How to be Perfect

May 30th, 2012

Excerpts from “How to be Perfect”
by Ron Padgett

Get some sleep.

Eat an orange every morning.

Be friendly. It will help make you happy.

Hope for everything. Expect nothing.

Take care of things close to home first. Straighten up your room
before you save the world. Then save the world.
Be nice to people before they have a chance to behave badly.

Don’t stay angry about anything for more than a week, but don’t
forget what made you angry. Hold your anger out at arm’s length
and look at it, as if it were a glass ball. Then add it to your glass
ball collection.

Wear comfortable shoes.

Do not spend too much time with large groups of people.

Plan your day so you never have to rush.

Show your appreciation to people who do things for you, even if
you have paid them, even if they do favors you don’t want.

After dinner, wash the dishes.

Calm down.

Don’t expect your children to love you, so they can, if they want

Don’t be too self-critical or too self-congratulatory.

Don’t think that progress exists. It doesn’t.

Imagine what you would like to see happen, and then don’t do
anything to make it impossible.

Forgive your country every once in a while. If that is not
possible, go to another one.

If you feel tired, rest.

Don’t be depressed about growing older. It will make you feel
even older. Which is depressing.

Do one thing at a time.

If you burn your finger, put ice on it immediately. If you bang
your finger with a hammer, hold your hand in the air for 20
minutes. you will be surprised by the curative powers of ice and

Do not inhale smoke.

Take a deep breath.

Do not smart off to a policeman.

Be good.

Be honest with yourself, diplomatic with others.

Do not go crazy a lot. It’s a waste of time.

Drink plenty of water. When asked what you would like to
drink, say, “Water, please.”

Take out the trash.

Love life.

Use exact change.

When there’s shooting in the street, don’t go near the window.

Excerpts from “How to be Perfect” by Ron Padgett, from How to be Perfect. © Coffee House Press, 2007


May 29th, 2012

1. An increased tendency to let things happen rather than make them happen.

2. Frequent attacks of smiling.

3. Feelings of being connected with others and nature.

4. Frequent overwhelming episodes of appreciation.

5. A tendency to think and act spontaneously rather than from fears based on past experience.

6. An unmistakable ability to enjoy each moment.

7. A loss of ability to worry.

8. A loss of interest in conflict.

9. A loss of interest in interpreting the actions of others.

10. A loss of interest in judging others.

11. A loss of interest in judging self.

12. Gaining the ability to love without expecting anything in return.

What is man without the beasts?

February 15th, 2011

What is man without the beasts? If all the beasts were gone, man would die from a great loneliness of the spirit. For whatever happens to the beasts, soon happens to man. All things are connected….

The earth does not belong to man; man belongs to the earth. This we know. All things are connected like the blood which unites one family. All things are connected. Whatever befalls the earth befalls the sons of the earth. Man does not weave the web of life; he is but a strand within it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself.

– from a speech attributed to Chief Seattle, 1854

September 19th, 2010

Autumn leaves turning.
This feeling is not final.
Nor this feeling. Nor this

April 24th, 2010

breathing in. i am space.
breathing out. the cosmos smiles.
impermanence is.

-dennis landi 2009


January 9th, 2010

What does clothing have to do with enlightenment?


What does chanting have to do with enlightenment?


What does following have to do with enlightenment?


What does leading have to do with enlightenment?


What does enlightenment have to do with enlightenment?


-dennis landi © 2010


January 4th, 2010

Emotion is energy.
Our thoughts are energy.
My daughter is energy.
The sun is energy.
The sky is energy.

42nd Avenue at Rush Hour courses with bundles of energy, rushing down the street in patent leather shoes (energy) or sneakers (converse energy) or sandals (alternative energy).

My penus is energy and so is your vagina … is energy. Sensation is energy. Light is energy and heat is energy. Orgasm is energy.

Sleep is energy.

My enemies are energy. And those who agree with me, or salute me or support me or cherish me are energy.

Love is energy. Hate is energy.

Color is energy. You are energy. I see you as an a solid being but illusions, too, are energy.

We are energy.

The universe is energy. And so is existence … is energy.

Let’s mingle.

-dennis landi © 2010


July 25th, 2009

I just heard this essay written by James Mitchener on NPR and I thought of all of you…


I believe that all men are brothers. I really believe that every man on this earth is my brother. He has a soul like mine, the ability to understand friendship, the capacity to create beauty. In all the continents of this world, I have met such men. In the most savage jungles of New Guinea, I have met my brother, and in Tokyo, I have seen him clearly walking before me.

In my brother’s house, I have lived without fear. Once in the wildest part of Guadalcanal I had to spend some days with men who still lived and thought in the old stone age, but we got along together fine. In the South Pacific, on remote islands, I have sailed and fished with brown men who were in every respect the same as I.

Around the world I have lived with my brothers and nothing has kept me from knowing men like myself wherever I went. Language has been no barrier, for once in India, I lived for several days with villagers who didn’t know a word of English. I can’t remember exactly how we got along, but the fact that I couldn’t speak their language was no hindrance. Differences in social custom never kept me from getting to know and like savage Melanesians in the New Hebrides. They ate roast dog, and I ate Army spam, and if we had wanted to emphasize differences, I am sure each of us could have concluded the other was nuts. But we stressed similarities and, so long as I could snatch a Navy blanket for them now and then, we had a fine old time with no words spoken.

