23 December, 2014

Help Buddhist Nuns — Plant Seeds of Metta

A Colorful Start to the Holidays by parking that moving van.

Happy Holidays! I can tell you from the moment I had met one of the Buddhist Nuns, it helped bring my practice down out of my brain to my heart. Female wisdom should be encouraged and now here is your chance to help then settle down and carry their original vision forward. Their Foundation is buying a rural piece of property, which will end up costing almost the same as what their were paying in rent each month. Even more help with the deposit or their monthly living costs will make this seem like it was meant to happen... Seamless dhamma. I know personally, when I saw their new rental property(same as what will end up buying), I felt it was a great match.  I even hear their neighbors warmly welcomed them, and want them to stay. Dhammaseed and their website have many of their dhamma talks by them. Be inspired and let a dana offering warm your holidays.
Help Support www.Saranaloka.org

15 December, 2014

The Burp on Presence, Ego

The ego wound it’s way back in after my injury that far outpaced my physical healing. It is probably a necessary ingredient for self-preservation and a sign that my “I/ego” was firmly engaged in survival mode. This helped carry me through difficult times when I really did not cognize what was going on in the first month with my severe brain injury. No one took the time to tell me what exactly happened until almost a month after. Without knowing how damaged one is you constantly do things with the soul motivation to get out of the hospital, while collapsing in exhaustion from doing just simple tasks. Physical therapy staff used make me exercise like walking the halls with I.V.’s & tubes still attached, and then make me do a written test often much to my dismay without first a nap. I could not eat, so I could not talk, either. Part of the sarcastic me thinks it was to bill hours, rather then see what progress was made. So, that alone would incite displeasure enhancing the speedy return of ego, with the thoughts of, I don’t want to do this!

Looking back, I wish I could have stuck with an earlier impression I felt that had of myself just existing in presence that seemed to come about with an unclear outcome of who or what I was. With such a severe injury, what is the rush to get me back to work, even though I was young? Surely, some of you will say it was in my best interest, to reignite damaged neurons and thus speed up healing, but who needs total return of ego? The ego will also inform you of how you don’t fit in the world once you are disabled. Not to make an excuse, as I also get feedback that I inspire people. This is pointed out time and time again in daily interactions, but that, too just reinforces the role ego plays in existence. Ahhh, now, who really needs to write this?

25 November, 2014

Patience Finds You

City of Peace, June posts 2552(2009)
As a still recovering impatient person, I started to recall the other day, a particular momentous occasion in my life. That was a result of patience over a long, long time. The development of my partnership with a foreigner over time, dealing with separation gain and again with a long term goal of marriage carried over 13 years. The marriage happened this year, and I am now enjoying the fruits of year of patience. It did not start with patience but instead ended with it. I see it now in a clear light that a patience lesson is learned sometime in your life whether you like or not. One will begin to look funny being impatient with things that really matter, especially as you age. Patiently unfolding, you can ride along with it(it's the process, dear), inspiring you to re-examine other neglected aspects of your life. Wisdom will become a natural organic plus, once one stops running away to alcohol, food, entertainment( the usual — doing things to be doing them to escape your mind or thoughts). 
Teacher's appreciation, June posts 2552(2009)
In my particular case, I complained about life's unfairness, blamed others and spread misery in the forms of negative comments and attitude. Certainly, there were glimpses of wisdom enough to start on a path of change, in the middle of this chaos. Having a positive core of being to not push everyone of the way in the process, which was my first hint of wisdom. I never wanted to be pathetic with my brain injury, started out with selfish intentions to heal, slowly picking up the pieces, beginning to give back as I healed. Realizing that the real healing was not really medically, but more spiritually. And that's where patience comes in as an important part of wisdom while finding your own spiritual path. Learning to drop what doesn't work and laughing at your mistakes along the way. Never forgetting what does work, and constantly coming back to it, instead of skipping on to something new, thus defeating the patience you have cultivated in the first place. 

15 November, 2014

Pick an Emotion!

