Archive for December, 2011

Words of Wisdom on Writing from Literary Lights

December 30, 2011

Maria Popova

Maria Popova – Maria Popova is the editor of Brain Pickings, a curated inventory of miscellaneous interestingness. She writes for Wired UK and GOOD, and spends a shameful amount of time on Twitter. All Posts | Email Popova

What sleep and plagiarism have to do with the poetry of experience and the experience of poetry
 
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I recently stumbled upon a delightful little book called Advice to Writers, “a compendium of quotes, anecdotes, and writerly wisdom from a dazzling array of literary lights,” originally published in 1999. From how to find a good agent to what makes characters compelling, it spans the entire spectrum of the aspirational and the utilitarian, covering grammar, genres, material, money, plot, plagiarism, and, of course, encouragement. Here are some words of wisdom from some of my favorite writers featured:

“Finish each day before you begin the next, and interpose a solid wall of sleep between the two. This you cannot do without temperance.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Begin with an individual and you find that you have created a type; begin with a type and you find that you have created—nothing.” ~ F. Scott Fitzgerald

“Don’t ever write a novel unless it hurts like a hot turd coming out.” ~ Charles Bukowski

“Breathe in experience, breathe out poetry.” ~ Muriel Rukeyser

“A short story must have single mood and every sentence must build towards it.” ~ Edgar Allan Poe

“You never have to change anything you got up in the middle of the night to write.” ~ Saul Bellow

“Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal.” ~ T. S. Eliot

“Fiction is a lie, and good fiction is the truth inside the lie.” ~ Stephen King

“Good fiction is made of what is real, and reality is difficult to come by.” ~ Ralph Ellison

“The problem with fiction, it has to be plausible. That’s not true with non-fiction.” ~ Tom Wolfe

“You cannot write well without data.” ~ George Higgins

“Listen, then make up your own mind.” ~ Gay Talese

“Find a subject you care about and which you in your heart feel others should care about. It is this genuine caring, not your games with language, which will be the most compelling and seductive element in your style.” ~ Kurt Vonnegut

“Write without pay until somebody offers pay; if nobody offers within three years, sawing wood is what you were intended for.” ~ Mark Twain

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This post appears courtesy of Brain Pickings, an Atlantic partner site.

Image credit: Knopf

This article available online at: http://www.theatlantic.com

Here’s a good resource of Writers on writing – an updated reading list of 70 notable meditations by Bradbury, Didion, Sontag, Hemingway & more http://j.mp/1huxG1S posted by Maria Popova @brainpicker.

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Before He Makes Each One by Rainer Maria Rilke

December 25, 2011

Before He Makes Each One

Before he makes each one
of us, God speaks.

Then, without speaking,
he takes each one
out of the darkness.

And these are the cloudy
words God speaks
before each of us begins:

“You have been sent out
by your senses. Go
to the farthest edge
of desire, and give me
clothing: burn like a great
fire so that the stretched-out
shadows of the things
of the world cover
me completely.
Let everything happen
to you: beauty and terror.
You must just go–
no feeling is the farthest
you can go. Don’t let
yourself be separated
from me. The country
called life is close.
By its seriousness,
you will know it.
Give me your hand.”

~ Rainer Maria Rilke  ~

(Translated by Annie Boutelle, Metamorphoses Fall 2001)

First published in German in 1905, by Rainer Maria Rilke, as Das Stundenbuch, The Book of Hours: Prayers to a Lowly God. There are several translations, known as Rilke’s Book of Hours: Love Poems to God. Here is another version, God speaks to each of us, translated by Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy.

Born: December 04, 1875 in Prague, Czech Republic
Died: December 29, 1926

Quotes by Rainer Maria Rilke

“Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books that are now written in a very foreign tongue. Do not now seek the answers, which cannot be given you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.”

“The work of the eyes is done. Go now and do the heart-work on the images imprisoned within you.”

“The only journey is the one within.”

This idea was expressed more eloquently by American poet, lecturer and essayist (1803-1882) Ralph Waldo Emerson when he said: “What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” I wonder if Rilke read Emerson?

See Letters to a Young Poet Quotes.

Also see: Singing Image of Fire, a poem by Kukai, with thoughts on language, translation, and creation.

Meditation for Students: Results of the David Lynch Foundation’s Quiet Time/TM Program in San Francisco Schools

December 24, 2011

David Lynch Foundation Event in San Francisco: Meditation for Students

The David Lynch Foundation held a benefit gala in San Francisco on June 1 at the Legion of Honor, to showcase the successes of a five-year project to bring the stress-reducing Transcendental Meditation technique to students in inner-city San Francisco schools. In this video, you will hear James Dierke, principal of Visitacion Valley Middle School talk about the unprecedented academic achievements of his meditating students; iconic filmmaker David Lynch talk about the inspiring work of his foundation among at-risk populations; and Dr. Norman Rosenthal, internationally renowned psychiatrist and NY Times bestselling author, discuss the amazing results of scientific research on the TM technique. See other featured past events posted on the David Lynch Foundation website. To hear more about the David Lynch Foundation and it’s programs, please visit: http://www.davidlynchfoundation.org.

Uploaded by on Jul 7, 2011.

See selected highlights of Inspiring results from the TM-Quiet Time Program in the San Francisco Unified School District.

