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robertogreco : prayer   11

Gratitude and a possibly inappropriate technological intervention (25 Aug., 2017, at Interconnected)
"I was reading Melanie Klein's Envy and Gratitude and Other Works (which I still haven't finished) and there's something about Kleinian gratitude which is crucial in developing the primal relationship between mother (the good object) and child. It is also the basis for the child perceiving goodness in others and herself.

Conscious gratitude seems to be more focused on the other (rather than a self-centred idea of being the cause of goodness or its reverse): developing gratitude might allow for greater capacity for appreciation, acceptance, and sharing of love.

Gratitude is inherently outwards looking. And surprisingly hard! It touches all kinds of other feelings like deservedness, and is easily corrupted with responses like entitlement.

So I was thinking: a habit of gratitude would be an interesting thing to foster. Gratitude being a component of prayer, I know, but I don't pray. So. I need to get it somewhere else.

Anyway.

We can fix this with technology. I know, I know. Forgive me.

What I do is I have a folder in Ulysses, which is a writing app I have on my iPhone (and I use for everything). The folder is called: What I Am Grateful For.

Please also forgive the ugly dangling preposition. It upsets me too.

In that folder are tons of notes. Each note has a date, and a line of text: the thing I am grateful for that day. Sometimes big, mostly small. Sometimes easy to observe, sometimes really, really difficult. Always interesting to note when I’m going through a phase where gratitude is a challenge to attain, and with what that correlates.

Back to the tech.

Once a day, at midday, I get a notification which says "What are you grateful for today?" I tap the notification, and a text box opens up on my phone. I type into the text box and it gets saves into the folder.

Here's how that bit of automation works:

• I use an app called Workflow which is like a way to link together different apps and program them in a flowchart sort of way

• I've written a particular workflow called "Grateful Daily" that does all the work of opening the text input box and saving it to Ulysses. You can get the workflow here. If you copy the workflow, you'll have to update the special Ulysses code bit to make sure it saves to the right folder

• Another app called Launch Center Pro is able to trigger workflows on a timer. I have it set to run Grateful Daily at midday

Cross-app automation is a nascent but interesting area. I'm finding myself able to do pretty complex workflows from my phone now (I also have a process to edit and deploy code, using multiple different apps). It's got a way to go as a pattern of user behaviour, but I'd like to see iOS or Android take automation more seriously. To see where it could go. It has a different nature to automation on PCs, and I think there's the opportunity for these automation scripts to unbind from the smartphone and move into the cloud (somehow). Maybe use a bit more intelligence too. Centaur automation.

Yeah but so: gratitude.

To receive - and to be open to receiving! - something which is good, and to take it that goodness and to internalise it, but to also appreciate the goodness itself, and its source and the source’s reasons. A tricky business.

I don't even pretend to have even half a handhold on Klein, or Kleinian gratitude, or hell even gratitude, but her words opened something in me. (Thanks!)"
mattwebb  2017  gratitude  melanieklein  technology  relationships  goodness  entitlement  prayer  spirituality  receptiveness  appreciation  acceptance  love 
august 2017 by robertogreco
Alec Soth en Instagram: “The 1972 edition of Aperture: Octave of Prayer: An Exhibition on a Theme. Compiled with text by Minor White.”
"The 1972 edition of Aperture: Octave of Prayer: An Exhibition on a Theme. Compiled with text by Minor White."



"PHOTOGRAPHS FOR MEDITATION

Art, poetry, music, as they are in their ordinary functioning, create mental and vital, not spiritual values; but they can be turned to a higher end, and then, like all things that are capable of linking our consciousness to the Divine, they are transmuted and become spiritual and can be admitted as a part of a life of prayer.

Sri Aurobindo
The Riddle of this World"



"CAMERA WORK AND MEDITATION

Intensified concentration is common to all creative people. Scientists, artists, philosophers name this degree of concentration Creativity; the devout call it Meditation.

