31 December, 2010

Firsts in 2010

Some firsts in 2010 that I’m grateful for:

Trying Kirtan with Jai Uttal even with a speech disability. Leading me to watch Manose on flute play for his mother…touching.

Offering my home to a stranger….and watching Meditation transform someone else.

Meditating with Nuns, celebrating female wisdom.

Yoga with “Ms. Happy Toes” Rachel, with super positive vibes and who taught us while pregnant …always ends the class with a chant. When was last time someone sang for you?

Having a new injury to remind me that my time nears, urging me to more compassionate and showing me the indispensable power of the Dhamma, yet again.

Watching a transformation in a monastic of letting go …allowing the clear light of wisdom shine through.

27 December, 2010

Offloading on Monastics

A woman stood up in the Sangha, unveiling a nightmare of family problems afraid of where it leaves her mind state in an upcoming retreat. Like a car wreck, you can’t help but listen and look but also feeling compassion for her because you know how she is feeling. She can’t possibly go into enough detail to get any kind of resolution. The teacher spoke of watching your mind, her aversion and the hurt while in mediation which seemed like a good reply, because it not about others but yourself and how you handle difficulties. Everyone has some difficult hurdles in life, and it all ends with our death.

I have told teachers and monastic’s details of my life, in casual conversation to help them understand why I say my sister’s name about whom to chant for during prayers. I spoke of her paranoia and schizophrenia that took her away from the family. She loves her delusions. I don’t really expect any monastic or teachers to solve my problems. I do see many a person, having never come for prayers or a Dhamma talk, offload on them, treat them like free therapy. They have given up a lot in the pursuit of wisdom, no drinking, no eating whatever and whenever you want and wearing the same robe. They suffer and probably still do…they are human beings stuck in Samsara. A fair bit of compassion should be held, by us lay folks. Maybe even respect, like make an appointment so they are prepared. When it asked for and the timing feels right, by all means discuss things that getting in the way of your spiritual progress. To give them a logical way to approach your problems, in the framework of the Sangha, their experience and your own growth. I am by no means saying to suck it up, but everything in life has its time and place. Sometimes, you will see a monastic saying nothing as you cry, from their wisdom seat they know nothing they say can be said to make you feel better…don’t be surprised.

24 December, 2010

Month of Silence in January

I was sleeping and settled into one of my complex, but fun dreams when I awoke a kicking sound on my house. I heard some giggling and talking, and rolled over to go back to sleep. Once I am awakened by something out of the ordinary it is usually hard to go back to sleep, as the mind goes towards the sound. I lay down with my hand on my heart and my belly to try to ignore it, but I can't. Looking out of my bedroom window, I realize that three dot-com kids were drinking and smoking, but not really raising hell, is a flashback to my club days. I am them. I think how best to make them aware that the casual kicking of my wall while they talk, magnifies like a drum in my bedroom. I can no longer be the hilarious joker I was in the past with my speech problem, but I really want to go outside and say, “Ahh, While dreams of sugarplums dance in my head!” I want them to know, but in a lighthearted way. So I go outside, with a smile say, “Yes? It is all good, but the kicking woke me up."

I can tell by the way the reacted that it did not piss them off and they quietly walked back down to their house below. I really did not care if they stayed, but that is the way it played out. I ended up reading an hour more in bed to quiet the mind, which quite frankly would have been the time they would have tired of being there in the cold. Was it all really necessary?

Which brings me to the desire for wisdom and peace, and much of it has to do with what goes on in my head. I know from having a sarcastic Father, and a hard upbringing that his difficulties brought on his quick and biting humor. But I really no longer have to instigate negative speech to interact with people, and of course I do it at least half as much as I did years ago. I said in an earlier post that I figure that I should go silent in day-to-day life for a month, exist with a pad and pen while out, emails and text…my life allows this. I know that I am too lazy to write anything that is not absolutely necessary for communication. I have had previous experience coming from non-speech to my present state with my injury. What has lately come to mind is the fact that I worked hard to get some of my speech back, only to use on occasion negative speech …when I am in fact happy and have a pretty good life. I try to be the light when I go the gym and do errands, but my brain injury is such that just talking is terribly difficult, so I often frown when it gets complex beyond a few words. Most of the time it is the mechanics of speech, and my desire to pick simpler words to speak for the listener. When I encounter people in stores or cafes too busy to pay attention I try to make it easier on them and thus, me ...by either waiting until I am alone with them(letting others go ahead) so they can pay attention to me talking. When they don’t or can’t it actually aggravates me when I am trying to communicate, and so my peace quickly flies out the door.

So being silent can work on two areas of wisdom at once. One being watching everything you want to say, and where the feeling comes from, and two hopefully easing some difficult times for me in interactions. What I say in most all cases is not really necessary for survival. It will be interesting to see friends and not talk. Some won’t be able to handle it and it will only be those who talk too much already.

So the month of January I will try as much as possible not to speak, except Pali prayers at temple, and will write about this. I will wear my Silence proverb t-shirt at the gym(in the hopes to inspire others), and I have told a few people my desire not to speak, so this is not yet another freaky new thing I am doing.

