Archive for the ‘Philosophy’ Category

Rice, we’re over. Cavena Nuda Je t’aime.

I confess – we eat rice.

Rice straight from the Bulk Barn.  Not straight from the rice fields, but from the truck that travels thousands of miles from the port in the US where it met the tanker that had crossed the ocean after it met more trucks in the harbour where it came from.  Straight from unsustainably managed rice fields somewhere out there where a farmer is just trying to feed his family.  Even worse, we love white rice.  Sticky white basmati rice.  While I keep a supply of what is touted as a healthier choice, brown basmati, on hand also, neither are remotely local and if I want organic, I’m bound to buying some form of plastic packaging.

With (purchasing) power comes great responsibility.

For the most part, I’ve played the ignorant card when buying rice, justifying it because well, everyone else eats it and if I have things on hand that Dylan enjoys, such as rice, he’s less likely to say “Pita Pit?” when brainstorming dinner ideas.  But rice, you’ve been replaced (it may be more of a gradual phasing out, and I make no claim to perfection).  Welcome Cavena Nuda. Je t’aime.  I first found you in the bulk barn flyer, labelled “New! Rice of the Prairies” and the possibility of a rice from Canada made me have to try you!   A “hull-less” oat that cooks just like brown rice, cavena nuda is a nutty grain that cooks al dente and is amazing in many dishes because it holds up very well.  I may be late for the cavena nuda train because apparently it was on Dragon’s Den, but I bet there are many people out there who have yet to hear about it.  I can’t remember all the ways that I’ve used it, but the other night I added some garlic scape pesto, basil, steamed beans (all from the garden), and some canned Ontario tomatoes and wow!

Here’s another fresh spring meal that we had, pretty much simple rice (eek) pasta with a simple home-made sauce of garlic, onions and canned tomatoes, made so fresh with herbs from the garden!

And here are our watermelon radishes that have been great additions to potato salads, beet salads and sandwiches…

Having vegetables right in our backyard has been the highlight of my summer!  No more ethical dilemmas at the grocery store, no more debates at farmer’s markets and lots more fresh, local, organic veggies!


Call me Buddha.

This is the gong that rings more times than I can count each day during a 10 Day Vipassana Meditation course.  Note that it is called a “course” as opposed to a “retreat”.  Those 10 days of my life were no holiday.  I cried, I sweat, I suffered, I smiled, and I walked.   I did not speak, sun bathe, play or communicate with any other human being, and I only laughed on the 10th day when the vow of silence is broken.  It was tough.

It is now 7 days since I have returned from my 10 Day course and while I’d love to say I am more peaceful, more loving and more happy…..I can not tell.  I can only assume that some benefit was had and it is showing very subtly in my day to day actions and reactions.   As how real change truly happens, on a deeper level than at the surface, at the root and source of the problem.  As much as I wish that it had been a 10 Day Magic Fix for all of my problems and misery, it was not.  It was simply an introduction to a technique that, if applied to the rest of my life, can help to eradicate the miseries that we all hold so deep within the mind and body.   So I am doing my best to meditate each morning.  We are instructed to meditate one hour each morning AND each night for the full benefit and true practice of the technique.  But shhheeeesshhh…..really??  Maybe when I’m retired, ok. But when my yoga teacher also says to do your asanas (postures) and pranayama (breath work) once a day and I must also contribute to the world, cook and clean, and of course blog…. 2 hours of meditation is a lot.  Yet, for 10 days I managed to meditate for 12 hours each day….and now 2 hours is too much?  hah.  The problem is not that 2 hours is too much, it is that our silly society thinks that we should spend 8 hours out of the house each day doing some sort of monkey task for someone else so that we may own a house and cars and pretty looking things.  Silly society.  Luckily, I lead a rather non-conventional life and should be able to fit in 2 meditations a day.  However, my goal for now is one each morning from 5:30am-6:30am.  Not terrible considering we were up at 4am while on the course.   Yet, some mornings, it is terrible.

The 10 days themselves were certainly the longest 10 days I’ve ever lived…..however they are gone.  Which is one of the primary teachings from the course: That everything will pass.  The teachings are the Buddha’s teachings from 25 centuries ago, that have been slightly lost and mis-interpreted so that while the faith and devotional teachings of Buddha have been emphasized, the actual practice of true knowledge and pure happiness has been muffled.  Luckily, those good Burmese monks were the ones to preserve the pure teachings of Buddha and they’ve helped to spread them all over the world again, all the way to right here in Angus, Ontario.  hah.  It really was cool being able to experience Buddha’s teachings in a very non-sectoral/non-religious place in rural Ontario.

The days themselves were simple – meditate, meditate, stretch, eat, walk, meditate, meditate, meditate, eat, walk, meditate…..etc.  There were 7 hours of sleep in there that I relished, and an evening discourse that I think everyone looked forward to. Not only were we able to watch someone else, we could sit however we fancied and change positions as many times as we wanted. That in itself was a treat!  The discourses a video recording of lectures from Goenke G, a regular Burmese business man who came into Vipassana in his search for a migraine cure and is now spreading the practice due to it’s importance and it’s power.  He is an enlightened man and thus his lectures are full of stories, jokes- even if you are having the ugliest, more painful day of your life, he will make you smile – and repeated reminders:  “Practice diligently, diligently.  Practice patiently, patiently.  Patiently and persistently, patiently and persistently.  You are bound to be successful, bound to be successful.”

