Saturday, February 5, 2011

Faith, Authenticity and Buddhist Practice

I've been thinking a lot lately on Buddhist practice as it pertains to everyday life. A few recurring questions have been popping up in my mind such as the roles of faith in Buddhism, what makes, if anything, one practice more or less authentic than another and how this all ties into our everyday lives. For me, Zen practice has always come from a place of bringing the understanding and attention I cultivate when sitting in zazen to my life’s daily activities. It never even remotely occurred to me to follow a Buddhist path on a purely philosophical level, or even on a level where practice is confined to the cushion. Oddly enough, three posts recently around the blogosphere addressed these exact issues.

Sabio, over at the blog Triangulations pondered about the role of faith in Buddhism, and lists out the different types of faith from a Vajrayāna perspective. He writes:
"Believe it or not, “faith” is present in Buddhism too. But like all religions, there are many varieties of Buddhism and each with conflicting stances. For that reason, there is no agreement on “faith” in Buddhism just as there is no agreement on “faith” in Christianity."

Blind Faith: The Buddha warned his disciples against blind faith. ‘Do not believe what I say simply out of respect for me. Discover from your own lives the truth of what I am teaching you’.

1. Clear Faith: When the practitioner becomes aware of the qualities of the Buddha and his teachings, his mind becomes light and joyful. That is the first degree of faith: Clear Faith

2. Aspiring Faith: Then, when he realizes these qualities can enable him to achieve Enlightenment and help a large number of beings, he begins to want to acquire them. Clear faith has turned into aspiration.

3. Confident Faith: When the follower becomes sure, from his own experience, that those qualities can be developed and are as sublime as described in the writings, he acquires a deep conviction.

4. Unshakable Faith: Finally when, through spiritual accomplishment, his faith has becomes so much a part of his mind that he would not be able to renounce it, it is irreversible.
I had never really broken down in my mind the different types of faith, but one thing I was sure on, there is a great difference between faith and belief/blind faith. Faith to me, as for my Zen practice, is really a bit of all four of these types of faith (not blind faith obviously) which Sabio lists out. It has always been about seeing, experiencing and understanding firsthand what the Buddha was pointing to. Based on this, faith is following the path I do because of logic, reasoning and prior experience. Knowing that the teachings I have studied and practiced in the past I have seen as true, so I am encouraged to keep going. In a way, it's really a relationship of growing trust.

But what about 'authentic' Zen practice? Are there more 'authentic' ways of testing and seeing Buddhist teachings? For that matter, are certain teachers more 'authentic' than others? Karen Maezen Miller at Cheerio Road had this to say about the idea of authenticity. Karen writes:
"My teacher Maezumi Roshi used the word so-called a lot. He used it before every word that really wasn’t what it stood for. (That’s every word.) It’s such an efficient way to point out the source of our confusion: confusing the way things really are with the mental artifice of words and concepts.

That’s why I’m majorly peeved by the word authenticity. As soon as I say it, I’m not. Just the notion that there is a way to be more real than you already are is a lie. People who trade in authenticity trade in deception, and it’s a deception that they reinforce by their own salesmanship."
I was very glad to see such a respected Zen teacher say this about the shell game played on the word authenticity. Sure, there may be more effective ways of practice for some, but maybe not for all; and there are some teachers who are more skilled at guiding certain students, but not all students; and there are definitely those who trade in twisted, misleading or poor ways of practice and teaching. The reality is however, the most important things for both teacher and student to pursue in practice is intention, effort and understanding, and not some notion of selling a 'more authentic' style of Zen or Buddhist practice.

So why do we practice? Well, there is no ultimate reason, but at the same time, it is crucial that we bring our practice and understanding to what we do on a moment by moment basis into our everyday lives. Does that make sense? Most Zen teachers will emphasize that we sit for no other reason than for practice itself; and this practice does not end at the cushion. There is a very old Zen saying, 'Before enlightenment; chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment; chop wood, carry water.' The same tasks and problems of life remain after we are done with formal practice; however, with this bare attention which is cultivated, we can begin to understand just who is chopping the wood and who is carrying water. Nathan at Dangerous Harversts, in a post entitled Buddha's Hesitation - Translating Practice into Life, talks about practice and how it flows into everyday life. Nathan writes:
"Which is why, going back to our practice intensive experiment, I'm interested in structures like it that allow for more of the ebb and flow between introspection and one's relationships and everyday activities. Because there's enough intensity from the form to conjure up some of your shit, and then you have to face it, work with it in the middle of your life with others. Which is what often happens to us anyway, right?"
I really like that phrase, "our practice intensive experiment." I also like how Nathan reminds us that our practice or introspection, is indeed watching and understanding how the world around changes from moment to moment as we go about our everyday activities and relationships.

