot of) is superficial root systems that simply can’t go deep … so much that there is a tree species (I saw a lot on Kauai) that has roots reaching from above ground into the ground … but then, when close to the ocean, the sandy soil gets washed out from beneath them leaving them to collapse.

and the hike back brought us to the “classic” Hawaiian scene

We then stopped by the car rental agency to change cars to a 4×4 … because the car we had did not do a good job of carrying us down Mauna Kea … and there are still more up&down-hill adventures ahead. We changed from the very-large car in front (Dodge) to the huge one in back (Nissan):

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Mauna Kea

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Maune Kea is one of the two volcanoes on the Big Island, the one with all the observatories on top of it.

We passed through the clouds on the way up. This was the view down from the visitors center at ~9000 feet where we stopped to acclimatize.


After anotherr few steep miles we were at the top driving between the large telescope structures.


​we decided to walk down to lake waiau 

And setting aside any preconceptions about sacredness we found ourselves in a sacred place


And gifted with an abundance of beauty and connection we started our way back to the car

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Kiholo Bay Lagoon

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After the long day in Volcano National Park we went for a different kind of day … a less-traveled spot … about a mile walk from the coastal highway brought us to a beach (with another rich and shameless deserted villa) that brough us to a picturesque lagoon where, together with the local turtles, we went swimming:

not many pictures … this time we were more IN it 🙂

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Volcano National Park

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We took a long drive down to Volcano National Park where we started with a hike in Iki (=small) crater. Later in the visitor center I learned that we were walking on what was a lake of lava less then 100 years ago. I’m not sure the images can begin to capture the contrasts of the place. To my eyes so much of the landscape looked dark, yet the landscape is covered with fine-silica which reflect a bright shining light which dominates the pictures. It took a bit of post-processing to get the pictures to resonate with what I felt I saw.

The hike starts with a rain-forest-ish walk around and then down into the crater.

then the crater’s lunar surface appears

followed by a short walk into a lave-tube cave 

and then another drive took us down to the shoreline where vast black lava fields meet the pounding waves of the ocean … a collission of static and dynamic forces resulting in … life! in the distance you can see steam rising from where hot lava is currently flowing into the ocean.

It was fascinating to learn from the visitor center video that the Hawaiian island were (and are still being) formed by the same volcano. The under-water structure that is the Hawaiian islands is drifting east (away from the USA) ~10cm a year. The volcano is like the head of a 3D printer that is printing islands that are then drifting east … creating (ongoing!) the chain of islands.

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