18 December, 2012

When the Pigeons Come Home

Earlier, this week I had what most people would call a “glimpse of the divine.” I hesitate writing about this solely on the basis that I could never do justice with my description. I pretty much figure I can do the exact things I did that day and will not be able to produce the same results, based on non-clinging to good or bad. It occurred after a workout, and then a short meditation in the open park at dusk. And in meditation I heard footsteps that turned out to be a komodo dragon walking by my stone seat and up a coconut tree. Yes, I peeked and smiled at him. The awareness of “this state” continued even while on public transportation at rush hour, which kind of tickled me. I felt as if people could see through me on the underground. It was lovely to be divorced from the body-mind connection, and the free floating freedom from the conditioned mind that throws us into where are we going, doing next, worries or even body pain. I have had it happen as long(about 1 hour), back in 2000 when blessed by a monk in a Khmer temple on the Thai/Cambodian border that instigated my whole path in meditation and Buddhism. Speech is the easiest thing to quickly break this welcome change in awareness. The minute I arrived home to describe to my partner it just gradually fell away. It was strange that it was not an abrupt ending and signalled to me that this indescribable, and is best explained by relaxing all ideas of self to others in their presence.

29 November, 2012

Do Waves of Emotion Define your Existence?

I am in a strange place, mostly internally, and can exist all day without anyone speaking to me. You might think it my fault, but you don't have a speech disability which makes it hard to even speak my own tongue. Most of the time it is fine, but every so often some emotion burps out me in the form of goosebumps, and desire for recognition, I guess.  For instance, I could feel the prayers and wishes when I took these photos. I am not disconnected. Not sure if I create it out of existential validation or just habit of conditioned learned responses from childhood. 

Certainly, where I am now, only makes it more pronounced. Going “home” will not make it right, so that is not an option, as long as this where love is. If I at anytime do meditation I can easily relax out of with the real physical awareness that there is no “I” to please. In fact those waves subside quickly, amazingly so, even not being quenched and it all feels like a natural process. If I, in fact, can bring this into daily existence, knowing that I can never really arrange life to suit my emotions…I will arrive totally into my being(or be present). Talking to myself, “Let’s Evolve,” by not needing to bend my day around my emotions….eating, exercising, doing, not doing, ignoring, avoiding, etc. Dive in and examine each emotion as it appears and I think I will be surprised that there is nothing to them, besides natural bodily occurrences.

Pleasure depends on things, happiness does not. As long as we believe that we need things to make us happy, we shall also believe that in their absence we must be miserable. Mind always shapes itself according to its beliefs. Hence the importance of convincing oneself that one need not be prodded into happiness; that, on the contrary, pleasure is a distraction and a nuisance, for it merely increases the false conviction that one needs to have and do things to be happy, when in reality it is just the opposite. But why talk of happiness at all? You do not think of happiness except when you are unhappy. A man who says "Now I am happy" is between two sorrows, past and future. This happiness is mere excitement caused by relief from pain. Real happiness is utterly unselfconscious. It is best expressed negatively as: "there is nothing wrong with me, I have nothing to worry about".” 

25 November, 2012

Naive Blog Motivations?

When I started this blog, it was based on the idea that I had something to share. One, to give my partner an idea of what my motivations are. Two, was to help others find their way, and that it can be done even if one encounters the unthinkable with their health, and the deck of cards they are dealt. Like... just look at me, if this sad sack can take the ball and roll with it, you can too. It just takes a lot of self reflection in meditation and try what you never tried before...along the lines that if all else fails, get up and keep walking...towards wisdom, of course.

Well, my partner loves me and really has no reason to read this now or later, when I am gone, he lives by pure intention and the right now. He has no doubts. And others, my guess, either say “good for you” or “that's interesting” and go about their lives. No one will attempt any change until they have exhausted every option. At one's own time and direction.
At the same time I have slowed down on taking photos with a reminder I saw last year. I went to a house estate sale of a man who died alone, he was a tour agent and took many upper income ladies on exotic trips. His nice photos lay in boxes to be disposed of, and some young “queen” was picking through a few to find the outrageous 60's looks to hang at home in a campy display of past chic. In other words our past has no value, really except to motivate positive change.

"Meditate, meditate, let go of all those things
you have been doing for so long,
stop doing them and meditate!"
He(Bhuddha) wants to encourage and teach others, also.
But if you go and do that,
you destroy your meditation.
Don't stop to go and teach. Just continue your practice.
Don't encourage other people. You can do that later.
But it is very hard not to that;
it is very hard to resist.

