Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Nature of Impermanence

Mindfully walking around Wagon Wheel Farm
on Great Bay estuary today: 11/30/11
Photographing  beginnings...
The Nature of Impermanence
The End
(and The beginning)

Monday, November 28, 2011

Occupying nomads: uniting the 99% of us

Genghis Khan †

Why it it – if the mainstream media and talking heads are right about OWS being such a bumbling failure without a message or  goal –  why is it, then, that the police, all across the US, have been ordered to mount such a violent assault against these misguided but peaceful protesters?

Naomi Wolf is speaking for all of us when she says “US citizens of all political persuasions are still reeling from images of unparalleled police brutality  against peaceful OWS protesters in cities across the nation this past week."

The answer is, of course, is that the Occupy movement is not a failure. Quite the opposite: instead it has dared to touch the third rail of American politics.  As Wolf and others have written, the Occupy movement has been attacked because it has directly challenged the the political class and corporate elite in this country.

Meanwhile, the mass media and talking heads are fiddling while Rome burns, being, as they are, well-paid front people for the powerful in this country – they are in denial, whether willfully or not, about the big picture, choosing to obsess instead on the red herring of why OWS doesn't have concrete goals.  

This is like the  entrenched establishment in Asia dismissing Genghis Khan as clueless  –  for not having a slick PR message and a list of ten demands properly vetted by an approved focus group – even as he swept across Eurasia conquering all in his path.

The difference is that Genghis Khan came to power by uniting the nomadic tribes of Asia while Occupy is coming to power by uniting the 99% of us who, up until now, were isolated, nomadic individuals and tribes. Genghis Khan conquered by military force while Occupy is conquering by celebrating nonviolence and diversity, creating a space for all to be heard, creating a community of trust and commitment, and, in the end, "showing, by its internal organization and methods of proceeding, that an alternative form of democracy is possible." *

*This last is from Peter Marcuse.   As opposed to our mass media’s obsession with Occupy goals or messages, Marcuse views the Occupation movement as having a number of roles and functions. This seems to me to be a much more productive way to understand and analyze our movement. Seven functions he lists are:
A confrontation function, "taking the struggle to the enemy's territory, confronting, potentially disrupting, the operations at the center of the problem." A symbolic function which registers a collective and "deeply felt unhappiness about things as they are and the direction in which they are going." An educational function, "provoking questioning, exploration, juxtaposition of differing viewpoints and issues, seeking clarification and sources of commonality within difference." A glue function, "creating a community of trust and commitment to the pursuit of common goals; [providing] a way of coming together in a community for those who are deeply affected and concerned. "An umbrella function, "creating a space ... in which quite disparate groups can work together in pursuit of ultimately consistent and mutually reinforcing goals ... a political umbrella, an organizing base for an ongoing alliance, not just a temporary coalition, of the deprived and discontented." An activation function, "inspiring others to greater militancy and sharper focus on common goals and specific demands ... providing space for ... cross discussions among supporting groups and interests, organizing ... events in support of ... reforms that [suggests] Occupy's own ultimate goals of change." A model function, "showing, by its internal organization and methods of proceeding, that an alternative form of democracy is possible."

†  Khan image thanks to to

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Let your soul occupy you

Parker Mtn. Sunset: 12/11/04  J. Stimmell©2011

“Remember this: Most likely, the corporate state has, to some degree, colonized your mind, as it is well on its way to destroying the ecosystem of the entire planet.

Conversely, let your soul occupy you. While there might be an ongoing effort to scour Liberty Park of liberty, they cannot do likewise to your heart without your consent. Turn the tables on them: Evict the corporate occupiers from the public realm within--as all the while, you challenge propaganda whenever it crosses your path…on the streets, at your workplace, at family gatherings, and on social media-- because a lie left unchallenged begins to be accepted as truth. And worse, invades, colonizes and exploits (and often kills) a portion of the soul of the world…”

“The ground is shifting below our feet and this phenomenon involves more than the echoing footfalls of marchers and the trudging of militarized formations of riot cops on city streets worldwide.

“The first vibrations, closer to tremors, transpired because the ground below us has been fracked of dreams...the void engendered seismological activity. Now, from Cairo, Egypt's Tahrir Square to Syntagma Square in Athens, Greece to Liberty Park, in New York, New York to Oscar Grant Park, in Oakland, California, we have become like tuning forks, in sympatico with the resonances of the tormented earth.”

The above quotes are from an article by Phil Rockstoh published on Wednesday, November 23, 2011 by

Phil Rockstroh is a poet, lyricist and philosopher bard living in New York City. He may be contacted at: Visit Phil's website or at FaceBook.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Occupy Delusion

Schizophrenic Delusion       Photoshop Collage        J. Stimmell©2011

I had an “aha moment” while reading a piece in today’s NYT by Benedict Carey: Finding Purpose After Living With Delusion.

Carey's article is about people with schizophrenia who are now arguing that their delusions are not solely from a biological illness “but also in fears, longings and psychological wounds” stemming from their environment.  Now, he writes, these psychiatric veterans are coming together in increasing numbers.

