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Monday, January 14, 2013

Couldn't have said this better myself

Robert Fripp is, in addition to being one of the world's great guitar treasures, a man of no small insight and erudition. The following is from his online diary (highly recommended for further exploration.)

The URL for the entry in which this gem was found is

The question came from his record company's website guest book.

Q: When one is surrounded by what you’ve termed basement commentary, how does one avoid being sucked into it?

A: By being present.

Easy words. Fortunately, the practice is not, in principle, difficult to grasp. The application is more so. Even better: how-to-be present may be learnt, pretty much as one would learn to play a musical instrument.

If we are not present, we are subject to all the forces and pressures of the daily world. If we are present, we remain subject to all the forces and pressures of the daily world, but we may not be swept away by them. We may even, in certain circumstances, be able to re-direct the current. The fundamental key to presence is the power of volitional attention.

So, how does one avoid being sucked into the noise and confusion of Basement Living? We begin by practising the attention.

How do we begin practising the attention? By Doing Nothing – as much as we can!

In a similar vein, I recommend this, as well:


Many thanks to Anne! These two finds materialized after an email from her pointed me in their direction. Might be coincidence, might just be the way things are.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

In passing, giving

When someone passes from this world, some say that we lost them. "I lost my friend, spouse, parent,etc."; but this does all concerned a disservice. We assume we "had" them, that they were somehow objects found, later to be lost. Yes, yes, I'm being tedious; it's a turn of phrase, but one I find lacking in import and meaning. When there is genuine love, genuine relationship, there can be no loss. Genuine being cannot be added to, nor subtracted from; and that which is real is not bound by the merely seen.

On New Years' Eve, a dear friend flew off from the merely seen. In his wake, he left a legacy of wonderful social activism and enriched the lives of those who met him and even those who didn't. I'd known Bob Publicover for almost twenty years as a landlord, as one deeply invested in social issues - most especially AIDs, being that he was one of, if not the, longest lived survivor, and as a dear, dear friend who provided that aforementioned enrichment.

A measure of the man is that when I returned to Massachusetts, we had dinner at the Foundry in Somerville and as I was showing him pictures of The Lord Buddha Charitable School in Bihar, he simply asked "how much?" Knowing Bob, I knew what he was asking and anyone reading this can probably guess that he meant how much could he send to help support the LBWF's effort to maintain the school. "As much as you're comfortable giving. He knew and I knew that I wasn't there to tap him as a donor, but we both knew that he'd volunteer up, anyway.

I told him I would include him on emails to Mahendra and that part of the process would be as much to get my friends in India used to maintaining contact with regular donors (as Bob very much wanted to be) as having him provide his own fundraising wisdom. I was being sneaky on that bit!

Both Bob and David his husband, handed me a check that proved a great support to the school and went to defray expenses and provide supplies. By this time, Bob wasn't quite mobile and his prognosis wasn't looking bright. Nevertheless, he continued thinking of others and when I notified Mahendra of Bob's passing, I received this:

"Hi dear John,

The news of Bob's death made us shocked.We pray to god for his soul's peace. Today in the school with the children, we will pray to the god for his soul and teaching activity will be closed for today. I am really shocked to know this news.

With best wishes,


I could write much more but there are plenty of other articles on the web. A few I'll list at the end. Mostly, this is just to give one small example of how natural and reflexive it was for Bob to care and give.

Another person in this mix who deserves a world of recognition is the man Bob married. David is compassion incarnate and in my estimation, Bob's equal in largeness of heart. Their union is one more giant step in the recognition of marriage as an inalienable human right not restricted by societal limitations or judgment.

To be sure, when someone departs from this plane, it's natural that we feel the absence and this will be felt in direct proportion to the impact the departed had on our lives. It is extremely reasonable that this hole in our shared experience be accompanied with a sadness, but in the passing of those who have cared for others and given of themselves to others, I would offer that it's also not unreasonable that a sense of gratitude lingers and heals that sense of lack or absence; after all, we've been given of these others inestimable gifts to continue sharing on and on.

Bob, till next time!

Links about Bob Publicover:


Why write?

Why write?

Several reasons.

To discover and explore one's own content in a way that may not be as immediate and so (too) close to the source as thinking. Indeed, writing can be an aid in exposing what is worth keeping and what discarding. Not all thoughts are equal, and much of the time our heads are filled with rubbish; but we accept this all as originating from "us", as though we were whole entities capable of originating thought.

To discover the limits and the potential limitlessness of our possibilities. To see what inside us might actually be whole.

To share this with others. To open up a shared space of self-other. Out of this, there may come a group effort to a common aim of achieving something like growth and giving flower to that seed inside us that is our truest essence.

In both the infra and interpersonal expression of setting down in words our experiences of self and other and the world, there is a kind of direct pointing at the process of transcending that obtains in developing our very notions of self. Out of this direct pointing comes a genuine insight of how we can and how we do relate to ourselves and each other. The process is encountered and experienced as the dynamic continuum that it is, but that sometimes goes so fast that we miss it. Writing helps slow that down so that we can we be more aware of it.

This blog is not always that, but part of its mission is to subversively provide this ground for some degree of cogitation beyond the merely visceral. If you're new here, you may not see much that reflects that; however, you might.

Similarly, why photograph, paint, dance, sing, play?