Each morning I awake thirsty, dry, parched

The potential for meaningful life evaporates with dreams,
Consciousness faced only with the drudgery of embodiment.
What can nourish this dead flesh alive?

There is no meaning, although fancy acolytes in unusual garb preaching exotic philosophy give away the secrets to total happiness and immortality. The purpose of life is to erect structures of meaning from the abysmal void of existential aloneness. To use meaninglessness to create meaning. To care about something other than one’s self, to take the mind away from the only truth: total bleak emptiness.

A more apt term than any I self apply – herbalist, technician, educator, meditator, homesteader, hipster – is seeker. My only real interest in the world is to find deep meaning, the rich nutritive substance of life and existence. I have sought it largely from spiritual teachings, which through subtlety and precision strive to describe the heart of our life.  I studied Taoist healing and meditation, Buddhist philosophy on causality, yogic techniques for dissolution of the self, and while I am certainly no expert, I have strived to get to the heart of the teachings and apply them in my life.  Other people who are close to me might say they see an improvement in my attitude, but my internal experience does not corroborate.  Perhaps I have become more skilled at presenting a kind face to the people I interact with.  Karma teaches that we should treat others the way we want to be treated or better, and that will ripen (someday) as all my dreams coming true.  It’s a very fantastical and magical presentation, and very inspiring when one swallows it part and parcel.

Same answer for everything: no point. Just making up value and meaning as we go along.  Stuck in my body, stuck in my mind, stuck in life.  Then just meaningless actions to fill the total void.  No value in relationships unless they keep me entertained and distracted.  But I’ve become very bored with other people’s ideas, mostly half-formed or less, and aimed at being smarter or cuter than others.  No value in work except it brings in the money to keep a miserable life moderately comfortable.  Home, travel, entertainment – all serve only the same small function, to supplant the meaninglessness with some distraction.

Quick solutions don’t work – if only you exercised more and ate right! Long term solutions don’t work – meditate on emptiness for thirty years and maybe you too can have a direct perception of ultimate reality! Everyone’s got a sales pitch to buy their product – which is actually a world view, and the cost is my attention, and the product is my validating someone else’s half-assed theory.  Nothing works.  There is no working for something else to do. Suicide is so tragic to the survivors because they beat themselves up about it, as if they could have done things differently, which of course is true, no one ever really gives enough attention to the people they love. But suicide is motivated by something much deeper – all the love in the world adds up to a teaspoonful in the face of total meaninglessness of existence. Would I prefer to blip out, lose consciousness forever, forgo this exciting opportunity for life in exchange for non-existence?  Do I not care to see the next 50 or 60 years? Nothing of value exists, and so there is nothing to pursue?  If these spiritual teachings actually did something would it have produced some result? But it seems the only function is to provide a magical worldview to distract from the totally meaningless reality of cosmic indifference.

Time to get out of bed, go to work. Lots of important stuff to do today.

Tragic Stories vs. Happy Endings

I recall watching the blissful film Amelie: I was so overjoyed by the film that I stepped outside and the weight of the ‘real’ world was crushing – I had been so deeply disillusioned by the film that I was unable to cope with even the minor irritations of daily life for a time.

Horrific stories for entertainment create the opposite problem: we hyper focus on others’ suffering to blunt or numb our own pain, or to shock ourselves from our own malaise – it’s exciting, but sadistic.  Be well aware, this includes daily news television programs and newspapers.

There’s a tendency in New Age circles to seek the bliss we are assured in Heaven, and it leads to a manic imbalance.  Of course we want happy stories to distract from our painful experience, but the more we seek the haze of fantasy, the less able we truly are to face inevitable pain and persevere.

It is in the fire that we are forged, our souls tempered to face the fear of abyss and annihilation that just precedes a full dissolution of ego/self leading to ultimate freedom.