11 December, 2010

It Was Always Right ...Here

For the longest time, I thought being on this path would help to make me into a better person. Honestly, it seems that it actually helps to shed the crap and whittle me down to a core being who is truly a good person with pure intentions, occasionally (that is where the work comes in). What am I doing is not gaining more knowledge, but letting go of ideas I am attached to my ‘self’..the trappings of ego.

I have been thinking that I would like to do a two month retreat as a lay person or a monk like in Myanmar or Sri Lanka. In Theravada line, perhaps forest style. If anyone has ideas, please comment below.

02 December, 2010

Luck... Put Into Proper Perspective

In an effort not to pick a hot news topic and effuse my opinion on it, I am posting less and meditating more. Not to mean there is nothing to say, and there are tons of feelings about world events I would like to spout about. I obsessed about the Oregon teen terrorist case, feeling we always have money for law and prisons, but not help to channel harmful intentions into better decisions. I am beginning to understand that wisdom does not morph out of my opinions, no matter how brilliant they sound to me.

I cooked for three hours for a friend, just because it felt fun. A nice hot meal finishing with a fresh acorn squash pie for dessert. I did not tell him what I planned to serve, just called him at work asking him if he is hungry. He said he will stop by for...whatever. Pouring tons of tea, we had spoken a couple of days ago about a mutual friend. I said, “Don’t you know her mom is missing?” He replied, “What?” Then I told him what I know and the mystery surrounding. Doesn’t it all begin to make sense knowing this friend? He was obviously trying to assemble his impressions of her over the years. “It is shame, it has never been answered.”

In our conversations about what we want to accomplish before we expire we covered many of our projects. We also talked about what I feel is a real stumbling block on my path, that is, how I was brought up. It provides me one way to see the world and how I act on it…is often based on the way I was taught. Unlearning is also part of my path, and to do so, might very well take not talking for a month. I dread it, if only not being able to vent my frustrations and a few family phone calls. My life leans away from speaking constantly with my injury, but I am still not silent when out and about. The other day when I mentioned the idea to the Nuns they said, "Please, not now, but how about when we go on retreat in January?"

We again reflected on our friend, and immediately I felt better. I'm able to quickly realize the good luck I have even with this injury that allows me to ‘get over it” in many ways easier than other people. It was all learned just like learning how to meditate and reflect on my actions. And unlearning is reconfiguring myself to access the core integrity I do have and have always had. With that comes the person I would like to be, naturally. I am constantly reassuring other people when confronted by my story, that, “Yes, you would do this
the same way.” Try to find a positive outcome and pursue it, ...that is, once you get past the self-pity.

25 November, 2010

My Heart Wasn't in My Own Action

In pursuing this Buddhist path and how to approach a clear understanding of past habits and patterns, I came upon this interview that has some great points. Certainly, meditation really helps bring the experiential closer to home, i.e. the body. But you know our little weasel of a mind that often cries, “What about me?

Here is some transcript from points I find clear and pointed from Peter Shor’s interview of Andy Nesky(part 2 of 7), explaining the teaching of George Ivanovitch Gurdjief on Youtube. Gurdijief borrowed heavily from ancient religions forming his own teaching. I feel transcribing it would be more beneficial to other seekers of wisdom than just putting up the link. There are a few jewels of wisdom here and I might post some more. I apologize if I make any errors in my transcribing, and the italics are mine.

“Basically as we’re mostly reactionary. So he says something to me and really I have a reaction and I say what my reaction is. If you insult me I might have a reaction of feeling defensive because I don’t think I deserved that kind of comment. In most of our life goes sort of like back and forth with reactions. The problem with reactions they don’t always serve our purposes. So in a certain situation my anger might have caused me to lose my job. In another circumstance my fear may prevent me for doing what I really need to do. An opportunity that might never come again. So by being aware and expanding our consciousness we get to the root of ourselves in these situations so that the peripheral reaction that happens in the case of say anger or fear or any of these common forms of lower emotions. There is something that can shift through it and can see through the surface of it. So for example a person insults me and see directly that the person who is that position is a hurt person, and it maybe because they were mistreated by their parents or whatever the circumstances. By being able to have a deeper connection with the present moment and the person I speaking with, my compassion for seeing that would prevent me from just falling into anger and saying something that would not be beneficial for that situation. So part of the idea of more consciousness in life is having the ability to choose. To decide what is appropriate for any given moment and to not just be subject for reaction. If I’m there and deciding, I have an aspect of will or an aspect of I as an individual, that isn’t there, if I am just reacting. So, when I react and basically I am this set of patterns that were formed in my childhood and all my life, up to now. Hence, I learn to have a deeper connection with myself and have a choice at given moment how to manifest. Then there is a conscious intention that inwardly is manifested as a state of ‘I am.’ I am an individual that can choose what to do, what to say, what is appropriate, rather than just fall into a mechanical action. The advantage of that is that is many of our mechanical reactions gets us into trouble, because we get into a habit. So if I have a habit of drinking it may lead me to be an alcoholic, or if I have a habit of smoking my lead me to certain forms of cancer. Various kinds of things that we do mechanically don’t surface.”

