Monday, July 31, 2006

Noble dominos

Noble Dominos, Arlington Cemetery, July 2006, HP Photosmart R817, Exposure 1/560 sec @ f4.6, ISO 100, no flash © Steven Crisp [Click on the photo to enlarge]

Can you hear them cresting, breaking?
In a sea of green, who has not sinned?
All around me, white-capped warriors
And yet there is no wind

It is ghostly calm and quiet
Such a contrast to the battle call
Rows and rows of noble dominos
In distant lands began to fall

Hear them pray to their God, their savior
Different names they each call out
As they exhale their final breath
The mason’s chisel leaves no doubt

Here they rest, so brave, so honored
Now they’ve paid the ultimate price
Was it worth their final journey?
Did you feel their sacrifice?

Can we really keep the peace
By waging battles bravely fought
As our brothers, sons, and fathers
Reap the victory that we sought

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Silent Warriors

Silent Warriors, Garden Pond, Amherst, NH, July 2006, HP Photosmart R817, Exposure 1/360 sec @ f4.7, ISO 122, no flash © Steven Crisp [Click on the photo to enlarge]

They have invaded my land, these silent warriors
They fly in formation, their aerial acrobatics
High G maneuvers, mixed with delicate hovering

Freed from the water, do they remember their former selves?
Is that why they dance in the air, samba and cha-cha with the breeze
So beautiful (and grotesque), when will we look beyond the surface?

They seem coy, as I call to them,
Please rest here and let me see, the iridescence of your gossamer
And stay safe, wary of your enemies

While you hunt, you are also hunted
What is this life, this struggle?
It is good, is it not? (Given the alternative.)

Oh sweet nectar, call your companions
This symbiosis, that enables all of life
It is whole, and inextricably linked

Judge not one part, lest you judge yourself
Harm not one being, lest you harm yourself
And struggle not, but if you must fight

Arm yourself well, as you walk into battle
You will need something, that can conquer
Disarm your enemy, with only love and compassion

Saturday, July 29, 2006

Standing still

Standing Still, Garden Pond, July 2006, HP Photosmart R817, Exposure 1/560 sec @ f4.5, ISO 100, no flash © Steven Crisp
[Note: as of yesterday, I've started to upload full size photos to Blogger, so if you want to see more detail in this (and subsequent) photos, just click on the photo]

Do you have a place where you can go and just "be" with nature? To stand still and observe all that is alive around you? To soak in the colors from an indescribable pallete. To bathe in warm breezes and drink in sweet nectar?

Please find your place and go there. Spend quiet time there, at least some of it alone. With nothing to do, and no where else to be. Hear nature sing to you. Let her embrace you, put her arm around your soul.

It makes me think of this poignent poem. Be aware of the world around you, and all of its mysterious beauty.
And A Meadow Lark Sang

"The child whispered, 'God, speak to me'
And a meadow lark sang.
The child did not hear.

So the child yelled, 'God, speak to me!'
And the thunder rolled across the sky
But the child did not listen.

The child looked around and said,
'God let me see you' and a star shone brightly
But the child did not notice.

And the child shouted,
'God show me a miracle!'
And a life was born but the child did not know.

So the child cried out in despair,
'Touch me God, and let me know you are here!'
Whereupon God reached down
And touched the child.

But the child brushed the butterfly away
And walked away unknowingly."

-- Ravindra Kumar Karnani
And of course these opening lines by William Blake (from Auguries Of Innocence):
To see a world in a grain of sand,
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
And eternity in an hour.

Friday, July 28, 2006

A Magical Place

A Magical Place, Garden Pond, Amherst, NH, July 2006, HP Photosmart R817, Exposure 1/1818 sec @ f8.0, ISO 50, with flash, color adjusted in iPhoto © Steven Crisp
[Note: as of today, I've started to upload full size photos to Blogger, so if you want to see more detail in this (and subsequent) photos, just click on the photo]

I live in such a magical place. And it makes me think of Lucy, even without drugs, really.

And now with so many apologies to the Beatles ...
Picture yourself as you float on a pond,
With tangerine cattails and pink dragonflies
Somebody calls you, you answer quite slowly,
A girl with kaleidoscope eyes.

Cellophane flowers of orange and green,
Towering over your head.
Look for the bee with the sun on her side,
And she's flown.

Stevie on his back with his camera.
Stevie on his back with his camera.
Stevie on his back with his camera.

Follow her down to a bridge by the outlet
Where bumble bee giants eat pollen for pies,
Everyone smiles as you drift past the flowers,
That grow so incredibly high.

