Saturday, February 27, 2010

And, regarding Bill Maher's take on Buddhism...

From here,

Craving for things outside ourselves is what makes life life - I don't want to learn to not want, that's what people in prison have to do. Buddhism teaches suffering is inevitable. The only thing that's inevitable is that if you have fake boobs and hair extensions, Tiger Woods will try to $%^*& you.

I can only say, with politeness, no dummy, finding out that the pony you didn't get meant you had a millisecond to realize that dammit, you're alive and you don't need anything other than what is right here, right now, and that's damned infinite in and of itself is what life is about.

Maher's mileage, and yours, may vary, but that needed saying, I think.

HT: Worst Horse

Depression: The First Noble Truth Gives Rise to the Other Three

And yes, it's noble because it's empty. And because practice is involved. And that's good context for this article on depression in the NY Times Magazine.

This radical idea — the scientists were suggesting that depressive disorder came with a net mental benefit — has a long intellectual history. Aristotle was there first, stating in the fourth century B.C. “that all men who have attained excellence in philosophy, in poetry, in art and in politics, even Socrates and Plato, had a melancholic habitus; indeed some suffered even from melancholic disease.” This belief was revived during the Renaissance, leading Milton to exclaim, in his poem “Il Penseroso”: “Hail divinest Melancholy/Whose saintly visage is too bright/To hit the sense of human sight.” The Romantic poets took the veneration of sadness to its logical extreme and described suffering as a prerequisite for the literary life. As Keats wrote, “Do you not see how necessary a World of Pains and troubles is to school an intelligence and make it a soul?”

But Andrews and Thomson weren’t interested in ancient aphorisms or poetic apologias. Their daunting challenge was to show how rumination might lead to improved outcomes, especially when it comes to solving life’s most difficult dilemmas. Their first speculations focused on the core features of depression, like the inability of depressed subjects to experience pleasure or their lack of interest in food, sex and social interactions. According to Andrews and Thomson, these awful symptoms came with a productive side effect, because they reduced the possibility of becoming distracted from the pressing problem.

The capacity for intense focus, they note, relies in large part on a brain area called the left ventrolateral prefrontal cortex (VLPFC), which is located a few inches behind the forehead. While this area has been associated with a wide variety of mental talents, like conceptual knowledge and verb conjugation, it seems to be especially important for maintaining attention. Experiments show that neurons in the VLPFC must fire continuously to keep us on task so that we don’t become sidetracked by irrelevant information. Furthermore, deficits in the VLPFC have been associated with attention-deficit disorder.

Several studies found an increase in brain activity (as measured indirectly by blood flow) in the VLPFC of depressed patients. Most recently, a paper to be published next month by neuroscientists in China found a spike in “functional connectivity” between the lateral prefrontal cortex and other parts of the brain in depressed patients, with more severe depressions leading to more prefrontal activity. One explanation for this finding is that the hyperactive VLPFC underlies rumination, allowing people to stay focused on their problem. (Andrews and Thomson argue that this relentless fixation also explains the cognitive deficits of depressed subjects, as they are too busy thinking about their real-life problems to bother with an artificial lab exercise; their VLPFC can’t be bothered to care.) Human attention is a scarce resource — the neural effects of depression make sure the resource is efficiently allocated.

But the reliance on the VLPFC doesn’t just lead us to fixate on our depressing situation; it also leads to an extremely analytical style of thinking. That’s because rumination is largely rooted in working memory, a kind of mental scratchpad that allows us to “work” with all the information stuck in consciousness. When people rely on working memory — and it doesn’t matter if they’re doing long division or contemplating a relationship gone wrong — they tend to think in a more deliberate fashion, breaking down their complex problems into their simpler parts.

The bad news is that this deliberate thought process is slow, tiresome and prone to distraction; the prefrontal cortex soon grows exhausted and gives out. Andrews and Thomson see depression as a way of bolstering our feeble analytical skills, making it easier to pay continuous attention to a difficult dilemma. The downcast mood and activation of the VLPFC are part of a “coordinated system” that, Andrews and Thomson say, exists “for the specific purpose of effectively analyzing the complex life problem that triggered the depression.” If depression didn’t exist — if we didn’t react to stress and trauma with endless ruminations — then we would be less likely to solve our predicaments. Wisdom isn’t cheap, and we pay for it with pain.

