09 April, 2014

Don't Fight
What is Naturally Occurring

First of all, I am writing this to help myself remember certain facts about life that we often overlook. If any of you get inspired or awakened to reality, all the more better.

A common disease we all have is one in which we fight ...what happens naturally. Like when someone is not looking and cuts you off when you're driving, or plastering on one more expensive cream hoping to look like we did at 20, or even friends or family dying whether through aging or disease. It doesn’t mean that we can’t get mad when the person cuts you off, or disappointed when you look terrible in the morning, or grieve when people die. That is not the point. It is more of an internal wake up to what happens naturally, and that any action of resistance only makes us more disturbed or uneasy. One would best approach this is in awe or surprise, and gradually with wisdom it would mellow down to just a normal fact of life. Surely, a wise grounded person would develop a seemingly detached (looking) emotional connection, while at the same time exhibit compassionate awareness to everything the world throws at us. That is what we can work toward, instead of ignoring or trying to ignore the suffering that exists out there and the suffering we tack on to ordinary existence (the fight I speak of).


What does it take to get there? I have some ideas, but being not fully realized they are just opinions. You can hear them or add to them or throw them out the door for that matter. With a bit of gray hair and survival skills intact it seems to me, one has to first be aware of everything you do to escape what is happening naturally. That can be drinking even casually with friends complaining about life, which comes so naturally because it is often funny what we encounter that we had never planned on. It can be relaxing with the TV on for entertainment or company, or surfing the net to find the most outlandish viral video or finding politics amusing. Even sometimes we engage in physical activity to pause our brain from reality of day-to-day life.


Being aware of each time and why we are doing each thing, while we do it ...it's often called mindfulness, and will gradually ground us. It will unable us to see the reality of our escapism. I want to stress that this sober awareness does not make you morbid, or turn you into a nihilist when done with a long-term wisdom goal in life. In fact, the release you get from stopping running from what is naturally occurring brings a happiness that is more balanced and true to our being. It is something to work towards, bringing more present awareness in everything we do, fine tuning and rebalancing along the way. That it is work, with a keen eye on who we want to be. It is for people who are tired of the way we dealt with life in the past or that it was never quite working. It is not for people who see nothing wrong as it stands, for even they are naturally occurring in life.



I had the great fortune to live in Thailand for long time watching and living with a Thai showed me the wisdom that anyone can have and untapped joy when you fight less with what is naturally occurring. Even with the great demonstrations going on now, and with the whole country in turmoil, people still had a smile. And you thought all my wisdom came from within...hardly. I did use some of the wisdom through the whole visa process and with my partner...at times, because it takes awareness.



The photo above of the shrine after 6 months planted under a bodhi tree, where I lit 3 joss sticks every time I passed, and people added offerings to it as well.


Find the Peaceful Cat

20 March, 2014

Not a Path, Nor a Choice


A year and half ago, it was beginning to look like I would go on my spiritual journey, and maybe in the process I would figure out a good way to bring my partner and I together, naturally. We do fine apart, which has actually helped us grow gradually and more soundly than most. He has a good job, and asked me to move to Asia to be with him. But, I felt that we needed to somehow seal our relationship that would allow an easier passing of the torch, when I die. Sure, I have a will and trust, but as a married couple it would be more financially wise. Plus he has never got a chance to see my life with no visa.

Continuing as we have while exploring how best to link us easier, like a making a home here in Asia, closer than the U.S. to him. With my brain injury, it is damn near impossible with the damage to speech and tone areas of my brain to facilitate learning a language. Jeez, it took my 5 years to get to the lousy English I speak now, stunted and truncated. I speak like I have been drinking, a lot, and even one time a police officer in my own business accused me of drinking when I called them for a theft. That is another story. So, with this in mind last trip I explored other English speaking places to live. I went home last time here, unsettled with no clear answer what or where to go next. I felt a couple of times I acted out my frustration of no clear answer. My spiritual path was a turning into a kind of avoidance in some ways.

While home I did another 10-day Vipassana last May, and upon completion the news was coming out that gay marriage was winning in the courts. DOMA was struck down, and Bill Clinton is still trying redeeming himself of his connection to this discriminatory law. I worked on this for over 20 years, protesting, writing emails, joining campaigns…and here it was.

There was a now a choice, and now I can chose to run with it or not.  The decision to marry would take my original intention further to a new level of giving my partner more opportunities. Because he has shined with everything, when I have helped ...and been very appreciative. It was never a hand out, it was more like a hand up. And beneath all my flaws, he saw a good heart.  If I did not marry him, and chose my own spiritual path over him, than I have not learned anything at all. The choosing mirage was disappearing.

