29 May, 2010

One Less Email to Answer

With Dennis Hopper's death, as well as several people in my life over the last few years, it gives me time to realize how lucky I am. Here is some of Hopper's work, including some of his self-portraits and civil rights photos. It is really interesting how those that were close remain alive with our memories of them. It points to the importance of our role to make our life as meaningful as we can. To get a jump start on our reincarnation by planting the seeds in other's minds and hearts.

26 May, 2010

The Phat Truck


Picture yourself in a tree-lined quiet neigh-borhood, which is definitely not mine with a school across the street and a bus line that runs up and down. I am on my porch and watching the neighbor across the street pulling 360’s in the street in a display of machismo for his friends riding with him in his Phat truck. I have seen this many times before, but now I happen to be outside in full view of this childish display. I am known for saying the right thing to the right person, and often will say something regardless of any danger…that is in the past.

So, I am getting heated up, and charge over once they stop their truck, mad but not stupid. The blood flushing into my face, just dying to just give him a piece of my mind that I almost float over my grass. But then suddenly, I feel a sharp pain and I am having a heart attack and in few quick seconds the only thing I see in the grass coming up quickly to my face because I am falling down ...dying. I black out just after the grass tickles my face.

That is how I wake up from this dream, and I ponder its subject. I know on my wisdom path I am slowly getting less likely to put myself in these situations, and even more likely to first go, compliment him on his truck and finesse a simple request such as... it is all good, but better in a less populated area. Also things have a way of playing themselves out…good or bad, regardless of my input. This was a reminder once again to think hard about what the real final outcome of a difficult problem, and more often that not…keep my mouth shut.

22 May, 2010

A Heart-Felt Wish

Very few times in life you meet a person that is truly a wisdom body, where everything they do and say is pure. I was lucky enough to meet that person in Dr. Acchandrapisit Pingchaiyawat(Dr. Aphisit) a source of inspiration on my path. He comes to mind when chanting Reflections on Shared Blessings. He is trying to build an international dhamma centre and is in need of $30,000.

An opportunity to help Dr. Aphisit.

Thursday, May 6, 2010 at 8:59am
As many of you know, Dr Aphisit has a visionary idea for developing an
international dhamma centre just on the land behind Wat Sri Boon Ruang where the Monk for a Month program is run.

The land was largely donated by local owners who support Dr Aphisit's dream of a community centre. It is a place where people from around the world will come to learn and practise dhamma and shall also provide resources for the local community including facilities such as pre-schools, schools, hospitals and hospices. The land is adjacent to the temple 'burning place' where the local funerals are conducted. Dr Aphisit has often said his vision is to create a centre that will care for the community from birth, through life and even through death.

It is a beautiful vision of the future, a great example of socially-engaged Buddhism and together with the many meditation huts intended to be built, represents a real global centre for applied Buddhism and international spirituality.

A recent development is that one of the owners, who is from a distant part of Thailand, has found an alternate buyer for the 30 acre property and is requesting that the temple pay something for the land in the next week or risk losing the entire project. This has come as an unexpected surprise and all hands are on deck to ensure it doesn't happen.

This land is an ideal spot for Dr Aphisit's vision, it is flat area with lovely clear views of the mountains along the border. This is something that many of us would love to be involved in supporting.

So here's our chance. The temple needs around $30 000 in the following days in order to step forward and secure this property and move closer to making the vision a reality.

We are calling on all friends of Dr. Aphisit
to help him reach this target.

You can send money to:
Krung Thai Bank
Account Name : Buddhist Community Development Centre
Account Number : 532-0-19920-1


You can do a PayPal transfer to Blood Foundation here http://bloodfoundation.org/blood/main/paypal-donation and we will ensure the temple gets your donation.

The Monk for a Month project is contributing 20 000 Baht ($620) to this important project. All contributions are welcome. If we each pitch in a bit we can help them to get there.

If you do support this project please send us an email to info@monkforamonth.com to alert us.

Dr Aphisit will certainly be aware of who has been able to help him at this time.

We hope you are able to share in the fulfilment of this dream, the vision of a man who has been a friend to so many of us.

This is the time.

With Kindness,
Ben Bowler

20 May, 2010

A Monk's Story

Inspirational Shan Monk Phra Wierote is abbot of a temple-school along the Burma border. Having lived through many hardships he now lives his life dedicated to serving the many young ones in his care.

Yesterday, I drove a Buddhist Nun to a dhamma talk and a sit. During her talk this came to me when answering someone's question about the danger of becoming attached to a particular outcome. There is beauty in tragedy. That is... even if it is not what we want at that time, one begins to see the beauty of a viewpoint previously unseen or unfelt before. We often can't change the tragedies of life, but hopefully we might understand or integrate them in a whole new way.

14 May, 2010

Like a Candy Apple

photo: sburke2478

I whooped a two week down cycle that is natural effect of human existence, and came back to some kind of normal, which I managed to do by doing kind things for others and taking 5-HTP. After my first good day, I had a dream that night that I am kind of like a candy apple, a hard outside protecting a soft and perishable inside. That actually came in the dream along with experiences labeling the fact that my near death was really a “death.” I was brought back to life from my hospital nightmare not like in regular human body, but with the sole purpose of making merit and helping others. In the dream I would visit those that can see me, and others I would be right beside them and they no idea I was there. It may seem like a weird calling dream, and it may have been triggered with the letter to Carlos, or a Thai friend who upon helping him figure out Paypal, and sent money so he could pay his first Ebay bill, said, “you are such a good friend.” I did express to him how much I appreciated him showing me temples and places when my partner was busy with school, so I felt I could spend a couple hours figuring out his problem. It is so important to honor people who honor you, and it came across in my dream. Perhaps, I had not done enough of that before my “death.”

