“Mountains should be climbed with as little effort as possible and without desire. The reality of your own nature should determine the speed. If you become restless, speed up. If you become winded, slow down. You climb the mountain in an equilibrium between restlessness and exhaustion"”
Robert Pirsig

Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2010-11-28

  • 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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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


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.

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Two Surreal and Surprising and Hillarious Movies


The first movie we saw months ago, had a great time watching but I never got to writing about it. Then yesterday we saw another movie – hillariously well done. They seemed to belong to a new genre – a class of their own. Great fun and surprising movies both – “Kick Ass” and “Scott Pilgrim vs. The World” – enjoy 🙂

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Romania – Cheese Makers


Sometime before noon today we had a power-out, so we go dressed and went out for another walk through town. Our primary objective was coffee and tea cups. Coffee cups is a very personal thing – I can’t tell you quite what it is that makes a coffee cup good for me – it has a little to do with size (many cups are just to small – no room for the milk froth) – but I know one when I see one – and ascetics have a lot to do with it. Tea cups are a different story – there is where size (and an accordingly good handle) really counts – big is good. Today, finally, we found both.

We also stopped and visited two natural foods shops. One was unimpressive – though we did find a nice Indian tea-blend (which will work wonders in the new cups tonight) – we were as happy leaving it as we were entering it. The second one was a hugely pleasant surprise. The King of RLomania told us about this shop and that they carried fair-trade coffee. Not only do they carry it, they also serve it in a lovely coffee shop on the second floor – complete with bio-milk if you order a capuccino and all-organic sweet-cakes to go along with it.

The place had two employees – one working the shop and the other the coffee shop – both with a pleasant and welcoming air about them – the place had a great vibe. After sampling the coffee (which was a bit strong and sour to our taste) we went back down and took off the shelves another brand of coffee to try at home and some sesame seeds. Andreea begins to interact with the store-clerk and I soon realize that the conversation has stretched out a bit longer then I expected it to (definitely beyond just paying for the products) – apparently Andreea found a welcoming ear and was sharing her work.

She learned that the store is relatively new and that the coffee shop has just opened. That it is owned by a young couple who have a vision. There was great resonance and mutual interest – they exchanged contact information and the store-clerk promised to share what she had just learned with the store owners. It felt great. A quality connection was made. We now have a charming place, 15 minutes from our home, that serves great organic coffee and may be a great place to hold workshops and courses! How about that?

As Andreea was having her conversation I continued browsing the store and I revisited the cheese section – where there was a variety of cheeses – organic and made by locals. As I was looking at them I realized that they all had labels on them with contact information on them. Suddenly I saw not just cheese but also people who know how to make it – people who may be willing to share their knowledge and experience so that we too will be able to make our own cheese!

We feel so good where we are and in the direction we are heading – it promises to be filled with new unprecedented richness.

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Twitter Weekly Updates for 2010-11-21

  • someone is playing flute somewhere nearby … how wonderful 🙂 #
  • Are "gree" technology products expensive because of increased R&D/Manufacturing costs or because of a fashion statement they make? #
  • some movement can only come from stillness #
  • My journey to Romania began with a warm embrace from a red jasper crystal: http://bit.ly/95czG0 #
  • getting acquainted with and finding an apartment in Cluj-Napoca (Romania): http://bit.ly/cQrTIM #
  • A vinyasa for building relationships: RT @fredwilson F***cking Brilliant: Invest in Lines, not Dots bothsid.es/897 via @msuster #
  • being able to cook my own food has transformed these walls into a home #
  • @tvol @mollyali @msurman re: Attribution Generator – my friends @ BinPress have recently developed an opensrc license generator cc: @adambn #
  • @lifeinromania are there holiday sales in Romania (we want to get a new TV) – if so do u have any tips on how to find them? #
  • @lifeinromania thank u – haven't been to polus yet (better then Iulius?) – when do the sales kick in? are they advertised? #
  • The (industrialized) milk in Romania is so much better then the milk we had in Israel #
  • Cluj-Napoca is not yet into recycling at all … disappointing #
  • and it seems that in Romania when your door-bell rings you should be careful – often its gypsies asking for money – can mean trouble! #
  • and you will be hard pressed to find a non-smoking place to sit for a coffee or food in Romania – smoking all over the place .. yuck! #
  • We r again enjoying a Romanian tea mix (which we couldn't find in Israel) of Elder-flower and Linden + honey from Linden flowers. delicious! #
  • @lifeinromania we'd be happy to have you over for a cup of coffee (we make good coffee) or tea and meet u face2face 🙂 #
  • "the American taxpayer in1962 is paying out morethan 1billion dollars a year as the total carrying cost of the surplus-food storage program" #
  • if you want to practice and are not sure what to do – lie down in savasana #yoga #
  • having a vata-dominant constution in a period of change means I need 2eat something every couple of hours … must plan movement accordingly #
  • Let your WordPress published thoughts travel further with enhanced commenting using IntenseDebate: http://bit.ly/cQduRe #
  • strange movie RT @lifeinromania Children of Men: The other day I was reminded of yet another Romanian in TV/film http://bit.ly/bOTMAL #