My mother gives all for her children, and if I take after her, I should at give all to my partner. So, I hired a lawyer and got on with a fiancĂ© visa, a month after the news. All along the process, I have given him an out, and still do if this is not for him, but at least he can try life in my house. It was a year’s process and it was never easy, and at the last minute they asked for another document.

It will be huge change for him and at times, he acted like it was not serious. Which would confuse me. It seemed now… looking back, his background of being abandoned by his parents at birth, made him able to cope with life’s drive-by's by not putting it all in one basket, so if his visa passed... he would prepare mentally, then. He thought it would never happen, so he postponed any feelings attached. Now, that it is concrete, and his ticket booked, and marriage planned he has relaxed being while being excited. We get to experience a whole new level of appreciation of each other, even after 13 years. Naturally bonded. To think we talked about this for years and exchanged rings in 2008. Now, I am only scared of crying at my own wedding.

11 March, 2014

Stretched Between...then a Release.

It was a sunny on a warm white sanded beach. I stood in the sand, between two taught stretched white cotton panels, hung between two coconut trees by ropes. I was supposed to meditate while standing up, and the two tight panels hugged me front and back to support me in case I relaxed and fell back or front. I could, if I opened my eyes see through the loosely woven cotton to the ocean and the light slope of the water. Playing in the surf were others who are not part of my history of familiar people, signaling forced seriousness perhaps.  I guessed the panels referenced the suspension while I wait for my partner’s visa, but I have never felt I was missing out whenever I meditate.

With this dream in the back of my mind, I wanted to go back to the south of Sri Lanka to just chill out. My partner said, “Go!,” since he was busy days and offered to pay for my flight, but deep down I was torn. We still don’t know about his Visa to come back to the US to marry and live with me. The embassy has his passport and their last request, “a single certificate” was not on our checklist from them, nor had our lawyer heard of it. He found out how to get one, with his Mom’s help from his home city government, completed it and sent it in. These are only good for 6 months, and if the embassy drags this out longer our visa fee, and other stuff will expire. They can demand anything, I heard from another chap who finally got his partner's visa. This has been frustrating to say the least.


If I take off not knowing, I may be shortening our time together if his visa doesn’t pass. Surely, we have thought about this and have a plan b and c and have dealt with our separation remarkably well for 13 years, but we have strengthened our bond these last 5 months over all the paperwork driving home our history. Looking into increases to almost all costs of this trip, to do alone it really felt selfish. There is a whole new appreciation for the other, which makes an upcoming potential separation seem even more difficult. We can do it, as we have in the past, but then it will push me in making another decision reflecting on the visa's failure. With all this in mind, I decided at the last minute not to go and in my partner’s formally stoic reply... to go ahead and go, he radiated the love that we felt. We try not to mess with each other’s idea of happiness, but when the hearts meet again it is lovely.


Two hours after I posted this ....and after a whole years process my partner received his fiancé visa. Our 13 years are finally recognized by our government. And I was around to see his reaction!

17 February, 2014

Are we hallucinating
the belief that we are separate?

Perhaps a wakeup call. The ego, when fully purchased conjures up some weird stuff. I would find myself thinking I have been through so much suffering. Not my suffering, it was just suffering that we all experience our own version of. That same suffering that propelled me on this path. A perception believed in when you look at it, when it just is life ....unfolding. Or it could be a concept taught by others, perhaps society or family that we grab and just run with it until our grave. Why? Because… it gives us a feeling of being alive. Jeezus, could one just pinch out a couple of candles for quick feeling and be done. I feel like I have reinforced the idea by being or feeling unhappy and that I am a suffering separate person from others, at times. It may often give me the illusion of specialness because the ego demands a firm ground from which to stand on…. to maintain this individualized separateness.  For sure, the positive that came out of this was my meditation to look at life, as it is.


Now, tell me if you don’t, like me, can watch a tearful reunion of family members totally not related to you and feel or exhibit some emotion. It is not just pulling up some old baggage that you have put in deep storage, but real connectedness to others that we share.  Our I is their I and we had better wake up.  It divides us and blocks our happiness. Joy that exists in nature, and it's free! Your I exists, sometimes far from your body, enough so that when you walk into a room carrying some unhappiness people will turn away. I should not ask for validation when I am unhappy either because it was my ego demands. All I am doing is unfurling the pathetic flag that smothers my ability to connect with others suffering and do something as simple as raising the vibration of a room. The only separateness we perceive is others' conditioning from the culture or society that supports this hallucination.