Everything we do in our daily lives off the cushion, no matter how minor or trivial can be practice.
When we hit the snooze button on our alarm clock, that can be practice.
When we eat our morning breakfast, that can be practice.
When we take the kids to school, that can be practice.
When we take a shit, that also can be practice.
Whenever we are engaged in any activity, to quote Suzuki Roshi, 'with single minded effort', that is practice. But what is most important to remember is that when we forget ourselves, and are not present with these activities, our attention of mind has probably wondered off somewhere, playing havoc in our frontal lobes. This is what attracted me to Zen, this bare attention of presence, realizing how this 'I' that we all cherish so much arises and bringing some semblance of calm to my ordinary world of chaos.

Not trying to sound too Zen, but while I do not sit for any particular purpose, my everyday life is why I practice. Everyday life is practice, that is if I allow it to be.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Talks of Shunryu Suzuki Roshi at Tassajara Zen Mountain Center

Talks of Shunryu Suzuki Roshi at Tassajara Zen Mountain Center

Thursday, February 3, 2011

What do the Egyptian Protesters and Political Left in the US have in Common?

As revolutionary and as brave as those Egyptians who have taken to the streets are, to protest and rally for long overdue radical political and social reform, armed with such an incredibly encouraging spirit against the Mubarak government and its supporters, they face an extremely long and difficult battle. This is not much different than the liberal political spectrum here in the US, as those rising against the Mubarak regime in Cairo are splintered into many smaller groups, each with very different agendas. And just like the liberals here in the US who won't place petty differences aside to stand together on the issues they do agree on, the Egyptians seeking change face these same daunting problems, with obviously much more pressing and dire consequences. I feel this comes from a position of staunch ideology and an unwillingness to take one step back, in order to take two steps forward. Many of the left of the American political side share the same fatalistic approach of an all or nothing stance. And even though many do not want to hear or acknowledge this, they both lack many of the essential skills and discipline of organization, leadership, strategy and directed purpose.

Does the world, and more importantly those brave folks in Egypt, believe that Mubarak will fight a fair battle? Do not think for one second that Mubarak and his power structure aren't approaching this current situation as a life or death battle. He is born from the same school of no holds barred hard-line politics from which Nassar and to a lesser extent Sadat came. Egyptians need only to look at the successfully overthrow of King Farouk in the Free Officers Movement coup of 1952, which saw a similarly splintered organization filled with various factions, pulled together with directed purpose, structured organization, and most importantly leadership from the likes of General Muhammad Naguib, Colonel Nasser, Major Abdel Hakim Amer and Lieutenant Colonel Anwar El-Sadat, which the tides of people were willing to take orders from direction from. Being brave and bloodied in the streets of Cairo as part of a relatively unorganized mob, tweeting and blogging about the blow by blow accounts of the situation on the ground may be a noble and honorable act, but in the end, it is fool hearty and will change nothing.

If these groups are willing to band together to form a proper united organization with a core of qualified leaders, to oppose Mubarak's henchmen, thugs and inner circle with discipline, strategic action and if required, with sharp violent tactical confrontation, perhaps this blood being spilled today will have the revolutionary outcome they all desire. If not, then either Mubarak will remain in power, slowly eating away the edges of protesters one small group at a time, or more probable, be replaced by another "opposition" party leader, who in several months will have a government just as autocratic as Mubarak.

The political left in the US face the same challenges, begrudgingly following party leaders into the foray of political action, but whose members are held hostage to the single minded goals to which each of the small factions inside identify with, and hold above the greater good of the general movement. If the political left in the US or the protesting groups in Egypt wish to move successfully forward, they must be willing to move past individual ideology, submit to some focused leadership, move and act as one unit and fight towards the larger goals with the greatest vigor. There are brutal and ugly, but very necessary lessons which need to be learned from the right and the current power structure in order for the reformists and progressives to find any lasting success.

