“Feel the Love” – Tad’s latest song

TAD WRITES: Buddhism often talks about experience as food for consciousness. We can choose to take in good “food”, positive experiences, or bad “food”, negative experiences. These experiences can come in such forms as media, memories, thoughts, emotions, relationship encounters, etc. They can effect our well being deeply and in many ways.

I’ve always been a culture vulture and heavy media consumer, a dangerous preoccupation because media – whether it’s news or Shakespeare – relies heavily on the power of drama and tragedy to draw attention to itself, which often puts it in the negative category. When I got my diagnosis, I quickly realized that I’d taken in way too much “news” and other angst-inducing toxins in my life. I’m proud to say I recently got my two-month chip for not watching television. Now I am much more mindful of what I expose myself to, because I know my healing depends on it. Now I am much less distracted from the love that surrounds me everywhere, the gorgeousness of my steadfast partner, the precious company of friends, the beauty of the natural world, and infinite additional positive resources. Einstein said that even “gravity is love.” Yeah, he really did.

It would serve the world if we all turned our attention more and more to the universe evolving within us, rather than the manufactured one constructed for our endless consumption. Whether the physical world was designed by an invisible intelligence or not has always been a controversial question, but the “hidden hand” in your evolving inner universe is real, it’s your hand. Make your inner cosmos a balanced and joyful and you’ll have plenty of good food for thought to keep you strong.

Here is a song I wrote that encapsulates some of these notions. Audio file coming soon…

FEEL THE LOVE
By Tad Toomay (all rights reserved)

TV, movies, news, and ads/ Keep us moody, needy, sad
Suggest the best cure-all/Is a visit to the mall
It isn’t real, it’s media/Don’t you let it feed on ya
Walk into the woods/Recalling all that’s good:
The stillness of the egret on the shore
Reminds us of a truer place deep within our core

Chorus:
Feel the love, healing love/We’re made of, sweet as summer rain
Feel the love, healing love/ We’re made of, rising like a flame
To consume the gloomy rumors in our heads
All confusion and illusion, tossing, turning in our beds
Feel the love, healing love/We’re made of
And breathe easy/We can breathe easy
And breathe easy/We can breathe easy

It’s like the Big Bang back again/The old order’s a smoking ruin
The future clouds of gas/How will they amass?
And as new natural laws congeal/Will unforeseen events reveal
A hidden hand involved?/A timeless mind resolved?
I see it in the challenged but unbowed
And feel it in the vibrant souls around me even now

CHORUS

Mind Gardener

Vietnamese Buddhist monk and prolific author Thich Nhat Hahn speaks of the mind as though it were a garden in which we nurture the good “plants” (thoughts, emotions, memories, mental images, etc.) and avoid nurturing the bad. In my life, though I’ve reveled in the positive probably 65% of the time, I’ve most likely brooded on the negative the rest of the time. Amongst the passion flowers in my mind garden have sprung up plenty of crabgrass and stinkweed. In terms of the body-mind connection, this is not a formula for optimal health.

After my condition was diagnosed, I sought counsel from my dear friend Reverend Patricia Keel. During our meeting, she mentioned some research she had recently run across that indicates that people who get cancer in the liver are often prone to feeling outraged by the injustice in the world.

I definitely resonated with that, because I had just indulged in several months of emotional upheaval – frenzied activism, fevered letter-writing, and obsessive media-watching –around the madness of the health care reform debate. Ironic, but just maybe this has something to do with my compromised health.

I later remembered that 35 years ago, before my TM (transcendental meditation) teacher assigned me my mantra, he asked, “What is your general outlook on life?” I answered, “I love life but worry about the world.” And that is still true. I write joyous songs about God’s creation and I also despair over man’s desecration of it. I guess I’ve just always been like that.

Now Thich Nhat Hahn’s advice about cultivating the positive and weeding out the negative in the mind is more than mere words of wisdom to me. It has become a key to my survival. So, how does one achieve peace of mind and greater healing? Here are some ways I’m doing it:

1. Deep ecological, Taoist Brewmaster’s view. Though I hate to contemplate the pain and suffering that would happen in the worst case scenario of Man destroying itself and a lot of other species, at least the planet would be free of us and could heal itself. And since I feel more a part of the planet than of my own misguided species in some ways, that’s a win for our side. Of course it would be better if humankind could live in harmony with itself and the planet, but I’m through worrying about that now.

It’s like brewing beer. The yeast (Man) eats all the sugar (resources) and excretes it as alcohol (pollution), which eventually kills off the yeast – but in so doing makes something good to sip while watching a football game. The mighty Earth will endure, and maybe even one day will let us come back as dolphins or something.

2. Marginalize media. I summed it up in a verse of one of my songs: “TV, movies, news and ads/Keep us moody, needy, sad/Suggest the best cure-all/Is a visit to the mall/ It isn’t real, it’s media/Don’t you let it feed on ya/Walk into the woods/Recalling all that’s good…” Remember that the media is simulated high drama designed to keep your eyeballs focused on it. Also, no matter how dazzling and spellbinding it may be, it is not an accurate reflection of the world — even if it calls itself “the news.”

3. Mind the mind. Watch your negative thought habits grinding away. Each time a grumpy notion pops up, think, “You’re not a part of me,” smile, and dismiss it as a silly notion made up by your ego self – bye-bye.

4. Right View. One of the Buddha’s eight approaches to deeper understanding is called Right View, which Thich Nhat Hahn clarifies as No View. Did you ever notice  that as we process inner and outer phenomena we are constantly, though often subtly, catagorizing  things our minds highlight  as good for our interests or not good for our interests? Constantly defining our emotional relationship to everything that comes up. Paisley: what I like. Ayatollas: what I don’t like. Pinots: what I like. Spiders: what I don’t like.  Blah, blah, blah. Always the reactive state of mind. Always the small or large emotional charge. Not a very streamlined way to view the world. See and Be. That’s all that’s required.

