This summer, I spent time working with the committe to start the Yellow Springs Montessori School. We have been working on grants, planning location, interviewing teachers, and fundraising with bake sales and nacho-making at Blues Fest.
As well, patti D called me to see if I'd like to help her with marketing her music CDs and shows, and we've started that work. Very part time and slow to progress, which works fine for me right now.
Lynn H, Amanda B, Caryn D and some others tried to get together weekly to play soccer - just girls and women. It didn't exactly take off, but next year I hope we'll start earlier in spring and get a good group going strong.
I also attended the YSDC book discussion group in June and July. We read Buddhism in America, and Robert P led a very interesting discussion each week. Attending from Columbus were Ed P and Jan, and I became interested in attending that center after these discussions. I had reached a point of frustration with practicing meditation without a teacher, and KTC has a resident teacher. I attended without strong expectations of anything other than beginning the search. As it turned out, I found what I needed quite obviously, and have been attending since then. My first visit was July 19 and my first time speaking with LKW (phone) was on the 23rd. I'm keeping track of this stuff more on the other blog...
My camera cord is missing. I don't seem to be able to blog without photos. I've ordered a new one from ebay, so in a few days, get ready for a flood of updates. Briefly, though...
Evan - writing christmas story, watching a lot of football (winning his work pool, no money at stake), enjoying Risk and "that's what she said" jokes with older boys
Jamie - still sculpting, beginning to offer lessons in Photoshop, reading, schooling, PC gaming, playing piano
Jeremiah - suddenly turned on to music, his taste is a unique combination of 80s (eye of the tiger, seriously) and 60s, Beatles, Rolling Stones, etc. Just completed several large school projects related to their study of Egypt, played in his first school band concert, the object of no small amount of female attention, but don't even think about bringing that up.
Ryan - excited to be almost 5, excited about the holidays, coming out of a very long respiratory illness and seeming to respond well to daily allergy meds, which bums me out, but we had to do something. Protective of Kellen, affectionate with all smaller children, enjoying 2x/week play time at Laurie's, can count to a million... not really, but can count high - somewhere between 40 and 80 I think. Still very interested in writing and letters, hasn't expressed an interest in reading. Still extremely, seemingly-uncontrollably curious and "grabby" - so many broken objects. So. many.
We also went to a local holiday shindig - pancakes and santa and crafts - ryan loved that.
Kelly - in a "pretending to be a baby" stage, having little meltdowns daily - loud but not long - when I run out of milk (fairly quickly these days :-( he says "this one's not working." lol.
Amy - still busy with Threshold Choir, NVC group, trying to hang on to my connection with the dharma center but it's just not happening. knitting - I finished that red sweater and the finishing and resulting object was so dreadful I can't even post it, can't even try to correct it. I am knitting hats and toys all winter. And also socks, definitely. Enjoying old seasons of Six Feet Under.
K: nursing less (plugged duct/infection to show for that), talking more, daddy-love all the time, can spend long periods at the kitchen sink playing, never forgets his vitamin.
R: scared of the dark and shadows, enjoying the Baha'i children's class - he does so well in situations like this - so compliant and joiner-y, but in a cooperative, contributing way, very different from at home, where we still experience daily surprises. Learning letters, is remarkably quick to understand simple arithmetic, has had a cold for weeeeeks. Will not blow his nose ever. Planning to be Jedi for Halloween.
JJ: writing a 4-page story for school, starting a tumbling class at X YMCA with his friend E, spending a lot of other time with same seemingly-best friend, although he assures me his "group" at school consists of about 14 friends :-)
J: still struggling with sleep, working with AR weekly on amazing sculptures, worked last weekend at her studio for the studio tour, maintaining As and Bs.
J and JJ's team finished in 2nd place in rec league soccer this fall - it was SO close! They tied and went into penalty kicks. Great to see the brothers on the same team again - it's been years since they happened to be in the same age groupings for soccer.
E: traveling more than we'd all like, seems to be weathering the financial situation at work, enjoying participating at the Baha'i Center, listening to Marshall Rosenberg, watching the bizarre foods and fighting shows, cleared out our shed (yay!).
A: injured back, trying out a new meal routine - repetitive but much easier to maintain, enjoying the NVC group and Threshold Choir, absolutely cannot keep up with laundry, setting goals to hang curtains and art by J's birthday, planning to offer some community service in the form of computer help for seniors, considering whether to homeschool with R next year - kindergarten age.
