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Hawaii Podcast
Podcast Episode's:
The Loss of Substance
<p>Michael Erlewine explains how he approached various addictions, including caffeine, alcohol, sugar, drugs, cigarettes, overeating, and meat.</p>


Test Results for a Few Close-Up lenses
<p>This is a short essay on what is needed for my work in close-up photography. Many free e-books are available at this linke:</p> <p> </p> <p>http://spiritgrooves.net/e-Books.aspx#Photography</p>


Lenses for Close-Up and Macro Photography
<p>An update of the original book on closeup and macro lenses done in 2014. This has many more essays and more lenses, as well.</p> <p> </p> <p>239 pages, many illustrations.</p>


DHARMA BLOGS Fall 2017, Part 1
<p>A series of 37 blogs (145 pages) on dharma by Michael Erlewine</p>


Full-Phase Aspects
<p>A radical new way to look a chart using full-phase aspects.</p>


Mahamudra: My Story
<p>The author’s personal experience with Mahamudra training and experience over 30 years working with an authentic Tibetan lama.</p> <p> </p> <p>Michael Erlewine is an Internet pioneer and well-known archivist of popular culture, founding the largest music database in the world (AllMusic.com), one of the two largest film databases (AllMovie.com), the largest Rock n’ Roll concert poster database (ClassicPosters.com), and many others.</p> <p> </p> <p>Erlewine has studied Buddhism since the 1950s, and practiced it for over 40 years, and is director of the Heart Center for meditation instruction since the 1980s. Trained in the Karma Kagyu system of Tibetan Buddhism, Erlewine has practiced Mahamudra Meditation for 29 years under the guidance of Karma Kagyu Teachers.</p>


Dharma Blogs 2017 Spring
<p>Dharma Blogs 2017 Spring with Michael Erlewine, 203 pages and 74 articles</p>


Dharma Blogs 2015 Winter by Michael Erlewine
<p>A series or blogs and articles on dharma, dharma training, music, astrology, and photography by Michael Erlewine.</p>


Dharma Blogs 2015 Spring with Michael Erlewine
<p>A series of 52 articles (258 pages) on dharma, dharma training, and other topics in 6x9" format.</p>


Dharma Blogs for 2015 Summer by Michael Erlewine
<p>This is a series of 52 short articles on dharma, dharma training, and other topics by author Michael Erlewine.</p>


Dharma Blogs for the Fall of 2015 with Michael Erlewine
<p>A collection of dharma, dharma practice, music, and astrology blogs from the autumn of 2015 in easy-to-read 6x9" fromat for laptops and iPads..</p>


Dharma Blogs for 2017 Winter by Michael Erlewine
<p>A collection of blogs on dharma practice, music, and photography by Michael Erlewine</p>


Dharma Blogs 2016 Spring with Michael Erlewine
<p>A collection of blogs on dharma and dharma practice by Michael Erlewine given in the Spirng of 2016</p>


Dharma Blogs for the Summer of 2016 with Michael Erlewine
<p>A collection of blogs on the dharma (and some other topics) by Michael Erlewine for the Summer of 2016</p>


Dharma Blogs 2016 Fall
<p>The collected series of blogs for the Fall of 2016 by Michael Erlewine as posted on Facebook and Google+.</p>


Dharma Blogs 2017 Winter
<p>This is a series of blogs on dharma topics and related subject during the Winter of 2017 by Michael Erlewine.</p>


Dharma Grooves: Liberation Through Seeing
<p>This is a talk about liberation through seeing, and the message here is meant to be a catalyst, rather than to make any particular point or answer. It is about liberation through whatever we do in life, like: what we do each day. I’m not saying this approach is for everyone, but I am saying that it may be useful for some of you. In particular, those who struggle with practicing dharma too formally and are having trouble with enthusiasm.</p>


Photography as Meditation
<p>This is intended for meditators who are having difficult learning the standard way, and presents an alternative approach, in this case, using photography</p>


May Erlewine and Seth Bernard at the Wealthy Theater
<p>May Erlewine and Seth Bernard perform at the Wealthy Theater in Grand Rapids, Michigan as photographed by Michael Erlewine. Performance: May 21, 2010.</p>


How to Learn Astrology Part II, Advanced
<div class="postbody"> <div class="content"><br /> 588 pages, 429 illustrations, paperback, available on Amazon.com<br /> <br /> This second volume in the "How to Use Astrology" contains more advanced material and supplementary materials include full-phase aspects, in-depth cycle analysis, including the Saturn cycle, Saturn to the angles, large chart patterns. Also, how to set up an astrological business, perform astrological readings, and much more. Advanced views of the lunation cycle and the retrograde phenomenon are also covered. 588 pages, 429 illustrations.</div> </div> <dl id="profile121" class="postprofile"> <dt><strong>Location:</strong> Big Rapids, MI</dt> </dl> <div class="back2top"> </div>


New Series: Close-Up Lenses for the DSLR: Volume Two
<p>I am working on a series of small books that show what various close-up (ones I use) lenses do at each of the main apertures. This may not be useful to anyone, in which case ignore it. But for those trying to decide where to put their money in lenses, it could be a help. This first booklet includes lenses I have talked about often. Following soon are a whole bunch of enlarger-style barrel lenses, some that are remarkable and cost relatively very little.<br /> <br /> [P.S. Make sure your browser can open the PDF. You may have to install a reader. Google Chrome has changed some things in this regard.]</p> <p> </p> <p>El Nikkor 63mm f/2.8</p> <p>Schneider APO Digitar Componon-S f/4</p> <p>Schneider APO-Rodagon 90mm f/4</p> <p>Schneider 120mm Digitar-N f/4.5</p> <p>Schneider 120mm Digitar-M Macro  f/5.6</p> <p>Carl Zeiss 74mm S-Planar Macro f/8 to f/64</p>


