Category Archives: science

May 29 – “Our Life Is Our Path”

Today’s senryu: Our Life Is Our Path

How did I get here?

Where am I going today?

I pause, breathe and smile.

If I had to label my spiritual path, Zen Christian comes close to describing it. This Summer I’m scheduled to be “ordained,” first as an Interspecies, Interspiritual Animal Chaplain through Compassion Consortium and later as a lay brother in the Order of Interbeing, Thich Nhat Hanh’s Plum Village Tradition.

Below are two quotes which explain how I see my Zen Christian practice today.

First, “to be a human being is to be a knower and a lover of nature and spirit, because to be human is to be both.” Dr. Christopher Baglow (

The second quote comes from Thich Nhat Hanh:

We enter the path of practice through the door of knowledge, perhaps from a Dharma talk or a book. We continue along the path, and our suffering lessens, little by little. But at some point, all of our concepts and ideas must yield to our actual experience. Words and ideas are only useful if they are put into practice. When we stop discussing things and begin to realize the teachings in our own life, a moment comes when we realize that our life is the path, and we no longer rely merely on the forms of practice. Our action becomes ‘non-action,’ and our practice becomes ‘non-practice.‘” from The Heart of the Buddha’s Teaching by Thich Nhat Hanh (c) Broadway Books, p.122

Thích Nhất Hạnh was a Vietnamese Buddhist monk, teacher, author, poet and peace activist who lived in southwest France where he was in exile for many years. Born Nguyễn Xuân Bảo, Thích Nhất Hạnh joined a Zen monastery at the age of 16 and studied Buddhism as a novitiate. Upon his ordination as a monk in 1949, he assumed the Dharma name Thích Nhất Hạnh. Thích is an honorary family name used by all Vietnamese monks and nuns, meaning that they are part of the Shakya (Shakyamuni Buddha) clan. He was often considered the most influential living figure in the lineage of Lâm Tế (Vietnamese Rinzai) Thiền, and perhaps also in Zen Buddhism as a whole.”

Apr 20 – A Diet-Based Identity

A diet-based identity … is a more concrete expression of one’s values. After all, the food we consume is a foundational statement to who we are, what and whom we value. … We persuade not so much in what we say, but in what we do over and over again, with our bodies serving as proof. Knowingly or unknowingly, eaters express their political conscience each and every time they eat.” Samuel Boerboom, How Language, Food and Identity Intersect, The Reducetarian Solution, p. 222

Just finished The Reducetarian Solution audiobook, edited by Brian Kateman, and ordered the hardcopy to re-read it more closely. I’m definitely attracted to this pragmatic approach to reducing our meat intake for the benefit of our health and the health of our planet.

I plan to share highlights of the book in subsequent posts, but please don’t hesitate to check out the whole book for yourself. (See references below.)

Today’s senryu: A Diet-Based Identity

thoughts, words and actions

we say more non-verbally

we are what we eat

4.11.23 – Going Down, Down, Down

Today’s senryu: Going Down, Down, Down

in hindsight, it’s clear

we made the wrong decision –

just saying, slow down


Titanic, British luxury passenger liner that sank on April 15, 1912, en route to New York from Southampton, England, on its maiden voyage.

The largest and most luxurious ship afloat, the Titanic had a double-bottomed hull divided into 16 watertight compartments. Because four of these could be flooded without endangering its buoyancy, it was considered unsinkable. Shortly before midnight on April 14, it collided with an iceberg southeast of Cape Race, Newfoundland; five compartments ruptured and the ship sank. Some 1,500 of its 2,200 passengers died.

After the disaster, new rules were drawn up requiring that the number of places in lifeboats equal the number of passengers (the Titanic had only 1,178 lifeboat places for 2,224 passengers) and that all ships maintain a 24-hour radio watch for distress signals (a ship less than 20 mi [32 km] away had not heard the Titanic’s distress signal because no one had been on duty). The International Ice Patrol was established to monitor icebergs in shipping lanes.