On day 1, I survived just fine.  But already in the evening discourse when Goenke G begins by saying, “The first day is over, you have 9 more days to work”…..I was like….oh man, that’s a long time.

By day 2 I was like, ok…..8 days, not too bad.

Day 3 I thought, ok, 7 more days, a week, what’s a week in your every day life Kim?  A week flies by!

Day 4 – “I can’t do it.  I can’t do 6 more days of this.  It’s going to take forever!”

Dav 5 – “It is taking forever, not 5 more days”

Day 6 – “Longest 6 days of my life, I can’t wait for Sunday”

Day 7 –  “Not 3 more days, I can’t wait until Sunday”

Day 8 – “Just make it through today Kim, one day at a time”

Day 9 – “Ok, last day of work, work hard, work diligently”

Day 10 – I experienced such euphoria when we could speak.  Even before I said a word, I felt so light, so happy, the sun came out….it was pure bliss!  I forgot entirely about wanting to go home and just soaked up every second of this day!

Day 11 – I made a b-line for my vehicle the moment they handed me my keys.  7:30am, I was outta there!  hah.

My Sustainable Future…

In my sustainable future, No Frills will be a farmer’s market.

Wal Mart will host trade-ins, where you pay with credits that you’ve earned for bringing “stuff” back.  No one will work more than 30 hours away from home a week, and that work will be meaningful, inspiring, fulfilling and will always contribute to the greater good (why on earth most jobs do not seems terribly self-destructive for a species).

Sunday’s will return to a day of rest and family.  The plastics loop on the planet will be a closed system, only using and re-using what we’ve already made, no more new plastics.  Population growth will be an oxymoron.

The standard forms of transportation will be bike, horse (this is “my sustainable future” after all), wind powered boats, sun powered planes (they’re mighty close to the bright light) and food powered feet.  My love will be my life will be my work will be my pastimes will be my partner will be my children will be me.  We will live in a community of small, natural homes, surrounding a massive food forest.  Our compost heap and the sun will heat our greenhouse where we will grow an avacado tree. We will have a shared outdoor kitchen, even with a bbq. We will also have our own, private kitchen with a solar dehydrator, some new eco-kind of refrigerator, root cellars, and renew-ably powered appliances.  I will teach yoga, including handstands and cartwheels, and sustainable living and writing to youth and adults.  Children will be afraid of “strawberry candy” because they learned what a juicy, ripe, organic strawberry was long before the candy imposter.  Thus, “food” that in fact is not food, will not be sold as such.

Our community will have a huge library, with windows, plants and big spaces where we can lay on cushions, read and discuss.  Somehow, computers will have a role, maybe they will take the shape of a calendar on the wall listing everything that needs to be done that day, including baking cookies in the solar oven, meetings and having the youth learn to build a home.  My sister will be my neighbour, well maybe down the street, and my brother will be dreaming up designs for whole systems of communities that include not only building designs, but land-use, retrofits, and cradle to cradle principles.  We will know our neighboring communities, and while we may not always like them, we will compete with them in sport wholeheartedly.

Consumption will have been recognized as a black hole of human potential and a perpetuator of unhappiness. Clothes will be simple, natural, functional, beautiful and biodegradable.  We will have slowed the production of all forms of toxins enough so that nature will have removed those that she could, and enough to be able to exist forever with the ones that nature will never know what to do with.

The idea of going shopping as an activity, without a true need, will not be an idea.  Instead, that time will be spent thinking, creating, repairing, discussing, reflecting, and being still.  The only packaging that food will come in, will be the packaging that nature gave it.  You will carry your own basket or storage container to the store, fill it up from their storage container, weigh it, exchange some form of currency for it, and be on your merry way.  There will be one rainbow a day.  Two on holidays. And sometimes, just sometimes, you’ll actually see a flower open one of it’s buds, witnessing one of the most beautiful events this life brings.

I will feel joy with every breath I take, I will use intellectual intelligence every day and I will listen deeply with compassion and love for even the people I do not understand.  I will still feel pain, loss, sadness and despair.  And because these feelings seem innate to our species – a natural balance to my butterfly and unicorn fantasy – maybe the world will go on as it does.  We are in the Kali Yuga, the age where human civilization degenerates according to Indian scriptures.  There are systems that I can not paint in pretty pinks and sky blues, such as the legal system, the finance markets and the human ego brought to you by the letters “I”, “Me” and “Mine”. I don’t doubt that a sustainable future will indeed occur, but that does not mean it will be in our favour.  We are not the centre of the universe.  We are a mere manifest of it, and the Universe will sustain itself, not us.  But that does not rob me of my imagination and my heart.  So I will go on seeing the world through my rose-coloured glasses, picking flowers and singing on my bicycle.  I’m pretty sure in any future, I will still get to ride a horse and grow an avacado tree.

