Posts Tagged ‘Buddhism’

raisins d’etre

blue17Ijuneevening

Time is zooming by and at the same time, it’s like a big piece of amber in which we find ourselves closely held.  The seasons have changed, the one week Fall colors were completely different this year in shades of rust and copper, and there was a last group of lizards and frogs and bluebirds before it began to freeze at night.  The hummingbirds have taken to following us around on walks, bossing (or trying to) the Dog and Partner around in no uncertain terms.

A lot has happened, and nothing has happened.  As usual I suppose, but seriously, Gentle Reader, this has been a time in which the austere face of how things are in fact has shown itself in an irrevocable kind of way.  An adjunct to that is the realization that my lifelong effort to see the good in people may have….er….blinded me to certain prevailing truths.  Which gave a whole new cast to this life thing to be thrashed around (with AND by). So the masks have fallen, the gloves are off, and it’s more than a bit scary.  Then of course, there’s the “news” and the “world” and well.  Some days it is simply too much.  As usual I retreat to my Dharma (the kitchen!), my Sangha (D and P!), and of course the Buddha (to whom I address important questions like how much sugar do I really need to put in this glaze?).  A picture, they say, is worth a thousand words, which I do not have today.  So, above, we’ll say is the oft-consulted Buddha.  Below, and you can decide which is which, are the Dharma and the Sangha.fantinlatour

cuteoverload

BLESSINGS AND THANKS.  May we all weather the changing seasons and greet the flowers in spring with joy and heart!

Advertisements

spinning

Now that we’re living in incontrovertibly interesting times? There are pluses and minuses.  On the plus side, coming to understand that when my laptop bounces and erases and sends things will nilly and freezes it’s because there isn’t enough bandwidth for everybody to use.  The minus: laptop going bonkers.  However it also means that getting a new one isn’t going to solve this issue, so that’s a plus in its way.

Random political thoughts on that plus/minus continuum, which while disturbing were eventually somewhat equilibrating:

LPV, dotard etc., didn’t send aid to Puerto Rico in a timely way because? a) he doesn’t know where it is and b) doesn’t know it’s effectively part of the U.S. and thus his job to attend to and c) so much more fun to harp on ridiculous and backward thinking about accepting symbol as absolute reality (we speak here of a piece of fabric and a piece of music), in an effort to get it accepted as obligatory routine, or else.  (I’ll just say that when I was in high school? I sat for the pledge of allegiance, a cousin having been blown to smithereens in Viet Nam being the final straw, and as a result spent my senior year alone in the library.   Progress, or what?)

The real reason the Affordable Care Act is in the gunsights of certain “legislators”, even though they know their constituents do not support their positions? They’ve probably been left out of the money loop now that the bill is in effect- given that it was actually written by the insurance companies.  We all know THAT can’t happen.

Otherwise this most recent time period seems to have a lot to do with dealing with fear.  That hot, claustrophobic thing where you’re just sure it’s all over, all is lost, OMG.  Of course we learn as we go along that it’s the fear itself we’re afraid of- the disasters and upheavals on the material plan get dealt with sooner or later but the fear remains, twisting and turning.   So unpleasant, one does not want to experience it ever but of course that line of thought just brings it on, even more.

Going back to reading Pema Chodron has been helpful.  Any time you can do the taking in and sending out breathwork she writes about (tonglen), it really does make a difference.  Whatever you’re feeling or experiencing, someone somewhere else is too.  Breathing into that gives remarkable clarity, which then most often allows a person to get up and go ahead and do what is before them, and also clears the energetic air in a broad way.  In thinking about this I’ve decided that part of what happens is that you do establish a vibrational connection with the object or subject of your thought, and if your intentions are from love, that connection will be positive.  If your intentions are rooted in hot suffocating powerlessness, that’s the connection that occurs.  This is an incredibly powerful piece of information and the only question is why it took so g@@#!!!mn long to understand it.  Especially since that is the basis of  work I do with clients. *sigh*

On a functional level another thing this type of directed awareness does is let you look at things you’re doing in your own situation that are about a paradigm you’ve stayed in that isn’t appropriate.  Scary stuff.  But! I  stopped something  today that I’d done for several years, thinking that it was productive.  Reflecting on it I saw two things: One, this was part of a paradigm that I actually don’t subscribe to when you get right down to it.  Thing the second was that it allowed me to not be entirely truthful about the situation itself, what I was doing and why even after everything,  I and the Desired Result are still very far apart.  Going further I saw that it was rooted in a childhood belief system that was, let’s just say, not in my best interest.

