29 September, 2007

Patience, an all-day affair

I was doing some things around home and a friend asked me to go to a book sale. I said sure, and drove there. Not knowing it would be all day affair as he looked for books for his classes where he teaches developmentally disabled kids. So, I quickly put my own self aside and helped him. Every time I wanted to leave and get back to doing my own things I reminded myself that my time for both my friend and his kids was more important than what I had to do. I used this as a test to see how patient I could be, and in turn helped him try to find good books. At the end of the day, I even offered to take his books to his school directly, a long way away. Knowing that two people carrying them would be easier. Then we came back home and I let him nap while I cooked dinner for us both. This was really not in my plans for a nice beautiful sunny day, but as an ex-lover once said to me: “People are not things, and are therefore much more important. Yes, some wise things said to you do somehow stick with you!

27 September, 2007

Pick or Shoes

I have noticed that we people think we operate in a vacuum, alone and fully independent. So this week I have been entertaining friends and new acquaintances I have made. I do this whenever I feel a bit down on myself, to acknowledge the importance they make in my life. All I have to do is remember, that people and family were there the moment I was in ICU. I continue to try to make new friends whether at work, play, or the gym. This is very hard given my disability, but the minute I begin to lay any perimeters on my life, I lose out tremendously. I need people, you need people and we need them more than we often think. It takes many people to enjoy our cup of coffee, or our power, or to make our shoes. If all these people were on strike we would not be very happy without these things. Today, when I called 411 three times talking as slow and as calmly as I could and asked for a business number and they gave me a new wrong number each time. It was hard to not be mad, because I had driven across town to find a business and wanted to call. So, I instead met a friend and dealt with calling the phone company unrushed when I got home. Because I was calm and nice, they apologized and took the charges off my bill. There was no point in showing with anger to the person who handled my call that this really made an hour more of work and put me behind in what I wanted to accomplish. I just talked about the weather on her end and my end and ended it with a calm note. She in turn will have a much better evening with one less angry person during her shift. Knowing the chain reaction we can often cause, because we are so interconnected.
I want to send prayers to the monks and the people faced with bullets in Myanmar(Burma), just to help their fellow citizens eat. They need us now.
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24 September, 2007

Ocean of Memories

I have been watching Ken Burns WWII film series. After the first night was done, I laid awake thinking before falling asleep. One person came to mind was my friend, M whom I dated one night back in 1982. Although he was young he was still forward enough to tell me he liked me but not “that way.” We instead, graduated as friends, and he moved in with me for a few months, after he had a blow up with his parents. He had great plans in life and we often spoke of this. I always thought he was very smart. Later when he moved out, and I became friends with his Mom, running with her on long distance loops. It was less than a year he became very ill in at the hospital. Diagnosed with something unknown combined with pneumonia. He prevented me from seeing him a few times when he was getting his lungs suctioned. One night I drove out to see him, and ended up not being able to see him and in the fog I sat crying. I had talked to his Mom earlier, and I got the feeling he was not going to pull out of it. He died soon after, without me being able say good-bye at the young age of 18, of what we later found out was a new disease, AIDS. This was 1984, and it was all too new to us. Our friendship, although it was a brief two years was rewarding and special. Today, I remain friends with his parents and shortly after his death gave them all the photos I had of him. M, you go on living in me and your parents so don’t worry. I am sending you good thoughts. Cheers!

22 September, 2007

Embarrassment or Enlightenment?

Now, it seems like banks are closing their doors or sub-prime branches bitten with all the new foreclosures. I really don’t feel any pity for lenders who obviously over-looked their client's lack of income to make a buck. These same banks are all calling foul, when they knew from the beginning when they were praying on the poor's desire to have a home. Which brings back to an earlier point that no one will accept personal responsibility in our society. And to make matters worse people think they can profess their innocence loud enough or many times and just absolve themselves of their guilt. Believe it or not, it will come back to haunt you if not later in life…now.
I am proud that the monks in Myanmar have risked their lives in hopes to change their suppressive government. I think they came to the point with Buddhist intention, with death as a given, and that only they can make the change happen in effort to help other poor people. This will only increase their karma by helping to end this suffering. Now, that is the door to enlightenment!

20 September, 2007

A New Moon

Sorry, it has been many moons since I wrote, while getting my home ready for winter. Supervising work and doing some myself from 7 am until 4 pm. So physically exhausting I had to nap, before going to bed at night. I got a lot done in a one-week time span, and of course now I have to pay for it. One of my neighbors joking calls me Mr. Perfect, because I maintain my house, instead of letting it fall apart like some people do with their body. I maintain my house and my car, doing work before it becomes a huge problem. These are important investments, so I can be assured that they will continue to be safe and working. During this time there were several instances where I was able to put my mindfulness to work when dealing with the workers and running for supplies. I saw a few times when anger could surface and I would smile and never show my displeasure. It made people even more friendly and relaxed. This brought others and myself some calmness in the rush to get things before an announced rain…which, of course never happened.