It struck me that  Finding Purpose After Living With Delusion is a perfect metaphor for the Occupy Wall Street Movement which is also people coming together, much like a huge support group, to validate each other while disputing the prevailing attitude that their problems are due solely to personal failure and incompetence.

“It’s a thrilling time,because people with lived experience are beginning to collaborate in large numbers,” says  Gail Hornstein, author of Agnes’s Jacket: A Psychologist’s Search for the Meaning of Madness. “They are developing their own theories, their own language about what their experiences mean from the inside.”  

Just like the Occupy Movement:  people coming together to share their own felt experience about what it actually feels like to be  poor, hungry, uninsured, unemployed, homeless and hopeless. 

And more than that, what it feels like to have society turn its back on them and call them losers because they no longer play the only game that counts in America: Buying things. Shopping until you drop.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Occupy Peace

The Perimeter Between Us and Them            J. Stimmell: Vietnam 1966
War is a place of fear, and fear is a place of borders. Fear requires us to dehumanize our enemies and, in the process, to dehumanize ourselves. Borders should not provide a justification for dehumanization. That is a trick of militarists who are in need of enemies, real or imagined, to make the war system work for them. But there is another way to deal with enemies, and that is to turn them, by our actions, into friends.

We need to stop fearing each other and treat each other with kindness. Consideration for the 99 percent does not stop at a country's border. We are all humans together, and we need each other to be fully human. We need to embrace our common humanity. In the nuclear age, war is far too dangerous; it has the potential to end civilization and most life on the planet. Peace is an imperative. We need to find a way to occupy peace, which begins in our hearts and must expand to encompass the world. 
  The above quote is from an Op-Ed by David Krieger published on Truthout on 11/23/11
Thank you, Pat, for sending me this.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Grounded in the present moment on Thanksgiving

Taking nothing for granted
Battered yet standing tall
Last collard in our garden
Grounded in the present moment
"If what most people take for granted were really true—if all you needed to be happy was to over indulge today and then on Black Friday* grab everything and see everything and investigate every experience and then talk about it, I should have been a very happy person, a spiritual millionaire…

But (w)hat a strange thing! In filling myself, I had emptied myself. In grasping things, I had lost everything. In devouring pleasures and joys, I had found distress and anguish and fear."
quote from A Thomas Merton Reader
*my addition

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Are you running in circles like a mad dog?

Coco doing her crazy running       J. Stimmell©2011

"The rush and pressure of modern life are a form, perhaps the most common form, of its innate violence. To allow oneself to be carried away by a multitude of conflicting concerns, to surrender to too many demands, to commit oneself to too many projects, to want to help everyone in everything is to succumb to violence. More than that, it is cooperation in violence. The frenzy of the activist...destroys his own inner capacity for peace. It destroys the fruitfulness of his own work, because it kills the root of inner wisdom which makes work fruitful."
–above quote from Cojectures of a Guilty Bystander by Thomas Merton–

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

When the operation of the machine becomes so odious

Police Survellance Tower
OWS at Liberty Park, 10/8/11.   J.Stimmell@2011

 "There is a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can't take part; you can't even passively take part, and you've got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon the levers, upon all the apparatus, and you've got to make it stop."

The above is from Mario Savio's famous speech at a Free Speech Movement demonstation in Berkely CA on 12/3/64 – a call to arms that, in many ways, ushered in the wave of activism that came to be known as The Sixties.

May the Occupy Movement be the catalyst to usher in a tsuami of activism in our even more urgent fight for peace and social justice in the 21st Century!

Monday, November 21, 2011

On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing

Sunrise on Jenness Pond in Fall      J. Stimmell©2011
"Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. 
On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.”
– Arundhata Roy

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Occupy the present moment!

Occupy Samta Fe: from Maia Duerr blog 10/15/11
Breaking from my normal format, today I celebrate Maia Duerr's blog, The Liberated Life Project, which brings a Buddhist presence to the Occupy movement.  Occupy the Present Moment is the perfect expression of that sentiment.  It also highlights the spiritual and contemplative dimension of this movement, actually the ground upon which the movement is built.
Meditation group, Libery Park, NYC 10/8/11        Jean Stimmell©2011
When I was in New York, I participated in a large meditation group that has been a intregal part of OccupyWallStreet since the beginning. But the media has almost universally ignored this vital spiritual underpinning.

Maia wrote in her 10/15/11 blog that it has become abundantly clear to her  that the Occupy Movement is "based in a real honor and respect for kindness, for making sure every voice is heard."  She goes on to say:
         A quote from Arundhati Roy has been very much on my mind the past week:
“Our strategy should be not only to confront empire, but to lay siege to it. To deprive it of oxygen. To shame it. To mock it. With our art, our music, our literature, our stubbornness, our joy, our brilliance, our sheer relentlessness — and our ability to tell our own stories. Stories that are different from the ones we’re being brainwashed to believe. The corporate revolution will collapse if we refuse to buy what they are selling — their ideas, their version of history, their wars, their weapons, their notion of inevitability.
Remember this: We be many and they be few. They need us more than we need them.
Another world is not only possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.”
The other quote that kept coming to me today was one from Mother Teresa: “If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to each other.”
This collective of people — all around the globe — is remembering that truth. We’re waking up to it, to use a Buddhist phrase. We are changing the story… we are no longer believing that we are beholden to corporations, but rather to each other. We are creating rather than merely consuming.