There are many times that I found myself with anger arisen over a particular unwanted thing happening. I guess the body has some energy that needs to be released and it is often very unskillful. With a little bit of wisdom, I can see the anger, but I notice my ego will quickly find a new angle to access a different emotion all based on the original incident. Feeling like an unlocked backdoor, it is at first... enticing. At least now after seeing this happen again and again, my awareness is slowly stopping these forays into sideline emotions. I am now trying to ease the original displeasure with noting what is happening and with the awareness of breath and where it might take me... which is always away from peace. This might help— with a monkey mind you can flip between now and future outcome (i.e. often more trouble than the original complaint). I can usually access humor when I repeat to myself, Pick an emotion, and just run with it. Seeing it spinning out of control, trying to hold tight to your original emotion and how fast it can move quickly in the opposite direction of peace. At times, I have to beeline to the cushion, to just sit and observe... if at home. I certainly do not carry a cushion with the words embroidered on it, In Case of Anger, but at least this will give you all some idea of my intention.

I know intellectually why anger can be easily accessed for me, but outlining why would only put this further from your own experiences. It can be used with sadness and depression, if this is what you have frequent flier miles in. Those two often appear when one has anger towards yourself. Whatever emotion, just watch what you are doing, even if you can’t stop it immediately… the awareness of how much further you cast peace out of your range will be enlightening.    

03 November, 2014

Is it Possible in this Lifetime?

To awaken?

One of the questions I've asked myself and have determined given my brain injury and the difficulty life presents to me. That it is probably not possible. I'm not defeated, meanwhile, I try to maintain a good intention. Thinking after coming from a week of service at Vipassana, recently. Which was a great way to integrate daily living and interacting with others, while doing meditation 3 times a day. I was able to observe myself constantly and reflect on misdoings.

I found this poem to be appropriate:

by Tony Hoagland courtesy of Sun Magazine

With the help of Zen,
my old friend Jack
dissolved his disagreements
with the world,
purified his quarrels,

shushed his ego,
stopped biting back
when bitten,
and gradually had
no opinions
other than wise ones.

And so our friendship
lost its bones and meatiness,
because it is clear to
me that I
am not going to humanly

but will be
forever benighted
by shadow and abrasion.
I will keep eating my experience
with a certain
indigestion and
shitting out opinions
to the end.

Goodbye, my friend, goodbye, I say
quietly to myself
like a character
in some science-fiction novel
as I watch the
smooth spaceships of Zen
slip the heavy harness
of the earth
and rise into the weightlessness
of space,

leaving a few
hundred million of us
weeping and holding on
to our stormy weather
and our extended
allegiance to stones.

03 October, 2014

Today's ...The Day

Things happen in our life quite unexpectedly, and often we can recall some aspect of each particular tragedy in slow motion when the dust settles. Getting hung up on one or the other should haves that would have prevented nature. Whether we enjoy them or not, "bad things" will happen, and part of my practice is to be aware of them, during and after they do ...providing you don't die. Today was the day, to fall down unexpectedly. To be alarmed, and then be surprised that I could get up. Watching the unfolding of moods surrounding it all. A really unremarkable trip and fall where my left knee landed squarely on the soft home made treats I carried to the gym to give to friends, nicely cushioning it and hence saving it. It did not help my bruised ego,  but it did help propel thought to reflect on a day, when we get bad news about us or family and friends that we usually are so unprepared for. Not to worry in advance but try to not to be shocked when anything minor to major happens. An awareness based on simple awareness of every moment unfolding without any blame, worry, cause. This will lessen our desire to want to change or control anything. There will be a day, like this day and so many others when death comes knocking at your door quite unexpectedly. And like the man I found surprised and befuddled when he had a stroke while coming home on the bus.

We spend too much time with worries of things, that may never happen, letting them spin out of control in our heads. Ignoring the simple beauty of well-being present always.  Spend your first day with gratitude of others. What people provide you with this very moment, even at it's most minor forms like a smile. Moving on to friends and family because with this appreciation for strangers it makes them seem even more pivotal. Perhaps, you might not have enough money, or enough good health at this moment, but certainly you do have people that are important in your life. Tell them, and stop taking it all... for granted. Today's...the day!