— Fourth Insight, A Map of the Journey,
talks by Sayadaw U Jotika

06 November, 2012

Can You Know Enough to Stop Dying?

You can only rise as high as your self-esteem” 
— Sayadaw U Jotika

Apparently, aspiring for comfort takes all your energy. It slowly became obvious that I desired wisdom out of some kind of payback for suffering and my upcoming death. But who is dying? We all are, there was never an I to be worried about. It was all part of the package. 
This Burmese Super Man agreed to let me photograph him, only because he was wise enough not to care ...a non-issue. Make your suffering as elegant as his appears, and you'll inspire many without even knowing it.  I bow to him and all those wiser than I. 
Any thoughts about your death?

05 November, 2012

Where Love Shines Through

I had just returned from a quick trip to Myanmar when I became ill from food poisoning. I had given a new Dhamma friend I met there my drugs that I had bought for this, knowing he had further travels, and will probably need them. Luckily it hit me when I got back, when my partner and I were on the way to get him his favorite pie. We had to grab a fast taxi back home to avoid puking on the subway, where I then collapsed for 36 hours to sleep. He would wake me to eat Jok(fish and rice porridge) that he made and take pills. He dropped everything to make sure I get better, even holding me. It was only another confirmation of why we are still together after all these years. 
Earlier in the day, my first trip out was to complete the mission to bring him home the pie he likes. On the way out, I went to buy cookies to give away randomly, and the store owner said, “Oh, here is 20 B you lost last week when you here,” handing it to me. I guess it was pay back from the small purse that I found here in Bangkok at a fruit vendor and gave back to the woman who I correctly guessed had dropped it. The look on her face was similar to mine, today.
Tonight, when my partner and I did a Pali prayer before bed, we burst out laughing, tears coming down our faces from a joke we shared. Love can be that simple.

28 October, 2012

Misery 101

In the past two months, I have been tying to let my partner do his own thing in his own time. At times, it may seem like it is an incredible sacrifice on my part, only when I feel bad or uneven within myself. In other words, my ego doesn't like it, when I am fragile. He is much more demonstrative with his love spontaneously the more I let go, so it is not like there is no payback. In fact ten-fold, lately. I just have to keep reminding myself of the self created misery that can spiral out with one bad thought. One night I had a sinking dream, because I guess my ego did not like the changes I have been making and  I guess carried it over. I was moaning saying, "No, No, No," while falling....then I could see/hear him at the end of a long tunnel and the falling stopped with his words. Touching me and bringing me forth to the waking world, with his hands on my shoulders, waking me, he said, "It's OK, I love you." 

09 October, 2012

Two Slices of Pie

It is evening, I stare out the window of the plane and I catch my reflection since the cabin lights were on. I look thin and ragged, and I can see the homemade bib I have on to absorb the drool because it is white. It ain't pretty, but it is something, so I laugh. I recall being confused the first week of rehab as to why do I drool a lot more. What really happened? No one really told me thinking I would give up on the spot, I guess. But, they don't really know me. We “stole” the towels from the hospital, when the Dr. frowned at me walking around drooling by the front desk. Putting two holes in them and used a shoelace to tie it on, making several. It served a dual purpose, I could tie my stomach tube to it to keep it high, so I don’t lose all my precious liquid “dinner” on the road.  Am no longer embarrassed wearing it. I have lost 30 lbs in a way I could never imagine, and I am coming home from the hospital. My partner, at the time, will pick my brother and I up from the airport. It feels very awkward, knowing that my brother needs on get on with his life. My whole world has been turned upside down, and we know time moves forward whether you are on board or not.... it has now been 8 weeks and I still can’t talk or even eat. Walking sort of Charlie Chaplin like, hitting things with my left side. Luckily, I can't feel it.
A limo driver is waiting for us, and I am so embarrassed. Is it because I look like hell?  No, It is more about the waste of money.  The same money that I gave him and is never worth it but my partner arranged for this. I should be happy it is done out of love, but it reminded me of being nursed to death. It points to what is wrong in our relationship, and this seems a continuation of drama of us seeing the world in different ways. But I can’t even pop the champagne they had in the car. I did not know yet, that I could pour alcohol down my stomach tube …that would come later. I would have been happier just grabbing a bus and rail back home, it would feel like more progress.
Ten years pass…