I know for myself, more than half of how I deal with life, I learned from my alcoholic father. A father who was sadly inconvenienced by his four kids. Sometimes, I would come home and it would be a sarcastic commentary on the messed up world that is out to get us. Oh, he was funny and biting and had it all right, until it came to us children. It was suddenly no fun, anymore. Other times, it was hell on fire with no fire extinguisher. It never left me with a reasonable way to see the world, and so I learned to be reactionary, thinking I can make a decision right or wrong and be done. A Fight or flight way of seeing the world, which doesn't always allow you to be a well adjusted and diplomatic person. Or just be able to sit with it. Yet, I am inside a common sense type of person, who is now on this wisdom path to make a sensible and kind contribution. Instead of running away.

19 November, 2010

Try a Day Without Plastic

After seeing these two videos, it makes me want to be even more aware of how much plastic packaging we encounter every day. From our to go coffee cup lids, shaving blades to our "bagged Spinach." In Sri Lanka, my partner and I gathered three huge bags of plastic waste on the beach in Mirissa in just one hour. I have quit buying any drinks in plastic and filter my own water putting it in stainless steel and stopped plastic garbage bags but that is just not enough. Try to be aware of how plastic you use, and the fact that you end up eating it one way or another.
Here are two sites with information on what you can do:

14 November, 2010

Where Do I Belong?

In spending two weeks away at another friend's house with only two cats as "friends," I was able to spend a lot of time meditating and thinking. If I need to be around those that know me and love me to feel alive, then I do have a lot more work to do ...to let go. I know that I have come to understand my purpose in life this time away and am beginning to understand some of hindrances to my wisdom path. It is probably better for me not to speak, or to avoid it at all costs. My frustration and others' when they look at me dumbfounded because in most cases they are not really listening. I have to then, in the case of a public place, quickly figure out how best to communicate usually in a pressure infused situation. This does does not bring out the best in either party, and soon becomes fork in the road off my wisdom path. I know the doctors encourage me to speak in order to get things working again, but a clinical environment is not the real world. Incidentally, when traveling to foreign countries I have much better luck with comprehension because those are trying to listen. They guess I am a foreigner, too ...instead of brain injured.

Mainly it comes down to what I say is not that important that I can't write it down to communicate on a small pad. I guess, my pride is showing up when I can't make it easier for others by doing so. Ego aside, this will, in fact, make me seem less agitated and thus smooth the path to wisdom knowing I often don't belong in the "normal" world.

09 November, 2010

Do I post to let people know I exist?

Bicycling to a cafe while out of town, I sat down with my tea and said "hi" to a gentleman sitting reading the paper, inquiring about a free chair next to him. In asking one question as a reply to one of complaints, I was suddenly subjected to a total hour of his life's story without any breaks. I began to size up why this was happening, as whatever mindfulness I had at first just flew away. Perhaps, he is lonely but it seems like too much information on his side without any regards to me. It seemed so peculiar, but certainly tied in to why the gentleman may not have any friends. I could not even been there once he got started causing me to burn out any compassion I had. It was so exhausting that I told him I have to go to the bathroom, and never looked back...and left the place. A man who complains about the intentions of others, who did not reflect on how he presents himself.... discordant like the dancer below.

Thinking of this guy's verbal papancha reminded of the question, "Do I post to let people know I exist?" I have said previously that the real reason I blog is to provide my partner my partner a real insight as to who I am in case I die unexpectedly(like do we ever really expect it?) But, I, in fact, know him well enough to know that words from my thinking mind make no difference to him, as he really works from his heart. He knows full well who I am, it has been almost ten years now. I finally know my life's purpose and obviously it was not to write but instead to allow my partner to be able to reach his full potential. In the process I have learned to love without expectations with the knowledge his pure intention and consistent love was his gift to me.

04 November, 2010

We Are Only As Good As We Think

I am staying in a friend's house offered from his heart, away from my little perceived troubles. When I think about it, I gave my seeker friend my home whenever he is in town. I did that, not expecting this to happen. Wow, I feel lucky. I have been meditating and playing with his cats, just chilling. Tonight, I went to a Buddhist temple and meant a whole new crew. Outside after a dhamma talk a man complimented on my "buddha nature," saying I must have been on the path for years just by how he viewed me tonight. I said, "thank you," but I really wanted to help him in any way I could. He was involved in a conversation with someone else when he broke it to say this to me. Perhaps next week, I can do something that will definitely help. Meanwhile, the least I could is share the excitement I feel with Fagattron's talent below.

27 October, 2010

Who Am I?

