Greetings from the Land of Enchantment: January 2006

Monday, January 30, 2006

God is in control

I went to a Reggae show Friday night--the first live music in a while that didn't involve the more staid and civilized genre, Jazz. It was really fun and the music was great. I knew that I was supposed to be there when the final song of the evening was God, God is in control.

Strange, the mouthpieces for the messages we need to receive.

God is in control and I am part of God, so I am practicing being in control of my body and speech. The speech part is haaaaaaard. I'm a smart-mouth as many of you know. And what I consider good fun, is, in truth, gossip. Growing up, there was a woman in our community that you NEVER heard a bad word from--about anyone. I was always amazed that you never heard anything cynical or snide from her. For the longest time I thought, What a wimp! And now, I admire her-- someone who from their very core is unable to say negative things about another person. I've got a long way to go, to say the least. So, I ask for your prayers of support that I, too, can change. (I've already changed a lot, I know.)

So, in our search for skillful means and liberated hearts, know that change is inevitable, but also possible (smile).

With the wish that you be happy.
With the wish that you be content.
With the wish that you be healthy.
With the wish that you be you.

All love. Chiara/SPKK


The weekend was spent sitting at the feet of my favorite Tibetan Buddhist Teacher, Venerable Robina Courtin. She is clear, precise, funny, and genuine. And she does not suffer fools: Be plain. Be direct. Do not be content with the delusion. Be persistent. Be consistent and constant in your practice to liberate yourself and others. Be patient. Be kind with yourself and others. These, she says, are the elements of "dharma." Don't waste your time being "spiritual". It's not so complicated. It is only and always about your mind.

So, my friends, seek liberation without delay and without doubt. Study your mind and become free so that you and I can actually benefit others by our presence. This is the essence of being human.

Tonight is a fundraiser for the Liberation Prison Project--a viewing of the film Chasing Buddha. Go online to for more information or to support this amazing service. None are free until all are free.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Taking Responsbility

Kudos to Oprah for coming out and saying "I was wrong" in reference to the whole James Frey debacle. Personally, I just read the book, A Million Little Pieces, over Christmas and although I felt it was a bit melodramatic and the timing of his lover's death a bit suspect, I generally respected the book as a picture of the addictive mind and personality--as an alternative description of recovery from my own personal experience. However, if it turns out that he's not a recovering addict, then all my questions about how he could have done it, given his thinking, are validated.

But that aside, I've been meditating lately on American's particular resistance to taking responsiblity for things they've done or said. An article on about the French philsopher/writer/social critic extraordinaire, Levy, led me to questioning the why's and wherefore's of our inability to say, Yes, I did it--on the personal, corporate, or government level. I think in part it stems from our fear that if we take responsiblity for one thing, then anything in the past or future associated with it will also be put on us. We'll be blamed for everything when we were only trying to take responsibility (can you hear the child's whine?). It also stems from our own fear of being wrong. Being accused. Having the finger pointed in your direction. But really, standing up and speaking the truth is alway easier and actually a relief. Why be defensive when you can be open and honest and say, I did the best I could? Are we really that afraid of not being good enough? I suppose the answser is yes.

So, I commend Oprah for giving us an example of how to say, You were right, I was wrong. Now if only our president could do the same thing.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Weekend Update

Sometimes there's a reason I haven't seen a movie sooner--I'm not that interested and/or it's not that good and some part of me knows it. Hence, my review of King Kong is short and sweet. Monkey die--I not cry. A failure as far as that goes. Although I will admit the opening scenes with Naomi Watts as a vaudeville comedian were quite appealing. She's a very interesting actress and I'm looking very forward to her performance in the small upcoming film, Ellie Parker, which will be a much better showcase of her talents.

Every life has a bit of comedy. Mine was receiving a call two and half hours into King Kong from my friend saying that she had somehow managed to drop her keys into the locked and secure shred bin at work--I am the only one with the combination.....sigh. So, one strange trip to retrieve keys, buy pizza, and watch an even stranger movie made for quite the Friday night.

So, here, I imbed another movie review--for home viewing: Young Adam with Ewan McGregor. What to say? Too explicit, too strange, and not very moving; I'm personally a bit weary of the young, disenfranchised, amoral man wandering the world sleeping with as many woman as he can as a movie plot/genre/general excuse to not have to write a more sympathetic character. Evil is so much easier to write, evidently.

On a happier note, I went to the interfaith women's prayer circle in Abiquiu. I was really called to account for my own lack of centered prayer in my life lately. There is a muslim woman there, Rabina, who so moves me with her authenticity, her genuineness and her depth of feeling. I sit so very still when I'm with these women. They call me to account in another way as well--they are women living in their purpose. Ministers, artists, teachers--they are all women who do what they love. It's a clarion call for me to wake up and begin doing something that I love--anything. I'm getting too old for my usual excuses--blocked, depressed, undriven, what have you.

I sang at Gurwara Sunday morning, which is always a blessing--even when I don't feel up to it, which I didn't yesterday. It drained me for the remainder of the day. But I wrote a new melody to a shabd I really love, "my friend, my beloved friend, standing so hear to me is my friend...."

And finally, The Seattle Seahawks are in the Superbowl! I can't believe it. I move away and they decide to make a run to become world champions. Is it me?

