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HIGHLIGHTS #1301 Friday, December 27, 2002 - Edited by Gloria Lee

"sunset 15:04"  photo by Al Larus    


Ramana Maharshi

Jesus Pantokrator, painted at Mount Athos  

Ikon painting as a form of meditation    

In the Eastern Church Ikon painting is a well known form of meditation. The painting is done with a sense of non-individuality. Each motif of painting is fixed and there is not much room for individual concepts and ideas. Rules are strict. Also there is never a signature to the painting - so the painter normally stays anonymous. Strictly it is simply a copy of the original.   Painting an Ikon needs lots of time and patience as there are many steps until to the end. One can't do it in any hurry. It is painted on wood, which has to be prepared by many steps to make the gold stick later. Then the motif taken from the original is fixed and the parts which have to be gilded prepared with poliment coatings. If there is a slight mistake the gold will not stick later. Then the gold is put on the poliment fixed only by some spirit in water - a great exercise in pranayama as the golden plates are so light that the slightest breath blows them away. When the gold is "shot on",  the time has to be awaited to polish it, what depends on the humidity of the air and temperature. If too early the gold will be rubbed away, if too late it will not stick. Then the gold is polished with an Archat-stone until it shines.   Now painting can be started. As there are no colours ready for painting one has first to mix all the pigments with a mixture of egg yolk, flat beer and distilled water and make a paste. Pigments react differently to the addition of this bonding agent (some need more, some less), so each one has to be treated differently.   Then in many steps the motif is painted from the dark to the light. There are also strict rules how to make the lightenings, how to paint the face, the clothes, the buildings, the trees and animals - all that has its clear rules.   When the painting is ready the scriptures belonging to the motif is made and the gloriole drawn. Only after this last step the Ikon may be consecrated. Strictly an Ikon also should not be sold.   This all sounds very complicated - indeed for the beginner it is. When the technique is known it starts to become very easy. As it is a slow painting which needs a lot of time it makes the mind silent and slow also, it is indeed a fine form of meditation. As for everything there is a rule given there is not much need to engage in own plans - but strange enough because of that the natural unpersonal creativity breaks through and gives the Ikon its special expression, which is felt so much attracting by many looking at Ikons and choose them as a means for their meditation.  


MACE MEALER Illuminata

Enlightening Discourse

   When one doesn't have anything to say,
       this the best time for elocution.
       Speaking from impassion
       a patient honesty is revealed
       that preserves the peace
       in a world oft troubled
       with the patter of
       firm conviction.



If we think of mice and humans as distant cousins on a family tree,
then all humans are brothers and sisters in that family. We all
descended from a common set of ancestors who lived in Africa about
10,000 generations ago.   The people in our ancestral population had a
certain amount of variation among their DNA sequences, and most of the
genetic variation in people today derives from this ancestral pool. As
their descendants spread around the globe, mutations also occurred,
adding to the set of human genetic variation.

As a result, 99.9 percent of the DNA sequence in any two people is the
same. Even though the remaining 0.1 percent is a small proportion, in
the total human population there are about 10 million places in the
genome where differences among people are common. Most of these
sequence variants fall in parts of the genome that do not appear to be
critical for function. Probably only a few hundred thousand variations
in the sequence affect how people function, and only a few hundred,
mostly yet to be identified, are likely to be of major medical




And the Wright brothers said they thought they had invented
something that could make peace on earth when their wonderful
flying machine took off at Kitty Hawk into the kingdom of birds
but the parliament of birds was freaked out by this man-made bird
and fled to heaven

And then the famous Spirit of Saint Louis took off eastward and
flew across the Big Pond with Lindy at the controls in his leather
helmet and goggles hoping to sight the doves of peace but he did not
Even though he circled Versailles

And then the famous Flying Clipper took off in the opposite
direction and flew across the terrific Pacific but the pacific doves
were frighted by this strange amphibious bird and hid in the orient sky
And then the famous Flying Fortress took off bristling with guns
and testosterone to make the world safe for peace and capitalism
but the birds of peace were nowhere to be found before or after Hiroshima

And so then clever men built bigger and faster flying machines and
these great man-made birds with jet plumage flew higher than any
real birds and seemed about to fly into the sun and melt their wings
and like Icarus crash to earth
And the Wright brothers were long forgotten in the high-flying
bombers that now began to visit their blessings on various Third
Worlds all the while claiming they were searching for doves of

And they kept flying and flying until they flew right into the 21st
century and then one fine day a Third World struck back and
stormed the great planes and flew them straight into the beating
heart of Skyscraper America where there were no aviaries and no
parliaments of doves and in a blinding flash America became a part
of the scorched earth of the world
And a wind of ashes blows across the land
And for one long moment in eternity
There is chaos and despair

And buried loves and voices
Cries and whispers
Fill the air


JANICE MIRIKITANI San Francisco Poet Laureate  

Janice Mirikitani is a Sansei or third generation Japanese American born in California, interned as an infant with her family in Rohwer, Arkansas during World War II. Janice Mirikitani, poet, activist, and Executive Director of the Foundation at San Francisco's Glide Memorial United Methodist Church in the Tenderloin district, became San Francisco's second Poet Laureate on March 30, 2000, carrying on the precedent of poet laureate as strong activist set by Lawrence Ferlinghetti.   Excerpted remarks and poems are from her talk "Love Works" Presented at Glide Church Celebrations, December 30, 2001.