A jet is landing in Bangkok, raining like hell, lightening seen through the streaked windows with the landing gear lights on, we are landing after an exciting three weeks in Sri Lanka. This is our second trip. My life partner and I are talking about what we liked this trip, trying to gloss over the fact that I will continue on upon landing, parting yet again.  Luckily we don’t cry when we kiss and say goodbye in private, knowing polite Thai society.  Our “honeymoon” was in Hong Kong, two years previously and it had really cemented our relationship. I am just beginning to learn from him. We were working towards common goals, even separated by a huge ocean. That was his first international flight, to start to fill his passport with stamps. He so wisely applied for it just before we met solely with dreams of travel. The plane is almost ready to touch ground when suddenly it is jerked severely up to the sky again in what feels like 30°, warning announcements are heard on the PA and we are close enough to hear the cockpit warning beeps. This is bad, too many factors are involved.  Worriedly, my partner looks at me with which is unlike him, and I reassure him that this is normal procedure and probably a plane was on our landing strip. I am trying to hide my fear to make him feel better, but this rapid ascent is way beyond anything I have ever experienced. The passengers are all quiet, but if they would scream we would hardly hear them as the engine sounds are so deafening. Thinking, we might die now, and never have to say goodbye. That’s a plus…. and then the plane banks left and levels out. I exhale and think, not yet...we had plans.

29 September, 2012

I Can Breathe, Again

I tried mediating after we came back from a film, my partner had crashed, saying wake me in 10 minutes to run. The AC was blasting and I settled in on my pillow on the floor, setting my alarm for an hour. Watching my breath, and with-in 5 minutes I could feel the hair on my arm stand up. Was it because of awareness or some follow-through from the movie we saw that touched my heart?  Earlier, I lost my breath with the emotions I felt, but was rudely assaulted by the heat and sun of day after the theatre. Weaving through busy traffic we took off to find someplace to have lunch. I put my finger to my heart, it is right there, noting. I wanted to sit down and cry, so inappropriate for where I was.  I am stumbling, he says, “watch out,” cars are coming from everywhere yet no one beeps, and 5 kids all less than 6 years old are playing in pond within a half a meter by railroad tracks right our feet. The guards on rail crossing come down and we stop for the train, just in time for me to get my breath.  I don't hear the warning sound, but can see the red blinking lights. The kids don’t register us being right beside them, am I alive? I look at the passengers in the train as it goes by, and they don’t connect with me either. Where are they going? I attempt to smile, but the heat is unraveling me.
Back the breathe, I found myself nodding off. “Damn, I getting old and need a nap everyday with this injury.” I know frustration appears faster if I don't listen to my body. I abandon the sit, and crawl in bed with my now sound asleep partner. I sleep for an hour, fully dressed. Who can wake someone when they obviously enjoy sleep, after that totally frustrating Friday, where he left in rain, walked through floods, slipped and fell on the way to work. He came later that night with packages of gifts for his Mom to mail. I could feel his near defeat from the day, but luckily had fish dinner all ready for him with his favorite vanilla cream puffs for dessert.  I held him and he showed me his wound from falling, and he wanted to cry but wasn’t really able to admit the defeat. Then a small animal cry bounced out at the imaginary bully in charge of life. I massaged his wound with pain cream, and let him unwind after a shower. He will do what is necessary, he made it this far against a lot of odds. I watched him eat, and he offered some food. He is always thinking of others. “No, Thank you,” I say, thinking that I bought this food for him, I wasn’t thinking about me at the time.
I turn off the A/C, it was getting too cold for me, and I wanted to hear him breathe. He awakens, glances at his watch, and moans but loving his nap he just throws back the covers as the heat re-enters the room, and mentally dives back in. I’m awake right now, with the hall sounds of packing and cleaning of another apt, but done in polite manner. It is quiet, and dark with the sun already packed up and I want this moment to last. He breathes peacefully, piano music is playing softly by Einuadi. So it seems foolish to join him in sleep, when I feel the love we share. He can sleep as long as he needs. He needs to unload yesterday. When his cell phone chimes a cute Isan tune, he just rolls over and puts his arm on my chest. Two hours later, he wakes up and says, "When you go to Myanmar for a month, I'll be so lonely," giving me a squeeze.