Upon entering, the nun smiled and said, “I knew it was you.” I sat down to do prostrations to Buddha before puja, while she went upstairs, telling the other nun I was there. I heard her say my name in reference to who was there and it struck me as odd. I am more than my name, and very often I go with out ever hearing my name. People often call who are familiar to me, and so they don’t say who they are and don’t ask who I am. I am the person they want to talk to, and I guess I am that person. When I really think about the way it all feels…I am so much more than my nametag. Not in some grand way with a snap of my fingers and a flip of my hair. More like pure awareness on a good day and on other days just one successive sense feeling, after another. If I stop and listen to the sound of silence, then the person who answers to my name is not there. At that moment is pure awareness.

When was the last time you called yourself by your name? I bet that was only when you made an error that even you could not believe, so you did so, to ridicule yourself. This is not affectionate awareness of your self, and you are dividing the person who does with the person who is the self. Peace comes to those that sees the observer and the observed as one, more like the spaces between thoughts and feelings. That can increase by watching everything you do, say, hear, and think. Then you'll see it quickly followed by attraction or aversion, which will become the trigger for a feeling that is so far from peace. Just becoming more aware your body will then tell you to avoid those strong attachments, thus by passing your thinking mind.

It is not what you do, but what you stop doing that matters.
—Sri Nisaragadatta Maharaj

21 October, 2010

This is Not Mine

They say that people come into your life for a reason, and my friend staying at my house for two weeks allowed me to learn to share even more. I could have easily said, “Not now.” about this time to stay here when I have a lot going on, but also realized this would be a great learning experience. I could watch how close I hold what is supposedly mine so tightly. Wisdom comes to those who can put themselves in other’s shoes.

I"ll miss our conversations at night over dinner, prodding me to think even more carefully about what and who the hell I really am. In turn, I shared with him my experience and how one could bring a little more compassion into his practice. Totally different thinkers that could find a common desire to wake up to what life really is ...at this moment. It was interesting to see how he could detach from wanting any outcome, knowing that life happens whether we think we have control over our destiny or not. Just watching the mind. It was great to have someone in my house meditating morning and night even though I had a lot going on, with a torn up house while redoing floors. It was comical last weekend with us both sleeping in odd areas of the house in the midst of furniture. When it got stressful I tried to laugh. We still managed to go to temple to meditate quite a few times, even when fatigue from this brain injury seemed over whelming. I knew that going to temple provided much more mental peace than a nap gave me. I really hope I provided him a look into my life, a life so much different than his, yet on a similar path. He got to see how my love for my partner has matured my idea of love tremendously.

I also happened to meet a man who obviously needed to talk, distressed about his partner dying of AIDS whom he had separated from and moved away. I took him to temple to pray for his partner, and he meditated for the first time. The following day he texted me worried about the partner, I suggested call the local police…and sure enough he died that day…the day following the prayers for him. I talked to him saying it is common for people to die when people close to them are away. I guess it is their desire to die in peace when they feel like the other party is not ready for them to go.

Last Saturday, my guest asked me if I wanted to go to the Vedanta temple here when things fell apart with plans I had. It was easy to just stay with the moment and go, instead of staying home wanting things to be differently. In the middle of prayers I had to go move the car, and came back to someone in “my seat.” I just walked to another chair, instead of tapping them to “reclaim it.” Subtle shifts in the way I deal with life, chopping at the huge ego I am burdened with... that normally says, “That is mine!”

12 October, 2010

The Importance of Virtue

Actually there are two kinds of knowledge. One who knows the Dhamma doesn't simply speak from memory, he speaks the truth. Worldly people usually speak with conceit. For example, suppose there were two people who hadn't seen each other for a long time, maybe they had gone to live in different provinces or countries for a while, and then one day they happened to meet on the train..."Oh! What a surprise. I was just thinking of looking you up!"... Actually it's not true. Really they hadn't thought of each other at all, but they say so out of excitement. And so it becomes a lie. Yes, it's lying out of heedlessness. This is lying without knowing it. It's a subtle form of defilement, and it happens very often. —Ajahn Chah, Living Dhamma

Reading this the other day, and I finally realized the real importance of virtue in keeping you from creating more misery for yourself. If you lie to others like in his example, which I happily avoid as much as possible, you are really lying to yourself. Lying to yourself puts wisdom that much further from you. I have not lied like this, but I know I have criticized others or made jokes with the underlying reason to harm, even if only in words. Do I feel good afterward, or better yet does it elevate the sense of myself by knocking down others? It really doesn’t and sets me up for more trouble. Enlightenment comes in the awareness of everything you do and say. The more present you are, the less you feel the need to lie to yourself, about who or what you are. Virtue comes more natural when you take life as it is ….good and bad, instead of feeling like you can change it.

07 October, 2010

A Little Influence

In conversation with my seeker friend, he remarked we on two different paths. He said I am on a service path and his seeking awareness though observing his thoughts and meditation. Sure our paths are different but work towards the same goal. I have never thought mine was a service path, and often help others with only the subtle idea that this will start to chip away at my ego. Of course I don’t help with anything but feeling others need for assistance. Nor do I help to feel good, more based on knowing I am not alone in this world and desire to communicate this. I became aware of much other help when I was in the hospital for 6 weeks during my brain injury. Before this I really thought I was independent…a little ignorant I would say.