20 September, 2014

Surrenderfully, Two Stories

When I heard the two words surrenderfully in yoga it made perfect sense and thought I have to use it as the one word it seemed to be. Later, it struck me when prompted by a friend to tell his friend my story why I am like I am, that her first reaction was pity. Then she evoked “God” to bless me which felt like her perception of where she sees herself and me. Then, I detected a felt sense that where the division blossomed was also where the mind closed. If I really sat down and talked to her, I feel that now with her sense of separation, she will never be able to gleam any of the wisdom that branched out of my near death and the sort of resurrection, I experienced. Do we have to follow our own path, tripping along the way, picking yourself up or not? Even though there is no new kind of suffering. It has all happened to someone or is happening right to someone on this great big planet. Perhaps, we don’t learn unless it is tailored individually to our own perception. That is a bit scary, because it signals our doom because we can’t see ourselves as the other and might seal our fate to see the human race(see war cries again in the press). Still it is my own perception, so I drop it and surrenderfully.

A new friend was going on about a new traumatic event that happened when her young neighbor, a single mom overdosed and died leaving her two young kids in limbo and loss. Sure, it was worthy of being upset, but if it weren’t this it would be something else with this friend. It was a pattern of thinking that develops when one feels no control over their own life, seeking outside events to obsess on to avoid your own suffering. I know it first hand too well. So, I used the respect she carried for my partner and I, to get her to sit down for the first time and meditate to a 20-minute guided meditation that I had on my phone. Timing is everything and her mind was so busy that even she wanted a break. We sat down in the gym(of all places) and listened to recording. I used metta(loving kindness) that she would maintain with her eyes closed and remain focused on the words. Which is no small feat for first time meditator, who is also a devout Christian.  I did not open my eyes to check until it was done, so not to throw any guilt feelings her way. When he recording ended, I quietly opened my eyes, noticed her relaxed look, still with eyes closed and waited patiently for her to come back to the room. She had to surrenderfully with the trust she had in me and how she had perceived me in the past. When she did the first thing she said, “This is all a dream!” She was so surprised at how easy it was to change her whole mood and intensity in 20 short minutes.

15 July, 2014

Contemplate Your Suffering

On the day, we married …upon coming home, we got some beautiful orchid leis from one of my close friends that arrived too late to take with us to wear in the wedding. So, I said we need to give them to my neighbor’s young girls, and we trotted over to give the leis to them. We ended up talking for a while, and also to the neighbor next door to them. Who I later find out at that time that they had just found out that their foreign partner of their roommate, who I know, died quite accidently in the hospital. They did not want to spoil our day by telling us. This other neighbor had a nice life planned out with their partner, and all was going quite well, with a business and plans worked on for over 10 years. A life that was unplanned for the tragedy that unfolded.

Lately, my sister during her honeymoon had her husband pass away, and although a very involved story in a developing country….it was never planned. I never thought that I would see that to realize that my suffering was suddenly inconsequential.

I have my partner who is well aware of and speaks often about how much I have changed his life in appreciation at unprompted times. So these latest two stories help to show me that my suffering is old hat. That even though my other siblings reflecting on what transpired in my life and my sister saying that they could have never have survived through similar things if they happened to them. But they forget that far worse has happened to others, and that we have all have this innate will to survive that takes over when things get extremely difficult. Few fall into really giving up, because we know what this means to us both mentally and physically. I really would like to skip the pity train, because it sounds like giving up. Often when I speak I have to get into details so people don’t think I am drunk or a new incident happening right before their eyes. I think that I quantify my existence by my suffering. I seemingly have more which can easily leave me unable to move on or to have compassion(in the way I should have normally) for others. I am aware that others suffer, and see that we often don’t even know unless they broadcast on the news. Suffering is not always news worthy, and can be so regular but points to things we can't control. And some of us can’t bear when it involves many people or a whole family. We shut off. But we enjoy a tragedy story with some silver lining, and I guess it’s the hope that the same thing happens when it befalls us. And that is where they take the idea and run with it for news and/or entertainment. This brings me back to why I am on this path, to look closely at suffering in it's minor forms, so that when it barrels in a grand expression ...I won't necessarily be ready, but will be familiar with what my brain does with it, and how my body reacts to it. Hopefully making suffering a inroad to wisdom, because you can't avoid it.

26 June, 2014

Let Him Smell You First

Tied up to a parking pole that they put in to keep people from driving into a store, was an older dog, and I could tell by his eyes he was blind. Walking up to him let him smell me, first, so that he knew I was not going to hurt him thus allowing me to pet him. I instructed another guy working pushing carts back to the front of the store, how to approach him because his apprehension about this dog was palpable and that could also make the dog react negatively. Also not to roll carts close by him, because he feels the ground. It will make him uneasy. Dogs as well as many other animals can sense one’s fear, anger or any other strong emotional states. And I know from my experience that an animal body adapts to changes regardless of how severe for as long as you are alive. If your body can adapt to change, your mind can, too.