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Romania – Our Temporary Home


So we rented a nice apartment in a quiet neighborhood to the south of the city center (10-15 minute walk). At first I thought we were living in the only apartment building in the neighborhood – but I have since spotted a few more (quite near to us) – so we are not alone 🙂  When you walk in our door you arrive in a small hall and pantry closet AND super cool trolly for carrying food from the market:

Tip to first time trolly owners: the 3-small-wheel mechanism really does climb up stairs – but the small hard-plastic wheels can be very noisy – I would stick with the simple two rubber wheel version (so much so that there is a devlish part in me that can’t wait for this new one to break already – so we can get a quiet one : )

To your left is the kitchen:

If you continue straight you arrive in the living room:

From there you can see the not too complicated maze of doors that connect all the other rooms. Back from the hall is the room we chose to make into a bedroom:

In case you are wondering, like I was, why all the doors – keeping doors closed improves the efficiency of the central heating. Every room has a water based radiator – all hooked up to a central gas heater (that you can see in the kitchen – it looks like a small cupboard with a bunch of pipes running in/out of it) which is configured to heat water to a fixed temperature. There is a wireless thermostat that we can place wherever we want – we set it to the temperature we want in that room and it tells the heater to switch on whenever the temperature falls below the desired temperature. If the room is closed it will warm up faster and less energy will be expended by the heater.

Down from the kitchen is the bathroom:

And at the end is our designated Yoga & office room:

… and the view out the window when sitting in the chair is this (well it was this today):

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Romania – The City of Cluj-Napoca


Romania is divided into regions within which there are counties each of which has one main city associated with it (and usually a few smaller cities). Cities are usually surrounded by villages – sometimes so densely you may not even know that you’ve left the city. Roads generally cross straight through the villages – we could see this on the flight from Bucharest to Cluj – villages are a small area in which houses are grouped on smaller roads through which runs a main road.

We are in the region of Transylvania, county of Cluj, in the city of Cluj-Napoca. We will be in the city for a few months until we find/make a permanent home in a village outside the city (at least that is our intention at the time these words were written). The “online identity” of Cluj describes it as the 2nd largest city (after Bucharest) in Romania and in a state of extreme development. I’m happy to say that the Internet makes it out to be more then it actually it is. From ground level, though parts of it are definitely seeing a boom in development, it is still a modest city that hasn’t yet been taken over by western grandiose and commercialism (except for a McDonalds stuck like a wart in the city center). Still, and to give my words and images proper context, I don’t like cities. They are too busy and hectic and aggresive for me and though we’ve found a lovely apartment in a quiet neighborhood I’ll be happy when we leave the city.

I’ll start this part of the tour from a tree that overlooks a small lake in the city. We reached it after a long walk through the city and breathed a sigh of relief to be close to an artifact of nature.

It isn’t without irony that two minutes after I took this serene image an airplane appeared above the houses from the airport just outside the city. Which also leads us to what’s hiding behind the tree on the right side of the image. This is to assure those who consider Romania to be in any ways backward that they are wrong and to remind me that I need to leave the city soon. I give you Iulius Mall one of two large shopping malls in Cluj-Napoca which puts to shame any shopping malls I encountered in Israel:

By the way – Audi’s, BMW’s and Mercedes cars are all over the city – and they aren’t taxi cabs (those are mostly the cheaper Romanian made Dacia cars)- they are private cars. The shopping mall is filled with western brands including a Starbucks, Pizza Hut which greet all visitors.

