Archive for January, 2012

James McCartney sings Angel on David Letterman

January 31, 2012

Posted on James McCartney.

James appeared on the Late Show with David Letterman January 30, 2012. On that show Dave welcomed actress Jennifer Lopez, actor Rob Schneider from the CBS comedy series “Rob!”, and musical guest James McCartney. You can watch the full show here. ©CBS, All Rights Reserved.

James had played 2 days, Jan 23-24, at the Sundance Film Festival the previous week. Here he is drawing a picture of a fan and signing autographs after one of those concerts. He also played at the Viper Room after he appeared on GDLA. James made his US Television debut when he sang Angel on Good Day LA from his album “The Complete EP Collection.”

Awesome song! He played it for a few of us who were fortunate enough to see him on his first visit to Fairfield, and later on a David Lynch Weekend at the Sondheim Theater. You knew it was going to be a hit, and he was going to be a star. James is a quiet unassuming person, and a very talented young man. We wish him much success in his chosen career.

Here’s one of two photos of James at the Late Show rehearsal posted on his Facebook. You can follow James on Twitter @JamesMcCartney, and  visit the James McCartney Website:

See some earlier press coverage on James: Paul McCartney and Nancy show up to see James play, and surprise the small Brighton club audience | Audience Goes Wild for James McCartney | Paul McCartney’s son says he’s ready to follow in dad’s footsteps | McCartney wins over Fairfield audience in U.S. debut concert.

A year and a half later, July 29-30, 2013, James makes a return visit to Letterman. See James McCartney sings new single ‘Wisteri’ on David Letterman and ABC NEWS What’s The Buzz.

INSPIRATION, a poem by Nathanael Chawkin

January 25, 2012

“Be patient, listen quietly, the writing will come. The voice of the writing will tell you what to do.” — Donald M. Murray, America’s writing teacher.

I came across a poem my son Nathanael wrote 20 years ago, a month after he turned eleven. A few weeks into the school year, his Grade Six teacher at Maharishi School gave the students a writing assignment. Their homework was to write a poem for class the next day. The pressure was on. I don’t recall much of the details, but I do remember Nathanael saying he had a problem with this. We discussed it. He felt strongly that you couldn’t force a poem into existence; it had to come naturally, from inspiration. I agreed and suggested he express that idea somehow in his poem. He was determined to send his teacher a message. What he wrote blew me away. He was inspired!


A poem comes naturally,
Not forced, not assigned, not sought for.
A poem should be inspired,
Not under pressure, surely not, for,
A poem is spontaneous, creative. How?
It is the nature of the poem to slip out.
That’s what you must allow.
So sit back and relax
For you must be patient,
And of course, do not rush.
A poem comes naturally,
Here it comes,

© Nathanael Chawkin
September 24, 1991

This idea of allowing, even encouraging writing to come spontaneously reminds me of a poem written by William Stafford—A Course in Creative Writing, in response to educators at a conference expecting writing instructors to clearly spell out how and what their students should write, and by implication, to praise or blame them accordingly. This left no room for students, or their teachers, to express their own creativity, and no guidance to help them find their own voice, something that was not part of their methodology.

Stafford was about process, not necessarily product, and acted more as a facilitator than an instructor. He tried hard to not offer any praise or blame, fearing students would then write to please him and not themselves. He also avoided giving students any grades in his classes. I think they would grade themselves or each other based on their evaluation of their work. You can imagine the frustration this must have caused the administration. He was considered an odd ball, a heretic to the status quo at that time. But that would change. His approach would start a revolution in the teaching of creative writing.

This poem, William Stafford—You and Art, speaks volumes about the writer who is open to “making mistakes” and following his own voice down new paths of expression. It’s a beautiful description of the maturation of an artist and the source of inspiration. You can read more William Stafford poems on my blog.

Another great exponent of teaching writing was Donald M. Murray.  A journalist, Murray was invited to teach journalism at the University of New Hampshire. He admittedly knew nothing about teaching, but was obviously an accomplished writer, having won the Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing in 1954 at the age of 29. So he looked to his own process as a writer and broke it down into the different stages he would go through to end up with a polished piece of writing.

