New conditions, old answers…

I  assume that I’m feeling what many others who are not affected directly by this particular storm  (Harvey) are feeling.

How does one help in a disaster of this proportion?

What can I do?

At what point is a situation overwhelming and can’t be fixed by volunteers and boats and shelters and food and water and a dry place to sit down and rest?

This is not a 500 year event.  Not if we project outward from now.

This is not something we can rally behind and make better and then, in ten or fifteen years down the road,  point to as just one more example of the pluck and can-do spirit of Houstonians, Texans, Americans, North-Americans, Western-Hemispherians, or Humans-in-General.

Although rallying is good and natural, it is not the answer. It’s a temporary reaction to something that is actually pointing out that our best thinking has gotten us to this point, and perhaps, it’s time to change how we think.

I happen to believe it is more effective to live one’s way into a new way of thinking; rather than try to think one’s way into a new way of living.

People who live in monsoon prone areas tend, as a group, to not expect “the authorities” to manage or make better the conditions within which they live. Chances are that anyone who lives in those areas becomes accustomed to dealing on a personal/neighborhood/family level with huge weather events that occur with debilitating frequency, and a regularity.

I feel especially helpless in this instance because I believe that this type of event will become the new normal. Of course that may not happen, but I assume the odds at betting parlors around the world (regarding the percentages and probabilities that are quantifiable), are not good in this sphere of prediction.

Hence, the helplessness. We may all be at edge of a dream we’ve indulged in, having believed it as endless. The alarm has been going off for a while and the snooze button is no longer viable.

So, how can I help? Yes, there are charities (good to research first), and there are many practical things one can engage in that are beneficial and are “being in the solution rather than being in the problem“; and all of those activities have to do with daily life. They vary slightly for everyone.

I have to become more responsible. (Respond-able)

I, and only I, can examine my attitudes and practices towards all life on this planet and its sustainability, and be willing to make changes.

I, and only I, can change my habitual choices and see which one’s must change in order to address the larger issue.

I, and only I, can make a decision to live more in accord with, and less harmfully impact, my environment and fellow beings

I, and only I, can decide to not judge others on how they comport themselves in this world. Others are not the problem. We all share the same responsibility. (Hating hate is still hate.) When options appear, the human tendency is to act in accord with what is good.

I, and only I, can ask for help for myself and for all other beings. I need not specify the type of help, or to whom, or to what. Just asking is a powerful activity and can be done anywhere, everywhere and at any or all times.

I and only I, can step forward and ask, “How can I help?”

I, and only I can say, “I am willing!”

 

Something always responds 

When sincere question arises.

Question is not supplication,

 

Finger printing, Karma pointing…

(*disclaimer at bottom)

The more we learn collectively about our uniqueness individually, the more we see that we are different in all ways possible. Yes, we all have skin and eyes and stomachs and hair and teeth and so forth but, everybody’s hair, teeth, skin. eyes, and stomachs are different. Yet, we are all the same. I like the fact/idea of fingerprints and their almost iconic representation of uniqueness because they put me in mind of Karma.

Karma is a huge subject, but can simply be described from the Buddhist point of view, as being a Law of the Universe that basically sees all volitional actions (karma, as a word basically means action or activity), as being a cause, and all causes have results or consequences. It is part of the explanation of how we always reap the consequence of past actions, even actions that were done before we were born. We can reap these consequences as individuals, as families, as groups, as animals, as nations. etc: Everything we can sense is a result, in one form or another, of past karma (actions), playing out consequences. That we as individuals may not have knowingly initiated this consequence does not matter to the Law of Karma. Its a fact. Like gravity.

Nobody knows what gravity is, but we can see how it works and its effects. We learn quickly the consequence of gravity and work with it, mostly. Stepping off a roof is different from stepping off a curb, but both are responses and activities of gravity. One we do repeatedly and safely, the other we usually only do once.

We own the karma we create and participate in, and we are born with karma that was left unresolved by beings in the past. Buddhist training is, about dealing with and responding to, the karma we created and that which we inherited,  and being willing to act/live in a way that helps to resolve/cleanse the karma’s we inherited or made. We try to treat it sort of like a load of laundry in a community that cycles its daily chores, When we wash, we wash all the laundry that needs it; not just our own. That’s one way of living compassionately.

So, from my rather shallow understanding of Karma I see it as being kind of like fingerprints.

We have left fingerprints, unique to each of us, everyplace we’ve ever been, on everything we’ve ever touched. Many, many imprints of our passage and presence, and often of our activities in general, depending on where our fingerprints are. If I had a machine that can trace the fingerprints of any individual from the moment they were born, from everything they ever touched or handled until they died; I could probably piece together a very accurate history (story) of that person. That history would be more accurate than all the stories and memories the person ever had about their own life, and it would probably surprise that individual, as well as others who may have thought they knew the person well.

So it is with Karma.

I went through life for a longish time not caring or thinking about consequence; and when things happen in my life that didn’t seem fair or affected me negatively, I was not easily able to see that as a consequence of something I did, or set into motion previously. (Of course there were lots of times I knew that what I was getting was my own comeuppance, but by and large, I forgot or was obliviously ignorant of the connection between my actions and the consequences that followed at some later, and perhaps distant time and place.)

It’s usually only at crime scenes where they “dust for fingerprints”, trying to tie an individual to a deed or action. Most other fingerprints ever created are just smudges that, sooner or latter, get wiped, polished or washed away by the activity of others doing the cleaning.

So it is with Karma.

When I seem to be reaping some bitter or overripe fruit in my life, it’s time to “dust for prints” and examine parts of the story by examining my past actions; either recent or some time ago; or life or place. (We have all lived different lives in just this lifetime.)