There is a caveat to this, though:

Andrews and Thomson respond to such criticisms by acknowledging that depression is a vast continuum, a catch-all term for a spectrum of symptoms. While the analytic-rumination hypothesis might explain those patients reacting to an “acute stressor,” it can’t account for those whose suffering has no discernible cause or whose sadness refuses to lift for years at a time. “To say that depression can be useful doesn’t mean it’s always going to be useful,” Thomson says. “Sometimes, the symptoms can spiral out of control. The problem, though, is that as a society, we’ve come to see depression as something that must always be avoided or medicated away. We’ve been so eager to remove the stigma from depression that we’ve ended up stigmatizing sadness.”

For Thomson, this new theory of depression has directly affected his medical practice. “That’s the litmus test for me,” he says. “Do these ideas help me treat my patients better?” In recent years, Thomson has cut back on antidepressant prescriptions, because, he says, he now believes that the drugs can sometimes interfere with genuine recovery, making it harder for people to resolve their social dilemmas. “I remember one patient who came in and said she needed to reduce her dosage,” he says. “I asked her if the antidepressants were working, and she said something I’ll never forget. ‘Yes, they’re working great,’ she told me. ‘I feel so much better. But I’m still married to the same alcoholic son of a bitch. It’s just now he’s tolerable.’ ”

The point is the woman was depressed for a reason; her pain was about something. While the drugs made her feel better, no real progress was ever made. Thomson’s skepticism about antidepressants is bolstered by recent studies questioning their benefits, at least for patients with moderate depression. Consider a 2005 paper led by Steven Hollon, a psychologist at Vanderbilt University: he found that people on antidepressants had a 76 percent chance of relapse within a year when the drugs were discontinued. In contrast, patients given a form of cognitive talk therapy had a relapse rate of 31 percent. And Hollon’s data aren’t unusual: several studies found that patients treated with medication were approximately twice as likely to relapse as patients treated with cognitive behavior therapy...

Friday, February 26, 2010

Sorry Brad Warner, you can't hold a candle, as they say, to Robert Burns

Amazing - That song's over 200 years old, according to Eddi Reader (get her version on iTunes), and attrubed by her to Robert Burns.

ENOUGH with Tiger Woods Already!

What do Buddhists think of Tiger Woods' apology?

Why oh why is that important?

The only thing that's less important to me, except for the schadenfreude factor, is the drama at the Washington Post over a recent Sally Quinn column (check out the comments - twenty years ago somebody like Quinn would have gotten away with such Marie Antoinnette-like detachment from society but now...)

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Yet another Japanese Zen guy in the Japanese news...

With a bit of wisdom...

When you see the real thing, grab it, because there'll never be a second chance. Jewels or people, it's the same. I met the violinist Shinichi Suzuki (founder of the Suzuki method) one day. He was already in his late 90s then. I never played any instrument but this man had such charisma that I had to be near him. That night I went home, packed up my family and we moved to Nagano where Suzuki was teaching. My wife and daughters took lessons but I just hung out with him as much as I could. It's not the technique or music that we got from him, but the feeling for beauty in everything.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Back home (actually as of Saturday)

Still sort of decompressing. Watch this space, as they say.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Traveling next 3 days...

Off to Japan.

In the meantime, enjoy this picture of the local Chinese temple.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

I've a new respect for Chinese Pop music

I never realized you could turn this:

into this:

P.S., Kangding has nothing really in particular to do with semi-naked people.

Lankavatara Sutra Chapter 2, Section XLIII

As usual I'm using this translation.

Mahāmati asks the Buddha about where does he pronounce sound to be eternal, and the response begins with the notion that our taking this world as "what it is" is fraught with distortion.

As much of the text in subsequent sections is a variety of ways of re-telling and positing the "not one, not two or more" nature of non-duality, I'm going to skip the text until about section LII, and pick it up later there.

Friday, February 12, 2010

"Power" and the Business World and Zen

Most people in the workaday world have no idea how much "power" "they" actually have in the workplace. Because of conditioning, and the encrusting of cultural mores and beliefs, it may be possible to forget that our original nature allows us to move wherever we need to in the world "as though it were our own playground."

Of course, pursuing this "power" for its own sake is a fool's game, and this "power" can only be effective when it is exercised consciously in harmony with Mind itself, in the midst of and with the cooperation of the myriad things. In the business world that means being mindful of all stakeholders's stakes, and mindfully approaching all conditions and situations with compassion, wisdom, and generosity whenever possible.

