Bird of Paradise Flower
Art & Writings

Friends' Dalton Letter


Dear Friends,

While in Scotland (June – July 2003) I learned about John Dalton, a Quaker and a scientist who, when he died, was so appreciated (beloved) for his kindness (I read somewhere) that around 40,000 people and 100 carriages passed by his coffin in Manchester to pay their respects, - a worthwhile kind of fame.

While his scientific accomplishments at that time (late 1700s - early 1800s) were impressive (in meteorology, vision, atmosphere, and considered the 'father' of the atom – that matter is composed of the atomic weights of different elements - among other ideas, induction then into the French Academy of Sciences as one of eight foreign representatives), I'm attracted to the effects of his Quaker interests and upbringing - the cultural practices, ways of doing and thinking (analytically & compassion-wise), the traditions, and the shared understandings which inform the Society of Friends (unprogrammed Quakers) at their best.

What thinking about the Quaker and scientist John Dalton brings to mind for me about Quaker ways are the very open-ended and organic practices or leadings (remarkably sensitive and caring?) - that I sometimes liken to a kind of musical or theatrical improvisation - {waiting in silence with Friends ~ a kind of relaxation response (Benson 1972) or releasing action meditation vis--vis Quaker processes} and which can lead to inward and outward, indirect and straightforward realizations of love in some of its best senses - empathy; delight; sympathy; centered caring; tenderness; sensitivity; ineffable ecstasy; incredibly positive - potentially lifelong - feelings of connectedness; sublimity; kindness; “love in the air;” gentleness; an understanding of developing, mutual otherness; friendship; mirthful, playful freedom in bodymind, words and gestures; thoughtfulness; dating; cuddling/physical intimacy/sensuality (1-2 hours per day); making love (intimate and warm)~coitus; a delightful, “glowing” party; ongoing smile / sincere and charming affection / “flow” experiences (for “flow,” see Csikszentmihalyi’s “Flow: the Psychology of Optimal Experience” - 1993) with a community / network across generations; openness; generosity; coming closely in tune with good friends; fulsome trust; anticipatory, beneficial surprises; sweetness; nurture; receptivity {to love}; sharing; hail gladdening love; non-harming, altruistic engagement; acts of kindness ~ voluntarism; considerateness; cordiality; congeniality; collegiality; flourishing (viz. eudaimonia); warm, radiant fun; sociable, flirtatious, and gleeful, inner and outer movement, which some people experience while dancing (e.g. unconditional~free-form dancing, New England contra-dancing, Scottish Country Dancing, Dances of Universal Peace~Sufi dancing, contact improvisational dance jams, etc.); having a ball with you; euphoric merriment; cherishing as well as feeling / being cherished; (love-related) passion; the numinous; a loving bliss economy~loving bliss indices {a way of measuring groups' affective neurophysiology, as a whole, linked with socially conscious, index, mutual funds}; old friends; an unburdened feeling of lightness of being; falling in love; the fun of raising / being with kids; cheeriness; positive psychology (viz. Seligman's “Authentic Happiness”); following your bliss; well-received, intense, salutary interest; the deep, inward release that comes in remarkable / easing moments and which is cultivatable; deeply exuberant, beneficent pleasure with another ~ a partner ~ a love; best friends; understanding; reverie; universal acceptance; friendliness; what gives you joy?; imagination to love profoundly, and then to love; wholesomeness; well-being; peace, peace of mind, and at peace-ness; being in love; ahimsa {non-harming}; a good connection; virtue, esp. of transcendent, jubilant love; helpfulness; doing good; loving touch {e.g. a gentle hand, hugs, massage, Watsu*Waterdance (Wassertanz) & more}; singing "I love you;" the inspiration for the creation of great, loving art; rich, bountiful inventiveness / imagination in amity; Harbin Hot Springs ~; heart consciousness; harmony; the neurochemistry of romantic love~heightened levels of four neurotrophins, - i.e. NGF, BDNF, NT-3, and NT-4 (Emanuele et al., 2005); loving bliss ~*MMmmm ~ loving bliss and practices for this*~ (naturally, and with many qualities, but ecstasy is a reference experience ~> oxytocins~dopamine); practicing loving bliss vis--vis a musical instrument; balance; wonderful, oceanic wholeness; free love; happiness; contentment; the joy / rapport / 'reading' of minds that goes on between two (or more) skillful musicians / listeners, who are improvising; love letters; harmony, love fests; love is the answer; loving bliss as friends; the thought, experience, and generation of love; quiet wisdom ~ love of wisdom; and sophisticated, intuitive