The difference between fingerprints and karmic imprints, is that Karma becomes apparent when I have an opportunity to look closely about how I have been and what I set into motion; and how that connects to my current discomforts. That’s “dusting for karma”. It’s more of a teaching/learning opportunity, but I may not remember what I have done. It may not be important who did what.

The only thing that matters is how I responded to what I was shown. If I respond in the proper way (i.e. compassionately and trying to see where and how I can do better), then I tend to notice that I’m living in a more polished and cleaner environment in my life.

Not so many smudges, streaks and messy fingerprints on the glasses, walls, mirrors and such. And, less of a mess for other beings to clean up in the future.

They dusted the room for

karma and finger prints. After

They cleared the scene; the

Fingerprints were washed

Away by people who didn’t 

Make them. The karmic prints

Were there to stay. Some other

Beings would clean them in

Another way. On an other day

 

  • Disclaimer; this is not a teaching about Karma, it’s a musing on karma (little k)

 

 

2X7.3 Billion…

I was talking with a close friend recently and part of the conversation drifted into the current political brouhaha.

Several observations in regard to all that.

One.                                                                                                                                                          I had placed myself into a position of having a good reasonable take on the Situation; Historically, politically, psychologically, culturally, economically, spiritually, societally and everywhichwayally. What I had failed to notice is that there has been, since recent political change was made manifest on Jan 22 ’17, an uneasiness in my stomach. A gut feeling of dis-ease, yet I didn’t or couldn’t acknowledge that, due to my lofty perspective and insights I had placed myself in the position of being clear on outside conditions, but deluded about how much they internally affected me.

Two.                                                                                                                                                          I tend to believe/opine that my views of the world are practical and pragmatic and therefore sufficient as response to uncomfortable visceral feelings within myself and for others.

Three.                                                                                                                                                        I and most of my friends are around 70 years old…

 

It is believed that in the whole history of mankind on this Earth there have lived a total of 7+ billion humans in aggregate total. There are now about 7 billion humans alive on this Earth. Seems that bout 14 billion, and change, human beings have ever existed from whenever ’til now.

I’m going to guess that out of that 14+ billion humans, maybe about 600 million have been fortunate enough to not only live at the height of empire, but lived in greater advantage than most who lived at those heights of Empires. Not to mention the billions who existed as the contrasts to “height of Empire” or were the victims of Empire.

I was born in1947 and our empire was in rapid ascendancy at the end of WWII.  During these last 70 years we have established military post in almost two hundred countries at different times; that’s an empire. We are an empire, the biggest and most powerful ever.

All of us well educated, well pampered, well fed, well sported, well re-creationalized, well cultured, well credit-carded and “monetized” and well indebted; now sense that things may be changing and falling apart.

And,  we don’t like it.

The reason we don’t like it is because it seems to be just happening. Some outside agency or force has put us into this “position” How dare they!?

We are they.

We are reaping the karma we have sown as a nation, as a culture, as a society and as good and well intentioned people who trusted and didn’t question and didn’t speak up because of fear, doubt and worry; as we were turned, with our acquiescence, into a nation of consumers, not citizens; Into a culture of voters, not constituents.

We seem to have squandered many opportunities and the cumulative feeling is a queasiness and dis-ease.

However, I see this as the good news.

I can look within myself and see what it is I am holding on too so tightly that I’m loosing my perspective in regard to the actuality of this world and 14+ billion who have been and are, us.

This very world    this life (!)

At this time(!),       affirms (!)   by

All it shows(!)        and makes

Possible(!)              Everything(!)

I have only to         be still

To look up(!)           and see

The Sun is gone,      Oh(!)

           No it’s not(!)

Mostly orderly-ish…

I’ve made great strides in creating a sense of being in place and almost a feeling of being at home.

I haven’t felt “at home” in the time since Linda died. I moved a lot and was too adrift to even recall what home felt like. I had a generalized feeling of a yearned for nostalgia for a center that my life formerly revolved around.

I was stuck in the past and couldn’t see forward. I’m sure that is what everyone refers too when speaking of the grieving process or any major displacement in one’s life.

Now I can see a few things that are very helpful. Pretty standard stuff, but new  in terms of context.

Everything is a process; all events are result of process and all processes are a series of small events; some seemingly random or unconnected.

Yearning is merely wanting things to be other than as they are.

It is the maximizing of delusion. Yearning tells me that life, as constituted, is not acceptable and that it could be replaced (made better) by either a different past, or a different now, and, a guarantee of a different future. Ideally, all three of the preceding. Yes, different from what?

Yearning, a soup of time that never combines into anything tasty or nourishing.

So that’s where I’ve been whiling away several years? Or so I thought.

It turns out these may be the most productive years of my life,  because I have learned something very useful and I had to take it in through experience; and that takes time. All doing takes time and usually effort and even mis-directed effort can be helpful, because without the mis-direction  I wouldn’t be able to see the illusion that seemed so real yet, eventually astonished.

In practical terms I was captivated by the idea that there would be another person, that I would take on and they would take me on; as sort of mutual-help-meets and we would venture forth into some vaguely agreed upon hazy-future-time where everything would work out somehow, and that would stop my drifting.

The sense that I now can allow a home to develop around me, one that is not predicated on my trepidations and the unknowns, but rather on the opportunity to examine my day-to-day life and my response to it as it presents itself, unbidden.

I can be at home within a refuge that is based on teaching and on experience, and the faith that there is a reason, a very good one, for this one Being to have arrived at this point in this place at this time.

Solutions are few and

Doubts are plentiful and 

Worry exists. Yet today the

Haze of smoke from fires five

Hundred miles away makes

The Sun red. Yet far enough 

Up from here, the sky is

Blue. This is weather in a

Changing climate. It is 

Where I live and breathe.

Home, whether I like it or not

Is not the point, never was.

I created this. It is.