Close-Up Photography and the DSLR
<p>This is Volume One of a short series that offers images at various apertures for a group of very fine lenses for close-up work. These are large images, so you can see what happens at each of the various apertures for some special lenses.</p>


Heart Center Studios
<p>Here is a description of our studio here in Big Rapids, Michigan</p> <p> </p> <p> </p>


Meeting Khenpo Karthar Rinpoche
<p>How fortunate to have come across someone like Khenpo Rinpoche in the sea of life in which I found myself, although it was anything but an accident. In fact, believe it or not, Rinpoche first came to us in a dream. Here is the story:</p>


Karma and the Alaya Consciousness
<p>A selection of 29 dharma articles by Michael Erlewine, with an emphasis on the concept of Karma and how it relates to the Eighth Consciousness (Alayavijnana) or Storehouse Consciousness.</p>


FOR SALE: Audio and Video Studio in Big Rapids, Michigan
<p>IN YOU ARE INTERESTED</p> <p>BROWSE THE BROCHURE</p> <p>(1) SEND ME AN EMAIL <br />(2) I WILL SEND YOU MY PHONE<br />(3) WE TALK<br />(4) YOU VISIT THE STUIO</p> <p> </p>


Photography: Shooting One Layer or Few/Many Stacked Layers
<p>This is one of those topics that get me running in circles. What are my best options, taking a traditional single-shot photo or stacking an image? And if I stack, should it be many or just a few layers. I thought it interesting to go over some of the options. </p>


Dharma Blogs 2015 by Michael Erlewine
<p>A selection of dharma blogs and stories from 2015 by Michael Erlewine  on various topics, including Yidams, Terma, Khenpo Gangshar, Rebirth, Lunar Cycle, Impermanence, Vipassana, Karma, Shines, Gaps… fifty articles in all</p>


KTD Dharma Goods Catalog
<p>When KTD Monastery (Karma Triyana Dharmachakra) was being built, they did not have the ability to do mail order business. KTD members Michael & Margaret Erlewine, along with translator Ngodup Burkhar and calligrapher/ artist Sange Wangchuk and his wife Tseten built a complete dharma goods business run out of the Heart Center KTC dharma center in Big Rapids, Michigan. It was called KTD Dharma Goods, and it ran for many years until KTD was able to take it back in-house. Here is their original catalog.</p>


Astro*Talk Magazine
<p>Here are the covers of some of the our publication “Astro*Talk,” a periodical newsletter that reached out to something like 14,000 readers every so often as part of my company Matrix Astrological Software, a company still going strong today, although no longer under my direction. I thought some of you astrology buffs might like to wander through the past a bit. I am amazed that I published these in linen stock and in full-color and sent it through the mail. I know it that it cost a small fortune. Somewhere in the 1990s it became too expensive to do. Design credits to Michael Erlewine, Tom Erlewine, and Martin Machnowski </p>


The Legendary Dinner Menus from Matrix Software
<p>Back in the 1980s, the fledgling computer software company Matrix Software, the home of the first astrology software to all comers, Matrix had a weekly dinner every Firday night. Here are some of the menus from that time, just for fun.</p>


Sacred Images: The Dharma Art of Sange Wangchug
<p>Sacred Images: The Dharma Art of Sange Wangchug, </p> <p>Volume 3: Detailed artwork for creating Tibetan-style Pecha Sadhanas</p>


Sacred Images of Sange Wangchug: Volume II: Dharma Art Resource
<p>These images were hand-drawn by Sange Wangchug for Sacred Dharma use, and to be shared only with those who will treat  them with respect. This, the second volume is more decorative. The first volume contains the deity images. Please enjoy, but read the stipulations </p>


The Sacred Images of Sange Wangchug
<p>These images were hand-drawn by Sange Wangchug for Sacred Dharma use, and to be shared only with those who will treat  them with respect and not alter them.</p>


The Four Thoughts That Turn the Mind
<p>The “Four Thoughts That Turn the Mind Toward the Dhama,” also called the Common Preliminaries and the Four Reversals are considered by many as the place to begin understanding, learning, and practicing the Dharma. Not some scholarly doctrine or list of imperatives, the Four Thoughts are already familiar to most people as part of their deepest inner sense of reality.</p>


Beginning Dharma Practice
<p>A series of easy-to-read and understand articles on how get started practicing dharma, where and how to begin.</p> <p>Michael Erlewine has studied Buddhism since the 1950s, and practiced it for last forty years, running the Heart Center for meditation instruction since the 1980s. Trained in the Karma Kagyu system of Tibetan Buddhism, Erlewine has worked practiced Mahmudra Meditation for  27 years under the guidance of Karma Kagyu teachers.</p>


Tibetan Mind Training: Selected Articles
<p>Here are a series of nineteen articles written in 2015 by Michael Erlewine, all focused on Tibetan Buddhist mind-training methods, and geared for the beginning and intermediate practitioner. They are easy to read and understand and are based on hands-on practical experience rather than abstract theory.</p>


Small Worlds: The Garden
<p>THis ia an album of photos taken in a large garden of friends.</p>


Ann Arbor Folk and Blues
<p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: 0.0001pt; background-image: initial; background-attachment: initial; background-size: initial; background-origin: initial; background-clip: initial; background-position: initial; background-repeat: initial;">The folk and blues music scene in Ann Arbor, Michigan (and some jazz) as told by Michael Erlewine, founder of the All-Music Guide, historian for the Ann Arbor Blues and Jazz Festival, and author of the award-winning book on the first two Ann Arbor Blues Festivals and much more.</p>