It was in these islands that I met a beat-up, shameless old Tonkinese woman. She would buy or sell anything, and in time we became fast friends and I used to sit with her, knowing not a word of her curious language, and we talked for hours. She knew only half a dozen of the vilest English obscenities, but she had the most extraordinary love of human beings and the most infectious sense of this world’s crazy comedy. She was of my blood, and I wish I could see her now.

I believe it was only fortunate experience that enabled me to travel among by brothers and to live with them. Therefore I do not believe it is my duty to preach to other people and insist that they also accept all men as their true and immediate brothers. These things come slow. Sometimes it takes lucky breaks to open our eyes. For example, if I had never known this wonderful old Tonkinese woman, I might not now think of all Chinese as my brothers. I had to learn, as I believe the world will one day learn. Until such time as experience proves to all of us the essential brotherhood of man, I am not going to preach or scream or rant.

But if I am tolerant of other men’s prejudices, I must insist that they be tolerant of me. To my home in rural Pennsylvania come brown men and yellow men and black men from around the world. In their countries I lived and ate with them. In my country they shall live and eat with me. Until the day I die, my home must be free to receive these travelers and it never seems so big a home or so much a place of love as when some man from India or Japan or Mexico or Tahiti or Fiji shares it with me. For on those happy days, it reminds me of the wonderful affection I have known throughout the world.

I believe that all men are my brothers. I know it when I see them sharing my home.

James A. Michener wrote his Pulitzer Prize winning novel, Tales of the South Pacific, during his naval service in World War II after seeking a transfer from a desk job in Washington to the Pacific theater. Michener’s literary career spanned 50 years and 40 books.

The link is here:

Guided Meditation On Impermanence

May 13th, 2009

Centering Meditation

- Bell
Breathing in,
I am present in the here and now.
Breathing out,
I am happy to be here
Breathing in, Presence
Breathing out, Happiness
- Bell.

(repeat if necessary)


Well this is my last leading of the AES Sangha, and I don’t think I have to tell you that I will miss all of you a lot. I’ve prepared something that addresses my reticence to leave all of you.

Last Saturday I was able to spend seven hours at a meditation retreat led by Venerable Tenzin Chogkyi, and American nun, at the Tushita Center.

She presented several excellent brief outlines of guided meditations that each lasted about 10 to 15 minutes. One of the ones that she presented was a Guided Meditation on Impermanence.

I’ve chosen to go give my own version of this meditation today, because I personally have a problem with embracing change. As a child growing up in the Foreign Service, I never really got over leaving my friends and school every few years and it’s the main reason why I really didn’t go overseas again for about twenty years and certainly not for extended periods of time.

However, I also have a personal problem with the purportedly Buddhist concept that since all things are impermanent, detachment from the physical world is the path to personal peace and perhaps even enlightenment…

So for the second part of the reading I will read an excerpt from Mark Epstein’s “Open To Desire”, which I feel promises to flesh out the concept of Buddhist asceticism and serve as a balancing weight for the first meditation. I’ll only read the first ten pages of his introduction, but that is enough for you to get the thrust of his thesis, I think.

Meditation on Impermanence


Breathing In
I consider that a static, unchanging reality is an illusion.
Breathing Out
I open myself to change.


Breathing In
My mind is a kaleidoscope of cascading images
Breathing Out
Is my mind still? Or is it moving?


Breathing In,
I suck oxygen into my lungs and ultimately into my blood.
Breathing Out,
I release my breath in a stream of carbon dioxide atoms that were in my body for a brief time.


Breathing In
I am aware of my heart beating, pumping my blood-flow,
carrying oxygen to every cell in my body.
Breathing Out
My heart is still beating, but is it the same heart?
Is it the same blood? Are my cells the same?


Breathing In
I consider the idea that there are 150 different types of cells in my body: skin cells, blood cells, nerve cells, bone cells, brain cells, muscle cells, hair cells, kidney cells, heart cells, liver cells, spleen cells, mucous cells, eye cells, and others.
Breathing Out
I consider that each of these cells has a different life-span, and they constantly die and replace themselves throughout my life span.


Breathing In
I consider that my seven skin layers of dermis and epidermis shed like a snake and replace themselves every 21 to 28 days. I generate a whole new heart every 8 months. I synthesize a whole new liver every 5 months. The surface layer of the mucosal lining in the intestines quickly replaces itself every 3 to 5 days. Because skeletal bone cells are made up of a harder matrix of substances it can take up to 7-10 years for bone cells to die and replace.
Breathing Out
Consider the idea that everyone in this room right now gets a whole new body every 7-10 years. Even my brain will replace itself, entirely.


Breathing In
I know that there is a tiny universe beyond the cellular level. Where atoms contain sub-atomic particles separated by relatively vast distances, whirling around each other at an incredible rate, never still and never the same from one-micro-second to the next.
Breathing Out
I know that at the sub-atomic level my body is mostly space, where transient energy passes.


Breathing In
I am aware of the world outside my body and mind. I and the Earth and the other planets are whirling around the sun. The Sun is on its own interstellar trajectory, and the biosphere of the earth is totally dependent upon the sun and the rain to fuel the lives of every animal and plant.
Breathing Out
I see that the universe, and all things in it, are in motion and never still.


Breathing In
I am aware of the illusion of a non-changing reality and that the attempt to cling to things that I don’t want to change is a major cause of suffering.
Breathing Out
I acknowledge change. I won’t necessarily embrace it, but I acknowledge change and will try to not let it be a cause of suffering.


-dennis landi © 2009

Bread …

April 29th, 2009

“There are people in the world so hungry,
that God cannot appear to them
except in the form of bread.”
– Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948)