I've been rather busy at work, as posts from the past few days demonstrate, but because of a fortuitous confluence of my actions and thoughts and deeds, those around me, as well as I have had some benefits coming from all the hustle and bustle.

But part of those actions involved a redoubled effort and mindfulness in the workplace. And I can tell you that this pays dividends far beyond what you might possibly imagine.

I came across this interview in the NY Times the other day with management guru George Cloutier. His schtick is obvious to those who have had to deal with such insufferable folk.

Q. You tell business owners to forget about being likable. Is there something wrong with employees liking you?

A. You have to treat your people with respect. If they have a personal problem, you have to help them through it. You have to follow the law. But we also need to get things done as asked. The abandonment of that principle is a large factor in the failure of small businesses to achieve real profitability.

Q. Do business owners coddle their people too much?

A. The concept that if you love your employees they’ll perform is on the edge of insanity. It’s not that you want to hurt your employees, but you have a mission. You’re paid to produce results.

Q. Can your employees talk back to you or say, “Sorry, boss, but that’s a stupid idea?”

A. We actually did a survey around Christmas of their attitudes toward the company. Two-thirds of them thought the company was changing for the better. We let them write any comments they had. One guy that worked for me for 10 years wrote, “If I fell dead at my desk, George wouldn’t notice for two days.” Sure, we let them talk back. We like to listen, but you can only listen so much and then you have to make a choice.

Q. What’s your view of fear as a management tool?

A. Fear is the best motivator.

Q. Are you a tyrant?

A. I’m sure many people would view me as difficult. If I ask you to do something and you say, “Geez, I don’t have enough time to do that.” Well, maybe I don’t have enough time to sign your check this week.

I fully agree with the first point: Trying to curry likability is a disastrous way to run an organization. But the other points are absurd.

People will not do what they cannot do. Fear is well known to be the worst motivator, and the unconscious mind of the workplace will sabotage the tyrant every friggin' time. Fear is a motivator? Yeah, follow in the footsteps of Chainsaw Al, and see how far it gets you.

And if you don't take the time to really listen when you listen, instead of paying lip service to it, without judgment, or opinion forming or interruption, you're not really there.

Want super-duper free American management advice from a simple Buddhist layman?

Practice active listening in your next meeting.

Cloutier of course gets his money from people who want to pay him money to reassure themselves that their atavistic management methods are good for them, and no doubt will drive many people and companies to anguish over his advice.

Meanwhile, whatever the circumstances, you can create an island of quenched fires and still meet deadlines, get deliverables delivered, and help all advance further in life and career.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Busy busy busy...

And meanwhile, some developer disabled fundamental functions of Firefox.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


Every now and then it's good to look around and see the social aspects of how we live. And in regard to that, the recession hasn't been good to us or the younger generation...

Over the past two generations, particularly among many college grads, the 20s have become a sort of netherworld between adolescence and adulthood. Job-switching is common, and with it, periods of voluntary, transitional unemployment. And as marriage and parenthood have receded farther into the future, the first years after college have become, arguably, more carefree. In this recession, the term funemployment has gained some currency among single 20-somethings, prompting a small raft of youth-culture stories in the Los Angeles Times and San Francisco Weekly, on Gawker, and in other venues.

Most of the people interviewed in these stories seem merely to be trying to stay positive and make the best of a bad situation. They note that it’s a good time to reevaluate career choices; that since joblessness is now so common among their peers, it has lost much of its stigma; and that since they don’t have mortgages or kids, they have flexibility, and in this respect, they are lucky. All of this sounds sensible enough—it is intuitive to think that youth will be spared the worst of the recession’s scars.

But in fact a whole generation of young adults is likely to see its life chances permanently diminished by this recession. Lisa Kahn, an economist at Yale, has studied the impact of recessions on the lifetime earnings of young workers. In one recent study, she followed the career paths of white men who graduated from college between 1979 and 1989. She found that, all else equal, for every one-percentage-point increase in the national unemployment rate, the starting income of new graduates fell by as much as 7 percent; the unluckiest graduates of the decade, who emerged into the teeth of the 1981–82 recession, made roughly 25 percent less in their first year than graduates who stepped into boom times.

