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#2745 - Thursday,  March 1, 2007 - Editor: Jerry Katz  

The Nondual Highlights  

Highlights Home:    

    A few diverse articles about art, the wilderness, the planet Saturn, Byron Katie, and Kansas.    

    Meditation in Portugal   by Manny Baldemor  

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The Arrabida monks chose their site wisely for the silence, and the solitude was too perfect. One who is accustomed to an excess of modern amenities and a love of constant chatter would easily become unhappy there. For in this timeless place, I was forced to face quiet truths about myself in thought and the perpetual order of the universe, all by watching at the never changing natural scenery from my bedroom window, the days seemingly without end.  

~ ~ ~

Being an artist, I usually find peace when I am ready to paint. My personal method was to look at my subject through visionary images, an opening of the mind based on my own experiences. I tend to move around, traveling to different places, trying to accomplish as much as possible, and squeezing as many things into a short period of time.

Naturally, my main concern was always to manage my time according to my itinerary. Logistical obstacles usually demanded more time so there would be little left for returning to pasty locations for further meditation.

Another concern was my desire to open myself to the timelessness of a place. Whenever I visit some place new, I try to imagine myself being there in an earlier period and have a feel of how the original inhabitants did their daily tasks, imagine the unique problems they faced, which were most probably things we take for granted today in our globally connected society.

A very fortunate occurrence arrived at my doorstep in December 2003 in the shape of an application form from the Portuguese Embassy in Manila. It was for an artist-in-residence program under the Fundacao Oriente of Portugal. The Fundacao Oriente offers residencies to writers and artists of different fields from Asian countries with the aim of stimulating cultural and artistic exchanges to maintain the historic and artistic relations between Portugal and the Orient. Up to three artist-residencies are awarded yearly for 30 days, usually from March 1 to April 30, once they pass the rigorous selection process, that is. Priority in the selection process is assessed by an applicant’s proven artistic merit evidenced by work produced, along with considerations of importance, interest and appropriateness from his/her home country.

I was warmly accepted into the program in spring of 2004. I was transported expense-free from my house all the way to the airport as the foundation had promised. After a much-harried plane ride, I was transferred to a car, also provided the Fundacao Oriente. Exhausted, I feel asleep and awoke on a very cold night at the gates of the monastery.

The monastery itself was situated at the side of a hill, 50 kilometers away from Lisbon. Set at a 30-degree angle, the main structure was embraced lovingly by an endless expanse of greenery, shrubs and flowering trees. On the peak of the hills that surrounded the monastery, one would see the domed ruins resembling small chapels at several intervals, perhaps a legacy from a more devout period predating the monastery itself.

The monastery, better known as the Convento de Arrabida, was founded in 1542 by a Franciscan brother named Martinho de Santa Maria. He had been offered by the Arrabida hills by D. Joao de Lencastre, the first Duke of Aveiro (1501-1571), to allow him to continue his life as a hermit. The monastery was built and named after the hills, which was originally based on an even earlier group of hermits dedicated to Our Lady of Arrabida, the latter word meaning "meditation" in Portuguese.

My stay there was uneventful. So uneventful perhaps that it became too unbearable for some of my colleagues, other creators of their respective arts, who felt compelled to leave before completing the whole month. The Arrabida monks chose their site wisely for the silence, and the solitude was too perfect. One who is accustomed to an excess of modern amenities and a love of constant chatter would easily become unhappy there. For in this timeless place, I was forced to face quiet truths about myself in thought and the perpetual order of the universe, all by watching at the never changing natural scenery from my bedroom window, the days seemingly without end.

During my first days, it was easy to admit restlessness. As time went by, something infinitely more precious replaced it. Nevertheless, I would not be so bold to presume I attained a perfect interior peace like some self-proclaimed Buddah.

Eventually, my month ran out and I said goodbye to all the artists who managed to hold on (or simply arrived later than I did). Perhaps some people felt the experience too imprisoning, but I believe reactions would depend on one’s point of view. I left the monastery feeling like Moses who descended from Mt. Sinai carrying the 10 Commandments, gray-haired and full of wisdom. Of course, in my case, my hair was already gray before my visit! As for the 10 Commandments, I came out with 100 aquarelle paintings instead, the fruits of my long and peaceful stay at the Convento de Arrabida.


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Links to Manny Baldemor and his works at



posted by sail4free on the citycamping list on yahoogroups:  

BUSH LIVING by Sharron Chatterton

[Intro by Cliff Jacobson -- included in his book "Camping's Top
Secrets -- a lexicon of camping tips only the experts
know"] "Sharron Chatterton is a retired wilderness canoe guide,
college instructor, and writer who lives a contemplative life in a
lakeside cabin near Teslin, Yukon, Canada.  Here she explains how
the solitude and demands of bush living shape the personality of
those who live and work in wild places."