25 September, 2012

38 Days of Brain Surgery in 2012

"Consciousness is really just the
by-product of a piece of meat."
Tim Freke
Well, I finally got selected for a trial to help correct my strokes defect via brain surgery. It may sound a bit strange, but the doctors have been exploring how best to reconnect the brain following brain damage for the past 15-20 years. The easier the brain can rewire broken connections, the easier and shorter the recovery time. So what they do in a brief layman's explanation is drill into the brain near the dead tissue and carefully extract it, then when that is done... they add some of your own stem cells. They are located up near the bridge of your nose that they can by needle tap into and access some. Then taking a small amount inject in the cavity from which they removed old brain cells to hasten the reconnection across opposite sides. Information does not travel well in dead tissue. My areas are bi-lateral and about a 50 cent piece size in diameter. After they add a small spray of your stem cells, they then close up the hole, just after they gently and I mean gently, suction out any air left in. This makes the pliable brain nearly join where the areas where removed. Later while I’m recovering, the doctors examine the dead tissue to see, much like a tree ring in reverse, just how the brain died during lack of oxygen. And being only a small hole in head on both sides heals naturally pretty fast, as opposed to opening in a large area.

Now, they have figured that the brain will connect way faster, so that in about two years I will be able to speak better as tones and word finding will all interweave again. Great, I’m using my suffering for science, finally. And if you believe all this, then I have swamp land in Florida to sell you before most of it is victim of global warming, but really it is not far from the electrical rewiring they are trying to do now to connect dead areas and get people back to walking faster.  Actually, the 38 days of the brain surgery was in 7 months this year of silent meditation in 3 ten-day increments, and one eight-day course. All of these are 10.5 – 11 hours of meditation per day, with noble silence. No other work besides watching sensations and managing mental and physical pain which comes from sitting not moving in one hour increments, three separate hours per day. Seven and half of those hours were spent in cells providing a faster download of the self-created misery of how one spins. Now that is where the real brain surgery begins to get back out of the hole one digs for oneself. 
The beginning of this year I would never have thought to do this but as I completed my second Vipassana 10-day course in Feburary, I could begin to see the unraveling of the misery I formally based on exterior circumstances that I have encountered in life. Often supplemented by downloading in vivid dreams. This past 10-days in Thailand, I got a real taste of my own self-defeating wizardry with the bodily pain created when I was short a pillow to lift me higher in meditation. Usually a simple fix, but the pillows were all taken early on by the others, mostly Thai’s. I would not ask them to give any up, as that would be unheard of. My problems were not apparent in the first 6 days. The first two days I was just kind of tired, but that balanced out fast, and with the luck of the nearly constant rain that kept the heat down. I was moving into subtle sensations, both in the hall and in my cell, when day 7 in the hall, I could feel pain in my right knee and hamstring as my single foam pillow they use that would sink down with time under my weight. This was during the 1 hour when you can’t move, which you do three times a day. I knew it was because of the lack of a bit more height to elevate my hips above my knees that it started the pain.  I could avoid this in the cell by sitting on the edge of the large pillow and puttting my folded legs on the chilled terrazo floor. Very few Thai’s would use the cells with their fear of ghosts, and the bats that cleaned the halls of bugs.

Dhamma Kamala
On day 8, this spurred on a interlinking of self-defeating spirals on why even bother with life anymore, my strokes had taken the best out of me, blah, blah, etc. That gave me a real taste of how I drive myself crazy that was probably learned in childhood with the alcoholism I was surrounded with. Now to break this pattern of thought, I had to first see what it does to me, then take the seeming reality apart from my physical pain and examine it. I first decided that the exhaustion has got to end because I do like meditation and to laugh at it. I wasn’t disabled by the pain if I did not let it disable me, just had some swelling that I could massage away later before bed. Combined with taking the small pillow in my cell and just bumping my hall pillow enough to relax my knees. But all this was like brain surgery to dissect self-created mental pain with awareness. And now If I can refer to it when regular old existence pulls the same trick, because I have not fully dropped it. Next, I will try to undo my keen visual sense I developed to unable me to not hit things on my left when I lost my proprioception. This does not let me calm down my nervous system when I look for clues in others and am visually aware as to where I am located in space. It is like being in “flight mode” an unable to relax in public when moving. Ahh, it makes meditation so much more “my activity” as my partner puts it. He likes the beach better ...lucky him.

10 September, 2012

Do We Really Have a Choice?

There are quite a few things in life I have encountered where I definitely had no choice in. These include being gay, my brain injury, being numb on half my body, my successes in work and failures in life or even the parents I have. But give me a choice between that which occurred, and the potentials that are out there, I think nature is right on track with what I need to experience to access some of the wisdom that I so desire.  I feel pretty lucky that I wasn’t given my choices before they happened, because I used to imagine a stroke as the worst thing that could ever happen to me. Well, I've had two strokes at the same time, and still have the ability or not to make foolish choices. Off for another 10-day Vipassana, here in Thailand to further unravel the self and fully arrive here in this humidity.