A Haiku on The Heart of Haiku

December 18, 2011

This week I discovered and posted the Interview from FROGPOND with Jane Hirshfield on The Heart of Haiku. I had read Nine Gates: Entering the Mind of Poetry by Jane Hirshfield, a classic collection of essays about the mysterious ways poetry comes to us, and had thoroughly enjoyed it. So this first Kindle Single by Jane on haiku looked very enticing.

On Friday night, after reading a free sample of The Heart of Haiku, named “Best Kindle Single of 2011,” I decided to purchase this 29-page essay about the life and poetry of Matsuo Bashō, recognized as the master of concise, compelling Japanese haiku. I downloaded the free App from Amazon, then bought the $0.99 Kindle Single. It loaded instantly. I signed in, and started reading. It was that simple.

Saturday I took my computer with me when I went to visit my friend Sali. I explained what I had done, showed her what the essay looked like in the Kindle Cloud Reader on my computer, how it allowed me to select the look of the page, (I chose Sepia), change the size of the font and length of the lines, highlight and make notes. I continued reading, aloud to Sali, where I had left off at home. We were fascinated!

Bashō had discovered the earlier Chinese and Japanese poets, wrote renga, tanka, and haiku, became a poet and teacher, studied Zen and Taoism, indulged his senses, then lived like a monk roaming the countryside. We appreciated the beauty, simplicity and depth of his poetry, and the skill of Jane Hirshfield’s erudite explanations, herself a poet, teacher, and practitioner of Zen. It seemed appropriate for her to explain where Bashō was coming from. Hirshfield had collaborated with Mariko Aratani, her co-translator for the classical-era tanka poets in The Ink Dark Moon.

It was dinner time and the other residents were already eating their meal. An aide brought in Sali’s tray, but we were enjoying the story so much I just kept on reading and lost track of the time. I happened to mention that and realized I was speaking out what could easily become a haiku. Sali has that effect on me; she’s my muse! So here’s the haiku on reading The Heart of Haiku to Sali.

A Haiku on The Heart of Haiku

We forgot to eat
Reading The Heart of Haiku
It can fill you up

Also see the excellent Poetry Foundation biography on Jane Hirshfield, including poems, articles and more; Pirene’s Fountain: Jane Hirshfield on Poetic Craft; and What Rainer Maria Rilke inscribed on the copy of The Duino Elegies he gave his Polish translator. You can find some of my own haiku and tanka under My Poems.

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Interview from FROGPOND with Jane Hirshfield on The Heart of Haiku

December 15, 2011

where the writers are

Interview from FROGPOND with Jane Hirshfield on The Heart of Haiku

Blog Post by Jane Hirshfield – Oct.25.2011 – 6:22 am

The new issue of the Haiku Society of America’s excellent FROGPOND journal is out. The following interview appears there.

“At the Heart of The Heart of Haiku: An Interview with Jane Hirshfield”

This interview was conducted by email in August, 2011.

CE: Thank you, Jane, for agreeing to this interview. I think your Kindle Single, The Heart of Haiku, will be of interest to many haiku poets, as will your comments about this essay. You have a long history of printed publications, and you have described yourself previously as someone who is not especially comfortable with computer technology. What prompted you to circulate The Heart of Haiku as a Kindle Single?

JANE: Thank you—I appreciate the chance to talk about this with what I see as this piece’s most natural audience, the haiku community.

Bringing this piece out as a Kindle Single was an experiment—I had never read an e-book myself before this came out. I have to admit, I don’t really like reading on-screen. But many others do, and mostly I did this because the description for the Single program fit exactly what I had: an essay-lecture too long for publication in any magazine, but not long enough for a formal printed book. I had thought about expanding it into a regular book—but I’d have needed to polish many more of the new translations I’d done (with the invaluable help of Mariko Aratani, my co-translator for the classical-era tanka poets in The Ink Dark Moon), and I’d also have needed to round the book more fully. I do now wish I had put some back matter into even this Single—a “further resources” section, for instance. But I never could quite decide to expand it, the piece stayed on my desk, and when the suggestion to submit this to the new Kindle Singles program came up, I took it almost on impulse. I didn’t actually expect them to accept it—it’s by far the most literary thing on their list so far. And then from acceptance to publication was dizzyingly fast—two weeks, including their copyediting, which was, by the way, very good. So I didn’t have any time for anything but the quickest final pass.

You know, Basho himself might have been one of the first to buy an iPad or Kindle. He was never without the books of earlier Chinese and Japanese poets he loved, and I imagine would have been happy to carry less weight in his knapsack. He was, throughout his life, both practical and what’s now called “an early adopter”—haiku anthologies were the first broadly popular printed books in Japan, so Basho, who published in them and also brought one out himself, was participating in the leading-edge technology of his time. One thing I muse over in The Heart of Haiku is that Basho, today, might have been the first person to take You Tube videos and turn them into a true art form. What he did feels comparable to that, to me.

There are so many superb books on Basho already, I’m not sure the world needs another. That was always one of my hesitations about turning this into a book. I do retain all the rights, and will quite likely include this in my next book of essays. That way it will reach more people who don’t already know about haiku—which is what I first wrote it to do. And the Kindle Single did do that—a truly startling number of people have bought it so far, in only two months. I’m sure it helps that it costs only 99 cents, and can be downloaded onto any computer almost instantly. I hope some of them may continue to pursue that curiosity further.