Well, I’ve finally gotten a new book out. It’s called Love Works and it’s part of the SF Laureate Series. I must say that these two years serving as San Francisco’s poet laureate have been very gratifying. I thought I’d read some poetry from this book, if you don’t mind. I’ve had opportunities here at Glide to witness how Love Works. Many of these poems are about the journey of discovering love...when I came to Glide I discovered Cecil’s love, who for me revealed God’s love and helped me to turn my life around. It was then I remembered my grandmother’s love that saved my life as a child...this woman who had come through plantations and internment camps, taught me how to hang on to hope. So as we celebrate the New Year, Oshogatsu, I remember my grandmother’s traditions that gave me ground and traction to keep me moving forward. I read this poem to honor her and one tradition I attempt to carry on... Obachan’s Ozoni (gm’s soup):

(we also believe this soup brings good luck for the new year—and though I don’t like to think of myself as superstitious, I am up early on New Year’s Day, sprinkling salt at all our doors and entrances—thinking that will keep the evil out; pay my bills by January first; try not to get into any fights on that day. And Cecil makes his black eyed peas for good luck; and we do our soul food thing.)

Every New Year’s Day,
I try to create the flavor of grandma’s good luck soup.
A futile quest.
She had no blender, food processors, Teflon, timers—

yet her ozoni, with minced bamboo, carrot, delicate bits of fish,
mochi (rice cake) floating like a pregnant sail, in a proud broth,
a kiss of radish, a ladle of tears,
surprises my tongue. So good.
My lips on her porcelain bowl savor “oshogatsu”—
hope in the new year.
Breath passes
and history enters my mouth.

I worry that dissent is labeled as disloyalty. I worry about knee jerk responses to escalate war without concern for consequences upon the ecology of human life--especially those who are most vulnerable – the billion starving people in the world, the suppressed women and children. As Benizir Bhutto says, “where peace is not restored, and misery abounds, extremists are emboldened...” And Rabbi Michael Lerner who says: “We cannot deny that we live in one world and that we are interconnected with everyone...”

Nor should we because of our insatiable thirst for fossil fuel... leap into reversing years of thoughtful environmental research and destroying treasures like the rain forest, Yellowstone park* and some yet pristine arctic regions.

We are interconnected.

I feel that the vanishing Innu people in communities of Labrador are the most graphic example of how interdependent we are on the eco-system. Solvent addiction (or gasoline sniffing) and suicide have reached epidemic proportion among the Innu children and youth. Why do I care? The extinction of a people in Labrador, a province that has nothing to do with me-- the last place on earth? Why do I think you should care? Labrador, the rain forest, Sudan, Thailand, Alaska, black hills, the tenderloin: —poverty, AIDS, addiction, loss of an environment, a civilization. Colonization is perpetuated within the people who then inflict their own destruction...and generations lose hope... should we care?

  Last Place on Earth
(for the Children of Sheshatshiu, Innu village)

Birds nest on the solitude
of cliffs,
white with salt and ice,
feathers foam
rising out of crevices
wings lift the horizon
waves of plumage
palpitate with
waves of ocean
in this last place on earth
of endless light.
mysteries of human
beginnings -- Innu
delicately balanced
like breath
upon the water,
like smoke rising from ice,
like the tree
that roots in spite of rock...

And then came man with insatiable thirst
for oil, metals, minerals,
without regard for nesting solitude
or pregnant rivers, imperiled coastlines,
or vanishing caribou or seal
or migrations of geese or Innu.

They came with iron shafts,
and shattered the nests,
smashed the eggs
that bore fetuses.
They came with low flying planes,
military tests and fueled jets
that seared the cliffs.
Waves of homeless wings
darken this sun.
Abandoned chicks
starve, drown in noise and fuel.
A sea of bludgeoned feathers, fur, fish
a shoreline of extinction--

Children hopeless
at the age of ten,
set fires to their flesh
sniffing gasoline
from plastic bags.
Innu home
excavated, stripped.

A plastic bag
like placenta
on the face of
a fetus, sniffing gasoline.

Destroy the nest.
extinguish the race.


[...] And I am always grateful to the women upon whose shoulders we have stood. Our mothers & grandmothers who knew how to turn things around from hard times & discrimination, who could stir up the pot of adversity and create feasts—beautiful, bad women, who celebrate themselves--

Bad Women,

dark as plums and coffee,
light as cream and butter, gold as sun on lemons
red as cinnamon, brown as kola,
plump as mangos, skinny as tallow.
Bad women can cook, create a miracle in a pot
make something out of chicken feet, pigs feet, cornmeal, hogmaw, fishheads, fatback, ribs, roots, soy or red beans.

Bad women celebrate themselves,
fingerpopping, hipshaking, big laughed, wisemouthed
hefty thighed, smart thinking women
hatwearing, soft syllabled, eyelash fluttering
tangerine lipstick queens... fat kneed, skinny ankled women

who dance without warning
wrap their men or their women around their waist
and dance to the edge of dawn.
Bad women resist violent love affairs, child abuse, and unsafe sex,
stir their tears in pots of compassion,
add some hot sauce, wasabe, five spices, jalapenos,
the salt of memory
stoke the fire of history
simmer in resilience
make it taste like home.


Love works.
Thank you for your love that works to help turn this world around.

(entire talk may be read at link below)

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Nonduality: The Varieties of Expression Home

Jerry Katz
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