And for those in my family who can relate, this small shop sits rights outside the mall and at least one other place that we know of (there may be more) in Cluj-Napoca. For those who may not be able to read it’s sign clearly, it says “Kurtos”:

Getting around in the city is possible either by foot, bus/tram or taxi. Bus tickets cost a minimum 3.5 lei for 2 journeys (in the same day) – either using a connection to get where you want to go – or for a back and forth journey. The bus-lines take some figuring out – which we are just starting to do. We usually go out together – which brings the bus fare to 7 lei – which comes close to the cost of a taxi drive within the city  – so far we have gotten around with taxis. Taxi’s are nicely arranged all over the city in designated parking areas – almost always available – just walk into the first taxi in the queue and the rest move forward:

There are all kinds of neighborhoods in Cluj. In those that we visited we found both old and renovated structures. There are run-down buildings and houses that look like they shelter well-to-do and even rich people.

Our hostel was in the Marasti neighborhood which is north of the center and close to the industrial area of the city. We walked through the Gheorgeni neighborhood and though it has mostly large block buildings it is on the periphery of the city and felt relatively peaceful. Manastur is a relatively remote neighborhood in the south-west side of the city – Andreea was warned to stay away from there, but we went to see for ourselves. It is a very crowded neighborhood filled with huge block-buildings (our taxi driver told us it was built in the 70’s as housing for workers who got to the industrial area by tram. Our walk from Manastur to the neighboring Zorilor brought us to a vantage point where we could take in the diversity of the city – crowded blocks on the right and rural houses on the left:

That walk also happened to take us on a path alongside a large cemetery which didn’t make the walk too pleasant but was visually impressive.In the first image you can see what the cemetery looked like from Manastur:

We rented a 3 room apartment in a neighborhood called Andrei Muresanu – it is just south of the center of the city. It is considered a good neighborhood with mostly private villas in it. Ours seems to be the only apartment building in the neighborhood – so it’s a very quiet neighborhood. A 10 minute walks brings us to the southern side of the city center:

A 15 minute walk east into Gheorgeni brings us to the closest food market, which we happened to visit during our apartment searching. It’s a small and cozy market but the variety isn’t that great (compared to the impressive market we visited in Andreea’s homw town of Piatra Neamt) and the prices a bit high.

We visited about 10 apartments – we moved into the first one we sat. We knew it was the one but we wanted to see more of the city before settling into it. We were not impressed by most of the apartments we saw but I am confident there is a potential to find well kept apartments. There are plenty of apartments on the market. Most of the apartments you can find online are through real-estate agents (which generally charge 50% of one month rent). We used a local newspaper filled with ads and there too we found many apartments – including the one we now live in. The apartments online look much better maintained then most of the apartments we saw through the paper.

The following three images are left over from the first selection. The first picture is of a brick wall which seemed to reveal the city’s past similar to a tree rings that indicate a tree’s age and development.

The next image is a simple composition I enjoyed coming across – great light, great textures – simple 🙂

The last image is a mysterious reflection of a single street light through the textured window of the bathroom of our hostel.

More soon 🙂

Posted in inside, Romania | You are welcome to read 1 comment and to add yours

Romania – The Journey Over


It’s really hard to say when this journey started. Though taking apart a physical home, moving into suitcases and getting on a flight seems like a big shift and change (which it is), it is actually a continuous movement we’ve been making for many years – parts consciously and parts intuitively (sometimes seeming counter-consciousness). Yet this leg of the journey has a clear starting point for me – we were sitting in the plane in Israel and Andreea pulled out a surprise gift – a small bag containing three sonte-crystals. I carefully unwrapped them and spent time with each one. One of them held on to me and I to it – a red Jasper. It preferred my left hand to my right – and as I held it over my abdomen it emanated a deep and embracing warmth. It said “Absolutely, yes, passionately, you are heading in the right direction”.