CE: I understand that this project began as a presentation for the 2007 Branching Out series of poetry lectures held in public libraries around the country, a program co-sponsored by the Poetry Society of America and Poets’ House. How would you characterize your initial audience? How much did you revise the presentation before it was published by Amazon? For instance, to what extent was this project originally conceived of as a way to help people better understand and appreciate haiku as readers or as casual writers of haiku-like poems? Do you feel that the current version is at least as much directed toward those who already write haiku as it is toward the initial audience?

I was asked by the Branching Out program to give a talk for the general public—for people who might not have read much poetry, let alone haiku. I tried to do that—to find ways to open the field to newcomers—but poetry is a universal language, whose very point is that it does not simplify; it expands, saturates, investigates, faces many directions at once. I tried to make the original talk something that would be interesting to both kinds of audience—new, and informed—and truly, there isn’t that much of a gap. You’re always a beginner, entering a poem. A poem asks an original, unjaded presence, some state that includes both informed awareness and the erasure of preconception.

I have polished the piece quite a lot since the original lecture, but that’s just what I do with anything I write, poetry or prose. I’d gone over it again just this past February, when I was asked to lecture on Basho at a Japanese university. As to whether I changed it to make it more useful for serious writers of haiku, no, not specifically. I myself don’t make that strong a distinction between looking at poetry as a writer and as a reader. Every serious writer needs also to read alertly, with a real depth of attention—both her or his own work, and the work of others; and every act of reading a poem is a recreation of the original energies of its writing—that is what a poem is: not a record of thought, experience, emotion, realization, but a recipe for its own reenactment.

CE: You have extensive knowledge about poetry in general and haiku in particular, including a knowledge of the history of haiku in English. Where do you see this book fitting in among some of the other work on haiku in English (for instance, Eric Amann’s The Wordless Poem; R. H. Blyth’s Haiku in 4 volumes; Harold G. Henderson’s Haiku in English; and William J. Higginson and Penny Harter’s The Haiku Handbook to name just a few foundational texts in this field)?

And where do you see this essay fitting in among other considerations specifically focused on Basho’s life and work (Robert Aiken’s A Zen Wave; Haruo Shirane’s Traces of Dreams; Makoto Ueda’s Basho and His Interpreters come to mind among others)?

Those books are indispensable, and many were part of my own introduction to haiku and, I’ll add, to poetry as a whole: the first book of any kind I ever bought for myself, at age eight, was a Peter Pauper Press book of translated Japanese haiku. We should add also the many translations of Basho’s poetry now in print. I recommend them all—I think that to understand anything, especially when there are large leaps of culture and time and translation involved, the most accurate understanding comes from looking at multiple sources. There is no single “best” authority. If you can’t read Basho, Issa, Buson, or Yosano Akiko in the original, then reading them through many eyes is best.

As for how my contribution fits in, The Heart of Haiku was retitled by Amazon when they took it for the Kindle Singles program; my title was Seeing Through Words: Matsuo Basho, an Introduction. I think that tells you quite a lot about how I see this piece: I would never myself have made such a grand claim for it as “The Heart of Haiku” does. My piece is introductory, not exhaustive, and its angle of entrance is historical, through Basho, not haiku in general, though to read Basho you have to understand what haiku are, and how they work, and what they can hold at their best. Basho himself, though, is a perennially useful lens, since haiku as we now know it was so radically changed by Basho, generally described as its “founder,” even though the form existed before him. For current, American writers of haiku, The Heart of Haiku is really a way to look back to the rootstock, to refresh their relationship with how haiku was first conceived by its extraordinarily radical and continually evolving founding figure. Basho himself was concerned with so many of the issues that current haiku writers are concerned with—how to write in this moment’s language and perception, how to learn from the past without being bound by it, how to use haiku as a tool not only for expression but for the navigation of a life. I still read Sappho and Homer, I still read Su Tung Po and Dante, and I still read Basho and Issa and Buson. These are wellspring poets for me. Basho’s teachings about writing are as relevant and provocative now as they were when he was alive. “Poetry is a fan in winter, a fireplace in summer.” “To learn of the pine, go to the pine.” “Don’t imitate me, like the second half of a melon.” His navigation of the creative life and poverty, his restless curiosity, his losses, even his death was exemplary, really—Basho’s last spoken words take the point of view of the flies his students were trying to chase from the room. They show how supple and compassionate a poet’s sense of existence can be.

CE: The Ink Dark Moon, it’s been said, helped inspire what’s become a working community of tanka writers, both in the U.S. and in Australia. How do you see  your role here, as a poet, translator, and teacher?

JANE: I might not have published this Basho piece at all, except that people who’d heard it or read it in manuscript kept telling me both that they loved the translations and that it does bring something new to the table. That it was helpful. That’s my hope for anything I do, though I write my own poems outside of any hope, or intention, beyond the needs of that particular poem and moment. I translated Basho’s haiku freshly mostly because I found I couldn’t use other people’s translations for the original talk—not because they weren’t good, just because, once you’ve done some translating, you understand how much more intimate an entrance to a poem that is. I am tremendously lucky that my old co-translator, Mariko Aratani, agreed to re-join me for this project. As a teacher of poems, I’ve been investigating the deep workings of poetry for almost forty years now, both Japanese and Western. I believe in the happy accidents of cross-fertilization and that different traditions have always informed one another. There are two essays in Nine Gates: Entering the Mind of Poetry that talk about Japanese poetics and translation. My interest is always the same: in how poems work, precisely, in why they affect us they do, and in bringing in whatever background helps us read more vulnerably, openly, accurately, and deeply. I think this is especially needed for haiku. We teach haiku to third graders, but in fact it’s an art form that requires some real initiation to be truly practiced or read. Haiku are the most immediate of art forms in one way, but in another, they are slip knots that you need to know the knack of, to untie fully.The more I learn about haiku, the more I feel how much I have not yet learned. It is bottomless, really. Any good poetry is.