Happy Monday, everyone.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Shopping and Samagam

Well, I always try to balance out my uberspiritual weekends with either a lot of TV or shopping--just so I don't lose my head. A couple of friends and I headed for Albuquerque Saturday morning for my first Samagam--a weekend-long kirtan in the Sikh tradition. It was really lovely, especially the morning program of chanting and silent meditation followed by singing the morning prayers (shabds). What a generous tradition! We were all put up in hotel rooms during our stay and fed three meals a day, plus snacks (ahhhh burfee!).

It was a bit unnerving when we first arrived. The room where the chanting was being held was complete dark. We couldn't tell where to walk, sit, or kneel to the guru. We had to have them turn the lights on--twice--thankfully, no one derided us for our clumsy ways! And once we sat and joined the chanting of the gurmantra, Wahe Guru, in the dim light, we understood. What a wonderful way to completely let yourself blend with the sound current. No distractions.

I sandwiched the weekend with some heavy duty shopping. I now have the ultimate tv-viewing couch there is--cushy and each end has a recliner! And no, there aren't cup holders, too;I had to maintain some dignity (smile). But, for the remainder of the winter, I'm going to have some posh digs for movie viewing from home. Now if I could only afford satellite for the spring NBA championships.

Speaking of sports: How disappointing was this weekend in the NFL? My two favorite teams, the Patriots and the Colts, both out in some miserable, mistake-ridden games. Unbelievable!

Monday, January 09, 2006

Movies, Movies, Movies

Brokeback Mountain

Breaks your heart. I love Ang Lee and he can do no wrong in my book. Director of The Ice Storm and Sense and Sensibility and now Brokeback Mountain, he can be forgiven for The Hulk (which wasn't bad, actually).

These two actors, Ledger and Gyllenhall, are two of my favorite young actors to watch. And in these roles, they are stunning. Set in the 1960s and 70s, Lee allows us to watch a 20-year love affair between two men without sentimentality and without denying the contradictions of the time and the place. You see the pain in their marriages, you feel the division within the Ledger character as well as the heartbreak, and you witness the passion and possession of Gyllenhall's character, which ultimately leads to his death.

This film is beautiful, compassionate, and full of truth about the human condition. I highly recommend it.

Rumor Has It

I was actually surprised by how much I enjoyed this film. The premise is original and unique. The main character, played by Anniston, finds out that the family that inspired The Graduate, that classic movie with Hoffman, is HER family. It's entertaining, it's funny, and the performances by MacLaine, Ruffalo and Anniston are brilliant. Even Costner didn't ruin it for me.

The portrayal of Pasadena, California is of the "good life." Tennis and cocktails everyday all day. I personally love Pasadena and consider it one of the few real cities in Southern California. As the backdrop to the misfit, Anniston character who has moved to New York--a real city--it's a perfect counterpoint. She's not blond enough, perfect enough, whatever enough for Pasadena. Rumor Has It is the timeless tale that every child has a fantasy of at one point or another in their lives--this isn't my family and they set out to find their "real" family. Most of us get over by the time we're twelve, though.

At times funny and at times moving, we see Anniston struggle with the choices her mother made and her own choices she's to make. We also get to witness how different our perceptions of our family can be from reality. I think it's worth seeing.

Cafe Lumiere (Rental)

This Japanese film must have inspired Lost in Translation, which I loved. However, it doesn't translate--or I'm just not a foreign film afficianado any more. (I've become a junk movie junkie!) This slow-paced, observer film about a young Japanese girl moving through her life, is just that--slow. Perhaps Lost in Translation had just enough humor, thanks to Bill Murray's brilliant work, to make it manageable. Or, perhaps I just don't enjoy the same pace when I have to read subtitles? I don't know. But unless you feel like watching a movie about nothing, that also includes no humor to break up the pace, I'd skip it.

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Back to the Grind

Well, the new year has barely begun and I'm already back to the grindstone. Putting in long hours and wishing I could just be home watching a movie, preferably curled up with something other than my cats! Wishful thinking, but still, a girl's got to keep hope alive; besides a little hard work never killed anybody. (Well, with the exception of all the miners, industrial laborers, and others who have been killed by the lack of quality and safety controls in their work environments by their money-driven owners.)

Another night at Ojo. I made some rockin' hot chocolate with a touch of cayenne. It's good for what ails you. Really! I had been sick for several days over the new year (I know, what a way to begin it!) and a long soak and a spicy drink and I was healed.

My brother has been in the hospital throughout the holiday season. Quite a shock considering he's the healthiest one of us all. Fit as a fiddle as they say. You pass 35 and your body starts betraying you. You look in the mirror and try to remember who's there. For me, it was literally like clockwork: I turned 35 and my digestive system just decided to take a year off. Nothing worked any more. Two years later and now it works over time. I sometimes praise the gods that I'm still single so that I can sit on the couch in utter exhaustion and shock as my body implodes and explodes and generally defies my innate desire toward decorum. (Okay, so I don't lean toward decorum, but still, a woman has to pretend to the social graces.)

Meanwhile, your diet gets more and more restrictive just to maintain some semblance of normalcy. How do we do it? Well, the alternative is a real downer, so there you have it.

And it's back to the grind for me. See you on the other side of tomorrow.