22nd Annual Massachusetts Multicultural Film Festival ‏@UMassFilm Spotlight Amherst Alum @GREGREITMAN’s @ROOTEDinPEACE

March 24, 2015

mmff-201522nd Annual Massachusetts Multicultural Film Festival
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: ROOTED IN PEACE
A Greg Reitman Film

rooted-peace

UMass Amherst alum Greg Reitman (’93) presents a personal journey of discovery, seeking answers to humanity’s self-destructive cycles of waste, war, and violence in this fascinating documentary. Seeking counsel from famous luminaries and activists, the film asks us how we want to live on this planet and challenges us to examine our own values.

Reitman interviews physician and author Deepak Chopra, music legends Donovan, Mike Love, and Pete Seeger, film director David Lynch, Noble Peace Laureate Mairead Maguire, media mogul Ted Turner, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, green architect William McDonough, neuroscientists Dan Siegel, Fred Travis, and many others. Greg also returned to his alma mater to show where he first came up with the idea of planting trees for peace. [official site | event poster | MMFF site | Rooted in Peace showing]

This 2015 documentary film premiered at the 21st Annual Sedona International Film Festival, February 21–March 1, 2015. See previous blog post on this Sundance Alum: Greg Reitman’s film, ROOTED in PEACE, inspires us to change from within to transform the world. See the trailer.

The Amherst-Maharishi-TM-Connection

Amherst is home to the Transcendentalists, Emerson and Thoreau, and Emily Dickinson. So it seemed fitting for the UMass Amherst campus to be selected as the site for a meditation course and symposium in the summer of 1971.

I was one of hundreds who had attended that one-month Transcendental Meditation Teacher Training Course taught by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Another course followed on the West Coast at Humboldt State College, now University, in Arcata, California. Over two thousand of us would continue with the next step in our Teacher Training Course with Maharishi the following year in Mallorca, Spain and Fuiggi Fonte, Italy for six months, from January to June, 1972.

One of the Amherst course participants was Beach Boy Mike Love. I was introduced to him by Charles Lloyd, a jazz musician on the course who became a friend. I used to give them lifts to and from the dining hall. I would meet Donovan years later, and David Lynch, decades later. You can imagine my surprise when Greg told me he had graduated from UMass Amherst! It was great to arrange for Greg to interview Donovan and Mike Love on how they met Maharishi and learned TM, and David Lynch and Bob Roth, director of the David Lynch Foundation, about the transformational value of TM in schools and for at-risk populations. Small world! Full circle!

Wednesday, March 25th, tomorrow night’s showing of ROOTED IN PEACE, should be fulfilling for Greg, as he brings it all back home. He’s worked hard on this film and deserves all the kudos for manifesting this vision of personal and global transformation.

Following the course was the First International Symposium on the Science of Creative Intelligence. Maharishi interacted with many leading scientists and thinkers in all areas of life, including Buckminster Fuller. His presentations were so impressive that Maharishi kept interjecting his Vedic perspective in agreement. At a certain point, Fuller turned towards Maharishi and spoke only to him since he felt he was the only one who truly understood what he was saying. At the end he went over to Maharishi who had stood up to greet him and they held hands together. Everyone rose on their feet and applauded for a good ten to fifteen minutes. Those were very heady days! There also was a special press conference with both Fuller and Maharishi following his talk. It’s posted on the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi Channel in 3 parts. I’ll post links here. Very much worth watching!

1/3. Buckminster Fuller and Maharishi Mahesh Yogi Part One of Press
2/3. Buckminster Fuller and Maharishi Mahesh Yogi Part Two of Press
3/3. Buckminster Fuller and Maharishi Mahesh Yogi Part Three of Press

Watch a CBC film of Maharishi at Lake Louise, and a later A&E biography.

A fictional story about a young couple who meet at UMass Amherst, learn to meditate and meet Maharishi, and return to live in Amherst where most of the story takes place, was written by B. Steven Verney. Read more and listen to an interview on Writers’ Voices with the author of “The Best of All Possible Worlds.”

