Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Life has a meaning

“No matter how ruined man and his world may seem to be, and no matter how terrible man’s despair may become, as long as he continues to he a man his very humanity continues to tell him that life has a meaning. That, indeed, is one reason why man tends to rebel against himself. If he could without effort see what the meaning of life is, and if he could fulfill his ultimate purpose without trouble, he would never question the fact that life is well worth living. Or if he saw at once that life had no purpose and no meaning, the question would never arise. In either case, man would not be capable of finding himself so much of a problem.”
                                -from No Man is an Island by Thomas Merton

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

True knowledge

“The true vision and the true knowledge of what we seek consists precisely in not seeing, in an awareness that our goal transcends all knowledge and is everywhere cut off from us by the darkness of incomprehensibility.”-Gregory of Nyssa
Bruce Feiler in Walking the Bible explains: “What Gregory recommended was doing what Abraham and Moses had done: realize that we could not see God intellectually but that if we let ourselves be enveloped in, say, the cloud that descended upon Mount Sinai, we could feel his presence.”

Monday, February 27, 2012


"Don't keep busy doing something.
Keep busy being something."

-quoted from What is the Color of Your Parachute

"But the Supreme Beneficence inspires
your life directly, filling it with love
of what has made it, so that it desires
that love forever…"

-quoted from Divine Comedy, Paradiso, Canto 7.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Life is a banquet

Approach Life As If It Were a Banquet
     Think of your life as if it were a banquet where you would behave graciously. When dishes are passed to you, extend your hand and help yourself to a moderate portion. If a dish should pass you by, enjoy what is already on your plate. Or if the dish hasn't been passed to you yet, patiently wait your turn.
     Carry over this same attitude of polite restraint and gratitude to your children, spouse, career, and finances. There is no need to yearn, envy, and grab. You will get your rightful portion when it is your time.
                                                    Epictetus - Manual for Living
                                         (A New  Interpretation by Sharon Lebell)

Friday, February 24, 2012

Give it a voice

Yesterday I attended the last lecture on the course of Muses. Kayleen, in her lively manner, presented  Lou Andreas Salome, the muse of Nietzsche and Rilke. Lou Salome also attracted Sigmund Freud who included her in his Vienna circle.
The parting words of Kayleen at he end of her lecture-Remember beauty. Remember the beautiful things in life. Give it a voice. 

Give them voices. That's one of my wishes. I know I failed before.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Lent begins

Ash Wednesday and Lent begins.
It’s a journey, a life's reexamination, a renewal.
All things come and go.Impermanence.
Life is a gift.Each moment is a moment to cherish. 
A time to listen, to be attentive.
I will not be in the wilderness.  I will go inside my inner self.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Walk in the woods

from Thomas Merton’s writings
“WHAT IS SERIOUS to men is often very trivial in the sight of God.  What in God might appear to us as "play" is perhaps what God takes the most seriously.  At any rate the Lord plays in the garden of creation, and if we could let go of our own obsession with what we think is the meaning of it all, we might be able to hear God's call and follow in the mysterious, cosmic dance.  We do not have to go very far to catch echoes of that game, and of that dancing.  When we are alone on a starlit night; when by chance we see the migrating birds in autumn descending on a grove of junipers to rest and eat; when we see children in a moment when they are really children; when we know love in our own hearts; or when, like the Japanese poet Basho we hear an old frog land in a quiet pond with a solitary splash -- at such times the awakening, the turning inside out of all values, the "newness," the emptiness and the purity of vision that make themselves evident, provide a glimpse of the cosmic dance.
    For the world and time are the dance of the Lord in emptiness.  The silence of the spheres is the music of a wedding feast.  The more we persist in misunderstanding the phenomena of life, the more we analyze them out into strange finalities and complex purposes of our own, the more we involve ourselves in sadness, absurdity, and despair.  But it does not matter much, because no despair of ours can alter the reality of things, or stain the joy of the cosmic dance which is always there.  Indeed, we are in the midst of it, and it is in the midst of us, for it beats in our very blood, whether we want it or not.
    Yet the fact remains that we are invited to forget ourselves on purpose, cast our awful solemnity to the winds and join in the general dance.”

