Saturday, January 23, 2021

A Beautiful Book

      Let's start the new year with a recommendation for a terrific book.  Written by Solala Towler, who studied Taoism for many years, Tales from the Tao: The Wisdom of the Taoist Masters is a thoroughly beautiful book.  First, it is beautifully bound, with crisp, soft pages and a lovely sense of quality.  Well done,  Watkins Press.  Second, it has beautiful photographs in black and white by John Cleare.  I wish it had said more about the photographer and where the photographs were taken, but they are lovely to contemplate.

     But of course, the writing is what really captured me.  They come in the form of short stories, most of them from the Taoist canon, such as those told by Chuang Tzu, but a few were written by Mr. Towler himself.  Rather than the very brief, sometimes almost cryptic, versions told in the original Taoist writings, these are retold, fleshed out, and beautifully written.  First, I read through the book in great gulps, then went right back and savored each story slowly.  It's a terrific book.  Highly recommended.

Saturday, January 16, 2021

The Human Stew, Part 2

      Last week I was evoking the image of making stew as a metaphor for humanity.  I had an insight recently that the idea of "We Are All One" seems odd when you consider how different our life experiences are.  Yet, when viewed as a stew, where each person contributes some life lesson to the whole of humanity (the human stew), it makes more sense.  

     Like in a stew, each person contributes their own flavor, their own ingredient.  And those flavors come from lessons learned in their unique life.  And since we are all one, we all benefit from those life lessons on a deep, spiritual level.  What we each offer either helps or hinders humanity as a whole, just as each ingredient in a stew either makes it taste better or worse.

     Maybe you are contributing some life lesson about patience.  Or about standing in your truth.  Perhaps your neighbor is contributing a life lesson about dealing with difficult people or overcoming a bad habit.  Or another person contributes a life lesson about sacrifice or balancing the needs of others with their own needs.  The lessons are endless, just as the variety of our lives are endless.

     Have you tasted some perseverance lately?  That would be a drop of me.

     What have you contributed to our wonderful stew?

Saturday, January 9, 2021

The Human Stew

      No, this is not a post about cannibalism.  Rather, it is about a new insight I had about the concept of "We Are All One" along with the wide variety of life experiences we all have.

     So, let's start with a picture of some stew.  I don't know about you, but there is nothing quite so fulfilling as a big bowl of steaming-hot stew on a cold winter's day.  I've even enjoyed it on a cold morning for breakfast!  It might have some meat cut into chunks, or perhaps some cubes of tofu, along with some potatoes, cauliflower, carrots, celery, onions, zucchini or yellow squash, beans, tomatoes, maybe some broccoli or some kale (ewww), a beef shank with marrow, a lot of chicken broth, a touch of wine, and olive oil.  

     And let's not forget the spices!  Salt, pepper, chili flakes, Italian seasoning, thyme, garlic, maybe some ginger and cinnamon.  Quite the variety.

     And every bite is different.  You might get some protein along with a potato in this spoonful, and then some onion and carrot in the next; perhaps a bit of the bone marrow along with some tomatoes in the next spoon.  And it all tastes wonderful.

     And I think humanity is a bit like that stew.  More on this next week.

(photo courtesy of

Friday, January 1, 2021

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year!

May it be filled with good health, 

happiness, and peace. 

(image courtesy of

Friday, December 25, 2020

Happy Holidays

 Wishing you a happy and 

peaceful holiday season.

(photo courtesy of

Saturday, December 19, 2020

Looking with 20/20 Vision, Part 3

      The seismic events of the year 2020 will no doubt reverberate for years to come.  Other than the pandemic and the societal uprisings, a third thing I think we can learn from is leadership.  Here are some take-aways:

  • It has been said that we get the leaders we deserve.  The last four years in the US have shown us the ugly side of our country, almost in a caricatured manner.  Yes, we need to heal the ugly face of racism.  We need to support the underserved in our society and not blame the victims.  We need to look at how we value our environment.  We need to value science and not engage in magical thinking.  We need to treat each others are equals and not perpetuate rankism and elitism.  We need to be mindful that words have consequences.  
  • When I look at how the common people in our country and other countries have banded together to stand up and say "No more!" I am moved and inspired.  Two images come to mind.  First, elected leaders are like the large game animals in wild areas.  What prompts them to move?  The common grass.  Be like the succulent, green grass and entice our leaders to move in your direction.
  • The second image comes from the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade.  Have you ever seen it?  The highlight is the large balloons of cartoon characters being led along the parade path, seemingly squeezed between the huge skyscrapers.  The balloons are like elected leaders.  Who leads these balloons?  Just common people, holding the balloons by ropes and walking along the parade route.  Be the rope-holder, and keep walking.
     Yes, 2020 will be talked about for years to come.  But let's use the power of these lessons learned to create a better future for all of us.

Saturday, December 12, 2020

Looking with 20/20 Vision, Part 2

      The year 2020 will be remembered for so many things.  Last week we talked about the lessons of the pandemic.  Another giant event in this year was the eruption of protests against historical and systemic prejudice.  We've seen marches against police brutality, against governmental corruption, against racial disparities, against sexual predation, among others.  What is to be learned from this?

  • We cannot ignore historically underserved communities and not expect some sort of backlash.  How we treat others, or allow our societies to treat them, will someday affect ourselves.
  • Our police have forgotten how to relate to others as fellow humans and fallen into the trap of becoming tools of armament vendors.  What happened to the neighborhood cop that everyone knew?  
  • Our police have also been asked to play too many roles -- peace-keeper, social worker, psychologist, addictions counselor and so on -- and are asked to do so in places where people are heavily armed, mentally unbalanced, or desperate.  Our societies need to get back to providing social funding to help support the poor, the emotionally distraught, those with mental illness, and those with addictions.  If we fund people first, the police can get back to serving as peace-keepers.  
  • Sub-groups in our societies will no longer be kept down.  The power of these marches show that it will no longer be acceptable to discriminate against any group that is not part of the ruling class.  There is power in the unity of resistance.
     It seems clear that these lessons will carry us forward as we build a better society, a better future.  May we never forget.