So, yes ...I did let him smell me, so many years ago... he saw my intention and put aside my many flaws, because he knew I would never hurt him intentionally as I also sensed from him and this launched us into a relationship 13 years ago. We finally married this month when the law allowed and continue our life together in the same house… no longer separated by a huge ocean. Few people can understand that the marriage did not change anything we did not have already. 

10 June, 2014

The Quiet Will Fix Me

Having just completed my 10th Vipassana of 10 days, focusing on lifting any expectations and any residual deep-seated problems that could get in the way with my upcoming marriage to my partner. The issues that could come up are more based on my brain injury trauma, and my own unique way of dealing with life in the past, combined with it. Between my partner and I, there is little difficulty with our long history providing I don’t add my daily frustrations of dealing with this disability. We have clear intention not to hurt the other and a natural love that is mature after 13 years.

So, I found another person to join me on the ride there and back and we both were excited about sitting again, talking all the way there. Feeling that we both needed it for our own separate reasons... it all seemed natural. We flowed into the course and moving into silence and the first day I was given my meditation cell number as old student. So I know that it is best for me to work hard and sit in the hall during the mandatory sits and the rest of the time in the cell never returning to my room with the distractions of door closings and the tempting way naps spring up on you. Of course, by Day 2 morning sit, where I tried to make it to the cushion at 4:10 am, I had hit my first hurdle. “Why am I here torturing myself, again,” given that my last course was in October 2013. I worked through that one by the time breakfast bell rang and subsequent sits were moving into settling down into routine by fine-tuning the mind with anapana. 

Resistance is with us even when we have a taste of wisdom with our natural laziness of not wanting to accept any change. It is a scary realization that even doing something we intend to do, we want no doubts to ever show up because they were not invited. So doubts are always present at least for me because I don’t know about you. Onward to day 3 which began to show the knee pain slight bit amplified with the mind do it’s natural jumping around, but day 4 which is Vipassana day was probably the easiest one I have ever experienced, which is not really easy to sit for two hours as you move into body scanning. It is more the mental energy change that bring up your first insight into the deep stuff that is hidden in your subconscious. Day 5 brought me some craving when one is really settled into routine. I like the early wake-up and the walk to the pagoda with the big dipper laid out in my path. I had brought some yerbe matte tea to have and look at the stars just before I walk inside, hoping for the great shooting star I had seen my first 10 day sit there in 2554(2011). When a few of us saw it the same 4th day, and remarked later on the 10th day when we could talk. My craving brought up some sex and closeness I wanted, but my body sensation that day in the 2:30-3:30 sit in the hall showed a relaxation and painless natural flow. I almost felt cocky as my body cracked with ease during what I call the “pee” break.

Day 6 night dreams were interesting as I was knee deep in clear ocean with manta rays coming up from the sand around me, allowing me to grab on to one huge one as he leapt from the bottom out of the water up to the sky to save me from sharks coming near. But then we crashed through the windows in my bedroom at home landing on that bed. That was interesting and because it seemed to have happened just before waking to go for my 4 a.m. meditation.
I could write a lot more about how once you are settled into routine, that one perceives the sound of silence constantly, and even one often hears two pitches of the vibration of the universe. My craving would be shown when I would hear the gong sound not when it was sounded, because the body would want to hear it above the sound of silence. The gong would sound during breaks and meals, so it was hard not to crave it, it was beautiful and a “reward” making one feel much like Pavlov's dog.

But if you all know Vipassana, it all changes and it can be as fast as a heart beat, so then I became more aware of the man directly behind me in he hall who had a frequent habit of swallowing and clearing his throat in a voiced way. He became a constant reminder of what I have to work on, the inability to control others. With my brain injury, I do have an enhanced link to any one’s felt nervousness that my body automatically picks up. That is why I can’t get in line to order like in a coffee shop, because when it comes to speaking with people waiting behind me it makes me lose the balance of the mind leaving me speechless or full of errors. I usually let people pass me until there is a break. It is just one of the few frustrations I encounter every day with this injury. 