caritas - (e.g., see Tolstoy’s “The Three Questions”) - (what are other positive characteristics / expressions of love that you can add, besides the American Friends' Service Committee, the Friends' Committee on National Legislation, and others like them? And how can we develop them together? How can we move toward world peace & love?), - and this somehow in conjunction with influences from (a love of?) evolutionary biology~naturalism~nature~the physical~the material~the neurophysiological~the symbolic; knowledge / knowing something / different ways of knowing; data / hypothesizing - experimentation - empirical findings/evidence - phenomenology; {deoxyribonucleic acid} / genes / evolution / primatology (e.g. Jane Goodall, Penny Patterson, Sue Savage-Rumbaugh) {writing has existed only for about 5,500 years, and each of us represents an unbroken line of life ~ DNA, about 3.5 billion years old}, and the sciences (all understanding/ideas are shaped by evolutionary biology~neurophysiology, and making meaning, vis--vis an earth-centric life?); the earth's sun; stars; mathematics~proofs; quantum mechanics/physics; cooperation and lessening the pain of competition; “Concepts of Determinism” (Money 1988:114 ff.) - pairbondage, troopbondage, abidance, ycleptance, foredoomance, with these coping strategies: adhibition (engagement), inhibition & explication; some people's ideas of the 'emotional' mind/human “nature/mind,” – biological, psychological and socioculturally anthropological ({linguistic- } practices in context?), etc.; sensibleness/common sense; creative social practices, norms and their benefits / limitations / innovations; moving from the emergence of life to single-celled organisms, the Cambrian explosion & later speciation (viz. dinosaurs & the K-T extinction), to neural activity about love, expressed in language; significantly limiting military/war-oriented institutions like departments of 'defense'/the U.S. Pentagon; lessening, letting go and/or easing discontent / frustration / worry / procrastination / anger / fear / hate, etc.; anti-nuclearism; lessening problems associated with social striving; ambivalence (letting a decision emerge, processually, to focus, in part, on generating love?); great work ~ the contingencies / exigencies of making a living wage/money ~ artisans; socially responsible prosperity; polyamory; individual autonomy / space; Renaissance ~ individualism; humor; time; significantly lessening the negative impacts of consumerism and profit-driven corporations and capitalism, for all (Latouche); cooperatives / collectives / credit unions; not making others vulnerable; de-centering power-seeking (see Lao Tzu’s “Tao Te Ching”~ *); {warm} water; critical thinking {esp. reason / rational discourse – see “The Oxford Companion to Philosophy” – 2005, the philosopher C.D.C. Reeve’s essay “Ionian Thinkers” – 1999, or U.C. Berkeley philosopher Bert Dreyfus’s 15 online papers in the web archive -- (on the myth of the mental, being, nihilism, art, politics, agency, subjectivity, the Internet, skills, existentialism, etc.)}; metaphysical / epistemological / ontological inquiries~curiosity; an alternative, complex, dynamic, maximally flexible, nonviolent code / argument / explanation / language; unique constellations or series of events / ideas (history? or 'karma'? or a "kula ring"? or an 'ecology' of actions / energies?, or a 'matrix'?, or fabric of life, or a feedback system, or a far-reaching systems' theory?); a positive alternative to a default, evolutionary biologically-based, moral skepticism ~ sweet, love-life nihilism; symbols / symbolic representation (can we combine symbols together in infinite ways with infinite referents?:) / the symbolic species (Deacon); metaphors, such as humans are experiential, feeling, thinking, remembering, imagining, sentient, networking, idiosyncratic, embodied, procreating computers {conscious, sociocultural, distributed, input-think/feel-output bodymind systems that can have babies and can self-program (“add/remove programs?”;) / learn / plan and which also have been 'selected for' / “encoded” in ancestral environments via Darwinian natural selection, and by family and community (acculturation)}, musicians, the yoga tree of life, sail boat (e.g. Nate Herreshoff's or catamaran) {or cyber-?