What kind of stories do I like? Stories that reveal depth of consciousness, awareness of reality, aspiration to a greater ideal, compassion over villainy, heroes who forgive rather than destroy.  These stories are usually not clearly tragic or redeeming, but rather reveal with tenderness the bittersweet victories against our own weakness.

Ever see the film ‘Fight Club’? Most people can’t get past the apparent violence of the film, when in fact it’s a story about how we beat ourselves up, but in fact can use that momentous energy to transform ourselves and our world.

One of the many secret teachings of the film is that if we can’t face the horrible – either in ourselves [in identification with the characters] or our world [in the audiences’ relationship to the film] – we will never be able to truly find beauty and liberation – by loving the messed-up characters, or seeing the deeper messages of the film. A nearly perfect movie that addresses these questions quite directly.

Activism vs. Capitalism as Vehicle for Social Transformation

Capitalism needn’t be destructive – when balanced with responsibility rather than greed, creativity can flourish, especially in affluent societies.  A responsible capitalism aligns closely with the ideals of Democracy: all people are offered the same opportunities to succeed, all people have an equal voice in government.

In practice, however, even a cursory look into the actions of government and big business reveals ethical indiscretions.

In the United States of America, we can see a fairly steady transition from free enterprise to oligarchy: as individuals and then corporations accumulate wealth over time, they naturally are able to have a greater influence on economics – and thus government.  A pattern emerges in which the people at the higher levels of government have extensive connections with those in power at large corporations.  Greed and simplicity has overshadowed a moral obligation to due process and the citizenry, and thus lobbyists and handshake deals more thoroughly influence our political climate than does public opinion or national elections.  These indiscretions go so far as to lead to violent conflict both at home and abroad, such as street crime, alleged terrorist attacks, and endless wars both public and secret, including economic warfare.

It is at this point that popular opinion in the country of origin begins to swing in opposition of the dominant government in protest of social inequality, and when the voices of people are not responded to, they become aggressive.

A new culture of civil disobedience has grown in North America, starting, it seems, with the Seattle Washington WTO meetings in November 1999.  These demonstrations can easily be thousands or tens of thousands of attendants; the experience is frightening, as the herd is emotionally enflamed, feel left out of significant conversation.  The expectation of the police is not to serve and protect – but apparently to defend the corporate and political privacy, and use force if necessary to do it.

Thus there is a strong negative charge at massive demonstrations and the fear is what is picked up on and reported by popular media.  A militant sense of defiance backed by righteousness  is what is expressed by these gatherings, but the egalitarian principles that underly the indignance are little extolled.  Demonstrators, seeking to express themselves and educate the populace are instead perceived as chaotic and frightening – which serves to alienate moderate people from the cause and having ultimately negative results.

The principles of liberty and freedom that the U.S.A. was founded on do still exist, but we cannot count on our temporary [Right-Wing Fundamentalist Christian] government to encourage or protect them.  Our freedoms are available to us, but we must take responsibility to ensure their sovereignty.

In my day to day life, I want to contribute to other’s happiness rather than make anyone’s life any harder.  I like to leave the spaces I use nicer than I found them.  I prefer not to contribute to hostility by vehemently arguing in opposition to my government’s decisions or speaking with an impolite tone when addressing those who have political opinions different from my own.  I envision a positive future, and live my life each day as though success is guaranteed.  I vote with my dollars by seeking out small business and local merchants and farmers.  I believe that each person I treat with kindness is a victory.

As I mature from a young person into an adult, I am reevaluating my ideas of success.  In the past I have tended to shun a higher salary in exchange for a preferable quality of life, but now I begin to consider how I can raise healthy children and offer them educational opportunities as my parents did for me, or how to offer my parents resources as they age.

Perhaps, if I’m using it to help others, pursuing money as part of a business sharing Dharma isn’t necessarily evil.