One of Murray’s earliest books, Learning By Teaching, is a selection of articles on writing and teaching. It’s filled with examples of the steps he would go through as a writer, writing and rewriting to gain clarity; the stages of teaching he evolved through, from lecturer, to modeler, to facilitator, to getting out of the way; and quotes about writing by other writers. We used it as our textbook in a workshop to become writing facilitators. We learned how to conduct writing conferences to help students with their writing. The course taught me a lot about the craft of writing, the different stages, from pre-writing, to draft, to rewriting, editing, to final draft, and the teaching of it.

A comprehensive book on Murray and his work was published October 2009 by Heinemann: The Essential Don Murray: Lessons From America’s Greatest Writing Teacher. I love the opening quote from the book’s press release: New book offers lessons from writing teacher Don Murray. It affirms my son’s sentiment: “Be patient, listen quietly, the writing will come. The voice of the writing will tell you what to do.” — Don Murray.

Murray helped Donald Graves with his writing. Graves started a revolution by watching how young children wrote in school. He brought what he had learned from Murray into the classroom and taught teachers how to become writers themselves, then how to apply this approach with their students. Read this excellent article by Kimberly Swick Slover about Graves called The Write Way. It also mentions how Murray turned him into a writer. Same thing in this excellent video interview with Donald H. Graves and Penny Kittle.

Now creative writing classes are student-centered and process-oriented, with teachers openly modeling their own process as writers, and facilitating students to do the same, allowing and enabling them to become genuine writers, from draft to publication.

Although I never had the opportunity to meet or study with either Murray or Stafford, both were seminal influences. They acted as a guide from the side, not a sage from the stage. They taught about writing as writers and poets in classes, workshops, and through their articles, interviews, books and poems. I thank them for helping me, and thousands of other writers and teachers, to better understand the writing process.

Here is one of my first poems on the subject, Writing—a poem on the writing process. After the poem, I add a short piece about Murray and Stafford. I would share these poems and thoughts with Nathanael. It seemed to have gone deeply into him. Like father, like son.

Other inspiring posts about writing are: Writers on Writing–What Writing Means To Writers, Elizabeth Gilbert—Some Thoughts On Writing, and Words of Wisdom on Writing from Literary Lights. You may also enjoy Burghild Nina Holzer inspires us to write and discover who we are and what we have to say.

Also see A Tanka about my son’s Aikido teacher.

A new post: The perils of praise or blame for young writers. New ways to help students find their own voice.

Vancouver Park Poems by Ken Chawkin

January 23, 2012

Some people whistle while they work; I write poems. I wrote a poem on my first day working for the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation as a paper-picker in Queen Elizabeth Park. It was in the mid-1990’s, during winter, and I remember noticing that berries on trees had turned white.

The regular park attendant left each year to go to California for the winter and he was looking for a temporary replacement. Some friends who had done the job for him the previous year asked me if I was interested. I told them I was and suggested they arrange a meeting.

Turns out he was a poet and a spiritual seeker who had been to India to spend time with his guru. We talked about meditation and shared some of our poetry. I admired his nature poems written from his experiences in the park. They were rhapsodic. I remember him telling me that every tree in the park knew him. He arranged for me to take his job for the winter, and we negotiated my staying in his place, the park facility across the street in Hillsdale Park.

I was very lucky to have gotten that job by referral, by default. That’s what his boss implied since he had to approve me for the position. He wasn’t too happy with the arrangement but went along with it. He said many people were on a waiting list to become a paper-picker or a caretaker in one of the city parks, prized positions that paid well.

When the person I had replaced returned, the Parks Board manager offered me a job for the summer, going to Stanley Park and other city facilities along the public beaches, cleaning up and replacing soap and paper supplies in public washrooms. That was an afternoon job with a lady. We would travel as a team in one of the Park vans.

But the winter job kept me active, walking miles each day, spent mostly in nature, in a beautiful park setting. It was what I needed at the time. And I made more money doing that than my other job teaching kids writing after school at a Sylvan Learning Center in North Vancouver.