Rebirth and Buddhist Themed Movies

There have been a couple of posts about this issue of literal rebirth floating around this past week, and what's odd is it seems just about every six months or so we revisit these same questions over and over and over. For those of you new to Buddhism, you may not be aware of the enormous spectrum of varying views on reincarnation, that the different traditions and teachers take on this issue. Brad Warner starts off his post with:
This is not what Buddhism teaches. Well, it's not what the kind of Buddhism I teach teaches anyway. There is no "literal you" to get "literally reborn." This is the heart of the argument.

And Dogen is pretty clear that there is no "literal you." So the idea that he taught anything like what most people in the Western world mean when they use the phrase "literal rebirth" is absurd.
This of course sparked tons and tons of comments, many from those who deem this view to be almost blasphemous. Yes, some really do cling to very literal interpretations concerning these kinds of discussions, which I think of as rather trivial and unimportant. Even a bit more amusing was Brad's literary use of Deepak Chopra, a man who has made millions from being the most well known walking cliche, straight from the bottom of the self help barrel, as a focus to make his point about those who claim religious authority. But more on that in a second.

Barbara O'Brien
followed up with:
People often do stick on one level and adopt a "literal" understanding of the teachings, of course. That's why most schools of Buddhism place great emphasis on practice. Sincere practice is the key to seeing beyond the literal.
While of course I agree with her, she goes on to quote Genpo Merzel later in her post, who as you may know, is a Zen Roshi who uses some rather unsavory, trite and commercial methods of teaching Buddhism for big money. Merzel also does business with the likes of Bill Harris, the fellow who sells shit that will be beep enlightenment into your ears. Merzel and his Big Mind program are one of the largest benefactors of the Lenz Foundation grants. There is even a recording of Merzel praising Fredrick Lenz, aka Zen Master Rama, a rather strange cult leader who committed suicide in 1998, saying:
"We are integrating these [Frederick Lenz's teachings] facets into our approach to teaching Zen and have moved in the direction of westernizing the practice. Reading Dr. Lenz, we have found inspiration to expand our teaching in new ways that were not part of our training. Dr. Lenz has helped make Zen more accessible to a wider portion of the population, including non-Buddhists as well as committed Buddhists."
Fuck me, sorry, I just derailed my own post.
But coming back on point, here is what is important to know about reincarnation: NOTHING, ZERO, NADA Why? Because how is speculating on the unknown supposed to help us with this life, right here and right now? Many would argue that all the teachings that speak of reincarnation are purely for metaphorical purposes, as are most of the vast antidotes and tales found throughout Buddhist texts. And although the following passage from Suzuki Roshi's Zen Mind Beginners Mind does not explicitly talk about reincarnation, I think his words here are quit fitting:
"Of course, to live is to create problems. If we did not appear in this world, our parents would have no difficulty with us! Just by appearing we create problems for them. This is all right. Everything creates some problems. But usually people think that when they die, everything is over, the problems disappear. But your death may create problems too! Actually, our problems should be solved or dissolved in this life. But if we are aware that what we do or what we create is really the gift of the "big I," then we will not be attached to it, and we will not create problems for ourselves or for others.

And we should forget, day by day, what we have done; this is true non-attachment. And we should do something new. To do something new, of course we must know our past, and this is all right. But we should not keep holding onto anything we have done; we should only reflect on it. And we must have some idea of what we should do in the future. But the future is the future, the past is the past; now we should work on something new. This is our attitude, and how we should live in this world. This is "dana prajna paramita," to give something, or to create something for ourselves. So to do something through and through is to resume our true activity of creation. This is why we sit. If we do not forget this point, everything will be carried on beautifully. But once we forget this point, the world will be filled with confusion."
So, ummm, yea, beyond general curiosity, why would anyone give a flying fuck about something that happens after this life is over? We are suffering now and here; I say let's deal with that, and let the armchair philosophers duke it out over the question of reincarnation.