Well then.  While it is perhaps difficult and strange to really observe things and then act based on what you SEE and not what you THINK, it feels pretty good once you do it.   Interesting times and all.  Now to establish a connection that somehow gets Truth in front of Power in a way that sticks.  Blessings and thanks!!!!

crawling through the wreckage

I’m taking the view, Gentle Reader, that this past week showed nothing less than my survival of a Zombie Apocalypse.

It wasn’t enough that we saw the guy on TV who’d lived across the road from us- and been a gigantic pain the entire time (Mr. Hummer Ranchero, to be exact-) got 98 years in prison for kidnap and torture.  Warm and fuzzy?  No, it wasn’t enough.  First? A man, who’d either been in a fiery crash or a drug lab explosion and lost his hands, took a plastic bag of dirty clothes out of my basket at the laundromat while I was getting change.  Hair pulling and sanity questioning ensued but the interesting thing was that once I finally calmed down and thought, well, it is what it is, here comes the handless man with my laundry.  So, OK.  But then?

Then! Some heavily tattooed guy in a KIA  t-boned me in the parking lot as I was wending my way to the recycling kiosk having at last washed all my laundry.  Leaps out of his car screaming and suddenly there’s half a dozen large, toothless men surrounding me and my car, yelling they were witnesses and i was a b****, among other things.  THEN two very large women oozed over and I found myself wondering why Ronda Rousey wasn’t anywhere to be seen when I needed her so much.  The interesting thing here was that even though all these rather scary individuals were surrounding me screaming, and the older guy who came up and told them to stop was immediately threatened with potential dismemberment, I managed to stay in a non-violent frame of mind and get through the fiasco (no swearing, even!), with Mr. Tattoo actually lowering his voice at the end and thanking me for cooperating with him.   And, fiasco it was since somehow all those “witnesses” had no problem distorting the situation and I now find myself in a yuck-hole with my insurance company.

Aside from the baseline terror I felt when being confronted by all these large, yelling White people, and the stress of seeing my car crunched and home being miles away, what I came away with was this.  Along with a healthy respect for the fact that witch hunts can be pretty real, the fact is?  If you go outside, sooner or later something will catch up with you.  Nothing personal, just the way it is.  You aren’t being punished, it’s just your day for wearing the bullseye.  And, if you can stay neutral during the fireworks that ensue from such bullseye encounters, everyone else will get calmer too, regardless of the outcome. Maybe that’s really the point of such things.  Non-violence does, indeed, take a long time.  But I saw it worked in this situation because even though TRUTH didn’t prevail, the level of stress and anger was substantially lessened and everyone was able to walk away.  Sometimes that’s the best you can do, I guess.  So, I’m sticking with my Practice, even though I still feel very strongly that I don’t ever want to go outside around here again.  Prayers appreciated that my insurance company doesn’t refuse to fix my elderly car!

no picture monday

You are spared a gratuitous dog picture today, Gentle Reader, because my attempt at emailing an action shot of The Dog to myself failed.  Technology and I are not on good terms of late it seems.  While I am somewhat proud of myself for (at last) figuring out the reason my camera and laptop no longer speak to each other? (Which is that because I FINALLY upgraded my antediluvian OS , now the photo application is Lost In Space….) at the same time the complexity of constantly having to “upgrade” something that’s working fine as it is reminds me of just how close to going over the edge we are as a species, in general.

Writing yet another letter about not drilling in the Arctic.  Yet another letter about immigration reform.  YET ANOTHER LETTER ABOUT SAVING BEES.  This all takes time, and when you add to that the irresistible impulse I have every time I even see the word Trump to obliterate my consciousness, it adds up to quite the endeavor to maintain equanimity.  And?  All these things are generated by this same impulse to “upgrade”, make more and ever more stuff for God knows Who to consume.  All the while repulsing individuals, generically labelled “refugees”, who are simply trying to stay alive and escape from the miasma created to some large extent by this very Upgrade Machine called world politics and economy.  We all want, at bottom, the same things.  To be happy, as Buddha said, but also to simply be acknowledged and treated like human beings.  Not consumers and receptacles.