Frito the terror appears on the shore,
Waiting to catch frogs all day.
Lay on the ground with your head in the clouds,
And you're gone.

Stevie on his back with his camera.
Stevie on his back with his camera.
Stevie on his back with his camera.

Picture yourself in a chair on the water,
Where evergreen bullfrogs eat looking glass flies,
Suddenly someone is there in the garden,
The girl with kaleidoscope eyes.

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

No eating in bed

No eating in bed, Amherst, NH, July 2006, Pentax Optio 555, Exposure 1/160 sec @ f3.0, ISO 64, no flash, super macro © Steven Crisp

Since we are on a sex theme, I thought I'd get this one out of the way as well. These are Japanese beetles, making mince meat out of our cherry tree, and just having a grand old time. No shame. Group sex. And boy do they eat. All of the succulent parts of the leaves, such that only the veins remain.

Now if only the Purple Martins that have taken up residence in our yard had a taste for Japanese beetles, that would be very satisfying indeed. And maybe they could leave our dragonflies alone?

Monday, July 24, 2006

Bee Bomb!

Bee Bomb!, Garden Pond, Amherst, NH, July 2006, Pentax Optio 555, Exposure 1/160 sec @ f3.0, ISO 64, no flash, super macro © Steven Crisp

A little racy, yes? Now I know why they call the plant Bee Bomb (I know, I know, it's not spelled that way ;-) These two are certainly having a bomb of a time.

Ah, evolution in progress. All creatures embrace the flow. It is their natural state -- our minds tend to get in the way. Can you find ecstacy in the garden? Smell the delicate earthy fragrance. Open your eyes to nature's rich, oily palette. Feel her warm, tender petals. Taste the rich, luscious nectar. Sense the buzz of life all around, and become electrified.

You only have to Be and you will have your balm.

Don't Do the Dew -- Be the Balm. And Go with the Flow.

Sunday, July 23, 2006

Cute and furry

Chipmunk and Daylily, Amherst, NH, July 2006, Pentax Optio 555, Exposure 1/160 sec @ f4.6, ISO 200, no flash © Steven Crisp

Now here's something you don't see everyday. I had no idea that chipmunks liked to eat daylily flower petals. Maybe it's time to consider going vegetarian.

The Metamorphosis

The Metamorphosis, Garden Pond, Amherst, NH, July 2006, Pentax Optio 555, Exposure 1/125 sec @ f7.7, ISO 64, with flash © Steven Crisp

I was walking around our little garden pond today and look what just happened to be stuck to the underside of one of our pond plants! My own little biology class ;-) I assume this is some sort of dragonfly undergoing a metamorphasis from larvae (actually, properly called an aquatic nymph) to adult, but I have not been able to confirm that -- all you entimologists are invited to offer your insights.

Evolution is certainly an interesting process, and dragonflies have been around in one form or another for over 200 million years, continuing to perfect that branch of the evolutionary experiment. It has resulted in some measured excellence -- for example, dragonflies are the fastest insects on earth, capable of flying over 60 mph. And their eyes have over 30,000 facets giving them excellent vision over nearly 360 degrees. I wonder if this is a picture of one adult from the same order.

As I was looking on the internet for some information on what type of critter this might be, I finally found a link that showed time sequenced photographs of the metamorphosis, and found out that this transformation from aquatic nymph to flying adult takes only a few hours. Alas, when I went back to watch my nymph more closely, she was gone -- perhaps already having flown away. How can such a dramatic transformation -- in physical form as well as physiology -- take place in such a short span of time?

You know, I always had this image in my mind of aquatic nymphs, which look just a little different than this bug. I think I like John William Waterhouse's image a little bit better. Which would you prefer to find in your pond?

Friday, July 21, 2006

Black Hole

Black Hole, Yoshidaguchi Trail, Mt Fuji, Japan, July 2006, HP Photosmart R817, Exposure 1/137 sec @ f2.8, ISO 100, no flash; color, saturation, and contrast heavily adjusted with iPhoto © Steven Crisp

Ripples in the fabric of space-time itself. A distant thing and no-thing within the Kosmos. Energy and matter caught in its gravitational pull, rotating and falling into the abyss never to be seen again (as far as we know). In the center, the absence of light, beyond its own event horizon. Returning the manifest to the fertile void; a singularity where the laws of our world do not apply. The definition of infinity and nothingness. Where time and space do not exist. This is not a spiritual message, sent to us by sages and prophets, but advanced theories reported in peer-reviewed journals by scientific materialists.

How interesting that all paths lead us to the ineffable, even those discovered by science. That which cannot be adequately described with words. Where words lose their meaning. Before words.

