Friday, March 29, 2013

Blue heron chicks: LOVE, Harbin Hot Springs' book, nontheist f/Friends, Transcendent love (including intimacy, nudity and sexuality), Anthropology, Emerging, virtual Harbin, "Oneness in Living," Neural cascades of pleasure

Nontheist Friends,

I'm very glad this NtF thread on 'love' emerged - thanks, Glenn - and as my little, Friends' Dalton letter contribution ( above suggests, I'm interested in the heightened - even wildly so - experiences of love in our bodyminds, and in its most positive senses. This email isn't about trying to change, from a NtF perspective, the Religious Society of Friends to become more loving in a variety of ways, for example, but rather to continue the conversation which Glenn began, exploring aspects of the idea of love, NtF-wise.

And while the experience of love, as acceptance, and as the experience of attraction, seem to be partly what you've/we've been nontheistically F/friendly writing about in these last few emails in this thread on 'love,' I'd like first to explore here more about love, attraction, sexuality and nakedness, themselves, contributing insights from my ethnographic research to this conversation. 

So, thanks for this thread ... I'm eager to explore transcendent and far-reaching love vis--a-vis NtFs in this email group, and over the years, ... so that we might feel, and grow, love, in its positive senses, in the ways we might like, and bodymind-expandingly so. As they say at the Rainbow Gathering "We Love You," and "Love you sister," "Loving you brother."

In my research as an anthropologist, and I'm writing the last 15, draft paragraphs (here are the first 3 1/2, draft chapters - of the last chapter 9, of my actual / virtual Harbin Hot Springs' ethnographic book, both questions of attraction and nakededness, vis-a-vis love, are explicit and implicit. 

(I'd like to publish my book in an academic press, with graduate students, faculty and people with nostalgia for the 1960s, as my target audiences, and have heard 'no' to a book proposal I sent out nearly a year ago from the Presses at Princeton, MIT, Harvard and Cambridge UK, and will probably try the University of California Press next. And the comparative ethnography in and of building of a virtual Harbin in OpenSim or Second Life, or in a more realistic, build-able, 3D, virtual world, as a comparative, ethnographic field site will be the subject of my next, virtual Harbin book. See this Machinima on 'The Making of Harbin Hot Springs as Virtual Fieldsite in OpenSim or Second Life' - 

Harbin Hot Springs is very much about 'hippy to the hot springs,' with naked soaking and cuddling in the warm pool occurring at least since 1972 when Ishvara, its founder who still lives on property, bought the land, ... and Harbin emerges from the 1960s as a kind of alternative place. Harbin is also two churches, - Heart Consciousness Church (HCC - since 1975), and New Age Church of Being (NACOB since 1996), both New Agey and low key as churches (and unaffiliated with any other churches), - and with relevance for the Religious Society of Friends, including, perhaps NtFs.

Harbin is an alternative place, is countercultural in my interpretation, and is viable financially as a hot springs' retreat center (with rooms, and canvas domes, for rent, and where you can camp out), in a pretty little valley at the end of the road in Lake County, northern California. A lot of Harbin residents - a kind of tribe - have kind of 'turned on, tuned in and dropped out' into a pretty easy-going lifestyle and interesting community. How the '60s and '70s, how hippies, and how alternative culture wind their ways into the 2010s is one of my (central) questions in the book, and will continue to be with the making of virtual Harbin. When the Harbin cobb and bale Temple was built in 2005, some Quaker Friends from the little Lake County WG (who moved to Lake County from Berkeley decades ago) and I held a silent, Quaker meeting in the partially built, amazingly beautiful, Harbin Temple. 

The questions, again, of acceptance, attraction and nakededness, vis-a-vis love, are explicit and implicit, in both my book (and my thinking), but I'm also interested in the idea of love as care. As a Darwinian, and an anthropologist, and a child of the '60s (in which 1960 year I was born) and of freedom-seeking movements,  questions of evolutionary biology, questions of socioculture, as well as thinking differently inform my thinking, in general. Love (vis-a-vis my Friends' Dalton letter), in this context, and physical, bodymind attraction, in their positive senses, including in terms of nakedness and sexuality - and differentially in terms of gender - relate. And I see love and attraction connect at Harbin (which has its funkinesses) in a fascinating, unfolding way, thanks particularly to the '60s and the clothing-optional, Harbin warm pool, the other geothermally heated and cold pools, and the Harbin pool area, in particular. (Yes, the media, religion and the modern world, throw so many questions of love, nakedness and attraction out of whack, and these never were normalized, anyway, - in my broad readings of these questions). While not air-brushed pictures of naked women perfection (or men, etc., for that matter), you can see pictures of the pools here at Harbin's web site - How to accept an interpretation of the naked cuddling and attraction in the hippy-to-the-hot springs' Harbin experience, as well as a kind of as people-chosen love and care for being together communally and touchingly and tenderly and intimately and nurturingly (as natural and freeing) is an interesting question. Thanks to the warm waters people can act very lovingly to one another in its warm pool.

What's parallelly fascinating about the Harbin warm pool, and Friends' Meeting, in my interpretation, is the gatheredness (another term for this is the 'relaxation response,' in my interpretation, which isn't a Harbin phrase) that occurs, and which facilitates a kind of connectedness, and in which love might and does arise. (How intensely might love emerge in various qualities in our bodyminds, and agency-wise/choice-wise neurophysiologically, are other questions I'm exploring). Harbin's founder, Ishvara's not-easy-to-read book, entitled, "Oneness in Living" (2002), might be another phrase for this experience. But nakedness, attraction and love all do a fascinating dance at Harbin, often in nontheistically friendly and alternative ways, from which I learn, and am grateful for, especially the centering-soaking and harmonizing in the clothing-optional, Harbin warm pool. A very alive, serene, unique, easing meditation occurs in and around the clothing-optional pool area, especially, at Harbin, ~ thanks to the warm waters from the earth.