Which equanimity endeavor failed rather miserably yesterday.  The Arrival of The Dog has made me think about things differently, as such things tend to do.  As in.  When I “think” about The Dog, I think, oh jesus god it is too much work, too much expense, too much blahblahblah.  When I “experience” The Dog, it’s more along the lines of YIPPEE! Life is good, all kinds of things happen and we really don’t have to take any of it personally.  Just simply do the best we can at each step.  Remembering that love is the glue of the universe.  We are here to BE, not to DO or let our egoic thinking run the show.  HOWEVER.  As I was driving home yesterday a truck which did not have the right of way unexpectedly attempted to take it while I was, innocently minding my own business, getting on the freeway.  No collision, thank heavens, but massive horn honking and then?  The people in the truck flipped me off, big time.  Before I knew it, I’d returned the gesture.

I really was not happy with myself about that and was surprised to find a bit of nervousness as to whether or not the individuals in the truck were a) drugged, b) heavily armed white supremacists,  c) neighbors I haven’t met yet, or worst of all d) all of the above.  As it happened they whizzed on past me, probably not thinking much about any of it.  But I thought about it, because I do try to…well, BEHAVE.  And if someone like me goes tilt at the drop of a hat, what can we expect from anyone else?  Like, say, Trump.  Or FIFA officials.  Or any member of Congress or government in general.

I found it oddly upsetting, the whole incident, and couldn’t really put my finger on why.  Was it because someone, essentially, harshed my buzz? (ahem) Was it just the intrusion of three dimensional PTSD in the form of a bit of pickup driven thoughtless nastiness? One might also ask why I thought it was “bad” to be irritated with those fine folks who narrowly missed splattering me all over I-5.  So, net net?  I still haven’t figured a damn thing out.  Oh, well.

On the other hand, the Dog got his first bath yesterday, went for his first shots this week, and continues taking walks on a leash.  All of which are going swimmingly.  He is also, at least, peeing AT the door now when he doesn’t get through to us in time to go outside.  I’ve never seen anything grow as fast as this dog, who the Vet said will probably end up weighing EIGHTY TO NINETY POUNDS.  Talk about something landing in your lap.

The other sign of potential progress is tortillas.  Finally, I got back on the bike and made both corn and flour tortillas.  The problem with flour tortillas, of course, is that you have to use lard and also a bit of vegetable shortening.  Both of which are now close to weapons grade substances, being multiply-hydrogenated and chemicalized.   The quest for organic lard starts now.  But the tortillas were great and, as the Partner noted when he drifted by my pressing and rolling efforts, I had in fact “done this before”.  I was also seized by an unfightable urge to make prickly pear creme brulee.  Since we had some melons from the garden that were over ripe, I pureed them as well and plan a rainbow assortment of chair vert, cantaloupe, and aforementioned prickly pear custards set atop caramel.  (No propane in blow torch for top caramel at present, is why.) There is a cactus across the road from the yurt from whence came the pricklies.  At this point, between The Dog and The Cactus, I look as though I’ve gone several, losing, rounds with the inhabitants of a pincushion.  I plan to have pictures of BOTH The Dog and the panoply of cremes in the not too distant future.  Barring, of course, any more exploded equanimity or contretemps to the contrary.

eat the strawberry

I’ve always been impressed by the Buddhist story about a man, running from pursuers, who finds himself going over the edge of a cliff, at the bottom of which are a passel of slavering tigers just waiting for him.  His fall is caught by a protruding ledge.  On that ledge are growing wild strawberries, and he eats one.  End of story.

At first I was overly concerned with, well, yeah, but what about after he eats the berry? What then? Among other silly questions.  Of course now I know that this story pretty much describes life, in a nutshell.  At least it describes MY life, and I think I can finally report, Gentle Reader, that I have indeed learned to eat that strawberry.  Having narrowly avoided electrocution in the laundromat ( a pipe burst, whole place flooded with a few inches of water on the floor, I’m standing next to a bank of dryers set to HOT!! all full of wet, flopping clothes), I went on to surmount monstrously high triple digit temperatures AND tempers, and find yet another internet home (at least for a while).  This new spot involves the constant fending off of cats but I suppose things could be worse.