    “WHAT A THING it is to sit absolutely alone,
    in the forest, at night, cherished by this
    wonderful, unintelligible,

    perfectly innocent speech,
    the most comforting speech in the world,
    the talk that rain makes by itself all over the ridges,
    and the talk of the watercourses everywhere in the hollows!
    Nobody started it, nobody is going to stop it.
    It will talk as long as it wants, this rain.
    As long as it talks I am going to listen.”

“NO WORDS ever written can compare with the sound of the wind in the pine trees.”

“THAT'S HOW I pray.  Walk in the garden, or better, in the woods.”

Monday, February 20, 2012

An ordinary day

An ordinary day of mixed activities. I’m putting together our club’s directory with each member’s photo and personal information.This one will take awhile to complete. I have a lot of photos to review.

I finished  all the slides for a short  powerpoint presentation tomorrow.
I walked to the river in the afternoon and said hello to my fisherman acquaintance who still had not caught any fish. There were 5 fishermen fishing today. 2 days ago one of the fishermen caught an 18-inch striper the day I did not bring my camera with me. 
I just returned from the bowling alley where I watched and cheered for the veteran-warriors of Iraq and Afghanistan who were playing tonight. They are residing in the Pathway Home here in Napa Valley for treatment of their war related mental trauma. 
The photo was taken 3 days ago while walking along a new housing development under construction. 

Only 2 days before the start of Lent. It's Ash Weneday this Wednesday. I will begin a new discipline and commitment. It was not too long ago that I attended a spiritual retreat which was my prelude for Lent.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Scale of values

To follow the thread of the question- Are there other portals to one’s life?-I will answer- Other writers other than philosophers? Tolstoy,Goethe, and Dostoyevsky are often quoted authors. I will not mention the 4 evangelists.
I’m still not finished with  David Copperfield and have read 519 pages  only of its 716 pages. I found Charles Dickens inspiring when I read “My whole manner of thinking of our late misfortune was changed. What I had to do, was, to show my aunt that her past goodness to me had not been thrown away on an insensible, ungrateful object. What I had to do, was, to turn the painful discipline of my younger days to account, by going to work with a resolute and steady heart. What I had to do, was, to take my woodman's axe in my hand, and clear my own way through the forest of difficulty, by cutting down the trees until I came to Dora. And I went on at a mighty rate, as if it could be done by walking.
When I found myself on the familiar Highgate road, pursuing such a different errand from that old one of pleasure, with which it was associated, it seemed as if a complete change had come on my whole life. But that did not discourage me. With the new life, came new purpose, new intention. Great was the labour; priceless the reward. Dora was the reward, and Dora must be won.” (The italics are mine.)
How does one value, put on the scale, the writer and what was written?

Saturday, February 18, 2012

A way of appreciation

 The morning fog hung over the hills but the air was only slightly cool. A few of our club members, 5 of us, picked up trash along Highway 29, our Adopt-A-Highway project. It is one way of expressing our appreciation of our community, Napa Valley, the wine country.
Our team leader was on the other end and not included in the photo. 

Friday, February 17, 2012

Portals to one's life

There are many portals to enter one’s life, one’s soul. I finished reading Examined Lives from Socrates to Nietzsche by James Miller.The philosophers tell their self-discoveries, inner experiences and teach that our lives should be oriented towards “the good, the true and the beautiful.” 
They are the origins of the essentials of man. They are “...the source of shared inspirations, offering through words and deeds, wisdom, patterns of conduct...examples of to be emulated” writes James Miller in his Introduction. There are 12 philosophers he examined: Socrates, Plato,Diogenes, Aristotle, Seneca, Augustine, Montaigne, Descartes, Rousseau, Kant, Emerson,and Nietzsche.I found the ideas inthe book better than those from self help books.
Are there other portals? Other wise men to guide our lives? 