16 September, 2007

Expanding my Bubble

I’m curious, does fear keep one away from being the person we want to be? What I mean is we often think our happiness or our goals are a long way from where we are right at this moment. So what is keeping us from using our power of imagination? Just think of a worry you have that has not even happened! One can seem to hype it up in your mind enough to make an OK day turn dreary. I know I do it time and time again. So I am beginning while meditating to imagine I have a great feeling. It can be something I like, or want that I know in my mind makes me happy and transfer that feeling to imagining I am happy. Like the happy feeling you have when in love when everything in life looks like beautiful and people don’t bother you. I, in effect, prolong the “love-like happiness’ I created and transfer it to imagining that I am the person I want to be. Hopefully I will be kinder and more compassionate in time as I go along. Thus knocking out the huge divide from where I am now to where I want to be. Perhaps, if I keep this up I will expand my bubble of happiness that I found in meditation to my normal interactions by actually being happier longer.

14 September, 2007

You Are Going Wrong Way

People reading my thoughts must think I am a very serious person. On one aspect I am, brought about by my near death experience and disability. On the other hand I find that to write fluff, it would be a waste of my time. So, if you want fun try “The Onion” or “Comedy Central Blog” and come back here for a slice of reality. But rest assured I laugh and smile at stupid stuff, even of my own doing.
I find it interesting that a $315 million powerball winner laments his loss of friends. He also endured his grand-daughter’s death from drugs and his wife leaving him. The article goes much more in depth, but money is not everything and he regrets ever winning. We cannot hold on to it, nor use it to control people. I have to constantly remind myself of this fact while paying for my partner’s college. It is his life, and my input should be only to show I care and inspire. I have my own relative’s story about money and trying to hold on to it that I may tell later. Just remember this when you put money ahead of family and friends or in the pursuit of ‘so-called happiness,” as there is no-turning back.

13 September, 2007

Offering of Bliss

Meeting my clients at their commercial building was a nice break in the day. They were looking at the progress and wanted to say how much they are happy with my work. I look forward to more work with them. They were fasting for religious reasons today, but still bought me tea and snacks. Such nice people to work for making my work easy and rewarding. I got back in my car, and got a surprise call from a senior member on my Buddhist temple saying she wanted to sponsor me for our empowerment in Singapore. I was speechless. It would be a sizable amount with air and hotel for a week. But when I really think of my responsibilities here and to my partner and mother I feel it would be a bad time to go away. It is hard to turn down a good thing, but any money I would spend would be that much less I could give my partner for school. So, I graciously turned it down, aware that these opportunities come few and far between. Uggh, now I have to closet my ego.

12 September, 2007

Peace is at your Sit Bones

Yesterday, my Teacher at temple asked the people there, during a teaching “When were you the most happiest? Has it been in the past or are you working towards that day? The entire class was mute unable to answer or were hard at thought. She continues, "To be quite honest if it hasn’t happened by now, good chances it will never happen." And that with our high tech advantages, health care, cars, computers and toys…we Americans are no closer to happiness. In fact, there a lot more people on anti-depressants than every before; totally stressed out and multi-tasking in a pool of confusion. We have to calm our mind down, accept change, and you can only do this by meditating. I have heard this teaching before but not said in this manner, and it just helped to reinforce my need to keep on this path of learning Buddha’s teachings and meditate daily. I have seen such a huge change already being happier and less apt to gravitate to anger when things don’t go my way. So often they don't go our way, yet we try to arrange our day thinking we can avoid problems, funny, eh? We know we have this on-going dialogue in our head moving at a high rate of speed. Most of time pre-occupied with critiquing others and dissatisfaction with life. Just quiet this down by meditating is a great start, and happiness will follow. Many people make excuses why they can’t do it, without ever practicing, because that is really what it takes. No one is great at anything first try. All you have to do is ask yourself is... are the same old ways of looking for happiness outside of myself working?
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10 September, 2007

Effects or Expectations?