Just yesterday an older friend over coffee was trying to coach me how to speak. I showed her how tapping helps slow down my speech, affected by the inability to control air flow. She said that was clear! But I said it only works while tapping right hand in left, and it destroys all thought, so spontaneous speech is out, plus who has two hands free? And if that does not get some weird looks that actually distract from any point I am trying to get across especially in public. Which comes down to carrying a pad and pen all the time, which I don’t do because it makes any speech practice less and less, and any ability to improve with rewiring.This leads me into day 7 morning sit in my cell, almost bouncing off the walls in total frustration. This was when my heartbeat becomes too prominent a focus to scan or pierce and leads me to use it as a metronome. Moving to new spot with each beat.  It annoys me, and the teacher said to avoid the heart area and center of your body when that happens. I have to relax back in anapana while trying to quiet the mind down. My frustrations came out which is good and the reason I was there, but it was no fun. Subsequent sits were easier and with more wisdom, just with more body pain.

Meanwhile, the 7th and 8th day night dreams were of gasping for air relating to my anoxia in the hospital years ago, as it pulled up from my subconscious. I can imagine I have more with intubation to come. By day 8, I was having more parts of my body in flow showing me the vibration of atoms that we really are composed of. I was still making into my cell by 4:10 by waking at 3:45 for tea and a quick wash of my face with cold water. But then anger came out that morning, and seeing the need to fix others because I can’t possibly fix me. A insightful look at where my anger leads to, and again it was resolved by the time breakfast bell rang with tears of appreciation for my Mom and others. That was really a fast work through that would have taken several days in the past in Vipassana sits. Although one is never totally fixed as you delve deeper into the hidden treasures of the subconscious each time you do one of these. And in the hall sits my neighbor who sat behind me was amping up his noise and anxiousness with each sit, almost wanting me to discuss with the management, but I never did knowing it was more my sankhara than his. 

By the 10th day when we spoke I quickly had an understanding with the his tremendous creative energy recounting his dreams and aspirations. He was quick to voice his appreciation for my firm sits that inspired him, and I often got through times when it seemed unbearable to me, by knowing that I could inspire him, by being a good example. So that turned out to be another touch of wisdom in this long path. Another more weighty gentleman talking to me afterward giving me several suggestions like more physical activity to help speech without asking me first what I have done. Again a clue as to what inspires my frustration when other assume my injury is my own health negligence and not a hospital error that I have slowly made significant gains way beyond what anyone imagined. A neurologist friend I have said that I am the most severe he has seem walking around and has used me as an example when he taught medical students about the human potential to heal as one can never assume outlook. My encounter with that fellow sitter leads me to understanding where my need to fix others root is based.

23 May, 2014

The Way-Back Machine: A Rebirth

Most of us can agree, that any experience we have had is stored in the body, waiting to influence our next move or interaction in a stealth way. One might never recall certain things just because they were painful the first go around. No need to relive old pain, there is plenty enough of brand spanking new pain to involve yourself in for eternity. Which is probably the reason why most people don't explore other avenues besides reviewing it with a psychologist. Like when life presents a challenge like divorce, break-up, alcoholism or job loss. Most would approach new problems as they develop, understanding how to cope with them as they unfold. When I was younger, I saw a psychologist after a job loss seemed to pull the carpet out from beneath me. After a couple of sessions unraveling my past as a clue to why it was a difficult time for me, I found myself with more issues than I thought, I came in with. I was intelligent enough to know that she would have to steer me into thinking differently about what happened currently and the past probable causes. But that it was going to me that made changes in thought patterns or perception and so I discontinued and started a new business. That kept me busy not to wallow in my misery just enough, but that I had stamped back down some of the causes which were too painful to deal with.

If I look back now at my life, then it did seem like behavior/problems were bubbling up in different ways, while at the same time I wasn't totally useless. I was able to cope, keep some friends, and be involved in relationships.  There lies the problem if it doesn’t affect you enough to make you want/need a change then it all seems fine. But various times in my life I would look at others, and wonder why they seemed to have an almost carefree life, and things came up rosy more often for them. Sometimes it is just a one-sided perception, but other times it is spot on with its ability to show you that something is not quite right in your life.