(photo: The School of Athens by Raphael -from

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Dare to know

excerpts from an article in Nature January 2012
“Eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and maintaining an active social life can help you stay mentally sharp. “Genes are not destiny by any stretch”.
Genes accounted for about 24% of the mental changes that occur across the life cycle.
This means that environment also plays a big role in shaping and maintaining our intelligence and mental ability as we grow older.”
This morning I attended the presentation on the Muses. Kayleen, our lecturer, presented Alma Mahler. Alma did not leave any experiences unexperienced. She did it all. She was muses to so many men-music composer, music conductor, screen writer, architect, and even a priest and others in between. Alma Mahler was an enchantress.
This afternoon, I walked to the river. My fisherman acquaintance did not catch any fish again. I enjoyed the ducks in the river, the dogs, free and uninhibited. The day was sunny and warm . Of course we need rain. A wonderful day. 
I'm finishing the book Examined Lives by James Miller. I have so much to learn.
Montaigne wrote his motto: Dare To Know.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


Idleness, like kisses, to be sweet must be stolen. 
“Idleness—that beautiful, historically encumbered word. Beautiful because childhood is its first sanctuary and still somehow inheres in its three easy syllables—and who among us doesn’t sway toward the thought of it, often, conjuring what life might be like if it were still a play of appetites and inclinations rather than a roster of the duties and oughts that fill our calendar—indeed, make it necessary that we keep a calendar at all? ...”-from Lapham’s Quaterly, February 15,2012
This morning my ENT physician told me that the MRI of my head was normal. The deafness in my right ear is from defect of the nerve, not from a tumor and hearing aid is what I need if I want it. Good news from one perspective.
After my walk to the river and after talking with my fisherman acquaintance who had only tiny bites in his cast line yesterday and none today, I returned home, filled a glass with merlot and started my idleness listening to Dvorak’s symphony#9 in E Minor. I felt like I want to float on a lake  reading a book. 
Why read Moby-Dick?” Nathaniel Philbrick asked this question in his book of the same title. He had very good reason; he had "read Moby Dick more than a dozen times".

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day


Monday, February 13, 2012


Change alone is eternal, perpetual, immortal. 
Arthur Schopenhauer
Change is inevitable. Change is constant.
Benjamin Disraeli
Change in all things is sweet.
January 2011-North to South
One day I was surprised to see the pedestrian lane where I walk almost everyday has changed. 

                                                                  January 2012-North to South

                                                              January 2012-South to North

Life is a constant change.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

In the pursuit of learning

Tao Te Ching
Forty Eight
“In the pursuit of learning, every day something is acquired. every day something is dropped. Less and less is done Until non-action is achieved. When nothing is done, nothing is left undone. The world is ruled by letting things take their course. It cannot be ruled by interfering.”
 Sam entranced by one of the dragons.

                                                            one of the street fairs

                                                               time to play with fireworks

Our whole family enjoyed the Chinese New Year’s  celebration- parade, fair and fireworks-colorful, popular and fascinating, with plenty of people and sunny cool weather. There were lots of dragons big and not so big. 
                                  the biggest dragon at the tail of the parade.

Sam, our grandson, is enthralled by the dragon. Of course, also by the fireworks. It’s said that the dragon is the Chinese symbol of power and wisdom. It is made up of different parts of animals-tiger, fish, snake, and an eagle.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

The Year of the Dragon

 I  walk over this bridge to cross over Napa River from our condo to Kennedy Park where the pond is located which is minutes away .
There are many bridges- friendship, cultural, and spiritual bridges to bring peace in the world.
Cheri and I are on our way  to San Francisco to celebrate the Year of the Dragon today with our children and friends.

Have a great weekend everyone.