Losing one's self in something; a flower, and idea, a movement, is characteristic of heightened concentration. Occasionally in this state a sense of oneness or union is felt. In creativity union is with the flower or with the idea; in Meditation the union is with some aspect of God. Since flowers and ideas are aspects of God, we can see the connection of creativity to meditation.

Updating the saintly researchers, meditation, in the full octave of prayer, prayer¹ to prayer⁷, is the third stage, or prayer³.

The reason the arts cannot follow further up the ladder of prayer is that artists and cameraworkers are "held back by their medium and their senses and so cannot allow the full inebriation of the soul."

(Evelyn Underhill)"



[chart: "THE FULL OCTAVE OF PRAYER"]



"CATALYSTS FOR CONTEMPLATION

Photographers say they look at the world
with truth and love
Saintly students of prayer swear
that truth and love are seen only in contemplation
a very high level of prayer indeed.

What would we see in photographs
if we could look at them in contemplation?
Catalysts at best; they can never be prayer.
Yet gazing t them in love and truth
We are vulnerable, woundable by the rays of Love."
minorwhite  1972  books  art  creativity  meditation  concentration  prayer  contemplation  poetry  music  spirituality  divine  sriaurobindo  photography 
june 2017 by robertogreco
Moroccan Writer and Scholar Fatema Mernissi, 75 | Arabic Literature (in English)
"On writing, she once said: “Writing is one of the most ancient forms of prayer. To write is to believe communication is possible that other people are good, that you can awaken their generosity and their desire to do better.”"
fatimamernissi  arabic  literature  morocco  writing  prayer  communication  generosity  whywewrite 
december 2015 by robertogreco
The Summer Day, by Mary Oliver - Poem 133 | Poetry 180: A Poem a Day for American High Schools, Hosted by Billy Collins, U.S. Poet Laureate, 2001-2003 (Poetry and Literature, Library of Congress)
"The Summer Day

Who made the world?
Who made the swan, and the black bear?
Who made the grasshopper?
This grasshopper, I mean-
the one who has flung herself out of the grass,
the one who is eating sugar out of my hand,
who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down-
who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes.
Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face.
Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away.
I don't know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

—Mary Oliver"
poems  poetry  maryoliver  nature  life  living  prayer  productivity  change  attention 
november 2015 by robertogreco
Mary Oliver — Listening to the World | On Being
"Often quoted, but rarely interviewed, Mary Oliver is one of our greatest and most beloved poets. At 79, she honors us with an intimate conversation on the wisdom of the world, the salvation of poetry, and the life behind her writing."



"You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about your despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination, calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting —
over and over announcing your place in the family of things."

[Spoken: https://soundcloud.com/onbeing/wild-geese-by-mary-oliver ]
maryoliver  onbeing  wisdom  poetry  2015  poems  writing  place  religion  rumi  spirituality  life  living  howwewrite  discipline  creativity  language  process  staugustine  attention  reporting  empathy  fieldguides  clarity  death  god  belief  cancer  kindness  goodness  nature  prayer  loneliness  imagination  geese  animals  slow  posthumanism 
february 2015 by robertogreco
Library as Church, Bookshelf as Altar — Or: Why I Gave Up Praying, but Carried On Reading — Medium
"I used to pray. But I also used to read. Actually, I used to read quite a bit. Brought up in a book-loving family, a naturally dutiful child, a hard worker, I threw myself at it. A set time each day…

The difference: I still read. A lot. In fact, I’ve been reflecting recently that reading has become a form of prayer, a form that pretends less, and — perhaps — achieves more.

Reading, just like prayer, is a deliberate act of focus, a form of meditation almost. It takes time. Not economically productive, it can be easily mocked as ‘useless,’ — and in the modern age it is hard to find space to get deep into it without being yanked away by the ping of notifications or other noises from the jungle of digital distractions.

Yes, like prayer, reading can be hard. But, most importantly, just like a prayer, the act of reading a novel, or a work of thoughtful non-fiction, is about sensitizing oneself to others and to the plight of the world outside of your everyday experience.