As a city employee, I had become a member of the local blue collar union. My responsibilities included cleaning the public washrooms early in the mornings, the gardeners’ facilities on Sundays, and walking the park grounds picking up trash. That wasn’t too bad in the winter compared to the summer when a lot of people used the park for picnics.

In the early mornings, I’d see many Chinese people doing their Tai Chi and walking around. When I’d walk by they’d say I had the best job—I was getting my exercise and getting paid! But having to work outside in the often cold, windy, rainy weather was not something I looked forward to. So to help me get through those days I’d repeat something Maharishi once told us about work: “See the job; do the job; stay out of the misery.”

It was good to just do physical work for a change, be simple, appreciate nature, and compose poems when inspired to do so as I walked around. I kept myself amused that way. Here’s an example. On that first day as I was walking in the park, I thought of how things grow in nature, and their relationships, like those whitened berries, and the birds who ate them. Every time I share this poem with kids, they squeal with delight!


Berries are meant to be eaten by birds
who poop out the seeds contained in their turds
this process prepares seeds to sprout in the spring
’til one day they’re trees and in them birds sing

Here are a few more poems written while working in that Vancouver City Park. I was walking along the park lawn picking up trash when I almost got hit by a falling acorn. I looked up and saw a tall oak tree. That was funny, I thought. Did that tree try to get me? What a sense of humor! I chuckled to myself and wrote this haiku.

I Wonder

Do trees have a say
When to drop anchors away
As ripe acorns fall?

I noticed the crows used to climb on top of the large garbage cans and pull out the trash. Not only did we have to pick up trash dropped by visitors to the park, we also had to contend with the animals, like crows, ducks, geese, seagulls, squirrels, and racoons. Here’s a little poem I made up while walking among the gardens, ponds and lawns. It went something like this.

Along the path
comes the paper-picking man,
picking up paper
as fast as he can.

Sparrows fly like arrows
among the underbrush,
foraging for food,
they’re always in a rush.

Crows put their nose
into every garbage can,
pulling out the trash
for the paper-picking man.

There were stanzas about ducks quibbling over crackers, and squirrels stashing nuts. You get the idea. That was one way to keep from getting bored on the job. Speaking of geese, having spent years in Iowa, seeing cows grazing in the countryside, the first time I went downtown to Stanley Park, I saw Canada Geese grazing on the park lawns. A very strange sight, to me, at the time. It sparked this haiku.

Canadian Geese
Grazing on the park’s green grass
Downtown city cows.

On one of my walks another day, I was playing with words and came up with this seemingly nonsensical fun poem about transformation.

   Bats, Birds, & Words

A Bat is a Rat with Wings
A Bird is a Word that Sings
A Cat eats the Rat
The Bird eats its Word
A Bird is Aword with Wings

I used to go for walks with a friend in Cates Park, located in Deep Cove, a little seaside village situated on the eastern edge of the District of North Vancouver. In that park along the Burrard Inlet there is a walk called the Malcolm Lowry Walk, named after author, Malcolm Lowry, who squatted in the park from 1940-1954 in a shack with his wife Margerie. He wrote much of his classic novel, Under the Volcano, there. This short trail takes you through a forest path, past a children’s play area, then along the waterfront to a nice pebble beach with a view of Indian Arm.

On one walk, I noticed a bunch of smooth rocks along the roadside. I thought it was odd for these water-worn rocks to be by the road instead of on the beach. I began thinking of that childhood tune of sticks and stones breaking bones, and was drawn to one of the rocks. It spoke to me. It cracked me up with it’s cosmic sense of humor; I had to write it down. After I wrote the poem, I picked up the rock and took it home.


Deep Cove River Rock
From the Road
Says its Thing
I’ve been Told

Make No Bones
About This
Of All Stones

© Ken Chawkin

These two poems, Being in Nature, and its sequel, trees—a poem about the nature of trees, were a gift from a tree on the edge of the UBC Endowment Lands, another park in Vancouver. I also went to Lynn Canyon Park in Lynn Valley, North Vancouver. Check out the Virtual Tour. I took the Suspension Bridge across the ravine to walk in the rainforest. Along one of the trails I noticed these beautiful small white flowers at the base of a very tall tree, which inspired another haiku, Forest Flowers. It was later published in a group, 13 Ways to Write Haiku: A Poet’s Dozen for The Dryland Fish, and in Five Haiku for This Enduring Gift.

