27 February, 2010

What Harm Do I Cause If I Marry My Partner?

In the Perry v. Schwarzenegger,
a U.S. District Court case challenging
the constitutional validity of California's Proposition 8.

"But what really happened, which was a very eye-opening event, during the course of the trial, during one of the earlier proceedings. The judge in our case asked my opponent, "What harm to the institution of heterosexual marriage would occur if gays and lesbians were allowed to marry?"

This went back and forth and back and forth. The judge kept wanting an answer. "What damage would be done to the institution of marriage if we allowed this to happen?" And my opponent said, finally, he had to answer it truthfully. He paused and he said, "I don't know. I don't know." That to me sums up the other side.

They say the traditional definition of marriage, but nothing by allowing the two couples that were before the court or others like them to engage in a relationship with their partner where they can be treated as an equal member of society hurts your marriage or my marriage or David's marriage or any other heterosexual marriage. People are not going to say, "I don't want to get married anymore if those same sex people can get married. That's not going to happen." There is no evidence to support a basis for this prohibition."
lawyer, Ted Olson, PBS Bill Moyers

26 February, 2010

Who Needs Who?

When my brother and his family finally met my partner earlier this month ...he told him that he is very important to me. It was a great welcoming moment for my partner. Not that it is never spoken between us, rather it is almost daily. To have this said from another person is icing on the cake. In reflection, the two of us work so well, because even though our needs, in general, are totally different, we still carry the same value to each other. It is not heavy on one side or the other. We respect and learn from each other. He joked yesterday, after I helped him on some problems in a case study, saying that they will have both our names on his Masters. All this did not happen without a bit of work on both of our ends in the first few years. I like how real love motivates understanding and respect leading to a real balance, thus not clinging to make believe image of the other, that can predict an end to any relationship. Either way, I need him more, damnit.

23 February, 2010

I Knew Something Was Up...A Reminder

On a nice sunny day, I take off for the gym. As I walk down, I see Riz, sitting in the sun in a chair in front of his house. I never see him do this, as he is usually running around in his truck or Porsche, always looking busy. He is neighbor I know and have talked to a few times, so I stop to say hi, and ask how he is doing. I am in a rush, but I know something is up.

“It hit me like a brick!” I ask, “What happened?” Riz said, “I had a triple by-pass, and now… I just don’t know. I am used to getting around and being the provider.” His eyes are starting to well up. "I wasn’t ready for this," going on to detail how much it has changed his life, ending with, “Oh, well …I guess I could be dead!” he says, sprinkled with self-pity.

I try to tell him that who you are is independent of what you used to do. "You are you, regardless, and what you need now is take time to heal. You should go on vacation or to the beach," knowing he has the means.

But I could tell that he was not hearing this, and so I brought up Sam, another neighbor who I just happened to greet, since I saw him sitting sunning by my house. Sam is 83( he will say, "damn near 100"), and had at least one-stroke years ago, leaving with a cane to keep steady. I often will see his worried wife come out, calling for him, if he falls asleep in the sun.

I figured they knew each other. He told me, “Yes, Sam designed this house.” I knew that someone closer to his age would be able to at least commiserate. So, I said I will go get him, running up the street.

Sam is not too far now with his cane and newspaper strolling up the street in the opposite direction. I catch up with Sam, out of air. “Hey, Sam", panting, "Riz just had triple by-pass and needs some help! Sam said, “What?” A common reply to anything I say with this damn speech problem, whatever age the listener is. I slow down and repeat it, explaining the situation and saying he needs some cheering up. “Oh, ok, then” says Sam. We then walk down together talking, delivering him to Riz.

Buddhist Daily Reflections

I am of the nature to age. I am subject to aging. I have not got beyond aging.

I am of the nature to sicken. I am subject to illness. I have not got beyond illness.

I am of the nature to die. I am subject to death. I have not got beyond death.

Separation from what is pleasing and beloved will definitely happen to me.

I am the owner of my kamma, the heir of my kamma; born of my kamma, related to my kamma, and I abide... supported by my kamma. Whatever kamma I do, for good or for evil, to that I will fall heir.

These things should be frequently recollected.

18 February, 2010

Going Un-Buddhist...NOT

I try to make friends at my gym or at least be pleasant and outgoing. I try not to wear an IPOD all the time, which divorces you from human contact. Why listen to the whiney song, “All you need is love,” looking forlorn? Today, I saw I young man with a tattoo that said, IF YOU COULD SEE WHAT I SEE WHEN I SEE YOU, THEN YOU WOULD UNDERSTAND MY DISGUST. What an exquisite use of ink, a real work of art and have fun removing it when you wake up. You get the bad with the good....the whole range.

A few years ago, I tried to make friends with this lady who I see a couple times in yoga. I talked to her once, and thought we got past the Stranger, I don’t need to know you phase.

Well, she had broken her leg while dancing, and was right back at the gym. You got to give her credit. I chatted a few times, jumping starting the conversation about her healing and ya-ya’s. And every time I would see her, she would never say hi, in general, unless really pressed.

Things heal, and time passes and she back at it, and broke it again…same leg. So, she knows I meditate in the room before yoga and she asks me to help her get a spot and an exercise ball to use, by calling me on my cell phone. I oblige a few times, but still think it is a little much for someone who is so sour. I humor her, but then I am gone for three months, and she is on her own. I come back and she has no cast, and still no change in her character. Surprise, Surprise!