So nakedness, and cuddling in warm waters, and sexuality occur at Harbin, in a somewhat normalized way. Many of the workshops over the decades have focused on teaching intimacy. For example, HAI workshops ('Human Awareness Institute - Love, Intimacy and Sexuality' workshops), have been central at Harbin (and now take place around the world) since the early 1970s, (and which I've never taken, because I've been a little shy, even as an anthropologist with Harbin as my long-term field site, and because they cost something like $525 for a weekend these days) and while I think these workshops and teachings (e.g. Tantra workshops, and annual, Polyamory gatherings, etc.) are best understood in this context as emerging from the 1960s, and the sexual revolution, I'm very appreciative that Harbin, and HAI, for example, have contributed to creating a culture / milieu where people can explore these openly and freely. (But Harbin actually isn't very 'Bonobo'). And Harold Dull, a Brit and a hippie, started Watsu (Water Shiatsu) as a healing, water dance form at clothing-optional Harbin, (and to float women, which many women welcome), as well. Perhaps paralleling Friends/Quakers' protests / vigils / witnesses on the grounds of conscience against societal wrong doing, and, for example, by bearing witness to the Peace Testimony, I'm glad Harbin has been able to create a space for such normalized living / explorations of nakedness and sexuality, and love, to occur, singularly so in this valley (but which may also emerge in a 3D virtual world), for more than 4 decades now, - and as an expression of oneness. 

But transcendent love (including intimacy, nudity and sexuality) continues to be an ongoing focus of mine, especially in terms of neurophysiology / the biological experiences of these qualities. And while one (some people / I) can turn on Mozart's arias, Ravi Shankar's ragas or the Grateful Dead, repeatedly, and get to such neural cascades of pleasure (a quality of love I'm interested in specifically, as biology) again and again - which I would call love - and in most positive senses, I continue to explore a variety of qualities of love and how to elicit such neurophysiologies, and with caring for others as well as social justice and nontheistic Friendly sensibilities, in mind.

(Here's a definition of loving bliss from my "Loving Bliss and friends" letter:

"While the following definition doesn't fully explain what loving bliss is for me, it does involve experiences that are deeply, gratefully harmonizing, and reciprocally appreciative and affectionate, both with a friend or friends, and alone, as well as profoundly and naturally high at the same time, and which are ongoing, biological, 'flow' experiences. What is loving bliss for you? For me, it may be, metaphorically, '... the valley of love and delight.'"

What is loving bliss for friends on this NtF list, especially in the context of this conversation about love? How do you elicit loving bliss neurophysiology, NtF-wise? 

I may ask these questions in the text chat of the online Quaker Meeting I attend occasionally, as well. 

... The unprogrammed, Quaker Meeting in the 3D virtual world of Second Life - - meets on Saturday mornings from 10-11 am Pacific Time, and I'll see what discernment I can bring to your conclusions' question, Ananda, about my "conclusions or insights about love, attraction, sexuality and nakedness," vis-a-vis perhaps NtF-wise. 

You'll find this online Quaker Meeting URL / web site address here, too - - in my "Loving bliss as friends" letter online, which has further thoughts and conclusions about loving bliss).

So, as kinds of conclusions or insights about love, attraction, sexuality and nakedness, (and perhaps NtF-wise), to the above, ... 

love as connecting - through acceptance and through nurturing one another, or of ourselves by soaking and releasing naked, in the Harbin warm pool (and potentially online virtually while in your bathtub, as well, with parallels to the Harbin warm pool, as a kind of metaphorical, musical score, or gathered, friendly, improvisational opera, bodymind-wise) - seems to have emerged at Harbin, chosen by its visitors, thanks to its milieu, or subculture. Nontheist Friends seem to be creating another kind of  email-mediated subculture, where the explicit exploration of questions of NtF ideas about, and experiences of, love are possible, in new ways, and as conversation, just as NtFs are unfoldingly generating new ideas, perhaps partly in conversation with the RSoF. How to generate ongoingly best aspects of love, per these ideas about love - - or what you think of as love, seems ripe here, as a kind of querying conclusion. In what ways might we learn and teach love, NtF-wise? 

I'm very glad we NtFs are having this unfolding conversation about love. Thank you. 

Do any of you know the 4-part, beautiful round, "Take the time to sit in silence" which really chimes when sung together? 

With F/friendly greetings, 


Hi NtFs, 

Here's a slightly more developed email of mine (in my blog) about love from this morning - - with a few more ideas within. 

And here's my previous email in this NtF thread on love (from March 24, 2013) - - and which is also slightly further developed. 

And here's the Machinima about "The Making of Virtual Harbin Hot Springs as Ethnographic Fieldsite in OpenSim and Second Life" - - to give you an idea of how interactive, build-able, virtual worlds work. 

I continue to be interested in generating cultures / milieus of love, and virtual worlds may offer new and other possibilities for this, beyond the RSoF, NtFs, music and even writing and emails as conversation, - all symbolic processes - as well as musical conversations. 

Good news ... 

With F/friendly greetings, 



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