Just last night my friend said after talking to me, he thought about going to help his father by working for him, since he still alive. I expressed to him that once my father died there is not much I can do for him besides dedicating my merit to him. I think this inspired him to try to help, so he can show his father the path by caring enough.

30 September, 2010

Full Moon Rising

After taking two nuns to speak at a very cute Quaker House in San Jose, I felt the love that was inside the building. I don’t know if it was from the members we were present last night or from the residuals from the building. But it gave me a good feeling to mediate there. It was also nice to see people talk to the nuns after their dhamma talk, conveying interest. I really think the monastics are an important part of learning the dhamma. For without them you cannot see how far understanding your mind can go. It is not necessary to go as far, but you can at least have deep appreciation for the clarity they can provide lay people.

This is only proves a full moon was rising....I was in the gym going to yoga, walked in and put my mat down in the exercise room, and walked out into the main room to do ab work, which I finished and walked back to sit down on my mat to meditate. Two minutes into it, a woman walked up to me, and put her purse down. I looked at her, and she pulled up the leg of her pants and accused me of causing a bump on her leg. I don’t what she is talking about or where that was supposed to have happened??? Realizing that she is someone I have seen and figured out that she is not too well, I think to myself, “why do I deserve this?” She makes a comment about me having a cell phone, and I say it is allowed. She walks away, and I think, should I go complain to the management? I settled in meditation, but agitated. Yoga starts and I am motioned to leave to talk to the management. The man is apologetic, and asks me some questions related to her accusations. I tell him I think she is crazy, and he replies paranoid schizophrenic. I tell him why does this happen to me? Because, I have a schizophrenic sister? Oh, well. I go back into class and less than 10 minutes, the yoga teacher, taps me to look outside the glass and I see a policeman standing with the manager motioning me to leave class. I walk out calmly. They both apologize and understand this is someone we have to deal with when healthcare is so poor and non-existent. I answer any questions they have about the situation and what contact I had with her. Then I leave and finish my yoga class. The teacher, who I like, asks me, “Is everything all right?” I tell her about what happened and about having a schizophrenic sister. I figured out that she fixated on the light yellow t-shirt I was wearing saying, “GOOD VIBES” and that is was exactly the same color as her pants. The teacher and another friend from class sat and talked about her pregnancy and life and it all passed. They did not kick her out and she continued on the exercise machine as that would solve nothing with a schizophrenic.

21 September, 2010

Undertow, Courage to Love

Love sometimes gives us courage to be ourselves
....and may take a ghost to do so!

19 September, 2010

Learn from Natural Sources

Recently, I have witnessed two people in my life who have let go of something significant in their life. Visually they appear happier and more at ease, and it does not seem to be simple short term happiness. I now feel I have concrete examples, of what it looks like, and their good feelings rub off on me. Hopefully, I will start to realize my ego’s strong hold on my happiness. The inability to see things as the really are, and not to fight them. That will be my key with which to open my own door.

One person who seemed to have let go of something… was one of the Nuns, after she returned from a retreat. I even told her of lightness of being is a great teaching by example. She thanked me for noticing, yet I said, "I do not need to know what it is that you let go of." It is apparent here and now.

The other person is my seeker friend who only has a backpack and a true determination to be on this path. At times, he questions whether he should pursue only this path or get back in the rat race. Over the past year I have watched him, with the help of meditation, become happier and happier. I tell him that it is quite obvious that your path has brought many rewards, so lay your questions to rest. I look forward to the next time I see him, as he always has new sources for his inspiration. My introduction to Nisaragadatta was from him.

I am trying to not “become” them, for I cannot do that. I am me with my own set of karma awakenings, but I can certainly use them for inspiration of what is possible, right now.

Something prevents you from seeing that there is nothing you need. Find it out and see its falseness. It is like having swallowed some poison and suffering from unquenchable craving for water. Instead of drinking beyond all measure, why not eliminate the poison and be free of this burning thirst? The sense "I am a person in time and space" is the poison. In a way, time itself is the poison. In time all things come to an end and new are born, to be devoured in their turn. Do not identify yourself with time, do not ask anxiously "what next, what next?" Step out of time and see it devour the world. Say: "Well, it is in the nature of time to put an end to everything. Let it be. It does not concern me. I am not combustible, nor do I need to collect fuel."

— Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj

15 September, 2010

For Billy Lucas

From someone who managed to keep it together with daily "fag" taunts in school. I am sorry this was too much and help was not there when you needed it. Billy Lucas dead at 15, please send prayers for his parents. Thanks to Jason Chu for his honesty and help with "It Gets Better."


08 September, 2010

Blog or Meditate?

After taking a weekend off the computer and phone, I have come to ponder the high value of this path. Should I sell my home purely on the basis that the more time I meditate and work dhamma's understanding of life I am happier? I am spending a lot of time fixing and paying for things on my house. When my seeker friend, who has virtually nothing, is in town I get excited when I can see how meditation and devotion to his path is making him happier and lighter. I know for myself this is true but to witness this in my friend and others only points to make life simpler. Am I trying to live life by what I "should do," vs the truth of what I have experienced?

