And on the other hand...

Click here for The Yin Side where the other half of me holds forth!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Butterfly Living

In the planning stages it was a dream.  Then we lived it. Now it seems like a dream again. If pictures are worth 1,000 words, here's something like 14K on our Thanksgiving holiday on Maui.
Our rental, The Hendrix House, secluded in the woods, was a former barn, nicely renovated by new owners.
Our yin-yang front yard; in 1970 Jimi Hendrix performed in the field just beyond the horses. You can see the surf line, from our altitude of  about 2,500 feet.  Still when you live at sea level, that's way up.  We call it "upcountry." (Haleakala, the mountain volcano the slopes of which we were on , is about 10,000 feet at its highest point.)

Like we needed to be told to slow down!

Blooming aloe in eucalyptus forest.

Walk on a country road.

Blooming protea, a Maui speciality, just off the road above.

Neighborly goat.

More neighbors.

A horse Thanksgiving.

Not a dream

Safe in the butterfly barn.

The Butterfly House

Lilikoi -- passion fruit--in bloom at the gate to the Hendrix House.

Pine and bamboo--Chinese symbol of winter. It was cold and windy up country, with gusts to 66 mph reported.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Butterfly Dreaming

The sun has entered Sagittarius, my own birth sign, causing me to feel a little like a butterfly emerging, moving toward the solstice, yet a month away.  It has become a truism for me that from, say, Labor Day, the season is one big wild roller coaster ride of thinking and effort, and this year, no different.  Travel (albeit both business and pleasure), home maintenance, health adjustments, office work...I need a little holiday, like maybe on a butterfly farm.

Which is exactly where I'm flying off to tomorrow for the Thanksgiving holiday.  The Rainbow Bridge House is somewhat famous, like a Maui Big Pink, for having been associated with a Jimi Hendrix event in 1970 when Jimi and countless other counterculture spiritualists and druggies did a concert and some movie production on Maui, just a few months before Jimi's death.  I didn't know this when we made the arrangements to stay at the house, which is co-located on a butterfly farm. And  I didn't know you could farm butterflies, but someone does, for release at weddings and other events, hopefully of a somewhat spiritual nature.  I would be very disturbed to find hordes of monarchs clouding the PowerPoint presentations of a business conference (like I just endured for two weeks on the chilly mainland).

And this all should come as no surprise--every time I do background research on some spiritual personality, musician or poet, it appears that they live on Maui, or one of the other Hawaiian Islands, for at least part of their lives.  Maui has a reputation for attracting spiritual types of all persuasions, from Chinese Taoists to Gaia goddesses, Buddhists, Sikhs, Sufis, and Catholic saints. Ram Dass and W.S. Merton both live on Maui, as did George Harrison. Master Alfred Huang, an expert on the I Ching and a teacher of Taoist philosophy, physical arts and meditation, lives on Maui.  (Hawaii as a whole has been home and host to an inordinate share of celebrities from sports, entertainment, and politics.)

While everyone else is hitting the malls on  Black Friday, or whatever they call it, maybe I will do some holiday shopping of my own.  You can buy butterfly kits!  I have slightly mixed feelings about this but maybe I'm just dreaming.  But I'll know better if I take a tour of the farm.  Wonder what kind of chores you do on a butterfly farm?  Tending the milkweed? 

I don't think the farm will mind that I share one of their beautiful images:

I am looking forward to this weekend.  Please let me know if you feel a disturbance in the force caused by butterflies flexing their wings atop a volcano in Hawaii.  In the meantime, please enjoy this little butterfly dream:

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Un-Selfless in Portland

This probably should have gone with the previous post. Learn to adjust your spirit and then go next door for a manicure.

I bet Alley Pat spun this one more than a few times at WERD:

Of course, if you don't have a self (because the smoke got in your eyes) none of this matters one whit. But you can always check it out:

On the internet no one knows you don't have a self. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Do You Have A Choice?

Another post for The Rambling Taoists---but you can read it here first:

Do You Have A Choice?

There's been an issue raised over the past day or so in posts by Ta-Wan and Scott having to do with decision, choice, and passivity that has sparked my earth-based yin-respond-to-yang impulse to talk about actually living in the red dust. 

In "Yes...But" Scott referred to "the freedom of allowing ourselves to be carried along by things," wondering if Zhuangzi was really suggesting that we be so utterly passive. And Ta-Wan in "Have You Ever Done a Thing?" suggests that we never really make decisions or choices because we aren't selves to make them in any case.

Though my behavior is certainly influenced by how I apprehend the esoteric aspects of Tao (being and non-being, yin and yang, change and material impermanence, etc.), I posed the question to Ta-Wan (but perhaps I should have used the pronoun "one" instead of "you"), "If you really believe this no-self-ness, really act like this, how do you live? Do you take responsibility for your actions, no pleasure in your daily affairs? How can you be employed? How can you raise a child? Love a friend?" And much as I like to meditate on where I was before I was born, I also must contemplate who pays my taxes.

Indeed, the sun and moon do their dance, the tides ebb and flow, the seasons change, trees flower and shed their leaves, the oxygen and hydrologic cycles keep us and our environment vital. As "Taoists" we recognize and honor these things (and as a female, I am perhaps more sensitive to these things than some men). They occur quite apart from our intervention (hopefully, will continue in spite of our intervention). But still, Taoists (at least those of us who have not achieved immortality) are humans affected by ever-changing material circumstances. Through training and deep understanding, we can become well-equipped to respond to situations--make choices-- that do not impede the flow, finding paths of least resistance and conserving energy. (The Tao of Electrical Engineering?) Practices like martial arts and Chinese painting, even qigong, are not passive and involve skill and choice/response. I make that painting; indeed it is impermanent (although looking at Tang brushwork on silk gives one pause in that regard.) I am loathe to destroy it as Tibetan Buddhist monks cast away their sand mandalas, though I understand why they do that. I am also loathe to paint interminable enso's, though I understand that too. (Bamboo and mountains are more interesting and convey complex messages.)

I didn't decide that a dead car battery and a failed waterheater would manifest on the same busy day...requiring the assistance of mechanics and plumbers and mechanics...although it certainly can be argued that intervention through preventive maintenance might have avoided these things. (And getting TAO 61 started was perplexing until we detected a failure of the jumper cables!) I respond to these things with Tao-inspired patience...and decision-making. I dare say the Confucian lost his temper with the fascist condo manager who insisted that our lack of water was not an emergency. Better him than me. I might have pointed out with some rage the manager's ongoing poorly worded "warnings" about delays in a building painting project that has caused much disorder in my personal life. I try to avoid the tendency of the characters in the Asian dramas I enjoy, to sweep things off desks, overturn tables, when they are angry and frustrated. Bad anger management. But this IS life. Sometimes it is disordered. It is likely a yin to yang shift going on. As there is always chaos between dynasties.

Modern humans manage things. Life in a Taoist community, attending to nothing but the condition of one's body and spirit, climbing temple steps to meditate, eating vegetarian food, wandering like a cloud in the mountains, is lovely. I experiment with it from time to time in China. It sustains and heals me. But I always return to everyday life, making a living, engaging with loved ones and friends, trying to live a low-impact lifestyle. Tao is there, it informs my decisions.

The decision before me at this moment? Post or not to post?