04 September, 2012

Here, I am NOT

I fell asleep in the afternoon, waking when my partner knocked at the door with dinner in hand, although he has keys. My dreams were crazy and I was disoriented( no pun, intended), working hard at trying to figure where I am. I was moving to open the door but the dreams had not quite subsided. The mind said you are awake now, but my subconscious was deeply attached to the dreams. The body was still asleep on the bed. It was not like waking after my coma, which is more like a fade-in. It just felt like I needed cold water splashed on my face. 

When the body settled in from the jet lag, I felt the distinct feeling that I never left when walking around. A whole lot has happened in the time I was away that helped to drop the torment I placed UPon myself. I capped “up” because it is felt as concrete mental doing that I unraveled some. When my partner quizzed me about why I looked younger this time. Even though I eat well, with green shakes in the morning, I replied, it is primarily meditation and yoga that facilitated a little bit more of letting go. This is turn, gives way to a bigger smile, and an overall relaxation in the body. Who knew a willingness to die could be so delightful? I look forward to my ten day Vipassana here so he can see the effects first hand upon returning and mind settling. We made shake and tapping our glasses together, saluting to our health.

The first day out, I was out in a store when two young men and I both approached a check out counter, and they stepped aside, to let me go ahead in line. I smiled and motioned go ahead, thinking that the kindness needs to rewarded on the spot. I am nothing. This Thai etiquette has a long history taught by parents to their children, that elders go first, in more ways than one. We have less time left.

27 August, 2012

Introduce Enthusiasm when Difficulties Arise

dedicated to Moher, who with her humorous style —
laughed all the way until she passed last May
We know that we learn the most from our difficult times, and there is a huge storehouse of them just waiting around the next corner, so why act surprised all time when they do appear? It is a chance to use some aspect of experience and wisdom that we have gained.  Humor may not result until we are over the shock of the discovery that things are not the way they are “supposed to be.”  Let’s try to introduce some enthusiasm about the unknown, instead making that psychological connection to our death immediately? When we put an old pair of shoes, or nice comfy bathrobe there is some familiarly with them and we relax. If we can relax like that when the body has pain, or when you have too much to get done today, the subtle signal will introduce some ease. The feeling can come out of the understanding of the fear only and may later appear warm. It will then blossom into enthusiasm and maybe humor later when you realize the main problem is how you try to push it all away like a child. Have we not grown up?  Our teenager response of approaching this with the “grin and bear it” model, because your body knows bullshit well, and will slap you silly. We just don't know what is next despite all our plans to the contrary and that alone in humorous. You have made it this far, gather up some of your innate wisdom and lay on the table. GAME ON!

This was sparked by the enthusiasm of my partner last night on Skype, knowing we can be with each other again soon and just enjoy some morning coffee before his work. He has been patient will our separation and my disability, looking beyond current difficulties to the bigger picture.

Seen on Bentinho Massaro's T-shirt:
"I do not intend to tiptoe through life only to arrive safely at death."

23 August, 2012

What We Are

When Laughter is the Only Thing Reasonable

I was crazy with how the mind wants to figure it all out and pack, just before I leave home to see my partner. Separated by laws, legal definitions and a huge ocean, but not commitment and love. I biked to yoga, and in the parking garage where I lock up, I saw a man in his car. The car was running in the garage, and the exhaust was pointed right at the attendant at his desk in less than 5 feet away. I looked at the driver and motioned to turn it off, while locking up. He chose to ignore me, so when I finished, I went to the car, and he rolled down his window, and having ear phones on and talking on the phone, he pretended not to hear me or understand. It is funny when people play dumb, even when you point at the man trying to breathe and motion to make it clear, they tend to get more defensive. Taking off his earphones finally, he called me, "Nosey!" as I became the problem. I talked with the guard when I returned and the man apologized to him, and he said thank you to me.
Here is a little laughter exercise to clear out the carbon monoxide in your brain.