28 August, 2010

Good Intentions Align

After a long stressful day, I might want to catch up on sleep with a nap. I ate dinner quickly, with the deep-seated wish to sit and hear a dhamma talk. I need those naps, to let my brain recover. Busy all day with fixing my house, just to keep it together, sadly not some glamorous project. More headaches, about other items that need to be done, unveiling themselves in the process on doing the first thing. I have to constantly watch my thinking mind and notice if I feel overwhelmed and desiring to gather up more fictitious worry. Let’s take an unpleasant feeling and ramp it up some to make it totally insurmountable! All of a sudden I want a tiny rental apt, and be working on reading instead of fixing.

So, I finally decide to let go, I have done enough in this day, and you know there will always be more undone in life. I really have to let it go from using it as a gage to feel accomplished and then hopefully happy. Postponing happiness until one thing or another is done. Jeez, that really is a stupid way to lead life. Happiness can be all the time when you accept life as it is. Good or difficult.

I laid down on my couch and looked a my view, closed my eyes for a second or two, but knew the Vihara’s prayers and sit start at 7:30. Thinking, I am tired and should just stay home. This swirled over my tongue like a nice glass of wine. Then I just bolted up and got quickly ready to go as time was approaching. At my core was the knowledge that this path has provided real understanding and wisdom one does not get from a nap. So I gulped some black tea and took off. On the drive there, out of the blue, had memory stick flash about my friend who is much appreciated. No reason for this to come up, but it did generate a fast tear. I mentally said thanks for him and carried on, arriving a bit late. All the cushions were taken and a fellow sangha member quietly gave me one of hers.

I did not want to make too much noise, but not telling her I can do without. So, I just took the cushion with a smile and sat. In meditation, I contemplated the importance of sangha, and her kindness. Relaxing with a smile on my face, but later when I heard her move in discomfort, I quietly took the cushion out and passed back to her. No words said.

21 August, 2010


Buddham saranam gacchami
(I go to the Buddha for refuge)
Dhammam saranam gacchami
(I go to the Dhamma for refuge)
Sangham saranam gacchami
(I go to the Sangha for refuge)

"Taking refuge in Dhamma is taking another safe refuge. It is not taking refuge in philosophy or intellectual concepts, in theories, in ideas, in doctrines or beliefs of any sort. It is not taking refuge in a belief in Dhamma, or a belief in God or in some kind of force in outer space or something beyond or something separate, something that we have to find sometime later. The descriptions of the Dhamma keep us in the present, in the here and now, unbound by time. Taking refuge is an immediate, immanent reflection in the mind, it is not just repeating 'Dhammam saranam gacchami' like a parrot, thinking 'Buddhists say this so I have to say it'. We turn towards the Dhamma, we are aware now, take refuge in Dhamma, now as an immediate action, an immediate reflection of being the Dhamma, being that very truth.

Because our conceiving mind tends always to delude us it takes us into becoming. We think 'I'll practise meditation so that I'll become enlightened in the future. I will take the Three Refuges in order to become a Buddhist. I want to become wise. I want to get away from suffering and ignorance and become something else.' This is the conceiving mind, the desire mind, the mind that always deludes us. Rather than constantly thinking in terms of becoming something we take refuge in being Dhamma in the present. "— Ajahn Sumedho

Right to Love "An American Family"

18 August, 2010

Perceived Difficulties, a matter of mental focus

How I see myself with an ego based on comparison.
Think... self pity.

What is good, right now. More appropriately...wake up. I have great friends and family, recently proven the last two weeks.

But not forgetting the new people that have come into my life this year...some very wise. I need to use some wisdom to stop giving birth to unhappiness. And, VoilĂ  .... happiness appears ...seemingly out of nowhere.

05 August, 2010

Prancing Out an Old Saying

I find it interesting to watch my feelings now that Prop. 8 case was ruled in our favor. Not that I expected anything else as there was never a good anti-marriage case presented. Did my happiness at any time base itself on this case? I have to really examine how much I let exterior forces sway my personal happiness. …even a little. With the love I have from my partner, who often says being involved in politics is messy, it really doesn't matter. If I can marry him or not will never change what we have, so I am more involved in watching my mind and the effects of all this hate shined on this matter. But like we used to say in Jr. High, “You are not the boss of me!” And if it was worded “You are not the boss of my mind,” it would be better and almost dhamma like. Maybe earning a Buddhalicious stamp of approval. My mind and how I feel is my business and a little more legal rights will be great, but ultimately is never the sole determining factor for my happiness. I have been through a lot worse.