Forest Flowers

tiny white flowers
a constellation of stars
so low yet so high

Since we’re on a favorite topic, trees, see What Do Trees Do? Something to think about, also written when I was living in North Vancouver; and these two more recent poems from Fairfield, Iowa: Willow Tree – a tanka – from a tree’s perspective, and Friendship – another tree tanka, about two trees in front of my house.

More poems were written during my stay in Vancouver and surrounding locales, but we’ll have to leave those for another time, before this post turns into the chapter of a book!

If you plan to visit Vancouver, check out some of these wonderful parks. There’s a reason they call it Super, Natural British Columbia. Watch this 90-second video made for the 2010 Olympic Winter Games, Vancouver 2010: You Gotta Be Here – Super Natural British Columbia, featuring British Columbians Michael J. Fox, Ryan Reynolds, Erick McCormack, Kim Cattrall, Steve Nash, and Sarah McLachlan.

trees—a poem about the nature of trees

January 23, 2012


trees are patient
trees are kind

trees don’t argue
they don’t mind

if we’re cruel
….. or unkind

trees are patient
trees are kind

© Ken Chawkin

A sequel to Being in Nature, a gift from a tree.
Both written mid-1990’s in winter, Vancouver, BC.

Also see What Do Trees Do? Something to think about, Willow Tree – a tanka – from a tree’s perspective, and Friendship – another tree tanka.

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

January 17, 2012

In the February 2012 issue of O, The Oprah Magazine, Oprah in her column, What I Know for Sure, (page 162) shares her mission in life, what she’s all about: seeking the fullest expression of self. Part of that life’s purpose brought her to Fairfield, Iowa, or TM Town, as she calls it.

Oprah and her crew were here filming segments for her Next Chapter on OWN, including interviews with students at the Maharishi School; Vedic Pandits in neighboring Maharishi Vedic City; a visit to a home in Abundance Eco-Village, which is totally off the grid and designed with Vedic architectural principles; and practicing Transcendental Meditation with the ladies in one of the two golden domes on the campus of Maharishi University of Management. The show may be airing sometime in March. Updates to follow.

In the article, Oprah shares some personal thoughts on her visit to Fairfield, in particular, meditating in one of the golden domes with the ladies of the Fairfield community. She had a “powerfully energizing yet calming experience” of deep inner stillness and “didn’t want it to end.” When it did, she “walked away feeling fuller than when I’d come in…full of hope, a sense of contentment, and deep joy.” She elaborates saying we all need to tap into and experience “the constancy of stillness” from where “you can create your best work and your best life,” even during “the daily craziness that bombards us from every direction.”

Click on the photo and then the text box to enlarge and better see them. You can also click on this Oprah Feb 2012 to download a pdf of the article, or pick up a copy at a store where her magazine is sold. The same article is now posted on with a larger photo showing hundreds of ladies meditating behind Oprah in a packed dome: Oprah on Stillness and Meditation – Oprah Visits Fairfield Iowa – What Oprah Knows for Sure About Finding the Fullest Expression of Yourself. Enjoy!


Also reported in Global Good News | Maharishi School News | TM Program for Women Professionals | Transcendental Meditation Blog | Peacetown, USA.

See related posts: Some Reports on Dr. Oz’s Interview with Oprah about TM and her Next Chapter, which includes a segment of that interview, Oprah meditates with ladies in MUM Golden Dome, Reports of Oprah’s visit to Fairfield, Iowa, and Oprah says she and her staff meditate, enjoy a Quiet Time twice a day—Facebook Live interview.

Free Your Mind Project Show Discusses the David Lynch Foundation’s Commitment to 10,000 Vets

January 15, 2012

David Lynch Foundation’s Commitment to 10,000 Vets and 8 Easy Ways Make Your New Year’s Resolutions Work for Real Happiness

Here’s another Free Your Mind Projects On Air Radio Show on Transcendental Meditation and the David Lynch Foundation’s work with Veterans. Guests include longtime Teacher of Transcendental Meditation, Denny Goodman, and Veteran Infantryman David George. You can hear them on the 3rd and 4th segments of this 55:24 minute show. Information about this FYMP show is copied below from their post.