But what’s truly remarkable is the persistence of the earnings gap. Five, 10, 15 years after graduation, after untold promotions and career changes spanning booms and busts, the unlucky graduates never closed the gap. Seventeen years after graduation, those who had entered the workforce during inhospitable times were still earning 10 percent less on average than those who had emerged into a more bountiful climate. When you add up all the earnings losses over the years, Kahn says, it’s as if the lucky graduates had been given a gift of about $100,000, adjusted for inflation, immediately upon graduation—or, alternatively, as if the unlucky ones had been saddled with a debt of the same size.

When Kahn looked more closely at the unlucky graduates at mid-career, she found some surprising characteristics. They were significantly less likely to work in professional occupations or other prestigious spheres. And they clung more tightly to their jobs: average job tenure was unusually long. People who entered the workforce during the recession “didn’t switch jobs as much, and particularly for young workers, that’s how you increase wages,” Kahn told me. This behavior may have resulted from a lingering risk aversion, born of a tough start. But a lack of opportunities may have played a larger role, she said: when you’re forced to start work in a particularly low-level job or unsexy career, it’s easy for other employers to dismiss you as having low potential. Moving up, or moving on to something different and better, becomes more difficult...

Strong evidence suggests that people who don’t find solid roots in the job market within a year or two have a particularly hard time righting themselves. In part, that’s because many of them become different—and damaged—people. Krysia Mossakowski, a sociologist at the University of Miami, has found that in young adults, long bouts of unemployment provoke long-lasting changes in behavior and mental health. “Some people say, ‘Oh, well, they’re young, they’re in and out of the workforce, so unemployment shouldn’t matter much psychologically,’” Mossakowski told me. “But that isn’t true.”

Examining national longitudinal data, Mossakowski has found that people who were unemployed for long periods in their teens or early 20s are far more likely to develop a habit of heavy drinking (five or more drinks in one sitting) by the time they approach middle age. They are also more likely to develop depressive symptoms. Prior drinking behavior and psychological history do not explain these problems—they result from unemployment itself. And the problems are not limited to those who never find steady work; they show up quite strongly as well in people who are later working regularly.

"IGMFU" is a horrendous social policy, and clearly creates more suffering than a bit of all around social compassion.

And, reading further into the article, the culture of "everybody gets a prize" seems to have made many in American culture particularly resistant to being able to go it on their own.

That's frustrating to those who have to manage them, especially those of us who were "thrown into the pool to see if we could swim."

There's cruelty out of deep kindness and there's cruelty out of ignorant greed and hatred.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

If ever I need something to remind me of why I'm glad I'm not a Catholic...

The intertubes are only too happy to give me new reasons...

Following the recent revelations that Pope John Paul II engaged in penitential practices including self-flagellation and sleeping on the floor with his arms outstretched...

We may meditate for all hours of the day and night once in a while, but it's not because we have some sado-masochistic undertones to what we do.

Monday, February 08, 2010

MBCT better than antidepressants?

In the midst of some last-minute channel surfing yesterday, I came across some college lecture which was discussing this study.

In a study, published December 1, 2008 in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, MBCT proved as effective as maintenance anti-depressants in preventing a relapse and more effective in enhancing peoples' quality of life. The study also showed MBCT to be as cost-effective as prescription drugs in helping people with a history of depression stay well in the longer-term.
The randomised control trial involved 123 people from urban and rural locations who had suffered repeat depressions and were referred to the trial by their GPs. The participants were split randomly into two groups. Half continued their on-going anti-depressant drug treatment and the rest participated in an MBCT course and were given the option of coming off anti-depressants.
Over the 15 months after the trial, 47% of the group following the MBCT course experienced a relapse compared with 60% of those continuing their normal treatment, including anti-depressant drugs. In addition, the group on the MBCT programme reported a higher quality of life, in terms of their overall enjoyment of daily living and physical well-being.

As should be well known, I'm not a fan of "science proves religion" posts, but this is certainly worth noting.

The 3 Poisons Can Get Have Odd Side Effects

Don't mess up renditions of "My Way" at karaoke bars in the Philippines.

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Lankavatara Sutra Chapter 2, Sections XLI and XLII

As usual, this non-teacher is using this translation.

