Truth, facts, observations

And opinion

Random Thanksgiving thoughts. A holiday created to celebrate the beginning of two centuries of extermination of the North American natives by an Empire that has done more murder, violence, theft and damage to the world than any other in human history and left a legacy of strife in almost all former colonies that still costs thousands of lives to this day.

The world as constituted, is violent, greedy, unforgiving and molded by passions that seems insurmountable. 10,000,000 to 17,000,000 minks “culled” in a country the size of Massachusetts. Those mink were destined to die anyway for coats and ‘accessories’ that cater to barbaric fashion habits and the common delusion that the world is purposed for our personal whims and desires. The numbers are actually doubly depressing.

Slowly and surely we are becoming more humane on the side of compassion and understanding. The world is a better and safer place than it has ever been (for people), and since our violent and greedy natures are often driven by ideologies and commerce we will all pay a steep price for being ignorant and sometimes deliberately blind when it suits us. It is too late to mitigate certain ecological upheavals that are imminent and neither the Moon nor Mars, will be of much help.

My opinion in regard to the above intertwining categories is that there actually is much to be thankful for which can hold all of the above. Chiefly, my gratitude is for the basic human quandary that since we can and have gotten up to all sorts of mistaken, unhelpful, greed-driven and destructive behaviors; there is an other side of that ‘coin’ which is our inherent love, caring, helping, building and creating an actual tenderness towards others and our-selves, which can embrace, and hold, all of those contradictions.

We can look up and see that there is more. A softer human aspect that can listen to the Quiet that shapes the music of life, and love; and quietly know what we are ultimately about.

We may not clearly see all

Ways we all gain clarity

Seeing-Listening quietly,

Rather than looking-hearing in

That acquisitive fashion.

Interesting times, now…

There is supposed to be a Chinese saying that is described as a type of curse one may utter, probably more so than yell, which translates as “…may you live in interesting times…”. The implication being that ‘interesting times’ are usually fraught with all sorts of potential downsides that make life uncertain which can be uncomfortable. Sounds like every day, at any time, anywhere.

Certainly our times are interesting right now, and my observations of myself and people I have regular conversations with, seem to have a similar sense in that, even though there’s a lot of stuff going on with extra noise, fear, doubt and worry thats more pervasive; I notice that I’m much more in tune with my response to the extra that’s going on, and I have a strong sense that this is an opportunity for many of us to look at our own inner lives and responses now that there’s a bit of an edge to everyday life in social and cultural interactions.

To believe the media is to think that we are all in a major crisis of great variety and complexity and the best thing we can do is somehow get back to our comfortable and normal ways of the past. I don’t remember those days. Maybe if I took a stack of newspapers from the last 100 years and just randomly selected 200 headlines they would paint a picture of normal and a “good old days” that sadly is no longer within our reach. Probably not.

Life has always been difficult and messy and scary and painful and confusing; were it not so, there would be no ease and order and comfort and joy and understanding.

Somewhere between these seemingly opposing ideas or possibilities is where we all have to live. The best we may be able to do is to be aware when those different aspects arise and then try not to make too big a deal about any of them; knowing that stuff happens and stuff changes is actually a huge wisdom that encompasses everything.

As in every Thing, real or not.

The more I change the

More I remain the

Same, seeing only

Aging and opinions.

There’s way more

Going On if I’m

Participating in

Reality. As in

Being part of.

Not merely viewing,

Comparing

Contrasting, which

Are bondage,

Not release

Or ease.

Wind and me…

The Chinese word for Emptiness is not easier to deal with when exploring the mind, than it is in English. All words are maps, some more precise than others. Even with maps lots of explorations have gotten lost and wandered until they found something new to the explorer, then the wandering was suddenly ‘successful’. What we discover is not new to the beings/things that live/abide there, or to others that have passed through, even once.

We are stuck with words and languages. Things get lost in translation, or so it seems. I wonder if they don’t get lost in exploration.

