30 May, 2011

Dhamma Service


The birds were singing, the sun was shining for my service on a short course at Vipassana. “You got lucky,” I heard from the guy who turned it over to me when he sat out this course. We had a team that consisted of three people who had just served recently and 4 had an idea of what was involved. One man had served 15 courses and was nearly blind from Retinitis pigmentosa but still was able to clean the heavy pots, knowing it from before his vision got worse. He was just one of a source of inspiration for the wisdom of dhamma to enable one to be happy even under difficult circumstances. I led him back and forth form the hall, sometimes letting him use my shape to follow. When it was too dark, letting him place a hand on my shoulder. We had a wide range of people and everyone clicked in to fill in places to get things done fast. It was exciting and fun to watch a wide range of people unknown to each other, help one another all without any problems. It was also noticeable to watch no one was ‘fake nice’ while at the same time biting his or her tongue. We had enough time to get to know each other over food breaks, and spend time to compare dhamma stories. It all got done, and towards the end even faster than we imagined. Then when the students were able to speak were kind enough to say thanks. A great experience to be able to see what it took to make my 10-day move smoothly and be able to squeeze in some meditation time (about 4 hours a day).

24 May, 2011

Service is Better with Gratitude

My partner and I where talking about our beginnings. What made, what happen and when. It didn't really matter, because it changes nothing, nor makes anything clear that we don't already know in our heart. We both met with good intention and rested in it, when times were tough. So, I am doing service at a 4 day Vipassana with good intentions to give back to something that clearly helped with gratitude. I am excited, because even the confirmation call was done by a nice, happy, grateful person. It signals that this will good experience.

19 May, 2011

An Open Heart Can't Lead One Astray

Recently, I had a man, stop me bicycling and ask me, “What made you sit down and talk to me?” I had talked with him over a year ago trying to shake the fact he took himself too seriously. He then thanked me for suggesting a dhamma group in town, he has attended for the last year. The point of this is he wanted to know why I helped him, and I said, “I saw me in you!”

Today, I was having my wood floors redone and by some grace got two men, one of which had gratitude in his heart. I immediately felt his open heart and found out that he experienced a similar injury to mine, a stroke. He was busy with his job and I with mine, online stuff, when at noon I got an email from another friend from temple. On the subject line it said EMERGENCY, and it contained a cute photo of a baby pit bull she needed to find a good home for. I wasn’t sure why she would ask me, and I wasn’t sure why she had this dog. I immediately asked the one who had the good heart if he would like a pit bull showing him the two photos of her. He said I have to ask my wife, and my landlord to make sure, but my family would like a dog. So, I let this play out, and later in the day he heard from both and it was ok. I put him on the phone to my friend, and I guess she cried on the phone about wanting her to go to a good home. I had walked away, and walking back I could see with concern he was gentle with her on the phone.We set a time later in the day for them to meet and get the dog. He shows up with his whole family to reassure my friend that the dog is going to a good home. Finding out that she rescued the dog from someone she knew, and she did not want her to be sold to breeders or to made to fight. Locally, they have a perfect program to help families train dogs called BAD RAP. It was perfect in the time we had before she came, I got to know the family of the man I only met 8 hours previous. But all I had to do is see them all and know right away it was right, and I could sit back and let it happen. Immediately any sadness and concern by my friend melted, and all his kids got to meet the dog as it was a secret to them. Just so that he did not promise what he could not deliver until it was OK, which pointed to his maturity in this situation. They all talked and played with the dog, and it was a great fit. The family all gave me hugs and my friend and took off happily with their new dog.

These photos taken by a new friend who was with me to witness this day, Thanks, M.C.!

17 May, 2011

Thai's Have it Right: The Hidden Power of Smiling

That a smile goes a long way. Oh, and now they find in studies that happiness is contagious… even among strangers. here If you don't get even a small smile looking at this photo than you are helpless. Finding that when I am too helpful or nice, especially at my gym they think I am looking for a date. I do already have someone special in my life, and I guess the band on my finger doesn’t mean anything anymore. I have since dropped any worries, and just laugh in the gym or yoga. Wearing my t-shirts that say: Some pursue happiness, others create it.(click on t-shirt in right column). A yoga friend commented recently, "It is so good to hear you laugh in yoga, just when I find myself struggling with a pose.
Now, a few folks have asked me how do I do it, regarding my partner? If you have trust and love firmly established, then doubts fall away. I am hoping that I am too smart to worry, knowing that will never make me happy. And who needs to invent more problems? I surely don’t, even though I know even more difficult times ...will come. It is the nature of life, you are given as much as think you can handle. Then more show up just about the time you think you have it all figured out, just to kill your
high. It is not pessimism, but it is my time honored realist approach after my near death experience. So you better to learn to laugh at yourself when you look in the mirror in the morning or when you suddenly find you’re frustrated over simple tasks when driving or waiting in line. I am trying, because studies say that grumpy people have fewer friends. I know I need as much help as I can get. Let's make this the land of smiles!
This is a repost

16 May, 2011

A Desire for Peace


The beautiful young women sat beside me after yoga, apparently the teacher told her to speak to me about meditation. She was interested how my 10 day Vipassana course went, because she is wait listed for an upcoming course. She looked at me with such unease, but also had a firm desire to find peace. I talked to her about how it works, and not to fight her mind. The nature of the mind is to think. So, to let it drift and have compassion for yourself, even chuckle when you find yourself on the fourth shoot off the original nugget of thought. Saying, “Don’t think it will all end, but you will tire of it and relax… letting them drift by and then remember to come back to the breath. It is a great self-discovery to know what your mind is doing all the time whether you like it or not. The peace comes in with the acceptance of the truth, and the ability to finally be at ease with it. You get to experience the peace that is always there. I did convey that it is fun, and you have plenty of company and how I wished I had done it earlier. I also mentioned I am going back to serve at the end of this month to give back. I said, “What else you need, good food, nice surroundings, and possible friendships with others on the same path. Dispel any worry, it has not happened yet and your body will relax into it at it’s own rate…no one forces you to do anything. There are teachers to ask questions of, and just know the servers have all done a course or more and are there in spirit. She asked if I was in class the following day, I replied, "yes." I will offer any wisdom that I feel is appropriate to aid in her confidence to do such a valuable course. How exciting!