Today, I watched a young boy who was about 5, draw a shark in the condensed water on a 7-11 cooler door he opened. I gave him the thumbs up, and I immediately had a friend. He played hid and seek among the shelves of grocery items. I joined in the fun. I realized his mom works there, and she smiled at our interaction.

09 February, 2014

You are not going anywhere


Life showed up at the door with another test. Frustrated, I told my partner which is silly.  What really he supposed to do mimic my frustration? It doesn't involve him and he has own problems. By not mirroring it, he with his own wisdom did not meet it head on. He let it die on its own. He reminded me that we all die, and this won’t be the last. Saying again, “All we leave when we die are the good deeds we do while alive, that are important.” Really, the frustration rose out of the fact that I was still there, and could not run out of the situation…..I was not going anywhere. Plus, no fairy with her magic wand would come and fix it. I would go into what it was, but that would distract others from finding their own innate wisdom. We all encounter such things and what we bring to the table is a history of reactions we may have learned in the past with our unique combination of traumas. If you did not have any, you would be dead by now. No one is immune.

Later, I watched the film, “All is Lost” and I went for a late night walk alone to get some air. I told my partner it was to get ice cream. Enjoying the night winds, I churned up some thoughts about being confronted with one’s upcoming death every second, and the natural survival that one gravitates toward even when it all seems hopeless.


We all die, so do we struggle with life’s dramas just to avoid this reality? Is it survival instinct or avoiding contemplating our death almost every second, like we should. Hopefully it will arrive onboard, and dictate how we treat others.

On my walk, I thought about my troubles, and then the actor in the film.  I knew to get out of this space,  it would come down to getting busy and helping others. It is not always about you and the gibberish your mind throws.

I knew where to look, and saw the couple again. I bought dinner for the blind couple who sing Isan tunes for spare change on a road overpass. Just in time because they were packing up for the night. Later, while sitting I watched a late night street vendor sit down, with a swollen knee bandaged, and smiled with compassion once I noticed his pain. I took off quickly to a late night pharmacy without saying anything to him, and bought some cream that has pain killer and anti-inflammatory while being cooling and hurried back to give him. I expected nothing in return, I just said hello, and pointed to my knee and gave him the cream and walked away. Immediately, any ideas of “me“ and my difficulties disappeared.


On the way back from giving the vendor his pain cream, I bought my partner two of his favorite taro ice cream bars. This wasn’t walk for me…it was for others. Little did I know, because I was gone long, my partner went looking for me, and while out he bought me two dark chocolate bars. It was funny when I came home, we exchanged ice creams.

03 February, 2014

I Know Who I Am,
Because I Know I Am Not

I’m not a terribly optimistic person, I have a lot of major bad things happen to me. But that is not unique to me, many others have too, and this awareness was my first lightbulb moment to speed my healing. I am not a blameless clean slate either, but most all of it was not done to hurt others. So I have been lucky with a few long-term relationships and have a few close friends and family. I don’t seem to carry it around with me anymore in either a grumpy manner or too much negativity. I am instead more of a realist, with a smidgeon of compassion mixed with good intentions. I have overcome a lot, so one might be surprised that I am not a more a kind of whatever person. I see through people’s bullshit pretty easy, and despise being thought of as being stupid. This happens more often now with a speech disability than you could imagine. I wish I could laugh when people pull stuff like this, but to me it is never laughable because it is built on valuing the other less.

More often now, do some nice things for people or strangers as a kind of surprise when they least expect it. Someone might call it paying forward, and it is never done for others to feel indebted to me. I just remember that whenever someone surprises me with something unexpected, that I like the feeling of time stopped by it when the realization we are all one.

So when I sit down to meditate I am working the “me” apart from the ego and inching it towards just “I am.” Just being. This profound intimacy I have with the self, in meditation, only seems to provide with more relaxed feeling about who I am. This translates to less need to compare one to others, our paths are so unique that there is no way …I could be you. I know who I am, finally ...because I know who I am not.

10 January, 2014

Bliss


Where or when we see our true nature 
is not important.

^click above sentence for an audio treat^

One of them, years ago, 
like the day I shot this photo,
 sent me on my path,
 and it wasn't my near death.
Although that
helped.

It has not been a straight line, 
but the pins of delusion are quietly falling
 with more awareness.

Want a easy pointer?
Start with awareness of our death.
That was the main wake-up call that day
 that started me off.

I looked over a great valley view
 from a ancient site's pointed precipice,
realizing that it existed before me and it will after me.
So do “I” exist now?
For about 20-30 minutes, myI” did not.

It was not scary,
it was an unbelievably freeing.

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