29 July, 2010

Mind Casting

When I feel like the next thing that I do or get done, that I will be happier upon finishing… I am reminded that I am not being present. We all often think to the future even when it is only 5 minutes down the road of life or to the past when can recall pleasant things or past traumas that we feel great being away from. When I find myself thinking towards a better bite or better mental image I tell myself I am mind casting.
Lately, I have been gathering my old photos and negatives and sending them back to the people I shot. One old friend had tears in his eyes when I gave them back to him...it touched him so. Of course it bring up some old nostalgia about those that were friends, while at the same time bringing ideas of my future once my partner finishes his masters. All of this happens in the mind, the past being gone and the future was never here. This mental conjuring that I do signal some discomfort that I am presently feeling. It more often that not means I should sit down and meditate. This would put me back into my body faster and allow time to explore all what I am feeling internally.

I have enjoyed a friend visiting, a fellow seeker who brings my path directly to me. We talk a lot, and meditate together when we can. He also exposes me to his ideas spurring me to think about pure awareness, alone, separate from any path. This pure awareness is not something that comes out of books, but deeper meditation and conscious mindfulness while awake as to the real wisdom that lies within. I am really trying to be mindful of everything I do, maybe not at every minute like my friend who has given up most everything he had but a backpack. But everyone’s path is different, and the circumstances that bring us to the desire for wisdom and seeing life as it truly is…is absent of mind casting.

22 July, 2010

A Reminder of Other's Greatness

Today, I sat down in the park after buying a card for my sister, and I took my wallet out to not sit on it. Forgetting, I placed it beside my numb side, and thought I picked up with the card, but instead walked off leaving in the park. Not more than 2 minutes later I got a call on my cell phone by the man who found it. I rushed back to meet him, and he would take no money for it.

Thank you so much....you knew that the good deed or karma would come back to you. For you from me:
Translated from the end of the Twenty Eight Buddha's Protection (Atanatiya Paritta in Pali):

May all calamities be avoided, may all illness pass away,
May no dangers threaten you, may you be happy and long-lived,
Greeted kindly and welcome everywhere.
May four things accrue to you:
long life, beauty, bliss, and strength.

On Tuesday, we said our Good-byes to Ajahn Amaro when he left for Amaravati Monastery. Ajahn Anandabodhi of Aloka Vihara had the brilliant idea of throwing rose petals on him while chanting blessings. As well as cleaning up before we left the airport. I arrived early enough to meet him when he arrived in the garage with dark chocolate for his long flight. He saw me, and said to the others, "This is no random stranger, but a friend."

18 July, 2010

A Hug ...Full of Stories

While preparing dinner, my friend played great jazz, and made a fresh margarita for me. I was I missing my partner, so I said yes to just one glass. We were joking and carrying on about his birthday party last week, he called two friends to join us. When through with the call, he said add that “mojo” spice I used last week on his midnight pizzas to the chard I was cooking. A little tipsy from the margarita, I did not notice that while I unscrewed the top, taking with it the other part , and dumped a hell of a lot in the pan...oops. I said what the hell, what’s a little spice in our life. We laughed. My friend grabbed spoon, and washed several spoonfuls of hot onions under water in the sink and put them back in the hot pan. We got at least half out, but knew it would be a spicy kick that no one would suspect in one of the galettes we were assembling for our dinner. It would lie over the beets and cheese. We were in stitches, and I gave him a quick hug. He said, “What is that for?”

How do you connect with friends not on a spiritual path? Just enjoy the time spent with them. So, I replied, “just a thank you.”
I could not begin to tell him adequately what happened last Sunday, when I went to the Nun’s vihara for pujas and meditation. After the Pali chant, a meditation, and a reading from a book. We all took a walk on the beach, and the nun, Anandabodhi grabbed a vase full of water from the shrine. She told me that they and others are praying on the water from the ocean and putting it back every few days. I said a great idea and I was amazed I had not heard of it. “Would I like to carry it?” I said, “Sure!” Telling me that when I get to the ocean, to not just dump it back in, but also walk in the water, collect your thoughts, praying for all the people involved and the suffering animals. Holding in your mind the fact that we are 70-75% water and our connection, while the ocean caresses your skin. Then mindfully put in back, wishing it health, and then say a prayer, later picking up some fresh vase full. Picking up some loose seaweed nearby to add, and the nun added a handful of sand to the water. A fellow temple member took the vase from my hands to carry back. We were walking back, me carrying up the rear because I wanted to stop at my car to grab a cloth to wipe the sand from my damp feet. Not wanting to track back it into the vihara.

All of a sudden a woman came out of nowhere towards me. “Can you give me a ride home?” I could smell the alcohol on her breath, so I was a bit perplexed but could tell she was little distressed. She needs me rings in my head. Hearing this Anandabodhi turned around and was watching this. I just said, “Sure,” while thinking this will be weird ending to the evening. With my brain injury and the confusion around, I dropped my key, and was looking for it….using the time to assess what I was getting myself into. I am pretty good with figuring out people’s intentions. The woman was relieved, and then Anandabodhi said to the woman from afar, “That man is upstanding,” giving me the good nuns seal of approval. I was tickled and smiled and said, “Well, Goodbye and thank you.”