CE: In your essay, you address the wide popular interest in non-literary haiku and you specifically reference the thousands of haiku written about Spam (“Spamku”) and posted online. You foreground that, “… to write or read with only this understanding is to go back to what haiku was before Basho transformed it: ‘playful verse’ is the word’s literal meaning. Basho asked for more: to make of this brief, buoyant verse-tool the kinds of emotional, psychological and spiritual discoveries that he experienced in the work of earlier poets. He wanted to renovate human vision by putting what he saw into a bare handful of mostly ordinary words, and he wanted to renovate language by what he asked it to see.” To what extent do you find contemporary English-language haiku poets continuing to follow this approach?

It seems to me that the best contemporary haiku writers are in Basho’s lineage, and Issa’s and Buson’s. This is of course my own definition of “best.” It’s fine that many poets do other things as well. But the central work of poetry is the same everywhere—from Sappho to Akhmatova, Tu Fu to Frank O’Hara, lyric poets magnify and enlarge and open our relationship to our lives, to the lives of others, and to the world.

Your consideration of Basho’s overall output of haiku leads to an intriguing claim about the impact transparent seeing can have. You state, “Basho’s haiku, taken as a whole, conduct an extended investigation into how much can be said and known by image. When the space between poet and object disappears, Basho taught, the object itself can begin to be fully perceived. Through this transparent seeing, our own existence is made much larger.” Would you please elaborate on how this type of seeing enlarges our existence?

I’ve come to feel that every good poem does this, not only haiku. The exchange currency of the imagination is fundamentally transformative and empathic. The current thinking in neuroscience is that this recreation of other within self has something to do with mirror neurons, but poets have known the alchemies of empathy from the beginning. Permeability is how image works, how metaphor works. Every time we take in an image in a poem, we become for an instant that image. Reading “mountain,” I become for that moment everything I know of mountainness—its steepness, its insects, its largeness, its seeming immobility punctuated by streams or rockslide, what it asks of the legs that travel it, what it asks of the breathing, of the eyes, what it tells us of abidingness and perspective, of distance and scale.  Any time we take in a poem’s held experience, we become that experience. The experience of a poem is not “about” life—it is life. And so taking in a good poem, our lives are expanded by that poem’s measure. One of the great paradoxes of haiku is that the measure of taken-in meaning can be so large, from a vessel so small, and how meaning in haiku can reach in almost any direction. A haiku can puncture our human hubris, or can remind us that we too are going to die. It can pierce us with the beauty of spareness or open us to the futility of ambition. It can evoke humor, memory, grief. It can, at times, do all these things at once.

CE: You also note that “…the haiku presents its author as a person outside any sense of the personal self.” Do you see contemporary English-language haiku presenting the authors as people outside a sense of the personal self? What might the author gain from striving to experience and write haiku in this manner?

JANE: I recently judged a haiku competition and was a bit startled by the frequency of the pronoun “I” in one form or the other, and by the strong presence of personal life that was in them, including in those I chose as the winners. In some cases, I wondered if the pronoun might have been there to fill in the count, since these were haiku written in the traditional 5-7-5. But I think it runs deeper, and is more a reflection of how poetry in general is written in America today.

Basho studied both Taoism and Zen, and his relationship to poetry reflected that. Basho once said that the problem with most haiku was that they were either subjective or objective. A student asked him, “Don’t you mean too subjective or objective?” Basho answered, simply “No.” I share Basho’s Zen training and interests, and I see poetry as, in part, a mode of perception by which we can slip the shackles of single view and single stance. I think that is one of poetry’s tasks in our lives, to liberate us from narrow, overly pointed seeing. A good poem never says or holds only one thing.

This opening into broader ways of perceiving does happen in poems that include “I” and personal circumstance, I should add. And on the other side, I think it a misconception to believe that all haiku ae somehow supposed to be “objective,” and impersonal. Poetry reflects inner experience and understanding. The most objective haiku I can think of is Buson’s: “Spring rain,/ the belly of the frog/ is not wet.” This is not a metaphor for anything other than what it holds, the awareness of rain so gentle that it does not drip down to or splash up to even something so near as the frog’s belly. And yet, reading that haiku, I feel it, in body and in spirit; I feel appreciation for the action of the small and the subtle, for the wetness of the frog’s back and the grass tips’ thirst. To have such an experience is to step outside of ego, but not outside our experience of life on this earth, a life with rain, shared with other creatures. And this modest, homely, silent frog is something that emerged into Japanese poetry with haiku—in earlier Japanese poems, we know frogs by their voices, not by their skin’s dryness or wetness. Frogs’ calling is an image of our own longing, desire, and courtship, of the small sounds we ourselves make amid the vast dark. Buson’s silent frog, or Basho’s in his famous “Old pond,/ frog jumps in/ the sound of water,” these are different. Frog is frog, water is water, the sound of their meeting is completely itself, part and whole neither vanish nor are separate. This seems to me something worth noticing, worth storing in repeatable words, worth practicing. Isolation is real, the solitude of the self is real, but interconnection is equally real. A good haiku keeps us in the particular and multiple, not the generic. It stops us from leaning too far in any direction.

