Wednesday, October 22, 2014

One Lovely Blog Award

I want to thank my friend and fellow blogger David Brazzeal at Pray Like A Gourmet for honoring Not Dark Yet with the One Lovely Blog Award. David uses his blog to share "Creative Ways to Feed Your Soul." We bloggers are always glad when people find time to read what we write and post, and who doesn't like a little recognition now and then? It seems that there are certain rules that accompany this award, so I will list them and then share my response (bending them a bit as you will see).


   1. Thank the person who nominated you for the award (check)
   2. Display the banner/sticker/logo on your blog (check)
   3. Share 7 facts or things about yourself (coming up)
   4. Nominate 15 bloggers that you admire and inform nominees by commenting on
       their blog (see below)

Seven Things about Myself

A few years ago I was trying to write a brief bio for a journal that was publishing an essay I had written. I studied over it, whittled it down to a brief paragraph, and had my wife read over it. “Wait a minute,” she said, “This is just cut-and-dried information, what you think you would like those folks to see. I’ll write a bio about the real Charlie Kinnaird.” With that she sat down and typed out the following paragraph, ad lib, off the top of her head. I have enumerated her words to six traits, so I’ll have to add a seventh to fulfill the rules of the award.

As told by my wife:

   1.  Charlie Kinnaird is a very private man who asks no questions and gives no answers.
   2. He is often taken to bread making and brandy; music and medicine; lawn mowing
        and books; long soaks and the Eucharist (not necessarily in that order).
   3. He likes his religions varied, his friends intellectual, his dogs big, and his barbeque
   4. He ponders deep thoughts and honors honorable men.
   5. His nature leans toward loyalty and his world view leans toward the cock-eyed side.
   6. He fancies himself a word specialist and enjoys stringing words together which he
       will sometimes submit for publication in worthy literary journals. This brings much
       pleasure to many.

And my own seventh thing:

   7. I try to listen to my wife, though she may not think so at times. She is the one, after
       all, who suggested to me that I ought to write a blog.

Bloggers that I Admire

I’m bending the rules a bit on this one. I’m listing 15, but naming five. I have a long Reading List on my blogroll. This gives me a chance to see a variety of blogs each day as they are posted by the respective bloggers. Some are news/current event blogs, some literary, some spiritual, some are personal essay blogs recounting events in their lives. Some bloggers I have enjoyed have slacked off to very few postings, and some post daily. These are the 15 blogs that rise to the top of the list, but 15 awards is a lot. From these 15, I am selecting the first five for the One Lovely Blog award, but all of these I have found worth a visit:

  1. Spiritually Speaking – Jane Philips brings psychology, spirituality, and a southern style together in her daily blogs
  2. The Stairway to Nowhere – Taylor Field (author, pastor and director of Graffitti Ministries in New York City’s Lower East Side) brings coffee, spirituality, and hope to his blog posts
  3. Life 101 – Rick Watson is a journalist, writer, and singer/songwriter who speaks directly about life from his downhome front porch perspective
  4. Transformation Information – Jilda Watson (Rick’s wife) is a yoga teacher and singer/songwriter. She says, “deep inside you know the answer, your heart don't give bad advice"
  5. Overcoming Cancer – Davy Campbell is a nurse practitioner and a personal colleague who has written about his ordeal with cancer in A Place I Didn't Want To Go: My Victory Over Cancer. He continues to offer inspiration from his unique vantage point as a blogger and public speaker. 
  6. Afroculinaria – Michael Twitty is a remarkable fellow.  He is a culinary historian who brings the recipes of his slave ancestors to life, he teaches Judaic studies, and with his essays he brings an important perspective that white Southerners like me need to hear (as do all Americans, really). “To honor the food past and provide for the food future is what Michael calls, culinary justice.”
  7. Tim – Tim has a long career in local radio and television.  Born in The Bronx, he has called Alabama home since 1976. Tim brings interesting news items to the fore with his daily blog entries.
  8. Head and Heart – Roger Lovette, retired Baptist minister and former pastor of Birmingham’s Baptist Church of the Covenant, always brings a thoughtful, human, and humane perspective to important life issues.
  9. The New Word Mechanic – Joseph Saling is a poet and editor (as he describes it, “word mechanic, or ink monkey”). He brings thoughtful original poetry to his blog.
  10. Gary Presley – Gary Presley, author of Seven Wheelchairs: A Life beyond Polio brings essays from a life perspective that we can all benefit from. 
  11. One Cannot Have Too Large a Party – Penelope Nash is an Episcopal minister who brings photography, prayer, and celebration to her blog each day.
  12. Imprints of Light – “Photographs and Thoughts by Daniel Owen, Anglican Minister and Amateur Photographer.” Daniel blogs from Ireland, and his photos are always worth viewing.
  13. Darvish – Irving Karchmar  is a poet, writer and a Sufi practitioner. I find it enriching to get a view from his perspective.
  14. The Velveteen Rabbi – Following Rabbi Rachel Barenblat gives me some clues and glimpses into the practice of Judaism.
  15. Roger McGuinn’s Folk Den – Roger McGuinn (The Byrds, The New Christy Minstrels) acts as a folk music historian, bringing examples of folk music from historical periods and offering a brief background for each piece.