Spinning/knitting: still working on red sweater, spinning about every other day for 20-30 min. Finished these bullseye mittens a couple weeks ago - yes, the color combo is just as horrid in person.
The younger boys and I are attending the Family Hour at the Dharma Center again. We've tried, over the years, to make this a family ritual, but it is met with just too much resistance, and it's not something I'm willing to force over and over. I've known all along that there is a very thriving Baha'i' community in town, so I decided to ask a friend who participates to tell me more. Jamie, Jeremiah and I did some reading and thought it was something we could try. All 6 of us attended the devotional a couple sundays ago, and we had a very lovely time. The devotional was about 15-20 minutes long, and all but Kellen sat quietly. The food and conversation afterward was fabulous. Jamie decided to attend the Junior Youth program they offer and had a good time with the other teens. Jeremiah is reluctant to try the children's class but became more willing when I discovered there are two other boys his age.
This is my final installment. If you happen to be reading, I'd love to know your thoughts. I found this book to be wildly inspiring and fascinating.
from Life After Death, Chopra
A compass needle moves because it's responding to the Earth's magnetic field. What if the same thing is true for brain activity? What if the mind field is sending signals, and billions of brain cells arrange patterns in response to what the field is saying? A team of innovative scientists has proposed exactly that. Henry Stapp, a theoretical physicist from Berkeley; Jeffrey Schwartz, a neuropsychiatrist at UCLA; and Mario Beauregard, a psychologist from the University of Montreal, have crossed disciplines to formulate a workable theory of "quantum mind" that may revolutionize how mind and brain relate to each other. Central to their theory is "neuroplasticity," the notion that brain cells are open to change, flexibly responding to will and intention.
They acknowledge, to begin with, the usual scientific explanation that "the mind is what the brain does," but there are many flaws in such an explanation, as we have seen. They propose, therefore, that exactly the opposite is true. Mind is the controller of the brain.
In their view, the mind is like an electron cloud surrounding the
nucleus of an atom. Until an observer appears, electrons haev no
physical identity in the world; there is only amorphous cloud. In the
same way, imagine that tehre is a cloud of possibilities open to the
brain at every moment (consisting of words, memories, ideas, and images
it could choose from.) When the mind gives a signal, one of these
possibilities coalesces from teh cloud and becomes a thought in the
brain, just as an energy wave collapses into an electron. Like the
quantum field generating real particles from virtual ones, the mind
generates real brain activity from virtual activity.
What makes this reversal important is that it fits the facts. Neurologists have verified that a mere intention or purposeful act of will alters the brain. Stroke victims, for example, can force themselves, with the aid of a therapist, to use only their right hand if paralysis has occurred on that side of the body. Willing themselves day after day to favor the affected part, they can gradually cause the damaged sites in the brain to heal.
In other words, the process of reflection and insight through therapy changed the patients' brain cells. This is exactly what was predicted by the new theory of quantum mind. But the answer was there all along. The mind has always been able to change the brain. If a person suddenly loses a loved one or is fired from his job, sudden severe depression often follows. Depression is rooted in abnormal uptake of the brain chemical serotonin. This physical imbalance is what antidepressants are typically designed to correct. Yet when someone loses a loved one or gets fired, isn't it obvious that the chemical imbalance came about after the bad news? Reacting to bad news is a mental event. Indeed, the entire world we inhabit of words and thoughts creates infinite brain changes in all of us every moment.
If mind comes before brain, then what if mind belongs to all of us? I can say "my brain," but I can't say "my quantum field." There is growing evidence that in fact we do share the same mind field. This would go far to support the existence of heavens and hells, Bardo and Akashic memory, extending far beyond the brain. To begin with, we need to examine the kinds of ideas that people share as a group. The brain belongs to "me," but if ideas belong to "us," then we are participating together in a field, sometimes quite mysteriously.
Ultimately, dying will carry each of us into the mind field, which we will experience directly. Yet our beliefs, being stored consciousness, will follow us.