To the Buddha, Mahāmati asks,

The chain of origination as told by the Blessed One depends on a cause producing an effect, and that it is not a theory established on the principle of a self-originating substance. The philosophers also proclaim a causal origination when they say that all things rise conditioned by a supreme spirit, Iśvara, a personal soul, time, or atom. How is it that the rise of all things is explained by the Blessed One in another terminology bearing on causation but in its meaning not different? Blessed One, the philosophers explain birth from being and non-being, while, according to the Blessed One, all things coming into existence from nothingness pass away by causation, that is to say, the Blessed One has Ignorance from which there rises Mental Conformation until we reach Old Age and Death.

And the Buddha replies that his viewpoint...

is not a causeless theory of causation which results in an [endless] interconnection of causes and conditions. I speak of "That being so, this is" because of my seeing into the nature of the external world which is nothing but Self-Mind and because of its unreality of grasped (object) and grasping (subject). However, Mahāmati, when people clinging to the notion of grasped and grasping fail to understand the world as something seen of Mind itself; and, Mahāmati, by them the fault is committed as they recognise the external world as real with its beings and non-beings, but not by my theory of causation.

What then follows in the next chapter is quite, um, sensible, given the sensibilities at the time, however, it is illustrative of the caution one should take in using religious texts as predictors of science...

Mahāmati asks,

[I]s it not because of the reality of words that all things are? If not for words, Blessed One, there would be no rising of things. Hence, Blessed One, the existence of all things is by reason of the reality of words.

And the Buddha replies:

Even when there are no [corresponding] objects there are words, Mahāmati; for instance, the hare's horns, the tortoise's hair, a barren woman's child, etc. —they are not at all visible in the world but the words are; Mahāmati, they are neither entities nor nonentities but expressed in words. If, Mahāmati, you say that because of the reality of words the objects are, this talk lacks in sense. Words are not known in all the Buddha-lands; words, Mahāmati, are an artificial creation. In some Buddha-lands ideas are indicated by looking steadily, in others by gestures, in still others by a frown, by the movement of the eyes, by laughing, by yawning, or by the clearing of the throat, or by recollection, or by trembling.

Interesting, at least to me, is that (obviously) the concept of irrationals was unknown to the writers of this Sutra, which would mean that the converse is true as well, that there are ideas for which there are no words.

But the "big point" of the text is - at least as seen by a guy who has the benefit of having read a bit of 20th century Western philosphy of linguistics- that the correspondence between words and reality is rough at best, and while the phenomenal symbolic representation of existence arises from beings,the phenomenal symbolic representation of existence is not really isomporphic to existence.

That's my take-away. But if you're thinking that you can get "literally true" predictive science here, well, I don't buy that...

Mahāmati, even in this world that in the kingdom of such special beings as ants, bees, etc., they carry on their work without words.

We know that bee dances have "meaning" to bees (and I think ants have a similar mechanism, but I plead ignorance), but given that these folks were not in posession of the scientific method, it's understandable that they would express their observations this way.

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Almost end of cold...

Hopefully be back to regular entries soon...

Thursday, February 04, 2010

And yet more common cold/busyness practice

Yesterday I had to do something somewhat unpleasant - I had to call somebody working for me on his absent behavior.

It might not be easy for many people to believe, but this can be quite stressful for the manager.

This would not be an issue if the person in question was producing well; we are, after all professionals and are inclined to give a degree of slack. However, this person's basically not very productive, and even though these absences are glaringly apparent to everyone around, and even though everyone else is being short-changed by this person's absence, it is still somewhat stressful to have to confront someone this way, even when you're basically "following the algorithm" that is used specifically for such issues.

In such moments, practicing "just this" as far as the disciplinary procedure is essential- especially when at the same time your more primitive areas of the brain might be suggesting a less civilized response.

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

Still in Having a Cold and Busyness Practice

With a few other unsavory things I have to do at work.

Unsavory but purely ethical tasks they be.

Tuesday, February 02, 2010

Having a Cold Practice

Of course, on top of the ridiculous deadlines, here comes the common cold.

Well, it could be worse; it could have visited next week on Thursday.

Monday, February 01, 2010

And, on the subject of recent posts...

If you don't think it's only about alcohol or drugs, and Rimbaud's Matinée d'ivresse can be taken as a...uh...motivational speech...

