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#1884 - Sunday, August 8, 2004 - Editor: Gloria Lee    

"One regret, dear world,
That I am determined not to have
When I am lying on my deathbed
Is that
I did not kiss you enough."


posted on Daily Dharma


photo by Al Larus


Play: The Movement of Love


An essay by Gwen Gordon

EarthLight Magazine #48, Spring 2003 -- Vol, 13, No. 3

Not long ago, I lived in an apartment that over-looked a preschool playground. At 8:00 a.m., as I ate my granola every morning, the doors to the school yard burst open and preschoolers spilled onto the yard. I sat staring out the second floor window, happily buffered from the full volume of their blood curdling screeches, and watched, mesmerized. Children hurled themselves into the day, bumping, tripping, bouncing, building things, smashing them down, hitting, kicking, laughing, hugging. Everything was there–trial, disappointment, grief, success, connection, creativity, celebration, belonging, not belonging–all in one little playground. I had the distinct feeling I was watching the raw business of the universe, the workings of evolution itself.

An angel hovering above the world must feel the same way, gazing down at this one big rumpus with all its scraped knees and first kisses. Myriad life forms emerging out of the primordial seas, gathering together, creating more life forms, making cities, cities falling apart, people fighting, others writing poems, the aurora borealis, jellyfish, fleas that jump into the nostrils of hummingbirds, 2,000 year old Sequoias.

The qualities that are so exuberantly displayed in childhood play are writ large in the evolutionary process on a cosmological scale. The whole Universe is one big playground, and evolution one great big, gorgeous rumpus.


Exaptation is pure improvisation. It’s like the character in the movie Airplane who, when given a document and asked what he makes of it, answers, "Well, I could make a hat, or a broach, or maybe a little paper airplane." Nature takes what’s there and makes stuff up. Before I got a Master’s degree I used to put the initials M.S.U. after my name. They stood for "Make Stuff Up." I had no idea that making stuff up was wired right into the human brain. Gould says that the human brain is par excellence the chief exemplar of exaptation. This is because, about 150,000 years ago the hominid brain expanded massively. When it did, it acquired neural circuits that are not closely tied to any specific function but can be used in a variety of ways. It is this neural plasticity that enables the blind person to develop acute hearing and sensitive fingers for reading Braille, and the right-handed pianist to have as much coordination in the left hand. Neural plasticity has enabled a frontal lobe designed for hunting and gathering to be repurposed into Beethoven’s Sonata Pathetique, Shakespeare’s Sonnets, and the Beatle’s Abbey Road. The human is the only species that specializes in being unspecialized.

If the Universe were a collection of fixed objects governed by fixed laws, then it would be wise to stay rigid. But the Universe is a fluid current of living play, so our own improvisational play and flexibility is essential for going with the flow of the cosmos, responding creatively moment to moment to the changing needs, demands, and opportunities we meet. When we play, we enter the creative current of possibilities, the self-organizing force of the whole cosmos, as active participants. Before the human, all animals were specialized for particular niches. We have the flexibility of the cosmos dancing right in our neurons, enabling us to move into any niche and explore the whole world as a playground.

While play is built right into the cosmos, it’s generally agreed that playfulness didn’t come on the animal scene until about 150-200 million years ago, with mammals and birds in the Jurassic period. As I write this, my dog Luna is shaking her rope toy, insisting I stop what I’m doing this instant and play tug-of-war. Meanwhile, my neighbor has a diabolic African Gray Parrot who repeatedly calls the dog, Patrick, over to her cage yelling, "Patrick!!" then spills the water dish over his head and laughs out loud, "Ar ar ar."  

   Playful Quotes  

When I play with my cat, who knows whether she is not amusing herself with me more than I with her.
- Michel de Montaigne

I didn't like the play, but then I saw it under adverse conditions - the curtain was up.
- Groucho Marx

Play is the only way the highest intelligence of humankind can unfold.
- Joseph Chilton Pearce

It ain't what a man don't know that makes him a fool.
It's what he does know that just ain't so.
- Josh Billings

We all know people who want water to be wetter.
- Idries Shah

Not only does God play dice, but... he sometimes throws them where they cannot be seen.
- Stephen Hawking  

Don't play what's there, play what's not there.
- Miles Davis

You Have Mail  

There is a reason to awareness
everything in existence
is speaking to you
in every moment.
There is also a reason
ignore is in ignorance.

by Mace Mealer on HarshaSatsangh  

  If you judge people, you have no time to love them.   - Mother Teresa  

  What is Love?

A group of professional people posed this question to a group of 4 to
8 year olds, "What does love mean?" The answers they got were broader
and deeper than anyone could have imagined. See what you think:

"When someone loves you, the way they say your name is different. You
know that your name is safe in their mouth." Billy - age 4

"Love is what's in the room with you at Christmas if you stop opening
presents and listen ." Bobby - age 7 (Wow!)