We carried over with us over 100kg of our posessions – including a hefty collection of stones and crystals, Andreea’s essential oils, my photography gear, christmas tree decorations, a coffee pot and a bag of our favorite coffee. The flight was fine and the connection from Bucharest to Cluj-Napoca was smooth and easy (though it was odd sitting right next to the spinning propellor engine). We got into a large taxi with a friendly taxi driver who brought us to a super-friendly hostel.  The weather has been really nice – a mixture of warm sun-shine and an occassional drizzle and always a cool quality in the air, a reminder of the coming of winter.

The first night we went into town to localize our cellular phones, buy some food for the next morning’s breakfast and find a nice pizzeria for dinner. We couldn’t find a pizzeria (which, by the next day seemed to be on every street corner) but we did find a nice restaurant where we found some nice warm cooked food which filled and supported us – including quite a few vegetarian options.

A warm bed and food are so important.

Posted in Expanding, inside, Romania | You are welcome to read 1 comment and to add yours

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2010-11-14

  • shutting down computer in Israel for the last time … off to a new chapter of life in Romania … c u from the other side #
  • any problem given enough time, patience and care can transform into opportunity #
  • heading out for a 2nd day of apartment hunting in Cluj-Napoca – a sunny blue-sky day awaits us 🙂 #
  • @lifeinromania thank u. we now rent a lovely 3 room apartment in a great neighborhood – 2b honest its the 1st 1 we saw … yesterday 🙂 #
  • in this Romanian weather – our room's balcony double's as a refrigerator – awesome and super ecological 🙂 #

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Twitter Weekly Updates for 2010-11-07


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Home Diving


When I visited New Zealand (about 8 or 9 years ago) I had an aerial week which included bungy jumping, gliding, sky-diving and a helicopter flight onto a glacier. Bungy came first – so when I got around to sky-diving it wasn’t really too scary. The one fright I do have from the sky-diving event was from the flight up. I remember sitting on the floor of the plane, strapped to my instructor along with two other jumper/instructor couples, on what seemed like a very long flight up (though it was probably just a few minutes). I thought to myself that this plane is going to land and it’s going to do so without me in it. That troubled me.

Last Friday we left our home and we are staying with my parents until our flight next Monday. Usually when we came to visit my parents it was for a couple of nights and then we went back home – this time we aren’t. There is no going back – this time to get home we have to go forward.

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Just Ujjayi


We’ve been on the move for a few weeks now- first taking apart our home, then moving to my parents – and next week off to Romania  (this time next week I’ll be waking up for the first time in Romania). I haven’t been able to practice for at least two weeks (except for a little Shakuhachi playing) – I wasn’t able to create practice conditions in the midst of the chaos. The past few days, now that we have settled a little bit (no longer live in a mess – though we did bring some of it with us to my parents place) – my thoughts have been slowly gravitating towards practice.

This morning I sat down for a short breathing practice. I was thankful to my body for remembering how to sit properly. All I did was a little Ujjayi breathing (I did not have access to the quality of breath I am used to in my Pranayama practices). I remembered how magical  a simple breathing practice can be. Ujjayi and Pranayama breathing practices are second nature to me – and it takes just a few Ujjayi breaths for me to feel my body remembering and connecting with the experience I have assimilated around them – a kind of quantum leap of the body.

My presence in the practice was steady but definitely pre-occupied. I didn’t make any attempt to still my mind – I simply sat and watched as an endless stream of thought passed through me – going through everything from important to petty issues. It would have been foolish of me to seek quiet and settling when my life is in the eye of a storm. Watching the storm pass through me and carry me was a restorative experience – it created a sense of presence. I was happy to find that there was no pretense or denial – that there was peaceful containment. There was no sense of struggle – as if all that I am has come together to weather this storm and there wasn’t a single voice (mind, body, spirit) of malcontent – I am really leaning into it 🙂

Posted in Expanding, inside, Pranayama Journal, Yoga, Yoga & I, Yoga & Life | You are welcome to add your comment

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2010-10-31


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Conflict is Inside


Shulamit has been gifting me with a pleasant cross-medium introduction and dialogue about Restorative Circles. I first wrote about it a few weeks ago and yesterday Shulamit left a comment on it with a link to two wonderful videos featuring Dominic Barter. I enjoyed and drew inspiration from both videos (this is the first I’ve seen and heard of Dominic) and I invite and urge you to view them – Dominic carries a wonderful message, softly delivered in a pleasant voice and manner:

I watched both videos yesterday and they were the last thing on my mind before falling asleep. My mind linked to two posts I wrote in the past. One is about a divine experience in working with dancers in which I learned to differentiate between pushing and violence. The other, written more recently, was written in response to another post on a similar theme, was an inquiry into the idea of friction (tapas) in the Yoga Sutra.