Apr 6 – Breathwork

Breathwork refers to any breathing exercise or technique. People often perform them to improve mental, physical, and spiritual well-being. During breathwork, you intentionally change your breathing pattern.

Many forms of breathwork therapy involve breathing in a conscious and systematic way. Many people find breathwork promotes deep relaxation or leaves them feeling energized.”

One of my early morning sessions yesterday at the 2023 HSUS Animal Care Expo was the Benefits of Breathwork for Animal People offered by Katya Lidsky, Writer, Life Coach for Dog People, and podcaster for Somebody Save Me! I loved her metaphor of seeing our breath as a bat signal revealing our values, thoughts and actions. Becoming more conscious of how we breathe and focusing our breath more purposefully can achieve better results for ourselves and those around us.

As Katya explains, “I think of Breathwork as ‘active meditation.’ It has done so much to shift and improve my life that I got certified as a Breathwork Facilitator … I get to focus on the power of it, the love of it, and give it away.

If you work in animal welfare as a rescuer, at the animal shelter, behind the desk at a nonprofit organization, or simply identity as an animal lover, I specialize in supporting you … I am open to supporting anybody because I believe that breathwork can help everybody.

Breathwork is a wellness tool … try it!”

I totally agree with Katya and encourage you to check out her website, podcast and her next presentation or training session near you.

Today’s senryu: Breathwork

many ways to breathe

revitalize yourself now

through conscious breathing

Apr 2 – Plants Really Do Scream

(Michele Constantini/Getty Images)

Plants Really Do Scream

all life suffers – yes

even plants feel the pain of

their violation

Inspired by the reposted article below

Plants Really Do ‘Scream’ Out Loud. We Just Never Heard It Until Now.

NATURE 31 March 2023


Shears Cut Plant Stem(Michele Constantini/Getty Images)

It seems like Roald Dahl may have been onto something after all: if you hurt a plant, it screams.

Well, sort of. Not in the same way you or I might scream. Rather, they emit popping or clicking noises in ultrasonic frequencies outside the range of human hearing that increase when the plant becomes stressed. This, according to scientists, could be one of the ways in which plants communicate their distress to the world around them.

“Even in a quiet field, there are actually sounds that we don’t hear, and those sounds carry information. There are animals that can hear these sounds, so there is the possibility that a lot of acoustic interaction is occurring,” explains evolutionary biologist Lilach Hadany of Tel Aviv University in Israel.

“Plants interact with insects and other animals all the time, and many of these organisms use sound for communication, so it would be very suboptimal for plants to not use sound at all.”

Plants under stress aren’t as passive as you might think. They undergo some pretty dramatic changes, one of the most detectable of which (to us humans, at least) is the release of some pretty powerful aromas. They can also alter their color and shape.

These changes can signal danger to other plants nearby, which in response boost their own defenses; or attract animals to deal with the pests that may be harming the plant.

However, whether plants emit other kinds of signals – such as sounds – has not been fully explored. A few years ago, Hadany and her colleagues found that plants can detect sound. The logical next question to ask was whether they can produce it, too.

To find out, they recorded tomato and tobacco plants in a number of conditions. First, they recorded unstressed plants, to get a baseline. Then they recorded plants that were dehydrated, and plants that had had their stems cut. These recordings took place first in a soundproofed acoustic chamber, then in a normal greenhouse environment.

Then, they trained a machine learning algorithm to differentiate between the sound produced by unstressed plants, cut plants, and dehydrated plants.

The sounds plants emit are like popping or clicking noises in a frequency far too high-pitched for humans to make out, detectable within a radius of over a meter (3.3 feet). Unstressed plants don’t make much noise at all; they just hang out, quietly doing their plant thing.