11 August, 2012

Rushing into Being

I know when I start to spin on all I need to do, and I get less and less efficient. It is time to get back into my body. So, when a friend agreed to go to the country for a drive I suggested the night before, I leap at it the opportunity, dropping everything for the day. I immediately felt relief with this distraction to breathe some more space into life. I really needed to sit with myself in nature as opposed to in my house, which will soon not be, and just see what was coming up. I know deep down one never gets it all done, and I am kind of waiting for that big sign that this is it and I can finally just rock with it. We drove to an area not far from us, but one he had never been to. I could experience his relief upon seeing beauty that he forgot was out there when one gets so trapped in their thoughts. We drove for quite a while to an unused park in the middle of nowhere and I just settled in for an hour of meditation and silence, knowing that a nap would just be escapist. With birds and a rabbit around, and a warm wind blowing to cool the psyche it was easy to sit with myself. I laughed, because the area which I have liked for years, now seems like it wants me here and now my mind wants to figure out how to have a piece of it.
Find some stability in a world and life that never has any. Sensual pleasures do have their hook, but it is about avoiding what is currently present in the mind. After my hour meditation I talked with my friend about the fact that whenever I get so involved in life, spinning and being busy the more I lean towards meditation and the wisdom that comes from it. It is not the answer, I am the answer.

02 August, 2012

Act Like How You Want to Feel

For the longest time, I used to think that positive upbeat people were the product of good parenting, extra cash, or born on the right day. What was I missing? Whatever it was, I did not have it. Looking in all the wrong places for so many years, and it was right in front of me. Just look in the mirror and smile ....taking yourself too seriously puts off a negative vibe. I thought that I had a great excuse why not, since I've had two strokes leaving me with facial weakness and numbness. Bullshit! Even smiling with a kooky, crooked smile is infectious and immediately relaxes others and they will laugh with you....and not at you. Give it up and go over to a mirror and smile, we are all soon dead and it is so hard to smile with a mouthful of dirt.

A by-product of relaxing the self, is one carries less tension in their body. Today in yoga class, I smiled at myself(not out of pride) and whenever I slipped from a pose laughed. After class finished, a woman came up to me who is constantly negative, smiling and said her new nickname for me is "rubber band man." That was a change for her, so it helps others.

26 July, 2012

Sometimes it's good to give up the driver's seat

I understand his point, but my best recovery was done when I chose to be the “decider.” Now, maybe it is all a delusion, that once I chose to survive, the outcome was a natural progression with my new found mental state. When, on occasion, people say to me they could not have one what I did, I say but you would do the same. I think they under-estimate the will to survive, and that giving up leaves nothing to be desired (only but a few realized Buddhas have let go of desire), and is a let-down for those around you who spend long and difficult days praying for you to live. 
So, is there really a choice at all?

23 July, 2012

No One Asked for My Opinion

I felt it is about time to apologize... to everyone I have thrown my opinion out at warp speed, never giving him or her the chance to duck. I caught myself, early today with someone, and it was never burped up.....the miracle of consciousness.  This provided the almost instant feedback of making the other person happier, because I approached the day with joy with the idea of spreading joy instead of smearing them with one of my opinions ( cleverly disguised negativity, NOT ). I took it further all day, to set aside my happiness for others all day…the self took a back seat, if it just a bit at first. This will take vigilance to be aware and continue. This was born out of years of meditation...a hint of the wisdom that lies dormant inside of us. The feedback with strangers was pleasant and connected, they felt my intention...yup, I am a slow learner. Far more strangers engaged with me...Bingo! I had the key, but misplaced it for so many years.
My apology, based on how novice monks/nuns atone to Bhikkhu/Bhukkhuni’s:
All harmful acts, words and thoughts, ever committed by me since of old…on account of beginning-less greed, anger and ignorance… born of my body, speech and mind… Now, I atone for them all.
"wisdom grows" Wat Pak Nam
We all born into this life, and move towards happiness in our own way based on what we have been exposed to and karma. My path is NEVER anyone else’s way and to top it off, they never asked meI will try better, and will keep the fact in mind that if I want more joy in life, then it starts right here.