Friday, February 10, 2012


Today, Cheri and I drove through a slight drizzle to San Francisco and viewed the  Masters of Venice exhibit at the De Young Museum. "Outstanding."
Masters of Venice: Renaissance Painters of Passion and Power from the Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna
October 29, 2011 - February 12, 2012
Masters of Venice: Renaissance Painters of Passion and Power is a worldwide exclusive presentation of 50 paintings by Venetian painters Titian, Giorgione, Veronese, Tintoretto, Mantegna, and more, primarily from the sixteenth century, all on loan from the Gemäldegalerie of the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna. Featured are outstanding examples of the work of these artists that were collected by the archdukes and emperors of the Habsburg family, which are among the most celebrated holdings in the collections of the Gemäldegalerie.
Giorgione's Three Philosophers
Key works include Titian’s sumptuous Danáe (1560s), Mantegna’s tortured Saint Sebastian (1457–1459) and four rare paintings by Giorgione, including The Three Philosophers (ca. 1508–1509) and Portrait of a Young Woman (Laura) (1506). The exhibition also includes works by Palma, Bordone, Bassano, and more. Together, these examples represent the range of Venetian accomplishment in Renaissance-era painting.(copied from the De Young Museum program)

I took photos of the giant ferns that grow outside the museum that can be seen through the glass walls as one walks up and down the stairs.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Eternal inhabitant

“...the whole value of the soul depends on the fact that it contains a divine principle, and the voice of the eternal inhabitant may always be heard within it.”-Ralph Waldo Emerson
(quoted from Examined Lives, from Socrates to Nietzsche by James Miller).
Yesterday was all meetings. Today I attended the lecture on the Muses in the morning and philanthropic hands and time this afternoon.
The soul is a vessel of the divine spirit.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Thinking of trees

What do you think when you look at redwood trees?


The shade, what does it mean?
 Does the red color add character to the trees?

Stephanie Kaza in her book, The Attentive Heart, A Conversation with Trees, writes:
"Our good times together go way back-trees are old friends of the family.The children seems to know this. Soft faces in the streaks of sunlight, soft backs curled into the forest floor. Sing to the children as they sleep, dear redwoods, sing to them of your ancient ways and your journey through time."

Monday, February 6, 2012

The birds across the river

Today I walked in Kennedey Park, adjacent to Napa Valley College, across Napa River from where I usally take in daily walk.

I met a lot of other walkers and a family in bicycles.
The cadets from Police Academy were in their running drills in the park.

There were a lot of birds, ducks, and geese in the pond. They were enjoying the wonderful weather like me, like him. He was feeding the birds.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Self renewal

Yesterday was a totally different day. With 3 others I attended a spiritual retreat.

Encounter with the divine can transform ordinary people to greatness. Disciplining your desires can lead you to freedom and freedom to excellence. How can you express your spirituality? How can you grow?

The disciples as one rooted in Christ. 1. Attentiveness to God’s presence 2. Dispositions, the observable attitudes 3. Actions. Your actions should be faithful to your ideals 4. Sacramental life  5. Way of Mary (mother of Jesus). Spiritual obedience. All these headings were broken into smaller parts and elucidated.

The Beatitudes can be a sum of what it means to be rooted in Christ. There are joys and pain. Each beautitude was touched only lightly and will need further reflections.

In the other workshop we reviewed Psalms: Prayer and Poetry. The book of Psalms contains Prayers and Songs that grew from life, worship, and history.

We heard the presentation on the four levels of happiness. It can be expressed in 4 desires to happiness. As one ascends the levels, ego trip, envy, jealousy, pride may disturb the balance.There might be periods of emptiness in spite of accomplishments, attainments,honors. Desire might dominate one's life.

Yesterday was a day of spiritual self-renewal. It’s a bird song, rainbow, a frond, faint crackles on a placid river, a smile, light reflected on a blade of grass, a waterfall. 

Every day is a new day, different from any other day.

(photos : Chapel, US Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, Colorado)