This morning Dominic’s words on “The System” continued to move through me. Particularly I was taken by Dominic’s story in the second video where he admits that he was naive and unable to follow through on his idea to give students an escape space in the classroom because he realized he wouldn’t be able to support the structure within the bigger “system” in which he was operating … to which one of the participants asked for clarification on what he meant by “the system” … which set me off on my own trajectory.

What Is “The System”?  (Inspired by Robert Pirsig)

There is in us an unrelenting creative instinct (a seeking that can be tempered but cannot be extinguished) – an aspiration for better – a kind of movement that took, for example, Dominic Barter from “Conflict Resolution” towards “Conflict Facilitation”. Occasionally this brings us into what Robert Pirsig calls an experience of Dynamic Quality – it lifts us up and out of existence as we know it. When this experience fades, and it always does, we are left with something else – what Pirsig calls an experience of Static Quality.

I have come to understand and believe that “The System” is a residue of experience. It is an accumulation of Static Quality that has been left behind by Dynamic experience. Some experiences are completely private,  other experiences are shared & experienced in intimate circles and some have been shared with many others – they are common experiences.

“The System” is an illusion that arises out of necessity. It is the least personal part of experience – it is a body of experiences that is shared with many others. It is so common that it can be mistakenly set aside and referred to as if it were an independent external living thing. Given enough time we can become convinced that it actually is an outside force – one that acts on us, one that controls us – when actually it is merely a static part of our perception – patterns that we like(d), solutions that we’ve solved (or were solved for us) and are comfortable with as is.

“The System” can be functional or dysfunctional (and that too can change over time). It paves roads, supplies water, grows crops, collects garbage, build schools – it accounts for most of what we call existence. One thing “The System” doesn’t do is question itself – it does not have a creative instinct. It’s center of gravity is stability not change. When it becomes dysfunctional we get angry at it – we demand that it change – and it never does. It can’t – there is no “it” – we’ve invented it, we give it life and we’re the only ones that can change it.

“The System” is inherently an experience of conflict – it is walls that both shield us from the elements and at the same time keep us from seeing what is outside and limit our movement. There are times when we draw comfort from being inside and times when we seek escape. It is a golden cage of our own making. It is a much-practiced balance like the one we achieve when first learning to walk and then take for granted as we move in the world throughout life (until walking becomes difficult again and less obvious and we can better appreciate it’s qualities).

What Does the “The System” Do? (Inspired by Patanjali)

My teacher has, over recent months, called my attention numerous times to two sutras – both of which I feel support an understanding of “The System”. Both translations and commentaries are from TKV Desikachar’s The Heart of Yoga.

Sutra 21:

“All that can be perceived has but one purpose, to be perceived.”

The purpose of all things, according to this sutra, is to be observed. “The System” too is there for observation. Hence my belief that Dominic’s Restorative Circles is first and foremost an introspective tool – albeit a social one. Dominic’s inspiration itself seems to be rooted first and foremost in his personal introspection and observations.

Sutra 22:

“Does this mean that without a perceiver the objects of perception do not exist?”

Desikachar’s commentary on it makes a connection I was looking for:

“The existence of all objects of perception and their appearance is independent of the needs of the individual perceiver. They exist without individual reference to cater for the different needs of different individuals. The needs of an individual may only be defined at a particular time. Some needs may be periodic or spasmodic and the needs of the individual cannot be considered more important in terms of quality and justification then those of another.”

The technical interpretation is that things exist regardless of whether or not you perceive them – they exist because one or more people need to observe them – though different people may see the same things in different ways – depending on their needs. When applied to “The System” this sutra comes into an interesting light – it is about shared perception – the things that make us into groups, be it families or societies. “The System”, seen in this light is a social meditation – a Yama practice – it isn’t so much about fixing it or resolving it but rather seeing it for what it is.

What is Restored?