UPDATE

I tweeted Greg Reitman today about last night’s showing of ROOTED in PEACE and he replied: Full house, engaged audience, lots of questions afterwards … Yes lots of people wanted to buy the DVD which will be available in the fall … That would be the plan and will have 20 minutes of extra scenes on the DVD.

Billy Collins suggests more creative ways to respond to poetry than analyzing it to death

March 18, 2015

The New York Times calls Billy Collins “the most popular poet in America.” In his poem, Introduction to Poetry, the former two-term U.S. Poet Laureate (2001-2003) suggests more creative ways to respond to poetry than analyzing it to death. This blog post also reveals how Collins writes and teaches poetry. It may surprise you.

Introduction to Poetry

I ask them to take a poem
and hold it up to the light
like a color slide

or press an ear against its hive.

I say drop a mouse into a poem
and watch him probe his way out,

or walk inside the poem’s room
and feel the walls for a light switch.

I want them to waterski
across the surface of a poem
waving at the author’s name on the shore.

But all they want to do
is tie the poem to a chair with rope
and torture a confession out of it.

They begin beating it with a hose
to find out what it really means.

The Apple that Astonished Paris © 1988, 1996

Listen to Billy Collins read his poem, Introduction to Poetry.

Billy Collins speaks to English teachers in this poem who look at poetry as something to be analyzed and dissected. They teach their students to try to find out what a poem means instead of emotionally responding to it. To make his point, Collins amusingly suggests ways students might approach and experience a poem, instead of “beating it with a hose to find out what it really means.”

Writing and Teaching Poetry

Collins reveals more about his writing process and how he teaches poetry when answering a question from a middle school English teacher. He acknowledges the search for meaning in a poem, but when he writes a poem, meaning is the furthest thing on his mind. He’s just trying to get to the next line, and the next, to finally arrive at the ending.

Basically when you’re teaching poetry, despite that poem (Introduction to Poetry), you’re talking about meaning. We’re basically extracting meaning from the poem. And I realized at some point, that when I wrote a poem, meaning was the last thing on my mind. I never gave it a thought.

Basically, in a poem, I’m just trying to find the next line. I’m trying to find a way for the poem to go. And I’m trying to get to some destination. I’m not thinking about, ‘What’s the poem about, or meaning?’ Or, I’m not thinking of, ‘How will people write study questions about this poem and make any sense out of it?’

So I try to bring some of that into my teaching. I try to substitute for the question, ‘What does a poem mean?’ the question, ‘How does a poem go?’ ‘How does a poem get where its going?’ (It goes from the beginning to the end, maneuvering through shift points along the way, in search of a destination.) A poem is always searching for its own ending. And that’s what poets are thinking about. It’s not a search for insight, particularly. It’s a search to be over with.

PBS NewsHour’s Jeffrey Brown interviewed Billy Collins on their Poetry Series about his new collection, Aimless Love: New and Selected Poems. “I knew that poets seemed to be miserable,” said Collins about his younger self, yearning to fit in. While he admits he “faked a miserable character” at the start of his career, he’s since embraced his sense of humor. Poet Billy Collins on humor, authenticity and ‘Aimless Love’

William Stafford on Writing Poetry

William Stafford was Poetry consultant for the Library of Congress in 1970, what a Poet Laureate was called before they created the office. He was named Poet Laureate of Oregon from 1975-93. Stafford’s style of writing and teaching was process-oriented. He gave no praise or blame to his students’ writing. He encouraged English teachers and writing students to be innocent when writing poetry, without any preconceived notions of how it should go, and to be open to discovering the unexpected turns a poem could take on the way to its own completion.

Stafford was very open to spontaneity and receptivity when writing poetry. He said most teachers would spell out what a piece of writing should look like, and expected their students to reproduce the same. This product-oriented approach left no room for the imagination. “They want a wilderness with a map.” But, he asks, “how about errors that give a new start?” Errors, he said, “make a music that nobody hears. Your straying feet find the great dance,” and “stumbling always leads home.” That’s how he wrote poems, early every morning. Enjoy reading these William Stafford poems, A Course in Creative Writing, and You and Art.