} navigators/pilots/captains, or, have fun-to-explore 'inner bodies' (or are <people> or friends:); dynamic (intellectual?, emotional?) interaction; {wildflowers ~ native plants, esp. orchids}; problem solving; gardens ~ organic farming; just doing / action (consequences? or feedback?); being; talking (love is a kind of dialogue); learning a language together (there are about 3000 - 8000 languages, dialects, pidgins, and creoles, and many more so-called 'dead' languages, with individuals each having their own 'language'); strategizing; the human condition (all of our narratives over time +) ~ humanities ~ humanism; skill and excellence (virtu and arete); progressive, deliberative, participatory democracy and/or developments from this, and/or moderate 'realism;' academic freedom; adaptations; modernity and the rise of the network society (see Castells, 2000, and Manuel Castells' U.C. Berkeley Globetrotter interview); Ursula K. Le Guin's lyrical & luminous (Delany 1985: 31) book Always Coming Home; appropriate technology: energy autonomous, carbon-minimal power-generation, buildings, transportation, bicycles, devices, etc. ~ solar technologies; {cosmos consciousness}; clothing-optional, hot pool retreat centers; the sheer amount of information available today / free, public libraries, internet (network neutrality) and open universities (a network of innovating, reasoning, knowledge-making bodyminds in conversation?); a global, degree-granting, free, open, virtual-world university~universe, with great Universities {& Harbin Hot Springs?} as key players, vis--vis loving bliss; consensus decision-making vis-a-vis nontheist Friends with mindfulness of love; orality / text / meme / media / sound, image & word pathways/vectors; ramifications of Bonobo chimpanzees and other species (e.g. about 1.8 million species identified {E.O. Wilson 2007} with an estimated 8 - 100 million species in existence) / animals {the fact of so many millions of years of sexual and asexual reproduction, much of which is pleasurable for a complex of reasons}; the genera Pan (chimpanzee: paniscus & troglodytes), Pongo (orangutan: pygmaeus & abelii), Gorilla (gorilla: gorilla & beringei), and Homos' (homo: homo sapien ~ human) range of neuro-behavior as key, salient, illuminating narratives for human experience vis--vis love, life and natural selection; taste; patience; improving quality of life; mentation; organization; freedom-seeking movements of 1960s and 1970s / hippies ~ hippiemindedness / counterculture / clothing-optionalness ~ naturism*nudity / peace, love & happiness / communitas (liminality?); philanthropy; affectionate, comic, theatrical absurdity; differentiating processes / drawing distinctions / comparison / logic; pi {e~pumpkin?:}; om; Moms~Mothers~Ma; using it or losing it; projection; modeling; a (great?), male principle; practice / practicing; unfolding, contemporary events; insiderness/outsiderness; getting to know the 'other' / befriending the stranger ~ tolerance; Euro/American / women & men; the possible negative effects of striving for, and thinking about, love (e.g. John Money 1988: 133 ff., see also pp. 4-7); some implications of brain-actuated technology (see Andrew Junker’s Cyberlink web site - - how do “brainwaves” work?); lessening the desire to control and not be controlled; reversing poverty & hunger; reversing state / legal / financial / structural limitations to advantage the disadvantaged (Singapore talks – 2003?) in a new, global disorder; wilderness and wildness (untraining?); environmentalism and reversing global warming (Gore & Lovins) and effects of pollution, especially for people most disadvantaged; challenges of daily life / raising a family; redressing injustice / global justice movement; non-market information & knowledge production ~ informationalism ~ you can post information to the World Wide Web, with love; here too: death (see Chuang Tzu/Zhuangzi's “When Chuang Tzu's wife died, Hui Tzu ... ”) and taxes (war tax resistance?); memory; irony; social psychology (e.g. Milgram, Zimbardo, Darley and Batson's "Good Samaritan" experiment at Princeton University, etc. >> positive situations / determinants? teachers~learners in a mixed realities' world {"real"/digital-virtual}, in relation to love?); {?eht drah ecneics dna yhposolihp fo siht evol}; awareness; ethics & values (especially in relation to the ideas of love expressed above) ~ the honor principle (viz. Reed College's); interpretation; representation(s); making love, not war*; travel, esp. to visit friends who are loving, and whom you love; habitus; solidarity; seeing what comes up in your bodymind and exploring what it needs / going lightly (?) into your own (bodymind?) stuff / challenging ideation / unconscious; talking with a good (re-evaluation co-) counselor / psychotherapist / clinical psychologist (linguistically-oriented, ethical and confidential) / psychoanalyst / psychiatrist; art/music therapy / singing / hiking / walking / book / study / social groups; contingency; causality (modal verbs?); doing what comes naturally while not hurting anyone (yamas and niyamas?, thinking?, public/private~discretion?, discussion?, namelessness? etc.); the local/the glocal; India; France & Paris; Khajuraho; great music: world ~ bluegrass ~ blues ~ rock & roll ~ 'juice' ~ jazz ~ ragas; electricity; (loving bliss now) Zen ~ mindfulness; internet ~ philosophy ~ art cafs; native peoples; identity; discourse; design / engineering / computer science; abstraction; visions of goodness; serendipity & synchronicity; patterns; hybridity and fluidity; the roles and niches people develop in the course of a life; personality (dynamic coding?) / temperament / character / self; will {good}; lessening~easing conflict; 8 - 11 hours of regular, restful sleep; anxiety / boredom; dissent / conscience / conscientious objection / doing the right thing / social activism / civil disobedience; some implications of Beethoven’s symphonies (e.g. Eroica), especially his late quartets (e.g. Cavatina); the wunderkind Mozart, and his opus (>>Pa-Pa-Gena<< - >>Pa-Pa-Geno<< aria in Die Zauberflte:); J.S. Bach's great music (e.g. Yo-Yo Ma's Bach "Cello Suites"); great {choral} music; classical Indian music/dance; great ballet; great opera; great painting, arts & innovation (e.g. Michelangelo, Da Vinci & the Italian Renaissance); great film (e.g. Les enfants du paradis); great drama (the Oedipus cycle~the three Theban plays); great chamber music; great architecture (Balter/Berndtson House, Taj Mahal); Homer, Aristotle, Plato, Sophocles, Shakespeare, Chaucer, Kant, Tolstoy, D. Davidson, R. Rorty (& neo-pragmatism), and especially the implications of / the paradigm shift shaped by Darwin (evolution by natural selection), Nietzsche, Freud (viz. “The Great Books of the Western World”) and Foucault's work; [Einstein's five papers in 1905 in the 'anno mirabilis']; significantly lessening the effects of violence and aggressive behavior {for example, angry, smart, aggresive males might complain to a counselor, while regularly eliciting the relaxation response, and developing communication & listening skills based on empathy and understanding to family and friends; reason-oriented talking and language exchange are valuable}; the “small voice of reason”; Lacan’s 'mirror,' 'symbolic' and 'real' registers, and understanding of desire; fantasies; family, and reconciling multi-generational family history problems/challenges (through conversation?); letting things go to free up energy; managing your feelings (with a mind to love?); listening / listening to one’s own 'voice'/bodymind; eros/venus; asking one’s own questions and, in a sophisticated way, developing one’s own thoughts / philosophical positions / understandings (e.g. What’s your position on the idea of 'intentionality'?, What are key philosophical positions on 'intentionality'?, How does the mind work?, etc.); learning how things work; adding knowledge to databases; helping others; civil liberties, with loving intentions; awareness of how one is feeling / thinking and using this as guidance / information for moving to aspects of life which are very enjoyable ~ creative; truth / truthfulness; integrity / integration; complexity / simplicity; stillness; silence; and meditation {vis--vis Benson's relaxation response}, etc., (the list is long – many ideas and facts - and, given history {e.g. evolutionary, labor, intellectual, cultural}, will probably grow longer). Community, natural philosophy, language (esp. putting ideas in words~the speech act), and yoga (e.g. Nalini Snell’s and/or Angela Farmer and Victor van Kooten’s approach to it, B.K.S. Iyengar's “Light on Yoga” and “Yoga: The Path to Holistic Health,” or a western, philosophical reading of Patajali's eight limb yoga (it's very ascetic) as self/bodymind-regulating, biological, and social, reference concepts, that, with discernment, may well improve the 'fabric of life' for you, or, originating from a yoga perspective, Dean Ornish’s (1995) clinical, medical research, for example, that heart disease, the biggest cause of death presently in the United States (get your blood analyzed for risk factors?), and potentially many other conditions – e.g. he’s doing clinical trials presently on prostate cancer with positive, preliminary results (2001), as well as possibly breast cancer - are reversible through lifestyle changes, especially a varied, delicious (Tucker / Katzen) and nutritionally-sound (Robertson's "Laurel's Kitchen") [Omega-3 fatty acids {for mood, heart disease, bone density, et al., - e.g. 1000 mg flax seed oil, 3-4 times per day with food}, protein {an unfertilized, organically-grown egg per day?} and a multivitamin for iron, vitamin B12, etc.], low-fat {extra virgin olive oil} grain-, vegetable-, legume {including soy bean products} -, and fruit- centered diet {and fat-free dairy/milk products}, - if at risk for heart disease, aim to eat less than 3 grams of fat {especially trans and saturated fats, - (little) kids need a moderate amount of fat} per serving -; movement {a wide range,- some gentle and some vigorous}, e.g. 30 minutes of walking, biking, yoga asana, swimming, dancing, etc., per day; relaxation; and community, - studies have also shown red grapes, and the substance 'reversatrol' in red wine and grape juice (?) to prevent heart disease (Wade 2006)), offer ways to balance / integrate some problematic aspects of these perspectives / processes.

