Sunday, October 01, 2006

A Day in the Life 10/1/06

I went to sleep last night around 9:30. I woke up this morning at 1:30 and couldn't go back to sleep. I recited my mantram, but it didn't work, and I had the feeling it wouldn't from the beginning. I then thought about the private correspondence I've been having with someone I would never expected to have it with and how I would reply to some of the provocative points he raised in his most recent letter. I finally decided that it was better for me to get up and write and read now and sleep later when I feel sleepy again. I don't know why I have trouble sleeping some nights but not most others. But I'm inclined to follow the advice of sleep experts who say that it's better to get up and do something when it happens than to lie in bed for hours and condition oneself into habitually lying awake in bed in the early morning hours. I also want my wife to be able to sleep without my restlessness disturbing her. She needs to go to work this morning.

I've just read Ken Wilber's prefatory note in his new book Integral Spirituality. He says that the Integral Approach doesn't add to the content of the disciplines it studies but helps them to "reorganize" themselves by understanding better their strengths and weaknesses, and that it can be applied to spirituality with the result of revealing a "radically new role" for religion in today's world. Wilber says that he will do this by exploring five fundamental spiritual issues: (1) "applying spirituality in everyday life"; (2) proving the existence of "Spirit"; (3) the "stages of spiritual development"; (4) "the role of meditation or contemplation"; and (5) "Eastern and Western approaches to religion and their relation to currents in the modern and postmodern world." I'm excited about reading the rest of the book.

Bill Harryman says he's "back." I'm glad. He broke up with his girlfriend of over five years recently and has been going through a difficult time emotionally. But rather than running away from the pain, he's been facing it squarely and trying to work his way through it to come out the other side wiser, stronger, and more complete than before. I wish him all the best.

Yesterday he posted an entry about "how to reconcile the Buddha's teachings on non-attachment with those on love."That is, "how can we love others without being attached to them?"The gist of the answer proposed by Bill's quoting of Bhikshuni Thubten Chodron is that when we perceive others more clearly, we understand them more accurately, don't entertain unrealistic expectations for them, and, thus, can open-heartedly love them for who they are rather than for what they can give us. Furthermore, we can expand our circle of love from those with whom we're initially closest--our significant other, our families, our closest friends--to an ever wider circumference enclosing more and more people and other living beings.

But I asked if we can and should love our significant others, families, and closest friends in a different or stronger way than we do other people and how we can do this without becoming unhealthily attached to them. Bill replied that he wants to look into this more, and so do I. This reminds me of my aforementioned correspondent saying that he disagrees with Wilber's suggestion that non-dual awareness is the highest form of consciousness, because he wants to LOVE his wife rather than BE her. Is it possible to reconcile the special "warmth" of romantic or familial love with the ideals of Buddhist, Vedantist, or other "eastern" spirituality?

Tiger Woods won his sixth consecutive PGA tour event today by eight strokes under his closest competitor. How can he be so much better than the other greatest golfers on the planet that he can maintain such dominance in the sport? Statisticians talk about "regression toward the mean," implying that people who perform way above the level of the average performer in a given endeavor are likely to fall or regress toward the average over time. Yet it seems as though Woods may make it necessary for statisticians to create a new term. How about "anomalous progression beyond the mean"? How much better can Woods get? How much more freakishly dominant can he become? How can I derive inspiration and, better still, knowledge from his dominance that will help me to elevate my bowling game beyond the level of painful mediocrity? I practiced Friday morning and performed better or, at least, felt as though I was executing better than I have in a long time. But I still depend almost entirely on "feel" rather than on higher intelligence that might produce real and lasting improvement in my game. Seeing as how I seem to lack that higher intelligence, is there some way I can make up for it?

I watched a little of a program this afternoon about intefaith dialouge between Jews, Christians, and Muslims. One of the Muslim scholars said that respected Muslim leaders should issue a fatwa--a religious pronouncement--that suicide bombers and others who commit terrorist acts will be condemned to hell rather than rewarded in paradise. He said that this would dissuade many young Muslims who are not dissuaded by bullets and bombs from committing their atrocities.

He also said that education is the key to overcoming the beliefs of Muslim radicals in the generations to come. In suport of this, a young Muslim woman confessed that she used to be passionately partisan in favor of angry Muslim protests and even violence against the Israelis and Americans for their alleged trangressions against Muslims. But after being around young Jewish and Christian people and being exposed to interfaith dialogue, she had lost much of her passion for Muslim protest against the Jews and American people, and she wondered if it's possible to maintain one's passion for opposing those whose perspective and actions one can understand and empathize with. I think this is an outstanding question and one that I've pondered for quite some time.

I watched a movie tonight called Happiness. I'm too stunned too say much about it right now except that I wonder how it was ever made or how it was tolerated after it was released. Not only was it tolerated, but it gained oodles of critical acclaim instead of the vehement protest I would have expected. It was a so-called "black comedy" about dysfunctional families and individuals including a psychotherapist who serially rapes prepubescent boys and offers to show his eleven year-old son how to masturbate, a successful author of novels bearing such titles as "Raped at Eleven" who laments the fact that she hadn't actually been raped as a child and therefore couldn't write with the kind of authenticity she desired, and a morbidly obese woman who snapped the neck of the apartment doorman who raped her and then cut his body into pieces and stored them in her freezer until she could discretely dispose of him piece by piece. As I say, I'm too dumbfounded to say anything more about this film at this time.

This reminds me of the Mark Foley scandal that is saturating the media right now. I think the media should ease up on this story, but, of course, they won't. And I think Democrats should not try to exploit it to help themselves, even though they are expoliting it as much as they possibly can and will undoubtedly continue doing so. I think this story has nothing to do with political party affiliation or policies. It could just as easily have been a Democratic congressperson and neglect by the Democratic leadership, and next time it may well be. In any case, there's no evidence or even suggestion that Foley did more than send salacious messages to those pages who were, after all, young men and not prepubescent boys. Yes, they were still children, but bright older teenagers under close supervision who were probably not in any way injured by Foley's actions. So, wouldn't it be nice if the media talked about something else and the Democrats focused on developing a clear and compelling platform that differed significantly from that of the Republicans?

Finally, I watched a CNN special tonight about "Donald Rumsfeld, Man of War." It reinforced my impression that he is a very bright, determined, and formidable man who may be on the right track in trying to reform the military to make it more effective in today's world, but he made serious miscalculations in Afghanistan and Iraq. I just hope that he's learned valuable lessons from his mistakes since it appears that he's resolved not to yield to pressure to step down from his job.

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