My Own Experience as a Writer

I agree with Collins and Stafford that the creative process is a mystery, and coming to the end of a poem is a wonderful relief, especially when I see it finishing itself. It also surprises me with what it’s about, sometimes revealing a deeper meaning at the end than imagined. This meaningful sense of completion is why writing poetry can be so fulfilling.

Two early meta-poems describe this process: Writing—a poem on the writing process, and Sometimes Poetry Happens: a poem about the mystery of creativity. Two early poems I’d written that surprised me with their endings are, As Above So Below, and later, Pine Cone Trees.

My son Nathanael Chawkin wrote a poem called INSPIRATION, an outcome from the first homework assignment in his Grade Six Literature class. He felt strongly that you couldn’t force a student to write a poem; it had to come on its own accord. The poem innocently and profoundly expresses the spontaneity of the poetic process. I also added information with links after his poem about the writing process you may find interesting.

Hafiz’s poem, God Pours Light, awakens the soul and frees the mind from debating words about it

March 11, 2015

GOD POURS LIGHT

God
pours light
into every cup,
quenching darkness.

The proudly pious
stuff their cups with parchment
and critique the taste of ink

while God pours light

and the trees lift their limbs
without worry of redemption,
every blossom a chalice.

Hafiz, seduce those withered souls
with words that wet their parched lips

as light
pours like rain
into every empty cup
set adrift on the Infinite Ocean.

~ Hafiz ~

(Interpretive version of Ghazal 11 by Jose Orez)

See more profound poems by Hafiz posted on this blog.

Selected Wise Words From Rumi

February 28, 2015

There are many wise sayings from Rumi. Some were posted on the blog: something to tell. I copied a few thoughtful and instructive ones:

Raise your words, not voice. It is rain that grows flowers, not thunder.

When someone is counting out gold for you, don’t look at your hands, or the gold. Look at the giver.

Let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you really love. It will not lead you astray.

You are not just the drop in the ocean. You are the mighty ocean in the drop.

Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.

See more quotes and images from this blogger at rumi’s wise words.

You may also enjoy Two kinds of knowledge about living and learning.

Here’s another one: Poems by Rumi and Octavio Paz open our minds to a more cosmic perspective. Also see several inspiring poems by Hafiz.

 

Time for some humor and love — WELCOME BACK

February 19, 2015

Saw this on a friend’s Twitter feed. Too funny to not share. Made my day!

WELCOME BACK

Words are not needed here; it says it all, but I couldn’t resist. Welcome back to the school of life. Seem familiar? Did we learn our lessons well? No? Having to repeat a class? Time for a fresher course, and then some! Maybe we’ll get it right this time around. You think? If not, there’s always the next class, the next life, with more lessons to be learned. :-)

COMING BACK FOR LOVE IN FIVE ROMANTIC FILMS

Made in Heaven posterWhen it comes to getting it right for love, I recommend my all-time favorite romantic movie: Made in Heaven (1987), about two souls, played by Timothy Hutton and Kelly McGillis, who meet and fall in love in Heaven. Annie (McGillis) is sent to Earth and Mike (Hutton) makes a deal to be reborn (Elmo) to find her (Ally). But he’s given a time-frame of 30 years in which to do it, otherwise he’ll lose her forever. It’s a magical movie filled with surprises. Rent it, or find out more on Wikipedia.

That year, Wim Wenders came out with his amazing film, Wings of Desire, about an angel who tires of overseeing human beings and wishes to become one himself when he falls in love with a mortal.