Studies show that this is the case: those who read literary fiction have more empathy than those who don’t. Why? Because, as the leader of one project put it, ‘in literary fiction, the incompleteness of the characters turns your mind to trying to understand the minds of others.’ Films and video games don’t work in the same way: the full visual experience lends itself to ‘completing’ characters, leaving little room for the imagination.

To read widely, and often, is thus to hope to be changed, to still believe that change is possible. It is never, ever a waste of time. Be it an essay or short story or novel or article, a good read never goes unanswered because a good read opens up a world that requires our attention. That might be the inner world of the self, it might be the domestic world of a family relationship, or it could be the plight of a whole people."



"Some of my friends think I’ve lost my faith by giving up on prayer. I disagree. Yes, I now refuse the easy inaction of intercession — and there’s nothing like cancer to bring that up short — but, through constant, deliberate, mindful reading I hope to be daily opening myself wider to being sensitive to the world around me, and allowing the words and stories of writers and protagonists from the furthest reaches of experience to both challenge me to act, and inspire me with hope that change remains possible.

In fact, what worries me far more than any erosion of the time people spend in prayer are the statistics about the chronic reduction in time people spend reading. Really reading, deeply and thoughtfully. Because without this, with only short bursts of tweets and YouTube, from which well will empathy and care be drawn from?"
kesterbrewin  prayer  reading  books  libraries  empathy  perspective  change  openmindedness  openmind  mindopening  mindfulness  concentration  attention  2014  religion  christianity 
october 2014 by robertogreco
Science teacher: Buckets with holes
"Buckets come as they are, and they do one thing--they hold things. Everything, actually.

In these parts they're generally made of plastic, the residual order of plants that took in the sunshine unfathomably long ago. (Oh, I could give you a number with a lot of zeroes, but let's be honest, none of us beyond the Feynmans and the Einsteins know how big a few hundred million truly is.)

Most of the buckets in my home were likely made in China, because it's cheaper to make them there than here, even with the cost of shipping. I used to work on the docks. I've been in the hold of very big ships. If the ship is big enough, it can carry enough buckets to make shipping costs almost negligible.

But someone making a bucket in China, a long, long away, cannot possibly know why I need this particular bucket today.

But I do. So I modify it.

***

I bottled a bucket's worth of mead today. Eric, who loves my daughter Kerry, keeps a couple of hives in Montclair. He gave me a gallon of honey from his hive. A gallon of honey weighs about 12 pounds, a gallon of water about 8 pounds. There's a lot of stuff in honey that's not water.

Each pound of honey took over 50,000 miles of bee flight, so my melomel took the better part of a million miles of flight to make. Millions of yeast critters took the honey and converted it into mead--those surviving now sit in my compost pile in the backyard. I said a prayer for them, or maybe I said it for me, but I prayed anyway, because something good happened to me that I did not deserve.

My mead bucket has a 3/4" hole drilled near the bottom, so I can put in a plastic spigot (also made in China) that lets me drain the fermented mead in a controlled fashion.

***

I clam. Every couple of weeks I get enough meat from the mudflats around here to feed Leslie and me for a few days. I pray for the clams, too, as I drop them into scalding water. I have no idea what they feel, but I know what I do, and praying helps.

My clam bucket has about a hundred tiny holes drilled in the bottom. I used an electric drill.

The power to drill the holes came from Beesley's Point Generating Station a few miles north of here. It burns coal (made from old plants, but not as old as those that made the plastic for my bucket). It also uses old tires, made from rubber plants likely alive in my lifetime.

And yes, I think of these things as I muddle through my day.
I pray a lot.

***

I teach biology. Our desires change all the time, but our needs are the same as they have been for millenia.

Our needs come down to the stuff of plants, of yeast, of love. Most of what we need I'll never understand, but I teach a very human process that gets us closer to understanding the infinite every day.

But, of course, the infinite can never be understood.