There is also the reason that once I had been exposed to the brightness of someone who has a successful life made better by a holotrophic breathwork session. He also gave me my first one to try as a gift. And my second session last Sunday, was definitely a birth trauma leading to rebirth. It seems to follow going back in time from my first session to trapped feelings surrounding my birth. Most babies don’t want to leave the womb and so begins maybe the first fear one encounters. You don’t remember it, but your body stores it. Now, of course I will never really know if my session was rebirth or not, but as an intelligent perceptive person it did seem very close. A black hole surrounded by golden light, and I encountered a fear where I was flipping my head left and right, and broke into a scream/cry, “NO” while crunching up into a ball for quite a long time. Later, it subsided into a sense of forgiveness for me, and others. Then as the music got more peaceful, morphed into a resurrection of sorts, a heart opening. It was resolved in its own way, and has left me exhausted for a few days. Emotionally drained, but not in a bad way. I do feel calmer, and able to let things go easier.

One might say he made this all up to conquer it, or it was never really a rebirth just symbols of what I might be holding on to that needed a release. (Perhaps it was my near death or the insertion of stomach tube?) That the body only replayed something that it is familiar with or the active mind made up, but time will show me the scope of change brought on by whatever this experience was. Subsequently, after these last two sessions my dreams are current time wise, meaning, I think that I am not going over childhood fears or traumas and I even said my current age in one a few nights ago. My dreams have also included a new conscious awareness of absurdness of them when I am dreaming which then takes me out of them calmly.

My intention was to make myself as well adjusted as I can be, so that my partner will sense a greater stability with all the change he will encounter that is outside of us. So that in our home, he won’t feel like a stranger with less of my unresolved body sensations that could percolate out with our marriage. It was never a perfect world, and he has had a difficult time himself, and I don’t need to add to it. 

10 May, 2014

Life is ...a Set-up

All wrapped in me, we stumble through life trying to find meaning. Often while wasting time searching out all kinds of supposedly happiness, that lie outside of our little bubbling internal world. So, here I am, fixing all the things I need to so that when my partner arrives, I can spend all my time with him showing him around, with no pressing projects to finish. It is becoming obvious that I am continuing to set him up in the best way, I know how. It will become his house soon enough, I was a temporary babysitter, really. And re-coating the floors today, I realized to love him ...was to believe in him, giving him as much help as he needed to flourish. Many years ago, when he was between jobs and was kind of lost I kept offering to help him finish school. Too proud at first, to take me up on my offer, he resisted. Knowing him now, it was to preserve our love by not being a taker. Then one day he decided, knowing I would also have to help with support him for a while. He got a loan for the first year, then the Thai government stopped the loans, not wanting too many people smart as evident by the current political turmoil. Luckily, he was well into it to quit out of pride, and I jumped in to help.The rest is our history, and he went on to a masters while working at the same time.

Now, for him to leave his country, and almost everything he knows is brave and he does this out of appreciation for me being there for all these 13 years. I saw a beautiful transformation in all these years, and when he had the visa in his hand, a humbling and loving appreciation which he recounted with true honesty. He never thought it could happen, beyond most of his dreams. I replay that day in Bangkok over and over in my head, because it all unrehearsed and true to the love we share. Our “marriage” was years ago, and the upcoming legal one will just be icing for us. Meanwhile, I work hard on letting go of any expectations, knowing him well enough to be able to work within his capability.

My recent holotrophic breathwork sessions have released a lot of deep down internalized anxiety from my childhood that would direct how I see the world and react in the past. And I did it all to make me the best partner I can be.

One can find meaning in life by helping others. You don't have to be a mother or even a lover ...just someone searching for meaning to our complex life. Helping others you will, at one point, find the greatest love of all...yourself.

09 April, 2014

Don't Fight
What is Naturally Occurring

First of all, I am writing this to help myself remember certain facts about life that we often overlook. If any of you get inspired or awakened to reality, all the more better.

A common disease we all have is one in which we fight ...what happens naturally. Like when someone is not looking and cuts you off when you're driving, or plastering on one more expensive cream hoping to look like we did at 20, or even friends or family dying whether through aging or disease. It doesn’t mean that we can’t get mad when the person cuts you off, or disappointed when you look terrible in the morning, or grieve when people die. That is not the point. It is more of an internal wake up to what happens naturally, and that any action of resistance only makes us more disturbed or uneasy. One would best approach this is in awe or surprise, and gradually with wisdom it would mellow down to just a normal fact of life. Surely, a wise grounded person would develop a seemingly detached (looking) emotional connection, while at the same time exhibit compassionate awareness to everything the world throws at us. That is what we can work toward, instead of ignoring or trying to ignore the suffering that exists out there and the suffering we tack on to ordinary existence (the fight I speak of).