How many things in this world were discovered when explorers, scientists, investigators, curious and wondering folks set out to see what’s over that range of mountains, or over that range of science or thought. Often the wondering turned into wandering and the unexpected appeared as something new. There’s nothing ‘new’ as such, there’s Hoped For, WTF? and Interesting! and Wow! In most instances things are discovered when we wander of the path that we had intended to keep and then came to an unexpected cliff, or bear.

My mind goes off the path a lot from what I intend for it, more so and differently now that Age is a real thing. Nevertheless, I set out to explore my mind some time ago when I wanted to change Me. I didn’t have any idea of what I was doing or very clear on why, it just felt urgent.

So, I’m here on a computer, noodling.

And, its been very interesting and the longer I travel in that vast field, of meadows and mountains and forests and rivers and lakes and oceans of this little mind; I often find I’ve gone around some sort of circle because things seem familiar and known, yet different and knowable.

As I go on and my dreams change and gratitude just appears and my fears always become my teachers not friends, yet familiar.

In meantime, I also have to learn my new cell phone, sew a button on a favorite shirt, reheat some food so I can watch The News and realize everything is not comfortable for most, but that’s part of any journey or exploration whether we know we are on one or not.

Often I see that I’m an oarsman on some vessel of discovery and exploration and am grateful for the wind, and the wind has nothing to do with Me.

wandering lost I find my way

lost in the way I find the

ordinary. Looking for my glasses.

note to friend…

Below is a Text I sent to a friend this morning who asked me for my thoughts on how to get a little perspective on today, Election Day in the U.S.

First off, we are no longer able to go back to any kind of normal. Varieties of turbulence will influence the rest of our lives. We are not really, for some time into the future, able to just navigate through some sort of seasonal storm. The whole world is facing a Climate crisis. The actual “climate” and the social climate will alter slowly for the most part but us comfortable one’s will feel the change more deeply.
So we have navigate through New changing conditions that will resemble our former comfort zone less and less.
Yet, here we are. This has happened to many societies in the past, we can read about that, it’s kind of banal big-picture wise, but with real climate change happening behind the scenes, so to speak, because we’re so fixated on politics and social/cultural conditions…

The only way out is the way in.

These are the times when we have to be very practical and along with that explore what may be the meaning of a True Refuge. Maybe it’s time to see what’s past/beyond, ‘Oh, God! Help me get through this year/election/relationship/ skin infection blah blah blah…’ And, participate in changing how we look at the world, because obviously if we saw things more clearly we would not be as frightened.
So, I recommend trying to sit still several times each day and when the fear and tension arise, notice it; look at it and ask. ‘What is there to learn from this?’ Its actually not fear, it’s an uncomfortable pointing to something that is inevitably a teaching for our own good.
God is not fucking with us. He/She is just asking that we try to look without our personal interests being the main objective of our daily life.
Quit asking why you’re not happy, start examining the nature of your dissatisfaction with the World, as constituted.
I’m not being mean here, that’s how I have to talk to myself in order to begin to clear up the fogs caused by the Universe not being answerable to my deepest wish for me not to be uncomfortable..

(Although I am offered the choice of trying to be still. slight addition for blog)

I hope that parses ok, cause I ain’t re-reading it. It’s too long”

Life is hard and then we die

Life is easy and then we die

We are born and then we die

We make choices and decisions

And then we die. The choices and

Decisions are what we leave behind, so

It seems they often need some help,

The kindness of strangers.

I’m the wall…

And, the wall is me but the space between is not. If the wall falls down its just a seeming separation of space that is eliminated. A cup holds tea but when it breaks the space is still there, and so forth. The ideas and teachings about spaciousness have been part of Buddhist teachings since the Buddha’s time and they are almost ubiquitous to the point that we don’t often actually explore some of the applications of that teaching in our practice.

All that our, or any, practice consists of is trying to do it. To live it. To see and understand it and make it part of our lives to the point we may no longer think about it too much. I’m not at that point, but I do get some glimpses at times of how things are.