City of Angels posterTen years later it was adapted for English audiences as City of Angels (1998). Wenders co-wrote the screenplay. Nicholas Cage plays the angel who falls in love with a doctor, Meg Ryan, because of her beauty and concern for her patients. She doesn’t believe in angels, but when he reveals himself to her she falls in love with him, and has to decide between him or her fiance. One patient, a former angel, tells him how he became human for a woman. He does the same and experiences the joys and sorrows of love and loss.

sit-bdAnother great movie is Somewhere in Time (1980adapted from the 1975 novel Bid Time Return by Richard Matheson who also wrote the screenplay. Richard Collier (Christopher Reeve), a playwright, falls in love with a picture of Elise McKenna (Jane Seymour), an actress who had performed at the Grand Hotel. He discovers he was there and finds a way to travel back in time to win her heart. It works, but something unexpected happens that changes everything.

The SAG strike and lack of funds prevented the film from being effectively launched that year. When it was finally shown in New York, critics panned it, squashing plans for a national release. But, with the advent of cable television and late night movies, it soon became a cult classic and went on to win numerous awards.

John Barry composed the beautiful soundtrack including the haunting 18th variation of Sergei Rachmaninoff’s Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini. Barry had been mourning the death of his parents and was not making himself available for work, but Seymour, a close friend, and the script, persuaded him to get involved. He channeled his emotions into the music, which contributed to the film’s success. Visit the official fan website to find out more: http://www.somewhereintime.tv.

Another beautiful time-travel love story is The Two Worlds of Jennie Logan, a 1979 made-for-television movie based on the much-loved classic novel Second Sight by David Williams.

The Two Worlds of Jennie LoganAfter trying on a dress found in the attic of an old Victorian house her husband purchased to try to save their marriage, Jennie Logan accidentally travels into the past. After several visits there she discovers true love. Returning to the present she investigates who he was and how he may have been killed. She travels between both worlds in an attempt to save her lover’s life and alter history. Find out more at IMDb and the Amazon book description and comments. Watch it on YouTube.

Defending Your LifeOn a lighter note, Albert Brooks wrote, directed and starred, with Meryl Streep, in Defending Your Life (1991), “the first true story of what happens after you die.” The dead are sent to Judgement City, a vacation-style place for the afterlife where representatives using large amounts of their brain potential help you defend your life in front of a court. The opposition also reviews aspects of your life where you showed fear instead of courage, the intent being to learn from past experiences.

Shirley MacLaine has a cameo role inviting people to the Pavilion of Past Lives, which is quite funny. There is also a love interest between the main characters who meet while their lives are undergoing review before they will be sent onto their different destinations. The question is, will he overcome his fears and sacrifice everything to be with this wonderful woman? You’ll have to see the movie to find out. :-)

Blending heaven and earth, the divine and the mortal, the idyllic past with the unfulfilled present, or unresolved issues exposed in the afterlife, each film provides a different perspective on the sacrifice the main character makes for love, giving up one to gain the other. The ways of karma are unfathomable, but true love is eternal, and transformational!

LEAVING ROMANCE BEHIND TO FIND ONESELF

There was one movie that made a big impression on me when I saw it on television as a teenager. It’s about love, but more the story of one man’s quest for self-realization in a confused and materialistic world.

Razors_Edge (1946)The Razor’s Edge tells Larry Darrell’s story and his search for meaning after a comrade dies saving his life on the last day of World War One. Larry leaves love behind to find himself. He rejects the conventional life in search of a more transcendent experience, which takes him to India where he meets a guru. His search for enlightenment fulfilled, he may not have to reincarnate if he can walk the razor’s edge, live in the world and not be taken over by it, anchored to his Self.

Larry returns to find his friends who are suffering due to a reversal of fortune brought about by the Great Depression. He shares what he’s learned to help them. Read more of the story on Wikipedia. I saw the original 1946 version starring Tyrone Power, based on the book by W. Somerset Maugham, which I later read.