What does it take to get there? I have some ideas, but being not fully realized they are just opinions. You can hear them or add to them or throw them out the door for that matter. With a bit of gray hair and survival skills intact it seems to me, one has to first be aware of everything you do to escape what is happening naturally. That can be drinking even casually with friends complaining about life, which comes so naturally because it is often funny what we encounter that we had never planned on. It can be relaxing with the TV on for entertainment or company, or surfing the net to find the most outlandish viral video or finding politics amusing. Even sometimes we engage in physical activity to pause our brain from reality of day-to-day life.

Being aware of each time and why we are doing each thing, while we do it ...it's often called mindfulness, and will gradually ground us. It will unable us to see the reality of our escapism. I want to stress that this sober awareness does not make you morbid, or turn you into a nihilist when done with a long-term wisdom goal in life. In fact, the release you get from stopping running from what is naturally occurring brings a happiness that is more balanced and true to our being. It is something to work towards, bringing more present awareness in everything we do, fine tuning and rebalancing along the way. That it is work, with a keen eye on who we want to be. It is for people who are tired of the way we dealt with life in the past or that it was never quite working. It is not for people who see nothing wrong as it stands, for even they are naturally occurring in life.

I had the great fortune to live in Thailand for long time watching and living with a Thai showed me the wisdom that anyone can have and untapped joy when you fight less with what is naturally occurring. Even with the great demonstrations going on now, and with the whole country in turmoil, people still had a smile. And you thought all my wisdom came from within...hardly. I did use some of the wisdom through the whole visa process and with my partner...at times, because it takes awareness.

The photo above of the shrine after 6 months planted under a bodhi tree, where I lit 3 joss sticks every time I passed, and people added offerings to it as well.

Find the Peaceful Cat

20 March, 2014

Not a Path, Nor a Choice

A year and half ago, it was beginning to look like I would go on my spiritual journey, and maybe in the process I would figure out a good way to bring my partner and I together, naturally. We do fine apart, which has actually helped us grow gradually and more soundly than most. He has a good job, and asked me to move to Asia to be with him. But, I felt that we needed to somehow seal our relationship that would allow an easier passing of the torch, when I die. Sure, I have a will and trust, but as a married couple it would be more financially wise. Plus he has never got a chance to see my life with no visa.

Continuing as we have while exploring how best to link us easier, like a making a home here in Asia, closer than the U.S. to him. With my brain injury, it is damn near impossible with the damage to speech and tone areas of my brain to facilitate learning a language. Jeez, it took my 5 years to get to the lousy English I speak now, stunted and truncated. I speak like I have been drinking, a lot, and even one time a police officer in my own business accused me of drinking when I called them for a theft. That is another story. So, with this in mind last trip I explored other English speaking places to live. I went home last time here, unsettled with no clear answer what or where to go next. I felt a couple of times I acted out my frustration of no clear answer. My spiritual path was a turning into a kind of avoidance in some ways.

While home I did another 10-day Vipassana last May, and upon completion the news was coming out that gay marriage was winning in the courts. DOMA was struck down, and Bill Clinton is still trying redeeming himself of his connection to this discriminatory law. I worked on this for over 20 years, protesting, writing emails, joining campaigns…and here it was.

There was a now a choice, and now I can chose to run with it or not.  The decision to marry would take my original intention further to a new level of giving my partner more opportunities. Because he has shined with everything, when I have helped ...and been very appreciative. It was never a hand out, it was more like a hand up. And beneath all my flaws, he saw a good heart.  If I did not marry him, and chose my own spiritual path over him, than I have not learned anything at all. The choosing mirage was disappearing.

My mother gives all for her children, and if I take after her, I should at give all to my partner. So, I hired a lawyer and got on with a fiancĂ© visa, a month after the news. All along the process, I have given him an out, and still do if this is not for him, but at least he can try life in my house. It was a year’s process and it was never easy, and at the last minute they asked for another document.