In my studies of energetic medicine and the patterns of consciousness that underly all of existence, I tend to prescribe to a model in which intention is the precursor to action and indeed predetermines action and outcome.  Consciousness itself has intrinsic value more important than any commodity.  As people grow and advance, accelerating learning and broadening perspective through world travel and advanced communications systems, they are more and more attracted to activities that help them develop their consciousness – an obvious example is the growth in Yoga teaching as an industry.

I posit then, that I can utilize the tools of intention and manifestation, clarity of vision and insight, to create a center of consciousness development via clean lifestyle choices – what is popularly called a “business”: we utilize the tools of commerce and money to create something truly accessible and available to people so that they can get an enjoyable experience learning about – for lack of a more accurate word – Dharma.

In the meantime, I can generate capital – something done with expert recklessness in the Silicon Valley – for myself and family, as well as employees and teachers.  Since we will use manifestation to ensure our business is successful, we can diversify, opening franchises ad facilitating social projects, generating revenue that we can use to reinvest in our community.  All the while living in comfort and luxury to support deep personal meditation practice.

Ah, activism:

  • By emphasizing the positive rather than the negative, your movement can recruit and educate people rather than frighten and alienate them.
  • When you focus on the brilliance of loving kindness, compassion, can feel love and forgiveness to your “enemies” rather than hatefulness and malaise.
  • Rather than continuing to re-articulate the obvious problems in our society in endless social dialog, emphasize cultivating a quality of consciousness that allows you to see through the problem to discern the specific techniques you can employ in your life to have an impact.
  • Help people orient towards a model of health that involves independence and quality discernment to inform their health choices – in this way, people can see beneficial results in the ways that they want to without having to prescribe to anothers’ dogmatic ideas on health.
  • Vote with your dollars!  These speak louder than ballots in todays one-world-political-industrial complex.

Choices Based on Love or Based on Fear…

As I walk, I contemplate identity and evaluate life choices based on love versus choices based on fear.  I sit quietly and deconstruct the ego/identity complex and analyze love versus fear.  I wonder: could there be a third option?  Perhaps it would feel like ambivalence, making choices based on the most appropriate action.

Nonetheless, I examine my life choices.  I intend to pursue the martial arts as a life path. I choose this because I believe that practicing and teaching martial arts is a direct way to help people empower themselves and develop a mind/body relationship.  The martial path is inherently about warriorship and individuals taking personal responsibility.  Thus, through mudra and combat exercises, practitioners are led to discover a spiritual path and deeply grow as beings.  Or perhaps I choose this because I fear for my physical safety and want to be competent at beating people.  The latter doesn’t seem likely.

Ultimately, I want to be unconcerned for the fate of my body or identity.  Regardless of opinions about any supposed afterlife I may have, I prefer to not fixate on the attachment to being alive, and sharpen my ability to appreciate life as it is.  This seems pragmatic to me: death is deeply unknown, which is frightening – however, it is universally unknown to all mortals, ultimate, unfathomable, so, let it be.  Not particularly fearful, but neither driven by love.

My approach to nutrition follows these lines.  My choice is to eat all food as fresh and whole as possible, and in accordance with nature’s food-chain.  Industrial food systems are very recent additions to civilization, and have become wide-spread very quickly, as reductionst models of science describe all phenomenae as components of a machine rather than elements of an integrated whole.  These recent models are untested, and already appear to be causing harm at multiple levels of nature and culture.  I frankly want to be involved as little as possible with systems that inhibit life or sequester creativity and freedom.

I want to participate in the flourishing and proliferation of life.  At the thought of this, I feel a powerful emotional swell in my chest.  Perhaps this sensation may be described as ‘love’.  The decision that triggers it, however, is one of merely ‘appropriate action’.  Life proliferates; I want to contribute my actions to that proliferation.  Including my family; parents, siblings, and someday, children; all humans on their quest to embody their highest-selves; animals, both wild and domesticated, with habitat and food supply; plants, cultivated herbs and vegetables, grasses, pasture, trees, shrubs, ferns, mosses; fungi, of course – all proliferating with my assistance and, yes: Love.