This business of being alive is strange and gets stranger by the moment if you pay any attention at all.  But I think the strawberry in the story may represent faith, in a way.  The truth is, there is always a strawberry somewhere, even if in one’s darkest moments one may be thinking that strawberries are extinct, or a figment of one’s fevered imagination.   They do exist, however, and another thing about them is you cannot live in expectation of finding them or making them appear or anything of the sort.  They just ARE, along with all that other stuff, but somehow understanding that allows a person to get through many experiences and ultimately makes it all, somehow, easier.  So.  When you see joy or beauty, engage with it.  It will probably save you and at least you will be in a slightly better frame of mind when encountering the snakes, dragons, and tigers that always await.

let the dog decide

We’ve been pondering getting a dog and I was asking the Partner about dog baths.  For some reason or maybe because it seems to me like another Thing To Do That Might Have Disastrous Results. The horse next door, for example, routinely grabs the hose from me and sprays me down thoroughly when I’m trying to fill up their (leaky) water tub.  You see the potential here, don’t you? Anyway.  He said, in his usual judicious way, that it was “best to let the dog decide which they prefer”, in terms of indoor or outdoor sudsing, and that further, they seem to generally prefer a gentle shower such as one might find in a hand held apparatus in a well-appointed bathroom.  My goodness.  I think I WAS a dog in my last life after all.

I thought about allowing such a level of communication to develop in ANY setting, and about how, really, all of us benefit from being given a little space in which to decide which way our actual needs would best be met.  Trial and error is the general mode of the day for humans, however,  and probably what keeps people from thinking all this through on a more regular basis- it’s too scary, we think.  Too time consuming.

In the meantime, while balancing the calm rationality of administering potential dog baths with the raging chaos in my little brain, I had occasion to observe that as usual, it wasn’t only me going off the deep end.  Admittedly, the Hospital Experience from Hell has left a mark on my equanimity and it has taken me what seems like a very long time (a month!) to move through the resultant post traumatic stress- which only gets worse the more I find out about what actually happened, but that’s another episode.  Anyway, I had finally pulled myself together enough to cook and when I turned around to face the TV with a pan of chocolate chip bars in my paws, what did I see but what verged on an outright riot on a soccer field in Mexico.  Guadalajara vs Atlas.  The melee appeared to be set off by an astounding Guadalajara goal and the Atlas fans losing their tiny minds and attempting to rush onto the field.  The Atlas team itself was standing on the pitch, very still, and blenching, and the Policia were immediately present, bagging and tagging.  This is Guadalajara, Mexico, people, and that is not a place anyone wants to just get arrested.  So I had to wonder why all these young men were tempting grisly fate over something like the inadequacy of their team.  The rage boiling up in both the deranged fans and the combat fatigue garbed police was palpable and frightening.  It was transfixing and horrifying.  Was the match fixed? Was it just the last straw in corrupted soccer play? Was everyone on bad drugs? Why didn’t they seem to care at all about what happened to them? Then we went on to the biker brawl in Waco, Texas (and just what is it about THAT place?), and ISIS, and….and…….it seemed as though the entire planet shared my lack of inner peace.

It always helps to put things in a broader perspective as often as one is able.  In truth, there really isn’t an absolute concrete reality and there are always a lot of ways to look at things. (Except, say, methamphetamines, Arctic drilling, Monsanto, child labor, water pollution….) If, as it seems, we’re a planet at the boiling point and it isn’t only flying in planes, driving on bridges and attending soccer matches that place us in mortal peril, then each of us has to acknowledge that and sit with it in order to, well, let our inner dog decide.  We live in a world where I think it isn’t too much to say that Evil is ascendant.  The push of the political is toward the crushing of joy and true human feeling and this manifests throughout society, everywhere.  We’re constantly presented with things we know on a deep level are untrue (how do you feel upon hearing the words “there’s no danger to public health”, or “people don’t have a right to clean drinking water”?).  But those things are also presented as being factual reality, to which we have to conform.

Non-violence takes a long time.  It’s hard to resist the impulse to call someone an idiot or think about decking them.  But it’s also hard to avoid the awareness that in the end this accomplishes precisely nothing.  This uncomfortable place is where we all get to begin again, and as a tribal elder up here said, it is always about peace and equity, this process we must engage in vis-a-vis ourselves and the world.  Sometimes those things seem a long way off, as a proper bath may sometimes seem to be for a dog.  The quest for peace in one’s own heart may be the hardest thing any of us ever does, is what I’m finding these days.  But every once in a while the right shower head comes along.  We live in hope.

Life in the fast lane

One recent morning started with a phone call about a death, and continued on, as I afterwards crawled toward the makings of life giving coffee, to frozen pipes.  Needless to say, by the time we lugged in the big container of (semi frozen) water we keep outside for these kinds of situations, the pipes unfroze and the miracle of caffeine was therefore forthcoming.  Sometimes I wonder if I really have developed some sang-froid about things, or if at long last it’s just All Gotten To Me.  I almost didn’t care.  Finally, of course, we did the sensible thing, which is to fill up several containers of water one night, leaving them to be used in frosty mornings.  Which although there have been many lately, the pipes, no doubt knowing that we’re Prepared, have stayed flexible and flowing.  Just shows you.

