28 February, 2009

25 February, 2009

A Peaceful Talk

A friend asked me to go to another organization’s Dharma talk and meditation that fit better in his busy schedule. Of course, I said yes, but watched quietly on my internal chatter. In that space between my ears, I heard myself debating whether it would be as good as my current teacher who has 30 years experience direct from a well-respected Tibetan monk. I fought quietly my dismissals of pre-conceived ideas of how it would be, and forced myself to go openhearted. I knew the organization's stature in the community and heard of them for years. We arrived early thinking there would be some Chi gong warm-ups first. The church that held these talks, also houses and feeds homeless so we walked in just as they were entering for the night and settling down. After a quick look around we found out the warm-ups were cancelled, so I said lets meditate until they start the session.

Sitting down in the back of an old, cold, gothic church, I pulled my hood over my head, since I have short hair to keep it warm. Starting to meditate, using the idea of relaxing expectations, so in the 40 minutes it took to start the session, I was fully relaxed. In a poof of smoke most all of my reservations left, so I could easily settle in for their mediation before the talk. People quietly entered and some sat in pews, and a few sat on the floor. I know people get attached to “their” spot wherever it might lie, so I watched and let most everyone settle in, then took a space left in the side aisle. Another 40 minutes breezed by, without me every having to move, primed from my earlier meditation with hardly a thought coming to mind, but the chill of the church. When they broke the meditation, I moved to a pew totally focused on whatever this new dharma teacher had to say, taken by his calmness and forethought that was maintained throughout the teaching . He spoke on one of Buddha’s teachings to monks about letting it be, and just watching every feeling that arises. Whatever it may be. I was happy knowing that if just one person is helped then it really doesn't matter who the teacher is. The teacher never misspoke or guessed, and upon completion answered questions from people. I watched when three different members asked questions and looking around it became quite obvious the suffering aura the room carried with it. I am not saying I above suffering by no means, more of the awareness of the commonalities we all share living this human life. Perhaps, I am just lucky to see at this instance to see my suffering takes a seat behind all others.

My new quote that I hope has never been expressed anywhere:
“If you are no longer a man of your word,
how can you maintain the belief in yourself?”

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21 February, 2009

B is for Brain

What if you are reading a book, and you find yourself dragging out finishing it. I find this happening now and am wondering if what is this fear of not wanting to put it to bed. It feels like a small death. But, you say, why and when there are so many good books to read? Why I am being so foolish? I don’t know, if I keep it going, diving back into a faraway place and out, I may somehow will make me that think that life doesn’t end. But I know even more so now that my end is closer than the beginning was. I even dreamt about this a few times at night. And I thought that I would live forever. Damn fool! I am still a bit pissed about this, because even since I was a kid watching all the science miracles and cryonics, I thought by now they have figured out a way to put your brain in a new body. Fat chance, and even if they could with my luck and my brain, it would end up being worse than what I have now. And who really wants an old damaged brain in a young body… eeeks! Kids are going up too fast as it is! So back to my book, I know deep down this can’t be the cause that I am just not setting aside enough time for a brain injured person(me) to read. I can’t read on a bus or when it is noisy. Same with talking, the more input the harder conversation is, so I have to switch to being a listener more. There is always a positive spin on things. I was thinking about this while talking to a friend, as I get older I am more able to see the subtleties of life. The slight upward cadence of a person’s voice when they are happy to talk to you, as well as the slight downward tone that can be a wide variety of causes, from being busy to not happy to talk at this moment. As a listener, I see when people have to talk, even when there is nothing important to say. So, now I have to finish this smart book Finding Orwell In Burma, to change my perspective at this moment. We only really have this moment.

