For the Love of the Animals

At today’s talk I was sort of enthralled with animals. This is because a skunk’s smell woke me up abruptly this morning, and also because there are a mess of hummingbirds fighting outside my window. Here’s just a few of the braver hummies today (note the mature male coming in to fight).

My point was that humans tend to think we’re the apex of evolution, when animals are better at a lot of things we tend to think only we’re good at, like deep emotions and problem-solving, and even appreciating good music!

Snowball Channels Freddy Mercury

Seven Creatures with Skills that Easily Beat Humans

And don’t forget to sign up for the upcoming class at this link:

Going Forth: A Buddhist Model for Retirement and Beyond



Solitude, Loneliness, and Quiet

Today we talked about what came up for me during my three day self-retreat.  I think self-retreats can be wonderful if you know how to be kind to yourself. I recommend having a teacher sort of anchor the retreat with phone/zoom contact. I shared some of the questions that came up for me:

How to be alone. How to be with yourself. When to know you need other people.

How to Be Alone: An Antidote to One of the Central Anxieties and Greatest Paradoxes of Our Time


The Self in Time

We had an old friend and a new friend show up at the sitting, which was lovely, and talked a bit about our perceptions of time, from the Buddhist and psychological perspective. Take a look at this:

Altered States of Consciousness: The Neuropsychology of How Time Perception Modulates Our Experience of Self, from Depression to Boredom to Creative Flow

Altered States of Consciousness: The Neuropsychology of How Time Perception Modulates Our Experience of Self, from Depression to Boredom to Creative Flow


Patriotism and fortifying a sense of self

I’ve been interested in how we maintain and support this sense of self. What is it doing and how much is on autopilot? We had a talk about patriotism (in honor of Independence Day) and our need to belong to groups, all of which fits neatly into an investigation of the self:

Here’s a good article that I used:

Why We’re Patriotic
Whether it’s our country or our football team, we need to belong.


Are we really unique?

I went fishing the other day and caught a beautiful bass. Don’t worry, it’s swimming happily out there in the lake today! But the experience got me thinking about our (humans’) conceit that we are all unique, and we, as a species, are somehow more special than others.

How a Jellyfish and a Sea Slug Illuminate the Mystery of the Self

How unique are we? What is this personality? A beautiful photo essay from a photographer who went in search of his half-siblings.

A portrait of Eli.

Finally, here’s the article I promised, which relates to our over-indulgence in staying plugged in to the news, and seems to make us more unhappy:



Attention Pollution

I found 2 articles to juxtapose today: one about our decision on where to place our attention, and the other on a truly insidious way that our relationship with nature may be deteriorating: through our language.

“If you think about it, our attention is the only thing we truly own in our lives. Our possessions can go away. Our bodies can be compromised. Our relationships can fall apart. Even our memories and intellectual capacity fade away.

But the simple ability to choose what to focus on — that will always be ours.”

Smartphones Are the New Cigarettes

The Lost Words: An Illustrated Dictionary of Poetic Spells Reclaiming the Language of Nature




Does mindfulness makes us complacent?

Today’s talk revolved around a new article (based on a new book). It is a provocative article and it provoked a very lively conversation! The author is a professor of  management at the University of San Francisco and a Zen Buddhist teacher. And he asserts that:

“The founders of the mindfulness movement have grown evangelical. Prophesying that its hybrid of science and meditative discipline “has the potential to ignite a universal or global renaissance”, the inventor of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), Jon Kabat-Zinn, has bigger ambitions than conquering stress. Mindfulness, he proclaims, “may actually be the only promise the species and the planet have for making it through the next couple of hundred years”.