Yesterday was of course Groundhog Day, a day celebrated each year where some old fuckers in Pennsylvania, dressed up in top hats and coat tails, pull my rodent cousin Timmy from a hole to ask him if he saw his shadow. Timmy don't fucking know, nor does Timmy fucking care. TIMMY LIVES IN A FUCKING HOLE. Now, one of my favorite movies of all time, Groundhog Day, staring Bill Murray and Andie McDowell, has been adopted by many Buddhists as a quintessential "Buddhist themed" movie, which does a good job, unintentionally of course, of demonstrating the teachings of karma and samsara. And I agree with them for the most part. But one thing that gets under my skin like a rash from a $10 hooker, are lists people put together of movies that they think they have found some grand 'Buddhist' themes, but never really go into detail or talk about particular scenes that demonstrates their theory. Some examples commonly seen on these lists would be movies such as The Matrix, Fight Club or Crash.

Here is the thing; Buddhism is about life, the human condition. It is about dukkha, discovering the cause of dukkha and awakening to the true nature of reality to cross over to the other side of dukkha. Basically, if a movie talks about the general dissatisfaction found in life, discusses mortal beings endless cravings and aversions, and some reconciliation is sought by the main characters to gain a better understanding of their condition, then you got yourself a Buddhist themed movie. Shit, "Two Girls, One Cup" could be considered a Buddhist themed movie....wait...DO NOT GOOGLE THAT. DON'T DO IT!

I'm gonna play this little game for a second, and step outside the normal realm of what is considered a Buddhist themed movie, and pick a few scenes from a few oddball films. I feel that all three of the following scenes do a remarkable and skillful job demonstrating the hard struggle all humans must endure. Each one engages the audience on a quite personal level, as the characters play out a simple yet brutal examination of the darker questions about purpose, intention, redemption and suffering.

First up is a scene from the classic film Pulp Fiction.

My second choice, also a favorite movie of mine, is this scene from 'No Country for Old Men.'

My final movie scene comes from Good Will Hunting, another favorite of mine.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Alabama Prisoners Turn to Meditation

Thanks to Rod Meade Sperry for the heads up about this. I am certainly leery of "socially engaged" Buddhism when it comes to political stances, but there are many other excellent Buddhist outreach programs that are making a real difference in the community. One of those I fully support is the Prison Dharma Program, especailly after seeing the film Dhamma Brothers. Rod posted up over on Shambhala SunSpace a small video and a bit of information about prisoners in Alabama turning to meditation that is definitly worth a look-see.

Here is a small trailer about the movie Dhamma Brothers.

Monday, January 31, 2011

Walnut, CA Lawsuit and 9 Odd Facts About Me

I wanted to briefly mention that a US District Judge ruled on January 19th that the Department of Justice's discrimination lawsuit against the City of Walnut, California could proceed forward. The San Gabriel Tribune reported:

WALNUT - A judge has given permission for the U.S. Justice Department to go forward with a discrimination lawsuit against Walnut.

A U.S. District Court judge at a hearing last week denied the city's motion to dismiss a federal lawsuit alleging religious discrimination.

The Justice Department's Civil Rights Division sued Walnut in September, accusing the city of discriminating against the Chung Tai Zen Center group when city officials denied its request to build a Buddhist worship center in January 2008.

~Juliette Funes, SGV Staff Writer
This is great news as I feel that the case of discrimination is pretty straightforward, which I wrote about in an earlier post. This is not the first time that the City of Walnut has been sued in a discrimination case by the Department of Justice.