Personal aspirations for a better life are an internal conflict – they demand that we abandon something tried and true for something potentially better. Change always requires that we surrender something to make room for something new. The comforts of the old and the doubts about the new can be an obstacle in embracing change – so we put it off, we wait for “the right time” … which is fine until we break or someone else in our social circles notices what’s going on and demands change. When the demands are ignored or rejected they become louder and louder until they are eventually addressed.

Years ago I applied to join an organization that ran hot-line services for psychological support in Israel. I was accepted and went through a training period. During this period we learned that the organization acts as a social interface for “mentally disturbed” people (who at the time accounted for 85% of the calls – many of them from regular callers). Part of the training was to establish a clear relationship – who is helping who – who is well and who is ill – all while flying colorful flags of openness, acceptance and embrace. I objected to the dogmatic perspective – but I made it through the course. I had a great time doing my shifts – talking to “crazy” people was relaxing – almost a meditative experience. The organization then decided to have monthly meetings to “support us volunteers” and make sure we were holding up ok … and not losing sight of who is ill and who is well. I refused to partake in these meetings and was shortly after dismissed. Ironically, a couple of months ago they called me (not personally – they were probably going systemically through the phonebook) to ask for donations because the organization is in financial distress.

When I first learned and read about Restorative Circles it gave rise to a similar image in my mind. My understanding was that Restorative Circles was training people to facilitate “Restorative Circles” in their communities – a structure that again seemed to reflect a power structure between “those that know how to restore” and “those that need restoration”. It may have been a preconception or misunderstanding on my part – I still don’t know enough about it to make a better assessment. But from the two videos above it seems to me that the people in attendance are there for themselves – restoring their own clarity, refining their own perspective, extending their tools of introspection. That I get and applaud 🙂

On a personal note – I am writing these words 2 weeks before moving to Romania to make a home. I was introduced to and been observing Restorative Circles in a time of transition and change. I am moving away from Israel with a feeling that I failed at making a connection with the (static) society in which I have lived most of my (dynamic) life. There used to be a popular cliche in Israeli politics (maybe there still is but I have no idea what is going on in Israeli politics) about the Palestinians that “we (Israel) don’t have a partner (Palestinians) for dialogue”. I am leaving feeling the same way about Israel itself. I occasionally still wonder if there was something I missed, something I could have done – was there a restorative circle I could have joined or created? Maybe from a distance I will be able to see what I couldn’t see from up close?

“If you don’t like our present social system or intellectual system the best thing you can do … is stay out of their way.”

Robert Pirsig

When this post was completed I came across this video which tells more about Restorative Circles. I do feel that whatever was born in Brazil will probably need to go through some kind of transformation / adapatation to more modern western settings. I have a feeling that better is more obvious when you live in a shantitown with an open sewer then it is when you live in a home with food, water and electricity and you live in an illusion of western abundance. Though I do agree that the core of knowledge is already present in everyone, I feel that it is, in the modern west, hidden beneath more layers and distractions.

Posted in Expanding, inside, Yoga, Yoga & Life | You are welcome to read 1 comment and to add yours

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2010-10-24

  • @zenpeacekeeper it may have been me 🙂 re: sidebar #
  • @zenpeacekeeper u r welcome to contact me via email iamronen [at] iamronen [dot] com – easier to communicate that way 🙂 in reply to zenpeacekeeper #
  • @fredwilson thinking about the Who To Follow recommendations I don't even want to see … plenty of noise in that non action! in reply to fredwilson #
  • burning paper is (again) not as easy as I imagined it to be … purifying my consciousness of so much clutter #
  • @JudithYoga I doubt compassion is democratic, democracy is so mediocre, compassion is so much better then that 🙂 in reply to JudithYoga #
  • Wonderful, refreshing, poignant album – Peacemaker by Albert Beger: http://bit.ly/9gxPPA #
  • I showed this to someone today, so I thought I'd show you too – true love will find you in the end: http://bit.ly/aAuAVc #

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Dismantling Ubuntu RAID Array


It was just over two years ago that I setup a home-made RAID storage server with 2.2 Terabytes of storage using Ubuntu. Now as we prepare to leave for Romania, the RAID has come to an end – and the accumulated data (~1TB) is being offloaded to a new laptop computer and some external hard drives.