Wouldn’t you know it she breaks it again, same leg. I am meditating one day, and her crutches come lumbering up, and she taps my mat with her crutches to open my eyes and she wants me to help again. I do it without any attitude, set her up with stuff and before I can get back to meditating she asks me if I can save her spot and help her again by calling me each day. All contact with her is void of any smiles or pleasantry. Then I decided to do something so Un-Buddhist. I replied, I am not sure when I am back again, saying I’m sorry and walked back to my mat. I put my foot down thinking that for someone who has no appreciation for what I have done in the past ….or any common courtesy for my attempts to be friendly. So, I will just get out of the way. Not really feeling good about it, and knowing that in all the Buddhist Teachings I have heard you are NOT supposed to expect anything when you do something good because it leads to grasping. I did not explain to her why this transpired and thought about it, but dropped it. I think I will just leave it to some other nice person to do the job, I can no longer stomach.

14 February, 2010

Falling for Wisdom

Communicating with a young friend of mine about my desire to be a novice again, even for short time. He shot off a reply email saying it would be extremely difficult for him, but not for me because, as he put it, “you are asexual!” I laughed… I wish. Sure, I am older(almost twice his age), but by no means ready to throw in the towel. I told him, that while I am currently away from my partner while he is in a masters program, I have made the decision to honor him and us by choosing not to be active. It was not a demand by him, but more a wisdom move motivated by not wanting to disturb our commitment. Open relationships may seem fine to some, but it opens the door to the potential of falsely thinking that someone else may be better. We all know how fast things happen and often without our awareness. Do we really want peace in our lives? We often forget we sometimes create the chaos... that we so desperately want to get rid of. Now, would I have said this when I was his age, probably not….and that is where age allows some wisdom to creep in naturally as pay off for this old body, that fewer people desire.

"The socially conditioned hormonal hunger for copulation twists raw experience to make sex appear as pleasure. Is sexual pleasure the way things truly are, or just the way desire makes them seem? Venerable Ananda said to Venerable Vangisa that lust is but a inversion of perception(SN8.4)!" — Ajahn Brahm, Mindfulness, Bliss, and Beyond

08 February, 2010

Novice Scholarship Fund

Auttachai(left) and Chatreea(far right)
Dear Friends,

It’s getting to the end of the school year and the time is fast approaching when the grade 6s from the temple school will have completed their final year and will be planning whether or not they will continue their studies at university. For these boys and their families the decision to go on to university is significantly based on financial considerations.

As many of you know, even going to a monk University can be financially prohibitive as even monks need some money and often the families prefer for the lads to go straight into paid employment to support the family.

With young men like Joy, Auttachai (Aa), Chatreea, Monkoon and many others there is certainly some great potential in the group and we hope that together with your help we can offer them some financial assistance in going to university and giving them every chance of gaining a degree and going further with their education.

Many of the boys have been so welcoming and supportive of guests on the monk for a month program and it is our ardent wish that we can now support them in their desire to improve their own lives. We can also feel confident that once these novices get an education much of that benefit will flow back into their families and wider communities.

And so we invite you to make a contribution to the Novice Scholarship Fund. Already we have one donation of 5000 Baht from Linda Zakas, USD$ 200 from Gennadiy Grishayev and Jildou and I have put in 10 000 Baht. To be able to assist the most number of boys going through university we need as much support as we can muster and the fund is relying largely on the generosity of former guests, though naturally we welcome funds from any quarter. The money will be managed by a small board of trustees including Dr. Aphisit, a representative of the school and myself. The scholarships will be granted for a period of 12 months with the likelihood of renewal barring any strong reasons not too.

If you would like to support this initiative please go to
http://bloodfoundation.org and click on the PayPal donate button on the left-hand side.
Then send us a brief mail to info@bloodfoundation.org to alert us that you wish your donation to be used for to Novice Scholarship Fund.

Ben, Jildou, Graham,
Fred, Charin and all the team.

04 February, 2010

Are you talking to me?

In the line to board the plane, and I hear the man behind me ask the woman just behind him who is talking loudly on her cell phone to leave or turn it off. He asked politely, she replied in fairly politely manner, although I was prepared for major head butt. Thinking, sparks are gonna fly. I was familiar with her, while I was meditating waiting for my plane… she plopped down on a seat close to my position on the floor and turned it into her living room. Wired for sound and telling her friends about her hotel cost and business trip. I used her as part of my practice, to not show displeasure or even engagement, yet I was aware. Labeling it as hearing, hearing, hearing instead of interest it whatever she said.

He said it is rude to act like I want to hear your private conversation. She said, “My intention was not bother you, and I am sorry. But you don’t have to be rude and assume this.” He looked at me, and I smiled and we spoke quietly about this public phenomenon. He waited to sit next to her and show his paper about this, which in fact, was carrying to a publisher on this plane. His tone was gentle and his intention carried no malice.

It is very apparent that as long as we act like no one else matters, then it is rude. Do we want respect? First, we are going to have respect for others.

Subjecting strangers to your one-sided conversations while you pace nearby or stand talking while pointing your mouth towards others, tells them that they are not important to you. When I had a store, I would walk up to people while they were on their phone and point towards the door. These were people who walk in talking on their cell phones to use my store as their phone booth. I figured that they were not focused on buying in my store anyway, regardless of their protests. So it is no surprise that people talking on their cell phone while driving are 4 times more dangerous than drunk drivers. Perhaps, it is one more tool to tackle our population problem. Who needs earthquakes? Just give idiots cell phones, and cars with a brake problem. Better yet, just put yourself in others shoes, have a little compassion and understanding. In ancient times back when there were no mobiles, and everyone sat quietly and read.
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