In the meantime, the Partner had what *I* think is a brilliant “gun control” idea.  Just make assault rifles and fully automatic weapons REALLYREALLYREALLY expensive.  Wouldn’t that be sensible?   Then, even at all the gun shows and places where guns trade hands, they’d still be way pricey.  Putting them out of the convenience realm, into a more Prada-esque spot.  At least for the regular shoppers, and not the people who get their guns directly from…well.  Who knows?  Not Walmart, anyway.   In the meantime, all I can say is, REALLY?  How many more times do we have to have this exact same non-conversation?  This is one crazy country, really, the States.  Yes, the right to keep and bear arms is important.  However.  Like everything else there should be some common sense and rational thought involved.   The average citizenry really don’t need guns and ammo that turn human bodies into gelatinous nothing-ness and can do it eighty times in thirty seconds.  What, and who? are we defending ourselves from?  Because it seems to me that the really scary and threatening stuff? is not amenable, at least in my life, to use of that particular negotiating tool, tempting as it may be.  We live in a society that boasts the highest prison population in the world (or close- maybe we’re only number two!); has a small percentage of the world’s total population yet has 50% of the firearms available to its public; and, in which public entertainment features corpses, violence and blood, not to mention vituperation and rudeness, on a constant basis.  Then people act surprised when the sh*t hits the f@n.  I find THAT more confusing than the fact that people do go over the edge and do terrible things.

Still.  The Sisyphusian nature of reality is something I’ve been thinking about lately.  You know, the guy who had to roll a boulder up hill as his Appointed Task, and as soon as he got it to the top, it would roll right back down.  He’d start over, and…..It reminded me of the Buddhist story about Milarepa and Marpa the Translator, one of whom was teacher and the other student although I can’t remember who was who.  Anyway, the student was told by the teacher to stack a quantity of rocks up.  This, he got to to over and over and over and over.  Finally, he understood.  Sisyphus never did, far as I know.  It’s an interesting analysis of reality though, and how we deal with it.  In some way, and Buddhism recognizes this in a way that what we may call the Abrahamic religions do not seem to, life is really about stacking those rocks, pushing that boulder, all of it.  Over and over.  The point may really be to give up the thinking about accomplishment and domination (this hill! then the next one! my rock tower will be the biggest! etc.) and all the things that our mind creates around things, and simply focus on the task itself.  The things themselves then, the rocks and everything around them, ultimately take on a light of their own and there is a peace in all that that is notably lacking in the push and shove mode.  Of course then one gets to deal with fear and all the other things that exist  in one’s head whilst progressing to a more illuminated spot.  But, it really is true: focus on the work itself and stay in the present.  Easy to say.  Hard to do at times.  Things, though, do move and change is the essence of everything even when it seems to be standing still- pay attention to small things and eventually you see miracles (Pablo Casals) and have ever expanding moments of peace and, yes, love.  Today’s effort in that realm today was, for one thing, to clean up my email.  YE GODS.  Never again, let’s just say.  I had to review the entirety of the last three years just to get through all the stuff I’d saved for later…..ugh!  It was like hangers! or rabbits!  There seemed to be MILLIONS of those pesky emails multiplying before my eyes and God only knows where they all came from.  And this was all even without the endless notifications about my criminal record, inheritance from Ghana or the Hague, and suggestions for anatomical improvements to a body I don’t possess.   My goodness, we’ve been BUSY.  In any event, my new motto is: the delete button is your friend, unless you like having your hand look like the Claw of Things Past.  This necessity to pay attention and keep things simple runs through everything in life, of course.  I’m just wondering when I’m going to be finished going through the wreckage, since this period of time seems to be largely involved with re-doing all the things that didn’t have adequate foundations to begin with.  Which appears to involve a whole lotta stuff, Gentle Reader.  There is something really interesting, though, in looking at things in a totally different way than ever before, and mostly I guess I have to say I am grateful for this opportunity. (Really! bwahahahahahahahaaaaaaaa……)  It feels as though we may all be flying through the air by the seat of our pants for quite some time to come; perhaps it really is about coming to our collective senses and learning to enjoy the ride.  Regardless of the mode of transport.