We have had the honor of inviting the people over at the David Lynch Foundation onto our show again. Thanks to Ken Chawkin and Lynn Kaplan, who both set us up with one of their great Transcendental Meditation (TM) teachers, Denny Goodman, and also a US veteran, David George, who has been to hell and back. Listen as they talk about how TM has helped soldiers recover from PTSD, and how they are committed to helping 10,000 Vets across the country. We also have a clip of our interview with David Lynch at his past event. Also thanks to our guest host from LA County Department of Mental Health, PIO Kathleen Piche´, for getting us in touch with TM!

This is the video that we talk about on the show, which has David and his mother talking about his ups and downs and finally his recovery.

Please note, our guest stated the way to make this kind of therapy available for all Veterans across the country who may be coming back with conditions such as PTSD (that’s about 500,000 vets!), is to have them tell the Veteran’s Administration they want this for everyone. Please, if you know a Vet, let them know this is available and to reach out to the VA and the David Lynch Foundation. Thank you.

Here is the link for Operation Warrior Wellness, the David Lynch Foundation division that is offering Transcendental Meditation to Veterans:

You can find the printed version of previous Free Your Mind Projects Radio Show Guest Dr. William Arroyo from LACDMH and Project ABC’s “8 Easy Ways to do Your New Year’s Resolutions” on our Free Your Mind Blog.

I checked their blog posts and found 3 so far on Transcendental Meditation. Click here, scroll down and you’ll see 3 entries on the 7th of Oct, Nov, and Dec. Also listen to a previous show: Bob Roth, Executive Director, David Lynch Foundation, Discusses Transcendental Meditation On Free Your Mind Projects Radio Show.

Maharishi University’s Rao and Bargerstock published in Management Accounting Quarterly

January 15, 2012

Rao and Bargerstock published in Management Accounting Quarterly

Rao and Bargerstock

Manjunath Rao, a Ph.D. candidate at Maharishi University of Management, and his doctoral thesis advisor, Associate Professor, Andrew Bargerstock,  had a paper published in the Fall 2011 issue of Management Accounting Quarterly, the refereed online journal of the Institute for Management Accountants (IMA).

Rao noticed an apparent disconnect with companies not walking their talk. It seems the more mature lean manufacturing plants are still using the older standard costing methods. The paper, Exploring the Role of Standard Costing in Lean Manufacturing Enterprises: A Structuration Theory Approach, was posted online the first week of the year, and presents the theory and research plan for his dissertation. It will address why a majority of manufacturers continue to use traditional standard cost accounting even as they adopt lean manufacturing.

Rao will attempt to understand the nature of this discrepancy, and demonstrate the need for change, for companies to become more current in the way they do business. The system of Lean Management focuses on adding value to customers while streamlining operations and eliminating waste. It grew out of management principles used by the remarkably successful Toyota Motor Corporation.

Mr. Rao said he is very pleased with all of the support the IMA has given him for this research. “The IMA helped me in collecting data for my research by sending out the survey questionnaire to their members, and last June they invited me to participate in their 92nd Annual Conference at Orlando, Florida.”

Lean Accounting Award from the Lean Enterprise Institute Goes to an Accounting Professor and 2 Ph.D. Candidates

Winners of the LEI Excellence in Lean Accounting Award

In September, 2011, Rao was recognized nationally as one of two Ph.D. students who were awarded the Lean Accounting Student of the Year. An accounting professor and two doctoral candidates received 2011 Excellence in Lean Accounting Awards, sponsored by the nonprofit Lean Enterprise Institute (LEI) at the seventh annual Lean Accounting Summit in Orlando, Florida.

And last month, Rao received a $4,000 research grant from the IMA’s Research Foundation’s Doctoral Student Grant Program. The Program is designed to assist accounting doctoral students who are pursuing research that has the potential to contribute to the management accounting profession.

