Thursday, September 28, 2006


I am in Toronto, in case you aren't caught up, doing an intensive, one-of-a-kind, never-before study with my Miksang teacher and one of the other senior students. She's way senior to me in terms of study - she's been at this 20 years to our teacher's 30, so I am like a baby senior student, senior only in my extreme dedication, which has not gone unnoticed.

This transmission period is - well, as I expected in the basic ways, and so much more. Every day Maxine Sidran (the other student) and I meet with John McQuade, co-founder of Miksang ( and we listen to him (and transcribe, and record with notes - this is the first time a lot of this stuff has been taught to anyone this concisely) for an hour or so, then he shows us reams of slides. I've seen a lot of the slides before in various other workshops, but now there is a context, and my own experiences, both with shooting and with teaching. It's intense. I always have this worry looking at so many slides, I want to grasp them, to "get" something out of it, and by doing that of course, I get nothing. There is nothing to "get", is the thing. Then, we eat lunch at the local taqueria or sushi place (YUM TORONTO) and get to work, shooting. I've been shooting alone the last couple of days, working my way south from Little Korea (where the Shambhala Center is located) to "home" - Page and MG's house on Queen St West, the old hip neighborhood, now gentrified and condoified to the hilt.

The results are up on Flickr and will continue to be posted there daily ( What we are studying is stuff that builds on the basics of the first levels - wherein we study color, light, texture, space, dot in space...the five major elements of our visual (and John would say, phenomenological) experience. Now, we are being asked to re-incorporate these (literally, within bodies) into daily experience. I am shooting scenes, things with plot, stuff that was called accidental or not on topic when I was shooting the basic levels. I have totally left earth, and yet, as John says about Level Three "somehow it all just hangs together". Like a satellite.

Last night MG and I went to a Toronto Maple Leafs game, courtesy of one of his clients from work, for free. Neither of us had ever been to a major sporting event, me in the states (eg Packers game) or him in Toronto, and going to an NHL game was some serious culture shock after day in day out of Miksang. I took photos, of course (those, too, on Flickr), but nothing can capture people excited for fights. MG said the saying in Canada is "I went to a boxing match and a hockey game broke out". There weren't a ton of fights - only 2 in a two hour game, but the way the refs let them keep fighting until one of the players signals its time to end was, well, weird. Especially with big sticks and sharp skates around. It also emphasized the ironic grace of hockey - big clumsy outfits, horribly awkward aiming and shooting with a long stick, but in a constant, fluid, seldom- falling-over movement.

Strange graces. Ordinary Chaos (another word for Level Three). Have I left earth? Sometimes the biggest culture shock is in a country so like my own, same language, similar culture, and yet totally different. I have been to Canada a few times, Toronto most of those trips, yet this time, on my own with my camera and ears and afternoons to myself, I am getting a deeper sense. Funny how in the states I might say that I had left earth doing all this shooting. But being here I am reminded how different I can be, how different the world is from itself, while still being on earth. So I am still here. All of this is still here. I rejoice and charge batteries, ready to see more.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

root root root for the home team

-hymie's basement, 21st century pop song, again!

It is mid-afternoon, on a day I expected to be very busy, but am only mildly busy. Mildly busy is a "risky" state for me, full of procrastination and naps (not necessarily the same thing, mind you, but sometimes, yes). Having a dog now doesn't help keep me on task, though it certainly helps me be more present with my own body and needs, as he mirrors them back to me.

Technical difficulties preparing to go to Toronto made me very nervous until I recalled that in preparing for the first teacher training, just over a year ago now, in Sonoma, I managed to take folder after folder of amazing Miksang shots, only to format them on the borrowed camera I was using, two times in a row. All that work, lost. And now, instead, I am flooded with images, stock slides from my teacher's pedagogical files, transforming them into digital messages to copy onto cds for all the other Miksang teachers.

Empty. Full. These teachings bring me close to this seeming contrast, this way in which we are both/and empty, full. I learn or teach Miksang and the same thing happens, in myriad variation, each time: I both am amazed and completed by the teachings, and left to wonder more questions than ever before. The former is tempered by the latter, and vice versa. What is left, on average, is tempered through faith, never used in a childhood of atheism, like its been waiting behind the curtains to make its strong center stage debut for 29 years.