Razors_Edge (1984)It was remade in 1984 with Bill Murray in his first dramatic role. Murray also co-wrote the screenplay with director John Byrum. Visit Wikipedia for a full summary. Byrum couldn’t find a studio to finance it. Dan Aykroyd suggested Murray could appear in Ghostbusters for Columbia Pictures in exchange for the studio funding The Razor’s Edge. Murray agreed and a deal was made. Though the film lost money, Ghostbusters went on to make millions.

Both versions of The Razor’s Edge are worth watching for their own values, but I prefer the earlier one. You can see it here.

This poem by William Stafford—The Way It Is—perfectly describes the kind of perspective Larry Darrell developed and how he lived his life.

PERSONAL NOTE

Larry Darrell’s quest spoke to me as a young person and unknowingly foreshadowed the direction my life would take during my college years and beyond when I would discover Maharishi Mahesh Yogi and his Transcendental Meditation technique. Our generation was so fortunate to have received the many gifts Maharishi brought out from the Himalayas. He inspired us to develop our full potential as human beings with TM and its advanced techniques, and to work with him to help make this world a better place to live in by applying his life-transforming Vedic knowledge and technologies in health, education, rehabilitation, virtually all areas of life. We are forever grateful. JGD

 To find out more about Maharishi, see this HuffPost article by Philip Goldberg on Maharishi. Also watch the 1968 film of Maharishi at Lake Louise and the 2007 A&E biopic on the History Channel.

Our Meditation Love Poem for Valentine’s Day

February 14, 2015

I wrote Our Meditation Love Poem, about 4 ½ years ago, and decided to post it now, for Valentine’s Day. I was visiting my sweetheart during the week at her care facility and wrote the poem and story behind it that Saturday, September 4, 2010, almost 4 ½ months after she moved in.

OurMeditationLovePoemForSali

I was remembering the meditation we had this week; my chest area filled up with a great inner warmth and bliss of loving you. Tonight, I was listening to Leonard Cohen singing his songs of love, and started writing this poem from that memory, that feeling, and also remembered the quote in the film, Tristan and Isolde, when he is dying and he says to her, “You were right—life is greater than death, but love is greater than either.” He was referring to what she had said when they first met, about following your heart, and that love in one’s life fills up what would otherwise be an empty shell of duty and honor, quoting John Donne’s The Good Morrow, where he writes:

My face in thine eye, thine in mine appeares,
And true plaine hearts doe in the faces rest,
…..
If our two loves be one, or, thou and I
Love so alike, that none doe slacken, none can die.

So I came up with this poem, Our Meditation Love Poem. I found myself writing a 17-syllable line, the sum of a haiku in 3 lines. I liked the flow and decided to make each line 17 syllables long, each one having its own internal rhythm and flow. I wanted to write 11 lines for some reason, maybe thinking there were 11 syllables in each line. But now I remember there are 17. But I would then have to write 6 more lines, and right now I can’t see it. I naturally divided them into 2 stanzas of 4 lines each followed by a stanza of 3 at the end. It seems to have worked well.

Related: See this for : i carry your heart with me by e.e. cummings. And This Quiet Love, a #LovePoem from Kenny, for Sally on #ValentinesDay. Enjoy reading other beautiful love poems posted on The Uncarved Blog.

This Quiet Love, a #LovePoem from Kenny, for Sally on #ValentinesDay

February 14, 2015

This Quiet Love

This is a quiet love
One of simplicity and easiness
No complications here
It’s too late in life for that sort of thing
Just time to be best friends

© Ken Chawkin
October 22, 2006
Fairfield, Iowa

I wrote this poem around 8 years and 4 months ago at the recognition of a growing friendship I was sharing with someone special. I realized I was enjoying a different kind of love at this stage of my life, and it was good. Earlier attempts at love in relationships had been disappointing—unrequited, romantic, irresponsible, tempestuous, lustful, and in the end, unfulfilled. I didn’t think true love was possible, or if it even existed.

And then it happened, but not all at once. We had met briefly 10 years earlier, then forgot. After we unknowingly reconnected, a story in itself, love took some time to blossom, to be earned. She was UNDECIDED about being COMMITTED. Through each stage, poems would flow forth; she became my muse. All poems listed in the sub-category Sally Peden are about Sali, except the first 3, which were written by her about a visit To Jyotir Math with Maharishi Mahesh Yogi.

