Decolonizing Africa, Decolonizing Your Mind

My first recollection of Africa as a white person growing up in America was images of elephants, zebras, giraffe, lions and wildebeests frolicking across the Serengeti while slender tribal people, with skin as black as the night, adorned with colorful clothes and ornaments, hunted, sang, ran, and danced in the tall grass. This fantastical imagery was likely a product of children’s picture books, Tarzan comic books, the TV show “Wild Kingdom” with Marlin Perkins, visits to zoo prisons, and other long since forgotten experiences and media. Gradually, these stories faded to...

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The Holiness of the Heart’s Affections

“I am certain of nothing but the holiness of the Heart’s affections and the truth of the Imagination.”  John Keats What are we doing, each one of us in our lives, individually, and collectively, in this moment, this place, on a tiny blue ball in space? Do we live in isolation, despair, fear, perpetual panic mode, or perhaps within a smug sense of self-assurance, clinging to and defending our many identities which set us apart? Or do we live immersed in wisdom, interconnectedness, and infinite possibilities? The eminent British cosmologist, Stephen Hawking recently opined that humanity...

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Facebook Vacation

     Social media can be used productively as a means of connecting with friends, staying informed on current news in the world, and participating in movements for a broad array of peace and social justice issues. However, surfing the internet can also devolve into a mindless time filler, performed with no particular motivation.   From a Buddhist perspective, when you aren’t aware of your conscious mental intention you are on a slippery slope leading away from awakening, further down the path of suffering. And so it was last week, while in the middle of an extended web surf, a post from my...

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Paris: Conversation with a twelve year old

“What happened in Paris”. My twelve year old  asks me point blank, fearlessly, her heart wide open, attempting to understand adult conversations she has overheard at her Saturday language school. Fortunately, I had remembered Fred Roger’s advice earlier in the day about looking for the helpers in any scene of tragedy. They are the key to hope. “A group of people with negative thoughts of anger shot guns at some other people in Paris and killed over a hundred”. “What do you mean a group of people? Who were they”. “They were part of a group...

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Kundalini Syndrome – Beyond Bliss and Technology

Recently, a new client came to me seeking help for “kundalini syndrome”.  Kundalini is a Sanskrit word referring to a pattern of energy flow awakened in the spinal column, often due to meditation and yoga practices. In the Tibetan Buddhist and Chinese medical traditions, this phenomenon is more broadly known as wind energy. In my early thirties, while living at a Buddhist meditation center, I started to experience what felt like electrical currents running up my spine. Sometimes they happened during meditation, or while lying in bed before falling asleep. Sometimes I was awakened...

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Climate Change – The Cow in the Middle of the Room

The news just broke that Shell is pulling out of the Arctic – a major victory for the climate. My kayaktivist friends and I deserve some portion of the credit for putting ourselves on the front lines on multiple occasions at actions in Seattle, Everett, and Portland, though clearly this victory belongs to everyone.  It wasn’t just that the test wells in the Beaufort Sea yielded negative results for Shell, but there were also frank admissions that the massive groundswell of negative publicity played into their decision to retreat from their seven billion dollar investment. (Aside:...

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