Training the Mind: Book Four in a Series of Four
<p class="MsoNormal">Mind-Training, using the mind to look at the mind, is not just for meditators anymore, but is going secular. Tibetan Buddhist methods of mind training are useful to anyone willing to learn them. Here is a series of very-short, easy-to-read, articles on training the mind, many of which can be used at any time in our busy work schedule, and not just on the cushion.  </p>


Training the Mind: Book Three in a Series of Four
<p class="MsoNormal">Mind-Training, using the mind to look at the mind, is not just for meditators anymore, but is going secular. Tibetan Buddhist methods of mind training are useful to anyone willing to learn them. Here is a series of very-short, easy-to-read, articles on training the mind, many of which can be used at any time in our busy work schedule, and not just on the cushion.  </p>


Training the Mind: Book Two in a Series of Four
<p class="MsoNormal">Mind-Training, using the mind to look at the mind, is not just for meditators anymore, but is going secular. Tibetan Buddhist methods of mind training are useful to anyone willing to learn them. Here is a series of very-short, easy-to-read, articles on training the mind, many of which can be used at any time in our busy work schedule, and not just on the cushion.  </p>


Training the Mind: Book I of a Series of Four
<p class="MsoNormal">Mind-Training, using the mind to look at the mind, is not just for meditators anymore, but is going secular. Tibetan Buddhist methods of mind training are useful to anyone willing to learn them. Here is a series of very-short, easy-to-read, articles on training the mind, many of which can be used at any time in our busy work schedule, and not just on the cushion.  </p>


Mahamudra -- A Story
<p class="MsoPlainText"><span style="font-size: 12.0pt; font-family: 'Arial','sans-serif';">A personal account of learning Mahamudra Meditation through close-up photography.</span></p>


The Illustrated Guide to "Dharma Stuff"-- Rupas
<p class="MsoNormal">The Illustrated Guide to Dharma Stuff is a series of free e-books, each of which is devoted to a particular type of dharma paraphernalia, in this cases “Rupas” or statues used for deity practice and other practices.</p>


Karma Kagyu Lineage in Web Order
<p>This version is for viewing on the web in the correct order.</p>


The Kagyu Lineage in Pecha Format for duplication
<p>This version is best for creating a Tibetan-style pecha-format booklet of the lineage.</p>


Handbook on Close-Up and Macro Photography
<p>This is an extensive and fully-illustrated handbook to close-up and macro photography, including panoramas and focus-stacking, with photographer Michael Erleiwne from MacroStop.com.</p>


Small Worlds: Various Close-Up and Macro Images, Vol. 3
<p><span style="font-size: 8.5pt; line-height: 115%; font-family: Verdana, sans-serif; background-image: initial; background-attachment: initial; background-size: initial; background-origin: initial; background-clip: initial; background-position: initial; background-repeat: initial;">A variety of close-ups and macro photography images, including focus-stacking, by photography Michael Erlewine</span>. </p>


Small Worlds: Various Close-Up and Macro Images, Vol. 2
<p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-size: 8.5pt; line-height: 115%; font-family: Verdana, sans-serif; background-image: initial; background-attachment: initial; background-size: initial; background-origin: initial; background-clip: initial; background-position: initial; background-repeat: initial;">A variety of close-ups and macro photography images, including focus-stacking, by photography Michael Erlewine</span>.</p>


Small Worlds: Various Close-Up and Macro Imagines Vol. 1
<p>A variety of close-ups and macro photography images, including focus-stacking, by photography Michael Erlewine.</p>


Small Worlds: Ever Green
<p class="MsoNormal">The majority of the plant world is green, offering some of the most subtle and lovely colors of them all. This album is filled with gentle green plant images. </p>


MacroStop: Focus-Stacking Examples in Macro Photography
<p>An album of close-up focus-stacking with photographer Michael Erlewine. Many hi-res images with text and comment introduce various concepts of focus-stacking, and discuss some of the important lenses used in this technique.</p>


Small Worlds: Buddhist Shrine
<p class="MsoNormal">Most of these photos were taken at Karma Triyana Dharmachakra Monastery (KTD) in the mountains above the city of Woodstock, N.Y.  KTD Monastery is one of the largest Buddhist monasteries in North America, the seat of His Holiness the 17<sup>th</sup> Karmapa, Orgyen Trinley Dorje.</p> <p> </p> <p class="MsoNormal">In you live in the area or travel to upstate New York, take time to visit KTD Monastery and take in all of the incredible painting, artwork, statues, and traditional buildings there. </p>


MacroStop: Retouching Stacked Photos (macro and Close-up Photography)
<p class="MsoNormal" style="margin-bottom: 6pt;">An in-depth introduction to retouching stacked-photos in Adobe Lightroom, Adobe Photoshop, and Zerene Stacker. Forty pages of text with copious hi-res illustrations and diagrams by well-known photographer Michael Erlewine.</p>


MacroStop: MIcro-Contrast in Photography
<p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-size: 10pt; line-height: 115%; color: #404040; background-image: initial; background-attachment: initial; background-size: initial; background-origin: initial; background-clip: initial; background-position: initial; background-repeat: initial;">“Micro-contrast” is a very popular term considering it has no formal definition that I can find. Some even claim it doesn’t exist. Nevertheless it has become increasingly important in my photography work. Perhaps I can’t define it, but I know it when I see it. </span></p> <p><span style="font-size: 10pt; line-height: 115%; font-family: Arial, sans-serif; color: #404040; background-image: initial; background-attachment: initial; background-size: initial; background-origin: initial; background-clip: initial; background-position: initial; background-repeat: initial;">What follows are some thoughts I have been having about local satisfaction -- micro-contrast. It seems that everything these days is going local, locally grown foods, and so on. And this even extends to photography and what has been called local contrast, more frequently termed micro-contrast.</span><span style="font-size: 10.0pt; line-height: 115%; font-family: 'Arial','sans-serif'; mso-fareast-font-family: Calibri; mso-fareast-theme-font: minor-latin; color: #404040; mso-ansi-language: EN-US; mso-fareast-language: EN-US; mso-bidi-language: AR-SA;"><br /> <!-- [if !supportLineBreakNewLine]--><br /> <!--[endif]--></span></p>