So, for the ones who do see me, in the context of my dream, I am there to help them. They are not fooled because they act upon seeing a good heart, or maybe it is just a repaired one.

13 May, 2010

Pope Calls Gay Marriage an Insidious Threat


KICK THE LOWEST DOG ...his oldest Nazi ways are coming back. For the Pope to say this means he is totally running scared with all the clerical abuse. You will not dictate who I love and fortunately you are not the ruler of the world. Watch out, I might teach your clergy how to really love! STOP BULLYING, NOW!

09 May, 2010

This is Your Mind on Purpose

Philip Anderson artist

There is an older man in my Sangha that I often see in my temple, and other sittings. We have been to one 5-week class together, so at least I am familiar face. Tonight, we sat for a 40-minute meditation followed by a stellar dhamma talk, after which I turned back and saw his smiling face. While leaving, I said, “Keep it fun!” ….putting my hand on his. He said, “You are fun!” and we launched into a conversation about dhamma and life. At one point I said, "The older I get I realize that I don't know anything." He replied, "By saying this you know something." What he doesn’t know he is one of models for how to wisely deal with aging….with a smile. Because no matter how many years you have lived on this earth, if end up being a grumpy, old, “been-there-done-that” kind of man you will never get to share your wisdom with anyone. If you are like this man, smiling even with a body that is falling apart, and skin heading south …then the world is your oyster and people will come to you. You will never die lonely and forgotten wondering what the hell life was really for.

So here is my card to Carlos, when I see him next.

"Enchanted Tripitika", near Patravadi Theatre

I have often look to your smiling face, as inspiration on this path, as so many get caught up with making this a serious, “get it done” endeavor. Your smile rewards people with a vision that is beyond the me, that we so dearly protect and helps point us all to a life that puts aside the misery and fear associated with aging. It signals the lightness of your being that is awake with possibilities of mindfulness, knowing that it is a conscious decision to smile with all unknowns of life. You are one model that comes to my mind on this wisdom path. I am not that far away from you in age but still miles from the smile you share with the world.

Thank you.

05 May, 2010

The Don't Know Mind

Most of the time when I engage in a sit, whether it regular daily meditation or a group sit I do it knowing it is probably the most important thing I can do to alleviate my regular human suffering. If enlightenmen
t ever comes it will be a great addition to the benefits of a regular sitting practice. I have said in previous posts that I do see a lighter approach to life, in general since I started daily sits.

Last night, I wanted to go have a beer while walking to my group sit, but decided that to forgo a good 40-minute meditation for the temporary happiness of a pint of beer began to seem like a foolish idea. It was a good call, and once I made the decision quickly I happily continued on to the sit. Arriving to see a substitute for my normal teacher, who I have heard once before. I told myself, just relax with any expectations. I greeted her and helped set up and sat down. I had a diverse sit, beginning with all the noise of people arriving late, and her dog checking out all the people one-by-one which made me break into a smile when he came around quietly. My technique, besides just watching the breath is to just see what arrives to my mind. I can go from single pointed concentration to a wide-open sky approach and back. The only thing I do very consciously is bring the mind back if it wonders too far in panacha(obsessional thought). Concluding my meditation, which towards the end when I dissolved my body to my pleasant surprise, the teacher talked about what kind of meditation is best for states of boredom or anxiety. Introducing the single-pointed concentration for boredom, and the wide-open sky approach for the anxious mind where the don't know mind seems appropriate. I think for me, the feelings I have can range between both at any time, sometimes masking one state for another. I was very interesting to hear a dhamma talk about resting in the Don’t Know mind.

So often we want to attack meditation like house-cleaning or book learning with our western sensibilities, thinking that once completed we will automatically advance to higher level...
or be OK. We think we are whipping the unknowns of life by always “doing” something. How often do you relax around not knowing while not doing anything? If we approach meditation when we are anxious with the Don’t Know mind the relaxation about life will creep into everyday life. I can’t ignore the unknowns of life by keeping myself busy. Things will happen at their own rate, and to be more relaxed in general will be a huge asset when life gets tough. So, I guess I really don't know.

02 May, 2010

All Actions with Intention...

Photo by Ronald L. Haeberle
be they skillful or harmful, of such acts will be their heirs.
— last line from reflections on universal well-being, Pali Prayer

“There is not a day that goes by that I do not feel remorse for what happened that day in My Lai,” Calley. His voice started to break when he added, “I feel remorse for the Vietnamese who were killed, for their families, for the American soldiers involved and their families. I am very sorry.”

William Calley, the former Army lieutenant convicted of 22 counts of murder in the infamous My Lai Massacre in Vietnam, publicly apologized. Some 41 years later. Whatver the intention, he is still living with it.

This may be an extreme example..but this incident in history, played such an important roll in my young life, and made my parents keep me out of the military. I saw this when I was ten without the internet. Did it keep Abu Ghraib from happening? Sadly, no. I am hoping I can use this to help me with being more mindful with my intentions.

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