Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Some get it; Some don't

As part of the yoga immersion I'm participating in this week at Yoga Sita, my teacher Susannah Bruder asked us to bring in a writing of Eknath Easwaran to share. This brought me to his website containing his teachings. I can say that I will be sharing his teachings not just with my group this week, but with other spiritual seekers I know. I've just begun to read his stuff but I already appreciate the non-denominational nature of his soul-touching teachings.

He wrote in an essay called "Read Widely":
"The treasures of mysticism can be found in all religions, and we should not confine ourselves to the tradition most familiar to us. No one age, no one people, no one persuasion has any monopoly on spiritual wisdom; the prize is there, and always has been, for any man or woman who cares and dares to look for it. Of course, whichever mystic we turn to, we will meet the same truths, because the mystical experience is everywhere the same. There is only one supreme reality, and there can be only one union with it. But the language, tradition, mode of expression, and cultural flavor will differ. One writes in French, another in Pali. One writes in poetry, another in prose. One speaks of the Mother, another of His Majesty, still another of the Beloved. In this lies the beauty of spiritual literature: on the one hand it reflects the fascinating diversity of life; on the other, the unchanging principles that stand behind that diversity, irrespective of time and place."

But Easwaran also recognizes that it is important to have a specific practice. At the end of that same essay he says:
"We should draw freely on the classics of all great mystical traditions for inspiration, but this should never take the place of reading and rereading the instructions we are trying to follow in our daily lives."

If this touches you as well, go explore the teachings of Eknath Easwaran.

And on the flip side of this crazy world........

Paris Hilton was released from jail today, having fulfilled the terms of her 45-day sentence. I can see that those days of unavoidable reflection has given Ms. Hilton a true understanding of the need to get her priorities straight. The proof of this new outlook???? Well, according to this article on Excite News, soon after she arrived at her grandparent's mansion,

". . . a black Cadillac Escalade arrived carrying balloons and a cake with the words "Welcome Home" in pink frosting. At another [point], a van from Dream Catchers Hair Extensions, Hilton's own company, passed through the gates. Dream Catchers receptionist Crystal Armijo confirmed the heiress was having extensions added to her hair."


Friday, June 22, 2007

Brain Waves

Today is my friend Roma's 42nd birthday. I know she will celebrate with joy, as she does most things, even if conditions are not ideal.

You see, a few months ago, Roma was diagnosed with a brain tumor. She underwent surgery to remove the tumor which, thankfully, turned out to benign. But there were complications that come when cutting into this delicate area, and after spending 4 weeks in the hospital--not the expected 3-5 days--Roma is now in a rehab center in Kentfield, Marin County. She is cognizant of everything and everyone around her, but cannot easily communicate or move on her own. The doctors seem confident that with 3-5 months of physical therapy she will have a full recovery. We can only hope that their prognosis is correct.

It's hard to imagine this tall (6'2"), strong, active woman in such a state. A healer in her own right--with massage, herbs, and acupuncture--she now puts herself in the hands of healers. She has a strong community of friends and family looking after her. All positive energy helps, so please, keep her in your healing prayers.

Happy Birthday, Roma Jean.
I expect to take in a Stanford Woman's basketball game with you next season.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Mixed Messages

Looking out the window of the JCCSF on California Street this morning before minyan, I saw a double bus with two large ads. On the first bus, an ad for McDonald's HUGE soda, just 69 cents. On the second, a public service ad warning about the childhood obesity epidemic now rampant in this country.

What else is there to say. . .

Monday, June 11, 2007

Never on a Monday

A tip to anyone visiting San Francisco--if you decide to eat out on a Monday, check first to see if your restaurant of choice is open.

I had plans to meet my friend Tannis for dinner tonight. We hadn't seen each other in a while and needed to catch up. We decided to try places in my neighborhood, Noe Valley. The first couple of places we tried--closed. The places that were open had special 4 course meal offerings--maybe good some times, but more food than either of us wanted.

We ended up at the Pescheria on Church Street. I had been in that restaurant space when it served Greek food, and before that when it was a different fish restaurant, and before that when it was a cafe, and before that when it was another cafe. Before that, it was office space. Interestingly enough, the food has always been pretty good. This incarnation is no exception. And even though they also had a 4 course Monday night special for $35, we were able to order any of the dishes a la carte. There was the added bonus of good service and an interesting wine list.