Small Worlds: Echinacea
<p><span style="color: #333333; font-size: 8.5pt; font-family: Verdana, sans-serif; background-image: initial; background-attachment: initial; background-size: initial; background-origin: initial; background-clip: initial; background-position: initial; background-repeat: initial;">Well known close-up and macro</span><span style="color: #333333; font-size: 11.199999809265137px;"> photographer Michael Erlewine offers a series of large images, "Small Worlds," this e-book are hi-res images of Echinacea. Free tutorials, e-books, and video tutorials on photography can be found at MacroStop.com </span></p>


MacroStop: The New Zeiss APO Lenses for Close-up Work
<p class="MsoNormal"><span style="mso-bidi-font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 115%;">The New Zeiss APO Lenses for Close-up Work</span></p> <p> </p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="mso-bidi-font-size: 12.0pt; line-height: 115%;">This is a look at the new Zeiss APO lenses,<span style="color: #282828; background-image: initial; background-attachment: initial; background-size: initial; background-origin: initial; background-clip: initial; background-position: initial; background-repeat: initial;"> the Zeiss Otus 55mm APO, the Zeiss 135mm APO, and the Zeiss Otus 85mm APO as the can be used for close-up photography. Lots of images and detailed discussion, as well as comments on using these lenses for stacking focus or one-shot photos. With Photographer Michael Erlewine from MacroStop.com.</span></span></p>


MacroStop.com: The CRT Nikkor-O Lens and Images
<p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-size: 8.5pt; line-height: 115%; font-family: Verdana, sans-serif; color: #333333; background-image: initial; background-attachment: initial; background-size: initial; background-origin: initial; background-clip: initial; background-position: initial; background-repeat: initial;">Well known close-up and macro</span> photographer Michael Erlewine offers a series tutorials on photography. In this album, imagines and explanation about the Nikon CRT Nikkor-O lens is presented.</p> <p> </p> <p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-size: 8.5pt; line-height: 115%; font-family: Verdana, sans-serif; color: #333333; background-image: initial; background-attachment: initial; background-size: initial; background-origin: initial; background-clip: initial; background-position: initial; background-repeat: initial;">Free tutorials, e-books, and video tutorials on photography can be found at MacroStop.com</span></p>


Small Worlds: Flowers (Macro and Close-Up Photos)
<p><span style="color: #333333; font-size: 8.5pt; font-family: Verdana, sans-serif; background-image: initial; background-attachment: initial; background-size: initial; background-origin: initial; background-clip: initial; background-position: initial; background-repeat: initial;">Well known close-up and macro</span><span style="color: #333333; font-size: 11.199999809265137px;"> photographer Michael Erlewine offers a series of large images, "Small Worlds," this e-book are hi-res images of various flowers. Free tutorials, e-books, and video tutorials on photography can be found at MacroStop.com</span></p>


Small Worlds: Sentient Beings Vol. 1 (Macro and Close-Up Photography)
<p><span style="color: #333333; font-size: 8.5pt; font-family: Verdana, sans-serif; background-image: initial; background-attachment: initial; background-size: initial; background-origin: initial; background-clip: initial; background-position: initial; background-repeat: initial;">Well known close-up and macro</span><span style="color: #333333; font-size: 11.199999809265137px;"> photographer Michael Erlewine offers a series of large images, "Small Worlds," this e-book are hi-res images of various critters. Free tutorials, e-books, and video tutorials on photography can be found at MacroStop.com</span></p>


Small Worlds: Calla Lily (Macro Photography)
<p><span style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-size: 8.5pt; font-family: Verdana, sans-serif; background-image: initial; background-attachment: initial; background-size: initial; background-origin: initial; background-clip: initial; background-position: initial; background-repeat: initial;">Well known close-up and macro</span><span style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-size: 11.199999809265137px;"> photographer Michael Erlewine offers a series of pure images, "Small Worlds," this e-book are hi-res images of the plant Calla Lilies in flower. Free tutorials, e-books, and video tutorials on photography can be found at MacroStop.com</span></p>


Small Worlds Photos: The Poppy (Macro Photography)
<p><span style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-size: 8.5pt; font-family: Verdana, sans-serif; background-image: initial; background-attachment: initial; background-size: initial; background-origin: initial; background-clip: initial; background-position: initial; background-repeat: initial;">Well known close-up and macro</span><span style="color: rgb(51, 51, 51); font-size: 11.199999809265137px;"> photographer Michael Erlewine offers a series of pure images, "Small Worlds," this e-book are hi-res images of the plant Cyclamen in flower. Free tutorials, e-books, and video tutorials on photography can be found at MacroStop.com</span></p>


Small Worlds: Cyclamen (Macro Photography)
<p class="MsoNormal"><span style="font-size: 8.5pt; font-family: Verdana, sans-serif; background-image: initial; background-attachment: initial; background-size: initial; background-origin: initial; background-clip: initial; background-position: initial; background-repeat: initial;">Well known close-up and macro</span> photographer Michael Erlewine offers a series of pure images, "Small Worlds," this e-book are hi-res images of the plant Cyclamen in flower. Free tutorials, e-books, and video tutorials on photography can be found at MacroStop.com</p>


