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!
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