Jonathan Foust

February 26, 2009

Happy for No Reason: The T-Mobile Dance

Filed under: Video — jonathanfoust @ 10:53 am

There are a number of viral videos of ‘spontaneous’ group events in public places.  This is the first time I’ve seen a company get involved in sponsorship.  I’ve watched this a few times and find it hard not to get choked up, especially when I look for the faces of people who get caught up in the energy of it all.

What is it about a group of people coordinating and choreographing themselves that touches us so?

Thanks, Dirk, for passing this along.


February 25, 2009

Happy for No Reason, Part VIII

Filed under: Video — jonathanfoust @ 1:02 pm

Come and Dance.  Enchanting.  Go full screen if you can.

Morning Light

Filed under: Photography — jonathanfoust @ 12:55 pm


Spring coming?

Spring coming?

February 19, 2009

Working with Desire

Filed under: Dharma, Meditation, Photography — jonathanfoust @ 7:52 am


Trying a little too hard?

Trying a little too hard?

Buddhist psychology speaks to cultivating healthy desires, minimizing unhealthy desires and ultimately going beyond desire.

Willpower determines how energy flows. Healthy desires lead to gratitude, joy, generosity, stewardship and service.  Unhealthy desires lead to greed, compulsion, self-centeredness and suffering.

I remember years ago on a retreat going through the food line and realizing that what I’d choose to eat would have three potential qualities.  Anything I ate would either give me energy, be neutral or drain my energy.  I’d either feel uplifted, the same or worse.

I started to slow down my food selection.  I’d look at the dish in front of me and ask my body if it was going to give me energy, be neutral or be a drain.  (I soon realized it wasn’t just what I chose, it was how much as well.)  That slowing down helped me quite a bit.  I learned more about the difference between satisfying my mind and listening to my body.  

The choices we face each day have the same possible outcomes, though the results may not be so immediate. 

One of the most striking things about the potency of Buddhist psychology is how much emphasis there is on cause and effect.  

We are invited to reflect on the consequences of any action.

If I restrain from a habit I know is not life-enhancing and pay attention, I notice some kind of compulsion or need arise.  When I pull myself away from getting lost in internet surfing, for example, I notice a restlessness … a desire for entertainment to satisfy a hungry, unsettled mind.

Stepping away from addiction reveals a ‘hungry ghost,’ some form of craving that gnaws from inside.

The Buddha put it this way: 

Everything is based on mind, is led by mind, is fashioned by mind. If you speak and act with a polluted mind, suffering will follow you, as the wheels of the oxcart follow the footsteps of the ox. Everything is based on mind, is led by mind, is fashioned by mind. If you speak and act with a pure mind, happiness will follow you, as a shadow clings to a form.

I heard Joseph Goldstein make a nice distinction about this quote.  When we act from unhealthy desire, just like the wheel of the oxcart, suffering will follow.  But there can be a little lag time.  When you speak or act from healthy desire, happiness follows like a shadow.  Less lag time.  The experience of  happiness is more immediate. ——–
Ultimately we can go beyond desire altogether.  When we release grasping and greed the opposite states can arise:  generosity and abundance.   When we desire nothing other than what we already have, the moment, in it’s fullness and emptiness, is complete.

February 15, 2009

Too Happy for Any Reason

Filed under: Humor, Video — jonathanfoust @ 10:25 pm

For a serious counterbalance:  Despondex.

February 12, 2009

Happy for No Reason, Part VII

Filed under: Photography, Quotation — jonathanfoust @ 11:16 am


Hanna and Allison dancing at our wedding

Hanna and Allison dancing at our wedding



For no reason 
I start skipping like a child. 

For no reason 
I turn into a leaf 
That is carried so high 
I kiss the sun’s mouth 
And dissolve. 

For no reason 
A thousand birds 
Choose my head for a conference table, 
Start passing their 
Cups of wine 
And their wild songbooks all around. 

For every reason in existence 
I begin to eternally, 
To eternally laugh and love! 

When I turn into a leaf 
And start dancing, 
I run to kiss our beautiful Friend 
And I dissolve in the Truth 
That I Am.

– Hafiz


Hat tip to Ellen.  Thanks!

February 9, 2009

The Mud is Melting The Mud is Melting!

Filed under: Nature, Photography — jonathanfoust @ 1:16 pm


Mud season arrives in all it's glory.

Mud season arrives in all it's glory.

Yesterday the trails were impossible to walk on.  Early this morning they’d frozen just enough to navigate.  Back to mud again by 10:00AM.

Tundra Swans on the River

Filed under: Nature, Photography — jonathanfoust @ 1:13 pm


Tundra Swans in the distance

Tundra Swans in the distance

For the last week or so, River Bend Park has hosted a gaggle of Tundra Swans.  They are here until things warm up a bit, then back to the arctic or subarctic for the summer.  More here. As they say, everything is always changing, but it’s great to get a reminder like this.

February 4, 2009

Fear is My Friend

Filed under: Dharma, Observations, Photography — jonathanfoust @ 11:51 am


The topic this week in the Monday and Thursday class is “Working with Fear.” I am not teaching this week but the topic has been on my mind recently.

I’ve always been prone to anxiety. As a child I worried about everything. At about age seven or eight I decided if I imagined the worst outcome for anything that frightened me then I would not be surprised when it happened. My parents would drive off to go play pinochle for the night. I would assume something terrible would happen and they were not coming back. When I would wake up the next morning and they were there, well, good for me. This time.

Fear and anxiety are all wrapped up with the desire to be in control.

When I moved down to Washington DC a few years ago my arrival corresponded with an article I read which stated there were a number of suitcase bombs that were unaccounted for in Russia and Chechnya and were already placed in US cities. I grew up on a farm and had always lived in the country – with regular access to wilderness.  When I moved to Bethesda and had my first experiences in DC traffic, I started to freak. What would happen in an emergency – surrounded by so many people?

I started doing research on safety and disaster preparedness. I got pretty sucked in. (The web can be a terrible thing when you start looking at doom and gloom scenarios.)

I found out is important to have:

  1. A personal bag
  2. A “get out of town bag’ and
  3. A home survival kit

I could not find suitable information that summarized everything so I wrote up my research which you can view here.

As much as I may have spent a bit too much time hyperventilating and indulging in worst case scenarios, I got a really good insight out of my hours of obsessive thinking. I began to discern what I had control over and what I did not.  I do have some control over my personal safety. I don’t have much control over what could happen externally.

That distinction has made a big difference in my life. While I still habitually go to fear and anxiety, something in my awareness is just a little more quick to wake up to the conditioning. I spend less time on the hamster wheel of circular, negative thinking.

And … My car is stocked with food, water and supplies in case I’m stuck in it for some reason. I do have a bag I can grab with supplies for a few days and our house is now stocked with enough to ensure we’ll stay warm, dry, fed and hydrated for a while.

I feel a lot happier than I did before. More relaxed.

Having sat with that fear, I have found a balance between being responsible and increasing my capacity to savor what’s right in front of me.

If you’d like to like to read a summary of my research with some links, click here.