It will be huge change for him and at times, he acted like it was not serious. Which would confuse me. It seemed now… looking back, his background of being abandoned by his parents at birth, made him able to cope with life’s drive-by's by not putting it all in one basket, so if his visa passed... he would prepare mentally, then. He thought it would never happen, so he postponed any feelings attached. Now, that it is concrete, and his ticket booked, and marriage planned he has relaxed being while being excited. We get to experience a whole new level of appreciation of each other, even after 13 years. Naturally bonded. To think we talked about this for years and exchanged rings in 2008. Now, I am only scared of crying at my own wedding.

11 March, 2014

Stretched Between...then a Release.

It was a sunny on a warm white sanded beach. I stood in the sand, between two taught stretched white cotton panels, hung between two coconut trees by ropes. I was supposed to meditate while standing up, and the two tight panels hugged me front and back to support me in case I relaxed and fell back or front. I could, if I opened my eyes see through the loosely woven cotton to the ocean and the light slope of the water. Playing in the surf were others who are not part of my history of familiar people, signaling forced seriousness perhaps.  I guessed the panels referenced the suspension while I wait for my partner’s visa, but I have never felt I was missing out whenever I meditate.

With this dream in the back of my mind, I wanted to go back to the south of Sri Lanka to just chill out. My partner said, “Go!,” since he was busy days and offered to pay for my flight, but deep down I was torn. We still don’t know about his Visa to come back to the US to marry and live with me. The embassy has his passport and their last request, “a single certificate” was not on our checklist from them, nor had our lawyer heard of it. He found out how to get one, with his Mom’s help from his home city government, completed it and sent it in. These are only good for 6 months, and if the embassy drags this out longer our visa fee, and other stuff will expire. They can demand anything, I heard from another chap who finally got his partner's visa. This has been frustrating to say the least.

If I take off not knowing, I may be shortening our time together if his visa doesn’t pass. Surely, we have thought about this and have a plan b and c and have dealt with our separation remarkably well for 13 years, but we have strengthened our bond these last 5 months over all the paperwork driving home our history. Looking into increases to almost all costs of this trip, to do alone it really felt selfish. There is a whole new appreciation for the other, which makes an upcoming potential separation seem even more difficult. We can do it, as we have in the past, but then it will push me in making another decision reflecting on the visa's failure. With all this in mind, I decided at the last minute not to go and in my partner’s formally stoic reply... to go ahead and go, he radiated the love that we felt. We try not to mess with each other’s idea of happiness, but when the hearts meet again it is lovely.

Two hours after I posted this ....and after a whole years process my partner received his fiancé visa. Our 13 years are finally recognized by our government. And I was around to see his reaction!

17 February, 2014

Are we hallucinating
the belief that we are separate?

Perhaps a wakeup call. The ego, when fully purchased conjures up some weird stuff. I would find myself thinking I have been through so much suffering. Not my suffering, it was just suffering that we all experience our own version of. That same suffering that propelled me on this path. A perception believed in when you look at it, when it just is life ....unfolding. Or it could be a concept taught by others, perhaps society or family that we grab and just run with it until our grave. Why? Because… it gives us a feeling of being alive. Jeezus, could one just pinch out a couple of candles for quick feeling and be done. I feel like I have reinforced the idea by being or feeling unhappy and that I am a suffering separate person from others, at times. It may often give me the illusion of specialness because the ego demands a firm ground from which to stand on…. to maintain this individualized separateness.  For sure, the positive that came out of this was my meditation to look at life, as it is.

Now, tell me if you don’t, like me, can watch a tearful reunion of family members totally not related to you and feel or exhibit some emotion. It is not just pulling up some old baggage that you have put in deep storage, but real connectedness to others that we share.  Our I is their I and we had better wake up.  It divides us and blocks our happiness. Joy that exists in nature, and it's free! Your I exists, sometimes far from your body, enough so that when you walk into a room carrying some unhappiness people will turn away. I should not ask for validation when I am unhappy either because it was my ego demands. All I am doing is unfurling the pathetic flag that smothers my ability to connect with others suffering and do something as simple as raising the vibration of a room. The only separateness we perceive is others' conditioning from the culture or society that supports this hallucination.

Today, I watched a young boy who was about 5, draw a shark in the condensed water on a 7-11 cooler door he opened. I gave him the thumbs up, and I immediately had a friend. He played hid and seek among the shelves of grocery items. I joined in the fun. I realized his mom works there, and she smiled at our interaction.

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