Tuesday, June 16, 2009

"Guarani Shamans of the Forest"

"Guarani Shamans of the Forest" is edited by Bradford Keeney and one of the books in the Profiles of Healing book series.

"Those who carry the pain of others hold the power to heal. It is the price of being a healer. It is an impossible role, but it must be done so that others may survive." --Ava Tape Miri, page 43

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

This I believe...

Last night, while driving home and listening to NPR, I heard the following essay. It was one of those moments that cause you to pause and consider for a moment all of the beauty of life and humanity, that too often goes unappreciated.

Every week for the past 30 years, I've hosted a Sunday dinner in my home in Paris. People, including total strangers, call or e-mail to book a spot. I hold the salon in my atelier, which used to be a sculpture studio. The first 50 or 60 people who call may come, and twice that many when the weather is nice and we can overflow into the garden.

Every Sunday a different friend prepares a feast. Last week it was a philosophy student from Lisbon, and next week a dear friend from London will cook.

People from all corners of the world come to break bread together, to meet, to talk, connect and often become friends. All ages, nationalities, races, professions gather here, and since there is no organized seating, the opportunity for mingling couldn't be better. I love the randomness.

I believe in introducing people to people.

I have a good memory, so each week I make a point to remember everyone's name on the guest list and where they're from and what they do, so I can introduce them to each other, effortlessly. If I had my way, I would introduce everyone in the whole world to each other.

People are most important in my life. Many travelers go to see things like the Tower of London, the Statue of Liberty, the Eiffel Tower and so on. I travel to see friends, even — or especially — those I've never met.

In the late '80s, I edited a series of guidebooks to nine Eastern European countries and Russia. There were no sights to see, no shops or museum to visit; instead, each book contained about 1,000 short biographies of people who would be willing to welcome travelers in their cities. Hundreds of friendships evolved from these encounters, including marriages and babies.

This same can be said for my Sunday salon. At a recent dinner, a 6-year-old girl from Bosnia spent the entire evening glued to an 8-year-old boy from Estonia. Their parents were surprised, and pleased, by this immediate friendship.

There is always a collection of people from all over the globe. Most of them speak English, at least as a second language. Recently a dinner featured a typical mix: a Dutch political cartoonist, a beautiful painter from Norway, a truck driver from Arizona, a bookseller from Atlanta, a newspaper editor from Sydney, students from all over, and traveling retirees.

I have long believed that it is unnecessary to understand others, individuals or nationalities; one must, at the very least, simply tolerate others. Tolerance can lead to respect and, finally, to love. No one can ever really understand anyone else, but you can love them or at least accept them.

Like Tom Paine, I am a world citizen. All human history is mine. My roots cover the earth.

I believe we should know each other. After all, our lives are all connected.

OK, now come and dine.

You can also hear Jim Haynes read his essay here.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

The Art of Loving: An Inquiry into the Nature of Love

"The Art of Loving" is a book by psychologist, Erich Fromm. Fromm draws attention to the cultural qualities we embrace, which often obstruct our path towards developing a truly loving nature. In response to this, he not only defines 'Love,' but also articulates the conditions for its achievement. After looking around and seeing a fickle, transient notion of love embraced by many of my peers, this book offered me a fresh perspective on the nature of love and developing a deeper, more enriching capacity to Love.

"Love is an action, the practice of a human power, which can be practiced only in freedom and never as a result of compulsion.
Love is an activity, not a passive affect; it is a 'standing in,' not a 'falling for.' In the most general way, the active character of love can be described by stating that love is primarily giving not receiving." (22)

"What does one person give to another? He gives of himself, of the most precious he has, he gives of his life. This does not necessarily mean that he sacrifices his life for the other--but that he gives him of that which is alive in him; he gives him of his joy, of his interest, of his understanding, of his knowledge, of his humor, of his sadness--of all expressions and manifestations of that which is alive in him. In thus giving of his life, he enriches the other person, he enhances the other's sense of aliveness by enhancing his own sense of aliveness.
In the art of giving something is born, and both persons involved are grateful for the life that is born for both of them." (24-25)

"l'amour est l'enfant de la liberte'; love is the child of freedom, never that of domination." (28)

"Care, responsibility, respect, and knowledge are mutually interdependent. They are a syndrome of attitudes which are to be found in the mature person; that is, in the person who develops his own powers productively, who only wants to have that which he has worked for, who has given up narcissistic dreams of omniscience and omnipotence, who has acquired humility based on the inner strength which only genuine productive activity can give." (32-33)

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Language and Art in the Navajo Universe

"Language and Art in the Navajo Universe" is a book by anthropologist, Gary Witherspoon, who attempts to portray a collective account of the Navajo worldview; a group he married into and lived with for over 15 years. His account of the Navajo conception of reality is supported by examples of language structure, art, philosophy, mythology, and prayer.