Accounting Methods: Lean vs. SCVA

According to Lean accounting theory published in numerous books and articles, mature lean manufacturing companies are expected to eliminate the use of standard costing and variance analysis (SCVA). However, field reports suggest that many companies continue to retain SCVA even after they have successfully implemented an effective system of work cell metrics.

SCVA is taught worldwide as the traditional method for controlling costs in manufacturing operations by averaging input costs and quantities over the entire production process. It involves setting quantitative average cost and quantity targets for key categories of inputs: material, labor and overhead. Reports are typically generated each month that summarize and compare actual costs to standard costs. Differences (variances) are investigated to determine root causes of unexpected results.

By contrast, in a lean manufacturing company, work cell teams (typically 6-10 people who perform a few sequential tasks) develop the relevant data they need to control quality and costs in real time (as compared to monthly reports with SCVA). From the perspective of Lean Management, work cell metrics are clearly superior to SCVA reports. Mature lean companies are therefore expected to eliminate the more outdated method of reporting.

Surprisingly, there has been no significant research study that has tested the lean accounting theory that mature manufacturers will eliminate SCVA. Rao’s research will gather such information via survey and he will also collect data to understand why companies are retaining SCVA.

Structuration Theory and Vedic Science

Rao utilized GiddensStructuration Theory, a general social theory model, to test the relevancy and completeness of questions on his survey. In his dissertation, Rao will show how Giddens’ theory mirrors Maharishi’s consciousness-based Samhita concept that explains the relationships among the knower, the known, and process of knowing.

“For a long time there was a debate in Western Sociological Sciences regarding Objective versus Subjective approach to knowledge,” explains Rao. “Giddens adopted a reconciliatory approach by stating that objective and subjective approaches are two sides of the same coin. He formulated the structuration theory wherein he introduced three concepts: Structure (object), Agency (subject), and Systems (wherein duality of structure and agency interact).”

According to Rao, “This three-concept model clearly overlaps with the Samhita model where Maharishi speaks of the same three concepts using the language of Vedic Science: Chandas (object), Rishi (subject), and Devata (process or Systems).”

Giddens also emphasizes the interaction of these concepts in three dimensions: Domination, Signification and Legitimation, which Rao says also mirror other concepts in Maharishi’s Vedic Science, the three gunas, or  fundamental operating principles found in nature (Prakriti) and their doshic counterparts, qualities known as Rajas (Pitta=Domination), Sattva (Vata=Signification) and Tamas (Kapha=Legitimation). If any one of these goes out of balance, problems occur.

To summarize Giddens, the Agency Dominates, through a System, which Signifies, and creates a Structure, which becomes Legitimate. This locks others into the existing interpretation of Reality. People get stuck, and there is no room to change to another way of looking at the world, managing or accounting more effectively on the work being done.

It is human nature to resist change, and that includes companies. A quote from Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860) on recognizing truth, accepting a different worldview, a different paradigm, seems very relevant here: All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.

Research from a Consciousness-Based Education Framework

Rao credits M.U.M. founder, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, for his “Samhita” concept, the togetherness of three basic elements, Rishi, Devata, and Chandas, or Knower, Knowing, and Known, a unique feature of Maharishi University of Management’s Consciousness-Based Education, which, Rao says, made it easier for him to understand difficult material.  “I was able to grasp the wholeness of the problem without getting lost in the details. It has helped me see the forest without getting lost in counting the trees.”

According to Dr. Bargerstock, Rao’s dissertation adviser, “Manjunath’s research has garnered significant attention by experts in the field of lean accounting.  In June 2011, the IMA invited Manjunath to give a poster presentation of his research plan at their annual conference in Orlando, Florida.  In September, 2011, he was named as one of two Ph.D. students nationally who were recognized as Lean Accounting Students of the Year at the Lean Accounting Summit in Orlando, FL.  In December, Manjunath received a research grant award of $4,000 from the IMA.  And now, he is recognized again by the IMA with the publication of this article.  We are very pleased with the progress of Manjunath’s dissertation.”

This is Mr. Rao’s first published article. “I am really thrilled to have my article published even while working on my Ph.D. dissertation.”  He says, “This has made it easier for me to establish relevance for my research in addressing issues currently faced by the management accounting profession.”

