Waking up to Wisdom
In Stillness and Community

A Neuron with Imagination

--by Francisco Ramos Stierle (Sep 20, 2010)

The old paradigm of life tells us that we are a collection of separate objects. We focus our attention, but in doing so, we often dissect a part of the whole without taking into account the visible, and often invisible, connections. As a result, we miss seeing relationships and only see the effects, the "what". In this old paradigm, knowledge comes from analyzing a static Nature -- a "stuff-based" view of reality.  Because reality isn't experienced dynamically, we relate to things with a sense of conquest.  In this paradigm, power is something you acquire as a top-down force that is exerted over other life.

To be vulnerable, then, is seen as a sign of weakness. That's why being "invulnerable" is about finding security by shattering your enemies; I create defenses and walls and borders to isolate me from the "danger" of being violated. A dramatic image for this view of life is the single neuron that tries to build higher and stronger walls to stop communication with its "dangerous" surroundings. In this ill-conceived notion of reality, it is a matter of time before the neuron atrophies in isolation and dies prematurely.

In the new paradigm, though, the entire Universe is in communion. It is a science of relationships in all dimensions, and life is experienced as a flow. Organisms are alive with visible boundaries, but determined by what flows through those porous boundaries: matter, energy, information, love. This paradigm is process oriented, and we are constantly asking “how,” not “what.” And so, knowledge is dynamic and always changing, like the flame that keeps its shape by constantly burning.  When we experience this dynamic knowledge, it turns into wisdom and then reality cannot be confined only to the material world.

Here, power is shared in an inclusive and horizontal way, from the bottom-up, such that its value resides in the way an organism serves the community. Instead of looking for perfection, life looks for wholeness.  Being vulnerable with courage is my best security because I see my security as the security of all.  There are no enemies. A neuron, in this new paradigm, is interconnected and functional. While it has clear boundaries, it has imagination, and understands how matter, energy, information and love flow through molecules, society, mind, family and communities.  Because of the plasticity of other connections in the brain, when a healthy neuron dies, being loved by the community, its legacy carries on.

--By Francisco Ramos Stierle

Add Your Reflection:

Send me an email when another comment is posted on this passage.
Name: Email:

Previous Reflections:

On Sep 24, 2010 Shariq wrote:

Thank you for sharing Pancho's insightful perspective. Pancho's thoughts on vulnerability resonates with my own research on this topic and also bring to mind the thoughtful interview that Richard Whittaker had conducted with Professor Charles Bigger (see attached). Professor Bigger shares this precious insight in the interview, "... I think aesthetic education would be so important early. To develop people's vulnerabilities."

On Sep 24, 2010 Nipun wrote:

This week, we experimented with a new idea -- propose a "be the change"/"pay it forward" action related to the weekly iJourney reading.  While people have brainstormed such an idea before, this particular one came via Amit Dungarani after a CharityFocus retreat on Sep 19, 2010.  And the time was ripe for implementation.

Francisco Ramos Stierle (aka Pancho!) initiated this idea, by offering this idea for the week:

"What if this week, we generate some of this loving-kindness and share it with our neighbors? Sit in meditation -- as we do on Wednesdays -- and fill up that gorgeous heart of yours with your best energy, trespass those imaginary walls of isolation, knock on your neighbor's door and connect with that neighbor you have not chatted with in weeks (months?).   Like a happy healthy neuron trying to connect with our neighbor neuron, let's generate that love and release it in the form of a hug, a smile, a healthy meal, compassionate listening, loving speech, shining eyes, gardening, a poem, a book, a song, a compliment or any expression of cooperation, collaboration or collectivism -- whatever comes up.  Perhaps you want to carry on some of the legacy of an "ancestor neuron" and share that wisdom with your neighbor.  [If you want to step it up, look for that neighbor who challenges you the most.]

Do we think/feel we will be able to keep that heart full of love regardless of the response of our neighbor? Are we willing to receive some energy from him/her and process it with the same original intention? How long are we able to keep this flow?

One neuron at a time -- to connect the entire healthy brain of the Earth Community. Imagine!"

If you have any stories to share around this, please share it here.

On Sep 24, 2010 Prakash wrote:

Awesome Indeed! -- "be-the-change-action" -- I love it :-).

Thank you hermano Pancho for writing this beautiful piece and Wed community for sharing the reflections.

As serendipity has it, earlier this week, before I read Pancho's "be-the-change" action suggestion from this week's iJourney passage, I found myself talking to one of our neighbor who's going through a challenging time with job loss and being at the verge of loosing the house they currently live in. He needed some help, since I volunteer as one of the board-of- directors of our community non-profit association, I had some important information that I could share with him from the experiences and stories of many other neighbors who were going through or had gone through similar situation already. I am really happy that I could share some tidbits that this neighbor was really needed at this time. As we chatted for a long time, we were engaged in smiles, laughter, humor, compassionate listening, helping each other with many more random things about life in our community. 

I am thankful that these neighborhood conversations have become a regular happening, either at our lovely Hayward Farmer's Mmarket, Our Community Garden or the Community Yoga we have it in our sweet home space every Mondays or as part of neighborhood watch walks. Hope these deeper conversations go on-and-on like this forever, this is the needed to live in a truly healthy community.


On Sep 25, 2010 Pancho wrote:

My family calls me Pancho I'd like you to know that I love you all.