Moving Towards Balance, Charting Territory

I have positioned my lifestyle to have its primary emphasis be on natural health: I eat primarily an organic whole foods diet, engage in energetic movement practices such as taiji and yoga, and maintain a daily awareness practice, all within the context of my living and working environment: a residential school of Asian medicine and bodywork. Our program emphasizes the “School of the Center”, the Sattvic path. I attempt to put these principles into practice in my daily life, with a goal of moving continually towards balance.

However, I fluctuate in my practices, at times abandoning organic foods for the immediate gratification of the service and richness of the restaurant experience, or forgoing movement practices in order to focus on employment or entertainment goals. Even now, my practices are not infallible, and I still experience extreme moods and attraction to intoxicants now and again. But more so now than ever before, I am able to witness and moderate these fluctuations, and herein lies my faith in my movement towards balance: in the past, I felt a victim to happenstance, unable to control or buffer my shifts in mood or desire. Yet with a continued commitment to a spirit-based lifestyle of service and practice, I continually feel more at home in my bodymind, able to sit in silence and meditate.

I keep my mind engaged, eager to seek out new experiences to learn from, and am not particularly plagued by foggy thinking or profound laziness. I have a fit and healthy body, though it occasionally experiences Cold and Damp and Yin Deficiency. I am able to maintain healthy relationship with others, and when I find myself being insensitive or selfish, I am usually able to take responsibility for my feelings and communicate my desire to find mutual contentment. My commitment is to a path of service based in the concept that all beings and things are interconnected, and the one true purpose is Universal harmony.

I believe that the most effective course of action for me to bring myself closer to total balance is to continue to apply the principles I already have: deepen my commitment to a diet of fresh and local organic whole foods as the foundation for a practice of mindful living, seek out teachers of medicine and the Tao who I can respect and learn from, and perpetuate relationship as a practice of service, supporting the people in my family and community.

Apple may Think Different, but wants users to all Think Alike

I recall a few years back, when computer experts experimenting with the original xBox discovered a method by which they could replace a piece of hardware within the unit and transform it from mere gaming machine to a full-featured computer. Folks began to manufacture and distribute the replacement chip, and laypeople could modify their xBoxes to create a powerful computer for a fraction of the cost of building such a machine from component parts. Microsoft’s strategy included taking a hit in profit on the hardware of the console, betting that they would more than recover the loss in the form of licensing software games, and they were not pleased about the popularity of this modification. Microsoft got litigious, claiming that the modifications were illegal manipulation of their intellectual property (i.e. the insides of that xBox); defendants claimed that since they had paid to acquire the unit, the hardware was completely their property to modify however they pleased. It was awkward for a while, as Microsoft sought to protect their empire while alienating their supporters.

I thought of this story not in relationship to any current weirdness with Microsoft, but rather with my currently uneasy relationship with Apple Inc. You see, I want an iPhone, but I frankly don’t give a damn about the phone function itself. While I am willing to pay the hefty price tag for what is allegedly the world’s greatest iPod/mobile internet/email/PDA device (with functionality over WiFi), I am not willing to pay a dime to AT&T for service (let alone the $59 x 24 months = $1,416 for the most meager minute allotments).
Continue reading “Apple may Think Different, but wants users to all Think Alike”

Dear Reno,

I know my sudden departure may come as a shock to you, but in truth, it has been a long time coming.

Since I arrived, in fact.

I ought to have told you earlier in our relationship, but I’m not the type to settle down, and no sooner do I arrive than I am already looking at the exit door. It’s a pattern I need to work on, I know. Because we started some things together. Things that when we started, I thought I was ready to commit to. A real career, a real community. I took on a lot of responsibility for our growth together, and I saw early on that I got in too deep too quickly. That happens sometimes when we meet again after a long time apart, and the new traits make even the old familiar ones exciting again.

An adage I use often: the more things change, the more they stay the same.