Manjunath Rao is a Certified Cost and Works Accountant from India (Grad “CWA), a Certified Management Accountant (CMA), with MBA and Masters in Accountancy (MSA) degrees from the US. He hopes to complete his Ph.D. in Management by June of this year.

Source: Rao and Bargerstock Article Published in Management Accounting Quarterly.

Reported in Iowa Association of Independent Colleges and Universities: MUM Student Receives National Management Accounting Grant, and in MUM’s Achievements and The Review.

Related articles: Maharishi University MBA Students Win National Business Simulation Competition and Iowa and Nepal Rotary Clubs Provide Well for City in Nepal.

ArtWords—poem about a creative awakening

January 7, 2012

Ever tried painting? I mean the creative kind, not just painting the walls of your apartment. During my last year (1998), living in Vancouver, BC, Canada, one of my friends gave me the gift of an art class with Anita Nairne, an intuitive artist and teacher. She had been studying with Anita and I was impressed with the transformation in her artwork. At the time Anita was promoting her classes as Paint with your Angels. I found her website and she now calls her Intuitive Painting workshops & classes Creative Awakening.

Painting From The Inside Out

Anita is like a midwife to your artistic instincts. It was an unforgettable experience. She gave me a large white gessoed piece of thick art paper stock, brushes, and acrylic paints, and told me to just cover it with paint, anyway I liked. Without realizing what was happening, I found myself freely, intuitively brushing blotches of paint all over the paper. I was having fun. At one point she took the paper and put it up on the wall under lights and asked me what I saw. She would outline those shapes with chalk, or erase them, depending on what I thought was there. Much to my surprise, the edges of those blotches looked like facial profiles. She returned the artwork and showed me how to accentuate and bring out the faces. At one point, I realized I was ‘painting’ a sort of visual biography of my life, ‘recognizing’ some of the people I had loved, and who had loved me, or at least attempts at loving.

Feelings Not Thoughts

During this process my active thinking mind was not involved—a rare occurrence for someone who’s used to working with words all the time to express himself. I was now creating from a deeper, quieter, more intuitive place within me. I was painting from my heart. I was painting feelings, and they were telling me something! That realization blew my mind. Automatically the words started to form in my mind to describe what had just happened. Below is a poem from that experience.


The artwork informs
The canvas reveals
The mind then knows
What the heart feels

The faces in the painting
The pictures of my life
Where love was a saviour
Where love caused much strife

This process uncovers
Those parts of our lives
To show us the truth
To make us more wise

It’s possible to know
It’s possible to forgive
I’ll never forget you
As long as I live

© Ken Chawkin

I returned for two more classes. I was taking a new direction in my life and was getting ready to leave town in a few months to join the Purusha group in North Carolina. During my last class, I guess that sense of impending movement and transformation, the anticipated travel and making a new beginning, was trying to express itself on paper. I ended up painting a brightly colored phoenix bird at the top, flying eastward. Prophetic!

Here is a related poem featured in a film about verbal vs visual creativity: A poem in a movie inviting you to be who you are.

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

January 2, 2012

We read in Genesis that creation came into being with the first utterance: “Let there be light.” So sound came first, then light, followed by forms. Interestingly, the seemingly nonsensical phrase, abracadabra, a magician says when performing a trick, derives its meaning from the ancient biblical language, Aramaic: abraq ad habra, which means, “I will create as I speak.” I discovered that on page 170 of Poemcrazy: Freeing Your Life with Words, a delightful book on finding and writing poetry in many creative simple ways, by Susan Wooldridge, writer, poet and teacher.

This poem by Kukai says a lot about language, creation, consciousness, and our integral relationship to things.

Singing Image of Fire

A hand moves, and the fire’s whirling takes different shapes,
Triangles, squares: all things change when we do.
The first word, “Ah,” blossomed into all others.
Each of them is true.