13 July, 2012

Pointing Upward

In my home-office in an older 30’s building in classic Spanish style. It has open stairs to the roof, totally open to the sky with pillars about 8 ft high all around to shade some of the sun. In one corner of this roof deck shoots a Moorish minerat.
The building is white-washed, fading and peeling in the hot sun. I was online doing a search, and scrolled past a real estate agents photo who I had talked to the night before. She curiously left her camera on, so her photo was still live on this particular site. She was angry with client who she was talking to. I scrolled back to see her, kind of shocked at her behavior and how funny this looked on a web page. She noticed midway through that she was broadcasting this, or perhaps she saw me on my camera and leaned forward and clicked it off. In the background and out of open staircase to the roof, I heard a man, saying out loud, “I will see if I can destroy this thing!” with a Czech accent. I can hear a guy beating away at my building with his hand, when he decides to ram it with his body. Guessing it was the minerat, I ran up the stairs to the roof.  On the way up, I decide that no matter how threatening he is and how mad I am, that I will be kind in my approach.
I get to the roof, and say with a curiously sweet face, Now, why would like to destroy my old building, exactly? I walk casually towards him and put out my hand. He is already confused by my reaction and stops banging, and I walk closer even though I see he is carrying a gun with his nice cameras. He softens enough that upon touching his hand, all stream has blown out of his idea. I say, put your hand on my chest to know I am a breathing human being just like you. He reaches out, and I have already touched his shoulder. Although bigger than I am, he is blond and slightly sweating and feels warm to touch. I defused the whole situation by not meeting his anger with anger. He did not really know it was my building. I get a close look at his gun and nice cameras, and compliment him on his good taste in cameras, as I walk him across the roof and down towards my steps off the roof. But then I notice, all these framed photos I took years ago, laid out on the roof deck, like a gallery display. I say, this is curious in my head, while moving a few aside, not to step on them. I look at the man with a slightly surprised face, and can see he can provide no answers, either.
I am beginning to put it all together, that I am dead and my old photos I have taken over the years have been laid out by my family or my partner.  With a warm feeling and no panic, it is was done for me, and then I roll over and wake up from my morning dream. I usually fall asleep after my pre-dawn hour meditation, and I must be working out some part of my unconscious with a little flare.

A little aside, if I die or any else close to you dies in your presence — tap three times firmly on the third eye(between the eye brow) to help mine or their spirit leave their body, instead of lingering around. 

12 July, 2012

"Radhe Radhe" Signals Peace

When I noticed myself spinning in agitation, I got back on the cushion 2 hours a day. One hour before dawn, and one after early dinner. In talking to my partner, he told me not to ordain again. I can be a lay in white with 8 precepts, but as his partner he feels that we will never stop thinking about one another and being a monk is a move away from us. It was nice to hear why he was so firm about this, "I am still waiting to marry you." He has brought me much more joy and wisdom, and no heartache. The miracle spoke.

27 June, 2012

In Silence, Do We Really Exist?

After about 4 days in a silent retreat with 10-11 hours of meditation per day the mind really does not stop thinking, it just gets a little less interesting to involve yourself in your many thoughts.  If you are lucky to develop the body-mind to realize that the bad feelings and anger don’t feel so good, you stop going there. Not that you can really control what you spin on, but that is what we work on. Then, in time, everything that composes your “real” life slowly becomes foggy and less substantial. You have no net, phone, or speech and immersed in silence and darkness of the cells or even a quiet hall of other long-term meditators with eyes closed…..what confirms your existence? There is, of course, no eye contact in breaks, and everyone there knows nothing of your life or of you. It is not really disturbing, and it is actually sublime living without all connections to your past. It is all stories anyway, and when we die those particulars of your life disappear with you. No matter how close people are to you they will never be able together all the pieces that are your life and idiosyncrasies, no matter how significant they feel at this time. And what does it mean? Why should we put so much importance on the small stuff or even the hard stuff we encounter in life? No one else does it for us. When I talked to Jac O’Keeffe in April, she told me what I went through has no significance at all and to drop it. “It was your body, and not you that it happened to, anyway.” It may sound callous, but it was said with clarity and love.

By day 7, everything I hold dear, like my partner(sorry, Tee Rak) and my family become only ideas that I can pull up and experience solely based on feelings or perceived needs. They seem to be like the same feelings one tries to let go of. Ah, which to keep and discard? The juggling act we think we can do so well. This judgmental mind has often lead us astray. So, I would try to feel them to feel like I exist. It was never done in a panic because existence is always really foggy, only while in silence it is more pronounced absence of ties to what we think is reality. My mind had let go of the stranglehold I had on people and things while meditating, but then my dreams at night spoke of the fears of non-existence. I would try to solve things and conjure importance for being. A few dreams I would wake up with I thought was an epiphany as a clear idea of how to solve my problems or others. Fat chance, as they were usually based out of the ego, that was struggling to exist in the face of close observation of it's weak soapbox. There is no reason why we are here, so perhaps I made this all up to prove I do exist. 

13 June, 2012

Oh, What a Feeling!