"The wilderness promotes traits that encourage survival.  Surrounded
by the unpredictable and beyond rescue, wilderness travelers
safeguard unknown outcomes against disaster.  Their goal is safe
arrival to their destination, not arrival by some time or date. 
Some "great feats" are simply their cautious journeys."


"Wilderness makes an individual self-reliant -- able to function
alone, to perform all tasks independently, and to know the adaptive
capability of every tool.  To the bush traveler, rescue is an urban
myth -- there are no buffers against irresponsibility!  Wilderness
dwellers accept what is, not what was or ought to be.  They plan
carefully and they don't take chances.  Actions are purposeful;
tasks are always completed.  To use energy on valueless projects or
to leave important work undone is unthinkable.  There is too much to
do to get bored."


"Long periods spent in silence creates an ease without talk, value
for the understandings that flow without language, and a need for
silence.  Silence conserves energy, frees ones attention for more
important work and, lacking confrontation, creates gentleness. 
Simple wisdom breeds in silence."


"Wilderness travelers become hyperalert and observant.  The land
exhibits what happened, is happening, and might happen next to the
ears, eyes, nose, and skin.  These sensors function in overdrive,
constantly receiving information."


"Some believe that wilderness living breeds antisocial behavior.  In
truth, the wilderness man or woman becomes asocial -- he or she has
a lingering love of society but little need for it.  The wilderness,
not the nation that manages it, evokes their allegiance.  This
alienation from political boundaries and reassociation with the
natural world defines the "wilderness heart."


"Survival is the hidden foundation of bush morality.  It is what
allows one to kill animals to eat, blaze trees to mark a return
trail, or sidestep a slipper orchid.  An experienced bush dweller
learns never to interfere with another.  To pass without offering
help is a cardinal sin.  To solicit help unnecessarily is another. 
Survival encourages cordiality among neighbors -- you might have to
depend upon one for help."


"There are deeper effects of wilderness than those on human
personality: There is a growing need to reduce belongings, to hunt
and gather, and to be nomadic.  Nature -- not other humans --
controls the routine.  There is a growing intimacy with animals and
with death.  Consciousness passes old barriers and metaphysical
experiences occur.  Wilderness rearranges behavior, reconfigures
mental constructs, and transforms the inner self forever."


"Yet personality change is what we first perceive in committed
wilderness travelers.  We see it in epic soloists, long-distance
trekkers, and in those who work in wild places -- guides,
researchers, and itinerant wanderers.  In fact, all of us, even we
who paddle a simple slough alone or walk a dog along the bluffs --
even farmers, loggers, and deep sea fishermen whose wilderness
experiences we consistently deny -- have personalities deeply marked
by wilderness."  

Jewel of the solar system yields breathtaking images  

Chee Chee Leung
March 3, 2007

AMERICA'S space agency has released some spectacular new pictures of Saturn, the so-called "jewel of the solar system", that have left scientists breathless.

The pictures, taken by NASA's Cassini spacecraft over the past two months, include new views of the planet from high above and below its famous rings.

The mission's imaging team leader, Carolyn Porco, said scientists had been waiting years to see the large, gas planet from such perspectives. "Sailing high above Saturn and seeing the rings spread out beneath us like a giant, copper medallion is like exploring an alien world," Dr Porco said. "It's so breathtaking, it almost gives you vertigo."

[read rest of article and see photos at link above.]



A Thousand Names for Joy: Living in Harmony with the Way Things Are
by Byron Katie

Byron Katie has a large, devoted following around the world, based on a simple and profound method of self-inquiry known as “The Work.” A favorite in spiritual circles, Katie has a homespun ability to make Advaita philosophy a la Ramana Maharshi (Who Am I?) and Nisargadatta Maharaj (I Am That) accessible.

Loving What Is: Four Questions That Can Change Your Life was her brilliant best-selling first book, and I Need Your Love — Is That True? was her second. This third book, A Thousand Names for Joy, co-written with her husband, the distinguished writer and translator Stephen Mitchell, takes a fresh look at Lao-tzu’s classic, Tao Te Ching.

Katie and Mitchell — whose translation of the Tao Te Ching has sold over 750,000 copies — examine everyday experiences (baby sitting, doctor visits) to help make the classic Confucius-era Chinese text accessible. Expect to have cherished beliefs — perhaps the ones that are blocking happiness — challenged in a unique, honest way. And expect radically different perspectives on life and death, good and evil.


Nonduality in the mainstream was discovered in this small blurb from a Lawrence, Kansas newspaper, in which people say what books they are reading:

"‘A New Earth,’ by Eckhart Tolle. It’s about nonduality. He’s a great teacher. He has many books and CDs, but has recently released his first DVD of a lecture he gave."

— Linda Champion, retired, Lawrence

Yup, they're talking about nonduality in Kansas.

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