"If you want to learn to love better, you should start with a friend
who you hate ." Nikka - age 6

"During my piano recital, I was on a stage and I was scared. I looked
at all the people watching me and saw my daddy waving and smiling. He
was the only one doing that. I wasn't scared anymore ." Cindy - age 8

"My mommy loves me more than anybody. You don't see anyone else
kissing me to sleep at night." Clare - age 6

"When you love somebody, your eyelashes go up and down and little
stars come out of you." Karen - age 7

"You really shouldn't say 'I love you' unless you mean it. But if you
mean it, you should say it a lot. People forget ." Jessica - age 8

And the final one -- Author and lecturer Leo Buscaglia once talked
about a contest he was asked to judge. The purpose of the contest was
to find the most caring child. The winner was a four year old child
whose next door neighbor was an elderly gentleman who had recently
lost his wife. Upon seeing the man cry, the little boy went into the
old gentleman's yard, climbed onto his lap, and just sat there. When
his Mother asked him what he had said to the neighbor, the little boy
said, "Nothing, I just helped him cry."

posted by Josie Kane




Of all the living walls
of this dim cave,
soot and ochre, acts of will,
come down to us to say:

This is who we were.
We foraged here in an age of ice,
and, warmed by the fur of wolves,
felt the pride of predators
going for game.
Here we painted the strength of bulls,
the grace of deer, turned life into art,
and left this testimony on our walls.
Explorers of the future, see how,
when our dreams reach forward,
your wonder reaches back, and we embrace.
When we are long since dust,
and false prophets come,
then don't forget that we were your creators.
So build your days
on what you know is real, and remember
that nothing will keep your lives alive
but art - the black and ochre visions
you draw inside your cave
will honor your lost tribe,
when explorers in some far future
marvel at the paintings on your walls.

~ Philip Appleman ~

(for the discovery of the Grotte de Lascaux: Marcel Ravidat, 1923-1995)

posted by Joyce, Know_Mystery on Advaita to Zen  

Benjamin's Music  

Editor's note: Ben has put together short sample clips of his favorite music. With Bach, Jimi Hendrix, and B-tribe with flamenco guitar among these eclectic selections, there's something here for every taste. See the website for many more.

Shradda: Divine Tunes to Invoke Inner Peace   A beautiful, spiritual, deeply felt flute-based album, backed by other Indian instruments such as dulcimer, sitar, a reedy sounding wind instrument, tabla drums and some voices at the end. My swami tells me that the first soulful tune was Gandhi's favorite.

B-Tribe    A loose group of musicians under a reclusive mastermind allegedly called 'The Brave', who has given us the albums Sensual, Sensual, Spiritual Spiritual, Suave, Suave, Fiesta Fatal!, as well as Sacred Spirit and Moroccan Spirit. Well, this music DOES have pathos! 'Sensual, Sensual' is especially cool, combining soul-stirring Flamenco guitar with spacy synthesizer sounds and reverberating Flamenco vocals. The guitar playing does not have the flash of a Paco de Lucia but is exactly appropriate for this music. Slow and emotional, often powerful, sometimes funky (whatever that means). The first 4 are in the Flamenco vein, 'Sacred Spirit' uses Native American vocals, and 'Moroccan Spirit' uses real Moroccan music samples, in an exotic sounding musical landscape that combines 'traditional' or 'ethnic' music with spacy synthesizers and the frequent appearance of Mr. Brave's trademark cello.

Kazumi Watanabe    Albums: Mobo I & II   Most Jazz Fusion sounds a bit hectic and dissonant to my ears, but I love this bluesy album, which was well recorded with nice studio reverberation and other spacy effects. Kazumi starts out with a funky rendition of the surf music classic Walk Don't Run and I like following this by the cool-sounding American Short Hair. There are a lot of interesting electronic sounds on this album, like Electric Ladyland, and the two CDs taken together have a similar 'epic' quality to them.



photo by Al Larus


Non-Duality by Thich Nhat Hanh

The bell tolls at four in the morning.
I stand by the window,
barefoot on the cool floor.
The garden is still dark.
I wait for the mountains and rivers to reclaim their shapes.
There is no light in the deepest hours of the night.
Yet, I know you are there
in the depth of the night,
the immeasurable world of the mind.
You, the known, have been there
ever since the knower has been.

The dawn will come soon,
and you will see
that you and the rosy horizon
are within my two eyes.
It is for me that the horizon is rosy
and the sky blue.
Looking at your image in the clear stream,
you answer the question by your very presence.
Life is humming the song of the non-dual marvel.
I suddenly find myself smiling
in the presence of this immaculate night.
I know because I am here that you are there,
and your being has returned to show itself
in the wonder of tonight's smile.
In the quiet stream,
I swim gently.
The murmur of the water lulls my heart.
A wave serves as a pillow
I look up and see
a white cloud against the blue sky,
the sound of Autumn leaves,
the fragrance of hay-
each one a sign of eternity.
A bright star helps me find my way back to myself.

I know because you are there that I am here.
The stretching arm of cognition
in a lightning flash,
joining together a million eons of distance,
joining together birth and death,
joining together the known and the knower.

In the depth of the night,
as in the immeasurable realm of consciousness,
the garden of life and I
remain each other's objects.
The flower of being is singing the song of emptiness.

The night is still immaculate,
but sounds and images from you
have returned and fill the pure night.
I feel their presence.
By the window, with my bare feet on the cool floor,
I know I am here
for you to be.

posted by Doug Fireman on TrueVision

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