Sunday, February 26, 2006

On Drugs/Art Ain't Easy/Meditation & Poker

(P1) Political

On Drugs - George Bush Attempts to Explain

Can you recall several months ago when my 91-year-old parents were being cut from their Kaiser medical coverage due to a snafu caused by the George Bush's so called drug pogrom (I mean "program") for the elderly. Fortunately, after several weeks of trying, I got Mom and Dad back aboard with Kaiser. Well anyway, thanks to Cory Farley in the Reno Gazette-Journal Feb. 21, 2006, we have a verbatim transcription of George Bush's "explanation." First here is the question from the audience:

"How is (Medicare's new plan) going to fix the problem?"

Here's the answer from the President of the United States who a reader of this column reminded me that "...unfortunately, this is the leader of the free world."

"Because the -- all which is on the table begins to address the big cost drivers. For example, how benefits are calculated, for example, is on the table. Whether or not benefits rise based upon wage increases or price increases. There's a series of parts of the formula that are being considered.

"And when you couple that, those different cost drivers, affecting those -- changing those with personal accounts, the idea is to get what has been promised more likely to be -- or closer delivered to that has been promised.

"Does that make any sense to you? It's kind of muddled. Look, there's a series of things that cause the -- like, for example, benefits are calculated based upon the increase of wages, as opposed to the increase of prices. Some have suggested that we calculate -- the benefits will rise based upon inflation, supposed to wage increases. There is a reform that would help solve the red if that were put into effect.

"In other words, how fast benefits grow, how fast the promised benefits grow, if those --if that growth is affected, it will help on the red."

Believe me, dear readers, I even had trouble typing and proofreading this!!!

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(P2) Poetical

Michelangelo Poem - Demonstrates that "Art's Not Always Easy"

To Giovanni Da Pistoia
On the Painting of the Sistine Chapel, 1509

I've grown a goitre by dwelling in this den -
As cats from stagnant streams in Lombardy,
Or in what other land they hap to be-
Which drives the belly close beneath the chin:
My beard turns up to heaven; my nape falls in,
Fixed on my spine: my breast-bone visibly
Grows like a harp: a rich embroidery
Bedews my face from brush-drops thick and thin.
My loins into my paunch like levers grind:
My buttock like a crupper bears my weight;
My feet unguided wander to and fro;
In front my skin grows loose and long; behind,
By bending it becomes more taut and strait;
Crosswise I strain me like a Syrian bow:
Whence false and quaint, I know,
Must be the fruit of squinting brain and eye;
For ill can aim the gun that bends awry.
Come then, Giovanni, try
To succor my dead pictures and my fame;
Since foul I fare and painting is my shame.

(Michelangelo Buonarroti translated by John Addington Symonds)

(P3) Philosophical

Meditate Your Way to Better Poker

(From Utne Reader - Mar/Apr '06)

Can meditation help your poker game? For Andy Black, the answer seems to be yes. Last summer, after a five-year hiatus studying Buddhist teachings, the Irish card shark returned to the game and took fifth place at the World Series of Poker in Las Vegas (he came in fourteenth in 1997, then quit the game in 1999). At the tournament, Black and his coach meditated each morning and sometimes read dharma texts during breaks. He recently told the Buddhist magazine Tricycle (Winter 2005) how his meditation practice and his game intersect: "When I'm playing I just try to be in the present moment...I find I make wrong decisions when I act out of tune with my gut sense of how things are: what this person is like, their situation at this moment, and the element of chance. My experience of Buddhist practice means that I also include how I am, how I am treating the other players, and how I respond to both winning and losing. You can disregard that feeling, just like in life, but in poker you get immediate payback. It's always the same lesson: When your actions are not in accordance with how things are, you suffer."

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Anonymous said...

You obviously are not smart enough to understand an MBA, which is what our Prsident is.....Here is an explanation...."If the price of a buncha stuff goes up then that is good sometimes and if the price goes down that is good, but not all the time and when its bad its really good for some people sometimes which you can't fool all the time. Now do you undrstand?

Joe Carpenter said...
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Edward Coletti said...
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Joe Carpenter said...
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Joe Carpenter said...