WORDS MAKE SENSE (PDF-2247)
<p>Just because I am offering to work with some Facebook readers on meditation one-toone does not mean the rest of you are going to miss a beat with the dharma postings. This is not an either/or, but rather more like a both/and sort of thing.</p> <p>In my life, the best English wordsmith I know of is William Shakespeare, but it is not just his choice and juxtaposition of words that strikes me. It is the clarity of his thought which he was so kind to share with us. The Buddhists offer this same kind of clarity and even more in my experience. Buddhist offer not only the clarity of thought from their tradition that we may taste, but, better yet, they also show us how to improve and clarify our own minds, something the Shakespeare only does indirectly. This fact is precious.</p>


WILD BILL (PDF-2240)
<p>I don’t even know his last name and I have known him for many years. “Wild Bill” is the only name I have ever called him. Well, sometimes I call him “William.” Every festival or gathering has many ingredients, many people, and many talents. All I can say is that Wild Bill is an essential ingredient and like those Swiss Army or Leatherman knives, he can pretty much do everything and anything. The stories of Wild Bill are legendary.</p>


WHY NON-THEISM IS NOT ATHEISM (PDF-2239)
<p>I want to talk about non-theism, which is not the same as being an atheist. Atheists declare there is no god, period, end of story. Non-theists, such as Buddhists, say there is no being separate, higher, or 'essentially' different from our own being. Whatever there is out there, it includes us as an equal member. That is a real difference.</p> <p>As for a definition of non-theism, I love the statement by Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche in his recently published seminary transcripts:</p> <p>"That is what is meant by non-theism; nobody is going to save you."</p> <p>Amen! This is so much better a definition than feeling I have to argue with those of you who believe in god that there is no "god," or that I believe that there is no one up there pulling strings who did not start out like us. That's not the point. Non-theism is not atheistic; it is, as mentioned, non-theistic. Whatever is going on in the universe includes us as an equal part, not as a subordinate piece. Any subordination is something that can be remedied.</p>


WHY BUDDHISM IS NOT A RELIGION (PDF-2238)
<p>I know that Buddhism is classified as a religion, but having studied it for over 37 years I am here to say IMO it is not. I was raised Catholic and that my friends is a religion. Buddhism acknowledges no higher power then your own mind. It has no ‘God’ or deity up there that you have to please or otherwise suffer the consequences. Conversely there is no one that can save you other than your own self. It is up to you. Buddha was not a god and never became a god. He died like we all will and was quick to point out that he is no different from you and me. We all have Buddha Nature. Even worms do! Buddhism has no creation myth and is not concerned about finding a beginning or an end to anything but suffering and ignorance. There is no starting point or ending point to cyclic existence and this world. Cycles by definition have no beginning and no end. There is no time of a first creation and no creator. Buddhism in concerned only that we realize the true nature of our own mind. It is not concerned itself with where we came from (or when) and where we are going (the next life).</p>


WHO YOU ARE (PDF-2236)
<p>The above poem was written years ago just for fun. Still, every once in a while I wonder who it is I am and why I am here, as I imagine we all must do from time to time.</p> <p>At heart, I believe I am an American Transcendentalist, albeit a straggler. Of course Transcendentalism came all in a bunch in the early 1800s with the likes of Emerson, Thoreau, Amos Bronson Alcott, and others. If I belong in that group at all, I am just an outrider of that age, a latecomer that just now has managed to show up. I would place myself (in other words I admire) in the lineage of Alcott as a conversationalist, Emerson as an essayist, and Thoreau as a naturalist. I am just about a century too late. And why transcendentalism? That is simple.</p>


WHO EATS OATS (PDF-2235)
<p>Here in Northern Michigan, especially in winter, we do! And morning oatmeal is the way it happens. But all oatmeal is not created the same. Those of you who love oatmeal will read on, while those of you who don’t really know it yet probably won’t. I am not going to flood you here with why oats (and especially whole oats) are healthy. You can get that on the web. What I will point out is that there are different kinds of oatmeal available and how they differ.</p>


WHERE TOO MUCH IS JUST ENOUGH (PDF-2234)
<p>Not too long ago I was visiting my grandkids in Ann Arbor, where I grew up. While poking around the streets there I was shocked to find that the alleys running behind the houses there have pretty much ceased to exist. Well, actually the alleys are still there, but the lush, wild, and superfluous vegetation that we still struggle to subdue here in Big Rapids (where I live now) is all but gone in Ann Arbor. They have managed it out of existence. Now I am not talking about the smelly narrow downtown alleys behind commercial buildings where dishwashers hang out to have a cigarette. Not places like that. I am talking about the old two-track dirt alleys running behind residential blocks where the garbage truck comes down once a week. Those alleys here in Big Rapids, Michigan are still wild places, overgrown with weeds and flowers.</p>


WHERE THE RUBBER MEETS THE ROAD (PDF-2233)
<p>I get the idea that I can be too abstract at times and have not given enough practical examples of where the rubber meets the road. I keep thinking all this is obvious, but my guess is that I forget how much has to be pointed out and that the more real-life examples I can provide, the better. At the risk of over oversaturation, here are some nitty-gritty examples of reaction-training.</p> <p> </p> <p>This is perhaps the easiest dharma practice. All we have to do is to start monitoring our own reactions, and we don't lack for examples. We literally react all day long, pretty much continuously, so we can pick up the thread of our reactions at any time.</p>


WHERE PROCESS IS PRODUCT (PDF-2232)
<p>Calla Lilies and Cyclamen are evergreen subjects. They never fail me and turn up fairly often at groceries and flower shops. I don’t have much to work with these days, as I am pretty much indoors at this point in the year. So what am I working on? This photo is a good example. I have a very responsive camera, the Nikon D800E, with a full 36 megapixel sensor, plus one of the sharpest lenses ever made, the Printing Nikkor 150mm f/2.8 APO lens, an industrial lens made for the highest-quality copy work.</p>