So many of the ways one experiences life and the not-yet-clearly-understood processes of consciousness ^ thinking {or loving bliss vis-a-vis MDMA} (in an analytical, philosophical, knowledge-based sense) are shaped by the variable ways one sees and thinks about life (I think) (conceived of here as distinct from biological, economic, political, social, cultural and linguistic processes, and scientific methods) and aren't always under the control (agency or intentional causality) of the thinker / bodymind (viz. John Money 1988: 116, 118), but not totally out of control of the agent, either. (Philosophically and biologically, how does free, human agency {choice or causation} – especially vis-a-vis intention - work, causally, in relation to consciousness / genius?). Sometimes I think to myself, why not focus on freeing love and center oneself / be present and wait in silence (when one isn't feeling, or acting, lovingly, for things change - or talk in a way which cultivates 'love' with friends) or sing, make music / art, write {poetry}, read, have a great deal of fun, do what you like and want, think, do fundamental research, dance with friends {honey}, or write a great book with friends or alone when one is 'in love,' which is what I'd like to do (in conjunction with taking care of making a living which, for hunter-gatherers, for example, might take 2 - 3 hours per day depending on the biogregion and which thus might represent the time needed today to make a living, given a change in economic conditions)? Quaker processes (among many) allow for the possibility to contemplate such opportunities and ways (and love), and then to realize them. I suppose there’s a method of dry, philosophical / analytical / hermeneutical (see Gadamer) / anthropological / phenomenological inquiry implicit here that I would like to follow logically in a number of directions, but in a way which gets to an experience of love as touched on above, and doesn’t get into the more negative aspects of love. How to produce / generate love (the embodied, neural correlates of the above, realized naturally) in large measure over time is a question that interests me. Generating mutual love is something I would not only like to think about but also do.

While one’s life can go in many directions (and few as well), the degree that one can shape these love~life processes allows the possibility that people, with friendly support, can cultivate, at least in some kind of artistic sense, some or all of these aspects of love. John Dalton’s thinking represents a far-reaching, scientific, paradigm shift, and his life moved in a number of interesting directions, - and people loved him.

I’m not sure whether I should share this with you, but I'll place it here anyway because they are interesting ideas / words and you might enjoy them. ;-)


Warmly & Affectionately, Scott

P.S. I find inspiring this Nobel Peace Prize Address (1947) on behalf of Quakers in general … :)


Friends' Dalton Letter Bibliography

Henri Matisse's “Life of Joy”


Print Friends' Dalton Letter (.doc)
Copyright Scott MacLeod's Arts 1998

Loving Bliss Letters

Friends' Dalton Letter

Loving Bliss and Practices to Elicit This

Loving Bliss as Friends

Eudaimonia is Flow and Bliss

Guidelines for Practicing Loving Bliss vis--vis Practicing a Musical Instrument