The effect we have on others is often forgotten. Last night my past lover and now a close friend called. He has been busy and I have not heard from him in awhile so when he called I felt relieved. Hearing his voice, I cannot undo the memories of the time we spent together. We, of course have skillfully moved into a rewarding friendship. I won’t say this was easy but necessary because there was still love…maybe in a different form. Thinking, it is something everyone should do when they breakup. This happens when you have solidly developed a friendship when you are partners. I have two other past relationships, besides this one that have evolved into close friendships. Now, they are going on 10 and 20 years. I know it hard to be mature when a relationship breaks up, and feelings are raw. But look to the future and what you want to keep that you still find valuable. Looking at my photo, my father would often forget how the effect he had on me. What mistakes he made or where I would go in my career and when. Luckily, towards the latter part of his life, he tried much harder to be understanding, and compassionate. Sadly, it could not fully undo the damage he caused when I was a boy. But, I had matured in my expectations in the years after his death.

08 September, 2007

Flowers of Love

Remaining in a calm state the day proved rewarding. I made brunch for a friend to save us both money Later, helped a client for free, to show that I care about my referrals. She wanted a darker stain on her lamp parts, and I did it while talking with their family. Instead of charging her and being firm, it was easier to just do it for free. Her husband gave me a beer while I worked on them in their living room, so it was like working for old friends.
I would like to dedicate this day to my partner who has brought me great joy for over 6 years. Hence the two flowers photo. I find it difficult to be apart, but you know the difficulties placed on us gay people and the rights we are missing to marry or get a civil union. This would allow us the same rights as heterosexuals. But, I at least have been instrumental in forwarding our rights the past 20 years, and see progress with acceptance. So, I try to remain positive knowing change takes time confident it does not change our love.

07 September, 2007

A Walk in the Night

It took a night to wind down after a busy week. Last night a couple of clients took me to Pakistani dinner and a drink after being happy with my conscientious work on their commercial building. I worked with another client today helping her finesse some cheap lamps into better looking ones by adding hardware and painting some. Finally at the end of the day, I got a chance to talk to an old friend for an hour on the phone. Later visiting another to get some cheap dinner and talk. Taking photos tonight to find an interesting one for this page. I found it odd when talking to a client earlier and putting some paper trash in recycling, she said, “You are not one of those?” I quickly said “Yes, I am.” I care about the environment and my impact on it. It kind of made her think, but I am sure it won’t change her mind or bad habits. I found it interesting that she has a child, and I don’t.

05 September, 2007

A Dog Day

On Sunday, at a party a Chihuahua was running around among all the people. He jumped up on my lap. I guess he sensed my calm state brought on by Saturday’s all day meditation. He quickly fell asleep even with all the people and noise. It also came in handy today with work and dealing with an uncooperative painter who was painting for my client. He took upon himself to ignore what the client and I agreed upon and make decisions only to make his job easier. I worked in some of his ideas he had made the client agree to, but then when I was firm with my ideas, to make his ideas work he stormed off. I maintained throughout, which is just short of a miracle. I did not raise my voice, nor did I disrespect him. It does point to the good changes I have made in the last three years. I know that I can’t rest on my laurels and need to keep on working for the remainder of my life. The old habits we have are so much a part of us, that changing our mind is an ongoing process.

03 September, 2007

The Hidden Buddha

The day after a full day of meditation that brings the Buddha out of you. I was much more calm and even tempered and quite relaxed. I am always reminded in a good way to keep doing it, seeing slight progress nearly every time. Today, I answered a posting by a woman who wanted to know what to do with her life and was open to suggestions. I told her about a Japanese woman I met with my partner while traveling. She was alone traveling all over S.E. Asia writing a blog and getting financial support by Japanese men at home to timid to do what she did as a woman. It brings me to the point that we have a lot more freedom to do whatever we want in life and often feel hampered by our own mind. Is it the fear of change? Or, trying to be so safe we often miss out on the fun and exciting things this world has to offer. The simple fact of leaving our own little world is very liberating. I used to joke, looking at the carpet in someone's house..."No, I'll just follow the path!"

01 September, 2007

The Mind is Never Abandoned

I am feeling sort of like I abandoned my sister and her son since I got back from seeing them. We both have talked since I returned and we both feel the void. I was told that even their dog, who I liked was acting funky. I can’t complain because I had a good visit, now can I?
So I took the great opportunity that just happened to come up today, a day-long meditation on Lamrim. It was four of the twenty-one meditations, with breaks in between. It gave me time to make my practice better and to think about everything happening right now. I won’t hint that it was easy, because it wasn’t, even for someone like me who meditates at least four times a week for under an hour. Luckily, each session was guided with teachings in advance by my teacher. This is the same one who inspired me and keeps me on track for learning more. I dedicated all the merit I acquired to my Mom. This may sound silly after the feelings about my sister and her son stated earlier, but Mom created our ability to be a close family.
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