WHERE CREATIVITY COMES FROM (PDF-2230)
<p>I want to say something about creativity and where it comes from. Of course there are all kinds of ways to be creative, and each of us knows what that feels like for ourselves. At the same time, we may wish to be more creative or creative all the time. How is that possible?</p> <p>In my experience creativity comes from the inside, not often from the outside. In some respects my own creativity is linked to being aware of and taking advantage of the spontaneous flow of change within the mind; let's call it the "freshness of the moment." That is key.</p>


WHEN THE FLASHBULBS GO OFF (PDF-2228)
<p>I have written about beginning meditation a lot in these blogs, and some of you have asked me what comes next? Basic meditation is like breathing. We never get beyond it unless we stop breathing, which is not recommended. In other words, basic meditation is the foundation upon which all other forms of meditation are based. We don't stop doing it. However at some point we begin to augment basic meditation with what is called Insight Meditation or Vipassana. Let's talk about that.</p> <p>My blog yesterday was about Vipassana Meditation, but apparently it was not clear enough, so I added a long comment to that blog, but it may have been missed so I am upgrading that comment to a full post, and adding something to it as well. Here we go.</p>


WHEN IT ALL GOES EMPTY (PDF-2227)
<p>Every once in a while I run out of things you might be interested in, you know, whatever it is that makes up most of my blogs. This is always a little strange for me, but not entirely unwelcome. When these times come I am suddenly on my own which means I am pleasing only myself. And this is always by definition new territory and interesting for me although it can sometimes be just a wee bit scary. I have no one to please but me. Refreshing! And it is not only my Facebook postings that reflect this state at these times. My whole life takes on this character for the moment or for days at a time. There is nothing that I really want to do or that comes to mind and I can’t quite seem to get comfortable no matter how I twist and turn. Nothing seems right, and I guess that is the answer. “Nothing” seems right.</p>


WHEN A POEM IS NOT A POEM (PDF-2226)
<p>NONDUALITY</p> <p>Appearances are …</p> <p>Not only empty.</p> <p>Appearances are … The emptiness itself,</p> <p>Appearing.</p> <p>I like the above "poem" because it helps to remind me of the nature of appearances, not because it is short and poem-like. I mostly write prose, blogs, articles and the occasional book. And I tend to write long, not short things, as my Facebook friends know all too well.</p>


WHAT TO EAT (PDF-2224)
<p>That question of what to eat comes up a lot around our house. Neither my wife nor I are among the world’s best cooks. We cook to live, not live to cook. We like to eat, but cooking can be a chore and worse, we often find it hard to even decide what we are going to eat on a given day. This is particularly true if the weather shifts or at a seasonal change. Whatever we have been eating just kind of goes away and we don’t want that, yet nothing comes to mind to replace it. And then there are the things we just don’t eat.</p>


WHAT TO DO WITH MY STUFF (PDF-2223)
<p>Aside from blogging here and being an astrologer, I also am what has been called an archivist of popular culture, meaning I have aggregated lots of stuff. For example, I am the curator of the Heart Center Astrological Library, one of the largest astrological libraries in the world, if not the largest. Now that I continue to get older (which so far has been a good thing), what to do with this collection when I no longer can care for it is an unavoidable task that I face. It would be sad to have the collection just broken up and sold off on eBay or something like that. The major astrological associations apparently have no space or funds to house it, so that leaves me to figure out a solution. I have written to all the colleges and universities in the U.S. to see who is interested, and many are, but few have space. Libraries, as some of you may know, are changing. They too have little funds and even less space to house books these days. And magazines are even harder to collect.</p>


WHAT REALLY MAKES ME SAD (PDF-2222)
<p>Two people I care a lot about recently had a horrible fight, one that they can’t even begin to get over. What makes me sad is how we deal with a situation like this (our ‘past’) when something bad has happened. Almost everyone I know spends so much of their time digging in that past trying to figure out why whatever happened ‘happened’. It is like trying to put the toothpaste back in the tube. You never will figure it out.</p>


WHAT PRACTICE REALLY IS. (PDF-2221)
<p>I want to talk here a little bit about practice. I don’t mean just dharma practice, but any kind of practice, like learning to play a musical instrument or whatever. Of course it also is true for dharma practice like sitting meditation, tonglen (exchanging yourself for others), and so on. Practice can be boring so it might help to learn a little more about what happens when we practice anything. I first learned about the true nature of practice back in the Sixties when I was propelled out of my body by an LSD trip but never came back, or came back over a period of many years. My mind was pretty open then, actually very open. There was a little church off of South University and Forest Avenue, up near and just south of Washtenaw Avenue, which is now a little dogleg. It might have been called the “Campus Chapel.” Anyway, it was open all night long, left open. No one was there, except sometimes me. I would be up late nights just as I am today up early mornings.</p>


WHAT MADE THE 1960s THE SIXTIES FOR ME (PDF-2219)
<p>The 1960s was many things. I have looked through some of the dozens and dozens of books explaining it and understand why they wrote what they did, but don’t recognize my experience in them. Perhaps it is because I was raised in Ann Arbor, Michigan, a kind of weak sister back then to more aggressive (and progressive) cities like Berkeley and Cambridge. That is no longer true. Today Ann Arbor is state of the art. My experience of the Sixties was very much colored by my life in Ann Arbor. I can only tell it like I saw and remember it.</p>