By contrast, stressed plants are much noisier, emitting an average up to around 40 clicks per hour depending on the species. And plants deprived of water have a noticeable sound profile. They start clicking more before they show visible signs of dehydrating, escalating as the plant grows more parched, before subsiding as the plant withers away.

The algorithm was able to distinguish between these sounds, as well as the species of plant that emitted them. And it’s not just tomato and tobacco plants. The team tested a variety of plants, and found that sound production appears to be a pretty common plant activity. Wheat, corn, grape, cactus, and henbit were all recorded making noise.

But there are still a few unknowns. For example, it’s not clear how the sounds are being produced. In previous research, dehydrated plants have been found to experience cavitation, a process whereby air bubbles in the stem form, expand and collapse. This, in human knuckle-cracking, produces an audible pop; something similar could be going on with plants.

We don’t know yet if other distress conditions can induce sound, either. Pathogens, attack, UV exposure, temperature extremes, and other adverse conditions could also induce the plants to start popping away like bubble wrap.

It’s also not clear whether sound production is an adaptive development in plants, or if it is just something that happens. The team showed, however, that an algorithm can learn to identify and distinguish between plant sounds. It’s certainly possible that other organisms could have done the same.

In addition, these organisms could have learned to respond to the noise of distressed plants in various ways. “For example, a moth that intends to lay eggs on a plant or an animal that intends to eat a plant could use the sounds to help guide their decision,” Hadany says. For us humans, the implications are pretty clear; we could tune into the distress calls of thirsty plants and water them before it becomes an issue.

But whether or not other plants are sensing and responding is unknown. Previous research works have shown that plants can increase their drought tolerance in response to sound, so it’s certainly plausible. And this is where the team is pointing the next stage of their research.

“Now that we know that plants do emit sounds, the next question is – ‘who might be listening?'” Hadany says. “We are currently investigating the responses of other organisms, both animals and plants, to these sounds, and we’re also exploring our ability to identify and interpret the sounds in completely natural environments.”

The research has been published in Cell.

3.21.23 – Numbers Comfort Me

@ BBC Bitesize

Today’s poem: Numbers Comfort Me

one, two, three: numbers comfort me

I watch them parade with perfect symmetry

I love how they add, subtract and multiply

consistently predictable, enough to make me cry

with tears of joy and calm security

numbers so reliable; perfect harmony …

(From my poem Seven Figures in I Am Furious (c) 2009)

Feb 7 – A Heart of Flesh (1, 2, 3, Infinity)

Today’s senryu: Heart of Flesh

First heart of gold then

a greater truth – heart of flesh.

I and Thou are All


Neal Young sings of his search for a Heart of Gold while racing against the time of getting old. (See

Martin Buber‘s explains in, I and Thou, that “human life finds its meaningfulness in relationships.”(See

Joan Chittister‘s book, Heart of Flesh, broadens these concepts to say that “the full humanity of women, leads all of us to new, better ways of being and relating.” (See

The feminist image of God is humble and feeling, nonviolent and empowering. Jesus, the feminist image of God, cures and loves, is vulnerable and receptive, laughs and dances at wedding feasts, cries tears and feels pain. This glimpse of God is the glimpse of otherness at its ultimate. It is in this model of otherness that the feminist puts hope for equality, for recognition, for respect, for the end of the sexism …

The world needs the voice of this otherness in order to hear the cries of the whole human race. The world needs the presence of otherness to redeem it from its headlong plunge for profit, power, comfort, control, individualism, and dominance. The world needs respect for this otherness, not simply patronizing approval.

 —from Heart of Flesh: A Feminist Spirituality for Women and Menby Joan Chittister (Eerdmans)

Yin, Yang, Qi, All

Perhaps another equation worth considering comes from the Tao Te Ching, verse 42:

Tao gives birth to One,
One gives birth to Two,
The Two gives birth to Three,
The Three gives birth to all universal things.
All universal things shoulder the Yin and embrace the Yang.
The Yin and Yang mingle and mix with each other to beget the harmony.