"Earth's feet have become my feet
by means of these I shall live on.
Earth's legs have become my legs
by means of these I shall live on.
Earth's body has become my body
by means of this I shall live on.
Earth's mind has become my mind
by means of this I shall live on.
Earth's voice has become my voice
by means of this I shall live on.
Earth's headplume has become my headplume
by means of this I shall live on.
The cord-like extension from the top of its head
is cord-like from the top of my head
as by means of this I shall live on.
There are mountains encircling it and
Hozhq extends up their slopes,
by means of these it will be hozhq as I shall live on.

Sa'ah Naaghaii Bik'eh Hozhq I shall be,
Before me it will be hozhq as I live on,
Behind me it will be hozhq as I live on,
Below me it will be hozhq as I live on,
Above me it will be hozhq as I live on.

Hozhq has been restored.
Hozhq has been restored.
Hozhq has been restored.
Hozhq has been restored." (26)

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Body Thoughts by: Andrew Strathern

"Body Thoughts" is a book which "takes its inspiration from an essay that quickly established itself as a classic in its field: "The Mindful Body" by Margaret Lock and Nancy Scheper-Hughes (1987)." In it Strathern analyzes, from different theoretical perspectives, the interplay between the gross body, mind, spirit, and social body or body politic. The following excerpts are my highlights from the book.

"In the spirit of holism, which they have restimulated in social thinking, Lock and Scheper-Hughes begin 'from an assumption of the body as simultaneously a physical and symbolic artifact, as both naturally and culturally produced, and as securely anchored in a particular historical moment' (1987, 7). We have to consider here what is meant by 'simultaneously.' Essentially, they are arguing that the body is a discrete entity that nevertheless carries separate meanings and aspects. It therefore becomes of interest to know not only what these separate aspects are but also, and perhaps more crucially, how they are related to or influence one another. They themselves distinguish 'three bodies,' by which they mean three semantic realms of representation and practice that use the image of the physical body as their locus of reference. The three bodies are the individual body, or the experiencing body in the phenomenological sense; the social body, in the sense used earlier by Mary Douglas, referring to the use of body imagery as a means of picturing social relations; and the 'body politic,' referring to the regulation of physical bodies by political and legal means (1987, 7-8)." (2)

"Once we recognize that there is a mental component in all bodily states and, conversely, a physical component in all mental states, the boundary between mental and other illnesses disappears. Here, then, is a benefit to be derived from the idea of the mindful body." (4)

Monday, May 5, 2008



For a moment--I dipped my hands
into the golden sunrise,
And feeling the warmth rise along
the horizon, presented myself for
its nourishment, all the while
Resisting the urging wind,
Denying the instinct to fly,
embedding new roots in Nature's flesh
And drinking happiness from her hand.

But now--I close my eyes...

Beginning a new moment in the
Absence of the sun, Where a
chill wind abrades my skin,
Attacking with icy fingers
the warmth that now recedes
along dying limbs.
Starving for Love's nectar.
Emaciated and broken.
No longer able to find you in the dark.


Saturday, April 5, 2008

Boy's Life By: Robert R. McCammon

"We all start out knowing magic. We are born with whirlwinds, forest fires, and comets inside us. We are born able to sing to birds and read the clouds and see our destiny in grains of sand. But then we get the magic educated right out of our souls. We get it churched out, spanked out, washed out, and combed out. We get put on the straight and narrow and told to be responsible. Told to act our age. Told to grow up, for God's sake. And you know why we were told that? Because the people doing the telling were afraid of our wildness and youth, and because the magic we knew made them ashamed and sad of what they'd allowed to wither in themselves" (2).