15 February, 2009

It Was a Very Good Year

Oh, so damn long ago, here I am, going for a drink at the bar in Keystone Inn, a ski lodge with friends, celebrating my 21st birthday. A nice bar that normally we could never afford to be in, if we didn't work there. Finally, I can put the 3.2 beer they sell to those kidsters where it belongs…in the urinal. I'm there living nearby with a bunch of other college drop-outs in a A-frame house on the Snake River. A house so trashy we never had to clean it. In the spring, the river used to flood our basement and blow out the pilot on our water heater. Damn it!.. cold showers, again. One friend, Dr. Bong used to fall asleep with his boots on the fireplace stove and wake us to black smoke billowing upstairs. So, he used to wake up with magic marker on his face, our little art therapy, and today he was a pirate! That guy could sleep through anything. We could ski all day, and then work nights setting up conventions. No stranger to wild kid pranks, I used to marvel at the smart asses that use to throw butter pallets on the convention ceiling. “Honey, I think we struck oil somewhere in the rockies!” as they fell when the heat came on and the seminar was in full swing. But it was a bitch to clean up after, and it wasn’t until I found a ruined suit coat on a chair back, did I look up. Quickly pulling my baseball cap back down and yelling, "There she blows," pointing upwards. And then we had to cook the space to speed up their delivery to earth. Or Not. Rolling tables in and out to set up or take down spaces, like a juggling act. We were dressed up in best Purina khaki, strapped with belt pagers that allowed us to text out the next location for Wild turkey, a nap in a vacant room or a maid rendezvous in a suite. All while I fantasized about a new troop mate working there or a roommate. It was crazy time, but back to my 21st party at the bar. It is May, but being 9000 feet it was still snowing. The heavy kind of snow that killed any noise, and we watched outside the window as it piled up. “I can’t wait to ski the east face.” Jordan said. It was a face off the highest chair, that was only attainable when you traversed far away from the main run. A great place to crash in new snow when bindings don’t release. The bar was cozy, a bit higher class than the four of us, in our head we had a Mark IV in the garage, but no... we just knew the bartender. One of us the got the crazy idea to do Kamikazes, and we were off. The unstoppable, William Shatner, a childhood source of entertainment, was at the bar that night and ready to propel us into space with another round. We all said he looks great, and then joked that he was holiday until his face lift scars relaxed. Thanks for drinks, Bill! Drunk and stupid we had to leave to get home to bed to work the following day, and three of us piled into my car and the rest in of my roommate's car. Driving home to put “Dr. Bong” to bed, our resident stoner. It was snowing in big chunky fat girls flakes. I took off, driving along the road, clipping the right front tire in the snow on the side of the road and laughing at the huge ploom of snow that cascaded outwards. We were hysterically laughing and just about the time that someone said, watch out!…the car was sucked in, jettisonned off the road, still laughing. Landing was great, just like a pile of feathers...quiet, soft and totally white. Whumphf! When the hysterics ended, we rolled down the widows and dug ourselves out. Walking out to our friends who saw it all happen from the car behind. My thanks go out to the guy in the white truck with a wench that just pulled my little Corolla to safety…all for a just a stern warning to be a little more careful. It was a very good year!
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09 February, 2009

Expanding Pleasant Experiences

I have been seeing a new friend who lives on the same street, a few doors down from where a previous partner of mine lived over 20 years ago. I find it pretty interesting in looking at his old place now when I go see her...it is so small. It for some reason always makes me laugh when I see it. This, mind you, is not because I was a little kid, all of 25. My memories of that place and the events that happened there have obviously expanded in the years that have passed. They were all happy, loving, youthful and silly and now many years later …still bring some joy when recalled. What arguments and petty disappointments that happened way back there and at that time are long forgotten. It is no surprise that although we are not partners now, we enjoy a good friendship to this day. It could be because of our intent back then, that remained to this day...they outshined any bad moments. So my memory enlarged the house and events in mind in the years that passed, I guess because it wasn’t contained… it expanded. If it had been a bad experience it would have been painful and concentrated in a tight mind. Recalling painful experiences one often finds the same or concentrated repeats of the anger and hurt. You can't lose sleep over things that are no longer happening and have passed… which seems totally foolish if you really think about it. I am reminding myself to create the experiences I want to relive and enjoy again. If I can limit any anger I have now, it will allow pleasant feelings to rise with greater frequency. I am all for enjoying the lightness of being that I am capable of, so it will naturally lead me to concentrating my mind in love and compassion. Some foresight with my actions would be much better...a reminder.

05 February, 2009

Worry or Not?

If you stop worrying about things you can’t change, and there are tons of them, you'll begin to find your ability and frequency of happiness increases. I have found in moments of weakness, when worry creeps back in, if I get busy with helping others I can avoid it fairly easily. These ideas are not mine, but Buddha’s. Often tried by me, once I have heard the applicable teaching once or twice and made a bit firmer in meditation with concentration and reflection. My goal is lessen the irritation that is really low-level anger when we find fault in most everything we encounter. I am not trying to be humorless drone, and being so far from perfect, would be happy with 20% less dissatisfaction to things I don’t like. If I can accept things and just be neutral in feeling, instead of labeling as something I don’t like…I will easily see the happiness quotient increase.
So things I want to change become more of an intention for good, then a rejection of the bad. This actually has the benefit of expanding your world, instead being fenced in with the enormity of your dislikes. I would like to promote Lifestraw even through it is made of plastic, which in some poor countries is often burnt for disposal. Although it does not work on salt or chemically polluted water, it still is a valid and low cost way to save people’s lives. Many charities work hand in hand with Vestergaard Frandsen, the manufacturers of Lifestraw. For the $2 you spend on one coffee, you could help give one person clean drinking water for a year! That is how one could quickly jack up your happiness by putting yourself in another’s shoes. Especially for those less fortunate. My link to Mercy Corps in the upper right is just one of these charities.
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