(BTW, great article in current issue of Berkeleybuddhistpriory.org Newsletter by Reverend Master Kinrei on “Spaciousness”)

This morning as I sat still, facing a wall and realizing once again the only real control I have over my own mind is to refrain from digging into any thought too much, and to try and let them pass through me without handling them as items of possible interest, as if in some second-hand store.

This morning’s theme seemed to be about the difficulty of my believing that things running through my mind were important and others should have a chance of being exposed to them in order to enrich their lives.

Try this one, loosely recapitulated.

If Feminists really cared about females, they would care about every female of every species and how they are being used to gratify many delusions regarding the human role on earth. We breed dogs and have killed billions of them through the centuries developing different breeds with characteristic we find useful including just plain old cuteness. It’s the same with cattle, horses, sheep and loads of creatures we eat or use in any fashion. We eat cows. we eat chickens and their eggs, and so forth and all of them have to be bred to suit us. We don’t eat dogs in our culture but many others do. Most dogs have been bred to suit some purpose for us that results in either food, pleasure, or working them ’til they drop dead. Why can’t we see that within the structure of seeing animals as only for the purpose of our use, in any fashion we choose, no matter how much suffering it causes them, may not be Ethical. I suppose they study or touch on this stuff in Ethics Studies, or whatever its called, but it never comes up in cultural or social medias as a “Thing”

So that was the type of thinking that tried to capture me this morning and I had to leave loose of it, and apparently it ain’t gone away. It is just a thought, and we do have to start somewhere.

I was thinking I could

Change the world if

Only it would listen to

Me and then ask for

Instructions as to How.

However, it seems that

The world’s a busy place

And, I’m really not sure

I know enough. It’s not

Doubt but Reality that

Eases the clawing Need

To make things Better.

Ahhh, home again…

I’ve had seven addresses in the last 7 years. After my wife Linda died in January of 2014, I’ve moved regularly and at one point kind of frantically, trying different situations and it looks like I’m going to go back to one of those. So, another move seems imminent. I’ll have to rest a bit though after an almost 10,000 mile road-trip around the U.S.

One of the things that I am very grateful for is that I can do this sort of thing. I live very modestly and have a little stream of income to live on; so after I couldn’t go and visit Germany where I was born and haven’t seen since 1956 when we immigrated and I was 9 years old. I decided it was going to be a month-long driving trip and just look at people and places. No Views, unless I passed one accidentally.

Covid had cancelled the German trip and I thought that at my age (73), there’s no guarantee I’ll ever get back there, so I used that ‘Germany’ money to spend 5 1/2 weeks just driving around this country I live in.

Its a great country, with an interesting and violent history and a seemingly precarious present. If I pay too much attention to the news it seems there’s huge factions of violent yahoos with opposing views running around and doing all kinds of stuff that just ain’t right. Well, I’m sure some of that is actually going on since they keep repeating the same footage, or similar; and yes we do have systemic problems and they won’t be solved by violence but rather by time, and the slow ongoing efforts of good-hearted people.

My observation of this country, mostly along its side roads and State and County highways and its people, is that we are not only fortunate and everyone I encountered was polite, friendly and going about their business in an astounding doing of work that was by and large, helpful to others. The clean-up efforts all along the Gulf Coast from a handful of storms over the last three years goes on and on and people just do it and then get on with their lives.

That is the real Way of the world. Destruction is real and Re-construction goes on, and on. It’s what we do.

There are more pictures of people doing good and helping within the whole spectrum of photography than there are of people doing harm, and people with cameras tend to cover disaster more thoroughly yet still most photos are of good things going on. That reflects the reality.

People are by their very natures good-hearted and willing to help others; give rather than steal, accept rather than take, while simultaneously acting inhumanely and cruelly and selfishly and being unkind, stingy and hateful.

All of those attributes exist in all of us and for the most part (Most Part), we tend towards the good. That’s an observable phenomena. So, yes, it will take a long time before there’s a Heaven on earth and and a Peace in the hearts of all. The probability is evident that eventually we will obtain.