I’m not sure exactly what that means, but I suppose figures of speech become so because they speak to us on many levels, sometimes eluding us with simple complexity…


I got in too deep too quickly, and I tried to correct for that. I noticed you notice me withdrawing, and even as I did so, I was really intending to come back with fervor, stoke the coals and grow back stronger, but, well, that just didn’t happen. And I left you hanging.

I’d like to say, Reno, that “It’s not you. It’s me.” But it is you. You left me hanging, too. I thought you’d pick up the slack in our relationship, see that the distance I was creating was for my own protection, realize that you could keep us both safe by stepping up to the challenge of taking care of your old friend. But that didn’t happen. You stayed needy, quietly, and I just couldn’t keep feeding you all I had.

Reno, you’re a Gateway place, some intersection of laylines gives you purpose. The last place between lush free Pacific and desolate, barren dystopic desert – just look at all the “Burners”, those transhuman souls desperate to re-create the excitement of cosmic life who pass through you in droves on their annual pilgrimage to the psychotic other-land of their imagination, forced by the tight white collar of this doomed culture to flip out in the opposite direction, Reno is their gateway to that land. Also between the hot south Vegas Angeles and the cool north Portland Seattle, while not a pit-stop for most, Reno, you are the fulcrum.

Even more, Reno, you are a portal between above and below, the reality of the living and the realm of the discorporeal. I meet as many disembodied beings as embodied ones, searching for the warmth of connection with another soul, able to envelop and protect them from their own limitless hunger.

Take a look at yourself, Reno: you exist as transition fixed, progress frozen at each step. You amaze me with your progressive stationaryness. A lot of people, well, they need to spend time on the threshold – from here one can look forward and backward through time, peer at the notion of the soul, obsess over sureality – until they become ready to tip the balance of their own destiny in the controlled repetitive falling of walking forward.

Reno, I’m sorry to leave you. It makes me sad.  It does. I’ll watch you from afar, and check in, but I’ll miss all the games we started that we didn’t quite finish. Or really, even quite begin.

But it isn’t you, it is me.

I am thrilled for the future! One can only stand on the precipice of destiny for so long before being drawn in. Not that I believe in destiny, necessarily, or karma, but with observation the patterns of life are undeniable. Not sitting still says something about me: I am not complacent. I am not waiting for something better to come along, I am beckoning it. And consequently, my life continually improves, quality of life gets richer, growth and learning accelerate.

When I reunited with you, Reno, it was meant to be only a short time. That short time extended, and extended some more until I didn’t know for sure when we would separate. (I hope you didn’t get too comfortable during that time – I didn’t.) So the last half a year has been borrowed time… I hope you can understand.

I’m leaving you to be with Heartwood Institute again. Heartwood is a village, a school, devoted to healing arts. My students are here and there, but my teachers are waiting for me there. Accelerated growth, deepening of practice is the hallmark of that kind of life. For all of our amazing projects, I feel stagnant where I am.

It’s time for me to move on.

It’s both of us.

Let’s try not to have a drawn out farewell. I ain’t one for no emotional goodbye…

Serve God and Mammon

Living in the city, it is very difficult to resist becoming swept up in the materialist river of the dominant culture. Some say that each person dreams the world into existence – meaning that we imagine our circumstances before they come into being – and so we can choose to live in any kind of world we desire. However, if one doesn’t *choose* to dream their desires into reality, then they unconsciously participate in the cultural dream – in our case, a nightmare of materialism, greed, and fear. A catch is that we are influenced by the psychic spheres of the people we spend our time around; even if our friends are conscious waking beings, the vast majority of urbanized humans are deeply asleep, co-creating the cultural nightmare by not actively envisioning an alternative.