Thank you again, Jane, for participating in this interview and providing additional insights into your essay, The Heart of Haiku.

NOTE: Jane Hirshfield’s The Heart of Haiku is available from Amazon.com as a $.99 Kindle Single, and can be read on any computer or smart phone, not only Kindles, with a free download. A new book of poetry, Come, Thief, has also just been published, by Knopf.

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Also see A Haiku on The Heart of Haiku; the excellent Poetry Foundation biography on Jane Hirshfield, including poems, articles and more; Pirene’s Fountain: Jane Hirshfield on Poetic Craft; and What Rainer Maria Rilke inscribed on the copy of The Duino Elegies he gave his Polish translator.

Robin Lim is the 2011 CNN Hero Of The Year

December 15, 2011

I spoke with Robin Lim after she became the CNN Hero of 2011. She used to live in Fairfield. Some of her kids went to school here. KRUU FM’s Dennis Raimondi had interviewed Robin Lim on one of her visits back to her second home of Fairfield, Iowa. You can listen here.

Lim wins CNN’s Hero of the Year

Robin Lim was one of 10 finalists and had just won CNN’s Hero of the Year for all the work she’s been doing over the years in Bali, and in Aceh after the Tsunami hit. She also helped deliver babies being born in Haiti after the earthquake. An American, Robin Lim became a midwife after her sister and niece died from complications during pregnancy. She reevaluated her life and decided what meant most to her, and that was love—giving, nurturing, and saving lives. She became a midwife, went to Bali and opened a free clinic. Since 2003, she and her team in Indonesia have helped thousands of low-income women have a healthy pregnancy and birth. Her philosophy and practice is Gentle Birth for Peace on Earth. Click on the hyperlinked phrases below to see videos and articles.

See the video that introduced 2011 Top 10 CNN Hero Robin Lim at “CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute.” Heroes Tribute: Robin Lim.

Celebrities joined CNN in honoring everyday people doing extraordinary things who are changing the world in Sunday night’s “CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute” show. Here are some CNN Heroes highlights: photos: 2011 CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute video: CNN honors top Heroes of the year, and overview page with other videos and articles.

This is neat: Watch four days of production building the new CNN Heroes stage compressed into one action-packed minute: Behind the Scenes at CNN Heroes: Building the Stage.

Watch the videos posted in this beautiful CNN Top Ten Hero Profile on Robin Lim Community Crusader.

Anderson Cooper introduces Christy Turlington Burns, global maternal health advocate and founder of Every Mother Counts, who went to see firsthand the work of Robin and her team at Bhumi Sehat in Bali. Christy Turlington Burns introduces 2011 Top 10 CNN Hero Robin Lim at “CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute.” And Dr. Sanjay Gupta interviews top 10 CNN Hero Robin Lim and Christy Turlington Burns at “CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute.”

Robin Lim accepts her CNN Hero award from model Christy Turlington Burns

Robin Lim CNN Hero of the Year.

Here is the video of Anderson Cooper naming Robin Lim the 2011 CNN Hero of the Year, and her acceptance speech: ‘Mother Robin’ wins CNN Hero of the Year.

Here is a video of CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta backstage at the fifth annual “CNN Heroes” awards: Gupta backstage at ‘Heroes’. His last interview is with CNN Hero of the Year Robin Lim as she walks offstage at 3:07–3:50.

In this exclusive follow-up video, Robin Lim: What’s next?, CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta talks to 2011 CNN Hero of the Year Robin Lim. He starts off by asking how women’s lives will be impacted after tonight’s win. Robin says they’re going to build a new clinic and thanks her team and family. After hearing Robin’s passionate description of training midwives to help poor undernourished Balinese women bear their young, Dr. Gupta says: “I just applaud the work that you’re doing for all the world’s children out there.” Robin makes a plea for midwives who deliver peaceful births: “We are the ones who are the guardians of normal birth.”

CNN’s Anderson Cooper interviews 2011 CNN Hero of the Year Robin Lim: What it means to be a hero.

Photographer Palani Mohan describes his visit with top 10 CNN Hero Robin Lim in Portrait of a Hero: Robin Lim.

CNN’s Anderson Cooper joins honorees Patrice Millet, Bruno Serato, Diane Latiker, Sal Dimiceli, 2011 CNN Hero of the Year Robin Lim, Amy Stokes, Eddie Canales, Richard St. Denis, Taryn Davis and Derreck Kayongo.

Some Media Coverage on Robin Lim, CNN Hero Of The Year

CNN: This Just In: Join the conversation: CNN Heroes with a lovely photo of Robin with her mother and husband before her win.(wireimage).

And after, standing with Anderson Cooper, as CNN Hero of the Year.

Here’s an earlier Huffington Post article before the competition: Balinese Natural Birthing Center Threatened by Global Downturn. Recent Huffington Post articles: CNN Hero Of The Year, Robin Lim, Wins $250,000 For Indonesia Birthing Clinic and Christy Turlington Burns: My hero, Ibu Robin Lim. Thanks to Mozilla Firefox and Crowdrise, Christy’s organization is entering a competition, and if her charity raises the most, Mozilla Firefox will contribute $25,000 to Robin’s clinic! Click here to find out how you can get involved. Google is also offering an opportunity for anyone to donate to Support the 2011 CNN Heroes until December 31st.