WHAT KEEPS US SANE (PDF-2218)
<p>Most of us do not think of ourselves as yogis or yoginis, but that does not mean we have not developed our own methods of inner clarity in this sometimes topsy-turvy world. We all meditate, although we may not call it that. One secret to staying sane in our too-busy life can be found in all the little habits and rituals we do every day. They are literally lifesavers. Like windows in the fierce onslaught of time, we each have our little habits that help us look beyond time's rush, ritual lenses that allow us to clearly see through the whirlwind of the busy phenomena around us and into the true natural clarity of that phenomena. It is these moments of clarity that bring us peace each day. This process of seeing clearly for moments is the product of our little rituals. I am talking here of rituals that we have made up ourselves, ways of coping.</p>


WHAT IT IS (PDF-2217_
<p>What I am finding out is that many people have no idea what meditation actually is, although they think they do. There are hundreds of opinions on what meditation is in this country, and most don’t jibe with the authentic types of meditation taught for thousands of years in Asia. In a word, basic meditation is about mindfulness and it is quite simple. Do you know what it is and understand how it works? There is also a fairly precise posture to sit in that really helps, but not if you are too busy to learn it or self-conscious about using it. So let’s put the posture aside for the moment and just focus on the essential technique of learning the habit of mindfulness.</p>


WHAT IS REALIZATION (PDF-2216)
<p>It seems that no matter what the question or problem, the answer or remedy always seems to be "awareness," to develop more awareness. It is no wonder the word Buddha means awareness. He was all about it.</p> <p>Awareness does not come in a box or a can. You can't buy it except perhaps momentarily with drugs, but the price paid for a trip is greater than money, and you can't even have it for long.</p> <p>What is amazing to me is that there is such a thing as an awareness that does not come and go, but stays. It is called realization, and it is not considered enlightenment or anything like it. Don't confuse the two. And dharma realization is no different than any other kind of realization.</p>


WHAT IS FUNG SHUI REALLY ABOUT (PDF-2215)
<p>Feng shui is more and more becoming recognized as an important kind of awareness to have. The phrase "feng shui" literally means “wind-water” in English and comes from an ancient Chinese burial book called the Zangshu and this line: “Chi rides the wind and scatters, but is retained when it encounters water.” I am sure most of you reading this know that feng shui has to do with the placement and orientation of objects in space, in particular in the space immediately surrounding you – local space. But what is feng shui and how can we become sensitive to it? The simple answer is that you already are sensitive, but may not be aware of that sensitivity. Feng shui, aside from traditional rules and admonitions is above all personal. It is about how you and I respond to the space around us. It is about how we try to become comfortable in our own space.</p>


WHAT HAPPENS AFTER THE ECLIPSE (PDF-2213)
<p>First of all, although the Full Moon eclipse of June 15, 2011 is over, we have another eclipse in two weeks, although it is a Partial Eclipse. This time it is an eclipse of the Sun rather than the Moon. So what happens after the Full Moon? What follows is a very general idea and has to do not only with this Full Moon eclipse but with any Full Moon. In other words, it happens each lunar month all year long. Many of you will already know this stuff, so don’t shoot the messenger. I am just trying to make sure everyone understands and we are all on the same page. The Full Moon point is the peak of the cycle in terms of outward experience and expression, the tip of the top, so to speak. And after that? Well, in a word, the party is over but there are distinct stages in how that takes place. And this comes about slowly.</p>


WHAT GRANDPAS DO (PDF-2211)
<p>I don't know the answer to that question, except in my own case. I know what I have to do. I feel a responsibility to teach my grandkids about loving nature, and it usually starts with learning how to catch frogs. They don't call me "Froggy Grandpa" for nothin'. As I have posted in earlier posts, two of my grandkids, Max and Molly, nicknamed me Froggy Grandpa years ago to distinguish me from their other grandpa. I was very pleased about this, because I love frogs (and all living things), but my wife Margaret was not as happy about being called "Froggy Grandma," not that she does not love frogs, but rather because she did not care to be just an "also-named."</p>


WHAT ARE DHARMA PROTECTORS (PDF-2210)
<p>The whole subject of dharma protectors, what are called the Dharmapalas, is a confusing issue for many westerners. I know it has been for me. In Tibetan Buddhism, there are many qualities or deities, some of them are peaceful and others wrathful. Westerners have no trouble identifying with the peaceful deities (unless perhaps they have too many arms), but we tend to be put off by the wrathful ones, which are often represented by fierce wrathful beings with gnashing teeth and holding human skull caps filled with blood, etc. In our western traditions, fierce devil-like beings dripping blood always represent evil with a capital "E." In any case, while dharmapalas might look like they belong in a Stephen King horror story, the dharma protectors are just another way of representing the richness and variety of qualities within our own mind. They are not alien creatures out there in the woods waiting for us. So what are dharma protectors?</p>


WHAT ABOUT HATE AND FEAR (PDF-2209)
<p>This is about dealing with what you hate and fear in life -- a superior way to work with these. It is clear from comments to these blogs that most of you know something about meditation. It is equally clear from your notes here that not many of you have even heard about “Tonglen,” which is a totally different (and equally valuable) Tibetan mind-training technique from that of sitting meditation. Tonglen has to do with your personal mandala, the mini-world you have created around yourself and what you include in that world and what you consider as definitely outside of that world. And while tonglen can be done while sitting on a cushion (like meditation), it is most often done off the cushion, while we are walking around doing our everyday things. You can use it all the time.</p>


WHAT ABOUT GOD (PDF-2208)
<p>After so many years, after so many dharma practices, to discover in simple Shamata meditation all that is needed, the basis for it all, and to end a long journey at the place where I first started. Of course it makes sense. The hidden secrets of Tibetan Buddhism have always been “self secret,” hidden from us not by the intent of the lamas but by the fact that the very obviousness of what is said to be “secret” escapes our ability to grasp its subtleness. We lack the awareness, plus the one place we would never think to look for our essence is in plain sight. This is the sort of thing koans are made of.</p>