Later my love would be tested when An Unwanted Guest came to live with us. Eventually we would have to live apart, which lead to the Dementia Blues. But Sally’s Smile would continue to uplift me and all those around her. Many changes continue to transform our lives, each in our own way. I never would have imagined this kind of development, but This Quiet Love continues to sustain me. As does the love of my family, my children and my siblings, for which I am truly grateful.

See this for : i carry your heart with me by e.e. cummings. See Our Meditation Love Poem for Valentine’s Day, and other beautiful love poems posted on The Uncarved Blog.

Listen to Canadian harpist Kristan Toczko perform Claude Debussy’s Clair de Lune. Just beautiful!

February 12, 2015

Time now for a peaceful musical interlude. Listen to Canadian harpist, Kristan Toczko, play Claude Debussy’s romantic composition, Clair de Lune. It was recorded live on May 12, 2014 at the Church of the Holy Trinity in Toronto, ON, Canada, and later published on her YouTube channel, Kristan Toczko, August 5, 2014. This short classical piece, and her interpretation of it, are just beautiful!! Like a powerful haiku, it leaves you with a deeply peaceful feeling.

I also found this beautiful performance of Claude Debussy “Clair de lune” by Angela Hewitt in a live concert for the Royal Conservatory of Music at Toronto’s Koerner Hall recorded for CBC Music.

This rendition of Claude Debussy – Suite Bergamasque – Clair de Lune by the famous French-American pianist François-Joël Thiollier is sublime! I also found it as Clair de Lune (Moonlight) showing the album cover.

Apparently, Clair de Lune, was a French poem written by Paul Verlaine in 1869, and became the inspiration for the third and most famous movement of Debussy’s 1890 Suite Bergamasque of the same name.

Cameron Diaz tells Bob Roth @LynchFoundation how #TranscendentalMeditation has helped her

February 10, 2015

Watch this Conversation with Cameron Diaz presented by the David Lynch Foundation. Published Feb 7, 2015 on the DavidLynchFoundation channel, actress and author Cameron Diaz was interviewed by DLF Executive Director Bob Roth on her personal practice of the Transcendental Meditation technique. Cameron is sweet and lively as she shares some amazing stories, practical ways that TM helped her deal with personal relationships, acting under stressful conditions, and more. The event took place in New York City at Donna Karan’s Urban Zen, a DLF sponsor.

Visit the David Lynch Foundation to see how they are helping different sectors of society overcome trauma and transform lives: www.davidlynchfoundation.org.

Denise Levertov’s Primary Wonder is being present to the quiet mystery that sustains us

February 10, 2015

This beautiful profound little poem, Primary Wonder, by Denise Levertov (1923–1997), reminds us what is important when we get overshadowed by life’s little problems. When she became present to the mystery, experienced that joyful cosmic stillness within, she realized her life, and all of creation was sustained by the Creator. Life’s problems receded, became insignificant when presented with such primary wonder.

Primary Wonder

Days pass when I forget the mystery.
Problems insoluble and problems offering
their own ignored solutions
jostle for my attention, they crowd its antechamber
along with a host of diversions, my courtiers, wearing
their colored clothes; cap and bells.

…………………………………………….And then
once more the quiet mystery
is present to me, the throng’s clamor
recedes: the mystery
that there is anything, anything at all,
let alone cosmos, joy, memory, everything,
rather than void: and that, O Lord,
Creator, Hallowed One, You still,
hour by hour sustain it.

The Upanishads say a similar thing for those who are awake or self-referral: Brahma bhavati sarathi: Brahman is the charioteer, all actions are conducted for you by the laws of nature. And another quote says: From bliss all these beings are born, in bliss they are sustained, and to bliss they go and merge again. (Taittiriya Upanishad 3.6.1)


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