I found my key, unlocked her door, and then went around to my side. She was saying thank you to me in the car, as I started it and turned on the heat and got out my ipod. Connecting it, I put on some nice soothing music, new Bakti from Jai Uttal. The woman told me where she lived, and I drove her home, with nice chanting playing, to relax her some, while my passenger sang to the chant. She gradually got relaxed enough to tell me a few things, allowing us to connect like a scene out of Night on Earth. I did not pry and she did not tell why she was down at the ocean at night. I just talked about how important the nuns are, and a spiritual path and telling her said she stop by to say hi. We talked all the way to her house, ending with a hug. That same hug I shared with my friend later.

12 July, 2010

A Sweet Taste

A friend I had known for nearly 3 decades was having an important birthday party. I know his intention were to make it an event for all his friends and family. It was important to him, and what better way to be a good friend than to help him as much as my time permitted.

It is his style to joke with me about who I have evolved to, instead of coming to a real understanding of what made me look beyond. And what I might have tried and how it works or doesn't.

Over the couple days there were a few things he said, that I could have decided to let it bother me. I made the decision not to get angry or take things personal, because that was really never his intention when he said them. They were said out of ignorance or just in humor, his humor. And I could see why with the pressure of pulling this whole thing together with family flying in. It was not like his was unappreciative, buying dinner when we worked setting it up.

I saw this opportunity to experience a small taste of enlightenment, you can get when you pull yourself out of the big bad trio of greed, hatred or delusion. Well, it all went according to plan in a relaxed way. On the day, I arrived early and got involved in cooking and cleaning so he could go and enjoy himself that day. After midnight while I was cleaning and I helped whip up some midnight snacks while people were enjoying themselves, because this was gift I could give. It is far easier to do, than to talk for me, especially in a loud environment of a party. And when I left that night, there was a real honest hug of appreciation by my friend. Today, he and his family dropped by my house to say hello and sign of how much this meant to him. I have to constantly remind myself, we can enjoy the sweet taste of enlightenment when we relax our expectations.

08 July, 2010

Compassion Flash

I recently went away to see family and in a brief moment of compassion, I offered my house to a new friend who was in town. Normally, unless it is a very close friend or family I wouldn't bother. Looking forward to less power and water use as one of few small perks when one is away. Examining this momentary compassion surge that appeared when I took me out of the picture for just one second and offered my house. Now, I wonder about my true Buddha nature and my untapped ability to be a more compassionate being. How often do you catch yourself being the one who knows? Just being aware led me further to get groceries for this friend, to give freely and naturally knowing that I could die anytime. Do you want your last gesture to be miserly?

05 July, 2010

Fun and Inspiring Self-Repair Weekend

A day of meditation on love and compassion with the wisdom of the Buddhist Nuns on Saturday, and July 4th evening spent chanting and meditating with Jai Uttal, Radhanath Das with the beautiful flute playing of Menose. All this helped smooth my rough spots without drugs or drinking. After a nice weekend like this, peace comes easier without any fireworks.

Sample of Kirtan with Jai Uttal and Radhanath Das:

Sample of Menose:

01 July, 2010

Count Your Lucky Stars!

After being sick and then off on a trip to see family it gave a me a brief time off to review my life’s progress or lack there of. I often feel the pinch of self-pity, so I know the best remedy is to have gratitude for what you do have. One person that I am very grateful for is my close friend who is always there. Over a cup of tea he will listen to me complain and will be quiet, never reprimanding me but instead letting me vent until I see that it is going nowhere. He does this quite diplomatically, letting me figure out how ridiculous I sound to myself and thus ending it by his unengaged way. He lets my own wisdom shine clear past any perceived difficulties, and on to greater more important things. His Buddha-nature is natural and not forced, learned through years of teaching children and though his own suffering. Yes, we all suffer, just when you think you got the market cornered on it. I have learned a lot from him more by example then by him pointing out how I could change or getting frustrated by my behavior. Often when he is gone from a visit, it all begins to click on what I need to be more aware of. It is more often rare to hear him complain after a bad day at school, although he feels welcome to do so when he wants. He is often helping others free and tirelessly in art events, be it poetry, dance or performance. A multi-talented friend who does not brag, but instead spends the energy that usually encompasses to expand his talents or to share his expertise. Just writing this down does not seem to give him the justice he deserves, it makes the reality of my good fortune to have him as a friend all the more significant. I did not know him before my injury so he can’t really see how far I have come, but trust his wisdom of my value as his friend.

The other day when I had the Buddhist nuns over for tea, he just happened to join us unplanned, and it was nice to just shut up and let his merits just shine. Lucky me to have two important forces of change for the better in my life meet. He later commented on how wise and happy they were. I didn’t think they would ever cross paths, as he is not a Buddhist.
Just before I took off to see family I made him aware of the important role he plays in my life and he told me likewise as being one of the few people he sees on a regular basis for friendship and support. I know if I do leave to live overseas with my partner when he finishes school, he will be one important friend I will miss. Lucky me!

18 June, 2010

The Shaded Path

I've got to watch what I say, what I think and how I act, a subtle reminder when you find you are sick. Driving the nuns, brought some light in with a dhamma talk and a great meditation. Telling stories on the way back was a delightful way to end a Friday night.
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