Day of the Woman in Iceland

Today, March 8 is International Women’s Day – a global day celebrating the economic, political, and social achievements of women past, present, and future. It is a day to recognize women’s achievements and acknowledge the challenges they continue to face in the quest for gender equality.

The roots of International Women’s Day go back to the labor movements of the 1900s in North America and across Europe, but since then, it has taken on a global, international focus – especially since 1977, when the United Nations General Assembly invited Member States to recognize March 8th as an annual UN Day for Women’s Rights and International Peace.

While we celebrate the milestones and achievements of all women, we want to highlight one particular woman who has made an impact in her country as the Prime Minister of Iceland, Leader of the Left Green Movement and the only ruling Green PM in the world, Katrín Jakobsdóttir.

Jakobsdóttir, Iceland’s second female prime minister, has made great strides strengthening Iceland’s policies to ensure gender equality – in a country that is already deemed the best in the world to be a woman. In 2018, Iceland became the first country in the world to make it illegal to pay men more than women for the same job.

The World Economic Forum published a piece written by Jakobsdóttir, called “How to build a paradise for women. A lesson from Iceland”. It is worth a read as it describes the ways that Iceland is still working towards building a country – and subsequently a world – where women are free to reach their full potential.

Take some time to think about the ordinary women who have played an extraordinary role in the history of their countries and communities.

Sincerely,
Jody Grage, National Secretary of the Green Party USA

Rhapsodic

Maurice Ravel, born this day in 1875, was among the most significant and influential composers of the early twentieth century. Although he is frequently linked with Claude Debussy as an exemplar of musical impressionism, and some of their works have a surface resemblance, Ravel possessed an independent voice that grew out of his love of a broad variety of styles, including the French Baroque, BachMozartChopin, Spanish folk traditions, and American jazz and blues. His elegant and lyrically generous body of work was not large in comparison with that of some of his contemporaries, but his compositions are notable for being meticulously and exquisitely crafted. He was especially gifted as an orchestrator, an area in which he remains unsurpassed.

Carl Jung and Alan Watts

Watts was a voice from the 1960s bringing Eastern spirituality to the West.  Here he reads from a Jung essay and puts it in context.  Summary, in my words:

Christian morality and, actually, all of Western morality are based on the individual harnessing the good within himself and conquering the evil through an act of will.  In the Daoist tradition, on the other hand, good and evil are interdependent and inseparable.

Jung’s psychology emphasized acquainting oneself with the dark side of one’s own personality.  Watts says that Jung had mastered this in his own personality.  Jung was able to understand and help people with their own dark impulses because he had made peace with his own.

This doesn’t mean that the distinction between good and evil is arbitrary.  Watts speaks paradoxically about political struggles in the real world.  We can fight passionately with all our being for what we know is right, and still recognize that in doing so we are playing a role in a grand drama, and that the drama as a whole is “good” in a way that transcends the good/evil dichotomy within it.

Acceptance of oneself is the essence of the moral problem, and the acid test of one’s whole outlook on life.  That I feed the beggar, that I forgive an insult, that I love an enemy in the name of Christ All these are undoubtedly great virtues.  What I do to the least of my brethren, that I do unto Christ.

But what if I should discover that the least among them all, the poorest of all beggars, the most impudent among all offenders, yea, the very Fiend himself, that these are within me, and that I myself stand in need of the alms of my own kindness?  That I, myself, am the enemy who must be loved.  What then?

Then, as a rule, the whole truth of Christianity is reversed. There is then no more talk of love and long suffering. We say to the brother within us: Rocca, and condemn and rage against ourselves. We hide him from the world. We deny ever having met this least among the lowly in ourselves. And had it been God himself who drew near to us in this despicable form, we should have denied him a thousand times before a single cock had crowed.

The Secret

Two girls discover
the secret of life
in a sudden line of
poetry.
I who don’t know the
secret wrote
the line. They
told me
(through a third person)
they had found it
but not what it was
not even
what line it was.  No doubt
by now, more than a week
later, they have forgotten
the secret,
the line, the name of
the poem.  I love them
for finding what
I can’t find,
and for loving me
for the line I wrote,
and for forgetting it
so that
a thousand times, till death
finds them, they may
discover it again, in other
lines
in other
happenings.  And for
wanting to know it,
for
assuming there is
such a secret, yes,
for that
most of all.
~ Denise Levertov ~

Thanks once again to Joe Riley for acquainting me with this poem.

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Picasso, 1934

The Body Clock (flash fiction)

We might delay, but cannot avoid death.  Even if you had the Goblet of Gilgamesh, the actuaries would offer even money whether you’d survive your thousandth birthday.  The world is just too full of drunk drivers and mutating viruses. You know this, of course, but I didn’t. The only excuse I can offer is that fear of dying was clouding my reason.

When I was 46, I walked away from a career in computer science to go to med school.  I wanted to learn the science of aging, and convinced myself there was a chance—I was not too proud to grasp at a thread—that the Breakthrough would come in time for me.  I never imagined making the discovery myself, but hoped I might be close enough to the field to secure a place near the head of the queue when human trials became available.

I was lucky.  Aging, it turns out, is epigenetic.  It’s all about gene expression, and Big Data yielded to Bigger Database.  I’m 69 years old, and I have in hand a vial with a transcription factor that will set my body’s clock back 40 years.

The grey fog of fear has lifted, and I can think about death for the first time.  I can read about children’s past lives, mediumship, and NDEs. I can plan. A thousand years feels, at once, too long to occupy one body, and completely beside the point.  When I’m 900 years young, will I still be able to learn? Will I still dread the looming Void?

A faint glimpse into the obvious.  The best gift of that vial is already mine.  All I really wanted was a view of life outside the fog, and this I have been given.

— JJM

The Seventh Seal

Hey—I think I just saw ∞. Did you see it, too?

The Absolute hides in plain sight, disguised as this very curious moment, but don’t go looking for Now or Here since there are none; it’s only infinity that you can find.

This is the sacred unicity and bifurcation the neo-advaitists get all excited about, but there’s not much point in going on a retreat about it all. I mean, by all means go for the food and camaraderie, but don’t harbor the idea or expectation that there is something to find on your retreat that isn’t already streaming and broadcasting and befuddling you with aplomb right here and now.

NASA Study Claims Sugar Molecules Probably Exist in Deep Space

Present experience, free from the entanglement of its demand to be known, is no longer present experience; it’s the revelation of realization which isn’t anything at all in particular.

You are always standing at the jhanic shore of absolute immersion, it’s just that the reflex to know or acquire is also the reflex that suggests the knower, the seeming presence and continuity of yourself as an entity, the ‘person’ behind the senses.

This is the magical incantation of emptiness.  If you conceive of it or yourself you entrain the world and then there are two. However, as you begin to sense and trust the majesty of it, the reflex to acquire relaxes into present tense and all the tension disperses into the very benevolence from which it arose.

The conceiving insistence, the demand the world makes to be known, is no longer binding upon you, and that’s infinity in your face.

— Night Sky Sangha

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The Science of Sleep

Matthew Walker is the Sleep Diplomat.  In this video he teaches us how to sleep better, and documents some of the ways in which quantity and quality of sleep can make us smarter, more attractive, better connected, more creative, happier people.  Sleep quality contributes to health of the immune system, resistance to disease and to cancer, lowered risk of cancer and heart disease and dementia, richer lives in the here and now.