So I find myself. Overly concerned about money, and thusly having money problems. Continuously wandering the detour-laden route to a potential happy place in an indistinct future paved with dollars and credit cards. Work to earn money to buy food and pay rent to have the space to do our practice (the personal work that will purify and strengthen our bodies and minds) – but somehow there’s just always some more work or more chores and the practice is ever elusive. Worse, is that the money never seems to come quickly enough, and is spent faster than it is earned, accruing debt, so the money becomes even more important, and either the quality of work goes down to earn more, or simply more hours are contributed to earning money. Finally I find myself thinking, “if I just dedicate *all* my time to work, then I’ll earn *loads* and can pay off the debt and then save and then *someday* I can quit all this and *someday* I can dedicate all my time to the practice.”

Eh, No. A step in the wrong direction.
One cannot serve both God and Mammon.
My dream is not to work part time and practice part time. No.
My dream is to be a Hacker Ninja Poet Healer. All day, every day. With or without the money.
So: Sell the junk! Give it away! Destroy the credit cards, quit the job! Go. Go out to a place where the air is clean and the food comes from the Earth (did you know that??). Sleep and wake up and practice. Cook food for others and find enough to eat.
There is no strategy. There is not a plan. And it’s frightening, because there aren’t role-models wandering the streets of Reno who I can follow and learn from. People might think I’m crazy. I might not have a working car all the time. And it’s pretty likely that I’ll be uncomfortable.
But I’m uncomfortable right now, surrounded by too much shit.
And I don’t serve Mammon.


In the last week, there was a triple murder two blocks from my house (one of the victims an unborn child), my neighbor across the street was arrested by FBI agents with assault rifles (photos from my front window: mojohito.ro/images/20070…aid_Neighbor/ ), my father slipped from a ladder and broke two bones just before moving out of the house he’s owned for 17 years, and a conversation with my boss has me wondering if I’ll be invited back to work for much longer.

At the same time, I’m in a deep and mutually loving relationship with the woman of my dreams, I’m going with my family to see The Devil Makes Three perform in San Francisco soon, I ate homemade spelt-strawberry pie for breakfast, we closed on the 40 beautiful acres on Lake Oroville, and I’m inspired by a new client to pursue my (weird geeky) passion for building websites.

Where does this lead? Gratitude for this awesome privilege of life, gratitude for freedom, gratitude for health, gratitude for Earth, gratitude for abundance.

I hope that you’re experiencing awe and gratitude, too.
If you’re not, I advise you to take a good long look at why the hell not.

Deconstruct Your Problems

As I look at my problems – analyze and deconstruct suffering – it is not difficult to see that comparatively speaking my problems are minimal to nonexistant. For comparison’s sake I point out that I have not and probably never will be seriously concerned with whether or not I will have enough food to eat or be protected from the elements.

Things I consider to be issues are whether or not to upgrade my handheld computer to the latest operating system and run the risk of having my old programs not work, thus having to find new programs and configure them. Or whether I’d prefer to eat at a Mexican or Thai restaurant for dinner. Or if I really don’t want to eat more sugar that I’ll have to drive to the south end of town to buy the special sugar and dairy free frozen dessert before the shop closes.

And as I meditate on this vertigo-inducing look at the relativity of “problems”, I realize that all of these examples and more are actually indicative of something that I would consider a legitimate problem for someone in my position, and really the source of my personal suffering is that gadgets and being served and eating gross desserts really only function to distract me from accomplishing anything meaningful.

I have only one problem: I don’t spend enough time developing my spiritual life. And that I’ve created a life in which making the time for my practice is rather difficult. Because I have a job (a few jobs, actually) and material ambitions. Oh, surely I can pat myself on the back for working in a yoga studio rather than a shopping mall, but how different are they, really? (Well, the answer to that one is rather complicated, and hinges on how you – and the studio’s clients – define “yoga”.) I trade time for money, and with the money I rent a house, buy costly health food, have high-speed internet, and pay off debt. Somehow, in my awkward schedule, I find it nearly impossible to carve out more that a quarter hour to practice: meditation, taiji, bodywork, martial arts.

All the things that are most important to me are the first to be sacrificed in the name of an urban lifestyle.