And do you believe that you can find this place? Forget belief -- can you actually find it? It is available to us all. It is our Authentic Self -- the Ground of All Being -- God, if you like. Where we are all one, forever. Timeless, spaceless, wordless. The definition of infinity. Neverland. Foreverland.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Rippling mountain tops

Rippling Mountain Tops, Looking down from Mt. Fuji, Japan, July 2006, Pentax Optio 555, Exposure 1/640 sec @ f5.64, ISO 64, no flash © Steven Crisp

Well I just finished my second climb of Mt. Fuji. Had a very enjoyable time, and will write about it in more detail in my Hiking and Seeking blog. Perhaps you've heard what they say: "Everyone should climb Mt. Fuji once, but only a fool would climb it twice". Well, you know what that makes me.

I guess one interesting aspect of climbing Mt. Fuji is the challenge to both mind and body. While not technically challenging at all, it is something of an endurance contest (14-hours over 9,000 vertical feet up to the summit at 12,388 ft), and if you throw in a 50 mph soaking rain, as you are trapped in a human traffic jam waiting to reach the summit, in the middle of the night, it can test your mental endurance as well.

But on this hike, in spite of one period of bad weather, we had an enjoyable time, and saw some nice scenery, like this photo during the decent. When the rain had cleared, you could see all of the mountains around Mt. Fuji poking their summits through a sea of receding clouds. I wonder what they call someone that wants to climb it a third time?

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

The Revelation

Let There Be Light, St. Ignatius of Loyola church, Rome, Italy, September 2005, Pentax Optio 555, Exposure 1/20 sec @ f3.5, ISO 400, no flash © Steven Crisp

Last night I saw something. Or something was downloaded, or uncovered. Or somehow it was revealed to me. It’s hard to explain. It wasn’t a dream, and my recollection of it now is not a memory; more of a knowing (but without conscious knowing). Like a deep-seated intuition that just now resonates. Strange, yet very liberating.

So what was it? Well let me start with a brief review of last evening. I was having dinner with a good friend, and after our 20th piece of sushi, I brought the conversation around to the question: “can we intentionally evolve consciousness?” This is my shorthand summary of the teaching of Andrew Cohen, that I referred to briefly in a recent post.

We went back and forth, and round and round, on what it means to evolve, and to relate that literally to the biological process that includes modifying our genetic code such that evolved traits are handed down to future generations. Sure, by changing the course of events (e.g., by not blowing ourselves up) we are influencing evolution (by giving it more time to work on our species), but that is not actually directing the evolutionary process. Maybe it is not so black and white. Clearly, that is adapting to our environment, another tenant of Darwin’s evolutionary process, but here we refer to somatic adaptation — namely, that process independent of and not directly able to affect the genetic material buried within our DNA and passed on to our offspring. So sure, of course, we “create” our environment moment to moment. And that can alleviate (or create) much suffering in this world through our conscious actions, and potentially affect our societies, and possibly even our species as a whole. But that is not evolution, at least as I see it.

My revelation brought me back to the ego. A necessary device, evolved precisely for the purposes of keeping our biological body alive long enough to procreate and continue the evolutionary process, which is Life, God, Creation, Divinity, call it what you will. It is that remarkable process that permutates offspring and then selects those most adapted to whatever environmental changes have occurred.

The ego provides us with a useful test for all transcendental ideas. If the idea proves to be uniquely positive in any way for the ego, it is suspect, and likely not sourced from your Authentic Self, the Ground of All Being, or God him/her/itself (if you like), but instead is the product of your (or another’s) ego, albeit possibly dressed in some very clever garb.

If you think about the implications of this for a while — reflect upon it, contemplate on it — it is truly mind-boggling (which is in some way the whole point, since the mind is rather attached to the ego). Imagine what the world — our societies — would look like if they were not sculpted by people’s egos. Frankly, it would have some of the most dramatic impact right here in the United States, a society whose culture has come to emphasize individualism (“I” as separate from society), and over the last generation, has been dutifully polishing its narcissistic tendencies (with a few notable exceptions).

There is an article I read recently about an eye doctor named Dr. Govindappa Venkataswamy (thankfully known as Dr. V, which itself is an amazing coincidence — if you believe in such things — since I just recently saw a movie about man known only as “V” and wrote about it here). Anyways, his story really began at the age of 57 (giving all of us hope who think we may have been climbing the wrong ladder during our “productive” years ;-). At that point, he had a vision (with a capital V ;-) about giving sight to millions blinded in India as a result of cataracts, and so poor as to never even having conceived of a way to address this limitation. Starting up ophthalmology hospitals, and giving those services away for free to over 70% of their clientele, he has “opened the eyes” of literally millions, not only by his operations, but also by his actions. The metaphors just tumble out of this story.