In observation, I find myself directing thoughts to get a feeling. Subtly, it may be done to establish the fact I am alive, because without a feeling we are living unaffected. Living in awareness and not in experience can feel like a withdrawal, but only when you hooked on feelings. We don’t realize it when we will create an averse reaction to something in the world just to sample a bad feeling and then quickly jump to solving a problem, grabbing some food, or if we are lucky a run in the park. I look at my old habits of trying to fix, straighten or get something completed just for a good feeling. It leaves one running from thought to thought without realizing it is never all done. Thoughts give birth to more thoughts. Self-created anxiety for me was most likely developed as a kid in the chaos of alcoholism in my family. I do find most people are hooked on a feeling, regardless of the cause, hence why obesity and alcoholism is so prevalent. It is really not the food or the drink, but the feeling they desire. And when one knows deep down that to feel good can’t be found in things outside your self, they are much likely to spiral into depression, as bad feelings have so much more of a long lasting kick. Good feelings need to have bigger and grander objects of source to get overcome the bad feelings. Bad feelings can be a simple as “Not knowing” what is next in life. I often reflect on what has come so far, and it is not over yet. I have tried to learn better ways to handle myself, often inspired when exhaustion sets in after repeated unskillful actions. Wisdom for me, enters in the back door, more as the last thing left!

What to do? Well, meditation brought those realities to the foreground. When I am resting in awareness while meditating and not labeling as good or bad, a natural peace flows from within. It is not ‘peace’ as another feel good object to grasp, but really relaxation into what is going on right at this minute and being ok with it.  Now to carry this relaxation in being into daily life, because it is me on that cushion at 5am, and it’s me... always, just a little bit scrambled. 

“....Without knowing yourself,
 there is no peace.
— J. Krishnamurti

That is why I am going to an 8-day Meditation with a focus on the Satipatthana Sutta teachings.

09 June, 2012

Wisdom comes Quicker without Liquor

The fifth precept:
I undertake the training rule
 to abstain from fermented drink that causes heedlessness.
Wak Saket Prep for New Year's 2555
The abbot who I had so much respect for when I did I short term ordination in Thailand, said when I disrobed that the fifth precept is the most important to keep in lay life. I agreed but came home to enjoy my occasional wine with dinner, I felt I had it all under control, but this stuck with me. He also stated that it isn’t the alcohol that is so bad, but drinking makes you more apt to break other precepts about lying, false speech and maybe even sexual misconduct. One as a human becomes weaker.
I continued requesting precepts at temple with the Nuns at home, which is done after prayers and meditation, so I finally listened to myself. If I request the precepts then I must want to live by them. Don't I? I love red wine, and feel it was such an important part of who I am. I keep wanting some positive, I thought, a remainder of my life pre-brain injury. I realized that I was clinging still to my old self.
My kuti at Thai Temple Nov, 2554
But is it really who I am? Not on my wisdom seeking missile path, I am more and more leaning towards the natural compassion that lives within everyone. How can I let this shine more? Like when I went up to a participant at my weekend retreat with Bentinho, at the fire pit in the evening while rubbing his back, said to a gentleman, “Thank you for being you.” He was touched. Or when talking to another woman feeling her dis-ease with her life, kneeled next to her, with positive ideas of how to ask for what she may need from her husband instead of venturing in search of a spiritual experience. One cannot feel in these situations if you have even one half a glass of wine. You are more into the experience of the wine to care deeply about others. Although the wine will give you the illusion of being more in touch with your feelings.

I feel I can now write about why I quick drinking on 1/1/11(2554). First let me say, that I am pretty aware of the dangers of alcoholism, but in my twenties I still partied and drank socially. This lead me to wine with dinner, and as a way of opening conversation with friends. Thinking more, it actually lead me to an elitist idea of myself as my taste in wine got more and more refined.  I dawned on me, more ego …more suffering and less wisdom. I had to quit, not to prove anything but that it was just an organic leaning to greater wisdom.
You know it is actually liberating to walk past the wine in stores, knowing that is one less thing to look towards for any source of happiness. Just having a half-open bottle of nice red-wine that you can't throw out, means you are obligated to have it the following evening, and thus making it more difficult to do an evening meditation. When you are out shopping, it also becomes a focus of what next to buy. It all became very transparent that all the wine desires pushed me to wanting a new experience each time. I could not rest in awareness or taste the peace of just being. That is a huge relief not to be bothered with in thought and desire, and I now feel the peace that I was actually looking for by drinking. 
 Relaxing at the beautiful Shwedagon Paya, Jan. 2555
My partner rarely drinks, and when I last saw him I bought him some really good Russian vodka that he wanted, last year. A full liter, it remained in the fridge for his occasional use. He would have a shot or two after a hard day at work with dinner. When I took off for Myanmar, he found himself feeling lonely, and drinking more that he should, woke up feeling not very well. We talked about this, in both cases and he realized he was not really interested in drinking. He realized that a nice run, was more what he needed. I had to let his natural wisdom shine through his experience.
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