Thank you, Maia, for your inspiring blog, and, hopefully, you do not mind that I have copied the long excerpt above, into my blog.  Keep up the good work!

Friday, November 18, 2011

Writing language back into the land

Shadow and Leaf against Boulder, Turkey Pond, Concord NH  11/6/11
For those of us who care for an earth not encompassed by machines, a world of textures, tastes and sounds other than those that we have engineered, there can be no question of simply abandoning literacy, of turning away from all writing. 

Our task, rather, is that of taking up the written word, with all of its potency, and patiently, carefully, writing language back into the land. Our craft is that of releasing the budded, earthly intelligence of our words, freeing them to respond to the speech of the things themselves – to the green uttering forth of leaves from the spring branches… 

Planting words, like seeds, under rocks and fallen logs – letting language take root, once again, in the earthen silence of shadow and bone and leaf. – quote from Spell of the Sensuous by David Abram (p. 274)

Daffodil pushing up through the snow in our front yard: 4/23/11 

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Technology standing between us and the world

New World Trade Center to be called "Reflecting Absence"
 10/8/11      J.Stimmell©2011

As you, my readers, may have guessed from the last few posts, I am reading – actually rereading – Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander,  a personal meditation written by Thomas Merton, first published 46 years ago in 1966.
I am awed that Merton – long before the age of computers, virtual reality, and Facebook, – already grasped the essential conundrum of modern technological society: It’s “as if the whole of reality were in the inventions that stand between us and the world: the inventions that have become our world. (p. 15)”
He goes on to say: “Technology is not in itself opposed to spirituality... But it presents a great temptation. For instance, where many machines are used..., there can be a deadening of spirit and of sensibility, a blunting of perception, a loss of awareness, a lowering of tone, a general fatigue and lassitude, a proneness to unrest and guilt which we might be less likely to suffer if we simply went out and worked with our hands in the woods or in the fields.” (p. 16)
Like incoming artillery rounds landing too close, Merton’s words about the harmful effects of technology have rung in my ears for the last week, ever since I updated my computer operating system only to discover, to my horror, that various subsystems crashed, data was lost, and certain crucial applications could not be upgraded – like my financial software I use for my business and also my databases.  In addition, my email stopped working, along with my voicemail...on and on, a pure disaster.  
My world was knocked asunder, like being flattened by a falling sequoia tree.
Things are better now but I am still spending hours every day, putting things back together on my hard drive – which I regrettably admit –  has taken over altogether too much of what used to be handled by me and my brain. I'm horrified to find out to what a degree, slowly and insidiously, technology has come to control my life. 
Today was a good day as I managed to resurrect 857 quotations, some long, some not that I have collected over the last 30 years: quotations that spoke to me in a deep and personal way – like Merton’s quote above:
In the wake of my computer disaster, Merton’s description of technology’s deleterious effects is a perfect diagnosis of my condition: a deadening of spirit and of sensibility, a blunting of perception, a loss of awareness, a lowering of tone, a general fatigue and lassitude, a proneness to unrest and guilt which we might be less likely to suffer if we simply went out and worked with our hands in the woods or in the fields.”
My only saving grace, preventing both manic anger and depressive stupor – echoing Merton’s advice – has been my daily therapy of going deep into my woods to work with my hands, cutting firewood for next year.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

We are living in the greatest revolution in history

OWS General Assembly: NYC 10/08/11     J. Stimmell ©2011

We are living in the greatest revolution in history--a huge spontaneous upheaval of the entire human race; not the revolution planned and carried out by any particular party, race, or nation, but a deep elemental boiling over of all the inner contradictions that have ever been in man, a revelation of the chaotic forces inside everybody. This is not something we have chosen, nor is it something we are free to avoid. 
– quoted from Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander by Thomas Merton

Solitude is to be preserved, not as a luxury but as a necessity:

Reflections at Pawtuckaway State Park, 7/11/11   J. Stimmell

Solitude is to be preserved, not as a luxury but as a necessity: not for "perfection" so much as for simple "survival" in the life God has given you. Hence, you must know when, how, and to whom you must say "no." This involves considerable difficulty at times. You must not hurt people, or want to hurt them, yet you must not placate them at the price of infidelity to higher and more essential values.
–From Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander by Thomas Merton

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Every moment... one is growing into more or retreating into less.

Winter Harbor Maine  Sept. 2011     J.Stimmell©2011

“Every moment of one’s existence one is growing into more
or retreating into less.
One is always living a little more
or dying a little bit.”

–Norman Mailer–