I thought I would list a few tidbits of information that some of you may not know about me, since I get new readers all the time. Not like it's a lot of interesting stuff, but anyways...
  • I actually was given a dharma name, Muso, which means 'beyond thought or beyond thinking'. It was given to me by my first Zen teacher who, oddly enough, was a neighbor of mine. I don't use it now, though I've been thinking I should.
  • My first teacher served in the Japanese Imperial Army during World War 2, in both Burma and China.  He went on to became a Zen monk in Japan after the war and then moved to the United States in the 1970's. He passed away some years ago.
  • I have actually had the great pleasure to met the Dalai Lama back in 2007 here in Washington DC. Sorry, I am not really allowed to divulge how or why.
  • I studied Military History in college, and grew up behind the Civil War battlefield of Chancellorsville, here in Virginia. I have visited every major American Revolution, Civil War and War of 1812 battlefield on the East Coast, and many in the West. One day, I very much want to visit the battlefields of WW1 in France and Belgium. I have a large collection of relics from several wars, most I dug myself from Civil War sites.
  • My grandparents on my mothers side immigrated to the United States from Hungary and Romania shortly after WW1. They both came from the area known as Transylvania, one of them from the Romanian speaking side and the other from the Hungarian side. They met over here in the 1930's. My grandfather worked at US Steel in Trenton, NJ for most of his life. He always used to tell us stories about the several times he met Albert Einstein, who was teaching at Princeton University at the time. Einstein wanted some very specific types of steel for some experiments, to which my grandfather was put in charge of helping him with.
  • My fathers family was a mix of Irish and English, many of whom had been in the US since before the American Revolution. My father's grandfather's brother was the NY Irish gangster  "Wild" Bill Lovett, who was born in Ireland and immigrated to the US in 1914. "Wild" Bill had many run-in's with the Italian mobsters in NY, most famously, several associates of Al Capones', including Frankie Yale. (before Capone moved to Chicago) "Wild" Bill was murdered in 1923 in Brooklyn by either other Irish mobsters or by one of the NY Italian mafia families.
  • I was raised Catholic and was an alter boy for St. Patrick's church in Fredericksburg, Virginia for 4 years. The US Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, has a son who is a priest and is currently one of the Father's serving at St. Patrick's church. To this day, I can still recite the Apostles' Creed.
  • Although I was born in New Jersey, I have lived in rural Virginia since I was 6 months old. I used to hunt and fish a lot growing up. I was even a member of the NRA about 15 years ago, though I'm not anymore. I do still own several firearms, but now only target shoot when I get the chance.
  • I started swimming competitively at the age of 12, and at the age of 16 was ranked in the top 20 in the nation for 100M backstroke. I got very bored of swimming, given the grueling twice a day workouts. At age 17 I turned down scholarship offers from three Universities because I didn't want to swim anymore. I used to compete against another local swimmer, Jeff Rouse, who went on to win several Olympic medals, including a silver in 1992 and a gold in 1996. He also held the world record for 9 years in the 100M backstroke.

I'm sure there is more, but I can't remember them right now.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Be Who You Are, Where You Are

There has been quite the discussion (again) on a few blogs about online Sanghas versus flesh and blood Sanghas. There was Brad's (who I actually respect very much, don't get me wrong) rant against people who choose to find others online to practice with:
This is why I keep fighting the good fight against the forces that want to move Zen practice on-line. It's the one area where my so-called "expert opinion" stands a chance of being listened to.
Yes yes, screw those who don't have a sangha near them. Blah blah blah. Yea, a flesh and blood teacher and Sangha are great, and is something that needs expansion, but what Brad never really talks about are those whose only lifeline to other Buddhists is through the internet. The funny spolier here is that him and Jundo, who runs the online sangha Treeleaf Zendo, have had a running feud for quite sometime. No one ever said Zen teachers can't be petty and shallow. Bonus quote from Brad:
I've had to shut off the chat function of my Facebook because every time it's on, people I don't know want to have long discussions with me. Usually late at night. These conversations themselves are not usually so bad. Sometimes they're quite entertaining. But when I'm at a computer I generally want to stay on task with whatever I switched the thing on for. So I end up being rude to fans and that's no good.
These 'I'm so famous, and it is such a hardship on me' quips are rather off-putting. Just saying.

Nathan at Dangerous Harvests had this to say about online vs real life:

But I do think that Buddha placed a strong emphasis on spiritual friendship, on having dharma brothers and sisters to practice with, at least some of the time. In fact, having a few strong friendships, where you can really dig into your lives together, might be more important than a larger sangha or easy access to a teacher. Easy access to a teacher, in fact, is probably a fairly modern phenomenon. Most of the old stories emphasize long treks and difficult entrance barriers around working with a teacher. The number of people who could practice with their teacher on a frequent basis was probably much, much smaller than it is today.
I can't say I disagree here, we all need help and encouragement along the way. Distance is a huge barrier many have to overcome.