I don't know what it's like in other cities or towns, but remember that Monday night in San Francisco is a day off for many restaurants. So remember to call ahead, or make plans to eat at home.

Friday, June 08, 2007

What defines a true fan?

Yesterday was my annual trip to see the A's play the Boston Red Sox. I go each year with my friend Peter Shwartz, a die-hard Red Sox fan. You can read about our 2005 outing here.

The weather was great--sunny and warm, which was a change from the chilly temperatures of the first three games. I could also be somewhat relaxed about the outcome. The A's had already taken the first three games, so while a sweep would be nice, going 3-1 against the team with the best record in Major League baseball would certainly be no disgrace.

It was a great pitching match-up; Curt Schilling against Joe Blanton - a veteran ace against a young up-and-comer. They both lived up to their billing. Blanton gave up a first inning homer to David Ortiz--no shame there, as Ortiz is one of the league's best hitters and was due to knock one out. Blanton and the A's bullpen allowed only 3 more hits, with no Sox player getting past second base. Unfortunately, Schilling was that much better--he just stifled the hitters.

I often bring a radio to the ballgame, but this time, thankfully, I left my radio home. The only commentary I heard was from the fans sitting around us. It wasn't until about the 6th inning that I realized that Schilling had a no-hitter going. I nudged Peter and pointed to the scoreboard. He took a breath and said, "We're not going to talk about this until it's over."

The game went into the ninth inning with the score still 1 - 0 Red Sox with no hits by the A's. Schilling gets two quick groundouts to Mark Kotsay and Jason Kendall. One out to go--and Shannon Stewart hits a clean single to right on his first pitch. The Red Sox win; Schilling gets a one-hit shutout instead of what would have been the first no-hitter of his career.

Curt Schilling pitched a magnificent game. Not only was he one out away from a no-hitter, but the game would have been as close to perfect as you could get--the only A's base runner was due to an error by the shortstop. It would have been cool to have been there to witness this milestone in his career.

Towards the end of my drive home I listened to KNBR sports radio. I guess some callers were talking about the game. When I tuned in, Ralph Barbiari was carrying on about some A's fan's disappointment about the missed opportunity to see a no-hitter. "No true fan wants to see a no-hitter pitched against their team, especially in their ballpark. Anyone who is disappointed about this is not a true fan."

Now, I have no doubt that I am a true and loyal fan, especially when it comes to the Oakland A's in baseball and the New York Giants in football. I may not be happy when my teams are in the dumpster, but I don't bail. I've been a Giant fan for over 40 years, and if you know anything about the Giant teams in the late 60s through the early 80s, you know I had little if anything to cheer about. And while the Super Bowl wins in 1987 and 1991 were very sweet, the 1997 playoff game against the Minnesota Vikings in which the Giants were ahead by nine points with a minute and a half to go--and then lost--was extremely painful.

You only feel those highs and lows when you are a true fan. Yet I still would have liked to see Schilling make his no-hitter. My team played well, the pitching staff allowed only 4 hits, and taking 3 out of 4 games against a really good team is a fine showing. I could concentrate on the excellence of a talented player and applaud his effort. I see nothing dishonest or disloyal in that.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Food & Wine

A new stop for me on Wednesday mornings is the San Francisco Civic Center Heart of the City Farmer's Market. I find good, organic, locally grown produce here. One added bonus seems to be that the produce I buy seems to last longer--I guess because the time from field to stand is short. Whatever the reason, I get great salad greens, chard, kale, and spinach. There's a mushroom stand that has the juiciest organic shitaki mushrooms I've ever seen or tasted. Last week I made a Mushroom-Tofu Stroganoff that was out of this world. (The recipe came from The Tassajara Recipe Book by Ed Brown.) Fresh cherries, one of the sweet joys of life, are in full season--at least here in the Northern Hemisphere, and the stone fruits are coming into their own. You can also find great tamales and an organic falafel vendor. So if you live in SF, or just planning to visit, I recommend a stop here. It may not have the cache of the Ferry Plaza Farmer's Market, but great seasonal produce at bargain prices.

On a different but related note, I recently finished a short video piece for Wine Enthusiast Magazine, showcasing their Toast of the Town event held in San Francisco at the end of March. They have posted it on their website, and you can view it here. Not a big budget item, but it was fun to edit. Most important, they are happy, so I'll probably get to do it again when they stop by in SF next year. Maybe they'll even let me attend the event--you know, to get a better feel-and taste-for it.