if you haven’t heard of the attacks this morning at the paris office of _charlie hebdomaire_, in which 12 humans were killed by 3 well-trained gunmen with large weapons, well, you have now.

the question, as you sip your cocktail or edit your spreadsheet or prune your apples trees or mortar your bricks if, of course, ‘what the hell can i do?’.

i have at least two immediate practical responses to share — in addition to immediate empathy for the victims and solidarity with the satire community — that we can all do, right now.

1) dear brothers, we love you.

violence cannot survive without separation. the well-trained gunmen who murdered 12 humans think they are, somehow, _not the same_ as those 12 humans. they consider themselves separate from their victims.

as long we agree with them (regardless of whether we’re shocked or elated by their actions), and push them out of our notion of the “we”, we only contribute to more potential violence.

i’m not saying we shouldn’t hate them. obviously we shouldn’t hate them. it’s unhelpful for everyone involved, especially he/she who carries that toxic emotion.

i’m saying we should go further:

we should actively, daily, diligently, love these people.
we should actively, daily, diligently, remember them and refer to them as our brothers.

we can respond to this tragedy by increasing the gulf of separation or reducing it. every day. in our meditations, our metta, our prayers, our thoughts, our moments of openness and plenitude, we can remember that these men who so quickly murdered 12 of their brothers and sisters are still our brothers. after all, who needs love more than these humans? **

whether you’re with us, or against us: you are us.

2) ima punch you in the face

the fundamental reaction here, beneath the violence and brainwashing and machine guns and all the rest, is a personal aversion to having your most sacred symbol made into a crude joke. the only serious and practical way to avoid violence that is based on a reaction, is for us to evaluate our own reaction in the same situation.

a picture of gandhi getting run over by a tank
jesus in a jar of piss
naked buddha playing roulette.

probably not the best examples, but i think the idea is clear. somebody makes fun of what i hold dearest. do i subtlety, unconsciously, clench my fist? somebody slanders my parents or my partner. do i curse them and wish harm upon them the way i did in middle school? have i grown at all?

is the difference between my reaction and those who commit ideological acts of violence different in kind or degree? is my violence limited by something greater than my impotence? manifest or not, will my violence help anyone involved or will it lead to greater violence and suffering?


been a long time since i’ve written. please excuse the sudden presence in your inbox. know that i love you. and that i’m doing my best, every time, to spend some time on the practices i just mentioned. i welcome your suggestions and support.

one love
no exceptions


** well, yes, dick cheney might need it more. perhaps.


if today was your last day, what would you do?
If it were my last day in Paris and the world, I would wake my sweetheart up with her favorite breakfast and then go to my neighborhood boulangerie and buy all their croissants and pains au chocolate. I would walk through the streets of all the different parts of the city, giving away treats, hugs, smiles, and thanking people and wishing them well. A little champagne at sunset would probably be unavoidable too…


what have you lost and learned from?

growing up without a father pushed me to seek role models and mentorship all around me, opening my heart to guidance and love from unlikely sources…


what are you thankful for at this moment?

i close my eyes and become intimately aware of the detail of it all. the sounds the smells the texture the voices the lingering sensations on my taste buds, the tension and relaxation in my body, the luxury of warmth, the simplicity of the wooden floor, the haunting cold of winter seven stories off the ground. all i can think of representing is the grand variety and fractally infinite detail of it all.


what skill do you value most in yourself?

flexibility? i dont need an omelette pan to make you an omelette. ill just do it in whatever piece of metal or clay i can find!


who in your life are you under-appreciating?

my mother.

how can i not under-appreciate my mother?

how could i ever appreciate her enough?


what is the most cherished gift you’ve ever received?

one day on the beach i offered someone an apricot with two hand-carved wooden rings subbed in for the almond. she accepted to share it, and everything else, and she took the rings. that empty apricot, before we ate, was the best gift i ever received.


who or what shaped your inner compass?

(1) gandhiji of course for the deep weaving of morality — satya and ahimsa and asteya — into the very meaning of what it is to be alive and to be in community with others, and (2) all those experiences which opened my mine to form and color and depth and the indelible wonder of the universe at every moment.

together they are my north.


when has nature taken your breath away?

just today, riding home through the forest back to paris and the wind blowing and the cold dropping and the rain falling and my hands without gloves and my fingers without gloves and then just my ice blocks without gloves and the brakes metal and distant and nothing was moving doing over there any more anyways.

finally miraculously alive and arrived, cars and trucks gentle and understanding, lying on my back breathless from the cold, ice blocks for hands still burning a ravenous hunger in my core and the knowledge that so little so little separates us from so much from so much.

When Has Nature Taken Your Breath Away


who inspires you to be your best self?

tough to say whether it’s the memory of gandhiji, the loving eyes of my partner, or the strangers i run into every day who inspire me to be my best self. went with the strangers here: you — because when i meet someone new, i have the illusion, the dream, of being perfect for them: perfectly kind, perfectly helpful, perfectly present. worth trying for every time!

Next Page »