Matinée d'ivresse

     Ô mon Bien ! Ô mon Beau ! Fanfare atroce où je ne trébuche point ! chevalet féerique ! Hourra pour l'œuvre inouïe et pour le corps merveilleux, pour la première fois ! Cela commença sous les rires des enfants, cela finira par eux. Ce poison va rester dans toutes nos veines même quand, la fanfare tournant, nous serons rendu à l'ancienne inharmonie. Ô maintenant, nous si digne de ces tortures ! rassemblons fervemment cette promesse surhumaine faite à notre corps et à notre âme créés : cette promesse, cette démence ! L'élégance, la science, la violence ! On nous a promis d'enterrer dans l'ombre l'arbre du bien et du mal, de déporter les honnêtetés tyranniques, afin que nous amenions notre très pur amour. Cela commença par quelques dégoûts et cela finit, ne pouvant nous saisir sur-le-champ de cette éternité, cela finit par une débandade de parfums.
     Rires des enfants, discrétion des esclaves, austérité des vierges, horreur des figures et des objets d'ici, sacrés soyez-vous par le souvenir de cette veille. Cela commençait par toute la rustrerie, voici que cela finit par des anges de flamme et de glace.
     Petite veille d'ivresse, sainte ! quand ce ne serait que pour le masque dont tu nous as gratifié. Nous t'affirmons, méthode ! Nous n'oublions pas que tu as glorifié hier chacun de nos âges. Nous avons foi au poison. Nous savons donner notre vie tout entière tous les jours.
     Voici le temps des Assassins.

I know Patti Smith would...

For those who prefer translations...

Morning of Drunkenness
O my Good! O my Beautiful! Appalling fanfare where I do not falter! rack of enchantmants! Hurrah for the wonderful work and for the marvelous body, for the first time! It began in the midst of children's laughter, with their laughter will it end. This poison will remain in all our veins even when, the fanfare turning, we shall be given back to the old disharmony. O now may we, so worthy of these tortures! fervently take up the superhuman promise made to our created body and soul: that promise, that madness! Elegance, science, violence! They promised to bury in darkness the tree of good and evil, to deport tyrannic respectability so that we might bring hither our very pure love. It began with a certain disgust and it ends, - unable to grasp this eternity, - it ends in a riot of perfumes.

Laughter of children, discretion of slaves, austerity of virgins, loathing of faces and objects here, holy be all of you in memory of this vigil. It began with every sort of boorishness, behold it ends with angels of flame and ice.

Little drunken vigil, holy! if only because of the mask you have bestowed on us. We pronounce you, method! We shall not forget that yesterday you glorified each one of our ages. We have faith in the poison. We know how to give our whole life every day.

Now is the time of the Assassins.

At its core, it's "about" the mental state of extreme dedication, the way I read it. Yeah, ostensibly (and likely intentionally by Rimbaud) it's referring to the effect of disinhibition caused by intoxicants, but that disinhibition is recalled in the mind here, and the reference to "the Assassins" refers to the use of a substance to induce disinhibition to craziness to carry out a sacred task.

I have found mindfulness and practice work well to induce and sustain this disinhibition too. Were I a poet of Rimbaud's or Basho's caliber perhaps I could write such a description of that state, but I'm not at the moment.

If you can read it aloud in French it sounds better.

Practice in the Everyday Busyness of Everyday Business

As I said, I have a ridiculous number of deadlines that must be met in the next few days, including but not limited to a bit of re-inventing what I do everyday, but that's pretty much as much as I can go into detail about what I'm doing that results in my being very busy for a few days. And I've got a few minutes to talk about it before sitting, so...

It took many years, and it's still not "there" yet as much as I would like, but the idea of bringing the mind on the cushion into the rest of the world and life is the only way to do these Zen practices. It's not quite as dramatic as a Tolstoy short story, perhaps, but by carrying this practice into one's work and home life one can:

  • Avoid pissing off people who are better in relation to you as team mates, allies, and loved ones.
  • Put the important things and tasks in important places and times and the less important things and tasks in their suitable places.
  • Actually appreciate the actual life you're living in the same way as you might appreciate a great meal or work of art.
  • Actually take part in the actual life you're living instead of just showing up (or not even that).

I used to regret being this busy, because "practice would suffer" or other things would suffer, and perhaps this was fed by the feedback, instantiated by those who perhaps should have known better, that the "either/or" choice of "work" or "extended sitting practice" should have favored the latter more. (I'm not referring to my current teacher by the way.)

I realize now that "advanced busyness" is actually an opportunity to advance my practice.

Now if only I don't catch my son's cold...