In a nutshell, these days I still my beating heart by thinking less and observing more. It’s a recipe for happier days. It might even  increase the number allotted to me.

Vietnamese Buddhist monk and prolific author Thich Nhat Hahn speaks of the mind as though it were a garden in which we nurture the good “plants” (thoughts, emotions, memories, mental images, etc.) and avoid nurturing the bad. In my life, though I’ve reveled in the positive probably 65% of the time, I’ve most likely brooded on the negative the rest of the time. Amongst the passion flowers in my mind garden have sprung up plenty of crabgrass and stinkweed. In terms of the body-mind connection, this is not a situation for creating optimal health.

After my condition was diagnosed, I sought counseling from my good friend Reverend Patricia Keel. In our meeting, she some research she had recently run across that indicates that people who get cancer in the liver are often prone to feeling outraged by the injustice in the world.

I definitely felt a resonance with this, because I had just indulged in several months of emotional upheaval – frenzied activism, fevered letter-writing, and obsessive media-watching –around the madness of the health care reform debate. Ironic, but just maybe this had something to do with the proliferation of cancer in my body.

I later remembered that 35 years ago, before my TM (transcendental meditation) teacher assigned me my mantra, he asked, “What is your general outlook on life?” I answered, “I love life but worry about the world.” And that is still true. I write joyous songs about God’s creation and I also despair over man’s desecration of it. I guess I’ve just always been like that.

Now Thich Nhat Hahn’s advice about cultivating the positive and weeding out the negative in my mind is more than mere words of wisdom to me. It has become a key to my survival. So, how does one achieve peace of mind and greater healing? Here are some ways I’m doing it:

1. Deep ecology/Taoist/Brewmaster’s view. Though I hate to contemplate the pain and suffering that would happen in the worst case scenario of Man destroying itself and a lot of other species, at least the planet would be free of us and could heal itself. And since I feel more a part of the planet than of my own misguided species in some ways, that’s a win for our side. Of course it would be better if humankind could live in harmony with itself and the planet, but I’m through worrying about that now.

It’s like brewing beer. The yeast (Man) eats all the sugar (resources) and excretes it as alcohol (pollution), which eventually kills off the yeast – but in so doing makes something good to sip while watching a football game. The mighty Earth will endure, and maybe even one day will let us come back as dolphins or something.

2. Marginalize media. I summed it up in a verse of one of my songs: “TV, movies, news and ads/Keep us moody, needy, sad/Suggest the best cure-all/Is a visit to the mall/ It isn’t real, it’s media/Don’t you let it feed on ya/Walk into the woods/Recalling all that’s good…” Remember the media is simulated high drama designed to keep your eyeballs focused on it. Remember, no matter how dazzling and spellbinding it may be, it is not an accurate reflection of the world.

3. Mind the mind. Watch your negative thought habits grinding away. Each time a grumpy notion pops up, think, “You’re not a part of me,” smile, and dismiss it as a silly notion made up by your ego self – bye-bye.

4. Right View. One of the Buddha’s eight approaches to deeper understanding is called Right View, which Thich Nhat Hahn clarifies as No View. When taking in the phenomena of the outer world or the chatter of the inner world, don’t lock into a perspective toward any of it. There can never be a correct perspective because perspective indicates that there is a You vs. the World. And you can never truly reach the unified field called Oneness if you’re always saying, THIS is good, it’s so me. THIS is bad, it’s so not me. THIS makes me mad, sad, glad. Blah, blah, blah.

In a nutshell, these days I still my beating heart by thinking less and observing more. It’s a recipe for greater enjoyment of my days and might even help increase the number of them.

The Joys of Juicing

I was thinking about Michael Jackson the other day. I’d just seen the movie This Is It and wondered about his life offstage. He and his family lived in a palace in the Middle East for a number of years. He named his first kid Prince I and he loved to wear ceremonial military garb from the 19th century. Apparently he liked living like royalty.

I wondered, had Michael every picked up a mop and cleaned the kitchen, or a knife to cut vegetables for juicing? Or did he just wander out to his Neverland amusement park and ride the Tilt-a-Whirl while his extensive staff took care of all such details?

If he never cut celery, that would be a shame. Never to hear that satisfying crunch under the blade, releasing a refreshingly delectable aroma into the air. You trim them and stack them to the side like adobe tiles for building the body. Then the carrots, that lovely “thunk” as the knife pushes through and hits the cutting board. You stack the sweet, bioflavanoid-rich lincoln logs next to the celery.

Don’t forget the beets. A little harder to deal with. You have to peel them, but underneath that rough and dirty exterior is a glistening giant red ruby, flavorful and iron-rich. When the knife slips through the cabbage, the vegetable whispers “cash, cash.” Jackson had a lot of credit. I have a lot of cash these days.

Add the sweet apple and the cancer-killing ginger and put your noisy juicer through its paces, catching the roughage in a bin for the compost pile while the juice streams into the waiting Mason jar. You tip it back into your mouth and know instantly that you’ve got something that money can’t buy, you’ve transformed a fridge full of produce into a magic potion.

There was a time in my life, a long time, when I might have overlooked the simple sensory pleasures of making and consuming fresh vegetable juice. Nowadays, it’s a nurturing meditation that takes place almost every day. And I’m paying attention, enjoying the moment. After all, THIS IS IT.

I may not be able to moonwalk, but we can all do something even more miraculous if we choose to.