What I also found interesting about the article, is that it was published in “Fast Company”, surely a metaphor for “capitalism at net-speed”, which, when you stop to think about it, seems about as orthogonal to the actions of Dr V, and the paradigm and philosophies he exposed and espoused, as one could get. And perhaps that is precisely the point, and the poetic beauty of it all. Reveal for the culture most in need of help seeing its society as a whole — and not a collection of 300 million little “I’s” (pun intended) running around trying to get their piece of the pie, at the expense of the 299,999,999 others. Surely you can see the absurdity of that paradigm. It fails the fundamental test — indeed it is the poster child of its antithesis — because it serves the ego first and foremost. And as I have written about elsewhere, it “doesn’t scale”. Therefore, it cannot reflect a universal truth, or offer a solid foundation from which to judge the Truth.

Whoa, let’s get back on track. This story was about a revelation. So what was revealed? Only this: The world will be an unimaginably different place when we awaken to our Authentic Self and begin to live those principles. And that is the most we can and should ask of any one — any ego — out there. Work on yourself, and then live your life from the revealed truths, and let that be your example. Try not to “change others” for that can lead to only different futures, not to the Truth. Try not even to awaken others, for they will, must, and can only, awaken themselves. Your true guidance to them comes from your life, not your words, no matter how much you may wish it to be otherwise. Otherwise, it is your ego, looking to be right, or respected, or God-forbid, revered.

So no, we cannot intentionally influence the evolution of consciousness. Consciousness, a manifestation of life, or perhaps that which life manifests from, is indeed evolving. Just roll the evolutionary clock back a thousand generations ago and you will see that our species had not evolved enough to even ask these questions. Now, there are some who feel confident they can not only ask but answer them (don’t worry, I do not count myself among them ;-) And I am confident that as the evolutionary process continues, more and more of us will choose to ask ourselves these questions, and of course, once the student is ready ...

So if you are at that point in your own development where you are asking yourself these questions, continue to probe deeply — for you have been given a gift. A mind savvy enough to know there is more than itself to satisfy. An ego clever enough to try to trap you into its survival model, but supple enough to bend under the weight of insight into your Authentic Self. A will strong enough to resist the onslaught of societal messages looking to inflate your narcissism and deflate your wallet, and of course, in the process, enslave you into the mechanization of progress. And under it all, ever present to your sincere inquiry, a wisdom and truth revealed upon which your new life can be built, and from such action and recognition, fundamentally new societies will be built over time. Do not wish to rush them, for like all great ideas, first they are ridiculed, then denounced, then opposed (violently if the stakes are high enough, which they surely are here), then accepted as obvious. This, I believe, is the end state that evolution is moving toward, and why at this time we are asking these questions. But we are still a long way away. We may even be an evolutionary dead end (only the ego would presuppose we are the “chosen ones”). Do not be discouraged by that. It gives you time to understand these principles, to know these truths, and to demonstrate them in your daily life. From that point, there is only peace. Inner peace that can handle all of the vicissitudes of life (small “l”) that Life (big “L”) has to offer.

And I will meet you on this journey, in fact, I already see you on the path. Keep walking. When the journey becomes difficult, keep walking. When you see beauty and solitude and grace at every corner, take them in, but keep walking. Remain ever present, and keep walking. And then, as Rumi said,
"Out beyond the ideas of right-doing or wrong-doing there is a field - I'll meet you there."

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Tree Frog Surprise

Tree Frog Surprise, Amherst, NH, June 2006, HP Photosmart R817, Exposure 1/430 sec @ f5.6 ISO 60, no flash © Steven Crisp

My friend says "hi". He's a local gray tree frog around our house (he can change colors from green to gray -- I saw another on granite, and he was perfectly camouflaged). I found this friend the other day, as I was reclining in a lounge chair. Right by my head! Scared the bejeezus out of me, but he didn't mind.

Then after a few photos, he scooched himself back under the lounge chair pillow. Needless to say, I always check to see if my friend is around nowadays before I take a seat. (In reality, this is a pretty rare visit, since they are nocturnal, and live in trees during the day. He's probably down for some mating.) As you can see below, I think he's a little camera shy, but he happily sings his songs at night, with a bunch of his buddies -- a cappella.

Nature sure has some interesting critters.

Camera shy, Amherst, NH, June 2006, HP Photosmart R817, Exposure 1/180 sec @ f2.8 ISO 100, no flash © Steven Crisp