Me vs. My Ego

As I was biking home from town this morning, a car pulled up a few meters ahead of me and the driver flagged me down.  I get strangely excited when this happens – I love it when people ask me for directions.  This is either due to an intuitive love for sharing knowledge and teaching, or my childhood best friend was right and I am a “know-it-all”.  Nonetheless, I am a compulsive sign reader, I don’t know why, I just read any word that comes into my visual range and thus tend to be of some help.  Well, he wasn’t asking for directions.  He was stopping to pay me a compliment and ask if I’m single. He had actually been traveling in the other direction and had turned around. Upon learning that I am not single he stressed that I must tell my boyfriend how lucky he is and that he must earn it.  I warmed up to him when he asked if I was happy and I smiled and replied “very”. I said thank you with as much humility as I could and he smiled and drove off.

Once my ego was done patting itself on the back for wearing the blue shirt, tights and wellies, I was able to objectively ponder on this encounter.  I used to place a lot of importance on events like these.  Not consciously of course, but male attention could be said to be 90% of the reason I would put on a nice outfit and mascara in the morning. It’s not a mystery that men may be a bit like children and Christmas gifts – if it’s wrapped well they choose it.  For 30 seconds, this man made me feel like the most special person on the planet, but the “me” that was feeling that was on the inside, in my head, and the object he was speaking to was just the outer shell.  And thus the outer shell that I inhabit should receive the compliment, however the skin, hair, bones, eyes do not have the ability to emotionally receive such an abstract concept. The mind and thought center just try to steal it up, grasping onto anything that feeds the ego, relevant or not. The mind may be responsible for how I dressed this morning, the shape of my body, the cleanliness of my hair etc., which could have led to the compliment, however the mind does this all in vain, in hopes of attention, thus using and abusing the body.  Anyhow, what I’m getting at is since the object that this man was speaking to (the body) is not capable of receiving dialogue, it is like he’s speaking into a phone and there’s no one on the other line.  His words are lost to the universe, and the mind can not rightfully eat them up – even though it does, faster than I can stop it.

Are you ever alone and Should you be?

Today, as I suited up to go for a bike ride, Tequila (the dog on the farm we are looking after) got very excited to see me put on my jacket, and I knew I wouldn’t have the heart to leave her behind.  Thus, instead of biking, I opted for a hike.  Off we went down what’s called “The Rail Trail”, Tequila leading the way.  As we walked, I became very aware of how much of my attention was with the dog, like it would be if I were walking with a friend.  My mind would begin to drift to whatever thoughts earned priority in my sub-conscience, and then be interrupted by the rabbit that Tequila had scared out of the bush, or by wondering where she had gone, or by watching her play in the river, or by concerns that she may be thirsty etc.  Walking with a dog changed my walk experience.  It distracted me from my own thoughts and brought me out of my own head very often.  I was not alone.

I wondered how often dog owners are alone. Or have their consciousnesses adapted to include the dog

I wonder if it is better or worse to have a constant companion always in your presence. This could be a dog, a partner or a child.

And I wonder how often mothers are alone.

Like, really alone.  Where no one knows where you are, no one is expecting you, you’re not responsible for anything, you’re not concerned about the time and you’re able to think very deeply, naturally and without interruptions, forever if you felt like it.  Sounds like you’d be in a vacuum doesn’t it.

I wonder how often humans are supposed to experience time like this.  I experienced a lot of solo time before I shared my life with my current partner.  I was almost always alone, in my own head-space.  And now, there are days when I’m alone, but I always know he’s coming home for dinner.  Even if we’re apart for a day or 2, he is present in my consciousness always.  And yet there was a time when I didn’t have that constant companion.  And I think at those times I would have deeper thoughts.  My mind would contemplate life intensely, scrutinizing each step I took.  With a partner, I think I tend to let little things slide.  For example, we drive pretty often, and when I was on my own, I would bike to China and back to avoid driving.  My mind doesn’t venture as deep into itself anymore.  It’s either that I have less to prove now that I’m happy and loving, or that I forfeit responsibility when there is 2 of us and our decisions have to accommodate 2 opinions, 2 sets of needs and 2 sets of priorities.  On the flip side, at times when I didn’t have a partner, I was lonely.  There were times when I was desperate for someone to do things with.  Just someone to buy groceries with, to live with and cook with.

All of this to wonder.  What are we meant to do?  Live a conscious, independent life, or share life with each-other always, perhaps venturing into deep uninterrupted thought less often.  I realize there is a middle ground, however how often do we commit to being truly together and being truly separate?  When I hit a time in my life where I had lots of time to think alone, (which often accompanies facing some hard truths and rough patches), I had a few epiphanies in a row.  I posed all my life’s questions to my mother in one breath.  Asking her if she had thought about these things, how she felt about them, why she was living in the rat race of capitalist Toronto etc.  And my mother’s reply was that most people don’t have the time to stop and think like I did, that it was a luxury, and that she had to go because she was in the middle of filing a prospectus.

Any thoughts?  Any long, uninterrupted thoughts?