“I wish I could talk in Technicolor” LSD In The 50s


A mental health video of a housewife from the 50s on LSD is being passed around on the Internets right now. I couldn’t put my finger on what was so spectacular about the video until a friend wrote this:

Seeing someone with absolutely no context or expectations for this experience is fascinating.

I agree Joe, I agree.

Watch the clip.

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Doing It Wrong, Mindfully


I feel like stabbing you in the neck with a fork, but I won't

In “Burning Man Sucks, Don’t Go — Redux” the concept of what is “truth” in a conflict between people was written about. Like in “Burning Man Sucks, Don’t Go” the only real conclusion reached is shit and mistakes happen.

If neither party can apologize and/nor make amends with the other party, there’s a good chance the relationship will be lost; regardless of if the mistake happened purposefully or through a misunderstanding.

In this post we get to another angle of the conflict – doing it wrong, mindfully.

“The  feeling of dread[fear] can be a sign to go ahead and pursue something, just to overcome the fear that otherwise will continue to limit us.”

— Cheri Huber, Zen teacher and student

Doing it wrong means just that, do it wrong. Go against what “should” be done, go against the conventional wisdom so many feel inclined to give that may be more a reflection of their internal processing system then them accepting your processing system and giving advice based upon that. So do it wrong, but do it wrong mindfully.a

Essentially, doing it wrong mindfully, means that when you embrace doing it wrong, you are doing so with a goal in mind

The goal may be to understand why you are responding to the situation like you are or it may be because you need to live something out, like a horrible situation, in order to understand it — why it came to be, why you are in it, and so on. If you don’t have a goal in mind then you’re just doing it wrong. The goal of doing it wrong mindfully is the gift of noticing the consequences and benefits of your choices.

In a passage from the book This Side of Nirvana by Sara Jenkins, Jenkins recounts a story told by Zen teacher Cheri Huber about True Sickening Dread (TSD). TSD is fear plus the “deep-down knowledge that we are going to do this thing anyway, with the willingness to go into it and see whatever we see.”  To Huber, TSD is a sign of courage on the part of the person engaging in the practice. Huber also says that buying into “should” and “ought to” messages when acting on fear “just reinforces egocentricity.”

“If people have difficulty without being aware of the difficulty, that is true difficulty….Something may vanish for them. But if your effort is in the right direction, then there is no fear of losing anything. Even if it is in the wrong direction, if you are aware of that, you will not be deluded.”
–Shunryu Suzuki, Zen master

Just because you may not be angry or acting angry because you are acting on a “should” or “ought to,” it doesn’t mean that you are in any better position to help your situation; especially if you are still limited in your understanding of the difficulties of the situation you are in.

But how do you know when you’re not just doing it wrong because you aren’t getting what you want?

Every desire is based on a want — a want for safety, love, security, respect, etc. Routine self-acceptance and self-acknowledgment of all your feelings in the moment can help you accept these moments of dread when they happen (instead of running away from them) and routinely accepting your feelings from moment-to-moment can help you build self-confidence in your ability to accurately predict what you are feeling at any moment.

Another thing that will help you stay mindful is asking yourself what your goal is when engaging in the behavior. If your goal is to make this person feel hurt, then yes you are being mindful but you aren’t being very nice. And maybe you feel they are owed that unkindness, so be it. (However you will have to learn what you need to move pass that stage if you want the relationship to continue.) The point is knowing that this is where you are right now.

But that doesn’t answer the question Eds.

Because there is no answer, you always want something. The true dilemma is figuring out if what you want is reasonable at the time you are asking for it. And that is a question, imo, best left to the individual (or individuals) involved.

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And if you are wondering, the author did it wrong mindfully.

Snobbery or Something Like It


California's future?

Recently, Tom Ammiano, an assemblyman out of San Francisco, called for a bill that would legalize recreational use of marijuana in California. The announcement has come at a time when the state of California is desperate for money and still recovering from months of not having a balanced budget.  (Which is, perhaps, one of the reasons why people are taking this bill seriously.)

Of course there were many opinions and thoughts about the bill and what it would mean if the bill passed; however, the opinion that fascinated me the most and spurned this post, was a complaint about how San Francisco would attract and be filled with even more non-local Yahoos then ever before.*

In my head it sounded like this:

“Those damn Yahoos! They threaten the precious cultural ecosystem we have: burners, hipsters, tech heads, college students, gays, googlers, circus freaks, ravers, etc.”

Or what I’d like to call NIMBA (Not In My Bay Area).

I commented that “As long as we have snobs I’m sure those damn tourists will be kept in place.”

And that spurned this observation about snobbery’s (maybe) place in culture.

“Theoretically speaking, I don’t think snobbery is bad in a culture, although snob may not be the right word to use.

Cultural innovation always seems to happen whenever groups of people are forced to contract into tightly-knit groups in the pursuit of a common value. Which can be good: disco turned into house, age of enlightenment, cultural rights, Homebrew Computer Club, pot. It could be good for the Bay especially if this increases the amount of creatives who choose to live here: perm or indefinitely. More major and minor musical acts and other artists might begin coming through.

Snobbery is only bad when it leads a culture to a know it all in such a way that what they “know” can’t be questioned. That  “knowing” limits social growth in a society, “we know it all so we won’t change,” and the other side of that is “we’re so complacent we can’t/won’t change,” (the movie Idiocracy) that also limits growth. So snobbery creates the friction needed to create the cultural process that ultimately creates cultural innovation and the cycle continues unless the culture stalls on one of those extremes stated above. imo.”

I don’t think snobbery is the right word grammatically but the point is: Be a snob, it’s good for you. It’s better for all of us.