Some other global coverage: video: FIL-AM NAMED 2011 CNN HERO OF THE YEAR 2011 ROBIN LIM HELPED POOR INDONESIAN WOMEN and article: Fil-Am named 2011 CNN Hero of the Year.

ShowbizTonight@CNNHEROES: Robin Lim: ‘I’m still in shock’ – YouTube (with J.R. Martinez)

The Sacramento Bee: Robin Lim Named 2011 CNN “Hero of the Year” at CNN’s Fifth Annual CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute. Please see link for photography from 2011 CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute: http://imftp.turner.com/User/ImageListing.aspx?f=s96o.

Jakarta Post: Bali-based US midwife named CNN Hero.

Free Malaysia Today: Bali midwife wins CNN’s Hero of the Year.

Manila Bulletin (Editorial): Midwife of Filipino descent named C.N.N. Hero of the Year

Corriere Della Sera: Una Osterica Fuori Dal Comune.

babble: 2011: Year Of The Midwife!

jezebel: Women’s Health Advocate Wins ‘CNN Hero Of The Year‘.

She Knows’ Parenting: Robin Lim, CNN Hero of the Year, helped improve birth outcomes in Indonesia.

Nigeria Entertainment: ‘Mother Robin’ wins CNN Hero of the Year.

TV by the Numbers: Robin Lim Named 2011 CNN “Hero Of The Year” At CNN’s Fifth Annual ‘CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute’.

PerezHilton: CNN Names Their 2011 Hero Of The Year.

Ricky: Robin Lim named 2011 CNN Hero of the Year.

WCAX.com: Founder of Vt nonprofit named CNN Hero of the Year. Related Story: Barre nonprofit helps babies around the world. And Adventures of Lady D: Ibu Robin is CNN Hero of the Year!

The Daily Sound: CNN Hero of the Year Robin Lim speaks in Montecito.

And hundreds more from around the world all over the internet.

For more information on Robin Lim check her Wikipedia page and a volunteer website for Robin Lim that contains valuable info on her life and work. And more information on Bumi Sehat Foundation International www.bumisehatbali.org and www.youtube.com/bumisehatfoundation. You can also see a local TED Talk by Robin recorded May 6, 2011 at Gaya Fusion TEDxUbud – Robin Lim – Peace Begins at Birth. And this NBC Nightly News profile Changing lives at birth Nov 19, 2011.

November 2012 update: Robin Lim Day — CNN Hero Returns to Fairfield, Iowa for a Hometown Hero’s Welcome and CNN Hero Robin Lim visiting Fairfield

George Harrison: The not-so-quiet Beatle, article by Philip Goldberg in LA YOGA Magazine

December 14, 2011

George Harrison: The not-so-quiet Beatle,

by Philip Goldberg, author of American Veda,

published in LA YOGA Magazine.

Download a PDF of this article

found on pages 28+29 of the LAYOGA

December/January 2012 issue.

Listen to this Oct 12, 2012 KRUU FM interview with Philip Goldberg and Cheryl Fusco Johnson on Writers’ Voices http://www.kruufm.com/node/14325/node/14325.

Some Reports on Dr. Oz’s Interview with Oprah about TM and her Next Chapter

December 14, 2011

In the first part of Dr. Oz’s exclusive interview with Oprah, she discusses why she cancelled her show, what she misses most, and what it’s been like starting her Next Chapter.

Later on in the interview—and here is that video clip everyone is talking about—Oprah Winfrey discusses her experience with Transcendental Meditation. Oprah mentions a visit she made to ‘TM Town’ in Fairfield, Iowa, where, she says, a third of the town meditates. To better prepare for the visit, Oprah invited teachers of Transcendental Meditation to teach her and her staff how to meditate. She then shares the wonderful transformations that have been occurring as a result of everyone meditating twice a day, before and after their workday.

To get an appreciation from where Oprah Winfrey came from, and “Why the ‘talkinest child’ understands women and the power of television better than anyone else,” read The Glory of Oprah in the December 2011 ATLANTIC MAGAZINE.

See Oprah writes in O Mag about her visit to TM Town and meditating with ladies in their Golden Dome.

This happened later as a result of Dr. Oz’s interview with Oprah: Dr. Oz on Transcendental Meditation.

Below is a sampling of some of the reactions to the Oz interview. Enjoy!

Blisstree One More Reason Oprah Is Awesome: All Of Her Employees Meditate Twice A Day

Home Dr. Oz Interviews Oprah: How You Can Change Your Life

Miami Spirituality Examiner: Oprah Discusses Her Life After the Practice of Transcendental Meditation

Oprah Talks Transformation and Meditation with Dr. Oz

TM ProgramTM Program: Transcendental Meditation Blog: Oprah Winfrey talks TM with Dr. Mehmet Oz

The Christian Post: Oprah Winfrey Discusses Getting Closer to ‘God’ in New Chapter of Her Life

Oprah meditates with ladies in MUM Golden Dome

Oprah says she and her staff meditate, enjoy a Quiet Time twice a day—Facebook Live interview

Reports of Oprah’s visit to Fairfield, Iowa

MUM Review: Oprah Visits Campus; Program to Air Early Next Year on OWN.