Software RAID Works

This gave me an opportunity to test how the RAID would perform under faulty conditions – as if one of the hard drives failed. I first tried to remove one of the drives from the array in a legitimate way – but that didn’t seem to work – I got some error message about the device being busy (even though it was unmounted). So I opened up the chassis and pulled up one of the drives. I turned the computer back on and sure enough the RAID array was still working. It was in a “degraded” mode – meaning that if another hard drive would fail – the RAID array would fail and data would be lost. But sure enough, if one hard drive were to fail it would be very easy to pull it out and replace it with another hard drive (even if it took some time to acquire a new hard drive).

So if you have large volumes of data that you want to keep safe, software RAID on Ubuntu is an excellent solution for you. I was much more at ease knowing my data was on a RAID array instead of being on a single hard-drive that may fail and take all of my information with it. At the time I built my array 750GB drives were considered large – today there are much larger capacity drives you could use to create an even bigger capacity. All you need is to be a little picky with hardware that will let you pool together a number of drives and  you are set.

Easier & Easy To Install

When I setup the array I had to learn to use some command line tools to get the job done. Over the last 2 years Ubuntu has matured greatly and it now has a graphic software utility that lets  you create & manage a software RAID with ease – much easier then it was two years ago.

Here you can see the main screen of the disk utility – with the RAID device selected. You may notice the red”DEGRADED” indicator which was displayed after I removed one of the 4 hard drives from the array.

Here you can see the 3 remaining hard drives with very easy to use options for extending the array size and adding a spare drive. The option for removing a component didn’t work for me – but the drive was automatically removed from the array once I physically removed it.

And this is what the create array screen looks like after I dismantled my array. You can see that the 3 remaining drives are available and can be selected and created into a new Array. This saves a lot of hassle that was required 2 years ago to create the array using command line utilities.


Over the last two years Ubuntu has become my primary operating system. The computer that was meant to be my storage server became my primary computer and I slowly shifted to using all open-source tools on Ubuntu. I am writing this post from a new laptop computer (more on that in a coming soon post) which was installed from day one with Ubuntu. I am thrilled to be free from the clutches of Microsoft and other commercial software manufacturers. Freedom feels great.

Posted in Open Source, outside, Tech Stuff | You are welcome to read 1 comment and to add yours

9 to 5


The days are rolling by quickly. By this time next week we will have left our house to be at my parents place until we fly to Romania on November 8th. Yesterday was a major milestone when a first truck left with a lot of our things to a friend who purchased some of our things. Amongst the things that went on the truck are 9 boxes containing 165kg of our possessions – mostly books – that will be shipped to Romania (my friend will ship them to us once we have an address). That together with 3 suitcases and some hand luggage is all that remains of our possessions. Everything else was sold or given.

Selling our things was an awkward experience. We had originally planned to send a larger shipment by sea, but it was prohibitively expensive. Most of our things are functional and valuable to us but not expensive. After some checking we realized we would be better off purchasing the basic things we need in Romania rather then shipping them from Israel. So we ended up selling lots of stuff – almost everything. There is an unpleasant side to it when we realized that the things that were so useful and valuable to us translate into a few thousand dollars- the monetary value has very little correlation to their true value. Fortunately most of our stuff went to people who will benefit from it greatly – which left us feeling good – knowing that not just our possessions but our values are carrying on as well.

Every time something left our house it left us with mixed emotions – there was apparent attachment which was left hanging – and then there was a refreshing feeling, an empty space which is now available for new things, possessions, values and experiences. Every movement was/is a reminder that the day of our departure is nearing – an idea is becoming a reality, a wish is coming true in unexpected ways (as has been my experience with wishes).

Many small things are happening for the last time – many small endings. It’s funny how poignant they are when they occur and yet I am having a hard time recalling them now. There are so many small and obvious things in life that go unnoticed – until they are projected against a sensitive screen – this time an ending screen –  where they  light up like fireworks – and disappear … forever. I suppose that every moment is like that – they are so just more noticeable now. They shimmer – they demand attention, a final recognition.

In the midst of this transition death visited our family. It was my first conscious and rather intimate meeting with death. It was a prolonged decay due to cancer – so it was a journey – not just a sudden event. Death gifted me with a few magical moments – it confirmed the futility of my wonderful existence. It strengthened me – it was a shining and bright indicator that I am on my path and it patted me on the back and said “carry on, stay true”. It was pure.