And, we all have to do our little parts and be willing to do the right thing, especially when its convenient and also when it isn’t. It all counts.

We are essentially a mixture of impulses with choices. That’s our Great Gift!

Today, I can decide

Whether to turn towards or

Away. To look up or to look down.

I, we, you, alltogether, yes there

Is a choice

We can make, All together,

You, we and I. Yes.

Yay! Yep! Gonna!

Journey begins with…

I’m in Berkeley, CA after driving up Hwy 99 in Central California and visiting with friends in Fresno, probably California’s most important city after after Sacramento. Fresno, is the epicenter of all of California’s agriculture and the heart of the formation of Ag practices in the Western United States.

Water distribution, dispensation and use are the powerful keys that actually unlocked the door to California’s growth and prosperity over the years and all the world has been influenced, one might say negatively, by how the stage has been set for the modern industry and destruction that is Big Ag. No, its not an evil scheme. Its humans beings human full of potential which always contains the seeds of arising and falling.

So, traveling through much of the US on mostly secondary roads is astounding in the display of how we get things right and how they can go wrong. Everyone with an opinion has some true insight into our shared reality and it’s certainly not manageable in any real sense of that word which is a huge contributing factor to the ecological impasse we seem to have reached, and are still ignoring, because of the appearance of a virus. We can’t agree what a virus is or whence it arises and while we work on that we have taken our eyes ‘off of the ball’ and the World is in real danger. Our Eco predicament is ours; we own it whether we want too or not.

In the meantime, across the world, humans individually and in various sized groups, clans, tribes, nations and affinities, etc…continue to do their best each day within the increasing worry, fear and doubt, doing what they can for themselves, their families, community and others with generally speaking, good intentions and hearts.

Because of News, we get the impression that the world is falling apart and which is the result of evil-doing by, you know, Others.

My observation is that the world has reached a point of unintended consequences because we are human and we are, by that fact, fairly deluded and follow our noses and eyes and ideas and make many mistakes.

This not an insurmountable problem if we approach it directly by trying to see where we can participate and act to change how we do things in this world and not worry so much about what other people think.

I need to stop pointing fingers and look at How I Am and How I Do in this world, and get on with the hard work of investing time and effort in allowing myself to participate in changing the world by starting at the source most convenient; Me.

Journey means the

Span of a day as

The Sun travels across

The sky and as thoughts

Move through my mind

I travel away from here

And end up going There.

How it is…

Beautiful day yesterday going through South Carolina and Georgia mostly on State highways. Georgia is beautiful and as I went through a long stretch of small towns I was struck with the variety and mixture of races and economic circumstances along the way. The poverty is staggering, as it is in all of the U.S. that I’ve seen along the minor highways. Yet in the South it doesn’t seem as crushing because it is so deeply institutionalized that the “Haves” don’t even notice the “don’t haves”, because so often they appear to live in third or fourth generations of housing with the two or three previous ones deteriorating along a line to the current habitation; in the line of sight of the moderate/middle class next door. It is apparently “just how things are”.

In most of the U.S. the poverty is kept in distinct neighborhoods with traffic routed around it; in the South its just next door and it is declared ok because that’s how things have always been, and course there are plenty of ‘neighborhoods’ where for long stretches of road its all just poor. When half the population is in poverty it must actually be hard to be aware of, let alone address, the concomitant issue of race and slavery as an institution.

The really crushing part is the de-humanization that apparently can’t be addressed directly, because, “…that’s how it is…”.

In the face of that reality, the world as constituted, is still an astoundingly beautiful place because it is within all of our natures to smile and to laugh within a mostly even mix of deprivation and pain in the heart.

In the hotel parking lot desperate pimps and their prey, the prostitutes, are trying to look confident while they prowl the parking lot of a working-class hotel that caters largely to construction related business and has lots of personal working “rigs” parked there and underfoot are fast, small, subtly colored lizards skittering and dodging about, while a bird I’ve never before heard, is whistling a cheerful tune and in all that moment, lives go on in a desperate struggle and dance through the one molecule thick veil of Ignorance. Just not knowing.