Oprah Winfrey talks Transcendental Meditation with Dr Mehmet Oz

As a result of Oprah offering TM to her employees Dr. Oz did the same. Watch these videos, which came out later: Dr. Oz on Transcendental Meditation and Dr Oz’s gift of TM to his employees resulted in personal and corporate benefits — see the video.

Donovan Inducted into Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

December 14, 2011

Donovan on His Acceptance Into the Hall of Fame: ‘I’m Pleased as Punch’

‘I come from a very ancient, acoustic root. It was very hard to put a finger on me.’

By: Andy Greene for Rolling Stone

December 7, 2011 12:20 PM ET

Donovan fans probably think that the Scottish folk icon should have been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame years ago, but we checked in with the Hurdy Gurdy Man himself while he was on vacation in Monaco – and he feels the timing is just perfect.

Tell me your first reaction to hearing the news.
It’s a singular honor, and I’m pleased as punch, as they say in England and Scotland. It’s even more special because I’m going to be there with some of my favorite artists and musicians. The Faces are my old chums. We used to hang out. The Chilis, some of them appeared on my Rick Rubin album. Guns N’ Roses, who I’ve come to know in California and did a couple of things with. Of course, the Beastie Boys. A very touching part of this, for me, is the inclusion of the lovely Laura Nyro, who left us too soon, of course. When I was younger, I followed her rise and her extraordinary work. It will be great to see her honored too.

This is a honor that’s long past due for you.
Oh, I’ve been honored from day one. Basically, as a young singer/songwriter/poet arriving at the time that I did – from out of the bohemian world and onto the popular stage – immediately I felt honored. Recognition of one’s work comes from the fans first, of course. My goodness, that’s been again and again recognized.

Honors and awards are very interesting, and I truly accept them. I have very high regard for what they mean. What they mean is that they’re pointing to the work. For me, the work was always to show others, to lead others, to experiment, to break all the rules. I’ve had lots of recognition, and interestingly enough, within the past year, from the Mojo award that Jimmy Page gave me to the Lifetime Achievement Award that the BBC gave me for the folk world.

But this one is singular. It is worldwide, and it’s very interesting because the other ones were quite local. So, no, I don’t feel that I should have had it earlier. Also, I understand that the voting committee is composed of musicians and performers and singer/songwriters. That is also wonderful. It is similar to the Academy Awards where actual makers of films give their vote. They are voting on a very special level. It is great to be honored by one’s peers. There are so many people to choose from by the voting committee. It is very, very difficult for them, I’m sure.

My particular space has always been quite unique in popular music. I have a background in R&B and hard rock and straight pop, but I never went all the way with any of those genres. I have always just experimented, and I come from a very ancient, acoustic root.  It was very hard to put a finger on me. People were always like, “What is he?” To be honored now is very timely, because I feel very much like I’ve looked at the work I’ve done, and I’ve been gathering it all together on my website. And quite a journey it’s been – but it’s not the end. No, I hope not.

See: Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: 2012 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Inductees, Friday, December 9: 1:30 p.m., posted by Rock Hall.

See: Donovan Nominated For Induction Into The 2011 Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame

God? ~ Dr. Evan Finkelstein

December 7, 2011

God? ~ Dr. Evan Finkelstein

Some say there is one God; some say there are many Gods, some that there is no God at all.

What does this have to do with the price of beans in China? Not much. Unless you were God, then, according to some, You would be the beans, You would be the price, and You would be China. And, even when people referred to You as “You” they would have to capitalize the Y. That’s pretty special treatment.

Some people destroy in the name of “their” God and are convinced that they are doing the right thing. Others think those people are crazy and that God (“their” God, not the God of the crazy people) will certainly punish the destroyers for their wicked deeds.

Obviously, the God of those people can’t be as great as “our” God; if He/She were, then those people wouldn’t be doing those insane things. Why can’t they just come over to our God? And see the “true” Light? Then, everything would be so much better (at least, from that point of view).

For thousands of years, there have been arguments, wars, inquisitions, trials, immolations, excommunications and on and on, related to the existence and nature of God: what is the right way to envision God?

Does He, or maybe She, sit on a large fancy throne high up in the clouds somewhere in heaven surrounded by angels and other assorted celestial beings? And, how did they get that heavy throne to stay up in the sky? Well, it’s God, man, He/She can do anything!

Well, if He/She can do anything why can’t my team get into the Superbowl? Is He/She deaf? Can’t God hear my prayers? Is Green Bay, Wisconsin closer to heaven than Chicago, Illinois? Or, do they just yell louder? Does this mean that God has preferences? Does He/She just like some of us better than others of us? Is it the way we dress? Our cologne? Our mouthwash? Was it something we said?

And if God is omnipresent why can’t we see Him/Her?

I mean God should be a lot easier to find than our glasses or car keys. Some saints claimed to experience God; others said those saints were nuts and that God is a just a hallucination of their imagination. Some contend God doesn’t exist at all. Life just came into being of its own; we don’t know exactly how it first started; it just did that’s all, just be quiet and pass the chips.