1. Know that you are going to identify with your world view at every stage of personal growth. 2. Accept that these identifications are temporary. You will never be truly yourself until you reach unity. 3. Be willing to change your identity every day. Take a flexible attitude. Don't defend an "I" that you know is just temporary. 4. Allow your ability to quietly observe without judgment to replace the ingrained ideas you reach for automatically. 5. When you have the impulse to struggle, use that as an immediate signal to let go. Open a space for new answers to unfold on their own. 6. When you can't let go, forgive yourself and move on. 7. Use every opportunity to tell yourself that all viewpoints are valid, every experience valuable, every insight a moment of freedom.
We need to see that we are all entangled in the same reality. Isolation has been outmoded on every front, from ecology to the Internet. We need to remember our common source. The human spirit is degraded when we confine ourselves to the span of a lifetime and the enclosure of a physical body. We are mind and spirit first, and that places our home beyond the stars.
Knowing that I will return to the field one day to find my source provides me with immeasurable confidence in the purpose of life. As fervently as any devout believer, I have faith in this vision. My faith is renewed every time I have a moment of witnessing, in which I can touch the silence of my own being. Then I lose all fear of death - indeed, I touch death right now, gladly. Tagore said it so movingly:
When I was born and saw the light I was no stranger in this world Something inscrutable, shapeless, and without words Appeared in the form of my mother.
So when I die, the same unknown will appear again As ever known to me, And because I love this life I will love death as well.
The brain has a locatable memory center, but mind isn't confined to the brain. Consider a deeply meaningful experience in your life - a first kiss, or hte last time you saw a beloved grandparent. That memory is the remianing trace of an event in time and space. The experience can still be activiated in your brain, which means that millions of molecules that could be flying randomly through your neurons know that they have to stay together in order for your memory to continue, year after year, without fading. how could they know this, since molecules aren't intelligent? The physical basis for memory remains totally unknown to neurologists, so we can only speculate.
Somehow your first kiss has an afterlife. The afterlife isn't physical, because there's absolutely no difference between the hydrogen, oxygen, nitrogen and carbon in a neuron and those same elements in a tree, a dead leaf, or decomposed soil. Neurons aren't immortal. They die, just as the rest of the body does, and atoms fly in and out of them every second. How, then , does a memory get transferred to a new atom, or to a new neuron when the time comes for the old one to perish? No physical process for this has been identified, so perhaps memory actually persists on a nonphysical level. Neurologists would defend to the hilt the opposite idea, that mind arises only in the brain, using CAT scans and MRI imaging to prove the point. But those images are only maps. They show th terrain of the brain as an idea or emotion crosses it; they don't prove that the brain is the mind, any more than a footprint in the sand is the same as a foot. Imagine that you could map every vibration in the tiny nerve endings that line the inner ear. When graphed on a chart, there would be an extremely complicated pattern for every word and sentence the ear receives, but that pattern is only a map of a word, not hte territory itself. A powerful sentence like "I love you" is more than the map of its vibrations, since even the most perfect map cannot contain love's power, meaning, significance and overall intent.
Chopra asserts, repeatedly, that the afterlife is a matter of personal choice and individual consciousness. Our life experiences influence our experience of life after death, which explains the variety of descriptions of near-death experiences.
The East as managed to live comfortably with reincarnation for several reasons. If the universe is constantly re-creating itselfl, we would be the only aspect that isn't involved, which doesn't make sense...
Perhaps it is not a question of belief, East versus West. Reincarnation may be a question of choice. Consciousness is useful. We shape it according to our desires. Rather than being the final word, denial of reincarnation by Christianity could be simply a collective choice. Having considered all the relevant factors, a large sector of humanity says, "I don't want to come back to this place," while another says, "I do." All we can say for certain is that Nature depends on the mechanism of rebirth.
We may claim that denying the afterlife is scientific, but in fact it merely indicates a belief in materialism. The rishis believed that knowledge wasn't external to the knower but woven inside consciousness. Thus they had no need for an external God to solve the riddle of life and death. The rishis had themselves instead, which is very fortunate, because so do we. Each person is conscious. Each person has a self. Each person is certain of existence, that is, of being alive. With these raw ingredients, anyone can come up with firsthand knowledge of anything, no matter how deep the mystery appears.
Then why haven't we? Perhaps it's because we don't contact the deepest part of ourselves, which the rishis call Atman. The closest equivalent word in English is "soul." The biggest difference between them is that in Vedanta, the soul isn't separate from God. Unlike the Christian soul, Atman cannot come from God or return to God. There is unity between the human and the divine; awareness of this unity is the necessary step that makes reality dawn.