Marguerite over at Mind Deep discussed her real life practice with Gil Fronsdal and had this to say:
I thought I was getting my feel of live sangha with the two work communities I am a part of. Communities where we do a short sit before we set out for the day, and we strive to do good. I thought I was set . . . Sitting the other night amongst the IMC sangha, made me realize there is no substitute for an open Dharma practice community such as IMC, whose sole purpose is to cultivate spiritual friendships amongst fellow travelers.
Again, I agree, a flesh and blood Sangha is much preferred to being online, but then again, it is the exception and not the rule that one can sit and practice with people like Gil.

Fact: There are a great many people who are learning about Buddhism in North America, and live nowhere close to a Sangha or at least a Sangha that fits the style of teaching they seek.

Fact: People are flocking to Buddhism in large numbers today, and I am willing to bet the place that at least half of these folks will find their first interaction with other Buddhists is online.

Fact: At least in the Zen tradition, there are not enough "teachers" to go around. When I say "teachers," I mean those with some lineage transmission. Who can teach, who can't? Who is qualified, and who isn't? That's a whole other discussion, and one that most folks won't touch with a ten foot pole.

So my two cents; Be who you are, practice dharma teachings without trying to become some thing or some one else. Get your hands on every book you can, and if possible, try to find a teacher, a Sangha or a local group that feels comfortable to you. You don't have to wait to find a flesh and blood teacher to learn how to follow your breathe, and learn how the basic Buddhist teachings apply to every little thing around you. There are a lot of good voices online with a lot to offer, but never take anyone's word for truth. Exploring why the Buddha said what he did, including what modern teachers say, is the essence of a Buddhist path. If you want a path of blind faith, be a Christian or Muslim.

You are here, now; it can be no other way. Use the tools that are at your disposal, and don't put off your journey because there isn't an "OFFICAL ZEN CENTER" near you. The teachings of the Buddha isn't rocket science or advanced quantum physics, and while we all need guides along the path, the simple truth laid out 2,500 year ago is yours to discover in this very moment. Don't wait.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

The 21 Creepiest Religious Toys and Gifts

Yes, this is a sue me! Some of the links might be outdated.
Here are the 21 25 creepiest religious themed toys and gifts that are/were actually for sale. You have to wonder what was going through these folks minds when they decided these items would make the perfect gift for a loved one.

Yea...soooo...creepy ass Christian computer bear-man w/ movable arms...Christ, imagine this God Damn  thing staring at you all day. (edit: Apparently not Religious, just creepy, so I added a few more at the bottom.)

No better way to show your love of the Virgin Mary than to shoot someone in the FACE with a small pewter Mary bullet. Also available in Full Metal Jesus and Hollow-Point Moses.

Holy fuck! If I saw this thing knocking at my door for candy, I'd piss myself. "Trick or Treat - You are what you think- I'm gonna eat your fucking brains."

WTF is 'Toy Buddhism Fat'? I mean is this creepy puppet filled with actual human fat tissue?

Best to let the little Muslim girls in your family know where the fuck they stand in society early on.

Nothing says I love you more than a starter kit for your next chicken sacrifice and pox.

My half rotted shrunken Madonna necklace brings all the boys to the yard.

Awww, a rubber ducky with an instrument of death on its back. "After bath time ducky, I'm going to crucify you for my sins."

Kool-Aid not included.

No better way to remember Jesus Christ than to suck on a candy replica of his death device.

For just in case he comes back...

Forget about carrying a condom in your wallet, the wallet itself is your protection from having intercourse with anyone.

This one's for the Irish Catholics I think.

Enlightenment, the easy way.

The towel is for the Holy happy ending.

Ummm, Happy Easter, now cut off it's fucking head.

Because who wouldn't want a dead fetus hanging from their Christmas tree.

Oh my, sooo plush these plagues of Egypt.

Buddha Matchbox - $14.00
Just in case you have the urge to protest all of the sudden. Gasoline not included.

An authentic vodoo doll of Courtney Love.

Silly Jesus, zombies are for Rabbits.

Bonus Edit: Apparently the creepy bear is not religious, its just creepy, so here are a few others:

Don't worry, Jesus has your back.

The Forgiven Print - $24.00 
"We really know who killed Jesus..*wink*wink*... Israel.."