WHAT ABOUT ALL THAT RELIGIOUS STUFF (PDF-2207)
<p>In what I have written in the last few blogs I have tried to explain something about what Shamata meditation isn’t. I have mentioned that (at least for beginners) it is usually not relaxing, is not easy, can be boring, is only a practice, and that this practice should not to be confused with the results of the practice, etc. I don’t intend to be negative. Much of this is to point out that here in the U.S. (where there are so many different ideas as to what meditation is) let’s not mistake the authentic meditation technique as taught by Zen and Tibetan Buddhists for the many (quite valid in their own right) relaxation techniques masquerading until the name “meditation.”</p>


WEST BENGAL AND BOKAR RINPOCHE (PDF-2205)
<p>Here we were, on pilgrimage in India. Of course I could not help but have at least some kind of agenda, a basic roadmap that I was attempting to follow out. What I didn't fully understand yet was that this was India, where schedules of any kind are very flexible. I am reminded of one story I heard of an American ranting at an Indian railway station because the train he was waiting for was over an hour late, when a Brahmin standing next to him leaned over and gently told him in perfect English that this was yesterday's train that had not yet arrived, over 24-hours late. Why I tell this is because the Royal Nepalese Airlines had flown us in the opposite direction to where we wished, dropped us in a jungle, and we had lost an entire day, plus another day to set it right.</p>


WELCOME EMMA MAY (PDF-2203)
<p>Sunday night and I was winding down, watching a little of the Golden Globe awards. For me they are more interesting than the Oscars because they move right along and I can visually eavesdrop on all my favorite movie stars who are just sitting around together. The fact is that I never make it to the end of either ceremony, so somewhere around 9:30 PM I found my way upstairs and crawled into bed. Margaret, who is always more game than I am, stuck it out to the end. She had joined me by 11:30 PM and was on her way to sleep when the cell phone went off. I am glad Margaret was wise enough to it bring with her. Somewhere through my sleepiness I could hear the words, “We are leaving right now.” I knew what this call meant, that my daughter Michael Anne’s water had broken and she was going to have a baby. Before Margaret put the phone down I was on my feet and already packing a suitcase.</p>


WE HAVE A CHOICE (PDF-2201)
<p>And we have it ten, 100, 1000, probably thousands of times a day, the choice of how to react. Our self is by nature reactive. It is a tight cluster of intense likes and dislikes, and also less-intense "druthers." Although the self is part of us, it is not the whole of us, and certainly not the boss of us, although many here may have forgotten that. The self is something most of us have to work around, because it is not intelligent on its own. It is a dummy. Like the ventriloquist, believe it or not, we animate the self with our various attachments and then watch it dance.</p>


WAVES AND WATER (PDF-2200)
<p>In the long history of Tibetan Buddhism, in both beginning and advanced practices, we find the analogy of waves and water, again and again. The Tibetans point out that our thoughts are like waves on the ocean of mind; both are water. Thoughts, they say, are just examples of the mind in movement, call it the motion of the ocean. Thoughts are equally mind -- water to water.</p>


WAKING FROM OUR OWN DREAM - DO WE NEED A TEACHER (PDF-2194)
<p>Before we return to the topic of teachers, a little personal update. After many days of 100-degree temperatures, the heat wave broke yesterday and cool air actually flowed into our house once again. By that time we were all kind of baked. You could stick a fork in us, so to speak. So things are much better now. On the cosmos front, solar flares, auroras, and geomagnetic storms continue unabated. Yesterday, for example, a strong M6.9 solar flare erupted at 1:32 PM EDT, ejecting a plasma cloud into space. This continues to be a time of intense solar activity, correspondingly a time of strong inner change, perhaps by now almost a constant in our lives. Enjoy the change while we have it. This kind of influx will not occur again for another eleven years of so, but it will continue now (probably) for many months ahead, but perhaps not as intense.</p>


VACATION - VACATING (PDF-2186)
<p>I feel like I am far away on a trip, and all they have here are postcards, so I write one to you. Actually I am right here in my office, as usual, getting up in the wee hours of the morning and working until dark. I don’t mean to ignore my Facebook friends, but I am caught up in this project of creating a series of programs about what I have blogged about here for years -- awareness. And I am gaining on it. If you knew more about me, you would know that I am a tool gatherer. The first thing I do on any project is to gather all the tools I can imagine I will need. And it is kind of a dumb thing to do, because how do I know what tools I need before I am fully immersed. I don’t, but I imagine and guess.</p>


UPDATE ON SOLAR ACTIVITY AND OTHER CHANGES (PDF-2184)
<p>I have been a bit preoccupied the last few days with events around here, and the Sun has been more than a little active as well. There were something like 18 solar flares yesterday (August 18th), most of them C-class events, but five were M-class, including a M5.5-class flare, which is large. On August 18th, we had one flare that almost reached into the X-class, the strongest level of flares. For those of you interested in learning more about how these solar flares affect our inner life, you can find the free e-book</p> <p>“Sun Storms” here: http://astrologysoftware.com/books/</p>


UP AND DOWN CYCLES (PDF-2181)
<p>I have studied cycles for fifty years, not just planetary cycles, but all kinds of cycles. In this blog I want to talk about one particular kind of cycle and that is our personal cycles of ups and downs in everyday life. The Buddhists call this Samsara, the cyclic worldly existence of birth, life, and death that we all are embedded in.</p> <p>It does not so much matter what is causing these ups and downs in life. Some we can perhaps label (lunar, planetary, etc.), some not, but who cares? It is like our tendency to want to lay blame. After all is said and done, it is not all about blame or where it came from, but also about going forward. What can we do with these cycles? How can we learn to use them?</p>



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