Explanation: Are stars better appreciated for their art after they die? Actually, stars usually create their most artistic displays as they die. In the case of low-mass stars like our Sun and M2-9 pictured above, the stars transform themselves from normal stars to white dwarfs by casting off their outer gaseous envelopes. The expended gas frequently forms an impressive display called a planetary nebula that fades gradually over thousand of years. M2-9, a butterfly planetary nebula 2100 light-years away shown in representative colors, has wings that tell a strange but incomplete tale. In the center, two stars orbit inside a gaseous disk 10 times the orbit of Pluto. The expelled envelope of the dying star breaks out from the disk creating the bipolar appearance. Much remains unknown about the physical processes that causeplanetary nebulae.
If you prefer smoke over fire
then get up now and leave.
For I do not intend to perfume
your mind’s clothing
with more sooty knowledge.
No, I have something else in mind.
Today I hold a flame in my left hand
and a sword in my right.
There will be no damage control today.
For God is in a mood
to plunder your riches and
fling you nakedly
into such breathtaking poverty
that all that will be left of you
will be a tendency to shine.
So don’t just sit around this flame
choking on your mind.
For this is no campfire song
to mindlessly mantra yourself to sleep with.
Jump now into the space
and exit this dream
before I burn the damn place down.
Featured Teacher: Michael Taft
From Zen temples in Japan to yogi caves in India, Michael has been meditating for over thirty years and has extensive experience in both Buddhist and Hindu practice. He began his journey as a teenager suffering from crippling anxiety attacks, and the realization that his greatest obstacle was his own mind. Teaching himself to meditate at 16, Michael experienced immediate and significant pain relief, which launched him on a life-long path of meditation and self-inquiry. He experienced a life-changing awakening in Japan in the summer of 1987.
In the early 1990s, Michael began working with a 114-year-old Hindu teacher, Dhyanyogi Madhusudandasji, and his heir, Shri Anandi Ma. In the late 1990s, Michael met Shinzen Young while working as editorial director at Sounds True. He helped to create Shinzen’s classic program The Science of Enlightenment, and began meditating with Shinzen soon after. He attended numerous mindfulness meditation retreats (some over three months long), and is now a senior facilitator in the Basic Mindfulness system created by Shinzen Young. Recently, Michael edited Shinzen’s book The Science of Enlightenment, which will be released in 2015.
Starting around 2000, Michael became very interested in what neuroscience had to say about meditative states and practices. Through study and direct conversation with some of the leading researchers in the field (such as Richie Davidson, Judson Brewer, and many others), he gradually reworked his understanding of his “wild and woolly” experiences of meditation into a structured, secular, science-based model. He currently teaches using a cutting-edge, non-denominational, “woo-free” system, particularly suited for people who want to learn meditation without joining a particular religion.
What to expect:
This website is a way to connect with Michael to do one-on-one meditation coaching. He also is releasing free content such as guided meditations, teachings, and online classes.
Free guided mindfulness meditation
About his free weekly meditation class
I highly recommend Michael as a teacher. He has been a major influence on my journey both directly and through those he has helped around me. Because of his vast experience with the wisdom traditions of the east and the sciences of the west he is able to integrate the two in a very insightful manner.