Monday, October 20, 2014

Monday Music: Tibetan Chant (Om Mani Padme Hum)

Tibetan script for "Om Mani Padme Hum"
In honor of His Holiness the Dalai Lama's visit to Birmingham this month, enjoy some Tibetan Buddhist chanting. The Dalai Lama will be in Birmingham this week as part of Human Rights week and will be at a public gathering at Region's Field on October 26.

"Om mani padme hum" is one of the most revered mantras in Tibetan Buddhism. It is often carved into rocks and written on paper and placed into prayer wheels. It's aim is to bring the liberation of enlightenment to all living beings. To read what The Dalai Lama has said about this mantra, scroll down below the video. You can read more about Om mani padme hum at

                 On the meaning of: OM MANI PADME HUM

    "The jewel is in the lotus" or "praise to the jewel in the lotus"

  by His Holiness Tenzin Gyatso The Fourteenth Dalai Lama of Tibet

   It is very good to recite the mantra OM MANI PADME HUM, but while
you are doing it, you should be thinking on its meaning, for the
meaning of the six syllables is great and vast. The first, OM, is
composed of three pure letters, A, U, and M. These symbolize the
practitioner's impure body, speech, and mind; they also symbolize the
pure exalted body, speech and mind of a Buddha.

   Can impure body, speech and mind be transformed into pure body,
speech and mind, or are they entirely separate? All Buddhas are cases
of being who were like ourselves and then in dependence on the path
became enlightened; Buddhism does not assert that there is anyone who
from the beginning is free from faults and possesses all good
qualities. The development of pure body, speech, and mind comes from
gradually leaving the impure states and their being transformed into
the pure.

   How is this done? The path is indicated by the next four syllables.
MANI, meaning jewel, symbolizes the factor of method- the altruistic
intention to become enlightened, compassion, and love.  Just as a
jewel is capable of removing poverty, so the altruistic mind of
enlightenment is capable of removing the poverty, or difficulties, of
cyclic existence and of solitary peace. Similarly, just as a jewel
fulfills the wishes of sentient beings, so the altruistic intention to
become enlightened fulfills the wishes of sentient beings.

   The two syllables, PADME, meaning lotus, symbolize wisdom. Just as
a lotus grows forth from mud but is not sullied by the faults of mud,
so wisdom is capable of putting you in a situation of non-
contradiction where as there would be contradiction if you did not
have wisdom. There is wisdom realizing impermanence, wisdom realizing
that persons are empty of self-sufficient or substantial existence,
wisdom that realizes the emptiness of duality (that is to say, of
difference of entity between subject and object), and wisdom that
realizes the emptiness of inherent existence. Though there are may
different types of wisdom, the main of all these is the wisdom
realizing emptiness.

   Purity must be achieved by an indivisible unity of method and
wisdom, symbolized by the final syllable, HUM, which indicates
indivisibility. According to the sutra system, this indivisibility of
method and wisdom refers to one consciousness in which there is a full
form of both wisdom affected by method and method affected by wisdom.
In the mantra, or tantra vehicle, it refers to one conciousness in
which there is the full form of both wisdom and method as one
undifferentiable entity. In terms of the seed syllables of the five
conqueror Buddhas, HUM is the is the seed syllable of Akshobhya- the
immovable, the unfluctuating, that which cannot be disturbed by

   Thus the six syllables, OM MANI PADME HUM, mean that in dependence
on the practice which is in indivisible union of method and wisdom,
you can transform your impure body, speech and mind into the pure
body, speech, and mind of a Buddha. It is said that you should not
seek for Buddhahood outside of yourself; the substances for the
achievement of Buddhahood are within. As Maitreya says in his SUBLIME
the Buddha nature in their own continuum. We have within us the seed
of purity, the essence of a One Gone Thus (TATHAGATAGARBHA), that is
to be transformed and full developed into Buddhahood.

(From a lecture given by His Holiness The Dalai Lama of Tibet at the
Kalmuck Mongolian Buddhist Center, New Jersey.)

Transcribed by Ngawang Tashi (Tsawa), Drepung Loseling, MUNGOD, INDIA

 (retrieved on 9/15/2014 at

Note: His Holiness the Dalai Lama will be in Birmingham, Alabama at Regions Field on October 26, 2014 as part of Human Rights Week.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Saturday Haiku: Morning Moon


   when the moon rises
   while the sun has lit the sky
   two realms are at peace

                            ~ CK

Photo: Morning moon over the water
Credit: Sharon Caulfield Lewis

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