And some say that God is supposed to be omniscient about the past, present, and future. He/She knows everything you’re going to do before you do it. So, do we have free will or not? If God already knows, then isn’t everything already predestined? So is free will fake? An illusion? Are we just a bunch of wind-up toys that can’t find the key nor meet our winder? Some of us fall off the table and some of us don’t, but there’s no rhyme or reason why? Or is there rhyme and reason, but few, if any, can figure it out? Not poets, nor logicians. Maybe, those that think they figured it out start religions or, at least, health spas.

And, what is this whole thing about suffering? Some say that God is all merciful and all loving and omnipotent. If He/She is that way, why is so much of the world in turmoil? Why are there so many tears and fears? Can’t God control His/Her own show?

If not, then where’s the omnipotence? If God can, then where’re all the love and the mercy? Or, do we bring the suffering on ourselves by doing things we shouldn’t and perhaps God’s just shaking His/Her cosmic head thinking: “I really wish they’d stop doing that! Well, in time they’ll learn; if I do it all for them, they’ll never develop.”

And what about Justice? Some say God is like a completely fair and impartial judge. He/She rewards the just and punishes the wicked. Well bad things certainly do happen to good people. At least, many would say they are good people and the things that happened to them were bad. Would God not agree? Does He/She perhaps see things we don’t? Or, is reincarnation true and these good folks are just currently reaping what they have sown in some past not so good life? This could explain a lot of seeming inequities, if it were true.

Maybe there is order and justice in the world; maybe it is being run by an all-knowing, all-powerful, all-loving and intelligent existence, but who really knows?

Maybe it’s all just an empty nothing that came from nowhere and is going to nowhere, but it sure, sometimes, dresses fancy and makes a lot of noise trying to figure things out and find its way! Maybe that’s what God is, the actual process of living.

During my life-search, in 1969 I learned the practice of Transcendental Meditation and something opened up to me inside; it was an experience of simplicity, peace and a sweet feeling of “knowingness,” it felt very good and it occurred many times during my years of practice. These days, when my mind rumbles on, as it sometimes will, about all these theological and philosophical questions, I just have to laugh because it’s just so funny that one can know without knowing. Yes, as strange as it may seem, one can know without knowing.

Lao Tzu put it this way in part of Verse 1 of the Tao Te Ching:

A mind free of thought,
merged within itself,
beholds the essence of Tao
A mind filled with thought,
identified with its own perceptions,
beholds the mere forms of this world.

Buddha put it this way:

Then Subhuti asked: “What does enlightenment mean?”

The Buddha replied: “Enlightenment is a way of saying that all things are seen in their intrinsic empty nature, their Suchness, their ungraspable wonder. Names or words are merely incidental, but that state which sees no division, no duality, is enlightenment.” Prajnaparamita

Subhuti asked: “Is it possible to find perfect wisdom through reflection or listening to statements or through signs or attributes, so that one can say ‘This is it’ or Here it is?’”

The Buddha answered: “No, Subhuti. Perfect wisdom can’t be learned or distinguished or thought about or found through the senses. This is because nothing in this world can be finally explained, it can only be experienced, and thus all things are just as they are. Perfect wisdom can never be experienced apart from all things. To see the Suchness of things, which is their empty calm being, is to see them just as they are.” Ashtasahasrika

Maharishi Patanjali in his Yoga Sutras put it this way:

“Yoga is the complete settling of the activity of the mind.”

David put it this way in the biblical Psalms:

“Be still and know that I am God.”

The Sufi Farid Al-Din ‘Attar expressed it like this:

The heart is the dwelling place of that which is the Essence of the universe within the very heart and soul is the very Essence of God. Like the saints, make a journey into your self; like the lovers of God cast one glance within. As a lover now, in contemplation {sustained experience} of the Beloved be unveiled within and behold the Essence. Form is a veil to you and your heart is a veil. When the veil vanishes, you will become all light.

The Sufi Mahmud Shabistari put it this way:

“In that presence “I” and “we” and “you” do not exist. “I” and “you” and “we” and “He” become one: since in the unity there is no distinction, the Quest and the Way and the Seeker become one.”

The Christian mystic John Ruusbroec said it like this:

“There the soul is simple, spotless, and pure, empty of everything. In this pure emptiness the Father reveals his divine resplendence, which neither reason nor senses, neither rational observation nor distinctions can attain.”

The Cabbalist Rabbi Joseph Gikatilla expressed it this way:

The depth of primordial Being is called Boundless. Because of its concealment from all creatures above and below, it is also called Nothingness…. Its existence cannot be grasped by anyone other than it. Therefore, its name is “I am becoming.”

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi put it this way:

“Once the mind gets to the transcendence, it knows Itself. It’s not the mind that knows Being; Being knows Itself. As long as there is some activity, we say “mind”; when activity subsides, it’s pure awareness. It is not knowing; it is Knowingness.”

“Being is known on the level of Knowingness, not the level of thinking.”

Anyway, some thoughts about God and going beyond them—happy journey!

_______________________________________________________________________

Dr. Finkelstein is professor of Comparative Religion and Maharishi Vedic Science at Maharishi University of Management. He has written articles that identify the common ground inherent in many of the ancient wisdom traditions. He has taught numerous courses on the universal principles that can be located in Hinduism, Taoism, Confucianism, Buddhism, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

God? was first published in on Nov 30, 2011.

Also see: Buddha and Meditation by Dr. Evan Finkelstein. And this related article: You Are God: Who? … Me? By William T. Hathaway.


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