So I pray…"
michaeldoyl  2014  systems  systemsthinking  prayer  supplychains  materials  clamming  energy  networks  zoominginandout  process  everyday  complexity 
september 2014 by robertogreco
Technology, love, and paying attention | A Thinking Reed
"Being attentive to another person, however, does require an act of the will. It does not come naturally. It involves deliberate effort and sometimes the setting aside of our own desires. It may even be a kind of sacrifice to give our attention to another and to be kind an act of heroism."

"[G]iving someone our attention requires an act of will or a kind of discipline. Maybe this is partly why so many spiritual traditions have cultivated practices that require people to focus their attention. I’m thinking especially of various forms of meditation and contemplative prayer. What these practices seem to have in common is an effort to focus on a reality beyond the self–to the extent that the ego recedes into the background."

[via: http://plsj.tumblr.com/post/46444396743/technology-love-and-paying-attention ]
attention  love  relationships  technology  discipline  focus  listening  meditation  religion  contemplation  prayer  selflessness  presence  singletasking  monotasking 
march 2013 by robertogreco
A prayer beneath the Tree of Life - Roger Ebert's Journal
"Many films diminish us. They cheapen us, masturbate our senses, hammer us with shabby thrills, diminish the value of life. Some few films evoke the wonderment of life’s experience, and those I consider a form of prayer. Not prayer “to” anyone or anything, but prayer “about” everyone and everything. I believe prayer that makes requests is pointless. What will be, will be. But I value the kind of prayer when you stand at the edge of the sea, or beneath a tree, or smell a flower, or love someone, or do a good thing. Those prayers validate existence and snatch it away from meaningless routine."

[via: http://blog.frankchimero.com/post/5639441270/many-films-diminish-us-they-cheapen-us ]
terrencemalick  film  prayer  rogerebert  art  culture  media  life  space  nature  existence  meaning  meaningmaking  meaningfulness  2011 
may 2011 by robertogreco
Defending The Faith, And Morality, Of NonBelievers : NPR
"Humanism is a bold, resolute response to the fact that being a human being is lonely & frightening. Humanism means taking charge of the often lousy world around us & working to shape it into a better place that we know we cannot ever finish the task...a progressive life-stance or a progressive philosophy of life that w/out supernaturalism, w/out anything magical or supernatural, affirms our ability & our responsibility to lead ethical lives of personal fulfillment, aspiring to the greater good of humanity...good without god...that struggle, that process of trying to live the best life that we possibly can for ourselves and for all human beings and for the sake of the natural world that surrounds us and sustains us and that we have put in danger...emphasis is not on the without god, everyone has something that they disbelieve...emphasis of humanism is really on what we do believe, it’s on the good & our pursuit of the good, & our determination to be good with others and for others."
gregepstein  humanism  religion  atheism  prayer  judaism  christianity  culture  faith  ethics  morality  sherwinwine  humanisticjudaism  2009 
december 2009 by robertogreco
Microsoft Muezzin « Snarkmarket
"I am a serious atheist. I am not dabbling in Islam. But even so, this app really called out to me (ha!) for two reasons. One, nostalgia. I do remember the athan—distant, spectral—from my time in Dhaka. Two, structure. I’m building my days entirely for myself now, and finding that it’s a challenge to split them into pieces. When does this thing end, and that one begin? It’s arbitrary. So—admittedly this is silly—I thought hey, this works for folks! Let’s give it a spin! I am 100% glad I downloaded it, if only to see the interface. Wow. Do you want the athan from Mecca or Medina?...Egypt? They’ve all been sampled. Do you want the dua after the athan? What juristic method will you be using for the asr prayer?...It might sound like I’m poking fun, but I am absolutely 100% not. One of my favorite intersections—and one of the most underreported—is the one between technology and religion. And an app like this lets you not just read about it, but sort of explore it."
islam  applications  windows  snarkmarket  structure  atheism  sound  prayer  atham  religion  muslims  nostalgia  tcsnmy 
september 2009 by robertogreco

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