Lovely post from Elizabeth Oldfield on “the ordinary grandeur of the ways we love each other”

My “make things, not content” t-shirt gets a surprising number of compliments. The number of people who see the sickness in the usual mode of life online and the need for a more embodied experience is not small.

Two ecosystem services provided by humans: gratitude and awareness.

Martin Shaw, Bardskull:

They say the best way to die is to let go of everything. To lack a centre. To lack self-centre. That if you spent a life putting others first then it’s easier to go. I’m not sure I qualify for that sort of ease, but I think I believe the suggestion. And that’s hard for a pagan romantic. I love attachment, I adore it, I sink my fangs into the rump of attachment. I am sensualist, I am driven, I reach out to the world. And one day I will have to reverse that behaviour.

I liked this section but the book was too opaque for me and I didn’t finish it. Which isn’t to say it’s a bad book; it’s just not for me.

Master Hsueh, as quoted in Road to Heaven by Bill Porter:

You can learn the basics anywhere. There are books. As to learning the inner secrets, when your practice reaches a certain level, you’ll meet a teacher. But you can’t be in a hurry. You have to be prepared to devote your whole life to your practice. This is what is meant by religion. It’s not a matter of spending money. You have to spend your life. Not many people are willing to do this. If you’re ready to learn, you don’t have to look for a teacher. A teacher will find you. Taoism is very deep. There’s a great deal to learn, and you can’t do it quickly. The Tao isn’t something that can be put into words. You have to practice before you can understand. Lao-tzu teaches us to be natural. You can’t force things, including practice. Understanding is something that happens naturally. It’s different for everyone. The main thing is to reduce your desires and quiet your mind. Practice takes a long time, and you have to stay healthy. If you have a lot of thoughts and desires, you won’t live long enough to reach the end.

Be patient. Be natural. Reduce your desires. Quiet your mind. Stay healthy.

Taoist and Buddhist shrines in China. Shinto shrines in Japan. Catholic shrines all over Europe. These all fascinate me. Not a lot of shrines in southern Indiana. I want a landscape filled with shrines. I’m not even particular about which gods or spirits. And, no, Walmart and Starbucks don’t count.

Master Hsieh, as quoted in Road to Heaven by Bill Porter:

Lao-tzu said to cultivate tranquillity and detachment. To be natural. To be natural means not to force things. When you act natural, you get what you need. But to know what’s natural, you have to cultivate tranquillity. Huashan has long been famous as a center of Taoism because it’s quiet. There used to be a lot of hermits here But now the mountain has been developed for tourism. The tranquility is gone, and so are the hermits.

In a recent essay, Bob Turner (local Presbyterian pastor) quotes Gordon Hempton (acoustic ecologist) on the difference between silence and quiet:

Real quiet is not the absence of sound [which is the definition of silence] but the absence of noise.

Weird country track of the day: “Turn on the Dark” by Nick Shoulders. 🎵 (Weird country should totally be a sub-genre if it isn’t already.)

A thought experiment:

Imagine consciousness as a tiny seed of light, and that multitudes of them are spread throughout the universe. These seeds of light do not have personalities; they are awareness as such. They are, possibly, the way the universe comes to know itself.

These seeds of light draw physical forms around themselves like magnets. They cannot be unphysical for long. The seeds take on a new physical form in infants of every species and they leave at death—and then go on to draw another physical form around themselves, which may be of any species.

The purpose of these seeds of light is to gather experience in all its forms. A person—to look at this from the other direction—is a nexus of parents, physical and emotional environment, ancestors, friends, history, everything. A person is a temporary wrapper around a particular and unique intersection of forces, which are continually changing. There is no such thing as a separate individual. There is no person apart from the intersection of these forces.

The seed of light draws these forces around itself, wraps itself in particularity, in order to experience the world as that new person. For one person, their environment is unhealthy, their parents are angry, and that person will live, for example, as an angry and unhealthy person. The seed of light learns what that experience is like. For another person, they may exist in bad circumstances but some force intersects in their life that allows them to find their way out. The seed of light learns what that experience is like. The seed of light is, in this way, neutral; it does not influence or direct the life of the person. It is pure awareness experiencing life.

Whew, this is good. So much here to think about.

I wrote a denunciation of apps.