This comment is from Joe Carpenter whose thought-provoking article on where to place our political and social attention, "We Are The People" appears in the current issue of the Utne Reader. I recommend it to everybody. - Ed

Hi Ed -

Thanks very much for your note, and for your kind words.
Thanks, too, for the link to your wonderful site. I've just been poking about there, for a while, and I was - I am, indeed, pleased to meet such a man as Ed Coletti.
You have a fine mind, sir - and a big, wide heart.

About - "an afterlife." My 2 cents:

In the 1930's, a fellow named Douglas Harding was hiking in the Himalayas. At one point, in an instant, he realized that he'd been confused about the nature / existence of - his head. His thoughts, and sometimes various sensations, had always endeavored to place this "head" atop his shoulders. However, as he was wandering about in the Himalayas, looking at the astonishing scenery, he was jolted by the fact that, for the most part, he did not experience a head in that "space," where he thought his head was, but, rather, moment to moment, in day to day life, he experienced an "empty space." Somehow, he'd just never noticed! He realized, too, that that space was filled, at the moment, with the clear, crisp grandeur of the Himalayas, but that it generally contained "the world." This empty space, where he'd always believed he had a head, was filled with life - with, well, with everything. He said, later: "...I lost a head, and gained the whole world."

This understanding, this insight, is sometimes called enlightenment, or awakening... as if waking from a dream.
Rumi refers to it in several places. In this example, he calls it "presence" -
"...The presence that one second is soil, then water, fire, smoke, woof, warp, a friend, a shame, a modesty,
is too vast and intimate for partnership. Observers watch as presence takes thousands of forms.
But inside your eyes, the presence does not brighten or dim; it just lives there..."
In this one, he calls it "another world" -
"People are going back and forth across the doorsill where the two worlds touch.
The door is round and open. Don't go back to sleep!"
In this one, he speaks of what happened to him, after this insight, after "losing a head, and gaining a world:"
"...He has ransacked my house so that no one lives here anymore,
just a boy running barefoot all through it."

Let's pretend, for the moment, that this "space," this "presence," is actually that "Reality, which is neither sensory nor conceptual, neither of the body, nor of the mind, though it includes and transcends both," as Nisargadatta puts it.
Let's pretend, further, that "the world," the stuff which occupies this "space" - whatever it might be at any given moment... the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, the Mona Lisa, a row of filthy garbage cans, the kitchen sink, the pizza delivery guy, the lawn in the back yard, a portion of one's body and a computer screen and keyboard, a dreadful and vivid old memory, a fantasy involving several nurses and a bedbath, the darkness of the insides of the eyelids - whatever...
let's pretend that this "world" is a magnificent painting - a living, breathing, constantly moving, ever changing painting, astonishingly "lifelike."

I ofttimes think that, as we age, and perhaps acquire a bit of wisdom, there come some odd 'pentimento experiences,' as it were. There is something "else," sometimes, in the painting, beneath the painting. There arise odd questions, strange presentiments, experiences which do not make sense. We grow older, still, and the painting sometimes almost seems transparent, and the painting now sometimes contains odd images and strange dreams, insights, certainties...

Then, one day, an "unseen hand" comes and wipes away all the paint of the painting that is "one's life." That "empty space," that "presence" we've talked about, above, is entirely unaffected. It remains as "presence," powerful, aware, alive - but the painting has been wiped away. One could call this "death."
But now, the 'pentimento' painting is revealed; there is another painting beneath the old one. It is a "new," old painting - and the "stuff" of this painting is what fills that "empty space," for a while, or perhaps for a very long time. And then, perhaps, the empty space somehow conjures up a brand new painting to cover the old, new one, and we call this "birth." Though, of course, that "empty space," has remained, throughout, entirely unaffected - "including and transcending both body and mind" - and infinitely more.

Anyway -
Sorry about all the blab. Your site has inspired me a bit, it seems.
Thanks very much for your letter and your site, and for the opportunity to meet Ed Coletti...

Please be well, Ed.

- joe carpenter

4:32 PM

4:55 PM