13 May, 2011

Some Kindness that Saved Me


I thought it would be nice to recall kindness, spurred on when a friend of mine is putting together a movie on it. Way back, when I had my brain damage and hospitalization nightmare, I was put in a local hospital connected with the Dr. who caused this trauma. My mother and family conferred that it would be a good idea to hire a day & night nurse because I was in such critical stage with an outcome that could easily be death and who knows what could happen. One wrong move, or forgetting to suction my lungs once could kill me. From what my Mom told me my sister found the nurses. The night nurse was an ex-Vietnam War nurse and he was an angel who inspired me everyday and got me to do a thumb’s up on my weak side for the first time when all the Dr.’s said at the time I would never be able to go home and survive. He talked to me like an adult, even joking to me, chastising me for being in this position.
That nurse would, at dawn, report everything I did with him, and give my mother much hope. At night, on breaks would go smoke cigarettes with my partner, at that time and my brother to fill them in ...in a relaxed manner while emotions were still high. His compassion shined through even though I was intubated and going in and out of consciousness. So I could not forget him nor could my family. My sister sent him a poem, and my mom wrote a Thank you. I wrote my first Thank you when I got home from the hospital after a month, which was very difficult because I still could barely read. He died less than a year after I got home, and our thank you’s found by his brother painted a beautiful picture of this nurse’s life. I still have the letter his brother wrote me, about finding the tributes. So if you are inspired by kindness submit a story to the
film.

09 May, 2011

Accidental Awareness


Monday night I was talking with my partner, and he mentioned to me he wanted to go to law school. This came as a surprise since he just got through with his masters in Marketing and complained of being so tired, because he did so working a full time job Monday – Friday. My first reaction was shock and thinking that his new time off weekends threw him. I had to really think of what to say, and to make him think clearly about why this came up, supposedly from nowhere. I say nowhere, not as a reaction for not accepting any change, but more knowing he has never shown interest in law in the past. So, I backed off somewhat, telling him what to do and that if it makes him happy, go ahead. This still did not take the shock away from my awareness. Since this conversation happened at night, it left me trying to find peace with his new idea I went in search of some non-dual speakers. I think I was on Robert Wolf’s site and found Bentinho Massaro talks on YouTube and was pleasantly interested. After the fourth video I said this man is awake, and found myself up late at night. Listening to more the following days, while in conversation with my partner about his new idea, I was relaxing an outcome that would be acceptable to me. I kept telling my partner that I love him and to do what makes him happy when every time it came up. Meanwhile, I had found that Bentinho was here in town, coincidently and I saw him not just one evening, but also a whole day retreat. After hearing him speak and deal with people’s questions on Friday, I knew I had to see him on Saturday. I came home on Saturday after the all day retreat, evening and was so happy that it made it hard to go to sleep. Waking at 2am in a great mood and was chatting with my partner of 10 years who decided that he did not want to go back to school, now. In ending the conversation saying that I love him. His reply, “That’s amazing!”

05 May, 2011

Planting the Right Seed


Many times, we are in a situation and don’t feel comfortable for whatever reason. Perhaps, it is because it doesn't go as planned. Maybe it is because we are not getting enough attention, and someone else is doing all the talking. We have a tendency to try every angle in our head while waiting for someone to give us a break. We think if we figure it all out, we will be at ease. “If they only knew!” Multi-tasking, when instead, we could just rest in awareness. Today, such a thing happened and so the mind drifted to what I need to get done, I smiled and watched the birds, near-by. Not to signal boredom, but if the conversation doesn’t include me, I can still listen, which one registers by looking in the person’s eyes while they speak. The unease comes from it not going as we planned it in our head, because everyone knows we have a lot to say. But no one else is in our head... besides us, and so we start to plant our seed of self-created suffering when instead we could have just enjoyed the company, the day and relax. Are we that important? If I excuse myself and leave will I feel better? Not really, and today I did just this, let them talk, and just settled back, relaxed, watching and feeding the birds. It changed all my expectations, so when I came home there was no need for meditation. Instead of doing what I had planned earlier, since I was late, I took it as a seed of life as it is, and calmly cooked the nuns a meal for tomorrow. At the same time made tea and food for a friend while he was busy making phone calls, another unplanned event.

02 May, 2011

Sunrise, Sunset?


We commonly say the sun sets and rises based on how it appears to us, and yet we know the earth rotates the sun. What else are we confused by? How many times have you argued with another person and days later you find out you are wrong? It takes a big person to apologize for your mistakes, especially when you think the other person forgot. I have had just two people in my life come back to me after the fact and apologize. When have you apologized for wrong appearances?

“To realize truth our whole being has to be brought to accord with actuality, with things as they are. Which requires that in communication with others we respect things as they are, by speaking the truth. Truthful speech establishes a correspondence between our own inner being and the real nature of phenomena, allowing wisdom to rise up and fathom their real nature. Thus much more than an ethical principle, devotion to truthful speech, is a matter of taking a stand on reality, rather than illusions. On the truth grasped by wisdom rather than the fantasies woven by desire.”
— Bhikkhu Bodhi
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