We are all doing our parts to help

clarify the world to ourselves,

not really out of despair but because of a

longing we may not even know is there.

The sun is nothing but the Sun.

Roads Wet Virginia…

In Northern Virgina, Fairfax County, a major suburb of Washington, DC. The local industry has been Government for many decades. In the 60’s I went to High School in Arlington and Alexandria. In ’63 the Martin Luther King speech at Mall, the Kennedy assassination, in ’67-’68 weeks of rioting with maybe 8% of the city burned to the ground during it. US Army jeeps patrolling streets with mounted 50 Cal. machine-guns, just like Saigon, except its our Capital. Two machine-gun emplacements, in front of the Lion statues at the start of the Memorial Bridge facing into the City towards Lincoln Memorial only two hundred feet away. Our Capital was in extreme distress, nobody could really understand it.

Just like today, but we think we are having a unique experience. To us, yes. In history? Hardly. The basic world just keeps going on, it too is changing, but when hasn’t it?

In the midst of change, as I travel and change moment by moment, I marvel. This is a fine world as constituted. Greed, Hate and Delusion. You betcha. Can I notice it in myself? Oh, yeah! Can I mitigate it within myself through effort and allowing? Sure! If I’m willing.

So many variations of people in the world and on the way and on the road. Can I change them, inform them, wise them up, or tell them they are not seeing things clearly and I’m willing to straighten them out? Loud Nope!

I need to contain My Self. That, it turns out, is the only arena where I can observe, reason, allow, and be willing to learn and respond, sometimes all at once; and change is taking and finding its own place.

I’m finding great peace through just asking, “Who is having this difficulty _________________(fill in as appropriate)?”. The answer seems to generally present either a reasonable view of ‘who’ is in fact having a difficulty, or the degree of perceived difficulty. This is not just an easy-fix thing, it seems to merely be a way of viewing Trust at work.

My little local roads and ways of

Getting around have changed to

Toll and EZ Pass’s that lead to High

Rise towers that dwarf the mighty

Pentagon and make it seem like an

Old beat-down shopping mall. I can remember

When the Pentagon Parking lot

Was named ‘Midnight Auto’ by High

School car-buffs on limited budgets.

Adirondack Schroon Moon…

After ten days of little and big motels and Interstate Highways, but mostly on State highways, usually within 20 miles or so of the Interstate, weaving in the same direction but through endless little towns, villages and hamlets; I ‘m finally spending three days visiting with friends. Schroon Lake in the Adirondack Park ( First and biggest in lower 48 States) is glistening in the full moon of October 2020 and three miles up from the lake we sit outside and enjoy a great vegetarian meal and have stimulating and mostly gentle conversation as the temps drop just enough to warrant a coat, and the moon and the light of one lantern are sufficient amidst the shedding Maple trees.

The trip is interesting in that it has no real purpose or intention other than to deepen refuge in the Dharma, a sort of pilgrimage by trying to expect nothing but being willing to accept the unexpected, which it turns out is really just another way of saying trying to live a daily life.

Wherever I go there I am, and in unfamiliar settings that has proved to be unexpectedly challenging, which, it turns out, allows me to see that the practice is everywhere and available; I merely have to turn towards it and suddenly strange places are no longer strange. It’s up to me to remember that the practice and the teachings and the existence of Sangha are with me in my travel. Wherever I go, there it all is.

Including the guy sitting now outside in the motel courtyard lit by blazing barbecue pit, talking to someone on the phone about a recent traffic stop ending up with him being convicted of eight violations and having to do six months in jail, and pay a lot of money in fines. He feels he really messed up this time and something has to change.

I know the feeling. Something has changed but change is not a one time transaction; it’s a process not an event.

Here’s your change sir,

Thank you stopping in.

Have a nice trip. Bye!