Living these past few weeks (and quite a few weeks to come) is a practice. There has been too much movement, mess and dirt for me to engage my practices. On a few mornings I was blessed with some Shakuhachi playing which feels in tune. I am pleased with the way I and we have moved through this period. We have been moving forward steadily, there seem to me a millions things to do, many of them emotionally draining. We are quick to recognize when we are full and when we are empty. We are sensitive to ourselves and to each other. We are able to work independently and together. We are able to sense friction and disengage peacefully. We know when to rest. We know what needs to be done. We know how to face the things we don’t know – and we have the facilities to wait them out. Most things have worked out smoothly and easily for us.

We are confident and we are vital. I remember a few times when I was preparing for travel – I got excited, I was able to stay vital, I wasn’t bothered by late-night / early morning flights – I stayed awake for two days straight. Well we’ve been like that for over 3 weeks. We wake up and arise early in the morning, we take our time, enjoy a few quiet hours together and then get on with our days. We sleep 9 to 5 🙂

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

Twitter Weekly Updates for 2010-10-17

  • @zenpeacekeeper True, Yoga can make you a better <whateveritisyoudo>, but there is real magic in the other way around http://bit.ly/cgfXGu in reply to zenpeacekeeper #
  • separation leads to integration leads to separation leads to integration leads to separation … #
  • @zenpeacekeeper I looked at ur WordPress and it seems the theme has some errors … I’d be happy to try and fix it for you in reply to zenpeacekeeper #
  • @HarMichele what do you mean by progress? in reply to HarMichele #
  • Meditate to see where you are now rather then pretending you are somewhere else #
  • I found today’s Shakuhachi recording to be surprisingly smoothing http://bit.ly/adOt4Z #
  • @HarMichele Today I would say progress is about subtlety on the mat and peace in the face of change off the mat 🙂 in reply to HarMichele #
  • @zenpeacekeeper imagesize may make it go away, but there’s some comrpomised HTML in there which should fixed … to avoid future pains in reply to zenpeacekeeper #
  • we are in a bardo, our old life has died, and we will be flying 2 begin our new reborn life in Romania on Nov8 #
  • give it a minute and it will give you a wonderful lesson: http://bit.ly/bGTa7S #
  • @DominicMiller1 thank u! you may want to have a look/listen at/to this: http://bit.ly/c89Y4u in reply to DominicMiller1 #
  • a relative is dying of cancer, thinking of her, trying 2 “remember” her made me question what memory is … then time seemed to slow down #
  • how to add OGG (the free and open-standard alternative to MP3 file format) audio files to WordPress: http://bit.ly/apKeiC #
  • I like having my one special cup, I don’t like it when other people drink from it #
  • This morning’s Shakuhachi playing was to my aunt who’s soul departed as the air was flowing through the flute #
  • I offer it as a beacon so that two beautiful souls can find each other again in the endless ether #
  • this is my first intimate, conscious, knowing, involved, raw meeting with death … intense and soft #
  • I am so greatful for an elated stability that supports me when so many things around me are shifting and changing #
  • There is fear and sadness, and elation and joy, I can see the different qualities coming together to create what I know to be me #
  • I can feel the roots of the trees on the hill across the valley through the toes of my feet #
  • I can sense the entire sky in my lungs #
  • I can feel a moving car pulling at my center #
  • Everything is present with me in it #
  • I know that I will grow and that I will die #
  • There is no alone and there is no together #
  • I am coming together again … I’ve been attacked and I’ve survived #
  • it’s so infinite #
  • I know exactly what it is I invest my time in, I just can’t express to you what it is #
  • and there is MY coffee in MY cup … ha #
  • @mollydotcom thank u 🙂 whatever it is that we are, it can’t be contained in 140 characters 🙂 in reply to mollydotcom #
  • I know I’m repeating myself, but … purpose http://bit.ly/cFx0XD #

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I Shakuhachi – October 8, 2010


I am not one to push … even when pushing is called for … especially not when it comes to things which have a meditative quality.

It wasn’t there this morning, but something was pulling me in, demanding, unrelenting … quite a journey … I went through so much … I wanted this to be up here & out there … all 30+ minutes of it.

I insist

download recording

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