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*If pot were to become legalized it seems like a reasonable assumption that SF’s visitor traffic would grow and not only that, if Mexico’s violence keeps rising and this law is passed in time, then a legalized California – especially SF – could become a sought-after vacation spot.

But I wonder, does SF really want to deal with the visitor traffic legalized pot will bring? Considering  the recent news about San Francisco cracking down on flash mobs and sanitizing Bay to Breakers, I’d say “no.”  But I’ll still harbor a romantic idea of  seeing SF finally hosting cannabis coffeeshops.

Burning Man Sucks, Don’t Go — Redux


One of the highest viewed posts on this site is “Burning Man Sucks, Don’t Go.” It is quite the post to say the least, it is a direct reflection of my ’08 Burn time. It could even be considered to be a koan.

Is the “shit” that is happening a product of the writer — in essence is the writer the one projecting the shit or is it really true that some people are so stuck in their conditioning that they can’t see when their conditioning is making them a little crazy, psycho, selfish, and completely out of their fcking mind? Could it be both?

Sometimes there is no real/fixed answer to a koan. Sometimes the reason to ask this question is for the purpose of getting that person think about all the many ways that someone could arrive at their conclusion. Who’s truth/What truth, is being expressed now?  It could be the truth of all involved. And on the other hand who’s conditioning, what conditioning is being expressed now? Is there one right conditioning?

Something that has soothed me recently is this entry I randomly found on the Internets, it goes:

Often times, in life we are all contesting against ourselves – when we make choices and when choices break or make us. At such difficult times, there is nothing else that can ever make a person feel better within, than an honest-to-God sense of realization that ‘I did make a mistake’. And that ‘ I need to correct it now’.

Sometimes, mistakes cannot be corrected, yet still their impact can be acknowledged by the person who made the mistake/s and caused harm and hurt to another person.

Religion also encourages the ability to express sorry with an understanding that the wrong doing is realized as a wrong doing and the wrong doer is embarrassed for having done that.

Without philosophizing for the only-practical-minds, it still holds that the power of realization is healthy and beneficial, because its intent is to provide comfort to a disturbed mind; be it that of the one who is hurt due to a mistake of someone or of the one who caused the mistake. A greater gain is obtained when bad intentions are also acknowledged. Not everyone can live up to this ideal.

Only those people know its value, who mean to correct their flaws and are not terribly caught in their egos. There is a time limit for that realization to have its positive impact.

On earth, taking the ownership of one’s own mistakes and diligently making the effort to correct them with a clear heart and mind, is the best way one can gather the evidence to bring forth to Almighty, when the ultimate accountability will be carried out.

Now, I’m not about the Almighty (nor am I against it) but a couple of things ring true for me about this.

  1. Mistakes are unavoidable and when you make one, sometimes the best thing to be done is to realize that “a wrong doing is a wrong doing.”  (No circumstances allowed.)
  2. Realizing and admitting to your mistake is beneficial for you and the person who was hurt by the mistake.
  3. The amount of time in acknowledging the wrong doing/mistake counts.
  4. Apologizing is not about superiority or inferiority, it is about making things right. It’s about being better for yourself; it’s about caring that your behavior has caused someone great pain and taking a step to correct that. It’s an effort that doesn’t require ego.

And this is just one side of the story. I’ll write about another side of the story another time. Till then, enjoy life and do your best.

— xoxo, Eds

p.s. Hey, I just wrote more about how to apologize sincerely. Maybe you’d like to read it?

Update: The other side of the story

Forgive. Rinse. Repeat.


For all my harmful actions

Whether of  body speech or mind

Back through the limitless past

For all these harmful actions

May I forgive myself

May I see myself as a student of life

Still treading this path

Still making mistakes

May I forgive myself

If I can’t forgive myself now

May there be a time, in the near futre

When I can forgive myself

— Rev. Myo Lahey, Hartford Street Zen Center

This is part of a guided metta meditation by Rev. Myo Lahey. In his meditation, which you can download for free, he begins with this preamble of forgiveness (this is the 1st part of 3 stanzas) and then continues with his meditation on metta. (If you want to hear more about metta, I suggest this audio talk.)

I’ve been repeating this meditation to myself for the last month. Everyday (with only a little lapse), forgiveness for myself, forgiveness for those I have injured, forgiveness for those who have injured me.

I love these stanzas. The way they are phrased allows for the idea of perfect imperfection; So what if I didn’t act in ways that someone else (society for example) thinks I should act, I also didn’t act in ways that take away from my need to noticed, understood, taken seriously, and respected.

I’m not excusing crazy reckless behavior, behavior that causes harm of self and others but I am also not damning behavior in myself that seems out of the ordinary (especially when compared to others). Because sometimes the most important thing you can do for yourself is engage in behavior that is out of the ordinary.

I find this especially true since I was raised is a family where a lot of the time my feelings and actions weren’t noticed, understood, taken seriously, and/or respected.

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Standard vs. Behavioral Economics


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Dan Ariely — the guy playing Behavioral Economics, author of the book  Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces That Shape Our Decisions and the James B. Duke Professor of Behavioral Economics at Duke University believes that “life with fewer market norms and more social norms would be more satisfying, creative, fulfilling and fun.

And he thought this while at Burning Man.

Finally! Someone gets it. Someone is talking about the giant pink elephant in the economics classroom. Human beings are not always rational decision makers in the economic market. I’ve worked in marketing, I should know. Even Adam Smith idealized that Christianity would be the social norm that kept people from exploiting capitalism; Look what happened with that. To me, this fully enforces Ariely’s idea that it would far more prudent to have formalized social norms than market norms.

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Dan Ariely talking about his book at Google HQ below.

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