It's hard to leave home again, after a summer of being away. I love Toronto, my friends there, the city itself, my teacher, the teachings. It is an amazing privilege to go. Yet so is sleeping with the dog. My neighbors. My housemates. I never realized those latter privileges so strongly until I was away so long.

News update: go to and vote for Erika and Doc Evermor's works to go into the Madison 50 year time capsule! When you click on the video, you will get me talking about Doc and Erika hyping herself. It was a fun day yesterday with Katy Sai.

On to Toronto. Keep an eye on Flickr - lots of Miksang additions over the next week, as I anticipate I will be shooting hundreds of shots a day. No better way to learn than to do.

Monday, September 18, 2006

nothing to worry

it takes nothing to worry...

i imagine all the insight, the innovation necessary to teach and although it certains takes no more of either than my last job did, i somehow worry more about it. worrying about nothing. it is not so much that there is nothing to worry about, but that i seem to worry most when there is nothing there. the existential issues - not the logistics, but after all it seems like the logistics come down to existential issues most of the time.

problem solving between humans in intimate situations? check.
being present when the shit hits the fan in myriad situations? check.

in fact, teaching supports all of these things, plus my own writing, in both professional and personal ways. yet i need to be hard on myself for something (lest i get truly unruly bored) so there we are, a little worry takes me a long way.

right behind the worry, true to the core of the teachings i have received and i am now passing on, is usually some true nugget, the source of the strength i need to fight my own concerns at their root, manifesting as a tool, as a poem, as an insight. the worry that the insight won't come, covering the insight itself. how many traditions have discussed this, time and time again? too many to discuss here. suffice it to say i appreciate the human effort, the leagues of literature wherein this has been discovered again and again as if it is something new every time, because, well, it is something new, every time.

amazing what a shelf life nothing has.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

You embodied his dreams, and with it, his oversights

-from Mr Nichols, by Coldcut (featuring Saul Williams) - and all those in italics

So much focus on my father's death for so many years.

Today she learns to meditate on a second-hand couch

This last weekend, appreciation for my mother and missing her continued. In January 2007, it will be ten years since she died.

You contemplate the setting sun, unaware of your disorientation. Dis-orient, turned away from the east.

Tonight, talking to a new rich voice in my life, I peered out from the tiny window death has opened on my life and felt freedom. Real freedom.

You fail to see that you've always stood outside of this window, perched on the threshold of oblivion, countless manmade stories above the truth.

I can see why I have feared it for so long. To love without worry. To write without concern. Tonight a student broke through a concern she had had in class about her writing being too much "about her". Tonight, the voice that was there all along, that knows there is perception before ego, saw freedom and she let it come out. This is why I teach. I teach for all moments, even the "worst shit in America ones" (with thanks to Nat Goldberg), but those moments give me the strength to go on when I'm not sure about what I am doing, which is rare, honestly, a privileged rarity.

For so long you've stood facing the setting sun, mistaking the complimentary unified duality of nature as being right or wrong... Instead of stepping from this ledge into the downfall of your uprise, why not just turn around, lessen the intensity of your western glare and face the rising sun, note the energy swirling from its center, how it illumes us all, and how only the birds fly first class...

It's not about me or anyone. And yet, here we are, pens in hand, hands on keyboards, plunking out words into the night. Words that come before us, after us. Words like water.

There's your inheritance. The warmth of a kiss. Invest your tongue into the mouth of mystery. Allow her breath to seep into your lungs, surrender to her touch and guidance. There's no other way. Your dreams of dominance will only help you forsake yourself.

Thank you for being here.

Monday, September 04, 2006

on wanting to fall

the well swells with smiles,
tells us to toss in our demises,
rinse sins.
this seems clear water.
we know we want in.

but when my lips separate to kiss you
water cannot contain the gap.
though a powerful force,
it is made to break at the surface
between every molecule.

so bugs carefully crossing fall through.

and because we can no longer float
you and i.

falling through love,
eyes wide open,
the surface closes in over us.
my mouth like a fish
and yours too:
lips now