First of all, I disagree with the "author"... ha!  ;O)

Interconnectedness was a beautiful thing to witness and experience On Wednesday at the Kindness Temple. As usual, I felt connected as each person shared their perspective. I only hope that many people who attended a Wednesdays last night could share some of their profound stories/insights form inner-interconnectedness and nonviolence to collectivism and inter-being.

Hermano Amit had a great idea: to implement pay-it-forward at the end of Wednesdays -- find a small action related to the weekly-reading that everyone can go home and do in their context! A kind of Be-The-Change Wednesdays' Challenge. This week's BTCWC already shared by Nipun here was inspired by this pragmatic idea:

When we generate peace, loving-kindness and understanding in ourselves, we are generating the energy of the Universal Love within us. Once is generated, we can let it flow and synchronize it with other beings. 

May all become compassionate, courageous and wise.


PS: **During circle it was mentioned that the first step in interconnection could be to give something once. The more challenging and nourishing scenarios come when we evolve into a cooperation --> a collaboration --> and finally collectivism (ala Wednesdays ;-)). We invite you to experience the beauty of collective connection. Full effort is full success! :-)

On Sep 25, 2010 Austin wrote:

Self-definition and relationship-definition.  We have to define ourselves million times a day.  When we enter into a relationship we have to define what we want from that relationship: is it an acquaintance, is it friendship, is it more than friendship, is it patronising?  It is one thing to emphasize our ontological relationships i.e. our inter-relatedness at the level of being and another to consciously participate in it.  Our relationships must be based on awareness and the choice that comes from awareness of what I want and don't want.  This will foster a greater responsibility and freedom in our relationships.

On Sep 27, 2010 Varsha wrote:

Dear all,


I appreciate all your presence.  Namaste one and all, and all in one.  :)


There’s a saying about quotes: “I hate quotes.  Tell me something you know.”  But, I’m going to mention some quotes anyway.


Two come to mind (when at Wednesdays, both literally and figuratively, among other times):  “Charity begins at home” and “Home is where the heart is” and therefore, “Charity begins where the heart is.”  And, that sharing is caring.  Simple concepts, but essential to embodying being the change in the world we live.


Pancho’s passage seemed autobiographical, as his connections and network of community is vast and spread out, but, at the same time, tight.  His ability to relate and identify with all is admirable (regardless of labels and identifications, as we’re all living beings/earthlings). 


I agree that the How-- process/effort/practice/means/methods/ways is more important than the What-- product/ends (each moment, how we choose to live it—with intention and purpose).  I think of children and their innocence, lack of walls/boundaries in saying, “Hi!” and smiling at “strangers,” those we don’t “know,” and sharing/lack of ownership in that there is no such thing as My or Mine.


I relate energy and emotions together—a different chemistry to feelings in our body.  The analogy of a neuron and emotions (building walls/bottling them in vs. emotional release/discharge, feeling them, expressing them, and letting them go).  It’s easier said when experienced—that our thoughts, words, deeds/acts, and being/energy are all manifestations of the same one energy (I know that this may sound a bit metaphysical, abstract, or Zen-like).  I admire what Pancho chooses to express: pleasant, fun, gentle, kind, compassionate, wise. I feel that if we put our 100% into anything/whole being (body, mind, emotions, energy), that is true growth/progress/effort/success.  

I know Pancho has used this quote about being a “fierce mirror reflecting” and it describes some of the highest ideals.  I am moved by his insights, truth, and walking the talk of "being the change we wish to see in the world."

On Sep 27, 2010 Ganoba wrote:

If we observe the way our mind functions, we would notice,

that it is fleeting and flirting,

never staying for any length of time with anything that it is relating with.

As a result, our observations are superficial and fragmented. We do not understand anything in its wholeness, including ourself. How then can the choices we make be appropriate?

No wonder we are experientially unhappyand intellectually confused.

To change the situation at the root, it seems necessary to improve improve the quality of our observation; to make it more whollistic and subtle.

Some of the early sages/scientists devised the mrthod of sitting still for a length of time, doing nothing, observing whatever was happening, within and without.

They also remained silent for a whilr after this excercise, reigning in the temtation to conceptualise the experience and put it in words, apparently for the benefit of others.

As I have practised this simple excercise; sitting still and being silent, the mysteries of life have become clear, life has become simple and enjoyable.

I recoomend that allof us make it a part of our daily routine.

On Sep 27, 2010 Mona wrote:

 Hi Pancho,

Thank you for your beautiful passage. I wanted to share that after last Wednesday - i had been thinking of stopping by and saying hello to my neighbor for a while and had been so busy that i only wave from my car in and out of the house. So yesterday, i stopped by and brought some pear shaped cherry tomatoes from my garden to sweet Abuelita  and re-connected with the family next door. It was on my mind and thank you for reminding me to create more opportunities. 
It bothers me that I don't know so many of my neighbors and have been living there for almost two years now. My parents taught me that the neighbor is your first relative - alway try to connect with them.
Love Always, Mona

On Oct 2, 2010 Chris wrote:

 And to follow up on the Pancho-Mona momentum, I was inspired last week to leave some tomatoes and zucchini in a bag with a smile :) on the doorstep of our neighbor. Honoring those connections, even if invisibly.

On Dec 25, 2011 brian wrote:

 thank you for sharing pancho. what a wonderful reminder on christmas. time to bring that sense of connectivity to family throughout the day tomorrow and from now on. have a wonderful winter season. peace and love.