He's got that 'deer in the headlights' look.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Hacked, Hemorrhoids and Practice

*grumble grumble* So my email account got hacked this morning. I do want to say that I am sorry if you happened to have gotten some spam from me....don't click on the link! I have an idea on how it got hacked, though I’m not sure by whom....yet. I do know they were not inside the US, or at least the IP of the computer that was sending the mass spam wasn't. I figure it was either Hamas, the Israeli Defense League or, most likely, one of my disgruntled readers.

Since everyone knows my personal business, well the details of my personal life, I admit, I have HEMORRHOIDS … or at least one internal HEMORRHOID. How many other Buddhist bloggers will tell you about their HEMORRHOIDS? Anyway, I have had this hemorrhoid, which I have named Mara, for years now and sometimes it will bleed a little. A doctor a few years ago diagnosed me with it. I went to my new GI doctor last week, and after I told her about the infrequent bleeding, she told me that she wanted to do a colonoscopy to rule out anything else, such as COLON CANCER. Damn, that word, even in a passive way can make your stomach sink. I’m only 37, so the odds of me having Colon Cancer are very small, seeing how I have no family history of it, and also given that I was diagnosed with an internal hemorrhoid years ago. However, as long as my insurance pays for it, I might as well have it done.

Both these events in my life, one causing a large amount of anger the other a small amount of unwarranted fear, really demonstrate to me how our practice can be of benefit to our everyday lives. If allowed to do as they please, our thoughts can spiral into irrational, or even rational, emotions, ideas and ultimately discomfort and pain. Such a pain in the ass!!

My puns stink, I will be the butt of everyone's joke.
I'll never be an ASStronaut.
Should I put on lipstick for this Colonoscopy? I want to look pretty for the camera.

Monday, January 24, 2011

My God, Buddhists are Everywhere!

" Why hello ladies! May I interest you in a theoretical discussion about the physics of a phaser beam? That's code for my penis by the way."
Back in high school, I wasn't what you would call terribly social. I was a geeky skater nerd to be exact...or at least that's how I remember myself. Once the Facebook boom hit in the early 2000's, like many others, I started adding random "friends" from high school, many of whom weren't really friends, but more just names I vaguely recognized. Because letting total strangers know every detail of your personal life is the best policy I say! Let's admit it, in real life, if we actually ran into a few of these folks we ‘friend’ on Facebook from our past, we'd awkwardly pretend that we didn't know them, and try to get away as quick as possible.

So I hit a weird stat the other day on Facebook which I thought was interesting. I now have more 'Buddhist' friends than I do high school friends. Of course this was BIG fucking news that the world needed to hear in an instant status update:
"Well it's official, I now have more Buddhist friends than high school friends on Facebook. Funny thing is the two never overlap even once. LOL"
Jesus Christ, between my overuse of emoticons and massive amounts of LOL's and OMG's, I think I am desperate need of a grammar intervention. Seriously, I actually said "LOL" to someone's joke at work the other day, instead of, you know, laughing like a fuckin' human being. *sigh*

Anyway, my disturbing generalization of my old high school friends was quickly called out. Two people commented and I received another direct message from folks saying that they were Buddhists(convert) or had Buddhist tendencies. Well, I'll be a shit pickle! Now all three of them I do remember as being very friendly and nice to me back in school. Thank God I didn't have to pull out the old "I'M A GOD DAMNED FAMOUS BLOGGER WHO WAS MENTIONED ON MSNBC AND USA TODAY." Well, no, I'm not famous; and I was actually a bit worried about what some would think of my "humor." Ever wonder how many of your old acquaintances are also following a Buddhist path?

One of these fine old school chums actually has a Vegan blog which is really very cool. Lots of reciepes, among other things, that I'm sure you Vegans out there, and other folks, will love. Not me, I eat the shit out of meat. Go check her site out!

One of Jody's latest creations.
Speaking of cool sites, *shameless plug* my very lovely and talented wife has a bunch of new bead work up on her Etsy site. Go check that out too! Like I said on twitter the other day, she is a talented glass artist and an accomplished professional opera and choral singer......and I tell dick jokes on a Buddhist blog.

So, I'll leave you with this picture.

Ernest 'Fucking' Hemingway boxing...obviously before he offed himself. Though zombie Hemingway would be epic.