This poem on language, translation, and creation, the pictorial/written representation of vocal sounds and meanings, was written by Kūkai (空海), also known posthumously as Kōbō-Daishi (弘法大師 The Grand Master Who Propagated the Buddhist Teaching), 774–835, a Japanese monk, civil servant, scholar, poet, artist, and founder of the Shingon or “True Word” school of Buddhism. He allegedly developed the system using Chinese characters to write Japanese words. The word “Shingon” is the Japanese reading of the Kanji for the Chinese word Zhēnyán (真言), literally meaning “True Words”, which in turn is the Chinese translation of the Sanskrit word mantra (मन्त्र). The concern was to be as true as possible when translating texts, to have and use the right word when describing something. The Sanskrit language had this perfect one-to-one correspondence between name and form.

The poem was mentioned in Nine Gates: Entering the Mind of Poetry (HarperCollins, 1997) by Jane Hirshfield, a classic collection of essays about the mysterious ways poetry comes to us. In her chapter, The World is Large and Full of Noises: Thoughts on Translation, she highlights this theme with What Rainer Maria Rilke inscribed on the copy of The Duino Elegies he gave his Polish translator.

When I read that line in Kukai’s poem, about the first word, “Ah,” blossoming into all others, and each of them being true, it reminded me of what Maharishi Mahesh Yogi says about the first sound of creation, “A”, how it represents infinity collapsing to a point, “K”, and through its own sequential self-interacting dynamics, creates the whole alphabet, words, verses of Rk Veda, the whole Vedic literature, and their subsequent forms, the universe. This is part of Maharishi’s Apaurusheya Bahashya, the unwritten commentary of the Veda, unfolding itself and commenting on itself to itself. Apaurusheya Bhashya: Rk Veda is said to be nitya, eternal, and apaurusheya, uncreated. Maharishi explains that the sequential unfoldment of Rk Veda is its own uncreated, or unmanifest, commentary on itself, rather than that of an individual making an ‘external’ commentary on Rk Veda. See Maharishi’s Apaurusheya Bhashya.

In his Introduction to Maharishi Vedic University, Maharishi gives us a comprehensive cosmic perspective on the role Sanskrit, the language of Nature, plays in the process of creation. Through the self-interacting dynamics of pure consciousness, the Self, or Atma, reverberates within itself and creates the eternal uncreated sounds of the Veda, its own language, which in turn express themselves into forms—the individual body, Sharir, and the cosmic body, Vishwa. The eternal Silence and its own inherent Dynamism, evolve all parts of itself constantly referring them back to their source. He says it’s a start-stop process of Infinity collapsing to a point, referring it back to Itself, and evolving the next sound, and subsequent form. Full realization, or enlightenment, comes when one comprehends all of creation: Atma, Veda, Sharir, Vishwa, Brahman, or Totality, as the full potential of one’s own consciousness. Aham Brahmasmi. I am totality.

On Page 65 Maharishi writes, “The basic process of change, this basic process of transformation, continuously maintains the momentum of evolution of different levels of expression, creating different levels of manifestation upholding the process of evolution.

“It is this that promotes the eternally self-referral dynamics of Samhita into the sequential evolution of sound, speech, forms of speech in alphabets, words, phrases, verses etc., with corresponding material forms. This process continues eternally, resulting in the ever-expanding universe.” (Samhita is the togetherness of Rishi, Devata, Chhandas; knower, process of knowing, and known.)

I’ve written a poem about this process in Coalescing Poetry: Creating a Universe, (into haiku forms).

To learn more about the source of words, creation, both literal and literary, and their connection to consciousness, read: The Flow of Consciousness: Maharishi Mahesh Yogi on Literature and Language.

Also see: Before He Makes Each One by Rainer Maria Rilke.

Nine years later I posted: Japanese culture: poetic aesthetics, artistry, and martial arts, inspired me to write haiku and tanka.

Learning To Let Go

January 1, 2012

Learning To Let Go

You’ve been learning to let go
Accepting things as they are
And your bliss is zooming forth

That Being inside of you
It’s so full; it’s so vibrant
You’re becoming who you are

To me you’re the lucky one
But others would not know it
They only see what they see

If it wasn’t for my muse
I’d have no reason to write
This—the soul of the matter

© Ken Chawkin
Talking with Sali, my friend and muse
Saturday, December 31, 2011
Finalized Sunday, January 1, 2012
Fairfield, Iowa, USA

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